Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is Condo Life Right For You?

Perhaps you’ve looked over the housing market and have sticker shock. Maybe the idea of maintaining a backyard has you running for cover or you just want to keep things simple.

Whatever the reason, if you have decided that you are interested in a owning a smaller, more easily maintained property, you may be investigating condominiums.

Buying a condominium is a bit different from buying any other types of property, and has both advantages and disadvantages. To start the process of determining if condominium life is right for you, there are some important questions to ask.

Namely, for starters, what is a condominium?
A condominium, commonly referred to as a condo is a single unit on a multi-unit property where individual units, including the land beneath them, can be purchased with the overall maintenance expense of the entire property shared.

How are the shared expenses handled?
Typically decisions affecting the entire “condo complex” are made by a Condo Association which holds regular meetings for board members and owners. As such each unit owner is subject to rulings established by that association. A Declaration or the Bylaws often referred to as CC&Rs dictate and help to determine how maintenance issues are addressed. As a prospective condo owner, associated maintenance fees and projected increases, assessments for the reserve fund, and insurance fees are items that you should learn about prior to your purchase.

Do I pay homeowner’s insurance?
In terms of insurance, typically condo owners are responsible for the contents inside their individual dwelling – from walls and floors to cabinets and doors. Each condo association has an individual declaration which is a legal document that will spell out the details so that you can have a clear understanding . Typically condo owners can remodel and change interior surfaces at their discretion. Exterior modifications, however, generally need to be approved (or denied) by the Condo Association Board.

Anything else I need to know?
It is also helpful to consider homeowner statistics in the “condo complex” before finalizing your purchase. Knowing the percentage of properties that are “owner-occupied” and the amount of owners that are current on their dues can have impact on your future home and financial security. You may also want to ask questions regarding timeframes of major upgrades, like pool or clubhouse renovations or roofing needs and the ramifications of those on association members, before making your purchase. Speaking with other residents that live near the condo you are considering, can help you find out the inside scope about that particular property and help you to read the “fine print” in the association agreement, too.

As you make your condo purchase, there is a lot to consider, aside from the points listed above. Give me a call to discuss what other “need to know” items you should add to your list or to see some properties that are available now. I’d love to help you find a home you will love!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Your Real Estate Business Needs Online Reviews

by Brandon Barker on Jul 17, 2012

The business of real estate is staying ahead of the competition — for clients, for inventory, for marketing space. And traditionally real estate agent marketing has involved print material (brochures, fliers, yard signs) and more recently social media marketing (blogs and Facebook) to promote your real estate business and reputation. But Realtors need to quickly embrace one of the most powerful real estate agent marketing tools in the web 2.0 era: The client review. You see them everywhere — products, restaurants, businesses and services — and you can read a ton of them on ReachFactor.

Real estate agent reviews create an excellent after-sale line of communication with your clients in addition to being excellent real estate agent marketing tools. Giving clients the opportunity to comment on your skills, service and experience shows them that you appreciated their business, care about their opinion and want to improve the way you do business. Overall, it’s a good first step in solidifying your long-term client relationships.

In a recent article on AGBeat called 5 Reasons Realtors Should Embrace Online Ratings, reviews, author Marti Trewe writes,

“In a recent survey… home buyers revealed that the number one reason that they would choose to work with a Realtor is if that agent had authentic online reviews from past clients. And consumer studies back that up, showing that when a service or brand is reviewed by consumers, it gives them a definite edge over their competition – for services with online reviews the ‘look to book’ ratio is 4 times better, and they boast a 12.5% higher conversion rate than those without.”

As Mr. Trewe points out, clients trust the opinion of other clients more than traditional marketing, making the embrace of online reviews a pretty important move for any real estate agent. The truth of the matter is, you’re getting Googled and so is your competition. Grabbing your share of the client review market, and using a service like ReachFactor that will make those reviews searchable, is a great way to stand out and give your business some online pulse.

But what about negative reviews? No matter. According to the article, “According to a recent study, 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores – and building trust with the consumer is what online reviews are all about.”

For more insight in how to respond to negative reviews, click here: The Right Way to Respond to Negative Feedback.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Selling Your Home – Paint Choices Matter

Selling your home and choosing paintWhether you love the home you live in or are planning on selling your home in the next few years, exterior paint plays a huge role in the overall look of your home. In a home for sale, it can mean a difference in price and how many offers you receive, too.

Obviously when selling a home, the goal is to take more conservative approach with overall color, although trim and accents can be a little more daring.  When considering your paint choices, it’s wise to view the neighborhood “palette” as a whole rather than starting with paint chips in a home improvement store. Your house should be distinct yet complimentary.

With that said, it’s incredibly difficult to visualize an entire house color, trim included, with just a square of paint on a strip of paper. Oftentimes homeowners find the most long-lasting happiness in their color choice when they find a home painted the color they like and find out (by asking) the actual name of that color.

Another common method for visualizing your home in a new color is to take a digital photo of the home’s front and back exterior and upload it to one of the many paint websites available on the internet. Choose a home with similar structure and trim to yours and use the “paint feature” to experiment different looks.

Once you’ve found a paint scheme you like, buy some sample paint and apply it to various areas of your home exterior and view throughout the day to see how it looks in different light. If after a few days, you determine that the color is perfect, hire recommended professional painters (call me if you need a suggestion) and start the process of beautifying your home!

More Interesting Exterior Paint Facts to Consider When Selling Your Home:

  • White (and varying shades of white) is THE most popular exterior color of homes. Other popular choices are grays and earth tones with white trim.
  • Exterior paint can be used to attract attention to your home’s architecture or natural tones can actually allow it to blend with your landscaping, so determine what "look" you want to achieve before settling on colors.
  • Paint colors have had huge variances in color over the years and if you own a historic home, whether colonial or designed by a specific architect, it is helpful to reference the original color when making restorations.  You can consult the National Trust for Historical Preservation for information on specific genres.
  • Nowadays, doors are used as an accent feature in many homes, so may want it to be an area you consider in your overall scheme, as well.  Often doors are a different color from the house and trim.
  • According to, the 2012 national cost to paint your home averages from $1.08 to $1.43 per square foot, and you can visit their website for a tool on local estimates for your area.  The forecasted cost includes preparation, painting, general debris cleanup, final touches, and any tools or supplies needed on the job. You should also plan on an added cost of about 15% to cover contractor project management, as well.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Links & Tees – Buying a Golf Course Home

August is national golf month and brings with it beautiful weather and prime conditions for hitting a few rounds. If you happen to join in a game of golf, you may begin to wonder about the homes lining the fairway. You may even daydream about the joys of living on the course, in an exclusive, gated community only steps away from hitting the links day in and day out.

Golf course living can be filled with gorgeous views, relaxing evenings, and moments of perfect solitude.  If you are tempted by the idea of golf course living, the following considerations can help you decide if a golf course home is the right choice for you.

Resale Value - In general, golf course homes, especially those near the green or tee box boast a higher sales price in comparison to homes off the course.  However, each course is unique and you need to know the course and future landscaping and building projections to understand what location is best for your golf course home.

Watch those balls! -  First and foremost, realize that life near the fairway is not necessarily one of privacy and safety. Flying golf balls and loud weekend crowds along golf cart paths are something to consider when seeking a golf course home. Consider your own game of golf and where your errant balls might land and make sure your potential home is not in line as a target.  If you are looking for a lower priced golf course home, however, you might consider a deal on the fairway and embrace it as adventurous.

Association Rules -  Make sure that you know the rules of your chosen golf course community before making an offer.  Bylaws may restrict landscaping features and netting, allowing only approved fencing or walls, or dictate the plants you use in your backyard.   Special assessment clauses may apply as well.  Save disappointment by knowing about these BEFORE you buy your golf course home.

Pesticide Use - If you are sensitive to chemical sprays or afraid of unusual wildlife, you may want to consider a home a few streets away from the green.  Golf courses are well-maintained in part by pesticides and may be a concern if you have pets or small children.  Also, coyote, geese, deer, and other local critters seen on the golf course may cause you concern, too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Useful Tools When Buying a Home - What about Schools

Wait - was that a school bell that just sounded?

If you live near a school, you may already be hearing the ringing of the bells as local schools gear up for students to arrive. While school may not be in session this week, those bells signal that it’s time to prepare. Time to sharpen the pencils, search out the best in backpacks, and make some plans for the new year.

Students and parents know a brighter future follows preparation, and the same can be said when buying a home. Do you have the tools you need to know if your new home is the best you can afford?

Is there a school where you can learn how to buy a home?

I’m sure you could find them - the internet caters to all needs these days - however, your best choice is to do a little research and then choose to work with a real estate agent that KNOWS your area, someone like me. Knowing your neighborhood means being aware of similar property values, market trends, crime statistics, and the local schools. When you trust your agent to help you in determining home pricing and neighborhood values, you'll find the home buying and selling process much easier. Real estate can be tricky and you'll be ahead of the pack if you rely on your agent to share their knowledge of the town you are exploring.

If you want to do your own research on any area, here are some resources for you to consider.

In particular when evaluating a neighborhood, consider the school district and the individual school. School statistics change year to year, but general trends can be determined.  If you have a family you’ll of course have different needs regarding schools than someone who is retired, however the tone of the school often matches the neighborhood and community values, so it’s wise to take a look. The amount a school district or individual school spends per child, the teacher turn-over rate, and parent satisfaction ratings can all provide you with information, along with traditional API scores.  Schools can have an affect on the long-term sales of a home and your happiness with your community at large.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

GREAT NEWS.....Utah foreclosure rate drops to 26th in Nation

SALT LAKE CITY — SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah's foreclosure rate is the 26th highest in the nation after posting a more than 70 percent drop in activity since last July.

Data released Thursday by RealtyTrac Inc. shows that one in 1,284 Utah housing units saw a foreclosure filing in July. That's 11 percent down from June.

Utah foreclosure filings have been dropping quickly in the past few months. In April, the state had the 7th highest foreclosure rate - with one in 419 homes seeing a foreclosure filing.

Nationwide, foreclosure activity is down slightly. The number of default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions was down 3 percent from June and 10 percent from last July.

California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Illinois had the highest foreclosure rates in the nation in July.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night

Whether you are a long time resident or have just moved into a new home, doing your part to be enhance your neighborhood and build friendships on your block will increase your personal happiness with your home.

Being a supportive and caring neighbor can be as simple as creating conversation or lending a hand with a garbage can or newspaper.  However, you can also show appreciation with sharing your talents in the garden or kitchen.

Are you aware that August 8th is a national holiday? Officially declared, “Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night,” this is the perfect chance to get to know your neighbors!

Whether you bring over some of your garden’s treasures or just a few freshly baked muffins, you definitely have a reason now to open conversation and get to know the people living on your block. If you’d rather share the wealth anonymously, the feelings of goodwill will still remain, but why not adopt this as a chance to make a new friend?  I bet just reading ”Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Night” made you smile, and it’ll make your neighbors grin, too.

There are a wealth of  zucchini recipes online or you can use your tried and true favorites.  Of course, just dropping off the squash with a note works, too!  Have fun being a good neighbor and let me know how it goes and how many people you meet!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I’m Just Buying A Home, Not Training for the Olympics!

Buying a home is not as easy of a task as most people would imagine. It takes time to determine not only what you want and where you want it, but also what you can afford.

After those two tasks are nailed down, time, research and organizational know-how are required to ensure a stress-free and seamless transaction for both home buyers and sellers. That's why you need an experienced and knowledgable real estate agent Lori Fleming.

I know it’s hard to believe, but as a real estate agent, I don’t just sit around eating bon-bons, sorting paint chips, and watching television. In fact, I’ve probably seen less Olympic events than you this summer! Instead I work hard to ensure that I am helping my clients in the most and best ways imaginable. In some ways, you might even say that being a real estate agent is like becoming an athlete!

I Train Every Day - I am constantly on the look-out not just for homes, but also for tools to make the buying and selling process easier on my clients. I seek out real-time marketing information I can share with you on my blog but also in person as I consider your individual needs. I use technology to make sure I keep up my edge and am aware whenever a new listing or open house is available in your neighborhood. It’s my job to know your area and I can’t do that without a daily commitment to myself AND to you!

I Start with The End in Mind - I set goals, personally, professionally, and also as your advocate in real estate. Whether you are searching or selling in a specific price range or are more concerned with architecture, I make delivering on your real estate dreams my goal. I love to win and while I may not get a medal to hang around my neck, I take great pride in knowing that I accomplished something profound when I see your real estate needs met. Seeing a happy new home owner or satisfied home seller makes my day!

I Set Specific Targets - Just as Olympians use determined focus and endurance to train for their events, I do the same when meeting your real estate needs. As your agent, I can outline the specific steps we will take to find you a home or get your home sold, or both. Details matter in real estate transactions and I will make sure you understand the importance of each. We will develop timelines, as well, to make sure that expectations are met for you and for me. As we reach the targeted steps throughout the process, you will feel confident and secure and relaxed, knowing that we are on track. If something unexpected occurs, we will easily redirect it and/or modify the targets as needed, to keep focus on buying or selling your home.

So, no, you're not training for the Olympics when you buy or sell your home, but I may as well be! I want you to reach your highest real estate goals and to do that, I need to be at the top of my game. So ask me about my training, my credentials, and how well I know your area - let me show you how I'd compete if real estate was an Olympic event. Together, I know we'd bring home the gold!