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  • Go to the Light my Buyer, Go to the Light!

    Posted on March 29th, 2011 admin No comments

  • Salt Lake City makes Forbes “Best Place to Retire” List

    Posted on March 28th, 2011 admin No comments

    Salt Lake City is listed among sixteen US cities which offer the best advantages for retirees in 2011 as defined by Forbes. The factors included cost of living, taxes, crime rates and opportunities for active retirement.  Most amusing quote from the article: “Most residents aren’t Mormons”
    Read the full article at

    Good article but terrible photo of the city.  Here’s one of my own.

    Salt Lake City 2009 from library roof

  • New Salt Lake Questar Building Coming Up Fast

    Posted on March 23rd, 2011 admin No comments

    Artist concept by EDA Architects, Inc.

    Scheduled to open in January of 2012 this 170,000 square foot LEED Silver certified building at 333 S. State Street will feature over 6000 square feet of street level commercial space, a public plaza, and underground parking.  The cost is estimated at $45 million and will be the new corporate headquarters for Questar Gas.

  • Night View of One of Several Fruit Trees

    Posted on March 21st, 2011 admin No comments

    This was the listing agent’s actual caption.

    Perhaps he was appealing to vampire buyers?

  • Video update from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors. Housing Recovery in 2011?

    Posted on March 15th, 2011 admin No comments

    A bit dry compared to their last offering, but the information and facts do look encouraging.

  • 4 Corners, 4 Colors, 4 Pointless Real Estate Photos

    Posted on March 12th, 2011 admin No comments

  • Sellers are Willing to Leave the TV

    Posted on March 9th, 2011 admin No comments

    They said it was a big screen, not a flat screen

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#9)

    Posted on March 5th, 2011 admin No comments

    I know my credit score is great and I don’t owe any debts except for my car.  There’s no sense in meeting with a lender until we find the right house.

    What if you find that house on a Friday or holiday weekend?  Even in this market it is still possible to lose your dream home if you are not prepared to deal.  And if the listing is a short-sale or a bank owned property, they won’t even consider your offer unless it includes the pre-approval letter.
    With all these fancy computer thingys and internets the process is simple and fast.  Qualifying with a lender does not obligate you to that particular lender.  If you find a better rate or fee structure later then the decision to jump ship is yours.

  • Mistakes that Salt Lake Home Sellers Make. Number 10

    Posted on March 1st, 2011 admin No comments

    Why should I pay the Buyer’s Closing Cost? No one paid my closing cost when I bought my home.

    “Paying the buyer’s closing cost” is a misleading statement. No one but the buyer can pay their closing cost. A more accurate statement would be: “The seller will allow the buyer to finance their closing cost over the life of the loan by adding them to the agreed upon purchase price.” Awkward but accurate.
    The number that a seller should pay attention to is the net equity. When you receive an offer your agent should provide an estimated breakdown of all the selling expenses and come up with the net amount to you. This is the final amount that the escrow officer will hand you at closing. In small non-sequential used bills if desired.

    Here is an example:
    Your home is listed for $159,900 and a buyer brings you an offer of $161,900 and ask that you pay $4800 in closing cost. This is actually an offer to you of $157,100. That is $161,900 – $4800 = $157,100. At settlement (close of escrow) the escrow company would credit you a sales price of $161,900 and then debit you $4800 and credit the buyer $4800 toward their cost. The buyer’s loan will be for $4800 more than it would have been if they had just paid their closing cost with cash and bought the home for $157,100. But now the buyer has more cash in their pocket (but has a higher monthly payment) and you sold your house.
    One gotcha to this is that the property must appraise for the higher amount. Which by definition is more than fair market value. This higher amount may also effect your capitol gains tax if it was an investment property and normally the real estate commissions are paid on the lower net amount.

  • Mistakes that Salt Lake Home Sellers Make. Number 9

    Posted on February 28th, 2011 admin No comments

    The kitchen remodel isn’t quite finished but we can describe the granite counter tops to the buyer. Maybe they will want to pick out their own colors.

    I’m sure the buyers would like to pick out their own colors, but unless you are a developer selling a new construction home this is not a good idea. Buyers fall in love with what they see not what they hear. Ever notice how a model home is finished and furnished right down to the fake family photos on the nightstand and dinner plates on the table? This is because when you are selling a home you are really selling a lifestyle that the buyer feels like they can move into.
    Always have the home ready to sell from the first showing to the last. Otherwise the buyer (and their agent) will use every shortfall to chip away at your price and profit.

  • Mistakes that Salt Lake Home Sellers Make. Number 8

    Posted on February 27th, 2011 admin No comments

    I know the market analysis came in at $275,000 but let’s start at $300,000. After all, we can always come down in price.

    And you will. Study after study show that when a home starts substantially higher than market value, the ultimate selling price is significantly below the market value. Think of homes for sale as if they were products on a shelf. And each shelf represents a price range. If your home is on the wrong shelf, then the wrong buyers are looking at it. The buyer who is looking for a home in your market value will never see your house and those that do see your home need something on that higher price shelf and are not interested in making the appropriate offer on your home.
    Yes, of course we start a little above the market analysis price for negotiation sake. But that spread is a fine line and is one you want to discuss with your agent. Remember, you are paying for professional advice and experience. Use it.

  • Mistakes That Salt Lake Sellers Make. Number 7

    Posted on February 26th, 2011 admin No comments

    I don’t want one of those keyboxes. I could never feel secure knowing that some stranger could come in at any time.

    The new electronic keyboxes are very secure. It would be easier for a burglar to kick in your door than to break one open.
    Only a licensed agent (or affiliate) who is in good standing has a functional electronic key and unique code to open the keybox. This key has to be updated every day and is cross checked against the board of real estate data base of active agents. As soon as your keybox is opened your agent is notified electronically of who entered and when. Your agent can further restrict access to certain hours or force the other agent to call first for a special access code. If there were a kleptomaniac agent out there, the keybox is the last option for gaining access to a home.

    Under no circumstances should you allow a mechanical keybox to be used on your home. These are only about as secure as a old fashioned combo lock. And think about the process for entry:
    A buyer’s agent has to call your agent for the code to the box. This agent almost certainly writes down the code on the MLS printout which has your address and home description. Then guess who gets the printout when the showing is over? The buyer most likely and who knows after that.

    Consider the alternatives to the electronic keybox:

    • Key under the mat (or flowerpot, or mailbox, or…) I’ll bet no burglar ever thought of looking there.
    • Have your agent be present for every showing. Even under the best of circumstances, your agent will not always be available when the buyer is ready to visit. And it is an old real estate adage that buyers don’t come back. There is always something else for them to look at the next time they go out.
    • Show the home yourself. Absolutely not. I have said this before in Mistake #4, but it is worth repeating: You do not want to talk to the potential buyer or worse yet, their agent because it puts you in the awkward position of being asked questions about the property or your motivation. None of which is going to benefit you in negotiations. There is a version of the Miranda warning for real estate. Anything you say, can and will be held against you in offer negotiation.
  • Great Salt Lake video from Downtown Rising

    Posted on February 23rd, 2011 admin No comments

    This is about 18 months old, but still has some great views.  Several of the buildings shown here in construction are now complete.

  • Your agent may be a prima donna if…

    Posted on January 28th, 2011 admin No comments

    Their outgoing phone message includes the phrase:

    “If you are calling after 6:00 pm or on the weekend, I will return your call on the next business day”

    Just what you want a potential buyer  to hear when they call the number on your yard sign.

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#8)

    Posted on January 27th, 2011 admin No comments

    Why should I consider that house?  The living room was painted pink with green carpet.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Paint and carpet are relatively easy and cheap to fix.  Let your agent use the seller’s lapse in judgment to your benefit in negotiation.
    When considering a home, make your decision based on attributes that you can’t change (location, neighbors, architectural style) or those items that are expensive to change (old furnace, bad roof, floor plan).

  • When Photo Tours Go Too Far

    Posted on January 18th, 2011 admin No comments

    There are some things best left to the buyer’s imagination

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers always ask (#7)

    Posted on January 17th, 2011 admin No comments

    My loan officer said that the seller will pay my closing costs.  Wouldn’t that save us thousands?

    First the facts.  The seller never actually pays a buyer’s closing cost.  The amount is simply deducted from your offer price to create a net price.  This “net” is what the seller looks at when considering your offer.  On the final accounting sheet (the HUD document) this “paid amount” is deducted from the seller’s proceeds and credited to the buyer, offsetting their closing cost.
    In negotiation the seller will often add the requested credit to their bottom line price for an acceptable offer.  This means that the buyer has actually just paid more than the market price for the property in order to spread out their closing cost over the lifetime of the loan.
    This is a good deal for the buyer only if:

    • The buyer doesn’t have a lot of cash for closing, or
    • The buyer would rather keep some cash on hand for remodeling.

    The risk is that the home won’t appraise for this inflated amount.

  • It’s Grrrrrrreat!

    Posted on January 16th, 2011 admin No comments

    I’m sure it seemed like a good design idea at the time, but $20 in paint and 2 hours time would earn this seller $2000.

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#6)

    Posted on January 7th, 2011 admin No comments

    I don’t want to write a back-up offer. Won’t the listing agent call if the first offer falls through.

    Don’t count on the listing agent doing what you (the buyer) want them to do.  They often “forget” to make that call.
    If the home attracted multiple offers the first time, it may very well do so again.  If you have a backup offer in place and the first offer fails, then the sale immediately reverts to you with all the normal due-diligence time periods.
    A properly written backup offer is pretty much risk free.  The earnest money check is not even cashed until the seller notifies you in writing that your are in first position.
    However, if you can really live without this house and can risk a divorce action over the loss then yes, the best negotiation is to play it cool.  But have your agent “tag” the listing on the MLS system so that they are automatically notified when the sale fails.

  • Real Estate Rorschach Test

    Posted on January 6th, 2011 admin No comments

    I see a very long time on the market.

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#5)

    Posted on October 20th, 2010 admin No comments

    Why should I test for radon gas?  I’m a non-smoker and we don’t have any kids who will be sleeping in the basement.

    Because you don’t want to be the homeowner left holding the radon card.  You have to consider that someday when you sell this home, the new buyer will test for radon and use it to negotiate a repair or better price.  Testing now, while you are the buyer is a much better strategy.
    Oh, and the elevated risk of lung cancer.  That’s a good reason too.

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#4)

    Posted on October 16th, 2010 admin No comments

    Why should we make a large earnest money deposit?  Isn’t that an unnecessary risk?

    A very large earnest money deposit is risky, but just as the earnest money binds you to the contract it also binds the seller.
    In most cases if a buyer defaults on the real estate purchase contract then the seller can retain the earnest money deposit as compensation for time and trouble.  But this rule also works in reverse.
    If the seller defaults on the contract (fails to complete the sale) then you, the buyer, are entitled to a refund of your earnest money AND an equal amount from the seller for your time and trouble.

  • Shed of Dread

    Posted on October 15th, 2010 admin 1 comment

    Maybe it’s their club house?

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers Always Ask (#3)

    Posted on October 14th, 2010 admin No comments

    We’ve signed all the paperwork and given the title company our down payment check.  Can we get the keys now?

    Probably not.
    Completing the paperwork and making the down payment (called Settlement) is only one part of closing escrow.  The trip point is called Funding.  That is when your lender sends the loan amount in a wire transfer to the title company and the title company confirms it.  Then they notify all the players that they are recording the sale with the county and dispersing funds (called Recording).  Then you get the keys to your Barbie dream house (called Possession).  This all usually happens one business day after Settlement.
    The real estate purchase contract will spell out exactly when possession occurs.  Your agent’s negotiation of this point to your benefit is a key part of the original offer.  Sometimes there is a rent-back, or you may have negotiated extra move out time for the seller in exchange for a better price.
    A buyer with cash can usually get the keys the same day.  And pretty much anything else they want.

  • Questions that Salt Lake Home Buyers always Ask (#2)

    Posted on October 11th, 2010 admin No comments

    I know that the listing didn’t include any appliances, but let’s go ahead and ask them to throw in the washer and dryer.   They can always say no.

    Sometimes this is a good strategy, especially if you are offering at or near the asking price.  But you want to stay focused on the goal of acquiring the home for the best price.  You don’t want to give the seller more reasons to counter-offer.  Because while they are counter-offering your request for the 10 year old Maytag, they will probably go ahead and counter your offering price as well.
    Write a clean offer that can be accepted on the first draft.
    You can go back after the offer is accepted and offer to buy the appliances separately for a yard sale price.
    Remember that you are buying real estate not used appliances.