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2009-12-28 17:40:39
November home resales soar in SL County

Sales of existing homes in Salt Lake County jumped 77 percent in November, compared with the same month last year, reflecting rising volumes in the West and the nation.

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors reported that there were 1,071 homes and condominiums sold in November, versus 2,006 in November 2008, when the U.S. economy was deep in the midst of its downturn. But sales last month also were up 15 percent when compared to November 2007 (928).

Board president Ryan Kirkham said home purchases were pushed by lower prices, interest rates below 5 percent and buyer-incentive programs offered by the state and the federal government in the form of a tax credit.

'You take all those factors in, couple that with the fact there's a lot of great inventory, and it's been a tremendous time to be a buyer,' he said.

The median price of all homes sold in Salt Lake County in November dropped to $202,200, down 12 percent versus the median price of $229,250 in November 2008, the board said.

There are about 6,800 homes and condos for sale in Salt Lake County, an estimated eight-month supply, the Board of Realtors reported. The median number of days on the market for homes that sold in November was 68 days, down from 79 days a year earlier.

In the West, home sales jumped 30 percent in November, driven largely by first-time buyers racing to qualify for the federal tax credit that was set to expire at the end of the month. Foreclosures and other financially distressed homes in low price ranges accounted for many deals in California, Arizona and Nevada. That helped pull down the region's median price by 4 percent, to $231,100.

Nationally, sales soared by almost 47 percent from November last year, without adjusting for seasonal factors, the National Association of Realtors said. The median price dipped 4 percent, to $172,600.

Sales in the 13-state West region have improved this year, aided by low mortgage interest rates and the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers. Congress recently extended the incentive to the end of April and expanded it to include $6,500 for existing homeowners who have lived in their current residence for at least five years.

Buyers must sign a contract by the end of April to qualify. And that time cushion means buyers in the market now aren't in a rush. That, plus the traditional holiday slowdown have reduced foot traffic at open houses this month, several agents said.

Article taken from the Salt Lake Tribune

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