Five Tips For Childproofing Your Home

Welcoming a new baby into the world is one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences
you’ll ever go through. It can also be a little scary. After all, you’re now responsible for taking
care of a very little person. One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to make sure your
home is baby-proofed so that your little one can’t get into too much trouble. Here are five tips to
help you get started.

1. Create A Safe Zone In Your Home
While it’s difficult to identify every possible hazard throughout your entire home, it can be a
really good idea to set up a safe zone in one or two rooms where you spend a lot of time. That
way, if you have to put your little one down for a couple minutes, you have a safe place to do so.
You might use a retractable baby gate to set up this safe zone. Incidentally, some of these baby
gates can be used to keep your little one away from stairs as well.

2. Keep Electronics Out Of Reach
Electronics and appliances can pose quite a hazard for babies and toddlers. Between cords and
batteries, there are all sorts of ways that these can cause harm. So, make sure to keep your
toaster, bottle warmer, coffee maker and everything else out of reach. It’s a good idea to be
particularly careful about this in the bathroom or anywhere else where water is present. You
don’t want a hairdryer getting knocked into the bathtub as it can pose an electrocution risk.

3. Latch Those Drawers And Cabinets
It’s almost unavoidable that you will have some cleaning supplies and other hazardous
materials in your home. So, you will want to make sure these are put away in cabinets and
drawers, and that these cabinets and drawers are secured with latches. While it does get a little
old having to latch and unlatch them every time, it’s so important that the minor inconvenience is
well worth it.

4. Take A Close Look At Your Furniture
For babies and toddlers, regular objects can represent danger. For example, there are all sorts
of pieces of furniture that might tip over if your little one tries to use them to pull up. Take a look
around each room, and make sure that any furniture that is prone to tipping is secured to a wall.

It can also be a good idea to look for sharp edges and cover them with bumpers. This will help
soften the blow in the event that your little one takes a tumble.

5. Double Check Everything, And Then Check Again
Just when you think you’ve finally childproofed your home, you’ll want to double check. It can be
really easy to miss a few things the first time. So, go through each room and take an inventory
of everything you see. It can even be a good idea to get down on your hands and knees since
this will help you see things from your little explorer’s point of view. Even after double checking,
you’ll want to periodically check again. After all, your home might change over time as you
accumulate more furniture and other objects.


By: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard runs Smart Parent Advice, a site that provides parenting advice for
moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides
solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies
and toddlers.

Posted on March 26, 2020 at 9:49 am
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

3 Things You Need to Do to Really Make Money from Your Investment Property

It’s widely acknowledged that real estate is a safer investment than most. Despite this, purchasing your very first investment property will come with no small measure of trepidation — and for good reason. Like all ventures, it still comes with risks, not the least of which is a high vacancy rate that can potentially result in negative cash flow. On the other hand, it also comes with opportunities. Fortunately, with the right mindset and strategy, you can ensure that the winds of fortune blow in this direction, instead. So, let’s explore the measures you need to take to make money out of your investment property.

Making Your Investment

When investing in rental property, it’s important to know right off the bat that not all properties are created equal. The fact is there are properties whose success is a foregone conclusion and others that are doomed for failure. This begs the question: How do you, as a first-time investor, separate the wheat from the chaff?

The answer lies in the very tenet that experienced realtors live by, and that is location. More than just a real estate cliche, this can almost single-handedly make or break a rental property, which is why it’s very important to start here. As a rule, you will want investment property that is in close proximity to establishments like schools, restaurants, stores, and tourist spots, as well as public transportation. Interestingly, having a Starbucks in the neighborhood is also ideal.

There are, of course, other features that you should also consider when on the market for an investment property, such as the number of rentals and corresponding vacancy rates in the area, forecasted property taxes, and even the condition of the property. But generally, if you’ve got the location aspect down pat, you’re already well on your way to making a good investment.

Setting It Up for Success

As soon as you have an investment property to call your own, it’s very important to hit the ground running and start setting it up as a rental. There are different kinds of rentals that you can position your property as, so it’s a good idea to determine whether you want a long-term or short-term rental, as both have their respective sets of pros and cons to consider. 

Next, you will want to furnish and decorate your property so that it’s compelling to potential tenants. Fundamentally, this will entail making upgrades that are both attractive and functional, as well as ensuring that you have irresistible amenities on offer.

Lastly, don’t forget to invest in security. Be aware that it is your legal responsibility to provide a safe and secure place for your tenants, so it’s a good idea to put in place a mix of high-tech and low-tech security measures that are efficient and budget-friendly. At the most basic level, you can ensure that visibility is not compromised by shrubbery or bad lighting. An equally good idea is installing an alarm system, which will set you back around $675, or more if you use a monitoring service. Finally, check with your local police department to see if they will do a security check of your property to help you identify any potential problem areas.

Getting the Promised ROI

Of course, all your efforts will be for naught if your rental languishes on the market. Know that having a rental property demands constant work that includes marketing, vetting tenants, maintenance, and even bookkeeping, which can be daunting to a novice. Thankfully, you can outsource these tasks to a professional property manager, which is a feasible option if your own time is limited or if you just don’t want to leave your property’s profitability up to chance.

Suffice it to say, with every investment property purchased, there is a considerable chance for success and profitability, as well as for failure. Yours will depend on your savvy and the amount of work and resources you put in. So, which way do you think the wind is blowing for you?

By: Katie Conroy

Photo via Pexels

Posted on March 4, 2020 at 12:41 pm
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Downsizing as a Senior: What Should You Do With Your Current Home?

Baby boomers and millennials may not agree on many points, but there’s one trend where they agree: the convenience of downsizing. Real estate trends show that Americans are no longer interested in impractical mega-mansions but opting for more compact houses. A smaller property is especially handy for older people. They don’t have to invest as much time and money into maintaining the space and can instead focus on enjoying their retirement years. If you are planning to downsize, you have to figure out what to do with your current piece of real estate. Learn about three possibilities below to decide which one is best for you.


Keep the house for your kids


You may want to keep the house “in the family” and allow your children or grandchildren to live in it. It’s up to you whether you want to rent the property to them or simply transfer the deed to them for free. If you rent to family, make sure you understand the financial repercussions in terms of taxes. If you aren’t careful, renting to relatives can result in the property being classified as a “personal residence,” which will mean you lose valuable tax deductions as a result.


If you were, in any case, planning to leave the house to your family as part of an inheritance, it can be beneficial to simply transfer the deed to your children or grandkids now. You can create a revocable living trust that names another person as the official owner of the real estate. This is useful because it means the home won’t have to go through probate, the process through which courts authenticate a will before assigning assets to beneficiaries. 


Sell the property for a profit


If you don’t have family or aren’t feeling sentimental about keeping your house among relatives, you can instead sell your current home for a profit. The real estate market varies depending on current trends and location. Take some time to research recent listings in your neighborhood to get an idea of price points. For example, the average sale price in Draper the last month was about $523K. Of course, you could get more or less depending on the size and state of your property. 


You can also use this information to see if the profits from selling your home will allow you to comfortably transition to the next step in terms of downsizing. Are you planning to switch to an assisted living facility? In this case, you need to pay monthly fees. Do you want to simply move to a smaller house?  If yes, note that if you take out a mortgage it’s advisable to make a down payment of at least 20% of the sale price in order to secure a loan with a good interest rate and avoid private mortgage insurance.


Rent out real estate for a steady income


If you aren’t emotionally ready to sell your house or the market isn’t great at the moment, you also have the option to rent out your home. This will allow you to collect monthly rent payments, offsetting the fears concerning the lack of funds that many seniors experience after retirement. If you have a larger house, you can even stay where you are and simply rent out a room. The so-called “Golden Girls” trend is growing in popularity and many older persons are living with roommates these days. If you’re moving out and renting, you’ll want to keep in mind that maintenance, repairs and vetting tenants can take up a significant amount of your time. If you’re not keen to handle these tasks, look to property management companies to help — just be prepared to pay a 10% fee. 


Whichever of the above options you choose, you will have to be prepared for a change. This can be intimidating, especially since moving gets harder with age. Focus on the positive benefits of downsizing as you move forward. You will save money and have more time for enjoying your retirement and spend less time on household upkeep. Keep a positive mindset and you will be able to embrace the change.

by Jim Vogal

Photo Credit:

Posted on September 27, 2019 at 10:36 am
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Moving a Parent in After Their Spouse’s Death

The death of a spouse isn’t just devastating for your elderly parent; it could prompt a sharp
decline in their health. Not only does the emotional stress of losing a spouse put your surviving
parent at risk of cardiovascular decline, the resulting grief and isolation can spur myriad health
issues, from poor nutrition to cognitive decline. If you haven’t already, this is the time to start
thinking seriously about moving your aging parent into your home. While some families are
blessed with a mother-in-law suite or spare bedroom, for many, moving a parent in means
upsizing their home.

Multi-generational living offers its benefits. It’s an opportunity for children to develop a closer
relationship with their grandparent, and if your parent is still able, it could mean an extra pair of
hands to help with housekeeping and childcare. For your parent, it’s an opportunity to reduce
financial worries, increase social connection, and find renewed purpose in daily life.

That said, moving an elderly parent in isn’t without challenges. You’ll need to restructure family
responsibilities to ensure everyone is cared for and find ways to create privacy with an extra
person in the house. And depending on your parent’s finances, it could create financial stress.

If your parent isn’t able to contribute to the household finances, you may be wondering how
you’ll afford to upsize your home. Here are a few tips for getting the space you need without
busting your budget:

1. Buy only what you need
It’s possible to get the space you need without dramatically increasing your overall square
footage. As you house hunt, seek homes that skip unnecessary spaces like formal dining
rooms, great rooms, or home theaters. Instead, use that square footage for extra bedrooms and

2. Change your neighborhood
In general, homes grow more affordable the further you travel from the city center. For more
space without a bigger price tag, set your eyes toward the suburbs.

3. Share space
If you have young children, they may be able to share bedrooms for a few years while your
parent is living with you. As Babble points out, shared bedrooms offer benefits beyond
conserving space. No kids? Consider having the dining room pull double-duty as a home office
or converting another space for multiple uses.

4. Look at older homes
Outdated styles in older homes can lead to much lower price tags for the same amount of
space. And as long as the issues are aesthetic, not structural — think floral wallpaper, pastel
bathrooms, and wood paneling — you can remodel with minimal expense.

5. Search for foreclosures
You may be able to use proceeds from your home sale to purchase a foreclosed property
outright. However, it’s important to understand the nuances of buying foreclosures before going
this route. You’ll need to attend auctions, research properties thoroughly, and have cash to pay
for the property in full.

6. Shop new builds
A new construction home may not be your first thought when trying to save money, but it can be
the best way to get exactly the house you need and no more. Rather than spending money on
remodeling projects, you can commission a home with two master bedrooms, a backyard
cottage, or an above-the-garage in-law suite. You can still save money on new construction by
following advice from Money Crashers.

The death of a parent sends shockwaves through your family’s life. Not only are all of you
grieving the loss of a spouse, parent, and grandparent, but you’re faced with the task of meeting
everyone’s needs without hurting your family’s financial security. If you’re struggling to find an
upsized home that suits your needs and your budget, turn to a trusted real estate agent for help.
Image via Flickr


By: Lucille Rosetti

Posted on June 11, 2019 at 2:53 pm
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

A Complete Guide to Moving Following a Loss

When you lose a loved one, especially one who was a constant part of your everyday life, it can be difficult to see the world around you go on without them. Your environment and your routine feel off, and this can make it harder for you to process your grief and move on from it. For some, moving and finding a fresh start somewhere new can be exactly what is needed.


Of course, moving is a complicated process at the best of times, so moving in this particular situation can be incredibly daunting and often overwhelming. This guide will attempt to give you some useful tips and advice to make the transition easier.


Finding a New Home


The first decision you have to make is where to go. You don’t have to move across the country — some people just downsize to a smaller house in a different neighborhood. It’s entirely up to you to decide how much of a change you want.

That said, you should move somewhere with friends or family nearby, especially if you are a senior who has lost a spouse. According to Psychology Today, loneliness in widows can lead to a reduced life expectancy and an increased risk of dementia. You need people around you during this difficult time to help you grieve.


If you are an older adult, you also want to focus on finding a house that is appropriate for aging in place. This usually means something smaller, with step-free access throughout the home and wide doorways and corridors. Even if you are in perfect health at the moment, you need to be prepared for the eventuality of limited mobility and ensure that your new home will be one you can age in comfortably and safely.


Sorting a Loved One’s Possessions


Most people use a move as an opportunity to declutter, but this is, of course, a more emotionally taxing process if you have just lost someone. That said, you should still take this chance to sort through your loved one’s possessions. It has to be done at some point, and there’s no point packing loads of stuff you ultimately can’t keep.


There is no “right” way to do this, but there are methods to make it easier. What’s Your Grief recommends starting with the four Ps: participants (Who do you want to be there with you?), people (Who else may want some of this stuff?), prioritize (Where should you start?), and pacing (How long to spend on each decluttering “session”?) Approaching such an emotive subject in such a structured way may seem odd, but it is helpful for many.


Remember that much of the stuff — especially clothes — can be donated to charity, where they will help others. If you enjoy crafting, there are plenty of ways to memorialize your loved one using their clothes or other items.


Moving In


It’s important to stay organized in order to make the move a success. Some people find that focusing on the practicalities of the move helps them get their mind off things, while others need help from an organized love one. Either way, a moving checklist like this one by Real Simple can help you stay on top of things.


You probably want to keep costs to a minimum, so make sure you think about details like picking the best moving date in order to avoid peak season charges.


Moving On


Once you are settled, you may still want or need support. Use this grief support group directory to find it. If grief persists, you may be dealing with complicated grief, which can be harder to overcome and lead to depression. Get in touch with a mental health professional to get the support you need as soon as possible.


Finally, don’t expect the move to completely change the way you feel. If you have lost someone who was important to you, only time will be able to heal that. But you will find that, with a change of scene, everything around you won’t remind you of them so much, and that can be a relief.


By: Lucille Rosetti


Posted on May 1, 2019 at 5:59 pm
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Keep Your HVAC Unit Running Efficiently with Simple, Regular Maintenance

Cleaning the oven or changing your water filter are, generally speaking, simple DIY home maintenance tasks, but there are other important features of your home that require regular attention in order to work properly and efficiently. Your HVAC system is one such feature, perhaps the single most important component of your home. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to keep your unit operating at peak efficiency, and you don’t even need a screwdriver, drill, or any other items from your toolbox to make it happen.

Study Up

It may not be compelling reading, but reading through online operation guides will familiarize you with how your HVAC system works and show how a diligent approach to preventive maintenance will keep it running efficiently. And get familiar with your air conditioning or home warranty agreement so you’ll know what’s covered if your unit suddenly breaks down.

Change the Filters

One of the most important steps you can take to safeguard an HVAC unit is also one of the easiest. A dirty, clogged air filter causes your HVAC to work too hard, which places a strain on its component parts and leads to higher energy bills. Set an automatic reminder on your smartphone to remind you when it’s time to change that filter each month (some units have permanent filters that require periodic cleaning). Be aware that your filter may need to be changed more often if there’s a pet in the house or if someone in the family suffers from asthma.


Clear Out the Ducts and Registers

You’ve probably noticed that your heat registers and air ducts tend to accumulate hair, dust, and other debris that can impede the flow of air. So, use a sponge or wet rag to keep your registers wiped down as often as possible, though pet hair will probably require you to clean them more often. It’ll also help you maintain healthy indoor air flow.

Outdoor Unit

If your system has an outdoor compressor unit, keep it free of lawn debris such as leaves, sticks, dirt, and other items that could inhibit effective operation. Every week or two, take a look around the unit. Grab a rake, broom, or a pair of gloves and clear out a space about two feet wide all the way around, making sure no debris is covering the surface or has gotten into the fan component.

Switch It Off Now and Then

People who live in warmer climates may go for days at a time running their air conditioning without a thought for the wear and tear this puts on the system. When the thermostat dips down into a more acceptable range, consider switching off the A/C for a day or so to relieve the workload. Break out the floor fans and switch on your ceiling fans, which will keep the air circulating and keep hot air up where it belongs — out of the way.

Creating good airflow with fans and lowering the temperature inside just a couple of degrees will help keep your unit from working too hard, which can ultimately cause excessive wear and possibly a mechanical breakdown of some kind. This is usually when the dollar figures can really start adding up. So, pay attention to see if your unit starts to make a high-pitched screeching sound. Sometimes components will give you a warning before they break.

It’s important to address anything that looks or sounds like it might be out of the norm. Schedule a regular inspection, and always call a pro if you’re not experienced enough to troubleshoot on your own. You could end up doing more harm than good.

Image courtesy of Pexels

Posted on April 2, 2019 at 11:00 am
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Are We in Another Housing Market Bubble?

As of May this year home prices had increased 7.1% since May 2017, the biggest increase in 4 years ( This leaves many people asking, are we in another housing market bubble?

Historical Trends

Figure 1 depicts the US House Price Index. The lower red line follows the growth rate between 1975 to 2000. The upper red line shows how far we have deviated from the 1975 to 2000 sustained growth rate. As you can see, we are following a very similar trend to the last bubble. The yellow portion is an overlay from the crown of the last bubble to illustrate what might happen if we continued to follow the last trend. The vertical red line marks the apex of that trend at early 2020.

Figure 1 – All Transactions Home Price Index for the United States 

It is important to realize that real-estate hasn’t historically followed a cycle of booms and busts like the equities market. Therefore, while this graph looks very concerning, we should not necessarily conclude that 2007 will repeat in 2020. In-fact, 2007 was the first time in history the US saw a nationwide decrease in home values.

Supply and Demand

To understand bubbles, it’s important to understand how home prices fluctuate in a market. Like any good or service, home prices are a function of supply and demand. The main factors that affect supply of homes on the market are new construction, people moving out of the area, moving up or downsizing, and bank-owned houses for sale. Supply is more volatile on a local level because people can move in and out of a city or state freely, but it is more difficult to move between countries. The factors that affect demand are people moving into an area, affordability of buying compared to renting, and the expectancy of prices to rise. Affordability is determined by the price, available interest rate, and lending standards.

The Effect of Mortgage Rates on Demand

Mortgage rates have a massive effect on the ability of borrowers to purchase, and therefore the demand for homes. On October 6, 2016, 30-year fixed interest rates were 3.42%. If you could afford a mortgage payment of $2,000, you could borrow up to $449,852. On October 11, 2018, interest rates rose to 4.9% (Figure 3). With that same payment of $2,000, you could only get a loan up to $376,859.

Generally, a lender does not like to see a person’s total debt payments as more than 36% of their income (Investopedia). This means your monthly income would need to increase by $1,075 to afford the $449,852 mortgage in 2018. When income growth does not keep up with increases in interest rates people can’t afford to buy as expensive homes as they could have in the past. Likewise, a lender loosening or tightening their standards as to your debt-to-income ratio can make a big impact on a borrower’s ability to purchase.

What Really is a Bubble?

“The term ‘bubble’ is widely used but rarely clearly defined” (Case & Shiller). If you look at where we are now on the Home Price Index graph it looks like we are approaching the top of a bubble, but a bubble isn’t so much about the trend as it is the cause. Most economists define a bubble as expected future price increases causing speculative purchasing and inflating the market prices temporarily.

What Happened in 2000-2007

The early 2000s was the perfect storm for a mortgage crisis. 30 Year Fixed Mortgage rates lowered from 8.6% in May 2000 to 5.21% in June 2003 (Figure 3). While this doesn’t sound low compared to now it’s historically very low. This allowed more people to buy houses. A high demand for mortgage-backed securities also caused very loose mortgage lending standards. People with poor credit history, low income, and low or no down payment could qualify for subprime loans.

The increased availability of financing increased demand and drove up home prices. Increasing home values gave a false sense of security to both lenders and borrowers compounding the situation and causing even lower lending standards. Lenders would offer “Stated Income Loans” without any income verification and many people would lie about their income. People also got loans with lower introductory rates and adjustable rate mortgages. Some lenders would even offer negative amortization mortgages because everyone believed the market would continue to go up and nobody wanted to miss out on the appreciation.

New home building permits surged from 2002 to almost record highs in 2005 (Figure 9). Many people bought as many houses as they could, overextending their finances. At the time, values were going up so quickly that people could take out a home equity line of credit to pay their mortgage. Many people thought they were making a ton of money off the appreciation.

An increase in interest rates from 5.62% July 7 2005 to 6.63% August 2006 (Figure 3) began to tighten up financing availability and was detrimental to many people with highly leveraged adjustable rate mortgages. Appreciation slowed down from the 4th quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of 2007 (Figure 1). Supply of houses began to catch up. Introductory rates on mortgages began to expire and payments went up. Many people couldn’t afford the payments. Mortgage defaults shot up which caused lenders to tighten their standards and tightened back the availability of financing (Gooch). In the second quarter of 2007 prices began to fall (Figure 1).

What has Driven Prices Back Up?

Figure 2 below shows the home price index again in blue, but this one also has the consumer price index. It’s interesting to see that home prices outperformed other goods and services at a relatively constant rate from 1975 to 2000 but changed after 2000. The trough in 2012 hits about where prices would have been if they had followed their previous projection, but they have shot up again- so what’s driving that growth?

Figure 2 – Consumer Price Index compared to Home Price Index

Mortgage Rates Caused Increased Demand

As you look at figure 3 you will see that in the period since the recession, we have had record low mortgage interest rates below 5%; this has increased affordability and thus increased demand for housing.

Figure 3 – 30 Year Fixed Mortgage Average in the United States

Tight Inventory Drove Up Prices

When supply is low scarcity drives up the price. Figure 4 shows the number of houses on the market. You can see that in 2013 the supply of homes on the market reached its lowest. That’s when prices started to recover again.

Figure 4 – National All Homes for Sale by Redfin

REO Inventory Has Dried Up

Compare figure 4 with figure 5 and you will realize that there was a major correlation with the number of foreclosed properties and the properties available for sale. In January 2009 28% of homes on the market were REOs. By the middle of 2016 that number dropped to 5% (Market Watch).

Figure 5 – Foreclosed Properties by RealtyTrac (From Market Watch Article)

Home Builders Put Out of Business

While the demand for housing is back, many of the builders who were put out of business during the crash are not. During the crisis 1.5 million construction workers were laid off and barely half that many have been replaced since (Market Watch). With the REO inventory gone and not enough builders to meet the demand, home prices have been pushed up.

Americans Staying in their Homes Longer

Many Americans are staying in their homes longer because they lost a lot of equity in the crash and it’s not worth it to move, or there aren’t enough homes on the market and they can’t find another one to buy. Before the crash it was normal for people to stay in a home for six years. In 2016 and 2017 sellers had stayed in their home for a median of 10 years (Market Watch).

Increase in Home Sizes

Figure 6 shows that the median and average sizes of new homes being built grew considerably since the crash. This is another factor that contributes to the increase in sales prices.

Figure 6 – Size of Single Family Homes from National Association of Home Builders

When you compare Figure 6 with Figure 1 or 2 you will notice they look very similar, indicating that the increasing size of new homes is a factor in the median sale price of homes.

Around 2014 new home sizes began to decline. However, prices have continued to increase steadily, likely because interest rates lowered (Figure 9) and inventory began to tighten up after 2005.

Where are We Now and What’s next?

It’s been an interesting year. Home prices really boomed in the spring, but we have felt a softening in the market in the fall especially in the upper middle and up valued properties here in Utah. It’s no secret that real estate is seasonal. Most families would prefer to move in the summer when the kids are in school, and most people would avoid moving during the holidays.

Figure 7 shows a more detailed monthly view of median home sale prices compared to FREDs quarterly numbers. It is interesting to observe the seasonal trend. You can see that since 2013 sale prices have hit their peak mid-year in the summer and hit the bottom around the new-year’s. You will notice that for the past three years the trough at the end of the year was about the price level of the summer of the year before (18 months back), but this year when September’s numbers came out they showed a significant hard and fast drop. The price in September was already down below that of June 2017. I wondered if it was the recent jump in interest rates pushing down prices.

Figure 7 – National Median Sales Price by Redfin

To be thorough I compared with the median price per square foot graph to see if it dropped as well. Interestingly the median price per square foot increased in September. This indicates that the houses sold in September were likely smaller houses, as smaller houses tend to have a lower price but a higher price per square foot.

Figure 8 – National Price Per Square Foot by Redfin

Building permits are near the highest they have been since the crash but are still only about 55% of where they were at the peak. This is because, as discussed earlier, many builders went out of business during the crash. The positive side is we probably do not need to be worried about speculative “overbuilding” which contributed to the crash in 2007.

Figure 9 – New Private Housing Units Authorized by Building Permits by FRED


The US Housing Affordability Index (Figure 10) is calculated by comparing median single-family home prices to interest rates and median household qualifying income. While prices have risen a lot, national affordability is still relatively high.

Figure 10 – US Housing Affordability Index by the National Association of Realtors, 2018 Data added by Joel Finnie

Debt Service to Income is Low

Another positive thing to note is that household debt service payments as a percentage of disposable income are extremely low right now compared to its highest point right before the last crash. This makes me very optimistic because high levels of debt played such a big role in that crash.

Figure 11 – Household Debt Service as a Percentage of Disposable Income


While prices appear high, nationwide affordability is still high. Interest Rates are expected to rise to 5.2% by 2020 (Mortage Bankers Association), which shouldn’t affect affordability too adversely. According to JP Morgan we have a 60% chance of a recession by 2020. When the next recession comes unemployment will rise. We may see prices pull back a little in big cities where very strong employment has driven up prices, and we may see some delinquencies rise in certain areas. However, I believe a nationwide decline in home prices is extremely unlikely and would require something catastrophic.

Lending standards are conservative, borrowers are not overleveraged like in2007, ARMs are rare, and new building permits are still only back to 1994 levels. The prices are high because the inventory is low, and it will take time to build more inventory. I think overall prices will continue to rise but at a slower rate than they have since 2013. Price growth in the middle and upper range will likely slow more than entry level homes as entry level supply is tightest.

Works Cited

“30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average in the United States.” FRED. November 01, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.


“All-Transactions House Price Index for the United States.” FRED. August 24, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Gooch, and Fredric J. “Building on More Solid Ground: The Mortgage Industry Is Reeling from a Period of Bad News and Market Excess That Has Triggered an Ongoing Response from Lawmakers and Regulators. What Some Have Called a Market on Steroids Has since Come Crashing Down to Reality.” “Building on More Solid Ground: The Mortgage Industry Is Reeling from a Period of Bad News and Market Excess That Has Triggered an Ongoing Response from Lawmakers and Regulators. What Some Have Called a Market on Steroids Has since Come Crashing Down to Reality” by Gooch, Fredric J. – Mortgage Banking, Vol. 67, Issue 12, September 2007 | Online Research Library: Questia. Accessed November 06, 2018.

“Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items.” FRED. October 11, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

“Housing Affordability Index.” Accessed November 06, 2018.


Jurow, Keith. “Why the U.S. Housing Recovery Is Built on Quicksand.” MarketWatch. October 18, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Jurow, Keith. “Why the U.S. Housing Recovery Is Built on Quicksand.” MarketWatch. October 18, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Jurow, Keith. “Why the U.S. Housing Recovery Is Built on Quicksand.” MarketWatch. October 18, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

“New Private Housing Units Authorized by Building Permits.” FRED. October 24, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Olick, Diana. “Home Prices Make the Biggest Jump in Four Years.” CNBC. July 03, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Orton, Kathy. “Experts Weigh in on What the 2018 Housing Market Will Bring.” The Washington Post. January 08, 2018. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Redfin Real-Time. “Data Center – Redfin Real-Time Housing Market Data.” Redfin Real-Time. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Riquier, Andrea. “Why Aren’t There Enough Houses to Buy?” MarketWatch. September 01, 2017. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Riquier, Andrea. “‘I’m Never Moving Again’: Why Americans Are Staying in Their Homes for Longer.” MarketWatch. October 30, 2017. Accessed November 06, 2018.

Posted on November 5, 2018 at 12:31 pm
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

How a Flat Rate Brokerage Almost Cost Us More Than $100,000

We first listed our home with a flat rate brokerage hoping to save money. In the past we saw agents that just took some pictures, listed the property on the MLS, and maybe held an open house.  We didn’t feel their efforts were worth a full 3% commission. Initially we had a few showings, and even received an offer, but it was $175,000 below our asking price, and because of poor communication from the listing service, it had expired before we even saw it.

We only had a couple more showings over the next month, so we decided to lower the asking price by $63,000 to see if that was the reason for the lack of interest.  After another week there were still no showings.  We were both frustrated and discouraged. It was apparent that the flat rate brokerage was not meeting our needs. 

That’s when we met Joel. We could tell immediately that he was energetic and in tune with our market.  We talked about our needs, he listened, and then offered to do some analysis to help us figure out why our home wasn’t selling.  After he completed a very in-depth analysis, he advised that he felt our home was priced right.  He shared with us the strategy he used to recently sell a similar home for $1.2M, within hours of its listing.  We could see he invested a lot of time and money into helping his clients sell their homes.  It made us feel that he was equally invested in us.

Although we have several good friends who are realtors, after Joel showed us his research and marketing techniques he had used to sell similar homes we knew he was the right realtor for us.  Paying attention to proper protocol, he advised us he couldn’t interfere with our current listing service. That weekend we fired our listing service and hired Joel.  Through the whole process, Joel was professional and went beyond the normal job description of a realtor.  He even helped us remove a tree when we were preparing to show our home!

Joel networked with other agents who represented buyers in our market, and had agents wanting to show the property before it was even back on the MLS.  What really strengthened our confidence that we would sell our home is when we had buyers flying in from out of state just to see our property. That’s when we knew we were going to be able to sell our home!  We received a full-price cash offer from an international buyer within 24 hours of hitting the MLS. Joel was in our corner at all times, he remembered our concerns with the timing of the sale and helped us to negotiate a favorable settlement date.

We cannot say enough about Joel! He listens well, knows what he needs to do, and he was invested in us. Joel didn’t just earn our business, he earned our trust and our friendship. Rarely do you get more than you hope for in an agreement. Joel was more than we could have asked for in an agent and has become a trusted friend for life.

We first listed our home with a flat rate brokerage hoping to save money. In the past we saw agents that just took some pictures, listed the property on the MLS, and maybe held an open house.  We didn’t feel their efforts were worth a full 3% commission. After 6 weeks we were both frustrated and discouraged.

That’s when we met Joel. We could tell immediately that he was energetic and in tune with our market.  We talked about our needs, he listened, and then offered to do some analysis to help us figure out why our home wasn’t selling.  After he completed a very in-depth analysis, he advised that he felt our home was priced right.  He shared with us the strategy he used to recently sell a similar home for $1.2M, within hours of its listing.  We could see he invested a lot of time and money into helping his clients sell their homes.  It made us feel that he was equally invested in us.

Although we have several good friends who are realtors, after Joel showed us his research and marketing techniques he had used to sell similar homes we knew he was the right realtor for us. We received a full-price cash offer from an international buyer within 24 hours of hitting the MLS.

We cannot say enough about Joel! He listens well, knows what he needs to do, and he was invested in us. Joel didn’t just earn our business, he earned our trust and our friendship. Rarely do you get more than you hope for in an agreement. Joel was more than we could have asked for in an agent and has become a trusted friend for life.

Dave and Patti Ellis


To see the great marketing that we used to sell their home in a day checkout




Posted on July 29, 2018 at 11:22 am
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized |

Leaked: Saratoga Spring Utah Temple Location

On Tuesday the city of Saratoga Springs released the Beacon Pointe Community Plan. While it does not specifically mention a temple, there is no doubt the “Special Project” is the site for the Saratoga Springs temple President Monson announced in April 2017. The community plan states: “The Special Project site for the LDS Church [shown below] serves as a prominent architectural feature and focal monument.”


The Beacon Hill community will lie directly across from the north entrance to the Saratoga Springs lake front community and on the south west kitty corner from the Springside Elementary school.

Satellite shot of Saratoga Springs Temple Site


The plans show views of Founders Blvd, a long straight road running from Redwood Road to the temple. These views remind me a lot of the Hale Laa Blvd running from the ocean to the Laie Hawaii temple.

The grand entrance to the Beacon Hill community will intersect the entrance to the Saratoga Springs community. While the houses and trees inhibit a view of the lake from the entrance of the Saratoga Springs community, from the pictures the community appears to slope up hill towards the temple allowing for a view of the lake from the temple. This is also hinted by the name “Beacon Hill’. An elevated temple will also provide a view of the temple to more of the local residents.

From the Saratoga Springs community facing towards the soon to be Beacon Hill community you can see that the site is very flat and will likely require moving a lot of soil to elevate the temple.

What will the Saratoga Springs temple mean for property values?

In 2003 an economic study was done on properties surrounding the Boston, Orlando, and Raleigh, NC temples. It found that 95% of properties within a 2-mile radius showed an increase of $29,455 – $77,445. We might expect the results to be even more impressive in Utah where 60% of the population is LDS. While I’m not sure whether the church plans to build out the subdivision it’s very likely they will be able to recoup the cost of building the temple from selling lots or homes.

In April I sold a home in Draper with views of the Draper, South Jordan and Oquirrh Mountain temples that brought a more than $100,000 premium to the sale price of the home. The property had undergone a full renovation, but the buyer loved the views so much she said she would have bought it even if it wasn’t updated just for the views.

When you have something as valuable as a temple view in Utah, it’s important to have an agent who really knows how to capture the most value for it. Not only is it important they hire top notch photographers, they need to know how to coach them on getting the right shots that will make your home sell for more. See the pictures below that helped me to sell this home for $1.2MM within the first 4 hours of listing.

Saratoga Springs, a great place to raise a family!

Saratoga Springs is such an awesome area that I am seriously considering raising my family there. It has a real small-town feel. The Saratoga Springs community allows its residents to ride off-road vehicles through the community and is a short distance from vast BLM land where you can enjoy shooting and off-roading. There’s the beautiful Talons Cove golf course, community pool, boat launch, and of course an incredible view of Utah Lake with Mt Timpanogos in the backdrop. While having a small town feel it’s only 45 minutes from SLC international airport, and 20 minutes from the Silicon Slopes tech center of Utah.

For the full Beacon Hills Community Plan visit:

Posted on July 19, 2018 at 10:45 am
Joel Finnie | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,