Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 97

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.

To Rent or Not to Rent

by Karen Picarello

If you are considering investment rental property or want to convert your home into a rental, there are many things to consider. What sounds like an easy way to make money can turn out to be a disaster that ends with emotional and monetary loss. There are many things to consider when renting property, and here are a few ideas to get you started.

Rental Considerations

1. Whether or not to hire a property manager:

If you’ve never been a landlord, it can be a rude awakening. Even with background checks, it is amazing what damage “normal” people are capable of creating. Additionally, collecting rent, handling complaints, and handling evictions can be very stressful.

When a person only has one or two properties, a property manager may be a luxury, and one should only consider it if it works into a budget. Call a property manager, and get an estimate. If you are adding one more rental than you can reasonably handle, then it is essential to make this decision.

When deciding whether or not one wants to be landlord, one must consider the tough requirements. Are you willing to perform inspections? Are you willing to persist in payment collection? Most importantly, are you willing to evict a family who claims to be in financial distress? It may feel heartless, but a landlord who is not willing to run the rental like a business could end up in foreclosure and financial ruin.

2. Neighborhood:

If the neighborhood in which you are considering your rental is dirty and in disrepair, you will likely have a bad experience with tenants, or they won’t stay long.

Rental properties are often in low-income areas of town, so curb appeal matters both in how much you can charge and what type of people you will attract. Slumlords are a real thing, and you don’t have to abide by the stereotype. However, renting in low-income communities can be a challenge.

3. Surprise Expenses:

Lastly, rentals can be expensive, and you need to have a healthy reserve in order to handle surprise expenses. HVAC units and appliances can break. Plumbing can fail and cause water damage that may exceed the coverage of your insurance.

You must have a credit card or savings account with enough to cover your expenses, or your property will not be rentable. Like empty hotel rooms, empty rentals equal lost profits.

Renting is an excellent opportunity for many people, but those who go into it blindly may be disillusioned by the realities of investment rental properties.

5 Tips to Have Better Luck Selling Your Home

by Karen Picarello

There are a million tips that you can read about selling your home, but the truth is, there’s a bit of luck involved. Just like every other aspect of life, there are ways to improve your luck. Here are 5 tips to improving you luck selling your home.

1. Remove oddities:

You may be a bit eclectic, and so may the future homeowners. However, it is very unlikely that their eccentricities will match yours.

If you are a fan of garden gnomes and want to leave behind a legacy, make sure it is minimal. You don’t want potential homeowners to refer to your home as the “gnome house.” Likewise, weird window treatments or wall stencils should be removed prior to selling.

2. Paint in neutral:

Similar to removing oddities, you must get rid of trendy paint schemes. That burnt orange wall may look amazing with your home décor, but you don’t want it to deter a buyer with cool-toned furniture colors. Paint your walls a neutral color, so they are a blank slate for the next homeowner.

3. Invest in Landscaping:

Outside greenery makes a house inviting, and homeowners tend to disregard landscaping in favor of gardens and cost-savings. Invest in a landscaper to develop the exterior presentation of your home.

4. Insert life in the Interior:

One of the happening trends in home sales is a bowl or vessel full of lemons, and there is a reason for this. It introduces freshness into the home. It does not necessarily introduce the fresh scent of lemons into the home, but the visual speaks to all the senses. Likewise, any greenery you can put into the home helps homeowners to visualize their own lives there.

5. Minimize:

People who live minimalistic lives can get pretty particular when it comes to home items. However, most people who enter a home that is for sale want it to look like nobody lives there anymore. Family photos should be put away. Curio cabinets should be sparse. It should look like a picture from a home design magazine, not a home décor magazine. Allow the future inhabitants to envision it as their own space.

These are tried and true rules of selling a home. There are plenty of exceptions, but when you are selling, don’t try to be the exception. If you want to sell your home, make it appealing to the masses. Don’t try to attract the eccentric person who may or may not pass by.

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 97

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