Top Ten Suburbs to Sell A Home


MSN today posted an article about a article that lists the Top Ten Suburbs to Sell a Home right now. To make the determination of which cities were the top, they took data from Altos Research. They took suburbs in the country’s 75 largest Census-defined metro areas based on the last 90 days of sales activity, then narrowed it to those cities with an inventory of at least 75 homes on the market.

They then eliminated suburbs where it currently takes more than 125 days to sell the average home and eliminated any suburb where year-over-year price declines were steeper than 10% or where more than 50% of sellers had reduced their asking price to sell their home.

Cities that make the cut include;

10. Montclair, N.J.

Location: 13 miles west of New York City

9. Waltham, Mass.

Location: 26 miles west of Boston

8. Encinitas, Calif.

Location: 28 miles north of San Diego

7. Matthews, N.C.

Location: 12 miles southeast of Charlotte

6. Midvale, Utah

Location: 13 miles south of Salt Lake City

5. Sugar Land, Texas

Location: 20 miles southwest of Houston

4. Kennesaw, Ga.

Location: 28 miles northwest of Atlanta

3. Venice, Calif.

Location: 16 miles west of Los Angeles

2. Bedford, Texas

Location: 22 miles west of Dallas

1. Berkeley, Calif.

Location: 14 miles northeast of San Francisco

The article says what was left wasn’t a set of awe-inspiring hidden gems where sellers are awash in bidding wars. Nationwide, low-interest rates and low prices caused existing home sales to rise 5.5% in September, but in many areas of the country, sellers are finding relatively few buyers. But, “If you have to sell a house, sell in these places,” says Michael Simonsen, chief executive of Altos Research.

Top State Governments


The PEW Center on the States has released it’s report grading all the states on how well their governments work and accomplish goals and objectives. They look at a lot of factors, including;

• Elected officials, the state budget office and agency personnel have appropriate data on the relationship between costs and performance and use these data when making resource-allocation decisions. • Agency managers have the appropriate information required to make program management decisions.• The governor and agency managers have appropriate data that enable them to assess the actual performance of policies and programs.• The public has appropriate access to information about the state, the performance of state programs and state services and is able to provide input to state policy makers.

People• The state regularly conducts and updates a thorough analysis of its human-capital needs.• The state acquires the employees it needs.• The state retains a skilled workforce.

• The state develops its workforce.

• The state manages its workforce-performance programs effectively.

Money• The state uses a long-term perspective to make budget decisions.• The state’s budget process is transparent, easy to follow and inclusive.• The state’s financial management activities support structural balance

between ongoing revenues and expenditures.

• The state’s procurement activities are conducted efficiently and supported

with effective internal controls.

• The state systematically assesses the effectiveness of its financial operations

and management.

Infrastructure• The state regularly conducts a thorough analysis of its infrastructure needs and has a transparent process for selecting infrastructure projects.• The state has an effective process for monitoring infrastructure projects throughout their design and construction.• The state maintains its infrastructure according to generally recognized engineering practices.

• The state comprehensively manages its infrastructure.

• The state creates effective intergovernmental and interstate infrastructure coordination networks.

That’s a lot of criteria and a lot of research. So, how did the state’s rank?


The top state governments in information (with A’s) were Utah, Washington, Missouri, Virginia, and Michigan.


For handling money the best government was Utah, which took the only A in the nation, follwed by Washington, Nebraska, Virginia, and Delaware, with A minuses.


Infastructure, again Utah was the top state, and the only state earning an A. With A minuses were Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.

The report says of Utah, “there’s a lot to cheer about. Utah manages itself with savvy business acumen. Financial decisions are made wisely, with an eye toward return on investment and long-term performance in all facets of state government.”

Of Virginia, the reports states, “Virginia proves that tracking data—and holding employees accountable for outcomes—can work wondrous efficiencies.”

And of Washington, the report says, “Washington has been a consistent leader in results-based governance. It was ahead of nearly all other states in controlling spending by keeping track of where investments were and were not paying off.”

New Hampshire had the worst grade in the country, with an overall D+. The study says, “The governor, who serves a two-year term, doesn’t necessarily appoint—and cannot remove—his own agency heads, who serve four-year terms. So the governor can spend lots of time banging heads with other members of his own cabinet. “The basic system of government is designed to make it difficult to transform anything,” explains one former state official.”

Top Ten Cities to Buy a Home in 2008


Forbes released an article on Feb 7, 2008 naming the top cities for buying a home in 2008. These are “…markets where job growth is strong, foreclosures are relatively low and inventory is high. With these factors in place, buyers can still dictate terms of sale and negotiate prices, but aren’t as exposed to the economic and lending risk problems that have sunk many markets around the country.”

Salt Lake City tops the list, again, as being the #1 place to buy a home this year, saying, “Of the major metros in the U.S., Salt Lake City is adding jobs faster than anywhere. The economic boom in SLC has drawn residents from all over the country, and more than a few home builders trying to make a profit in these otherwise woeful times. Housing supply has gone up quickly, and there hasn’t been a high rate of foreclosure.”

But some of the other cities might surprise you.

For example, the article places Phoenix at #5, saying, “Phoenix has a very high foreclosure rate; there’s no way around that. Based on RealtyTrac’s estimates, there is one foreclosure for every 87 households in Phoenix. Still, our data suggest that strong job and economic growth in many non-housing sectors of the local economy is enough to offset it, and people are still moving to the Valley of the Sun at a quick rate.”

And Las Vegas at #7, saying”Las Vegas is a market hammered by foreclosures, due largely to extremely high speculation in both residential communities and the condo market. Though the housing slowdown has hurt jobs in the construction sector, Vegas continues to attract businesses and job seekers to its growing economy, making its excess inventory (and there’s a ton) less toxic than in other places. ”

The complete top ten cities are

1 Salt Lake City, UT

2 Raleigh, NC

3 Orlando, FL

4 Charlotte, NC

5 Phoenix, AZ

6 Seattle, WA

7 Las Vegas, NV

8 Jacksonville, FL

9 Richmond, VA

10 Houston, TX

Top Ten States for Jobs


Yesterday MSN released a list of the Best and Worst states for jobs based on unemployment figures, and they offer the “mean” wage of each state. Mean wage is a term meaning that half the jobs pay more and half pay less.

Here are the top fifteen states;

1. South Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 796,214
Mean annual wage: $30,460
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.9 percent)

2. Idaho
Unemployment rate: 3 percent
Population: 1,499,402
Mean annual wage: $34,810
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.2 percent)

3. Wyoming
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
Population: 522,830
Mean annual wage: $34,290
Top industry: Government (23 percent)

4. Nebraska
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,774,571
Mean annual wage: $34,300
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.1 percent)

5. Utah
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 2,645,330
Mean annual wage: $35,540
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.7 percent)

6. Hawaii
Unemployment rate: 3.2 percent
Population: 1,283,388
Mean annual wage: $38,630
Top industry: Government (19.6 percent)

7. North Dakota
Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent
Population: 639,715
Mean annual wage: $32,440
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (21.4 percent)

8. Virginia
Unemployment rate: 3.5 percent
Population: 7,712,091
Mean annual wage: $41,450
Top industry: Government (18 percent)

9. Montana
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 957,861
Mean annual wage: $31,290
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.5 percent)

10. New Hampshire
Unemployment rate: 3.6 percent
Population: 1,315,828
Mean annual wage: $39,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (23.3 percent)

11. New Mexico
Unemployment rate: 3.7 percent
Population: 1,969,915
Mean annual wage: $33,980
Top industry: Government (23.2 percent)

12. Delaware
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 864,764
Mean annual wage: $41,680
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (18.7 percent)

13. Maryland
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Population: 5,618,344
Mean annual wage: $44,030
Top industry: Government (18.2 percent)
14. Iowa
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 2,988,046
Mean annual wage: $33,250
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (20.4 percent)

15. Vermont
Unemployment rate: 4 percent
Population: 621,254
Mean annual wage: $36,350
Top industry: Trade, transportation and utilities (19.4 percent)

Michigan heads the list of “worst states”, followed by Mississippi, South Carolina, Alaska, California, D.C., Ohio, Arkansas, Nevada, and Kentucky.

Salt Lake Real Estate Market Still on Top for 2007


I know, I know…. the market is supposed to be horrible and everything bad and the sky should be falling. But even so, average prices aren’t dropping in Salt Lake County and the local economy is soaring. All factors indicate that our local real estate market will continue to move toward a flat sales rate for a while with the seasonal slowdown and the high inventory levels, but we have no bubble in Salt Lake and real estate will continue to be a solid financial investment.

In fact, we’re still the #1 market in the country for appreciation in 2007.

(update) According to the latest MSN report on 12-28-07, Salt lake was #3 in the nation, Provo and Ogden were also in the top 5 in the country.

Utah has the nations fifth-lowest foreclosure rate.

Salt Lake’s real estate market has appreciated 12.9% year-over-year for third quarter 2007.

And job growth is still booming (Utah remains far and away the best economically performing state in the nation, said Mark Knold, senior labor market economist with the Utah Department of Workforce Services) and we still have record-low unemplyment rates.

In fact, accroding to Kelly K. Matthews, executive vice president and economist for Wells Fargo Bank, Utah’s economy is the best it’s ever been and will continue to be so at least through the first half of next year!

Sorry to all of you “sky-is-falling” people out there…

Salt Lake Market Ranked #5 in Nation for Appreciation


The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) released it’s report about real estate appreciation today and Salt Lake ranks fifth in the nation with a third quarter appreciation of +2.44%, a year-over-year increase of +13.37% and a 5 year appreciation of +60.17%.

Some people think since we aren’t breaking records right now the market must be bad, but in Salt Lake City we’re back to a normal market- other than having so much frickin’ inventory on the market. But good news- the number of active listings on the market actually started to go down a few weeks ago and has continued- finally!

Provo ranks #2, Logan ranks #11, Ogden ranks #4, and Salt Lake City ranks #5 in the report.


From the MSN report:

Prices are still rising in many areas. Texas, North Carolina, Washington and Utah put four cities from each state making the 20 best-performers list.

City rankings are listed by metropolitan areas. The OFHEO’s House Price Index is published on a quarterly basis and tracks average house-price changes in repeat sales or refinancings of the same single-family properties. The index is based on analysis of data obtained from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from more than 30 million repeat transactions over the past 30 years.

Although there are still 1000 homes selling every month in SL county, pent-up demand caused by many buyers waiting and watching, along with our incredibly strong local economy and record-low unemployment should fuel a healthy housing market in Salt Lake again next year.

Things I Like About the Current Market


The current market in Salt Lake is this;

Lots of inventory, some people are watching to see what’s going on, lenders are beginning to realize they don’t have to completely shut down all loans to stay profitable, and lots of people are buying and selling houses still.

Still, regardless of the good and bad and everything- there are hundreds of people buying and selling homes every week in Salt lake county. And of course hundreds more are being bought and sold in surrounding counties as well.

Here are some of the things I like about the current market…

Everyone I talk to is not an “investor”. It drove me crazy the last couple years that everyone I spoke to claimed to be a real estate investor. Whether they had purchased rentals or flipped any houses or not- they all fancied themselves as an investor because they all wanted to be one. And they all thought they knew everything about real estate. They didn’t, they still don’t and now they can finally shut up and go back to being accountants and store clerks and fireman and whatever else they do for a career. They can let the real estate professionals be real estate professionals.

Far fewer For Sale By Owner’s. Not that there is anything wrong with trying to sell your house without an agent, but many of these people (because the market was so hot) were just a bit mean about their views toward agents. Some people will always be mean about agents, just as some people hate attorneys or think paying someone to change your oil is a waste of money. That’s just human nature- there will always be the fringe minority that has opposing views toward any given thing. Now that sellers need more help selling it’s nice for agents to be wanted more. We mostly work with buyers anyway.

Buyers market= Good for buyers. Most of our clients are buyers so this market is great for our clients. There is a great selection of homes on the market, interest rates are fantastic, prices are reasonable, and indicators show it’s a good time to buy and that prices will continue to increase so buying will be a solid investment. Sellers are still getting good prices for their homes and buyers are getting to choose from more inventory.

Many agents are leaving the industry. This is great news for everyone. Many of the part-time and new agents are leaving, which means they won’t be around to hurt any clients and give the real professionals a bad name. There are simply too many people in the business- real estate agents, lenders, title people, etc. This should be a great time to trim some of the fat from the business and allow the best to do their business. Of course there will still be far too many in the industry next year and the year after, but that’s just how it is. Many people who have gotten into the business the last few years really never should have. They chased dreams of riches and easy money and now many are seeing that this business is about clients and working your butt off for those clients. It’s working every day of the week, not being able to take vacations because your clients need you, stressing about deals, dealing with ungrateful people sometimes and rude people on the other side of the transaction that you have to deal with for the sake of the client’s best interest. It’s late nights and a lot of humility, starting out in this business and it’s not for everyone- in fact over 90% of the people who get a license- fail.

Two people can see the same experience very differently. A basketball goes into the basket as the clock ticks to zero- One team screams with excitement as they win and the other team sobs about their loss. A ball went into a basket, but different people feel very differently about that. Many people don’t like this market, but many people do- including me.