Babs De Lay

Babs De Lay

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 13:11

#1 Place to Grow OLD!

To practice your Utah accent, repeat after me: “Lard, Darris, wat a gar jus arng farmal ur wear un!” (Lord, Doris, what a gorgeous orange formal you’re wearing!). Good job!  Sister Dottie S. Dixon would be proud. Guess what?  Utahr is sa speshul that we’re now the bestest playce ta git old!

        Call your folks, grab your grandmother’s dentures and your grandaddy’s reeking old Skechers and have them make Utah the last eternal place to live because Caring.com just voted us the best state in which to grow old. This data collector found that the elderly in our state have great access to high-quality care that costs far below the national median. They report our seniors on average page $35K for assisting living and $48K for a home health aide (if they want to remain in their own place but need health care). In reading the study it looks like Utah shoves the Ben Gay up the butts of all other states by having excellent nursing home costs, senior communities and more.  Iowa came in #2, followed by South Carolina, Washington State and Nebraska.  

        I work a great deal with active seniors and the elderly. Many folks in the capitol city want to retire here/stay in Utah. Torrey and Escalante are beautiful places but they aren’t near health care. Moab is swell but good luck finding housing in the town. And you have to love the temperature of HELL if you want to live in St. George in the summer! Lard Darris, it’s sa hot down ta Saint Gaarge that you gots to eats hot chiles jus to cool yer mouth off. Ya gotta put ice in ur water bed! And the chickins lay the hard bowled eggs!  The study found we are great in caring for our seniors but I’m not so sure it focued much on senior housing other than care centers.

        There aren’t that many senior-only apartments or condos available along the Wasatch front where the majority of people are 55 years or older. It’s also extremely hard to find one-level housing.  Legacy Village of Sugar House opened its doors last month and made a dent in our dire needs here for elder care. The 6 level senior housing component offers 286 luxury residential units, dining, meeting and activity rooms and a theater mixed in with main floor retail and office space.  Even though the state’s average age is under 30 years old we have a ton of Baby Boomers. And Boomers are getting long in the tooth (like me) and are feeling the housing crunch. Darris, it’s jus swell ta have all them hospitals for us, but if ya ain’t got no place to live but Pioneer Park they ain’t no use! It might be time to offer housing incentives to builders focusing on seniors-since we are now the #1 place to grow old!

Friday, 11 August 2017 14:32

TERROR IS FUN!

I love history. I don’t know why, I just do. I especially love the history of places, of homes and buildings. In my college years I would wander down a virtually dead downtown on a Sunday photographing old buildings. I’d explore the Avenues and stop in front of hundred year old homes and go back to the college library and read about architectural styles. My father graduated as an architect and even studied under Frank Lloyd Wright for a bit, but ended up moving us to Arizona where he became a cattle rancher and put down his drawings in favor of a bullwhip. I would call him over the years and talk about cool housings and buildings I had seen or was marketing and he loved it when I dug deeper and found records about who had lived in a home or who had built it. Dad’s passed and I don’t have more than clients to talk to about the history of their old home.

                I still get excited to read about local historic places and recently watched on the news that a part of Lagoon amusement park has been restored. Our locally owned park started as a resort built next to a railroad on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in 1886. It was closed and parts were moved over to Farmington by local railroad owner Simon Bamberger who operated a rail from Salt Lake City to Ogden. He built an amusement park and named it after the original body of water there that was used to farm ice that was stored for summer uses. The park had bowling, dining and music and a ‘Shady Bowery’. Its first ride was ‘Shoot–the-Shoots’. Its historic carousel was built in 1883 and installed in 1906 and is still there to ride. The park closed in WWII and the Freed family and Ranch Kimball purchased the place and the rest is screaming history of park attendees who enjoy the place to this day. As a kid, Utahns loved to be scared not just by one of the (now 10) rollercoasters, but by the Terrorride. Youngsters would ride in a moving car in the dark and pass by scary creatures made of paper mache and wax. Teens would ride to make out in the dark. It is a classic amusement ride called a ‘dark house’, like the Haunted House at (Knoebels), Spook-A-Rama (Coney Island) and Curse of DarKastle (Busch Gardens).

                The famous dark-house designer Bill Tracy designed Terroride and Dracula’s Castle here. Horror fans geek out over that fact as there are only eight of these rides left in the U.S. with his art intact. Ours has now been restored with new machinery and a new story line, but the original historic mural and creatures are fresh and are there to delight young and old in a new theme following a main character named “Louis von Black”.  I’ll forgo the heat and check it out during the Halloween season of Frightmares to be amused and surprised in the Fall. Thanks Lagoon for saving a bit of odd history for us.

Friday, 11 August 2017 14:29

Home/Condo Price Update!

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.

Friday, 11 August 2017 14:27

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).

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 10:04

AFFORDABLE HOUSING?

Besides the NBA finals and your brackets, the two hottest topics these days are affordable housing and tiny homes. First, affordable housing is really two things…what you think you can pay for a roof over your head, and what the government thinks you can/should be able to afford.

        The Housing Authority of the County of Salt Lake warns that: “Section 8 housing scams prey on home-seekers and use websites that look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. They take “registration fee” money, personal information and offer a chance to register for the real lottery-since these hopefuls usually don’t know they’ve been scammed until the real waiting list is closed.” Guess what? Salt Lake City AND Salt Lake County have both closed their waiting lists for Section 8 housing. There aren’t any units available for rent. 

        One new developer here in Salt Lake has put up the Greenprint Apartments on 800 South and 200 West. These micro-unit apartments are 250-350 sq. ft (think hotel room size) and work great for minimalists and rent for $700-800 per month.  This is the cheapest new product I have been able to find anywhere in Utah.  Salt Lake City does not require developers of rental buildings to make a percentage of the units affordable, but as a builder you can get certain tax incentives to include some in your overall project. Our rental housing inventory in the state is estimated to be down 43-45,000 housing units, and author James Woods recently stated, “For the first time in 40 years, the increase in households in Utah exceeds the number of new housing units.”  St. George reports less than a 1% vacancy rate-yike! Low inventory/high rents is a fact in the majority of larger cities in the United States and why we’re seeing more homeless camping in tents and in boxes along the main roads and around shelters.

        Second, so why not get a tiny home?  Well, zoning wise, they aren’t allowed in most places in the Salt Lake Valley. You can put one in a trailer park, but have to pay $600-800 a month for the rental pad underneath the home. Affordable lots are a thing of the past, with land values going for $65-300,000 per ¼ acre along the Wasatch Front.  Portland, Oregon has come up with a great idea, though. “A Place for You” is a new experiment where the city will put a 200 sq. ft. modular unit in your back yard for 5 years. You agree to have it put in your yard and the adult and one or two kids who occupy the place will be under strict rules while living there to keep the place in order, not do illegal drugs, adhere to noise ordinances, etc. After 5 years you get to keep the structure and use it as an accessory dwelling/rental. Win/win!

        Salt Lake City and County own a ton of land, which leads me to wonder, why not tiny home villages here subsidized by our tax dollars?

Tuesday, 09 May 2017 10:01

SHANGRI-LA LA LAND

You might be too young to know the reference of ‘Shangri-La’ unless you were a Lit major or an old movie buff. Shangri-La is a mythical place in the mountains of Tibet imagined by James Hilton in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. It was perfect paradise cut off from the world, with no violence, no protests, no famines. Many Tibetans today believe it does exist, and even the present Dalai Lama thinks it may be hidden in one astral plain or another. Bali Hai is a real place (mountain in Hawaii) but also a mythical island in the South Pacific where only good things happen. Glocca Morra is a dreamy but fake place in the British Isles, probably Ireland, where everyone is in love and dances the day away. All three places are in great old movies-check ‘em out if you want to live in a perfect world for a minute.

        Utah is becoming for some the paradise only Mormons could envision so long ago when Joseph Smith told his fold to head west. For today’s techies, Salt Lake City has just been named #8 on the REALTOR.com list of potential Silicon Valley 2.0 Cities. That list looks at other cities known for big tech companies and trends within the geographic locations and industries, and it’s finding that workers in many traditional tech locales are being priced out of housing and are seeking better areas to live throughout America…and we’re looking good in their eyes.  That research is backed up by another report from SmartAsset, a financial tech company that studies what markets are best home buyers polled in their survey. Salt Lake County ranked among the best places in their recent report. DK Eyewitness Travel this month named Salt Lake City #5 and Provo #16 in their list of the ’20 Best U.S. Cities for Making a Fresh Start’. And for senior citizens our fine state ranks #2 among all the states with the lowest proportion of ‘senior isolation’, with 22.5% of seniors living alone (as opposed to places like North Dakota with 32% of seniors living alone). This is according to seniorcare.com.

        For those of us already living in the Beehive State, the garden of Eden is still a pretty idyllic place to live, yes? The skiing is fantastic, the red rocks are gorgeous and opportunities for employment are seemingly endless. Yet, the veil is lifting and the smoky mist hiding us from the rest of the world is beginning to make us sick. Our Shangri-La is beginning to bust our seams with traffic congestion, higher housing prices and too many low wage jobs. I’m afraid the secret is out about Utah and the masses are coming.

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:58

Comfort Pets

The definition of comfort is simply the easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress. We all know how to get our own comfort, from a hug of a loved one to a grilled cheese sammich and soup. It may come from a favorite quilt wrapped around you at home on the sofa to the purring of your favorite 4 legged beast.  “Comfort animals” have become quite the rage to folks in this decade and sadly they are not so comforting to other folks.  But comfort animals are different than assistance animals.

                It is rare that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (the Feds) file claims against Utah Landlords. In my 33 years as a real estate broker I can think of about a handful of cases that I’ve read about, so it’s pretty unusual to hear about a new case filing. HUD even does random tests of landlords by sending in phony tenants or buyers to leasing and real estate companies to check that all is in order of the laws of fair housing.  In this story, HUD has just announced that the owner and manager of the Pine Cove Apartments at 1243 E. Alameda Avenue has allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by denying reasonable accommodation requests to potential renters with disabilities. A woman and her 10 pound dog were denied a lease even though she had a doctor’s note prescribing the animal as an emotional support. She was supposedly told by the landlord that other tenants are allergic to dogs or don’t like dogs. The complainant went to the proper authorities who conducted a sting operation at the property and each time it was found that there appeared to be discrimination going on against people with disabilities. The case will go to court and if the landlord is found guilty, they could pay some big bucks in fines.

                Anyone can get a certificate on-line that certifies their favorite miniature pig, cat, dog, horse, snake, turtle are their Comfort or Assistance Animals. For a landlord, a letter from a doctor is pretty clear evidence there’s a need for the animal. Know though, that during this time of year when many people travel, airlines have strict rules for your comfort pets when traveling with you. Effective this 2016, Delta Airlines no longer accepts warm blooded animals on flights with an average flight time of greater than 12 hours. If your flight is shorter you can carry on a pet if it can fit under your seat for a onetime $125 fee. Birds can only travel on domestic flights. Larger pets must be shipped in a kennel in the cargo hold for a fee. Seeing eye dogs/guide dogs/assistance dogs are permitted to travel in the cabin on the floor or in an adjoining seat and man, if you’re a landlord, don’t even think you can ban such an animal from your property if a tenant qualifies to lease!

Friday, 19 February 2016 12:40

IT’S A SELLERS MARKET!

I just got back in the office from a meeting with a 94-year old ex-REALTOR because I had an offer on her condominium. She lives in assisted living and I always bring her ‘biscuits’ (cookies) from Ruby Snap which she adores. I’ve been in the real estate business for 32 years and she too .was in for decades. We both lived through markets where interest rates on home loans were 18% (mid-1980’s) and seller’s markets in the 80’s 90’s and 2007.  And we had to laugh because we are currently experiencing yet another seller’s market.

        What’s a seller’s market? - In real estate it’s a phenomenon when the inventory of homes and condominiums is very, very low and there’s nothing to buy. It’s like walking into the men’s jeans section of The Gap and only finding three pairs of green khakis size 44/34, you’re a 30/28 and want blue denim. Why is it a seller’s market? - There are many reasons: 1) after the crash of 2008 people were terrified to ever move again; 2) demand is higher than supply because Utah is seeing a huge growth in jobs and businesses moving in (most counties); 3) investors have been buying up short sales and foreclosures like mad throughout the state since the 2007 crash as rental inventory and 4) parents have been seeing an influx of grown children moving back into their homes because affordable rental housing is hard to find. Oh, and speaking of rental housing, my property manager friends ensure me that we are really low in rental possibilities too in the capitol city. Luckily the flux of students moving in and out of rentals around the semester endings and beginnings allows for more units coming and going than the overall vacancy rate of 3% (meaning 97% of rentals are rented!).

        What happens to buyers in a seller’s market? - They get run over, beaten up and walked on. To win the game, buyers will need to be aware that any ‘good’ property that hits the market will generally have multiple offers within a day or two. Unless you can pay all cash for a property you better be pre-approved with a local lender. The more earnest money (think ‘deposit’) you’re willing to throw upfront at the sellers, the better.  Having your financials in order and having that pre-approval letter in your fist to wave at the seller is absolutely mandatory. And you may have heard it from friends, write a letter to the sellers to accompany your offer. Include a photo of you and the dog, or you and the kids. In multiple offer situations you’ll have to present your ‘highest and best’ bid and sometimes just the photo of that 8-toed cat of yours might win you the home. Really.

Friday, 19 February 2016 12:38

RENTAL BLUES

The Utah Apartment Association tells us that the vacancy rate for apartments in Salt Lake City right now is 3%.  That means that 97% of all rental housing is leased out. That blows if you’re looking for a place to hang your hat, and it’s probably even worse if you have a cat.  Most landlords do not like animals as renters which seems odd to me since most people have a cat or dog, right?

        Here’s a rundown of apartment buildings in Salt Lake City currently under construction or in the planning phases as of March, 2016:

        -165 units on 200 East between 100 & 200 South/Cowboy Partners developers

        -277 units on 100 South between 500 & 600 West called ‘Alta Gateway’/Hunter Group developers

        -the former ‘Carriage for Hire’ site at 400 West between 200 & 300 South-high end apartments adjacent to the Light Rail station there

        -165 Units on 400 West between 400 & 300 South/Garbett Homes

        -about 200 units planned for the former Sizzler Steakhouse property at 400 East and 400 South

        -110 units on 600 West just south of the North Temple Viaduct/Kier Construction

        -158 Units at 260 So. 500 East

        -Salt Lake County announced the sale of its property at 600 So. State to Wasatch Development, which plans for a mixed use development of homes and offices/retail

        The numbers add up to @ 1800 units under construction in or near the downtown core, which adds to the 2000 or so which have been completed in the past three years here.   If you head out a little further south from downtown there’s more plans:

        -The Ritz Classic bowling lanes are now closed forever. The 4.11 acres is scheduled to have 289 units built there in the next 1-2 years

        -The ‘Habits’ bar/property has been sold to the same buyer who built the Lotus apartments on South Temple. He purchased the bar at 832 E. 3900 South and another piece of property at 3723 So. 900 East and is planning about 60-70 townhomes similar to ones he built on the corner of 1700 South and 900 East.

        The Salt Lake Tribune called us recently to ask about all the new condo projects going up in Salt Lake that we knew about. Well, there’s aren’t really any to talk about except the Paragon Station on 300 West and 200 South that is in construction stages right now. Lenders have been very tight on their monies for condo developers but much looser on funds for apartment projects. If you were thinking of buying, lack of inventory is almost as bad as it is with rentals. The average price of a home in Salt Lake County in 2015 was $248,000; Utah County $222,000; David County $229,000 and Weber County $170,000.

Thursday, 18 February 2016 13:31

What BUYERS Want!

It’s always interesting to watch trends in housing regardless if you’re a real estate agent or investor.  I’m not talking about the statistics of sales data so much as what kinds of homes are selling and what homes are being built for the current consumer. Maybe you noticed all the articles on living in tree houses, pods, micro-homes and apartments in the last decade? That’s because the economy tanked and people found they couldn’t afford big homes. Fist time buyers were especially hit hard and looked for alternatives.  The American Institute of Architects recently reported that ‘home sizes are beginning to turn around, particularly for custom and luxury homes as well as the market for existing homes.’ That pretty much sums it up-the economy gets good again and people look to building their dreams again and spending the bucks to attain them.

Most interesting and impacting to me as a real estate broker is the effect our aging population has on home sales. Seniors who are close to retirement or newly retired are often shedding their homes and downsizing to condos for the attractive ‘lock and leave’ lifestyle. Two of my clients last month sold their homes because their kids and extended families kept moving back in with them and they really wanted to have peace and quiet without the constant noise of grandchildren. Then again, one client moved up so that she could live with her daughter and son in law because her mobility was slowing decreasing and she was beginning to need assistance.

  The summer Parade of Homes in the Salt Lake Valley polled people to see what they wanted in a new home, as in their ‘must haves’. Here’s the results:

1) Bigger great rooms to gather family and friends for movies, game nights and holiday get-togethers;

2) Master bathrooms with double sinks, walk-in closets and built in organizers in the closets;

3) Tech features such as remote control door locks, live video feeds of the house to smart phones, alarm systems, etc. Also green features . . . tankless waterheaters, and more energy saving appliances and fixtures;

4) Walk out basements. Oh, and speaking of basements, put in a radon venting system at the time of a new home build-so much cheaper than after the fact when the radon is discovered and you have to get an engineer in to mitigate the levels of gas;

5) High ceilings for better light and mental creativity;

6) Three car garages (because so many people in Utah have ATV’s, boats, bikes and ski equipment);

7) Large kitchen pantry-for Costco items methinks!

8)  Central air. It appears that global warming is making the evaporative cooler industry here cool off in unexpected ways.