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LANDOWNERS NEAR MICRON SITE SIT TIGHT

Cash-waving land speculators from near and far who descended upon north Utah County on the heels of Micron Technology Inc.'s announcement last month aren't finding many takers.

Property owners apparently don't want to sell - yet."There's a lot of money trying to do deals, but not a lot of deals being done," said Kevin Call, vice president of the Utah County Board of Realtors. "If they can get $30,000 an acre today, they can get $40,000 an acre a year from now."

Much of the interest has come from out-of-state investors.

North Utah Valley has been abuzz with real estate talk since Micron publicized plans to build a $1.3 billion computer memory chip production plant along U-92 between I-15 and Highland. The plant will employ 3,500 in the next three to four years. Economists expect thousands of people to flock to the area.

"Many of the closer landowners will begin to feel that the value of their raw ground now has a new glit-ter," said C.J. Jones, president of the Utah Valley Homebuilders Association.

Even so, people seem content to wait until that glitter becomes a fine luster, making the land more desirable. Lloyd Brooks, of Century 21-All Pros Realty in American Fork, said some owners have recently pulled their property off the market.

Those still wanting to sell might be asking too much too soon.

"A few people have quoted prices to me that are somewhat unrealistic," Brooks said. "Most people's expectations are a little higher than reality."

Some homeowners marked the price of their houses up $10,000 overnight.

Will Jones, owner of Pine Valley Realty, said Micron's announcement has not affected housing prices. But it did spur undecided new homebuyers to tie up building lots before prices go up.

"We're seeing some fence sitters jumping off onto the buy side," said Brent Skidmore, an Olympus Bank residential loan officer.

Pine Valley Realty sold 68 lots in two subdivisions within two weeks. Jones said that's 15 times more than it typically sells in that period. "It was almost a panic," he said.

And housing contractors are lining up to get a piece of the action. "We have developers coming in one right after another," said John Newman, Highland city manager. That's not unusual for the rapidly growing bedroom community, but "Micron kind of accelerated it a bit," he said.

Realtors agree that prices for raw land and housing will escalate in the next five years because of Micron and the spin-off businesses and residents it will attract.

"I think the big push is still down the road, at least for my industry," Skidmore said.

Dan Roberts, a Provo financial consultant, said he expects tens of millions of dollars in property to change hands in the next year, including thousands of acres of family owned farmland. He said sellers should protect themselves from heavy capital gains taxes by setting up wealth accumulation trusts.

Tax-exempt trusts exist under a different set of rules, allowing the trust to liquidate assets without paying taxes. Trusts also provide lifetime income to the seller.

"We'll see many, many, many millions paid to taxes because people don't know," he said.