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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

Preparing Your Home For A Natural Disaster

Once again we are hearing about devastating natural disasters wreaking havoc in our country and around the world. While we are fortunate in Utah to see very few of these natural disasters, it does not mean that we are immune. Utah is prone to fire, flood and even earthquakes. It’s important that you take some precautions to make sure your home is ready for these possibilities. This infographic covers many of the issues you should be concerned about when it comes to preparing your home for a natural disaster.

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Utah Home Prices Up 7.2% Year Over Year

FHFA has released their 1st Quarter year over year home price analysis, showing Utah experienced at 7.2% increase in value. This is good news as many homeowners are still trying to regain the value lost in the recession. Reports continue to come in that home values are getting closer and closer to pre-recession prices. We are seeing this as sellers who previously couldn’t sell are now listing their homes. New listings in Utah County are up 21.3% year to date compared to 2013. Total inventory is up 12.4%.

Now is a great time to speak with a REALTOR® to find out what your home value might be. Please keep in mind websites such as Zillow that use Automated Valuation Models, or computers, to assess value are subject to inaccurate fluctuations. The image below shows the change of value of 9 homes in a two block radius in Orem, over just a 30 day period.

FHFA-State-Map-5-27-14FHFA-Regional-Map-5-27-142

Zestimates are a JOKE

Is Now The Time To Buy?

This is probably one of the most popular questions real estate agents get asked. And while that question is very specific to the individual’s current financial situation, we can analyze the current market conditions and expectations to give a general answer. Some of the factors that come into play when considering if it is the right time to buy include; pricing, financing rates, and appreciation. So let’s take a look at what is currently happening and what the projections are on these factors.

Pricing – As of our last report, both the median and average sales prices were up substantially year over year and year to date.

April 2014 Price

 

Financing Rates – While these have fluctuated recently, the overall consensus is that they must go up. They have been artificially kept down to keep the economy on a recovery path.

30 Year Fixed Rate MortgagesAppreciation – This is the anticipated growth in pricing. While this is good if you own, it’s bad if you don’t own yet, as it means the price will be higher the longer you wait.

Projected Mean Appreciation

 

Now when you combine all of this together, and you compare what it costs today to buy to the projection of what it could cost later to buy, it helps when considering the question “Is Now The Time To Buy”.

Cost of Waiting

 

As you can see in the example above, changes in rates and pricing can create a very expensive change in monthly costs, which of course can add up over the life of a 30 year mortgage. To find out if now is the right time for you to buy, meet with one of our great agents. They can walk you through the process and help you find a mortgage professional to guide you through the financial side of purchasing a home.

 

Be Very Careful What You Sign

Contract signingI wanted to share an experience with you that one of my fellow agents recently had with a buyer. This buyer was referred to the agent by a friend after they had complained about the level of service they were getting from their first agent. When my friend first spoke with the buyer, the first question they asked is if they had signed a buyer broker agreement with them. This agreement is a binding agreement that places the buyer in an agency relationship that my friend would need to honor, as well as the buyer. The buyer however assured them that they had never signed anything with the original agent. The buyer and my agent friend proceeded to look for homes.

Now, before I go too far along with this story, I want you to really understand the importance of this buyer broker agreement. In addition to establishing the agency relationship, this agreement also sets forth the terms of compensation. It typically outlines that a buyer agent is paid 3% for their services by splitting the seller agent’s commission, which is agreed to via the MLS listing between cooperating brokers. However, if that commission is less than 3%, or even possibly no commission being paid by the seller, it would then be the buyer’s responsibility to pay their buyer’s agent the difference or even up to the entire 3%.

Imagine for just a moment that this buyer did have a buyer broker agreement with the original agent, and then entered into a new agreement with the new agent, then closed on a home. The buyer would then be responsible for both agents receiving a 3% commission. While one would get the 3% offered by the seller’s agent, the other would need to be paid by the buyer out of pocket. Do you see the dilemma here, and why the agent immediately asked if they had signed a buyer broker agreement? Back to our story…

The buyer and new agent quickly find the perfect home. As they begin to discuss the terms of the offer they want to make, the buyer mentions that in previous offers they had made with the first agent, they had asked for a certain amount in closing costs. This of course immediately raised a red flag for the new agent. If the first agent had made an offer on behalf of the buyer, they certainly had the buyer sign the buyer broker agreement. Thankfully the new agent insisted that the buyer immediately find this agreement and discuss with the first agent about releasing them from that agreement. Lucky for the buyer that the new agent was honest and that the first agent was kind enough to release them from the buyer broker agreement. Had either of these agents not done the right thing by this buyer, the buyer could have found themself paying over $6,000 in commission out of pocket to the first agent.

The moral of the story, be very careful what you sign. Make sure that your agent is clearly explaining and walking you through all of the terms of all of the agreements and contracts you sign. This is why it’s important to find the right agent first, one you can trust and work with to successfully and safely close your real estate transaction. If you ever have a real estate question, reach out to me. I am always happy to help you understand any aspect of the real estate transaction and process.

Prudential Utah Elite Agents Head To DC

UT-REALTORS-Hill-VisitMany people don’t realize that REALTORS do more than just help people buy and sell homes. REALTORS are actually the front line of defense when it comes to protecting homeowners from adverse legislation at the Federal, State and Local levels of government. Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate is proud of this fact and encourages their agents to participate in this process. Several of our agents are actually past presidents of the Utah County Association of REALTORS (UCAR), and many have served on the board of directors of UCAR as well as the Utah Association of REALTORS.

May 12-17, 2014, a few of our agents are heading to Washington, DC to visit with Utah’s Congressional Delegation to discuss federal issues that will have an impact on homeowners. These issues include preserving real estate related tax policies (such as the mortgage interest deduction), reform the secondary mortgage market to provide certainty in the U.S. housing market, and preserve the mission and purpose of the FHA program. If you’d like to learn more about these issues and what REALTORS are doing, please visit REALTOR.org or click the links associate with each issue.

These are important issues that impact the cost and availability of homeownership. We are honored to have some of our agents fighting for your rights in DC.