Utah: Finest Powder on Earth

canstockphoto34095240Known for its world-class winter recreation, fresh powder and shredded resorts, Utah provides the perfect destination this chilly season. Following is a list of Utah’s best ski resorts.  

Brighton Ski Resort

Don’t bother looking for flashy advertising concerning this beautiful mountain. Brighton uses word of mouth referrals relying on all the fun your family and friends had riding the mountain or soaking in the hotel’s hot tubs. They also are the only resort in Utah that is 100 percent accessible by quads. With more than 500 inches of snow per year, Brighton welcomes visitors November to April from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You also can enjoy night skiing December through March from 4 to 9 p.m.

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort

Snowbird offers patrons fun year round. In the winter, families enjoy day tickets, learning the ropes with the Mountain School and exploring the slops with skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, aerial tram rides, night skiing and more. During warmer months, you can ride the Mountain Coaster, Alpine Slide, Mountain Flyer, and Vertical Drop or enjoy the bungee trampoline, climbing wall, children’s inflatables and more. For more information, visit their website: http://www.snowbird.com/.

Snowbasin Resort

One of Utah’s longest operating ski areas, Snowbasin Resort has serviced winter enthusiasts since 1940. People from all over the U.S. come to enjoy this resort’s exhilarating powder snow and majestic scenery. Currently celebrating its 76th anniversary, Snowbasin has more than 11,757 acres at your disposal. More than 60 percent of the resort is comprised of National Forest. Snowbasin also was an Olympic venue in 2002. Click here for more information.

Powder Mountain

This resort is all about preserving the powder. It recently added more than 1,000 acres of terrain and two new lifts. Powder Mountain now boasts more than 8,464 acres covered entirely by the freshest snow on Earth. This resort differentiates itself from the competition by limiting ticket sales rather than packing in the most people possible. Reserve your lift tickets in advance to ensure you are one of the 2,000 lucky visitors per day. For location, hours and ticket prices please visit http://www.powdermountain.com/.

 

Additional Utah resorts:

Brian Head Resort – Located in Brian Head near Cedar City

Eagle Point Resort – Located in Beaver

Solitude Mountain – Located in Solitude

Park City Mountain – Located in Park City

Alta Ski Area – Located in Alta

Deer Valley Resort – Located in Park City

Nordic Valley Ski Resorts – Eden

What’s the Difference Between a Fixed and Adjustable Rate Mortgage?

canstockphoto2922592Buying a home is exciting and, let’s admit it, a bit nerve-wracking. There’s so much to consider and a lot of complicated finance terms to understand. When you’re qualifying for a mortgage or shopping around for the right lender, you need to know how to interpret the information you receive.

One of the most important—and confusing—things to understand is interest rates. We want you to make the best mortgage decision possible, so here’s a quick tutorial on interest rates to help you walk away with the best deal.

What Is the Interest Rate?

Simply put, the interest rate is the price you pay for the money you borrow for your mortgage. The interest rate determines what your interest payment is every month. When you borrow money to purchase a home, your monthly payments will be split up between paying back the principal of the loan, the interest accrued for that month on the loan amount, and any other financed expenses like mortgage insurance, property taxes and other items that go into your escrow account.

The interest rate that you’re quoted when shopping for a mortgage will be the annual rate, but the interest will be calculated on a monthly basis. That means your monthly payment will be calculated based on the total amount you borrowed plus the interest, divided by the term of the loan, which is typically thirty years.

Two Basic Kinds of Mortgage Interest Rates

There are two main types of interest rates that you will be able to compare as you work on your mortgage loan: the fixed interest rate and the adjustable interest rate. We breakdown the differences below.

 

  • Fixed-rate mortgage: A fixed-rate mortgage means that the interest rate is locked-in for the life of the loan. So, if you take out a thirty-year mortgage with a 4% interest rate, that will be the rate you pay for the entire term of the loan. It won’t increase, nor will it decrease. This is a good option if you plan to stay in your home for a long time and want a fixed monthly mortgage payment that you can budget for each month. It also protects you from changes in the market; however, that also means that while your rate won’t go up when interest rates rise, it won’t go down when rates drop, either.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgage: Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) isn’t locked-in to one interest rate. This means that over the life of the loan, your monthly payment will fluctuate. Sometimes it may be a little bit more, and others it will be less, based on the current interest rates. Usually, the initial interest rate can be much lower than on a fixed-rate mortgage. This makes an ARM attractive to people who only plan to stay in their home for a few years. If you look into an ARM loan, be sure to note how often the rate will adjust—most ARM loans lock in the rate for a certain number of years, so you may be fixed at one rate for up to five years before any change will be made. You should also ask lenders how they calculate interest rates and select a lender that offers the most stable calculation.

 

The Bottom Line

Borrowing money for a home feels daunting, but when you understand interest rates and how they can impact your monthly payment—and the total amount you’ll end up paying over the life of the loan—you have a lot more control over the process.

Three Big Reasons to Get a Home Inspection

canstockphoto29793303It seems like the list of things to do when you’re shopping for a house is endless. No matter how tempting it may be to skip some of those items, a home inspection is one action that should always be on your must-list. If you’ve been thinking about skipping this step, take a look at our top three reasons to get a home inspection.

  1. A Home Inspection Helps You Avoid Surprises

Perhaps the most obvious reason to get a home inspection is to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. No one likes to get a lemon, and as bad as that might be when you’re shopping for cars, it’s even worse when it comes to a house. Some of the things a home inspector looks for are:

  • Age and condition of roof
  • Age and condition of major home systems like HVAC, electrical, and plumbing
  • Cracks or other issues with the foundation
  • Adequate smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Proper insulation and ventilation
  • Exterior issues like cracks, missing caulk, or water seepage
  • Proper setup and function of all appliances
  1. A Home Inspection Can Give You an Edge In Negotiations

After the home inspection is completed, you’ll get a detailed report that lays out any improvements or repairs that are needed to bring the home up to current standards. This report can be your greatest tool when it comes to negotiating the purchase contract.

 

  • If major repairs are needed: In the event that something big (an item that is required to bring the house up to code) is discovered during the inspection, you have a few options. You can elect to purchase the home as-is, but reduce the amount of your offer to compensate for the repairs you need to make. Or, you can ask the seller to complete the repairs prior to purchase as part of the deal. Either way, you may be able to reduce the price of your offer accordingly.
  • If minor repairs are suggested: Sometimes inspectors makes  suggestions for repairs or upgrades that aren’t required. This might be something like updating a water heater even though the existing one works and is up-to-code for the age of the home. When things like this come up you can choose to note the input for later or try to use the suggestion as part of your negotiation. Just keep in mind that the seller may be less likely to give you what you’re asking for if it’s a want instead of a need.

 

  • If no major flaws are found: The good news is that the house you love is in tip-top shape. In this case, the inspection won’t really affect your negotiations, but it can provide peace of mind about the soundness of your investment
  1. A Home Inspection Helps You Protect Your Investment

Buying a home is the largest purchase most of us will ever make, so you want to make a good decision that will pay off in the long-run. A home inspection gives you crucial information to help you make the right choice upfront, plus it also provides a clear idea of what costs may come up in the future.

 

  • It can give you a way out: If you’ve already initiated the purchase, the results of a home inspection may provide you with a last chance to get out of the deal. This protects your earnest money and the hundreds of thousands of dollars you would be investing in the home over the years.

 

    • It gives you a roadmap for the future: In addition to letting you know the current state of the home, a home inspection can also give you an idea of what big costs may be coming up in the future—and when you can expect them. This helps you forecast upcoming costs, which lets you decide if you’ll be able to afford the cost of the house now, as well as its upkeep.

 

  • It can save you money over the long-term: Home maintenance is a key to protecting your investment, and a home inspection can provide insights and tips about regular maintenance habits that can end up saving you thousands over the years.

 

A home inspection isn’t just one more item on your neverending to-do list. It’s an expert assessment of your home that lets you make smart choices today, and for your future. We know firsthand the benefits buyers gain from an expert home inspection, so don’t move ahead without one.

To Sell Staged or Empty?

living-room-2732939_640During the selling process, home owners face a lot of decision making. If you are fortunate enough to be one of the owners that can move out while showing their house, you can choose between leaving your house empty or staging it for showings. Here are a few benefits and cons of each.

 

Benefits of Staging

Have you ever noticed that builders decorate their model homes from top to bottom? The living rooms are filled with comfortable furniture while kitchen tables are set with elaborate dinnerware. The staging helps the home feel warm, inviting, clean and spacious. You want potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living there. Realtors, staging professionals and even savvy homeowners can use staging to set their house apart from similar ones that are vacant or poorly staged. This can help with a faster sale.

 

Benefits of Leaving Empty

Although a vacant house may not look as inviting as a staged home, leaving it empty does offer some benefits. Some may find it hard to visualize the potential of the space while others like picky decorators actually find it easier to envision the possibilities. They feel like they have a blank canvas to work with. Another benefit is that a vacant house highlights that the home is available right away due to the owners already moving on. A clean, vacant house allows buyers to focus on architectural and design elements which can entice a quick sale.

 

Cons of Staging

Ultimately, staging your home can take a lot of time, effort and money. Even more money if you hire a professional to help you. You can begin the staging process by packing all personal items. Next, make the rooms appear larger and more spacious by removing any excess furniture. Living in a staged home can also take some adjusting. You will be living in a decorated space that must look picture perfect on a moment’s notice. This can be especially difficult for families with children and/or pets. The alternative is staging your house and moving out. But you will still have to leave key furniture pieces in place or rent furniture for the duration of the sale.

 

Cons of Leaving Empty

Unlike a staged home, a vacant just doesn’t provide that warm, fuzzy feeling that potential buyers crave. Less than perfect quality including scratched floors or stained carpet tend to stand out more in an empty space. Potential buyers may also make offers below the asking price or market value. They might think that you will take a lower offer because the owner is no longer living there and would like to sell sooner than later. A vacant house might sell slower and at a lower price.

Protect Your Real Estate Investments With Estate Planning Strategies

canstockphoto40608516You can protect your real estate through a number of different strategies. For starters, you probably already have purchased property insurance to protect your assets against loss or damage. Your first line of defense in litigation should be liability insurance. It’s important to make sure that the personal umbrella liability coverage amount that’s at least equal to your net worth.

Which Steps Should You Take to Protect Your Real Estate From A Lawsuit or Probate?

Do you have a lingering sense of fear about your rental properties at the back of your mind? Do you find yourself wondering if a disgruntled tenant is going to sue you? If not, you probably should start thinking about it. It’s a significant risk.

Although it might be a heartbreaking thing to think about, there’s always the chance that your death might trigger a family feud over the home, vacation house, or any other of your real estate investments. There are two major estate planning tools for estate protection: Trusts and limited liability companies (LLCs).

Limited Liability Companies

A limited liability company may make more sense if you have a property that generates revenue. An LLC will protect your assets from claims and lawsuits that could result from your ownership of the property. LLCs also provide the owners with additional privacy since the real estate is listed in the name of the company, and not on their names directly. However, you need to be sure that you can maintain the LLC properly so that the given protections can remain intact. But with the right Ogden estate planning attorney, this is not too difficult.

Trusts

A  trust is usually a better choice if you have a vacation home property that you don’t rent out regularly. With trusts, you have a number of options including:

  •    Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QRPT): This is an irrevocable trust that cannot be changed without the beneficiaries’ consent. It allows the owner to use the property for a fixed term, where it’s then passed on to the heirs. This option is commonly used to reduce the size of an estate for purposes of estate tax.
  •    Revocable Trust: This is a type of trust that can be changed without the beneficiaries’ consent and is considerably more flexible, and if you opt for a dynasty trust, it could last for multiple generations. Aside from controlling what happens to your assets after the grantors are dead, the key benefit with revocable trusts is that it will keep your assets out of the Court after you’re gone, and have it within the control of your family.

You can also have a combination of trusts and LLCs designed to protect your real estate assets if you have both rental properties and a primary residence. An Ogden estate planning attorney can help you choose the best course of action based on your particular circumstances.

If you have any questions, call our offices today and set up an appointment. We will sit down with you and have a Legacy Planning Session, where we will discuss the best strategies to ensure your legacy of love and financial security lives on in your family.

Thanks to our friend and estate planning attorney in Ogden, Michael Haslam, for his insight on how to protect your real estate investments with estate planning strategies. Michael is the founding attorney at Voyant Legal. He helps families in Farmington, Ogden, Layton, Bountiful and surrounding Utah areas create estate plans and elder law plans to protect their families and assets. Visit the website to learn more about the law firm.

HOA: Are they worth it?

Homeowners associations (HOA) are essentially small governing bodies over a particular neighborhood or community. The HOA board consists of homeowners in the development or complex. This governing body establishes the rules and regulations that members adhere to along with the amount of dues or fees to be paid monthly, quarterly or annually. Although membership in the HOA is mandatory, there are many positives and negatives that go along with community living.canstockphoto40967861

Benefits:

  • An HOA offers low maintenance. Usually, trash, snow removal and landscaping services are handled by the association and included in the dues. This means less work for the home owner.
  • Many appreciate that the HOA regulates community appearance. Ensuring that your neighborhood will look good. Everyone must meet certain standards, which means no unkempt lawns or peeling paint.
  • Access to amenities including pools, fitness centers, parks and security gates all add to the appeal of an HOA.
  • Having a disagreement with your neighbor? No problem, third party management provides you with a built in mediator. You can easily take your grievances about next doors barking dog to the HOA board.
  • Everyone shares the maintenance costs. Maintenance of common areas, snow and trash removal, of the pool and other areas are shared responsibilities covered by the dues.
  • Living in an HOA reduces your responsibilities. Along with handling landscape, trash and snow removal, HOA sometimes carry insurance on the properties and cover roofing and other costs.

Challenges:

  • Naturally, the fees required by some associations turn people off. Although HOA dues vary, they can be in the hundreds per month. Make sure and budget not only for your mortgage payment, but the dues as well.
  • HOA rules, restrictions and dictations somewhat ties your hands. Some HOA have restrictions regarding paint colors and any additions or changes you want to make to the property must be approved by the board.
  • You could be hampered by the HOA financial woes. This means that an HOA facing financial problems or a lawsuit could hurt the sale prices of homes and the community and effect your ability to obtain a loan.
  • You might lose some of your freedom. Just as your hands could be tied, you will have to follow the rules and regulations of the HOA no matter how ridiculous you might think they are.
  • Surprise – they can spring assessments on you! The HOA board can decide to impose special assessments when needed for improvements or repairs.
  • They can limit your ability to rent. In order to get a loan for a property in the community the owner to renter ratio must be retained. Different lenders and HOA have differing standards, but these communities prefer that renters live somewhere else.
  • They can foreclose on your home if you get behind on your dues and assessments. This is usually a last resort. However, it can be done.

Making a decision:

First, weigh the pros and cons against your own lifestyle choices. Then, familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the rules of the HOA before you buy to avoid surprises. Finally, you may find that HOA living can be equally satisfying and then again, you may find that it’s not for you.

For Sale by Owner vs Using an Agent

With the current huge increase in home costs, this spring may be a decent time to offer your home. The question remains whether to sell it yourself as an owner or use an agent.

One noteworthy benefit of selling yourself is sparing the strong 6% commission expense that real estate agents ordinarily charge to market and expedite an arrangement for your home. So on a home that offers for $250,000, the business expense would be about $15,000. You can abstain from paying this bill altogether in the event that you offer it yourself.

That is a significant investment funds, however since offering a house is something the vast majority of us will likely do on more than one occasion in a lifetime, a large number of us are awkward going through the process.canstockphoto2199400

Be that as it may, is it truly worth 6% of the price tag of your home in expenses to have individual direction all through the procedure? Here are a few things to consider:

BETTER PRICE

Real estate specialists solidly trust they can get you more cash through the specialty of transaction, use of neighborhood information, utilization of fantastic showcasing instruments, and access to a more prominent commercial center and capacity to qualify purchasers.

Real estate agents know how to showcase a home utilizing photos to expand esteem when showing it to imminent purchasers. They know it’s a complicated procedure, and as an outsider, can better deal with that. A decent intermediary can help get potential purchasers set up for a way of life that a house can offer. Likewise, potential purchasers don’t generally put stock in the mortgage holder.

In any case, valuing a house is likewise genuinely simple to do yourself. For about $300-$500, dealers can get an autonomous appraiser to give them an equitable incentive for their home. There’s likewise enough information online to get a sense for what your house is worth.

ACCESS TO QUALIFIED BUYERS

Good real estate agents will ask for money related articulations to decide a potential purchaser’s credit-value, and, on account of an all-money offer, check the assets. Most dealers would rather not sit around idly demonstrating their home to not really genuine purchasers.

A proficient agent has the foreknowledge and know-how to check precisely where the assets to buy the house are originating from.

Real Estate agents know exactly what buyers are worth investing time in and who are not worth the hassle.

SPARING TIME

Personally, I wouldn’t have sufficient energy or determination to legitimately sell my home, set up an assessment, and oversee telephone calls from would-be-purchasers and meeting lawyers. Great real estate agents say they can control merchants to lawyers who are reasonable and sensible, so that a dealer doesn’t stall out with one who will increase bills with pointless time and charges.

Picking either option relies on upon your circumstance and that you are so persuaded to go up against the procedure yourself. It’s decent to know there are alternatives and a lot of information on hand.

Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Home

Tell-Tale Signs You’ve Outgrown Your Home

Once upon a time, Realtors came up with the term “starter home” to describe houses perfect for newlyweds and small families. Although these starter homes are great, families quickly outgrow them due to various reasons. Whether you’re out of storage space, feeling cramped or just need a change of pace these are the tell-tale signs that it’s time to move on.Rob Andre Widget

  1. New Additions

Often families outgrow their homes because they are expecting little bundles of joy. The addition of children or even pets can easily begin bursting the seams of your perfect newlywed home. When bedrooms have filled up and toys have taken over the entire house it’s time to upgrade to a larger a home.

2.  Aging

Outgrowing your home usually sounds like you need more space, but sometimes you might benefit from downsizing. As couples age and their children leave the nest, a home that was once the right size might become too large and difficult to maintain. Choosing to downsize into a more comfortable space could also help stretch retirement dollars.

  1. Not enough space

As a family grows in numbers so does accompanying furniture collections. Families often opt for over-sized pieces of furniture to accommodate everyone in the home plus guests. These large pieces of furniture take up a lot of space. They easily start to crowd a home and make it feel cramped or small. Many consider upgrading to a larger home to accommodate them and all of their belongings.

  1. Complicated Entertaining

Many families like to entertain their friends and loved ones. For these families entertaining becomes a big factor when deciding to upgrade and purchase a new home. As you grow, you may end up hosting a large holiday party and the need for more space will become more imminent. It might be time to move on if you find out that your current home doesn’t share you sense of hospitality.

  1. Your Finances are in order

Many families move on simply because they are in a better financial situation to do so. A recent job promotion or inheritance can allow you and your family to purchase a larger home or move into that perfect neighborhood. Your improved finances provide the opportunity to live comfortably and enjoy the space that you worked so hard to earn.

Homeowner’s Association

If you’ve been considering buying a townhome or condo you’ve probably been hearing the term HOA a lot. But what does it mean?

HOA’s, also known as Homeowner’s Association, is a governing body over a complex or community which comprises of people who are serving on the HOA board. When you purchase a townhome or condo, you automatically enter into the association. Before you think you can get out of paying the HOA fee, the fact is you can’t avoid this. The simple(ish) act of buying a home enters you into a contract with the HOA which means you must follow their rules, pay your monthly dues, and any special assessments.

While looking into buying a townhome and condo, it’s important to take some time to understand the rules of the HOA along with the fees. Each fee differs for each community so be sure to ask these questions.canstockphoto0280140

  • How often to HOA fee’s increase?
  • How are HOA fee increases set?
  • How large is the HOA’s reserve fund?
  • What do the monthly dues cover? Will you have to pay extra for trash, water, snow removal, etc?

There are also some benefits around having an HOA. Because of the standards placed by the HOA, you’re more likely to see yards that are well kept up and homes that are in good repair. In addition, you have less home maintenance (exterior-wise) because most HOA’s cover to have the common areas are taken care of by the association. This may include trash, snow removal, and lawn care.

In some cases, HOA’s may also provide recreational amenities such as swimming pools and tennis courts. To find out what your potential HOA covers, ask you realtor to get the information from the seller.

Ready to buy a townhome or condo? Give us a call today and let us help you find your dream home.

Seed your lawn for the fall

 

While we move into the cooler weather, now is a great time to seed your lawn for the fall. As your prepare to seed your lawn, preparation is the key part to the whole process.canstockphoto17863189

As you move forward with seeding your lawn this fall, take a moment to consider your state and climate. Each area is different and that should be taken into consideration. In Utah, the best time to seed is during the early Fall and early Spring months—Kentucky Bluegrass is the best grass option for the harsh, desert climate.

To get your lawn ready for the seeds (helping them to germinate), it’s important you take some time to test the pH levels and remove any rocks and weeds from the area. Once these items are removed, now is the time to turn up the earth to help the soil drain properly so the seeds have a chance to grow strong roots.

To further help your soil and prepare for the seeds, spread some sand and compost to the topsoil and rake into the soil. Adding fertilizer to the soil is also an excellent way to give the seeds a little extra boost. Once the soil is prepared, evenly throw out the grass seed by using a handheld broadcast spreader. Rake the seeds in and water.

With the proper care and preparation, you can have a luscious, green lawn that is healthy and enhances your home’s appeal. What are some tips you have about growing the greenest lawn? Tell us about it below in the comments.