- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Sales of existing homes along an urban corridor of northern Utah hit their highest level in seven years - before the Great Recession took hold - in another sign that Utah’s economy is taking off again.

Nearly 23,000 homes sold along the four-county Wasatch Front in 2013, about 1,000 more than in 2007, said David Anderton of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Median home prices climbed to $244,625 in the fourth quarter of 2013 across Salt Lake County, up 11 percent from the same quarter the year before.

The figure was $488,000 for a home in Salt Lake City’s most desirable neighborhood, the Avenues, up 16 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012, according to data provided by the realtors board.

The upscale Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay saw the most rapid escalation in home prices recently, a 30-percent increase to $408,000.

This year should bring strong demand for housing as Utah’s economy produces more jobs and the population grows in part from people moving to Utah, said Angie Domichel Nelden, president of the realtors board.

Utah’s unemployment rate dropped in December to 4.1 percent, the lowest level since late 2008.

“We’ve now leaped over that ugly abyss of the crash,” broker Babs De Lay, who specializes in sales of downtown dwellings, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors plans to release a full report on 2013 home sales on Friday.

The frenzied pace of home sales for much of 2013 slowed down in the fourth quarter. Analysts attributed that to a glut of houses as owners tried to cash in on higher prices. That drove more sales of condominiums and townhomes instead, analysts said.

Owners sold 2,599 homes in Salt Lake County in the fourth quarter of 2013, a 5 percent drop from the same quarter a year before.

Home sales were also down in the same quarter for Davis, Utah and Weber counties.