Real Estate Information


Karen Picarello


Displaying blog entries 71-80 of 102

Choosing a School when Buying a Home

by Karen Picarello

Parents often spend a lot of time when choosing housing looking at schools in the area. Your children will be spending a considerable portion of their childhood there, and a good school will not only increase your child’s chances of getting into a good college, but will also help to teach them information and skills which will be useful for the rest of their lives. Choosing a good school can go a long way in ensuring that your children are well prepared for their adult lives. But how do you know if a school is “good”?

First, I would caution against focusing too much on test scores. The nation has put a lot of focus on standardized test scores in recent years, and while looking at the test scores from a particular school can be a useful metric, I would advise looking further. Passing a test is useful, but a good school can do much more than this. There are absolutely situations where I would recommend attending a school with slightly lower test scores if you have reason to believe that it will be a better fit for helping develop your child’s social and emotional intelligence as well.

When looking at a school, your two resources should be the internet, and face to face interactions. Online, you can often find quantitative information about the school. Looking up principle and superintendent turnover (high turnover= bad), tests scores, and other information can help to inform your decision about whether or not the school will likely be a good choice. However, you should also invest some of your time in meeting people involved with the school.

First, many people recommend that you meet with the principal of a school you are considering. This can be an opportunity to visit the campus as well. Use your intuition. How do the children and teachers look? Does the principal impress you? This face to face time can greatly help you form an understanding of the atmosphere and learning conditions at the school.

I would also recommend talking to parents of children at the school. Talking to a few parents who have children attending can help you get another view on the school. This personal experience will be invaluable for you, so go out of your way to meet with parents. If multiple parents have had bad experiences, I would stay away. 

Should You Repair Your Roof Before Selling Your House?

by Karen Picarello

One of the items which is often on the minds of home buyers and sellers is the condition of the roof. Most of us know at least one person who has moved into a home only to discover during the next rainy season, that the roof is leaking. Alternatively, there might be insulation or building code issues with the roof. Depending on how the inspection was done, and which clauses were included in the sale documents, how you proceed might be different. However, no matter the circumstances, a leaky or broken down roof will be a huge, possibly expensive, headache.

If you are selling a home, and you know that you have a broken-down roof, you should always disclose this to potential buyers. Honesty is necessary. And failure to disclose could lead to problems. If you do not disclose the problem, and it is later shown that you knew about it, you could be financial responsible for restitution. Additionally, a home inspection might discover the leaky roof. Even if there is no rain at the moment, a good home inspector might notice things like water damage in areas where there is a leak. Therefore, failing to disclose the roof problems could be discovered quickly or slowly, but either way: it will be discovered.

Now, as to the question of whether or not you should fix the roof before selling, the answer is complicated. It depends on the condition of the rest of your property, and the opinions of potential buyers. If the entire property is run down and in need of extensive repairs, it might be easier to sell it as is. A buyer committed to fixing up the property will be willing to incur the cost of repairs themselves, for a discount. Alternatively, some buyers will be looking to tear down the existing structure and rebuild it. Putting a new roof on a building about to be demolished would be a waste of money.

However, there are situations where you might want to do the roof before putting the house on the market. If the leaks are major, you will almost certainly need the roof repaired as soon as possible in order to stop water damage. Additionally, being able to show that the house is in great shape can help to woo potential buyers, letting them feel secure that the house will not cause them to incur large financial burdens, or deal with other unpleasant projects. 

Advertising your Sale

by Karen Picarello


Advertising your property correctly is very important, and is one of the things that a realtor can help you most with. If you are looking to sell a property (or anything, for that matter), you will only be successful if you can get the information about your property in front of someone who is interested in buying it. In order to get a good offer, you want as many potential buyers as possible who are looking at and then potentially making offers on the property. This competition will increase the price you will get for your house, and will also help you sell quickly.

Now, splashing advertising across every real estate listing in your area can be pretty simple. But it will also be expensive and time consuming. Its will likely be much more effective if you can target your advertisements so that buyers likely to be interested in your specific property will see it. The buyer for a 16 million dollar beach mansion is much different from the average buyer of a $200,000 dollar home, who again is different from the average buyer of a 150 million dollar commercial property. Similarly, things like the style of the home, its location, and additional features might be more appealing to certain groups. Advertising in spaces which target that demographic will typically give you a much better return for your effort. An experienced realtor can typically evaluate your property, and understand the best spaces for an advertisement would be.

 Additionally, even if you could get an advertisement everywhere, is there any guarantee that it will be an effective advertisement? If your advertisement is not well designed, it might end up being a deterrent to potential buyers, or at the very least can decrease the number of interested responses. Having an experienced professional doing things like taking pictures, staging the house, and crafting the advertisement can drastically change how attractive the home will appear based on the advertisement.

The best thing that you can do when looking to advertise your house in a way that will help you sell your house quickly and at a good price is to consult with a local experienced expert. No matter how nice your property is, if you can’t get the word out, it wont sell. Advertising effectively will reach the greatest number of potential buyers with the least investment, and will convince them to take a look.



Making A Competitive Offer

by Karen Picarello

There are few things more frustrating and demotivating than finding a home you love, deciding you want it, making an offer…. And then learning that the owner has accepted another offer from a different buyer. Chances are, you won’t have the opportunity to buy that property again. So if you are shopping for a home, you should know how to make an offer that will get attention.


First, take the time to get to know the seller. While you may not hit it off with everyone, on the off chance that you do, you will have a much better chance of having your offer accepted over other offers. Even if you don’t end up making a strong connection with them, you might be able to understand what is important to them. Understanding their priorities means that you will be able to make an offer that has bee changed to fit their needs. If they are worried about fixing something, for example, offering to do it yourself after buying the house could make them much more likely to prefer you as a buyer. Understanding the sellers needs is key when looking to make a competitive offer.

Another thing you can do to have a better chance of getting the deal is appearing to be a serious buyer. One of the best things you can do is get preauthorization for certain loan amounts from your lender. If you show up to a home with a loan preauthorization in hand, the seller and their agent will instantly see that you are a serious buyer and have the money to proceed with the purchase. This will absolutely make them more likely to pursue a deal with you, as many sellers are looking to get out of the house as quickly as possible. So if you are looking at houses, go get that from your lender. At the very least, it will help you get something necessary out of the way, and will give you a good idea of the budget you will be working with. As a buyer, you should be doing your research to ensure that you have all of your things in order before you go looking to potentially make an offer on a house.

In the end, the offer working out is dependent on the other offers the seller receives. Sometimes, there will be nothing you can do to get a property if there is a highly motivated other buyer looking to get the property. All you can do is increase your odds. 

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. 

Displaying blog entries 71-80 of 102

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