Now we know all you guys are secretly dreaming of a home, and you should be with all that we have been saying, but I’ve been hearing that the prospect of breaking your apartment lease has given you nightmares, the shakes, and all kinds of unpleasant feelings. Tsk, Tsk, I say, young padawan learners (those of you who are not Star Wars fans will have totally lost the connotation of this phrase). This should not keep you from taking advantage of interest rates (3.5 are you kidding me?) or the fact that home prices are no longer taking a dive. I just heard personally from the Chief Economist of the NAR that home prices are not only recovering, but on track for a 23.5% increase by the year 2019. Now, couple that with paying down a mortgage….you do the math on how much equity you gain in a measly 5 years! (I say you do the math…cause my calculator is on the phritz…lol)
Now, for the biggest hang up….the lease! A lease isn’t always an iron-clad agreement with all the rights on the side of your landlord as you may be thinking and stressing over. Of course, buying a home isn’t the only reason to break a lease. There are many reasons to break a lease: Your job may have changed, you might find the rent too steep, or you may have lost a loved one who used to share the space with you. Here are a few things you can do to help extract yourself from the situation:
1. Find the opt-out clause. You may not have read your lease very carefully, (and you are not alone my young Padawan…Star Wars again…) when you were excited to move in, but now is the time to go back and pick it apart with a fine-toothed comb. Many leases will have clauses which allow you to legally break your obligation to stay for the full-term of the agreement. This might involve a fee of some kind, but can often be worth the expense if the conditions are right.
2. Negotiate with your landlord. If you’re on good terms with your landlord, come out and explain your situation honestly. The landlord (or property management company) can elect to let you out of the lease, even without an opt-out clause. See if you can do anything to “sweeten the pot” for the landlord, such as finding a replacement renter, or propose a sum to buy your way out. (Get anything you agree to with your landlord in writing.) I don’ tol’ you and tol’ you…there is no such thing as a verbal contract in Real Estate.
3. See about subletting. Look at your lease agreement and see what your rights are regarding subletting the apartment to someone else. While some forbid the practice, others may create allowances for subleasing your apartment to someone for the balance of the agreement. If the agreement is unclear about subleasing, talk with your landlord about your plan and get an agreement in writing. (Recognize you’re risking your security deposit if the subletter doesn’t take care of the place.)
4. Go to mediation. If you can’t come to common terms, consider enrolling the help of a mediator. Local housing advocates and “renter’s rights” groups may be able to connect you with people who can help.
This all assumes, of course, that you’re not leaving because your landlord is a deadbeat. If you’re battling a landlord who refuses to fix up the place or otherwise has been combative, you may have a legal case to make to break your lease. The key is documentation. Document everything with photo or video evidence, and keep meticulous records of your complaints.
Shouldn’t your monthly payment be paying you instead of a landlord? Give us a call and we will walk you through the first steps toward home ownership.
Whenever we meet with sellers to counsel with them about putting their home on the market, one of the first items I bring up is Curb Appeal(Steve’s is the garage, but more about that later). It’s one of my pet peeves (along with black bananas on top of the fridge, leaving the toilet seat up in the photo tour, and my biggest peeve… that blasted Travelocity gnome).
Curb appeal in my humble opinion is the first home improvement to consider and it alone can truly make or break not only the sale of your home, but in getting the most amount of money for your property.
On a side note, this is especially true for homes that are ” flipped”. Real Estate Investors spend literally 10s of thousands of dollars remodeling the inside of a distressed or foreclosed property, and forget about the first impression. They leave the yard a mess with no lawn, weeds growing in the garden, fences in need of repair, then want Top dollar for their efforts on the interior. Read this Investors….make an effort on the outside as well as the inside. Your efforts will be rewarded, I promise you!
Ok, off my rant, however, I cannot tell you how many times I have had buyers in my car and we have driven up to a prospective home only to have the buyers turn their noses up and want to leave because of bad curb appeal such as:
Several cars in the driveway, most obviously not working
Lawns unkempt (love that word) and not mowed or edged
Toys, bikes and the left over Saturday Night Party bottles on the front lawn
Now, most of you who would be reading this do not have the first 3 to contend with, but the mediocrity item is what I want to touch base on. Dull and boring no matter how neatly your lawn is kept does not give a potential homebuyer warm and fuzzies when they are looking at your property. Your welcome to them should be in the form of first impression appeal, kind of like flirting with them….hey I’m beautiful, come buy me statement.
So put some color and grace into your first impression , let buyers know they will feel comfortable and at home here… plant some flowers (click here for an article on how to Pick the Perfect Pansie or Perennial) , bushes, put a rocker on the front porch, get flirty with your perspective buyers . Just don’t put one of those Travelocity gnomes in your garden.
As always, if you have questions or need help, give us a call.
Walk-ability Score – What is it and why do I need one?
I get a lot of questions about the “Walkability Score” section of property details on my search site www.searchsaltlakehomes.com, so thought I would give you a cool and efficient explanation of said component.
Walk Score is a company which “analyzes hundreds of walking routes to nearby amenities..these people just lovvve to walk. Points are awarded based on the distance to amenities in each category, the walk-ability of each amenity. Amenities within a 5 minute walk (.25 miles) are given maximum points. A decay function is used to give points to more distant amenities, with no points given after a 30 minute walk.” Insert here…I would give negative points and so would my feet if there was more than a 30 minute walk.
Additionally, Walk Score in it’s walk-ability assessment looks at pedestrian friendliness, a component which takes into account population density, block length, and intersection density. (Source: http://www.walkscore.com/methodology.shtml).
Walk-ability Score Rankings
Rankings are based on a 0 – 100 scale. Here’s how the scores translate to an area’s walkability:
90 – 100: Walker’s Paradise. Daily errands do not require a car.
70 – 89: Very Walkable. Most errands can be accomplished on foot.
50 – 69: Somewhat Walkable. Some errands can be accomplished on foot.
25 – 49: Car-Dependent. Most errands require a car.
0 – 24: Car-Dependent. Almost all errands require a car.
In addition to a Walk-ability Score, Walk Score also evaluates for Transit Score (how well a location is served by public transit) and Bike Score (whether an area is good for biking).
So what does this Walk-ability Score mean to you? Well, my Padawan learners, all three of these scores can help you determine your personal values when you’re buying a home. They can also be useful to profile the kind of buyer who might be interested in a home you’re selling. It’s important to understand that a high or low walk-ability score is not necessarily bad. It all depends on personal values. (Someone who wouldn’t walk to errands anyway might find themselves bothered by the proximity to a highly-trafficked commercial businesses, for example.)
So, what do you do with all this newly gained knowledge? If you’re curious about your own home’s walk-ability score, or you’d like to learn about the most and least walkable neighborhoods in a given city, you can check out addresses on the Walk Score website at http://www.walkscore.com/.
If you read my earlier post Curb Appeal This Spring, then you know that we (yes, Steve will agree with me on this) are all about that when you are thinking of selling your home. And even if you are not selling…this should be on your mind. After all, the view from the street is the first impression those girl scouts have of you and if they avoid your home because it looks worn out and scary, well, I hate to think of what would happen if you got “boycotted” from buying girl scout cookies. So, here you are…Ways To Improve Curb Appeal
Start with the clean up. Yes I know, boring stuff this…but if you are selling your home, no one wants to see Johnny’s trike, the balls left over from the last soccer practice or ….Cars up on blocks. Get rid of it all, put away the garden tools, remove the broken pots and the garden gnomes (real and sculpture!), park the car in the garage along side the lawn mower (after you have used it of course). In other words, start with a clean canvas in order to create your work of art!
Now, Spruce up the Landscaping. Patch the bare holes that the neighbors dog made digging for treasure, cut and trim the yard, place edging along the gardens and most of all add a color palette to your work of art with the addition of flowers and plants. And no, dandelions are not a flower, so don’t forget to weed the gardens and fertilize the lawn!
The Entryway should be next. This is one of the most important focal points when folks are visiting your home, so if you are selling, don’t forget this one. Create an inviting scene at the entry of your home, that welcomes your visitors. Paint the door, put a couple of topiary trees on either side or decorative pots of colorful flowers. If there is not room for that, a colorful and welcoming wreath on the door is just as effective.Don’t forget the hardware on your front door. If it looks worn and broken, replace it. It will be the best money you spend!
Paint the fascia! Nothing says “I really don’t like my house” more than peeling paint on the outside and the worst culprit of this is the Fascia. So get your arm out it’s sling, get a bucket of paint and a scrapper, and spruce up the trim. Now if you have aluminum fascia, and it is dull looking, take a little power wash to the house. You will be amazed at the clean feel and new look this will give your house…and it’s kind a fun to spray obnoxious people when they pass by as well….oh, you didn’t hear that from me.
A natural extension for curb appeal for all of this is to paint the other parts of your house that are in sore need. Garage doors are a particular sore thumb, especially if they are dented from the last adventures in learning to drive by your 16 year old…or husband whichever is applicable. If you want to get really creative, paint the garage the same color as the door…but don’t get wild.
Plant a tree as part of your landscaping. If you don’t have trees in your yard, you are missing a great deal of curb appeal. Trees mean family to most people (visions of tree houses and swings come to most folks minds whenever they see a tree. Cool summer evenings under the tree…. poems have been dedicated to trees ” I think that I shall never see…a poem as lovely as a tree”….but I digress. Trees bring character and dimension to your overall landscaping, so don’t forget them.
Add low voltage lighting to sidewalks and landscaping areas. Pretty during the day…even prettier at night.
Make Sure that your lighting on the porch or entryway is attractive. As much as I am good with going green, a bare energy saving bulb on a porch light with a broken cover is just not going to move me. Replace the old worn out outdoor fixtures with some new ones (you don’t have to spend a lot of money) and that goes for the garage as well.
So, there you have it…take a little time, make a little effort, and voila…you will have the best curb appeal in the neighborhood. Then when your envious friends ask you where you got this treasure trove of tips…you can refer them to this post….or not.
The idea of “foreclosed properties” being dumps and in need of a lot of work, is simply not true all the time. Now, HUD homes….those that are FHA and VA foreclosures are a totally different animal and are not to be confused with regular foreclosures. For more info on those types see our post HUD HOMES, What You Need To Know.
Fannie and Freddie (and no this is Not your Aunt Fannie)foreclosures are being spruced up with new carpet, paint, and repairs as needed to make them more attractive to regular homebuyers rather than investors. As you will hear on the video, they feel owner/occupants make neighborhoods better, they get more money for the home, and it’s just better all the way around.
This is good for buyers because they have a move in ready home that although is not the 60 cent on the dollar of yesteryear (ooooh, that makes it sound old right?), but most buyers of homes in Salt Lake now a days would take fresh and new over maggoty and throw up old (as my granddaughter would say). So watch the video and after you have watched it, if you want to look at some foreclosed properties, we would be happy to show them to you. Here are some to get you started: No cheating, watch the video first…many Bothans died to bring you this information…little Star Wars crazy here.
Since the revision of the Utah Real Estate Purchase Contract went into effect on Jan 1, 2009, it is even more important for homebuyers in Salt Lake and indeed all of Utah to protect themselves with a home warranty.
The section of the Utah Real Estate Purchase Contract that required home sellers to warranty all plumbing, heating, air coinditioning, appliances, roofs etc. has been eliminated, so essentially..well not essentially but actually, home purchases in Utah are “as is“.
What Is A Home Warranty?
First, a Home Warranty is for Your protection after you move into your new home. It is essentially an insurance policy. Coverage begins on the day you take possession of your new home and can cover, depending on the company, appliances i.e. fridge, stove, washer, dryer, water heater etc, the heating, electrical, plumbing (within the house, not outside), air conditioning , foundation and roof for the period of usually one year. Some companies offer an extension for an additional fee.
How Much Is A Home Warranty?
Fees for a home warranty can run from $275-$450depending on the company and what kind of coverage you choose, and In the Utah Real Estate Purchase Contract; there is even a section that deals with Home Warranties. You must state whether you are requesting one or not. The fee is paid as part of closing costs at settlement and may be paid by either the seller or the buyer.
Who needs a Home Warranty?
Everyone purchasing an existing home, because although everything might be great during your inspections, some times “stuff” happens. We have seen water heaters burst, whole plumbing systems give out, furnaces that just wanted to die, and just about everything under the sun! The cool thing about it…you call the home warranty people, they send a licensed company out to assess the problem, you pay a service call fee (around $60 or so again depending on the company) and voila….it is either fixed or replaced!
What Does A Home Warranty Do For You?
What this does for a buyer and the seller is keep you out of litigation. The new Purchase Contract in Utah states that the home is pretty much sold “as is” and there are no warranties implied or stated (and we are talking only about Utah, where we are licensed, we do not know about other states’ laws), so a home warranty is a great solution for your protection! We always recommend it and even have our clients sign a waiver when they decide they don’t want it.
There are many Home Warranty Companies…..check out what they cover, and how much they charge, but we highly recommend that you include one in any home purchase you make! If you want some recommendations, give us a call!
Top 3 Real Estate Deal Killers In Utah-how buyers can avoid them
Pretty explanatory right? We see real estate deals come to fruition (like that word, makes me seem smart) all the time, but occasionally we have the dreaded “DEAL KILLER” that rears its ugly head and the transaction falls apart. (more…)
With all the new statistics out about home pricing trends in Utah, you might be thinking that now might be the time to jump into the market…and we would agree (we haven’t said that in a while!).
However, it is still important to prepare your home for sale so that you can get the proverbial “top dollar” out of it and be able to move on. One of those steps is to call us (blatant commercial there), declutter, fix the problems (no that does not mean finish your basement or add a pool),… but fix the rickety deck, finish the projects you started 10 years ago and never quite completed, return the orange sunshine room to its original neutral color, and finally “Stage” your home for sale.
Should you or should you not buy a dog before you sell your home?
Now, after you have read this great article about staging your home, give us a call. We can help you find the right price for your home, and help you make those decisions like how much decluttering do I need to do, or should we buy a dog before we sell or after. (Guess what we would say?)
Whatever you need, give us a call…the number is 801-518-4977. We love to help, and I stage homes for selling pretty well myself…but don’t ask Steve, he just doesn’t get that you don’t have to put all the furniture in a row.
Do you or someone you know have a disability in their family? There is now a loan program available that can help get buyers with disabilities into a home of their own with low down payment, lower monthly payments and best of all….No mortgage insurance! (more…)