8 Things I Wish I knew BEFORE Buying My First Home

16 years ago my wife and I purchased our first home. We didn’t know what to expect but we didn’t want to waste money on rent and needed a yard for our dog. So we hired a realtor and started looking at houses. We eventually found a cute little home with 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom in a neighborhood just up the street from where we were living. We loved that home, but there were a lot of things we didn’t know going into home ownership that would have been very helpful.

 

Flash forward to today, we have purchased 21 homes and own and operate a successful real estate brokerage. All that being said, here is what I wish I knew when we purchased our first home;

 

  1. Location is everything.

    Of all the homes we have owned and sold, we always did better on the homes in better areas. I define “Better areas” by 2 things. The first being, areas that people want to live in are by Universities, or other places people generally visit, such as downtown and resort areas. The second is areas where you don’t see cars on blocks parked on lawns. I know the second is different, but I have found that areas where people park on their lawn they don’t care about the yard work, or upkeep on their home in general. This indirectly brings down the value for the neighborhood.
  2. The mortgage payment is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to costs of home ownership.

    After all of our home purchases, I can safely say that you should keep at least 1% of the value of the home in reserve for repairs / upgrades. If your water heater goes bad, you can bet your furnace will go out at the same time. It is always safer to keep a small reserve to pay for repairs.
  3. The mortgage interest deduction is only exciting 1 time a year.

    Sure, you get to write off the interest you pay on your mortgage and that is great. However, it only makes a difference in April when taxes are due. Many real estate agents and lenders talk about this bonus when buying a home, but owning a home  has more important benefits than a tax deduction.
  4. You can pick your home, but neighbors are a different story

    My current neighbor, across the street, calls the city for every possible violation she can come up pretty consistently. It is annoying and there isn’t anything I can do about it. It could be worse. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to know what the neighbors are like until you move into your new home. Looking online at crimereports.com will help give you an overall idea of the neighborhood.
  5. There is no such thing as a PERFECT home

    Homes come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions. Some people prefer brand new homes, others like myself prefer homes built between 1900 and 1925. It really comes down to expectations. Many of our client’s want to live in a neighborhood called Sugar House, and they want an open concept kitchen (a kitchen and a great room combined). The problem being, a majority of homes in this area are 1940-1950’s ranch/bungalows. They weren’t built like the modern homes of today. So in order to find what they are looking for, they need to find a home that has had a serious renovation or choose a different area. When buying a house, it comes down to compromises. You can buy a home with all the features you want, but a higher price than you want to pay. Or, the features and/or location are not what you want but the price is right. In the end, finding that perfect happy medium between what you are looking for and what is available in the market.
  6. Yard work is fun but it can be a full time job

    We purchased our first home so that our dog had a place to roam. This was great, except before we moved in we had to build a better fence. Sprinklers break and have to be repaired, the garden needs to be weeded and the dog’s urine killed the grass. Sure, having a yard is great, but don’t be fooled, it requires maintenance.
  7. Remodeling like a pro is harder than you think

    I get asked all of the time if I like the new show on HGTV about flipping houses. Many people are surprised when I say that I haven’t seen it. I have watched many of those kinds of shows in the past, but they don’t represent the true amount of work that REALLY goes into a good remodel. The reason you hire a professional contractor, painter, tile setter, is because they have experience and skills. Most of us are not skilled at these trades. What seems like it should only take a couple of hours and a few hundred dollars, usually turns into a few days and several hundred dollars, not to mention the 19 trips to Home Depot. Don’t worry, you can do these remodeling projects, but always enlist the help of a professional to offer advice on your project. My first hardwood floor I installed, I paid a flooring contractor beer, pizza, and $20 to give me some expert advice. I have used that advice for a dozen or more homes and it was the best $20 I ever spent.
  8. Buy based on quality not price

    With our first house, when something would break we would replace it with the least expensive option that would work. After all, we were saving money. Over the long term, cheap isn’t always best. For example, some brands of plumbing fixture are better than others. There is a big difference between the $10 bathroom faucet and the $100 faucet. The main difference is that you will have to replace the $10 faucet every year and the $100 faucet, maybe every decade. That’s not to say that more expensive is always better, but it can be a good starting point. Do research, ask questions, and whenever possible buy the best quality your budget allows.

 

Owning a home is full of surprises but there is nothing like coming home to a place you can call your own. The American dream was built on home ownership. If you have any questions about owning a home and the true costs please feel free to contact us. We have educated hundreds of pre homeowners on what to expect when buying or selling a home.

 

5 Reasons to NOT accept an offer

You have been preparing for months.

You did everything you could to make your home the best it has ever been.

You decluttered everything, took down all the cute photos of your kid’s, painted,

cleaned, yard work every weekend, and now the home is on the market.

After a few days on the market you get an offer.

It’s a great price, but you what else should you worry about?

 

Here are the 5 reasons to NOT take that offer

 

 

The buyer isn’t qualified

It is great if a buyer wants to pay full price for your home, but how do you know if they can afford it? First, they need to submit a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter with their offer. If they didn’t send it with the offer don’t respond until they have provided it. Keep in mind, that not all financial institution’s pre-qualification letters are created equal. There are online banks that buyers can submit some of their information and it will automatically generate a pre-qualification letter. It is best for your agent or yourself to contact the lender directly and verify they have submitted the proper documents (at a minimum pulled a credit report and received income verification) to the lender.

A pre-approval letter is better than a pre-qualification letter. With a pre-approval the buyer has submitted all their information and it has been underwritten by an bank underwriter. It is always preferred to have a pre-approval whenever possible.

The offer is contingent upon them selling their home

If the buyer has to sale their home, you may not want to take the offer. Your timing and how quickly they can sell their home should be taken into consideration. If their home asking price is reasonable for the area should also be a deciding indicator. For example, if they live in a $350,000 neighborhood, but in order to buy your home they need to sale their home for $450,000. This might not be the right buyer for your home. By waiting for them to sale their home, you may miss out on other potential buyers for yours. You should evaluate all the details of their sale before accepting their offer. We deal with these offers all the time, and most work out. However, we always do our homework first on the entire situation.

Not enough earnest money

Earnest money is what buyers put down to show they are serious about buying a home.  Earnest money can become liquidated damages if the buyer backs out. Most contracts have contingencies for retaining a buyer’s earnest money, like home inspections and financing. However, if the buyer simply decides to not buy the home after those contingencies are met, the seller can take the earnest money as damages. In most cases earnest money is not left to forfeit, but if it is, the more the better.  There isn’t a specific amount that is an official standard, but we generally see around 1% of the sales price as a fair amount.

Long closing or contingency dates

These days most homes close within 30-45 days. My wife and I sold our first home before we were agents, and the buyer had a 60 day close. The buyers wanted to close at the start of the school year. We took their offer and after 58 days they backed out. We wasted an entire summer “off market” waiting for their closing date. In the end, we took an offer $10,000 less than the first, a few weeks after putting it back on the market.

Unreasonable inclusions or repair requests

Sometimes offers come in and the buyer wants to include some personal items. Maybe you have a desk that fits a space perfectly, or a nice hot tub in the back yard. These items can be included in the purchase if you don’t want/need the hot tub or desk. However, if they want the kitchen table, living room sofa, and the family dog, you may want to reconsider their offer. Sometimes buyers feel like they need to have everything “upgraded”, especially if the home you are selling is older. As a seller you don’t need to “upgrade” your home if it is priced correctly.

 

At the end of the day the buyer and seller need to agree on price and terms. We recommend you think of the big picture and ultimately consider your goals.  If you have any questions about buying or selling a home, please feel free to email or call us anytime.

Almost New in Spanish Fork

Why wait for NEW when you can buy this already built home. Built in 2017 this upgraded home located on a large corner lot is ready for you. High end finishes throughout. On the main level you will find a perfect front room ready for an office or sitting area. The open concept kitchen / living area has beautiful chocolate cabinets and white quartz countertops. Of course an upgraded kitchen would’t be complete with out new stainless steel appliances. Upstairs you will find 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, another living area and laundry room. The amazing master bathroom suite that feels that looks like it came right out of a magazine. If you are even considering a brand new home in Spanish Fork or Springville, you have to check out this home first!

Call (801) 205-8231 to schedule your showing.

List Price: $389,000 Status: Active
Address: 2537 E Double Tree Dr. Project: Legacy Farms
City: Spanish Fork Type: Single Family Style: 2 story
Property Tour: Tour NS / EW: 2573 E / 900 N

 

Total Sq Ft: 2869
Total Beds: 3
Total Baths: 2.5
Family Rooms: 2
Garage: 3

Year Built:  2017
Acres: 0.21
HOA?: No
Construction Status: Blt./Standing

About

Text About the area and listing

$385,000

Features
  • Total Sq Ft: 2869
  • Total Beds: 3
  • Total Baths: 2.5
  • Garage: 3
  • Year Built:  2017
  • Acres: 0.21
Additional Features
  • Great Area
  • Close to Freeway

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Subtext
Schedule a Showing
Agent
  • Total Sq Ft: 2869
  • Total Beds: 3
  • Total Baths: 2.5
  • Garage: 3
  • Year Built:  2017
  • Acres: 0.21

Why wait for NEW when you can buy this already built home. Built in 2017 this upgraded home located on a large corner lot is ready for you. High end finishes throughout. On the main level you will find a perfect front room ready for an office or sitting area. The open concept kitchen / living area has beautiful chocolate cabinets and white quartz countertops. Of course an upgraded kitchen would’t be complete with out new stainless steel appliances. Upstairs you will find 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, another living area and laundry room. The amazing master bathroom suite that feels that looks like it came right out of a magazine. If you are even considering a brand new home in Spanish Fork or Springville, you have to check out this home first!

Features

  • Total Sq Ft: 2869
  • Total Beds: 3
  • Total Baths: 2.5
  • Garage: 3
  • Year Built:  2017
  • Acres: 0.21

Dirty Movies and Buying Houses

When buying a used car unless you are a mechanic, it is a good idea to take it to a mechanic and have them take a look,  “under the hood”. When it comes to buying an older home you should always be sure of what you are buying. Of course you can’t, put a home up on a car lift and take a look, but there are a lot things you can look for. Some of those things, could be lead paint, mold, meth, electrical, structural issues, roof issues, the list is large and important. An ofter forgotten or neglected inspection is of the sewer line.

If you have ever seen a sewer line replaced, it isn’t pretty. Usually, it involves digging an enormous trench across your front yard and tearing up the sidewalk and partially into the street. The costs very, but here locally it is between $13,000 – $17,000. For all of our clients who are buying homes, we recommend having a plumber “scope” or camera the sewer line prior to buying the home. The plumber will usually find a clean-out in the main sewer line in the basement, or run the camera from the main line on the roof, or remove a toilet and scope from there. The camera is inserted into the pipe and pushed through the sewer line on a cable with the goal of getting to the main sewer line in the street. The plumber has a recording device that records what he sees and usually the camera will have a distance gauge that shows up on the screen so he knows how far into the pipe the camera is.

There is nothing glamorous in sewer pipes. Usually, they are full of toilet paper and other debris. What the plumber is looking for are things like cracks in the pipe, bellies in the pipe, and places where the pipes have slipped at the connections. These are all signs of future problems. Sometimes, the debris can mask other problems or look like problems that aren’t really a problem. In those cases it is best to have the line jetted by the plumber and then camera the line again. Many times, we have had the line cleaned out and what we thought was a problem was a crack in the pipe was nothing more than some old debris.

The cost varies between plumbers, but to camera the line it is usually about $200. To jet and clean out the line can be another $200-$300 dollars. So, the process isn’t cheap, but it is worth the piece of mind knowing your sewer is alright. Most homeowner insurance companies do not cover the main sewer drain. Some 3rd party companies do. Here in Salt Lake City, we have a company that covers the cost of replacement for around $7 a month. This can be a good deal if you end up seeing the possibility of a future problem, but can’t get it fixed when first buying the home.

Here are a couple of “dirty movies” showing a before and after clean-out of the same drain. When we saw the first video, we were sure that there was a problem with the sewer, but after cleaning it out, it was actually in really good shape.

Original Scope

Post Cleaning Scope