Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 89

Prep the Lawn to Sell

by Karen Picarello

A well-manicured lawn is a perfect way to make a first impression, so prepping your lawn to sell will definitely attract buyers. When people look at your home for sale, they are seeking a place where the “grass is greener.” If you want to seal the deal, make that saying a reality by properly maintaining your grass.

5 Ways to Prep Your Lawn to Sell

1. Herbicide

A lawn full of crabgrass is not only an eyesore, but it is also a lot of work! Make your potential buyers want to take off their shoes and walk barefoot in your luscious carpet of thick grass by controlling the weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides will minimize this work. Contact your local extension office to find out what works in your area.

2. Aerate

Some grasses grow a thick layer of thatch underneath their blades, and this can be suffocating. Grass that cannot get enough air will yellow, and you’ll end up with patches of unhealthy, dying grass. You can fix this by aerating. There are a number of ways to aerate from handheld aerators to motorized versions. Choose your tool based on the size of the yard.

3. Test the Soil

If you want it to be green, you have to find out what to feed it. A soil test will tell you the pH along with nutrient levels, so you can amend the soil to make it the perfect environment for your grass.

4. Edge

Crisp edges and borders show attention to detail and create instant curb appeal for the home seeker. Make sure your lines are straight, and you’ll lead your potential buyer straight to the bank. Edging also helps prevent weeds and grass from encroaching.

5. Repair

Don’t leave anything unattended. You don’t need to install a sprinkler system to sell your home, but if you have a sprinkler system, make sure it works! Perspective home buyers will see broken items as a sign that the home has not had proper improvements. Don’t let procrastinated home repairs ruin your sale.

The last thing you want potential home buyers saying is, “That home was nice, but…” Remove the “but” and change it to an “and.” Make sure your lawn is green and properly-maintained. Your buyers will then be saying, “That home was nice, and did you notice the yard!” A beautiful lawn can be the tipping point for a home buyer who is unsure about which home to purchase. It allows them to picture themselves living at that location as the new homeowner with pride.

Selling and Buying a Home at the Same Time

by Karen Picarello

When a person sells a home, they must find another. These transactions will occur in a market that is better for either buyers or sellers…but not both. The seller becomes the buyer, and they are only benefited by the market in one position. This is why many people end up renting for a short time while they wait for the market to change. They sell in a seller’s market and buy in a buyer’s.

In addition to the markets, it is difficult to make an offer on a new home when your old home is still in escrow. While waiting for your home to close, you will not have that money available for a down payment. If you find your next home before you even have an offer on your old house, you may have to give it up. This just complicates the search. Thankfully, there are contingent offers that sellers may accept while you are waiting for your previous home to sell.

What is a seller’s market?

If there are more buyers than homes in the market, it is a seller’s market. Cash offers may win out over mortgages with more closing costs, and buyers must be ready to offer as soon as they find a home they desire. Sellers, on the other hand, will sell their homes quickly while having more difficulty buying. One solution for this problem (which is sort of a good problem) is to ask to do a rent-back, where the seller rents their previous home after it is sold while buying his or her next house. You can also request an extended closing. Loans may be taken out against your home’s equity to avoid delays in purchasing your next home.

What is a buyer’s market?

In a buyer’s market, there are many homes available. Because there are more homes than buyers, the buyers get the power to wheel and deal a bit. This is when contingency offers are more likely to be accepted. Homeowners are more likely to accept less-than-perfect offers to do what it take to get the home sold.

It is easy to see why it is difficult to be a buyer and a seller at the same time. The markets simple don’t support both at the same time. If you end up renting in order to find a better market, you can end up spending a lot more money in rent and storage, but sometimes it is the best option.

The best thing to do when you are buying and selling at the same time is to be organized and educated. Know the options that are available, and don’t rush into decisions that you are not comfortable with.

Mortgage Rates 101

by Karen Picarello

If you are a new home buyer, mortgage rates may seem a bit confusing. You know you want a low rate, and you don’t want a subprime mortgage, but you aren’t really sure what subprime means or how to find a low rate. A good mortgage broker will be able to help you find a good loan for which you qualify, but you should be equipped with some basic knowledge and understanding of the creation of mortgage rates and loans.

3 Basic Types of Mortgage Loans

1. 30-year fixed: A 30-year fixed rate loan is the most common type of loan for a home buyer. The interest rate is fixed, and you can get this type of loan through FHA, VA, and other standard mortgage companies.

2. 15-year fixed: It is amazing how much faster you can pay off your home (and save money) with a 15-year fixed loan. You can get a lower interest rate and pay less over time because of the shortened term length. While this may seem like an easy decision (if you can afford the increase in payments), you must consider other investment opportunities. You could be investing the difference in payment amounts. A financial advisor can help you weigh the benefits of a 30-year versus a 15-year fixed loan.

3. Adjustable-rate loan: Adjustable rate loans take advantage of current interest rates, which can be much lower in the early part of the loan. If a person isn’t planning on living in a home for many years, it may actually save them a lot of money. However, it is risky. Interest rates can shift causing great changes in monthly payments. People who get adjustable-rate loans in order to get a bigger house than they can afford may not be able to keep-up with payments. This is, in part, what caused the last housing crisis.

3 Tips for Successful Mortgage Loans

1. Get a good mortgage broker:

A good mortgage broker can time your closing to get you the best interest rate possible. However, you want to make sure you go to one who you trust and who has the knowledge to get you the best loan. Talk to people about who they have hired, and look at online reviews. An informed decision is always best.

2. Get your budget put together:

You should have a reasonable idea of how much income you have available for a home purchase. This includes how much savings you have for a down payment. Be prepared with this information prior to going to your mortgage broker, so he or she can do their job.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew:

You may be able to eek out the payments on a big house for a little while, but don’t bit off more than you can chew. Foreclosures and short sales are a big hit to your credit score and can take away your opportunity for future home ownership for a certain amount of time. Be reasonable. You can always upgrade when finances are better. It isn’t worth the risk to get a loan that you cannot afford.

Don’t Cut Corners Because It’s Not Your “Forever Home”

by Karen Picarello


Your home may not be the one that you intend on growing old in, but that is no reason to cut corners because it’s not your “forever home.” It may mean that you don’t put in gold-plated fixtures, but it is not reason not to do repairs correctly.

5 Reason Not to Cut Corners in Your “Not-Forever Home”

1. You don’t know how long you’ll be there:

Just because you plan on moving does not mean it’s going to happen. Things change. Sometimes you end up staying…with your shoddy work and all. Fix it when it needs to be fixed, and fix it right. Nobody deserves to pay for you cutting corners, not even you.

2. Cutting corners can cause more damage:

If you don’t fix it right, it may end up causing way more damage than it would have if you fixed it right in the first place. This is especially true with leaks that get mostly repaired or temporarily repaired. A little water is no big deal, but a little water over time can cause huge damage in the form of rot.

Even buying a very cheap faucet can lead to breakages that cause leaks. If you aren’t planning on spending a while there, maybe a high-end faucet isn’t necessary. However, a cheap faucet will not go unnoticed by the savvy home buyer.

3. The home will be inspected:

If you are a DIYer, you probably try to do thing in a way that would be up to code. However, if you a corner cutter, your inspector will not like it. Try not to delay your home sale with a failed inspection.

4. Could end up costing more:

Did we mention that cutting corners causes more damage? This may be the cause of extra costs. Costs can also increase if you have to have a certified plumber, electrician, or contractor come in and repair your half-hearted “fixes.”

5. Pride:

Lastly, you should have a little pride in your work, especially when it involves a home. There are families who will live in the home after you assuming no catastrophic damages occur. Don’t give them extra problems by not keeping the home up to the right standards. You should want to live in a home with proper repairs, and you should want your home to be handed over to a new owner in good condition. It’s about self-respect.

Hopefully these 5 reasons are good enough to keep your work on the up-and-up. Poorly executed work has no place in home ownership.

The Housing Market in 2019, and what it Means for Arizonians

by Karen Picarello

If you are thinking about buying a house in the near future, the markets may scare you. Quick perusals of the internet reveal homes being swept up by cash buyers and interest rates rising. Millennials are reported to be opting for rentals instead of mortgages. 2019 is not supposed to be the best year for the housing market, but these trends are location-specific. Arizona seems to be going against these trends.

Trulia has named Phoenix as a top housing market to watch this year. This is based on job growth, house vacancies, affordability of starter homes, inbound Trulia searches compared to outbound, and population under the age of 35. What this means is that Arizonians, at least in the Phoenix area, stand a chance at affording a home without cash on hand.

It also means there is a healthy selling and purchasing balance. There is not an enormity of homes on the market where the supply is outweighing demand, but there are enough homes on the market to give potential home buyers options. This means that it is a healthy market for both buyers and sellers. There is also not a scarcity of houses, which means that people won’t always be outbid by cash buyers.

The housing market is definitely volatile, and expert predictions yield conflicting views that amount to confusion for home buyers and sellers. In some reports, the housing market may crash, and in others, it is going to boom. How can anyone make sense of the conflicting info?

Well, one thing is certain. Millennials have largely opted for rentals instead of taking on large debt. They have seen their parents and the rest of the nation take on debt unsuccessfully, and they aren’t about to travel down the same road. However, millennials are getting older. This tends to lead to more stability and the want for long-term investment options such as real estate. It also tends to lead to higher wages that can sustain a house payment.

When millennials start to buy more homes, prices will rise because demand will increase. It’s simple economics. If you are looking to buy a home, now may be the time (barring any major changes in interest rates) whether you are a millennial or any other generation.  The housing market ebbs and flows, and timing is everything. More buyers on the market is a good thing for sellers, but more houses on the market is a good thing for buyers.

Take your pick, but timing is everything when it comes to gauging the housing market in 2019.

Home Staging Basics

by Karen Picarello

If you are selling your home and want to attract the highest number of buyers, you need to work on your staging. Staging is how you present your home. It involves making the home look presentable in a way that appeals to most people. This is not the time for eccentricities. You are appealing to the masses. Here are a few tips:

5 Home Staging Basics:

1. No Clutter

If your house is cluttered, it will look uncomfortable and cramped. Even a pair of shoes left beside the couch will give the subliminal message that there isn’t enough storage space in the home. More importantly, clutter looks like things haven’t been maintained. A house that hasn’t been maintained may be hiding many repairs under all the clutter.

2. Neutral Walls

Accent walls are a popular fad, but in the case of the home that is for sale, they should be neutral. That doesn’t mean you cannot have an accent wall, but it must be in a neutral shade that will match any décor.

3. Plants

Typically, people viewing a home do so when the owner is not present. This can make it seem empty and dull. Houseplants add life to the setting. They also add color. Especially in a home painted in neutral colors, plants add a nice contrast, and they symbolize cleanliness.

4. Open the Blinds

Let there be light! Open the blinds and turn on lights to make sure there aren’t any dark corners in the home. Buyers want to see themselves living in the home, not sulking in darkness. Light brings positive notions, and positive notions sell.

5. Repair

Repair anything that is visually in disrepair. That means cracks in the walls or chips in the paint. To the potential buyer, this will just look like more work. Homes that are move-in ready are a stress-free option for home buyers who are already dealing with the stresses of mortgage companies and the big move.

Even if your home is a fixer-upper, staging is important. If it is vacant, it may not be necessary to insert plant life or other things that seem unnatural to the setting. The light and clutter rules still apply. If there is construction, make sure it is tidy. If there are blinds, make sure they are open.

Staging is important no matter what type of home you are selling, and no matter what condition. If you want to get top dollar, or even a few offers, staging will ensure success and a successful sale.

Adding a fence adds selling power but no increased value

by Karen Picarello

A fence is a big expense, especially if your property is big. That is why you don’t see solid fences in open fields or ranches with miles of land (wire fences are much less expensive). However, a fence adds many benefits to a home.

Benefits of fences:

  • Security: A fence is a crime deterrent because it is a boundary. People cannot aimlessly wander into your yard. It is a barrier between them and your front door. It also keeps in things that need to be safe, such as children and pets.
  • Privacy: Having a privacy fence in the backyard is not just to keep the kids in. It’s also so you can sunbathe! Although both of those things are true, the more likely reason to have a privacy fence is so you can have backyard bbqs without the neighbors watching. They make it easy to have a cup of coffee on the back porch without having to take off your robe and put on real clothes.
  • Attractiveness: A huge benefit of fencing is that it can be aesthetically pleasing. But beware of the fence that isn’t because a few have turned out to be eyesores. The fence should match the era of the home, and putting a picket fence around a modern home is as odd as a large, solid, brick fence around a very small home. It should fit.
  • Cleanliness: You may not have thought about how fencing keeps your yard clean, but it really does! Say a windstorm knocks down the garbage cans on garbage day. Guess where the garbage isn’t going to blow? It also stops people form walking through your yard or letting their dogs leave stinky little presents.
  • Selling Power: Lastly, you’ll sell your fenced home a little quicker than an non-fenced one. For all of the reasons above, people like fences, and they’ll like your home a little more if it already has a fence. Buyers are often spending more money when they purchase a home, so the expense of putting up a fence can make or break a deal.

With all of these benefits, it’s hard not to add a fence to a yard, but people selling need to be warned. It will not increase the value of your home, or if so, not by much. You won't likely recoup the cost of the fence. So if you are thinking of moving in the near future, put the brakes on the fence plans and let the next homeowners do it. But if you are going to be there for a while, put up a fence! You will enjoy the benefits, and it will help your house sell in the long run.

Why Arizona is a Great Place for Buying and Selling a Home

by Karen Picarello

A recent post on the news site, OZY, tells us that people are choosing Arizona over their neighboring state, California. This is good for the Arizona housing market, one that has continued to grow among increasing demand.

There are many reasons for the trend to Arizona from California:

  • Lower Cost of Living: A cost of living analysis by Best Places states that it is 72 percent more expensive to live in California than Arizona. It is hard to believe that there would be such a difference in such a short span of land, but California is well-known for extreme property prices in places such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and extending into the Silicon Valley.
  • Retiring Californian Baby Boomers: It is demographics that make the trend to moving into Arizona a growing one. Baby boomers are getting to retirement age, and they want to live the golden years in financial comfort. That means selling California real estate with a large price tag and being able to afford luxurious lives in Arizona. Likewise, those middle-aged individuals with families and small homes in California can easily expand and upgrade their living situation with a short move.
  • Immigrants: Those who have immigrated to the U.S. through the Californian border are also struggling in California. As they have already made the trek to America, moving one state over is an easy decision when it means a sustainable livelihood.
  • Taxes/Regulation: There are lesser taxes and regulations in Arizona, which means there is more opportunity and a greater ability to retain incomes and revenue.

There is a lot of controversy in regard to the influx of people into Arizona, but for people looking to buy or sell homes, the outlook is good. The influx may stress natural resources in Arizona such as electricity and water, and the state may eventually end up with similar problems to California. Hopefully, solutions such as renewable technology will help to alleviate those concerns. 

For right now, all is good in the sunshine state, and those dealing with real estate transactions on any side are in a good place. For buyers, there are many opportunities to get better properties with larger property and bigger homes. It means moving up from their status in California and living a much more comfortable life. For sellers, it means there is demand for Arizona homes at a relatively good price, which means they can make a profit on their home.

Contact an Arizona real estate company today if you are looking to buy or sell Arizona property.

Personal Property or Part of the House?

by Karen Picarello

When homeowners sell their homes, they often take things that their buyers thought would be left behind. For example, doorknobs or light fixtures can go missing. The last thing that a new homeowner wants to deal with is replacing these “permanent” fixtures in the home, but people have differing opinions on what constitutes personal property.

Common Items of Contention

1. Window Air Conditioner:

It may not seem obvious whether or not a homeowner should take the air conditioning. A good rule of thumb is that you should not leave any gaping holes in the walls as you leave. If it is a window unit, go ahead and remove it. If it is installed in the wall, leave it be.

2. Landscaping:

Landscaping can be expensive, but it is also a selling point of the home. If a buyer views the home with beautiful shrubbery and colorful perennials, they should move into a home with a similar appearance. If there is one plant that has sentimental value to you, dig it up prior to showing the home and put it in a pot. This will eliminate confusion.

3. Basketball Hoop:

Basketball hoops are not always personal property. If they are permanently mounted on a post cemented into the ground, it stays. But feel free to take mobile hoops.

4. Window Treatments:

If your curtains match your couch or other interior items, change them prior to showing the home. If you have blinds, leave them be. How you show your home is how the home looks in which the buyer expects to move.

5. Light Fixtures:

Light fixtures stay. Again, if you really are in love with one fixture and want to take it with you, remove it and replace it prior to showing the home.


1. It is illegal to remove some items from the house after showing it and agreeing to sell it as the buyer saw it. Therefore, if something needs to be removed, do it prior to showing the home.

2. Get over little things like how you will afford another air conditioner or find a fixture like the one you previously had. This is petty, and the items don’t really matter in the whole scheme of things. Is it worth losing a sale?

3. Lastly, communicate. If you are going to take a fixture, make sure the buyers know and have it in writing. There is nothing better than getting it in writing. This avoids conflict and allows you to take cherished items without fear of recourse.

It’s hard to let go of some things, but selling a home is a fresh start. Let it go, and move on to your new adventure.

Sell Your Home with a Quality Roof

by Karen Picarello

When selling your home, you must put yourself in the shoes of buyers and what they are worrying about when they look at it. Yes, they are worried. It is a home that has had wear and tear, and proper upkeep cannot be guaranteed…for the most part.

One of the main characteristics of your home that will considered when it comes to upkeep is the roof, and the condition and type of roof can be a factor that promotes or prevents a sale.

3 Types of Roofs Common to Arizona Homes:

1. Tiles:

When a person thinks of Arizona neighborhoods, the red tiled roofs are a hallmark that will come to mind. They are symbolic of the Southwest, and they stand out without being too trendy or eclectic. While tiles can be brittle when faced with blunt-force impact such as hail, they are rot- and insect-resistant. They can also withstand severe heat and cold, which is perfect for the Arizona desert. Tile roofs on average last over 50 years, and many lasts over 100 years.

Selling a home with a tile roof is great as long as the roof is intact. Damaged tiles that are not repaired quickly can equate to a huge cost for future homeowners. Otherwise, it is a great investment and makes buyers feel like they are getting a solidly constructed home at the very least.

2. Foam:

The flat-roofed stucco is also iconic Arizona, and the latest way to roof this type of home is in foam. The old bitumen roofs had seams, but foam roofs are seamless. They require maintenance, but they can last longer than the old-style roofs (which lasted about 20 years) if properly maintained. Another advantage of foam roofs is insulation and weight. The weight is minimal, and the insulation is great.

Selling a home with a foam roof is a step above a home with a bitumen roof, but it will cost more to have it installed if you already have the older style.

3. Asphalt or Fiberglass Shingles:

Fiberglass shingles are thinner and have a higher fire rating than asphalt but both include some asphalt. This type of roof is standard across the country, and the life of the roof is long. However, proper maintenance is again key to gaining buyer confidence, and the number of layers on the roof will give buyers a sense of how long the roof has to go before a complete reroofing.

The key to selling a home in Arizona is looking at maintenance and making sure your home is up to par with the requirements for your type of roof. Also, if you have a quality tile roof, for instance, it can be a great selling point.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 89

Contact Information

Photo of TeamPicarello Real Estate
RE/MAX Fine Properties North Scottsdale
21000 N. Pima Road, Suite 100
Scottsdale AZ 85255
Office: (480)860-8733
Fax: (480)860-8755