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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. 

Secure Homes are Worth More in Market

by Karen Picarello

An often-overlooked aspect of home improvement is creating improvements that make a house safer. There are two main ways to increase the value of your home in this way, and I’ll talk briefly about both, as well as a few strategies to employ when looking to help your house sell.

First up is the fact that security improvements can be done quickly and relatively cheaply. One of the most common options when looking to increase house security is the addition of external lighting. Whether they be motion sensitive or on a timer, external lighting can greatly help the safety of a house. Depending on your wiring, you may even have the infrastructure already in place to install these. They are fast, but they are a huge bonus to potential buyers in today’s market.

A more expensive but potentially more effective method to increase security is the replacement of old doors and windows. Modern windows are safer, more likely to lock securely, and present more of a barrier to a determined intruder. Additionally, you can upgrade and replace old locks in various areas of the house. A popular choice nowadays is the inclusion of “smart” or internet connected technology. However, the idea of someone hacking your front door can be scary to some buyers, so don’t get too ahead of yourself connecting all of your security to the internet. These types of physical improvements to the properties safety are great things to mention to a potential buyer.

If you are looking to go a little further, there is the option to include security cameras. A buyer who worries of home invasion might jump at the chance to feel secure and protected. Not only will they know that they can see what is going on outside, a camera is a very visible deterrent to any type of illegal activity. And your neighbors will like it too: as crime in a neighborhood decreases, the value of the houses rise.

Speaking of neighbors, there are ways to make your home value rise in the long term as well. While the previously mentioned improvements are fast and personal ways to make your house more secure, things like a neighborhood watch program can also help to discourage crime. And as noted above, any steps that you take to decrease crime in your neighborhood as a whole will affect all the properties positively. Nothing like increasing safety while simultaneously having your house appreciate in value. 

Home Inspection

by Karen Picarello


When looking to buy or sell a house, you will absolutely be dealing with home inspection. However, there are not only many misconceptions about home appraisal, but there is also confusion about how to properly utilize a home inspector’s services, when they can be employed, and what you should expect from a competent home inspector.

First, when dealing with a home inspection, you should know what they will be looking for. Depending on the structure and the records of the house, home inspectors will look at many of the various components of the property. Here are some of the things a home inspector will look at.

  1. The Foundation. One of the most basic elements of a home inspection is ensuring that the structure is sound. A solid foundation, as well as proper framing atop it should all be features which will stand up to weather and time. No one wants a house that could collapse.
  2. The Roof and Exterior. A home inspection should examine exterior features of the house such as trim, siding, and look for external damage. Also, home inspectors will look at the condition of the roof, in the hope that your home will not have unknown leaks. Ideally, a home inspector will be able to get information about the age and lifespan of the roof.
  3. Plumbing and Electrical. Ensuring that all of the houses systems are operational is also critical. Faulty electrical systems cause headache when trying to live in a house but can also be a serious fire risk. Plumbing problems can cause water damage, which could cause structural issues necessitating expensive repairs over time.
  4. General Condition of the house. Things like exterior and internal damage, heating systems, ducts, water damage, and the condition of various areas of the house are all important things to know before you purchase a home.

With this understanding of what the home inspector will be looking at, you should also be aware of a few other things. The first is ensuring that you, as a buyer, have located a reputable and licensed home inspector. Do not use an inspector affiliated with the seller or someone else involved in the sale. If you have reliable and recent service records, it can be ok to not pay for certain inspection services, but make sure you are following all local laws and regulations. Just remember, you are paying for peace of mind that the potentially largest investment you ever make will not turn into a loss. 

Flipped House? What You Need To Know

by Karen Picarello

If you are entering the housing market as a buyer, one thing that you should be aware of is that not all sellers have the same motive. A seller desperate to escape a financial situation they were unprepared for will make for a drastically different sell than an investor looking to prune off an unneeded property. Nowhere is this more evident than when you are buying a house that has been flipped. They might not always be upfront about the flip, so here are ways to find out if the house was flipped recently, as well as what you need to look out for when buying a potentially flipped house.

Flipping houses is a practice whereby an investor will purchase a house, renovate it, and look to put it back on the market quickly, often in 6 months to a year. Therefore, the easiest indicator that a property is being flipped is that the current owner has owned the house for less than a year. If they are selling so soon after buying, you always need to be asking why. In particular, if the asking price now is higher than the previous asking price, the home is likely being flipped.

A flipped home is not necessarily a bad thing though. It’s possible that the house has been renovated to be stylish and in good condition. If you are looking for a property that is in good shape, you may find that a flipped house will be in better condition than other houses in the area.

However, all of this depends on the ability and integrity of the person performing the flip. It is good to ask for a record of all work that has been done recently. Shy away from homes with purely cosmetic improvements. If the bathroom and kitchen are gleaming with new tile and fixtures but there have been no repairs to the electrical, plumbing, or other systems, it is likely that the flipper is trying to sell you based on the shiny appearance rather than good quality work. Also, find out if the work done has been done by a licensed contractor. Licensed contractors will have ensured that a good job was done, and that everything is up to code. If the seller did the repairs themselves, it will be up to you to find out if they knew what they were doing, or were just trying to save money and got in over their heads. Look for uncovered or shoddily put together electrical boxes, especially under cupboards or other areas where it might not be immediately visible.  

Repairs necessary before selling a house

by Karen Picarello

One of the things that often comes up when a client is looking to sell a house, is they wonder how many of the houses existing problems will need to be addressed before the sale? Specifically, they are interested in (1) how much any problem will decrease the sell value of their house, and (2) how much it will cost to repair the problem. When looking to sell a house, I almost always recommend a full inspection before the process even begins. While homeowners may be aware of some problems, like a broken electrical socket or a leaky roof, it is unlikely that they will know the depth of the damage in these cases.

For example, a nonfunctioning electrical socket could be a 5-minute fix for an electrician, and will cost you almost nothing…. Depending on what the problem is. On the flip side, if your whole electrical system is shot, not up to code, and barely meeting current needs, it is likely that a complete overhaul will be need, which will cost substantially more. If you do not find this information out now, you can bet that they buyers inspector will find it, and this could seriously hurt not only your sell price, but the likelihood of someone wanting to move in and deal with the hassle. Additionally, if the electrical system (or other parts of the house) do not meet local building code, you could be in trouble, potentially having to pay for upgrades, and running the risk of losing your insurance. Similarly, a leaky roof will be expensive to fix, but the cost could go even higher if there is significant water damage to parts of the building. Before putting your home on the market, you absolutely need to know everything that is wrong with your home, how much it will cost to fix, and what you can do about it.

In short, if you are looking to sell, before you come to us wanting to list your house, take the time to do your homework. Have a reputable inspector come and give you a good idea what parts of the house will need work before you put it on the market. Unless they are looking to flip the house, potential buyers will often be turned off to the house if it has too many repairs needed. Once you have done your due diligence, it will be much easier for you to get a fair price for your home. 

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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