For Lynda Packer, living near an LDS temple provides peace and comfort.
For Catrina Warner, the nighttime glow helps her kids fall asleep.
To Joann McGowan, it's a sound investment.
Neighborhoods near temples are some of the most sought-after in Utah. For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, proximity provides inspirational views and makes regular visits to the holy structures more convenient.
For others, temples produce long-lasting communities, attractive green space and premium home values.
"Most people build next to a temple for religious reasons," says McGowan, a non-Mormon who chose a corner lot two blocks from the new Oquirrh Mountain Temple in South Jordan. "For me, it was completely resale value."
Within an hour of former LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley's announcement in 2005 that a temple would be built in South Jordan's Daybreak, potential homebuyers flooded the development's information center.
"The excitement at that time was palpable," says Jana Kettering, a spokeswoman for Daybreak. "We had some people trying to hike the bluff just so they could touch the land before [the temple] was constructed."
Last month, open houses at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple, which will be formally dedicated next weekend, drew more than 500,000 people to the colorful community -- and a number of them cruised the nearby neighborhoods scouting for "for sale" signs.
It's hard to quantify exactly how much more cash temple-view homes can snag.
"There's no question they are worth more," says Ross Holliday, a partner in Holmes Homes, which has built 700 houses in Daybreak. But the premium is "not as high as everyone thinks -- it's not 10 or 20 percent in value, nothing outrageous."
The main difference, he says, is those homes sell more quickly and are more likely to hold their value.
Jillinda Bowers, an agent for Prudential Real Estate, says it's coincidence, not destiny. The church, she notes, tends to pick beautiful spots for temples, such as hillsides in Draper and Bountiful, that already are desirable sites for homes.
Still, Curt Dowdle, executive officer of the Salt Lake Home Builders Association, noticed an uncommon trend when he worked on a South Jordan development near the Jordan River Temple a decade ago. A number of buyers sold homes on the Salt Lake Valley's east bench to move to the west-side neighborhood.
"In this business," Dowdle says, "that's a pretty hard conversion -- no pun intended."
Lynda and Blair Packer moved from the Fort Union area to buy one of those homes near the Jordan River Temple, which opened in 1981. The LDS couple wanted a place large enough to host their six children and 15 grandchildren for Sunday dinners and holidays.
But the main selling point of the house was its closeness to the temple -- one that the Packers and their children had helped build, selling glass-cleaning supplies from the family business as part of a fundraiser.
"It brings a lot of peace and joy to be near the temple," says Lynda Packer, who plans to spend time volunteering there after she retires from her job as a special-education assistant. Her young grandchildren call the building a "castle" and tell her that's where they're going to get married when they grow up.
The LDS Church considers its temples its most sacred structures, where members make formal promises and commitments to God. They are the place where couples go to be married so that their families can be "sealed" together in the afterlife.
Catrina and Jake Warner, who belong to the faith, picked the closest lot they could get to the site of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and moved in two years ago.
They've enjoyed watching construction progress with their three young children -- seeing a helicopter place a golden Angel Moroni on top was a highlight. When her kids can't sleep at night, Catrina Warner says, they ask her to open the blinds so they can have the "built-in night light" of the temple lights.
"Being so close," she says, "reminds me of what my goals are in life and what I want for my family."
There's only one vacant lot between the Warner home and the new South Jordan temple.
But homebuyers seeking a temple view in the Salt Lake Valley may have another opportunity in the future: When Hinckley announced the Daybreak temple, he also touted an additional temple site in the "southwest" part of the valley.
No word -- yet -- on where it will be.
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