Buying A House

Buying A House

Pre-Qualification
The first step in buying a home is deciding how much you can afford. It is only
discouraging to find a house you love, and discover you can’t afford it. It is
relatively painless to get pre-approved. I have a lender that has a great track
record of helping buyers get themselves pre-approved and ready to buy a house. This
can seem like a bit of an annoyance, but it is very important in a competitive
market. It really doesn’t even make sense to start looking, until you are certain
what you can afford, and know what your monthly payment will be.

Find A House
With pre-approval in hand we are now ready to start house shopping. This is the fun
part of the process. Most decisions are price driven, that means that the most
important search criteria is your desired price. In our current market anything
between $190,000 up to $225,000 are not only difficult to find but usually sell with
multiple offers. This means your offer will not be the only one made on the house,
and you will be competing with other buyers.

Sellers Market
In a sellers market (inventory is low) it is hard to get a lower than asking price.
This is especially true with houses priced $200,000 or less. In many cases houses are
selling for more than the asking price with multiple offers. Multiple offers are
similar to an auction. Everyone interested in buying the house is asked to give their
“highest and best offer”. On a house priced at $195 for example it would not be
unusual for offers to exceed $200,000. One deciding factor for sellers is how the
house will be purchased. For example a cash offer will usually trump a financed
offer. It will close quicker and maybe without an appraisal. If there is a cash
offer in the multiple offers, many times this offer will be accepted even if it is
only a little higher than, or even right at the asking price.

Making an Offer
When you have found a house you like, the next step is to write an offer. Many agents
recommend that sellers list for a little more than what they believe the house may
sell for. This can create the allusion that a little discount is being given to the
buyer, since almost everyone likes a deal. Once the offer is written and signed by
the buyers it is immediately sent to the sellers agent. The sellers agent then
presents the offer to their sellers. Typical offers give sellers a 24 hour time to
accept, reject, or counter their offer. On weekends it is usually courteous to give
the sellers until Monday to respond.This is generally how things work and not
mandatory by any means. Some agents will write and submit an offer, and want an
answer back later the same day.

Three Choices
As mentioned above the sellers have three choices with every offer. 1.They can
accept, in which case the deal moves forward. 2. Sellers can reject the offer all
together. This means the offer is not very close to what they are asking or they
didn’t like the something else about the offer. 3. They can also counter the offer.
This is the most typical response to an offer that is not quite what the seller is
looking for. Offers and counter offers can go back and forth until buyer and seller
agree.

Home Inspection
Once an offer is “accepted” by the sellers you are “under contract”. The next step is
is a home inspection. There are many home inspectors available. I can recommend
one or you can find your own. It is a good to idea to find an inspector that is
experienced, and familiar with our market. It is important to look at the inspection
through the inspectors eyes. If he doesn’t disclose items he finds on the inspection
he is not taking care of his client “you the home buyer”. If he creates more urgency
than is necessary, it may cause the home buyer to walk away from a house that is
really OK to buy. Some home inspectors are more concerned with making sure they don’t
get sued than just completing a thorough home inspection. In my opinion the home
inspector should identify anything he finds and make a note if the issue is not of
major concern. One example would be cracked stucco, or concrete. Most contractors
will admit that there are only two types of concrete, cracked concrete, and concrete
that is going to crack. If there is a major gap in concrete or elevation on one side
over the other, there may be larger issues to investigate. It would seem logical for
the inspector to take a picture of cracked stucco and note that there is some
cracking in the stucco that is typical for a stucco house. If there is an issue he
should make sure the buyer understand the issues associated with large cracks.

Negotiate Repairs
Once the inspector has submitted the inspection to you the home buyer, you can share
it with your agent. Together you can look through it for any major concerns. In a
sellers market it is unlikely that a seller will pay for many repairs. When there are
other people waiting to buy the house it may not be a good idea to ask the seller to
pay to have the carpets cleaned, replace light bulbs, or other inexpensive items. On
the other hand if the inspection reveals mold, or soils issues, it is important to do
a little more investigation and cost evaluations. If there is a small amount of mold
around a window due to condensation, requests for a huge reduction will probably be
rejected. If there is a leaky faucet that has leaked under a cabinet, the mold my be
extensive, and a price reduction or request for remediation may be granted. In an
ideal world, if something like mold is discovered, and the deal doesn’t go through,
the sellers should include the mold discovery and remediation in the SPCD’s for the
next buyer to see.

Appraisal
Once the negotiation for repairs is complete the next step is the appraisal. Most
offers are written “subject to appraisal”. This means that if the house doesn’t
appraise for the agreed upon price the buyer can walk away with their earnest money
if they want. The buyer is paying for the appraisal, and it belongs to the buyer. It
can be shared with an agent or even the seller if it is desired. If a buyer would
like to move forward paying more than the house appraises for it may be possible, but
the details will need to be worked out with the lender.

It is more typical for the seller to reduce the price to meet the appraisal, since
this is the “true value” for the house. In a sellers market, this may not be the case
however.The seller may decide to admit that he or she is charging more than it will
appraise for and hope for a cash buyer or a conventional loan that isn’t totally
reliant on the appraisal. VA loans can allow a buyer to pay more than an appraised
value if buyer has enough down to cover the difference.

Title Company
The appraisal is the last major hurdle in most transactions. Once this is complete
there is a better than average chance that the sale will be finalized. With the
appraisal complete, the remaining work is the hands of the title company and the
lender. The title company is a 3rd party entity that assures that everything is
handled according to the REPC the (Real Estate Purchase Contract). The agents
negotiate the deal and the Title company makes sure that everything in the agreement
is fulfilled. They assure that funds are transferred from the buyer to the seller.

Utilities
This is usually a good time to start lining up your utilities. I can send you a list
of companies in our area. You can let them know when you plan on taking possession
so there will be a smooth transition and not re-connect fees. There are some
companies that will assist with this process if you would like. One is called All
connect www.allconnect.com 844 263 2443 the
other one is called Set Up My Move
www.setmymove.com 435 668 3503

Settlement, Closing, and Recording
Once the lender has everything they need, they give what is called “clear to
close”. This is accompanied with a CD or Closing Disclosure. This document explains
in detail where every penny in the transaction will go and who is paying what. This
is issued 3 days in advance of signing so the parties can be assured that everything
is what they understood it to be. Settlement is sometimes confused with Closing.
Settlement is when title obtains signatures from both buyer and seller. Closing is
the same as recording. This happens when the funds are in the sellers account and the
house is transferred into the buyers possession and the dead of trust recorded at the
county.This is the last step in a real estate transaction. Once this happens keys are
given to the buyers and the home is now officially the theirs

The typical time for settlement and recording can vary, but usually the day after
settlement, the funds are transferred, the transaction is recorded and the house
changes hands. There are some nuances to this. If documents need to be sent
out of state, they are usually overnighted delaying recording and possession by a day
or two. If this happens on a weekend or Holiday the delay can be longer than that.

It is a good idea to plan any installations cable, carpet, painters, etc. for a few
days after scheduled settlement date, as there is no guaranty that possession will
be given the day after settlement.

After The Sale
It is a good idea to re-key or install new knobs and lock sets on your house. There’s
really no way to assure that you have every key. Once you have closed on the sale
of your new house it is a good idea to get your drivers license switched to reflect
your new address. This is important to have done prior to going to the county tax
assessor. You will want to do this after your license is updated. The reason for this
is to make sure they show you as a primary home owner. This can reduce your tax
liability by 45%.

St George Health Care

St George Health Care is among the finest in the country. In a Consumer Reports article St George area Dixie Regional Medical Center is ranked #7 in the country. This recognition is well deserved. Every time I have had anything to do with Dixie Regional Medical Center they have done a great job. Recently both of my parents passed away, one in Dixie Regional, and one in follow up rehab following a visit there. They were treated with professionalism and sincere concern. Nat’l Hospital Ratings The attached link also shows there are a few other hospitals in Utah ranked nationally.

We are lucky to not only live in such a beautiful place, but to have so many great resources available to us. We live in an area that people travel from across the world to see. Our National Parks are truly breath taking and known throughout the world.

The Real Estate market in Southern Utah continues to be active right now. Our inventory is still a little low, creating a sellers market. Several of the homes I have listed recently have sold in less than 2 weeks. If you have thought of selling your home, give me a call. I will help you decide if it is a good idea to make a move now or wait.

Interest rates are still at their lowest point in years. If you think you might want to move, but are waiting for some reason, you might want to think more seriously about moving. Lower interest rates mean lower payments which means you can get more house for the same payment as a more expensive house when rates go back up. Call now for a free home evaluation.

 

Parade of Homes

One of my favorite times of the year in St George is February and the parade of homes. I am not a big fan of winter, cold, or dreary days. I have always considered February the beginning of Spring in Southern Utah. I believe that is what makes the St George Real Estate Market attractive to so many people. I know it is not the official start of Spring, but in my mind, it is close enough. When the inversion is bad in northern Utah, it seems like we have a larger pool of interested buyers this time of year.

It is exciting to watch the contractors hurrying to put the final touches on their new creations. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the parade. Ticket prices are $15.00 and tickets can be purchased online, or at Lin’s Grocery, and the Red Cliffs mall. The price might seem a little steep, but if you consider how many hours of entertainment you get, prices are not that bad.

When I work with buyers from out of town, many have never heard of the Parade of Homes. Once I explain the concept to them they really like the idea. I know that the parade is not unique to the St George Real Estate market, as there is also a Parade of Homes for the Wasatch Front. I am not sure if other states have similar events or not? If you have never participated in the parade give me a call and I will guide you through the process.

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.

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.

Spooky Town Fair And Taste Of Dixie

Spooky Town Fair And Taste of Dixie

Spooky Town Fair And Taste Of Dixie

Last weekend, Friday and Saturday in the town square there was a very fun event. The Spooky Town Fair and Taste of Dixie was held. Booths were set up with local businesses advertising their goods and services. Halloween was the theme of the event and participation was good. The event was actually two events combined into one.

Previously the Spooky Town, Halloween party and Taste of Dixie were held separately.

Taste of Dixie is a fund raising event for the Washington County School District. Last year ERA Realty manned a booth cooking hamburgers in an effort to raise funds for our local school district. Since Taste of Dixie (a food event) was our partner, this year we left the cooking to them. We are lucky here in St George to have so many wonderful places to eat. The Taste of Dixie is a great way to sample some of the great places available to our area. The weather turned out to be wonderful, and a great time was had by all that attended. ERA Brokers had a booth there highlighting Real Estate in the St George area.

St George Is Senior Friendly

St George is Senior Friendly. One of the best examples of this is the Huntsman Sr Games. The Huntsman Senior games will finish this week. The closing ceremony will be held Saturday night at the Hansen Stadium at Dixie State University. The closing ceremonies are a spectacular show providing an opportunity for those who have competed and won medals to gather together and say goodbye until next year. The senior games definitely have a positive effect on the Real Estate in the St George area. The positive impact is also felt by most businesses in the area.

The senior games are only a small part of what St George has to offer Seniors 50 years old and up. There are dozens of choices of places to live for those that would like to locate them selves in a Sr Community. Of course people over 55 can live anywhere, but some enjoy a little more peaceful “child free” setting. Personally, I actually enjoy the sounds of happy little voices of children playing in the neighborhood.

St George Has A Lot to Offer

Other benefits for Sr.’s is the first class medical care St George has to offer. The small town atmosphere also contributes to seniors having a desire to live here. With St George still a relatively sparsely populated area, traffic is not that bad, especially compared to the larger cities many of our seniors come from. The milder winters are also attractive to those getting up in years. The lack of pollution, and warmer winters make life much more enjoyable for those suffering from cold weather related problems. Real Estate in St George is also a great investment for Seniors to make. Some Senior has found investing in rental properties in the St George Real Estate market a great investment. So in addition to all of the other benefits of living in St George, Real Estate in the St George area can be added to the list.

In a nut shell, I love St George, especially in the fall! The temperatures begin cooling off making it much nicer to spend time out doors. The brisk mornings, warm afternoons, and cool nights mean that winter is on its way. Unlike places where winter is dark, cold, and gloomy St George offers sunshine nearly every day. Any snow that comes is usually gone within a few hours, and the afternoons usually warm up to be quite pleasant. Another advantage of the St George winters is the fact that spring usually comes in late February.

St George Marathon

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St George Marathon

Every year in October the St George Marathon takes place in our little town. It is a nationally recognized event with runners coming from all across the country. The St George Marathon starts up Highway 18 in Central. If you are new to the area, Highway 18 is at the top (North end) of Bluff Street. Like all marathons the St George Marathon is 26.2 miles in length. The marathon ends up in the middle of St George at the Vernon Worthen Park. Many people train for the marathon all year, others establish a training schedule and ready themselves in a few months. Other runners travel from marathon to marathon requiring them to stay in shape all of the time. The marathon provides an opportunity for community minded people to offer service. There is no shortage of opportunities to help out with the marathon. This event has contributed greatly to the real estate market in St George. People come to St George and never want to leave.

 St George Real Estate

Like the Senior Games, the participants of the marathon bring much needed revenue to our local economy. The small inconvenience of increased traffic, and longer waits at restaurants are worth sharing our beautiful city for.  Many visitors are in awe of the scenic panoramas we enjoy everyday. Another perk of these two events is the fact that some people develop an interest in our local real estate market. With our low crime rate and small town atmosphere many people return after the marathon, and senior games just to visit. This may seem insignificant to some but our real estate is doing very well, due in part to buyers come in from out of state. These added buyers help sustain our market when times are a little slower. Real Estate in the St George are is currently doing very well making an investment in St George Real Estate a great idea!

Huntsman Senior Games

Sr Games

90 plus olympian

 

Huntsman Senior Games

The Hunstman Senior Games has to be one of the best events that is held in St George every year. I had the opportunity of helping with the Huntsman Senior Games yesterday. If you need a little  inspiration, or would like to just enjoy the event, login and find out where to go to check out everything that is happening.  I was motivated by this gentlemen who is a regular at the games every year. According to those who regularly attend the event, he enters several track and field events every year. There were other stories of those in age divisions of 80-85 years old. Many just come to enjoy the social aspect of the event. Some come to compete with others across the country, and from other countries.

National Senior Games

I also learned that those competing in the local Huntsman Senior Games can set records that are recorded on a national level. I was lucky enough to assist in measuring a world record. One lady olympian set the national record for throwing the Javelin farther than any other woman in her age class had previously been able to do. The procedure necessary to qualify for the national record to be acknowleged was quite impressive. Three officials had to verify the throw, and it had to be measured with a metal tape measure. The entire process seemed to assure that records are not taken lightly, or given without them being earned. Forms needed to be filled out and signed by all three officials, and the Javelin had to be re-weighed and measured to assure that it was legitimate.

Some seniors travel to the games in various towns across the country, mainly for the social, and scenic aspects. Others travel to compete and set records. After being involved in the event I would highly recommend that anyone interested take a closer look, and better yet, get involved!

The Impact the Senior Games has on the Real Estate market in St George is hard to measure, but I would guess that the St George Real estate market would not be as strong as it is today without the added benefit of the Senior Games.

St George Utah Rush Hour Traffic

I took this video one evening on the way home from downtown St George Utah. I live in Washington Fields and it takes about 15 minutes to get from the ERA office on 200 E St George Blvd to my house. The traffic at “rush hour” usually doesn’t slow me down that much. The traffic and smaller population are a couple of the reasons that I really love living in St George. I knew that many people would not believe me when I said the traffic was not very bad here, so I took this video. The traffic did seem to be a little lighter than usual, even though it was not a holiday when I took this video. The upload time is different than the actual time the video was recorded. This only one of the reasons that the Real Estate in St George is such a great value. People love the lack of congestion making St George Real Estate even more desirable.

St George Utah Road Conditions

Like many cities St George is not without it’s share of pot holes, and ongoing road construction projects. The new interchange project is a major undertaking currently in works. For more info on this, follow this link, Utah Road Construction Projects.   This project is very large, and the inconvenience is minimized, by the majority of the work being done through the night. Other than some lane restrictions during the day, it has really not been a major problem for most people. It is exciting to live in a place that is growing and vibrant like St George and the surrounding areas. We are fortunate to be able to live in such an amazing place. The desirability of Real Estate in St George, is creating a fairly strong market.

Washington Utah Roads

Washington Utah is not far behind St George when it comes to taking care of their roads. For more information about the master plan for Washington follow this link. Washington Utah Public Works Street   We urge people to be aware of projects, and slow down in areas where there are construction workers on site. The quality of the roads definitely contributes to the values in the St George Real Estate Market.