June 27, 2007

Waiting Yourself Out of a New Home

Buying your first home is a big step.   It is an important decision and sometimes I run across buyers that have a difficult time taking that step.  By all appearances, they want their first home but their actions sometimes are saying, ”No, I am not ready”.   There are circumstances that can justify putting off this decision but if you are ready, to buy, consider this story. 

I once worked with a client that wanted a home or condo for about $130,000.  There were only a couple of homes in that price range and a few more condos and what we saw was quite respectable as far as how nice they were for the money.  This client actually liked  2 of the condos but was wishy-washy about making a decision.  I suspect she thought if she waited, she would find something even better.  She decided to keep looking.  We looked for about the next 6 weeks only to watch the original properties sell out from under us and other properties coming into the market with the same square footage, amount of bedrooms, etc were showing up on the MLS at prices that were above her ability to get a loan for.    This client had “waited” herself out of getting her first new home.  

Points to ponder:   She is still renting and may be until her financial circumstances improve.  She felt that the homes we originally saw were nice but not quite good enough but now the only properties available in her price range are definitely not good enough.   Had she bought one of the first properties, she would have been living there now for about 15 months…appreciation the first quarter of this year was 17%.  She may have been able to sell her “not quite good enough” property now for a profit and “move up” to a property more to her taste. 

Being too picky when the market is strong can often be a mistake.  It is possible to wait yourself right out of buying a new home.   

Filed under: Blogroll,Buying,Credit & Finances,Real Estate — Susan @ 9:18 pm

June 23, 2007

Curb Appeal Tip

I see many homes for sale and the majority of the sellers have made the same mistake.  They know we are coming and they have worked very hard to make their home look it’s best but the thing they most commonly overlook is the front door.   Curb appeal is very important.  It is the first impression a buyer will have.  I am sure everyone drives by certain homes and there is just something about them that stands out among all the other homes in the neighborhood.  Even when all the homes are similar in price range and style, there are those certain ones that just look more inviting and desirable.  That is curb appeal. 

One thing that you can do to make your home have more curb appeal is to spruce up the entry.  The first thing you can do that is also the easiest is to wipe away all the cobwebs.     Most homes I see have years worth of cobwebs built up and after a while, the older cobwebs collect dirt and look very bad.   Another thing that is easy to remedy and wont cost a thing is to wipe off the door.   Doors get constant use and often times fingerprints get left behind, scuff marks add up, and those pieces of tape left behind by all those advertisements start to build up.  Clean it up.  Polish the door knob.  Make sure there is no sticky residue on them from the 10 kids your child brought home after school last week.  Sweep off the porch and steps.   Scrub off those old chalk drawings and melted popsicles.  (Get rid of the dead mouse your cat left for you on the porch before the buyers show up…this really happened to me when showing a home once)

Next, sweep the dust off the house around the entry.  It does not matter if your home is brick or siding, etc.  There is dust that has accumulated over the years and makes the house less “shiny”.   Sweeping works well or squirt it off with a hose.  You can even used a power wash.  Make it look new again. 

More ideas from there could include adding a nice flower pot full of blooms on the porch.  The fragrance will be enticing as well as the nice look.  Keep weeds at bay in the flower beds leading to the entry.  A fresh coat of paint on the front door and trim always does wonders.   (Another thing that commonly get overlooked is the trim around the garage door.  I have seen so many homes for sale that appear older than need be because the paint on the trim around the garage door is worn and peeling).

Whether or not you are trying to sell your home, the entry to your home is the first impression the buyer or your guests are going to have.  You don’t want to turn them off before they even get in the house.    Most of these suggestions will cost nothing.  A little elbow grease is all it takes to make a big difference in the curb appeal of your home.   

Filed under: Real Estate,Selling — Susan @ 8:44 pm

June 21, 2007

Utah’s Foreclosure Rate

Utah has not had a good record in recent years for foreclosure rates.  We seem to top the charts year after year because of our high rate of foreclosures but at the moment, we are ranked 39th in the country as only 11 other states have better/lower rates of foreclosures than Utah.  This is good news since the experts are determining that the reason for this improvement is that our ecomony is good and our share of the sub-prime loans is lower than the other states.  (I talked about sub-prime loans in an earlier post.)

Jim Diffley, an economist with Global Insight said, “Utahn’s share of subprime lending is not as high as many other states…,   Utah also doesn’t have falling [real estate] prices . . . and you still have a strong economy. All of those things bode for better relative performance than the rest of the country.”

Utah is experiencing very low unemployment rates right now and our real estate market is going strong.   This is good news for Utah homeowners.  Now if we could only do something about getting our loan fraud numbers down. 

Filed under: Blogroll,Credit & Finances,Real Estate — Susan @ 4:05 pm

June 15, 2007

Real Estate Bubble

I read yet another article today about the looming, ready to burst, “housing bubble”.  It is hard to realize that things are really as bad as the media makes it sound in other areas when here in Utah, we are ranked #1 in the country for appreciation.  We experienced a 17% appreciation the first quarter.   The average appreciation on home prices for the rest of the country is 6%.  I do not think that 6% is a bad return on an investment.  Sure, we would all like to make a killing on a real estate investment but 6% appreciation is not that bad.  I know it is not as good as the higher rates parts of the country were experiencing before the “burst” but I repeat, 6% appreciation is not that bad.   It is healthier for the ecomony when the appreciation rates remain steady and true.  There are a few investors that can get in and make a lot of money when it is booming but I think that in the long run, the average homeowner should prefer a stable market.

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 6:52 pm

June 7, 2007

Utah County Market Report

Utah County Home Sales Graph

Graph Legend 

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 11:30 pm

Moving to Utah

I had someone email me from my website and have decided to post the answer here as it may be useful to others. 

“Susan, I am excited to purchase my first home when I return to Utah in a few weeks. As a newly wed with some graduate school debt, my husband and I are considering a six month buy a house goal. Does this seem feasible–especially if we are both working full time jobs? Thanks’

Six months may be reasonable depending on your situation.  I do know that most lenders will require at least 2 months paystubs to verify employment.  As far as your student loan debt, it is going to depend on what your income/debt ratio is.  There are things that can be done and I recommend you contact a reputable lender as soon as you get here.  If things are not possible immediately, he/she can recommend strategies that will improve your future opportunites as well as lessen the impact of any negative elements in your credit history etc. 

I have worked with several lenders that have done an exceptional job on my transactions.  I have also worked with a few that I would not be able to bring myself to give a good recommendation.   Let me know if you would like some names to use as a starting point.   Keep in touch and let me know when you are ready.  Good luck!

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 11:05 pm

June 5, 2007


Amber  commented on my last post about preparing your home for sale.  She is trying to sell the lease to her apartment and appreciated my suggestions because she believes the same principles apply to her.  That is so true.  She is wise to realize she needs to market her lease the same as an agent markets a home for sale.  There are other apartments on the market and her apartment is in a competion against them.  The same principles do apply.    Make it the cleanest apartment available.  Make it look as large and spacious as possible by decluttering.  Make it smell fresh and good. 

Whether selling an apartment lease or a home, it is important also to capture someone’s emotion.  Try to create a picture for them of them living there.  Actually, they are going to create their own picture but you can help make sure that picture is a positive one.  That brings to my mind a home my office toured recently.   My office is one of few in our area that still do an office tour of all our new listings.  Office tours are beneficial to sellers because it gives more agents personal knowledge of your home which makes them think of your home when that new buyer calls. 

Anyway, we were previewing a new listing which was a really nice home.  It looked nice, it smelled nice and I was feeling excited about the potential of this home to future buyers, but as I went upstairs, I put my hand on the rail and there was a sticky, unrecognizable residue which immediately attached to my hand and for the rest of the tour, all I could think about was getting that grime off me.   I did not realize what had happened to me in regards to my feeling about the home until I was outside wiping my hands with a disinfecting towelette.  I realized then that if I had been a buyer, they would have lost the sale because of that one small detail.   All the good emotion that that home had to offer meant nothing to me once all I could feel was the imagined germs crawling around on my hand and the caution I had to use to not touch anything else causing them to spread.  (I know, I work really, really hard to keep it real but once in a great while OCD gets the best of me).

Filed under: Buying,Real Estate,Renting,Selling — Susan @ 10:40 pm