Isn’t everyone along the Wasatch Front groaning… “Enuf snow!”. Well, except for very happy skiers, I guess!  What I’m grinding my teeth about is not the weather but what is surely coming this spring-FLOODS!  Back in May in 1983 Salt Lake County declared a water emergency after a crazy wet winter the year before and in ’83 and had to divert rising waters from Red Butte, Emigration and Parley’s Creeks as temperatures warmed up fast and snow melted even faster. Unfortunately, city officials kinda overlooked City Creek in Memory Grove Park below the state capitol building and well, the ‘State Street River’ was born. City officials reached out to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to call on it’s members to help fill sandbags on a 90-degree Memorial Day weekend that year along State Street. Those not sandbagging became kayakers and sidewalk fisherman (yes, they caught trout on the watery street) or helped built pedestrian bridges to get over the floodwaters.

Folks ask me if we’re going to see main roads under water in our big cities and my answer is simple: yes, there will be stormwater/snowmelt and hopefully the remediation cities did back then will hold this Spring and early summer. Flood prevention since the ‘80’s has seen cities and towns add bigger culverts and storage ponds-many of which look like small pocket parks that are lower than street level. These ‘bioretention areas (aka ‘rain gardens’ in desert climes) help slow the flow so hopefully it will infiltrate to the ground. Smaller versions are found in parking islands and street medians.

We want snowmelt to get to the Great Salt Lake and other reservoirs in the state. WE ALL CAN help in our everyday activities to make a huge difference in getting the water to where it needs to go and to help with water quality. Homeowners and businesses can collect trash around their properties weekly, making sure that cigarette butts and trash, Fall’s leftover leaves and grass clippings don’t get in the gutters but in dumpsters and appropriate trash receptacles.  It is illegal to wash your sidewalks into the gutters, mainly because oils, industrial wastes, human and animal feces, detergents, fertilizer and pesticides will contaminate the runoff. Sadly, I’ve seen businesses and even Gateway Mall regularly power wash sidewalks into gutters when the temperatures are warmer.

If you see or suspect anyone or any business illegally dumping or spilling into the storm drains, gutters or the sewer system call the stormwater hotlines/departments in Salt Lake City: 801-483-6729, South Salt Lake: 801-412-3245, Utah County: 801-851-7873, Ogden: 801-622-2900 and St. George: 435-627-4142. It is so important that we try and keep the quality of the storm waters and snow melts for the health of our waterways, reservoirs, and lakes.

Earn it!


First time buyers most likely have never seen a real estate purchase contract (called a ‘REPC’, pronounced ‘Rep-C’) but have probably heard of down payments, earnest money and closing costs. Nowadays lenders can grant you a zero-down mortgage but a seller is still going to want to see you put some skin in the game up front. That skin is called ‘earnest money’ and is really often misunderstood by both buyers and sellers. Here’s some clarification that should help:

Earnest money is considered good faith funds, money that is put down before closing escrow on a property to show the seller(s) that you’re serious about purchasing. In some states it is common to put 1% of the asking price as earnest money, whereas in Utah there is no common amount. Technically a contract doesn’t need a bunch of earnest money because a contract becomes a contract when the parties agree on terms. I certainly have written many contracts in my day that had no earnest money up front because it wasn’t required by the parties, but in reality a seller would FREAK if a buyer didn’t wiggle some funds in front of the seller up front in the negotiations.

Let’s say the purchase price is $500,000. I would suggest to a buyer to offer $10,000 earnest money. If there are multiple offers I might suggest putting the buyers cajones on the table and write in $50,000 earnest money to really show the seller how serious they are!  BUT WAIT! What if the home inspection turns out horrific and you want out of the deal. Will you lose your earnest money? Simple-if you abide by the terms of the contract you won’t lose your money.

There are four dates in a REPC that we pay attention to: 1) the seller’s disclosure to the buyer (wherein the seller gives the buyer a title report showing liens on the property, a plat map of the lot and a ‘seller’s property disclosure’ form-a 16 page ‘what do I know about my property’ form, any leases and if a condo, the budget, rules and minutes of the homeowners association), 2) the buyer’s due diligence deadline (the time the buyer has to inspect the property and go over any information the seller has provided), 3) the appraisal and loan deadline for the buyer and 4) the closing date of the sale. Home inspections can take a minute, and a normal time to complete them is about 10 -14 days. IF the buyer backs out of the contract before the 14 days, the buyer gets all their earnest money returned.  IF the property doesn’t appraise for the sales price or the buyer doesn’t get final loan approval, the buyer gets their money back.

Once the earnest money check is deposited, the money belongs to no one! It sits in escrow until the buyer fails the deal or it’s credited to the buyer at closing as part of a down payment, or returned if it’s a zero-down loan.