Rent Relief is Here!

Have you been struggling to pay your landlord the rent they are due? Behind on utilities? The Emergency Rental Assistance program is now open for applications in Utah!  This covers renters expenses from March 13th, 2020 to December of this year if you qualify, and here are the requirements:

-Combined household income at or below 80% of area median income;

-Someone in the household has qualified for unemployment, or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19;

-Household is experiencing housing instability (for example, received a past due utility or rent or eviction notice, or living in unsafe or unhealthy living conditions);

-Applicant resides in the household and is on the lease.

You can speed up the process and be ‘prioritized’ if you have been unemployed for at least 90 days or are living at or below the 50% area median income. The US Census Bureau reports the median household income in 2019 is $60,676 and lower in other counties in the state.

To apply for assistance, you’ll go to This site works for BOTH tenants AND landlords who apply on behalf of their tenants late on rent. You’ll fill out an application and take photos of documents they require to load onto the site, like your 1040 or W-2 form. The process will be quicker if you can work directly with your landlord to get their W-9, a ledger showing the outstanding rent and late fees you’re being charged, your income verification like a 2020 tax form and recent pay stubs, any unemployment insurance history, any past due utility bills and an eviction notice if that’s relevant.

I want to mention here that if you’re experiencing housing stress, you may also be in need of food for yourself or your family. The Utah Food Bank is helping to fight hunger statewide (last year they distributed 52.9 million pounds of food or 44.1 million meals to Utahns facing hunger). They report that 1 in 5 kids here are unsure where their next meal will come from. They are always looking for donations of money, food and volunteer time to assist their 203 partners across the state. Last year they got much of their food donated from programs like Grocery Rescue (16 million pounds from 270 grocery stores), National Commercial Donations from Feeding America, USDA commodities, local growers, and food drives. The website will assist you in finding a food pantry or mobile food pantry near you.

Finally, if you are lost in the muck of life, overwhelmed and out of answers, we have a great resource in just dialing 211 for help. They are there 24/7 for you to chat, text, email or call for fantastic resources in housing, food, mental heath assistance, medical referrals, Coronavirus information, distance learning and tutoring, transportation, human services STATEWIDE. And thanks to United Way, it’s a free service to contact them anytime.



If you’re in the market to buy a home or condo right now, you know you’re up against a wave of fellow buyers competing for a pathetic amount of available inventory. Someone sent me a meme the other day that said there were more REALTORS® than listings, but trust me, there have always been more REALTORS® than MLS listings. If you’re about to buy or have been making offers, here’s what’s in our contracts written in your favor:

All Utah Assn. Of REALTOR® Real Estate Purchase Contracts have language to protect the buyer to get OUT of the contract if: a) the buyer doesn’t like the seller’s property disclosures and/or has the property inspected and doesn’t like what they find; b) the property doesn’t appraise for the agreed purchase price and c) the buyer doesn’t get final loan approval. In this market, to win contracts, I’m seeing buyers give up one, two, or all three of these rights to secure a property! If you’re never purchased a home, it’s scary NOT to get a professional inspection to determine if the wiring is safe, the roof doesn’t leak, there’s no or low radon gas, or if the property has high mold or allergen readings, hidden moisture in walls, a broken main sewer line or poor water quality. Yet some buyers are willing to risk buying a money pit to win the multiple offer battle.

Appraisers right now are living in hell because homes are selling fast and there are very few comparable sales to support increasing high sales prices. I know of a home near the U of U that just sold for $300K over asking and an agent of mine sold one in Harvard/Yale for $115 over ask price. I work more with sellers than buyers and try to suggest list prices that are fair and will garner the seller multiple offers. If the property is listed too high the seller won’t get to chose from as many offers, and multiples are what drive the final sales price up. Some buyers are taking out the ‘subject to appraisal’ clause in their offers and making up the difference between an appraisal that may come in low and the final sales price. Yet, buyers that don’t have that cash in hand drive up prices more hoping the seller will like a high offer. Example: seller asks $450,000 and there are 10 offers. Seller picks the highest offers at $500,000 and the appraisal only comes in at $460,000. Buyer must come up with $40,000 to make up the difference, when they had originally planned on putting only 5% down on the home.  And worst of all, buyer may not eventually qualify for a loan at the higher sales price and the sale will fail.

Offers I see rolling into my office or that I’m writing may also temp the seller with ‘non-refundable earnest money’ from the buyer at signing of the offer and/or buyer offering to pay seller’s closing costs at settlement! Whoa! Will this ever stop? Not soon, in my opinion!