Dividing Real Estate Assets When Unmarried Couples Split

When the more traditional couple, aka married folks, divorce and go their separate ways, the process of dividing up the property is dictated by the law, for the most part. But what about those who choose to live together without the legal binds of marriage, which is approximately 14 percent of those in the age group of 25 to 34 years. 

And many of those 14% have more than divvying up the dishes, linens, and CD collection. They plunged in together and purchased a house. The rules for this situation is different, so if you find yourself considering cohabitation without a walk down the aisle and that legal piece of paper, here are some things you should know if that relationship doesn’t hold. 

Dividing Real Estate Assets – The Difference When You’re Not Married

There are options for married couples that divorce when it comes to dividing property such as a house or other real estate. For instance, one spouse can buy the other spouse’s part, or the property can be sold outright, and the profit is split. If the couple can’t come to an agreement, the court can make the decision for them and force a sale. 

However, the court doesn’t have much jurisdiction when it comes to unmarried homeowners, if the property is equally owned by the unmarried couple. This means that both names need to be on the title. Who paid the most of what is irrelevant.  If one person is determined not sell, it is a problem for the other person to resolve, not a divorce court.

So, what happens if one of the persons agrees to buyout the other person? This can be an expensive move because the transferring of assets also entails tax issues. For a married couple getting a divorce, this is a tax-free transaction. It is recommended that the unmarried couple seek the advice of an accountant and determine what the taxes are before making this decision. 

How Can Unmarried Couples Protect Themselves? 

Because there are legal complications such as that discussed earlier, experts advise for unmarried couples have a written agreement in place before making a major purchase like a house. Yes, this can take the romance out of the relationship, but it is the best way for both parties to protect themselves.

Today, a handshake just isn’t enough if an unmarried couple decides to buy a home as a couple. In just about every state, any agreement made regarding real estate, must be a written agreement. It doesn’t need to be a formal document drawn up by a lawyer either. It can be a simple one-page agreement that states how the property will be divided if the relationship ends. 

This type of contract is referred to as a “Cohabitation Agreement,” and it should state at the minimum the following:

  • If the relationship ends, how will the real estate be divided? Options are selling the property and divide the proceeds, or one person buy the other person’s part. 
  • Determine what percentage of each party will receive of the profits when the property sells
  • If the two parties can’t come to an agreement at the time of the split, how will those disputes be handled? Before going to court, seek the services of an unbiased mediator is the less expensive route.

What If There Isn’t A Cohabitation Agreement?

If no written agreement is drawn up between an unmarried couple prior to buying a home, it can become an expensive and long legal battle.  The legal fees alone can reach $25,000 and upward quickly and can even be more than the property is worth. With that being said, it would be less expensive to have a lawyer draw up the agreement prior to making the purchase. 

Of course, for one person to bring up the cohabitation agreement can be a delicate time, which is why more unmarried couples buying a home together won’t bring the subject up. It can be an awkward situation for a couple, but the future is unknown and protecting one’s self is key to these things. By mapping out how things will be done and stating who owns what ahead of time is only wise. 

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Phoenix/Scottsdale Real Estate Market October Update – September 2018 Stats

Here is the Phoenix/Scottsdale area Monthly Real Estate Market Report for October 2018, which shows 7,054 homes sold in the month of September compared to 7,496 homes in September 2017. This is a 5.9% decrease for the number homes sold year over year. But the market remains strong with the average sale price is up 7.8% year over year, while the amount of listed homes is down by 9.5% to 16,877 from 18,645 in September 2017. Demand continues to remain strong going into the Fall, even with sales activity constrained by the lower supply of listed homes. Supply of listed homes is near a 5+ year low. And the average days on market is down 12.2% from September 2017 to just 58 days!

Click here to see the full September 2018 Market Report & Statistics

Give us a call or text us at 480-754-9477 or 480-754-9077 if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this Fall/Winter, as the strong market continues to be good for both buyers and sellers, or if you have questions about this information. And don’t forget to explore our website AzDreamHomesScottsdale.com to see Scottsdale area homes and helpful articles. – Chris & Cheryl Park

Spooktacular Halloween Activities Across the Valley

Ghouls and Goblins of all ages are excited for the fun Halloween activities happening throughout the month in the Phoenix area.  Here are our top five Halloween events in the Valley for the whole family to enjoy. 

Howl-O-Ween at The Phoenix Zoo

A great event for the all ages, Howl-O-Ween at The Phoenix Zoo will be held October 26 and 27, from 6pm to 10:30pm. If you love sweets, keep an eye out for Trick or Treat doors around the park offering tasty treats. There will also be a character meet and greet, with your favorite superheroes, princesses and Star Wars characters! Other activities include an Extinct Animal Graveyard, Monster Bash Dance Party and House of Hazards. Tickets can be brought online or at the gate. Get more information by visiting The Phoenix Zoo website.

Salt River Fields Spooktacular Balloon Festival

pumpkin photoHead to Scottsdale, October 26 and 27, from 5pm to 9:30pm for an exciting Halloween event. The Spooktacular Balloon Festival will feature over 20 hot air balloons and 4,000 pounds of candy! The event will also include a haunted trail, fireworks and costume contests. Learn more here. 

Halloween Spooktacular 

Chandler’s Halloween Spooktacular is a family friendly Halloween event, with free admission! The event will be held on October 26, at the Dr. A.J. Chandler Park-Stage Plaza from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. Activities will include games, creepy crafts, face painting, concessions and more. Plus, don’t miss out on a showing of Hotel Transylvania 2! Get all the details here. 

Halloween in the Hills

For over 10 years Fountain Hills has thrown a fun and safe Halloween carnival. This year’s Halloween in the Hills be held on Halloween Night from 4pm to 8pm, on the Avenue of the Fountains. The event will feature carnival games, costume contests, a Fountain Hills Fire truck candy drop, and so much more! Learn more and see pictures from previous years here. 

Legoland Brick or Treat

Legoland Discovery Center in Tempe will hold several Brick or Treat events throughout October. Brick or Treat activities will include trick or treat scavenger hunts, pumpkin Lego mask builds and more. Get all the details and dates by visiting the Legoland website. 

Contact Chris & Cheryl

Do’s and Don’ts When Looking at Homes Above Your Price Range

neighborhood aerial view photoShould you even be considering homes above your price range? And no, I don’t mean the difference between your ideal price and a multi-million dollar house on Camelback. I am talking about the home that is just outside of the budget you sent your realtor.  s there any sense in dreaming a little bit bigger, or is it just a recipe for disappointment? 

The short answer is “you should look.” You set that high limit on your budget for a reason. But sometimes, you can find yourself in a situation where the seller is motivated to accept a lower price, or your realtor can help spot a local market where there is some wiggle room for negotiations. 

Here are some do’s and don’ts when considering homes outside your price range. 

Do utilize stats in the area to do research. We compare the list prices with what homes nearby ended up selling for, which can help you determine if it’s worth it to look at the home outside your budget. 

Don’t get attached and be disappointed if the seller refuses to come down on the price and the home is simply unaffordable for you.

Do understand if you are in a buyer’s market, where the odds are good that a seller is willing to negotiate, or a seller’s market, where you don’t have any bargaining power.

Don’t forget that we have experience determining the proper price range, and we are experts on what is a good deal versus what will be a waste of time to look at. Trust us to help you make the right decision.

Do look for situations where a seller is very motivated to sell.  Sometimes sellers are in a hurry due to personal circumstances and may be more receptive to your offer. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to have a realistic mindset when looking at homes with price tags above your upper limits.  It is uncommon that you’ll be able to “bargain down” a lot, especially in situations where the seller has no motivation to sell for any less than intended. Experienced agents have a nose for what will work and what won’t, so don’t force a showing or offer when you are advised strongly against it. 

Are you considering buying a home?  Click here to create a custom home search and we will set you up to receive as soon as they hit the market. 

 

Build Your Dream Backyard with These Online Tools

Picture this: Your perfect backyard, as designed by you. When we had our vision for a backyard revamp, we started with a pencil and paper to try and capture our thoughts. But the availability of free online tools taught us there’s a better way to get your ideas out there and start building your dream backyard. Here are a few tools that we came across that were useful:

1. Garden Planner Online

This versatile planner lets you change the size and color of everything in its arsenal, which is a lot. Bushes, trees, flowers, pavers and ponds, furniture, walls, herb gardens and more are just some of the things you can drag, drop and edit. You can even draw your own shapes and paver paths.

Tip: You will need to download free software if you would like to save your work. If you want to keep what you are working on, you can print it from the browser (just don’t close it before you are done!)

2. Plan-A-Garden

Offered by the well-known Better Homes & Gardens publication, this resource requires some personal sign-up information, but the app is worth it. All items you can drag and drop on the screen appear 3D over a changeable background of a home’s exterior in real space. You can sort plants by the amount of light they’ll receive, and even color on a base texture. 

Tip: You can save your project any time right in the browser to come back to it later. 

3. Marshalls Garden Visualiser

3D space and plenty of useful objects make this garden planner a breeze to use. It also effectively captures the dimensions of your space, and allows you to move around inside the garden to get an idea of how it will look. You can add features like paths, fences and buildings as well.

Tip: This online planner specifically does not work in Chrome and requires download of the Unity Web Player to work.

If you are looking for even more powerful tools, there are plenty of options for paid software to help you landscape and design your yard.  But for something simple and free, these resources should do the trick.  Having an inviting backyard is not only a great extension of your home but also a huge part of your curb appeal when trying to sell.  Our team offers a free one hour home staging consultation.  Contact us for more information.

Happy planning!

 

Decorating Trends Beyond Everything Gray

decoration items photoDid you just recently buy a new house, or just reconsidering your interior décor? Wherever we go, we are seeing everything from minimalist midcentury modern to bold bohemian. If you’ve got an eye on the decorating world (or just Pinterest), you know everything gray (we are talking everything – even the wood floors) has been in the spotlight for a while. Now, there’s a hot movement for colors, bold shapes and other trending decorating styles that you might find inspiring.

Geometry: Backsplash tile, wallpapers, bold rugs and even lampshades: If it’s angled, it’s in. The increasing popularity of a simple geometric form adds a modern flair and a bold edge to almost any space. 

Macrame: Not just for the 70s anymore, macrame is back in action prominently as plant holders, but inside the home it also is adding a vintage touch hanging on walls and as textured fringe.

Bold sofas: Is it red? Wonderful. Is it velvet? Even better. Design trends are eschewing the plain for something that pops in the living room (and is actually comfy to sit on). 

Warm color palette: Design is shifting this season from cool tones to embrace warm browns and earthy, light accents. Yellows and browns make spaces more inviting while still retaining a minimalist sense of style. 

Marble, terrazzo and stone: Two are bold, the other sparse. But all are making a comeback in design trends, from lavish marble countertops to austere stone tables to funky, chunky terrazzo tiles. 

Metallics: Take a few picks from silver, gold or copper to achieve a trending penchant for mixed metal accents (or even rose gold).

Colorful cabinets: Move over, white. Kitchen design is all about the blue, green and other cool, moody shades for a cabinet look. 

Southwest inspiration. Lucky for us, cacti are cool. The modern Southwest feel is especially trendy, so break out that ceramic pot, woven rug or rough-hewn basket. 

Let us know what type of a home you are looking for.  We can find you a home that meets your needs and lifestyle.  CONTACT US

Considering An Investment Property?

condo photoDid you move to the valley and start by renting an apartment, condo or single-family home? We known so many people who moved here and started renting off the bat – they were able to get an impression of neighborhoods and find out where they wanted to buy. 

We also know some of them that haven’t decided to become homeowners at all. It fits with the national trend of home-ownership rates dropping from 70 percent down to 65 percent. And a third of those renters are leasing out single-family homes, not apartments. 

What does this mean for you? Investment properties, of course! Phoenix has a strong demand for housing, and paired with the popularity of renting, this is a good time for those interested in rental properties to strategize. 

The good: Buying an investment property is a way to diversify your holdings, and renting increases cash flow.

The challenge: Are you prepared to make the right choice in property, and to maintain it while working with tenants?  Do you have the means and some extra time to deal with issues that might come up? 

If you’re not daunted by the idea of after-hours calls and taking care of surprise repairs, then investing in a rental home can be a solid decision for your financial future. Arm yourself with resources (or an experienced partner) to help choose the best property that fits your criteria. As a first-time investor, it’s important not to put too much on your plate – fixer-uppers and large, expensive properties can set you back. 

You should also be aware that investment properties incur a large down payment; since mortgage insurance isn’t available for the rental property, you’ll need at least 20 percent down for traditional financing. And that is just the start of the numbers: Break out that calculator to check your margins, operating expenses and the return on your investment for your efforts.  A study showed rental properties in Phoenix returned an annual average 8.7 percent, which is quite high. If this sounds like a venture for you, contact us!

Phoenix/Scottsdale Real Estate Market September Update – August 2018 Stats

Here is the Phoenix/Scottsdale area Monthly Real Estate Market Report for September 2018, which shows 8,232 homes sold in the month of August compared to 8,221 homes in August 2017. This is a 0.2% increase for the number homes sold year over year. And the market remains strong with the average sale price is up 7.3% year over year, while the amount of listed homes is down by 9.8% to 15,934 from 17,654 in August 2017. Demand continues to remain strong into going into the Fall, even with sales activity constrained by the lower supply of listed homes. Supply of listed homes is still at a 5+ year low. And the average days on market is down 9.6% from August 2017 to just 57 days!

Click here to see the full August 2018 Market Report & Statistics

Give us a call or text us at 480-754-9477 or 480-754-9077 if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this Summer, as the strong market continues to be good for both buyers and sellers, or if you have questions about this information. And don’t forget to explore our website AzDreamHomesScottsdale.com to see Scottsdale area homes and helpful articles. – Chris & Cheryl Park

Hey, Homeowner: Are You Making These 9 Mistakes At Your House?

Whether you’ve just closed on a home for the first time or consider yourself a seasoned mortgage-paying pro, you might be surprised by these ten common mistakes homeowners make. It seems we all live in the fast lane this day and time and I think we are all guilty of taking some short cuts that ended up costing either time and money to correct.  Here’s a list of what we think are some of the most common blunders to avoid:

1. Forget to change your locks
This applies to new homeowners who, in the excitement of moving in, forget about swapping old locks for better security (who knows who has a copy of that old key?). Hire a locksmith to swing by and rekey while you work on other things.

ceiling fan photo2. Let your ceiling fans run in every room
Ceiling fans are effective only when you’re in the room, since the breeze cools your skin and makes you feel comfortable enough to change the thermostat. Turn them off and save the motor when you’re not there.

3. Confuse classic with trendy.
If you’re thinking, “bye bye, brick” and “hello, outlandish exterior color,” you might want to think again. Your resale value could rely on those original character traits, like a brick fireplace or mid century modern fixture.

4. Let problems pile up
A simple rule of thumb is: When something goes wrong, fix it immediately. Because little things become big things if left unattended, like a small leak that becomes a big burst.

5. Throw potato peels in your garbage disposal
Spoiler alert: This always ends in disaster. The starchy peels thicken into a paste that clogs up the disposal.

6. Dig holes without calling 811
Do you know where your gas and electrical lines are? Call 811 and someone will come for free to mark the underground lines for you before you dig.

7. Plant trees too close to the house
And while we’re on the subject of digging, be mindful of where you’re planting your trees. Even though they provide shade, closer isn’t better when there is a danger of branches falling on the house. Large trees should be at least 20 feet away.

8. Cutting corners on plumbing and electricity
There’s a Youtube video for it, and you did fix that garbage disposal earlier, so you should be able to do it yourself – right? If it comes to ambitious plumbing and electrical work, the answer is no, unless you’re down with water damage and, you know, electrocution. Hire a pro.

9. Water the grass at night
In Arizona especially, it’s tempting to think that the less sun, the more water gets to your grass. While this is partly true (water can evaporate before it hits the ground in the heat of midday), the best time is actually in the early morning when the air is cooler but there is some sun to evaporate water clinging to blades.

Phoenix/Scottsdale Real Estate Market August Update – July 2018 Stats

Here is the Phoenix/Scottsdale area Monthly Real Estate Market Report for August 2018, which shows 8,531 homes sold in the month of July compared to 8,008 homes in July 2017. This is a 6.2% increase for the number homes sold year over year, which is still being driven by the lowest inventory of listed homes in the last 5 years. And the market remains strong with the average sale price is up 8.3% year over year, while the amount of listed homes is down by 9.0% to 15,921 from 17,490 in July 2017. Demand continues to remain strong into Summer even with activity constrained by the lower supply of listed homes. The average days on market is down 15.4% from July 2017 to just 55 days!

Click here to see the full July 2018 Market Report & Statistics

Give us a call or text us at 480-754-9477 or 480-754-9077 if you’re thinking about buying or selling a home this Summer, as the strong market continues to be good for both buyers and sellers, or if you have questions about this information. And don’t forget to explore our website AzDreamHomesScottsdale.com to see Scottsdale area homes and helpful articles. – Chris & Cheryl Park