The Importance of Home Inspections

scottsdale home for saleAfter searching for that perfect home on AZDreamHomeScottsdale.com, you have finally found the perfect fit for you and your family! Everything looks great, but have you really done a thorough inspection? Like most home buyers you probably aren’t an expert on air conditioning units or roofs. This is why it’s necessary to call in an expert to uncover any potential problems that you cannot see.

Having the home you are about to purchase go through an inspection is very important. It may bring up potentially very expensive problems before you sign on that dotted line. If the seller is made aware of these problems they can be fixed prior to closing or a negotiating tool for you. For example, a home inspector will check the roof for broken tiles, signs of deterioration, loose flashing, sagging or if it is wooden, any signs of rotting. All of these can be costly fixes and you don’t want to move in without knowing about such problems.

Foundations are another important part of an inspection. An inspector will check for cracking, signs of water, bulging or bowing, and other irregularities. Here in Arizona we depend on a fully functioning air conditioner to get us through most of the year in comfort. These are very costly to replace so an inspector will check out the unit for signs of rust and corrosion, any electrical damage, or wear and tear. If the unit was regularly serviced it is likely it will last longer than a unit that has been neglected. You really want to know what kind of life expectancy you can expect out of the unit in your new home.

Some other things that a home inspector might not look for, but you may want to call in an expert to check out, are things like pests (termites in particular), lead paint, asbestos, and toxic mold. Usually a person checking these types of things is licensed to do so.

Remember there is a lot more to purchasing a home than what you see on the surface. If you take a few extra precautions, that new home you purchased will be the best thing you ever did! Have more questions? Give us a call! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Showing Homes During the Coronavirus

hand sanitizerThe Coronavirus is having a mixed impact on the housing market. It may be decreasing buyer traffic, yet it’s also not deterring some home buyers and sellers from taking advantage of the lowest mortgage rates in history.

To help keep our buyers and sellers healthy during this unprecedented pandemic, we have adjusted and added some procedures when showing homes:

-All of our open houses have been suspended. For now we will only doing private showings of homes to one person (or couple).
-While we am only doing private showings, we will ask buyers to meet us at each home instead of driving with them.
-We will do our best to arrive before each showing to open doors and windows to minimize door knob touching and allow fresh air inside. we will also sanitize door knobs, counters and other high traffic touch areas before and after each showing.
-Additionally, we will have hand sanitizer and gloves, or ask clients to place their hands in their pockets as they tour the home.
-We will also be using video chats for virtual tours and walkthroughs so our clients can social distance themselves by while still allowing them to see new homes.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you have about how the Coronavirus/Covid-19 may be affecting the Arizona real estate market. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Tips on Improving Your Credit Score for Homeownership

growing moneyIf you are currently renting and are considering purchasing a home you may need to check a few things before you begin your search. One of the most important things to know before you venture into home ownership is what your credit score is.

Your credit score will tell you everything about your credit history and this is what lenders will be looking at when deciding whether to approve you for a home loan. You may have thought you were doing everything right but your credit score will be the deciding factor. You are able to request a copy of your credit report from the three reporting companies (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). If you find something on your report that is fishy you can look into it, this is another way to keep track of any identity theft that may have happened that you may not even be aware of.

Credit scores can range from an excellent rating of 800+ down to below 499 which is as you can guess, not great.  The higher your score the better chance of getting a better rate and being approved for a loan. There isn’t really a secret formula for improving your score except for paying your bills on time and being consistent. Also eliminating debt whenever possible will bump up your score. Some experts will tell you to pay off the higher interest rate credit cards or loans first, others say get rid of the smaller balances. This is really a personal decision, but either way paying off as much debt as possible will increase your credit score.

Another factor is how long your credit history is. If you have had a good history and have a had a credit card for a long time that will work in your favor. If you have cards showing on your report but they have not been used in a while you may want to charge small amounts on them every so often. These will then be considered active when the credit agency is figuring your score. Also do not open a bunch of new cards at once, this will lower the average age of your accounts and will push your score down. Another thing to consider is if you close your cards, this can lower your score as well.  Again these are all suggestions but only you can decide what your best option is.

Those that may have had financial struggles in the past may bury their head in the sand and not want to look at their credit score. However being educated on this will only help you in the end achieve the best loan rates and getting on the road to owning your home.

Have more questions, give us a call! If we can’t help you, we can direct you to an experienced lender who can. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Buying a Second Home

scottsdale home for saleYou love your home, but in this day and age, many homeowners have considered and dreamed about owning a second home whether it is for vacation getaways with the family, as an investment, or perhaps somewhere to live after retirement. Whatever your motives there are some important things to consider before purchasing your second home.

The first step in deciding on your new home is to determine whether it will make financial sense. There are ongoing expenses when purchasing a second home that you may not realize, such as the up keep on the house is a bit more since you won’t be living there full time. You many need to hire a management company to look after your home.  You’ll need to have hazard insurance to protect your home and this can add up. It is a good idea to determine how much you will need to cover these expenses in addition to your current home, and if you build up a cash reserve for the second home that can alleviate a lot of stress on you.

Deciding where you would like your second home to be located is important. Will this be in a retirement community or a vacation hot spot? Will it be a single family house or a townhome or condo? These are all important factors to consider. Living in a vacation area perhaps you can rent out the property to recoup some of the expenses. If it is in a retirement community you have to consider resale value too. Condos and townhomes can cut down on some of the upkeep you may have as these type of homes are part of associations which will maintain common areas. Of course there will be a monthly fee for this, but probably less than a single family home’s upkeep.

With the right planning you can have the second home of your dreams along with that beautiful first home that you love so much!

Call us with all of your questions! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Gated VS Non-Gated Neighborhoods

gated communityLiving in a gated or non-gated neighborhood can be a tough decision for some people in the market for a new home. There are different opinions on both ends of the debate which are completely pro or against one or the other, but what are the real advantages and disadvantages to a a gated neighborhood?

Many people think that there are strong benefits to raising a family inside a gated neighborhood. Some who live in gated areas say they feel more secure or are not afraid to be home alone or leave their kids alone in the neighborhood. Often, people who live in the gated neighborhoods feel a sense of safety that they don’t think they would feel in a non-gated neighborhood. Another reason some homeowners prefer a gated neighborhood is the perceived added prestige.

No matter the reason for choosing to live in a gated neighborhood, the biggest question surrounding gated vs non-gated is safety. The major question that is asked of gated neighborhoods is “Do they really keep crime rates down?” The short answer is, not really. In most cities, some forms of crime such as car theft is reduced initially but the long term crime rates are only marginally better at best. The trend is that crimes against people tend to go down because “outsider” perpetrators initially prefer not to go into areas with which they are unfamiliar and it may be more difficult to escape. Typically, crimes such as burglary drop within the first year of a new gated community but then rise back to the same levels as non-gated neighborhoods.

Does living in a gated neighborhood give a false sense of security? This is what many people believe; gates are more of a marketing tool and fad than serving any true benefit or purpose. For example, in neighborhoods with unmanned gates, codes to get into the gates are given to many people who don’t live there but visit frequently. Often, friends who don’t live inside the gated neighborhood can become irritated with having to remember the code or contacting you for the digits each time they visit. “Outsiders” who get the code not only include friends but also food delivery persons or other individuals providing services to people living inside the gates. Think about all the contractors, landscapers, house cleaners, dog walkers, pest control providers, etc. who enter on a normal basis and consider the level of security coded gates truly provide.

Despite the statistics showing no significant decrease in crime in gated neighborhoods over time, the number of these communities continues to grow. While research shows that the “old school” neighborhood watch programs prove to reduce crime if properly run by the community, often these are forgone in a gated community due to the sense of security from the gates and walls alone. Whether living in a gated or non-gated neighborhood, homeowners should always rely on providing their own safety and security first. Locking doors and windows and keeping the garage shut are the most basic forms of safety and other home safety devices or home security alarm systems can always be installed for added measures.

At the end of the day, living in a gated or non-gated community really just comes down to personal preference. There are pros and cons to living in a gated community. The added security is debatable, but that hasn’t stopped them from being a popular choice for families across the country.

Call us to view homes for sale in gated and non-gated neighborhoods. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

5 Types of Mortgages

coins and houseBefore you purchase a home, it’s important to educate yourself on the various types of mortgages you can get so you can make the right decision when the time comes to choose yours.

CONVENTIONAL MORTGAGE A conventional mortgage is a home loan that’s not insured by the federal government. There are two types of conventional loans: conforming and non-conforming. Conforming loans are loans for amounts that fall within the maximum limits set by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (government agencies that back most U.S. mortgages). Loans that do not meet these guidelines are considered non-conforming. Jumbo loans are the most common type of con-conforming loans.

JUMBO MORTGAGE Jumbo mortgages are conventional loans that have non-conforming loan limits. Your credit score generally must exceed 700 and you are required to make a larger down payment. However, it allows buyers to to borrow more money to purchase a more expensive home.

GOVERNMENT-INSURED MORTGAGE The U.S. Government is not a mortgage lender, but it plays a role in helping more Americans become homeowners. There are several types of government backed mortgages including Federal Housing Administration (FHA loans) , U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loans), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA loans) and more. Government-insured loans are ideal for buyers who do not have funds for aa large down payment and can not qualify for a conventional loan.

FIXED-RATE MORTGAGE The most popular mortgage is the fixed-rate mortgage. It is ideal for homeowners who expect to stay in their home for many years. With a fixed-rate mortgage the interest rate stays the same over the the life of the loan. Fixed-rate loans are typically available in terms of 15 years, 20 years or 30 years.

ADJUSTABLE-RATE MORTGAGE This type of mortgage offers a lower interest rate and monthly payment at first, then slowly increases as time goes on. An adjustable-rate mortgage can be beneficial if you only plan to own the home for a few years.

Do you have more questions about the different types of mortgages? Give us a call, we would love to discuss the different types of mortgages of available. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

What to Look for When Buying an Older Home

arizona home for saleThere are many outstanding reasons to purchase an older home in Arizona. They tend to have more character and they may even be available in architectural styles that aren’t built anymore. Nonetheless, there are things to keep in mind when you’re shopping for an older home. It’s easy to get drawn in by the charm of an older house, yet always remember to think it over before you spring on something that could cause problems down the line.

Frame and Foundation
Check the foundation of any older home you’re considering buying. These homes have been sitting there for a long time and, if they haven’t been kept up with perfectly, there’s a good chance they’re going to have some foundational damage. Take a look at the frame of the home, too. While you may end up with a house that has a real, heavy wood frame, you may also have one that has too much space between the frame and walls, which can be a fire hazard.

Look for Hazardous Materials
Older homes may contain a variety of hazardous materials. Homes built before 1985 are at risk for having lead pipes, and homes built before 1978 may have lead paint on the walls. Homes built before 1980 may also contain asbestos in their insulation, roofs, fireplaces and walls if they haven’t been updated. Homes built before the 1970s may be prone to radon gas buildup and should be tested.

Plumbing and Electrical
Lead or steel pipes can be very dangerous and should be replaced before you move into an older home. Many homes have probably already had this taken care of, but not all of them. Have a home inspection to find out what type of pipes the property you’re considering has. Electrical wiring may be made of aluminum in older homes, this is a serious fire hazard.

Working Smoke Detectors
Always check for working smoke detectors in an older and newer house. Functioning carbon monoxide detectors are also necessary to have. If the house doesn’t have any in place, don’t buy it until they have been installed or you have tested for the presence of carbon monoxide in the home.

Older homes come are typically located in established neighborhoods, larger lots and are surrounded by mature landscape. If you truly like the charm of an older home, don’t let any of this stop you form purchasing what you real want. Your real estate agent will hire an experienced and thorough inspector who knows exactly what to look for.

When you are ready to buy a home, new or older, we can help you find a home that meets your needs and lifestyle. Call us today to get started! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Family Friendly Communities Beyond Scottsdale

playgroundWhen families move to the valley, the top question we get asked is: “Where are the family friendly neighborhoods and where are the good schools?” Most have heard mentions of Scottsdale, but there are plenty other choices. Metropolitan Phoenix has many good choices, but we’d like to introduce you to these four to start:

Anthem
This north Phoenix suburb was actually designed with families in mind, so it’s no wonder it netted a #1 ranking from Parenting Magazine for a family friendly community. A 63-acre community park offers outdoor sporting fields, an amphitheater and lakes, and bike paths cross every part of town. The community also hosts a year-round schedule of signature events. Affordable homes and a tight-knit community make this an excellent choice for raising kids, if you don’t mind it being farther away from the city.

Arcadia/Biltmore
This area is desirable for everyone, but families are especially fond of homes here for the incredible location, upscale interiors and top choices for schools. Arcadia sits neatly between Phoenix and Scottsdale. In terms of home prices and size, the area offers the best of both worlds (although remodeled homes here are not inexpensive, by any means). Living in the center of town means you can access everything the city has to offer.

Ahwatukee
Quiet and removed, Ahwatukee offers affordable single-family homes away from hustle and bustle, but still close to freeway access and downtown Phoenix. The location at the base of South Mountain gives this neighborhood a secluded feel, and if your family is active, you’ll love the proximity to the hiking and biking trails. Crime is extremely low, and there are many community entertainment and shopping options.

Gilbert
Up-and-coming Gilbert is often rated for families as the safest suburb around. The community is growing quickly, while still retaining its family-friendly, small-town sensibilities. Gilbert’s historic Heritage District seems to be adding new local restaurants every time we are there. Exciting events and entertainment keep the whole family occupied. The low cost of living and low home prices are a huge factor for the influx of new residents, so it’s a great time to consider this neighborhood.

Let us know what you are looking for, or if you know of anyone who is looking to move and is searching for family friendly neighborhoods. Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477

Are Home Warranties Worth the Cost?

kitchenAs a home buyer or home seller, you may have wondered whether a home warranty is worth the cost. Homeowners insurance protects your home against unforeseen accidents or damage.  A home warranty, on the other hand, is a supplement to this insurance. Simply put, a home warranty is a convenience program that covers normal wear and tear on the major electrical and mechanical systems in a home, typically for a one-year period.

A home’s ventilation, heating and air-conditioning, plumbing, water heater and kitchen appliances are typically covered by a home warranty. However, be sure to read the fine print on any home warranty. Be sure to note what exactly is covered and what isn’t.

Another wrinkle with home warranty plans is that they don’t offer quick fixes to any problems that are discovered within the home. Home warranties are not the same as emergency home service contracts, where the homeowner can make a phone call and have the problem diagnosed and fixed within the same day.  Instead, with a home warranty, the homeowner will have to file a claim, and the home warranty company will choose a local service contractor to diagnose the problem for a service fee, which isn’t covered by the warranty.  Then, the claim must be approved by the company.

While a home warranty can be a nice back-up plan, it’s critical that any homeowner identify any necessary repairs during the home inspection period.  The home inspection will typically uncover any major issues with the maintenance of the home, and will set a precedent for regular service of the major mechanical services. For example, some home warranty companies won’t cover an air-conditioner that hasn’t been serviced in a past set number of months. Therefore, having this done during the home inspection negotiation period will help to set up a seamless transition to the home warranty service period. Home warranties in Arizona average around $400-500 depending on the size of the home.

Click here to begin the search for your next home! 

Buying and Selling Simultaneously

house keyBuying and selling homes simultaneously can can feel overwhelming, it can also raise many questions, especially regarding timing. When should you list the home you’re selling? At what point should you begin looking for a new home? What happens if you get an offer on the home you’re selling before closing on your new place?

The key to combining your buying and selling processes is timing. Taking the time up front to consider your options and make educated timing decisions will increase the chances that you’ll get to seamlessly move from the old home into the new space.

So, how do you make those smart timing decisions?

Find an Expert. A good real estate agent is a knowledgeable and reliable expert on buying and selling homes simultaneously. The agent researches and understands current trends which will help you time your transition to the new house while also getting the most money from the house you’re selling.

Know the Market. A real estate agent is also a great resource to educate you on your local market. The agent uses current market data, the condition of your home, neighborhood comparable homes and other factors to determine a realistic selling price for your listing.

Understand your Finances. As you look at your options, know where you stand financially, how much equity you have in your current home, and how much money you can reasonably use toward the down payment of a new house. Homeowners who have enough equity to sell their existing home and can come up with a down payment for another one are going to have an easier time buying and selling at the same time. Know that there are many options for those homeowners in all financial categories. Understanding your finances will help when you discuss this process with your agent.

Make Quick Fixes. Price and home condition are the two most important factors that effect the sale of your home. As explored specifically in previous posts, investing money up front to update the yard, repaint the walls or make other small fixes has been proven to significantly increase the likelihood that your home will sell more quickly.
Start Shopping for the New Home. If you and your agent agree that listing your home is a good decision for you, it’s time to begin your home search process. If possible, start looking at homes before you put yours on the market so that you have an idea to the timeframe it could take to find the new place based on your search criteria.

When You’re Ready, List Your Home. Putting the home on the market is a careful process that depends largely on how fast you think you will be able to find and close on your new home. The previous step, shopping for the new home, will help make that decision. Keep in mind, if you put the home on the market and the right buyer puts in an offer more quickly than you anticipated, there are contingencies you can add to the contract to give you more time to find your new home.

Buying and selling homes simultaneously has its challenges, but we have the experience and knowledge to make it happen for you. Call us to learn more! Chris 480-754-9077 & Cheryl 480-754-9477