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.


In one week basketball (NBA) fans will be tuning into the All Star game here on Sunday the 19th as the smallest arena in the country squeezes in as many fans, players, coaches, support staff, owners and VIPS to the Vivant Arena. Every year I like to bring my fav brother out to see a Jazz game, so I was curious to see what ticket prices were for this event. LOL!  When I checked a few months ago the seats in the sky were going for $3000-5000 and those down on the floor a mere $45,000!  Not kidding!  If you wanted to impress someone and take them to the game to sit behind Team LeBron or Team Giannis you’d be out just under $100 grand!

Salt Lake City is going to make sure we put on a good show apart from the game itself. There’s a free snowboarding competition outside at the Gateway Mall Feb. 17 and 18 called ‘Gril Rail Jam’, free concerts and art shows on top of shipping containers at Gallivan Plaza Feb. 17-19th 1 pm-10 pm each day (open to all ages) and a free hoops contest ongoing Fridays-Sundays at Trolley Square similar to ‘Pop-a Shot’. There are other events under $50-just Google the NBA All-Star weekend events for more info.

What visitors might not see are lines of tents on North Temple and around Gateway of the homeless. Although Mayor Mendenhall has said publicly on many occasions that she wasn’t going to destroy campsites, she actively had SLPD and the health department sweep 500 West two weeks ago when the temps were in single digits at night. I watched them load new tents and sleeping bags that had been donated by different charities scraped into backhoes and thrown into dumpsters. One woman, sleeping in her tent, was picked up in her tent and thrown into one of the dumpsters (luckily lived to tell the tale). Methinks the Mayor will be having massive police and UTA police presence around TRAX stations and the arena and will most likely be very aggressive in hiding our homeless from the TV cameras and visitors during ALL-Star weekend.

On the flip side, visitors will see how vibrant our economy is and all the cranes in the air. The tallest building (Astra, 200 So. State) is 15 stories up, with 24 more to go. It will be the tallest building so far in downtown. Next is the site of the old Tavernacle on 300 So. and 400 East-31 story building that’s about 15% up in the air so far. Previous visitors will be impressed with the new Hyatt Regency attached to the Salt Palace that opened recently with terrific bars and restaurants. City Creek Mall tenants are drooling at the potential for increased sales but probably sad they can’t be open on Sundays…and this particular Sunday…to do shopping before the game.

Those fans flying in will gasp at how small the Great Salt Lake has become, how much snow we have and hopefully we won’t be sporting an inversion that week!

The Moon Tree

Did you know Utah has a Nasa Moon Tree?  Pardon me, as a tree hugger by nature I’m surprised I had never heard of this beauty in our state. “This tree has boldly gone where no trees-and few humans-have gone before”, chimed KSL a few years back. And yes, sci-fi fans love the thought of humans growing plants in space so this is a great little piece of local trivia that will help you win any local pub’s trivia night!

First, the tree is located in an exterior corner of the State Forestry Department’s Lone Peak Office at 271 Bitterbrush Lane in Draper.   Second, it’s a 52 year old sycamore tree that was planted here in 1976. Third, it’s a plant with a lot of history and fourth, it may be dead or almost dead.

In 1971 Apollo 14 blasted off from it’s launch pad and inside the cockpit one astronaut (Stuart Roosa) had a stash of tree seeds on him. Each flyer gets to carry a small personal amount of goods with them and this former Forest Service smokejumper was the perfect guy to give the seeds a ride. In his cannister there were @500 seeds-not just sycamore seeds, but hundreds of redwood, pine, fir and sweet gum seeds.  His job was to bring them home safely to earth as the Command Module Pilot after orbiting the moon (and ultimately landing on it). The great news was that most of the seeds sprouted and NASA then divvied them out to various forestry departments around the country to see what would grow and if anti-gravity would effect what they grew into. Would there be freak trees?  There aren’t any reports of odd growth that I could find.

Utah reportedly got two starts of sycamores and two of Douglas fir were planted in Utah. Utah state capitol building grounds and a local nursery. Folks around the country nicknamed them ‘moon trees’ and local interest was fairly high as to the future of these special plants. The nursery gave out cuttings and clones to its customers. Sadly, the tree at the capitol was destroyed by a freak tornado when it was split in half by the wind in August of 1999 and the other is somewhere by the old prison site in Draper by the State Forestry office out there. I wasn’t able to find out where the other two seedlings disappeared to in Utah as even the State doesn’t know where they are now and if they survived.

This past November NASA launched the Artemis rocket as part of a plan to get us back to land on and explore the moon. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has decided to reactivate the moon seed program for the future. What’s a bummer is that NASA forgot about the program for many years and lost where the trees had been planted around the country. A NASA employee was contacted by a teacher who found a plaque near a moon tree who had asked where others were planted. He had not heard of the program but ended up posting on social media asking for the public’s help finding the trees and hopefully plaques around the country. The current Moon Tree Foundation is now run by Roosa’s daughter who sees to plant moon trees around the world.

Winter Staging

I don’t know if it’s an abundance of snow or the dread prediction that the Great Salt Lake will be dead within five years and the subsequent dust will kill us all, but I’ve had numerous clients contact me already this new year wanting to relocate OUT of Utah. The good news is that I have a huge network of real estate agents around the country whom I’ve met, worked with over the years who I can hook you up with or find to help you transition to a new locale. It’s pretty scary to just ‘pick up and go’ in general if you don’t have a network of friends and family in your planned destination, so having a REALTOR be your first friend can take some of the fear away. A seasoned broker will be able to, in advance, counsel you on types of housing found in that destination, pricing of said housing and really simple things like good links to school data if you have or plan to have kids, utility companies and recycling options, mortgage brokers, great restaurants, transportation options, local festivals and farmers markets.

Some folk will have to sell their home to relocate, others might opt to rent out the property in case they don’t like where they moved to and can return in a year or two and move back into their home or condo. I know a great property manager who will help you find great tenants by checking their credit and criminal history and make agreements with you as to what you’d authorize them to repair if something went wrong and set a limit where you don’t want to be disturbed if say a repair costs under $500. They will take out their monthly management fee (say, 10%, and it’s negotiable) and deposit the rental income into your bank account each month. The MOST important thing if you wish to rent is to talk to a CPA. If you turn personal residence into a rental there’s a certain time allowed regarding capitol gains on any profits of a sale, so check first what you should plan for in the future as far as taxes are concerned. And, talk to an attorney to decide if you want to put the property into an LLC and/or your living trust.

You have to stage a home to sell it these days-it’s just standard practice now. In winter you must make sure you keep snow removed from walkways, clean windows to let in as much light as possible, deep clean appliances and the home itself and declutter.  Don’t overwhelm potential buyers with massive smells, like too many burning candles. If you’ve got one, light the gas fireplace for showings. Keep the temp @70°, put on mellow music and create a vibe that the home is warm and inviting. Throw a soft lap blanket on the sofa with an open book to give the impression of comfort. With the market adjusting downward you have to step up your game to sell these days!


It’s that time of the year when minimalists turn into maximalists. For those who celebrate the holidays we find our larders filling up with homemade jam or liquor, gifts from friends and neighbors, packages hidden or out under a tree and winter clothing piled everywhere on top of ski boots and poles. It’s also the time of year right after Thanksgiving and heading into Hanukkah and Christmas when some folk think “this place is too small, we’ve got to find a bigger place to live in this new year!”

Once the festivities are done, it’s time to declutter and purge if you’re planning to sell in the new year. You can read up on how to do it by watching a video or reading a book by the famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, or you can hire a local pro like Linda Hilton and her company ‘’ in Salt Lake. Linda has been helping people organize, purge, and donate contents of houses for several years and is a licensed professional organizer.  In January of every year, she has a 30 day cure to help you defrag (my word) your home. She starts in a way that makes me smile and lets me believe ‘I can do this!’ by suggesting on the first day to simply find a cardboard box. That’s easy! I can do that!  On the second day put one piece of clothing in it that you want to donate to someone that needs it more than you. Get the idea?

If you can’t do it yourself, Hilton and her team will, at an hourly rate, to help you organize, pack, plan a yard sale, find movers, shredders or storage for you, donate unneeded items, hook you up with consignment stores, give you referrals for junk disposal and recycling services.

Frankly, my last move was overwhelming. I had a basement full of crap all the way back to college, a mix of treasured items/family keepsakes, as well as boxes and boxes of paperwork along with camping equipment, Burning Man stuff, staging items, collectables-you name it. As time grew closer and closer to moving, I found myself paralyzed as to what I could pack, throw out/donate and store. I literally would go downstairs and just stare at my stuff. I finally called Linda and she patiently, and without judgement, put her hands on virtually every item or box down there and simply asked: “Keep? Donate? Throw out?”.  After three sessions we had the whole basement cleaned out and all the items on their way to a new but smaller storage (rental) facility, various charities, a local consignment store or the dumpster. She was worth every penny and although I was quite embarrassed when I introduced her to my piles of detritus, I was completely joyful as we got into the pattern of packing and purging.

Buyers want to picture themselves in your home, so after the hols pack up holiday décor, organize closets, cupboards, and purge. Make your home open, light and neutral if possible, for a cheap and easy way to stage it for a sale.

What’s Out for 2023

Home décor trends come and go. The National Assn. of REALTORS (YES, THE TRADEMARK IS ALL CAPS!) put out it’s list of horrifying design trends of the past year that should go in 2023. Murphy’s Law rang true as right after I read the article I went on a listing appointment that had half of these design trends that are passe-ugh! Here they are:

  • Vessel bowl sinks. These are raised sinks and they are a pain in the ass to clean around the base and the counter and some can easily crack;
  • Tiled countertops in bathrooms and kitchens. This was a big trend 50 years ago but now one surface, such as a granite countertop are much more popular. Grout in old tiled rooms can get dirty, crack and even get loose;
  • A “cloffice’-which became very popular when we had to squeeze everyone at home into various rooms to sleep, work, school, cook and play. Closets turned into offices show that the home doesn’t have enough room for today’s modern living;
  • Furniture that is all the same color-like beige;
  • Animal prints, especially cow hide rugs and animal print furniture;
  • Rainfall showerheads. They may look cool but they have no water pressure!
  • Venetian plaster walls. This is ‘stucco put onto a flat wall surface’ to look like limewash and usually done in earthtones. It matched the décor in the next one…
  • Tuscan décor-from the 1990’s. It’s heavy looking furniture in dark dark colors designed after interior furniture found in rich old Italian castles;
  • Wallpaper or ‘scenic’ murals used as accent walls. If you have to do it, use a peel and stick variety that can be easily removed;

Too many plants. Folks stuck at home during the great pandemic found friends and solace in their house plants. Rare plants became a rage for a year or two but having your house look like a jungle inside is definitely out.


Trends to watch in 2023 include decorating with furniture/paint in shades of blue or muted neutral and warm colors like plumb and mustard, personality-packed rugs, statement window treatments and waterfall islands in the kitchen where the granite or quartz falls down each end so it looks like an inverted ‘U’, listening rooms for audiophiles, statement lamps, light warm wood tones in furniture and flooring, stripes in wall treatments and furniture, statement rugs, gold fixtures instead of brushed nickel, high wood gloss finishes (instead of matte), plaids and subtle tartans in bed dressings, dedicated craft rooms, ‘jewel-box’ (fancier) laundry rooms, and interior archways.


I have always heard that you need to update your interior every five years-with new paint, updated light fixtures, updated flooring, etc. You don’t have to go crazy and spend a ton of money to keep up with the Johansen’s, but you can look just as good as your fancy-schmancy neighbors with thoughtful taste choices and décor.


In a “Who’s winning this design battle”? the state of Utah has a finalist for it’s new state flag.  If you haven’t noticed, Salt Lake City got a new flag two years ago, made up of two horizontal bars of blue on the top and white on the bottom with a sego lily flower in the upper left side (canton/corner). We don’t see many sego lily flowers in the capitol city, but there is a giant concrete representation of one in Sugar House park that you can sit on if you walk in the south end of the park. The first city flag was created in 1963 and designed by J. Rulon Hales, the winner of a contest run by the Deseret News. The first version of it was made by Highland High students and it was officially put into use in 1969. It included seagulls, pioneers, a covered wagon, and the sun rising over the Wasatch. In the center was the beehive, our symbol of industry related to the founding of the city and its Mormon heritage. It was a busy flag and not a simple, ideal design in the world of flags.

In 2006 the second design of the city flag was adopted by the City Council after Mayor Rocky Anderson sponsored a design contest a few years earlier. Anderson, who’s announced he’s running for Salt Lake mayor again felt that “the old flag was too exclusive and focused entirely on the city’s Mormon heritage.”  This flag had a green horizontal bar on top, blue on the bottom, and a modern graphic rendition of the Salt Lake City skyline with snowcapped mountains in the background as a center oval. Not to be outdone, Mayor Mendenhall decided she wanted a  new flag and so the city government in 2020 opened a contest with a $3,000 prize for the winning entry. Six hundred people sent in their ideas and the final design was adopted by the city council October of the same year.

A commission met last month to advance their choice for a new Utah state flag, with three horizonal lines-the top a navy blue sky, the middle a representation of snowy mountains, a red bottom line to represent the red rock of southern Utah, with a beehive in the middle and a star underneath it (to represent the state’s Native American tribes). Over 44,000 citizens chimed in on designed ideas after state leaders criticized the current flag as “boring” and called it a “state seal on a blue bedsheet”. The Utah State Legislature in January 2023 will have to approve the new design.

One critic of the new flag told me the new flag design seemed appropriate: ‘Blue at the top of the state, red at the bottom, and white in the middle’ to represent the political factions within our borders. It was in 2011 that the current flag was adopted with the state seal over a navy blue background.

Park It!

Hopefully you voted in the mid-term elections? Salt Lake City folk passed a $85 mil bond to fund more parks and trail projects which will cost the average homeowner @$54 per year for 20 years beginning in 2024.

The biggest project to be funded will be the Glendale Regional Park which will convert the former 1700 South Raging Waters Park into a new 17-acre park-the first for the City’s forgotten west side. The attraction of a giant wave pool and water slides (at times called Wild Wave and Seven Peaks) fell into disrepair and shut down in 2018. The new plan includes community gathering spaces, trails, an overlook, playgrounds, and sport courts; addition of unique elements of surrounding neighborhoods’ identities and histories, increasing elements of placemaking based on community input and desires, and adding multilingual identity and wayfinding signage. Salt Lake City itself could have used some of those funds to update the wayfinding signs from the Olympics that are outdated and faded around downtown.

Other items the bond will fund include completion of the Folsom Trail where there is one section from 1000 West to the Jordan River Parkway, a new park in Granary District , plantings along the Jordan River Corridor to help improve air and water quality, improvements to parks in all City Council districts, replacement of the well-worn but actively used ‘Rotary Playground’ area of the Northwest area of Liberty Park, improvements to Fairmont Park including enhanced public access and hopefully new uses of the Boy’s and Girls Club tennis courts, and landscape and preservation improvements to historic Allen Park across from Westminster College.

The City has surveyed residents about public lands and found that residents were using parks more because of Covid-19, and with the anticipated growth we’ll be seeing it’s important to always include greenspace in the overall development of the City. I sat on a  charrette about our parks several years ago when I served as a volunteer Planning and Zoning Commissioner for the City. One expert who came in to lead the discussion mentioned that he really didn’t think the capitol city or the valley needed more parks because you could be in the mountains here in 15-30 minutes. Currently there are 103 parks and numerous trails throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

The first park here was Liberty Park, established in 1882. It is second in size to Sugar House Park. That park came as a result of the state Legislature passing a statue in 1947 setting aside the old state prison site as a state park. That one wasn’t necessarily targeted for any major renovations, but I would have suggested recognizing the fact that when we have snow we have a great sledding hill there but no formal infrastructure to assist sledders like a railing/stairs to use when climbing back up the hill, an ice rink or pickleball courts. I personally think we need a year round area in one of our city parks for roller derby in the summer and hockey in the winter.

Beer River

You’ve driven by the Fisher Mansion a million times if you’ve taken the freeway to the Airport from the east side heading north. It’s at 1206 West 200 South and if you’re the passenger in a car you can look to your immediate right as you weave from 1-15 to the west. It was designed by Richard Kletting, an influential architect from Utah who also designed the original Salt Palace, Saltair resort pavilion, the Utah State Capitol, the Territorial Insane Asylum, Lehi Tabernacle and many other buildings. It’s been sitting vacant for decades.

The two story, twelve-room mansion was constructed in the Victorian Eclectic style in a sparsely populated neighborhood near the banks of the Jordan River. Albert Fisher had immigrated to Utah from Germany and built this home near his place of work-the A. Fisher Brewing Company. The family beer business in Utah was brewing 75,000 barrels a year of suds with around 50 employees,  and provided the beverage to bars and taverns in Salt Lake County-many of which Fisher owned. His mansion showed off his success, and interestingly enough was the only beer brewery to re-open after the repeal of Prohibition. It closed in 1957. The mansion later was leased out to the Catholic Church for missionary sisters and then in 1970 became an alcohol and drug abuse treatment facility. It was later purchased by Salt Lake City in 2006.

The home sat vacant for several years as input from citizens was gathered as to the potential use of the building, as it’s got great bones with wonderful craftmanship. In 2020 the 5.7 earthquake damaged the building and all three chimneys, so in September of that year the City switched from attempts to update the mansion to focus on the carriage house there. Sadly, in the middle of the night that spring, someone stole most of the bronze metal fence surrounding the property that was most likely part of Kletting’s original design. The carriage house is now complete, with offices and a small public meeting room.

What’s great about all of this is the new boat ramp by the mansion that gives access to kayakers who want to explore the Jordan River in that area. Users say it’s the best boat ramp yet to be built along the trail. The other two ramps close by are located near the Utah State Fairpark at the Gadsby trailhead and one at 1800 North. Getting into the river now is much easier for people to access and there are more ramps planned for the future. The Jordan River flows from Utah Lake in Utah County to the Great Salt Lake and state, county and city planners and volunteers have been working for years to develop not just the Parkway along the river but the boat ramps. It’s really a great experience to boat during the fall, to leaf peep along the waterway and see nature first hand rather than through your car window. For more info on ramps: