Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 71-80 of 89

Looking For a Place for a Family?

by Karen Picarello

Family dynamics are often at the heart of home purchases. People might be looking to start a new family, and want a quiet place to start. They might have several kids, and are looking to expand so that everyone has enough room to grow comfortably.  Or maybe their old neighborhood just wasn’t safe enough for them to feel comfortable allowing their kids to roam free. Whatever the reason, many home buyers are looking to find neighborhood which are family friendly. But how do you find out if the neighborhood you are moving into will be a good fit for a family?

First, you can find a lot about a house without having to visit it at all. If you have the address, two critical things to look up are the crime rate, and the local schools. The crime rate should be a now brainer. If you are going to move somewhere, you should have a good idea of how safe the area is. Are you going to be comfortable with your children out at night? Or is it an area where you wont even want them around the neighborhood during the day? Living in a safer neighborhood will give you the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing everything that you can to provide a suitable environment for your children to grow.

The schools are also important. Top rated schools are great incentives to move in, and they can affect the value of local land. As both low crime rate and good schools are highly desirable, they can substantially increase the asking price for a home. However, they are absolutely worth it. Investing in your children’s future while also having an asset likely to appreciate is a great deal.

Next, check out the area in person. Showing up and driving around the neighborhood at all hours can help you get a great idea of the atmosphere. Are there college kids having loud block parties? Or are there parks filled with other children and community engagement? Understanding the demographics and culture in prospective neighborhoods will help you to obtain a good idea of whether you would live there. Additionally, figure out the distance to local attractions. Parks, community centers and pools, and other family friendly attractions can be a great incentive to move into a neighborhood. This scouting in person should be done more than once, making an effort to show up at different times of the day, or on weekends and weekdays.            

Why Do People Buy?

by Karen Picarello

As with any transaction, understanding what the buyer wants is a critical factor in how you should present and advertise your asset. Understanding what they are looking for is a great way to change your approach and emphasis, as well as a good way to prioritize any last-minute renovations before your listing. Therefore, let us review a few of the most common reasons that people buy a property.


In this article, we will ignore investment properties. Some people buy properties they have no intention of living in. Whether they are flippers, want to rent, or are interested in your home for another reason, their priorities are often different than the average buyer. For example, they might be looking more closely for things like easy renovations, or the ease of upkeep of the property.


When people go to buy a new home with the expectation of living in it, there are typically three different scenarios. First, people are looking to upgrade their standard of living. If they have been renting or living in a smaller house, they might eventually decide they want an upgrade. This could be because of financial success, leading to a desire to invest their larger income in a nicer place to stay, or even because of a growing family. Many times, couples will seek larger homes if they have several children, realizing that the additional space is necessary. To these people, the quality of living experience is the most important factor. They want a home which is pleasant to live in, which might have nearby amenities such as public schools, parks, or urban centers. Renovating your home or doing research on local activities and services can help you appeal to these buyers.


Others are buying a house for the opposite reason. Whether they are undergoing financial stress, no longer have a large household, or simply want a property which is less of a hassle to maintain, these buyers are focused on value. They want a property which they can get at a good price, but that will not significantly decrease their standard of living. Comparing your price to other nearby sales, or appearing to negotiate on price (build some negotiation room on your initial listing) can help you appeal to this buyer.


Finally, there are people moving for geographical reasons. Maybe they want to be closer to family, work, or simply want to live in a certain neighborhood. You can't change your location, obviously, but on your internet ads, use keywords which will be picked up by those far away, such as the names of local business centers.



3 Things to do Before Buying Your First House

by Karen Picarello

Home ownership is a goal for most Americans. But it is also at an all-time low. Millennials are waiting longer to accomplish traditional milestones of American life such as marriage, parenthood, and home buying. As surveys still show strong interest in eventual home ownership, it is likely that the next decade will see an increase in the percentage of home buyers who are looking to purchase a home for the first time. So, here are 3 things to keep in mind and accomplish before you go and try to buy your first home.

First, figure out what you can afford. With the great recession still fresh in public memory, I’m sure you all understand the importance of ensuring that you purchase a home that will be within your financial means. While it can certainly be tempting to go and purchase an expensive and large home, this could leave you very vulnerable to any unexpected financial costs. Even if you do manage to get approved for a loan, if you are spending the bulk of your monthly paychecks on your mortgage, your budget will feel very tight.

Second, figure out what you want. This can be more complicated than you might initially think. Homes are much more than simply their interior and exterior. Sure, it is important to have good ideas about things like size, design, and layout, but you will also want to examine the neighborhood and location. Finding a good home in a neighborhood where you are comfortable can lead to a much better living experience than a great one in a neighborhood that doesn’t match up with your goals. For example, if you are looking to have children, nearness to parks and public areas might be a consideration. Additionally, you should look at schools in the area around your prospective future homes. A bad school can certainly be a deal breaker.

Third, and finally, get your finances in order. This means more than just having a job with steady income. Pay down your loans, and try to make sure that your credit cards are mostly paid off. Avoid purchases that will require a credit check, as this can sometimes hurt your score. Also, collect pay stubs. You will want to not only be able to show that you are making money, but that you have a history of making money. Showing this dependable income can be a huge factor in getting a loan. Finally, save a down payment, to show lenders that you are serious about this purchase. 

Finding Value in Real Estate

by Karen Picarello

Real estate can be more than just a place to live. For many people, it can be a way to make money, an investment, or even a hobby. No matter your walk in life, looking at real estate in terms of more than your living needs is a great way to further your financial stability and diversify your income. However, I would caution against any thought that it is easy or completely safe to make money in real estate. Here are a few different ways to look at real estate as an investment, as well as a few cautions to keep in mind.

Rental Properties

It seems like everyone wants to have a rental property nowadays. And the thought is certainly appealing. At its best, it allows you to hold an appreciating asset while getting monthly payments to offset your purchasing costs. However, getting a loan to purchase an investment property such as this is not always easy. And a loan will be necessary unless you have substantial liquid assets. Secondly, most people wanting to be landlords forget about the amount of work that goes into maintaining a successful rental. Not only will you be required to provide substantial amounts of expertise and labor, but maintaining tenants will have its own sets of challenges. You can’t buy a property and simply expect money to start coming in every month. There will be insurance, financial, and legal steps to take before you can even consider finding a tenant. And once you do, you will have to deal with them. Hopefully they will be respectful and prompt with payments, but this is not always the case, and you should be prepared for the worst.

Flipping Houses

Another common method for using the real estate market to earn money, some people look to buy properties with the intent to resell them for a higher price, typically within a year of purchase. Flippers will typically renovate the property, although what this entails can vary wildly depending on the person in question. Again, this is not a risk free or easy endeavor. You will need to be quite knowledgeable about many types of renovating work if you plan on doing it yourself, or have a sizeable budget if looking to pay a contractor. Additionally, you will need to avoid downturns in the housing market, as these can drastically decrease your chances of reselling at good value. 

3 Mistakes when selling a home

by Karen Picarello


While realtors and experienced sellers are quite aware of difficulties involved with selling a home, first time buyers and sellers make up a substantial portion of the market. First time sellers have a lot to learn, and getting help from a reputable agent can drastically affect their experience. With that said, here are a few things that many inexperienced sellers do which can drastically decrease the likelihood that they sell their house quickly and at a good price.

  1. Dishonesty. Sometimes, sellers are aware of problems with their house, but they are not willing to admit these problems to potential buyers. For example, sellers might be aware that there is un permitted electrical work, a leaky roof, or a defective duct somewhere. While disclosing this can decrease the appeal of your property, failure to disclose could cause more damaging problems down the line. For example, disclosing the problems with your house could mean that you will need to concede slightly on the price of the house, but if you fail to disclose, when it comes out in the home inspection, the buyer is likely to react even more negatively. This could mean that you get fewer offers, pushing your home even further below market value.
  2. Being Unwilling to Negotiate. Another common problem first time sellers have is that they are unwilling to budge on their initial asking price.  While you may want to get a good price for your house, failing to understand the purpose of your initial offer will decrease your ability to sell effectively. When pricing your initial offer, there are two factors which you must balance with the help of a professional. Lowering your initial asking price will generate interest, possibly creating bidding and certainly letting you sell more rapidly. Raising your initial asking price means that you will have less initial interest, but that you will be able to negotiate and make the buyer feel that they are getting a deal, while still getting the price you want.
  3. Vetting Potential Buyers. While a first time seller may be at a loss for what is considered polite or normal, failing to properly vet your potential buyers could cost you. Seeing if they are pre approved for a loan, or looking at their ability to pay will be key in whether or not you should be willing to sign a contract with them Take the time to ensure that you properly examine any potential buyer before you sign anything.


Top 7 Things Home-buyers Are Looking For

by Karen Picarello

As times change, so do the needs and desires of each generation of new homeowners. What might be a necessity in a home a generation ago might be an afterthought today. Additionally, changes in public attitudes and wealth distribution can alter the priorities of those looking to buy a home. Here are the top 7 things that potential buyers are looking for when they shop for a new home. 
1. Outdoor Spaces
While millennials are certainly bucking the previous generational trends of settling down quickly (getting married, buying a home, having children), they are often more conscientious than previous generations about what they want. The importance of outdoor spaces has been rising when home-buyers are asked about their list of essential features. While you cant do much to change whether or not you have them, there is a lot you can do to improve what you have. Making it welcoming, clean, and safe are all easy ways to increase the appeal of your outdoors.
2. Laundry Room
This item frequently tops surveys of most desired features of a new house. Having a place to clean and store your clothing is a luxury appreciated by many. If you do not have one, they can be surprisingly affordable to add to a house, although this will depend on existing spaces and utility lines. 
3. Technology Integration
The growth of smart technology has many homeowners and prospective buyers excited. Whether it is the added security of being able to monitor your home while away, or the convenience of adjusting temperature and appliances from your phone, the addition of smart technology to a home can be a huge selling point, and can really incentivise buyers to see themselves living there.  
4. Modern Kitchens
Beautiful kitchens and bathrooms sell homes, and so its no surprise to see this on the list. Having a spacious and modern kitchen which is well lit and attractive can be a big plus for potential buyers. Therefore, paying to upgrade or renovate an older design can really increase the demand and appeal of your property. Taking the time to ensure that your kitchen is going to wow potential buyers will almost certainly reward you when you are selling.
5. Work spaces
As the internet grows, more and more people are doing business through it, it is becoming more and more common for people to do some or all of their work from their home. Accommodating this trend will help endear your space to a potential buyer. If they see areas which can quickly be converted into a home office, this will reassure them that the house is right. 

External Improvements

by Karen Picarello

One great area to improve when looking help your house sell fast is the outside. While you want your house to be clean, recently painted, and give off a good first impression, many people spend a lot of time and money renovating their interior spaces, while simultaneously neglecting their landscaping and external décor. And because the first thing that potential buyers will see when coming to check out your property is the exterior, it could cost you to neglect it. Not only will the exterior feature prominently on any advertisements, but the first and last impressions visitors get will stick with them. So, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your exterior spaces.


First, no dead plants. This can mean anything from that old rhododendron which is mostly brown, to dead grass, or even to clippings which are strewn about. Replacing these with vibrant greenery can really help to sell your home. You want potential buyers to be envisioning an idyllic life here, and reminding them of the difficulties involved with home maintenance can burst that daydream. So, pay a landscaper or do the work yourself, but make sure that all unsightly plants have been disposed of.

Second, make a plan whereby your landscaping can be improved. Even if it’s just consulting with a landscaper about what you can do, getting a professional opinion on how to improve your landscaping can be invaluable. A few hours of time from a professional will be completely worth your while if it helps your house to sell. An experienced landscaper will have a good idea of what looks good, how to work with your local topography and climate, and how much it will cost you to make changes. If you want to get value out of your house, is one of the cheapest and most cost effective ways to do so. There are few things that can dramatically change the way a house is perceived like changing the landscaping. High quality green landscaping can change an “older” house to a “charming” one.

Finally, put in some external décor. Things like benches can really help a visitor to feel at home in your garden or outdoor area. Picking new and clean décor to furnish your exterior can make a marked difference in the way that your house is perceived. Therefore, putting benches, paving stones, and other decorative elements can really help your house to sell faster. 

Timing Your Sale

by Karen Picarello

One challenging obstacle to people who own a house but are considering moving is the timing of their purchase. When looking to change homes, it is critical that your timing be correct. The two main factors in a sale are ensuring that you are not without a house for too long, and that you are able to get the funds from your old house in a timely manner. If you are unable to sell your old house, or end up struggling to buy a new one, you could end up in a sticky situation.


While it would be unpleasant to end up out of a home for a period of time, this is a better situation than having a home you are attempting to buy but being unable to sell your old one. Thankfully, there can be provisions in any contract which stipulate the contingency that your other plans go through. For this reason, it is recommended that you begin the process of finding a new home once you have listed the home that you own. Then, you can include clauses which stipulate that you must find a new home in x number of days in order for the sale to be completed.

This also gives you additional negotiating power when looking to purchase your new home. If you have the cash from the sale of your old home ready, you can use that fluidity to strengthen your offer. The reverse of this situation means that you will be desperate to close the sale on your old house, weakening your ability to negotiate for the highest price. So it is almost always best to list your old house before taking steps to purchase a new one. Once you are confident in the selling of your owned property, you can move forward easily and comfortably onto the purchase of a new property.


Additionally, it is important to have an idea of what the local housing market looks like. Understanding whether buyers or sellers have an advantage will help you to negotiate your contracts and plan your listings properly. In this situation, it is best to get professional advice from an experienced realtor. A strong understanding of the local housing market and current market conditions will put you in a much better position when negotiating. Therefore, before taking any steps, it is important to find an experienced realtor who will be able to guide you through the process.


Should I Paint Before Selling?

by Karen Picarello

Painting a house can drastically change the appeal, many sellers wonder if their house will need a fresh coat of paint before putting it on the market. However, most homeowners will have a lot on their plate when getting ready to sell, and repainting an entire house can be quite expensive. So it can certainly be easier to simply decide that the house is fine without a new paint job.

Exterior Paint

An exterior paint job is one of the absolute best ways for you to make an older house look more appealing. A house that hasn’t been painted for 25+ years will have a noticeably shabbier exterior than a house with a current paint job. And this initial view that your potential buyers will get can drastically change their opinion of the house. If the paint job is deteriorating, they will suspect that the rest of the house is in poor condition as well. I have seen noticeable differences in buyer reactions to the same house before and after a paint job, and in nearly every case, buyers who view the house after the fresh coat of paint will be more lenient in their assessment of the condition of the rest of the house. So of your outside paint looks terrible and is deteriorating, it’s almost certainly worth it to go and pay for a fresh coat, or at least a touch up.

However, if your house has a more recent paint job, it can still benefit from an examination. If it was painted in the last ten years, it is likely that the paint is still in good condition. However, it is quite possible that the paint is dirty, which can dull the colors. Fixing this will be much cheaper than a new coat of paint. When safe, using a pressure washer or hiring an exterior cleaning company to clean off your paint can drastically and cheaply increase the curb appeal of your home.

In other words, unless your paint is brand new and shining, it is most likely worth it to put some effort into sprucing up your exterior. The only thing left is to ensure that your paint job is done well. So, pick a color which is appealing and matches your neighborhood, and hire a professional. Figure out what other people have done successfully in your area, and don’t be afraid to take their ideas. 

House With a Pool: Dream Home or Not?

by Karen Picarello

When buying a house, one thing that inexperienced home buyers love is the presence of a pool. It can be incredibly motivating, as a potential buyer can envision themselves and their friends cooling off and partying in privacy. However, as anyone with a pool knows, they can be a headache to maintain. Not only will you have to pay for maintenance and repair, but there are insurance ramifications and ancillary costs associated with owning a pool which can cause serious financial frustration for an unsuspecting homeowner. So, is a pool worth it? And if you don’t have one, is it a good investment to have one installed?

The first thing to look at when you are considering a pool, is the age of the pool. If you are installing a new one, the materials used and the quality of the installation will be relevant. A newer or well-maintained system will cost you less in repairs and will have fewer unexpected expenses for maintenance. An older pool with cracks or leaks could be a hugely expensive drain on your finances. So, like the rest of the house, make sure that you are quite aware of the condition of the pool before buying.

Secondly, pools can cause insurance liability. If you have a pool, insurance companies will be likely to increase your payments. Not only is a pool potentially expensive to repair, but there is the potential for a very expensive payout if someone dies in the pool and their family sues you. This means that a pool could increase your insurance payments drastically, depending on your situation. Additionally, if you have young children or people who are unable to swim, you might need to install some type of fence or cover to protect them.

Therefore, while a pool can increase the value of a home, the upkeep and ancillary costs can mean that installing a pool does not end up making you money in the long term. However, it can increase the appeal of your house to buyers, and might mean that your house sells faster. So, while pools may not necessarily be a very solid financial investment, if you will get a lot of enjoyment out of a pool, you might find it worth it. Pools should be viewed as an expense that can increase your quality of life, and if you are willing to spend that money, you can have a great experience. 

Displaying blog entries 71-80 of 89

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