Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 101-110 of 122

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.            

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. 

Displaying blog entries 101-110 of 122

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