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Karen Picarello


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Pricing Your Home to Sell: A Psychological Method

by Karen Picarello

Pricing your home to sell is an effort in art and science. You can make your home more salable with interior design and finishing touches. However, the price tag on that home can still be a deterrent. Here are a few pricing strategies that use psychology to list your home for the best price possible.

1. 9,000

9,000 is the magic number for rounding off your house. Don’t round your house off to the nearest 10,000 dollars, or it will seem less concrete. Instead, do what marketers have been doing for ages. Yes, $999,000 really does sound like a lot less than 1 million dollars.

2. Be Specific, But Not Too Specific

While rounding to the nearest $9,000 is fairly specific, being too specific can make your price seem difficult and rigid. Potential buyers like to think you are serious about your pricing strategy, but they also want to have some wiggle room. A $787,652.00 seems a bit too particular. The buyers will think they are in for a troublesome sale.

3. Put Them in “Their” Home

This is more of a sales technique, but the price won’t matter as much as long as the buyers can envision themselves in the home. Ask leading questions about where they will have barbecues or which kids will be in which rooms, and the buyers will start to feel as if they’ve already purchased the home. It’s all about the salesmanship, and helping people make the mental leap into a new home is a huge part of the battle for a sale.

4. Use Less Characters in Your Price

Leave out the dollar signs and the commas, and the price will not seem like it is so high. Think about a home priced at $499,000.00. Those extra zeros psychologically look like a higher price despite them being exactly the same. Conversely, 499000 seems much less. If you are entering the millions, 1.5 million looks smaller than $1,500,000.00. You get the idea. Less looks much more attractive to potential buyers, and this psychological appearance of numbers can cause your home to be overlooked for absolutely no REAL reason.

Use Psychology to Your Advantage

These tricks of the trade are not secrets, nor are they unethical. You are not tricking your buyers into making an offer. You are simply making the pain of sticker shock hurt a little bit less. This is really an advantage for the buyer and seller. The buyer suffers less remorse over the cost of the home, and the seller gets to close their sale.

5 Ways to Make Your Home More Salable

by Karen Picarello

There are all sorts of things that must be done in order to make your home salable. Setting the right price, getting the right real estate agent, and advertising your home sale are all critical actions. There are a few things you can do yourself on the inside of your home to make it more salable. This increases the appeal of your home to all who view it.

5 Ways to Make Your Home More Salable

1. Clean: This may seem like a no-brainer, but a clean home is more attractive to buyers. This doesn’t mean you’ve picked up your dirty laundry and wiped off the kitchen counters. This means clean baseboards and ceiling fans. You want your home to look well-maintained, and these little details reveal a lot about how the house has been kept.

2. Light: Dark areas in the house are synonymous with negative environments. The conjure images of vacancy and mold growth. If you have a dark, dank area in your home (basement, closet), install some lighting. Make sure the area is free of cobwebs and looks usable.

3. Minimize: If you are still living in your home while it is on the market, it’s time to minimize. Not only will this give you a head start on packing, but it will remove unsightly clutter from the home. Potential buyers don’t want to see your family photos and other personal items throughout the home. They want to envision it as their own, so minimize, and remove sentimental items. Leave the furniture, but remove most other décor.

4. Neutralize: Your accent wall may be an eyesore to some people, so make sure your rooms and décor are neutral, and you’re sure to please everyone. Tans, greys, and whites are all acceptable neutrals. You don’t want to turn away a buyer because you decided your kitchen needed to be Baja orange.

5. Curb Appeal: Lastly, make sure your buyer isn’t turned away simply by driving by your home. Make sure there are no kids’ toys or other clutter around the house, and make sure the lawn looks nice. A mowed lawn and weeded gardens makes the house seem inviting.

Details Matter

When you are selling your home, there are many things that will help it to remain attractive to buyers. Your real estate agent will take care of many of these details, but you can do your part by following these tips to make your home more salable.

9 Great Reasons to Move to Scottsdale

by Karen Picarello

There aren’t a lot of cities in America that are like Scottsdale, and it really has just about everything an area could offer unless you’re looking for forests. Even then, Scottsdale has picturesque desert scenes combined with a luscious central greenbelt that leaves very little to desire if you are looking for a place to live.

9 Great Reasons to Move to Scottsdale

1. Weather

The annual high temperature in Scottsdale is 84.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The average low is 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the weather favorable most of the year. If you are a fan of sunshine and warm weather, this is your place.

2. Shopping

Scottsdale is a shopping paradise with a large shopping mall and a multitude of boutique designer shops. If you are looking for something unique or the latest trend, you will be able to find it here.

3. Family-Oriented

Scottsdale used to be considered a retirement community, but the younger generations have been moving in because of good schools, low crime, and plenty of activities. There are parks, entertainment, and safe neighborhoods perfect for raising a family.

4. Greenbelt

The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt is a manmade greenbelt that transformed a flooding hazard into a system of parks and lakes 11 miles long. It is beautiful, and it’s a great place for a walk.

5. Waterfront

Waterfront shopping and communities along the Arizona Canal have made water a feature of Scottsdale. It has also provided great opportunities for festivals and artwork.

6. Dining

Because of the tech boom in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, Scottsdale has been a primo location for high-income families, and those families like to dine like royalty. There is a great nightlife in Scottsdale, which means lots of great food and trendy restaurants.

7. Sports

Practically every sport can be watched in the Phoenix area. Arizona State University offers college sports, while the area is also home to NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams. If you are a sports fan, you’ll be in heaven in Scottsdale.

8. Low Crime Rate

Scottsdale has a lower property crime rate and a MUCH lower violent crime rate than the rest of the state. The streets are safe in this community.

9. Proximity to Phoenix

A huge draw to Scottsdale is its proximity to Phoenix. It’s only a little over 12 miles away. Of course, it’s a busy trip to the city, so it will take you around 30 minutes to get there, but that’s fairly convenient when you consider the other benefits Scottsdale has to offer.

Why You Need a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

by Karen Picarello

If you are going to list your home for sale, you need to come up with a price. You can spend the money to hire an appraiser, but an experienced real estate agent can do something even better. A Comparative Market Analysis is the best way to put your home on the market at the highest price.

What is a Comparative Market Analysis?

A comparative market analysis evaluates the sale price of similar properties. It then adjusts it for the differences between the homes. For example, a three bedroom two bath may be virtually identical to the home being priced, but it may need its price adjusted based on location.

Variables for Consideration

  • Neighborhood: Curb appeal is very important, but so is the curb appeal of the entire neighborhood. If there are many manicured landscapes and garaged vehicles, it is sign that the neighborhood is of higher quality. If the lots are small and homes are very close to each other, this can decrease the “neighborhood value.” Lastly, proximity to other locations can be good or bad. If a home is near grocery stores and services, it may be good. However, being near a factory or a landfill may be negative.
  • Estimated Property Value: This is a good starting point for setting a home price, but estimated property values can be very wrong. Still, this number is a good starting point, and it can be adjusted based on other variables.
  • Original Listing: How much you paid for your home can impact the pricing strategy based on how long you lived there and what improvements you’ve made. This gives credence to the value you end up placing on your home, and potential buyers can understand the variance from your purchase price.
  • Similar Home Sales: When you are doing a “market analysis,” you must evaluate the market. This is where the price of similar homes comes into play, and it is a good indicator of what home buyers are willing to pay for your property.
  • School Zones: The quality of schools available for those living in your neighborhood also indicates value. Elevated schools are located in more affluent communities, and they are a sign of other positive neighborhood attributes such as low crime.

Put it All Together for an Accurate Market Analysis

Your real estate agent can put together all of the variables, and with his or her local knowledge, develop a price point for your home that will sell. You want the highest price possible without deterring potential buyers, and a comparative market analysis will help you to find the best price.

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.

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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