Scenic Utah

One of the best day trips out of Salt Lake City is to head southeast to 9 Mile Canyon outside of Price (actually, outside of Wellington). The canyon name is a misnomer-it is not nine miles long, it’s about 43 miles long from the highway, through the mountains and up to Duchesne before the road back to Park City/Salt Lake. It’s worth a stop after two hours or so in Helper at the Balanced Rock Eatery and Pub on Main Street for pancakes (all day!) bigger than the size of your head, burgers, sannies and dinner entrees. The little town has done a great job of changing from empty boarded up storefronts, saloons, and hotels to a little vibrant art community of @2500 residents.

Once you’re full as a tick it’s not far to the turnoff to the Canyon adventure. You can see thin layers of coal (it is Carbon County!) in the hills, smell fragrant cedar pines and sage brush, discover colors of earth from a light green to a sandstone red on your drive and best of all, the infamous petroglyphs along the roadside.  There’s the ‘coyote and the stars’ on a rock high above road (with markers to help see it), large ‘newspaper rocks’ of stories showing humanoids, sheep, deer, snakes, giant owls, and many dots in patterns that look like calendars. Sadly, A-holes of this century have scrawled their own graffiti alongside the precious Native art including adding vaginas and penises to some of the smaller human figures carved into the rock. It’s a felony and a bad Federal rap to damage any of these sites.

Scenic Utah is a 501(c)3 non-profit state-wide organization out to win my heart. They appreciate our history and our vistas around the state. These volunteers are out to educate us, the legislature and larger communities about protecting dark skies, scenic byways and help to ban new electronic billboards to reduce the light pollution that damage dark skies and help to ensure local governments keep rights to regulate and ban billboards of all kinds that are ‘intrusive eyesores that harm the visual environment, reduce property values and detract from community character.’  They appreciate as I do our visual environs. They have found that more than 75% of Utahns believe billboards are intrusive eyesores that harm the visual environments where they are located.

Having served as a volunteer Planning Commissioner for Salt Lake City for 8 years I got a hard and fast education on how powerful the billboard companies are and how difficult it is to get rid of a single one. You can go to to find out more about their vision and purpose. Best of all, they are having a photo contest (Deadline is SEPT 1) with categories like ‘scenic night skies’, ‘my rural roots’, parks in towns and cities, ‘visual pollution we wish would go away’, ‘off the beaten path’ (remote or hard to reach places in our beautiful state), etc. to celebrate the vistas of this great state.

Affordable Housing

There’s good news for affordable housing coming to Salt Lake City!

First, if you haven’t driven on Foothill across from Research Park and Sunnyside (800 So) you’d miss all the construction going on at the west side of the road. It’s hard to miss since just about everywhere in the valley is a crane, bulldozer or hole being developed. This site is where a private entity (The Clark and Christine Ivory Trust), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the state/U of U are combining resources to put in four buildings with @550 apartments, and was formerly the original location of ‘married student housing’ for the school. The church is offering a ground lease for 99 years on the location for the two entities to develop and manage housing there. Second, the university and ‘Ivory University House’ is in the process of adding @1,700 housing units for students: 430 rooms at Kahlert Village, 775 beds in the Impact and Prosperity Epicenter and 504 units in the University West Village. All of the construction should be completed by 2024.

Third, and highly controversial, is Salt Lake City’s proposals for Affordable Housing Incentives. The Planning Division has done an extreme deep dive into researching housing issues that we’re facing in the capitol city and have put forth zoning amendments to encourage the construction of additional affordable housing buy incentivizing developers who include affordable homes in their projects. This wouldn’t be a requirement but if the developer did include affordable housing, then they might be able to get waivers on parking, height, setback and process waivers depending on the designs.

What’s controversial about affordable housing? The City is proposing to allow for multi-family units in single family neighborhoods. Picture the Harvard/Yale area around 1000 South and 1500 East, an area of precious mostly brick homes with historic architecture and landscape. Then imagine one of those homes being torn town and replaced with a four-plex that may have one or two units that could be rented to low income folks-people who earn less than $74,000 for a family of four.  Nimbys HATE this idea of rental housing and have been testifying in hearings and writing emails like crazy trying to stop more generous zoning. They don’t want greater height, or multi-family buildings nearby, or a reduction in side yards that might help squeeze in bigger structures. You’ll hear more about this during the summer as public input is a necessary step in the process of approval. The City does want you to speak up!

Also, the City is still trying to create opportunities for more ADU’s (think mini-homes). Our laws are outdated here for this trend in affordable housing and again, NIMBY’s oppose greater density in their neighborhoods. Ivory Homes has been battling Avenues residents for years to build homes at a project they call ‘Capitol Park Cottages’ at @675 N. F Street. Planning and Zoning approved of a rezone for them last week to build 19 single-family homes with 14 of them having ADU’s.


We’re Softening

What’s going on?  I held an open house and only two groups came through!  I listed a property and I’ve only had three showings!  Is the real estate bubble bursting?

Don’t wait for a popping sound, but the market is softening somewhat. Prices around the country in many areas have adjusted downward by an average of 5% and bidding wars are starting to slow as rising mortgage interest rates have increased to 5% or more. reported last month that home prices are moving south in Toledo, OH, Rochester, NY, Detroit, MI, Pittsburgh, PA, Springfield, MA, Tulsa, OK, LA, CA, Memphis, TN, Chicago, IL and Richmond, VA.  Trust me, this isn’t any repeat of the evil Great Recession when housing prices were out of control and within a year the bubble burst and prices plummeted across the country, with many foreclosures a direct result.   This small of a decrease doesn’t mean we’re headed for another crash and Utah sellers won’t feel that much pain during this inflation. Why?

  • We’ve got the best unemployment stats in the country with only 2% of Utahns without jobs, whereas the national rate is more like 3.6%.
  • More people are moving to Utah than leaving.
  • We still have very low real estate inventory for buyers to buy or renters to rent in the State.

The advantage now with the market softening is that buyers may actually have a chance at winning a bid rather than competing with 20 or more offers. Maybe now there might only be a handful of offers.

During the crash in 2008 we saw housing values decline almost 20% and yet in 2021 housing prices rose on average of 19% in one year. With the Coronavirus Housing Boom of renters wanting the security of owning their own nest and Millennials deciding to buy rather than rent we saw not just unholy increases in offering prices by homeowners but super low inventory. As our inflation keeps growing experts believe recession will follow, and when that happens, we usually see a collapsing housing market. That isn’t logical when there continues to be such a demand on housing inventory. Thus, don’t pee yourself to think the home you just bought is going to go down in value by 20% anytime soon.

Back in 2008 just about anyone could get a home loan and too many bought that really couldn’t afford to own and so when the economy crashed buyers lost jobs and couldn’t afford their mortgage payments which led to massive foreclosures around the country. Nowadays lenders are much tougher on buyers who now have to meet much more rigid credit and income requirements to qualify for a mortgage. There are very few foreclosures out there right now as seen by the HUD website’s list of available homes.

Don’t panic if you’re selling right now. You may be longer on the market, may need a price adjustment, but you will sell if you’re patient and have a good sales strategy.


Buyers take note!  The real estate market is changing drastically, especially seen in new data from the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS. Homes sales (condos, single family) fell to just 1,344 in June in Salt Lake County. That’s the lowest they’ve been in June for a decade and 27% less sales than last year during June.

What does that mean for buyers? For the last three quarters homes were selling in just six days, but now the average ‘days on market’ is 21 days, with an average list price of $613,397 and an average sales price of $611,740. There is now three times the normal inventory of properties for sale than pre-pandemic numbers and that simply means that buyers finally have a chance to shop and maybe even return the next day to a property that hasn’t sold with 20 offers on it.

I just helped some sellers go under contract on their home after a three day negotiation battle. In order to sell to the interested buyers the sellers paid $12,000 in the buyers closing/mortgage costs and agreed to pay the buyers rent for 30 days after close of escrow as they await their new home to be finished so they can move. I have not seen seller’s pay closing costs in at least two years because our market heated up so fast with so much competition from buyers that it wasn’t a really a possibility. Now with the slow down buyers might be able to pay asking price and not $100,000 over ask!  Buyers might be able to negotiate seller concessions, like seller paying for a home warranty on behalf of the buyers for a year (@$600) on mechanical items in the home, mortgage costs (can be up to 2% of the loan amount), repairs and personal items such as washers/dryers, pool tables, snow blowers.

One of the biggest reasons the market has slowed is due to the Federal Reserve raising its rates which trickles down to higher mortgage rates for buyers. Thirty year loan interest rates were just above 6% a few weeks ago but have now dropped below 6%. The Fed will be meeting in another week and economists suspect it will raise interest rates by one percent which makes it more expensive for banks to borrow and thus interest rates on all kinds of consumer and commercial borrowing, including mortgage rates tend to go up. This is all necessary to try and cool inflation.

Inflation rose to 9.1% last week, the most since February of 1991. You certainly can feel that as airline fares rose 34.1%, new car prices by 11.4%, and food prices are rising 1% per month. Housing prices are falling around the country by an average of 5% and over 50% of the listings on the MLS in Salt Lake City have had price reductions in the past few weeks. If you gave up trying to find a home, you may want to get back into shopping…deals are out there again!