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Utah Real Estate Weekly Review

By Ken Holman

Economy poised for ‘mild pickup.’ Conference Board’s leading economic index rose 1.1 percent in November, the biggest gain since March. Nine of the 10 component indicators included in the index rose in November. Building permits were the only negative contributor. DN. 12/18/2010, Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch

Plan names best places for solar on U.S. lands. Solar projects on public lands. Three west desert sites in Beaver and Iron counties in Utah are among 24 solar energy zones indentified by the Interior Department for possible solar development. They make up nearly 18,000 acres in the Escalante Valley, Milford Flat South and the Wah Wah Valley. SLT, 12/17/2010

State’s jobless rate shows small decline. Utah Department of Workforce Services chief economist, Mark Knold said, “The growth rate of the past five months has been basically unchanged, with each month hovering in the 1.0 to 1.5 percent year-over  range.” This suggests the employment base has expanded over the past 12 months. SLT 12/17/2010 Mike Gorrell

Strong week for economy raises optimism for 2011/Numbers boost optimism for 2011. Economists are predicting that hiring and even housing could pick up in 2011, maybe for than first thought. Growth “has improved as the year is coming to an end,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. Zandi expects the economy to grow at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the October-December quarter and for 2011, he and other economists expect growth at roughly 4 percent, up from earlier forecasts of around 2.7 percent. With 4 percent growth, the economy would be moving closer to the pace of expansion needed to bring down unemployment. Growth of 5 percent is needed for a full year to lower the jobless rate by one percentage point. SLT/DN 12/17/2010 Jeannine Aversa and Christopher S. Rugaber, AP

Utah’s unemployment rate at 7.5%. The Utah Department of Workforce Services reported Thursday that the jobless rate for last month was 7.5 percent compared to 6.6 percent in November of last year. DN 12/17/2010 Jasen Lee

Fixed mortgage rate up for 5th straight week. Rates on fixed mortgages surged for the fifth straight week, reflecting higher yields on long-term Treasurys. Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 4.83 percent from 4.61 percent in the previous week. Last month, the rate hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent. The average rate on the 15-year loan also increased to 4.17 percent from 3.96 percent. It reached 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records dated to 1991. DN 12/17/2010

City Creek names general manager. Taubman Centers, owner and operator of the retail portion of the City Creek development, announced Wednesday that Linda Wardell has been named general manager of retail operations for the landmark downtown project, effective next month. Wardell will oversee retailer operations, marketing, tourism, sponsorship and community outreach for the retail center. She has been general manager for the Pier Shops at Ceasars in Atlantic City, N.J. Wardell, a native of Atlanta, has more than 20 years experience in shopping center management, including four years with Taubman. DN 12/16/2010 Jasen Lee

Economy seems to be settling into period of enduring growth. The economy appears to be settling into a period of moderate but enduring growth. Factories are producing more goods, retail prices are low, and the malls are full ahead of the holidays. Still, the housing market remains a major drag on the economic recovery. Builders, who are competing with millions of foreclosed properties, are pessimistic about their prospects over the next six months. 2011 will be better than most economists thought just months ago. DN 12/16/2010 AP

S.L. commutes now average. At peak times, commute time from Salt Lake City to Provo is about 42 minutes. Travel from Ogden to Salt Lake City takes about 33 minutes. Approximately 76 percent of U.S. workers drive their own vehicles to work while 12 percent carpool, 4.7 percent use public transportation, 2.9 percent walk to work, 1.2 percent use other means and 3.3 percent work from home, according to U.S. Census Bureau data and other reports used by to compile their results. Salt Lake City’s commuters are about average; as Bundle ranks the city as having the 24th –best commute in the nation among 52 U.S. cities. DN 12/16/2010 Wendy Leonard

UTA development plans announced. The Utah Transit Authority announced that it has finalized an operating agreement for its first “transit-oriented development” project partnership with a developer—and then immediately formally approved sites for four others. The UTA will be a limited liability partner with Boulder Ventures to build a retail-housing-office project on 36 acres of UTA-owned land in West Jordan, near the Jordan Valley station, about 3200 West and 9000 South, on the Mid-Jordan TRAX line, which is under construction. The 1.8 million-square-foot project is designed to include 1,400 residential units and about 35,000 sf of retail space.UTA announced that it is working on a similar agreement for a project at the TRAX Meadowbrook Station on 3900 South. UTA has 4.1 acres there. The project would include 88 apartments and a Salt Lake Community College office and classroom building. UTA intends to build three other transit-oriented projects near the Sandy Civic Center, in Clearfield and in Sugar House. SLT 12/16/2010 Lee Davidson

Face of Utah’s future likely to don Wendover’s makeup. 65.6 percent of Wendover is now Latino, nearly twice as high as any other Utah city, according to new census estimates released Tuesday. Adjacent West Wendover, Nev., is 62 percent Latino. To see a chart online that lists the Latino (the U.S. Census Bureau uses the term “Hispani”) percentage of all Utah cities, go to  SLT 12/15/2010 Lee Davidson

Development controversy continues. For months, Travaci development plans have stirred controversy in Cottonwood Heights. This week there will be an open house to discuss the best use of the valuable mountainside land at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Terry Diehl is the developer and landowner. SLT 12/15/2010 Cathy McKitrick

Chamber names Burton latest ‘Giant in Our City’ The Salt Lake Chamber has selected LDS Church Presiding Bishop H. David Burton as its 2011 Giant in Our City. He is the executive responsible for overseeing development of the $1.5 billion City Creek Center under construction in downtown Salt Lake City. Burton becomes the 32nd pick for the honor, which represents the chamber’s highest business award, since it was established in 1970. SLT 12/14.2010

Brokers could lose licenses. The clock is ticking for thousands of Utah mortgage licensees who may lose their ability to do their jobs if they don’t meet new federal standards by year’s end. According to the Utah Division of Real Estate, brokers must meet the federal Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System deadline for renewal and complete the required education and testing by Dec. 31. Only 5,200 licensees had transitioned onto the NMLS database by the May 31 deadline. Of those licensees, only 2,000 have requested renewal and completed the necessary requirements. The Division began 2010 with 9,027 mortgage licensees. Division Director, Deanna Sabey said, “To date, around 50 percent of our licensees have complied with the first step but are in danger of losing their license if they fail to renew their license and meet the NMLS requirements by the end of December.” DN 12/14/2010 Jasen Lee

More Foreclosures Expected in 2011. Brace yourself for another rough year in housing. The number of foreclosures is expected by many to increase in 2011 as more troubled mortgages work their way through the pipeline. Next year could be a peak year for foreclosures said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties. The market is expected to tally about 1.2 million bank repossession is 2010, up from 900,00 in 2009. Sharga expects we will top both of those numbers in 2011. High housing inventory, along with high unemployment , will likely add up to continued depressed home prices in the year ahead in many markets, says Nichole Jordan, banking and securities industry practice leader for Grant Thornton, an accounting and business advisory firm. SLT 12/12/2010

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