Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

May 29, 2020

Investing 101

You may have been thinking of buying a home because mortgage interest rates are the lowest, they have ever been-hovering @3% per year. This really is terrific for the real estate market for what is one of the largest economic pieces to a healthy national financial recovery. But what if you’re NOT in the real estate market and just trying to make a good investment on your savings? What interest are you getting on your savings account right now? The Annual Percentage Rate quoted from First America Credit Union is 0.10%. If you want to invest in a money market by depositing $0-$4,999.99 the APY is 0.15% and for $5,000-$9,999 it’s 0.30%.  For example, if you deposit $5000 into a savings account and then contribute $100 per month at 0.15%, you’ll earn a whopping $8.32 at the end of a year on your investment.  Hell, you could hold a virtual yard sale or sell some clothes at Uptown Cheapskate that will net you more than that savings account ever will!  The Federal Reserve (aka ’the Fed’) is the central bank of the United. It’s been called the bank for all the banks in the country and one of its biggest jobs is to help economic growth and keep inflation in check by controlling interest rates.  Basically, when banks need to borrow money, they go to the Fed. Depending on what the Fed charges, the bank wanting money will then filter down to what that bank charges its customers for home loans, car loans and credit cards.  For a simple ‘Econ 101’ class we learned that when the Fed lowers interest rates when the economy isn’t doing well to help jump start a sluggish economy. Visa versa, when the economy is growing too fast, the Fed will raise its lending rates to banks.  Right now, the Fed may be moving to charge BELOW ZERO interest rates, which would be a negative interest rate. That would be like if our Fed changed its lending rate from 0.1% to –0.1%. In 2016 Japan adopted this negative interest rate policy to generate economic growth but that has proven to be a dismal failure for what had been the world’s second largest economy. This doesn’t forebode well for our country as the corona virus is causing severe economic distress with insane unemployment figures and predictions for massive business bankruptcies and permanent business closings. How do you make money then if the world is in crisis and our economy sucks? Buying stocks, bonds or annuities are risky for the uneducated investor, especially during a recession. Look hard at buying a primary residence or an investment property. Sure, I’m a REALTOR and thus suspect in my intentions, but when property values are going up at say 10% a year, that’s something to analyze and investigate deeply. A $350,000 home in two years could be worth @$424,000 given inflation. That’s a gain of $74,000. Maybe you should be in the real estate market?

Mark Twain once said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”  Around the Wasatch front raw land to build on is about as rare as a victory for common sense!  I always have a steady number of calls from old and young hippies who want to “find a lot in the city so we can build a tiny house, have chickens and farm.”  Again, buildable residentially-zoned land in the tri-city area is virtually unheard up and generally is swooped up by full time investors and builders who can squeeze in high density townhomes (where allowed). Two BIG landholders here are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Rio Tinto. I recall when I was a Planning and Zoning Commissioner for Salt Lake City when Rio Tinto came to meet with us and discuss their vision for the far west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Basically, the multi-national company owns from the smelter smokestack on the north end of the Oquirrh mountains to past daybreak. As the mine ore taps out the Rio Tinto plans to build communities. Most important, they own the water rights to support those communities (like Daybreak) and one employee pointed out “By the time we’re done building we’ll need 90 schools to support the families that will live there!”  Rio Tinto is NOT building the 900 acre ‘Olympia’ project just west of Herriman, but their land virtually abuts that project. Just south of Daybreak and Olympia is Camp Williams, a training site for Active and Reservist National Guard as well all sorts of covert and overt military specialists.  The military with cooperation of private and public landowners is planning to put an open space plan around certain parts of the 23,000 base, which is smart because again, vacant land is being bought up to build housing projects. If you drew a circle with Camp Williams in the middle of it, the ‘Sentinel Landscape’ project would have Lehi and Draper on the north, Herriman on the east, Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs on the west and Utah lake to the south. As a homeowner you don’t want errant bullets and shells ending up in your new bedroom and so it’s good to have a buffer zone that will also help protect wildlife and our unique ecosystem. If you flew north west over the Oquirrh range the Church is building a new Temple in Tooele. Their real estate arm (Suburban Land Reserve) who built the City Creek project has announced that they will now build a massive housing project of homes to surround that edifice. Why not add green space, rec areas and walking paths and housing that looks good with the Temple as a focus. As I’ve also told clients over the years “If the Church announces they are going to build a Temple, buy any land you can around it because the value is going to skyrocket! If not land, a home. It’s logical that a Temple is going to add value to the neighborhood.”

May 29, 2020

Asshats

As a native New Yorker, I think I know pizza.  For years I never ate it in Utah because I couldn’t find a thin and crisp slice served on a cheap paper plate. The piece of pie had to be foldable in half and the grease drip down my arm like it did when you eat a slice from Joe’s or Ray’s in Manhattan or Brooklyn. When I moved to Utah in the 1970’s there were very few choices for pizza other than a few lame national chains who made doughy nasty fast food. You’d be hard pressed today to review my spending to find that I’ve ordered more than two or three pies delivered to our home in any given year, and then only because of a last minute party.  Yet much to my surprise, my Visa card just reported that I bought pizza in Texas and Ohio about a dozen times in one week. FRAUD ALERT!  I’d been hacked. Hackers and fraudsters come in many forms these days. These jerks are selling fake surgical masks, sanitizer that wouldn’t kill a single germ, forging/stealing the $1200 stimulus checks, etc. In real estate there are two common frauds: 1) rental properties too good to be true and 2) fake emails that direct buyers or sellers to change where wired funds should be sent. I often get calls reporting that photos of one of my listings is showing up on a Craigslist-type website for a rental property: “This 5 bedroom luxury home in the Avenues with a pool and four car garage is leasing for only $800 a month!”. The scam is that the non-owner (criminal) will run a fake ad with someone else’s house photos, get calls from eager renters and meet them at the property. The crook has already scoped out the home, sometimes even figured out how to get in (if it’s vacant) and will tell the prospect that they can have the rental if they throw down a cash deposit right then and there! The ‘landlord’ promises a key and to meet up the next day only to never be seen again. The second fraud has surfaced in the past two years with computer hackers following a real estate transaction and at the last minute sending out a fake email to a buyer that looks like it’s from their own real estate agent, escrow officer or lender changing the wiring instructions at the last minute for the funds to close. The unsuspecting victim eager to finalize the purchase changes the wire and BAM, all the funds disappear to some mystery country and asshat fraudster.Salt County now has a new service to help stop fraud via the Recorder’s office. ‘Property Watch’ is free and it notifies you if someone puts a lien /mortgage on your property without your permission. It’s like the services some banks and credit card companies offer now to alert you if someone is falsely using your account. Just sign up at SLCO.org or call 385-468-8176 to register to keep fraudsters away from what is yours.

May 29, 2020

MICROTRANSIT

My industry has been protected in Utah since Covid-19 struck and I’ve been able to leave our home and to work-going to the office for paperwork, close escrows for buyers and sellers, and show homes (virtually, usually). There haven’t been that many folks out on the roads and it’s interesting to get on I-15 and see how many people are speeding. I find myself in the fast lane going 90 mph and realizing soon after that I am the one speeding, too because I’m not paying attention and just going with the flow. Slow the F down! I’ve noticed that there are less cars attached to the TRAX trains yet UTA is still getting people where they need to go. Bus and train drivers are part of the huge group of unsung pandemic hero’s working to keep our transportation system going. Sure, the schedules may be different with less options, but you will eventually get to your destination. Uber and Lyft are working and as are cab and limo drivers. My go-to taxi company (Ute) told me that so many of their drivers have little kids at home or are older and can’t drive, and that many haven’t been able to get unemployment benefits. You just don’t see these kinds of companies on the road because YOU’RE not on the road with our suggested stay at home orders these past several weeks, but as regulations loosen, you’ll be calling them again for rides. One alternative to moving people that hasn’t stopped is a new program offered by UTA that was at first an experiment and is now may be a permanent fit for public transportation if UTA votes it in during their November planning meeting. “Microtransit’ is the minivan option that offers shared rides along the southern section of the Wasatch front for the same price as a bus ticket. Ridership for all service providers-public and private-have dropped as much as freeway traffic. Given that fact it’s a good time to be working out the potential bugs of getting people too and fro for UTA. Basically, you use your smart phone and app (UTA ON DEMAND) to request a ride or you call from a landline. They’ve partnered with demand rider sharer ‘Via’ to connect multiple riders heading in the same direction into a Mercedes Benz van to save riders money and provide more transportation options.  You book the ride and the app or person at the end of the land line will let you know where the van will meet you. The real point is to get riders to TRAX or Frontrunner stations from areas where bus service is limited.  It’s a pilot program that other large cities are also trying and so far, people seem to like the option. Just like Uber and Lyft you can rate your ride from 0-5 while the program is being tested. For more information, go to rideutah.com/services/UTA-on-Demand-by-Via or call 385-217-8191. Yes, their drivers are masked, and they are not cramming six people into a van at this time due to social distancing recommendations.

March 05, 2020

Urban Living

I'm not one to go shopping. My wife likes to gather groceries and finds my involvement more annoying than helpful. I rarely go online, and I've never been in or dropped a dime in a Walmart. I try to make an impact on my local economy by supporting local businesses whenever possible and I ask my clients to do the same. During my college days, I discovered Jolley's Drug where I filled my prescriptions. Back then, they were known as Jolley's Rexall Drug and located in the 9th and 9th neighborhood. It was the first pharmacy that customized compound (hand-mixed and blended) medications in probably 100 years in Salt Lake. In 1991, the Jolley brothers opened a store on 1300 South and 1700 East. Then in 1996, the 9th and 9th pharmacy closed and moved to the 1700 East location where they ran a pharmacy and a Top Hat Video rental store (think VHS tapes). The video store died as tapes went by the way of the dodo but both pharmacy locations (the other at 1100 East and 1700 South) have become beacons of their neighborhoods for not just meds but cute tchotchkes. Often, my only gift shopping comes from this small pharmacy.I'm a super loyal shopper and one of the main reasons I support this family-owned store is because during the AIDS crisis, they were the only folks who treated my friends who carried the disease with kindness. The chain grocery store around the corner made my friends put on masks and would not even shake their hands. Jolley's people were understanding and went overboard to find the best bargains on the first drugs available to help those suffering.As I picked up my script the other day from Dean at the 1700 South store, bought a greeting card, got a question answered from Hanna and was rung up by acerbically funny Beth, I was grateful that a local store still doing well—and not being bulldozed by developers. Across the street is the original Westminster College gymnasium, then later, the Salt Lake Costume Co. It's been gutted and turned into high-end apartments, but just like Jolley's, there's a bit of nostalgia still in the signage there. The original Salt Lake Costume Co. sign lives on and has been restored and replaced to light up the corner across from the drug store.Sometimes, you read about it or talk with your friends about how you hate the fact your favorite little store or bodega closed, or bemoan the loss of a cute building or sign. Salt Lake City updated sign codes in 2018 to save historic and iconic signage around the city. Stop in at Jolley's at 1100 East and 1700 South and shop and check out the sign across the street. Or check out their location on 1300 South and 1700 East and the Emigration Market sign across the way.

March 04, 2020

Women’s History

Women have two celebrations going on right now in Utah: 1) how we got the right to vote on local and national ballots 150 years ago and 2) that Girl Scouts was established here (in Ogden) 100 years ago!  You might be hearing a lot right now about Suffragettes and the Equal Rights Amendment in the news or even see women standing outside the Utah State Capitol building dressed in 1800’s garb with green and purple sashes with the words VOTES FOR WOMEN across their chests.  If you’ve missed all of this, here’s a bit of history that’s relevant today in so many ways: Suffragettes were the militants of their day (early 20th century) who fought for the right to vote in public elections. They were most noticed in first world countries because they had the best press coverage of their marches, heckling, hunger strikes and civil disobedience. Women were brutalized by police and arrested for organizing and then held hunger strikes in prison where they then were force fed with metal funnels shoved in their mouths to keep them alive. It was an ugly time for women and the men who loved them, and after decades and decades of protests and through perseverance, Congress ratified the 19th amendment to our constitution in 1920 giving women the right to vote. Huzzah!  Utah has a different legacy though, women in the Utah ‘Territory’ were unanimously granted the right to vote in 1870, one year after Wyoming women received the same right and then again by Congress in 1920-twice!Utah women are rising up to say we want the U.S. Constitution changed to say that women are guaranteed equal rights regardless of sex (the Constitution’s wording only uses the MALE pronoun). That battle started in the 1970’s and according to recent poles over 70% of Utah women want the Constitution changed.  This voting battle is happening all around our country now, so pay attention, people! Elect representatives who support the ERA!When I started my career in real estate, women had only recently been able to buy a home without a husband as a co-signer or get a credit card in their own name. Federal Fair Housing laws were passed in 1975 that struck down sex discrimination in lending and home buying, but even into the 1980’s it was still hard with some lenders for women to get loans. And God forbid, if TWO women wanted to buy a home together? Most lenders could barely stand the thought of loaning to lesbians or even to a mother and daughter! They had grant loans to women by law, but many files got pushed to the bottom of the stack. I had one client who was a lesbian and African American back then, unmarried, who the lender at the time put through the ringer to get her home loan. She finally got approved but it seemed like her loan took 10 times longer than other clients I was working with at the time (both male or female). Through the feminist movement in the 1970’s and the wave of vocal advocates for women’s rights we can buy homes and get credit on our own today.

March 04, 2020

GHOSTS AND HOBBITS

I finished out high school at Wasatch Academy in Sanpete County. I was sent to this small private school to ‘reform’. I graduated with dreams of going to medical school and got accepted to the University of Utah. Sadly, I lasted like two quarters there because the classrooms were filled with hundreds of students and I was used to classes with 5-10 people at the most. Friends I’d gone to school with before had enrolled at Westminster … ‘the party school’ and encouraged me to switch over. I did, and ended up graduating twice with two B.S. degrees in Behavioral Sciences/English and Business Marketing with an Art minor. I partied so much the first four years I had to go back and get another degree! I lived in the dorms for a few years and across the street was this scary but beautiful privately owned compound/greenspace called Allen Park. There were a few rental cabins in that 7-acres that went for like 80% less than market value back then. But a tenant had to put up with a constant barrage of people like me wandering around in there mentally altered looking at all the weird sculptures the original owner had put in, feeding the remaining peacocks and birds wandering around and hunting for ghosts and hobbits. Yup, the place was full of ghosts and hobbits. I know I saw misty apparitions several times with friends, but we never saw hobbits. Allan Park was the creation of Dr. George Allen who loved birds and back in the 1930’s he was a well known man of means who served on the Salt Lake Zoological Society and helped start Hogle Zoo and get it’s animals there from what is now Tracy Aviary. He put in ponds, fountains, birdcages and mosaic artworks all over his large chunk of land with religious and spiritual sayings. Long story made short, the family had died off and is about to be bulldozed for up to 60 new high end homes. The developer, Rinaldo Hunt wants to preserve the pieces of art that are salvageable and allow for public greenspace (think east to west trail through the property). He’s got a battle ahead of him because neighbors, who’s homes now have great financial value due to the rise in property sales, LOVE the green spaces behind their homes along Emigration Creek on each side of the park on Westminster and Downington Avenue above 1300 East. They don’t want to see high density homes in there. His design team says he wants 7.5 units per acre.  The loss of beautiful old and healthy trees and birdlife is a real concern in a city that battles dirty air. There are many meetings for community input with the Sugar House Community Council and later with Salt Lake City Planning and Zoning. If you live in the area and know weird old dilapidated Alan Park and love every odd bit and tree in there, pay attention and get to the meetings or follow the Community Council online.  BTW, it’s fenced off now, so no hobbit hunting for you!

March 04, 2020

1, 2, 3…

Next month you will get an envelope from the government that isn’t your tax refund. Instead, it’s a notice about the 2020 Census which you can fill out and mail or go online to complete. And if you don’t do one of those options a census taker will come a knockin’ on your door to ask you a bunch of questions.  Don’t start looking for the nearest exit-this is a normal thing that happens in this country every 10 years and is mandated by our Constitution and thus required by law for all of us to answer/respond. The Bureau can impose fines for failing to answer or intentionally providing false information.For example?  How many people are living in your home as of April 1, 2020? This is to help the government count the entire U.S. population.  Is this a house, apartment or mobile home and if this home is owned by you is there a mortgage on the home? This information helps produce statistics about homeownership and renting. Ownership has a direct indication of our economic health. In an ideal world, renting stats can help increase/create housing programs. A mortgage is most often public record and the census taker can look up an address to determine who holds the mortgage. What’s your phone number? They may call later to clarify information or ask for more specific information.  The Census Bureau wants to know the name of the person who pays the rent or mortgage and the sex of that person. Why? Again, to create statistics to better understand where different age groups live. One of the contentious questions this year is ‘Is the person paying rent or mortgage of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?’  The Bureau states that they “Want to get answers to this question to help federal agencies monitor compliance with anti-discrimination provisions such as those in the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.” Many folks think that this is an excuse for the government to ferret out illegal aliens and go after them, which is denied by officials constantly. There is a separate question about the person’s race-which can be White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, other Asian, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Chamorro, other Pacific Islander or ‘some other race’. U.S. census takers get @$15 per hour and they are wanting to hire 5,000 Utahns to head count/knock on doors. The application is on line and they are really hoping to get a lot of temp employees this year who are bilingual who will work in their own towns to go door to doors of those who don’t respond or to track down Native Americans in extremely rural areas. Flexible hours, paid training and weekly paychecks to count heads isn’t a bad job and training starts ASAP.Fill it out, people! Conspiracy theories about the census are rampant but hey, it gets us better federal funding in many areas and could get us more representation in congress!To find out more about what’s coming in the mail or to apply: go to www.2020census.gov

Over the years, we’ve had great fun hosting parties and gatherings at the sprawling 6,000+ sq. ft. space in the historic Dakota Lofts building. But because as realtors we’re always on the go showing new homes to our clients, we don’t spend much time sitting behind a desk and we don’t actually need such a big office.

Our new space is in the heart of The Gateway – in Suite 102 – up the escalator and just above The Store (a locally-owned gourmet specialty market).

Mark your calendar to join us for our Grand Opening on March 12, 2020 at our new offices at the Gateway! More details on the grand opening event coming soon!

As always you can reach us anytime via phone, text or email. 801-595-8824.

Urban Utah Homes & Estates, 102 South Rio Grande Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

March 03, 2020

TWO FOR THREE

God forbid you might be an employer right now, trying to hire worker bees who might actually show up to an interview, better…get hired and stay for a while. Can we say that Salt Lake City is in a crisis mode and we’re teetering on a really big problem this next decade? Examples I’ve heard of recently: 1) a company here just opening at a local mall needs 160 employees. They’ve been able to recruit 60; 2) landscapers are paying illegals $15 an hour for manual labor. That’s the going rate for those folks hanging around the entrances to the parking lots of Home Depot. Friend of mine tells me he can’t hire any of them for less than that amount; 3) restauranteur buddy puts ads out, gets no calls. Offering starting wages in the kitchen $12.50-$15 per hour; 4) a manager at UPS tells me he hired one worker who after two days of delivering boxes and packages walked off the job and left the keys in the brown van, with the motor running; 5) a small business owner I know says that when they do place and ad, hires a new employee, that employee doesn’t show up ever again and won’t return calls; and finally 6) another friend tells me that restaurant managers are cannibalizing their neighbors restaurants and offering competitors employees “$1.00-$2.00 more an hour if you come and work for us!”. If you can’t find people to work for you, then you might have to do their jobs, right? So many of my friends who own small businesses are tearing out their hair doing their management jobs and the work of their employees-some doing 15 hours a day.  There’s no quality of life when you’re working that many hours. And if you’re over worked, you’re not going out to restaurants, enjoying movies and local entertainment, buying new cars or houses. YOU HAVE NO TIME. This is scary. And to back that up the U.S. Chamber of Commerce just validated in their recent job report is that Utah has only two workers for every three jobs. Do you wonder why Governor Gary Herbert wrote Donald Trump and simply said, “Send UTAH your refugees!”  The U.S.C.C. reported that as of June 2019 there were 81,333 available jobs per month with only 57,071 workers to fill those jobs. The state’s ‘Worker Availability Ratio’ (available workers per open position) was the 5th lowest in the nation during that period (North Dakota topped the list with the least number of workers per position at 0.51). The report added that Utah’s job market is over 80% tighter that it was a decade ago. The U.S.C.C. says that they are ‘Working to close both the skills gap and the people gap in the American workforce in numerous ways including education and talent development programs, immigration and labor policy research and advocacy. Homeland Security reported that 1,096,611 people obtained lawful permanent resident stats in 2018 for the entire country. If we divvied up those people to fifty states that’s @22,000 per state. That would still be half of what we need.