Monday, January 22, 2018

Why It's a Good Idea to Use the RIGHT Real Estate Agent

First of all, thank you to one of my Facebook friends who posted his opinion under my meme of the top 5 reasons to use a Real Estate Agent. My friend said the number one reason to NOT use a real estate agent is that it’s a waste of money. I’m thrilled that he brought this up because I’ve wanted to share just one of the many experiences we had last year being a Real Estate Agent and how our client benefited from hiring us to represent them in selling their property.

Before I get into the experiences we had last year let me address a few concerns my friend brought up in his argument. Here is his direct comment …..

“And the #1 reason not to use a realtor is they way overcharge you. Pay an attorney $500 to do the paperwork. The rest is a piece of cake. If you are trying to sell a home for $500k you will pay $35,000 in commissions. Really? Is it really worth 35,000 to sell the home. They need to work off of a flat fee.”

Now, I will agree that Real Estate Agents get paid a lot but typically a seller’s agent will make about 3% on a deal and the buyer’s agent will make 3% bringing the total to 6% in a transaction, usually paid by the seller but it can be negotiated. A realtor may also negotiate with the other realtor less of a commission to help make the deal work for everyone and a good realtor will know when to do this. In the example my Facebook friend sited, a home that is selling for $500,000 (which is going to have a smaller pool of buyers than the average home of $250,000-$300,000 and in this case especially I would highly recommend a realtor because you will benefit greatly by hiring an agent that is savvy and experienced in finding the perfect buyer for a higher priced home……>breath here<. #queenofrunonsentences #backtotheblog) the commission for the sellers agent will typically be about $15,000 and the same for the buyers agent unless negotiated. Now let’s just break all this down…... If you average that commission by the amount of years you will be living in the house and paying on your mortgage (which is about 7 years) then you would be paying a little over $2000 a year or under $200 a month to get the right price for your house. When you hire a knowledgeable Real Estate Agent to assist you in this process that’s not a lot of money for the expertise you should expect. That is why it is VERY important to choose your Realtor carefully so that you don’t feel like hiring them was a waste of your money.

Statistically, across the United States, a little more than 90% of Real Estate transactions are done through a Realtor. This suggests that the majority of the public has found some sort of success with working with an Agent. A good Realtor is well worth what you will pay. A good Real Estate Agent knows his market and has appraisal skills that will work to your benefit. What I mean by that is a good realtor should be able to go into a house and assess the updates that have been done or need to be done and use these points to negotiate a good price that is a win/win for both sides…. THAT in itself is worth what the commission paid on a transaction. Here is an experience we had with a client last year. We had a client contact us last year to inquire about selling their property. They told us they had a family member willing to buy it for $180,000 and they were debating whether they should just do that or hire an agent to see if they could get more out of their property. They had also contacted a different real estate agency that told them the very maximum they would be able to get out of their property was $200,000 and that their commission would be 8%. This would yield them even less than what the family member was willing to pay for the property. That is when they called us to see what we thought. After assessing the property and having them do some minor touch ups we listed the property at $230,000 and were confident with our market analysis that we could yield them the $200,000 in their pocket that they were looking for. We knew it was very important for them to get this amount as it was part of their retirement plan. The first offer we received on the house was for $200,000 and after much discussion we turned down this offer (which ironically came from the Real Estate Agency they had first contacted.) A few days later we negotiated and accepted another offer at $220,000 splitting a 5% commission between real estate agents and netted our clients the $200,000 she was looking for in the beginning, making her $20,000 more than if she had taken what the family member wanted and far more than the other real estate agency had predicted it could sell for.

There are so many more reasons I can give you for using a real estate agent but what I want to really emphasize is that you need to hire the CORRECT agent. I have been in the real estate game for over 20 years and it seems everyone has been a real estate agent at some point in their life…… but only few are dedicated to their craft…. Find THOSE agents….. Even if your brother’s wife is an agent, it takes more than just getting your license to know how to negotiate and assess a property. Make sure you interview your realtor and feel good about what they will be bringing to the table before you hire them to sell your home or assist you in buying your next home, this will make all the difference.

Hire the best, hire an expert!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mortgage Rates Are Still Low

The real estate market has never been better.  Although rates have crept up slightly, rates are still low and FABULOUS!

That being said, when you are ready to look for another house and it's time to get pre-approved.... be aware that some of the great new commercials you are seeing on TV or you hear on the radio will take your information and farm it out to numerous mortgage companies.   These services will claim to get the best deal for you but remember that each company that receives your information will pull your credit and no matter what ANYONE tells you, those inquiries will affect your credit score.  That being said, it is necessary to have your credit pulled so make sure it is with an institution you trust and are ready to commit to doing your loan with.

To be really honest, most institutions are going to be able to get you about the same rate and hopefully charge you reasonable fees.  The mortgage industry is now HIGHLY regulated and the consumer is well protected by these regulations so you don't have to worry about secret fees and things like that anymore (the industry truly needed these regulations, thank you!).

I have some great partners that I work with in this industry (been doing it for 20 years, I know a few peeps) and I would be happy to guide you through your questions on credit, down payment, refinance, home improvement loans or whatever other mortgage related questions you might have.  Feel free to reach out via a phone call or text 503.380.1156 or pass this information along to someone who might need it.

Best wishes for a great year
of real estate!

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Housing Market Just Keeps Getting Better

According to the new president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, Troy C. Peterson, things are just going to get better in 2017 for real estate.  Even though mortgage interest rates increased slightly, it has not deterred home sales.  Utah has been named the “Fastest Growing State” by the U.S. Census Bureau which means things are going to keep getting better for 2017.  We have many big companies moving in which means steady job growth.  This in turn means the demand for housing will continue to grow.  
Other great news was announced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in raising the maximum conforming loan limits.  In most areas of the country a one-unit property will go up from $417,000 to $424,100.  There hasn’t been an increase in conforming loan limits since 2006 so this is a sign of more good things to come.  Higher conforming loan limits allows buyers to purchase a slightly higher priced house at conforming rates rather than the slightly higher jumbo loan rates.  
Even though we have seen an increase in the home prices in the Salt Lake City area, the majority of all homes that sold in the third quarter were easily affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $74k.  
With all the current events happening, it is exciting to see the economy coming back and being in excellent shape as well as the housing market boasting the highest sales since February of 2007 (pre-crash era).  Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, assures us this last quarter has been the healthiest housing market as well as job market since the Great Recession, with nothing but good to predict in the future.  
We know it’s only January but if buying or selling your house….. Or just doing some renovating is one of your New Year’s resolutions, we’d love to sit down with you and help you put a plan together.  Last year we sat down with a new home buying client at the end of July to formulate a plan and by Thanksgiving they were celebrating in their new home.  We’d love to be a part of your dreams for home ownership or remodeling this year.  Feel free to reach out via email, private message or text.  

Cheers to an amazing start to a FANTASTIC year!  

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tis the Season to Get Your Shopping on..... How Will This Affect Your Credit Score?

Merry!  Merry! And Happy!  Happy!  Tis the season to get your shopping on!!

As the shoppers rush home with their presents and their credit card balances continue to increase... their credit score could pay the price.

Something to keep in mind this "season o' shopping" .... your credit score is determined on many factors and one of these factors is how high you keep the balances on your credit cards.  In order to keep your credit scores in tip top shape, make sure to keep the balances on your credit cards below 30%. 

This means if your credit limit is $1000 then you will want to keep your balance under $300.  Keep in mind if you spend over $300 and are above the 30% point, you will want to make a payment to your credit card company to take your balance below the 30% point before they report to the credit bureaus in order to keep from possibly decreasing your credit score.  You can call your credit card companies and ask when they report to the credit bureaus each month so you can be aware of when you need to make your payments.  This date may or may not correspond with date your payment is actually due.

Another way to make sure you stay under the 30% threshold is to inquire with your credit card company about a higher credit card limit.  Make sure you are being responsible and honest with yourself when making these type of decisions!!  Do not get yourself into a bad situation.  The best policy is to “know thyself” and your spending habits.  If you spend whatever you have available….. maybe increasing your limit isn’t a great idea for you.  Begin this year to really discipline yourself to stay below that 30% threshold each month and watch your credit score start climbing.

Also note.... your score will take a big hit (dropping considerably) if you exceed your high credit limit for your credit card and it is reported to the credit bureaus.... not only do you usually have to pay an over limit fee and you may lose a low interest rate.... you may see a considerable drop in your credit score..... no bueno!  Best practices is to know exactly where your balances on your credit cards are and keep them under the 30% tolerance.

Knowing the factors that determine your credit score is the first step in raising and keeping your credit score in tip top shape.  Self discipline is the action that makes that happen!   

Merry!  Merry!  and  Happy!  Happy!!  Cheers to a wonderful holiday season and may your new knowledge of credit scoring keep YOUR credit score happy all year long.

…..PS….. beware of the temptation to open tons of new credit cards because of the 20% you could save on your purchase….. it may cost you in the long run if it drops your credit score…..another factor in determining your credit score is “opening new accounts”…. Tune in next week for more info on this useful tip! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

5 Hot Tips to Sell Your House for Top Dollar

Want to sell before the end of the year?  801.828.8015

This year has been a HOT year for real estate and there is still time to sell your house by the end of the year if that’s what you’d like to do.  You can also take a little time to give your house a little face lift and really get the top dollar when selling your home.  Going into the winter months is a great time of year to do that.  There are many things that will help sell your house for top dollar and we have learned the tips and tricks to do just that.  Here are five hot tips we have found that will sell your house for the highest price.

First of all if you want to sell your house before the end of the year then you will want to get your house listed ASAP.  If you live in Utah and you’d like to know what you could sell your house for right now send a text to 801-828-8015 with the word “comps” and your home address.  We can look at the houses that are similar to yours in the area and give you a good idea of what you could sell your home for right now.  If you are just curious what “projects” you could do that will give you the biggest **Bang** for your $$Buck$$ then read on, we have some other HOT tips for you below.  Listing your house with a real estate agent puts your house on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) so you have a much wider audience and listing with an experienced SELLING agent that also flips homes, gives you insider information on the best way to sell your house fast and get top dollar for it.  That’s what we do….. so text us today if you want to sell by the end of the year.

If you’d like to take a little time over these next wintry months to work on a few things around the house but just don’t know where to start or what is going to be the best return on value we have some GREAT ideas for you.  One of the best things you want to do to get the highest possible market value for your house is give it a quick face lift.  Paint is an inexpensive way to give your house a fresh feel.  Make sure you are using the newest trends in color themes, not just your style. We can let you in on the latest trends in the market and how to make it really work for your house.  Also, not all paint is created equal and we’re happy to give you some great tips whether you are doing it yourself or hiring a professional, give us a call first and we’d be happy to give you some short cuts that make a BIG difference.

Next, you want to DECLUTTER. You might love all those pictures on the walls and all the many knickknacks and decorations that fill your house but a potential buyer wants to be able to see the space and create what it could look like with their “stuff” in it.  To allow the buyer to get a feel for this you need to really go through your house and get rid of a lot of the clutter, by keeping it very minimal you will give the feel of an open and fresh space…..this is the key to every new home buyer’s heart.  You might consider getting a short term storage unit if you have a lot of precious “things” you want to save….. OR…… begin to get rid of what is not necessary because it will be a lot easier to move when the day arrives to box everything up!  An added bonus is it is a lot easier to paint when there is less “stuff”…. Win/win!

After you have cleared your clutter and given the inside walls of your house a fresh face lift think about updating some of the hardware. It’s amazing what new light fixtures, door handles and cabinet knobs can do for a place.  Of course, you want to be replacing the hardware with the HOT NEW trends so again, reach out to us for the hook up on these updates.  You don’t want to make the mistake of spending money on hardware that is not going to really catch the eye of your new home buyer.  We can help with this and make sure the paint and new fixtures all flow with the existing space and pack a WOWSER punch for new owners.

And the last thing you can do without spending a ton of money is give your home some great curb appeal.  Cut down ratty old trees, trim those overgrown bushes (or pull them out), put down new bark dust (did you know you can get free bark dust from Murray City?), cut the grass and trim the edges.  You’d be surprised just how much these little things can do to bring back LIFE and ZEST to your homes curb appeal.  You might want to pressure wash the garage door and the siding if it needs some sprucing up.  Also, consider putting up some inexpensive shutters or painting your front door.  Again, we can help tell you exactly the compliments we get on our houses from future home buyers and the right tweaks that will let your house stand out far above the competition.

At the end of the day, if you want to sell your house for top dollar you have to start thinking about what the future buyer of your house is looking for in a new home.  We know the trends, we know what sells and we have some pretty sweet hook-ups we can refer you to.  We’d love to list your house for you and walk you through the selling process so you can get top dollar.  It all starts with a call or text to us.  Want to sell by the end of the year???  Text or call and we’ll help you start the process.  We’ll even help you find your new place too.  Buying and selling houses is what we do, we’d love to help you do it too!  Trent Nielsen and Sheri Joi 801.828.8015

Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Pros and Cons to Using a Real Estate Agent to Sell Your Home

To Realtor or Not to Realtor?  That is the question....
As I explored the benefits of using a Real Estate Agent and not using a Real Estate Agent the bottom line was this; there certainly are people who are qualified to sell their own homes but if you take a look at the FAQ on most for sale by owners websites, it suggests that the process is not as simple as you may think.  I’ve been doing mortgage for 20 years and my wisdom suggests it is well worth what you will pay, to have a professional on your side.  With that said…. Here is a list of what you will want to consider when putting your house up for sale.
1-      A good realtor has a sense of the market.  They have insider information on the hot trends and what really “sells”.  They can give you a report of comparable homes for sale and the historic data for your neighborhood.  Of course, you can also do some of this research online ….. you just need to know what you are looking for and you will want to weigh how much of your time will be spent “figuring out” what you are looking for.  A good agent won’t have to figure it out, they will know and be able to guide you through the process.
2-      Negotiating a real estate deal can be tricky business.   A good agent knows which part of the deal to negotiate on…. Whether it is closing costs, purchase price or repairs…. A real estate agent knows where they can best “push” the deal.  Negotiating the purchase of a new home can be emotional and it’s nice to have a third party to help you navigate this process.  Of course there are online tools to help you do this on your own, but having a professional handle the details will ensure that you don’t miss any of the little details of the contract and wind up losing your earnest money because of one of these small details.
3-      Real Estate agents know all the different avenues to find and sell homes.  Depending on the agent you are using, a realtor may have the inside scoop on homes that haven’t even hit the MLS yet.  Through their relationships, realtors may be able to leverage their networks in order to sell your home more aggressively to other agents within their network.    The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent relationships through previous clients, friends, family, referrals and personal contacts.  Of course your sphere of influence is a great place for you to begin your own marketing efforts but hiring an agent that “does this for a living” will have more people expecting them to have what they need…. And hopefully that will be YOUR home!
4-      Selling your home can take longer if you don’t have the time to do open houses and showings often…. And those last minute showings in the middle of the day can begin to stress you out.  Real estate agents can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting potential buyers in and out of your house during your work hours.  An agent can also help you stage your home so that prospective buyers can “see” themselves in your house and also point out all the benefits to your home to potential buyers.  Realtors know what is selling in your area and can give you advice of what your home may need to compete with what’s “hot” in your area.
5-      When buying or selling a house, you may need to hire additional professional services… this may include a painter, lawyer, inspector, a title company and more.  Your real estate agent does this for a living and has developed relationships with these professionals.  You may even be able to get better pricing because of the referral relationships some agents have created with these type of professionals.  You can google yourself any of these professionals but we all know that having a referral from a trusted source usually pays off both ways…. Better customer service satisfaction because they want to continue to be referred by these partners. 
What it boils down to is how much time and effort are you willing to put into selling your house.   Yes, there are many sources available for you to do this on your own but my personal opinion is you will save yourself a lot of time, frustration and unknown questions on contracts/paperwork by having a professional on your side.

Sheri Joi, email sherijoi1972 at gmail dot com

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Top 7 Mistakes That May Prevent You From Getting a Mortgage

Yikes!!  Today in my FB news feed I saw that one of my clients bought a new vehicle….(yes, I love that my clients are my friends and my friends are my clients!!!)  I was thrilled they were able to get a shiny new car…BUT.....I gasped a little as I knew this may have an effect on their pre-approval.  I made a few quick calculations and then a phone call …. Phew…. All was well but – "No more buying cars in the midst of our transaction please" -- this little seemingly unrelated event could have prevented my clients from getting a mortgage.   Do you know what could prevent you from getting a mortgage?  Here is a list of the top 7 mistakes that may prevent you from getting a mortgage.
1-      Your credit score.  I’m pretty sure that everyone is aware of the importance of a high credit score but did you know that it can also make a difference in your rate?  This will factor into how much your mortgage payment will be and if your score is a little low, making your rate a little higher… you may have a problem with your debt ratio….. we’ll talk about that next.  Moral of this story…. Understand how your credit score is driven so that your credit actions drive it up!
2-      Your debt ratio. Your debt ratio is the amount of your monthly credit payments… like your car payments, credit card payments and your proposed mortgage payment…. Divided by your monthly income (gross…before taxes and deductions).  Most lenders want your debt ratio to be under 45.  If you buy a car in the middle of the mortgage pre-approval process it could possibly bump your debt ratio up.  This may result in not being able to qualify OR having to lower your purchase price.  Make sure that you talk with your mortgage professional before making any new credit actions while you are in the process of getting a mortgage.  Your mortgage professional will be able to give you the guidance you need so you don’t make a mistake and cost yourself the loan.
3-      No credit.  Gone are the days when it was ok not to have any credit.  If you want to obtain a mortgage you will have to demonstrate you are responsible with credit.  In order for a lender to give you a loan, they must know what your credit habits are.   The lender does this by looking at your credit history.  To be an ideal candidate a lender would like to see that you responsibly pay your installment loans on time as well as your revolving credit.  They also prefer to see that you keep your revolving balances managed…. (this will also help keep your credit score higher...bonus).  Check with your mortgage professional to get the specifics details of credit requirements if you have never had credit or you don’t have any credit reporting currently.  A mortgage professional will be able to guide you in the best way to obtain credit or possible ways of using alternative credit.
4-      Down Payment.  Most lenders require you to put a down payment in order to get a mortgage.  Talking to a mortgage professional before buying a house will give you the details of how much of a down payment will be required, if it can be gifted or how long it needs to be in your bank account before it is an acceptable source for a down payment.  Of course there are some FABULOUS down payment assistance programs available so make sure you talk with a mortgage professional to get pre-approved before you start shopping for the perfect home.  Also, you may need to have some savings (reserves) in the bank, a mortgage professional will be able to let you know if this is a requirement of your specific loan program.
5-      Closing Costs.  When you are saving for a down payment also remember there will be some closing costs involved.  Many times your realtor can negotiate with the seller to pay some of these closing costs.  The amount of closing costs the seller can pay will depend on your loan program so make sure your mortgage professional is involved and is communicating with your Real Estate Agent right from the beginning.  You don’t want to get to the end of the deal and be short on your funds to close.
6-      Job history.  Believe it or not you do need to have income coming into your household when you obtain a mortgage so just because you are pre-approved does NOT mean you can now quit your job.  It is possible that a lender may ask for a paystub or do a quick verbal verification to your employer right before the funding of your loan to make sure you are employed.  If you are anticipating a job change before you close on your mortgage, make sure you speak to your mortgage professional to make sure there won’t be anything that will hold up your transaction.
7-      Mortgage Pre-approval.  I can’t express enough how important it is to meet with a mortgage professional before beginning the process of buying a home.  I know sometimes it feels scary because you might not be ready to buy right now but by meeting with a mortgage professional you can put together a road map with all the details in place so when you FALL IN LOVE with that PERFECT house.  You can be confident that you are ready to move forward and there won’t be any anxiety in losing your Earnest Money Investment. 

Buying a house is exciting and there is a lot to know.   Find a mortgage professional you feel comfortable with and ask a lot of questions.  This is likely going to be one of the largest purchases you ever make, you owe it to yourself to do the homework and understand what you are about to step into.  I’ve been in the mortgage industry for 20 years and the reason I started was because I truly wanted to understand what the process of getting a mortgage was all about, I love to answer my clients questions and help them feel comfortable about making this fantastic step into home ownership.  Call or email me to set up a mortgage consultation.  –Sheri Joi,  sherijoi1972@gmail at gmail dot com