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SL Board of Realtors strives to tell the 'real story' of real estate in Utah

The Salt Lake Board of Realtors has 7,300 members, mostly from Salt Lake and south Davis counties.

Ensuring the public knows the real story of the "real estate" industry in Utah is one of the main goals of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, 2009 Board President Ryan Kirkham says.

Sometimes the real story is skewed by the media, says Kirkham, the principal broker of Kirkham and Friends Real Estate. Some stories that are coming from news outlets reflect the real estate industry in other parts of the United States. Kirkham says these stories do not accurately reflect the real estate industry in Utah.
“The fact of the matter is real estate is a very neighborhood specific product. It is very important that we get that message out,” Kirkham says, explaining that the Salt Lake Board of Realtors provides local media outlets with quarterly home sales statistics. “We don’t sugar coat the statistics. We don’t tell them things are good when they are not. But we do try to be honest and get out accurate statistics."
As for Utah’s story, Kirkham says the Board is seeing mixed results in Utah’s real estate industry. Spring and summer home sales were good, he says, with many people finally able to sell their homes. But the industry overall is still trying to recover from the recession and the subsequent problems, he says.
“The truth is, we are down,” Kirkham says. “Sales are down as far as numbers of homes and condos sold and prices have come down a bit.”
The good news is, Kirkham says, is that the number of homes sold is starting to turn around and level off a little.
“Things aren’t booming,” he says. “It isn’t a seller’s market. But things are turning.”
Kirkham says he believes 2010 will be a much healthier year for real estate. He suspects property will start to appreciate slowly and moderately, at a more healthy rate.
Besides telling the real story, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors also spends a lot of time battling for the rights of realtors and property owners, Kirkham says.
Most recently, the Board, which consists of 7,300 members, mostly in Salt Lake and south Davis counties, helped to pass a bill with the Utah State Legislature that increases the number of continuing and pre-licensing education hours required of realtors. The organization is also working to create a key box system that will allow agents to access a listed home with a universal key that will unlock a box containing the home key. And, as part owners of the Multiple Listing Service, the Board is working to strengthen and improve the functionally of the MLS.
New home appraisal rules are drawing lots of attention from the Board of Realtors right now, Kirkham says. The new safeguards have made it difficult for people to get appraisals, he says.
“Appraisals are probably being scrutinized too much,” Kirkham says. “We still need regulation; we just need to make sure there isn’t fraud. We need to loosen up a little bit.”
Aside from helping to improve circumstances for realtors, the Salt Lake Board of Realtors is also keyed into maintaining and improving the rights of private property owners, Kirkham says.
“Our organization provides a lot of services for realtors. We spend a lot of time involving ourselves with advocacy where we go and advocate for private property owners,” Kirkham says. “We are always trying to advocate for those people trying to protect their private property rights. That is a huge function of the Board of Realtors and what we do. We are always trying to defend those rights.”
Established in 1917, the Board plays a proactive role in ensuring private property owners are not taxed unnecessarily or mandated to pay unnecessary fees, Kirkham says.
“We are trying to oppose things that make it hard for people buy and sell real estate in the state of Utah and elsewhere. … People ought to be able to own real estate and, for the most part, be able to do what they want with it,” Kirkham says. “There is always going to be opposition to private property rights. The Board will always have to strive and work very diligently to protect private property rights.”
The Salt Lake Board of Realtors will also continue to be a leader in education, offering continuing education classes for licensed realtors, Kirkham says.
“It is a good organization,” Kirkham says. “We have our struggles and challenges, but we just keep moving forward and doing our best.”
Ryan Kirkham is the 2009 president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. He joined the organization more than five years ago as a volunteer. He is the principal broker for Kirkham and Friends Real Estate, a company with 40 agents. Kirkham has had his real estate license for 16 years and is licensed in both Utah and Wyoming. He specializes in residential real estate, but also dabbles in commercial and other types of real estate.


 By Kelly Lux