7 Tips First-Time Homebuyers Should Follow

As a first-time homebuyer you may have many unknowns as you think about purchasing your first home. The biggest challenges are finding where to start and what steps to follow along the process. Here is a list of 7 first-time homebuyer tips that will help you and anyone navigate different aspects of the home buying process.

 

 

1. Get Pre-Approved Before You Look

Don’t fall in love with a house you can’t afford. Talk to a loan officer before you start looking for a home and get pre-approved; that way you’ll know your price range before finding that perfect home. We will give you an approval letter that will show agents and sellers you are a serious buyer when it comes time to make an offer, speeding up your loan processing time.

2. Down Payments Determine Your Options

Now is the time to save for a down payment. The amount you put down will determine several factors. If you have a 5% down payment there are good loan options for you, but you will also need mortgage insurance. If you have 20% down, that mortgage insurance payment isn’t necessary. We even have zero down loan options if you meet certain qualifications. Our loan officers can help find the best program to meet your needs.

3. Real Estate Agents are Your Friend

They work on your behalf. Real estate agents are familiar with the local market and can help find homes with your specifications and in your price range. They negotiate in your best interest. Agents will help submit an offer that is best for you, including any conditions that you must have. They will also negotiate your contract, to make sure you don’t go beyond what you can afford. Best of all as a buyer they are free; they get paid by the seller, not you.

4. Location, Location, Location

You need to love your home’s location just as much as the house itself. Take a look at the neighborhood; drive by at different times of day so you get a real feel for the location. Find out what school district boundaries you are in and how close stores are. These things may not be important to you, but will be if you ever decide to sell.

5. An Inspection Will Save You

Have you found a house already? Don’t forget a home inspection. Even if the house looks perfect on the outside, there could be problems lurking beneath the surface that you won’t know about. There could be a crack in the foundation or the furnace could be going out. Invest a little to save a lot. An inspection ranges from $300 to $500, but it could save you from making a $300,000 mistake.

6. You Have Credit – Don’t Use It

You are buying a home, but now is not the time to buy stuff to fill it with. Don’t take on any new debt during the loan process. This could be anything like buying new furniture for your home on a credit card or financing a new car. Acquiring new debt will alter your debt ratios and can disrupt or compromise your mortgage. If you have questions about this, give us a call. If anyone has recently pulled your credit for a loan, it will show up. Make your purchases after the loan closes!

7. It’s a Big Decision – Don’t Settle

Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life; don’t settle for a home you’re not in love with. As you look at a property and it’s quirks you might keep saying to yourself, “I can live with that”. Don’t keep saying that over and over again because one day you’ll wake up and regret your purchase. The home is yours now; you can’t take it back to the store and exchange it. Make certain that it’s the right fit for you. Of course there will be a couple of things you may not like, but a couple of things to fix won’t keep you up at night. Don’t get frustrated if you have to look at 17 different homes before you find the right one, it will be worth it, trust us.

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First Colony Mortgage has been a trusted Utah lender since 1984. They have helped over 30,000 residents realize their dream of owning their own home. They strive to build lasting relationships with borrowers, builders and Realtors by providing a complete range

October 2014 Fine Homes Magazine

We are please to release our October 2014 issue of our 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.

Home Selling Tips Every Seller Should Know

We’ve discussed the 6 Most Essential Homebuyer Tips and the Road to Homeownership, but today we wanted to discuss the top tips for home sellers. Unlike the “Field of Dreams”, where they built it and people came, simply putting a sign up in your yard doesn’t mean the buyers will come and buy your home. Trulia recently surveyed 500 real estate agents, asking them for their top tips to help sellers get their home sold.

Home-Selling-Tips-Every-Seller-Should-Know

1. Not surprisingly, pricing your home realistically from the start is the #1 tip. In fact, it overwhelmingly had the support of all agents, with none saying they don’t recommend this tip. The reason for its importance is simple – the largest number of showings occur in the first couple of weeks. If you are priced wrong, those buyers rule your home out and don’t come back.

2. Keep your house clean, tidy and de-cluttered. The price isn’t the only thing that can turn a buyer off. Keep your home show ready at all times, because you never know when a buyer will want to see it. At Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate, we offer all of our listings a guide to help stage their home for a quick sale.

3. Work with an agent who excels at online marketing. Many buyers make their decision to see homes based solely on how it’s presented online. Your home could miss out on critical showings if your agent isn’t doing your home justice online.

4. Make it easy to show your home. Buying is an emotional process. Be sure your home is easy to be seen when the buyer wants to see it. Making showings difficult not only turns the buyer away, but it sets the stage for future negotiations.

5. Don’t sign with an unqualified buyer. A buyer without a pre-qualification letter is a looker, not a buyer. Don’t lose valuable marketing time and opportunities by accepting an offer from a looker.

6. Listen to your agent. If you’ve hired a good agent, and are paying good money, why wouldn’t you listen to them? They’ve done this before and know what they are doing.

7. Make small upgrades to your home. Similar to tip #2, find simple ways to make your home shine and stand out. These aren’t expensive upgrades, but the simple things that will make your home look and feel better than your competition. It’s always good to step back, and walk through your home with buyer’s eyes.

8. Work with an agent who follows the competition. Selling your home is a competition, you are competing for buyers who are looking at homes similar to yours. Your agent should keep you apprised of what’s happening in the market place. At Prudential Utah Elite Real Estate, we provide all of our sellers with “Online Seller Advantage”, which keeps you in the know about online traffic, and what your competition is up to as well.

There are many other tips and tricks, but we’ll save those for when we meet with you to list your home!

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!