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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Buyer Tip - Ask Your Loan Officer Your Max Payment

My first loan officer job was working for a major bank. I was thoroughly trained, on salary thank goodness, and then placed inside a large real estate office. I quickly learned that agents want no failures because of the loan. They were often uncomfortable with pushing a purchase into a gray area.

I have written that I consider that searching for a home us comparable to a treasure hunt. In this light I want you to find that treasure. I found that all too often buyers started with a fixed in their minds payment number.

So here lies the paradox. When heading out for a home hunt, just how high can you go?  Will you settle for something less than you can have?

I am now the agent. I pick lenders that can take a file to an underwriter and tell my client the maximum PAYMENT my buyers can be approved for. In almost all cases this number is higher than the clients are planning on committing to.

There is a big difference in what you can buy when you move up $10,000 in price. Understanding this and recognizing that part of the payment is property tax, which varies from home to home, I would tell my agents to start the hunt with the payment they have in their mind. If needed I would be on call to calculate a payment on a particular home.

I would also suggest be prepared to move up in $10,000 at a time until - guess what - they found their treasure. I would know from the lender just how high they really could go. Putting myself in a buyers shoes two homes I visited today illustrate my point. Home 1 is for sale at $305,000. Six homes are comparable. Which one a buyer selects will be based on what features most appeals to them. To me they all have somewhat similar appeal.  Someone believing $305,000 is the limit will likely choose from these six homes.

My way would offer an interesting treasure opportunity. A few blocks away on a quiet street for $335,000 is a home I am certain blows the others aside. The increase in payment in a 30 year mortgage is about $175.00 a month. I wish I had a diary of the many instances this amount was not a deal stopper. The treasure vs that increase was all so often worth attacking.  In some cases they did qualify for the higher payment. In  some cases they had to reconcile mentally the bottom line to their take home pay would be after adjusting for tax deductions. Interest and property taxes are deductible. There were occasions a temporary buy down of interest rate was the answer.

There are multiple solutions to this issue. In working with me you have an experienced problem solver anxiously engaged in a treasure hunt.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

They Made Me An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

My objective is to provide buyers and sellers superior results. I am one of those agents that believes that the agent creates his or her success, not the broker or company we might be licensed with. Over the years I have been licensed with the nations largest real estate company, I have been a loan officer inside one of the largest local real estate companies. I had my own small real estate company and my own very large mortgage company. I have been the real estate director for a developer.
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With confidence I selected a company to license with that rewarded my expertise by providing me almost all of the commission. That confidence included believing I had the tools necessary to provide the success my clients needed.
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Then along came MediaOne Real Estate. What you can offer is especially measurable in selling, or listing, a home. I offer terrific tools and service for buyers. When it comes to marketing a home there are numerous factors that determine the success. When homes aren't shown sellers end up being pressured to lower their prices. Simple things, such as the photos that are taken can eliminate great prospects. Difficult things like driving traffic require numerous strategies.
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I would say that I had almost enough, an approach beyond many. And then along came an invite to understand MediaOne Real Estate. They use the shortcut M O R E. They offer more. How do I say it? My old confident situation has been overshadowed by new potential situation.
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Just to name a few: 1- Newspaper advertising. My clients homes will be advertised each week, in full color in both The Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune. Statistics suggest that only 7% of buyers come from a home advertisement in the newspaper. That is important if your buyer is one of the 7%. MediaOne listings are on the market fewer days, therefore less likely to suffer price reductions, than the average in the MLS. 2- My listings will be Showcase Listings on Realtor.com. This is important as Realtor.com is the nations # 1 volume home search website. The more expensive showcase listings come to the top in searches, a big big deal. 3- I had over 30 websites I was setup to forward my listings to, now I have over  50. Perhaps the right buyer is in one of the other 20. 4- I have a support team, transaction coordinators to make sure the paperwork and deadlines are all up to snuff. Any concerned agent will be detailed oriented, but additional eyes and hands are valuable. 5- Each homes I list will be photographed by a professional photographer. Add this to Kathleen's staging and design skills and we have a winning combination.
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These are just five. I mention them as part of an offer I couldn't refuse. And why I couldn't refuse is simple, they do a better job for my clients. If it's better for them it's better for me. No wonder I couldn't refuse.
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So don't be confused. I have a lot of marketing pieces out there. They have my old brokerage, a good company as part of the advertising. New ones are soon to go out. It's a good thing.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Canyon Road Towers

There is a lot to like about Canyon Road Towers. It is nestled in among some nice parks making for nice views for most of the units.  Check this one out for example.


Having lived in this building for a couple of years now I can attest to how nice the people are. It has a mix of ages with only a few families with children. 

My favorite amenity is the swimming pool. It is long enough to do laps. If that is your hot button of the other properties miss on this amenity. American Towers comes close and Zion Summit is equal, except it's an outdoor pool and every time I have seen it, it is full of families. Fun for families, not for lap swimmers. There is also a nice sized hot tub and a sauna.

I think the social room in CRT, Canyon Road Towers, is the nicest and it makes for a great first impression when entering the building. 

Two plus full time employees keep the building in clean condition, fix maintenance issue promptly, have great personalities, and are an important part of the amenities. Iris is the go to person keeping everything under control. Iris is on duty at the front desk in the mornings. I don't think anything gets past Iris. 

There is a workout room, tennis courts, and a large patio deck. There are actually two social rooms. 

All utilities are part of the home owners dues, including basic cable. 

One feature that has drawn many of the owners is how close it is to Temple Square. 

Three units are currently on the market; $250,000.00, $227,000, and $220,000.00 .In comparing other properties of similar price ranges, you would definitely want to see these.

A New Sales Prevention Wrinkle




FYI: My goal is not to critize sellers or other agents. I make these points to point out that these sales prevention items are important to consider. I expect you to expect me to be focused on every aspect of getting your home sold quickly without suffering a less than top dollar result. Both sellers and agents play an important role in this. The items covered in this post are a partial issue. I suggest you review the entire category "Marketing Your Home". Clicking here takes you to this category.

I understand that some of what happens is a result of an important decision that may not be easy to make. For example, I come down hard on having renters in the home. I have heard the reasons, which are valid. You need the income. The problem is that the renter has no vested interest in your selling the home or even how much you get for it. In some cases renters don't want a sale, perhaps I should say in most cases. Yet, it's an issue that at times is conflicting.

One of my assets is my wife Kathleen. She knows what is best in presenting your home, staging, or no staging. In one home I sold the family was moving hundreds of miles away. She talked them into leaving bare bones furnishings and accessories that made walking into the home pleasant. The home sold quickly. Years later they returned and I was able to sell them a home again. Happy, happy, happy, we were all happy.

Think about this photo from a home I once toured. Is this an exciting job of staging? It was from a renter that had notice we were coming.

What do you think? 

A new topic.

Where do most buyers come from? Some might say from the internet, others might say from some sort of advertising, and perhaps from open houses. These are all sources for sure, but the number one source of activity comes from............... other agents.

Two homes I wanted to show today relate to the following issues.  In one, again the home was rented so we weren't allowed to see it today. The other, even though many buyers are out there having a day off, it's a holiday, we had to provide 24 hours notice and an appointment to see the home. There is just too many homes on the market to place these types of hurdles in front of buyers.

A great listing agent will understand this and make getting as many agents into his or her clients home as fast as possible is that agents #1 priority. Earlier I published another article:

Does Your Agent Subscribe To A Sales Prevention Program?

You can read that article by clicking here.

I discovered another addition to my list of sales prevention programs.
Actually this is one problem bundled with three..

I called the listing agent of a condo that just went on the market. I am in a hurry. He can't give me access. The unit is vacant but for some reason there is no lock box with keys to the building and unit. There could be but there isn't. Lock boxes cost $80.00. The property allows lock boxes. So what's the problem? 
ISSUES:
1- No lock box for agents to easily access the home or building.
2- The building is secure so you have to contact a different agent than the listing agent to get in.
3 - The unit is empty but an agent must still contact someone to get in to the unit.

 Can the agent make it any more difficult?
If you can't see it, you can't sell it!

This example impedes anyone but these two agents from showing (or selling) the condo.
This is not a service to their clients! It leads to properties taking longer to sell at lower prices.
There can also be a conflict of interest when an agent is both the buyer and sellers agent. Some states don't allow this situation. However, Utah does.

THE PURPOSE OF LOCK BOXES IS CONVENIENCE! For both the selling agent and their clients.

Why not put a key in a lock box and attach it to the appropriate place available for agents?

Could it be the cost of a lock box or pressure to connect to the other agent? What else could it be?

An agent showing condominiums in Salt Lake City currently has 1547 to choose from. A typical agent does not have the patience to fool around with a lot of hurdles. If you, or your listing agent doesn't make it easy and painless to show your home, it is likely to be one of the hundreds not shown. Clients usually don't have endless time to devote to viewing prospects. They move on!

And what is the bottom line? Perhaps the one right buyer for your home doesn't see it and buys another. All too often the showings are so few that you are pressured to reduce your price. Does that cost you money? Perhaps thousands. Can you tell I have little patience for not doing your best for your seller? It's called fiduciary duty.

It is my view that these types of hurdles drive values down. With a lot of traffic the possibility of multiple offers come in. Multiple offers are what drive values up.

This issue, and my approach to getting other agents to show your listings is the fundamental difference between what I call plan A and plan B. 


Friday, July 4, 2014

The Rocket Science Part of Staging = Staging Part 4

First a note from Larry. Kathleen has great advice in this series. In case it isn't obvious, much of what is important needs to be addressed months before your home goes on the market. This is especially true if you are going to invest money or effort on getting your home ready to sell. Many times poor choices are made. Just yesterday we toured a condo where they had put expensive slab granite in the kitchen on very old outdated cupboards. Some agents won't catch the error which Kathleen jumped on as soon as we entered the home. This particular granite also didn't go well with the rest of the condos colors. The investment could have paid off had they had a little professional consultation. It would have been better to update the cupboards. Granite doesn't solve all problems. Read on for more info.

by Kathleen Leavitt Cragun

Click here for part 1:Is There a Difference Between Interior Design And Staging? Yes, Yes and Yes! 
Click here for part 2: Selling Your Home - Staging Your Home
Click here for part 3: K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Staging - Clear Out, Clean Up



Before I get to that rocket science part, I want to refer to an article in a recent newspaper article. In the Real Estate section was an article on tips to make your house sell fast, introduced by a huge picture. Much good advice was given BUT a few things made me cringe, so I just want to warn you what NOT to do. Do not paint your kitchen cupboards Gloss white. I already mentioned not to use gloss white on walls in an earlier post. When was the last time you saw a new model home that had GLOSS white cabinets? White maybe, but NOT gloss. If you are redoing old cabinets Gloss white will show every flaw, every brush stroke, every imperfection! It is a finish that should only be done by professionals ( sprayed on) but also one that is not really a “with it” thing to do. If your cabinets are stained wood, there are products you can get, like Cabinet Magic, Liquid Gold, that will cover scratches and revitalize cabinets, sometimes miraculously. They are also easy to apply, most are rubbed on with a soft cloth. Oak cabinets almost always look bad painted. Regarding painting anything, it is very important that it be done well. If you can’t do it well, you shouldn’t do it yourself. It takes time and patience and skill to do a good job. Prepare to give it that. It isn’t called sweat equity for nothin’.
Other advice in the article regarding fixing up Kitchens and Bathrooms, “You can do all this for cheap.” If it looks like you did it “on the cheap”, it will not help you sell your house. A very good bit of advice given was to hire a home inspector yourself to go through your home and get a list of things that need to be fixed. That way you shouldn’t have any unpleasant surprises when your buyer’s inspection is done. I have done this and it was very helpful and brought peace of mind.
The idea of staging is to present your home to stand out from the rest. It should be a well-maintained home, not just looked like one on the surface. We want the buyer to be happy living in the home, not just happy buying it, don’t we? No cover ups, no law suits.
Many of the clients I have advised on fixing their homes before they sold, did quite extensive things like replacing very outdated kitchens and bathrooms. When they saw how good they looked, every single one wished they had done these things as they lived there and enjoyed it themselves as well. Something to think about!
OK, OK, The Rocket Science part. Presentation. Now that you have done all the things recommended in the first three posts, the fun part begins but also the part that you may want to call in your staging advisor to complete. Not all designers and stagers are created equal. Some are better than others just as some home builders, lawyers and hairstylists are better than others. This is advice I should have given you in the beginning. Ask your real estate agent for a referral to someone who does it right. Check out a portfolio of before and after photos. Look at model homes they have done or if you have the chance to see, what does their own home look like?
Everything that is left now needs to be moved, arranged, and accessorized. What to put in, and what to leave out? Where to hang the pictures and how high for the best effect? A tip here, don’t hang pictures at LeBron James’ eye level! A common mistake is hanging pictures too high where they have no connection to anything else. While you want to keep it simplified this doesn’t mean it needs to be boring and bland. Don’t just line furniture up around the room. How things are arranged in groupings and with just the right choice of accessories and accents are the key. I am realizing I can do it, but it isn’t something I can easily explain and tell you how to do. I guess that is why it is the rocket science part of staging!

My Experience Before The Berlin Wall Fell That Shaped My Appreciation For Freedom. Every 4th of July I Come Back To This Experience!

American Flags at Rockefeller Center, Viewing of Inauguration of President Barack Obama, Rockefeller Center
Each Independence Day reminds me of the few hours in East Berlin where I lost my freedom to the Communists. It was only for a few hours but it had a permanent effect on me.

I returned safely but later that frightening evening I stood guard in a lookout tower with West German Military at the Brandenburg Gate. I and two colleagues had ventured into the situation where we were invited to tour East Berlin. Once back from the East, we returned by cab to stand by the separated border of what was once a free city.

The soldiers standing guard saw us by our cab and invited us up into their lookout. They shared the horrible stories of people trying to escape to freedom through huge rolls of barbed wire lit by flood lights, most only to be shot to death. Then we traveled around the wall separating East and West Berlin trying to visualize an event we had just missed, a young woman jumping from a building to awaiting relatives holding on to a blanket like a trampoline.

Ours was a voluntary loss of freedom, and what happened wasn't expected. There were three of us, just released from our two year church mission to England. We had arranged to take a tour of Europe on our way home, Berlin being one of our stops. In checking into our Hotel in Berlin the desk clerk asked if we would like to take a free tour to East Berlin.  He explained that East Berlin was being rebuilt and they wanted to show it off to Americans. Young and daring,we quickly agreed and our visit was set. The rude awakening came after we crossed through Checkpoint Charlie.

We joined with about 20 others on a medium size bus. Leaving the west German side we went into the East side into a maze built of walls and sandbags. The space to drive was so small that the bus could barely turn left or right through the maze.

As we exited the maze the bus came to a stop and was boarded by East German Soldiers flashing machine guns in a threatening manner. They took our passports and wallets. They counted our money and returned our wallets with the threat, "if you don't return with this amount of money you will not be allowed to return." Oops, what had we done? Not returning never crossed our minds. At this point I was ready to turn around, but that was now not an option. This was serious and we knew it.

We later learned their concern was that we would give money to East Berlin citizens, which they would us to buy their freedom.

They shouldn't have offered us this tour. No positive P R took place. We could even tell that some of the areas they wanted to show off were only like movie sets.

I remember they took us to a Russian Memorial. It was basically a cemetary with many large headsontes and monuments, along with numerous graves. That was to be an important part of our visit. They assigned a guide to us. Another mistake. Our guide was a sweet young woman in her early 20's. Her story was a sad one. She was visiting friends when the wall went up. She was separated from her family by the bad luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She told us that she was able to receive an occasional letter and a rare package from her family and that was the only contact with them she had had for years. It was hard to imagine.

The Russian memorial offered no inspiration, just sadness about the plight of our guide and a gratitude for our America.

Treptower Park Soviet War Memorial, East Berlin, June 1964
Russian Memorial
A few hours later we returned sullen and humble to Checkpoint Charlie, with our wallets, our passports, and our hope we would be able to return to the West. We had made sure that we did bring back all of our money.

That night, stunned by our experience behind the iron curtain we took a taxi to the Brandenburg  Gate. This was where the main thoroughfare between East and West had been cut off. We just wanted a ride to the wall and ponder. The wall at this place was an area that focused on about 1000 feet of what was once a main street. It now was covered with huge rolls of thick barbed wire. The rolls were about as high and round as a semi truck in size extending into the dark area we could not see. I am remembering there were 7 of these rolls with about 50 feet of empty space between each. It was hard to imagine driving a car through any one of these rolls, let alone 7 of them, but that is what many tried to do, with a rare few making it.

Our taxi driver told us it would be OK to join the West German guards in the lookout. He assured us that he would return in a couple of hours to take us back to our hotel.
The West German soldiers did invite us up to be with them. It was dark, except for the floodlights from the East side, making the area of the now blocked off road as visible as if it were daytime. We looked down from the tower, about 20 feet high, across the floodlighted area to see groups of East German soldiers armed to prevent anyone from escaping.

These West German soldiers were anxious to share that many had tried in vain to cross through this area. One man had strapped himself under a car and had the accelerator bolted down by a friend, set to speed through the wire. He didn't make it, he didn't live.

Another had leaded his entire car to be bullet proof. That worked, but the car stalled in the barbed wire. He was captured and shot on the spot.

Berlin Wall 1973Berlin WallBerlin wallThe Wall was different that we might have imagined. In some parts it was large buildings with the windows boarded. Other parts were like concrete, parts were wire fences.

Later, we traveled by taxi around much of the wall separating East and West Berlin. We discussed the event we had just missed, that young woman jumping from a building to awaiting relatives holding on to a blanket like a trampoline.  - only to be shot to death in mid air. What a tragedy for that family, all for freedom.

Yes, stories became real and Freedom became precious. As I consider this Country, our gift of living here, our gift of Freedom to Choose, I want each of you to know that I love this Country. I am grateful to our founding fathers who fought so hard for liberty, to set up a Republic based on principles. I believe they were inspired of God. I believe that we who have inherited this Freedom will only maintain it as we live by the principles of our founding Patriot fathers.

As I am doing genealogy research into Ireland in the 1760  era, trying to find Patrick Cragun and his parents I learn how tragic it was living in their time, in Ireland. The brutality of the British Crown was inhumane and horrible. Our grandfather Patrick was born in a time of starvation caused by the behavior of the King of England. The potato famine of 100 years early was almost identical in disaster as what Patrick was born into.

No wonder at age 15, he was willing to run away with 40 others, leaving his parents forever, braving the challenges involved, to taste the freedom promised by the stories of America. Our immigrant ancestors came here for a reason. I wonder if we as their children appreciate what they gave us.

Patrick lived here when England began to exercise the same type of control over our Country as they had endured in Ireland. The love of Freedom and the commitment to remain free, coupled with the spirit of our Irish ancestors led to what we are blessed with today. Patrick is said to have been in the Boston Tea Party, a stand against taxation by the British government. Many of those in the Boston Tea Party, a resounding and insulting event to the Crown, where those Irish who fled tyranny, unwilling to suffer the same experiences here, were willing to go to war and fight to their death to protect this freedom.

I pray that neither I or any of my children give up that freedom. I say that, as I believe the same God that inspired and supported our ancestors, offers as a part of freedom the right to choose our own destinies. It is my belief that he, as in times past, in this day will let us choose how we are governed. In ancient Rome the majority of the people turned an empire into history. That could happen now, if the majority of our citizens allow it to or choose it to be that we turn our backs on our founding principles, the key foundation being our God and our Constitution.

In conclusion, I sincerley believe this Country is a blessed land. I believe the majority of our people, who carry the genetics of our forefathers, will as they did, love their country enough to stand up for liberty. We may not have to fight at Lexington or Concord, but in our own ways we will have to fight to preserve what we were given..

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Two Different Worlds Just Minutes Apart Near Downtown Salt Lake CIty


Yes two very different worlds, and both close to downtown. Both with condo living or houses. Both with reasons to live there, yet as I say, very different.

Many people that come to serve as missionaries in Church Headquarters like the life style and the city, sell their homes in far away places and stay. We have several friends that have done this. Where they end up is interesting: Lehi and Pleasant Grove in Utah County, and all the commuter traffic, some in Bountiful, some downtown, some in the Riverton and South Jordan area, and some in North Salt Lake.

There are reasons for the different selections. Living in The Avenues has it's own flavor. It is close to downtown and the U. It is truly a community. I invite you to attend the monthly community council  meeting held by the Greater Avenues Community Council on the first Wednesday of each month. It truly is a community gathering that illustrates why many choose to live here.

I recently heard interesting feedback of someone looking for a home in The Avenues which made the selection dilemma interesting, even challenging. This buyer wants the location of the Avenues but the homes, mostly because of the ages and conditions, of the homes that can be found in the nearby Eaglewood community in North Salt Lake. It will be interesting to see the decision this family makes.


I like both neighborhoods. We live in downtown, The Avenues is so convenient to my assignment on Temple Square. While touring homes in Eaglewood I found several I wanted to buy. That's been my weakness, even our weakness. Our kids think we are crazy, for fun we go look at homes. I found one this week in Eaglewood, two stories with an elevator. I just had to have it. It was cool. Kathleen thought it over for a short time and nixed the idea.

The next photos are just a few I took this morning of homes on 1st Ave in The Avenues. This was a random selection with the only objective of illustrating this part of The Avenues.









To illustrate the difference in settings, note this shot. FORE!



Yes, this is a golf course in Eaglewood. And here are some pics of the neighborhood.






The Avenues Sales Info:
Currently on the market: 6 Homes: Price range $139,500 to $649,00. 1 Bedroom 1 bath to 4 bedrooms 3 baths.

Avenues homes sold last month: 0 - Some condominiums did sell.

Eaglewood homes on the market: There are 18 homes currently for sale: Prices range from $300,000 to $1,139,900. The smallest is 2,720 sq ft, the others at least 3500 sq ft. 

Eaglewood homes sold last year: 20: $279,999 to $1,199,000: All had at least 4 bedrooms and 3 baths.

One sold last month. Even a buyers market here. That home sold was the one listed for $1,199,000, it went for a 3% discount. 

The average days on market was 146.

Downtown Salt Lake City Farmers Market


Buy Fresh, Support local, and enjoy the summer produce. The downtown 2014 Salt Lake City Farmers Market opened to a large crowd on June 14. Enjoy the early summer crop of asparagus, carrots, snap peas, greens, spinach, herbs, radishes, spring onions, garlic scapes, strawberries, beets, beans, and more.

Community sponsors: Amour Spreads, City Weekly, Discrete Headware, Harmons Neighborhood Grocer, KCPW, 90.9 FM DRCL, KUTV, Laziz Foods, LDS Hospital, Liberty Heights Fresh, Mountain Town Olive Oil, People Water, Q Salt Lake, Rico Market, Rocky Mountain Power, Blue Sky Renewable Energy, Salt Lake City Arts Council, Select Health, SLUG Magazine, Squatters Pub Brewery, Tulie Bakery, and Winder Farms.

visit their website at http://slcfarmersmarekt.org/

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dowtown Salt Lake City June Condo Sales


Thirteen, happy I am sure, buyers and sellers closed transactions through homes listed in the MLS in June. I know of more that were outside of the MLS, but I don't  have the exact purchase price and am not including them.

The average seller took a 5% discount. The average days on market numbers (159) were killed by the home in The Meridian. Three were new construction and the days on market as shown in the MLS is hard to actually measure, some numbers quoted are not realistic so I leave them out of the grid.

Notice what I point out in other articles, the longer a home is on the market the more likely the seller accepts a lower price. The home that took the biggest hit was the one on the market for 630 days.

In this same downtown market 33 new homes came on line. Good for buyers, not so good for sellers.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Years and Two Days Ago 66 Homes Were Lost

Kathleen and I spent the last three days in Pocatello, Idaho. The event was my class reunion. We stayed with friends we met while serving full time in the Church Headquarters Family and Church History mission. This couple, we served with, lost their home in the Pocatello Mink Creek Fire while they were here. It was tense, they got hourly reports from their adult sons, and photographs by email.

In their case, and the case of 65 neighbors homes, hopes were dashed and all was lost. We saw our friends trying to keep an upper lip, it seemed more like shock as they were extremely quiet. The fire had swept fast at an estimated 4000 degree temperature. All in its path were destroyed. Our friends lost everything. A safe with a silver money collection was melted. Electricity went out and their son couldn't open the garage door fast enough to get his car out. Emergency people were demanding that he and his children hop in their vehicle before it was too late. They barely escaped as the fire came roaring up the gully into their home.

As in the title of this post it was two years and two days ago. Most of the homes have been rebuilt.The many juniper trees surrounding the homes were burnt, and most of them removed by chain saws of volunteers. Grass is coming back and lives are being rebuilt. The fire came from the view you see below.

It found its way at the bottom of this gully (Photo below)

In minutes it was all over.

We attended church with our friends yesterday. All of the talks and lessons were about the fire. I was really emotionally touched. The messages were of both sadness and gratitude. That which was mentioned by all was their gratitude that no lives were lost. One of the speakers, a mother, felt prompted to leave a ladies meeting to head home, her children were home and unaware of the coming fire. As she headed back she saw the smoke and knew she had truly been prompted to return to her children by a saving power.



All spoke of gratitude for the many small and large acts of kindness, from food and clothing, to places to stay, and even insisting to do their laundry. Thousands of helping hands showed up, organized to help in the clean up process. 

One spoke of feeling an understanding now of what some of her ancestors suffered as their homes were destroyed and their lives shaken by mob actions in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

People spoke of humility they gained, for appreciation of the important things. Sadness over losses weren't ignored but my take, what touched me most, was the goodness of the message I heard yesterday. I was truly humbled, felt gratitude for that which I have. I was grateful for the experience with our friends, they still have those mixed emotions, I am sure they will never lose them. 

By the way, one of the homes that burned had just let their insurance expire. How is that for a loss?