Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

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.

March 03, 2020

Free Fares

A world traveling friend of mine told me that the price of gasoline in several cities in Europe is like $10 per gallon. Given that, citizens ride bikes and use mass transit. Some places have even gone the route of free-far or zero-fare public transport funded by national or local government taxes or even private sponsorship by corporations. Kansas City, Missouri announced last month that it was going to make bus rides free to the public in 2020. That’s free all the time, saving people $1.50 per ride and $50 per month in the hopes more people will use the service, travel to areas they might not have gone to without a car and help get more marginalized folks places they would not be able to afford more often. Salt Lake City has a free fare zone that is poorly advertised and had been used frequently by people staying in and around the Road Home to get to social services and the main library in the winter where it’s warm during the day. It’s basically the area between the Central Station for all things transit on 600 West and goes up by the Area and South Temple to Main Street and finally the Courthouse state on 500 South. It’s perfect for people who work downtown to jump on a bus or TRAX to get lunch at the Gateway or shop at City Creek but it is the only free fare zone in Utah that I’m aware of.  There were two free fare days paid for by the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, Davis County and Intermountain Healthcare Feb. 28 and March 1 to help ease the pollution and introduce more people to the benefits of using public transportation.                The biggest complaint people have about UTA is that they can’t easily get to their home to a bus stop or TRAX station. Viola! UTA created VIA last November. Heard about it? Used it yet? It’s UTA On-Demand operating out of the south part of Salt Lake County in Bluffdale, Draper, Herriman, Riverton and SOJO.  It’s a one year experiment to enhance connectivity. You download the Via app and you are able to ‘hail’ a small UTA shuttle bus to get passengers to stops to catch the available transportation. It’s available now from 6 am to 9 pm and has wheelchair-accessible vehicles all for $2.50 per ride (seniors and reduced fare riders get a 50% discount). For more on that go to www.ridewithvia.com . I served as a UTA Board person for two years until the legislature ended the Board management system in place. I was the one who believed all transportation options offered by UTA should be free for everyone, all the time. Obviously I didn’t get too far with my personal agenda on that Board, but many agreed with me that this transportation entity must always be moving forward to bring better solutions to public transportation, with more routes, better fares or no fares at all and a great riding experience. Kansas City has a smaller overall system than ours, but maybe Board Chair Carlton Christensen could carve out more free zones to benefit more riders as well as lighten the air we breathe if less cars are on the road.

March 03, 2020

The Big Apple

City folk bitch and moan about the high price of housing in Zion all the time. Face it, kids, we’ve been discovered by the tech world and supporting industries and people are moving here in droves. When there’s high demand, there’s high prices for both rentals and purchases.  You think YOU have it bad?  I’m a native New Yorker and I pay attention to my birth state, so check out sales there in 2019: The top ten sales in the Big Apple last year were in a new high rise called 220 Central Park South. Hedge fund manager/billionaire Kenneth Griffin bought four floors there for a cool $240 million. That figure is the highest purchase price in the entire country for a condo! The highest sale of a condo reported to an MLS in Utah was for $7,525,000 as listed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah. That was after they had dropped the price from $8,050,000.  Another fund manager bought one at ‘220’ for almost $93 million and Sting himself picked up one for $65.75 million. Salt Lake City and New York City saw a weird housing market last year. Yes, prices went up, but some went down and many sellers who thought they were going to take advantage of a seller’s market found that they weren’t going to cash out for as much as they had hoped. One condo building in downtown SLC where I sell a lot of units NEVER has anything for sale, and yet at the beginning of December there were six on the market. When my sellers got an offer for slightly less than asking price I asked, ‘Do you want to be one of the six for sale or do you want to be one of the six that SOLD?’.  We’re closing escrow momentarily on that unit.  Homes and condos sat on the market a little longer in both cities. City Creek, across from Temple Square announced in November that they were virtually sold out of all condos and didn’t plan on building any more high end units here. In NYC high end units were having a hard time selling because the construction boom there has been enormous in the past few years and high end inventory abounds. The high end residential tower at 15 Hudson Yards that opened in 2016 has only sold out a little more than half of their inventory and a new building is going in next door with even more luxury condos being offered for future buyers and investors. According to one data mining company (marketproof.com), at least a quarter of New York condos built after 2013 were still unsold in the early fall of last year. In Salt Lake City, only 12 condos built after 2013 were for sale as of last week. What’s the prediction for 2020?  I’ve got no great answers for you, as politics may rule the year. Mortgage rates don’t typically change drastically during these years and well, interest rates are low and should remain under 5% in 2020. Inventory isn’t being built fast enough to meet demand and prices will still go up, while some will go down! www.cityrealty.comwww.marketproof.com 

December 18, 2019

Moving, Moving

Did you know that one out of every six Utahns moved last year?  Although were about to embark on a new 2020 national census we still get drips and drabs of information from the U.S. Census Bureau of current data that is rather surprising. The good news is that more people are moving into Utah than leaving the state. If folks were running away from here property values would drop and inventory would increase.

Most people moving here are coming from California. Why? Easy answers…California has high housing prices, has one of the nations highest state income tax rate for citizens living there, and traffic is horrific. Relocating adults are then coming from Idaho, Washington state, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, and New York. Several of those states also have bad traffic, taxes or income taxes as well.  What those states don’t have is our snow and ski resorts, our ‘Big Six’ national parks and a very healthy but conservative state economy.

According to topmoving.com, the average cost of hiring a professional moving company to get someone from San Francisco to Utah is $2848 and if you rent a 10’ truck from U-Haul to get your stuff from Salt Lake to San Francisco you’d pay $469 for four days of use and 871 miles. By the way, I don’t recommend that website-because once I put in my basic info (required) I received 10 phone calls and 10 emails within 10 minutes of movers trying to sell me their services.  That is IF you can find a parking place in the Bay Area to unload your treasures!  Hell, I have a friend who rents a one bedroom there just outside of the Castro District for $3500 per month in an old home. He has a handicapped plate and no off street parking. There are somedays he has to drive around for an hour in his neighborhood just to find parking. And then, if he doesn’t move the car on certain days or hours, he gets towed. And he gets towed at least once a month because he forgot about the restriction or didn’t get to the car in time.

Whether you’ve moving in or out of state there are some basic hacks from moving.com that will help you get off on the right foot:  call utility companies to start or stop service; set your budget for a mover or truck and get bids; get packing supplies; leave your clothes on hangers and get a clothing box for them with a hanging bar; wrap up breakables in your linens and towels; fill up your pots and pans with small items from your kitchen (like spices and food) but also put plastic wrap over those pots in case things spill; same with your suitcases-use them!  Also, if you have to hire movers be aware that you’re going to be charged by weight. Is your old washer/dryer or refrigerator worth paying for to get across country or would it be better to purchase new ones that would fit in your new place?

https://www.jthomashomes.com/blog/9-reasons-people-move-to-utah/

https://www.uhaul.com/Reservations/RatesTrucks/

 

December 18, 2019

Sorting Through

The New York Times had an article recently about staging a co-op (like a condo) for sale. This particular unit was crammed full of antiques, expensive collections and goo ga’s and in order to get the best sales price, the owners had to massively declutter, pack up stuff and move things out of the home. Buyers want to see pared down interiors that are simply staged in light colors.  I agree with the article, as the more crap you have inside, no matter how valuable, the least likely it will be that a buyer is going to be able to see through it and envision themselves in your home.

My friend Linda Hilton is an expert at helping hoarders and assisting folks in downsizing and is a professional organizer. As a borderline hoarder myself and working to improve my ways I was eager to fill a seat at a recent lecture and take notes home and put her words into actions. The first rule was something I’ve been trying to do in the past year: if you buy something/bring something home, you play the trading game with yourself. If I buy a pair of pants, I give a pair to a charity. Nowadays, I always have a bag in the garage that I’m slowly filling with donations and when it’s full to the brim, it’s donated. Another rule was if you think you haven’t used items in a while, put them in a box and date the box for a year in advance. This could be dishes, clothes, tchotchkes-whatever. If, in a year you haven’t opened the box, then donate it.

I had a client a few years back who was addicted to shopping. She had a huge beautiful home at the base of the Cottonwoods with an unfinished basement. When I walked the home tour with her, I was shocked to see that the lower floor was full, literally packed to the gills with clothing racks-like the kind you see in movies being rolled down the street on a back lot. Not one piece had ever been worn, and every item still had a price tag on it. She didn’t take items back to stores, she just collected clothes as a security blanket of sorts. In order to sell her home, I had to connect her with Linda who subsequently spent 100+ hours helping her pack up and donate those possessions. This work can be super emotional for the client and takes massive patience and understanding from Linda.

She shared another idea about clothes I liked: When you wash a shirt or pair of pants, hang them back up in your closet inside out.  If, at the end of a year you still have inside out things hanging on your clothes rack, donate them.  To help people downsize, Linda is offering a free ‘One thing a day purge lesson for 30 days’ starting in January.  It’s easy…Day one, get a box.  Check out her site: www.sortingthrough.com .  And then recycle this paper!

October 11, 2019

This Wall, Not That!

There are walls, and then there are WALLS. The ‘wall’ we hear the most about these days is the one between the southern border of the U.S. and the northern border of Mexico. The wall I remember learning about as a child was the Great Wall of China, which is about 5,500 miles from beginning to end and is an international UNESCO protected historical site which can be seen by the Space Shuttle. I grew up hearing about the German wall that separated east and west Berlin after WWII and the Cold War (built in 1961) and then watched in 1991 when people from both sides of the wall tore it down when the Germanies decided to let people be free to travel to either side. There’s the Korean Wall blocking north and south Koreans from traveling to either country, walls to stop people in India, Bangladesh, Israel’s West Bank, and a myriad of defensive walls in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Vatican City. Art walls, like the Bondi Sea Wall in Australia are all over the world consensually or non-consensually, with beautiful local graphics by taggers, street artists and professionals.

What’s the most famous wall in Utah?  Methinks it’s the one surrounding Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City!  I’ve always been impressed that the wall around the entire block has not been regularly tagged because it’s one large canvas for artists and those with evil intent. Plus, they have always kept all the church property there in uber clean shape and decorated nicely for the Christmas holiday. I’ve also hated the wall there because it makes the place look foreboding and off limits and keeps the views of the gothic architecture of the Temple itself hidden from tourists and folk passing by.

Well the wall is about to change (finally) as the Church of Jesus Christ has announced a massive upgrade of Temple Square.  This multi-year project will include the renovation of portions of the wall that will be opened and modified to allow more inviting views and better access to temple grounds. The existing South Visitors’ Center will be demolished and replaced with two new guest and visitor pavilions. Following the renovation, temple patrons and guests will enter the temple through the new entry pavilions to the north and proceed down to a grand hall. The formal temple entry point (recommend desk) will sit underneath large skylights that will provide natural light and generous views of the temple above. Patrons will then proceed down the grand hall to the historic temple.  For temple patrons who enter from the Conference Center parking area, a new guest access tunnel will be built under North Temple Street that will allow for direct underground entry to the grand hall from the parking structure.

Other renovations will include upgrades in mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems on the property and a significant seismic upgrade to the temple itself. The Church reports that anywhere between 3-5 million people visit Temple Square every year-almost as many folks who visit Utah’s national parks!

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/plans-unveiled-salt-lake-temple-renovation

October 11, 2019

Sport Climbing

Next summer (July-August) many of us will be glued to mostly re-broadcasts of the Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan. As an aside, some of us will be wondering if Utah will win to host the Winter Olympics one more time. Last year Salt Lake City received approval to bid again for the games in 2026 or 2030. We liked having the world visiting our state.  KSL reported that the 2002 Games “Were among the most lucrative ever staged and official state estimates of the economic impact showed $100 million in profits, $4.8 billion in sales, 35,000 job years of employment and $1.5 billion in earnings for Utah workers during 2002.”  

Because the cost of putting on the athletic showcase is insanely expensive, promoters are looking to hold future games at host cities who already have the infrastructure in place from previous games to host them again. I always thought Utah was a perfect selection for the games because a) we have such great winter sports areas already and b) we have a bazillion missionaries/returned missionaries who speak most of the languages of the world. The callout for volunteers was amazing and posts filled up almost instantly with eager Utahns.

The only Olympics I’ve ever attended was the XIX 2002 games held here in Utah. Much of the competitions happened in our mountains near the capitol city but skating was inside at the then Delta Center, hockey at the Utah Olympic Oval (aka the Oquirrh Park Fitness Center in Kearns) and opening and closing ceremonies at the University of Utah Stadium. There were other venues scattered around to share the economic love in many Utah cities. It was not too hard to get tickets to watch crazy people fly face first down ice-like tubes at the luge, jump off a ramp to (hopefully) land on two boards 800+ feet later in the Nordic ski jump, or sweep ice in front of 40 pound stones in curling. A friend gave me her opportunity to buy tickets and I ended up with opening and closing ceremonies and skating. I’m not really into ice skating but the drama of Russian coaches possibly throwing their votes and Sarah Hughes beating out favorite Michelle Kwan for the gold in women’s singles was exciting.

We’d do well hosting Summer Games, too. We’ve got many indoor venues, lakes and rivers and well, mountains. For the first time ever, athletes will compete in 2020 for medals in climbing in three disciplines: bouldering, sport and speed. The national governing body for rock athletes, USA Climbing, was relocated to SLC last year and athletes are training inside non-descript buildings downtown and in our mountains. Bouldering is climbing on real or fake rocks without ropes, in sport climbing anchors are fixed to the rock, climbs are less than 30 meters and are super steep and you’re timed on speed and difficulty of the climb. You’ll be hearing more about this and other newly added events (karate, skateboarding, and surfing) as our athletes compete in lesser events before the big show in Japan in 2020.

October 11, 2019

Women in Utah

Sure, you know me from writing this column, but for 28 years I had a radio program dedicated to women’s music, women’s history and women’s news. It was the longest running program of its kind in the country. I write this because I still pay close attention to women in the news and women’s music. Utah’s women have been getting a great deal of recognition as of late, to wit:          

  • The Utah Women and Leadership Project just released a study that Utah women are voting now more than any election since 2006. This makes female voters in Utah rank now 11th in the nation as women who vote, which is up from 35th in the nation in 2006. This is terrific news but the report states that there are 316,000 women in Utah who have not registered to vote.  Whether you’re male or female, it is so simple to register on-line to vote in local and national elections online by going to: vote.utah.gov.
  • The flip side of more women voting is the report out that Utah has been found to be the worst state for women’s equality, this time by WalletHub.com in their findings in “2019’s Best & Worst States for Women’s Equality.”  How did they determine this? By looking at women’s health and doctor visit affordability, education, number of women in the legislature, income disparity and workplace environment. They also ranked the Beehive State 49th for the largest gap in wages and women holding elected positions. The best state for women’s equality? Maine.
  • Another study paid for by Utah’s Young Women’s Christian Association, the Status of Women in the States and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research released a report last month that finds Utah women make 69.8% of what Utah men make which is about 10% lower than the national average. Women who work full time are making $36,300 annually, and white women are making more than Hispanic women. Also, it’s interesting to note that Utah has the highest percentage of women who work part time but these women make less than a third of what their full time female counterparts make.  Other findings from this particular report: 1) 90% of Utah women live above the national poverty rate and 2) almost 89% of Utah women have health insurance. 
  • None of this can change if women don’t get involved in making change happen. Voting is one of the best ways to help make change and improve our state for both sexes. Women’s suffrage was granted here in 1870 years before we became a state. According to Wikipedia, “Among all U.S states, only Wyoming granted suffrage to women earlier than Utah, yet because Utah held two elections before Wyoming, Utah women were the first women in the country to cast ballots in the United States.” Lucky Salt Lakers, two women are running for Mayor of the capitol city.
July 15, 2019

Where We're Moving

If you’re a first time home buyer wanting to live close to downtown in the capitol city of salt, and can’t qualify to a big mortgage, where are you going to look for homes?  Capitol Hill and the Avenues are too expensive unless you want a tiny condo. From the University of Utah to Millcreek is going to be pricey and you’ll be scouring homes just above and below State Street. Even Liberty Wells is getting up there in prices. Rose Park is hot but heading into the upper $300’s for 1940’s homes that often don’t have dining rooms but are close to TRAX and the freeway.

The affordable places to live ‘close in’ nowadays are the Granery District (becoming known now as the ‘Brewery District’ with Proper and Fisher Brew Companies located there) Poplar Grove and Glendale, Fairpark, Westpointe and Jordan Meadows-all on the west side of the city. If you’re not familiar with these areas, here’s a bit of info: Westpointe and Jordan Meadows are west of Rose Park. Fairpark is just south of Rose Park. On the east it is bordered by 500 West and extends west to 1460 West, then following the Jordan River to 700 North, the boundary then curves down to 600 North back to 500 West. On its south, Fairpark is bordered by North Temple which features the original Red Iguana.   Poplar Grove used to be a part of Glendale. It got its name from the trees planted there by the Edwin Rushton family in the late 1800’s.  The boundaries are east I-15, West to Salt Lake City boundaries at 5600 West. The South Border is approximately 900 South. The Northern border is North Temple bordering Fair Park from I-15 to 1000 West and Rose Park from 1000 West to 5600 West. Flippers are having a heyday buying up rentals and selling them to millennials in these areas or adding them to investor portfolios as rentals. If you’re a single income or a lower double income household you’ll be offering on homes in those neighborhoods and competing with at least a handful of other offers to win the battle of the best real estate contract.  How does a first-time buyer win in a no holds barred competition for a house? 

Buyers agents are writing in ‘escalation clauses’ into purchase contracts to help their clients win the property with verbiage like: “Buyers are offering asking price but will pay $1000 over the highest bona fide offer to seller with a price not to exceed X” (X being the maximum the buyers would pay or qualify for to buy the home). Yet, even that kind of contract language doesn’t always secure a contract on a home. Buyers are sometimes willing to remove the ‘subject to appraisal’ clause in an offer and even others will remove the ‘subject to inspection’ clause as well.  The latter is quite risky unless the buyer or family/friends of the buyer inspect the house upon discovering it/seeing it for the first time.

Gentrification of the close-in west side of Salt Lake City is happening NOW. And where will it creep in the next 3-5 years? Goodbye Tooele and Grantsville!  With the mega-airport, state prison, inland port and a new intermodal hub going in all along the same road it would be easier for people to live in the Tooele Valley than the Salt Lake Valley.  Right now, it takes 20 minutes to get from downtown Salt Lake City to the Tooele freeway exit and then 12 more minutes to Grantsville. Next thing you know we’ll have Frontrunner trains heading to Wendover!