FAQ: Escrow Edition

canstockphoto40608516What is Escrow?

An escrow is a financial instrument held by an unbiased third party to protect the other two parties in a financial transaction. The funds are held by the escrow service until it receives written or oral instructions that both parties’ obligations have been fulfilled.

What are Escrow Services?

In a nutshell, escrow is a security service. Escrow services provide security in the handling and transaction of important property, funds and documents. Escrow personnel work closely with the buyers, sellers, lenders and borrowers involved in a transaction to ensure all funds and documents change hands at the appropriate time when certain preset conditions are met.

How Does an Escrow Account Work?

An escrow account is set up to collect payments over a 12-month period to be paid on your behalf. These payments go toward your property taxes, home owner’s insurance and possibly other items. You may be wondering why you can’t just pay these bills on your own, and you can as long as your lender is on board.

However, the lender makes the final decision. As investors, most lenders usually want to protect their investments and make absolutely sure that the property taxes and insurance are paid-to-date requiring an escrow service. This makes sense when you consider that unpaid property taxes result in a lien against the property and that lien supersedes the lender’s. No insurance also leaves the property (and their investment) uncovered and unprotected to damage such as a fire.

Why Escrow Taxes and Insurance Fees?

Aside from lenders protecting their investments, using escrow services to collect and pay your taxes and insurance can make life more simple for you. Let’s be honest, it takes some discipline and dedication to remember to set aside money every money on your own to ensure that there is enough to pay the bills at the end of the year when they are due. Often times, it is too easy to dip into those funds for other or unexpected bills. Think of an escrow account as an assurance that your taxes and insurance will be paid on time avoiding those pesky penalty and late fees.

How is the Amount in Escrow Determined?

Rest assured that if your lender requires an escrow account, the law limits the amount that you (the borrower) must pay. Usually, the lender divides the cost of your anticipated property tax, home owner’s insurance and any additional required items like owner’s association dues or flood insurance by 12. Then they collect that amount plus your payment (principal and interest).

As an example, let’s assume that you your estimated annual property tax bill is $1,500 and your annual insurance is $600. The lender will add $1,500 and $600 to get $2,100. Then they will divide the $2,100 by 12 to get your monthly escrow payment of $175.

What Happens When You Have a Shortage or Surplus?

Don’t fret about having a shortage. Your lender will likely offer you different options to make up the difference. Usually, you can choose to pay the shortage in full or space it out in 12 equal payments over the next year. You can even opt for a combination of paying some upfront and the rest over the next 12 months.

When the lender happens to collect too much over the previous year your escrow will have a surplus resulting in one of two options. For the first option, the lender could write you a check for the difference. For the second option, the lender could apply the surplus to the following year’s escrow payments.  Most opt for option two as next year’s escrow could result in a shortage due to higher insurance premiums or tax increases.

When Does the Escrow Close?

After the buyer and seller have signed all the necessary paperwork and required funds have come in, the closing agent (escrow officer) then disperses the funds. They also oversee the recording of the documents with the county.

When the deed is filed, the title to the property is officially transferred to the new owner and the transaction is complete. The escrow is now closed.

Both parties will receive a final closing statement and all other documents outlining all aspects of the financial transaction. Make sure to look over these documents carefully and notify the closing agent of any errors. Keeping the documents will help with filing your taxes.

Home renovations ideas for your house

Planning to renovate your house? There are a lot of ideas that can be utilized to give your house a new look. Moreover, these home renovations can also increase the ease in selling your home. Apart from the increase in the market value, the renovation will allow you to have a new feel while living in the same house. You can include your magical touch that will provide a unique look to your house. Here are the ideas that can be utilized for the home renovations:brush-1034901_640

1.    Redo the exterior:

The external part of your house plays a great role in creating the impression of your house. It depends on the exterior whether a person will feel comfortable at the place or not. The trends change with every passing day which is why you need to periodically update the exterior setting of your house. Add up a small lawn or beautiful plants and you will be surprised to see the changes. It will also benefit you when it comes to selling home.

2.    Changing your front and garage door:

Although replacing or changing the front door of your house may be included in the exterior renovation but still, it can be treated as something that has a separate identity. The front door of your house needs to be renovated in order to give a striking new look at once. Same is the case with the garage door of your house, change it after some time to create a pleasant outside look.

3.    The addition of a deck:

For some cases, an addition of a deck in home renovations can be quite costly but with the use of some important techniques, you will be able to do it effectively. The major purpose of creating a deck is to increase the appeal of your house or to create some extra place where the residents can sit and relax for some time. Add your favorite plants and set up sofas of your favorite color scheme to complete the look.

4.    Replacing windows:

The next major thing included in the list of home renovations is the replacement of windows as a whole or the replacement of slides. The big city replacement of window definitely pays off. Moreover, you will be able to add more light to your house with small effort. Look for the window type that suits the structure of your house. The replacement of slides are also important as with the passage of time, they may start working improperly.

5.    Redoing your living room:

The living room is a place that is the commonly used by every family member every day. This much usage of a room can result in boredom. Redoing your living room can have a great and a positive impact. You can lower the living room so that you can create a conversation pit.

These are the home renovations ideas that can be used to have a new look of your house.

 

Reference links:

  1. http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/2017-01-24/5-home-renovations-that-pay-off-and-2-that-dont
  2. https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/insanely-clever-remodeling-ideas-for-your-new-home?utm_term=.dfdJDJo6d#.ahZNXNakQ
  3. http://www.moneycrashers.com/7-home-improvements-to-increase-its-value/

Presidents Day in Utah

The United States celebrates Washington’s Birthday as a federal holiday known as Presidents Day every third Monday of February. We celebrate to not only honor the first president but all of the presidents.

canstockphoto21929967Traditionally, this February holiday is known for being a day in which many stores and car dealerships hold sales. Today, many corporate businesses and state entities close on Presidents Day. However, many businesses are choosing to remain open on the holiday every year since the 1980s advertising push.

Many schools still observe the holiday and close for the day. This means that you might have a longer weekend with the children. Here are a few ways to spend that time. First, admission to all national parks and forests is free on Presidents Day. Utah just happens to house several of these parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Capitol Reef to name a few. You can even check out the Grand Circle Tour that guides visitors through five of Utah’s mighty national parks.

After getting out and enjoying the warmer weather, you must hit up the sales. Generally, department stores discount their home departments for Presidents Day including hot bargains on appliances and so much more.

Your guide to narrowing down that shopping list:

  • Ashley HomeStore/Furniture: Get 25 percent off online purchases of $3,000 or more now through Feb. 20.
  • Best Buy: Save $300 on select gaming PCs and $200 on select MacBook Air models.
  • Cabela’s: Shop discounts on sofas, recliners, TV stands, furniture and more.
  • Macy’s: Now through Feb. 20 take an extra 20 percent off online and storewide plus free shipping when you spend $49 or more.
  • Mattress Firm: Now through Feb. 26 save up to $500 storewide. Selection may vary.
  • Overstock: Now through Feb. 23 take an extra 20 percent off area rugs and mattresses while saving an additional 10 percent off bed and bath.
  • Sears: Now through Feb. 267 save up to 40 percent on appliances and 30 percent on vacuums.

Selling Your Home During The Holidays

When it comes selling your home during the holidays, it may not be an ideal time, but it isn’t impossible. If you have found yourself in the middle of trying to sell your home during the holiday season, here are 3 important tips to remember.

canstockphoto118445181. Don’t go overboard in the decorating. When getting into the holiday spirit, be careful not to overdo it in the decor. Too many holiday decorations can be distracting, crowd your home, and may turn potential buyers off. Instead, go light on the decor and stick with more fall and winter decor.

2. Hire a reliable, professional real estate agent. Having a dependable real estate agent on your side can make a huge difference in your home selling experience. Take some time to ask your friends, family, and even coworkers to find out who they’ve worked with in the past and what their experience was like. By having a trusted real estate agent on your side, you can enjoy the season and lose the stress and headache of going it alone.

3. Place a reasonable price on your home. When preparing to sell your home, regardless the season, if you price your home too low it will make potential buyers nervous about making an offer. Instead, work with your real estate agent to determine the best price to list your home at and your strategy moving forward. Agents have insights and resources into the housing market which can benefit you in the selling of your home.

If you’re ready to move forward with selling your home, give me a call today and let me answer your questions. I’m here to help you move towards finding your next dream home!

Ogden’s Christmas Village

Since its inception in 1962, the Christmas Village seasonal attraction has grown to mammoth proportions. Each year thousands of tourists and locals flock to the Christmas lights and cottages. Many local families have even made visiting Christmas Village part of their Christmas traditions.

Christmas Village events and attractions include:

Opening Ceremony and Electric Light Parade
Ogden’s holiday season always begins the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They kick things off with the Electric Light Parade. Elaborate floats, sensational canstockphoto7459577themes and fantastic performers fill Washington Blvd. from 22nd to 26th street.
They save the best for last. Santa’s arrives in Ogden on the last float of the parade. When he reaches Municipal Gardens, he flips his magical switch that illuminates all of Christmas Village.

Santa’s Castle
Bring your children to meet with Santa in his castle Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. or on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. Everyone is welcome to share their Christmas lists and letters. Photos with Santa will be available for $5 with all proceeds benefiting Christmas Village.

Breakfast with Santa: A ride on the Polar Express
Join Santa on December 10 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. or 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for breakfast and train rides at the Historic Ben Lomond Hotel. Admission is $20 per person with all proceeds benefiting Christmas Village.
What are you waiting for? Wear your pajamas to come meet the village elves, Mr. and Mrs. Clause and pick up your annual bell and toy. A scavenger hunt will follow both breakfast and brunch.

Train Rides
Travel through a tunnel covered in glow-in-the-dark artwork on a Polar Express ride. You can find the train on the east side of the park, near the Fallen Firefighters memorial. Rides are available Monday through Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

Other features include concessions, onsite Christmas shopping and Live Performances.

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Election Day

canstockphoto32987366General Election Day is almost upon us. The campaign we thought would never end comes to a close tomorrow. This election cycle boasts both a close presidential and Senate race. Make sure to get out and vote. Here are some frequently asked questions regarding Election Day:

Can I take time off for voting?

The short is yes. Those who do not have three consecutive hours off during polling hours are entitled up to two paid hours leave to vote. The employee must request voting leave before Election Day. The employer does have the right to set the time for leave, but employee requests for leave at the beginning or end of their shift shall be granted.

What do I need to know about polling places?

On Election Day, all polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Please visit vote.utah.gov to find your polling location.

A valid voter I.D. is required to vote in Utah. This identification can either be a form that shows the name AND photograph if the voter or two forms that show the name of the voter and provide evidence of the voter’s residence.

Accepted identification forms showing name and photograph include:

  • A currently valid Utah driver license
  • A currently valid ID card issued by the state or a branch, department or agency of the United States.
  • A currently valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon.
  • A valid tribal ID card (this card does not have to include a photograph of the voter).

Accepted two identification forms showing name and address include:

  • A current utility bill
  • A bank or other financial account statement
  • A certified birth certificate
  • A valid social security card
  • A check issued by the state or federal government
  • A paycheck from the voter’s employer
  • A currently valid United States military ID card
  • And many more. For the complete list please visit mytimetovote.com.

Can I register to vote at the polls on Election Day?

You cannot register to vote at the polls in Utah. Unfortunately, registration deadlines have passed. The deadline to register online and in person was November 1, 2016. The deadline for registering by mail was October 11, 2016.

Witches Ball – SLC

As we move into October, many people (both young and old) are preparing for the spooky season. Between the pumpkin carving, spiced lattes, and leaves changing colors, it is really no surprise that Fall is a favorite time of year for many.

canstockphoto5149569October is also a great part of the season because we get to enjoy Halloween, dressing up into our favorite costumes, and watching scary movies. Another wonderful part of this year, is the Witches Ball! This is a free outdoor event taking place on Saturday, October 8, 2016 from 6 PM to 11 PM.

Come for a night of fun and enjoy a diverse collection of music and art. While you’re there, make sure to dress up! There are endless possibilities between fantasy, steampunk, horror, and other exciting genres.The key is to be as creative and imaginative as possible. Make sure you enter the costume contest where you have a chance to win some big prizes.

This event is adult focused, so for parents considering bringing their children should be warned. So, hire a babysitter and enjoy a night out with your friends!

What are you planning on dressing up as for Halloween? Share your ideas and what you love most about this time of year with us below in the comments!

National Business Women’s Day

Today is Business Women’s Day and in celebration of this day—September 22—, many organizations are holding special events to support and encourage women from around the world to connect and share their experiences.

Business Women’s Day started with Hilary A. Bufton Junior founded, along with 3 other women, the American Business Women’s Association on September 22, 1949. As women have played a bigger role in the business world since the 1940s, this day is set aside to honor the women who have, and are, making a difference in the world.

These days, women are continuing to gain and fight for equality in the workplace. As we celebrate this day of the strides women have made and are continuing to make in the world of business, and everywhere else.

canstockphoto8955392In honor of this day and these events, here are some organizations to check out:

Learn more about this day here. Know of some amazing women and want to share their story? Tell us about them below in the comments.

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7 Relocation Considerations

Changing jobs and relocating are two of the most stressful things you may ever have to do. Now combine those for an even more traumatic experience. Relocating means you will be venturing into the unknown. You will want to consider all of the possibilities beforehand.

  1. Workcanstockphoto4698468
    Although the reasons people relocate vary, in 2013 19.4 million Americans moved due to job-related reasons according to the U.S. Census Bureau. These job related reasons vary from the organization changing cities to an individual earning a promotion in a new role.
  2. Family and Friends
    Relocating is almost always easier when you’re single. The decision becomes much more complex when a family and close-knit group of friends are involved. You should think about all members of the family and how the change will affect your relationships. Also consider the job prospects for your partner. If you have children, you will need to research and investigate the local schools and childcare options.
  3. Moving Expenses
    Calculate just how much the move will cost. Hiring movers, shipping belongings and renting a truck may add up to more than you expected. However, if you are moving due to job related reasons many organizations offer relocation packages. Some of these organizations even cover the cost of a house-hunting trip and will pay for your living expenses until you find a permanent home.
  4. Cost of Living
    Even if you get a raise with your new job, it may not cover the cost of living expenses in a new location. You will need to consider all aspects of the expenses including housing costs, utility costs, insurance costs, tax liability (most states have income tax), transportation, child care, groceries and leisure activities. Also, you may want to consider whether or not you could afford to move back or relocate elsewhere if things don’t end up working out.
  5. It’s All About Location, Location, Location
    The location of your move will decide many factors including the cost of living and job prospects. Safety is an extremely important criterion for people to consider when relocating. You will want to look into the crime rate and additional related statistics. Also consider the weather and climate. Does it suit your preferences for hot or cold temperatures? Entertainment and fun are other considerations. Are there a variety of restaurants, museums, and other entertainment options?
  6. Job Prospects
    Whether you are moving due to job related reasons or not you will want to consider the job prospects of the new location. If you do not already have a job, you will want to see how likely you are to find a job before or shortly after arriving. If you are relocating due to a job offer, you will still want to make sure you can find a different job in case the initial one doesn’t pan out.
  7. Language and Cultural Differences
    Those moving to a different country will need to consider language requirements and cultural differences. Not speaking the local language will affect your ability to communicate with colleagues and almost everyone else who lives there. Are you willing to put in the time and effort needed to learn a new language? If so, how quickly could you pick up the local language? Regarding cultural differences, you will spend time researching proper etiquette along with embarrassing faux pas and make sure you can adapt to this new way of living.

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Your Warm & Cozy Fall Home Checklist

Prepping your home properly for the rigors of fall weather and old man winter can save you time, hassle and money. Take care of a few little things now to make a big difference later for you and your home. Following is a checklist to get your home ready to tackle Fall head-on.

Get an HVAC inspection

You will want your furnace running in tip-top shape for the colder weather that is just around the corner. Ideally, a professional can inspect your heating system for noisy belts, poor performance, erratic behavior and more. You will also want to inspect and replace any return filters.

Get the roof checked
One of the worst problems to have as a homeowner is a leaky roof. Finding the source of the problem can be challenging if the dripping has already started. You will want to stop the annoyance before winter storms and ice turn into a disaster.

Inspect the plumbing
Bursting pipes in the middle of winter can be just as devastating as a leaky roof. Hiring a professional ensures that the pipes are properly inspected and weather-ready canstockphoto1462436for the colder months.

Inspect, clean gutters and down spouts
Another cause of leaky roofs is clogged gutters. With all of the falling leaves and debris that comes with Fall, you will want to keep your roof’s drainage system running smoothly by inspecting and cleaning your gutters and downspouts thoroughly.

Button Up
Many homes have air leaks around windows and doors similar to an unbuttoned coat. These gaps can add an extra 10 percent to your heating bill per cold month. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping caulk. Also consider freeze-proofing exterior faucets along with draining and winterizing your irrigation system.

Home Safety Check
An annual Fall household ritual is the home safety check. Take this time to inspect all smoke alarms, CO2 monitors, fire extinguishers and replace batteries and other parts as needed. This also is a great time to review emergency plans and rid your house of old magazines, newspapers and other fire hazard materials.

Last but not least – Decorate!
After all of the inspecting and work is done, it’s time for Fall fun. One of the easiest and most fun ways to get your home ready for Fall is decorating. Decorations can transform your home from drab to fab. For a warm and cozy home all season long check out these Fall decorating tips.