It’s no secret that real estate seems to have it’s own language. If it’s not your daily way of communicating, there’s a definite chance that the terms you come across can be a little bit overwhelming. I believe that in order to be the best real estate agent possible, I need to ensure that the process is as enjoyable and accessible for my clients as possible.
A part of that process is education. You can’t be comfortable with something that you don’t understand. Thus begins this blog series: Decoding Real Estate.
And here’s chapter one. All you ever wanted to know about escrow.
What Is Escrow? Essentially, escrow is a process where you utilize a third party outside of a particular transaction to hold something of value to ensure that the other parties in the transaction uphold their end of the agreement. An escrow service has no holding in the transaction other than to ensure that the funds, or item of value, is held until both parties fulfill their obligations – this is a service provided.
What Does That Mean in Real Estate? Well, essentially the two parties in this agreement are the buyer and the seller. Escrow funds are delivered to an escrow officer, who then ensures that all pieces of the contract are satisfied. These items, typically inside a real estate agreement, refer to inspections, disclosures, and any addendums or terms and conditions added to the contract prior to closing.
The buyer writes a check (referred to as earnest money) to the escrow officer, who holds the funds in an escrow account while the terms of the contract are being fulfilled. At that point, the escrow officer releases the funds, either as a refund to the buyer, applies them directly to the home loan, or passes the funds to the seller if the buyer fails to complete their portions of the agreement.
The more you know, am I right? That’s one piece of the real estate process – decoded. Stay tuned for the next installment!
Salt Lake City has one of the most loyal band of residents you’ll ever meet – and with good cause. It’s rare to find a place so rich in local culture, natural beauty, and variety than Utah. There’s literally something for everyone, and Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas are within driving distance of anything you may want to experience.
If you’re looking to relocate, here’s what you need to know:
- We’ve got incredible neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for something suburban or a little more urban, there’s a place for everyone. You can start right here – or just give me a call and let me know what you’re looking for!
- Here’s what you need to know about local schools (we’ve got amazing schools out here!)
- What’s the cost of living? I’m nothing if not transparent. Chances are you’ve done your homework, but if you’re still wondering – here’s a great mortgage calculator, as well as this tool to help determine the cost of living in Salt Lake City
That’s how to go about living in Salt Lake City. Now, here’s the good stuff: why you should go about living in Salt Lake City.
- The scenery. Oh, the scenery. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautiful place to look at every day, in every season. This is nature’s finest, out here. It’s just spectacular.
- The Jobs. The job market is incredible right now. Salt Lake is booming, and there’s not a lack of available employment around. In fact, Provo (just south of Salt Lake City) has been listed as one of the best places to find a job by CNN money. Go ahead, take a look.
- The people. These people are friendly, happy, healthy, and just all around glad to see you. It’s a close-knit community recently named as the #2 friendliest city in America. We’re coming for you, Nashville!
- The activities. I really don’t need to say more. With access to some of the best ski resorts in the country, lakes, mountains, and sand dunes – this place has something for everyone. Even you.
It’s really a little bit of heaven on earth – and we’d love to have you. So what do you say? Are you ready to make Salt Lake City your new home?
There’s something to be said for being a part of something bigger than yourself. That’s why I love what I do – there’s nothing quite so rewarding about helping someone – or a family of someones – find their way to their brand new home. And doing it in the community I love makes it just that much more incredible.
And then on top of that? I get to work day in and day out with people who feel the same way that I do. I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity to work with organizations devoted to creating change and bringing together leaders in their field. One such organization is the Women’s Council of Realtors – and I’m delighted to announce that I will be serving as the Salt Lake City Chapter President Elect for 2018, and President for 2019.
what does that mean? It means that I will be better situated to serve those who I work with, and work for. And I’ll be able to do it with a platform created just to initiate change, because – as is stated by the WCR themselves, “Positive change comes from greater inclusion of women’s perspectives in positions of influence in the real estate industry and in the broader community.”
You’ve heard me sing the praises of this state that I love – and for good reason. Utah’s got something amazing for every season – but with summer just around the corner, (and it really is just around the corner – I promise) I’ve gathered up 15 of the greatest and most unique summer opportunities that Salt Lake City and it’s surrounding areas has to offer.
Got your calendar handy? Here we go!
- Utah State Capitol: Sitting at the top of State Street, our beautiful capital not only highlights the goings on of the day to day State business, but is also architecturally stunning. If you haven’t done so yet – join a free tour and see what goes on inside that beautiful building!
- This is the Place Monument: Right at the base of Emigration Canyon, This is the Place Monument has some of the richest history of Salt Lake City. See the place where Brigham Young proclaimed that the Mormon Pioneers had found their new home. Games, food, historical buildings, animals and daily fun are waiting to fill your summer days!
- Cathedral of the Madeleine: A stunning landmark in the heart of Salt Lake City, this Roman Catholic church is one of the oldest operating cathedrals in the State, and is the only cathedral in the United States under the patronage of St. Mary Magdalene.
- Mount Timpanogas: One of the most popular and time consuming hikes available in the valley – with a total of 15 miles in and out from the American Fork Canyon route. It’s a beautiful journey, but not for the faint hearted.
- Cascade Springs: While you’re in the vicinity of Mount Timpanogas, head over to Cascade Springs and visit all the various trails and natural water features and unique vegetation from the springs. Fun fact: they produce over SEVEN MILLION gallons of water per day!
- Wheeler Farm: 75 acres of room to explore, including historical buildings, artifacts, exhibits and displays. This working farm has a variety of animals who work at the farm daily. There’s wagon rides, cow milking, hiking, and more!
- City Creek Center: With more stores, fountains, restaurants and things to see than you could ever hope for, City Creek will more than fill up a free summer day.
- Gilgal Sculpture Garden: This hidden gem in the heart of Salt Lake will delight both parents and children alike. The garden has 12 original statues and over 70 stones engraved with poems and verse.
- American West Heritage Center: At the top of Logan canyon, just outside of Wellsville, Utah, With Farm Animals, events, exhibits, and camps, there’s something for every age group.
- Clark Planetarium: Located at it’s newer location on 4th west and 100 south, the Clark Planetarium has served the Salt Lake Valley for over 50 years, providing interactive and enlightening experiences that bring magic and wonder to its visitors.
- Dinosaur Land: In Vernal, Utah, Dinosaurland allows archeological adventures to both young and old, touting its establishment as 150,000,000 years ago. Discover the original inhabitants of Utah!
- Utah State Fair: A trademark of summer for any native Salt Lake City resident, the state fair brings a little bit of the agriculture and horitculture roots of the valley to the forefront for a week at a time. Finish up your summer with one last hurrah by visiting the Utah State Fair!
What would YOU add to the list?
Last week we talked about common myths for those looking to sell. Well, my friend, unfortunately the untruths don’t stop there.
Diving right in – here’s the nitty gritty for buyers:
All available properties are listed online.
People are under the mistaken impression that, since they have access to the internet, they don’t really need a Realtor. Here’s the actual truth: not all properties are available online.
And here’s the next part of that truth: the ones that do, may not be as newly listed as you think. The online programs people are familiar with don’t have the newest and most updated information: your Realtor does. And besides that, your Realtor knows the market – s/he knows the comparative listings and prices, s/he knows how to get you where you want to be, and all steps in between.
You can save money by not using a Realtor.
Truth bomb: if the house is listed with an agent, the total sales commission is already built into the price. You won’t be saving anything by not utilizing an agent – AND you won’t be losing anything by utilizing an agent.
You need at least 20% down to get into your dream home.
This is one of those myths I love debunking. The fact is, there are so many available loan opportunities out there that cater to a variety of specific needs and situations.
And this one is my favorite: you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to get a no-down-payment loan. In fact, I have some top-notch colleagues ready and waiting to help you see your options.
You can wait to get pre-approved.
That’s risky. One of the trickiest things to work with is a buyer who hasn’t been pre-approved for the homes they’re looking for. House hunting is time consuming, and you don’t want to wait until you find the perfect home to discover that someone else who’s already approved snatches it out from under you – or worse yet, that you’re not able to get approved for what you need.
The fact is, if you’ve been pre-approved, you’re much further ahead than someone who hasn’t taken that step yet.
Realtors will only show you their (or their companies) listings.
This isn’t true at all! As an agent, I represent you – and I look for the home that is best for you and your situation, regardless of who it’s listed with.
That’s my promise – along with the promise that I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we find you just the right home for your particular situation.
Spring is well on it’s way – and as you might guess, it’s a busy time for us Real Estate Agents as potential homeowners decide now is the time to get into that new home, and maybe even put the current one on the market.
With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some of the most common real estate myths that deserve debunking to help you get the most out of the Spring Selling Season.
Without further ado – here’s the nitty gritty:
Overpricing gives you the upper hand.
There’s a good chance you’re under the impression that in order to get the best price for your on-the-market home, you need to start high to give yourself maximum ‘wiggle room.’ The truth is this: you may just be missing out on the best (and quickest) deal available. There are a few reasons for this:
#1 – Buyers do their research (not to mention their agents). They find comparable homes, and it doesn’t take long before they realize that your home (as full as memories as it may be) isn’t priced right – and they could decide to just move right along without even making an offer.
#2 – They may not even see it. Potential home buyers sort by price, and you may miss your target audience by starting too high to begin with, and;
#3 – You may not seem serious. Potential buyers may assume that you are not willing to be negotiable if you start too high – or worse, that there’s something amiss with the house that’s been on the market too long, or has had too many price reductions.
Moral of the story: price it right from the get go, and you’ll have a lot more bargaining power.
It’s all about wheeling-and-dealing
A lot of potential buyers or sellers assume that they’re in for the ride of their lives when they approach a real estate deal. They think it’s time to prepare for battle – and may the best negotiator win. The truth is quite different: if you’ve got a good agent, and you take time to understand what the property is worth to begin with, negotiations are absolutely possible (and encouraged!) but it’s not the cut-throat situation you may assume. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
#1 – The first offer is not always the best that’s going to come along. If you’re a homeowner with a house on the market, it can be an anxious time, and you may be ready to jump at the first offer that comes at you. But you don’t have to take the first offer that comes your way – particularly if it’s not a good one. If you’ve priced right to begin with, you can be confident in your home’s value.
#2 – There is definitely room for negotiation, but it’s not always about the home price. Yes, that’s negotiable to a degree – but if you’re offering fair market value, you’ll be looking at other negotiable items as well. Price, dates, seller improvements, and conditions are all things that have room for discussion.
Moral of the story: you don’t have to be a master mediator to enter into a fair real estate transaction. Trust your agent, and trust the market.
Every upgrade brings top dollar
I wish I could tell you this was true. If it were up to me, it would be true, because the fact of the matter is this: I know how much time, heart, and money goes into every one of those upgrades in the home you’ve spent all that time making memories at.
But the reality is this: you may only get back a portion of the money you’ve put into your home upgrades. It’s close to impossible to get a dollar-to-dollar return, and so if you’re planning to sell anytime in the near future, it may be wise to take some time to determine which upgrades will get you the best bang for your buck, and which you may just lose money on.
Moral of the story: you’re likely only going to get 60-70 percent of money you spend on upgrades to your home in most common situations, so be judicious about where you put those upgrades. Talk to a Realtor! We can give you some pretty good insight here.
Going it alone will save you money
I understand. When you’re selling your home, you’re looking to get as good a deal as possible. And as I said above, there are only so many places where you can really negotiate with a market and audience as educated as this one. Many people think that the biggest place they can save is going to be with the Realtor commission. And again, I understand.
But let me let you in on a little secret – what a Realtor does is far more involved than just sending you listings and walking through a home with you. A good Realtor is up to date on the current market conditions, comparable homes, school districts, neighborhoods, housing trends, staging tips, and yes – negotiating skills – to help you get the best price possible. In fact, it’s estimated that a qualified Real Estate Agent can help you sell your home for an average of 13% more than going it alone, not to mention that fact that listing with an agent can help you get a significantly bigger pool of candidates. More people seeing your house = more potential for the perfect offer.
Moral of the story: Realtors are professionals in an ever changing market. Let me show you how working with a professional can make all the difference in the world.
Purchasing Real Estate is an overwhelming process for most people -most particularly first time homebuyers. Beyond the list of things they’re looking for, very little is clear, and it can be confusing and downright terrifying. Unless you have a seasoned pro in your corner ready to walk you through every step of the process.
I’m that pro, by the way. But in the meantime, I do understand that people like to do their own research. So in the interest of helping you clarify the main touching points, I’ve come up with a few tips that every first time homebuyer should know.
First Time Homebuyers: The Ins, Outs, and Everything in Between:
Budget: Maybe not the funnest topic, but still something you should consider, and it would likely help you to consider it before you go making lists and looking at homes that could very well be out of your price range. It’s important to search for what you want, but it’s also important to be realistic. This also applies to being realistic when it comes to what you can afford vs. what you can be approved for. It would really be in your best interest to be certain that those two numbers are close to each other – you wouldn’t want to be surprised when that first mortgage payment comes due.
Credit Score: Before you can move forward with much confidence, you do need to know where you stand as far as financing goes. The first step there is staying on top of your credit rating. It’s always important to have a good handle on your credit, and to understand that the better care you take of that score, the better mortgage rates and terms you’ll be able to get.
Mortgages Options: There’s no one size fits all solution. There are almost as many mortgage options out there as there are applicants. It can seem a bit overwhelming. There are options for first time homebuyers – even with no down payment! The good news is, I spend my days working with solid, upstanding professionals who know their business and work it with honesty and excellence. We’ll make sure you’re well taken care of.
PreQualification vs. Preapproval: It’s important to understand that difference between being prequalified and preapproved. It can be confusing to understand the difference, but here it is: With a prequalification, most of the information about your finances isn’t verified – you need to be pre-approved, which takes your credit score and your particular finances into account. This puts you in the drivers seat – you know exactly what you can afford, and we can get started confidently.
Paperwork: I’m not going to sugar coat this – there’s a lot of paperwork involved with buying a home. Things like W2s, paystubs, bank statements, paperwork about your assets, length at current employer, etc. Start gathering, because they’ll be needed.
‘The List’: This is one are that you probably already have covered. We need to know what you’re looking for. Townhouse or Single Family home? Rural or urban? How many bedrooms? Baths? How big of a yard would you like? Garage size? There are a lot of things to consider – but I bet you’ve got this covered.
Offers: This is an area where you’re really going to want to have a licensed Realtor at your side. It’s a good thing you know where to find one of those. If you’re not solidly familiar with the area and the market, knowing how or where to start when putting in an offer can be the difference between acceptance and denial. You want to consider things such as how long it’s been on the market, comparable local prices, square footage, condition, and interest.
Inspections: Don’t skip this part. I’m not sure if I need to say that to you or not, but I’m going to repeat myself. Don’t skip this part. This is one of – if not the – largest purchase you will ever make in your life. Now is the time to be sure that you cover all of your bases.The good news is, most purchase agreements require a home inspection, so it’s probably not going to be up to you at all – but you should be grateful that it will happen. This is the time where anything that’s wrong with the house comes to light – and you can choose to move forward or to make sure it gets fixed before you sign on that dotted line.
Insurance: In the same spirit and the inspection – home insurance is a must. And again, it’s something that’s required for your loan. You do get to choose who you get your insurance through – so you may want to do your shopping in advance.
Closing Costs:This may be something you’re wondering about – particularly if you’ve landed on a 100% financing loan. It’s not something that will catch you off guard, though – you’ll be notified ahead of time what kind of funds you’ll need to bring with you to closing. You’ll need to get a certified check, and you’ll hand it over right before you sign the dotted line.
Well then, I get to say ‘welcome home.’