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Business & Economy

Utah Home Construction, Financing Robust Amidst Dip in Consumer Confidence

Jeff Burton’s family has seen highs and lows in the home-building industry at Burton Lumber, so knowing that the Consumer Attitude Index in Utah dipped a bit from highs recorded in May and June doesn’t bother him much.

Given how Utah’s booming home-building and -financing industries are booming, he shares the view that the trend reflects steady optimism in Utah’s economy.

There’s still forward momentum coming out of the economic crisis of 2007. Lumber sales are up these days, and Burton says consumers are benefiting.

“At some point in time, your listeners might be selling their home,” he says. “They’ll want to build another one. They might be downsizing. Your home’s not on the market for years.”

Home construction may be rebounding in Utah and nationwide, but related industries remain scarred. For instance, Burton Lumber still has dozens fewer employees now than it did in 2007. And new home-building hasn’t returned to its pre-crash pace.

Jeremy Lowry, senior vice president of Zions Bank’s home-financing division, says home mortgage and construction loans are up 55 percent from a year ago, with over $180 million in the pipeline.

“I’m extremely optimistic the Utah economy, extremely optimistic about our loan pipeline and  the growth that we’re seeing,” says Lowry. “I think it’s a reflection, a microcosm of the larger state’s economy.”

The monthly gage of consumer sentiment for July says nearly two-thirds of Utah expect home prices in neighborhoods like theirs to increase. And a similar proportion of consumers expect interest rates to rise over the next year.

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