Saturday, December 10, 2011

Realtor: Now is the time to buy, sell homes in Utah

OGDEN -- The volume of Utah homes for sale is up and interest rates are down, so if you're looking to buy or sell a home, now is the perfect time.

Compared to last year, real estate volume is up 30 percent and interest rates haven't been this low for years, said Bob Hill, president of Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors.

That's the good news.

The bad news is, the value of your home over the past year is possibly down as much as 3 percent, but the experts say not to let that discourage you too much.

"A house you would have bought for $100,000 last year would have cost you about $97,000 this year," Hill said. "But it's still a great time to buy and sell. If you bought a house today compared to 10 years ago, your house payment would only be up 17 percent. That's really incredible. Taxes are down. Prices are down. Interest rates are down. We know things are going to come back up, so if you're in the market, I wouldn't wait."

During October, Utah Realtors sold 2,819 homes, townhomes and condos. That's a 30 percent increase from October 2010 sales, Hill said. In addition, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.32 percent in August.

According to the Utah Association of Realtors, homes are being absorbed at record speed. The number of homes on the market statewide has come down more than 21 percent over the past year. Also, it now takes about eight months to sell an inventory of properties that previously took about 11 months to sell.

"That's really great news," said Eric Allen, director of the Utah/Idaho region for Metro Study, a provider of information to the housing industry. "If you compare us to the rest of the nation, the whole market is within the top 3 to 5 percent as far as being a healthy market."

While you might not get your listing price when selling your home, Hill and Allen said if you want to buy a new home, the difference will even out in quality.

"Homes are being built better than ever," Allen said. "They're more energy efficient, materials aren't as expensive but they're better quality."

If you want to sell a home right now, make sure you know what the homes in your neighborhood are selling for, Hill said. And small, strategic improvements can mean a great deal to the prospective buyer.

"Go outside and make the curbside appealing," he said. "You want to invite people inside. Once they're inside, have things packed away. Clutter doesn't give the potential buyer an idea of how suitable the living area might be for them."

If you're in the market to purchase a home, keep your credit rating clean and your financial status on solid ground.

"Know what you want. Look for the right floor plan that meets your lifestyle," said Allen. "I really hate to sound cliché, but it really is a great time to buy a home. We are not overloaded with home inventory, so if you can get qualified, there hasn't been a better time than now to buy."

And fewer homeowners are losing their homes to foreclosure than in 2010. Core-Logic, another firm providing real estate information and analysis, said the foreclosure rate for outstanding mortgages in September 2011 was 1.33 percent in the Ogden-Clearfield market, down from 1.67 percent in September 2010.

Utah's statewide foreclosure rate of 1.68 percent also was favorable when compared to the national rate of 3.48 percent, according to CoreLogic figures.