SALT LAKE CITY
Photo: Steve Greenwood
This past April, Forbes magazine ranked Salt Lake City No. 6 among
recession-proof U.S. cities.
One factor that led to this ranking is the city’s relatively low unemployment rate. Plus, Utah continues to add
jobs to bolster the economy.
Indeed, the city has a wide variety
of employers and industries, from
manufacturing and the service sector to technology and transportation.
Further, its strong economy likely has
helped the Utah capital weather the
housing storm and keep home prices
What the Locals Say
“Having a variety of employers here helps our low
foreclosure rate. People don’t stay unemployed
unless they want to. When one company lays
off [employees], it isn’t like the whole economy
takes a dive. Plus, we’re always bringing new
employers to town.”
— Diane Martin, owner, Mortgage Specialists Inc.
In fact, Salt Lake City’s home-price
drops and slower sales have been significantly more conservative than other cities around the country and compared to the national average.
This past October, for instance, its median home price showed a 0.7-percent decrease compared to October 2007. Nationally, prices fell by 11. 3 percent in the same period, according to the National Association
Population in 2000: 181,743
Rank (U.S.): 125th-largest
Metropolitan-area population: 1.1 million
Metropolitan-area rank: 48th-largest
Average commute: 20.1 minutes
Average commute in 2000: 19.2 minutes
U.S: 25 minutes
Median household income: $43,000
Median household income in 2000: $36,944
Median age: 31 years
Median age in 2000: 30 years
U.S.: 36. 4 years
Unemployment: 3. 4 percent
Unemployment in November 2007: 2.6 percent
U.S.: 6. 7 percent
Median home price: $228,450
Price in October 2007: $230,000
Median monthly housing costs: $1,296
Median monthly housing costs in 2000: $1,116
National foreclosure rank (state): 28th (out of 51)
Rank in October 2007: 28th
Homeowner-vacancy rate: 2.6 percent
Vacancy rate in 2000: 2.1 percent
U.S.: 2.7 percent
Total home sales: 822
Total home sales in October 2007: 1,020
Housing inventory: 6,487
Inventory in October 2007: 5,829
Housing units (including one-unit, two or more units, and
mobile homes): 80,057
Housing units in 2000: 77,054
Single-family conforming-loan limit: $600,300
Conforming-loan limit in 2008: $729,750
Licensing: Mortgage-officer applicants must complete 20
hours of approved education and pass a mortgage-officer
exam before applying; submit fingerprints; and pay a $171
nonrefundable fee that includes the application fee, recovery-fund fee and fingerprint-processing fee.
State association: Utah Association of Mortgage Brokers
Demographics: 81 percent white, 4 percent Asian,
4 percent black, 1 percent American Indian/Alaska Native,
1 percent Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander,
9 percent other; 24 percent identify as Hispanic or Latino
Largest private employers (county): Intermountain
Health Care, Wal-Mart, Delta Air Lines, Discover Financial
Services, Zions Bank Management Services
2nd-least-stressful U.S. city ( bizjournals.com)
Most charitable U.S. city ( bizjournals.com)
Ivanna C. Sukkar is senior associate editor at Scotsman Guide. Reach her at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-person accounts from
By Gary Lacefield, president and senior
consultant, Risk Mitigation Group
A new F-word, “foreclosure,” now haunts millions of homeowners. Real estate professionals of all types can’t help but
take some of the blame for that. For those of us planning
to stay in the business, we must improve our practices and
ourselves if we want to survive.
So how can mortgage brokers improve their businesses
and their service?
Thinking about this question often reminds me of the time
my daughter, then 24 years old, and her husband wanted to
buy their first home. They lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth,
Texas, area and had a solid income and modest debt. In
evaluating their situation, a loan officer qualified the couple for a $135,000 loan.
My daughter freaked. She couldn’t believe it. In her eyes,
there was no way they could buy that much house. In fact,
when they calculated their budget, she and her husband
figured they could afford about half that much.
Fortunately for them, they knew the importance of budgeting and of understanding what they could truly and
reasonably afford. Although they heard they could buy a
more expensive house, they prioritized fiscal responsibility. They also didn’t want to harm their credit scores or
their economic security by getting behind a mortgage they
Because of these things, they ultimately bought a $65,000
home that they will always remember fondly as the first
place they owned.
What did I tell my daughter when she asked my advice
during this time? Some of the same things that mortgage
brokers should make sure to tell their clients:
■ Don’t buy more house than your budget allows.
■ Don’t overpay for fees.
■ Don’t make any unnecessary purchases during the
■ Do pay for a home inspection.
■ Do make sure that the escrow account is calculated
properly and won’t come up short.
■ Do understand all of the terms on every loan
I would like to say that helping my daughter with her home
purchase taught me something important about how to
deal with clients. In reality, it’s just the opposite. The things
I learned during two decades in the real estate finance industry taught me how to help her.
Maybe that’s the secret: Treat everyone like the people you
care about most, and you’ll never find yourself leading people into loans they can’t afford. Mortgage brokers who are
willing to start there can help end today’s financial nightmares and begin to return a sense of pride to the American
dream. Maybe then we can forget about this new F-word
and get back to what we do best — help people buy homes.
Gary Lacefield is president and senior consultant
of Risk Mitigation Group, a financial- and regulato-ry-compliance firm that specializes in fair-lending
and fair-housing issues. The company’s expertise
includes forensic mortgage audits, quality-control
audits, compliance, insurance and the Real Estate
Settlement Procedures Act. Reach Lacefield at
(817) 472-1100 or email@example.com.
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