Phoenix West Valley Real Estate News

 

June 3, 2019

Fix Up Your Home or Sell As Is?

Whether you’re upsizing or downsizing, accepting a new job offer in another city, or fleeing to (or from) the suburbs, deciding what you need to do to get your house market-ready can be confusing. Should you go into renovation mode? Or should you sell as is?

Items that impact the home’s operation need to be fixed before you list. Is there a leaky roof, a broken furnace, plumbing or electrical system issues? These are all things sellers are legally obliged to disclose. If not, a home inspector will identify them to a potential buyer, possibly leading to an offer being withdrawn.

However, not all things need to be fixed up. Here are some things to consider when selling your house.

No Renovation ROI

Most home renovations don’t pay off instantly or at all. Complete bathroom and kitchen renovations add the most value but also cause the most disruption and can be very expensive. If these rooms haven’t already been renovated it could be a bad idea to start now, just before selling. Focus on making sure the existing selling features of the home are in great shape.

Stress of Living in a Renovation Zone

If you are fortunate enough to own a larger home with multiple bathrooms and a spare room or two, renovating may not be quite as challenging as it is for those in smaller spaces. However, if you’re not doing the work yourself (and sometimes even then), you’re at the mercy of your suppliers’ timelines of when they come and go from the home. That means you have to live there while renovating even though you’re not going to be the one to benefit. Before you sink $20,000 into a last-minute kitchen transformation, consider smaller renovations. You could just paint or replace cupboard door fronts or add some new hardware to update the look.

Buyers Like the Space or Don’t

If a potential buyer can’t imagine living in a particular space, they’re not going to make an offer, unless they plan to flip or gut and rebuild, regardless of recent updates or renovations. You can’t anticipate how someone else will want to use the space. A study may become a hobby room or a nursery. A small bedroom may become a big, luxurious bathroom. Concentrate on creating a space that suggests multiple possibilities rather than trying to anticipate the needs of someone else.

Move On

Don’t let past house wishes influence your renovation decisions when you’ve decided to move on. It is no problem that you never got around to expanding the master bedroom closet. Your next home may have the big walk-in closet you desire. Don’t just move — move on.

Start on the Outside

Curb appeal starts on the outside, not the inside. Focus your renovation motivation there first. All the energy you spend on interior renovations will be pointless if you neglect your home’s exterior. Get rid of all the bikes your kids have outgrown, re-seed those patches of lawn where the grass is yellow, paint the door and create an approach to your home that’s welcoming. If you’re going to invest in something other than landscaping for the exterior, make it something like new patio furniture that you can take to your new home.

Clean Outweighs New

Nothing will make an offer disappear faster than the sight of a dirty house and hard usage. Grubby walls, scratched floors, torn carpet, cracked tiles, appliances with fingerprints and ratty towels are small things that unpleasantly remind prospective buyers that other people are using a home. You want your buyers to see themselves living in the home. If you really can’t bear to paint over the door frame where you marked your children’s heights over the years, replace it and take the old one with you. Selling your major life investment is about being pragmatic, not sentimental.

Appeal to the General Buyer

While it may be your dream to own a home with a hot tub or a pool, it’s not necessarily your buyer’s dream. The same goes for a home theater, game room or built-in bar. Those renovations may have no appeal whatsoever for an outdoorsy family that spends every weekend off-roading, running marathons or hiking in the mountains. Don’t be the house that’s too much for the neighborhood, or you’ll end up being the house that’s priced way too high. You could end up taking a huge loss as a result.

Bottom Line

Keep your renovations logical and do not dwell on the sentimental. It’s time to move on to your next chapter and sell your investment. Clean up the home and make sure it’s functional updating only what you think will appeal to the general buyer.

Posted in General
May 28, 2019

Will You Allow Pets in Your Rentals?

When considering how to protect your real estate investments, don’t forget about pets. It’s no secret that pets can cause serious damage to a home. In addition to home damage, certain breeds may also pose other liabilities. As a flexible and easy to work with landlord, you may want to welcome all breeds. However, insurance companies don’t feel the same. This can make it difficult for people with pets to find rentals willing to accept them. Especially, for renters with multiple pets.

So, the question stands: should you accept pets in your rentals? It really depends. Here are some reasons why you should accept pets in your rentals:

Not All Pets are Destructive

While it’s absolutely true that many pets are destructive (especially young ones), most are not. When carefully vetting prospective tenants through personal references, interviews, and so on, you can likely find out how a person cares for their pets and property.

Do they often exercise their pet? Do they work long hours away from home? Do they take their pet on day trips with them? Do they leave the pet alone for hours on end with no company, exercise, or potty breaks? These types of questions can be found out during casual conversation when interviewing possible tenants and make a huge difference in the way the pet will behave in your rental property.

You should also establish a pet agreement that includes a picture of the pet, its veterinary information and a pledge that there is no history of violence with the animal. Then collect a pet deposit, along with monthly pet rent, to cover possible pet damage to the property.

Some Rentals Are More Pet-Friendly Than Others

Does the property have a fenced yard? Does it have tile flooring? If so, you may want to consider accepting pets.

It would be difficult for a domesticated animal to harm tile floors. However, in properties where there are wood floors, you may not want to allow dogs as the potential for damaging these floors is much higher.

Just because you accept pets in one property doesn’t mean you need to across the board. If none of your properties are a good fit for animals it is ok to state that.

Pet-Owning Renters Are Willing to Pay Deposits and Fees

People love their animals; they’re part of the family. This is why many renters are willing to pay an extra security deposit plus pet rent each month to ensure they can house their animals.

Most follow through with the required additional payments and are responsible for their pets.

Offering a refundable pet deposit could help ensure that the tenants help preserve the property and guard against pet damage, as well.

There is no incentive to prevent an animal from damaging a place if someone pays a non-refundable deposit up-front, however, if there are a few hundred dollars on the line, it’s safe to assume renters will put in the effort to fix any pet-related damage prior to move out or adjust said pet’s behavior.

What to Do If Pets Cause Damage

If upon move out, you sense pet odor, deploy an odor bomb in the venting system. This is usually less than $60 and very effective to destroy pet odor.

What about puppy chewing damage? If these damages exceed the pet deposit, try to bill the tenant for the remaining costs. Most of the time, they will not want to be taken to court and will settle up for fear of the cost coming up on their credit report.

Overall, accepting pets in your rentals can help you appeal to families that are not accepted in other properties. It is usually less frightening than it seems and there are ways to help undo pet damage caused by your tenants. The pros outweigh the cons in this case and help ensure that you are a flexible property owner who is easy to work with. Just make sure to cover your bases and protect your assets.

Posted in General
May 22, 2019

April 2019 RE/MAX National Housing Report

April home sales finished just 1.1% below a year ago as selling times shortened and tight inventory held steady, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. Meanwhile, April’s median home price of $251,000 in the report’s 54 markets was up a mere 2.1% - the smallest year-over-year April increase in eight years.

April’s year-over-year sales decline of 1.1% marked the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year decreases, but April’s sales dip was the smallest during that time. At the same time, inventory increased 4.8% and marked the seventh consecutive month of year-over-year growth in number of homes for sale.

Compared to March, home sales in April sped up by a full week, taking an average of 52 days instead of 59. The average in April 2018 was 51 days. The Months Supply of Inventory in April decreased year-over-year from 3.0 to 2.6.

While the March-over-February increase in home sales of 28.8% was the smallest in five years, the April-over-March increase of 11.2% was an April-over-March record for the 10-year history of the report.

“April’s home sales blossomed, suggesting the typical seasonal jump in spring sales arrived later than usual this year,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Solid buyer interest and sellers with realistic price expectations advanced the market’s march toward equilibrium last month. That said, inventory remains constricted, and prices continue to climb, albeit at a slower rate. All in all, April’s results were encouraging, and we continue to be cautiously optimistic about the prospects of a healthy spring selling season.”

Closed Transactions

Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in April 2019, the overall average number of home sales is up 11.2% compared to March 2019, and down 1.1% compared to April 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage increase were Augusta, ME, at +30.4%, Des Moines, IA, at +23.6%, and Milwaukee, WI, at +22.9%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 54 metro median prices

In April 2019, the median of all 54 metro Median Sales Prices was $251,000, up 2.1% from March 2019, and up 2.1% from April 2018. Three metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price: San Francisco, CA, at -1.4%, Seattle, WA, at -1.0%, and Anchorage, AK, at -0.3%. Four metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest gains in Boise, ID, at +14.8% and Birmingham, AL, at +13.8%.

Days on Market – Average of 54 metro areas

The average Days on Market for homes sold in April 2019 was 52, down seven days from the average in March 2019, and up one day from the April 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE, at 27, and Denver, CO, and San Francisco, CA, both at 30. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, ME, at 116, Hartford, CT, at 89, and Miami, FL, at 86. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 54 metro areas

The number of homes for sale in April 2019 was up 3.3% from March 2019 and up 4.8% from April 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in April 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory decreased to 2.6 from 2.9 in March 2019, and decreased compared to 3.0 in April 2018. A six months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In April 2019, of the 54 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL, at 6.3 reported a months supply at or over six, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Boise, ID, Denver, CO, Manchester, NH, and Omaha, NE, all at 1.2.

Posted in General
May 14, 2019

Retirement: Live Within Your Means

Are you dreading retirement and no longer receiving a paycheck? Sure, you planned and knew this was coming, but it can still keep you up at night. How do you live within your means without this paycheck?

If you are struggling to live within your budget there are a few suggestions that might help bring your retirement expenses in line with a more modest retirement income.

The most important thing you can do is to economize on legacy goods and services. Get rid of the things you're paying for that you don't really care about anymore. For example, maybe you're still paying for a membership to a swim-and-tennis club that your kids used to use, or a gym membership that you intended to use but never did. Or, if you have remarried, you can consolidate a lot of bills -- like insurance, phone, AAA membership -- to help your monthly budget.

It’s also a good idea to skip out on the warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s club now that the kids are grown and purchase only what you can eat each week or every other week.

Sure, this may only save a few dollars here and there but add them all up and you might be saving real money each month to help balance the lack of paycheck coming in.

If you downsize, you can sell some of the things you no longer use. You can think ahead and join in on some of the neighborhood tag sales or even hold a yard sale of your own.

You may even have bigger ticket items that you no longer use or need. What about that old boat you bought when your kids were teenagers? Is there an extra car that's rusting away in the driveway, or a vacation condo or timeshare you hardly ever use? Even if your unwanted items have greatly depreciated, it's still better to have the money now rather than the headache of getting rid of it later on.

Additionally, as you enter retirement you should be paying down debt not taking out more loans. There will be no more salary increases to cover those additional monthly payments and getting rid of those payments could free up a lot more monthly money. The credit card is the worst with high-interest rates high and penalties, so try to clear those as soon as possible. If you are running a balance, don't hesitate to call your credit company to try to negotiate a better rate.

However, the mortgage can be and should be the last debt to pay off. While there is no better security than having a safe home to live in free of debt, this is a normal payment to have as you enter retirement.

What about your grownup kids? Are you still footing their cell phone bills, car payments, rent? It’s understandable to want to help the ones we love or even shower them with gifts. But it’s time they understand that your monthly income is changing and that you can no longer add their monthly bills to your expenses.

Bottom line: you will be bringing in less money per month and it’s time to downsize in any way you can. This should be a freeing time with less worry and less hassle, not a time for fear. It is very possible to live within your means and have a fulfilling life, even in retirement.

Posted in General
May 8, 2019

Access: The Key to Selling Your Home

Congratulations, you’re selling your home! If you haven’t yet, you should hire a real estate professional to help you through the process and from there, your agent will ask you what level of access you want to provide to your potential buyers. This is quite possibly one of the most important key factors in selling your home! You need to make sure your home is accessible and here’s how:

Check out these different levels of home access to decide which is right for you

  1. Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.

  2. Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.

  3. Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.

  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.

  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2 pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

With more competition coming to the market this summer, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

Contact me today and I will walk you through the different options to set you up for success!

Posted in General
May 1, 2019

What Would Make You Sell Your Home

There are many reasons why a homeowner decides to sell their house and move. The latest Generational Trends Report from NAR asked recent home sellers to share their reason for moving.

The younger the respondents (ages 29 to 53), the more likely their top response centered around needing a larger home. Relocating for a job was the top reason for those ages 54 to 63 and the second most popular response for those under 53.

For homeowners over the age of 64, wanting to be closer to friends and family served as the top motivator to move. Downsizing to a smaller home or moving due to retirement came in as a close second and third.

Have you outgrown your current house? Are you a homeowner who can relate to wanting to be closer to family and friends? Is your house becoming a burden to clean now that the kids have moved out.

Bottom Line

Contact my real estate office and I help set you on the path to selling your current house and finding the home that fits your needs, today!

Posted in General
April 23, 2019

Will Low Inventory Keep You from Your Dream Home?

New waves of first-time homebuyers hitting the market this summer have created a new and interesting statistic. A survey in move.com showed that nearly 60% of buyers searching for a home this spring said they are willing to consider buying a fixer-upper rather than endlessly searching for the home of their dreams. 95% of those said they believe the projects needed will increase their new home’s value.

As stated in several interviews and articles on Realtor.com’s, low-inventory for entry-level price ranged homes is to blame for the increase in willingness to renovate.

Just over half of all respondents who said they would be willing to buy a home in need of some TLC would also spend more than $20,000 to make the home fit their needs.

The most common ‘expected’ renovation is a kitchen remodel which can run anywhere from $22,000 for a minor remodel to $66,000 for a major remodel.

This isn’t a new trend by any means. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, “Americans spent $336.9 billion on remodeling projects, up 7.4% from the $313.6 billion a year earlier.”

Home renovation television shows have given many buyers hope that they could renovate a home they can afford into their dream home. Are you up for the task?

If you are one of the many Americans considering buying a home this spring, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you find a house with the potential to be your dream home.

Posted in General
April 17, 2019

March 2019 RE/MAX National Housing Report

Kicking off the spring homebuying season, March sales climbed almost 29% over February, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report. But this remains the slowest start in five years, with March sales 8.6% lower than March 2018.

March was the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales declines and the sixth straight month of year-over-year inventory growth, with a 5.3% gain. Housing activity in the report’s 54 markets nationwide also saw the Median Sales price grow by 3.4% year-over-year – notably smaller than the year-over-year increases in February (5.5%) and January (4.6%). However, the median sales price has risen by more than 3% year-over-year in 17 of the last 18 months.

From 2015 to 2018, the housing market’s spring sprang to life with an increase in sales from February to March averaging 37.0%. March 2019’s month-over-month increase of 28.8% was the smallest since 24.6% in 2014.

Days on Market increased to 59 from 57 last March, while Months Supply of Inventory declined year-over-year to 2.7 from 3.0.

“It was encouraging to see month-over-month sales improve during March,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “Although the seasonal bounce that typically ends the first quarter wasn’t as strong as in the past few years, conditions are in place for a healthy spring selling season. Falling interest rates, rising inventory and moderating price increases against the backdrop of a healthy overall economy are cause for optimism for buyers and sellers alike.”

Closed Transactions

Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in March 2019, the overall average number of home sales is up

28.8% compared to February 2019, and down 8.6% compared to March 2018. Leading the month-over-month sales percentage increase were Burlington, VT, at +48.3%, Wichita, KS, at +46.8%, and San Francisco, CA, at +44.3%.

Median Sales Price – Median of 54 metro median prices

In March 2019, the median of all 54 metro Median Sales Prices was $246,000, up 2.5% from February 2019, and up 3.4% from March 2018. Two metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price: San Francisco, CA, at -3.8% and Hartford, CT, at -1.4%. Three metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages – Manchester, NH, at +12.2%, Omaha, NE, at +11.8%, and Wichita, KS, at +10.7%.

Days on Market – Average of 54 metro areas

The average Days on Market for homes sold in March 2019 was 59, down three days from the average in February 2019, and up two days from the March 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, NE, and San Francisco, CA, both at 31, and Denver, CO, at 35. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, ME, at 122, and Burlington, VT, and Hartford, CT, both at 97. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

Months Supply of Inventory – Average of 54 metro areas

The number of homes for sale in March 2019 was up 0.3% from February 2019 and up 5.3% from March 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in March 2019, the Months Supply of Inventory decreased to 2.7 from 3.7 in February 2019, and from 3.0 in March 2018. A six-months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In March 2019, of the 54 metro areas surveyed, only Miami, FL, at 6.5 reported a supply at or over six months, which is typically considered a buyer’s market. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory were Denver, CO, at 1.2, and four metros at 1.3 – San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Boise, ID, and Manchester, NH.

Posted in General
April 10, 2019

Pet-Friendly Homes Are in Demand

A lot of homebuyers are interested in buying pet-friendly homes so that they can finally settle with their ‘furever’ friend. Pointing out the aspects of your home that appeals to owning a pet can help you attract these buyers over other homes. That’s 68% of the market that’s looking for a pet-friendly home!

As a homeowner looking to list their home, how do you stand out among the rest of the listings to get your home noticed and sold?

These pet owners are looking to treat their pet like family and want them to be safe and comfortable. This means that the community also needs to be pet-friendly, not just the home.

Most aspects of buying, selling and owning a home, come down to pet-friendly variables, which is of no surprise since $72 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2018.

Pet Stats Matter in Choosing a Home

  • 12% percent have moved for their pet

  • 19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet

  • 89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction

  • 81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation

  • 31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals

Even new home builders are taking new strides to make their homes marketable to pet owners. Some have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck inside door jams to attract new pet owners and home buyers.

What can you do to stand out in this pet-friendly market? Make sure to point out the features of your home that will attract these pet owners:

  • Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)

  • Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)

  • Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)

  • Sectioned off or split floor plan homes. These make it easier to gate certain areas

  • Tile and wood flooring compared to carpet that holds dander, allergens, hair and shows dirt

  • A backyard big enough for the pet to do their business and still have room to play and run

Take advantage of the fact that many Americans love their pets and will do anything they can to find a home that includes these valuable features by showing how your home can meet these needs.

Posted in General
April 2, 2019

Boomers Head Back to College

Head Back to College, Are You Crazy?

Regardless of your age, it’s a safe bet to say that you are not ready for that rocking chair, whether it be physical or metaphorical. Whether you’re still working or have already retired, it’s becoming common practice to take advantage of local college classes.

Educational pursuits of some Boomers center around taking courses for a new career, or even to finish up a degree started once upon a time. However, the vast majority are taking classes for fun and personal enrichment. Often times, these enrichment classes can cost little or close to nothing.

Degree and Certificate Programs

When walking along campus at night, you will find a lot of teens and mid-twenties but surprisingly there also seems to be a large number of older adults who have gone back to school to become dental hygienists, x-ray technicians, medical assistants or to pursue similar careers.

There has also been an increase in Baby Boomers who decided to go back to school to get advanced degrees in their current field to keep up with new educational demands of the times or even to get the necessary training to start a brand new career. Some examples are those who enrolled in programs to become chefs, computer technicians, and tax consultants, often as second career choices.

If you have not retired yet, and you are looking to start a new career or you are hoping to advance in your current job, going back to college is a smart first step towards reaching your goals.

You can expect to pay tuition for these types of classes and will have additional expenses for books and materials. However, if this is to improve your skills for your current job, your employer may help cover some of these costs. If you are going back to school in order to change career, you should be eligible for a student loan through Sallie Mae that will help you cover all or most of the costs.

Enrichment Programs for Fun and Enlightenment

A large number of Baby Boomers are also signing up for free or low-cost Emeritus programs through the colleges in their communities. Many community colleges and private universities, as well as online universities, offer local senior citizens the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of educational experiences. These classes are offered free or for a very low fee. The choices available may include sitting in on lectures, auditing classes, or participating in programs that have been specifically designed for senior citizens.

For example, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Arizona State University offers university-quality, non-credit courses for students 50+ years old. There are no tests, no grades, and no educational requirements for these classes. Better yet, it’s only $20 per semester fee and only $10 in the summer! The classes range from history to art, Philosophy to travel, current events and more. In addition to these classes, you receive many member benefits like discounted admission to museums, venues, centers for the arts, ballet performances and more across the state. You can certainly find something that will appeal to your unique interests that’s also kind to your pocketbook.

Advantages of Going Back to College

Whether you are going back to school in order to improve your job opportunities or to enhance your health and enjoyment of life, remember that you are never too old to become a student. People have been known to continue to take college classes well into their 90's.

Those of you who choose to take a free or low-cost community course will discover that these programs are a great way to meet new people with common interests, stay physically fit, and keep your mind functioning at its best.

In addition, it is healthy for everyone to pursue their own interests after they retire. Taking a few classes will prevent you from becoming too bored, too much of a recluse, or from driving your family crazy with expectations of entertaining you. It’s never too late to grow your mind.

Posted in General