Wednesday, March 26, 2014

OGDEN RISING: Some Fixed Up, Some Knocked Down

In the heart of downtown Ogden there is a curious scene of activity going on.

Recently, this old commercial building, which has sat in a state of disrepair for decades, has been given a new lease on life.  It is located on the 24th block of Grant Ave. just north of Historic 25th Street.  The work on the front of the building is impressive.

Meanwhile, the property next door is experiencing a different fate.

This property is a good example of what happens when deferred maintenance is deferred too long.  The roof on this building collapsed a couple of years ago.  Rather than repairing it, the owner let it sit.  Water problems began to erode away at the structural supports of the building and this began to affect other attached structures on the street.  The building is being disassembled and in its place will be a vacant lot.

It is sad to see this building go and I wish the owner had the resources to prevent this unnecessary fate.  Nevertheless, its removal will make way for new construction opportunities.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

LAND TAXES: Ancient Rome's Folly and Foible

Taxes have been around a long time.  They are a necessary evil to fund the basic functions of government.  However, throughout history, there have been example of the oppressive use of taxes.

One tax that can be particularly onerous is real property tax.  Today in Utah, property taxes help fund schools, county, and city government.  However, they are not the sole sources of funding since there are many various taxes that are employed to provide revenue for these entities.  

Since these other taxes exist, property taxes have been moderate in our state when compared to places like Texas, for example, who have increased their property taxes to compensate for a lack of income tax.  The result of increased real property tax in Texas has been a proportional decline in the value of real property in the state.  High tax rates tend to depress value for real property. 

So, is it possible to tax a property so much that it sinks to such a low value that owners will abandon it?  History says yes.  Lets take the example of the most fertile districts of Italy, Campania, and see what happened there.  Edward Gibbon writes:

The agriculture of the Roman provinces was insensibly ruined, and, in the progress of despotism which tends to disappoint its own purpose, the emperors were obliged to derive some merit from the forgiveness of debts, or the remission of tributes, which their subjects were utterly incapable of paying. According to the new division of Italy, the fertile and happy province of Campania, the scene of the early victories and of the delicious retirements of the citizens of Rome, extended between the sea and the Apennine, from the Tiber to the Silarus. Within sixty years after the death of Constantine, and on the evidence of an actual survey, an exemption [from taxes] was granted in favor of three hundred and thirty thousand English acres of desert and uncultivated land; which amounted to one eighth of the whole surface of the province. As the footsteps of the Barbarians had not yet been seen in Italy, the cause of this amazing desolation, which is recorded in the laws, can be ascribed only to the administration of the Roman emperors.
Gibbon, Edward (2011-10-14). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, All 6 volumes plus Biography

  The Roman Empire in the fourth century found itself in dire straits. The population was declining and few people wanted to volunteer for military duty.  To induce people into military service, they levied taxes to pay their soldiers to serve.  As their military become increasingly ineffectual and undermanned, yet more taxes were levied.  The irony is that the land taxes became so burdensome that owners sought exemption from the tax by allowing the land to become fallow.  This fallow land deprived the nation of wealth and food which would support the existing military and population.  Thus, as Gibbon describes, the tax policy "disappointed its own purpose."  Certainly, a great lesson from antiquity.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


I recently opened my own real estate brokerage.  After working 10 years in the industry and serving as an associate and branch broker for a couple local brokerages over the past six years, it came time to take the reins of business and open my own shop.

You may be curious about the origins of the word Vesta.  It comes from the pantheon of Roman deities.  Vesta was the Roman goddess of home, hearth, and family.  She was typically found holding a torch or flame as an emblem of the home.

I have to thank my graphic designer, Eric Hunter, for working with me over the past couple months to bring the logo and brand name to life.  We hope to have "FOR SALE" signs adorning the front yards of many homes, perhaps even yours, in the coming months.

Our brokerage is located on Historic 25th Street in downtown Ogden.  We are on the third floor at 195 E. in Suite #306 of the Times Square building which is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Lincoln Ave. and 25th Street.    

Our brokerage provides the traditional listing and buyer services you would expect from a professional brokerage.  However, with our brokerage, clients can expect superior service, communication, and ample experience to guide them through their real estate transaction.  Our office is built on systems to keep our clients informed and the transactions running smoothly.

We have niche expertise in income property and property management.  We also have strength in the historic home market and knowledge of old construction techniques and materials.

Whatever your real estate needs, CONTACT US, and let's make sure your next real estate transaction is one that you enjoy.    

Monday, March 17, 2014

Now You See It, Now You Don't: Provo Home Explodes

If you are having a gas leak problem in your home, please have it checked by a professional.  As a Provo resident recently found out, the delay could be costly.

Here is a picture of an average home in Provo.

Photo Courtesy Salt Lake Tribune 

Here is a photo of the same home after a suspected gas leak from the kitchen oven.

Photo Courtesy Salt Lake Tribune

Whenever we suspect a gas leak at a listing or a property we manage, we contact Questar Gas to inspect and identify the source.  Several times, this has helped us prevent hazards.  It appears the Provo homeowner let the problem get out of hand.  Miraculously though, this homeowner survived the incident.  

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photo of the Day: Curb Appeal Cataclysm

As an agent, I want the homes I sell to show their very best...especially if I want a premium price in the marketplace.

So, when I arrive at a premium priced listing and I'm greeted with this scene, I have to chuckle.  The fact that this sofa has been lurking in the park strip for more than two weeks also makes it a little more funny.

The great nemesis to listing agents is the rogue abandoned sofa making a mockery of curb appeal.