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Home sales in Salt Lake County increased sharply in the second quarter as prices spiked to their highest level in five years and came close to their all-time record in 2007.

Across the county, 3,430 single-family homes changed owners during the April-through-June period, a 12.2 percent gain from 3,058 units sold in the same three months of last year, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors said Thursday.

Prices rose even faster. The median value of a deal completed in the second quarter on a single-family home was $249,700. That was 17.2 percent higher than the same time last year, when the median deal was $213,000.

The latest median was the highest since the second quarter of 2008, when the midpoint figure was $251,400, according to the real estate group. The all-time record was $256,000 in the second and third quarters of 2007, just before the Great Recession started and the housing market tanked.

As the sector collapsed, median prices plummeted to a low of $190,000 in the first quarter of 2011. Since then, they've risen more than 30 percent. The trend has prompted talk that some buyers could now be pushed out of the market or forced to settle for smaller homes if price increases don't calm down.

"I feel like they are rising, but I don't know if they are rising too fast,'' said Angie Domichel-Nelden, a Coldwell Banker agent. ``But in the same breath, hopefully we aren't talking about affordability issues next year.''

Dave Frederickson, president of the real estate group, said prices have bounced back "very quickly." He said most of the increase has been fueled not by speculators or lax lending standards, but by unusually low inventories of homes for sale because sellers have been unwilling to put their homes up for sale.

Earlier this year, inventories in the county were at a 17-year low. They've improved since then, but are still "on the low side," Frederickson said.

Frederickson doesn't think prices will get out of hand. While demand is strong, the realtor group has seen more people listing their homes for sale. New listings in the second quarter in the county increased to nearly 6,500, a 22.7 percent increase. That should keep prices from escalating too much, he said.

Sale numbers are lagging behind prices. Although the number of deals rose steeply in the second quarter compared to a year earlier, sales are still well below their all-time high in the second quarter of 2005, when 4,263 units changed hands. As the recession set in, second-quarter sales fell until 2009, when they bottomed out at 2,563 units. Over the next three years, they increased 33 percent. While that's slightly more than prices, the rise occurred over more years.

Utah County was the second most active market along the five-county Wasatch Front in the second quarter. The number of homes sold over the three-month period totaled 1,433, a 10.8 percent gain from 1,293 homes a year earlier. The median price jumped 12.6 percent, to $219,500 from $195,000 in the same quarter of 2012.

Davis County was especially busy, with sales up 26.9 percent. There were 1,109 homes sold in the second quarter, up from 874 homes a year earlier. Prices increased, too, but not as fast. The median price rose 7.6 percent in the second quarter, to $213,000 from $198,000 last year.

Weber County sales totaled 824 units in the quarter, a 9 percent gain from 756 units in the second quarter of 2012. Prices surged 13.8 percent, to $165,000 from $145,000 in the same period of last year.

Sales numbers in Tooele County jumped 27.9 percent, to 243 units from 190 units in the second quarter of 2012. Median prices rose 14 percent. Last year, the median was $149,000; this year it was $169,900.

The sales and price gains took place before mortgage rates began to rise. Until late June, rates for fixed 30-year mortgages had been under 4 percent. On Thursday, the U.S. average was 4.31 percent, down from 4.37 percent in the previous week, according to Freddie Mac.

Twitter: @sltribpaul Home Price Database

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