Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Salt Lake Tribune: Decline in home prices, sales persists along Wasatch Front


Decline in home prices, sales persists along Wasatch Front
Housing » Dwellings at $250K and below begin to sell better; higher-priced properties still in limbo.
By Lesley Mitchell

The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune
Updated:07/28/2009 08:04:34 PM MDT


Two years into the Wasatch Front's real estate downturn, the home-sale market is showing some signs of improvement.

In the market for homes listed at $250,000 and below, some sellers have been entertaining multiple offers. Some properties are selling within days or weeks. In June, sales in Salt Lake County were up 5 percent, compared with June 2008.

But on a year-over-year basis, things don't look as good. In Salt Lake County, 2,534 single-family homes changed hands in the second quarter, a 4.3 percent decline from the same period a year ago, a report released Tuesday shows. Median selling prices also are below last year's levels; they're off 5.3 percent, to $236,000. Prices are off 7.4 percent from a peak of nearly $255,000 in the second quarter 2007.

Year-over-year declines in home sales and values are signs of a market mired in downturn, for sure, but "the numbers are good, considering where we've been," said Ryan Kirkham, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

The mix of good and bad news begs the question: Has the real estate market in Utah's most populous county bottomed?

Most agree it all depends on price range.

Appraiser Rick Lifferth of Layton isn't convinced the residential real estate market has hit bottom. "But I do see some stability in the market of lower-priced homes, especially the $150,000 to $250,000 range. And they are selling in a shorter time frame. I see that as a very encouraging sign."

Complicating matters, though, are rising foreclosures in Utah, he said, which ultimately tend to put downward pressure on prices and prolong the downturn. "Foreclosures are a major concern," he said.

Realtor Rob Aubrey agrees. "For the most part, the $250,000-and-below price range has bottomed out."

In that price range, well-priced homes generally sell very quickly, and many sellers, unlike those in higher-priced homes, don't have to take huge markdowns to get their properties sold. And unlike higher price ranges, there are buyers with the means and financing to make a purchase.

Buyer Kelly Evans, who recently closed on a three-bedroom, one-bath bungalow near Liberty Park, began looking for a home priced at $200,000 or less in March. Since then, she said she has seen a number of homes in that price range sell within days of hitting the market.

"There are a lot of people ... looking for deals," Evan said. In fact, the home she ended up purchasing had two offers, including her own.

Evans' Realtor, Tony Fantis, said multiple-offer situations are becoming more common in lower price ranges. Combined with other encouraging trends, this leads him to believe that the home-sale market is poised for a recovery. For example, on a quarterly basis, sales in Salt Lake County increased a whopping 75 percent from the first quarter to the second, he noted.

Aubrey said the market is less active above the $250,000 range, depending on the area. Above $500,000? Still little action. And those homes priced at more than $1 million? In many cases, it takes price reductions of hundreds of thousands of dollars to get those homes to move.

"That [segment of the market] is a pure buyer's market," he said.

Much of the same dynamics are at work in surrounding counties. In the second quarter, sales in Davis County were off by 10.2 percent, with median prices declining by 4.1 percent from last year's levels. Utah County's sales are up nearly 15 percent, although prices continued to slide, falling by nearly 10 percent.

Among all the Wasatch Front counties, the median selling price increased in only seven Zip Code areas, the Salt Lake Board said. Only one of those Zip Codes is in Salt Lake County: West Valley's 84119, which increased 2.1 percent year-over-year.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mormon Times: Interviews with Dennis Lifferth

The economic downturn weighed heavily on the minds of members of the General Welfare Committee of the LDS Church at a meeting about a year ago. Dennis R. Lifferth, managing director of Welfare Services for the church, remembered the meeting that included the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, seven presidents of the Seventy, Presiding Bishopric and Relief Society general presidency.

The following are a 4 part series including interviews with Dennis R. Lifferth.

Part 1: Welfare: Helping the bishops
Part 2: Welfare: Self-reliance isn't selfish

Part 3: Welfare: Finding employment

Part 4: Welfare: The Power of cooperation

Monday, February 23, 2009

Deseret News: A lucky drive through WWII France

Art Lifferth, 86, holds up a copy of Stars and Stripes declaring the war over in Europe. He and a fellow airman drove behind enemy lines unknowingly. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)
Photo courtesy of Art Lifferth Art Lifferth, seen in Europe in World War II, was dropped in the wrong spot in France.

A lucky drive through WWII France
By Lynn Arave
Deseret News

Published: February 22, 2009

Perhaps some World War II comedies like "McHale's Navy" and "Hogan's Heroes" aren't so farfetched after all.

A war story from more than 64 years ago told by a Utah veteran is steeped in almost comical ignorance and just plain luck, and serves as a previously unwritten footnote to the official end-of-the-war history.

Art Lifferth, 86, of Bountiful, who served in the 98th Squadron of the 440th Troop Carrier Group in Europe during World War II, recently pulled out his journal to share his experiences during the last months of the war.

His story and others like it are outside the accepted war histories. But Lifferth's tale, probably impossible to verify now more than six decades later, adds mystique to what is one of the most romantic events of World War II — the liberation of Paris.
A corporal in the U.S. Army Air Force, Lifferth helped staff cargo planes that delivered supplies to troops.

One day, probably Aug. 24, 1944, the plane made a typical landing at an airport in Europe, he said.

Lifferth had helped unload a jeep when his commanding officer suddenly yelled for him and Lt. Walter L. Myers to drive the vehicle southwestward to Le Mans to rejoin their division because the plane had to get airborne and there wasn't time to reload the vehicle. "They wanted to quickly get all of the planes out," he said."

What the two men didn't know was that "they had landed us in the wrong spot," Lifferth said. They were actually behind German lines at the Reims Airport in France. Military headquarters had made a serious mistake.

"We didn't know that we were behind enemy lines," he said. "I guess our commander thought we were expendable."

Lifferth and Myers had a map but no weapons. Checking the map, they realized they could save time by taking a shorter route to Le Mans through Paris. Le Mans is about 90 miles southwest of Paris. (Le Mans had been taken by allied forces just days earlier on Aug. 8.)
"We had a good time sightseeing," Lifferth said.

The two were wearing their Eisenhower jackets, but not their dress uniforms.
When they drove through Paris, residents frequently cheered them and acted like they were heroes, Lifferth said. But they still didn't realize the potential dangers. Fortunately, he said, they encountered no German military.

"We didn't know the city had not been formally liberated yet," Lifferth said.

About eight miles outside Paris, he said, he and Myers were shocked to see a wide line of tanks thundering toward them. They were soon relieved when they saw U.S. stars on the metal behemoths. Their jeep ended up stopping directly in front of Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and the Third Army.

"He couldn't believe that two Air Force soldiers in a noncombat jeep had upstaged him in Paris," Lifferth said.

"All he seemed to do was know how to swear and he used every profane word in the military dictionary," he recalled. Lifferth said the general chewed him and Myers out for being behind enemy lines with no weapons and no good reason for being there. "He was very crude."

"We drove away while he was still talking, with a smile and a salute," Lifferth said.

In the ensuing days, newspapers around the world reported that Patton and his men were the first Americans in Paris after the long German siege that started in June of 1940. But Lifferth said he and Myers knew better.

The official Paris liberation celebration was Aug. 25, 1944.

American novelist Ernest Hemingway, a short story writer and journalist in the war, claimed that he "liberated" Paris by entering the city ahead of the Allied forces, taking over some of the bars at Paris' largest hotels, letting champagne flow freely and thus liberating the residents.

© 2009 Deseret News Publishing Company All rights reserved

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Daily Herald: Eagle Mountain Councilman blogs the good, bad and ugly

Friday, 12 December
Eagle Mountain Councilman blogs the good, bad and ugly
Caleb Warnock - DAILY HERALD
CRAIG DILGER/Daily Herald Eagle Mountain blogger and city council member David Lifferth - Friday, December 12, 2008.

Looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly in Eagle Mountain? One councilman here has a blog for you. Over the past three years,, owned by the city's namesake councilman, has drawn nearly 300,000 page views from 84 countries by tracking all things Eagle Mountain.

Lifferth is hoping more elected officials will follow his lead into cyberspace.

"People just like someone who is going to be open about government," he said. "If I was not on the council, I would want someone who was in the know to blog and talk about things."

"This blogging that I have done consistently for four years now has forced me to read, understand, and explain the good, the bad, and the ugly here in Eagle Mountain," Lifferth wrote in a recent e-mail to his fans. "I have been praised for my openness and candor while at the same time I have been threatened with a half dozen lawsuits for my openness. This openness and candor caused the readership of my blog to been massive."

Lifferth said his site "has frequently been the most read Web site in all of Eagle Mountain and surrounding areas. My Web site frequently had more page views than Eagle Mountain City's site, the local newspapers sites covering Eagle Mountain, blog and forum sites, and any of the developers' sites."

All this attention is one of the best things that could happen to city government, he said.

"The quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis comes to mind: 'Sunlight is the best disinfectant.'"

Lifferth said one of the highest compliments paid his site came from a friend who said "the bad guys fear your Web site."

Lifferth is not exactly a cyber newbie, so to speak. He runs about 30 online sites, earning money from advertising on most, if not all, though he does not make money from his site dedicated to city politics, he said.

To draw readers, he makes sure his posts are enticing. Take this recent example: "Reagan Caused Global Warming," a post which documents why, in Lifferth's view, a significant cause of the statistical increase in average global temperature has been the reduction in temperature reporting stations in the former Soviet Union" and Reagan's role in that.

Getting 500 hits a day, Lifferth's most lucrative site is surprisingly -- not political at all -- it is a James Bond fan site, He also runs and, to name a few.

Lifferth said he tries to have fun with his sites. During his interview with the Daily Herald, he surprised this reporter by bringing up a photo on his Web site of this reporter perusing a competitor's weekly newspaper during a slow moment in an Eagle Mountain City Council meeting. Lifferth said he took the photo from the council dais during the meeting using his cellphone. This reporter never even knew the photo existed.

"You've taken some jabs at me and once in a while I want to take some jabs back," he said with a laugh. "... I do think I have fun with my site. I have a playful attitude."

Jokes aside, every elected official should consider blogging as a way to give information directly to the public, he said. At least several Web sites allow anyone to set up their own blog for free, so getting started is easy.

"I think elected officials should talk about what the issues are, and why things are happening," he said, noting some elected officials in Utah Valley are starting to follow suit, including council members from Payson and Saratoga Springs.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dave Lifferth on ESPN2

ESPN2: Dave Lifferth on ESPN2

Many people know me as a Rabid Soccer fan, but few have ever documented this on video. This is a frame from the 10/09/08 broadcast. I was an enthusiastic spectator and came home hoarse from enthusiastically supporting my team.

Last night was the Inaugural Game for Real Salt Lake at the new Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. ESPN2 covered the game in a nation-wide broadcast.

One of the first video sequences of the new stadium was of me, David Lifferth, yelling and clapping with enthusiasm. Shortly after this video was shown, I had 4 members of my family text me on my cell phone telling me that they had just seen me on ESPN2.

The new Rio Tinto stadium is an amazing athletic venue. It remindes me of the world-class facilities that I have been to in Spain and England. It is every bit the outdoor equivalent of the Delta Center is polished state of the art facility. The "Jumbo Tron" is crisp in high resolution and very close to the fans.

The game ended in a disappointing tie, RSL 1-NY Red Bulls 1. Real needs at least one more win to ensure that they are in the playoffs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dennis Lifferth quoted in Newsweek/Washington Post

Dennis Lifferth quoted in Newsweek/Washington Post
Church Silence on the Economy
I've been waiting for a week for at least one major Christian denomination to help us gain some spiritual or even scriptural insight into Wall Street's moral failings, first brought to our attention by Brother Alan Greenspan in 2002.
"An infectious greed seemed to grip much of our business community," the then-Fed chairman told Congress. "It is not that humans have become any more greedy than in generations past. It is that the avenues to express greed had grown so enormously."
Since Wall Street began melting down last week, the only avenue of greed the major Christian denominations have felt called upon to inspect this has been the one that leads to their church pensions. Good news, clergy and lay employees of the United Methodist and Episcopal churches. Your pensions are safe. No word on how your parishioners are doing during the current housing/credit/debt crisis, and not a hint of rebuke for the free enterprise faithful who caused all of this grief, but your billions of investment dollars are being looked after.
"The greatest challenge is assuring participants that we have a disciplined process, that we're adhering to that process and that they should ignore short-term fluctuations in stock prices," said David Zellner, chief investment officer for the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, which claims to be the largest faith-based investor in the U.S.
"In light of the recent market volatility, the Board and staff of the Church Pension Fund want to reassure participants in the Clergy Pension Plan that the Fund's financial condition remains very strong, with assets well in excess of liabilities," the Episcopal Clergy Pension Board reported.
Last time I checked, assets and liabilities were not how the church measured its work or worth. Greed is still one of the seven deadly sins. Covetousness hasn't been amended out of the Ten Commandments. Depending on your interpretation of scripture, Christianity either strongly cautions against or forbids charging interest and accumulating wealth and debt, not to mention gambling.
So why aren't the leaders of our major Christians denominations saying anything about the economy? They've had plenty to say during the past week about other pressing moral issues. Catholic bishops remain focused on abortion. Southern Baptist leaders continue to condemn abortion and defend Sarah Palin, and National Baptist Convention leaders fretting about aging congregations and applauded Michelle Obama. Presbyterian leaders expressed concern about gun violence, Assemblies of God about hurricane victims, Lutherans about poverty, United Church of Christ leaders about peace. None of them said anything about Wall Street.
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did express some concern about how the economic crisis might be affecting the welfare of others, but only to remind LDS about the church's own welfare program "based on the principle of self-reliance."
"If you build self-reliance in people," Dennis Lifferth, managing director of the LDS welfare program, explained on the site, "everybody grows; it is the essence of the welfare plan. Lives can be changed by personal interest and attention."
Self-reliance. Personal interest. Everybody grows. Sounds like capitalism to me, but at least LDS is acknowledging the situation, and offering some guidance.
I'm not saying our religious leaders should threaten to withhold communion from the greedy sinners responsible for the economy's going to hell in a financial basket, because that might include just about all of us. I know I've taken advantage of lower interest rates, mortgage refinancing, home equity growth (remember that?), stock options and other little 'trickle-down' perks we get during the bubbles.
I'm not even saying our religious leaders should withhold endorsements from candidates whose policies, votes or views encourage the sort of risky business that blows parts of our economy into bubbles that burst all over us. Those are people we've all voted for.
I am saying that the best moral analysis of these financial failures shouldn't come from Alan Greenspan, who arguably is as responsible as anyone for our growing indebtedness.
Jesus said nothing about abortion, homosexuality or pension plans (although he did say not to worry about tomorrow). He had plenty to say about money and moneychangers, greed and wealth, and the root of all evil. He had good news for the poor, not for investors.
As "On Faith" panelist and nondenominational leader Jim Wallis wrote, "The behavior of too many on Wall Street is a violation of biblical ethics . . . It's time for the pulpit to speak -- for the religious community to bring the Word of God to bear on the moral issues of the American economy. The Bible speaks of such things from beginning to end, so why not our pastors and preachers?"
Why not?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lifferth-Dorius Runs NCAA Regional Qualifying Time In 3,000 Steeplechase

  • Senior Stacie Lifferth-Dorius ran an NCAA regional qualifying time with a 10:21.11 in finishing third in the 3,000 meter steeplechase at the Oregon Twilight meet Friday. Lifferth-Dorius improved her WAC-leading time by over three seconds.

Lifferth-Dorius Runs NCAA Regional Qualifying Time In 3,000 Steeplechase Friday At Oregon Twilight

Senior Runs Fastest Time In WAC This Season, Second-Fastest In USU History Behind Her Own School Record
May 9, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. - Utah State track athlete Stacie Lifferth-Dorius was the only Aggie competing at the Oregon Twilight meet Friday evening at Oregon's Historic Hayward Field at Eugene, Ore., but she made it a solid performance in the 3,000 meter steeplechase, finishing third with an NCAA regional qualifying time of 10:21.11.

Lifferth-Dorius, a senior from Layton, Utah (Northridge HS), was the top collegiate runner, finishing behind winner Carrie Vickers of Asics (9:51.08) and second-place Lesley Higgins of NYAC (10:12.18). She bettered her previous season-best and Western Athletic Conference-leading time by over three seconds. Lifferth-Dorius' prior best time this year was a 10:24.56 on April 25 at the same track, but due to an improper set up of the steeplechase barriers, her time did not count as an official NCAA regional qualifier.

Friday's time for Lifferth-Dorius is the second-fastest in USU history as well as her personal second-fastest time behind her school record clocking of 10:10.89 run last year.

Lifferth-Dorius is the two-time defending WAC champion in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and she will defend her title at the WAC Championships next Wednesday-Saturday, May 14-17 at Boise, Idaho and hosted by Boise State. The women's steeplechase is scheduled to open the running events on Friday at 2 p.m. (MT).

For more information on next week's WAC Championships, including ticket information, go to