Better now than 2008? Report checks Utah housing

SALT LAKE CITY -- A report comparing the current housing market to the situation four years ago says the picture is noticeably bleaker in Utah's largest counties.

By comparison, about 35 percent of large counties around the country seem to be doing better, according to foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac.

The company released its Election 2012 Housing Health Check on Monday. It offers a snapshot of the housing situation in the two election years, although it doesn't fully reflect the lows of the market or its turns toward recovery.

"We are certainly not trying to indict anybody in elected office for causing this," Daren Blomquist, vice president of marketing for RealtyTrac, told the Deseret News ( "Our main goal is to allow people to take a more long-term look at where we've been over the past four years in their local housing market."

With 2008 as the benchmark, Salt Lake County made a poor showing in the latest report. Home prices were down 36 percent and unemployment has doubled since 2008.

Meanwhile, the inventory of foreclosed properties is up 49 percent, and the number of properties entering the foreclosure process is up 59 percent.

Foreclosure sales have more than doubled as a proportion of overall sales, compared with four years ago.

Utah, Weber and Wasatch counties also appeared worse off in all five categories measured. Washington County's foreclosure inventory is down from 2008, but other categories worsened.

There wasn't comparison data for Davis County for all five categories.

In recent months, however, Utah Realtors reported rising home prices and swifter home sales.

"There are signs that the housing market is getting better," Blomquist said. "If you take 2008 as a benchmark, we have a way to go to a full recovery."

The report measured 919 counties nationwide for average home sale price, unemployment rate, foreclosure inventory, foreclosure starts, and the proportion of foreclosure sales as part of overall sales.

Of those counties, 35 percent showed improvement in at least three of the five metrics. Sixty-five percent of the counties showed a worsening picture between 2008 and 2012 in at least three of the categories.