Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

September 09, 2020

Housing Help

If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to receive unemployment benefits form the State of Utah hopefully you know that you can apply for rental assistance through the Utah Department of Workforce Services/Homeless Prevention Plan. It’s hard to keep track of what help is available out there given 45 signing documents that may not hold up in court and a Congress who can’t seem to figure out much of anything. We do know that the $600 unemployment checks ran out and people are in danger of not being able to pay rent. The Emergency Assistance program through the State can help folks who don’t have enough money to prevent becoming homeless or having utilities shut off by giving money for rent/mortgage and or/utilities.  There are EIGHT conditions that must be met to get help:The family must have lost their home or be about to lose their home or their utilities because they have past-due payments that resulted from an event (a crisis) that happened beyond the control of the family.The family must be able to keep their housing or utilities or find new housing with a single rent, deposit, mortgage, or utility payment.The family must show how it will make past due payments and pay future months' rent, mortgage, or utility payments after the crisis has been solved.The family must have already tried all other means of getting the money to pay or tried to set up a repayment plan.The value of all the household assets and things the family owns cannot be more than $2000.00. These include assets and possessions that are immediately available to the family members.The household’s total income per month cannot be more than 185% of the Standard Needs Budget (SNB), based on the household's size. Click here to review the income limits.The payment is available once in a 12 month period.The household must have at least one dependent child who is under 18 living in their home.   You can apply at a Workforce Service location in the State or talk to nonprofit dealing with housing issues like the YWCA, Shelter the Homeless, Community Development Corp., etc.  Better yet, use the 211 hot line for Essential Community Services. It’s a free phone number like 911 but will help you find services and is especially good if you are elderly, disabled, don’t speak English as a primary language, are new to the area. The information and referral service was set up a few years ago and is priceless and works in EVERY state in the U.S. to help you find resources for housing assistance and emergency housing as well as a myriad of other services.  Help is just a phone call away and cross your fingers that more will come from Congress soon!

September 09, 2020

Rent Relief Again

Strange times. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaking for the Trump administration would bar evictions for most renters in the country until the end of the year. The press release said the new rule update to the current moratorium was necessary to stop the spread of the Corona virus and to avoid having renters wind up in shelters or other crowded living conditions, compounding the crisis.This moratorium has a wider reach than the previous emergency eviction rules that expired in July and isn’t automatic. To get the benefit of the new moratorium a renter would have to tell their landlord that they basically have no other options, no place to go except to live on the street. Tenants will have to fill out a form on the C.D.C. website that states they have a substantial loss of income for their household and can’t pay rent or can only pay partial rent.  The form will be available shortly (if not already at the time of this being published) on the C.D.C. website. Why is this necessary? Simply because Congress has not been able to come up with a new CARES Act or extension/update to the previous one that has expired. This may influence voters, don’t you think? IF tenants don’t get relief from rent will they vote for Trump or Biden? Understand that any relief is NOT forgiveness. You do NOT get out of paying your debt to your landlord. Nay, you only defer the payment until later. Here’s an example:Under the previous CARES Act there was a 120 day rent deferral option (from the end of March until the end of July). To make easy math here, use a rent of $1000 per month. You’d be three months ($3000) in arrears now had you opted for the deferral with your landlord. Now, you can…IF you would be homeless…opt for another deferral for four months=$4000. At the end of this year you would owe your landlord $7000 that you would have to pay back. How do you pay rent back? You’d hopefully arrange some payment program with the owner of the property or their property manager to repay the $7000. Seriously, will you be able to repay this? I’m thinking of so many folks around the country who have lost jobs and lost the $600 unemployment payments are getting more and more financially behind. Come springtime methinks bankruptcies and bad credit will run rampant and the ‘have nots’ will have even less.On the flip side of the coin, landlords don’t get relief due to the deadlock in Congress. If they have a mortgage, they must ask their lender for a payment deferral because their tenants aren’t paying them, and they can’t make their monthly loan payment.  I have many past clients who are landlords because they have inherited a property, bought one to add to personal wealth, purchased one for their college kid(s) rather than pay dorm costs or are just buying rentals because that’s their primary source of income. Also, if a property owner has asked their lender for a deferment then they can’t qualify for a refinance loan to get a better rate.

August 14, 2020

Glamping with Kolob

As a licensed broker in Utah I can sell any property any where in the state. Most agents are members of one Board of Realtors, but I am lucky enough to belong to both the Salt Lake Board and the Washington County Boards and just listed a home in Sun River in Bloomington. On my travels south to meet with the family I stopped to see my friend Julie who owns a flower shop in the old part of downtown Hurricane. I hadn’t been to that place in decades and thought for sure I had gone the wrong way from St. George to Hurricane because as soon as I headed out of one place I was at a Walmart and wall to wall housing! The patio-home retirement lifestyle has pushed out of St. George and is quickly eating up developable land like. The buzz tho among locals is not so much the growth of homes but a new type of temporary housing that has been quietly and now loudly coming to private property nearby. Many folks who travel to Zion National Park come through Hurricane and stay there because hotel and motel options are few and far between outside of the park. And if you don’t want walls there are glamping options at Zion Ponderosa Ranch and Moonlight Oasis in the area. The quiet beauty of the area is a treasure to locals and travelers alike and we’ve done a great job letting people know about our parks and landscapes so that now visiting them can be a nightmare of traffic and overcrowding. Glamping resorts are popping up to meet demand but one project called ‘Above Zion’ is being proposed on 1,700 acres in and around Kolob Reservoir and Kolob Creek, which could host up to 4,000 people at a time IF their game plan of 2,000 sites comes to fruition He wants to offer glamping sites, RV pads and primitive sites for more tourists to come to Southern Utah and to do so will have to bring in utilities, water and sewer as well as roads to his various planned locations. Locals have gotten wind of the plans and are justly concerned what such massive development will do to the roads, water system and ecosystems/nature in general. There has been one meeting already with local officials but there were so many people who wanted to chime in they had to end the meeting to regroup later. Above Zion’s owners will have to get a conditional-use permit issued from the local Planning and Zoning Commission to build what they need to get glampers up and above Zion to see the wonders of Kolob. It’s not a year round access area due to the high altitude (8000+ feet above sea level) and winter snows but it is a great place for night sky watching. Kolob is a star or planet described in the Book of Abraham, a Latter Day Saint text that was supposedly translated from an Egyptian papyrus scroll by Joseph Smith-and you might be able to see it if you look hard enough when you camp or maybe glamp up there this summer.

August 14, 2020

POST HOUSE

The mother of all downtown residential projects has just broken ground in downtown Salt Lake City. “POST HOUSE” will take up a full city block (10 acres-the size of Liberty Park) with five buildings and 580 residential units (461,921 sq. ft of housing) and 26,833 sq. ft of retail. MVE+ Architects say that ‘this project will be a catalyst for fostering the development of a sustainable urban neighborhood’ with the five buildings to be a completed block of old and new in a pedestrian-oriented development. Think of driving yourself from downtown and getting on I-15 on 500 South. At 300-400 West there was an old and vacant newspaper (Newspaper Agency Corp) building that many folks of recent, have used for skateboarding and clandestine videos. The Post District of Salt Lake got its name from the NAC building that sits on the site. To the south is the newly re-discovered Granery District and to the north is the Salt Lake Mission and what used to be a fruit and vegetable warehouse. The Mission is still there but the warehouse is being repurposed by the group. It suffered some minor earthquake damage just after COVID hit but is full steam underway to take off the layers of paint and age of time and will also be a part of the whole project.The developers dream is to have massive housing units, from studio apartments the size of small hotel rooms to 2000 sq. ft lofts combined with massive amenities like indoor and outdoor pools, rooftop decks and BBQ’s, a fitness center and areas for pedestrians and dogs to meander through the greenspaces surrounding the buildings. As I see it, imagine Liberty Park with five medium-sized residential buildings plopped around the grass and trees. Certainly, it would be a nicer area to live in rather than the five story boxes squeezed all over downtown, sans green spaces. I’m really interested in seeing how this all builds out because as a fan of history I love that the developers are wanting to keep many of the old buildings on the two sites and work them in as a major compliment to the new construction. Technically the project is located within an ‘Opportunity Zone’, which is a designation that Utah gives blighted and distressed areas within our borders. Having lived two blocks away from this area for many years I’d agree it’s needed some love and attention. Builders and investors will get incentives and tax breaks as , developers did in the Granery District. Drive south on 300 West past 500 South and you’ll see the deep trenches going in now for the foundations. Reports are that this will end up costing almost $150 million to erect but given the area and the desperate need for a variety of housing supply methinks this will rent out fast. The idea of the developers is to have a mix of rental priced housing, from the fancy penthouses to the starter studios.

Real estate activities are permissible at this time under Utah state law. Attached are questions that we have received from clients and customers with the best answers we have as of May, 2020. We will attempt to up-date/supplement these FAQs as we hear from our local and national REALTOR® associations and our government.

1) QUESTION: Can REALTORS® conduct in-person listing appointments and property showings?
ANSWER: Yes.

2) QUESTION: What requirements must be followed at any listing appointment or showing?
ANSWER: a) All real estate activity conducted at a property must be by appointment unless the MLS listing specifically states ‘Go and show and or /keyboxed and vacant, no appointment necessary’; b) No more than four peo-ple may be in attendance whenever possible apart from those persons living in the home; c) All persons visiting a property must wear a mask and maintain a six-foot social distance at all times.

3) QUESTION: Does a rental unit need to be vacant before I can schedule an appointment?
ANSWER: State law requires that tenants in a leased property be given a 24 hour notice to show the property. However a listing brokerage may have made specific arrangements with that tenant during the listing period to ac-commodate safe showing practices. We will abide by the listing brokerage’s instructions to enter any leased property.

4) QUESTION: Is a seller required to allow in-person showings?
ANSWER: No. A seller has the right to elect not to permit an in-person showing or to set up conditions on such showings such as the wearing of masks, gloves, booties and/or the existence of a pre-approval letter from the buyer’s lender.

5) QUESTION: Do we have to apply for a mortgage in person? And will the mortgage person attend the closing of escrow?
ANSWER: All lenders have on-line applications and websites. Have your real estate professional suggest a great lender to help you through the loan process. A good lender will meet buyers at the close of escrow to go over the final paperwork and answer questions.

6) QUESTION: Will my REALTOR® attend the closing of escrow?
ANSWER: Yes. By law, your REALTOR® or a representative from the brokerage must attend the closing. In this day and age, under this pandemic, it is completely allowable to have lenders attend via a live-stream.

7) QUESTION: What protections do title companies have for clients at the final escrow table?
ANSWER: Each title company has a different in-house safety policy. Once the title company is chosen then they can be contacted to see what they will require (masks) 6-ft. distance, gloves, etc. All monies in a sales transac-tion are handled by bank wires so checks are very unusual, which eliminates the need to pick up and deposit monies by sellers or buyers to close escrow. They have adopted their own mitigation measures for the protection of their Employees and patron (i.e. buyers and sellers). Assuming that the title company allows you to attend the closing then you will need to make a determination as to whether you should attend the closing in-person or remotely, keeping in mind the requirement that businesses promote remote work to the fullest extend possible. The level of complexity of particular transaction may dictate whether attendance in person at a particular closing is required.

8) QUESTION: My buyers want out of their purchase agreement because of their overall uncertainty about the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. My buyers have decided they don’t want o make a large purchase now, even though they can afford it. Given the circumstances, can my buyers unilaterally terminate the purchase agreement.
ANSWER: As a general legal matter, there is no right to unilaterally terminate a contract due to a change in circumstances-even a really significant change in circumstances unless all parties have signed a ‘COVID-19 RELEASE FORM’ found through the Wasatch Front MLS.

9) QUESTION: The signed purchase agreement states that my buyers will pay cash for the home. They have now produced a document signed by their financial advisor stating that due to market conditions, they no longer have sufficient funds to buy the home. Can my buyers terminate the purchase agreement?
ANSWER: If a purchase agreement calls for a cash purchase, it is not contingent upon the purchasers having availa-ble cash. Rather, by agreeing to a cash purchase, the purchasers are representing that they have the available funds. Purchasers are not excused from performing under the contract if, due to market conditions, they no longer have enough money to close. Rather, under these circumstances, the purchasers would be in breach of contract.

10) QUESTION: If I own two residences in different parts of the state can I travel to visit and live at them whenever I want?
ANSWER: Yes.

11) QUESTION: Since real estate activities are permitted during the pandemic, can a seller hire someone to conduct an estate sale?
ANSWER: Estate sale/liquidators are allowed to sell the personal property of the estate/deceased. They will each have their own protocols for viewing and purchasing items at a property so it is wise to call in advance to go over their rules prior to hiring such a firm or shopping at an estate sale.

12) QUESTION: Buyers found a few items on the home inspection that was conducted after the home went ‘under contract/sale pending’ that needed to be addressed, such as a broken picture window and a water heater on it’s last leg. The buyers will go forward with the sale if the seller agrees to repairs/replacements. If the sellers are will-ing to do so, can they have this work done so that the closing can proceed?
ANSWER: Yes. Like workers in the real estate industry, work in the construction and building trades are allowed to make repairs and or upgrades to properties (Plumbers, roofers, electricians, painters, carpeters and flooring vendors, etc. )

13) QUESTION: Can the agent hire professional photographers to shoot my property or do I have to provide them my-self?
ANSWER: Yes, professional photographers practicing safe practices are allowed inside properties.

14) QUESTION: May local government (like Utah, Davis or Salt Lake County) preempt the Governor’s Executive Order to be more restrictive than the county where I want to see properties, what rules take precedent? Who do I listen to?
ANSWER: Local health departments, cities and townships may be more restrictive than State rules and regulations. As professionals we attempt to keep up on any changes in those restrictions in practicing real estate sales. We will share any updates with our clients as customers as we learn of them.

15) QUESTION: How has the pandemic changed how YOU as REALTORS® conduct business?
ANSWER: We are still listing homes and selling them, and working with buyers. The market hasn’t changed that much: there is still low inventory and buyers often find themselves in a multiple offer situation. Some sellers are mov-ing out of their homes to not deal with the hassle of showing their home and sanitizing it before and after showings. Some buyers are making offers after only virtually showing homes that their agent/broker has live streamed to them. Inspections continue once a home is under contract without problems as vendors who offer home inspections, sewer scopes, radon and meth tests. If any pre-emptive or post inspection repairs or upgrades are needed, these vendors also have had no problems working safely in properties.
We will continue to operate under national and state restrictions and morph as the climate changes in every pos-sible POSITIVE way for our clients and customers.

June 10, 2020

Red Lining

With the whirlwind of news about racism these past few weeks I paused when I read a blurb that Salt Lake Mayor Mendenhall reportedly keeps an old map of ‘Red Lining’ at her desk. I had not thought about that topic since I was in real estate school 36 years ago, as the topic is covered thoroughly in licensing classes and discussed regularly in continuing ed.  Housing discrimination against African Americans was so intense in this country that in the 1930’s the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation happily created color-coded maps of neighborhoods that they considered were the highest risk of loan defaults. Why would a bank want to grant a home loan to someone who wanted to live in a ‘red’ area if the odds were (according the HOLC) that the buyer would default?The redlining maps weren’t just unique to Salt Lake-there were 238 cities that used these maps as a basis where home loans should NOT be granted because of high risk. Here in Utah the maps specifically noted where ‘negros’ lived, which were the areas that were coincidentally red-lined. The ‘best neighborhoods’ where lenders easily gave out loans were upper Sugar House, property around the University of Utah, the Avenues and Sugarhouse itself.  The main red or ‘negro’ areas where lenders ‘should not’ grant mortgages were Rose Park and the west side (picture Poplar Grove) and Liberty Wells. Each block of the map had related information as to the education, average income, percent of vacant homes/owner occupied homes and yes, the racial makeup of each and every street.We certainly have problems in our capitol city and in Utah with home ownership, specifically affordable home ownership. Economic segregation is obvious if you take a driving tour of your city. There are neighborhoods full of blight and run down and areas of obvious wealth, and all in between. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1968 as a follow up to the same act of 1964. It added language that prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national, origin, sex (and later amended) handicap and family status. It had one hell of a time passing through Congress and was carefully watched by civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It ended up flying through congress after Dr. King was murdered in 1968 and the country fell into shore to shore riots. The first African-American ever to be elected to the U.S. Senate helped after he testified that he returned from WWII and because of his race could not buy a home in an area of his choice. The ‘Red Line’ maps were banned and any lender caught using them or anything like them would face Federal crime charges. Those rules still apply today and as REALTORS we continue to help enforce overt discrimination in housing. We can’t control housing prices, but we can make sure our buyer’s lender of choice is not steering them away from any given neighborhood where they want to live by denying them a loan because of their race.                https://cdn.filestackcontent.com/qjEaoEvgQnaA6m7CT6SA

May 29, 2020

Investing 101

You may have been thinking of buying a home because mortgage interest rates are the lowest, they have ever been-hovering @3% per year. This really is terrific for the real estate market for what is one of the largest economic pieces to a healthy national financial recovery. But what if you’re NOT in the real estate market and just trying to make a good investment on your savings? What interest are you getting on your savings account right now? The Annual Percentage Rate quoted from First America Credit Union is 0.10%. If you want to invest in a money market by depositing $0-$4,999.99 the APY is 0.15% and for $5,000-$9,999 it’s 0.30%.  For example, if you deposit $5000 into a savings account and then contribute $100 per month at 0.15%, you’ll earn a whopping $8.32 at the end of a year on your investment.  Hell, you could hold a virtual yard sale or sell some clothes at Uptown Cheapskate that will net you more than that savings account ever will!  The Federal Reserve (aka ’the Fed’) is the central bank of the United. It’s been called the bank for all the banks in the country and one of its biggest jobs is to help economic growth and keep inflation in check by controlling interest rates.  Basically, when banks need to borrow money, they go to the Fed. Depending on what the Fed charges, the bank wanting money will then filter down to what that bank charges its customers for home loans, car loans and credit cards.  For a simple ‘Econ 101’ class we learned that when the Fed lowers interest rates when the economy isn’t doing well to help jump start a sluggish economy. Visa versa, when the economy is growing too fast, the Fed will raise its lending rates to banks.  Right now, the Fed may be moving to charge BELOW ZERO interest rates, which would be a negative interest rate. That would be like if our Fed changed its lending rate from 0.1% to –0.1%. In 2016 Japan adopted this negative interest rate policy to generate economic growth but that has proven to be a dismal failure for what had been the world’s second largest economy. This doesn’t forebode well for our country as the corona virus is causing severe economic distress with insane unemployment figures and predictions for massive business bankruptcies and permanent business closings. How do you make money then if the world is in crisis and our economy sucks? Buying stocks, bonds or annuities are risky for the uneducated investor, especially during a recession. Look hard at buying a primary residence or an investment property. Sure, I’m a REALTOR and thus suspect in my intentions, but when property values are going up at say 10% a year, that’s something to analyze and investigate deeply. A $350,000 home in two years could be worth @$424,000 given inflation. That’s a gain of $74,000. Maybe you should be in the real estate market?

Mark Twain once said, “Buy land, they’re not making it anymore.”  Around the Wasatch front raw land to build on is about as rare as a victory for common sense!  I always have a steady number of calls from old and young hippies who want to “find a lot in the city so we can build a tiny house, have chickens and farm.”  Again, buildable residentially-zoned land in the tri-city area is virtually unheard up and generally is swooped up by full time investors and builders who can squeeze in high density townhomes (where allowed). Two BIG landholders here are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Rio Tinto. I recall when I was a Planning and Zoning Commissioner for Salt Lake City when Rio Tinto came to meet with us and discuss their vision for the far west side of the Salt Lake Valley. Basically, the multi-national company owns from the smelter smokestack on the north end of the Oquirrh mountains to past daybreak. As the mine ore taps out the Rio Tinto plans to build communities. Most important, they own the water rights to support those communities (like Daybreak) and one employee pointed out “By the time we’re done building we’ll need 90 schools to support the families that will live there!”  Rio Tinto is NOT building the 900 acre ‘Olympia’ project just west of Herriman, but their land virtually abuts that project. Just south of Daybreak and Olympia is Camp Williams, a training site for Active and Reservist National Guard as well all sorts of covert and overt military specialists.  The military with cooperation of private and public landowners is planning to put an open space plan around certain parts of the 23,000 base, which is smart because again, vacant land is being bought up to build housing projects. If you drew a circle with Camp Williams in the middle of it, the ‘Sentinel Landscape’ project would have Lehi and Draper on the north, Herriman on the east, Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs on the west and Utah lake to the south. As a homeowner you don’t want errant bullets and shells ending up in your new bedroom and so it’s good to have a buffer zone that will also help protect wildlife and our unique ecosystem. If you flew north west over the Oquirrh range the Church is building a new Temple in Tooele. Their real estate arm (Suburban Land Reserve) who built the City Creek project has announced that they will now build a massive housing project of homes to surround that edifice. Why not add green space, rec areas and walking paths and housing that looks good with the Temple as a focus. As I’ve also told clients over the years “If the Church announces they are going to build a Temple, buy any land you can around it because the value is going to skyrocket! If not land, a home. It’s logical that a Temple is going to add value to the neighborhood.”

May 29, 2020

Asshats

As a native New Yorker, I think I know pizza.  For years I never ate it in Utah because I couldn’t find a thin and crisp slice served on a cheap paper plate. The piece of pie had to be foldable in half and the grease drip down my arm like it did when you eat a slice from Joe’s or Ray’s in Manhattan or Brooklyn. When I moved to Utah in the 1970’s there were very few choices for pizza other than a few lame national chains who made doughy nasty fast food. You’d be hard pressed today to review my spending to find that I’ve ordered more than two or three pies delivered to our home in any given year, and then only because of a last minute party.  Yet much to my surprise, my Visa card just reported that I bought pizza in Texas and Ohio about a dozen times in one week. FRAUD ALERT!  I’d been hacked. Hackers and fraudsters come in many forms these days. These jerks are selling fake surgical masks, sanitizer that wouldn’t kill a single germ, forging/stealing the $1200 stimulus checks, etc. In real estate there are two common frauds: 1) rental properties too good to be true and 2) fake emails that direct buyers or sellers to change where wired funds should be sent. I often get calls reporting that photos of one of my listings is showing up on a Craigslist-type website for a rental property: “This 5 bedroom luxury home in the Avenues with a pool and four car garage is leasing for only $800 a month!”. The scam is that the non-owner (criminal) will run a fake ad with someone else’s house photos, get calls from eager renters and meet them at the property. The crook has already scoped out the home, sometimes even figured out how to get in (if it’s vacant) and will tell the prospect that they can have the rental if they throw down a cash deposit right then and there! The ‘landlord’ promises a key and to meet up the next day only to never be seen again. The second fraud has surfaced in the past two years with computer hackers following a real estate transaction and at the last minute sending out a fake email to a buyer that looks like it’s from their own real estate agent, escrow officer or lender changing the wiring instructions at the last minute for the funds to close. The unsuspecting victim eager to finalize the purchase changes the wire and BAM, all the funds disappear to some mystery country and asshat fraudster.Salt County now has a new service to help stop fraud via the Recorder’s office. ‘Property Watch’ is free and it notifies you if someone puts a lien /mortgage on your property without your permission. It’s like the services some banks and credit card companies offer now to alert you if someone is falsely using your account. Just sign up at SLCO.org or call 385-468-8176 to register to keep fraudsters away from what is yours.

May 29, 2020

MICROTRANSIT

My industry has been protected in Utah since Covid-19 struck and I’ve been able to leave our home and to work-going to the office for paperwork, close escrows for buyers and sellers, and show homes (virtually, usually). There haven’t been that many folks out on the roads and it’s interesting to get on I-15 and see how many people are speeding. I find myself in the fast lane going 90 mph and realizing soon after that I am the one speeding, too because I’m not paying attention and just going with the flow. Slow the F down! I’ve noticed that there are less cars attached to the TRAX trains yet UTA is still getting people where they need to go. Bus and train drivers are part of the huge group of unsung pandemic hero’s working to keep our transportation system going. Sure, the schedules may be different with less options, but you will eventually get to your destination. Uber and Lyft are working and as are cab and limo drivers. My go-to taxi company (Ute) told me that so many of their drivers have little kids at home or are older and can’t drive, and that many haven’t been able to get unemployment benefits. You just don’t see these kinds of companies on the road because YOU’RE not on the road with our suggested stay at home orders these past several weeks, but as regulations loosen, you’ll be calling them again for rides. One alternative to moving people that hasn’t stopped is a new program offered by UTA that was at first an experiment and is now may be a permanent fit for public transportation if UTA votes it in during their November planning meeting. “Microtransit’ is the minivan option that offers shared rides along the southern section of the Wasatch front for the same price as a bus ticket. Ridership for all service providers-public and private-have dropped as much as freeway traffic. Given that fact it’s a good time to be working out the potential bugs of getting people too and fro for UTA. Basically, you use your smart phone and app (UTA ON DEMAND) to request a ride or you call from a landline. They’ve partnered with demand rider sharer ‘Via’ to connect multiple riders heading in the same direction into a Mercedes Benz van to save riders money and provide more transportation options.  You book the ride and the app or person at the end of the land line will let you know where the van will meet you. The real point is to get riders to TRAX or Frontrunner stations from areas where bus service is limited.  It’s a pilot program that other large cities are also trying and so far, people seem to like the option. Just like Uber and Lyft you can rate your ride from 0-5 while the program is being tested. For more information, go to rideutah.com/services/UTA-on-Demand-by-Via or call 385-217-8191. Yes, their drivers are masked, and they are not cramming six people into a van at this time due to social distancing recommendations.