Prospective buyers camp out for lots at former Granite High site

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — The former site of Granite High School in South Salt Lake is now a hotbed for the real estate market, and it's so popular that prospective home buyers camped out for two nights just to secure a spot in the development.

The new neighborhood near 500 East and Millcreek Way is swiftly springing up, with several homes already erected.

"LINE STARTS HERE," a sign next to a Garbett model home read on Friday evening. "Doors open Saturday at 9 am."

On the other side of the sign, a line of tents and camping chairs sat in the dirt along a fence. It looked like a Friday night camp out, complete with food, a little music and conversation.

But this group meant business, part of a mad dash to snatch up the limited amount of lots.

"Our buyers are hoping to get certain lots, at certain prices," explained Keller Williams Utah realtor Rachel Green.

She indicated the frenzy began on Thursday evening, when she said one home buyer set out a camping chair to mark the first spot. That's when a number of realtors including Green swooped in, to take up the next spaces in line.

"They ran physically ran to the spot here, with a camping chair," she said.

Green said there's a limited number of single family homes in the area, and indicated the case is much less so for brand new builds.

That makes a neighborhood like this, she indicated, a rare find.

"Our buyers have both been seeking homes for more than two years," Green said. "There's very limited land in Salt Lake."

Plus, she said, the prices will increase by thousands of dollars for every three lots sold-- making it worth it to get in line early.

Garbett Sales and Marketing Director Eileen Whiting said they've got 31 lots available in the first phase.

She said they saw three times the amount of interest than what they have available to sell, and rather than invoke nasty bidding wars, the company decided to take a new approach.

"We felt that it would be fun to camp out, and it has been fun," Whiting said. "We also felt it was the only way to really be fair."

Fair means first come, first served.

"You don't have to necessarily bring the most money to the table," Green said. "You just bring the most ambition, which is camping the longest amount of time."

Hopeful buyer Jeff Johnson said he's been following the demolition of Granite High, and the development of the new neighborhood.

Johnson said camping out really made an event out of the whole thing, and he already started making friends with his future neighbors.

"Who has [lot] 106? Hey, we're going to be neighbors. Hey, nice to meet you," Johnson said, recounting his conversations. "Hey, you want to split the cost of the fence going down the side? Sure, shake on it."

Even though he said it'll be another year before he moves in, Johnson has been eyeing the lot he wants for quite some time, and making plans.

"I got a good vibe on [lot] 107, you know that zen type of thing," Johnson said. "This is my place."