Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5 Things You Should Do When You Move Into a New Home

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1. Change locks

Unfortunately, you can’t assume the keys you’re holding are the only keys to your home that could exist out there. Play it safe and have all the locks changed as soon as you can.

2. Re-program garage door opener

Again, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the security of your new home. Most garage door remotes have a reset button that you can hold down to reprogram the opener. If you want more concise instructions, note the make and model of the opener and contact the company to walk you through the steps.

3. Install new batteries in smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector

You have no way of knowing when the batteries were last changed and if the home has been unoccupied, it’s probably been awhile. Test the alarm and detector and put new batteries in each. This investment of time and a few dollars is well worth it, given the stakes.

4. Replace furnace filter

Most manufacturers recommend that a furnace filter be changed once a month during the heating season to ensure the most efficient performance. While there are higher-quality filters that may not require monthly replacement, it’s still a good idea to check the filter monthly and, of course, replace it when you move into a new place.

5. Check with the County Assessor

Here in the Ogden Valley, we have many homes that are used as secondary residences. The most important thing you should do when you move into a new property here is to check with the county assessor to see if your home is assessed as a primary or non-primary home. If your home is listed as a primary residence, it will be taxed at half of what a secondary residence is taxed at which could end up saving you thousands of dollars. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Benefits of Refinancing Your Home In Today’s Market

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You’ve probably heard this before but we’re saying it again: Now is a great time to refinance your home! And as our marketplace continues to shift and drift into new (and positive) territory, why not take advantage to end up with thousands of dollars in savings? Here are just a few reasons...

Interest Rates Have Never Been Lower

The truth is our interest rates are still at that unbelievable rate that some of us are shaking our heads over. Can you imagine mortgage rates being in the teens? That was way back in the day. And today, they are at their 60-year low, which means you might not get this kind of opportunity of a lifetime ever again.

Home Prices Have Stabilized

Home prices have finally stabilized too. With prices on the rise, this is the perfect time to lock in a low monthly payment. Savings will be instantaneous and you will notice it, particularly if you currently have a mortgage that is one or more percent over today’s low rates.

Streamlined Refi’s Don’t Cost a Thing

Homeowners can tap into one of several programs designed to help people that are paying far too much interest on their current mortgages. Streamlined refinances are a great option because they often entail less paperwork, they don’t involve fees and they pick up on the homeowners’ previous repayment history so there isn’t any negative impact on your credit.
To find out more about how you can benefit from refinancing your home, call Candice Caroll today at 801.458.6938. And of course for all your real estate needs, call us – we’re right here ready to help you when you need us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HARP Loans

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A special thanks to Candice Carroll of Republic Mortgage Home Loans. You can call her at 801-689-8200 or email her at ccarroll@repmtg.com.

Government Refinance Assistance Program HARP is Here to Stay Until the End of 2013

When the housing market crashed in late 2007 and early 2008, millions of American homeowners were hit and they were hit hard. In fact, despite much of a comeback in many markets there are still countless homeowners struggling to deal with underwater mortgages. The Home Affordable Program’s refinance scheme, established by the government in April of 2009, has since allowed many people with underwater mortgages the freedom and flexibility to not only keep their homes but also save money in the process.

Today, there is a new version of the program, called HARP 2.0. It gets its new name as a result of a second extension made to continue allowing homeowners to benefit from this lifesaving program. The most notable aspects include the provision of refinancing an upside down mortgage with today’s historically low interest rates, as well as the waiver of an appraisal as would be typical for most refinances.

Previously, this program was set to expire at the end of this year on December 31st however the government has extended this much-needed program through December 31, 2013 in the hopes to continue helping millions of homeowners still struggling to keep afloat in their homes.

This is an especially attractive option for a lot of consumers that have struggled throughout the past several years but maintained current status on their mortgages. Since homeowners are able to retain their home, avoid foreclosure and forego short sales altogether the program has become one of the most popular refinance choices for many mortgagors.

In terms of requirements, the home must financed with a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned mortgage. Also, the mortgage being refinanced must have been obtained on or before May 31, 2009.  Additionally, this applies only to homeowners who have not previously refinanced their home.

If you have lost a lot of equity in your home and are seeking alternatives to foreclosure or short sale, contact us today! We will connect you to a reputable lender for more information and together you can explore whether this is right for you. And as always, if you or anyone you know is interested in anything real estate related, I invite you to contact us with your questions today – we look forward to helping you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sifting Through All the Choices When Choosing a Local Area To Buy a Home

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When you hear the three words “Location! Location! Location!” what comes to mind? How far the home is located to your place of work? The quality of schools in the area? Shopping options? Or does the history and background intrigue you and propel your desire to live in the vicinity?

For each of us, there will be unique aspects that we will drive us toward the decisions we end up making when buying a property. When you spend time considering those options, be sure to look at what’s out there and list your must-haves, would-loves and can’t-stands. That way you will have a snapshot of everything you may want included in your property.

Some other areas of interest may include looking up the tax information and tax-related costs associated with living in a certain area. Similarly, are there any fees that go along with living in a particular association? What sorts of amenities come with the property, if any? Do crime statistics portray a comfortable environment for you and your family?

Regardless of what your questions are – it’s important to ask those questions as you embark upon the exciting task of finding your dream home. 

Here are some great resources to help you find your way:

And here’s this great app for iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys and more...

Of course, if you prefer connecting with someone in person – we’d be glad to help you figure out some of the factors that might determine which is the perfect home for you. Contact us today!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Maximize Your Home’s Online Exposure To Attract Today’s Tech-Savvy Buyers

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For an example see the video above.

Have you been in the market to purchase a big-ticket item lately? In the last 5, 10 or even 15 years? What’s the first thing you tend to do? Well if you’re like most consumers, chances are you will turn to the Internet for a first look at the options, prices, features and more information.

The same holds true for vehicle purchases and even more so during the purchase of a home. In fact, in more recent times the number of home buyers that engage in some sort of online activity for weeks, even months, before getting in touch with a real estate agent has skyrocketed. With over 90% of buyers searching online to short list their favorites, you cannot afford not to have the best online presentation of your home. Here are four tips on how you can ensure the highest level of online exposure when selling your home:

Present a De-Cluttered Space That Make Buyers Want to See More
Yes, less really is more in this case. By showing off the home for it’s solid structure, strong architecture, physical features and other amenities – you will attract more attention. Think “magazine layout” when you are setting up your home for sale. The furniture should be set up in a comfortable yet neutral way, allowing buyers to truly visualize living in the space. Nothing is more unflattering and difficult to see through for a buyer than too many personal belongings – and too much stuff in general.

Choose a Professional to Capture The Essence of Your Home
We’ve all seen them; the listings where it was obvious whoever took the photos used their iPhone and clumsily uploaded them to the site. But if you want to stand out and actually reach out to grab potential buyers, then it is essential to use a professional photographer. They know how to highlight the features of the space, use light to your home’s best advantage and create imagery that makes buyers want to find out more.

Utilize the Highest Level of Technology
Buyers are spending time online so that they can enjoy the process from the comfort of their own home. To make sure they have the most enjoyable online experience, use video to all but bring them right into the space. There’s a difference between a slide show of the same photographs available online versus an actual virtual tour. A tour allows prospective buyers to experience the home as if walking through it. It’s also a great way to share more information to others via email or on social media sites.

Reach Out to Anyone and Everyone Possible
Part of the convenience of the Internet is the ability to access information for just about any area desired. But it’s important to have presence on all corners of the net through syndicated websites. One of the most effective tools for selling a home successfully with a strong online presence is to gain maximum online exposure through numerous syndicated property and home websites. 
We, at the Spring Bengtzen Realty Group, understand the importance of standing out when you are selling your home – particularly in today’s competitive selling marketplace. That’s why we engage in the use of premium marketing avenues to promote your home. Our high-end videos, professional photography, extensive website syndication and more – will not only make your home stand out in the crowd, it will make it shine! We invite you to contact us today for all your real estate endeavors. Thanks – and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy 2012 Holidays and Warm Season’s Greetings!

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To all our cherished friends, neighbors, family and clients – we are so proud to have been able to work with you and be a part of your lives! As we end this year and turn to the exciting time and events that 2013 holds, we just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you bring to our lives.

We have some really great plans in the coming year to bring more success to all your real estate endeavors. And with each transaction that makes it to the closing table in the coming months and years ahead – we know that there will continue to be new and exciting things to follow for all of us.

On behalf of the entire group – Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Peace and Joy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments Worth the Time and Effort?

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In most cases, yes! It’s essentially a process by which you make extra payments on your mortgage. That way, you save interest costs and pay off the loan faster.

How Does It Work?

You make a payment to your lender every two weeks instead of once a month. This means that each payment is equal to half of the monthly amount due. The result – you’re paying the equivalent of 13 full payments rather than the usual 12.

It gets even better! The full amount of the extra payment is applied toward the principal. And because the principal balance is the amount on which interest is calculated, paying down principal results in a reduction in accrued interest!

Let’s look a traditional payment monthly schedule vs. a bi-weekly schedule so you can see exactly how it works.

Example 1: Traditional monthly payments

Let’s assume you have a loan balance of $250,000 with a 6 percent interest rate and a 30-year loan term. In this example, your monthly payments are $1,498.88. So, over the life of the loan, you’d pay a total interest of about $289,595.

Example 2: Bi-weekly payments

Using the same loan balance and terms described above, the difference would be the following:

• $749.44 paid every two weeks
• About $225,490 paid in total interest
• This results in a savings of more than $64,000 in interest!
• In addition, the loan is paid off in 24 rather than 30 years

Bi-monthly payments are still a good strategy if you’re an individual who doesn’t plan to keep your house for 24 or 30 years. Why? Because bi-weekly payments still reduce principle, even over a short period of time.

For example, in the first year, the principle is reduced by nearly $1,600. And, at the end of the fifth year, the principle amount has been reduced by about $9,000!

How Do I Arrange Bi-Weekly Payments?

The first task is to contact lenders to find out if they do offer a bi-weekly payment schedule.

If they offer one, ask what the participation requirements are. In typical situations, lenders require you to have payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account since they dislike processing checks every two weeks.

Often, it’s the case that a one-time fee is charged for this service. The fee can be minimal or be in the several-hundred-dollar range, depending on the lender.

So, after all these benefits, how can there possibly be disadvantages to bi-weekly mortgage payments?

Well, the first disadvantage relates to a situation I mentioned above - the lender’s fee is very expensive for the service provided. In such a case, the costs may outweigh or cut down your overall savings.
A second disadvantage occurs when paying bi-weekly is too hard on your budget. Upfront, you need to make sure that you have the money available for the increased payments.

The final potential disadvantage relates to the length of time you plan to stay in your home. That can affect your overall savings on interest.

I recommend that you weigh the pros and cons of bi-weekly mortgage payments by using one of the many online calculators. Just enter your numbers and the calculator will give you a comparison.

If you’d like the assistance of an expert on the subject, contact us immediately!