SCHOOL DAZE

It’s September, when the smell of a pencil erasure or a new pad of paper makes me sigh for school days gone by. If you’re a commuter, you may sigh more often because school zones are now in effect around the state. I recently had a conversation with some buyers who really liked a home I showed them but were not pleased there was a school across the street. Having lived across from an elementary school years ago I gladly chimed in to say that there were great benefits to living near a school, like knowing when people would be there or not be there during the day and weekends, and having a swell playground to throw a ball with my dog or shoot hoops with friends. Sure, there is traffic during certain hours as buses and parents bring and take students to and from the school which brings noise, but there’s also a lot of eyes on the grounds which can help with security in the neighborhood.

School locations actually add value to a property, and according to two decades of research done by Duke University housing prices increase when student scores are high, and economists at the New York Times have estimated that a five percent improvement in student test scores in suburban neighborhoods can raise home prices by 2.5%. The Brookings institution found that after studying one hundred of the largest metro areas in the United States they found an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between houses in areas where students have high test scores vs in neighborhoods where schools have low test scores.

A study by BiggerPockets.com found that schools with a low student to teacher ratio, great enrollment and test scores with a school rating of four or five stars were ‘completely insulated form declining home values during a recession’.  That means it would be easier for you to sell your home if the market went south, and conversely get a great price when the market is strong.  I often have parents or parents to be who are buyers come to me to say they don’t really care so much about the house and its condition but they definitely want to be in a certain school district or by a certain school and would sacrifice square footage, parking and such to live there. Is it just me, or have you noticed that the whiter the neighborhood, the higher the property values and the better the schools?

There are a bazillion websites now that rate schools. Ones I recommend are greatschools.org, utahschoolgrades.schools.utah.gov, and slcschools.org. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…DO your research if you’re planning to buy or rent near a school, or, want to be near a specific school itself. Your REALTOR should be able to put you in touch with past clients who live near the school or have kids attending there who can give you a real take on the sitch.

 

https://www.raleighrealtyhomes.com/blog/how-schools-impact-home-values.html

BUBBLE BURSTING?

Uh oh! Is the bubble bursting? Park City’s Board of REALTORS reports that all three of their major weekly stats, new, pending and closed listings, continue to drop compared to 2020. That makes seven weeks in a row this has happened. And the drops are either the largest year-to-date (new listings) or second largest (sold listings). Pendings are down as well but not as severely.  They see a trend developing here which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the market traditionally trends downward starting in late summer,  as people get ready to go back to school or their get their kids ready to go back into classes. Inventory is still at insane lows (less than a month’s worth of inventory).

Most Boards of REALTORS/MLS sites are reporting a slowing in September in Utah, from Washington County to Northern Utah. Interest rates on home mortgages remain at all time lows and the Fed isn’t expected to raise rates anytime these last few months of the year. The stock markets in the U.S. are at the highest they’ve ever been and there really aren’t any indicators that the financial markets are headed to hell in a handbasket.  So what’s this mean to you?

If you’re in the market to shop for a home or condo, now would be a great time to get super serious!  You may have a chance to NOT get in a bidding war on a property or only go up against a few other buyers in an attempt to win a contract. Although homes in entry level prices are still flying off the MLS in record time, you may be able to discover a gem that may have been sitting too long on the market at an inflated price. Many property owners have dipped their toes in the real estate market this year to see how much buyers are willing to pay for their property. Given Salt Lake City homes were selling in less that ten days this summer, a home still on the market after 30 days looks super suspicious!  Savvy buyers who’ve been paying attention to the MLS feeds ask me, “What’s wrong with that house-it’s been on the market for THREE months!  Is it broken, or haunted?”  My sage advice to any buyer who hasn’t been able to secure a contract this summer should look to properties that have ‘soured’ on the market by sitting there without aggressive pricing and price reductions. Grab your cahones and throw in a low bid and see what bounces back at you! It doesn’t cost a dime to MAKE an offer on a home, and who knows, you might just get an accepted contract!  (Mind you, if you do get a seller to agree to your terms you would have to deposit your earnest money within four days of the contract being accepted).

Back to the bubble: NO it’s not bursting. Our markets are slowing because that’s normal this time of year when many of us would rather be rooting for the home team on a Saturday or Sunday than out looking at homes to buy.

FALL CHECK UP

Before winter sets in, it’s good to prevent maintenance issues! Unless you have mad skills, call professionals to come and do a health/maintenance checkup at your home:

-check your appliances. Vacuum the refrigerator fan/coils at the bottom or back of the unit to avoid overheating and save on electricity.

-Check hoses on the dishwasher and washer/dryer once a year for any bulges, cracks, or leaks.

-Change furnace filters every 3 months-especially now that our air is so smoky from West Coast fires.

-Check to see if you have surge protectors connected to your electrical devices to avoid overheating and fires. Replace frayed or worn cords on all electrical appliances.

-Check your roof for loose shingles, worn flashing and damaged/leaking gutters.

-If your water heater is making noises or you have low water pressure you may have issues. If there is water evident on the floor underneath it, you need a new one!

Has landscaping and dirt creeped too close to your foundation? Keep at least two feet of space between your home’s foundation and landscaping. You don’t want water coming into your basement if we get the surprise deluge from Mother Nature. Check that your gutter downspouts are pointed away from your foundation, and remember to clean out your gutters.

We recently installed a new security system at our home. We added two small wallet-sized water detection alarms that we put near our water heater and near the washer/dryer. Twice this summer the alarms went off and we were notified on our phone. Thank goodness because if we hadn’t been alerted our basement would have been flooded due to a broken water softener! Smoke, water, and CO2 alarms are all available at Lowes.

Also, quit throwing money in the grave-Try these simple tips to save on utility bills this winter:

-when clean your refrig and remove the dust bunnies, set the temp so that it’s cold enough to store food but not so low you waste energy;

-use the right size burner on your stove for the pan you’re working with. It saves heat and saves you money.

-only run your dishwasher when it’s full. It also saves water to use a full dishwasher rather than handwash each dish.

-make sure when you wash clothes you set the machine for the appropriate load size and clean your dryer vent often so it will run more efficiently. Washing on COLD saves money and use dryer balls to reduce drying time.

-change furnace filters at least every quarter and update your thermostat so you can control your temps via an app. Nest-like thermostats have helped improve our wise use of our heating and cooling systems.

-update your light bulbs to LED bulbs.

-update appliances if you can afford them, and with the interruption of the supply/shipping chain…if you can find them!

I made a checklist that I go over every quarter for me to check around my home, inside and out, to avoid potential surprises and disasters at our home base, our nest.