Money Lending


What’s going on in the world of money lending? Take a step back to quote of the most famous lenders of all time, a fictional Shakespeare character in The Merchant of Venice. “Shylock” lends the hero Antonio money so that he can woo the woman he’s in love with (the heiress Portia) enough to impress her. Instead of $20 in his pocket and finding a deal at Deseret Industries, he wants to get bigger bucks to buy designer clothes so that she won’t see him as a poor loser. Shylock, the local money lender, agrees to help him out and says:

Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express’d in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me. (1.3.17)

Of course, Antonio fails to pay his debt and the two characters wind up in court. The clever part of the play is not only the big question as to where Shylock might cut the pound of flesh from his guilty borrower but how legally Antonio gets out of losing a body part! This play and the characters have become so famous that over the last several centuries the name ‘Shylock’ has become synonymous with anyone who lends money at a high rate.

Mortgage rates have crawled are firmly in the 4-4.5% range for 30 year loans. What does that mean to you? You can’t buy as much of a home as you planned on six months ago. On a $200,000 loan, your payment would have gone from say $1100 to $1200. The average bank/Shylock out there wants to lend you money if your credit is good. They usually will give you about 1/3 of your monthly income as a rule of thumb towards your house payments. To buy a $200K house you’d have to have good credit and make $3600 a month without too many bills. The average sales price of a home currently for sale in Salt Lake City is $290,000-up a lot over last year’s values.

What’s a poor love struck buyer to do in order to get a good interest rate and not lose a pound of flesh in this lending market? First understand when Lucky Lupe’s House of Loans is offering mortgages at 2.5% in a 4.5% marketplace, there’s more to the story. The COST of the loan is what you should pay attention to-or the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). You hear the APR quoted at a million miles an hour or printed in tiny print after an auto ad. Second, learn to shop the APR’s and not the interest rates on loans. Manuel’s Mortgage Depot might offer you a 4.5% loan but his costs might be half of what Lucky Lupe will charge you. Too confusing? Find a lender who will sit down with you and explain this to you until you cry for mercy. Lender’s must BY LAW give you something called a ‘Good Faith Estimate’ when you apply for a loan. Take that quote from Lender A and then scan it to Lender B and see what B can do for you. If the quotes are too similar, find a Lender C to beat them both and save yourself more than a pound of flesh.

Sandy Rising


A wise Greek once told me “The economic health of a city can be seen by counting the number of cranes in the sky”. After many years of development drought, there are currently many of these metal praying mantises hovering over various blocks in downtown Salt Lake City. A high rise office tower is going in at 111 So. Main which will reportedly provide office space for the @700 Goldman Sacs employees currently leasing in the tech section of Research Park at the University of Utah. The new performing arts center on Main will be up and running in less than two years and its huge concrete pumps and tubes make the area look as if a giant spider is nesting on top of the construction.

In 2007, Salt Lake City approved four towers to be built downtown as part of City Creek. One of them was a condo project that included the tallest building ever constructed in Utah at 415 feet tall. I was a Planning and Zoning Commissioner back then and I remember citizens asking if there wasn’t a limit to building height here and folks worried that there was a law “that no building could be higher than the LDS Temple or the LDS office building.” That belief my friends, is a myth. The church’s headquarters on North Temple and State Street were completed in 1975 and became for a while the tallest building in downtown. Up until then the 270′ tall Kennecott Building was about as high up as you could see from the sidewalk. And before the Kennecott skyscraper there were the 11-story Boston and Newhouse Buildings at Main between 300-400 South. There are no height limitations to buildings in the core of downtown although there are restrictions about building big boxes on corners.

It’s possible though in the near future that tourists might get confused about where downtown is when they drive over Point of the Mountain and see the 1,100 acres in the heart of Sandy developed into high rises. The Salt Lake burb announced last month that a huge development of offices, housing and hotels dubbed ‘The Cairns’ to be added to the area between 90th-114th South and I-15 to the TRAX lines. The residential section will have 650 housing units of apartments and condos at Centennial Parkway where it meets Sego Lily Drive. “The Prestige” will include two 25-story towers and two shorter 6-story buildings.

Growth in Sandy is to be expected. It’s the city at the base of the Cottonwoods where four ski resorts are located. It’s also just a 20 minute hop over the Point of the Mountain to the land of MLM’s and tech employers. The developers are well aware of the demographics they will attract to be residents of their new project, from people downsizing from larger homes to 20-somethings who just want to rent and ski in their free time. It’s going to be a bit weird for us downtowners in a couple of years to say, “Hey, let’s jump on TRAX and go to Sandy for some fun!” when right now all there is to do is take the trains to the soccer games and Expo Center. In just a few years Sandy will be even more of a destination point as planners are connecting Rio Tinto and the Expo Center better with transportation lines and amenities surrounding the new development.

Addicted to Homes


Admit it. You’re a complete addict. You look at them in bed, at work, on your phone. Your heart flutters, you feel tickles inside your lower belly, and you’re totally obsessed. “You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff. It’s closer to the truth to say you can’t get enough. You know you’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to…” Robert Palmer.

I know your addiction. I read my own analytics and see what you’ve done and when you’ve done it. Naughty, naughty! Your boss would not like you spending so much of their dime on your passion. Lucky for you, your habit is free and so accessible and there are no monthly fees which you have to hide from your spouse (although recently you’ve been going over your data plan limits on your shared mobile service). Go ahead and admit that you are powerless over house porn and that your life has become unmanageable. When you were in college you talked with your buddies about sex all the time and now just a few years later all you can do is show home tours on your computer at the hipster coffee house to strangers.

People call me and admit their desires to me daily. They text me about how so and so’s website has such beautiful photos of a house and that we must dash there immediately to see its glory. Or how a home that just appeared on the MLS is stunning and we must run. It appears my client has been stalking houses for months and days and he has become turned on by images aglow in soft lighting and the appearance of new glossy finishes. He hasn’t paid attention to the Google street view too closely because he might have seen that the one house sits next to an 8-plex apartment building, and the other is a new listing done by a flipper I know. I run anyway and meet him at the first house. It too is a flipper that is staged inside to the nines with groovy furniture and IKEA lighting. The lovely neighborhood is perfect with sycamore-lined streets dotted with faux-period street lights and little traffic. Then I show him why he doesn’t want this house (8-plex neighbors). He gets back in his car and we drive to the second house. It appears nice too. “Look how the exterior brick was just painted to hide the major crack in the wall and foundation. Do you notice the wet smell in the basement-that’s the foundation crack. And for the price of this home, do you want cabinets that just have new fronts and hardware or do you want all hardwood?” The crack scares him and he looks sad. He wants to go back to the interwebs and look at more pretty houses.

House porn is wonderful. I know because I’m addicted too. Read between the lines when you’re sitting in your jammies. If the photos are great, read the remarks about the house. If all the agent talks about is the area around it and not the house, there’s no updating. “Minimal yard work” means your dog won’t have room to pee. Most of all, tell your wife what you’re doing and get your own place ready to sell so others can lust over you. You might find she’s been looking at the same porn when you’re not around.