Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


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Noisy Neighborhoods and Home Sales

by Karen Picarello

If your home listing is right next the railroad tracks, you may have an issue with your home sale because of noise. It may even reduce the value of your home. However, the amount of noise that will detract potential buyers varies.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, only 3 percent of residential areas are exposed to highway noise that is over 50 decibels. Your major appliances probably make more noise, but that number may not take into account the occasional semi-truck or noisy muffler.

How noise affects home values varies based on other variables connected to the land. Proximity to services may play a role as well as accessibility to large noise makers like sports stadiums. It is not always clear how noise will affect real estate prices or salability.

If you live in a neighborhood that is near a freeway or railroad track, you probably don’t hear too much noise. It becomes a part of everyday life, and eventually, you tune it out. Many potential homeowners will realize this, and it won’t have a large impact on your sale.

What Can You Do About Noisy Neighborhoods?

If you live on a busy street, you can try to show your home during times of day that aren’t peak driving times. This shows the potential buyer how peaceful your home is most of the time, so they won’t be swayed by traffic that probably occurs while they too are out commuting with the masses.

Highlight other aspects of the home like a good view or convenience of being near main arterial roads. If sound barriers have been installed along the freeway, make sure your potential buyers take note.

Lastly, make sure the unseen features of your home are on your listing. If you have soundproofing insulation, new doors, and new windows, make sure it is advertised. Some buyers will decide your home is in too noisy of a location based solely on the address, but you can inspire a visit by letting them know you’ve taken steps to reduce the noise factor.

It is difficult to know how much noise will play a factor in the sale of your home. In some cases, it could reduce the price of your home by 10 to 30 percent, but other properties may see no change because of other features of the property like the view or proximity to certain services.

Improving Your Credit Score to Buy a Home

by Karen Picarello

It is possible to get approved for a home loan with fairly poor credit, but you won’t get a low interest rate. If your credit is below 580, you’ll also need a larger down payment. Basically, it’s better to start working on your credit now, so your score can be as high as possible when you apply for a loan and make an offer on a home.

5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score to Buy a Home

1. Make Payments On-time

One payment made 30 days late can greatly impact your credit score, sometimes by as much as 100 points even if your other accounts are all paid on time. If you aren’t good at remembering to pay on time, you aren’t alone. But don’t let this ruin your score. Set up automatic payments or schedule payment reminders in your smartphone. The credit reporting agencies don’t care why you are late, and late payments can remain on your credit report for years. If you do make a payment late, and it is for extenuating circumstances, see if you can get it removed. Some companies won’t report to a credit agency until you are over 30 days late, but if you are late for a non-emergent reason, you may have difficulty getting a lender to remove the event. Make sure you are polite.

2. Pay the Balance on Everything Possible

If you are paying everything on-time, but your credit score isn’t improving, it could be because of your balances. Your balances should only be using a certain percentage of your available credit. Generally speaking, you only want to be using 30 percent of your available credit, so pay down some credit cards, and watch your scores rise.

3. Sign Up for a Credit Score Alerts

One of the scariest things about credit is that you don’t know what your score is unless you check. That is why it is so important to sign up for alerts. This way, you’ll see if your score drastically changes, and you can take action as soon as possible if there is an error or if someone steals your identity.

4. Check Your Bank Account Regularly

Being financially aware can help to improve your credit score by ensuring you have enough money in the bank to cover expenses. Look at your bank account daily. This way, you’ll see and understand any erroneous charges. You’ll also see any subscription services that you may not be using anymore, so you can save money.

5. Set Up a Savings Account

Lastly, keep at least three months of expenses in a savings account. If you have your identity stolen, and your checking account is hacked, you could be in a lot of hot water while you wait for it to be resolved. If it is caught early, a bank or credit card company might reverse the charges within a couple weeks, but that savings account will keep you from missing any payments or overdrawing your account.

Plants are the Perfect Home Staging Element

by Karen Picarello

A home without a plant is missing a certain je ne sais quoi that brings feelings of health, calm, and nature to the room. That is why it is so important to include plants in your home staging efforts. It brings the positive feelings that you want buyers to feel when they view their next potential home.

Why are plants the perfect home staging element?

1. Warmth

When you remove all of the personal elements and sparsely furnish a home with the bare essentials, the strategic ornamentation and neutrality of it all seems a bit sterile. You cannot fake the reality of occupation in a home, but adding plants can add life. Plants are an adequate replacement for the lack of personal elements in the home. The home is no longer a cold replication of family because the plants warm it up with life.

2. Nature

There is an ever-present need in humans to connect with nature that is probably instinctual. We cannot remove ourselves from our love of natural elements, and a home seems incomplete without it. This is likely because of some genetic memory from our days as cavemen where plant life equated to survival and food. In any case, plants reconnect your buyers with nature, and they get good feelings about the home as a result.

3. Stress-reducer

Along with the calm associated with reconnecting with nature, plant have also been proven to be stress reducers when placed in the home. Searching for a home can be a stressful process, so anything to reduce that stress could make a potential buyer choose your home over homes without plants.

4. Space-filler

It is a challenge to “fill the void” when the former occupants of a home move out. Some homeowners don’t have the disposable income to fully stage their home, but plants can add a little something extra to the space they fill. They can also be useful to gauge size in photos.

5. Color

Lastly, home staging is usually an effort in neutral colors, and whites and tans are prevalent in most displays. This is because it is pleasing to everyone. You don’t want to lose a buyer because of poor color choice. However, neutral colors and whites totally remove the personality from a home. While that is the point, no personality can feel very cold. A pop of color from a plant can remove the monotony and make the place seem more complete.

Photos Make a Difference When Selling a Home

by Karen Picarello

With real estate sites like Zillow offering run-downs of the homes for sale in your area, you need to have a competitive edge to make your house stand out in the market. One way to do that is to make sure that you have amazing photos that showcase your property before anyone ever takes a tour. In order to get those photos, you’ll need a professional photographer. Still not convinced? Photos are not only for initial wow-factor. They are also a positive reminder of your listed home when potential buyers go home to consider their options.  It’s a double-whammy, and you don’t want to miss your chance to close a sale based on something as simple as poor photography.

Why Photos Make a Difference When Selling a Home

1. Poor Photos, No Visit

If a potential home buyer is looking on a website for property and comes across poor quality photos, they may move on. The home buyer has a lot to look at, and the first elimination process is done via photos regardless of the actual appearance of your property. If you cannot spur interest in your home through photos, then you’ll have to spur it through low cost, and that isn’t the most profitable way to sell a home.

2. Photos Show Potential

Photos are not meant to fraudulently portray your home in a false light, but they can portray your home in its best light. Taking photos at the perfect time of day, when the light hits your home perfectly, allows your potential buyers to see the house in all of its glory no matter what time of day they visit. This is especially important during winter months, when many tours may be given during the night.

3. Photos Force Staging

If you have been thinking about staging your home to sell but haven’t gotten around to it, a professional photographer may be the spark you need to get going. They can recommend colors and artwork that will sell the home, and your photos will look like your home is magazine-worthy. The lighting will be perfect, and the angle will be perfect. It is easy to tell amateur photos from professional photos, as the room in a professional photograph looks like you could practically walk into it. You want your potential buyers to see themselves in the home.

Professional Photos Make a Difference

If you are serious about selling your home for top dollar, consider a professional home photographer to portray your home in a way that draws in potential buyers. It will bring people to your home, and they will look back at photos of a place where they could see themselves.

Is the Phoenix Housing Bubble About to Burst?

by Karen Picarello

What is a housing bubble?

A housing bubble occurs when homes are overvalued for no real reason, very much like the inflation of money. It is a problem because housing becomes unaffordable. Demand sparks the bubble, and as people continue to buy at higher prices, the speculation that prices will continue to grow perpetuates further escalation.

How is lending a factor?

Lending can play a huge role in a housing bubble. If lenders approve loans to people who are unable to afford them, people live beyond their means and struggle to pay their mortgage. Interest rates also play a role in home ownership, as lower interest rates increase the demand for homes. If too many people are living in homes they cannot afford, they default on their loans. This eventually pops the housing bubble, and the market crashes.

Upside down mortgages

As the housing bubble popped in 2008 and home values declined, many people ended up being upside down in their mortgages. This means you owe more than your home is worth.  People couldn’t afford their homes, and they couldn’t sell them in hopes of paying off their mortgage because their homes were no longer worth as much. This resulted in an entire economic downturn for the country, and it went into a major recession.

Somebody always wins during a bubble.

If the Phoenix area is experiencing a housing bubble, there are definitely people benefiting from it. Property investors buy property anticipating that the bubble will grow, and although this perpetuates the problem, they benefit. As far as the average homeowner goes, it’s not great. You may be able to sell your home for a greater profit, but that will just be reinvested into your next property, so it’s sort of a toss-up. If you sold for a high price, and the bubble burst, you may be able to purchase a nicer home at a lesser rate. You cannot rely on this, so it isn’t a recommended strategy.

When will property values decline in the Phoenix area?

Economist have been warning of an economic downturn for some time, but they don’t know when it will happen. Phoenix has some of the highest price growth the country, but nobody knows how big the bubble will get. You see, there is no clear definition of a housing bubble or its breaking point. All that is clear is that the price of homes in the Phoenix area is inflated, and housing bubbles don’t last forever.

Selling the Circular Sun House

by Karen Picarello

            If you are an architect buff living near the Phoenix area, then you are certainly familiar with the Circular Sun House built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1967. The curved features of this one-of-a-kind home are an artistic wonder perched in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. And now, this beautiful home can be yours, as it is being auctioned to the highest bidder on October 16, 2019.

            This 3,095 square-foot home sits on 1.3 acres and, like most of Wright’s designs, incorporates nature into its design. With 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, Wright designed this home in his typical fashion with a large fireplace and family room to bring people together. It is also the last home he worked on before his death in 1959.


            Since then, Wright’s apprentice, John Rattenbury has restored the home. He had been working with Wright on the home design prior to his death, so he was privy to the mindset behind the design. Known for his Prairie and Usonian styles, Wright had become fond of circular designs near the end of his life, and the Circular Sun House is of this design. Another circular design of Wright’s was the infamous Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Is a Wright Design Right for You?

            So, why would anyone want a home built by the famous Frank Lloyd Wright? According to most, it is like living in art. One look at the Circular Sun House, and you know you are in for something different than an average home experience. The home has large, tile baths, a crescent-shaped swimming pool, and glass walls that overlook the pool. It has built-ins all over made from rich, Philippine mahogany, and the lights of the city can be seen from almost every room.

            One of the major advantages of buying the Circular Sun House over other Wright homes is that its renovation occurred in 1994, which means there may be some updates needed, but they aren’t from the 50s. Another is the size. Many of Wrights homes have small kitchens, but the Circular Sun House has a sprawling, curved kitchen worth enjoying. This house is luxury, and it is unique. If you want to live or vacation in a unique, beautiful piece of architectural history, this house is for you.

            As far as an investment, Wright houses typically sell for high-dollar amounts both due to their luxury and notoriety. However, they may sit on the market for a long time due to their unique nature that does not fit everyone’s taste.

            If you are interested in owning a Frank Lloyd Wright home, attend the auction October 16th by Heritage Auctions.

Why Buying a Vacation Rental is a Good Investment in Scottsdale, AZ

by Karen Picarello

Buying real estate can be a lucrative business, but it is risky. The market fluctuates, tenants may not pay dependably, and cash flow can be a struggle. First time real estate investors may want to go big with their investment, but many of us would struggle to make multiple mortgage payments. This risk is lessened when buying a vacation rental in Scottsdale, AZ.

Why Buy a Vacation Rental?

  • The best reason to buy a vacation rental instead of a long-term rental property is because you can use it! It can also be your second home you visit when you need to get away from the toils of life.
  • It’s a side hustle! Yes, you can have a second home and have other people pay for it. You aren’t going to use it all the time, so why not have it make its own money on the side?
  • The property will likely appreciate. Over time, most properties do become more valuable. Add any improvements, and it will appreciate that much more. This way, if you have to sell it, you’ll end up with a profit.
  • Options. There are many options for managing vacation rentals. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can hire a vacations rental management service. This allows you to do practically nothing and watch your mortgage, insurance, and repairs pay for themselves through rental income.

Why Buy a Vacation Rental in Scottsdale?

It is important to buy a vacation rental in an area that is rated highly for the tourism industry. Scottsdale is definitely rated as a good place for vacation rentals. The hiking opportunities, proximity to Phoenix, Old Town, clubs, spas, and swimming pools (not to mention the weather!) make this one hot spot for tourism.

According to Mashvisor, Scottsdale had 4.5 million tourists there for overnight visits bringing 2.4 billion dollars for the city in 2017. Rental rates averaged $2,788 but were much higher at $3,308 in South Scottsdale.

Vacation rentals are good investments in Scottsdale because of the tourism, but they are also good investments because they make a good amount of money for the investor without a lot of work or risk. Tourism isn’t leaving the Scottsdale market, and many people enjoy the comfort of staying in a home rather than a hotel, so they can truly have the luxury of a home during vacation without the upkeep. Hire a vacation rental management service, and when it comes time for your vacation, you won’t even know they were there.

Fall Maintenance to Keep Your Home Sell-Ready

by Karen Picarello

There are a number of things you can do while you are living in your home that make it ready to go when you want to sell it. Think about it. How many people frantically rush to make improvements on their home just to turn it over for someone else to enjoy?

Instead of emergency maintenance for someone else’s pleasure, maintain your home and keep it sell-ready with these recommendations. Here are a few things you can do during the fall months.

Fall Maintenance to Keep Your Home Sell-Ready

1. Clean Out Gutters

Before the water falling from the sky turns to snow and ice, you want your gutters to be free and clear of debris that could cause things to back up. If water cannot flow, it will freeze, and ice damages roofs and gutters. Scottsdale may rarely get this type of weather, but it does happen. Instead of dealing with gutter replacement in the spring, make sure you are cleaning out your gutters all the way past the downspout, so you don’t end up with a mess.

2. Check Screens

Fall and winter are perfect times to work on any torn or damaged screens because your windows aren’t likely to be open in the cool weather. Inspect your screens, and handle screens one at a time. This ensures that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, and you have most of your windows in full working order in case they are needed.

3. Prune Trees

Hire a professional if you have to, but make sure your trees are properly pruned every fall. This ensures that any dead branches are removed, so they don’t fall on your car or house during the winter. Annual prunings also make sure that your tree grows as it should.

4. Sprinkler Maintenance

Depending on the type of grass you have, you may or may not have lawn maintenance to do in the fall, but your sprinklers definitely deserve a checkup during this time. This is especially true since any repairs that need to be made can occur or be planned while the water isn’t needed as much.

5. Paint

Early fall is a great time to paint because it isn’t too hot or humid, which means paint will have the proper time to dry and cure, so it doesn’t crack and peel. Don’t wait to sell your home to make it look good. Enjoy the new paint, and enjoy your home while you are in it!

Not only do these five maintenance moves keep your home sell-ready, but they make it more enjoyable while you are still here. When it is time to go, you won’t have to stress. Your house will look great.


5 Reasons to Get a Real Estate Agent in Scottsdale, AZ

by Karen Picarello

The Phoenix area is booming, and housing for all of the incoming out-of-staters has been an excellent shift in the housing market for home sellers. However, it also makes it difficult for those entering the Phoenix-Scottsdale area to find the home they are looking for.

Many opt for rentals upon arrival in order to bide their time while looking for a more permanent location. This has caused a rental crunch that has driven up the prices of rentals, but the Phoenix area still maintains low rental rates in comparison to most other states.

Even then, it can be frustrating to wait it out in a rental knowing that your long-term residence is out their waiting to become available. That is why you need a real estate agent, especially if you are looking for a home in Scottsdale.

5 Reasons to Get a Real Estate Agent in Scottsdale, AZ

1. Local Knowledge

Scottsdale is known for its luxury neighborhoods, but you want to make sure you are getting into the right one. If you are looking for a family-friendly neighborhood, you won’t want to be in a neighborhood that caters to single night life and vice versa. Your local real estate agent can help you look for the neighborhood that fits your exact needs, so you won’t have headaches about your living region when you’ve already purchased the home.

2. Improved Communication

There are a lot of big corporations getting into the real estate game. Internet buyers and sellers aim to streamline the home transaction process, but they remove the intimacy that comes with a home purchase. These corporations are trying to make home buying about as convenient as getting an ice cream cone, and that leaves a lot to desire. One of the major things that is lacking in these sort of transactions is communication because there is no accountability. If you don’t like your home purchase, and you think your seller should have disclosed more, a large corporation won’t care. Local real estate agents have to communicate well and transparently because they have reputations to uphold.

3. Quality Homes

Speaking of large corporations who are getting in the real estate business, they are also getting in the home flipping business at the same time. This means the home you buy may have been flipped simply for profit, which could result in a lesser quality home. Home flippers may sell through real estate agents too, but a local agent is more likely to know the reputation of the flipper and only work with people who make sure their improvements are done well.

4. Improved Commute

Scottsdale is a short commute to Phoenix, but if you are making it daily, it can seem very long. Your local agent will know what neighborhoods have easy access to Route 202 and any other transportation tips for the area. You aren’t going to find that from real estate companies who aren’t familiar with the area.

5. Access to Amenities

If you are looking to live in Scottsdale, you’ve probably checked out some of the city’s amenities. Your real estate agent can make sure you are near your favorite golf course or country club, or you can look to live near shopping centers. The local real estate will know the nitty gritty of every area in Scottsdale, so you will enjoy your new life.

Do You Have to Tell a Buyer that Someone Died in Your Home?

by Karen Picarello

Many people (in Arizona) falsely believe that they must disclose information about prior inhabitants of a home including if there was a murder in the home or if a criminal lived there. In reality, homeowners do not have to disclose any of this information.

Stigmatized Property Law

Arizona passed A.R.S. § 32-2156, or the stigmatized property law, in 1995. This prevents homeowners from having to disclose things about a property to a buyer that may have a negative psychological impact.


  • Murder
  • Suicide
  • Natural Death
  • Sex Offender
  • HIV infected occupants or other diseases not known to be transmitted through housing
  • Neighbors with Criminal History

Why Would a Future Homeowner Want to Know?

Much of the reason that a homeowner may want to know about previous issues with psychological impact is superstition. It may make a person think the home is haunted or has bad luck. Many people don’t feel right about living in a place where they know someone has died. Superstition may not be an appropriate reason to not purchase a home, but there are other reasons a homeowner would want this type of information disclosed.

If there was a publicized incident with any notoriety, the event may have a psychological and monetary impact on the property. There was a California court case that argued that a multiple murder that had taken place in the home should have been disclosed because it affected the resale value of the home. Since then, California has changed its law to read that people must disclose how any death occurred in the home for the past three years. Arizona does not have that same rule.

Why is stigmatized property law a good thing?

Arizona’s stigmatized property law is a good thing because people can claim that practically any adverse event can “stigmatize” a property and lower its value psychologically. While it may be unsettling to dig up an old pet that may have been buried in the back yard, this should have no impact on the sale or the purchase of a home. Allowing anything to stigmatize property that only has psychological effects opens a can of worms that would be difficult to close.

Why do you need to know about stigmatized property law?

As a home seller, you need to know about stigmatized property law because there is no need to disclose things about your property that have no real impact. As a home buyer, you need to know that these things may not be disclosed. If it is important to you, ask. Do your research. In some cases, it has been found illegal to lie about certain things that may have psychological impacts.

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Contact Information

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