Make the most of a 3 day relocation house hunting trip

You’re getting ready to move across the county in a few months.  For a new job or a new adventure or a change of scenery.  Relocation is a big, complicated step.  A lot of our relocation clients pick a 3 day window to fly out and start seeing houses a few months before the move.  We’ve compiled all the things we’ve learned to make a relocation trip that much easier for you.  Here’s how you can plan your relocation house hunting trip and condense it into 3 days.

 

Make the most of a 3 day relocation house hunting trip:
  1. Plan in advance
  2. Explore the area
  3. See some homes
  4. Write Offers

Plan Ahead

To maximize your relocation house hunting trip, find a real estate agent that specializes in relocation hunting.
Work with that agent in advance to discuss your home requirements and needs.  It will help them eliminate areas, homes and amenities that just won’t work for you.
Plan on seeing about 8-10 homes during your trip.  This means long and dedicated days with your agent – the more time you can give them to plan  the more you’ll be able to see.

DAY 1: Explore the Area

Spend the first day of your relocation house hunting trip exploring neighborhoods.  You agent can help you narrow down areas that make sense for you.  Don’t skip this step – you don’t want to find a home you love in an area that doesn’t suit your needs.
For example, if you have young kids finding are area with a great school district will be important.  If you want to have a minimal commute, targeting a spot that has good access to public transportation or is close to your office is key.
Narrow down your search to 2-4 areas and neighborhoods that you really like and focus your search there.

DAY 2: Visit homes

The second day is the day to dive in and start seeing homes.  Your relocation real estate agent should be able to plan a route to help maximize your time and keep you from driving back and forth across the city.  Set the goal of visiting 6-8 homes – a couple in each of the areas you like.

Wear comfortable shoes, carry some water, take time for a lunch break – it is going to be a long day.
As you see homes be sure to rank them for your agent – tell them which ones you like the most and the least.  It will help them get to know your preferences and dislikes when it comes to a home.  It can also help you cross off some homes without even seeing them.  Maximize time spent looking at homes you actually like in areas you love.
At the end of Day 2 of your relocation house hunting trip, you’ll want to have a couple of homes on the shortlist of possibilities.

 

 

 

DAY 3: Write offers

On the morning of Day 3 you can squeeze in a couple more walkthroughs if you want or if you only have one home that you like from the day before.
Afterwards, you want to spend the third day writing offers with your agent.  Ideally you have 2-3 homes that you’re making an offer on before you head home from your relocation house hunting trip.

 

BACK AT HOME:

Stay in touch with your real estate agent.  They will let you know if any of your offers were accepted, what they need from you next.  You agent can also help coordinate inspections, refer you to people to help with repairs or cleaning, and can even arrange for you to close on your home long distance.

Three Questions to Ask A Contractor – Before Your Hire Them

Need a contractor?  Here are the 3 questions to ask a contractor BEFORE you sign a contract!

As a homeowner, hiring a contractor to do work on your home can be stressful and time consuming. A lot can go wrong. To help you, here are our top 3 questions to ask a contractor that you may not have considered.  These questions will help you save some time and energy in finding a contractor that is the best fit for you.

1.  Ask to talk to references

Our number one on the list of questions to ask a contractor is: Ask for references.  And reviews on Yelp or Houzz don’t count.  Ask to speak to someone on the phone that your contractor did work for in the past year.  A reputable contractor will be more than willing to let you talk to a satisfied customer.

Some things to discuss:

  • What type of work did this contractor do for you?
  • What was your experience with your contractor?  Did they deliver on the agreed upon work?
  • Were they able to stick to project timelines or did they communicate about any unanticipated delays?
  • Did they stick to the budget or discuss any unexpected expenditures or overtime?
  • How would you rate the quality of their work?
  • Would you hire them again?

While you are at it, you can ask to see photos, portfolios or do drive-bys (for exterior or landscaping) of their work.

 

2.  Ask About Payment

Another one of our questions to ask a contractor is all about the money.  Always get a clear (written!) answer on payment and the fee schedule.  It is good to get full clarity on payment BEFORE the work starts.

Some things to ask about:

  • Do you require a deposit?  How much
  • Who pays for materials and supplies?
  • When is final payment due?  Is it when you finish the work, within 30 days, etc.
  • How do you invoice? Is the invoice itemized?
  • What forms of payment do you accept?

Estimate vs. Quote?

Another question you will want to ask: Is this an estimate or is it a firm quote?  Keep in mind that an estimate is just a guess based on what they think a job might cost.  A firm quote is much more definite (assuming of course there are no major surprises or add-ons to the job).  Again, be sure to specify and get all quotes in writing.

 

3.  Ask to See Their Credentials

Another one of our questions to ask a contractor has to do with making sure they can safely provide you with the services you need.

Always ask for:

  • License and any certifications
  • Proof that they do background checks on their employees
  • Proof of insurance – you don’t want to be liable if someone is injured on your property
  • And if it is a major remodel you can even ask to be added as co-insured on their carrier

Remember, your contractor is going to be working in your home – you want to be sure that, like any guest, you feel comfortable with them being there.

 

Finally some resources:

If you have any thoughts on questions to ask a contractor, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

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.

8 Tips on Choosing a Real Estate Agent

These days it seems that anywhere you throw a rock you will hit a real estate agent. They are everywhere!  So, when you need one, how do you chose the one that is best for you?  With the return of the real estate values and huge demand, being a real estate agent has become cool again.  Here are the 8 things to look for when hiring an agent to get the best service and expertise possible.

  1. Availability– In a hot market when you are buying or selling, you need to have an agent that has time for you or you will miss out on some good houses.
  2. Market Knowledge– It is impossible to know everything about every neighborhood, but most agents specialize in certain areas.  If you are looking to buy or sell in neighborhood, look for an agent that specializes in that area.
  3. Experience– It usually goes without saying that you can’t buy experience.  When it comes to real estate agents, you need someone who knows the business and how to play the “game” of real estate.
  4. Resources– Since 2008 the market has been constantly changing.  Mortgage loan types, underwriting requirements and down payments are all different from 10 years ago. Today you need an agent that understands these industry changes and has people and resources in place to help with the mortgage loan process.
  5. New Marketing: Social Media– It used to be in order to sell a home you needed the three “P’s” of marketing.  They were Price, Product, and Promotion.  Sometimes you also needed the 4th “P” prayer…  While the three “P’s” are still important the thing that has changed the most is Promotion.  The old school best bang for buck used to be placing ads in the local paper.  Slowly over the past 10 years print has moved to digital ads through the paper.  Now in 2017, social media is king.  With Facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc. smart agents can advertise listings directly to the demographics that are looking for a home for maximum marketing impact.  Find an agent that is social media savvy. Bonus Tip: If you can’t find them on facebook or Instagram, you may want to find another agent.
  6. The agent sells real estate full time– There are plenty of agents out there that are selling real estate as their second job.  You want an agent that is in the business full time and is actively selling homes to buyers and sellers.
  7. Ask your friends and family for suggestions– Many of the best agents do very little to market themselves because they don’t have to.  The best agents get the majority of their business from client referrals.  A little known fact about sales is that if you do a good job the majority of the time, a client might tell 1 or 2 people what a great job you did.  However, when you do a poor job, a client will tell everybody they know.  So ask around, you will find out who is good and who is not.
  8. They are willing to listen– It is amazing how often people don’t listen. You don’t want to waste your time or their time looking at properties that won’t fit your needs.

Here are Market Source Real Estate we specialize in the Salt Lake and surrounding markets.  With exceptional knowledge in older homes and their construction, charm, and pitfalls we help our buyers and sellers maximize their “new” old homes.  Call Monique or Jeremy today.