5 Smart Homeownership Tips

Turning a key into your lock that no other even landlord has access to, choosing that bright exhilarating color to paint your kitchen or even getting lost in a book in the hammock you fashioned last weekend is fist-time homeowner bliss. Getting swept up in all the excitement is great, but can also distract from responsible home ownership. Following are five tips every savvy homeowner should know.

canstockphoto2312678Address important maintenance items

One of the major expenses new home owners tend to overlook that accompanies home ownership is making repairs. You no longer have a landlord or property manager to call when your roof is leaking or plumbing is backed up. Avoid neglecting any problems that put you in danger or could get worse and costlier over time.

Differentiate between repairs and improvements

Unfortunately, not all home expenses are treated equally when it comes to determining your home’s value. For example, the IRS considers repairs to be a part of home ownership which doesn’t necessarily increase the home’s value like an improvement would. Improvements such as replacing the roof or adding a central air unit increase your home’s value and decrease your future tax bill when you sell said home.

Seek help with your taxes

Even if you’re broke from buying your new home and loathe the idea of spending more money on hiring an accountant when you can normally do your taxes on your own, you won’t regret enlisting a professional that will ensure you’re your return is completed correctly maximizing your refund. Also, getting your axes done for the first year gives you a template to use in future years if you wish to continue finishing your return on your own.

Keep home improvement receipts

In line with distinguishing repairs from improvements and seeking help with your taxes, you should be vigil at racking all costs for your home improvement efforts. You can then use these costs to increase your homes worth which helps you maximize tax-free earnings when selling the home.

Avoid overspending

Whether you are a first-time or seasoned home buyer, money is often tight after you’ve just forked over a portion of your life savings for a down payment, closing costs and moving expenses. Avoid adding to the agony by limiting spending on furniture and remodeling. Both of which can usually wait a bit after initial purchase. Instead of trying to improve and upgrade everything at once, space out your spending and projects to help you stick to an affordable budget.

When To Refinance Your Mortgage

When to refinanceRefinancing can be a smart, money saving move. However, this is not always the case due to the costs associated with refinancing. This means that sometimes getting a lower interest rate doesn’t necessarily save you money in the long run. Consider the following when determining if refinancing is the right move for you at this time.

  1. Your Current Interest Rate

Generally, if you are in position to get a lower interest rate, looking into refinancing is worthwhile. Just make sure to consider how long it will take to recoup another round of closing costs associated with the refinance. Check out the current mortgage interest rates in Utah.

  1. The Closing Costs

After deciding that you might benefit from a refinance despite the closing costs, you will want to look at and understand how you will be paying for these fees. A few of the options available are paying the fees out-of-pocket and up-front, adding the fees to the loan amount or opting for a higher interest rate to cover the fees.

  1. Any Prepayment Penalties

Yes, some mortgage brokers, banks and lenders charge you for paying off your mortgage early. So if you’re lender charges a prepayment penalty you will have to the pay the penalty in order to refinance which increases the associated costs.

  1. How Long do You Plan on Staying in the Home?

The length of time you intend to stay in the home is important in terms of determining the worth of the closing costs. You will want to recoup the expenses before you move on to your next home to make refinancing worth it.

  1. Your Credit Score

The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. Basically, if your credit score has improved you could now qualify for a much lower rate. We advise that you check your credit report to ensure accuracy.

  1. Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Lenders usually require that your debt-to-income ratio is below 40 percent. In terms of refinancing, this is good news if you have paid off old debt or increased your income.

  1. Your Current Equity

Lenders also like to see that you have built up some equity before qualifying you for a refinanced loan. In some cases, acquiring 20 percent equity saves you money by allowing you to refinance to forgo the private mortgage insurance.

  1. The Term Length of Your Loan

Refinancing your loan to a 30-year mortgage over and over can be counterproductive. You never get closer to the goal of owning your home outright. Refinancing to a 15-year and even 20-year loan often offers lower interest rates and decreases the total amount of interest you pay over the length of the loan.

Choosing the Right Agent

canstockphoto33930262You need an advocate when purchasing a home. The right agent will be an indispensable asset in your house search. An excellent agent will have these qualities:

  1. Education – Professional and successful agents have advanced training and education. This knowledge has earned them prestigious designations in the real estate field and has advanced them to be among the top agents in the world.
  2. Experience & Expertise – You want a full-time agent who is knowledgeable about the area and the types of properties you’re seeking. You also will want them to be tech-savvy in marketing and advertising strategies.
  3. Availability – Your agent should promptly and decisively act during the purchasing process. They should make a point to keep in touch with you and update you consistently. They should be easy to reach and available on nights and weekends for open houses and when most sellers are showing their homes.
  4. Excellent references – They should have great references including rapport and credentials. Ask them for a list of references to see how others’ experiences have been with this agent. Above all, they should genuinely be committed to addressing your needs, interests and concerns every step of the way.

If selling your current home, your agent also will help you assess what your property is worth. Independent property seller often over estimate the value of their property. Avoid this by selecting the perfect real estate agent for all of your real estate needs.

BEEF FLAUTAS WITH BUTTERMILK AVACADO CREMA

BEEF FLAUTAS WITH BUTTERMILK AVACADO CREMA8b934a8a22baacd2d8884fd54ee75a81

Ingredients:

1            Pound fresh Mexican chorizo (casings removed – about 3 links)

½           Cup copped white onion

2            Garlic cloves, minced

1            Pound fresh lean ground beef

½           Teaspoon chili powder

1            Teaspoon salt – divided

¼           Cup chopped fresh cilantro

12          Six-inch flour tortillas

1            Large egg, lightly beaten

1/3       Cup canola oil

1            Ripe avocado, chopped

1            Cup sour cream

½           Cup buttermilk

1            Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Instructions:

Crumble chorizo in large skillet and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes. Stir in onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is tender about 5 minutes. Add and crumble ground beef. Add chili powder and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often until beef is browned and done, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro

Using a slotted spoon, divide chorizo-beef mixture evenly among the tortillas (about ¼ cup per tortilla), placing mixture just below center of each tortilla. Roll tortilla over filling, leaving about 1 inch of tortilla exposed. Brush exposed edge with a small amount of beaten egg and press gently to seal roll.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Fry flautas in batches until crispy, 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

Process avocado, sour cream, buttermilk, lime juice and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth.

Serve flautas with creama.

 

Serves 4

Real Estate Advertising vs. For Sale by Owner

Real Estate Advertising vs. For Sale by Owner

When deciding to list, many homeowners contemplate their opSOLD Signtions: employ a real estate agent or go it alone and list for sale by owner (FSBO). Both scenarios have their benefits and challenges. It all comes down to getting the most bang for your buck.

The National Association for Realtors reports that an agent could sell your house for 13 percent more than you could. It is true that the average selling price in 2014 for FSBO was $208,700 compared to $235,000 for agent-assisted home sales. However, roughly nine percent of FSBO homes are mobile or manufactured homes which have a lower selling price point anyway.

So what is a seller to do? Evaluate what exactly a realtor brings to the table and then decide if you can manage all of what they do on your own.

Your realtor will handle all aspects of the selling process. Essentially, you will benefit from hiring a realtor for these five reasons:

1.They will do all of the negotiating

At first glance you might be thinking, “What’s so great about that? I can negotiate just as well. I got the salesman down $1,500 on the price of my car.” But many don’t realize how many people are involved in the real estate transaction process. If you decide to list FSBO, you can expect to work with all potential buyers, all of their agents, in some state’s the buyers’ attorneys, home inspection companies, appraisers and banks. For some, paying the agent’s small commission ends up pays for itself right here.

2. They ensure exposure

There’s no denying that the internet gets results. You can’t afford not to have a solid strategy ready to promote your new listing when 92 percent of buyers search online listings. The days when putting up a sign and listing in the paper would work are over. Real estate professionals use multiple listing services and employ numerous marketing strategies to get your listing the exposure it needs.

3. They handle all of the paperwork ensuring a smooth sale process

Minus a lot of signatures of course. The paperwork involved in a real estate transaction has increased over the years as industry regulations and disclosures have become mandatory. An experienced agent will not only know what paper work you need but can act according to ensure an error-free, successful and smooth closing.

4.Buyer perception

Oftentimes buyers see FSBO as the chance to get a steal-of-a-deal. You could get taken advantage of unless you have the necessary skills needed in selling your home. Another consideration, the majority of buyers will be represented by an agent of their own. This means that if you are saddled with paying the buyer’s agents commission you are only saving 3 percent.

5. You’ll have an expert in your corner

All of those people mentioned earlier that you might have to deal with are on the buyer’s side. They are looking out for the buyer’s best interest. Can you afford not to have someone looking out for your best interest?

Kelly Waters Earned Ranking for 2015 Home Sales.

Local RE/MAX Agent(s) Named Among “America’s Best”

Kelly Waters with The Waters Group Earned Ranking for 2015 Home Sales

 Layton, Utah, July 20th – Kelly Waters (The Waters Group) with RE/MAX Metro is among the 2,691 RE/MAX agents and teams featured in the 2016 REAL Trends “America’s Best Real Estate Agents” survey. The agents included in the survey represent less than 1 percent of all real estate professionals in the United States.

“We truly consider it an honor and a privilege to be given the opportunity to serve you and to forever be your real estate professionals of choice.” said Waters. “Being recognized alongside so many hard working and dedicated real estate professionals is an accomplishment, and we’re honored to be named among ‘America’s Best’.” 

“America’s Best” is the industry’s largest ranking of agents based on homes sold in 2015. The survey is open to individual agents who closed at least 50 transaction sides or $20 million in sales volume and teams who had at least 75 sides or $30 million in volume.  The fourth annual ranking groups agents by state and metro area. Both individual agents and teams are recognized for their number of transaction sides and/or sales volume.

The Waters Group has more than 10 years of experience in the Utah market. This is the first year The Waters Group has been recognized among “America’s Best.” RE/MAX agents accounted for 22 percent of the more than 12,000 participating agents who qualified for the survey. This year, RE/MAX had more agents named in the survey than any other brand.

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About RE/MAX Metro:

RE/MAX Metro is a locally owned and operated full-service real estate brokerage located in Layton, Utah.The brokerage has 82 Realtors® and specializes in Residential and/or Commercial real estate. RE/MAX Metro is a proud supporter of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® and other charities, and is located at 579 Heritage Park Blvd. Layton, Utah 84041.             

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7 Ways Professional Photography Can Help You

canstockphoto152699047 Ways Professional Photography Can Help You
Outstanding photography can benefit your brand, website and business. Great photography can even benefit your own personal image. This list contains the top seven ways professional photography will benefit you!
1. Credibility
Consumers interested in your business can tell the difference between amateur and professional photography. Top notch photography can keep you competing with large online businesses. Inferior photos and images will bounce visitors from your business and website to one with quality photos. Professional images also help with establishing your credibility by showing potential customers that you are willing to invest in your company’s image.
2. Exposure/Publicity/Awareness
Use your professional images to lure in consumers and keep them interested. Others, especially competitors, will notice your quality photos. Once noticed, people will ask you to share your images on social media, magazines, blogs and news articles. This generates free publicity, increased exposure and awareness.
3. Let Your Personality Shine
As it turns out a picture is not worth a thousand words, it’s worth so much more. A valuable photo helps depict you and your business. Potential clients investigate to see who they will be dealing with and you don’t want them to be disappointed. So what are you waiting for? Hire a photographer to take head shots of you and your staff today!
4. Inspires Imagination
Photography can get your own creative juices flowing. It can inspire new ideas and encourages you, your staff and clients to look at things from a different perspective. Get inspired today and start thinking outside the box.
5. Relieves Stress
Whether you have calming images in your office or are taking photos yourself, photography is a great way to relieve stress. Taking a break from that all-consuming problem to focus on that perfect picture gives you a much needed break. Don’t worry the problem will still be there, but you will be more ready to tackle it head on.
6. Readability
Photography is a great tool especially for websites. Readers can easily glance at a photo to gain information about the company, its products and its staff. Research has shown that individuals are drawn to images more than copy. Also, images and photos can clarify what the text is saying ensuring that provided information is easier to absorb for the consumer.
7. Conversion
You only have a few minutes in person or online to seal the deal. People are going to base their decisions in part on the quality of the images they see on your website, marketing materials and in your office. The higher the quality, the more likely you are to convert potential consumers to buyers or clients. Professional photos can provide accurate representations of your products and services which will foster confidence in potential clients.

5 Must Do Projects To Sell Your Home Faster

Your home is an investment. An investment you want to take care of, not only for pride of ownership, but as a financial asset which will pay off in the long run. If you’re ready to sell your home and grow into your next dream home, now is the best time to make the move. shutters-669296_640

As you prepare your home to sale, here are 5 simple projects you can do to help your home look its best and appeal to potential buyers.

  1. Paint the front door. When it comes to selling your home, curb appeal is a big deal. One way to help make your home stand out and appeal to buyers is to give the front door a fresh coat of paint. Pick a color that pops and complements your home. Also, if your door knob is broken, rusty, or has seen better days, replace the knob since this will be noticed by potential homebuyers.
  1. Maintain a healthy lawn. Another important part of curb appeal is taking time to properly take care of your lawn. If you’re lawn is brown and near death, potential homebuyers won’t waste time looking at your home. Now is the time to fertilize, aerate, mow, and water your lawn. The healthier your lawn is the better it will make your home will sale.
  1. Power wash your walkways. Dirt, debris, and other clutter on your pathways is another way to get potential buyers from stopping to look at your home. Take some time now to power wash your walkways and pick up any clutter which will minimize any accidents. Not only does this look better, but it will protect you from any liabilities.
  1. Architectural lights. Floodlights or landscape lighting is a great way to highlight various focal points to show off the beauty of your yard and add depth to your corners. In addition, extra lighting can add a safety feature to your home, steps, and pathways.
  1. Replace any broken window screens. Broken window or screens makes your home look like a dump. Before you put your home on the market, replace any broken windows or screens. This will not only make your home look better, but will increase the value of your home.

If you’re ready to sell your home, your real estate agent can help you decide which home projects will help your home sell faster.

Is This Your Year For Finally Buying A Home?

With Utah’s strong economy and affordable housing market, it comes to know surprise that more millennials are turning towards home ownership. Already in Ogden and Clearfield, an estimated 39.8% of new homes were to sold to those between 25 and 35, according to Builder.com home-1194442_640

For first time home buyers, purchasing a home can be an intimidating experience. As you start the process to toward buying a home, take some time to ask yourself these questions to make sure you understand what you’re getting into. If you’re not prepared, home ownership can stretch you financially.

Once you’ve decided your ready to buy a home, take a moment to get pre-approved by your bank, credit union, or a mortgage lender can help you get a home loan. This is also a great to time to talk to them to find how much you can afford. Be aware of the extra costs and taxes (property taxes, HOA fees if you’re buying a townhouse or condo, etc).

A real estate agent can help you during this process of finding a home and is there to answer all your questions. If you’re ready to move forward in buying a home, give us a call and let us help you find your dream home.

8 Costs To Consider When Buying A Home

plants-in-pots-818718_1280Buying a home can be a fun and stressful time. If you’re a first time home buyer, there are some costs (these tend to get overlooked) you should know about before entering into homeownership. Before buying a home, be prepared for these 8 costs:

  1. Mortgage payments. Your mortgage is a long-term loan which is borrowed in order to purchase a home. In addition to repaying the principal amount borrowed, you’ll be required to pay interest to the lender. To help give you an idea of what your monthly payments will be, check out this mortgage calculator.
  1. Inspection fees. Because a home is most likely to be your biggest financial investment, you should have the home inspected before making an offer. This is when you know any repairs the home might need and can use this information as leverage while negotiating the price of the home. A home inspection can run up to a several hundred of dollars so you’ll want to be prepared for this upfront.
  1. Appraisal fees. Before you buy a home, you’ll be obligated (by your lender) to have the property valued by a professional real estate appraiser. In the past this fee was included in the closing costs, but is no longer that way as the appraiser needs to be paid regardless if the deal goes through.
  1. Private mortgage insurance. If you put a down payment that is less than 20% of the home’s price, you’ll be required (in most cases) to take out a private mortgage insurance policy. According to Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, a home costing around $200,000 can expect a monthly premium between $50-$100 per month. Ideally, the closer to the 20% down payment, the better your monthly payments will be.
  1. Closing costs. As you prepare to sign the closing documents on your home, be prepared to pay closing costs  and any other assorted fee. The closing costs usually include processing fees, underwriting fees, recording fees, survey fees, and title insurance fees; these can run up to thousands (2-3% of the mortgage loan amount) of dollars. When applying for a loan, be sure to speak with your lender and make sure these fees are included in the loan.
  1. Homeowners insurance. This is critical to have to protect yourself against rebuilding, repair, or replacement costs in the event of a major disaster or theft. If you borrow money from a lender, you’ll be required to purchase homeowners insurance. Before buying a home, talk to your insurance agent and ask for a quote to get a sense of how much it will cost so you can budget accordingly.
  1. Property taxes. These taxes are charged by the local government for public expenses, such as schools, parks, and sidewalks. The seller or seller’s real estate agent can provide you with the current annual tax on the property is. Also, be sure to find out when the next tax assessment is scheduled and if it will be increased by the sale of the home.
  1. Utilities. Once you find your dream home, ask the seller to provide you with a record of a year’s worth of utility bills to get a sense of how much you need to budget for utilities (heating, cooling, electricity, gas, and water). Also, take into account the differences in family size.

As you move forward in the process of buying a home, your real estate agent can answer any of your questions. Ready to buy? Give us a call today and let us help you make your homeownership dream come true.