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Coldwell Banker Residential Mortgage has hired more than 90 real estate agents this year, a sign that the housing market along the Wasatch Front is healing.

The hiring surge puts the Sandy-based company's 11 offices in a better position to meet increasing demand for brokerage services from home buyers and sellers, Coldwell Banker said Thursday. Unit sales brokered by the agency were up 12 percent through July compared to the same time last year.

In all, the offices have added 96 agents, bringing the company's staff to more than 700 people. Many of the hires were experienced agents who moved from rival real estate firms. Others returned to the industry after sitting out the housing downturn, Coldwell Banker President Chris Jensen said.

"Inventory is down, the demand is good and ... for the first time [sales prices] have increased. There is more consumer confidence out there, and the agents are coming out," he said.

Real estate agents typically are independent contractors who work on commission. After the housing market imploded in late 2006, hundreds of agents left the business. With home sales rising again, agents are starting to come back to work, Jensen said.

Coldwell Banker offices that saw the biggest increases were the Midvale and Orem locations. Each added 14 agents. The Layton office brought in 13 agents, and the Sandy office has 11 new agents.

"We've added a tremendous amount of talent to our Salt Lake City-area offices as our business continues to grow," Jensen said.

Statewide, home sales through June totaled 17,348 units, up 10.3 percent from the same period of 2011, according to the Utah Association of Realtors.

Sales in Salt Lake, Weber and Davis counties were up 18.8 percent, 18.3 percent and 17.4 percent, respectively, according to association figures.

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