Selling a House During a Divorce

<img src=”couple with back towards each other-1.jpg” alt=”couple with back towards each other”/>

Considering everything you’re thinking, feeling, and dealing with when getting a divorce, one of the last things you want to think about is selling your house.  Selling a house is a stressful thing to do, even when you’re not getting divorced. But when you are, it can be even more stressful. First off, you’re not alone. While there are many reasons people sell a house, divorce is certainly a common one. And because of that, we agents see the most common issues time and time again.

More often than not, one person is more motivated to get the house sold than the other in a divorce.  One wants to just get it sold as quickly as possible and move on, while oftentimes the other is in no rush to get the house sold. Neither of you is “right” or “wrong” to feel the way you feel. There’s surely a lot of history that led to how you feel and why you want what you want, when you want it. You have the right to feel how you feel.

But there is a “right” perspective to have when it comes to selling the house.  Both of you need to work together to get this done. It doesn’t work if one is getting in the way. As you’ll see, it’s crucial to sell as quickly as possible, but at the same time, not “at all costs.”

Regardless of why you’re divorcing, your marriage probably had some good times and memories. Your house wasn’t just a house, it was a home. A home to the good memories.  It’s natural to want to hold on to the memories.

And whether or not people do it knowingly, it’s pretty common to do things and make choices that get in the way of selling their house because of the memories and emotion tied to the house. It’s as simple as that.

While it’s pretty common for most homeowners to list their home for too high of a price, it can go either way when people are divorcing. Certainly many divorcing couples want to price their home for more than it’s worth. But there are others who actually want to price it too low.

What makes matters more difficult in a divorce is that you have two people with different motivations, who already don’t necessarily agree on things, who now have to agree on a list price for their home.

Out of all the problems and issues you may have to deal with, the value of your home is one of the only ones that is pretty much out of your control—for both of you. The market value is determined by the buyers in the market. By definition, it is “what a ready, willing, and able buyer is willing to pay for it.”

A home that’s properly priced within the market should sell as quickly as possible. “Quickly” is a relative term. In some price ranges and neighborhoods, that may be a few weeks. In others it may be months or even years. How quickly your well-priced home should sell in your price range and market is something a skilled real estate agent should be able to give you a pretty good handle on.

Your goal, no matter how you feel or what your motivations are, should be to sell your home as quickly as possible. And, of course, for as much as possible.

This post is an excerpt of my 13 page guide, Selling a House During a Divorce.  If you would like a free copy of the guide sent to your email, please send a request by using the Contact Me button on my home page.

John Hamilton, Associate Broker of Windermere Real Estate, has nearly five decades of experience working with Buyers, Sellers, and other real estate professionals, and has sold more than 1,400 Utah properties.  He has the experience to provide you an edge in negotiating your real estate transaction.

Posted on April 12, 2018 at 6:49 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Selling A Home | Tagged ,

Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Spring trees are blossoming in front of house

Spring has arrived and now is the time to inspect your home’s exterior for necessary cleaning, repairs and replacements to maintain your home.  Winter storms, snow, and wind can be harsh and can take a toll on your home.

It is important to have your roof inspected for cracked, worn, loose or missing shingles. This can sometimes be done with photos, but it may be necessary to climb a ladder to make a personal inspection – if this can be done safely. Another option is to hire a professional. You should also inspect the flashing around your plumbing vents and chimney to see if they need to be repaired or replaced.  Check the exterior of your chimney for signs of damage, including efflorescence, a white build-up.  Efflorescence is an indication that moisture is permeating the masonry.  Removing the residue is not enough. The underlying cause of efflorescence must be addressed, to maintain the structural integrity of your chimney.   Look for vegetation growing around your chimney.  Vines hold moisture against the surface of the chimney.  Overhanging branches from nearby trees and other vegetation can be a carbon monoxide or fire hazard. This is also a great time to hire a chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney, in preparation for next autumn and winter.

Look over your gutters to ensure that they are intact, and the ends have not become loose or disconnected.  Clean out leaves and debris, and make sure the downspouts are draining away from the foundation of your home.  You may want to purchase downspout extensions to ensure that the water does not pool-up near the foundation.

Check your concrete sidewalks, walkways, garage floors and parking pads for signs of cracking.  After filling in the cracks with concrete crack filler, power wash the concrete and re-seal it.

If you stored firewood near your home during the winter months, now is the time to move it to a different location.  Bugs and vermin often make their home in firewood during the warmer months.  It is best to store your firewood at least a foot off of the ground and at least a couple of feet away from any structure, to discourage squirrels and mice from setting up their home.

Inspect your trees for branches which may have been damaged or broken during the winter.  Trim back branches away from the house.  Either hire a professional, or do it yourself, if you are able.

Clean your deck.  Thoroughly sweep the deck.  Use an appropriate cleanser for the type of deck (wood, vinyl, or composite).  Chose a day when it is cloudy, so the deck will be cool and the sun will not evaporate the cleaner.  Let the deck dry before resealing.

Look for low areas in your yard, especially around your foundation.  Level any low areas with compacted soil to avoid having water pool in areas next to your foundation.  Pooling water not only causes damage to your home, but also is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.

John Hamilton, Associate Broker of Windermere Real Estate, has nearly five decades of experience working with Buyers, Sellers, and other real estate professionals, and has sold more than 1,400 Utah properties.  He has the experience to provide you an edge in negotiating your real estate transaction.

Posted on April 4, 2018 at 5:39 pm
John Hamilton | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

All that Clutter is not Trash

stuffed animals, clothing clutter is not trash

Most of us have clutter.  The gifts that we never really wanted, but can’t bear to part with.  The impulse items purchased on special occasions, or on sale that we never used.  The older appliance that is stored away after being replaced with the newest model.

With the warmer temperatures of spring, it’s natural to think about shedding excess; whether it is the extra weight we gained over the holidays, or the accumulation of stuff stored away in our basements, garages, or overflowing in our closets.  Do you maintain a complete wardrobe in a variety of sizes, just in case you lose or gain weight?  Are you holding on to household items that you no longer use, believing that one day you will pass them on to a loved one, when they will need it?  Have you considered renting a storage unit or buying a larger house just to store everything?  Does looking at your stuff make you feel joy or depression?

Have you thought about eliminating what you aren’t using, but just don’t know what to do with it?  The act of letting go of possessions can be very challenging for some.   We often cling to our possessions, “just in case” we might need it again one day.  Intuitively, we may recognize that the items aren’t really trash and still have value for someone.  Clutter can be very costly, both in the space it takes up, and with the time we spend searching through it for what we need.  Rather than thinking about the giving up aspect, it may be helpful to consider what you will gain from purging it from your home.

Putting these items back into circulation can benefit you as well as your community, with many people seeking out bargains to help them to live within a tight budget.  The collection, restoration and selling of second hand merchandise also create jobs.  And your previously neglected possessions are freed from collecting dust, to renewing their life and purpose with someone else.

You could also gain some cash if you decide to sell your possessions. This could be accomplished either selling on-line, or with a yard sale.  If you happen to coordinate with friends or neighbors, you could plan a multi-family yard sale, to make it more enticing to shoppers.   If you prefer not to spend the time to sell it yourself, you may want to take your items to a second hand store.  Some stores will pay either in cash or trade for used items in good condition.

You may prefer to get a tax credit for a charity donation. In Utah, you can drop off donations at Deseret Industries  Big Brothers Big Sisters  or Friends of MS Charities.   If you are looking for options for having donations picked up from your house, you can check with Donation Town or Give It.  If you are not concerned about being paid or getting a tax write-off, you can offer to give it away for free through Freecycle, or other on-line classifies.

Wasatch Metal will pay cash by weight of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal, including scrap automobiles.  Watch for community events, like CHaRM pop-ups for the hard-to-recycle materials that would otherwise be sent to the landfill.

Check with Community Recycling to see the guidelines for your city for disposing of large or hazardous materials.  For example, residents of South Salt Lake can dispose mattresses at the Salt Lake County Transfer Station for free (restrictions apply).

You will feel triumphant after eliminating the things from your life that you no longer need or want, and knowing that others were able to find use from it.  Once you have shed the old clutter, be careful not to replace it with new clutter.  This is an excellent time to consider how you make future purchases.  For special occasions, you may want to focus more on sharing experiences rather than exchanging gifts.  You may decide to rent or borrow rather than purchasing items for occasional use.


John Hamilton, Associate Broker of Windermere Real Estate, with nearly five decades of experience working with Buyers, Sellers, and other real estate professionals and having sold more than 1,400 Utah properties.  I have the experience to provide you an edge in negotiating your real estate transaction.

Posted on March 24, 2018 at 8:35 pm
John Hamilton | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , ,

Owl About Tracy Aviary

Birds at Tracy Aviary, Sun Conure, Andean Condor, Peacock

The Owl Forest, Treasures of the Rainforest, King of the Andes, and Pelican Pond are among some of the exhibits you will encounter as you stroll through the eight acres of garden paths, groves of trees and streams inside of Tracy Aviary. Don’t be surprised if you see Andy, the Andean Condor, taking a walk around the grounds.  Andy was born in 1959 and is the oldest bird at the aviary and is very popular with the guests. He even has his own Facebook page.

Tracy Aviary landscape, trees, native flowers and streams

Tracy Aviary sits on the southwest corner of Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, Utah. Tracy Aviary is celebrating its 80th birthday this year.  In 1938, Russell Lord Tracy, a local banker, donated his collection of 200 birds for the children of Salt Lake City to enjoy.  Currently, the aviary maintains a collection of approximately 400 birds representing 135 species.  Several of the bird species participate in their Species Survival Plan; which is a breeding program to promote genetic diversity in captive animal populations.  A portion of every admission or membership purchased is directed to their conservation fund which supports conservation projects throughout North and South America.

grove of trees at Tracy Aviary

Open year round, and great to visit during any season, I particularly enjoy visiting during the winter when it is less crowded.  There are opportunities for child and adult volunteers to participate in the bird shows. Also, at scheduled times, the bird keepers are available to share facts and stories about birds such as the Guam Kingfishers, Chilean Flamingos, King Vultures, Keas and others.

Sun Conure perched on finger at Tracy Aviary

For an additional fee ($2 for members, $3 for non-members) visitors can feed Sun Conures or Pelicans.  Tickets are limited for the feedings, so be sure to get yours in advance, if you would like to participate.  I held a small container of chopped blueberries for the Sun Conures to eat.  It isn’t unusual to have several perch on your arm to feed from the container.

Pelicans preening under the shade of a tree

When feeding the Pelicans, you will receive a small container of fish.  The price of the ticket is for the container of fish—which you could share the experience with others.  Some of the younger children were a little hesitant to touch the fish, while others were delighted to toss the fish gently underhand and watch the pelicans skillfully catch their meal.

Feed Fish to the Pelicans

If you enjoy an early morning walk, you can meet in front on the Aviary near the gift shop at 8am on Wednesdays to go on a free bird walk around Liberty Park.  Binoculars are not necessary, but be sure to bring them, if you have them, and learn about the birds you might encounter in your own back yard.

Tracy Aviary also offers workshops, volunteer opportunities, Nature in the City programs for families, summer camps and much more.

Posted on March 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm
John Hamilton | Posted in Places to visit, Salt Lake City | Tagged , ,

Glass Recycling is Gaining Momentum in Utah

With the rattling and screeching sounds of the L train above, I pulled the red wagon behind me along the streets in my Chicago neighborhood.  I was on a mission to find as many discarded bottles as possible.  At five years old, I was already a seasoned trader.  Trading bottles for cash was the way I funded my stamp collection.  If I was lucky, and found enough bottles, after buying stamps, I would splurge and buy a bar of the finest chocolate from Pennsylvania for a nickel.

Before WWII, refillable glass bottles were expensive to make and beverage industries had incentive to have their bottles returned.  As technology evolved and new containers became cheaper “No Deposit, No Return” was stamped on bottles, and consumers readily embraced the convenience of disposables.

Growing concerns about litter resulted in some states introducing bottle deposit bills, but they have been met by opposition by the beverage industry and grocers.  Currently a handful of states have bottle bills, but most do not.

Utah does not have a bottle bill.  However, there is a company that is diverting glass from the landfill.  Recently I was able to ask a few questions to Rosemary Washington, Momentum Recycling Community Outreach and Master Recycler.

How long has Momentum been recycling glass?

Washington:  Momentum has been recycling glass since 2012.  We service the Wasatch Front from Logan to Provo and from West Jordan to Park City, even as far as Jackson Hole, WY.

How much glass is recycled by Momentum in a year?

Washington:  We currently process about 1,200 TONS of glass per month, so that’s a whopping 14,400 TONS per year!

What kind of glass can be recycled?  Are there any kinds that cannot?   

Washington:  Most of your household glass can be recycled:  bottles, jars, broken windows.  The few exceptions that cannot be recycled include light bulbs, mirrors, automotive windshields, Pyrex, ceramics and porcelain.

Does the glass need to be separated by color?

Washington:  We take all colors of glass, and it does not need to be separated.  Momentum has an Optic Scanner that does all that for you.

Is it necessary to remove labels or wash the glass before recycling?

Washington:  Don’t waste water taking off labels or cleaning out jars.  The recycling process takes care of that.  However, you must remove lids and corks.  Lids can go in your recycling can and Momentum collects corks, so you can bring those in every 6 months or so or as needed.

How do I find locations in the community where I can bring my glass to be recycled?

Washington:  If you go to our website: , you can find the nearest drop-off location to you.  We have them all throughout the valley.  Our newest drop-off is conveniently located at the Wine Store at 280 Harris Avenue in SLC.

What other options are there for recycling glass for homes, apartment complexes, or businesses?

Washington:  We provide Curbside Pickup for those residential customers who enjoy that convenience.  We currently serve all of SLC, and many areas in Salt Lake County.  We are continually enlarging our service area for curbside pickup.   We now have 6,000 curbside subscribers.

Why is it important to recycle glass rather than throw it away?

Washington:  Besides the jobs that recycling creates, glass is the one recyclable that can be recycled over and over.  It takes so much less energy to recycle a bottle than to make one from raw materials.  It is estimated that recycling one bottle can save enough energy to power a tv set for 1.5 hours.   Not only that, but CO2 is dramatically decreased by recycling.  Given Utah’s notoriously bad air quality, this should be a motivating factor for everybody with lungs.  ANYTHING we can do to increase Utah’s air quality is worthwhile.  Worth noting is that glass does not break down in the landfill, so every glass jar that’s thrown in there is driving the landfill that much closer to capacity.  And, let me tell you… a new landfill, plus all the gas to haul the trash even further west, will not be cheap.  Let’s do what we can to extend the life of the landfill we do have.

Can you describe how you became interested in recycling?

Washington:  I read a book several years ago called Garbology and I have been a recyclopath ever since!  I was excited to get a job with Momentum 5 years ago when it was just getting off the ground.  Partnering with Jason Utgaard, Momentum’s Marketing Manager (and owner of the website which sells products made using recycled materials), we have worked very hard to get the curbside program going.  Like I mentioned earlier, we are up to 6,000 now from the 200 we were at 5 years ago.  I’m proud of the work we’ve done with the help of some dynamic college students.

To find a drop off location near you, or to sign up for the curbside service go to the Momentum Recycling website.



Posted on March 5, 2018 at 11:16 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Salt Lake City | Tagged , , , ,

Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

Ginger Peel is a Mortgage Loan Originator with the Bank of Utah who has worked in the mortgage industry for over 30 years. I recently had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about how someone would go about improving their credit score in order to buy a home.

What is a FICO score and how is it calculated?

Peel:  A FICO score is a type of credit score created by Fair Isaac Corp that lenders use, along with other details, to evaluate a borrowers’ credit risk in order to determine whether or not to extend credit.

Why is it important to have a good FICO score if you are interested in buying a house?

Peel: It is important to have a good FICO score if you are interested in buying a home and obtaining financing from a lender.  Lenders follow guidelines from investors on what the minimum FICO score should be for a borrower.  Lenders will pull a credit report from all three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, to determine the credit risk and qualifications to purchase a home.  Without a good FICO score, you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage loan.

What is the lowest score you can have to qualify for a loan?

Peel:  The minimum FICO score that most lenders want to see is 620.  Credit scores can range from the low end of 300 to the higher end of 850.  The higher your FICO score is, the better the loan program and the better the interest rate that you will qualify for.

What measures can you take to improve your score?

Peel: The FICO scores take into account various factors in 5 areas to determine your credit worthiness:

  1. Your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score. You will want to make sure that you pay all of your debts on time.
  2. The amount owed to your creditors makes up 30% of your FICO score. You should attempt to keep your balances under 30% of the total credit limit.
  3. Your length of credit history makes up 15% of your FICO score. FICO considers how long the oldest account has been open, compared to the newest account, and averages the term.
  4. Types of credit used account for 10% of your FICO score. Make sure to keep revolving credit account balances low; don’t open new accounts too rapidly; and, open up different types of credit. Revolving credit is usually an adjustable rate loan, and the payment revolves according to your balance each month. Like a credit card. Installment credit is usually a fixed rate loan, and the payment is fixed each month, similar to a car loan.
  5. New credit accounts make up for 10% of your FICO score.

How long does it take to see an improvement in your score?

To improve your credit score in 30 days – first, you will want to correct any errors on the credit report, and then. try to become an authorized user on another account in good standing, especially one that has been open for some time.  You can raise your available credit line by keeping your balance below 30% of the credit limit.  Also, make minimum payments on time, and pay off debt, rather than move it around. Reduce your debt to income ratio and have a good mix of debt.  Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your scores.


In her spare time, Ginger Peel enjoys cooking, gardening, and watching football. You can contact Ginger Peel to apply for a loan in English or Spanish.

Posted on February 28, 2018 at 12:33 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Ask An Expert, Buying A Home | Tagged , ,

Granite Legacy Is Breaking Ground with Zero Energy Ready Homes

Ground has been broken for the first three of seventy-six homes to be built in the Granite Legacy development on the south end of property where Granite High School once stood.  The beloved high school opened in 1907 and closed its door following the commencement ceremonies for the class of 2009.  Many notable students graduated during the 102 years that the school was open, including Leigh Harline from the class of 1925 who won an Academy Award in 1940 for Best Song “When You Wish upon a Star”.

Wasatch Developments and Garbett Homes purchased the land after several attempts to preserve the building failed. Garbett Homes, Utah’s premier Zero Energy Ready Home builder has been building homes in the community for over 30 years, but has been working closely with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Zero Energy Ready Homes since 2009 according to Jacob Ballstaedt, the Land Acquisition and Entitlement Director for Garbett Homes.

The HERS index measures a home energy’s efficiency, the lower the score, the better the efficiency. Ballstaedt states Garbett Homes have a HERS score of 40.  The standard new home has a HERS score of 100.   A score of 40 is 85% more efficient than the typical resale home.  A Net Zero home (HERS score of 0) produces as much energy as it uses through the use of renewable resources, such as solar panels.  Other than the mortgage loan; heating, cooling and water heating make up the largest cost of homeownership.

Ballstaedt stated that Garbett Homes is able to achieve the lower HERS score by making the home more air tight, which also provides additional benefits of eliminating outside noise and blocking out drafts, moisture and pests.  The thermal envelope includes the foundation, outer walls, roof, windows and doors.  This prevents heat transfer from the interior to the exterior and vice versa during the change of seasons.

The indoor air is filtered with outside air through the Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) technology. This improves the indoor air quality and reduces the energy used by the heating and cooling systems.

The Garbett homes are pre-wired for solar panels, which if the consumer chooses to have installed will convert sunlight into electricity. This will reduce their HERS score even lower, with the potential of being a Net Zero home, producing as much energy as they are consuming.

The South Salt Lake community is close to shopping, golf courses, dining, and entertainment. It is a great place to make your housing dreams come true!

Posted on February 26, 2018 at 7:42 pm
John Hamilton | Posted in Buying A Home, Salt Lake City | Tagged , , , ,

For The Love Of Chocolate


It was the common interest for the love of chocolate that brought an eclectic group of a dozen people ranging from Millennials to Baby Boomers together in a small room on the second floor of the store where hand crafted chocolate is made and sold.   AJ Wentworth, founder of the Chocolate Conspiracy explained the journey of chocolate from bean-to-bar, punctuated with samplings of a variety of chocolates from around the world throughout the evening.  The flavor of chocolate can vary based on origin, cacao content, if/how the bean is roasted and how the bean is ground and mixed. The chocolate could have fruity, nutty, earthy, or smoky flavors. The flavors unfold and change on your tongue.  The tasting experience involves paying attention to the texture, flavor and the finishing- or how it lingers in your mouth.

Wentworth explained the name, Chocolate Conspiracy, came to him as he was making a career transition.  Trained in Holistic Health Counseling, his interests gradually evolved towards a love of raw cacao beans.  When naming his new business, he thought of the Latin origin of the word “conspire” means “to breathe together”, or to do as one.  The Chocolate Conspiracy opened its doors in 2009.  They do not roast the beans in order to preserve the antioxidants, minerals and nutrients.

Chocolate does grow on trees!  Cacao beans come from the fruit (pods) of the cacao trees.  The pods need to be hand-harvested one at a time, because the pods do not fall off the tree.  After removing and opening up the pods, the cacao beans are fermented.  The beans are then dried before shipping to chocolate manufacturers.  In the manufacturing process, the beans are typically roasted.  The outer shell is removed and the cacao nibs are sorted according to size in a process called “winnowing”.  The nibs are put through a grinding process until it forms a liquid.  Blending in other flavors or ingredients take place before pouring into molds.

Utah currently has nine artisanal chocolate makers.  Wentworth stated that the dry, arid climate and elevation in Utah is ideal for making chocolate.  Bean-to-bar makers source cacao from farmers from across the globe, and create their chocolate from scratch in small batches.  A chocolatier makes confectioneries from premade chocolate.

The Conspiracy Chocolate bars can be found in local retail stores, farmer’s markets and purchased on-line.

Posted on February 12, 2018 at 9:48 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Food, Salt Lake City | Tagged , , ,

Buying New Construction: Do You Need A Real Estate Agent?

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 1:51 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Buying A Home | Tagged , ,

4 Tips For Buying A Home At A Distance

Posted on February 11, 2018 at 1:42 am
John Hamilton | Posted in Buying A Home | Tagged , ,