NMLS# 3151

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Why Use A Real Estate Agent?

Whether buying or selling, it is always advisable to use a professional real estate Agent. The below reasons help shed some light on why using a real estate Agent is not just wise, but is practically necessary.

A real estate Agent wears many hats throughout the course of each day and each transaction. An Agent’s full-time job is to be the liaison between you and the other Agent involved in a real estate transaction.

Real estate Agents have to be licensed to be a Realtor. This means the Agent must endure hours of studying and learning, then prepare for one exam that determines by a “pass” or “fail” if the Agent receives a license. Agents are also required to complete ongoing trainings to stay current with the laws and changes in the real estate industry. Unless you have studied real estate and have your own license, hiring a professional is your smartest move.

This may very well be your biggest financial investment. Whether big or small, you should still hire a professional to navigate the process. When selecting an Agent, be sure to interview possible candidates and ask trusted friends or relatives for referrals. You will want to find someone with experience in your geographic area of interest, as well as with the full real estate process. Time and money are both in limited supply. Hiring an experienced professional will save you both time and money in the long run. Check out our post: How to Find the Right Agent for You (And Key Questions to Ask)

Real estate Agents have easy and quick access to all the accurate data. An Agent’s continuous training allows the Agent to stay on top of all the changes in the market. Agents also have a wealth of resources. That, coupled with their background and experience, only add to the individual’s value in the industry.

Area Information
Agents have intimate knowledge and understanding of local neighborhoods. Agents can pull reliable area comparables to create an accurate pricing benchmark. They can also help gather data on schools, demographics, crime statistics, parks, and nearby businesses.

Current Market Conditions
Information such as home comparables, average sale prices in the area, average days on market can help direct your decisions. In addition, for buyers, knowing the background of a listing of high interest may also be quite helpful. If the buyer has a serious interest in submitting an offer, the buyer may find it helpful to know total time on the market, if there were previous offers, how long the seller has owned the home, etc. Real estate Agents have access to this information.

Referrals for Reputable Vendors
Real estate Agents are very connected in the local community. Agents work with preferred Lenders, home inspectors, home repair companies, landscaping companies, title companies, and a variety of other business professionals often needed during the real estate process. Your Agent will recommend businesses with a good reputation, efficient service, competitive pricing, and quality work. This type of vendor referral is great for saving time and the hassle of searching for the vendors on your own.

Act as a Buffer
Time is valuable and most of us don’t have enough of it these days. An Agent takes a lot of the work out of the real estate process. Of great value is an Agent’s ability to act as the liaison and buffer throughout the process. For a buyer, the Agent handles the communication from a seller’s Agent and works diligently to answer all questions. For a seller, the Agent filters all buyer’s Agent inquiries and works hard to keep interest up while the property is listed to bring in serious buyers.

Document Manager
For anyone who has been through a real estate purchase before, they are aware of the large amount of paperwork that comes with a sell or purchase. An Agent is responsible to manage all of the documents and ensure all “i’s” are dotted and all “t’s” are crossed. An Agent is equally responsible for maintaining the contract and keeping all timelines on schedule. Considering the legality behind a real estate transaction, an Agent takes the responsibility of keeping all documentation and meeting all legal requirements.

Pricing Guidance
With access to current market pricing, Agents can provide guidance regarding pricing of the real estate transaction. For example, with buyers, the Agent can help prepare them for realistic market prices based on the buyer’s search criteria and geographic location. With sellers, the Agent can guide their pricing strategy for their listing, along with any necessary price reductions while the property is listed.

Master Negotiator
Top performing and skilled Agents negotiate well. This is largely due to an Agent’s experience. Agents can easily remove themselves from all the emotional ties of a real estate transaction.  Great Agents are more than mere messengers. For the buyer, an Agent is trained to present the offer and negotiate on behalf of the buyer, including positioning the offer in the best light to entice the seller to accept. On the opposite side of the transaction, the seller’s Agent will review all offers and advise the seller on whether to accept, counter, or reject outright.

From Beginning to End
An Agent will be there from the moment he or she is engaged to represent either the buyer or the seller and through to the very end of closing the transaction. Agents are indispensable in helping navigate the full real estate process, and even long after.

Future Transactions
It is not likely that your current home will be your last. A highly qualified real estate Agent is a great connection to maintain. You can provide a trusted referral to your friends and family, which your Agent will so greatly appreciate, and can use that same Agent for future real estate needs. Remember that an Agent’s ongoing success and immediate income are based on positive referrals. Agents are always focused on making each client’s experience the best for that client.

If you are just starting your real estate search, consider working with one of our skilled, qualified, and trusted Agents. Call today and experience the best in the industry. (801) 478-4545

Of our most trusted and respected partners and vendors, we highly recommend working with our knowledgeable RANLife Lenders. (800) 461-4152

Our Team

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mobile Apps to Help Your Home Search


In the new digital age where search options are plentiful, so too are the variety of phone apps to help with a home search. Below is a summary of the top trending and more popular apps and how they are best used. Your Realtor can help answer any questions you may have, and can direct you to a qualified and trustworthy Lender as well.

Listed in alphabetical order:

Initially launched by the U.S. Census Bureau, dwellr was created to make statistical information more easily accessible. The app provides such data as population, demographics, climate, median income, median age, etc. Based on a set of data input by the user, the app displays the top 25 cities that best match the search preferences. The app is often used to learn about specific geographic areas and to research possible relocation destinations. From a real estate perspective, the app can be very helpful in researching accurate data before someone proceeds with a major move or permanent relocation. Once you narrow the search to a more specific location or two, you can dig deeper into additional data and search for homes in that area.

Similar to the “like” functionality of Facebook or the “swipe” functionality of popular dating sites, the Doorsteps Swipe app displays images of homes that are currently available. The display results are based on specific data input for the initial search. If you like a home, you swipe right. If you do not like a home, you swipe left. The app adds an element of fun to your home search. With enough time spent looking at homes, you are likely to start seeing trends in the features and types of homes that you are drawn to. Be sure to share any insights with your real estate Agent as it will help your Agent to find better homes that meet your interests and needs.

Nowadays, it is common for people to list their homes on Facebook, or to have their Listing Agent post their home on Facebook for them. There a entire Facebook pages dedicated to local home listings and searches. Many real estate teams will create pages to promote their listings. If searching for a home in the local market, Facebook can be an additional resource to find home listings. Similar to the advisement about using KSL, with Facebook, there will likely be outdated postings of homes that are no longer available. Your Agent can further research any possible listing to gather more information and determine if the home is still available and if it is accurately represented in the Facebook post.

Giving access to millions of homes for sale across the country, Homes.com integrates interactive maps, high-res property photos, and accurate home values, among other helpful and current market information.

Providing real-time updates and details on current listings, Homesnap allows users to “snap” a mobile photo and the app will search and provide information about the property from the MLS (multiple listing service) and any additional public records. The app has also enabled a messaging feature between the buyer or seller and the Agent, as well as sending messages to a significant other to share in search findings.

As a local home listing site, KSL.com provides a lot of local listings as most locals post their sale items, including homes, on both Facebook and KSL. The KSL search options may be a great option to gather some additional home options for consideration. Work directly with your Agent to further vet any KSL listings as there may be old listings still active on the site and available for search. Similarly, use caution when looking at listings on Facebook as the same issues may arise. Your Agent can gather additional information about possible listings.

As the official website of the National Association of Realtors, Realtor.com helps buyers and sellers alike to post and find for reliable and useful data in the housing market. For buyers, in addition to allowing search by geography, Realtor.com also has a feature that enables search by school district via the website or the mobile app. The mobile app and desktop options track user information, keeping recent searches and account activity in sync across either interface.

This Seattle-based company provides real estate home search and brokerage services, ase well as access to live Agents. The app’s “hot homes” feature highlights homes that closely align with the searcher’s top interests. The app can predict how quickly the home might receive offers based on current market conditions. Be careful with the amount of weight you place behind the market predictions as they are not guaranteed and are based on a best-guess from market trends. Your Agent can be an excellent resource of data and current market trends. Be sure to discuss timing and expectations for offers once you get to that stage of the process.

As one of the most downloaded real estate apps, Trulia includes photo categories that are not offered on other apps or sites, such as fixer uppers or updated kitchens. This helps when searching for specific features or characteristics in a home. The layout of the app makes searches easy and highly visual for all users.

Thousands of Utah real estate buyers use the RANLife UtahFirstHomes.com site to search for the perfect home. We have all Real Estate Listings from all agents, providing you with access to maps, photos, virtual tours, new listing notices, price changes, and more. Our search results return all homes on the market regardless of who the listing agent is - you'll see them all.
Formerly known as Solutionstar, the newer app Xome creates a one-stop shopping experience in the real estate market. From selecting an Agent to finding a home and securing financing through a trusted Lender all the way to completing the purchase, Xome is shaking up the industry by providing several of the common real estate needs in one platform. The uniqueness of the app allows buyers or sellers and Agents to connect and communicate throughout the process.

With over 100 million homes in its database, Zillow offers a robust mobile app and website for searching local area listings. The app includes an interactive map with current home value estimates. Presently, Zillow holds ground as the most downloaded real estate app for both Apple and Android device users. A word of caution with the data reliability reported by Zillow:  there can be some inaccuracies in the “zestimate” (home value estimate) that is reported. Zillow combats the inaccuracy issue by reporting estimated value ranges for properties. The closer or smaller the range of values, the more reliable the estimate is as it represents that Zillow has more data available on that particular property.

In summary, there are many sites and apps available for real estate searches, and more entering the market each day. There is more data available now than ever before, and all of it practically instantaneous and at our fingertips. At times, the information can be conflicting and, at other times, confusing. It is always wise to turn to your Agent for guidance and to answer any questions.

At RANLife, our Agents are qualified and always put you first. Our Lenders are equally credentialed and focused on your needs. We are dedicated to helping you achieve your real estate goals. Call us today to get started.
Real Estate: (801) 478-4545
Lending: (800) 461-4152

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Surprise Costs for Home Owners

Surprise Home Ownership Costs

Property Taxes
Ask about the property taxes. These are usually included on the MLS listing and can be obtained from the local county office. Secure the accurate annual property tax figure, divide that number by 12 months, and add the result to the estimated monthly mortgage payment. If you are still within your monthly budget, you shouldn’t have a concern. If you are pushing your max budget, or if you are over your monthly budget limit, you may have to keep looking at other homes. And remember, property taxes are going to continue to grow. So, make sure this cost fits into your planned budget.
Home insurance is really an unknown cost for most buyers and homeowners. The insurance agency has a secret formula for determining each individual’s risk level, in addition to the home being insured. Such factors as the home location, year built, recent upgrades or updates, etc. can impact the home insurance cost. Also, your personal credit history can impact your home insurance cost. Ask your Lender to provide you with an estimated monthly payment that includes your home insurance in the total.
Looking for a trusted Lender? We’ve got you covered. Call us today. (800) 461-4152
When getting serious about a home purchase, you can request an estimate for monthly utilities to help better gauge costs. Add this ongoing cost to the total expenses of the home each month to ensure this falls within your budget.

Updates & Renovations
Although small changes such as decorating or a fresh coat of paint are common for new homeowners, bigger or more pricey updates are sometimes overlooked during the purchase process. Be sure to consider all major and minor updates and renovation work for a serious home purchase. Many people underestimate these costs and think they can or will do the work themselves. Be honest with yourself and gather realistic bids or quotes for work. Be sure to add a cushion to the estimate to allow your budget some room and not stretch your finances too thin.

For those looking at buying a “fixer-upper,” check out this post. Is A Fixer-Upper Right For You?

Lawn Work
Take the exterior yard into consideration. Are you comfortable with yard work? Do you have a large yard that will require a lot of attention and maintenance? Hiring a service can get costly, especially if you do not budget for this weekly expense. On the flip side, if you are planning to do the yard maintenance yourself, make sure you have the equipment needed. A new lawn mower can be a big expense if you aren’t planning for it.

Snow Removal
For locations with snowy winter weather, you may want to plan for a snow removal service for your driveway. This expense is less regular and quite unpredictable as it truly depends on Mother Nature. If you are not able or not wanting to handle snow removal from your sidewalks and driveway, you may consider paying for a service to do this for you. Be sure to include this in your budget.

Ongoing Maintenance
Remember, all homes require ongoing maintenance. Unforeseen expenses such as replacing a water heater, cleaning a chimney flue, fixing a plumbing leak, or replacing bad electrical can add up quick. Smaller, ongoing maintenance costs like blowing out your sprinklers in the fall or having your carpets cleaned once a year can also impact your budget. Be sure to leave room in your monthly allowance for common maintenance costs.

Pest Control
This can be a big expense, especially if you need a company to spray more than once or for multiple insect problems. Some homes or locations require pest control in the spring and in the fall. Ask friends and neighbors for referrals and be sure to get quotes from local pest control companies. This cost can be higher than expected and catches some people off guard.

Cleaning Your Home
Lots of people hire a regular home cleaning service. For some, it is a weekly luxury. For others, maybe once a month. Regardless of the frequency, if you plan to pay for a service to clean your home regularly, be sure to factor this into your monthly budget.

Next Steps
Think you’re ready to take that next step? Work with your Realtor and Lender to make sure you have the budget for the home. Your Realtor will help you through the buying process and will secure all the information you need. Your Lender will guide you through the home loan process and will ensure you have the financial means to purchase and own the home within your budget.

Call RANLife today to get started on your home purchase. (801) 478-4545 info@ranlife.com