Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Hard to believe that Fall is upon us once again. Here’s a great checklist of Fall home maintenance items:

Fall_Maintenance_Checklist1. Stow the mower.

If you’re not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it.

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole.

2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring.

3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck.

2. Don’t be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you’re at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.

2. Shut off the automatic controller.

3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.

4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don’t have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don’t have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring.

4. Seal the deal.

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

5. De-gunk your gutters.

Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

6. Eyeball your roof.

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

7. Direct your drainage.

Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.

8. Get your furnace in tune.

Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.

9. Prune plants.

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees – when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

10. Give your fireplace a once-over.

To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

You fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

 

September 2014 Fine Homes Magazine

We are pleased to release our September 2014 Fine Homes Magazine.

Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate is the leader in fine homes in Utah County. We sell over 89% of the luxury homes in this market. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, talk to us first and find out how our marketing program can make your home stand out.

 

How Much Value Has My Home Recovered Since The Crash?

This is probably one of the most popular questions we get asked as real estate professionals. While it can vary from area to area, we can at least look at the collective whole of the state and give you a general feel for where you might be at. But first, let’s take a look at where we are nationally since the peak and where our region and our state is at year over year for the 2nd quarter.

Nationally prices are back to where they were in the 1st quarter of 2015. This is still off the peak in 2006.

 

Prices Back to 2005 1Q Prices

 

If we look at the regional change in prices year over year from the 2nd quarter, the Mountain region is up 7.42%.

Prices 2Q 2014 vs 2Q 2013

 

And if we look at that same comparison on the state level, Utah is up 5.2%.

State Prices 2Q 2014 vs 2Q 2013

 

Now let’s look at the question you really want answered – How much value has my home recovered since the crash?

Utah as an average is still down 10.7% since our peak prices in June of 2007.

Prices and Time Since the Peak

 

To know and understand your home’s actual value, we recommend you meet with us and we’d be happy to put together a market analysis of your home. Remember that AVMs (Automated Valuation Models), such as the Zestimate, can be wildly inaccurate.

August 2014 Fine Homes Magazine

Welcome to our Fine Homes magazine, featuring the finest luxury homes on the market in Utah County.

Luxury homes are a cut above and at Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate we specialize in helping buyers and sellers of these fine homes. In fact, you could say we’ve cornered the market when it comes to homes over $750,000. Last year 89% of luxury homes sold in Utah County were sold by Prudential Utah Elite agents. Our agents are among the most trusted and experienced agents when it comes to high-end real estate.

If you are thinking of buying or selling high-end real estate, let us show you what we can do for you.
Sincerely,
Bruce Tucker
Principal Broker/Owner

 

Homeownership, Your Best Piggy Bank

We’ve talked in the past about some of the financial aspects and benefits of homeownership, including:

Real estate is the best long-term investment

Tax benefits of homeownership

Is now the time to buy?

Mortgage rate as a factor of affordability

A recent Federal Reserve report took a look at “Changes in U.S. Family Finances“, and specifically examined the relationship between homeownership and its impact on net worth. The study found several interesting correlations:

  • Homeowner Net WorthHomeowner vs Renter net worthThe average American family has a net worth of $77,300
  • Of that net worth, 61.4% ($47,500) of it is in home equity
  • A homeowner’s net worth is over thirty times greater than that of a renter
  • The average homeowner has a net worth of $174,500 while the average net worth of a renter is $5,100

If you want to get on the road to homeownership and improve your family’s financial standing, we’d love to meet with you. Becoming a homeowner is easier than you might think. Let us help you navigate the process.

Do-It-Yourself Home Maintenance Advice

Whether you are planning to stay in your home forever, or fall into the group of homeowners that moves every 5-7 years, home maintenance is extremely important. The last thing you want to do is let your most valuable asset fall into disrepair. It can affect your quality of life if you are staying in the home and your resale value if you are looking to sell. In fact, many home maintenance items are quite easy and affordable if tackled early on. Whereas if left, they tend to get worse and more costly. Our friends over at HouseLogic.com have put together an entire library of home maintenance tips and advice that will help save you money. We’ve included several links to some of their best advice below. We even recommend that you sign up for HouseLogic.com’s updates. They do a fantastic job of helping homeowners make informed decisions about their home.

DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic 6 DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic 5 DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic 4 DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic 3 DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic 2 DIY_Home_Improvement___Do_It_Yourself_Projects___HouseLogic

Here are some more links to great home maintenance advice:

Home Maintenance Strategy

5 Critical Maintenance Tasks

The Best Home Maintenance Tool

99-Cent Maintenance Solutions

Preventative Home Maintenance

 Caring For Your Plumbing System

Checklist For HVAC Maintenance

 

Mortgage Downpayment Misconceptions

Mortgage Misconceptions 1We continually hear from agents stories of buyers who thought they couldn’t buy a home and then the joy and happiness they experience when they close on their first home. We aren’t sure why buyers disqualify themselves from buying a home without first meeting with an agent and a lender, but we do know it happens far too often. Don’t let this happen to you!

Perhaps the first misconception is that it costs money just to meet with an agent and a lender to find out if you qualify. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our agents gladly consult with buyers for FREE. And more importantly, they can help you find a good lender who will run the pre-qualification process for FREE. So there is nothing to lose to find out if 1. you do qualify to buy a home, or 2. what you need to do to get qualified and on the path to homeownership.

The next misconception is what it takes to actually buy home. In June 2014 Freddie Mac reported:

  • A person “can get a conforming, conventional mortgage with a downpayment of as little as 5 percent (sometimes with as little as 3 percent coming out of their own pockets)”.
  • Freddie Mac’s purchase of mortgages with downpayments under 10 percent more than quadrupled between 2009 and 2013.
  • More than one in five borrowers who took out conforming, conventional mortgages in 2014 put down 10 percent or less.

Christina Boyle, Freddie Mac VP & Head of Single-Family Sales said, “Letting more consumers know how downpayments are determined could bring more qualified borrowers off the sidelines. Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a downpayment of about 5 or 10 percent.”

 Mortgage Misconceptions 2

The fact is, homeownership has tremendous cost saving benefits that benefit renters. However, those same people that could benefit from homeownership are disqualifying themselves simply because of the misconception that it is out of their reach. Meet with us today and let us help you get pre-qualified and on the path to owning a home of your very own!

Thinking About “For Sale By Owner”? Think Again…

There’s a famous American Indian saying about walking a mile in someone’s moccasins before you judge them. It’s easy to look at almost any line of work and think you could probably do what they do all on your own for the sole purpose of saving money. Well, of course, with the exception of maybe brain surgery. But we could totally pull off minor surgery on our own right? One of the problems that the real estate industry faces is we don’t tell our clients the full story of what we do or what it takes to sell their homes. This leads many consumers to falsely believe that it’s an easy process, one they can simply do themselves by planting a sign in the front yard and waiting for those buyers to come charging through their doors. Sadly, that rarely happens, and most For Sale By Owners (FSBO) eventually get frustrated and list with an agent. In the process though, they lose valuable time. But what of those who actually do successfully sell on their own. Again, sadly, many sell for less than they could have gotten had they used an agent and exposed their home to more potential buyers. In fact many buyers who pursue FSBO’s typically ask for a reduction in price since there isn’t an agent involved, thus reducing the possible “savings” from the start.

The process of selling a home is fraught with land mines and pitfalls that a professional can successfully guide you through unscathed. There are laws that must be followed. Disclosures that must be made. There are typically more than a dozen different parties that you must coordinate with to guide a sale to fruition. That is of course assuming you get the offer to purchase. Putting a sign up nowadays is more of a marker to help the buyer correctly identify the home they originally found online. Agents have strong internet marketing plans that include syndication of the MLS listing to various portals that are popular amongst today’s home buyer’s. The bottom line is if you are thinking about For Sale By Owner, take the time first to meet with an agent and really get to know and understand what they do and what they can bring to the table when it comes to selling your home. We think you’ll be surprised and find that it’s both well worth it to have a professional in your corner and you most likely will net more money.

FSBO

Mortgage Rate as a Factor of Affordability

Recently we addressed the question, “Is Now The Time To Buy?” We examined the effects of increasing mortgage rates and prices would have on a future purchase compared to a purchase today. The study found that an increase of price from $250,000 to $265,000 combined with a rate increase of just over 1% to 5.4%, resulted in a monthly payment increase of over $265/month.

With the prospect of mortgage rates increasing, we thought it would be good to look at the average interest rate and mortgage payment over the last 4 decades and compare that to where we are currently. As you can see below, historically we are experience the best mortgage rates. This has a direct relation on your mortgage payment and affordability. Many consumers wish they had acted when rates were in the 3% range. While those rates may never be seen again, you still have the opportunity to snag a historically low rate, making owning your own home more affordable than renting.

Cost-across-the-decades-1500

Want to learn more about the road to homeownership? Meet with one of our incredible agents today and take advantage of this opportunity to own affordably.

Radon and Your Home

RadioactiveThere has been a lot of talk in Utah recently about radon. Last year the Utah Legislature even addressed the issue with proposed mandatory testing. REALTORS® have been at the forefront of radon awareness, even launching a campaign to encourage homeowners to get their homes tested. Surprisingly, testing is rather inexpensive and the cost to remedy is also quite reasonable.

Radon is a result of the naturally occurring radioactive breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water. That breakdown gets into the air we breathe, which is why radon is a leading cause of lung cancer. It tends to get trapped in indoor spaces, and your home is where you spend most of your time, leading to your greatest risk of exposure. It can be found everywhere, but Utah seems to have a fairly high percentage of radon exposure. Radon levels above 2 pCi/L are considered risky. Anything over 4pCi/L it is recommended that you install mitigation devices to reduce the levels in your home.

usrnpot

How Radon entersRadon can get into your home in various ways, including; cracks in floors, cracks in walls, gaps around pipes, construction joints and even through your water supply. Nearly 1 out every 15 homes has elevated levels of radon. Testing can be done via a professional or you can do self testing as well. Kits can be obtained at Home Depot or Lowes. You can also order them online. Utah has a special arrangement for test kits for only $7.95 at http://doctorhomeair.com/utah/.

The EPA provides an entire guide to help you understand radon and the risks it might pose to your home and your health. We’ve provided it for ease of access, simply click on the cover page image below.

For more answers to your questions on radon, please visit  http://www.radon.utah.gov/ or http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

EPA Radon Guide