How to buy real estate in Utah

Posted on Feb 23, 2017 |

For most of us, real estate means a home. But there are many more financial and legal elements you need to be aware of when purchasing a new piece of property. When you’re looking at buying a custom home or investing in other real estate in Utah, there are some things you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Before you decide on a home or real estate, shop around for mortgage lenders. Find out how much you are qualified to borrow. This refers to the amount of money they are willing to lend you based on household income, existing debt, age, expenses and other factors. You can find online mortgage qualifier tools to get a general idea, but you should also talk with banks or other lenders in person.

Based on this information, you’ll know the price range of home or property you should look for. Don’t forget that the purchase price is only part of the total cost. You will also have to pay closing costs, which include fees charged by the mortgage lender, escrow, title insurance, your share of annual property taxes and other fees. Beyond that, you will have to carry the total costs of owning a home including property taxes, insurance, utilities and maintenance. Your real estate agent can walk you through any questions you might have.

Also consider whether you will want to make any upgrades or renovations. (Keep in mind that when you buy a custom home, you’ll move into the exact house you want without needing to do renovations.)

Find a real estate agent

When you’re looking for a home, it’s a good idea to work with a real estate agent. These professionals can explain all the steps, processes and costs involved in buying a home, and they will also look out for your interests when you’re negotiating a home purchase.

An experienced agent will start by asking about your purchase strategy. Are you looking for a custom home to live in, or are you interested in investing in real property? If it’s going to be your home, how long do you intend to live there? Do you have children? Are you planning to have more? If this will be an investment, do you plan to flip it at a profit relatively soon, or do you plan to rent it or lease it long-term?

Your agent will be able to help you find houses in your price range, tell you about desirable neighborhoods and point out the features of the communities you’re considering. Agents experienced in Utah properties can point out problems or issues that you might not notice, too.

Read the fine print

You’ve narrowed down your choices to houses that are in your price range and in desirable neighborhoods. They are near good schools and have the features and amenities you want. Now, you’re ready to make an offer.

Take the time for a careful second look. Utah law requires property sellers to inform prospective buyers about any issues they are aware of that affect a property. These include structural defects and problems with heating, cooling, plumbing, sewage, electrical and other systems. Failing to disclose problems can invalidate a property sale.

Review the purchase contract

The final step in buying a new property is the purchase contract or purchasing agreement. This document for you and the seller is legally binding. it details the terms of the sale, including disclosure of known issues, closing costs and dates, escrow and a home inspection. You should also consult a lawyer licensed in Utah at this stage.

Perform a walk-through inspection

Before the closing date, you need to do a final walk-through inspection. Hire a licensed home inspector experienced in Utah property to come with you to identify any problems. Anything that is not disclosed before this point can represent a reason to walk away from the purchase or to renegotiate the terms of sale.

Request a title search

Before completing the purchase, ask a lawyer to perform a search of public records to ensure the title—the legal ownership of the property—is free of any liens against it. A lien is a loan on the property made to previous title-holders. An attorney can also seek out any other issues that might interfere with the legal transfer of the title to you.

Move in!

At Rainey Homes, we’re happy to work with you and any home inspector, lawyer or other professionals to make sure you get the real estate in Bountiful Utah that you want and deserve.

Take a good look

Posted on Feb 23, 2017 |

You can’t beat the view from Woodfield Farms. A majestic mountain range takes center stage in this Rainey Homes community.

If open spaces and breathtaking landscapes are your dream, this one shoots straight for the heart. But as you search for that all important location, the backbone of a successful move, other factors might not be quite as obvious as these snow-covered peaks.

What considerations should factor into your overall plan? How do you decide which community best fills your needs before making a commitment? Here are some pointers:

  • Look for a good school district. As a parent, you naturally want the best for your children. But there’s more to it than that. Buyers naturally are willing to pay more to live in a good school district, which means your new home is more likely to hold and even increase its value. It’s a win-win. Other factors are sure to reflect the coveted appeal.
  • Get out and walk around the neighborhood at different times of the day. Pick up the vibe of the area by visiting in person. Are schools within walking distance? Is there a family flow? Do you feel as if you fit in? Now’s the time to find out.
  • Expand your horizons. Consider questions such as: Will there be a grocery store just a few miles away? A convenience store within walking distance? Are there nature trails nearby for family hikes? How about places of worship? This is where you are going to live. Determine what you need close at hand to live life to the fullest.

In several of our Rainey Homes communities, we’ll throw in a magnificent view, as well. Give us a call and see what we can bring together for you.

Custom home builder tips: Trends in custom homes for 2017

Posted on Feb 17, 2017 |

What trends can you expect to see from the custom home builder in the coming year? Fashion and trends affect every industry, and home-building is no exception. Here are some of the trends you’ll likely see in the custom home builder category, both in new houses already on the market and those that will be completed in 2017.

One of the most visually striking trends from a custom home builder is the integration of outdoors and indoors. Sometimes, it’s hard to draw the line between them. This trend includes porches that not only provide protection against bad weather but include also larger windows and more open interior spaces. Large door panels that open upward like a garage door or slide into the walls are becoming more affordable and prevalent.

Natural light

This trend is linked to a greater emphasis on natural light indoors. Large windows, open spaces and surfaces help distribute natural light. Using more natural light indoors has significant cost-savings and environmental benefits for homeowners, as well. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that electric lighting consumes more than 15 percent of all electricity generated in the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. Green Building Council reports that properly planned windows and skylights can reduce lighting consumption from 50 to 80 percent.

Focusing on natural lighting will help homeowners save substantially on their power bills, and it will help reduce the nation’s energy consumption.

In the kitchen

Kitchens have become the focal point for innovative, beautiful and functional design for the custom home builder. There’s no sign that this trend will change. Natural tile and stone continue to be popular floor materials. White or light-colored ceramic and porcelain are predicted to become more popular, as well.

Kitchen cabinetry represents the element in which beauty and functionality come together. Cabinets set Rainey Homes apart as a custom home builder. They make it easy to keep things organized and ensure items are within easy reach but out of the way. Cabinets also look beautiful.

Hardwood doors in medium and light finishes are predicted to be popular in 2017, but there will also be many darker browns. Stone such as granite, quartz, marble, slate and soapstone will continue to be popular for countertops. These materials also are functional because they’re resistant to wear and scratches. You can put a hot pan on a stone surface without worrying about damaging it.

Under-mount sinks are also attractive and practical. They make it easier to keep counters clean. The personal touch is important in any custom built home. When talking with a custom home builder, ask about matching the counter to your height so you don’t have to bend when cooking or cleaning.

Getting greener

Homeowners understand the benefits of energy efficiency and green building practices. Better design of walls, windows, roofs and insulation by the custom home builder leads to lower energy consumption and lower costs for the owner.

Drought is a concern for everyone who lives in Utah. In addition to installing low-flow water fixtures in their homes, many homeowners are looking to install rain-harvesting features. These include gutters and downspouts that direct rainwater to barrels and other containers for use on gardens and lawns in dry periods.

Greater use of recycled materials also reduces the environmental impact of the custom built home and can also reduce the cost of building. One trend that is building is reclaimed wood floors. These floor coverings can be recovered from older homes and other buildings. They wear well and add charm and style to homes. When a builder chooses building materials and finishes based on safety, energy efficiency and green building practices, it leads to a more comfortable house with lower maintenance costs.

As the premier custom home builder in North Salt Lake Utah, Rainey Homes is always happy to talk with you about what you want to make your next house your home.

Taking nature underwing!

Posted on Jan 17, 2017 |

Want to add a spark of life to a barren winter landscape? Invite some of Utah’s feathered friends to dinner at a table set near a Rainey Home window perfect for viewing.

Although it’s a fun scene to view from the comfort of your kitchen, it’s a matter of survival from a bird’s-eye view. The food you leave for avian friends arrives just as snow and cold is depleting many birds’ natural food supply.

Although suet balls and bird feeders are welcome additions to nearby branches, here are a few plants you can add to your landscape to attract a winter bird population. Forget about deadheading them: deadheads are the prime course!

  • Try some Maximillian sunflower. Because it blooms so late in the fall, this sunflower variety has plenty of seeds to carry birds through the winter. Before winter arrives, its golden blooms add a touch of sunshine to your fall landscape.
  • Crabapple trees offer birds a sweet treat, despite their name, throughout the winter. When spring comes around, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful apple blossoms!
  • If you’re serious about giving your feathered friends sanctuary through the winter, consider planting a few junipers. Although they are not a food source, junipers—often called cedars—offer shelter through the winter months in their bush-like branches.

Use these tips to enjoy time with your feathered friends this winter.

A royal flush

Posted on Dec 29, 2016 |

It’s called a money room for good reason. Your bathroom, when perfected, adds to a home’s value. But recently, homeowners have started to look for a more personal return on their investment.

The room that has long held the home’s throne has become the home’s royal flush, and for good reason!

Here’s what trendsetters have in store for the coming year:

  • Go organic. The love of natural materials extends into the bathroom, along with a return to simplicity and continuity. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for bold accents such as warm wood with ceramic tile, though.
  • Strike a balance. Clay and water taps into a cultural history that survives the ages. But it must be done in a way that comes naturally. It should have an easy feel that isn’t contrived.
  • Bring it to life. Add plants. These vibrant greens are a perfect complement to the matte finishes and neutral colors of today’s bathrooms.

These factors will provide a timeless quality that, in 2017, is totally contemporary. In your capable care, your bathroom will be simply beautiful.

Choose a custom home builder for the custom kitchen of your dreams

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 |

raineykitchen1One of the major reasons for working with a custom home builder such as Rainey Homes is that you can design the custom kitchen you’ve always dreamed of. A custom home builder can offer you a wide range of options for kitchen floors, cabinets, sinks, countertops and more.

Depending on your tastes, you can choose countertops made of granite, manufactured stone, tile, wood or even stainless steel, and floors made of ceramic or porcelain tile, hardwood or laminate. Although there’s no single right answer, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. A custom home builder can walk you through the opportunities and challenges of each.

Granite is at the cutting edge of fashion when it comes to kitchen countertops. It offers natural beauty with an extensive range of colors and patterns to match any taste and décor.

Granite is strong and heat-resistant. You can put a hot pot on it without worrying about scorching it, and it can bear a lot of wear and tear. You can even chop veggies on it without damaging the countertop — although you will dull your knife blades.

Natural granite is porous, though, so you have to have the countertop professionally sealed or it could stain. And even though granite is one of the strongest materials for countertops, it can chip if you drop something hard and heavy on it. Once chipped, it’s impossible to repair, and it’s expensive to replace.

Manufactured-stone materials come with a range of brand names, as your custom home builder will explain. They’re often made to resemble granite. They can be made to virtually any shape and configuration you desire without seams between individual pieces like with granite. Yet they’re not as strong as granite, and you cannot place a hot pot directly off the stove onto manufactured stone, as you can with granite.

You can use hardwood for a butcher-block look to your countertops. You can chop directly on them. They are susceptible to staining, water damage and scorching.

Floors: Tile, hardwood or laminate

For many people, tile is an obvious choice for kitchen floors. Durable, water-resistant and easy to clean, ceramic tile comes in almost limitless colors and patterns. Ceramic does not support molds or allergens.

Its disadvantages include being cold and hard on the feet. Some people complain that ceramic tile causes them foot and even back pain after standing on it for extended periods of time while cooking and washing dishes. Another weakness of ceramic tile is that it’s relatively easy to chip. Dropping a plate or a metal pot from a countertop onto the floor can chip off the surface, leaving an obvious mark.

Porcelain tile is stronger than ceramic, and the color and pattern penetrate deeper than with ceramic, so any damage is less noticeable. Grout—the softer material between tiles—must be sealed and resealed periodically or it can become moldy, which will allow water to seep under the tiles and weaken the installation.

Several Rainey Homes developed by a custom home builder feature hardwood floors in the kitchen. Hardwood has a warm beauty that is impossible to match with any other material. Yet wood is a porous material that can be susceptible to water damage and stains if not sealed and maintained properly. It’s also easier to dent and scratch than ceramic or porcelain tile.

Woods such as oak and ash are strong and durable, and they have a grain pattern that can hide or obscure minor scratches and dents. Solid hardwood flooring can be sanded down to remove damage and then refinished several times.

Installing hardwood flooring can take significantly longer than ceramic or porcelain tile, which adds to the cost. Replacing damaged pieces also takes longer.

To prevent stains and water damage, hardwood must be finished with a strong and durable coating, and it will eventually need refinishing. Hardwood also requires regular maintenance and cleaning to retain its beauty and finish.

Finally, wood will expand and contract with the seasons and the humidity level. Over years, this can cause the individual pieces to separate.

Laminate flooring is a man-made alternative to hardwood flooring. Today’s laminates are almost indistinguishable from hardwood. They’re less expensive than natural hardwood and more resistant to water and staining. They will not expand and contract to the same extent as natural wood, either.

Talk to your custom home builder about whether laminate might be the best choice for your custom kitchen.

Making the right choice

All kitchen materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Making the choice that’s best for you depends on your own tastes and how heavily you will use your kitchen from day to day. Talk to the team at Rainey Homes, your custom home builder in North Salt Lake Utah, about making the right choices for your dream kitchen.

Who's afraid of a little snow?

Posted on Dec 5, 2016 |

Winter is coming, and for many that means putting dreams of a new Rainey home on hold.

But that isn’t always the case. In fact, there are a few advantages to starting your building project early in the year. The trick, of course, is to find the right balance and to work with a crew that knows what it takes.

Here are a few things to mull over:

  • You could save time and money. Since many projects aren’t slated for the winter, workers are eager to stay busy. You’ll have their undivided attention. There aren’t as many contractors clogging government offices with requests for permits, so the paperwork process could move faster.
  • If you can get the foundation in before the ground is frozen, the rest isn’t as dependent on warm weather. Try to schedule your excavation and foundation work close together to prevent cold-related setbacks.
  • Realize winter bring challenges. Although it’s easier to work through snow than rain, you will need to plow the worksite. Depending on your particular circumstances, the construction might count on thermal blankets and generator-powered heaters.
  • If construction isn’t possible, it might be the perfect time to mull over floor plans, choose cabinetry and flooring and line up financing. And don’t forget to get those permits!

The best plan is to meet with us at Rainey Homes. We can go through your dream project and make a viable decision on what’s possible, even in the dead of winter. We’re here to make your dreams come true!

Tips from a custom home builder: Prepare your custom home for a Utah winter

Posted on Nov 25, 2016 |

The phrase “Winter is coming” is often repeated on the popular TV show “Game of Thrones, and experts predict this coming winter will be cold with plenty of snow. As the premier custom home builder in North Salt Lake Utah, we have some tips for real estate owners to prepare their homes for the coming months of cold and snow.

As a custom home builder, we recommend you start preparing your real estate and home before the cold weather comes. That way, you can call on your custom home builder as needed with any questions about your new property before you are forced to shell out a lot of money for last-minute upgrades or repairs.

Here are a few of the steps you can take to remain proactive, based on our experience as a custom home builder:

  • Call a furnace or HVAC service company to inspect, clean and tune up your heating system. Make sure they replace air filters and verify the smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms are working properly.
  • Drain and clean your hot-water tank.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans so they push warm air back down to where you are rather than pulling cooler air up.
  • Inside your basement, add insulation around pipes that are near exterior walls to prevent them from freezing and bursting.
  • Consider adding insulation to your hot-water pipes so you get more (and faster) hot water for showers, baths and other uses.

Outdoor preparation

Take a walk around your real estate before the snow falls. Look for things to put away and for potential problems. Think back to last winter. Did you have a lot of icicles on your eaves? Slippery spots on your sidewalks or driveway? Take steps to avoid problems and preserve your real estate investment that a custom home builder carefully constructed.

  • If you have window air-conditioners, take them out, clean them and store them for the winter. Make sure permanent units are clear of debris and covered for the season.
  • Clean leaves, branches and other debris out of gutters and downspouts to prevent jamming, freezing and overflowing. Once water freezes in a gutter or downspout, there’s almost no way to get it out until warmer temperatures thaw it.
  • If your downspouts don’t take rainwater at least 3 ft. to 4 ft. away from the foundation of your house, add extensions.
  • Inspect your roof for any damaged, loose or missing shingles, and replace them before the snow flies.
  • Have a professional check and repair the insulation in your attic to prevent ice dams and icicles. If you had a lot of icicles hanging from your eaves last year, it’s a sign there’s too much loss of heat through your roof. That’s costing you money in heating, and it can damage your roof. Icicles can also endanger anyone who walks onto your property, leading to liability and higher real-estate insurance premiums.
  • Caulk around doors and windows. If you see cracks in the caulk, remove it all and replace it with silicone caulk. While you’re at it, check window putty, which is the compound that seals the glass to the frame. Replace any that’s cracked or damaged.
  • Install or replace weather stripping around window sashes and doorways. You should not be able to see daylight around the door.
  • Turn off external faucets and drain them. Drain hoses and put them away for the winter.
  • If your real estate comes with a lawn irrigation system or underground sprinklers, call a professional to drain the system and prepare it for winter.
  • Stock up now on winter essentials, such as salt or ice melter. Check that your snow shovels are still in good condition. Ice can bend the edges of blades, making them more difficult to use.
  • Instead of raking up leaves, drive your lawn mower over them to mulch them into small pieces. They will decompose and feed your lawn over the winter months.
  • After the last mowing of the year, prepare your mower for winter by draining the fuel or adding fuel stabilizer.
  • Call a chimney sweep to clean your chimney before you start burning wood or gas in your fireplace.

As any qualified custom home builder will tell you, repairing real estate for the winter saves time and money and helps prevent emergencies. It makes your wintertime at home more comfortable and enjoyable, and it adds to the value of your real estate investment. Trust Rainey Homes, a longtime custom home builder in North Salt Lake Utah, with all of your custom home needs.

Homeowners are happy building green real estate

Posted on Oct 28, 2016 |

One of the major trends shifting the types of residential real estate being built by custom home builders today in the U.S. is the trend toward going green. That means real estate is constructed to meet the National Green Building Standard. To meet this standard, a custom home builder must use sustainable, durable building materials; construct buildings that consume less energy and water; and produce fewer health-affecting emissions than standard buildings.

Although it’s true there are incentives for going green as a custom home builder, it’s reasonable to ask why a homeowner would be persuaded to focus on green real estate.

A few data points offer some clarity on the issue of buyer motivation. According to a recent study, for example, two-thirds of homeowners who own residential real estate that meets the National Green Building Standard express strong satisfaction with the improved air quality, durability, energy efficiency and water consumption of their green homes.

Lower energy consumption by real estate

The green certification requires better insulation, leak-free ductwork, sealed doors and windows, and energy-efficient lighting, appliances and heating and air-conditioning systems. These all pay for themselves over time in the form of lower annual energy bills. Homeowners can also be confident in their decision to pursue a green home because chances are good it will feature added benefits such as:

  • Cooler rooms in the summertime, thanks to improved doors and windows as well as insulation that keeps the sun’s rays at bay
  • Cozier rooms in the wintertime, as fewer drafts will occur thanks to better insulation
  • Longer-lasting light bulbs and appliances that draw less power and require fewer energy reserves to operate
  • Leadership in the community, enabling friends and neighbors to see the positive benefits of adopting energy-efficient materials and technology

Greater durability

Green-certified buildings are constructed of materials that last longer, meaning lower costs for maintenance and replacement—not to mention greater peace of mind for the homeowner. For example, some green roofing materials have 40- or 50-year warranties—more than double the lifespan of standard shingles. Even though these items cost more early on in the construction process, they end up saving the homeowner money over the lifetime of the real estate. An extensive roof repair or replacement can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars, but homeowners who work to develop green-certified real estate can take comfort knowing they’ve invested important and lasting work on the front end of the construction project.

Better indoor air quality

Green certification requires paints, caulking, adhesive, sealants and finishes that have low volatile organic compound (VOC) content and low emissions. This means those living in green homes should experience fewer odors and fewer reactions and health issues.

It also means that the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems bring fresh air into the home and filter recirculated air.
Mold prevention, non-toxic pest control and non-toxic cleansers also add up to much better indoor air quality.

Reduced water use

Green certification also requires builders to install efficient water-supply systems, low-flow faucets and shower heads, dual-flush toilets, and methods to manage rain runoff for minimal water waste and optimal use of available water.

Rainey’s commitment to green building practices

As a leading builder of custom homes in North Salt Lake Utah, Rainey Homes has always been committed to exceeding standards of energy efficiency and green building practices. Our home buyers enjoy the benefits of higher quality real estate, a healthier home environment and lower ownership costs. Longer-lasting materials, and reduced energy and water consumption save families a lot of money over the years. When added up across the country, these precious resources can be directed where we need them most.

Financial feasibility

Posted on Oct 25, 2016 |

Building your dream home comes with a lot of landmark firsts: the first shovel of dirt overturned, the first walk through the framed-in rooms, the first time you turn the key.

But long before any of that happens, you’d better take care of business first and make sure you’re financially able to take on the expense of a custom home.

Although qualified builders such as Rainey Homes are ready and willing to work with you through financing your project, here are a few basics you should have in place:

  • Bring up your credit report, preferably from the three major providers: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You don’t want to find out about a long-forgotten unpaid bill or credit fraud while sitting down with the loan officer. Heads up: Even when you resolve the problem, it can take 90 days for your credit report to reflect the change.
  • Make an honest assessment of your household’s net income. Along with your take-home wages, after taxes and other deductions, add child support, pensions and other income sources into the mix. Then start another list to calculate your expenses. Again, don’t leave anything out. Although you might later make adjustments such as taking your lunch to work rather than buying it every day, this is the time to be straightforward. You want a realistic idea of what you can afford.
  • Finally, work up an estimate of your new home’s costs, factoring in the money you’ve saved toward a down payment. At Rainey Homes, you’ll have a fixed price, making it easier to figure out your new mortgage payment. But there are many extras to consider, including property taxes, home insurance, association fees and moving expenses. Don’t forget: If your new home is considerably larger, utility rates are going to rise, too.

Taking care of business in advance builds a solid foundation toward a successful experience. The silver lining is that even if something shows up that impedes your plans, facing it squarely and making the necessary adjustments puts you back on the path to your dream home.