Utah housing starts have hit a four-year high, a phenomenon that flies in the face of national trends which are at the lowest level in eight years.

"Locally, we're just the opposite (of national trends)," said Margaret Crane, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Utah. "As a matter of fact, we're having the best year we've had in four years."Crane attributed the strong year to job growth, particularly in Utah County.

Another factor that has contributed to the increase is that many of the inexpensive homes dumped on the real estate market by the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been purchased and homeowners are considering other housing options, including building.

Nationally, homebuilders have been beset by consumers who are reluctant to build because of fears of recession and the inability of builders to obtain financing.

Anne Burns, Home Builders Association of Greater Salt Lake, agreed that Utah has performed better than other areas of the country but the industry has not yet recovered from the sluggish housing market of the mid-1980s.

"It's not where we really want it to be but it's certainly up to a certain extent. Still, builders here have had trouble with financing and credit crunch going on nationally," Burns said.