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If you’re thinking about selling your house in Utah, you’ve got great timing. The median sale price of a home in the state reached $521,500 in June 2022, according to the Utah Association of Realtors — a 24 percent increase in just one year.
Prices are high because inventory is low, and loads of people want to move here. In fact, according to a recent report from the Kem C. Gardner Institute, Utah gained 160 new residents a day every single day in 2021.
However, cashing in on the state’s seller’s market isn’t as simple as putting a “for sale” sign in your front yard. You’ll need to think about how much it costs to sell a house, when you should list and what your plans are once you find a buyer. Read on for a guide on getting ready to sell your house in Utah.
Are you ready to sell?
If you’ve loved the time you have spent in your home, you might be thinking about a tough question: Should you sell your house now or wait? There’s no easy answer, though. If you’re trying to sell while buying another home at the same time, you need to consider some worst-case scenarios — for example, what you will do if you find a buyer before you find a new home to buy. And if you want to relocate to a new city, you’ll want to crunch the numbers to understand whether your income will allow you to have a similar lifestyle in your new town (Bankrate’s cost of living calculator can help).
If you’re thinking about sitting on your home for a while longer in the hopes of seeing your property value skyrocket even higher, though, you might want to think again. Rising mortgage rates have been cooling off the housing market in many places around the country, so prices in Utah may not continue their upward trajectory for long.
Preparing to sell
If this is the right time for you to move on, be sure to consider these three key questions about your home’s condition before listing it.
1. Is it worth upgrading your home before you sell?
If you want to list your home within the next few months, it probably doesn’t make sense to start a major remodeling project. Between supply-chain issues and a labor shortage, most home-improvement efforts will take a lot longer than you might expect. Plus, they rarely recoup their full costs at resale. So, instead of tearing up your kitchen floor or installing a brand-new shower in the hopes of impressing buyers, think about smaller and more cost-effective options to boost your property value.
2. What should you repair before you sell your home?
Buyers are spending a record amount of money on homes in Utah, and most of them aren’t going to want to spend even more on fixing big issues. So make sure you address any glaring problems that would give a buyer pause. However, you don’t have to go crazy with it — in fact, there are many issues you should not bother fixing before you list.
3. Should you stage your home?
If you were going to a job interview, you would dress your best, right? Listing your home has plenty of similarities: First impressions are everything. With that in mind, staging your home can be a smart expense when you’re selling your house. Some staging is just simple decluttering and rearranging, while some homes need extra attention or furniture rentals (especially if you’ve already moved out and the home is empty). Ask your real estate agent for advice on how to make your home look buyer-ready.
When is the best time to sell a house in Utah?
The best time to sell a house, in Utah and anywhere, is when it’s likely to spend the shortest amount of time on the market. You don’t want it to sit too long — buyers might assume something is wrong with it, and you run the risk of having to drop the price to attract attention.
Data from Redfin shows that listing in April or May is a great decision in Utah. In 2021, homes spent the shortest amount of time on the market between April and July. In 2022, the buying activity picked up even earlier: Homes spent just nine days on the market in March.
Find a local Utah real estate agent
While statewide trends are helpful in understanding the market, real estate is extremely localized. You’re not just trying to sell a house in Utah, you’re selling your specific town and neighborhood, too. For example, while statewide prices were up by 24 percent in June 2022, in Grand County they surged by nearly 60 percent. The data reinforces the importance of finding a local real estate agent who has a pulse on buying trends in your area.
While you’ll have to pay an agent’s commission fee (typically 3 percent of the sale price), he or she will take care of the hard work of selling a house, like crafting a listing, coordinating showings, hosting open houses and negotiating with buyers. Plus, that fee can pay off in a big way: Data from the National Association of Realtors shows that agent-assisted sales typically fetched $318,000, while sales without agents command a much lower price tag of $260,000.
In addition to a real estate agent, it’s wise to hire a local real estate attorney as well. While sellers in Utah are not legally required to have one, it can be very helpful when dealing with the complexities of title searches and contract language.
Price your home competitively
Setting your asking price is one of the most crucial parts of selling a house. If you set it too high, you might turn off budget-conscious buyers; too low, and you might be leaving money on the table. So how should you approach the dollar signs attached to your listing?
First, take some basic steps to estimate what your house is worth. AVMs, or automated valuation models, can be useful starting points, but they’re not the most accurate method of determining market value. So, sit down with your real estate agent to review local comps that have recently sold. By looking at properties that share characteristics with your home — similar square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms and amenities — you can see what buyers have been willing to pay in the past few months.
Documents and disclosures in Utah
As in most states, Utah sellers must complete a property condition disclosure form spelling out their knowledge of any defects that could impact the value of the home. It covers a wide range of topics, including remodeling projects, issues with the HVAC system, winterizing of outdoor sprinkler systems and more. Be honest about everything; any effort to conceal information can potentially result in being sued for fraud.
If you’re selling a property that is part of a homeowners association, you should also be ready to hand over a range of documents about the condition of the building, the association’s financial health and any expectations of special assessments on the horizon.
Need to sell your home fast?
Homes in Utah have been selling at a quick pace, but if you or on a particularly tight timeline, here are some ways to sell your house fast.
- Look into iBuyers: If you live in Salt Lake City, you might be able to sell your home to an established iBuyer like Opendoor. The “i” in iBuying stands for instant — you’ll usually get an offer in less than 24 hours. However, you can expect a lower price tag than you would get on the open market. Plus, iBuyers do not operate in every U.S. market — if your home is outside of the Salt Lake metro area, you might not have any luck with this option.
- Find a company that buys houses for cash: In addition to individuals with deep pockets, there are quite a few companies that buy houses for cash. They tend to get to closing much faster than an individual buyer who needs to secure financing could. These companies are looking for a deal, though, so this is often a good route to take if your property is in subpar condition and you don’t want to pay to fix up before selling.
- Sell as-is: One other option to consider if your home isn’t in pristine shape is adding an “as-is” disclaimer to the listing. This is an indication to buyers that the home likely needs some work, but that the seller isn’t willing to pay for it. The as-is label eliminates any back-and-forth negotiations, which can speed the process along considerably.
Once you accept an offer from a buyer, there are still plenty of other steps that need to take place. These often include a home inspection, an appraisal, full underwriting from your buyer’s lender and more. When it’s finally time to close, you can let your real estate attorney handle all the details. But you’ll need to be prepared to hand over a portion of the proceeds to cover closing costs.
Cost of selling a home in Utah
The biggest cost of selling a home in Utah will be the real estate commissions — typically 3 percent to your agent and 3 percent to the buyer’s, all of which comes out of your pocket. On a $500,000 sale, that’s $30,000 in Realtor fees.
While that’s a lot of money, there is good news: The rest of your costs should be fairly minimal. Selling a home here in Utah cheaper than many other states, because Utah does not have a real estate transfer tax. Since the state doesn’t charge a fee to transfer ownership of property, closing costs here run just 1 percent of the purchase price, according to ClosingCorp. Here are some of the key costs to consider.
- Title insurance: The seller typically pays for the buyer’s title insurance policy in Utah, while the buyer usually covers a separate policy for title insurance that protects the lender. Your portion of the bill will depend on the purchase price. For example, one well-known title company in Utah would charge $2,466 for owner’s title insurance on a $500,000 property.
- Seller concessions: If the buyer’s home inspection uncovers any major issues that need to be addressed, they may ask you to cover a portion of their closing costs. These requests are negotiable. One way to get out ahead of them (and hopefully eliminate them from happening at all) is to conduct a pre-listing inspection.
- Attorney fees: If you hired an attorney (which you should have), you’ll pay their fee at closing, too. This expense will be based on their hourly rate and the amount of time they have to put into your transaction.
There will also be other fees involved in closing in Utah, such as settlement fees, courier fees and document preparation fees. Some of these will be fairly nominal (around $50), but they can add up. You can ask your lawyer to help negotiate splitting these with the buyer.
And don’t forget to budget for your moving costs. You’ll pay these before closing, since you need to be out of the home to let the buyer move in. If you aren’t moving too far away in Utah, the cost should be pretty affordable. If you’re packing up for a long-distance move, though — to the East Coast, for example — you’ll need to hand over a hefty check.
Take the first step
If you’re ready to move forward with your Utah listing, the best starting point is to set up some interviews with a few different real estate agents. Every Realtor has a different style and approach to handling client needs, so ask plenty of questions to find the professional that best fits your needs.