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.

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.

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 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).