Pros to Buying a Home in the Winter

For most people, the winter means decking the halls, not buying new ones. It’s easy to have a picture perfect image of looking for homes in sunny weather, but there are actually some immense pros to buying a home during the winter months. Plus, doesn’t the holiday spirit motivate you to treat yourself a little? Here are some of the best reasons to buy a home during the winter months.

1.) Less Competition

In today’s competitive market, bidding wars run rampant. When lots of people are bidding at once, sellers tend to hold off and wait for the best offer. In the winter, they may be anxious to sell sooner than later, so you might also get a better price than busier months. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

2.) Savings

Piggybacking off of less competition, you can potentially save a lot of money buying in the winter. Because real estate is a “supply and demand market,” you can find good deals when no one else is looking. A little savings on an interest rate can go a long way, too. Anishka Seker, Financial Adviser on NerdWallet gives the following scenario:

“Let’s say you’re buying a house with 6 percent closing cost and a 30-year mortgage with a 3.25 percent interest rate. If your house costs $500,000 as opposed to $550,000, the total cost of your mortgage will fall by over $80,000. You’ll feel the benefits of buying low for decades to come.”

3.) All Systems are a Go

The winter can be the ultimate “litmus test” for buyers. All of the homes heating and plumbing systems are put to the test during the cold months, so you can ensure that everything is in working order before having the surprise of a heater going out months after buying. The structural elements are also put to the test. You can check to see how the roof is holding up and how the gutters function when searching for homes in the winter.

4.) The Home is in its Purest Form

When trees aren’t blossoming and leaves aren’t reducing noise, you can truly see the home in its most natural state. You’ll want to see your investment in its uncamouflaged state to assess the reality of the property. Plus, you’ll get to appreciate the home even more when it’s in its most aesthetically pleasing state in the summer.

5.) Other Perks

Did you know if you close on a home before December 31st, you can apply the purchase of your home towards tax deductions? If you buy after, you’ll have to wait a whole fiscal year to reap any tax benefits. And speaking of closings, mortgages tend to close much faster during the winter due to less people buying and selling, so the process moves faster.

If any of these reasons spurred some new thoughts about searching for a home, feel free to reach out and contact us. We never pressure anyone into any decisions they’re not ready for and simply like to lend an ear and a helping hand to help you make the best decision. Free free to shoot us an email at info@utahproperties.com or give us a call for more information. 801-995-4700.


Utah County Holiday Cheer

We’re seven days into December, and for most, the holiday cheer has been kicked up a notch. Lots of us are ready to welcome the snow, curl up by the fire, and appreciate our loved ones near and far. Year after year our Utah County community is chock full of holiday events and activities for the whole family. Whether your holiday spirit needs a little boost or it’s in full-fledged mode, we highly recommend checking out what our local community has to offer. ‘Tis the season!

1.) The Happy Elf

There’s no way this musical won’t become a new classic. Scored by Harry Connick Jr., The Happy Elf is centered around Eubie the Elf who is on a musical mission to bring Christmas cheer to Bluesville, a town on Santa’s naughty list. You can catch the show at 7:30 on Wednesday-Saturday at SCERA and tickets are only $10 for children (3-11) and seniors and $12 for adults and older kids. Hurry, though—this show only runs through December 17th!

For more information and tickets, visit the SCERA website.

2.) The North Pole at Seven Peaks

Now in its second year, The North Pole at Seven Peaks Water Park has become a Utah County holiday tradition. Holiday activities for the whole family include sledding down waterslides, riding trains through the festive landscape, cruising through the North Pole on bumper boats and so much more. This is a perfect evening or weekend activity that is reasonably priced (only $10 for the general public) and you have until December 23rd to enjoy the festivities.

Click here for detailed information and hours.

3.) A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” has become a timeless nostalgic performance passed down through generations. For many families, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without it. The Hale Center Theater is known for outstanding productions year-round. Make sure to scoop up tickets before the last show on December 23rd.

For tickets and show times, check out the HCTO website.

4.) Luminaria

The name “Luminaria” itself is intriguing, but what is it? According to its description, “Imagine all the light displays you’ve seen before. Now, imagine something entirely different and you’re on the right track.” This captivating mile-long walk in Lehi’s Ashton Gardens features programmable luminaries including moving pictures of blooming poinsettias, reindeer, and a 40-foot tree at the top of the hill. There are also beautiful holiday touches such as fire pits, hot chocolate, a gift boutique, and even cinnamon-scented mulch.

Learn more at the Luminaria website.

5.) Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

For lots of families, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without driving around and scoping out festive lights. Lucky for Utah County, we have one of the best displays in the nation with the Spanish Fork Festival of Lights. This isn’t any drive through the neighborhood. The display includes 150 raindrops, a candy cane factory, ballerinas, an American flag, a bear fishing, and so much more. We highly encourage you to take the online tour and then get out there to see it for yourself.

For more information, visit the website.


Ways to Give Back to the Utah County Community

The holiday season is always a mad dash. Out of nowhere, your to-do list is inundated with hosting guests, shopping, and helping kids finish the semester. With cooking, shopping, parties, and fun, it can be easy to overlook that there are people in our Utah County community who are far less fortunate or a little down on their luck this holiday season. Whether it’s donating your services or making a small contribution, we encourage everyone to see if they can chip in to help those needing a little extra love. Here are four great organizations we wholeheartedly support.

United Way of Utah County

The United Way is rooted in the belief that we are all people. We all benefit when a child succeeds in school, when someone finds a job that will help them provide for their family, or when more people are able to access quality, affordable healthcare. Anyone and everyone can lend a hand. If you’re an art teacher, you can volunteer to teach family art classes. If you want to serve meals to the Utah County community, there are several opportunities to do so. You can even donate cleaning supplies, office supplies, or food depending on the need.

Learn more about the United Way of Utah County and volunteer opportunities here.

Intermountain Foundation – Utah Valley Hospital

The Intermountain Foundation at Utah Valley Hospital provides support for a variety of programs focused on improving patient care and community health. From hosting special events to raise funds to supporting capital campaigns to improve the overall quality of the hospital, they are a Utah County community staple. To pitch in, you can donate money to your local intermountain community hospital, include memorial-gift opportunities in a loved one’s obituary or find out if your employer offers matching gifts to not-for-profit organizations.

For more information, visit their website.

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry South County

Did you know that over 78,000 people in Utah County live at or below the Federal Poverty Line? 1 in 5 children in Utah County are food insecure. Tabitha’s Way aims to alleviate food insecurity in Utah County and provides food and supplies to an average of 5,000 individuals monthly. To help, you can donate money, host a food drive or volunteer.

Learn more about how Tabitha’s way is helping fight hunger and how you can help.

Utah Community Action

Utah Community Action helps low-income families achieve self-sufficiency through six core programs. These programs range from Adult Education to Nutrition to Housing Case Management and Beyond. Last year, 89,120 individuals were served by UCA, 254 houses were improved through weatherization services, and 2,191 individuals obtained health care services for themselves or a family member. While most volunteers are placed in the Community Food Centers due to demand, there are several opportunities to help out in each program.

Find out more about the programs and opportunities here.

Volunteering in Utah County isn’t limited to this list. We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to explore how you can give back to your local community this holiday season. If there’s an organization you’re passionate about, feel free to respond and let us know!


Tips for Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

Time flies by. Thanksgiving is over a week away. Many revel in this celebrated holiday to enjoy the company of their families and close friends. However, for some, it can also get the nerves to a record high, especially if you’re hosting the annual feast. Whether it’s your first rodeo or you’re a pro, we can all take a little time out to brush up on some tips that will help your Thanksgiving feast run smoothly (and ensure that you won’t rip your hair out).

1.) Make a Schedule and Abide By It

It may sound a little ridiculous, but make a schedule of the day’s flow and stick to it. Yes, you should even schedule when you’re going to wake up and take a shower because the day IS that jam-packed. Give yourself ample time to primp and prepare before guests arrive. Figure out when drinks and appetizers will be served and schedule when various dishes make their rotation in the oven. Allow some flex time just in case things veer off course and run a little behind.

2.) Prepare Menu Ahead

This is easy to overlook, but when it comes to menu planning, you cannot go on autopilot mode. Check in with all of your guests to make sure there are no allergies and dietary restrictions and make sure you have dishes available for anyone who needs alternatives to the main menu items. If you have a specific artisan item, reserve it or pick it up now. Local markets often fill up with reservations weeks ahead and seasonal items are in the highest demand of the year. If you cannot secure your first choice, there is still time to plan alternatives. If possible, pick multiple proteins and don’t be afraid to be bold and mix it up.

3.) Prepare As Much As You Can

You’re probably thinking “jeez, another planning item,” but preparation isn’t limited to menu planning. By now, your guest list should be set. Make sure you have an exact head count for both your invites and their guests (if applicable). Pick out the dishes and glassware that will be used for every dish. Also, don’t try to jam all of the food prep into the day itself. See if there are any dishes you can prepare ahead of time to save yourself some stress. Also, if you have guests who will be staying overnight, make sure to prepare their accommodations prior to the day of.

4.) Delegate Tasks

NEVER turn down help. We all know the feeling of wanting to be a good host and take care of everything, but this is a holiday of coming together and having all hands on deck. If someone offers to bring a dish, let them. If there are certain parts of the meal that stress you out, let someone else handle it or ask for advice. Delegating tasks can also be a tremendous help. If someone offers to help and you know they move at lightning speed, let them chop and peel vegetables. If culinary skills aren’t someone’s forte, have them do simple tasks like stir, pick herbs, and clean up. This is a group effort and no one should be in it alone.

5.) Allocate time to RELAX

Perhaps the most crucial (and most often forgotten) tip is making sure you give yourself and everyone in attendance time to relax. Thanksgiving is about enjoying each other’s company, not constantly entertaining. If your family loves football, give yourself some room to watch a game before or after dinner. If you have traditions like playing games, make sure you allow time for that. Like all things in life, nothing is perfect, so if something doesn’t turn out just right or go as expected, relax. Gratitude and joy are the ultimate goals of this holiday and you’re going to do just fine!


5 Fun Things to Do in Utah County This Month

byu-football

It might only be the second week of November, but we bet there are a few readers out there who are already feeling a slight holiday burnout. Luckily for us, Utah County is always abundant with things to do this time of year, whether they’re holiday-related or not. Take a break from planning your Thanksgiving menu and Christmas shopping and get out on the town for these fun-filled events in Utah County this month.

*Veterans Day Events

When: Friday, November 11th

What: Utah County doesn’t fall short when it comes to Veterans Day festivities. We’ve got you covered when it comes to speakers, music, tributes, and beyond. No matter what town you’re in, you’re close to an event that honors veterans. If you have the day off or can manage a few free hours, let’s thank our local vets for serving our country.

Where: Provo – Timpview High School – 10 a.m. (Guest speakers to honor vets in Utah. Luncheon to follow)

Lehi – 500 East Bridge – 11 a.m. (Several activities throughout the day)

Orem – SCERA – 745 S. State Street – 10 a.m. (Free celebration of veterans with patriotic music and many special guests)

*BYU Home Games

When: There are home games Saturday, November 12th; Saturday, November 19th; Saturday, November 26th

What: Who’s ready for some football? Whether it’s a boys night out or taking the family for a night out on the town, football is synonymous with fall. The BYU Cougars are currently 5-4 and could use a little hometown cheer to root them on through the end of the season.

Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium – 1700 N Canyon Rd, Provo

*BYU Lu’au

When: Tuesday, November 15th

What: Just as fast as the first frost hit your windshield, you want to shake it off and hop on a plane to a tropical island. While that may not be a reality, we can at least pretend by attending BYU’s Lu’au. BYU Multicultural Student Services will present both a Pacific-themed dinner and a show with the dinner beginning at 6 p.m. and show starting at 7. The best part? You can save extra money for Christmas shopping because it’s only $5 for students and $10 for the public.

*BYU and UVU Basketball Home Openers

When: BYU – Monday, November 14th 8:00 p.m.; UVU – Wednesday, November 16th 7:00 p.m.

What: If you don’t like enjoying sports in chilly weather or are just a huge basketball buff, good news is in store as the regular season for both BYU and UVU basketball begins next week. Both teams have been working hard in exhibitions and we wish both of them good luck as they enter the regular season.

Where: BYU – Marriott Center – 701 E University Pkwy, Provo

UVU – UCCU Center – 800 W University Pkwy, Orem


How to Prepare the Perfect Guest Room for the Holidays

And just like that, it’s November in Utah County. Before you could even take your Halloween costume off, the holiday season is at your doorstep. The next two months can add some stress if you’re not prepared. The holiday season often means spending time with friends and loved ones. Utah County is an incredible place to be during the season, so if you live here, chances are your home is a prime candidate for holiday festivities. It can be easy to stress out about where guests are going to stay and if your place is even fit for guests. These simple tips will not only get your space primed and ready, but they will take your guest room to the next level to provide a quaint holiday oasis.

*Stock up on necessities

Supply the bathroom with plenty of toilet paper and put clean towels out in an easy-to-see location. Many guests may be traveling light and we know that airports can be a pain when it comes to carrying liquids, so some extra shampoo and toiletries are a nice touch. (Hint: This is the perfect situation to use those hotel samples you’ve nabbed.)

*Consider the space

It’s instinct to want to put a full or queen bed in your guest room, but often times, you may have children or multiple guests staying at your house and it might make more sense to have a couple of twin beds. It also creates versatility and couples staying overnight could push the beds together if they wanted. Not only does this add more central space, but it could double as a space your kids can have sleepovers during the year. Not to mention, air mattresses have come a long way. Even consider ‘indoor camping’ set ups for a fun way to get the little ones eager for lights out.

*Put out water and some snacks

This isn’t only a hospitable gesture, but it will prevent guests from getting lost or clambering through the kitchen if they’re trying to get water in the middle of the night. A carafe of water and some trail mix, granola bars, or pieces of fruit should be perfect. Bonus points: Stocking up on snacks that are unique to Utah County. Visiting your local Harmon’s could be a great start!

*Keep the room stocked with interesting books and activities

During the holidays, families tend to spend a lot of time in enjoying each other’s company. Keeping your guest room stocked with books, magazines, and board games is a great way for your guests to wind down in peace and prevent them from getting cabin fever.

*Create some kind of theme in the room

You don’t have to go crazy with paint or spend boatloads of money on accessories, but a common theme will tie the room together and make guests feel at home. We’ve seen lots of incredible nautical or beach themes to give your guests a true sense of getting away. A guest room is also a great way to hang extra art you might not have space in other parts of your home.


Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating

For many kids in Utah County, Halloween is just as exciting as Christmas! Children love getting elaborately decked out as their favorite superheroes, creatures or any kooky creation of  choice. However, for any parent or guardian, trick-or-treating can be a little nerve-wracking to think about. You want your kids and their friends to stay safe while donning their ghastly apparel and storming the neighborhood in the dark.

We’ve gathered top tips for you, to make sure everyone stays safe and has a blast this Halloween:

*Remember comfort and visibility take priority

“Safety first” is our mantra around Halloween. Make sure to incorporate lighter colors or reflective tape into costumes. Double check to make sure dresses or capes don’t drag on the ground. And finally, make sure that everyone is wearing comfy shoes and to double knot any tennis shoes.

*Keep props flexible and safe

If your child is carrying a prop, make sure it cannot be harmful in any way. Any swords, shields, or lightsabers should be flexible and made of plastic or cardboard and NOT metal or heavy materials. Talk to your child and their friends about keeping their props to themselves and not using them to swat at their friends or anybody’s property.

*Plan your route in advance

Trick-or-treating can span several blocks for multiple hours, so make sure you and your entourage of trick-or-treaters know the route you have planned. Stay in a well-lit neighborhood you’re familiar with. If you’re in a sparse or spread out neighborhood, you may want to check out trick-or-treats organized by your town’s chamber of commerce or neighborhood associations.

Daily Herald also put together an incredible list of Halloween events in Utah County. Check it out here!

*Stay well-lit

In addition to light colors and reflective tape, be sure to have a flashlight. While many go trick-or-treating in the evening, you should anticipate being out after sunset just in case. Make sure parents and guardians have a fully-charged cell phone in case anyone gets lost or needs to get in touch with other parents.

*Do not let kids eat candy before inspecting it

Enforce an “inspection rule” before kids dig into their treats. All candy should be wrapped in its original wrapper and should not be tampered with. While it’s at the parent’s’ discretion whether or not to let kids eat homemade treats, make sure those are also wrapped and protected.

*Stay in groups

No one should be out there alone. Kids that are elementary age or younger should be with a parent or guardian at all times, but those who are middle school-aged and want to explore unaccompanied by parents should stay in groups at all time. Make sure everyone knows all important phone numbers and addresses and set the curfew times and route beforehand.

*Do not accept rides from anyone you don’t know

Even if it’s late and offered, make sure your kids know not to accept rides from anyone they don’t know. Do not accept any kind of candy or bribery and kindly thank them and move on. If you or your kid feels unsafe or uneasy at any time, don’t be afraid to report it or contact your local police.


The Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Family

By now you’ve likely heard the big news. We’re becoming part of the Berkshire Hathaway Home Services family. You may be wondering what that means for you and what changes are in store. You may have also been wondering how we’re moving in the right direction.

First and foremost, we’re still the same group of agents you’ve come to know and trust, only now we have the backing of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. Their values mirror ours. A home is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make. It’s the place where memories are made, where families come together and grow.

Over the next few weeks you’ll see more of the new logo and colors, new signs, and a fantastic new website designed with you in mind. But even with these great new updates, we’re remain Utah owned and managed. We remain committed to those we serve, providing the very best in representation for both homebuyers and sellers. With the support of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, you’ll have even better access to the best in Utah County and beyond. We’re moving in the right direction and we’re good to know.

We’re so excited to be part of a select group of brokerages chosen to join the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices family. In the words of Gino Blefari, CEO, HSF Affiliated LLC, “When our name goes on a real estate sign, it means something. It’s a promise of integrity, professionalism, innovation and the highest standard of work. Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most respected in the world—especially when it comes to real estate. And we don’t take that lightly. That’s why you’ll see these values reflected in every office, every agent, every interaction. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the name buyers and sellers trust. Bruce, together with his executive team, sales managers and agents, has built an extraordinary organization and exemplify a level of expertise, vision and leadership that is second-to-none in the real estate business today. We look forward to having a company of such tremendous caliber carry the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand into the Utah marketplace.”

We’re throwing a party to celebrate this exciting change, and we’d love for you to join us. Just click here for all the info about our Launch Celebration this Wednesday, the 27th. It’s absolutely free to join. Whether you’re a resident of Utah County who want’s to learn more, or an agent who would like to see what Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices can do for you, we think you’ll have a great time!

We’ll have food, networking, some fun activities, and a good old-fashioned ribbon cutting. It’s a great way to see what we’re all about, meet the team, have a little fun, and find out what’s new. We’ll be at Noah’s Event Center in Lindon and encourage you to drop by!


Find The Right Neighborhood For Your Family

When searching for the right home, your choice of neighborhood can be just as important as the right house. But how do you know what’s right for you and your family?

Start by Dreaming Big

What do you consider to be the ideal neighborhood? Create an outline of what your dream ‘hood looks and feels like. Ask yourself what’s most important about where you live. What might you be lacking in your current neighborhood that you know you want in your next? Here are some questions to get you started.

Do you prefer older homes or new? Do you love the feel of historic areas or prefer a more updated approach to neighborhood planning?
What type of living space do you need? A traditional single family home, or do you love the idea of a townhome or duplex?
Is the look and feel of a neighborhood important to you? Do you need a big yard or perhaps want a lot that could be added to in the future if your family grows?
Do you want to be close to parks? Walking distance to entertainment? A shorter commute to work?
Do you prefer urban or suburban neighborhoods or something in between?
Is there a list of things you absolutely do not want in your area? If you don’t want to pay HOA fees or be near a busy intersection, include these in your ideal list.

Talk to your Realtor!

Take your ideal neighborhood list to your agent. They can help you find areas that fit just what you’re looking for. Once you’re pointed in the right direction, your Realtor can help you figure out what the benefits are to each area and you can start really focusing your research.

Talk to Friends and Family

Chances are once you’ve selected a general area, your friends and family know someone who knows someone who lives there. Try and get in touch, ask questions find out what they love and what they may not love about the neighborhood.

Visit the Area

This may seem like a no brainer, but go for a drive, or have your agent take you to a few listings. Do you like what you see? More importantly, can you see yourself and your family there? If you’re instantly overtaken by visions of your kids playing in the yard and lovely evenings on your front porch, this may be the place for you. If you can’t, that doesn’t mean it’s not the right area. Take a minute to let yourself experience the sights, sounds, and feel of the area. Are they to your taste? The neighborhood may fit all your criteria, but if you can’t see yourself there, it might be time to move to the next option.

Some Final Neighborhood Thoughts

Be open to suggestions, but don’t feel you have to be excited about a neighborhood that just doesn’t do it for you. There are lots of options out there, find the one that makes you feel at home.


Is The Open Kitchen Right For You?

Open kitchens are all the rage when it comes to new homes and renovations. They certainly increase a home’s value in today’s market. The open kitchen can be ideal for families, as those preparing meals aren’t left out of the action in the rest of the home. The kids might be busy in the family room, but since it opens on to the kitchen whomever is doing food prep can keep an eye on the little ones or continue conversations while making a meal.

The open kitchen is in stark contrast to homes of the past, where the kitchen was typically out of sight and likely only open to a breakfast room or nook. If you’re not a millennial, you may very well remember the time when the kitchen door was designed to blend in with the dining room so well, it could be a challenge to find.

Deciding whether an open kitchen is right for you depends a good deal on your family dynamic and what type of cook you are. Do you prefer a bit of seclusion when working with hot and sharp objects? What type of entertaining do you prefer? For those who enjoy more formal dinner parties, a kitchen separate from the rest of the house might be on the love list, ditto for those who like to be free of distractions while cooking.

The good news is that many new homes offer both. While the kitchen opens to the family room or a spacious casual dining area, the formal dining room is clearly delineated, offering the best of both worlds.

If you’re considering renovating an older home with a separate kitchen the current conventional wisdom and market suggests you should open the kitchen. That said, consider what it will take to do so. Assuming your kitchen walls aren’t load bearing, be aware of what permits will be required to take them out. And most importantly, if you prefer a separate kitchen and don’t have designs on selling, consider renovations that will make your kitchen feel more open without knocking out walls. Window banks, new lighting, and a reconfiguration of counter space can work wonders.