Hidden Costs for New Homeowners

When the time comes for you to buy a home, new homeowners need to understand that there are ‘hidden’ costs and fees when you are ready to sign on that dotted line. We are calling them ‘hidden’ because they are not included in the actual price of the home, these costs are obtained through the buying process and at the time of closing.

Here is a breakdown of those ‘hidden’ costs.

 

Home Inspection

Although this is an optional expense, it does protect you from purchasing a home that may have a lot of issues that may not be obvious. These can include things like mold, problems with the heating or cooling system or water leaks. A rough estimate for a home inspection is $300-$500. Keep in mind, if you end up not buying the house after the inspection, you are still obligated to pay the fee.

Appraisal

This is a necessary fee that asses the home and property so your lender knows that you are paying what the property is worth. There are times when a seller may have to adjust their asking price due to an appraisal coming in under the amount of asking. Appraisal fees can run $200-$500.

Loan Application Fees

These fees start the entire loan process. A lender will need to run your credit report to ensure you can qualify for a home loan. That fee is included in the application fees. These typically run $75-$300.

Title Services

Title services include running a title search on a property, paying the notary to notarize all the documents that you sign, and the required government filing fees. It is important to get a detailed invoice for these fees so you are fully aware of what you are paying for. These fees run $150-$400.

Origination Fees

These fees go to the lender for creation of the loan. These are paid upfront and include processing the loan application. the underwriting process and the actual funding of the loan. These fees are usually based on a percentage of the loan amount and range from 0.5%-1.5%.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

If you put less than 20% down on your new home, the lender will require you to purchase PMI. This protects the lender from losing money in the event of a foreclosure. This fee can be re-assessed at such time as you have equity in your home. This fee is based on a percentage of the original loan amount as well.

 

Disclaimer- All dollar amounts and percentages are estimates. 

 

Xeriscaping in Utah

Should you be Xeriscaping in Utah?  Here are a few things to consider!

Let’s face it, Salt Lake City is a desert.  A high desert, but still with our annual precipitation rates, we 100% qualify as a desert. Living in the desert, such as we do in Utah, can make keeping a green grass and fully landscaped yard a spendy endeavor.  Not only that, but it is not terribly environmentally friendly.

According to the WSS Water Usage table: “Running a typical sprinkler from a standard garden hose (5/8”) for one hour uses about 1,020 gallons of water; if you run it three times per week, that is about 12,240 gallons per month.”  When it is 90+ degrees out there and you have to water every day to keep your lawn alive, well… it adds up.

That is why we are seeing more and more homeowners lean towards xeriscaping in Utah.  Just what IS xeriscaping?  Xeriscaping is a way of landscaping that uses drought-resistant plants, natural elements, and water-wise features to reduces the need to water your space.

Here are some of the benefits of xeriscaping in Utah:

 

  1. You will DRASTICALLY reduce the amount of water you use in your yard.  This is better for the environment and much more affordable for you.
  2. Water-wise plants can be quite beautiful
  3. No weekly mowing, trimming and weeding your lawn (though be careful in thinking that xeriscaping means “maintenance free,” it does take time and care and you’ll probably still have to weed).
  4. Xeriscaping with native plants reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
  5. Your yard isn’t going to die if you go out of town for a week and forget to have someone water

 

Here are our top tips for xeriscaping in Utah:

 

  1. Using native plants for the area will give you a could chance of success, these plants have already adapted to the elements and climate.
  2. Also, due to their deep root system, using native plants when xeriscaping in Utah, means they can survive with the little water they capture from rainwater runoff. These plants are also resistant to freezing, common diseases, pests, and herbivores.
  3. Having some form of irrigation may be necessary depending on your layout and plant selection.  This can be natural irrigation channels that are built into your xeriscaping layout.
  4. Rain barrels may be a great option to collect rain run-off and distribute in your yard or to your house plants. (Check your city ordinances, since rain barrel collection isn’t allowed everywhere)
  5. Don’t think you have to plant everywhere – you can use natural elements like stone, sand, gravel, and wood to create a beautiful landscape.
  6. Weeds can be aggressive when you take out a lawn – so be sure to be aggressive and ruthless back.

 

Our BEST resources for xeriscaping in Utah:

 

  • Contact Salt Lake City Public Utilities, rain barrels are for sale for $68. The barrels have a mosquito screen, threaded spigot, two ¾-inch overflow valves, and 60-gallon capacity.  A GREAT deal.
  • Find a list of native plants for Utah here.
  • Find information on how to design a Wildlife Garden here.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

People often wonder what a real estate agent does besides hosting open houses and maybe having the occasional headshot on a billboard. Actually, there are so many aspects to being a good real estate agent, here is a short break down for you, that way, when you need one, you will know what a good one looks like.

 

 

Price Your Home to Sell

One that is qualified and experienced in your area can help you price your home correctly. If your home is overpriced or underpriced you lose out either way. Underpriced means that you aren’t maximizing the dollars that you can get for your property. Overpriced means that it will languish on the market and not sell. And you end up often accepting less than it is worth in the long run.

They Handle All the Paperwork

It can be difficult to get a contract when you are competing against multiple offers when selling your home. A good agent will watch the market and let you know if any changes have occurred and make recommendations on what to do next if so. There are so many steps in buying and selling a home, your agent will have your best interest in mind from start to finish and will facilitate the transaction up until closing.

Marketing

Staging, getting the best photos and bringing in people to see your home is vital to it selling. A good agent knows all the tricks of the trade that can get your home the most exposure and ensure it shows well.

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home is a very exciting time, but first-time homebuyers can also feel a bit anxious if you do not have all the information you need or are not fully prepared for all the costs necessary to buy a home.

 

Here are some things to consider to help you be prepared for your big move.

  • First and foremost, determine a realistic amount for how much you can afford.Consider your current monthly budget, leave room for miscellaneous home costs and repairs, like HOA fees, taxes and insurance. Then determine the amount you can afford for a house payment, considering what percentage of your take-home pay can be used.

 

  • Pay off all debt. Carrying debt will not only decrease the amount you will qualify for but can also add stress to your monthly bottom line
  • Save for a down payment. Having 20% down is ideal, that will get you into a position of not having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
  • Save for closing costs. Typically, closing costs are 3-4% of the purchase price. Once you have a good idea of the home price, you can get to this number easily.
  • Loan pre-approval. Once you have paid off debt and saved for closing cost, it is a good idea to have a lender pre-approve you for a loan. This will help expedite the closing process and give you an idea of what amount you actually qualify for.

 

  • When it comes time to finding the perfect house, research desirable neighborhoods to find the best fit.

 

  • Hire a real estate agent that can help you navigate the maze of open houses and do all the necessary paperwork!

Tips for Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

Now that you have made the decision to sell, getting your home in the best condition so it will show well can take a little time.

 

Some simple tips for getting your home ready to sell are just minor details. Like, on showing days, be sure there are no dishes in the sink, all the beds are made and the house is freshly vacuumed. Wipe off counters, hang fresh towels and putting fresh flowers out is a nice touch!

 

Here are a few other tips to consider:

Give your house a deep cleaning

You want any potential buyers to get the best first impression possible. Deep cleaning includes, laundering drapes, cleaning base boards and blinds. Remember not to neglect the bathrooms. Give your backsplashes a good wipe down in both the kitchen and bathrooms.

De-clutter

Having a cluttered space makes it difficult for some buyers to see the homes potential, it can also make a space appear smaller than it is. Getting rid of unnecessary Knick knacks and decorations will allow people to see their belongings in the space, and make the space more asthetically pleasing overall.

Paint Walls

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a room. Stick to neutral colors like light grays, whites and beige etc. Having freshly painted walls also allows potential buyers to check an item off their list of things to do when they move in.

Stage Your Home

Spruce up the inside by adding textures, symmetry and nice linens. This can be as easy as adding throw pillows. Lighting candles also adds warmth and homeyness.

Don’t forget about curb appeal, make sure your yard and walk ways are free from debris and obstacles.

Hire a handyman

Little things like broken drawers, even burned out light bulbs etc, may seem like just annoyances but having multiple items that need fixing can devalue your home to some people. Do the things you can do yourself, then hire a handyman for the others.

How To Find & Work With a Property Manager

Making the decision to work with a property manager or management company is not one to take lightly. After all, having investment property is a big undertaking in itself, you defiantly need a reliable property manager to entrust it to. Hiring the right property manager will defiantly make the rental process much easier for you in the long run.

Here are few tips when looking for one to hire.

 

Do your research.

 

Find out how many other properties they manage and how many are vacant.

 

  • How do they advertise property that is available for rent?
  • Are there any negative reviews about them?
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau and Real Estate Commission as well.

Ask for referrals.

 

Real estate agents are a great resource when looking to hire a property manager.

Ask around to other property owners, who do you know that also has rental property? Who do they use? Check with the Better Business Bureau and Real Estate Commission for this as well.

 

Meet with them in person before hiring them.

 

Often your first impressions are the best way to decide. Meet with him/her to get a sense of their professionalism, knowledge etc. Get clarification on how they can be reached, text, phone call, email etc. There is nothing more frustrating than hiring someone to manage something and they are difficult to reach when needed.

Look over the contract with a critical eye.

 

If something seems off or unfair, ask for clarification. Do not sign anything until you are certain that this property manager best suits your needs. Also make sure the costs are in line with your expectations and other companies.

Property management is a competitive field, doing your due diligence will pay off and you will enjoy the extra income the rental property can provide by choosing the best person/company for the job.