Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

June 22, 2018

It's a crime

Salt Lake City and Utah have made so many ‘Top 10’ lists in the past few years it’s hard to keep track of how ‘speshul’ we really are, right? Well here’s a prize we might not want to share with too many prospective folks thinking of moving to the capitol city…’Top 10 City with the MOST Property Crime Per 1,000 People’.

Reviews.org took FBI crime data from 2016 and looked at cities and town with the least and most property crimes.  What is a property crime? That can be anything from car prowls (break-ins to vehicles) to burglary, larceny, and stolen cars.  Reviews.org took car crimes out of the mix and towns under 100,000 people to come up with their list of where is good and bad to own or rent a property. Here’s the results, per 1,000 people:

SALT LAKE CITY 75.42

SPRINGFIELD, MO 74.883

SPOKANE, WA 67.584

LITTLE ROCK, AR 63.235

PUEBLO, CO 57.336

TUCSON, AZ 54.957

ALBUQUERQUE, NM 54.888

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL 53.599

TACOMA, WA 53.0210

TALLAHASSEE, FL 52.07

On the flip side, the 10 cities with the least amount of property crimes are

1-Lakewood Township, NJ; 2-Yonkers, NY; 3-Cary, NC; 4-Edison Township, NJ; 5-Naperville, IL; 6-Sterling Heights, MI; 7-Allen, TX; 8-Rialto, CA; 9-Simi Valley, CA and 10-Santa Clarita, CA.

Neighborhoodscout.com reports that ‘my chances of becoming a victim of a property crime in Salt Lake City is 1 in 11, and for Utah as a whole, 1 in 34.  My friends on the SLCPD and UTA Police tell me that most property crimes are opportunity crimes. We leave our cars and homes unlocked. We leave stuff in our cars in plain sight for criminals to steal. Packages get stolen from porches. We are going to keep seeing an uptick in crimes because we’re growing in population. And although Salt Lake City is hoping to add a lot more cops on the beat in the next few years, we’re going to continue to be victims of property crimes.

Car prowls are by far one of the number one crimes in downtown Salt Lake City. Not only do thieves target you when you’re at a mall or going to a Jazz game to steal what’s inside your vehicle, but they will crawl under your car to rob you of your catalytic converter. I remember a few years back stories from cop friends about a gang that targeted cars parked around the Delta (now Vivint) Center. They knew the drivers were going to be gone from those parking lots for several hours and they had the time to steal from both locked and unlocked cars.

Hey, we’re all in a hurry these days. Don’t leave anything visible in your car that a potential thief might see. Go as far as opening up your jockey box to show nothing is inside. Put valuables in the trunk or take them with you when you go to that concert, ball game or shopping.

June 13, 2018

Happy Trails

I love to drive new clients up the hill to the state capitol building, park, and show them the view of the entire Salt Lake Valley. You have to admit, it’s a breathtaking vista (when there’s no smog/inversion)!  Our bowl of a valley used to be a prehistoric lake that dried up a bazillion years ago, with only the dregs left today (aka ‘The Great Salt Lake’) to see. What’s super cool is that you can follow the ancient Bonneville shoreline with your finger as you stand there and look out, and point all the way around the east/Wasatch range and the west/Oquirrh range. And if you walk that line and pay attention, you can find evidence of life long gone-trilobite fossils, preserved flora and fauna. I have found several groovy rocks in my day up by the concrete “U” on the hill above the university.

In most U.S. cities with mountains nearby, the hills leading up to them are called ‘foothills’.  Here we call them ‘benches’. For some time, residents have been working with city and county officials to complete the Bonneville Shoreline Trail along the east bench of this valley. This amazing feat will one day stretch from the Idaho border to Nephi, more than 280 miles (go to bonnevilleshorelinetrail.org to see the full map and proposed works in progress). Trails like this improve life in so many ways and frankly, adds to property values of the folks who live within close distance of them. And people who don’t live so close want easy connections to get there.

According to Salt Lake City Trails & Natural Lands Program, “There are nearly 100 miles of “trails” in the Salt Lake City foothills, all of which will be considered by a proposed Foothill Trail System Plan. Of all these trails, only the Bonneville Shoreline Trail was professionally constructed with the intent of non-motorized recreation. Many existing trails in the foothills are unsustainable due to steep grades, widespread soil erosion, and costly maintenance challenges. Trailhead, wayfinding and regulatory signage is virtually absent. Lack of coherent trail design has created a system of trails that is unapproachable to many entry-level trail users, and that becomes increasingly prone to user-conflicts as use increases. Once approved, the Foothill Trail System Plan will mitigate user confusion, promote connectivity with the City’s alternative transportation networks, and minimize environmental issues (including challenges in protected watershed areas).” The 10-year time line for the project will apply to the benches between Emigration Canyon and the southern boundary of Davis County.

If you want more information on the Foothill Trail System, there are two public meetings coming up:  3/28 5:30-7:30 at the Natural History Museum and 4/2 6-8 PM at the Sweet Branch Library at 455 F Street or log in at www.slcgov.com/TrailsPlan.

http://www.slcmayor.com/pressreleases/2017/12/12/salt-lake-city-seeks-public-participation-in-creating-foothill-trails-plan

http://www.slcgov.com/TrailsPlan

June 08, 2018

The Bumble Bees

If you venture downtown this summer you’ll see folks in yellow long sleeve shirts walking in pairs, like two purposeful bumblebees, sans the black stripes. The shirts have a logo on them and the words ASK ME!  These are your new ‘downtown ambassadors’, paid for by the Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City Corp and Visit Salt Lake. You may have grown up with a dad or grandpa who was a member of the Chamber of Commerce years ago, who would go out monthly in a pure white wool coat and glad hand people and welcome them to town and to meetings. These guys were not paid, whereas the new ambassadors are getting a wage. This is different.

These smiley people have a three-fold purpose: “1) answer questions from visitors as to where to go, what to see, and ask them where they are visiting from; 2) provide another layer of safety and security in busier parts of downtown; and 3) act as the eyes and ears for the homeless population, to ensure these community members are aware of service providers, and how and where to take advantage of hot meals or a bed, should they choose”.  Mind you, they aren’t cops, but in a way they are acting like cops by watching out for crime, and particularly watching the homeless who camp and/or panhandle in regular locations downtown. They don’t have guns or tasers, just phones to call 911 or service providers.

The need for this extra layer of eyeballs on the street is due mostly due to a cry of local businesses who have found that the Salt Lake City popo are too damned busy busting drug dealers around the shelter than they are available to roust panhandlers from the front of Temple Square or City Creek 20 times a day. These yellow ambassadors will interface with the vagrants, homeless and panhandlers and get to know them. They won’t be afraid to sit down next to them and get the 411 on why they are there, and offer them services to hopefully help to get them out of there to shelter and get services.

The program is based on a similar program that the Chicago Illinois Alliance created for the Chi-town downtown area. They contracted with a private employer (StreetsPlus) to walk their downtown areas and get cozy with the people who work downtown, visit downtown and live downtown. This company has been cleaning the streets of New York City for more than 25 years, too and provides clean, safe and hospitality services to 60 downtown areas around the United States.  By this summer you may see up to a dozen of them in the core blocks of downtown, around our convention center, mall and visitor sites. They get rave reviews for their work, so let’s give them a chance in our Capitol City for a year and measure the results.

June 04, 2018

Landlords

It’s a fact that it’s hard to find a place to rent these days. St. George is virtually OUT of rentals, and despite all the high rises going up in SLC, we too have a huge shortage of housing. You may not have ever heard of the Utah Apartment Assn. unless you’re a landlord. According to their website they have over 3,500 members representing more than 75,000 apartments throughout Utah. You would probably be a member if you were an owner, manager, developer or builder of apartments because they really do offer some terrific benefits to both the one and multi-unit owner.

The non-profit group was founded in 1934 as the Apartment Assn. of Utah-84 years ago. The National Apartment Association is only 75 years old which to me indicates Utah was ahead of the pack in helping to assist owners and managers in the last century here. Why would a RENTER care about this group?

  1. Their website (uaagq.org) does connect you to rentals.com, forrent.com, utahrealestate.com, and rentler.com;
  2. Gives help line/phone numbers for tenants having problems with landlords, including Salt Lake Community Action, 2-1-1 information, Disability Law Center and Utah State Courts;
  3. Directs veterans to specific resources for them;
  4. And free forms for tenants to: a) give a landlord a notice to vacate/move out, give notice of a deficient condition, a reasonable accommodation request due to health issues, and a tenant request form to the landlord to provide deposit deposition/return of deposit.

 

For owners currently renting out property(s) or wanting to become a landlord, they offer a live ‘Good Landlord’ class throughout the state. Not heard of that? Well, if you as a wanna be or current landlord agree to evict problem tenants immediately and keep their properties ‘clean and green’ and in compliance with local housing codes you can possibly get a discount on licensing fees. As an example, Salt Lake City will discount a participant’s business license fee from $342 per unit to $322 per unit. This incentive is intended to educate landlords on management strategies to prevent crime, maintain equity and promote compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods.

South Salt Lake City says on their website that ‘the City has found that landlords who follow best management practices on background checks, tenant leases, crime prevention, and eviction procedures as necessary reduce the service costs borne by South Salt Lake taxpayers. Like many other cities in the state, South Salt Lake requires landlords to maintain a current business license for their rental(s), attend a class every few years on being a good landlords, use a written lease for every unit they rent out with all adults living in the unit listed on the lease, that all adults will have background checks done by the landlord in advance of leasing, protocols for crime prevention on the property will be followed via ‘Crime Prevention through Environmental Design’ and that the landlord agrees to maintain the rental dwelling(s) in a fit and habitable condition as required by State and relevant building, fire and land use codes.

http://www.slcgov.com/landlord/faq

http://www.southsaltlakecity.com/department-listings/community-development/good-landlord-programhttp://www.southsaltlakecity.com/department-listings/community-development/good-landlord-program

June 03, 2018

Moldy Stuff

I just returned from Florida where we helped my step mom of 50 years relocate. Although it’s not the ‘hot’ season or ‘Hurricane season’ yet it’s (to me) too hot and humid at 80 degrees and 64% humidity for me to live there. Not only is it damp feeling all the time, there are palmetto bugs (Florida cockroaches) as big as your kids fist and those damnable dinosaur-age alligators and crocodiles.

Too much moisture can cause many a problem for a renter or homeowner. Seeing a roof leak though the ceiling of your living room or a pipe full of sewage break in your basement is an obvious sign of too much wetness. It’s the sneaky drips you can’t see that will rot your foundation and destroy your support beams.  Florida has mold problems, and lots of them. Yet, in dry as a bone Utah, we’ve got mold issues too.

There are a bazillion types of mold on our planet. There’s mold right now in your living space because it’s just as common as dust and dirt. When I see friends or meet people outside of their wet environments I can tell where they live because I can smell mold on their clothes much more than if they lived in our high desert state. “Oh, you’re from Portland…or Seattle!”  Anytime you have organic materials and moisture you’re going to have mold. Mold spores released into the air can cause an asthma attack in some people who suffer from that terrible breathing disease. It can affect our pet’s health, too.

Luckily, we don’t have many occurrences of the dangerous black mold here like is found more in the southern part of the U.S. What you often see here in your shower is mildew, which is surface fungi of a grey, white or yellow color that can turn black over time. Mold is more fuzzy or slimy looking and there are 10,000+ kinds that can live inside your home (according to the Center for Disease Control). Black mold is the worst kind of mold because it produces toxic compounds that can give you and your pets really bad health problems like sinus infections, asthma/asthma attacks, fatigue and depression.

You may not know you have mold because you haven’t been in your basement since last fall. We found out last year that a pipe had broken inside a wall and a small leak started and spread slowly inside the wall and down to the floor (water follows gravity). It took us about three months to find what we smelled before we could tear out all the sheet rock and fix the pipes.If you suspect you have mold, call a plumber ASAP. It can spread fast or slow depending on the water source and trust me, it’s expensive to repair when it goes unchecked…not to mention the effect it can have on your health.

http://restorationmasterfinder.com/restoration/difference-between-mold-and-mildew/

April 02, 2018

Buyers Guide

Buyers Guide

There are a lot of steps to buying a home and the process can seem overwhelming at times. This guide outlines the basic steps, but your REALTOR will explain each part in more detail.

Download the guide

Talk with a lender to get pre-qualified.

You will be asked for information such as W2s, tax returns, bank statements, etc. Your lender will determine how much money you will qualify to spend on your new home. It is important to keep your loan on track during the shopping process. Both your agent and lender can coach you through what to do and what not to do during this time. For example, this is not the time to take out a loan for a new car or that engagement ring...wait until after you buy the home!

Find a REALTOR.

It is important to work with an agent that you are comfortable with and you feel is trustworthy and reputable. You may interview several agents and brokers to find one that you would like to work with. Shop for a home. Think about what type of home you want or need. Number of bedrooms, neighborhood, and type of home are just a few of the things you need to consider. Make a list of your must-haves and your wants. Your agent will search for homes in your price range that meet your criteria. It is important to be open minded during this process as you may have to make compromises or your agent may present you with some options that you had not yet considered.Make an offer. When you find a home you like, it's time to make an offer. Your agent will submit the offer to the seller and negotiate terms on your behalf.

Due Diligence period begins.

Once the seller accepts your offer, you are under contract. This is your time to investigate the property. Your agent will provide you with a due diligence checklist to give you a starting point on what to investigate. You will do your home inspections at this time and based on your findings you may want to proceed with the purchase, renegotiate the terms of your purchase or cancel the contract and continue your home search.

Financing and Appraisal period begins.

If you are proceeding with the purchase after your due diligence, it is now time to deal with the finances. You will officially apply for your loan on the property and an appraisal will be ordered. Based on the appraisal, further negotiating may be necessary.

Closing time!

Congrats, now it's time to sign papers and become a homeowner! In Utah, you cannot get keys and take possession of the property until the purchase is recorded with the county, which in many cases is the next business day. However, you can celebrate anyway, go enjoy a nice dinner and plan on moving in the next day!

Download the guide

December 18, 2017

Condo Drought

‘How much are all those condos going for that they are building everywhere?’  ‘ALL OF THOSE ARE APARTMENTS, NOT CONDOS!’  That’s right-just about every crane and every high rise in construction is an apartment building in the Salt Lake Valley and we are in a bona fide drought for condo buyers.

Who buys condos? Well everyone of course. But the demographic has traditionally been active seniors (Boomers) downsizing from their family homes once the kids flew off to college, and, single women. I remember a developer friend told me that when he built his first condo project in the 1990’s he was surprised to sell it out to mostly women. He learned that their motivation was security that they weren’t finding in the apartment inventory at that time. They wanted a lobby that was permanently locked except to visitors owners let in and a parking garage which didn’t open without a pass card or code. This amenity has become a must in today’s projects, from video cameras to nest door knobs.

There is no way in hell that I can give you the number of apartment buildings vs condo buildings under construction or completed in the Salt Lake Valley in 2017 without moving up a pay raise here at the weekly (from free to paid!). I’d have to call every city and burb and talk to each town’s planning staff. I can give you the data from the Wasatch Front Regional MLS tho: 2003 condos were sold in Salt Lake County in 2017; 264 have sale pendings and there are 271 currently for sale.  They report that the supply of condos has been about three months-worth until there would be zero inventory.

Condos currently for sale at the end of December range from $69,900 to $2,499,000 with an average asking price of $372,206. Oddly enough, the average asking price of a condo with a sale pending was $254,441-meaning it’s the cheaper inventory that’s selling. Sales prices in 2017 were an average of $299,836 per unit.  Sadly, I can personally count less than half a dozen new condo buildings initiated or built this past year in Salt Lake City itself. Instead, thousands of new rental units have reached up to the sky as well as the rents landlords are charging for them.

Builders these days have found that condo developments are harder to finance for construction than apartments, and simpler to build when you take in the grueling process of permits, planning and zoning. All in all, the WFRMLS reported 1671 homes for sale and 271 condos for sale mid December…that’s a total of only 1942. Certainly in a county with over a million people there’s been an obvious drought of not just snow this time of year but inventory of homes and condos to buy.

August 11, 2017

The Apocalypse?

The President of North Korea keeps threatening to blow up the U.S. with nuclear bombs. Are you scared we might all be glowing with radiation in the near future? Are you ready for the apocalypse?

When I was a kid the same nuclear threat occurred in 1962 during what was known as the ‘Cuban Missile Crisis’. Our country feared we were all going to be vaporized in mushroom clouds from our neighbors to the south of Florida. School children like myself were drilled to protect ourselves (don’t laugh, this is real) by hiding under our desks when the school bell/alarm was set off. Nowadays I’m thinking kids do practice drills in case of a mass shooter attack, but back then we worried that an A-Bomb would go off, the roof would fall in on us and then an invisible gas called ‘radiation’ would kill us if we didn’t hide. Out teachers never spoke of guns, just bombs. Additionally, if we were able to crawl out from under our desks after the attack had begun, we were to go to the nearest “Fallout Shelter”. These hiding spaces were set up all around the country in public buildings like schools and were to serve as emergency spaces for survivors to stay in until some mysterious person would come and give the ‘all clear’ to us. Inside the shelter there would be provisions, bedding, water and medical supplies, flash lights and batteries, etc. that might last a week, a month or a year. Generally, the shelters were in basements marked by a yellow sign with three black triangles on it and the words FALLOUT SHELTER.

The man who designed/created/copyrighted that sign-Robert Blakeley-passed two weeks ago at the age of 95. This sign of the times marked an era of fear of our Cold War past that is just as real today as it was back then. However, we don’t have Fallout Shelters anymore to run to in case of foreign attack! The last four in Salt Lake City designated as community shelters were in the Masonic Temple on South Temple, The Utah State Capitol, The Pioneer Memorial Museum on 300 North and the YWCA. Yet by the 1970’s we had enough shelters to house Utah’s entire population. I called each one of them and no one I spoke with said the shelters were still available in case of attack.

In 1962 it seemed every neighbor had dug up their back yard and installed a small underground concrete bunker in case of a nuclear attack. Our family however, did not put one in. I honestly was terrified that we would thus die due to lack of planning. I asked my dad what we would do if we faced the end of the world and he said, “We’ll just use the neighbor’s shelter.” That sorta made me calmer.  Luckily the ‘crisis’ only lasted for about two weeks in and then the threat vaporized itself.

Wasatch Front home prices in this year’s second quarter climbed to their highest point ever. The median Wasatch Front home price reached $300,000, up from $275,000 a year ago. In Salt Lake County, the median single-family home price was $327,000, a 10 percent increase from last year.

The top five most expensive housing areas by ZIP code in the second quarter were:

1. Emigration Canyon (84108) $561,000, up 19.4%

2. The Avenues (84103) $502,000, up 2.7%

3. Eden (84310) $501,000, up 24.5%

4. Alpine (84004) $497,000, up 5.9%

5. Draper (84020) $482,250, up 8.0%

                Competition is fierce for homes priced under a half-million dollars. Many sellers continue to make the sale of their home contingent on them finding another property. Buyers typically offer more than asking price and compete with several other offers.

                The higher prices and limited housing inventory are putting a drag on existing home sales. In the second quarter, there were 8,201 single-family homes sold across the Wasatch Front, down 7 percent from 8,810 sales a year earlier. It was the first decline in sales for a second quarter in four years. In Salt Lake County, home sales were down 5 percent. Utah County saw a 6 percent drop. Davis and Weber counties each saw declines of 11 percent. The biggest drop was in Tooele County were sales fell 15 percent year-over-year.

                While overall home sales were down, many areas saw double-digit increases. Taylorsville (84129) saw sales rise 38 percent. Provo (84604) sales were up 25 percent. In Holladay, sales climbed 22 percent. Nearly half (46 percent) of all single-family homes sold along the Wasatch Front were in Salt Lake County. Utah County captured 22 percent of all single-family home sales. Condominium sales were up in all counties on the Wasatch Front, except Salt Lake County were they fell 7 percent. The median priced condo in Salt Lake increased to $224,000, up 11 percent year-over-year.  The average cumulative days a single-family home was on the market in the second quarter along the Wasatch Front fell to 9 days, down from 10 days in the second quarter of 2016.

August 11, 2017

Utah's Bad Drivers

I wonder if Donald Trump drives anything but a golf cart. I’ve never seen a photo of him behind the wheel of an automobile, but then I don’t remember seeing any presidents in my life time driving and waving at a camera. The first U.S. president to ride in a car was William McKinley, who hopped aboard a steam powered auto called a ‘Stanley Steamer’ in 1899.  Automobiles were first made by hand and not on assembly lines and so they cost a ton of money to buy one. It’s reported in the annals of Utah state history that in 1909 Utah’s 370,000 residents owned only 873 cars and trucks.

            Jump ahead to 2017 and note that the Larry H. Miller Group owns and operates 54 car dealerships in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Washington and California. Wikipedia reports that 015 as of Utahns owned 745 vehicles per 1000 people in the state.  We have too many cars and according to the Utah Transit Authority only 16% of folks along the Wasatch front use public transportation.

            In my personal life I take TRAX because I live in the ‘Free Zone’ in the capitol city. Being a real estate broker I pretty much drive for a living schlepping anxious buyers hither and yon to see properties or speeding to a seller’s home to list it. I’m a great driver. I’ve never caused an accident, and luckily have only been in one minor mishap when someone rear-ended my car. I do see accidents every day and my cop friends tell me that most of those happening now are caused because people are texting and not paying attention to the road.

            Here comes summer, holidays and road trips. The insurance website QuoteWizard confirms that New Yorkers are notorious for horn honking, Los Angeles drivers are more prone to road rage than the rest of the country and Portlanders are famously slow and polite. They weighed statistics from 2016 for 75 of the largest U.S. cities as far as accidents, speeding tickets, DUI’s and other citations and found that Salt Lake City drivers were the SECOND WORST in the country.  We apparently they found that we also have the second highest rate of speeding tickets in the country. That’s only salt in the wound after Insure.com found in 2014 that Utahns are the 10th rudest drivers in the country.  My own survey says that Utahns are probably #1 in making left hand turns from the far right hand lane without signaling, have more people in a vehicle than seat belts in the car (illegal).