The Latest in Phoenix, Scottsdale & Paradise Valley Real Estate

 

Nov. 27, 2019

Camille's Do's & Don'ts to Survive the Holidays

HOW IS IT ALREADY NOVEMBER?! Thanksgiving is here again. The year is almost done.  “The holidays” start now. I'm thankful for the people in my life who love & support me each day. I'm especially thankful for my kids, family & friends! ❤️

I'm grateful to my clients- many of whom come back to me year after year. I'm proud to be there and represent you at the various phases of your lives. Neither I, nor my business, would be what it is without you. "Thank you"! I am honored to be your friend.

I hope you & yours enjoy the holiday and time spent with the people you love. Hopefully, you’ll reflect on what you're thankful for too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

CS logo

Posted in Featured, Life Hacks
Nov. 18, 2019

Nov. 2019 in Phoenix Metro: to Rent or to Buy?

A LOT of buyers (not naming names...) get frustrated by their limited options in Metro Phoenix.

It's a seller's market. Has been for years! From Arcadia, to DC Ranch, North Central Phoenix to Downtown, our market is tight- no question.

Their next line of thought sometimes baffles me. "I'll just keep renting..." OK... but it may cost you. 

By now, you should know I love doing the math if it saves me the headache later. The "buy v. rent" conundrum is a great example. I helped one friend calculate she'd paid off $103,000 (OVER 100 THOUSAND DOLLARS) of her landlord's mortgage or put it in their bank.
 
The money she paid in rent gave her a comfortable place to live, but did not:
  • build wealth
  • give her a tax break
  • give her satisfaction
She's got to find a new home when her lease ends soon. I plugged in her numbers & got this:
Rent v Buy Calculation- Scottsdale 11/2019
This calculator gave her a quick calculation of both costs & broke down which option was better & why. Overwhelmingly, the calculator said "BUY" and estimated over $16K in savings! Duh. Buy.
I ran another unrelated scenario & it said "RENT", lest you think this is some Realtor® scam, until I put in specifics: the rate of inflation, a tax bracket, rental insurance rate, tax rate, capital gains, and on... and on... Then it said "Nope, buy". If you can stay for 3 years and have a down payment (cash in hand today), you'll get a good idea of what makes the most sense for YOU & your life, resources, plan to stay put, etc.
NerdWallet did a great job of breaking down "Why" one was better than the other. I highly recommend you give it a shot, unless you have $10s of thousands laying around to burn. Here's the link if you want to try it yourself: https://www.nerdwallet.com/mortgages/rent-vs-buy-calculator
Food for thought, it's still early enough that you could be in a new home for the holidays if you're ready soon... Call me if your scenario says "Buy". I'll help you too!

Related posts:

Aug. 22, 2019

How to Be a Recession-proof Buyer

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Have you heard the grumblings about *EEK* a recession. Don't say it too loud. People get very anxious when they hear that word.

Real estate is hyper-local. Even if other cities start to deteriorate, Phoenix may not be affected or it could be worse. If there is one around the corner, hiding from it won't prepare you. I prefer to be smart & ready. Here's what I tell my buyers who don't want to find themselves with their pants down if one comes knocking...

1. Put some money down.

Aim for at least 20%. Why? Having skin in the game insulates you from a lot. Unfortunately, the biggest barrier to home ownership is the down payment. There are many would-be buyers staggering under the weight of student loans, high consumer debt & large medical insurance premiums (or debt from being under/uninsured. How do you get your foot in the door??

Get a gift... there's always:

  • Good ole Bank of Mom & Dad, if you're fortunate.
  • Another trusted, generous relative
  • Your 401K- Did you know that 1st timers can take out up to $10K penalty free for the purchase of a new home; it's where half the down payment for my 1st home came from.

Liquidate assets: (& be sure to check with your CPA or financial advisor first!!)

  • Remember that non/underperforming stock that it pains you to watch? You could ride it to the bottom or cash in & take the loss on your bottom line at tax time.
  • Performing stocks are also good if you don't have to liquidate the entire performing investment.
  • CDs, Mutual funds, assets that won't trigger a tax implication are usually good options; the old: car, antique, jewelry, etc. collecting dust are also good options as long as they're yours alone to sell.

Raid the "rainy day fund":

Yes, I am a realtor. I will always have a good reason to buy a property. However, if you rent, there are few reasons to not bite the bullet & own if you care about building your wealth. If my little brother who doesn't give 2 sh*ts about all the warm & fuzzies of owning a home can nearly double the value of his & walk away with a ton of profit in under 7 years, you can too. If you can't get 20% together, should you still buy? YES! Buy with 15, 10 or 5% down and know you'll have a little less risk tolerance than if you had 20%.

2. Stay awhile. Really.

I tell my buyers try to stay at least 5 years. It takes about that long to recoup the money you spend during the purchase on: closing costs, inspection costs, moving, personalizing, etc. BEFORE you cozy up to the new digs, please do your homework! Ask:

  • What the neighbors/neighborhood are like- Think of the changes in Arcadia & Arcadia "Lite", McCormick Ranch, North Central Phoenix, Sunnyslope & many other areas in the last 5 years. If you aren't familiar with the area around a home you're considering, please go spend time there.
  • The proximity to work, the things you enjoy doing, other obligations (i.e. kids' schools, grandma's house); There are new freeways popping up all over the Valley, but I won't recommend anyone living in Buckeye or Avondale commute to Scottsdale Airpark. You could, but how much do you really enjoy driving.
  • If the house has what you NEED to be comfortable. If you work nights and there are 30 skylights in your bedroom, is that OK?? Really?! I exaggerate, but you get the picture.
  • Will you enjoy being there? If dinner/Superbowl/bible study parties are your thing, but the kitchen/living area/backyard suck, how will that affect you?
  • What will it cost to fix said items that don't work for your lifestyle?

3. Do some work!

Roll up your sleeves. Even if you don't know a monkey wrench from an Allen wrench, you can still pay someone or (God forbid), learn. Pretty new homes eventually get wrinkles too. A home that needs a facelift if you're a pretty good make-up artist still benefits you. Reliable, quality contractors are hard to come by when the market is good, but it's still worth the wait if you need one.

Small improvements can make a BIG impact

Things like:

  • Paint
  • Flooring
  • Lighting
  • Energy improvements, like new thermostats, insulation, windows, doors, etc. reduce energy bills long-term and may offer tax credits too.

Big, planned improvements (major renovations) cost a lot, but may also pay big appreciation

  • You may get a big discount- in pricey areas, it's a good rule of thumb to buy the shack on the block. It's most likely to appreciate up to its neighbors.
  • Get several estimates BEFORE you buy, finish inspections & close; You do NOT want to underestimate the costs.

4. Get Money Smart.

Know your loan terms and understand what they mean. "Know before you owe" was created with educating consumers. An "informed" consumer is less likely to lose his shirt... That means know your loan terms:

  • Adjustable? Short term rates are OK if your timeline is in sync with it.
  • Interest only? Same as above, but be even more aware of these details. In fact, unless you consider yourself financially astute (& another person would agree), avoid this option.
  • Follow rate trends & refinance if you can save. True story: My jumbo mortgage interest rate when we bought our home in 2009 was 6.5%. I was actually quoted in an article about how hard it was to get these loans. Today, it's 3.625%. Our home value has nearly doubled (appreciation & improvements), but our mortgage costs only a few hundred dollars more per month, despite being ~900SF larger than when we bought.

5. Stay Market Smart.

Know what's going on around you. Pay attention to what's happening: on your block, in your subdivision, school district, city, metro, etc.

What's going on around you?

If suddenly, there's a mass exodus or influx of residents, get with the program! Are there changes to:

  • If the entire block has updated their exterior and you're the last one on the block with a decrepit roof, landscaping, etc., it's time to do some work. See #3.

Is there planned development nearby? What's the community impact?

  • The new Ritz Carlton project in Paradise Valley on Scottsdale Rd between Indian Bend & Lincoln will be great... in a few years. In the meantime, nearby residents are dealing with construction congestion, dust, noise, etc. 
  • Same for 7th St "Restaurant Row" and other areas where light-rail expansion is planned or was completed.

Are there changes to neighborhood schools?

  • In Creighton Elem. School District, they have higher taxes than nearby Scottsdale Unified (SUSD) or Madison Elem. Dist. This area includes homes west of 40th St. from Lincoln Dr. to Thomas Rd. Last fall, I took a buyer to see a home in Finisterre (Paradise Valley) & another comparably sized/priced home near 32nd St & Stanford. The Finisterre home (SUSD) had taxes under $9K. The other home had taxes closer to $15K!! SUSD residents were already paying budget overrides to benefit schools. Creighton was not. When teachers got pay increases (after almost nothing for a decade) the balance went to taxpayers. Ouch!

Is there pending litigation in the community?

  • It happens. Occasionally HOAs sue developers for shoddy work or other things. That can slow down sales & property values.
  • I've seen it at: Bella Vista (North Scottsdale), 8 Biltmore Estates Dr., Villages North and other communities (***all years ago; I'm not aware of any pending litigation today).

Is there pending legislation?

  • If your community has lots of seasonal buyers who pay big bucks for nightly seasonal rentals, with HB-2672 ("Party house" bill addressing short-term rentals) looming, if most homes on the block are AirBnB properties that may suddenly sit empty, it may not be the spot for you if you'll reside full time.
  • SB-1070 (Illegal Immigration) decimated our economy years ago. I don't care where on the political spectrum you fall, the impact to Arizona tourism, the economy, schools, etc. was awful and at an awful time during the "Great Recession". The point is to do the research and know what's coming, hence the purpose of this post...

For the last 4-5 years, my advice for my buyers, whether they listened or not (most did), was seek:

  • a SFR, single-level, no interior steps, in a great location/school district (YES- EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO KIDS), near a variety of: amenities, transportation, employment options. That was a mouthful, but it was viable given our changing demographics!
  • I don't care how cheap that 2-story down the street is. If you can't resell it quickly and don't plan to stay where you're living for a long time, it's not a good deal at all!
  • And yes a bedroom/full bath, enclosed, covered parking & some sort of outdoor living space DOES make a difference in the value of a home.

I hope that wasn't too overwhelming... When in doubt, reach out and ask me. My loyal clients know I will give an honest answer every time, even it means I don't sell them that house. I won't steer you wrong because I prefer clients for life...

Happy house hunting!

 

 

 

Nov. 19, 2018

5 Decluttering Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Holiday Visitors

decluttering-tips

The holidays. It’s a time for celebration, a time for good food and good cheer, and - for many homeowners - a time for out-of-town visitors. And while gathering your loved ones from all corners of the globe to celebrate with you and your family undoubtedly brings holiday joy, it can also bring more than a bit of holiday anxiety.

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Sept. 4, 2018

It's NOT a bubble. The numbers said so.

"None of the experts are forecasting another big drop in Valley home values anytime soon.

But Tina Tamboer, senior housing analyst with Cromford, expects home prices to appreciate much more slowly and potentially flatten out this year.

She said Phoenix-area home prices could even dip next year, but only slightly.

Source: azcentral.com

"It's not a tu-mah!" It's not a bubble! Really.

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Aug. 15, 2018

Life Hacks: Fold a Fitted Sheet (NEATLY)

Raise your hand if you can *neatly* fold a fitted sheet! If you can’t, this one’s for you! #lifehack

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June 23, 2018

5 "MUST DO's" to Get Top Value for Your Home Appraisal

Appraisal ScaleOver the years, I've had friends, family & colleagues coming to me asking about appraisals.  Usually, it's to say that they just got one and the appraiser "clearly must have been smoking something"...  A lot of folks are looking to take advantage of the low interest rates that are teasing them.  If you haven't refinanced your house in the last year (or even last 6 months), it might be time to check your current interest rate against market interest rates because they've dropped substantially over the last year.  I personally have refinanced my home twice this year.

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Jan. 12, 2018

5 Home Automation Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

It’s 2018. Home automation has come a long way from uber expensive systems that took lots of wiring and money to harness. It’s easy to implement some of these tools for under $20. This video gives a brief overview of each.

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Dec. 13, 2017

Home Decor... for looks & living

When was the last time you asked "how are you" and didn't hear a response involving the word "busy"??

We're all wrapped up in the minutia of doing more with less, the endless imbalance of work/life & trying to achieve all of these things to feel good about ourselves. The end game is that we're all overworked, over-tired, stressed & probably not having as much fun as we think we should. Believe it or not, these sentiments creep into our home. When real estate was BOOMING, this was reflected in our homes with opulence- luxurious finishes like marble, onyx, travertine, scrolling iron, rich, silky textiles & all that... stuff. Our homes were literally bursting at the seams with THINGS. We all know where that time went...

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Oct. 5, 2017

April 2017 Phoenix Real Estate Market Recap

In a nutshell, here’s a market recap of how real estate went down in April…

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Cromford Report: April 2017 Recap

“Seller Concessions Have Risen Despite Buyer Frenzy

For Buyers:
Buyers continue to find themselves in a frenzy of competition for homes as March recorded the highest number of non-distressed sales through the MLS since September 2005.  While supply has dropped a significant 12.7% overall compared to this time last year, it’s dropped a whopping 22% in the Southeast Valley and 27% in Pinal County! Despite the extreme lack of supply under $300K, 30% of closings in this price range are showing some form of seller-paid concession at close.  Compare this to 27% in March of last year and it indicates that even as demand and prices are on the rise, a larger percentage of sellers are contributing financially to closing costs, home warranties and repairs in order to get top dollar for their home.

For Sellers:
March 2017 recorded the highest Listing Success Rate for normal listings since July 2005 at 81.8%, which means more homes are coming off the market because they successfully sold and not because they cancelled or expired. In a balanced market, the Listing Success Rate ranges between 60-65% for this time of year.  To compare, the lowest Listing Success Rate was recorded in December 2008 at 21% and the highest was in May 2005 at 87%.

Normal listings between $100K and $200K currently have the highest success rate at 90%, followed closely by the $200K-$300K range at 87% and $300K-$500K at an impressive 79%.  It’s a good time to be a seller!” – source The Cromford Report

The market is strong! At face value, this is all good stuff, but what the numbers don’t say is that supply is not evenly matched with demand at all price levels- namely the high demand for affordable homes (under $300K) & very little supply; conversely, there’s lower demand for luxury homes, and LOTS of supply. And seller concessions (sellers pitching in cash to help their buyers close)? Whaaaaat?! Stay tuned for more!