Real estate hot in county

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    By Daniel Monson

    The Utah County Association of Realtors reported a 17 percent rise in sales from last year, and the residential sales price rose 23.2 percent, reporting higher numbers than the national trend.

    U.S. national home prices have jumped 12.02 percent since the third quarter of 2004, and the average new single-family home sales rose 13 percent.

    With more homes selling for higher prices, the city is dealing with zoning and economic changes.

    ?Provo always seems to have a strong demand for housing,? said Lewis Billings, mayor of Provo. ?I think with the demand for housing, you have to factor in the issues of accommodating the people that come. We have to coordinate with neighborhoods for growth and redevelopment so that it?s a win-win for all parties involved.?

    David Harman Sen., broker of Harman Reality, said the main reason for this trend is the national interest rates.

    ?As interest rates go up, more people want to buy before the rates get too high,? said Harman Sen. ?We will see a busy market until the interest rate gets high enough to block first-time homeowners out of the market.?

    With the optimistic promise of real estate, Mayor Billings said there seems to be a demand for owner occupancy over rental situations in the valley.

    Students that come to the university are faced with the choice to rent or to try to purchase a property. Though the prospect seems attractive, there are many factors that affect the success of a purchase, such as listing fees, closing fees, and agent fees.

    ?Buying is a good option that I am looking into,? said Ryan Morgan, 23, American studies major from Beaverton, Ore. ?It is valuable to build equity in a place rather than throwing your money away with rent.?

    Appreciation has continued to earn money for local residents, and ownership can provide major benefits.

    ?There are powerful tax advantages to ownership,? said Don Livingstone, director for the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Marriott School of Management. ?But the exit and entry costs of owning are not insignificant. The question of appreciation versus exit and entrance cost is what needs to be looked at.?

    The Commerce Department reported that the recent national 13 percent rise in new home sales is the biggest one-month gain in 12 years.

    ?Housing markets are subject to interest rates, and remember that the only thing that keeps going up in life is your age,? Livingstone said.

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