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Keep Your Home Safe During Fourth of July

by Karen Picarello

            If you are buying or selling a home, your life is in a bit of chaos because you are moving. Not only that, but you may be in a state of flux that requires you to care for two homes while only occupying one. The Fourth of July is coming, and although this time of year is great fun, it is also a time of high crime and home fires. Protect your home and your unoccupied home by following these steps.

            July and August are the times when most burglaries occur because people go on summer vacation. With that thought in mind, it is easy to see why so many burglaries occur during the Fourth of July. People are away from their homes watching firework shows. Even if they’re home, they are likely outside and won’t hear a burglar over fireworks. It’s dark. It’s noisy. It’s a perfect opportunity for the opportunistic burglar.

            You don’t have to be using illegal fireworks to create a safety issue. In 2014, 28% of emergency room fireworks injuries were caused by sparklers! In 2013, fireworks caused 15,600 fires 1,400 of which were structures and 200 of which were in vehicles. Many fires can be put out by a hose if they are noticed immediately, but the unoccupied yard is more difficult to protect.

How to Protect your Home (occupied or not)

  • Security Cameras and Lights – this will deter burglars as well as document their presence should they opt to go in anyway
  • Security System – notifying a security company of a break-in will alert police to check your home whether you know about the break in or not
  • Secure Doors and Windows - Make sure doors and windows have good locks, and make sure doors are securely attached to the home, so they cannot be kicked in.
  • Lights - Leave some lights on. There’s nothing better to confirm you are not home than a dark house.
  • Hose – If you are home, get the hose ready even if you aren’t lighting your own fireworks. This gives you the chance to put out a fire before it is dangerous. Caution: Don’t try to be a firefighter. Keep away from big flames that could cause injury. If the fire is inside your home, get out if flames are higher than your knees or getting near any exits.
  • Water Yard – A green yard is difficult to catch on fire.
  • Remove Dry Brush – Dry brush, especially near your home, is a huge fire hazard. Make sure your yard is clear of debris that will act as kindling should it be exposed to any spark.

 

 

Flooring: A Highlight or a Nightmare for a Home Buyer

by Karen Picarello

            When homeowners are thinking about staging their homes to sell, there are often some home improvements made in an attempt to make the home more salable. Windows might be upgraded, or a new coat of paint put on the home, maybe inside too. Fixtures may be updated, or carpet will be replaced. Some of these improvements will increase the selling price, but many of these options are simply an attempt to make the home more attractive in a buyer’s market. When it comes to the preferences of the home buyer, it may be the flooring that is the biggest highlight or a nightmare when considering a home purchase.

            Flooring options range from pretty darn cheap to a significant investment, and the quality of your flooring material will have an impact on the salability of your home. The basic options most people consider are solid hardwood, tile, manufactured hardwood, laminate, or luxury vinyl.

            Hardwood is typically the top choice by home buyers. It is high-quality, durable, and it may last as long as the home is standing. That is because hardwood is made from thicker planks of wood. Although it may need to be refinished from time to time depending on the hardness of the wood, there is a lot of wood to work with, so it has longevity. Home buyers consider hardwood a beautiful addition to the home, and they can relax about upkeep knowing the floor is meant to last.

            However, other alternative wood options are equally beautiful and don’t cost as much as solid hardwood. Manufacture wood is layers of wood covered in a top layer of fine, luxury hardwood. It is equally beautiful and durable, but it cannot be refinished as many times because the top layer is all you have to work with. Luxury vinyl and laminate options can be created with nearly any look because it is printed underneath the clear protective layers of the material. This makes it very versatile, but quality varies with the type you purchase, and it will have to be replaced more often than solid wood options. Lastly, tile is very durable and water resistant, and it is an attractive option for home buyers who want low maintenance options.

            Ultimately, solid hardwood flooring is one of the most preferred options for home buyers, but it is only going to increase the value of your home by about 3 percent. It is a huge investment, and other flooring options will provide a beautiful look for less of a cost. The big thing to remember is that homeowners are looking for something they aren’t going to have to immediately replace, so having flooring that is in good condition is possibly as important as anything.

Should I Get a Loan with Mortgage Insurance?

by Karen Picarello

            When you buy a home, there is typically an amount of money paid as a “down payment.” This amount is part of the purchase price of the home that you pay immediately out-of-pocket instead of increasing the amount of a loan. You can pay as much as you want in a down payment including up to the purchase price of the home, but the typical amount paid is 20 percent. If you pay more, you won’t have to get as large of a loan, and you won’t spend as much in interest over the life of the loan.

            In many cases, private lenders will require a down payment in order for them to approve a loan. The bigger the down payment, the less risk to the bank because there is less money they’d have to recover if you defaulted on the loan. Those who foreclose on their loans cause lenders to try to recoup the loan amounts through foreclosure sales, and these homes often sell significantly under market value. Therefore, a higher down payment equals less risk to the bank.

            A first-time home buyer may not have the funds available to put down a significant down payment. In this case, a bank or lender may reduce their risk by requiring mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance covers the lender for a portion of the principal balance on a loan in case the borrower cannot make payments.

FHA Loans

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are a typical type of loan for first-time home buyers, and they may only make a person pay a down payment of 3.5%. They will also accept lower credit ratings. The Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) is a requirement for this loan type, it will be 1.75% of the loan amount. You pay this monthly for the life of the loan or up to 11 years if you put down a larger down payment.

Conventional Loans

Private mortgage insurance may be available for conventional loans when a person only has to put down 3% for a down payment. This can be cancelled after 20% of the home value has built up in equity.

USDA Loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers loans with no down payment, but you have to pay an upfront fee of 1% of the loan amount and an annual fee of 0.35% of the balance of the loan. Similar to all other mortgage insurances, it reduces the risk to the lender.

Should You Get a Loan with Mortgage Insurance?

Sure. If it is the only way you are going to get a loan. The better option is to wait for better financial circumstances or save money for a down payment, but some realities don’t produce this as an option. It does not hurt your credit to have mortgage insurance, but it does hurt your pocketbook. Discuss your options with your lender and a financial adviser, and make sure you make the responsible decision.

Why is Phoenix Real Estate So Hot?

by Karen Picarello

The Phoenix real estate market is booming, and it’s affordable for the moment. How is this market bouncing back from the horror stories of suburbs that haven’t fully bounced back from the recession? It’s all about the job market.

The Recession Hurt

The economy of Phoenix before and during the recession was not as diverse as it is today. When service jobs and construction stalled, Phoenix was forced to adapt. It had too many empty houses. As a result of this adaptation, the entire economy recovered.

Tech and Bioscience

This adaptation and diversification happened the most in the technology and bioscience sectors. Bioscience in particular has been an economy and education milestone for Phoenix, and foundations like the Flinn Foundation continue to cause this field to grow by providing scholarships and opportunities. Technology giants like Plexus, Lifelock, and GoDaddy keep the tech sector going. This is not to mention all the other sectors that thrive due to this, such as the medical technology sector. All of these sectors are recession-proof, so it is safe to say that Phoenix is the place to be if you want to have some economic security.

Jobs + Population Boom

The tech and bioscience diversification that started in Phoenix has brought many young people to the Phoenix area, and they have high-paying jobs. The people moving to Phoenix are not all from the area. Since 2010, over half of a million people have moving to the area. Over 300,000 of those were from different parts of the country, and over 100,000 of them were from foreign countries. These people need places to live, which has helped the construction business as older regions of the city get updated.

The Housing Market

Right now, the housing market is affordable, and median home prices are below $300,000. This means that single people can afford to buy homes. But the market won’t stay like this for long. As more people move to the area, demand will increase for homes, and it will exceed supply. This will drive up prices, and before you know it, it will be a seller’s dream market.

What does this mean for real estate?

It’s great news for real estate. Right now, people should be buying homes, and real estate agencies will thrive in a time of multiple home purchases. Soon, it will be thriving in a different way, and home sellers will enjoy the increase in their property values. It’s all about timing, and a thriving economy is good for everybody.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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
888-548-8713
Fax: (480)860-8755