Live, Work, and Play

Fun around St. George

A quick and easy way to change your address

31009982 - woman sealing boxes ready for house movePart of the moving process is changing your address so that all of your bank statements, bills, magazines and other mail goes to your new home. The quickest and easiest way to do that is to hop online and go to the U.S. Postal Service website. You’ll need to verify your identity by using a credit card, and you’ll be charged $1, but the change can be done in minutes, and without leaving home. (You also can go into a post office and make the change without using a credit card.)

After your change of address is processed online, mail sent to your old address will start going to your new home. The USPS mail forwarding service lasts one year for most first-class mail. Magazines are forwarded for 60 days.

Certain classes of mail, however, will not forward to your new address through a change-of-address request. Companies and organizations you’ll need to contact directly to change your address include banks and credit unions, mortgage companies, insurance companies and utility companies. Don’t forget to notify the Internal Revenue Service and the motor vehicle department as well that you’ve moved.

Your tax refund could help you purchase a home

53965504_MAre you getting a tax refund this year? According to the IRS, the average U.S. tax refund is more than $3,000. While big tax refunds make it a popular time of year to purchase big-ticket items such as large-screen television sets, we’d like to remind you of another use for that money: As a downpayment on a home.

If you’ve already saved some money toward a downpayment, your tax refund could help boost your downpayment fund. Haven’t started saving yet? This year’s refund can also help you jump-start a downpayment savings account.

One of the biggest home buying myths today is that you need a lot of money to buy a home. In reality, the median U.S. downpayment in 2017 was 10 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. There are low- and even no-downpayment home loan programs available. Questions about buying a home? We’re here to answer your questions.

Four steps to a faster home sale

980286_MYou’re ready to move on. Maybe your house is too small, you’re moving because of a job, or you want to be closer to family and friends. According to the National Association of Realtors, those are the three top reasons for selling a home.

Like all home sellers, you want your home to sell fast. Here are four ways to help accomplish that:

Set a realistic price. Many home buyers want to ‘test the market’ by setting a high price on their home. But most buyers won’t even make an offer on a property that’s priced out of line with similar homes in the area. You definitely do not want to leave money on the table. But the strategy of setting a too-high price on a home just to see what happens isn’t a viable strategy. Properties with inflated prices stay on the market longer than average and often sell for less than homes that are fairly priced to start with.

Don’t put up the sign until the house is ready. Even though you’re ready to sell, is your house ready to be shown? Fix the leaky faucet, repaint the dingy dining room and replace the broken front step before you list the house. You’ve lived with these annoyances for years, but these problems can distract a buyer.

Make the house easy to show. Keep your schedule flexible. Although it’s inconvenient to tidy up on a Tuesday night, it’s in your best interests to make it as easy as possible for people who may want to purchase your home.

Leave home. When buyers view your house, you should be anywhere but at home. Prospective buyers will feel uncomfortable looking through a home when you’re present, and they want to be free to discuss the pros and cons of the house without fear of offending the owners.

What does ‘as-is’ mean when buying a home?

41917682_MYou found a home that’s in the right neighborhood and an easy commute to work. The only problem: It’s listed for sale in ‘as-is’ condition. What does that mean? A home that’s being offered for sale in ‘as-is’ condition means that the owner is making no guarantees about the condition of the property and will make no repairs or improvements. It means the price reflects the fact that repairs may be needed.

Being listed in ‘as-is’ condition doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with a home. Most bank-owned properties are listed for sale ‘as is,’ but you also may find an individual seller lists a property this way because they can’t afford or don’t want to make repairs to the property. They just want to sell it.

While ‘as-is’ condition shouldn’t cause you to rule out a property, this is definitely not the time to skip the home inspection. If you decide to make an offer, you should make it contingent upon an inspection. (That’s good advice when buying any type of home.) Also know that you can still negotiate on price with a property being sold ‘as-is’. Just because a seller isn’t willing to make any repairs, doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t lower the selling price to compensate for what you discover during the inspection process.

The cost of waiting to buy a home

48217628_MThinking of waiting another year or two to buy a home? If home prices and mortgage rates increase in the next year or two, home buyers could end up with significantly less buying power than they have today.

Today’s mortgage rates are near historic lows. But they aren’t expected to stay that way. Various housing groups and economists are predicting mortgage rates will rise to between 4.5% and 5% by the end of the year.

The National Association of Realtors also is expecting home prices to increase in 2018 by an average of 3.2 percent nationally, with the highest appreciation predicted in the lower price ranges, which are in high demand. The combination of higher home prices and higher mortgage rates could make for a mortgage payment that’s significantly higher than it would be if the home were purchased now.

There are, of course, many other factors that come into play in the decision to buy a home, such as how long you plan to stay in your home, the stability of your job and how much money you’ve saved up for a down payment. If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, visit us and we’ll help you crunch some numbers.

Pre-approved for a home loan? Don’t do these four things

41263255_SWhen purchasing a home, your mortgage pre-approval is based on your current financial situation. That’s why once you are pre-approved, you should avoid making big changes to your finances. Here are several things you’ll want to avoid doing while you’re in the process of financing a home purchase:

1. Taking on more debt. Talk to your lender first before you open any new credit accounts, request a credit line increase or co-sign on a loan. As a general rule, you’ll want to avoid taking on any new debt before you close on your home.

2. Changing your job. Your pre-approval is based on a number of factors, including your employment status and pay.

3. Making a big purchase. Check with your lender before making any big purchase, either with credit or with cash. Wait to purchase furniture and other big-ticket items.

4. Making late payments. Stay up to date on all of your credit obligations and utility payments. Now’s not the time to have overdraft your checking account.

Home buying, the smart way

33134133_MYour down payment is in the bank and you’re pre-approved for a mortgage. You’re all ready to start looking at homes. Here are some tips for home buying the smart way:

Don’t go it alone. Some tech-savvy buyers like to use the Internet and mobile apps to search for homes. But there is no substitute to having someone by your side who can help you navigate the home buying process. Buying a home could be the biggest purchase you ever make, and consulting an expert can make all the difference. That’s why even though most home buyers today use the Internet at some point in the home buying process, nearly 90 percent of all home buyers work with a real estate agent.

Don’t be swayed by staging. You found a home that looks like it could be featured in a magazine. But don’t be swayed by expensive furniture and decor. Pay close attention to the condition of the roof, the heating and cooling system and plumbing — anything that would be costly to upgrade or repair.

Take your time (and a deep breath). Don’t let a hot real estate market cause you to forgo the basics, such as a home inspection. Many who skip home inspections regret it later. Don’t be rushed into purchasing a home. Take your time so that you can truly find the home that’s right for you and your family.

Ready to get started? Start your home buying journey with a visit to our office. Our knowledgeable staff is here to guide you.

The importance of the property disclosure reports

30674275 - businesswoman hands pointing at business documentThe property disclosure report is an important document in any real estate transaction. In it, sellers must reveal any issues relating to a property that could negatively affect its value.

That’s why it’s so important for home sellers to set aside some time to fill out these forms thoroughly and accurately. Sellers are required to disclose any physical issues with a home, such as a leaky window or basement that’s prone to flooding. If the home was treated for termites, that should be on the form. Anything the seller knows about that could affect the property’s value or the home buyer’s enjoyment should be included when filling out a seller’s disclosure form.

These forms aren’t a substitute for a home inspection, of course; home buyers still should have a thorough inspection of any property they are thinking about purchasing. But buyers also should carefully read the property disclosure report as well. While disclosure statements are designed to protect home buyers from purchasing a home with hidden defects, they also can protect sellers from future legal action if the buyer alleges the seller hid a defect in the property. The bottom line: If you know it, disclose it.

Tips for selling your home in the winter

10058747 - a door of am older home decorated for christmas.Winter can be a great time to sell a home if you properly manage the challenges that come with colder weather. Here are several things to keep in mind if you’re selling your home during the coldest months of the year:

Keep it tidy. Keep your yard free of fallen leaves and branches. Pathways leading up to your front door should be swept and free of dirt, leaves, ice and/or snow. If you’ve already moved out, you may want to consider hiring a maintenance service.

Warm it up. Now’s not the time to turn down the thermostat, even if you have already moved out. Adjust the thermostat to a warmer temperature before a potential buyer arrives. If you have a gas fireplace, turn it on right before a tour.

Let there be light. Homes can appear darker in the winter months. Adjust window coverings to let in more light. And consider turning on the lights in rooms before a potential buyer arrives. If you no longer live in the area or are not at home much, use timers.

Make your home smell nice. Consider baking a batch of cookies or brownies before a showing. The kitchen will be warmer and cozier, and the smell can’t be beat.

Go easy on seasonal decorations. When selling a home, resist the temptation to go all Clark Griswold for the holidays. You want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves in your home, however they celebrate the holidays.

It’s time to get your home ready for winter

62689184_MFall is here! That means it’s time for some autumn home maintenance. As a homeowner, there is a lot you can do to reduce the chance of a costly wintertime home repair disaster, make your home safer and save a bit of money. Here are some of the most important tasks to do now.

Install carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is a deadly, colorless gas. carbon monoxide A detector could save the lives of everyone in your home in the event of a malfunctioning furnace, hot water heater, stove, room heater or fireplace. CO alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

Test your smoke detectors. If they are battery-powered, change the batteries, too. Make sure you haveI smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Clean your gutters. By helping to direct rainwater away from your home, gutters prevent water damage. But they can’t do their job when they are clogged with leaves and other debris. It’s a job you’ll want to do — or hire someone to do — twice each year. You’ll also want to clean out your downspouts and make sure water is being directed away from your home. While you’re at it, inspect your roof — or have a professional inspect it — so that any damage can be fixed before winter.

Clean your chimney. Before you start your first fire of the season, have your fireplace or wood stove chimney cleaned and inspected. It’s an important way to prevent a home fire.

Reverse your ceiling fans. Warm air rises, so switching your fan’s blades so they run in a clockwise direction after you turn on your heat will push warm air back down into the room. (Fans should run counterclockwise in the summer months.) In the winter, changing the direction of your blades can save on heating costs, especially in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings.

Caulk around windows and doors. Caulk doesn’t cost a lot, but can make a real difference in terms of energy savings throughout your home

Divert water away from your home. It’s easy to add extensions to your home’s downspouts so that water runs at least three to four feet away from your home. Doing so can prevent too much water from pooling near your foundation and entering your home.