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Utah's housing market has continued to improve this fall, according to data released this week by the Utah Association of Realtors.

Although sales and prices remain well off their pre-recession peaks, home sales rose nearly 12 percent in October over the same month last year, while the median sales price was up more than 5 percent.

Utah Realtors sold 3,242 homes, town homes and condos during the month, up from 2,901. Year-to-date, 30,900 properties have sold statewide, a 12.5 percent increase from the 27,458 sales in the January-to-October period in 2011.

There were more sales during the first 10 months in 2012 than in all 12 months of 2008 and 2010.

"The year has really marked a turnaround," said Cal Musselman, 2013 president of the Utah Association of Realtors. "High affordability, plunging inventories, rising rents and fewer foreclosures have all contributed to increasing prices and to the recovery."

The Utah median sales price was up for the seventh consecutive month in October, registering $183,000, up from $174,000 last year.

Even though prices are on the upswing, a measure of affordability provided by the Realtors group also showed improvement. From January to October, the UAR's Affordability Index registered 178, up 8.5 percent from last year, meaning that a family earning the median income had 178 percent of what it needed to qualify for a median-priced home under prevailing interest rates.

"Several years of price declines and low interest rates have put home ownership back in reach," Musselman said, adding the rent increases of 4 percent to 5 percent could be encouraging consumers to buy.

A sharp drop in homes available for sale also could be contributing to a rise in home prices because more buyers are competing for fewer properties. Inventory, which the Realtors group said dropped nearly 23 percent from last October, is at its lowest level since January 2007.

"Previously, sellers had difficulty getting even one offer. Now many of the homes that go up for sale receive multiple offers," Musselman said.

Among areas that had more than 30 sales in October, counties with the highest percentage increases in closed sales were Davis (up 27.3 percent), Iron (up 25 percent) and Tooele (up 24.1 percent).

The highest price increases were in Wasatch (up 58.6 percent), Summit (up 34.3 percent) and Tooele (up 14.3 percent). —

Housing market snapshot for Utah

October sales • Up 12.5 percent over same month last year

Median price • Up 5 percent, to $183,000

Counties with biggest sales increase • Davis (up 27.3 percent), Iron (up 25 percent) and Tooele (up 24.1 percent)

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