April 30, 2008

Buy Before the Feeding Frenzy

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I have heard several buyers in our area say that are sitting on the fence, wanting to buy a home but feeling that they should wait.  I am not really sure what they are waiting for… the market to swing back to a “seller’s market”?  The number of listings on the market to get back to normal levels so there is less to choose from?   Appreciation rates to get into double digits again so they can pay even more for a home?  This is a great time to buy a home, not to wait! 

About a year ago, there were not enough listings on the market to accomodate the amount of buyers that wanted desparately to find a home.   Competition was forcing buyers to make offers higher than the listed price in hopes of beating out the other 4 offers on a home within days, sometimes even hours of showing up on the MLS or For Sale sign being planted in the yard.   Prices were being driven up by the buyer’s willingness to pay increasing amounts to own a home. 

As a REALTOR® that is also a diver, I like the analogy of sharks in a feeding frenzy.  Sharks are usually calm, supposedly even picky, when they have to hunt for their next meal.   They placidly swim around looking for food, “tasting” humans then leaving them, once tasted, in search of something more tasty.  ( I am being a little sarcastic and will now have to do a future blog post to explain my opinion on this subject)  But, when someone starts chumming the water…easy food.  Suddenly sharks start turning up out of no where, fighting for food, they dart here and there, biting anything that gets in their way as if their lives depend on this “once in a lifetime opportunity” to gulp down a few chunks of rotten fish. 

Last year, buyers were like sharks in a feeding frenzy.  Prices were up, appreciation rates were getting out of control, listings were down so there were few to choose from.  Buyers were frantically buying homes they did not really like, yet, paying more for them. 

Now, appreciation rates have stabilized, there are more than the average number of listings on the market so buyers can be pickier about which homes they buy, sellers are more willing to negotiate on price, FHA has increased their limits ($323,750 in Utah County and $729,750 in Salt Lake County), and rents are increasing.  These are all good reasons to buy, NOW! 

Rents in our area are going up.   Instead of causing a demand for homes to buy, waiting buyers are causing a demand for units to rent and that is driving up rental prices.   Utah County has experienced a 15.9% rental increase over the past year.   This is the best time to buy the home you want.   The only way some buyers are going to recognize that this really is a good time to buy is after it is too late.  They just wont recognize the signs until the water is already muddled up with all the chum. 





April 28, 2008

The Constitution of the United States of America

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.articlei.html

I thought I would add this link to make it easier for us to review. 

Filed under: Community,Personal,Real Estate — Susan @ 9:26 am




April 25, 2008

Knowing Your Rights

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I have a friend that reads the U.S Constitution / Bill of Rights regularly.  (Like, once a month.)   When I first learned this, I thought it humorous and kind of strange because…who does that???   Over time and after subsequent converstations,  I think I have developed a different attitude about this and have an increased, or should I say a first-time-ever, desire to study these documents myself.  I can guarantee that I will never read them “once a month”  but, I understand now how it is important for all of us, that is U.S. Citizens, to know our rights.  

My friend has related experiences where his knowledge has been used to legitimately defend his rights in situations that the rest of us would have unknowingly forfeited them.  This leads me to the conclusion that the rest of us have all become so ignorant of our rights that we automatically forfeit them on a regular basis. 

If I do not know or understand my rights, it is much easier for someone to abuse them.  If those that have power or authority do not know or understand my rights, they are in a position to abuse me.   Our country is the greatest on this planet and it is great because our forefathers created these excellent and unprecedented documents which affords us the rights we enjoy…if we know and understand them enough to not waste them. 

We have all learned about these things in school, some in more depth than others depending on their teachers.  I do not remember much of it at this point in my life.  I think it is time for a refresher for all of us…except my friend.  I would hate for him to get the impression that I am calling on him to increase his review time of these important documents.  I think that once a month is more than sufficient. 

Filed under: Blogroll,Community,Personal,Real Estate — Susan @ 2:18 pm




April 24, 2008

Lacrosse

All of my children play, or have played, Lacrosse.  I am the proud mother of 5 children, Erin, Amber, Brenna, Colton, and Caitlyn.  Colton is playing his last season of high school lacrosse only to find out that the team’s field has been put out of commission by the impending construction at his school.  He is about to graduate from high school and has been honored with a full-ride academic scholarship at the University of Utah.   Caitlyn has been playing her first year of lacrosse in Jr. High.  Erin, Amber, and Brenna are BYU graduates.   All three have played on the BYU Women’s Lacrosse team which is very good and is usually one of the higher ranked teams year after year.  Each of these girls have also coached the summer Lacrosse camps that BYU has each year.   (Which causes me to feel a little confused as BYU refuses to acknowledge that they have a Women’s Lacrosse team until it is time to advertise their summer camps.  Suddenly, they have a Girl’s Lacrosse Camp, “coached by they players on the highly ranked BYU Women’s Lacrosse Team.”) 

Since she graduated from BYU early, Erin was eligible to play one more year at University of Iowa Dental school.  I think she considers herself lucky to get that one last year of play in.   She just finished her final season and I just received this notice:

“Playoffs were this past weekend (Minnesota won), and the end of the season awards were
decided Saturday night. We had three players voted to the All-League Honorable mention
team:

Erin- defense
Mandy- midfield
Mac- attack”

Congrats Erin!     (#12)

 

Filed under: Blogroll,Community,Personal — Susan @ 1:06 pm




April 21, 2008

Area Code 385

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Utah is growing and is about to get a new area code.   This is going to be different than what we have experienced in the past.  When they introduced the 435 area code in Southern Utah, everyone with the new area code had to change all their advertising information, print new business cards etc.  This can be an expensive inconvenience.

The new implementation is meant to avoid those problems.  The new 385 area code will cover the same geographic area that the current 801 code covers.  The difference is  that now we are going to have to dial all 10 numbers, the area code and the number.    For instance, my business number is 801-367-8214.  My number will stay the same, but after July 11, 2008, everyone will have to dial the 801 before my number to reach me which is currently not required.  

Your current phone number will stay the same including your area code of 801.  Only those getting new phone numbers, from the initiation date on, will have the 385 area code with their number.  The next new phone books will have start including the area code before the number as 385 numbers start to appear.  We will have to remember to program our contact lists on our cell phones, etc to include the area code for speed dialing etc.  People and businesses that currently do not include the area code in their advertising will have to make the necessary changes.  

Some people I have talked with are not happy about this change.  They feel it an inconvenience to have to dial the extra numbers.  I think however, that it will not be long before we are used to the change and it will not be as annoying as they imagine. 

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 6:30 am




April 17, 2008

Homeowner’s Insurance

beware-of-dog.jpgGetting homeowner’s insurance is not alway a given anymore.  For the last few years, as REALTORS®, we have been advising our clients to start working on gettting homeowner’s insurance early in the transaction because insurance companies were getting pickier about who and what homes they would insure.  It is best to know early if you are not going to be able to find a company to insure your new home. 

Utah has gone even farther by adding a clause in the Real Estate Purchase Contract about homeowner’s insurance. 

Section 8:   Buyer’s right to cancel based on evaluations and inspections.  Buyer’s obligation to purchase under this contract  (check applicable boxes):

(d)  is___  is not___     Conditioned upon Buyer”s approval of the cost, terms and availability of homeowner”s insurance coverage for the property. 

The cause of concern has mostly been due to water damage.  If the buyer or the homeowner of the home being purchased had filed an insurance claim within the last 2 years, the new buyer and/or the home itself could be denied insurance coverage.  This is something to be aware of when considering whether or not to file a claim for minor water damage, especially if you plan to purchase a new home within the next 2 years. 

Now this:  I recently read a letter describing one insurance company’s policy regarding dog ownership.  This letter was in reference to the fact that the insurance agent discovered that the new home buyer owned a Pit Bull puppy.   

Here are the X (name of the company will not be disclosed as I am sure they are not the only company with such a policy) rules concerning dogs.

No more than 2 dogs per house hold.
Will not write list: Rottweiler, Chow-Chow, Pit Bull, Doberman Pinscher, Akita, Any wolf-Hybrid, Presa Canario, Bull Mastiff, American Mastiff, Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
No more than one of the following:  Siberian Husky, German Shepard, Alaskan Malamute. 

Is important to note that most city ordinances,  (at least Orem City), limit animal ownership to 2 dogs and 2 cats.   Many people are not aware of this and are in violation.  Now, if you are violating this ordinance in your city by owning more than the allowed dogs or cats, you may also be in jeopardy of losing your homeowner’s insurance coverage.  This is something you may want to look into with your own individual company.  You do not want to wait until you need your insurance only to find out that you will not be covered because of this oversight. 

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 4:22 pm




April 8, 2008

Technology and Real Estate

istocktechnology.jpg I am the Chairman for the 2008  Utah County Association of REALTORS® Tech Fair.  This is ironic since I am really not very “tech-savvy.”  I was told that they asked me because of my organizational skills which is the reason I agreed to take the position.  Had they not explained that, I may have been too intimidated and declined their request.  I may not be tech savvy but I am sure I can organize a conference.  (I hope). 

This will be the third Tech Fair in Utah County in as many years.  The first was great and the second one even better.  I personally have learned valuable information that has helped me to improve my service.  I am looking forward to the next one that will, hopefully, be just as valuable and informative to the attending agents in Utah County and any that attend from other areas. 

My purpose in writing on this subject today is that I am wondering if anyone, any REALTORS®, that may stumble across this post, are using any form of technology that they feel has enhanced their business.  I would be interested to hear what you have used or found that has been a benefit to you.  If you have ideas or experience on this matter, please contact me or just post a comment to this blog post.  Your feedback would be very useful to me and my committee. 

I was also wondering, as a REALTOR®, which phone you use.  I use a Treo Palm and it seems that many agents use this same phone.  However, this may just be that I notice it more than others because I do use it myself.  I would like to get an idea of which phone is most popular among our peers.  I found someone that teaches an excellent class on the Treo Palm and Windows versions.  I found it very informative and valuable and would like to search for other teachers that may teach other phones if those models are more popular. 

I hope this post will get a big response as more feedback is always better.  Thanks

Filed under: Blogroll,Community,Personal,Real Estate,Selling,Technology — Susan @ 4:17 pm




April 2, 2008

Warranties Under Fire

istock-100guaranteesmall.jpgUnder the current Utah Real Estate Purchase Contract (REPC), unless a home is sold in “as-is” condition, the seller is required to provide certain warranties to the buyer until the buyer takes possession.  Usually only a home with known defects is sold in “As-is” condition. Currently the REPC states that the heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler systems and fixtures as well as fireplaces and appliances must all be in working order and fit for their intended purposes. Also the roof and foundation must be free of known leaks. 

So, if a buyer has an inspection and finds a problem in one or more of those key systems mentioned above, the seller is required to repair it.   There are more complaints and legal issues that come up concerning this section of a transaction than any other and therefore, there is a growing movement by some in Utah to remove this warranty from the REPC and make “Let the buyer beware” be the rule. 

 I think this is a mistake.   Every seller already has the option to sell a home in ”as-is” condition and every buyer has the right to back out of a transaction if defects are found.  But, having these warranties in place may encourage homeowners to maintain their properties when they may  otherwise be tempted to avoid the cost of repair.

Even with these warranties in place, there are too many lawsuits where the buyer sues the seller for not disclosing defects.  In most of these cases, my optimism assumes that the sellers are innocent and were, honestly, not aware of the problem.  Afterall, being a homeowner does not automatically make one “all-knowing” about every aspect of his/her home.  However, in those rare occasions were the homeowner finds out about a problem, he feels it is too expensive to fix or just doesn’t want to deal with it, puts his home up for sale.

Let’s say this particular homeowner discovered that his furnace is about to blow itself to the moon anyday. He puts his home up for sale and crosses his fingers that the buyer will not discover the problem before the Evaluation and Inspection Deadline referenced in the REPC.  Once that deadline has come to pass, the buyer will have to forfiet his/her Earnest Money if they choose to back out or they will have to move forward on the contract and assume the financial burden for the new furnace as just part of the cost of buying a new home. 

The other side of this is story is that this seller is most likely going to turn around and become the buyer on a new home…one that does not have a furnace ready to explode.   He is so careful inspecting the furnace to insure it does not have the same problem that he overlooks the fact that the electrical system is about to send the home up in flames any day.   The seller is crossing his fingers that the Evaluation and Inspection Deadline will pass before this buyer figures it out. 

If you agree that this section/these warranties should not be removed from the Real Estate Purchase Contract, please contact the Utah Division of Real Estate and tell them your concerns.  I have provided a link to their website for your convenience:   Click here 

In Utah, the state approved Real Estate Purchase Contract, (REPC), currently states:

10.2 Condition of Property. Seller warrants that the Property will be in the following condition ON THE DATE SELLER DELIVERS PHYSICAL POSSESSION TO BUYER:
      (a) the Property shall be broom-clean and free of debris and personal belongings. Any Seller or tenant moving-related damage to the Property shall be repaired at Seller’s expense;
      (b) the heating, cooling, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler systems and fixtures, and the appliances and fireplaces will be in working order and fit for their intended purposes;
      (c) the roof and foundation shall be free of leaks known to Seller;
      (d) any private well or septic tank serving the Property shall have applicable permits, and shall be in working order and fit for its intended purpose; and
      (e) the Property and improvements, including the landscaping, will be in the same general condition as they were on the date of Acceptance.

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 10:28 am




April 1, 2008

Credit Scores

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 I have been very busy this year since the sun came out.  Spring is traditionally a busy time as sellers put their homes up for sale and buyers take advantage of the warmer weather to get out and look.  This year, it is an especially good year for buyers because appreciation rates have stabilized which is a good thing from a year ago when they were rising faster than is healthy.  This is a good time to buy a home because, you might say, homes are “on sale”.  

The lending industry, however, has tightened their standards for home loans and that is making it harder for the average person to buy a home and take advantage of the inventory and lower appreciation rates.   If you plan to purchase a home in the near future, it would be wise to find out now what your credit score is.  Lenders are raising their standards, requiring higher credit scores now more than ever before.  If your credit score is less than 680, you may find that you will be paying points at settlement to get the current rates.  If your score is below 620, you may not be able to get a loan at all.  

Guarding your score is becoming an essential strategy in our economy today.  Other industries are also starting to use credit scores to determine how to categorize your business.  For instance: Insurance companies have figured out that people with good credit scores are better risks and are starting to adjust their premiums accordingly.  This may be good news for financially responsible people but for those that have trouble, it may become a real problem.  

For ideas on how to improve your credit score:  click here

Filed under: Real Estate — Susan @ 3:44 pm