Wednesday, April 30, 2014

FOR SALE: Quaint Victorian Cottage

I recently listed this affordable 3 bedroom 1 bath home for sale in Ogden, Utah.

Located at 777 27th St., this cottage was constructed around 1912.  The interior features some amazing original woodwork, transom windows, and tall ceilings.

The yard is fully fenced.  The property has a 1 car detached garage with access from an abuttars alley behind the property.

The property would make an excellent first time home or investment property.  The property is currently rented but the tenants are very clean and they are prepared to leave if the new owner desires.

 Here is a video tour of the property:

If you are interested in learning more about this home, please CONTACT ME and we can get you all the details.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Old Home Basements: Removing Steam Boiler Pipes

We have been slowly working towards finishing our basement.  However, unlike most unfinished basement spaces found in new homes, we have some unique challenges to overcome in order to complete the job.

The first order of business has been to remove the old steam boiler pipes that once heated the home.  The old heating system was installed in 1910 and consisted of approximately 100 feet of pipe which fed radiators on the main level and second level.  The pipes were suspended from the ceiling with steel rods braced by wood spans placed periodically in the floor joists.  

But this was no ordinary pipe.  These pipes were 8" in diameter and 3/8th inch thick steel.  Cutting these pipes out required a saws-all and lots of blades.  I wore through about 20 blades and burned out one saws-all, on loan from my father-in-law of course, during the process.

After the pipes were down, the fun part was taking it to the recycler's to recover some of our cost.  It turns out that the pipes totaled 1,260 pounds.  What took me and helper 30 minutes to load in the trailer took the guy with the giant magnet just 10 seconds to remove.  We were able to recover about $100 at Bloom Recycers in Ogden.  The "green" theme of their website is kind of humorous when you compare it to the post-apocalyptic grittiness of the actual work site.  Nevertheless, a valuable service is provided .

The next exciting chore will be to remove the boiler.  We have contacted a welder to discuss the job since it will require a cutting torch.

If you live in an old home and need tips on repairs, improvements, and vendors, CONTACT ME, and I would be glad to point you in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OGDEN RISING: Raze the Old, Raise the New

It seems the pace of positive transformation occurring in Ogden is increasing exponentially.  Here are a couple more projects where the wrecking ball has made its mark:

17th St. and Washington Blvd.

This structure located on the southwest corner of Washington Blvd. and 17th Street has sat fallow for years.  Once used for bustling commercial purposes, the place was most recently used as a now-defunct skate shop.

The building is being cleared for new development.  My understanding is that a convenience store will occupy a part of the property.  While not a superstar economic development project, it will at least retool the space for its best and highest use for the foreseeable future.  Clearly, a rotting warehouse benefits no one.    


20th St. and Lincoln Ave.

Here is a before photo of an old warehouse at the intersection of 20th St. and Lincoln Ave.:

This corner was recently demolished to make way for a new Juvenile Court building.  Construction has begun in earnest. 

When complete, the project should help alleviate concerns at the current juvenile building on 26th St. between Washington Blvd. and Adams Ave.

This structure was designed improperly for its current use in the Juvenile Court system. When the new project is finished, it will continue to be utilized but in a capacity more suited to its design.

Ogden's transformation continues!     

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Photos of the Day: From Roof Leak Laziness to Loose Lath Craziness

Like people get regular health checkups, homes need regular maintenance and upkeep.  Knowing this, I am always surprised at what I find in some homes as owners neglect the warning signs that they have a problem.  For instance, here is a Victorian era home I viewed whose owner ignored a roof problem.

This is an example of a small problem turning into a big problem.  Lath-and-plaster construction is pretty robust.  A dose of moisture isn't going to cause catastrophic problems in the short run.  However, an unpatched roof leak can cause serious headaches if left unattended.  Clearly, the owner of this property let things go too far.

The owner did eventually perform a complete tear off of the roof and reshingled it with new wafer board and 30 year architectural shingles.  But, they didn't bother to come clean up the mess left behind from the failing plaster.

Just another example of why it is so important to fix little problems before they become giant ones.

Monday, April 14, 2014

FOR SALE: Fixer-Upper Mega-Duplex Short Sale

I just listed this property for sale in Ogden.

This property is located at 3429 Fowler Ave. and clocks in at an enormous 4400 SQFT.  The property has 10 bedrooms and 6 baths split evenly between each unit of the building.  Interestingly, this property was sold as a fourplex back in 2007.  Unfortunately, the property is not zoned for that and it does not have legal non-conforming use on record at Ogden City.  So, that means the building can only be used as a duplex moving forward.

Obviously, this means the the property has declined in value and economic utility significantly since the owner purchased it.  In this case, the decrease in value means that the owner now owes more than the property is worth in today's market.  Thus, we are moving forward with a short sale to clear the property in the market and to sell it at a price that makes sense for the next purchaser.

On top of the loss of density problem, the property also suffers from some significant deferred maintenance.  Substantive capital improvements are needed to bring the property back into line with market rents.  I estimate that repairs would cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to renovate the whole building.

After repairs are completed, rents on each unit would be around $900-$950 per month.  That kind of rent roll would place the building at a value of approximately $180,000 in today's market.  So, we have started our list price off low to attract a buyer willing to make the repairs.

Here is a video walk through tour of the south unit:

This video contains images that are not suitable for all audiences.  If you are someone who likes looking at pictures of pretty houses, viewer discretion is advised.  


Obviously, this property isn't for everyone.  Nor is it for most people.  However, for those with the vision to make the proper repairs, this property could be a fantastic investment and/or owner occupied duplex.  The mid-century floorplan is workable.  The hardwood floors are able to be salvaged.  But most of all, the property is located just blocks from Weber State University.  This property could be a profitable investment for anyone savvy enough to correct the property's problems.

If you are interested in learning more about the current low list price and details on short sale status, CONTACT ME.  I have placed a contractor key box on the property for access to the vacant unit for your convenience.

Ogden Temple Reconstruction - April 2014

The Ogden Temple reconstruction project is nearly complete.  We recently heard some interesting factoids from a church official in charge of the remodel.  Apparently, the granite exterior was quarried in Egypt with any milling or refining of the pieces being done in China.  The interior is adorned in African mahogany.  The edifice should be open to the public in the Fall.

Here is what the temple looked like in April 2011:

Here is the temple in April 2014:

The new architecture is both graceful and dignified. It is truly a beautiful building.  I suspect its presence will have a lasting positive impact on downtown Ogden and the surrounding neighborhoods for decades to come.

Friday, April 11, 2014

MLS BLIND: Super Secret Sales Prices

I had the opportunity to attend a Broker's Forum at the NWAOR offices recently.  The featured guest was a gal from the WFRMLS offices who wanted to talk about the latest changes coming to our MLS system.

One of the most interesting topics she mentioned was a change to MLS policy that will allow for sales prices to be unpublished.  I thought this was intriguing.  Since the one of the major missions of the MLS is to provide coherent data to help the market function in a smooth and efficient way, the transparency of reporting sales prices would seem to be one of its most basic services.  Well, as it turns out, some sellers don't want the sales price of their property to be reported.  Perhaps its a family estate issue; or, perhaps there is a rock star who is selling their home to another celebrity and they don't want the price to be known.

Regardless of the circumstances, the MLS will soon be allowing a sales price to be undisclosed.  The catch is that it can be done for the nominal fee of just $500.  So, you had better really not want to report that price.  If MLS members are caught evading this rule by 'withdrawing' a listing rather than paying the fee, they will be fined $1,500.

In my 10 years in the business, I have never had a client request that their sales price be undisclosed.  But, I have never worked with rock stars or contentious family estate sales either (but I have had many experiences working with amicable estate sales).  I guess there is a first time for everything though.

If you are a rock star, executor of a family estate, or just someone who wants to sell their property, CONTACT ME, and lets make the real estate market work for you...whether you want to disclose the final sales price or your home or not.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

JUST SOLD! Brick Mid-Century Rambler

I just concluded this transaction for my buyers. 

Our story begins in November of 2013, when the home was purchased by a real estate investor after the home had foreclosed.  The property was pretty dingy and needed some TLC.  The investor paid $70,000 cash and began work on the repairs.

In February, the property was listed for $123,000.  At that time, my clients and I had been shopping in the area for an affordable home.  Unfortunately, all we could find were overpriced scratch-and-dent properties.  My clients needed either something that was ready to be lived in, or priced to accommodate any work they would have to put into it.  So, when this property came along.  We immediately recognized its potential.  

Our initial offer was $107,000 and asking for $3,500 in closing costs. Due to the winter season and the fact that the home was vacant, we decided to press our luck on what the seller would tolerate as an offer.  We expected a counteroffer and we quickly found out.  The seller countered at $119,900 while paying $3,500 in closing costs.  We countered again at $116,000 including our initial closing costs allowance.  Finally, the seller bottomed out at $119,000 with the closing cost allowance included.  

Once we finalized the agreement, we began our due diligence.  The plumbing was an obvious issue.  Low pressure and malfunctioning valves needed to be addressed. Since my clients were using an FHA loan, we wanted to avoid clouding the loan process up with a repair addendum.  Instead, we chose to verbally ask the seller to make specific repairs and extended our due diligence deadline in an addendum while we waited in good faith for the repairs to be made.  The requested repairs were made and we moved forward with the appraisal.  

That is when Pandora's Box was opened on us.  It turns out that FHA had recent rule changes that prevent a home that is being flipped, like the one my were purchasing, from being placed under contract within 90 days of the purchase date.  The home was bought by the seller on November 19, and we placed it under contract on February 12.  We were short just 7 days.  Unfortunately, this placed a red flag in FHA's case file on the home.  Per FHA guidelines, the underwriter requested a copy of the home inspection (with all its boogers) and a second appraisal was ordered.  

Due to a disgruntled neighbor who was compelled to remove all of his cars and junk from the driveway when the seller acquired the home, the second appraiser cited that the foundation needed a structural engineer's inspection based on the angry neighbor's embellished testimony of how bad the foundation had settled.  The underwriter then sent us a note indicating that a list of 20 items needed to be addressed and repaired including electrical, more plumbing, HVAC, and others.  Each required a licensed contractor specialized in their field to make the inspections.  In all, we had five specialists descend on the home.

The listing agent was perplexed as was I.  Nevertheless, we pressed forward and completed our tedious checklists. The foundation was found to be sound and all the repair items were addressed. Finally, we closed the transaction.

Congratulations to my buyers on their purchase!  

If you are in the market for a home, and need a hard working agent who will get the transaction done, CONTACT ME, and you won't be disappointed.       


Monday, April 7, 2014

Home Sales Finally Recover From Gov't Shutdown

In December, I wrote about how the Government shutdown had seriously affected home sale trends in Weber County.  After watching the market for the past few months, it has been interesting to see how its effects have lingered.  Here is today's chart showing the impact that event had on the real estate market:

After a two year run of solid sales increases year-over-year, the government shut down pushed sales into 20% slump during November.  The shock waves from that event carried forward and we are just now again returning to the cusp of sales growth.  Fortunately, the early numbers indicate March will see a positive growth figure.

In our second chart, you can see how the increase in sales of the last three years has leveled out with the recent month's performance coming in below last year's numbers.

So, gratefully we can put this event behind us and move on to a much anticipated busy summer selling season.  Meanwhile, we can hope (there is always hope) that there are no further palpitations from the Federal government when it comes to making payroll and keeping its finances in order.  

If you have any real estate needs, CONTACT ME, and lets make your next real estate experience a positive one.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

HOUSE PRICES: The Surge Continues

I had time to crunch some numbers for house prices in Weber County.  Here is the latest chart:

Keep in mind that this in an indexed chart starting with a starting value of $100,000 for 1979. Obviously, that would represent a very sizable house back then.  All ships rise with the tide so even if you don't own a home that was worth $100K in 1979, you can get a relative sense of where prices have been over the past 15 years.  

As you can see, after an insane increase and miserable decline, house prices finally began a modest turn around in 2012 and reasserted themselves in 2013.  This was due to low interest rates and the fact that mortgage payments were considerably less than rent.

Homeowners who purchased after March 2007 or before June 2010 might find that their homes are still not worth what they paid for them.  However, as prices continue to increase, that window will get smaller for many people.  The trends are positive and Weber County should see a 3% increase in house prices this year.  That is less than we experienced last year but still headed in a direction and will benefit all homeowners.      

If you are thinking of selling your home or want to get a sense of what it is worth in today's market, CONTACT ME, and we can put together a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis for you.  You may be surprised at how much your home's value has increased recently.