Little House on the Freeway

Last night, my wife and I finally signed the papers to sell our first home.

We bought the place in October 2005, and moved in during General Conference. We were a young married couple expecting our first child, and we wanted a place of our own to raise him in. After a couple of months searching for a place we could afford, we found this one and fell in love with it. We negotiated the price and the terms with the previous owners over the kitchen table.

Compared to the other places we had looked at, it seemed wonderful. In our price range, we had been stuck looking at old houses in bad condition in questionable neighborhoods in Layton, Utah. So when my mother-in-law told us about this for-sale-by-owner house in Kaysville that she discovered, we were pleasantly surprised. It was newer (only 8 years old) and less expensive than the ones we had been looking at, and it was closer to Bountiful, which is were we both grew up and were living at the time.

There were only two problems. First, that it was small (1,213 square feet), although it was rather bigger than the one-bedroom basement apartment we had been living in. Second, it abutted Interstate 15, which was very noisy. I-15 is the major thoroughfare for Davis County residents going to and from Salt Lake County, so it gets a lot of use.

Easy Freeway Access

We decided to go through with it anyway, and were happy with it. I planted strawberries and had my own lawn to mow. I felt like I had more roots in the community because I was a landowner. The local ward had lots of young families like us, and we made very good friends with a couple of those families, even sharing Family Home Evening with them. After a couple of days, I didn’t even hear the freeway noise, but it bothered my wife the whole time we lived there.

Eventually, I changed jobs from a software company in North Salt Lake to one in South Jordan, which changed my commute time from 20 minutes to 60. The long drive came to wear on me and so we decided to move closer to work. We fixed up and decorated the house, put it on the market, and spent a few months keeping it spotless. It all finally came to a close yesterday.

So, this is adieu to my first bit of soil. I’m happy for the memories and hope to make many new ones in our next place.

Home Again

My little family has been living with my wife’s parents in Bountiful for the past couple of months, because my wife had some complications with her pregnancy of our second child, William. (They are both doing fine now.) Her parents have been very helpful and supportive and I am very grateful that they helped take care of us while Chelsea was incapacitated. It was a good experience and I enjoyed getting to know her parents better.

We moved back into our house in Kaysville last night. It is good to be in a place of our own again, with all our familiar furniture, utensils, and appliances. Still, it doesn’t feel quite like home. We put our house up for sale about the time we moved in with her parents, and it hasn’t sold yet. It has been getting a lot of showings, but no offers. I understand this is pretty typical of the market right now. As part of our preparation to sell the house, we gave up our emotional attachment to it. So, it feels kind of like we are living in a hotel.

I am looking forward to when we can sell the place and buy our next house, and start that new chapter of life. It will be nice to finally settle down again. For now, though, I am just happy to be able to walk around the house in my underwear again.

Tree-Lined Streets

When I visit the old neighborhoods of Salt Lake City or Farmington, I am impressed by the magnificent trees which have grown up alongside the streets. When I travel on those streets, I feel a certain kind of excitement and a connection with nature. I imagine what it would be like to live on such a street.

Besides being beautiful, tree-lined streets are shady in the summer, making for a pleasant walk or stroll. An ancient tree with its roots deep in the ground also acts as a symbol of the dignity and tradition of a neighborhood.

I wonder why more streets aren’t lined with trees. I understand that sometimes, the roots of a tree can disrupt the sidewalk. However, if the homeowner selects the right kind of tree, this will not be a problem.

I suppose I am feeling sentimental not only for tree-lined streets, but for the communities they represent. Modern suburban developments tend to be devoid of trees except perhaps for tiny saplings. New developments, like the trees that are in them, lack maturity and “roots”.

Perhaps with time, these new developments will also have great green trees towering gently over the quiet street, when today’s new developments become tomorrow’s old neighborhoods.

Salt Lake County House Prices

I have been watching the local real estate market a lot lately, as I am planning on moving from Kaysville further south, to be closer to my job in South Jordan. As I am trying to sell my house and find another one to buy, here are some of my observations about the Utah market (particularly the Wasatch Front:)

  1. Houses are still way overpriced. Home prices are dropping a lot in other parts of the country, but not in Salt Lake County. The Deseret News reported today that house prices have stayed virtually the same since the same period in 2007, but sales have gone down 42.21%.
  2. The median income for a family in Salt Lake County is $54,470. The median house price is about $240,000. This works out to be about 4.4 times a family’s annual income, which is higher than historical norms. Traditionally, home prices have a ratio of no more than 3 times a family’s annual income.
  3. That means that the median home price in Salt Lake County ought to be more like $164,000. That is a long way to fall before house prices reach an equilibrium based on market fundamentals.
  4. Many REALTORS® are lying about market conditions to trick people into paying too much for a house. I think I may have got the only sane one. One clueless REALTOR® posted the following on the Deseret News website:

The economy is fine in Utah, just not in CA, AZ, and NV. You’ll see that this summer will be a big year in Utah real estate and if you don’t buy a house this summer, you’ll miss the perfect buying opportunity. Get in now while the gettin’ is good!

I think the market will correct itself with time, but that doesn’t help me out much in my personal situation, since I want to move this year. It will be interesting to continue to watch the market and see how it irons out. With prices falling so sharply, a lot of people are going to get hurt if they were left holding the bag.

My Computer Geekiness Rating

Over the weekend, my wife and I bought a house in Kaysville. We are trying to get all the arrangements done so we can close by the end of the month, if possible. All this while taking 12 credit hours at the university, plus working in excess of 40 hours a week at work.

Speaking of work, I recently finished developing a web-based time-sheet program for the employees to use. I think it will be a lot better than our current paper-based system. It is cool to see it do all the math automatically, and in real-time. I am fairly pleased with my work on the project.

In other news, I was visiting a coworker’s website at, and noticed that he posted his and his friend’s “Computer Savviness” score. So, in taking the nerd test myself, here are the results I got:

My computer geek score is greater than 90% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

The funny part is, a number of the questions involved now-archaic practices, such as having played Pong on an original Atari, and having operated a Commodore64. (Both of which I have done, even though I am fairly young in age.) That is to say, even though the test seems aimed towards older geeks, I acheived a high score anyway.

A House and a Baby

Chelsea and I have been looking to buy a house recently. There are a lot that we don’t like, but a few that we do. Here is one in particular that we are very interested in:

Also, in other (more important) news, we have found out that we will be having a baby! We are expecting him or her to show up in April or so. I will keep you posted on the pregnancy. I think this means that, sooner than later, I’m going to have to buy an old t-shirt that says “#1 Dad” or something.