Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

First Time Homebuyers?

by Karen Picarello


First time homebuyers are an important part of the housing market. If you want to purchase you first home soon, or want to find a way to move towards home ownership, this will be a good post for you. I’ll just put down a brief list of tips which I think will be helpful in your journey.

  1. Get started now. No matter when you think you will be ready to get a house, you should already have your eyes open and be taking steps to realize your goal. Getting started in the winter could give you the chance to examine homes on the market when there is less competition. Motivated sellers who are looking to liquidate their property might be more willing to give you a good deal due to the normal downturn in home sales in the winter. Even if you are not planning on buying soon, it will be good for you to start getting ideas of what type of house you want, what different houses in your area might cost, and the process you will need to follow to purchase a home.
  2. Do your homework. When you get started, it will take a lot more than simply finding the correct house, signing some papers, and moving in. Buying a home is a much more involved process than renting. You will want to do your research on loans available, and ideally will be able to get preapproved for a loan. Having preapproval can be a wonderful tool which helps your search. Either way, make sure you understand all of the different steps you will need to take. Additionally, finding a good real estate agent can be helpful. While this is necessary for sellers, even buyers can benefit from the advice of an experienced professional, and this is particularly true for first time buyers. Having someone who understands the process, and who has your interests at heart can drastically change your buying experience. Don’t be afraid to invest a bit of money in ensuring that your first home purchase goes off smoothly.
  3. Finally, don’t get too attached to any one property. Remember that you will have many opportunities to find a good deal, and that few things can taint a pleasant house as the knowledge that you paid far more than it was worth. Keep your cool, and always take your time to think things over.



Check Mortgage Overlays

by Karen Picarello

When looking to buy a home, getting approved for a loan can be one of the most frustrating and stressful parts of the process. Many people do not understand the factors that will be at play, and can struggle to get a good idea of their prospects for receiving a loan. One thing that all potential home buyers should be looking at are the factors which determine who is eligible to receive a loan: the mortgage overlay.

Mortgage overlays are the rules and guidelines that lenders use when evaluating potential candidates for loans. There can be several layers of these if you are looking to get a loan. For example, many loans are set up by the federal government, but the federal government is not the entity actually giving the loan. The government sets up its requirements for loan eligibility, and then passes these down to the lenders. The lenders then have a minimum for the loan requirements. If you want that loan: you have to meet those requirements. The requirements are often things such as minimum credit scores, down payment requirements, and documentation.

However, the lender has the option to add more stringent requirements to the loans it disburses. Individuals may then have to meet a higher level of financial security in order to qualify for a certain loan from a certain lender. This means that even though you may meet the federal requirements for the loan, you still can be denied if your lender has additional requirements.

You can use this knowledge to your advantage. If you are looking to get a loan, having conversations with multiple possible lenders can help increase your chances of being successfully approved. Finding out what types of requirements will be needed to have a good chance of securing a loan from a particular lender and comparing these to those other lenders look for can give you the best chance of applying for a loan from a lender who will be examining your financial strengths.

Many people get caught up in the excitement of looking for a new property, and forget that a lot of the time, having a good outcome is the result of meticulous planning and preparation. Mortgages can be with you for a very long time, so it is in your best interest to take the time and do your due diligence in terms of understanding what you can do to get the best possible loan. 

Time vs Money when Selling Your Home

by Karen Picarello

Buying or selling a home is potentially one of the most important financial decisions you can make in your life. For most people, you will be dealing with sums of money that represent a considerable financial burden. Unless you are very wealthy, you are likely to devote a large portion of your lifetime earnings to your home. When you are buying a home, it is important to choose a property that will fit your needs and budget. But when you are selling a home, you are in a different position. There are two factors you will need to consider when selling a home, and you will need to choose which one is more valuable to you.

When selling, you will need to choose to value either time or money. If you want to sell your house quickly, you will need to drop the price a bit, and potentially spend money on trying to advertise or find buyers. If you want to get as much money as is possible from the property, you will likely need to be more patient.

One thing you should always do is make sure that your sales agent is qualified and experienced. As a seller, you are unlikely to be experienced in selling properties. Most people do not buy and sell properties regularly, and so they are unable to accrue the experience necessary to properly asses their situation. Therefore, in order to understand the nuances of the real estate market and the peculiarities of the market at any given time, you will need to find an experienced and qualified realtor who can walk you through the process.

However, while you are not an expert in home sales, you are an expert on your own priorities. Ideally, the realtor can provide you with enough relevant information that you can make an educated decision about what strategy you should use when selling your property.

In my experience, unless you have considerable financial reserves, it is usually best to attempt to sell your property reasonably soon. As many people who are selling a house are also looking to buy one soon after, getting your old property sold will be an important step in securing the capital for your next property. If your capital is still tied up in the old property, you may end up facing additional fees, delays, and may even fail to close on the house you want. 

Beyond the Home

by Karen Picarello

When buying a home, some people end up looking at little more than the property, and its location in relation to important locations, such as school, work, and shopping. However, there is much more to home location than simply its geographical proximity to the places you will be visiting. One oft forgotten facet of home buying, is that you will want to be familiar with all local laws, codes, and associated regulations which might impact your life while living on the property.

For example, one local entity which might have a large impact on your enjoyment of the property might be a homeowners association. If your property falls in a neighborhood with an HOA, you should do some research on what to expect. HOA’s vary greatly, and just because you had a certain experience with one before, does not mean your experience with another will be comparable. So do some research. Talk to neighbors, and look at what you will be agreeing to if you move into the neighborhood. Some people love HOA’s, and some hate them, but few things can impact your happiness of a freshly bought home as quickly as the realization that the HOA in your neighborhood is a bad fit for you.

Similarly, there are other considerations involved. Local laws will need to be observed. This can be a larger or smaller deal, depending on where you are coming from. If you are moving internationally to a vastly different country, you can expect local laws and regulations to be much different from what you are accustomed to. Again, doing research and ensuring that you will be able to follow these regulations without conflict will be key in helping make your move pleasant. This continues up to the state level. How will the taxes in the area affect your lifestyle? When moving place to place, failing to take into account changes such as these can cause people to undergo unexpected financial hardship.

A final thing to note is that you will want to fit in with your community. I mentioned earlier that you should talk to your neighbors to get a good idea on how the neighborhood will fit with you. Show up at random hours, and watch the activity. Talk with people as they go about. Taking the time to really scout out a potential property is much much more than simply looking at the property itself. 

How A Seller's Agent Helps Sell your Home

by Karen Picarello

If you have ever gone through a home sale, you have nearly certainly been represented by or worked with a real estate agent. When conducting a transaction as massive as that of a home, employing a professional to guide you through the process is always a good idea. But, those unfamiliar with homes sales often have misconceptions about how much a real estate agent actually does during the sale process. Here are a few of the things that real estate agents will do to help make sure that your home sells.

  1. Make your House Appealing. One of the things that an agent will do is focus on getting the best possible price for your home. Their financial responsibility will be to get the best possible price in the shortest time frame possible. The more money you make on the sale, they better they will do, because most real estate agents work on a percent based commission. Therefore, understanding the difference between the different strategies used to make a house attractive, and deciding which to use in this particular case will be very helpful in selling your property. From strategy, to furniture and décor, outdoor landscaping, and other preparatory processes, figuring out how to make your home as appealing as possible is best done by an expert.
  2. Advertise the listing. One of the major duties of a real estate agent is ensuring that potential buyers are exposed to the property. You might have a gorgeous property at a good price, but if no buyers understand that it is on the market, you will never sell. The more people you can have looking at the property, the more people there will be giving offers and potentially driving up your sale price. More advertising means a faster, better sale.
  3. Take care of red tape and paperwork. The sale of a home involves filling out a lot of paperwork, and following local and federal rules for the transaction. This is an area where if you are not experienced, you might stumble in your attempt to get everything done correctly and in a timely manner. Having a professional who is familiar with the process helping you can be the difference between it being a fairly easy and painless process, and a long protracted procedure with many setbacks and problems which persist later on and potentially years after the sale. 

How A Buyer's Agent can Help You

by Karen Picarello

While negotiating any real estate transaction, whether it be your first home purchase, or one of many, you can nearly always benefit from the services of a real estate agent to help you purchase your property. There are a myriad of different areas where you may find yourself impeded or ineffective if you are attempting to navigate a purchase on your own, and while you may manage to get it done, you will rarely end up with the best deal. Here are 4 reasons you should consider hiring a buyers agent to help you with your real estate transaction.

  1. Buyers agents have connections. When you are purchasing a house, you will need to go through many extra steps compared to most transactions we make. There will be regulations, mortgage brokers, inspectors, lawyers, and a litany of other concerns which may or may not need to be dealt with. If you rely on the sellers agent to make these recommendations, you need to remember that their financial duty is to their customer, the seller of the house. While there are regulations to try and discourage any unethical practices, its always best to have someone who represents your interests involved in the process.
  2. Buyers agents will have a great knowledge of properties. Have you ever dealt with a salesman who gave you a very pleasant experience? Where they accurately described the pros and cons of different choices, estimated financial impacts accurately, and overall was incredibly honest and informative? If you can hire someone to help you find a property, their interest will be in doing the best job they can keeping you informed and happy. Because they are not stuck selling a specific product but instead are simply advising and guiding, they will be on your side.
  3. Similarly, they will be able to help you find properties which fit your dream criteria. You should be able to sit down with your agent and discuss what you are looking for. With their knowledge of the market, they will be able to make recommendations based on what fits with your goals, and what is a good deal.
  4. Finally, a buyers agent can work to mitigate any unforeseen circumstances which might appear. Should any difficulties arise, their experience will allow you to deal with them quickly, with as little stress as is possible for the situation. 

Understanding Current Market Conditions

by Karen Picarello

One of the most common problems that people have when looking to buy or a sell a home is that they don’t understand the current market conditions. The market is in a constant state of flux, and even a few months can drastically change the atmosphere and pricing of homes in an area. For example, seasonal changes, economic downturns, and current events can all affect the value of housing in an area.

Understanding the current market value of a house is an important step in the home buying process. Whether you are selling or buying, having a good idea of what prices will be competitive on the market will allow you to pass on bad deals, while not missing out on potentially lucrative ones. Unfortunately, for someone without experience in the market, it can be incredibly difficult to get a good idea what the value of a property is. While your property may have been purchased at a certain price, and other properties in your neighborhood might be selling for certain prices, this does not necessarily mean that yours will be worth the same. There are many subtle factors which influence the value of a home, and failing to take them into consideration could put you at a considerable informational disadvantage when conducting your negotiations. Aside from the current market, differences in the age of your home, the position in your neighborhood, or even less obvious things such as school district boundaries will all need to be considered.

To this end, hiring a realtor or market professional who can help you find out the real value of your house (and the current market climate) can be one of the best decisions that you make when looking to engage in potentially life changing transactions involving expensive real estate. While it is always good to do your own research, when you are dealing with the sums of money involved with real estate purchases, you owe it to yourself to hire a professional. You wouldn’t hire an amateur to do something simple like fix your car or install an electrical system, so don’t hire an amateur (yourself) to conduct what can be the most important financial transactions of your life.

At the end of the day, the current market condition is just one more factor which you will need to take into account when preparing to buy or sell a house. Whatever your situation, make sure that you do your research before making any decision. 

Financial Planning for Real Estate Purchases

by Karen Picarello

If looking to make a real estate purchase (whether as a residence or an investment), you should make the effort to be fully aware of all the costs that might be incurred during and after your purchase. Too many prospective homeowners look only at the price tag, and end up seriously under budgeting for their purchase. While you might be able to afford the base price, purchasing a home will force you to incur many other additional costs, and you will certainly want to anticipate and plan for them. Here are a few areas that many people fail to budget for.

  1. Maintenance. If you are purchasing a property, you will need to upkeep it. This is particularly important if you are going to be renting it out, but could also be important when it comes to insurance. You might find yourself on the hook for expensive repair bills before an insurance company will insure you. These might be things like electric system overhauls, roofing, or plumbing. Depending on the condition of the house and the local building codes and regulations, your initial and recurring costs will vary, but make sure you make an effort to anticipate them.
  2. Taxes and Fees. Not only will you be facing property taxes, but you also will need to pay various fees and potentially taxes associated with the sale. Brokers fees, as well as fees for inspectors, certifications, and legal documents are all potential costs you will need to be prepared to pay. With these costs though, the best way to save money is to do them correctly the first time, as there are often penalties associated with failure to properly take care of your legal obligations.
  3. Finally, your financial history can drastically affect the financing that you get. If you have good credit and a strong financial history, you will likely be able to get a better rate on your loan, with less money down. Conversely, if you have poor credit, you may end up paying a lot more, both in the long run, and as a down payment.

In short, if you are looking to purchase a home, take the time to plan out all of the costs associated with the purchase. Consulting real estate and financial experts can help you get a good idea how much cash you should have in your specific situation and location before looking to make a purchase. 

Home Location and Commute Times

by Karen Picarello

When looking to buy a home in a new area, one of the things most people will be considering is their expected commuting times for work. However, depending on the area, home prices often increase as you get closer to many business hubs, and you will want to balance the amount you are paying for your home, with the amount of time you spend commuting. Here are a few tips for finding a home which will help you feel satisfied in both areas.

First, look at your commutes. Most families will have more than one commute which will need to be made on a regular basis. Anyone in the home who works will need to regularly make that commute, but also pay attention to things like schools. If you have young children ( or expect to) of school age, they will need to make that trip 5 times a week for most of the year. Even if you are not the one driving the, a long commute can suck time out of their day. Figure out all of the places you will need to visit regularly (schools, work, etc), and then look for areas which will be somewhat equidistant from all, or at least close to most. Generally speaking, its best to try to plan for commutes lasting less than half an hour.

Then, look at homes in areas which are positioned conveniently for your obligations. Now is when you can start looking specifically for things which are important to you. Do you want to save as much as you can on the house? You might need to be open to being further away, or living in a less attractive neighborhood. Are you looking for a family friendly area, or one with specific other characteristics? You might be paying a bit more.

In the end, you will have to make decisions that will be best for your specific situations. My overall advice is to keep in mind all of the commutes which will need to be made, and to make this an important part of the purchasing process. Many people will add minutes onto their commute without really thinking about the impact that this will have. Over the course of a year, a 5 minute increase in commute time to work could lead to about 50 hours extra on the road. That’s more than two full days, just driving!

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.            

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 28

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