Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pending Home Sales Up - New Home Sales Down

If only I had a crystal ball to be able to tell my clients how soon their home would sell or if the best time to buy a home is right now.  I don't have a crystal ball, however there is always new information about past market activity, and here is the latest.

These may be a bit contradictory, but that is life in real estate:

Here is what I think is good news:  NAR reports pending home sales (homes that are under contract, however have not closed yet) for the month of March rose 3.4% from the previous month of February.  The west had the largest increase at 5.7%.

Here is the other news, do you think it is good or bad:  U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), released information, summarized here that the new single-family houses were at an eight month low in March.

The Census Bureau also said that the inventory of homes for sale has increased to a six month supply versus a five month supply in February.

Are you planning on buying a new home or an existing home in the next six months?
Brian Olsen, WWR

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Doomsday House - Personal Preparation

Here is a question for you, will your house withstand the coming onslaught of earthquakes, tornados, terrorist attacks, nuclear fallout, etc. that is inevitable?

I am a Mormon, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also called LDS and we believe that God has called a prophet today as he did in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or biblical times.  The current prophet as well as past prophets have counseled us to have a food storage, including water, toiletries etc. and also savings both of which should be available for use in hard time or times of disasters.

Well I've tried to follow that counsel and more than once I have had to rely on the bottled preserves, extra freezer of meat and the money in savings to get me through a hard time.

However, I have not built my home to the extent of withstanding a whole lot other than the engineering required by the current building code which is substantially less than what Jerry McMullin has built in Yellow Jacket, Colorado which is near the four corners area (the point where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all touch).

Check out Jerry's home here and if you like it you are in luck because he is selling the home and he recently lowered the asking price from $11.5 million to a mere $5.9 million.

What do you do or have done to prepare yourself and your family for hard times or for disasters?

"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us" Winston Churchill

Brian Olsen, WWR

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Shred it!

Come shred all the old documents that you have been keeping and enjoy a light lunch as well. All at no cost.
Be sure to invite your family, friends and employer.

Shred It 2014


Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday.

Brian Olsen, WWR

Monday, April 21, 2014

Small World - Live Where You Want

There are so many opportunities to work from home or work via the internet that more and more people are choosing where they want to live versus living as close to work as possible.

In an email recently, I saw a deal for online guitar lessons. This is a great idea in my mind. For a few years my wife would drive my children to piano lessons about 20 minutes away.

Guitar


I few months ago I was talking to a friend and he told me that his daughters take fiddle lessons from an instructor out of state. They do it all online with a camera and the computer.


Not only are music lessons now available online but many other classes as well. You may take classes and earn degrees online.

You are also able to start your new home search on line as well. With clients from Australia to China being able to not only view homes online but also communicate and sign documents online it makes it possible to sell and purchase real estate from thousands of miles away.

It really is a small world after all!

Brian Olsen, WWR

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Know the Value of Your Home

I am getting more and more calls and emails from people wanting to know the value of their home.  I'm happy to do the research and provide an evaluation of your area and compare your home against homes that have recently sold, homes that are currently under contract and homes that are currently for sale.  Even if you are not moving it is wise to regularly check on the market conditions and know what your home is valued at.

Homes.com provides 5 Reasons Why You Should Always Know the Value of Your Home.  Whether you live in Utah or not contact me and if I cannot provide a market comparison to determine the market value of your home I will refer you to a realtor who can.

If you have had a recent market evaluation, how has your home faired?  How much have you regained from the losses of the market downturn?

"For Correction in your Direction, Evaluate"
Brian Olsen, WWR


Friday, April 18, 2014

Staging a Home - Art & Decor

When preparing to sell your home a few things to consider is what to leave in the home and what to take out.  Any excess "stuff" really needs to go so your home is not cluttered (there is a difference between lived in and cluttered).

Animal mounts is going to appeal to a smaller buyer pool than will painted walls with some family photos or other tasteful art work.

Versus elaborating anymore let me refer you to a great article by Laura Gaskill that will give you 21 staging tips:  21 Staging Tips.  Have you had any great staging experience?

There are also things you can do in a vacant home or a newly built home, however may I suggest one additional item you may want to consider.  Apparently President Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, had his family model their home life for a film crew and apparently, as shown by some media outlets Jay Carney home decor, they have some Soviet Union era art work, which may not be very appealing to some number of people.  But since his house is not for sale I guess it doesn't matter, or does it?  What do you think?

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see"  Degas

Best Regards,
Brian Olsen, WWR



Got Some Curb Appeal?

A very important thing to look at when you are planning to sell your home is your homes' "Curb Appeal".  Does your home stand out to buyers as they drive up, park and look at your home to determine if they want to go to the effort to see inside?

How green is your grass?  Are your trees and bushes pruned?  Is the yard cluttered?  All of this will increase or decrease your curb appeal and the first impression of your home is critical.

Having some bright colors in your yard is usually a good thing this time of year and to help you visualize the color of some flowers in your yard, take a trip to Thanksgiving Point.  Starting today and running through May 3 is Thanksgiving Point's Tulip Festival.  The cost is $12-$15 and you can get more information here.

I've seen some amazing landscapes around homes both done by the home owner and also by professional landscapers.  Have you seen a home that stands out?  I'd love to hear what flowers you use to get the most beautiful landscape, Spring, Summer or Fall.

"Grow where you are planted"
Brian Olsen, WWR

Smart Phone - Smart Home

Do you remember the old TV show "the Jetsons" ? The smart home and robot that the Jetson family has isn't here quite yet. But, we are getting more and more technology for the home. There are many companies that advertise how you can control lights, heat, and many other things in your home all while you are away, all through your smart phone or tablet.

So the apps you load, plus the technology at your home, such as internet connectivity, may allow you to not only see what is going on at your home when you are away, but give the appearance of being home when you are away.  No need to put the life size poster on the train set, like Kevin had to do to fool the would be robbers.  How about controlling a pet feeder or starting the coffeemaker.  Or you being notified as well as the security company if anything is amiss. 

Check out some additional ways to utilize the smartness of you, your home and your phone Utilize Your Smartphone.

What are some of your experiences with home controls via your phone?  How soon do you plan to have some controls on your home via your phone?

Technology to make life easy!!!
Brian Olsen, WWR

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Must Do Tasks to Get Your Home Ready for Spring

Wallsburg in Spring

Spring is here and it is consistently getting warmer.  The perfect recipe to spend more time outside and get some much needed spring cleaning done.

Here are some Must Do Tasks to Get Your Home Ready for Spring. If you are looking to sell your home, add to this list giving me a call for a market analysis to see what the value of your home may be. 

Lets get it done!

Brian Olsen, WWR

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Least Affordable Real Esate


Sunset over water

We often talk about home affordability and specific areas that are most affordable. Have you ever wondered where the least affordable real estate markets are?

The International Housing Affordability Survey published by Demographia shows the least affordable cities.

The top 10 Least Affordable International Cities are:

1. Hong Kong
2. Vancouver
3. San Francisco
4. Sydney
5. San Jose
6. Melbourne
7. Auckland
8. San Diego
9. Los Angeles
10. London


Were you surprised that so many cities in California made it to the top of the least affordable international cities? To find out the top 15 least affordable cities in the U.S. look at the article on realtor.com

If your are moving in the direction of one of these cities, good luck.  Better yet let me know and I'd love to refer a competent realtor for you.

Travel safe!
Brian Olsen, WWR

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Taxes, Taxes and more Taxes

Here is a quick wish for all of you to have a wonderful Tax Day today!!!

Maybe also a quick note to let you know that 69% of our taxes went to major entitlements such as medicare, medicaid, social security, federal employee retirement and disability, welfare programs, etc.

With the approved congressional budget this should all increase this year.  At least we don't have to worry that any of those entitlements are being wasted or misused, right?

At least the home mortgage rates are staying low.  In fact FHA 30 year loans are approximately 3.75% and Conventional loans around 4.25% (check with your lender for more exact numbers).  So once you have the money you loaned to uncle sam throughout last year, returned to you, without any interest, better known as a tax return, contact me and let's get you in a new home!

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:  If it moves, tax it.  If it keeps moving, regulate it.  And if it stops moving, subsidize it."  Ronald Reagan

Hang in there!
Brian Olsen, WWR

Modern or Minimalist

I'm not sure if I have used the correct word, "Minimalist" to possibly describe "Earthship Biotecture", Earthship Biotecture,  however this company is perfecting the art of off the grid, minimal environmental impact architecture.  They don't just do the typical solar power, wind power, thermal power, etc. but also include recycling materials in the construction process, using such things as tires and glass bottles and cisterns for rain water and recycled wash water.

Living in Wallsburg we have some very nice sunny days, however nothing like Taos, New Mexico and so my first thought was "solar power" to keep the homes off the grid and although I have goal for solar panels someday, I figured there is no way to go totally off the grid unless you live somewhere with very few cloudy days and far enough south that your days stay fairly long year round.

Well a few years ago we had a family move into our community  and they are "off the grid" which was interesting to see happen in this location; at least it was interesting to me.  It was interesting how the county reacted to their building permit, impact fees and inspections when they saw what they were doing, but that is another story.  They have wind, solar and a boiler that has a super efficient wood burning system set up outside the home.  It is pretty neat.

Anyway, learning about Earthship Biotecture after seeing what my neighbor built here in Wallsburg, it reemphasizes to me that there is a lot we can do to be responsible stewards of the planet.

"What is the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
Henry David Thoreau, Familiar Letters

Brian Olsen, WWR

Monday, April 14, 2014

Home Improvement Anyone??

Two consistent questions I receive are "What home improvements should I make before listing my home?" and "What will it cost to make this home improvement if I buy this home?"

Well, let's just make it a bit easier for everyone and all of you that have ever had this question, just visit  Mountain America Credit Union $100,000 Home Makeover and pick the correct list of home improvement projects to win $100,000 for a home makover.

Contest begins on 4/14/14 and ends on 5/9/14.  Be sure to read the rules if you have any questions.

Good luck!
Brian Olsen, WWR

Holladay, Utah - Coldwell Banker Home of the Week

Two years ago I built an addition onto my home which included a theater room.  I've always wanted a nice sound system and large screen to watch movies.  Our seating isn't stepped and pretty much consists of couches, however we thoroughly enjoy it, especially the memories of building it.

However, you need to check out this Home of the Week from Coldwell Bankers blog, Blue Matter.  It is an incredible home, but the 24 seat theater created in the image of the Savoy theater in Westminster, London, England.

The indoor 12 person hot tub is pretty nice as well.

Salt Lake City Estate

Enjoy!
Brian Olsen, WWR


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Water Regulation: Oceans to Puddles

I have always wanted a water feature in my yard.  A small stream flowing over rocks with moss and water plants on the side.  Close enough to the master bedroom so that I could open my window at night and go to sleep with the sound of cascading water.  It is a common theme and every month I have people asking me about property that is on a river or stream or by a lake or reservoir.

Well, I may want to wait on that little water feature.  If you didn't think we already have regulation through the nose when it comes to real estate, well check this out.

First I want to thank Bob Stallman, President of American Farm Bureau Federation for the information he provided in the Utah Farm Bureau News magazine, Spring 2014 concerning the "Clean Water Act".

The Obama administration apparently is about to expand the scope of this act and it will provide additional regulation authority to the EPA and the Corps of Engineers.  I apologize that I don't have a link to more information including the article by Mr. Stallman, but this doesn't sound good and I want to get this out to everyone and plan on learning more about it.

It sounds like even a man made water feature on your property will allow the EPA and/or Corps of Engineers, to be able to control and regulate that water with this proposed expanded scope.

If you know anymore about this it would be great to learn what is happening.

Wet Dreams or should I say wet nightmares!
Brian Olsen, WWR

Pickle Ball

This past week I went with my family to St. George, Utah and took some time to play Pickle Ball with my son-in-law.  I don't know when it happened but the tennis courts I played on when I went to Dixie College were remodeled by the city to now accommodate Pickle Ball courts.

Demographics will dictate so many aspects of a community and as the baby boomers age, they are finding it harder to get around a tennis court.  In their effort to remain active they are transforming tennis courts all around the country into Pickle Ball courts.  If you have never heard of Pickle Ball, go ask someone over the age of 55 what it is and more than likely they will be able to tell you.

Pickle Ball is a combination of Table Tennis and Tennis. The court is half the size of a tennis court.  If you want to learn more about the game check out the official website.

I guess I can change my attitude towards love, which as a tennis player, love meant nothing to me, but as a Pickle Ball player....

Enjoy,
Brian Olsen, WWR

P.S.  Yes I won the game against my son-in-law :-)

Live Happy!

Where do you think the happiest city is? Do you live there?


According to an article from Realtor.com Provo-Orem, UT ranks number one for the community with residents who have the best physical and emotional well being. What other towns are on the list?

2. Boulder, CO
3. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
4. Honolulu, HI
5. San Jose- Sunnyvale- Santa Clara, CA
6. Ann Arbor, MI
7. Naples-Marco Island, FL
8. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA
9. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
10. Lincoln, NE

Where do you think the happiest town is? 
Brian Olsen, WWR 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kids Take on Real Estate






Luxury Real Estate Market

Coldwell Banker's luxury side of real estate is portrayed in their Previews International. 

Connect here with the latest Luxury Market Report with a lot of information and some beautiful properties for sale:  Coldwell Banker Previews Market Report 2014

Download the report after you provide an email or go to Home and peruse the site with information such as the "Around the World with the New Ritz-Carlton" or What $1, $5 and $10 million will buy.

You may want to jump right to Utah properties for sale here, 131 Luxury Utah Properties for Sale
Call me to set up a time to go through one of these homes, but don't forget your proof of funds letter.

Enjoy,
Brian Olsen, WWR

Real Estate, the internet and China

It is amazing how much information can be obtained over the internet.  Whenever my children stump me with a question, I say to them, "go ask google".

I've heard how people predicted the end of the real estate agent because of the power of the internet, however more people are using realtors than ever before along with the internet.  I won't go into the reasons why right now, but I want to share some news that portrays how companies are campaigning for more and more market share of the internet real estate information searches.

Zillow announced that they are partnering with a "Beijing-based peer" to grow their international connection to real estate buyers.

See the article here:  Zillow Partners with Chinese Real Estate Website

I remember all the angst over the past years that foreigners are buying up all the real estate and they are going to take over our country.  If this is your opinion please get out a little bit more and get to know some new people other than your doom and gloom comrades.  I hope that wasn't too blunt.

For wealthy Asian buyers their top cities in which they have been investing are Hong Kong, Singapore, Mumbai and London (see www.ft.com, "House & Home", January 17, 2014)

I don't plan on needing to learn an Asian language any time soon.  However, I have my fingers crossed that a few Asian buyers with cash to spend will be contacting me in the near future.  Can you say "Property Appreciation".

Best regards,
Brian Olsen, WWR


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"Pay it Forward" "Give Back to the Community" "Do a Good Deed Daily"

Wherever you live and whoever you are, I'm sure that you have had someone do something for you for which you cannot repay them and thus you should do unto others as you have had done unto you.

I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it very eloquently, "In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."

So with that I want to share a great opportunity for you to 'Give Back' to your community.  Guaranteed Rate is having a challenge called, "Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge" to give away $100,000.00 for Community Improvement Projects.  Go here for more information:   GuaranteedRate Give Back Challenge.

I love to see companies do things like this.  So if you are part of an organization helping your community or know of a project that your local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, Rotary, etc. is working on here is an opportunity to have a shot at some additional funding.

"You don't pay love back; you pay it forward." Lily Hardy Hammond
Brian Olsen, WWR

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wasatch County March 2014 Market Report

For those of you interested here is a summary of the real estate market in Wasatch County for the month of March, 2014:

Wasatch County Market Report - March 2014

Humble Ranch Property in Sun Valley, Idaho

Growing up in Burley, Idaho as I did it was always an event to get to go to Sun Valley.  What a fun town and a great ski resort.  Well for those of you that have an interest in the land of potatoes, here is your opportunity to snatch up a little ranch near Sun Valley that listed over two years ago and has been adjusting the list price and is currently at almost half the original asking price.

The home is a modest 8,400 square feet on 20 acres of land...  Go ahead and look for yourself:  Bruce Willis' Idaho Ranch for sale

"Idaho, more than just potatoes. Well okay, not really, but the potatoes sure are real good."
Don't know who said that originally, but I like it :-)

Brian Olsen, WWR

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Fools (kind of)

I was wary all day yesterday expecting either an April Fools joke from my wife, children or one of my clients.  However, I was able to list one home for a seller and had an offer received for a buyer so, a good surprise there.  Then I watched earlier in the day as my wife prepared fried eggs and bacon (white chocolate with a yellow M&M middle for the yoke and pretzels for the bacon) and jello juice for a fun breakfast for dinner for us and our children.

April Fools  - Jello Drink

April Fools has always been a big day in our home. My wife always does something to surprise the kids. This can range from having jello instead of juice in there cup to scraping the yummy Oreo middle out of the cookie and putting toothpaste in its place.  Or putting a layer of saran wrap in their sandwich for lunch.

Our older children have started making their own lunch for April fools day so those pranks have dwindled a little bit.

Everyone still looks forward to April fools now and our older kids love watching the shocked look on the younger children's faces as they wonder what and if something is going to happen to them.

I hope you had a great April Fools day.
Brian Olsen, WWR

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