Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 58

Protecting Yourself from Bad Buyers

by Karen Picarello

Selling your home is a life changing process. Depending on how smoothly and quickly the sale goes down, you may have to adjust major parts of your life plans. But even if you do everything right, problems can still emerge. Thankfully, there are precautions you can take to make sure that an untrustworthy buyer doesn’t cause you problems.

If you are preparing to sell a property, the first thing that you need is experience. Most people do not sell homes frequently, and will therefore be unaware of the potential pitfalls, let alone how to negotiate them efficiently. First, and experienced, trustworthy, and qualified agent will be your best asset in making sure that things go smoothly. Proper knowledge of things like which papers will be needed at what time, and how to negotiate a deal will improve your chances that things go well. Additionally, they will have seen many of the unsavory tactics used by some buyers, and will know how to protect you.

However, there are other professionals whose services will prevent you from being taken advantage of. Both the buyer and the seller can benefit from having a reputable home inspector come and evaluate the condition of the property. If you know what you are selling and how much its worth, you will be able to take the good deals, but decline those which aren’t offering you what it is worth. Additionally, legal and financial experts will give you the guidance necessary to make sure that your next purchase goes through smoothly. For example, imagine if a buyer made an offer, and you made plans based on the assumption that the offer would go through. Then at the last minute, they back out. What do you do? If you have experienced professionals on your side, they can help you understand when it will be safe for you to count on the buyer making the purchase. This way, you can get papers signed which guarantee the sale will go through ( allowing you to move forward with peace of mind), while also making sure that you have sufficient time to find a new place to live.

In the end, experience is the best teacher, but when it comes to home sales, most people only get a few chances their entire life. In this case, it is usually better to leave it to a professional who has conducted hundreds of sales, and who really knows what they are doing.

Summertime Sales

by Karen Picarello

Selling your home can be a difficult process, but one way you can eke out an advantage is by being mindful of what will be on the minds of prospective buyers. One thing that you want is for people to be able to visualize themselves living comfortably on the property. If you can make them imagine living here happily and comfortably, you have a great path towards getting an offer on the property.

One way to make visitors comfortable is to keep in mind current conditions while selling. For example, if the house is being shown in the winter, make sure that it will be a comfortably warm temperature when visitors arrive. Make sure that they will be able to enter comfortably, and will not feel exposed to the elements. Conversely, make sure that during the summer months you can allow guests to feel relief when entering the property. This can require some planning or financial investment. If you are not currently living on the property, you might need to make sure that heating or cooling are turned on far enough in advance of the showing that temperatures will be comfortable.

Similarly, if your heating/cooling systems are ineffective or in need of repair, this can be one of the most effective repairs you can make. Don’t be afraid of spending some cash here, you will almost certainly make it back in terms of convenience, speed of sale, and final value of the property.

Additionally, you can make plans to highlight the seasonal benefits of the home. Shade, pools, and good insulation will be important in the summer, but a skilled agent will be able to look at nearly any property and figure out how to show off the strengths of the property. This is similar to how a good agent will be able to personalize their description of the property based on what the potential buyer will be interested in. Adjusting the way a property is presented can help to subtly influence the mood of a buyer, and you would be remiss to not consider the effect of things like weather and seasonal differences.

Finally, you should be considering things like the calendar year. For example, if a potential buyer has children, they will likely be on a time crunch to finalize their purchase of a property so that their children can start the school year off in their new school.

Reliable Foundations

by Karen Picarello

If you are buying or selling a house that could have foundation issues, you might need to take some extra steps to ensure that you are not being taken advantage of.  If you are selling a property with foundation issues, know that you will not be able to hide these from a prospective buyer, nor should you. A good home inspector will spend a good deal of time making sure that the foundation of your home is in good condition. Failing to disclose could lead to a deal falling apart. Additionally, even if you do manage to conceal the damage, if it later becomes evident that you were duplicitous during the sale, you could end up financially liable or at the receiving end of a nasty law suit.

Depending on the extent of damage to the foundation you could be looking at a relatively small bill of a few thousand dollars, or a massive bill approaching the value of the home. One of the most important factors will be the cause of the damage done to the foundation. If it has been caused by something like drainage issues then you can likely address the problem relatively easily. However, there are soil or geological issues, then you could unfortunately end up in a situation where the entire property loses its value.

If you are looking to purchase a property and you discover that it has foundation issues, keep in mind that your loan may need to be reevaluated. Some lenders, particularly those which are through the government will be reluctant or unwilling to finance the purchase of a property with major structural damage. Make sure that your home inspector does full diligence on his investigation, and that if any foundation problems are discovered, you do the research on them. If there are small issues, it might be possible for you to go through with the sale. However, if you discover that there are major structural issues with the house, it may just be best to let it go.

Finally, there are some mitigating circumstances where the foundation may not be a huge deal. For example, property with a large amount of value in the land will be less affected by the foundation issues. Because so much of the value is in the land rather than the house, the property may be worth investing in, with the goal of rebuilding a better structure with appropriate compensation for any underlying geological issues.

Market to Your Audience

by Karen Picarello

Your home is a unique property which will offer benefits that can’t be matched by any other property. Understanding both which similar properties are on the market, and which demographics are likely to be interested in your property can help you to price it and sell it effectively.

One major thing to consider when preparing your house is the demographic of your ideal buyer. While you may be surprised, and you will almost never have a buyer who matches your profile exactly, you can get a great idea of what the demand for your home will be if you understand what people value.

A great example of this is the local school system. If there is an incredible local school system, this could make the property quite attractive to young couples and families. However, this is unlikely to be something that a set of retirees are concerned about. While you will be able to point to this as something which will help their future property retain value, they may be more interested in purchasing something which offers value that they can enjoy.

In other words, when you are looking to sell your house, do some research on the features which make it unique, and figure out who these things will be important to. Is it a safe family neighborhood? Are there spaces for children to play? Or is it an area which is quiet and isolated? An isolated house which offers privacy will draw a different potential buyer than one which is located on a main thoroughfare.

While the seller of your home will be the one who is actively engaging with prospective buyers and will therefore be bringing up factors which are applicable to the potential buyer, if you can identify that your property has a number of factors which are desirable and work together, you can work to market the property on the back of these factors. While they may not allow you to drastically increase the price, it is certainly possible for you to be able to convince a buyer that this is the property for them, or that a minor concern is not important compared to the major benefits available.

Make sure that you get an agent who really understands the strengths and weaknesses of your property, and who will market it to people who want it for it’s strengths. Otherwise, you may end up struggling to sell a beautiful property.

Beware of Termites

by Karen Picarello

I have talked often about things potential buyers need to keep an eye out for, but one thing which has not been discussed here much is the importance of avoiding termites and other wood boring pests. There are a few reasons why these pests in particular are dangerous to homeowners.

First, damages caused by termites and other pests are often not covered by homeowners insurance. This means that you could one day discover that your house needs tens of thousands of dollars worth of work in order to be structurally safe, but your insurance wont pay a dime.

Additionally, spotting termites and termite damage can be difficult. While some damage can be visible, there can often be cases where they are almost impossible to detect without proper training and tools. This means that while visible damage is a good sign that there are termites, a lack of visible damage does not indicate a lack of termites. If you are seriously considering a property, do your own inspection to look for termite damage, but also don’t forget to hire a professional. A professional pest inspector is your best bet, and this can be done in addition to the normal inspection.

But what if termites are found? If you do end up finding damage, it does not mean that you will have to give up on your plans to buy the house. If there is a moderate amount of damage, the current owner may agree to doing repairs before selling or lowering the price of the property. Just make sure that the lowered cost is enough that you will still be happy paying for damages on top of the purchase. Follow up, and make sure that the work has been done. Demand records and proof.

Finally, as a homeowner, you should make sure that your property is not being damaged. Keep your property sealed off, avoid storing wood next to the house, and inspect areas that are visible for signs of termites. Finally, every few years you should hire a professional. If termites are ever found, act immediately. It will not get cheaper to deal with the problem, and every day they live will mean more repair work which needs to be done. Eventually, they can make a house structurally unsound and dangerous to live within. If you suspect that you might have an infestation, act immediately.

Choosing the Right Agent

by Karen Picarello

When you are preparing to sell your home, one of the most important decisions you can make is the selection of the agent who will be helping you to close a deal on one of the largest transactions you will ever be a part of. They say that experience is the best teacher, but you don’t want to be saying “well I will do better next time” after selling a property. Most people will only do this a few times in their life, and it could be decades before you sell again. In the meantime, you will be living with the consequences. Particularly with how money compounds over time when invested, making an extra few thousand or tens of thousands of dollars earlier in life can make a massive difference later on.

Your real estate agent has three primary jobs. The first is to save you money. This means that they will be working to get the best possible offers for your property. You want to find an agent who will be able to assist in the transformation of the property to make it more marketable, and who will then know exactly how and where to advertise your specific property. An experienced real estate agent will be able to give you advice about where to spend your money to get the best possible value out of the sale. If you can invest a few thousand dollars before the sale with an expected return of ten thousand or more in the asking price, it will be absolutely worth it. Conversely, you don’t want to spend excessive amounts on expensive repairs or stylistic changes that will not change the property value very much.

The second job your agent has is to save you time. We understand that you are busy, you have plans, and would like to move on. Selling a property quickly yet for a fair price will require effective advertising and marketing. Choose an agent who has an active online presence, and who clearly understands how to market different properties effectively.

Finally, your agent is there to save you effort and hassle. There is a lot of paperwork to do when selling a property, and having someone who can walk you through the process will drastically change your perception of the experience. Knowing what will need to be signed and when not an intuitive part of the sale. A good agent will help you feel comfortable and keep you up to date on all of your paperwork.

Preparing to Leave your Home

by Karen Picarello

One often unexpected factor which is often experienced during the sale of a house is the seller’s process of psychologically coming to terms with the fact that they will soon be leaving this place they have called home. This structure, which has represented memories, good times, bad times, security, and family will soon belong to someone else. The difficulty of this will vary based on both the person selling, and how much time they have had to become emotionally invested in the property, but it will nearly always come at some point.

However, this can actually make the sale more difficult. Being aware of your attachment to the property and coming to terms with it is an important thing to do before you begin the sales process. If you want to have a good experience and get good value for your property, you will need to be able to evaluate things relatively impartially. You will need to begin to change the house from your home into something which is marketable and saleable. This may involve redecorating, repainting, and generally changing the home away from the place you knew it as.

Getting a second opinion on things is critical. When you are looking to make your home attractive to prospective buyers, an expert should be consulted. Things which you have gotten used to and forgotten about might only be noticed by someone who doesn’t live at the property, and who is skilled at finding cost effective improvements to make. It is often said that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, but that does not tell the whole story. People fall in love with homes when they are impressed with the décor and features it offers. What you will need to do can vary from simple things like a fresh coat of paint or new appliances, to extreme renovations.

Finally, make sure that you are completely ready to leave the property before you begin to sell it. Unfortunately, I have seen some sellers sign papers to finalize the sale, and then get cold feet and decide they can’t leave. The sad truth is that as soon as those papers are signed, you are no longer the owner of the property. If you are not completely sure that you are willing to relinquish ownership, then you need to take some time to think before attempting to sell the property.

Avoiding Poorly Maintained Properties

by Karen Picarello

A major worry of prospective home buyers is that they will purchase a property with some unexpected caveats to its livability. A home is a major purchase, and unexpected maintenance problems can put easily put you out tens of thousands of dollars. Shelling out a few hundred dollars for an experienced and skilled home inspector is some of the best money you will ever spend.

However, no home inspectors are not perfect, and paying a home inspector every time you are considering a property can quickly put you out a significant amount of money. Thankfully, you can learn a few tips which can help you to make an educated guess about the quality of the house.

Sizing up the seller is one of the bets things you can do when looking to understand if a house was well taken care of. While you may not meet them, you will almost certainly see some things which will allow you to begin to get an idea of their tendencies and character. Are they clearly meticulous and conscientious? Do they have the financial wherewithal to maintain the property? If the seller appears to be unreliable, they may not have been particularly reliable in their efforts to maintain the property.

Second, do a brief inspection of the home features. It is probable that everything has been recently been made over in the attempt to sell. So there shouldn’t be things like chipping paint or dirt anywhere. However, other things are more difficult to fix. Put the house through its paces. If you are seriously considering buying the house, take the time to run water from every spigot, check things like electrical outlets, and open doors and windows fully. Doors that don’t open smoothly, or bathroom fixtures which are too loose or too tight could be a major sign that the owner does not put much effort into maintaining the property. When running the spigots, flush the toilet and run several at once. See if the water pressure drops.

Finally, ask the seller for a log of maintenance done. If they have a well-documented history of frequent maintenance, the house is likely in great condition. However, if they have sparse documentation, or their documentation is all very recent, it is likely that the house may have been poorly maintained. Don’t use any of these things to make a final judgement, but if you believe that a house was poorly maintained, it might be better to save your money on the inspection.

How To Help Your Pet Adjust to a Move

by Karen Picarello

When you move, it may take you a little while to get used to the fact that you have a new home. For many people, there will be a period in which they have to adjust. However, for pets, who do not understand why they are moving, and may have limited capacity to understand what has happened, moves can be particularly stressful.

This is most important for animals such and dogs and cats which often roam somewhat freely, be it inside or out. They will have a well-defined area of comfort and taking them out of it can be quite stressful for the animal. Additionally, if the move is long distance, there could be additional stress from travel, or adjusting to new weather or care.

Before you move, make sure you have a plan in place for your pet. Microchipping them or using some other tool to track them would be a good idea. The pet might not realize that this is its new home. From your dog’s perspective, he is in a strange new place, and he might wander off to go find what he thinks his home is. Make sure you have a good travel plan and have selected things like a veterinarian. Finally, make sure that the new home will be safe for your animal. Outdoor dangers might be different than what existed at your old residence, and there might be danger indoors as well. Make sure that your new storage places for things like chemical agents is in a place your pet will not be able to reach.

After the move, allow your animal some time to get accustomed to it’s new surroundings. For a dog, this could include spending time with your animal in the new area and allowing it to investigate. For other animals such as cats, you might simply need to keep a good eye on them for a while. Make sure that in the stress of the move you do not forget to feed your animal, as this can add to their stress and increase the likelihood that they wander off.

Spending quality time with your animal during the stressful move can be the best way to show them that everything is okay, and that you live here now. Animals can read our emotions somewhat, and when they see that we are relaxed, comfortable, and staying here permanently, they will begin to relax as well.

Budgeting for Home Ownership

by Karen Picarello


Home ownership can be an exciting time, particularly when it is your first. However, one thing that prospective homeowners sometimes underestimate is the financial burden a home can be. While owning a home is still a great investment usually, it will require considerable amounts of money to be spent upkeeping the property. This cost can increase drastically based on a few factors, so make sure you have a good idea of what you will be spending annually to keep your home valuable and safe.

  1. Taxes and Fees. Property taxes can be incredibly expensive. While you will need to investigate the expenses for owning property in your area, forgetting about them can be financial suicide. Sometimes, these will be bundled into your mortgage payments. Either way, make sure that you have a good idea of what you will be paying in property tax. Additionally, there may be things like homeowners association fees which eat into your budget.
  2. Upkeep. One of the major things new property owners tend to be surprised by is how much money needs to be spent on a house to keep it in good condition. Not only will you need to do things like keep the grounds clean, but you will periodically need electrical work, plumbing, roofing, and all appliances will need replacing and repair from time to time. A decent rule of thumb is to keep 2% of the value of the home as the expected yearly maintenance cost. However, if your home is older, or has other mitigating factors, this cost could be higher. A pool, or a large footprint could both increase cost.
  3. Finally, there will need to be expensive repairs which fall outside of normal upkeep which will need to happen periodically. A new roof, or kitchen is a good example. Sometimes, you will need to spend 10-20000 dollars or more at once to make a major repair. It is recommended that you put away a decent chunk of change so that when these large bills come due, you are able to pay them off immediately. A mortgage is generally a fairly reasonable loan, but if you are forced to put repairs on something like a credit card, you will quickly be racking up a lot of interest.

Before you purchase a home, make sure that you take into account more than just the sticker price when budgeting. If you do not have a strong consistent source of income, you may come to regret your purchase.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 58

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