The real estate market in Tooele County staged a comeback in 2012 and reversed a fouryear trend of decline.
The fourth quarter of 2012 marked the fifth consecutive quarter of rising average home sale prices in Tooele County. It also brought an end to four consecutive years of sagging home sales.
The median sales price for homes sold in Tooele County last year was $152,000, a 12.6 percent increase from the median price of $135,000 logged in 2011. This is the first year the median sales price of a home in Tooele County has increased since 2007.
“The market is starting to level out, and we are on an upward trend,” said Vicki Griffith, broker for Prudential Utah Real Estate Tooele. “Things are starting to get back to normal following the recession.”
Along with an increase in the average sales price of a home, the number of homes sold in Tooele County last year increased 6.9 percent from 175 in 2011 to 187 in 2012. Also, the average number of days a home stayed on the market before selling declined 44 percent, from 88 days in 2011 to 49 days in 2012.
“The decrease in days on the market is a direct function of short sales,” said Chris Sloan, broker for Group 1 Tooele Real Estate. “Short sales used to take a long time, but we are seeing fewer short sales, and they are getting processed and approved faster.”
Increased consumer confidence, combined with low interest rates, made 2012 a positive year for the county’s real estate market, according to local real estate brokers.
“Our office saw a 31 percent increase in transactions in 2012 compared to 2011,” said Steve Goodsell, broker for Equity Real Estate Tooele. “Low interest rates have brought out a lot of buyers.”
Goodsell’s homebuyers include a mix of people transferring into the area for work, first time homebuyers, and local homeowners choosing to move up to a larger home.
“Confidence is up,” said Goodsell. “People that have been waiting are starting to venture out to look at homes now.” The impact of layoffs at the Deseret Chemical Depot has not impacted the market as some predicted.
“People were worried that the layoffs at the DCD would impact home prices,” said Sloan. “They were concerned that the layoffs would mean a large amount of empty homes on the market. We did not see that in 2012, in fact we have seen a decrease in the supply of homes for sale.”
Interest rates as low as 3 percent have really helped, according to Griffith.
“We have converted a lot of renters into homeowners,” she said. “At 3 percent we can get renters into a home with a monthly payment the same or less than what they were paying in rent.”
Griffith said her homebuyers in 2012 also included people that moved into the county to work at Dugway Proving Ground, Allegheny Technology’s titanium plant in Rowley, and at Kennecott Utah Copper in Salt Lake County.
New home construction is also up, which is a positive sign, according to Griffith.
“The inventory of homes on the market has gone down, which is prompting a pick up in new home construction,” she said. “This is a good sign for the future as a pick up in construction activity usually leads the climb out of a recession.”
Goodsell also sees the upward trend in home sales continuing through 2013.
“Utah’s economy is predicted to grow in 2013 with an increase in both jobs and wages,” he said. “That all means good things for the real estate market.”