Home Inspection

Home Inspection

Home Inspections are a great way to discover potential problems with the purchase of a home. From the Buyers standpoint it can help them feel they are not buying a money pit with a bunch potential problems. Some Sellers order a home inspection prior to listing their home. This pre-listing home inspection will give the sellers a punch list of items that should be addressed. It is also a sign of good faith to the buyer that the seller is interested in selling a home functioning properly and in good repair.  This short video of a home inspection. This will give you an idea of what inspectors look for.

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Picky Home Inspectors

If you are buying a home the list of things identified by a home inspection can seem a little overwhelming. It is important to consider the fact that the inspectors job is to find “everything” that is wrong with the house.  To avoid liability the inspector needs to be thorough. There are usually two types of items identified. Items that really need to be fixed, and less important items that are not very expensive or difficult to fix. A good example of an item that will need to be fixed, would be a non functioning air conditioner. This has the potential to be very costly. An example of a less important item to fix would be caulking around a sink.

Things Wear Out

It is important to take into consideration the age of the home and typical wear and tear. When homes are listed for sale, the agent will use comparable homes of similar size and age. When a 20 year old home is being sold it is usually understood that many of the items in the home will be original to the house. It is typical for a home this age to have the original heating and a/c unit. These will be nearing the end of their expected life expectancy. This can create some anxiety for a home buyer when the home inspection indicates they are nearing the end of their expected usefulness. In reality, the other homes used for comparables usually have similar aged equipment. Basically the age of the a/c heating units are already figured into the price of the home. Another factor to consider is the fact that building codes are continually changing. What used to be OK may no longer be OK. One example of this would be Earthquake straps on water heaters. It is a good idea to have them, but they have not always been required.

Buyer VS Seller

When a Seller lists their home they usually struggle with the price they should list their home for. It is always difficult for a home seller to welcome a price reduction, or a request to fix items on their home. Not only is in somewhat of an insult to see a list of things wrong with their home, but the buyers request will cost them money. The Buyer is interested in getting the best home they can, for the least expensive price possible. With both sides basically opposed to what the other side wants it can sometimes be difficult for both parties to come to terms. I usually recommend that a price reduction is used rather than the seller fixing the items needing repair. This assures that the buyer can oversee the repairs to make sure they are up to their standards.

Warranty

I have found that the home warranty can bridge the gap between buyers and sellers and help both sides to get together. If the air conditioner is older and described as nearing its life expectancy, a home warranty can offer some comfort to the buyer. The last thing a home seller wants is to receive a call from the person that bought them home charging them with knowledge that they knew that water heater was ready to go out. If a water heater goes out the day after the home changes hands the buyers would definitely be suspicious. If there is a home warranty in place, the water heater will be covered. In this respect the home seller benefits from a warranty being in place also.

Price is Right in St George Real Estate Market

photo 2 How do you know the Price is Right in St George Real Estate Market? Pricing a home for sale is really not as easy as it may seem, especially in the St George real estate market. It may surprise some people to learn that pricing a home is not an exact science. There is also something to be said about a buyer buying on emotion and chemistry when they find a home they like. In my opinion people select homes on how they feel when they are in the neighborhood, and ultimately in the house they choose. A lot of time buyers in the St George real estate market will say, “this house just feels right”. I have heard this described as the Goldilocks syndrome. Some houses are too big, some are too small, and some are just right.

Emotions and St George Real Estate

Buying a house is an emotional event. The difference between an investor and a person looking to buy a home is the emotional component. When an investor is researching a new rental, typically if the numbers work, they will buy the house. When a home owner in the St George real estate market is looking for a home to live in, emotions are definitely a factor. This goes back to the house must be in the right location, and feel right. Smart home buyers can remove themselves from the emotional side, and select 2 or 3 homes to choose from. If all 3 are acceptable, they will more than likely get a better price on the home they choose than selecting only one and working to get it . This is because they would be happy in any of their choices. By using this strategy they can almost pit sellers against each other to see who will give them the best deal. When a person gets emotionally attached to one house, they will more than likely do what, and pay whatever it takes to secure the house.

The Price is Right

Back to my opening concept. If pricing a home were an exact science there would never be any disputes about what a persons house should sell for, or what a person should pay for a house. Unfortunately it is not an exact science, it is more of an art. Of course there are a lot of factors that become part of the comparative price analysis that helps establish a selling price. These factors are not new, they include, location, condition, age, and amenities. By amenities I don’t mean what is offered in the HOA, but things like granite counter tops, stainless appliance, and hard wood floors to mention a few. These are the variables. It would be easy if there were a standard pricing calculation that included price per square foot and age of the home, but there are quite a few more pieces of the puzzle. As I mentioned earlier, condition is a huge factor. Again there is not an exact figure that can be attached to condition. Condition of homes in the St George real estate area, and every market are subject to interpretation. What is nice to some people, may be unacceptable to another person. And therein lies the problem. One agent may think that a property is nice, and another agent may think it is terrible. That is when we have to use discretion. It is also interesting to note that if a person were to ask three different agents what a home would sell for, they would probably get three different answers. They would probably be close, but more than likely different. People may not realize that ERA offers a program where we will buy their home if we can not sell it?

Listings Are Up

Listings are up!

Listings are up in the St George area!

Recently we have seen a major up turn in the number of listings on our local MLS in the St George Real Estate market. In December the listings were below 240 in January they neared 700. One factor is the Parade of Homes. Many people trying to sell their homes are hoping to catch a little of the momentum from the influx of buyers that come to the parade. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 people migrate to St George each year to see the parade. Many of those who come are also trying to get out of the cold and smog of northern Utah. It is a great time to sell a home, but with the increase in listings it is also an even better time to buy a home in the St George Real Estate Market.

 

More Competition For Sellers

As with any type of commodity, more competition is a good thing. When there are a limited number of homes on the market, sellers can be a little more demanding. With an increase in listings in the St George Real Estate Market buyers now have a slight advantage. I would not say that it is a buyers market at this point, but the jump in new listings doesn’t hurt those trying to make a good deal on a home purchase. This increase also changes the way sellers may price their home. When things are more competitive sellers and their agents will have a tendency to price homes a little more conservatively. The easiest analogy to explain this is the a grocery store. When one store decides to reduce the cost of milk other stores are forced to follow or they will lose business. It is true that a home is not a business, but the principle is the same.

St George Real Estate Listings

Listing in the St George Real Estate market have close to doubled, which is not a bad thing. Our inventory was very low for the last few months, and most of last year. The increase is a welcome change to people interested in moving to the St George area. Not only is the selection of homes better, but the ability to negotiate is also better. Building permits are still on the increase and the future still looks good for real estate in the St George Real Estate Market. There is another factor that may be coming into play in our local St George Real Estate market. The number of real estate agents in the St George area have increased from around 600 up to about 900. This increase is also more than likely having an effect on the number of listings in the St George Real Estate market.

In My Opinion

I personally believe the most people who come to the area to look at the homes on Parade, are coming to do just that. Most people do not block out a week to see the parade of homes. Most people that come to look at the St George Real Estate area Parade of Homes will more than likely only spend a weekend or a few days. With 28 homes to see, there really isn’t much time left over to look at existing homes.

Household Water Pressure

Water Pressure

St George Real Estate Market Water Pressure

 

Household Water Pressure

Have you ever thought about your household water pressure or why water comes out of the faucet when you turn it on? Its like magic, yet there are no mechanical parts, no motors to push the water through the pipes in our homes, it just comes out when you turn it on. The principle has been around for ages. In our St George real estate market water is stored in large tanks that are strategically located through out the area. They are typically located at the highest elevation available. Water pressure is created by water running downhill following the path of least resistance with the help of gravity. The pipes that leave the large water storage tanks are quite large, and are gradually reduced in size until they reach your home. The largest water pipes in most homes are 1”, 3/4”, and 1/2”. Household showers, toilets and sinks usually use 1/2” pipes. Water pressure in a house should be around 55 to 75 lbs. This pictures shows water pressure above the recommended amount.

Water Pressure Too High?

home owners tips St George Real Estate market

Every home in our St George Real Estate market area should have a water pressure valve, like this one pictured below. This valve is designed to keep the water pressure from getting too high. If the water pressure gets too high it could actually begin to to damage pipes, or fixtures. The appropriate setting for most homes water pressure should be 55 to 70 lbs of pressure.

There are homes in some areas that may have higher water pressure. This could be due to the slope of the neighborhood or even the individual home.  Homes located in the St George real estate market area and in St George city and Washington county have water pressure reduction valves, but it is impossible to give everyone perfect water pressure. Too high of pressure can create problems for water heaters. When the pressure coming through the house gets too high it will begin to push water through the emergency valve located on the water heater. The emergency valve will begin to drip and water will eventually stream out. Some water heaters have a metal or plastic pan under them that will catch the water and send it down a drain. In some cases there is not a pan or a drain and water can begin to move into places it shouldn’t go. I was recently informed that the county is requesting that water overflow tanks be installed with the installation of every new water heater.This tank is usually installed above or to the side of the water heater, it allows the excess pressure a place to go, rather than out the emergency valve.

The bolt at the top of this valve is designed to reduce the amount of water pressure going through the house. It if will no longer adjust the pressure it is time to replace this valve. The total installation process for the new valve is a fairly simple process, and should only take about 30 minutes to accomplish. Once replaced adjust the bolt to the desired setting of 55-75 lbs of pressure. This will not only save water, but eliminate additional wear and tear on the plumbing in your house. Paying attention to this detail could also save you the expense of a new water heater or other soggy problems. Water damage is one of the leading causes of damage in our St George Real Estate area.

Short Sale Changes

Short Sale Changes

“Effective December 31, 2013 – Short Sales no longer have an automatic waiver of the deficiency.  It is even more important now for agents to recommend sellers get advice from their accountant or legal counsel.”

This statement was sent to all agents  in our Local St George Real Estate MLS recently. Basically what it means is, up until now if a person entered into and sold his or her home short (for less than they owed) there was no tax penalty. This was because the Federal Government had passed a bill allowing people that sold their homes in a short sale to be forgiven of the tax liabilities associated with it. This is significant not only in our St George real estate market, but across the nation.

Hire A Professional

You my be wondering, “what tax liability? I am struggling right now and had to give my house away and mess up my credit”. Exactly now according to the above statement, if a person sells their house for less than they owe, they will be taxed on the amount they benefit from. If you owe $300,000 on your house and were only able to sell it for $250,000, you would be sent a 1099 tax form to notify you that you will be taxed for $50,000 as if it were income. There are some exceptions to the rule, one of which is proving that you have had some type of hardship that contributed to the short sale. At any rate this is something that requires the help of a trained CPA.

Short Sale Specialist

I work closely with a short sale specialist in the St George Real Estate market. Her expertise is unsurpassed when it comes to helping with a short sale. It is like anything, when someone specializes is something they become better at it than people who dabble in it. She has knowledge of how the various lenders operate, and the nuances of each of them. Armed with this additional knowledge she can expedite the process as much as possible. There is really no way to hurry the bank as they work through their tedious, slow and drawn out process. The St George Real Estate market short sale specialist assures that the bank is never waiting for the person listing their home.

Short Sale May Not Be a Good Idea

In our St George Real Estate market it may be a good idea to wait for the market as it continues to climb. Many people have been fortunate enough to see their home values climb to where they can sell and put a little money in their pockets. In spite of the slow economy, real estate values continue to climb. There is a difference in the climb we are currently experiencing and the bubble that burst a few years ago. The increase in the St George Real Estate market values this time is more gradual and consistent. Professionals in the real estate industry believe that this increase will be sustained and more consistent. All of that being said it might be a good idea to hang on a little longer, if at all possible, rather than short sale. This is even more important given the new tax penalty. Of course it is impossible to guarantee consistent growth.

Agents And Agency

Many people do not understand all of the hoopla that agents make about Agents and Agency. Agency is a legal term that basically means you have hired someone to work with and for you. Associated with the term agent are terms like Fiduciary Responsibility. This big term means that your real estate agent has certain duties that he or she must perform to help you as you buy or sell your home.

In the St George Real Estate market and throughout the state Agents representing the seller have the following responsibilities. The description below comes from a form created by the Utah Association of Realtors. It explains that the Listing Agent has a responsibility to help you the St George Real Estate market home seller, and the agent also is expected to be honest and fair with potential buyers.

SELLER’S AGENTS AND AGENCY

A real estate agent who lists a seller’s property for sale (“Seller’s Agent”), acts as the agent for the seller only, and has fiduciary duties of loyalty, full disclosure, confidentiality and reasonable care to that seller. In practical terms, the seller hires a Seller’s Agent to locate a buyer and negotiate a transaction with terms favorable to the seller. Although the Seller’s Agent has these fiduciary duties to the seller, the Seller’s Agent is, by law, responsible to all prospective buyers to treat them with honesty, fair dealing, and with good faith.

When you are looking for a home in the St George Real Estate Market the agent you choose to work with is bound by similar terms. Here is the description from the same Utah State approved form.

BUYER’S AGENT

A real estate agent that acts as agent for the buyer only (“Buyer’s Agent”) has the same fiduciary duties to that buyer that a Seller’s Agent has to the seller. In practical terms, the buyer hires a Buyer’s Agent to locate a suitable property and negotiate a transaction with terms favorable to the buyer. Although the Buyer’s Agent has these fiduciary duties to the buyer, the Buyer’s Agent is, by law, responsible to all prospective sellers to treat them with honesty, fair dealing, and with good faith.

As you can see St George Real Estate agents and agents everywhere are expected to assist home buyers and sellers, in an honest and forthright way. If you are looking for a home, it is a good idea to make sure the home you are interested in is still available. You can easily do this by visiting our local MLS. This link provides up to date information about the homes in the St George Real Estate market. Many people like to use Zillow and Trulia, which is fine. After you have identified a home on one of these sites check here to make sure it is still available.

2014 Parade of Homes

Plan now to attend the 2014 Parade of Homes.

Every year in February Washington County comes alive with nearly 30,000 visitors. The Washington County Parade of homes has become a tradition for many people from northern Utah, and other surrounding areas. Builders are currently busily engaged putting the final touches on their homes. If you have never attended the Washington County Parade of Home you should make plans to attend this year. The Parade runs for 10 days, the 14th through the 23rd this year, providing plenty of time to see the 28 homes being featured. The fabulous selection of homes is never a disappointment for those who take the time to visit them.

For many people in Northern Utah, the Washington County Parade of Homes is an excuse to leave the inversion, travel to St George, and dream about moving to sunny southern Utah. For some the dream becomes a reality when they purchase one of these trophy homes. For years after the parade of homes, some listings may include the phrase “former parade home”. These homes can bring a little more than a non parade home because people expect more from a parade home. This can make buying a parade home a good investment.

Parade of Home Vendors

Another side benefit from the Washington Parade of Homes are the vendors selling the latest and greatest in home improvements. This forum provides a way for vendors to display and explain new products that can be used in any home. Some home designers attend the parade to get new ideas for home decorating. The parade in one sense sets the trend for home decor for the upcoming year. Ideas for home staging can also be gleaned from the parade. People considering selling their homes can imitate concepts and decorating ideas from looking at the professionally staged homes. New paint colors and combinations can give an older home a new feel.

Washington County Parade of Homes Tickets can be purchase online by visiting this site, or purchased at local sponsors located on the Parade of Homes website. Tickets are $15.00 and they are good for the entire 10 days. There are several re-look opportunities providing parade goers to look at their favorite houses again.

Parade Time is a Good Time to Sell

One side benefit of the Washington County Parade of Homes are the “non parade” listed homes that sell during the parade. As we have mentioned previously, people in Northern Utah love to visit the St George area. It is not unusual for parade goers to buy a non parade home while they are in the area for the parade of homes. This provides an opportunity for people considering selling their home to get them listed prior to the parade. Not everyone can afford a parade home, but they “can” afford to buy a home. This opens the door for non parade homes to sell. If you are considering selling your home, this can be a great time to test the market.

2 or 3 Bedrooms

A great way to add extra value to a home in St George real estate market is to convert it from a 2 bedroom into a 3 bedroom. This is easy and possible if the house has an extra space like a living room that can be walled off. In order for a room to be considered a bedroom, it has to have a closet and and two forms of egress. That is a fancy way to say two ways to get out of the room. This usually comes in the form of  a window and a door. Some homes have two doors, which may also be considered separate forms of egress. Given the shortage of 4 bedroom homes under $200,000 in the St George Real Estate market, it is a good idea and a good investment to find a 4 bedroom house.

Murphy Bed

One home owner converted a formal living room space by installing a beautiful Murphy Bed with extra storage. The wall bed unit was concealed behind book shelves. The shelves fold back and make way for the bed to drop down. This way the room can be used as a bedroom, but still used as an office or living room. It makes a pretty handy place for guests to stay when they come to visit. The increase in value from a 2 bedroom house to a 3 bedroom house will differ from area to area. One thing is certain a 3 bedroom home will sell much easier than a 2 bedroom. This is especially true for areas that have a lot of young families looking for homes. The Real Estate market in St George are is continually evolving, a Murphy bed is a great way to capitalize on the evolution, and get the most return for your investment.

4 Bedroom Home in Washington Fields

Another way to increase the value of a home in St George Real Estate market, or any other area for that matter is to increase the number of bedrooms. As mentioned previously the conversion from a 2 to a 3 bedroom home increases the value and saleability of the home. This principle is also true for a 3 to 4 bedroom conversion. This can sometimes be easier for a 3 to 4 bedroom as in most cases the 3 bedroom home is larger to begin with. As many people quickly find, it can be difficult to find a 4 bedroom home in the Washington area. This fact makes the 4 bedroom conversion even more logical when trying to sell a home in a market where they are difficult to find. Many things change in the real estate market in St George area from year to year, but a 4 bedroom house is always desirable.

Washington Fields Home Layout

Some of the homes in the Washington Fields area which is part of the Real Estate market in St George have a somewhat less than ideal layout. These homes have very large master bedrooms. The problem is, many of these homes have very small kitchen areas. It would make more sense to decrease the wasted space in the master and expand the kitchen by a 3 or 4 feet. This can be a great answer if the windows aren’t situated in the wrong place. It is relatively easy to move an interior wall, as long as it is not a load bearing wall. The job becomes difficult and expensive when a window has to be moved. If the window is moved, there will be external repairs, stucco, electric, etc. that will need to considered. When considering purchasing a home in the Real Estate market in St George you should consider the layout of the home from a re-sale standpoint.

For Sale By Owner St George Utah

For Sale By Owner St George Utah

 

For Sale By Owner St George Utah

How To Sell Your Own Home In St George

Whether you are selling you home by yourself, (for sale by owner) or listing it in the Real Estate market in the St George area, there are some important things to do. One of the main problems people have when trying to sell their home is removing the clutter. Clutter might seem like a rude way to describe people’s belongings, but in reality all of the extra items are a distraction. Most agents will agree that “less is always more” when it comes to showing a home. A room that has wall to wall furniture looks more like a furniture store, than a home for sale. The house that is totally packed with furnishings appears smaller than it may already be. Most buyers are turned off by homes like this. A storage unit can be a great place to put items until the home is sold. Selling a home in the St George Real Estate market is very competitive. It is a good idea to seek the help of a professional. I will be happy to help you sell you home and give you tips about the St George Real Estate market, give me a call.

Paint Paint Paint

As mentioned before the Real Estate in St George is competitive, but with a gallon of paint running about $20, it is hard to understand why more people interested in selling their home don’t paint their homes. It is my opinion that this is one of the single best returns a home seller will realize. It may not be necessary to paint every room, but there are usually several rooms in every house that could use a little sprucing up. One area often overlooked by the home seller is the front door. The first place a home buyer sees when they are looking at a house is the front door. While the agent is opening the door the seller many times will spend more time by the front door than any other area of the house. Why not take a little time and a little money and make it look like new? With the St George Real Estate market being as competitive as it is, take a little time and spruce your home up a bit.

Carpet Carpet Carpet

Another way to improve a house is by installing new carpet. The new carpet may be the leg up that helps you compete in the tough St George Real Estate market. Some home sellers avoid this issue by the notion that the new home buyer would rather select their carpet and paint colors. This may be true in some cases, but it is my opinion that many home buyers would rather walk into a freshly painted home with new carpet. If a home buyer has to carpet and paint prior to moving in, it will delay their move in date. This is because they can not begin any renovations until they close on their loan.

A typical loan will close in approximately 30 days. The new home owner in our St George Real Estate market then has to wait until the carpet layer, and painter can schedule them in. This can delay a move in date by as much as two weeks. On the flip side of the coin, if the house already has fresh carpet and paint they are ready to move in right after closing.

The argument mentioned earlier about the St George Real Estate home buyer being able to select their colors can be minimized by using neutral colors. This way the home is not offensive to a new buyer’s taste. Many people that do not like neutral colors will simply add a wall with a lot of color, to satisfy their taste until it is time to re-paint the room.

Don’t under estimate the power of smell. Recently I accompanied several other agents on a tour of a home.  There first thing to him me was the distinct smell of cat urine. The home had new carpet and the paint was in very good shape. Several of the agents that were looking at the home mentioned the smell, and didn’t notice much else about the house. Hopefully these tips will help you as you enter the St George Real Estate market.