Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 46

Negotiating Closing as the Buyer

by Karen Picarello

If you are purchasing a house, closing should be a time for you to begin to breathe a sigh of relief. Once you close, you can finally begin checking off the things which need to be done for good. This should be your first step towards normalcy and making sure it goes smoothly is very important. Not only could delays elevate your stress, but they could have significant financial repercussions as well. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that you close your purchase successfully.

  1. Money. By law, you should be informed a day or more in advance the exact amount which will be needed to close the sale. You should arrive with the money ready and talk with the closing agent about how you will be paying. All talking with your lender should be accomplished well before closing, and you should be certain that you are absolutely prepared here. One of the most common reasons for closing complications is that the buyer does not have their finances in order.
  2. Verify the Condition of the Property. You should have a good idea of what has been happening on your new property as you approach closing. Ideally, the seller will be completely moved out, and will have honored any contracts they made with you prior to the purchase. You may need to carry out a final inspection before closing to see that everything is in order. Similarly, consulting an attorney and a realtor to make sure that you have covered your bases properly can help give you the peace of mind that there will not be any unpleasant surprises upon your attempt to move in to the property.
  3. Homework. Before you arrive, you should have a good idea of what papers will be signed, and what they mean. This is where an attorney can be very useful, as sometimes you may struggle to wade through the legalese. If you know what to expect going in, they you can be assured that you do not sign anything that you will come to regret. Additionally, make sure you know where you will need to be, who will be there, and have a complete list of all the other things (such as ID) that you will need to bring. Discussing this with the closing agent well ahead of time will be your best bet of making sure that you are 100 percent prepared to close smoothly.

How to Ensure Your Closing Goes Smoothly as a Seller

by Karen Picarello


Closing can be an exciting yet stressful time. You have spent months, or maybe longer talking to professionals, conducting repairs, figuring out your next living arrangements, and moving your belongings. Now, you have a customer, have agreed on a price and sale date, and all you need to do is finalize the paperwork and transfer ownership of the house to the buyer. If all goes as planned, you can use the money from the sale to pay off your next financial obligations or any outstanding mortgages on the property and wash your hands of the whole business. However, there is no guarantee everything will go as planned. Here are a few things you can do as a seller to make sure that closing happens as easily and problem free as possible.  

  1. 1. First, make sure you have upheld any deals you made with the buyer. For example, any repairs which need to happen should be taken care of, and you should be able to document them. The buyer should be assured that you have done everything promised. No buyer wants to move in only to find out that promised repairs were not conducted, or that all of your personal belongings were not removed from the property. If they discover this on closing or afterwards, the closing could be delayed, or you could end up dealing with a lawsuit. Honesty between buyer and seller with documentation is the best way to protect yourself and make sure things go smoothly.  

  1. 2. Second, make sure all of your paperwork is in order. This will mean communicating with all of the entities involved in the sale, such as your realtor and lender. Ensuring that all paperwork is prepared correctly will prevent any last-minute issues on your side from delaying the process. Delays can be costly as well, particularly if you are looking to quickly turn around and use the cash from the home sale to finance the purchase of another property.  

  1. 3. Finally, ensure that you have a place to stay and that your plans of "what to do next" are finalized. Sometimes, the reason closing is delayed is that a seller has sudden last-minute worries. Make sure these are taken care of well in advance, as this can sometimes make a deal fall through. If you want to have things happen as smoothly as possible, you should be out of the house completely well before closing has finished.  

Selling A House in A Busy Area?

by Karen Picarello

One factor which may play an important role in the sale process of your home is its location with respect to heavy traffic. If you are near a busy road, or have some other local factor which might negatively affect the property value, your marketing can play an important role in your likelihood of having a good sale.

One of the major factors which can deter potential buyers is the noise they hear while inside the home. A loud road nearby is a great example of something which can be very loud, and there is very little that you can do to move the road. This will also be the case if you are near another transportation hub, such as an airport or a train track.

There are a few things which you can do to help mitigate noise. Solid insulation and windows can be installed which help to keep things quiet indoors. Exterior foliage and interior drapery can also be useful in managing noise. These can and should absolutely be investigated for use. If you are able to show that the noise is hardly audible at all while inside, you can help to assure potential buyers that they will not be disturbed. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to remove all negative noises or concerns.

The key to selling a property near one of these areas is to focus on the positive aspects of the area. If you are close to a transportation hub, it can seriously cut down on travel time. Furthermore, this land could have extra value due to its proximity to important functions. Should local business want to expand, your land could be valuable to them, and this can help you to negotiate a higher price.

Additionally, your busy location could help to advertise the property. If you are putting up a sign, putting it in an area where many people will see it can only help. While not everyone will be interested in the downsides of your property, this large pool of potential buyers should be able to supply some of those for whom the positives outweigh the negatives. Target your advertising to those who are likely to prioritize the proximity to important locations, and who may not be worried about the potential downsides, such as the noise or the proximity of fast moving traffic to their children.

Embracing Online Tools

by Karen Picarello


Everyone is using the internet nowadays, and with the prevalence of smartphones, we are quickly becoming more connected than ever. This revolution in communication and entertainment has drastically changed the way that consumers shop. Not only are people buying things like cameras, clothing, and books online, but they also make decisions about major purchases while having consulted only digital sources.  

If you are trying to sell your home successfully, using the internet is going to be a necessity. Modern home buyers do a huge percentage of their research and decision making online. And while they will always wait till they inspect the house in person to make their final decision, sometimes you won't even get the chance if your online listing doesn’t impress them. In other words, the in-person visit should help to clinch the sale, but you need to get them there and looking first.  

One of the most important parts of this listing is to ensure that you have good quality photographs for the listing. Look at the listings posted by agents you are considering hiring. Are the photographs flattering and impressive? A skilled and experienced agent will know that if they themselves are not skilled photographers, a professional will need to be hired. Real professionals not only know their stuff, but also know what stuff they need help with to ensure the final product will shine.  

Not only will you need to craft an attractive and powerful online listing, but it will need to be visible to anyone browsing for homes in the area. This is where your agent can really shine. They will know how people in the area look for properties. If they are skilled at SEO, then they will be able to ensure that their site will be accessible and visible to potential customers. Finally, they will be able to ensure that your listing is distributed across all of the sites to which it is relevant.  

Failure to understand and properly utilize the internet will only stymie your efforts to sell your house quickly and for a good price. Modern home-buyers typically want to get information quickly, easily, and professionally. Because so much shopping and research is done nowadays from behind a computer or tablet screen, those who are the fastest to adapt will be the ones who reap the benefits. Make certain that if you hire an agent, you find one who truly understands the importance of creating and maintaining an impressive web presence for your property.  

Underwater on your Home?

by Karen Picarello

One of the scariest things for a homeowner to face is the possibility of being underwater on your home loan. This means you are on a situation where you owe more for the house than the house is currently worth. During the most recent housing crisis, this unfortunate situation became the reality for a large number of Americans. Thankfully, as the market has improved since then, the number of people in this situation has declined. However, there are still individuals who are struggling after finding themselves in this position. If this is you, here are a few options you have.

  1. The most obvious action to take is to stay, keep paying, and hope that the value of the house improves. If you can make it through the period where the house is worth less than the loan, you can avoid potential credit consequences, and also end  up not losing money on the home when you do sell it. There can be negatives here though. If the property does not go up in value, you may end up in a financially untenable position for an even longer period of time.
  2. Refinance. While classically it can be difficult to refinance if you have negative equity, there are some options. The federal government implemented HARP, or the Home Affordable Refinance Program during the recession, and there are still some people who qualify, despite the fact that it was initially intended to end fairly quickly. Depending on when you got your loan, refinancing may not be completely out of the question.
  3. The third option is a short sale. This refers to selling the house for less than you owe. While this can be an unpleasant reality to face, this can allow the homeowner to drastically reduce their debt, and move forward into a situation which is affordable for them. If you can move into a place where you will be more financially stable, and you need to solve your debt issues quickly, this can be your best option. Additionally, this might be the only thing which saves you from bankruptcy or foreclosure.
  4. Finally, you may be forced into one of these options. Bankruptcy or foreclosure are sometimes incredibly difficult things to get through, but are sometimes the only option. If you are at the point where this might happen, consulting legal help is often the best choice. It isn’t pleasant, but it can be the thing which gets you away from an untenable situation.

Appraisal, what is your house worth?

by Karen Picarello

If you are entertaining thoughts of potentially selling your property, I'm sure you are quite interested in understanding how much money you will be able to obtain from the sale. Not only will this be critical in helping you plan your next move, but it also might determine whether you wish to go through with a sale at all.

A professional appraisal of the property can be a fairly reasonable way of obtaining a dollar amount, but potential sellers might shy away from this course of action for a number of reasons, which I will address later. If you want to get a quick estimate yourself, your best bet is by comparing your home to other homes which have sold recently in the area. Figuring out exactly what others have been willing to pay for similar properties is the most objective way of guessing what the market value of the home is, and appraisers and real estate agents will often use this method as part of their calculations. Ideally, you could find a house very similar to yours which is very close to yours, which has sold recently. However, this can be difficult. Not only will the two homes need to have similar square footage in order to be directly compared, but things like the number of rooms, (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc), amenities (pools, outbuildings, gazebos), and exterior space must also be similar. Finally, things like the condition of the property (electrical system, roof, plumbing) etc can all drastically affect how much it is worth. If many repairs are needed, the value can plummet. Therefore, if you really want to figure out how much you are likely to get for your property, contacting local real estate professionals is likely your best bet. They will be familiar with other sales in the area, and likely have a great deal of experience when it comes to obtaining realistic estimates of what an appraisal could come out to.


Hiring a professional appraiser could net you a realistic appraisal, but could also leave you with problems. If you are not adequately prepared, an appraisal could come in lower than you expect. This might leave lenders or potential buyers wary, and unlikely to offer the price you are hoping for. Additionally, you might end up footing a rather extensive bill, depending on their policy and the services rendered. Either way, if you are considering selling your home, call an experienced real estate professional, and start gathering information.


Competition for Property

by Karen Picarello

Things have value because we give them value. The only value intrinsic to a house is that people want them. If we are looking to buy a property, we can have a reasonable expectation that in 10, 20 or 30 years, people will still want houses, property, and that your house will still fit the bill. However, there are a few factors which go in to property sales that may reflect more than a simple assessment of what people are willing to pay.

One factor which can affect the price of a house are the regulations governing who is allowed to purchase the house, and what aid or penalties their purchase will fall under. For example, the American real estate market is often invested in by foreign entities. Recognizing the stability of the market, those with capital from other areas of the world seek to make investments in US residential and commercial properties. While someone selling a property might rejoice that this extra competition will drive up the price, there are others who might have different opinions. For example, Chinese investors have traditionally had a large presence in U.S. housing markets, particularly luxury properties. However, the Chinese government has begun to restrict this, seeking to stem the flow of wealth out of their country.  Alternatively, some local governments have put restrictions on foreign buyers, often passing regulation requiring properties to be inhabited, or putting the properties at risk of being taxed heavily.

This can be good for the locals however. While it initially might seem good that foreign money could prop up the home value in your area, it can also decrease the quality of life for those who stay. Property taxes could rise as the home value does, while empty homes owned by foreign millionaires sit unused for much of the year. This can hurt a community, as not only do empty homes attract crime, but also mean that you will have fewer neighbors with whom to engage. Many studies have connected happiness and fulfillment to community engagement, so taking away the opportunity to socialize could seriously impact your quality of life.

While it is likely that the global economy will only become more connected, it is still important that we stay aware of the trends which will impact us. Understanding the interests involved in real estate investing can help you to better understand the value of your own property, and can hopefully help you to make the best financial choices for your situation.

Fees, Taxes, and Unexpected Costs

by Karen Picarello

One of the most frustrating things a homebuyer or seller might experience when attempting to make a real estate transaction are all of the small costs which you will incur during the duration of the process.  Unexpected or larger than expected financial burdens can end up making the entire process much more expensive than you had originally planned for. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make sure that you don’t end up going far over budget.

The first thing you will need to do is consult the experts. Experienced realtors, legal professionals, and financiers will all have gone through this process many times before, and can be a great source of knowledge about what to expect. Working closely with your realtor can help you to get a list of potential expenses which you can budget for. Additionally, making sure all paperwork and payments are done promptly and correctly can help you to avoid unexpected fees. Employing experts who have experience and will get things right the first time will not only save you time, but area also likely to save you money in the long run. Penalties, taxes, and fees can be levied if certain items are not handled correctly and professionally. You could even end up losing a buyer if you fail to fulfill your parts of the transaction expeditiously.

While gathering this type of general information can be very useful, you will also need to make sure that you gather the information relevant to your specific situation. For example, if you are selling a home, make sure that you conduct a reasonably thorough home inspection fairly early on. Knowing the condition and marketability of things like the roof, the electrical system, and the plumbing can help you estimate how much money you will need to spend in order to make the property marketable.

Buying or selling a house can be a stressful time, and you will certainly want to make sure that it is done correctly the first time. When it comes to budgeting expensive properly and avoiding unnecessary delays or payments, your number one priority should be consulting experienced professionals who will be capable and motivated to move things through as quickly and prudently as possible. Second, you should be making sure that once you have a good idea of what expenses there will be, that you are prepared for them and have money put aside.

Buying Property Abroad

by Karen Picarello

For those who have the money, real estate abroad can be an attractive purchase. There are a number of reasons why such a purchase might be appealing. First, there is the obvious use as a vacation home. For this reason, many wealthy people own or rent properties which are located near prominent vacation and tourist destinations. Alternatively, foreign real estate can be an investment, and a way to diversify your assets.

However, if you are looking to make a real estate purchase, it will be important to do it correctly. First, you will need experts to ensure that your assets are managed well. If you know someone who has property in the area, talking to them about their experience will be very helpful. You might want to talk to your realtor as well and find out what their advice is. If they do not have expertise, they might be able to recommend someone who does.

Before going forward with a purchase, you should do your research on the area and the property. Visit the property, and conduct your own inspection. Don’t just inspect the property, look through the surrounding areas. How are the roads? Crime? What is the access to things like groceries or hospitals? How reliable are the electrical and plumbing systems?

Once you are satisfied with the property, go ahead and start preparing for the purchase. You will need legal and real estate experts who are familiar with the local laws governing the ownership of property. This can be complicated, so don’t use someone inexperienced. For example, Foreigners are famously not allowed to purchase property in certain restricted ones in Mexico. Usually, this means that they are prohibited from buying beachfront property. However, this can be worked around. A trust can be set up, with you as the owner, and ownership of the property can be given to the trust. Easy if you know what you are doing, but failing to research this could leave you in a horrible position.

Finally, you will need to consult your real estate and financial experts at home. There can be tax and legal changes depending on where and how expensive your property is. Knowing how this purchase will affect things like your taxes in the next year will help you better plan your finances. As long as you make sure to consult experts in both your country of residence, and the country in which you are purchasing, you should have a good experience.

Home Staging before a Sale

by Karen Picarello

If you are looking to sell your house quickly and for a good price, you will absolutely want to make sure visitors have a good impression. One of the things which is frequently talked about is curb appeal: making sure you have good landscaping, a fresh paint job, and no detritus lying about. However, another important thing to do when looking to sell is to stage the house in a way that will be appealing to the potential buyer.

If you are moving out well before you hope to sell, this can be easy. Many companies offer furniture rentals for staging purposes, and most realtors will have a good idea of where to look to get a good deal here. However, it is important not to skimp on this. The reality is, the more a buyer loves the house, the more they will be willing to shell out to ensure that they get the property. Just as you might shower, put on makeup, or dress up well before going on a date or to an important meeting, your house should similarly be looking its best. Humans are irrational creatures, and if you can make them fall in love, they will overlook all kinds of problems.

However, if you will not be moved out while the house is showing, you will need to be very thoughtful in how you go about showing the house. It may still be worth your time to rent at least some furniture and décor, just to spruce up areas which may be optimized for living in rather than presenting. Just as food advertisers use all sorts of tricks to make a burger look delicious in a photo, a skilled home seller can make your home look appealing to a buyer. And, just as those advertisers do things to the burger which might make it less edible, such as applying makeup, you may need to make some adjustments to how your furniture is arranged, even if this is less pleasant for you. The end goal is to get you out of the house as quickly as possible, for the best price that people will offer. A month of two of mild discomfort is easily worth a quick sale for a good price. Soon you will be living in your new home, and maybe you can use some of that cash to improve your comfort there.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 46

Contact Information

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