ESTABLISH YOUR INITIAL PRIORITIES
In preparation for purchasing your new home you will, of course, want to address these major considerations:
- Personal Preferences: Size, style, architecture and features you prefer?
- Location: Where do you wish to live? In what kind of neighborhood? Proximity to schools, shopping, transportation, and recreation?
- Budget: How much are you planning to spend?
Should you purchase new construction or an existing home? There are advantages for both options. First, the advantages of purchasing a newly-built home:
- Offer the latest design features including better floor plans, larger living areas and master suites, generous window space, and current decor.
- Incorporate newest building technologies, smart home features, and building code improvements such as seismic strengthening.
- Easier and less costly to maintain since the components are new, more energy efficient, and warranties are active.
- Allows maximum customization so that you may better secure the features and finish you want.
- Secure the building lot of your choice.
- May enable you to afford living in a favorable location, although the home size may be smaller than you would otherwise desire.
- Higher initial property value and potential for retaining that value in the near term.
The process of purchasing new construction in our local market is described in great detail in my New Construction tab.
The advantages to purchasing an existing home include:
- Often a necessity to secure the location you desire.
- Affordability - the most affordable homes are often existing homes in established areas.
- Usually secure more square footage and lot size for your housing dollar.
- May facilitate living closer to friends or family.
- May offer the neighborhood or architectural charm you are seeking.
The vast majority of home buyers utilize the internet to locate property. Real estate companies, agents and internet marketers have created thousands of websites that show available homes in Utah. I encourage you to do much of your initial work over the web, albeit with the following cautions regarding the websites you use:
- Focus on "First Tier" websites. These sites originate ("parent") data over the internet, ensuring the most accurate information. They secure their data directly from real estate brokerages and agents as property is listed for sale. Best sites: UtahRealEstate.com, Realtor.com, ColdwellBankerHomes.com
- "Second Tier" websites are useful but may not always be accurate. They contract with First Tier sites for data then package it for commercial gain. Because of direct streaming from First Tier sites, Second Tier sites such as real estate brokerage and agent sites (like this one) usually maintain the same level of accuracy as First Tier sites. However, some Second Tier sites, such as Zillow.com,Trulia.com, and Homes.com blend direct streaming with other sourcing, including the "mining" of data from other sites. Their data may be useful but may also be out-of-date or incorrect.
- "Third Tier" sites will likely get you in trouble quickly. Since they do not pay for direct streaming from the First Tier "parent" sites you are looking at only what they have mined and and packaged.
As you house shop you will find yourself seeking advise from friends and family, driving through a variety of neighborhoods, and walking through open houses. All this is good, you are you gaining market knowledge and better clarifying what you want. If you are shopping with a partner be sure to talk over details to help you both better establish what will work best for you at this stage of your life. I am a big believer that your goal should be to find the property that works best for you at this stage of your life.
If this is your first home purchase you will likely be focusing on your needs and budget. Be realistic, be practical - gaining that first chunk of home equity will pay wonderful future dividends. And with those future home purchases you will be able to concentrate more on "wants," those things you have always desired in your dream home.
In the course of your home search I can specifically help you succeed by:
- Researching all properties (listed or For Sale by Owner) you discover or have questions about to help you better determine whether to tour the home and/or place it on your short list.
- Setting up home tours and showing you through the property.
- Placing you on an "Alert" email list where you receive immediate notice of homes "just listed" in your target area, price range, etc. You will also be alerted whenever there is a price change for these homes.
- Advising you on market conditions, property values, re-sale potential and other concerns you will have as you proceed.
- Helping ensure that you are competitively positioned and approved for financing with an outstanding lender.
When you have identified the home you wish to purchase I will position you for success by:
- Directly representing you, the buyer, and your best interest in securing the property, price and terms you seek.
- Helping your clarify and understand your options.
- Researching and analyzing comparable sales to establish current market value so you do not over pay.
- Preparing, presenting and negotiating your offer to purchase.
- Ensuring that the transaction process follows standard purchasing guidelines and complies with Utah law.
- Saving you time, money and heart ache by avoiding costly mistakes.
When your offer is accepted and your new home us "Under Contract," together we finish the job by focusing on:
- Your right to "Due Diligence" and a thorough professional property inspection.
- Negotiating with the seller for the remedy of property flaws and the completion of seller repairs.
- Finalizing your financing.
- Doing a final walk-through inspection.
- Transferring utilities into your name.
- Closing with the title company, recording of the deed, delivering keys for your move-in.
In my view the purchasing process is all about you - my job satisfaction is directly tied to your success in securing the home of your dreams. I want this to be your journey and your reward!
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Please be aware that as a qualified buyer you are entitled to retain the professional services or legal and/or tax advisors, property inspectors, surveyors, and other professionals that you may deem helpful for the completion of your property purchase. Following is GENERAL LISTING OF ISSUES that a buyer should consider when evaluating a property. Please review this list carefully (list not intended to be a comprehensive list of all issues. Extracted from "Buyer Due Diligence Checklist" prepared by the Utah Association of Realtors):
- Building Code/Zoning Compliance: Buyer is advised to consult with local zoning officials to assure that Buyer's intended use of the Property (including, but not limited to, rental and business uses, construction of new improvements and/or the remodel of existing improvements) will comply with local zoning requirements and with any recorded restrictive covenants and conditions. Buyer should determine whether a certificate of occupancy has been issued for the Property and if such certificate is available for inspection. Buyer is also advised to make inquiry at the local building department to determine if building permits and final inspections were obtained for any remodel work at the Property, if applicable.
- Rental of Property: If Buyer intends to use the Property as a rental, Buyer is advised to consult with local zoning officials and to review any applicable restrictive covenants to determine that rental of the Property is a legal use, and does not violate any restrictive covenants. Buyer is also advised to consult with local governmental authorities to determine whether a business or other license is required in order to use the Property as a rental.
- Hazardous Waste and Toxic Substances: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals regarding the possible existence of hazardous wastes and toxic substances on the Property, including, but not limited to, asbestos, radon gas, lead and lead-based paint, and contamination of the Property from the use, storing or manufacturing of any illegal substances including, methamphetamines. Buyer is advised that a variety of federal laws can place strict liability on property owners for hazardous waste management and cleanup of hazardous substances. Buyer is advised of Buyer's obligation to make appropriate inquiries ("due diligence") into past uses of the Property to ascertain the possible existence of hazardous wastes or toxic substances.
- Radon Gas: The EPA and the Surgeon General have linked exposure to elevated radon levels to an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals to determine if elevated levels of radon gas exist in the Property. Additional information regarding radon is available from the state of Utah at radon.utah.gov and the EPA at epa.gov/radon/.
- Surveying and Staking: Buyer is advised that without an accurate survey of the Property, Buyer cannot be certain as to the boundaries of the Property, or that any improvements on the Property are not encroaching upon adjoining parcels of property, or that improvements located on adjoining parcels of property do not encroach onto the Property. Walls and fences may not correspond with legal boundary lines for the Property.
- Home Warranty Plans: Buyer acknowledges that Buyer has been advised by the Company of the availability of Home Warranty Plans which provide limited warranties for certain home appliances and certain components of the Property after Closing.
- Flood Zone and Insurance: If the Property is located in a "Flood Zone" as set forth on the H.U.D. "Special Flood Zone Area" map, the mortgage lender may require that Buyer obtain and pay for flood insurance on the Property and its improvements.
- Home Owners Insurance: Buyer is advised that certain properties, due to location, condition, and/or claims history, may be uninsurable, or may only be insurable at an increased cost. Buyer is also advised that Buyer's credit, insurance claims history, and other issues (such as specific kinds of pets), may be factors in determining the availability and cost of homeowners insurance. Buyer is advised to consult directly with insurance companies of Buyer's choice regarding the availability and costs of homeowner's insurance for the Property.
- Title Issues/Homeowner's Association: Buyer is advised that title insurance companies offer a variety of title insurance policies that provide different levels of coverage. Buyer is advised to carefully review with legal counsel and with the title insurer: (a) the available title insurance coverage; (b) the contents of any Commitment for Title Insurance on the Property; and (c) the contents of all documents affecting the Property that are a matter of public record, including, but not limited to, any restrictive covenants (CC&R's). If the Property is part of a Condominium or other Homeowners Association ("HOA"), Buyer is advised to consult directly with the HOA regarding all HOA matters that may affect the Property, including, but not limited to, existing and proposed budgets, financial statements, present and proposed assessments, dues, fees, reserve accounts, rules, and meeting minutes.
- Physical Condition: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals regarding all physical aspects of the Property, including, but not limited to: built-in appliances; plumbing fixtures, lines, fittings and systems; heating, air conditioning systems and components; electrical wiring, systems, appliances and components; foundation; roof; structure; exterior surfaces (including stucco), exterior features and equipment; pool/spa systems and components; any diseased trees or other landscaping; and moisture seepage and damage from roof, foundation or windows.
- Square Footage/Acreage: If the square footage or acreage of the Property is of material concern to Buyer, Buyer is advised to verify the square footage or acreage through any independent sources or means deemed appropriate by Buyer. In the event the Company provides any numerical statements regarding these items, such statements are approximations only.
- Utility Services: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals regarding the location of utility service lines and the availability and cost of all utility services for the Property including, but not limited to, sewer, natural gas, electricity, telephone, and cable TV. Buyer is advised that the Property may not be connected to public water and/or public sewer, and applicable fees may not have been paid. Septic tanks may need to be pumped. Leach fields may need to be inspected.
- Water: Buyer is advised to consult with the water service provider for the Property and with other appropriate professionals regarding the source, quality, and availability of water for the Property; and regarding all applicable fees and costs (including, without limitation, connection fees, stand-by fees and service fees), use and regulatory restrictions, and ownership of water rights and water system. Depending upon the location of the Property, the water service provider, and climate conditions, water service to the Property may be interrupted. A well and well system may require inspection. Buyer is further advised that, depending upon the location of the Property, State and local laws may impose specific requirements regarding the source, the capacity, and the quality of water that will service new plat or building permit applications. Such water-related laws may directly impact Buyer's ability to develop the Property and/or obtain a building permit for any improvements to the Property. Buyer is advised to consult directly with applicable State and local authorities, and with legal counsel, regarding the content and potential affect of such water-related laws.
- Geologic Conditions: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals regarding possible geologic conditions at or near the Property. Such geologic conditions may include, but are not limited to, soil and terrain stability, the existence of wetlands, drainage problems, and any building and/or zoning requirements relating to such geologic conditions.
- Mold: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals to determine the possible existence of mold in the Property. Water leaks and water damage to the Property may result in mold that may have adverse health affects. Additional information regarding mold is available through the EPA at: www.epa.gov.
- Housing Compliance: Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate professionals regarding neighborhood or property conditions including, but not limited to: schools; proximity and adequacy of law enforcement; proximity to commercial, industrial, or agricultural activities; crime statistics; fire protection; other governmental services; existing and proposed transportation; construction and development; noise or odor from any source; and other nuisances, hazards, or circumstances. All properties will be shown without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status and any other requirements of federal and state fair housing laws.
- Property Taxes: Buyer is also advised that, depending upon present use, the Property may be taxed as "Greenbelt". A purchase of the Property may change the Greenbelt status and the amount of property taxes assessed by the County. Such change in Greenbelt status may also result in liability for roll-back taxes. If Buyer has any questions regarding County property tax requirements, Buyer is advised to consult directly with the County Assessor's Office.
- Income Taxes/Legal Consequences: Buyer is advised that this transaction has tax and legal consequences. Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate legal and tax advisors regarding this transaction.
- Foreign Investment In Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA): In general, the sale or other disposition of a U.S. real property interest by a foreign person as defined in the Internal Revenue Code is subject to income tax withholding under FIRPTA. If FIRPTA applies to the SELLER, the buyer or other qualified substitute may be legally required to withhold and remit to the IRS10% of the total purchase price for a property at closing. FIRPTA may require Buyer’s signature on applicable IRS withholding forms. Failure to comply with FIRPTA may create liability for Buyer and Seller. If FIRPTA applies to this transaction, Buyer and Seller are advised to consult with appropriate legal and tax advisors regarding their rights and obligations under FIRPTA.
- Energy Efficiency:
According to the national ENERGY STAR, and other similar energy efficiency programs, utility bills in a typical existing home can be reduced by 20% or more through energy efficiency improvements. A home energy analysis can be provided by certified home energy efficiency professionals to document the energy efficiency levels of an existing home, and also provide recommendations for energy improvements that will reduce utility costs, improve comfort, and improve indoor air quality and safety of a property. Buyer is advised to consult with appropriate energy efficiency professionals regarding any property of interest to the Buyer. Additional information is available at www.energystar.gov.
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