Salt Lake City Explodes with Growth


The Salt Lake City area has been growing for decades. And why not, it’s a nice place to live and a great place to raise a family, plus it’s one of the best recreational cities in the country.

But the area is no longer just growing- it is exploding!

Here are some of the major developments happening right now or in the very near future;

Valley Fair Mall remodel– Scott Satterfield and Greg Helm of Satterfield Helm Management have bought West Valley City’s Valley Fair Mall at 3500 South and 2700 West and plan to spend more than $50Million renovating it into an open-air mall. Costco has already signed on as an anchor tenant and many businesses have expressed interest. That entire area has seen a lot of expansion in the last few years with the E-Center, Hollywood Connection entertainment complex and the dozens of restaurants, hotels and stores being built.


Kennecott Land Development– Kennecott Land plans to develop more than 80,000 acres of land along Salt Lake’s west bench over the next 20-50 years. It’s first development, Daybreak, is 4126 acres of parks, trails, a private man-made lake, and open space and will have 13,000 homes, 5.2 million SF of office space, 2.4 million SF of retail space and 1.5 million SF of industrial space. And that’s just the first development.

Downtown City Creek- Downtown Salt Lake is being completely transformed with the demolition and complete rebuild of 20 acres right in the heart of the city. City Creek will have 2 Million square feet of office space, 928,000 square feet of retail space, 5600 underground parking stalls, over 400 high-rise condos (not including additional future residential developments), a sky-walk over State Street and more than 6 full acres of open-air pedestrian walkways and paths, including a glass-roof arcade, gardens and fountains. Water will flow throughout the green space, descending more than 47 feet from one end to the other.

Trolley Square Remodel- Another 20,000 square feet of retail space is being added to historic Trolley Square during it’s renovation. Also planned are outdoor features, such as water fountains, dining areas, and fireplaces.

Real Salt Lake Soccer Stadium-Uath’s professional soccer team, Real Salt Lake, is buildinga 42-acre $180 Million stadium and hotel in Sandy. But that’s only part of the plan- the entire project will be $650 Million, 136-acre multi-use project.

IKEA Draper-IKEA has broken ground on its new 310,000 SF Draper location and is hiring 350 workers for it’s spring 2007 opening. The store will sit on 22.5 acres and will also feature a 300-seat restaurant.

KraftMade Facility-Kraftmade Cabinetry is building a new $106 Million 700,000 SF manufacturing plant in West Jordan at 9800 S. 6200 West that will bring an additional 1300 new jobs to the area.

Add these projects to the 2600-acre Traverse Mountain community and new 150,000 SF Cabelasin Lehi and the new LDS temples being built in Draper and South Jordan and you have a valley bursting with development and growth.


See How Many Homes Before You Buy?



How many homes should you see before you make an offer on one?

This is an interesting question because there are a lot of opinions. And much of the answer depends on a few factors;

What are your main objectives in buying? Is this a home you’ll most likely be in for a long time or most likely somewhere you’ll be in for a few years? How important is the investment part? Is this your dream home? Are the schools the most important thing to you or the neighborhood or the size or does any of that matter? Is this a home for your family or just an investment?

Who is helping you? Are you going to find the home on your own before having an agent help you? Are you going to have a new agent help you that doesn’t know as much about the market? Are you going to have an experienced Realtor who knows the market well help you right from the start? 

If you are buying as a couple, do you agree on what you want? Do you have completely differing opinions or do both of you have the same vision of what to buy? Couples often do not agree on what they want, which can make the process much more difficult and frustrating. Deciding up front and making a list of what you’re looking for can help.

Have you finalized your financing? Have you decided on the lender you will be using and have your pre-approval and know exactly what payment and sales price you are comfortable with? After financing is in place and buyers feel good about their payments- they can move ahead more quickly and confidently.

Are you realistic? Do you believe in the perfect home? Are you wanting fate to grab you and shake you when you step into the right home, as though God himself were telling you that “this is the one”? Some people just want to feel like they’re getting the best “deal”, while others want to find a good home at a fair price. If you’re looking to buy a house for 15% under its market value, you’ll be looking for a long time and may never find a home to buy.

Depending on these (and other) factors, you may want to see many homes or just a few. If you do it the way I think is best, you’ll most likely find the right home pretty quickly. And, contrary to some people’s beliefs, it is okay to buy one of the first homes you see.



A Good Way To Find a Home

Usually when someone is ready to buy it does not take long to find the right home. Once they have met with the lender and set the payment and price they are comfortable with we are ready to go. Often they will tell us what they are looking for and we will find and preview the first set of homes to show them. If they don’t find one they like in the first set of homes we can at least get a good sense of what they liked and didn’t like about those homes. Then we show them more homes, adjusting for what we now know they like and usually find them a home they love within the first two or three trips of seeing 4-8 homes. Of course, some buyers take much longer, and some buy one of the first few homes they see. 


There is a young couple I met over 18 months ago and showed them a few homes and I just saw them at a house two weeks ago and they are still looking. They will probably be paying $40,000-$70,000 more than they would have paid 18 months ago, but they are determined to find the perfect house.

My wife and I bought the third home we looked at and it’s been the best home I’ve ever owned. We decided on what we were looking for and when we found it we bought it. We called the listing agent and said we’d wait for the agent to get there and the owners to come home. We sat right there at the kitchen table and wrote the offer with the sellers and their agent. Full price, and we worked out dates that worked for everyone.  Win/win- that’s the right way to buy a home.

Testing Your Home for Meth


Last year Utah state Senator Bob Bennett introduced a $3.5 Million spending bill that included $600,000 to fight meth in Utah. The bill was approved by the Senate and signed into law last year.

Now, Health Department officials in Cache, Box Elder, and Rich Counties have created a meth-testing program where residences can have a home tested for the toxic drug and it’s meth-related chemicals for $150.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug and is made from common household chemicals. The drug stimulates the central nervous system and when it is produced, can leave a residue throughout the building it is made or used. This residue can be harmful and even deadly and can be found in walls, floors, plumbing, furniture, and even counter-tops and fixtures.

There aren’t any other areas around the state where local health departments will provide this service (although private companies are available), but Logan Police Sgt. Bret Randall says he thinks the service will be popular and other counties around the state will copy the program. “Your main customer will be the Realtors”, Randall says.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration says that it considers meth the number one drug threat in Utah with 49 kilograms seized statewide in 2005 and with it’s lingering harmful effects.

When selling a home that has had meth in it, you need to have the home certified clean by the state before occupants are allowed to inhabit the home.

Once the home has been certified by the state, you no longer need to disclose that the home had meth present in it. The state just passed that into law two years ago and now when a home that has been certified clean it should not be stigmatized with the “meth house” label.

To test your home for meth in the Salt Lake area click HERE.

Utah Unemployment Rate at Record Low 2.5%


The job market in Utah was already one of the lowest in the nation at 4.2% in September, and now, incredibly, it’s even lower at 2.5%. Mark Knold, senior economist for Utah Workforce Services, says “Ultimate ‘full employment’ would be everyone working, but that never really happens. This is as close as you get.”

The Utah job market grew by 5%, three times the national average, in October and with thousands of jobs being created over the next couple years, many employers are fearful about finding workers to fill the need.”This is a huge issue for us,” says Fred Lampropoulos, founder and CEO of Merit Medical Systems Inc. “In fact, the single most pressing issue in our business is to retain and attract talent. We’re looking for another 50 to 100 [people] and I tell you, it’s tough.”

The construction industry has added 14,800 jobs during the last 12 months and that growth is expected to remain steady as works ramps up on the new $1Billion redevelopment of downtown Salt Lake City. “Right now, we’re in pretty good shape,” acknowledges Randy Price, human resources director for Big-D Construction, “but as work and jobs come and go, we are going to need more talent.”

Jeff Thredgold, a consultant to Zions Bank, says that the state’s labor pool probably won’t be filling any time soon. “The biggest challenge in the region is where to find people to hire.” Jobs are being created faster than people are moving into the state to fill them.

In October there were only 33,000 adult Utahns officially unemployed. Nationally the unemployment rate is at 4.4 percent.

Outdoor Smoking Ban Passes in Salt Lake City


The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously last night to pass an ordinance banning smoking in outdoor public places. This means that it will be against ordinance to smoke in Library Square, on trails, public parks and baseball diamonds, golf courses, soccer fields, city cemetery, and within 25 feet of bus stops and 50 feet of public gatherings of 100 or more people on city property.

Councilwoman Jill Remington Love says, “What we’re really after is a cultural change. We’re really trying to create safe, healthy places with our parks.” 

The initial proposed fine for breaking the ordinance was around $300, but was lowered and passed at $25. Enforcement will be nominal.

Before the ordinance can take effect, it must be signed by the mayor and published in major newspapers, which should take another week or two.

According to the Surgeon General nine other cities in Utah already prohibit smoking in parks;  Clinton, Hyde Park, Logan, Midvale, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan, Spanish Fork, and West Jordan.

There are close to 600 cities across the country that have outdoor smoking ordinances.

Draper City Approves Light Rail


The Draper City Council last night unanimously approved a new light-rail (TRAX) route to run 8 miles through the city and down in Utah County. The new TRAX line will cost $245- $300 million to build and approximately $6 million to run every year.

The debate has gotten heated in the weeks leading up to the vote, with many residences unhappy about the idea of a train running along 3.5 miles of the Porter Rockwell trail.

Utah Transit Authority (UTA) bought the right of way (with the consent of Draper residences) on an existing Union Pacific rail line back in 1993 for the purpose of running TRAX on it.

Trains will run at an average speed of 37 mph every 15 minutes or so and carry an estimated 3540 new riders every weekday. It is estimated that the new rail line will also reduce the number of vehicles on the road by 1150 each weekday.

TRAX says the new route is not high on it’s priorities, with new extensions already planned to the west and north, and estimates the Draper line won’t be running for at least 5-7 years.

Cracking the Zillow Code


Lee Ovington of Valuation411 takes a crack at dissecting the Zillow valuation process. Also read the comment by David Gibbons of Zillow, where he sheds some additional light on the algorithms used.

Ovington writes, “Quite simply, the Zestimate relies on a calculated relationship of assessed value to sale price. Zillow merely takes selected transactions and calculates the relationship between the Assessed Values and the Sales Prices. It then applies that ratio to the subject’s assessed value (plus or minus some adjustments) and “whala”, you have Zestimate!”

Gibbons explains, “… the reason you measure a strong correlation between tax assessed values and Zestimates is not because our algorithm is simplistic but because the data we have is incomplete in your area… we’re missing the other information we typically get from the assessor, like sq. ft. and # of beds and baths. In cases like this, no other data is considered in the Zestimate – not becasue the algorithm is flawed – but because we don’t yet have the info.”

He continues, “When we do have more information, we use it. The last time I saw a correlation coefficient for all of our data fields, the most correlated field was actually “finished sq. ft.”. Our algorithm mashes up multiple valuation approaches. This allows us to both produce fairly accurate Zestimates with little data but also to significantly tighten up Zestimates when there is more data to be considered.”

One of the interesting parts of the post is where he talks about defending his appraisal to a homeowner who wants to believe the value they found on Zillow and why the appraisal would/could come in lower.

This is something that is starting to happen, and will happen more and more as the public becomes more aware of Zillow and as Zillow improves their valuation processes.