Phoenix Area Housing Prices Up



Researchers at Arizona State University say that the rising interest rates don’t appear to be affecting the Phoenix-area housing market, which is making a comeback.

A report from the university’s W. P. Carey School of Business shows the median single-family home price in the area rose to $190,000, up roughly 27% from last June when the price hovered around $150,000. The report also noted the median price for condominiums and townhomes went up dramatically to $125,000, a nearly 40% increase.

Researchers say the tight supply of homes for sale is partly causing the increase in prices, and that new home construction isn’t keeping pace with demand. According to the report, analysts expected 17,000 construction permits would be issued this year, but the region is only on track to see about 12,500.


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Buying a Home after Foreclosure or Short Sale

Borrowers who lost homes get a second chance at homeownership

There is new hope for many Americans who lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales in recent years – and are ready to buy a home again. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently introduced new guidelines for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, essentially making it easier for eligible borrowers who have a mortgage default on their record to purchase a home.

Given that millions of homeowners have lost their homes in the last few years alone, this is very good news for a vast number of Americans. The FHA Back to Work program allows qualifying borrowers who had a short sale, foreclosure, or a bankruptcy due to extenuating economic circumstances (reduction in income or loss of employment) to potentially obtain an FHA purchase mortgage – without needing to adhere to the three-year waiting period normally required by the FHA.



The Back to Work program recognizes that for many people, their economic status was changed by factors outside of their control and that they have worked toward getting back on more sound financial footing. To participate in the program and have the standard three-year waiting period reduced, borrowers must meet specific eligibility criteria and other requirements to qualify for a mortgage under the new program, including:

  • Have a bankruptcy, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, short sale or delinquencies discharged, for at least 12 months.
  • Be able to document the financial hardship that lead to the mortgage default (a written job termination notice or other documentation of job loss, and W2s and/or signed tax returns to verify loss of income).
  • Have had at least a 20% reduction in household income for at least 6 months prior to their loan default. (Under the HUD program, household income is defined as the income of a borrower and co-borrower that was used to obtain the mortgage that went into default.)
  • Have re-established good, on-time credit for at least 12 months after the financial event, via new or re-established tradelines (credit accounts).

Homeownership counseling is a key first step


In addition to meeting eligibility criteria, borrowers will have to receive counseling from an approved Housing and Urban Developing (HUD) counseling agency at least 30 days before beginning a loan application. A minimum of one hour of counseling is required. It must specifically address what caused the financial hardship and what can be done to reduce the possibility of another mortgage default.
(Courtesy of Kyle Pugel of Coldwell Banker Home Loans)

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Home Equity in 2013

With the end of 2013 closing in, it is time to take stock of the impact from the strong 2013 housing market. Home price growth was robust in 2013 compared to 2012 and is currently forecast by NAR Research to finish the year 11.3% stronger. This improvement is important for the market as it has created equity for homeowners, boosted buyer confidence, and pulled many underwater homeowners into positive equity positions.

A borrower who purchased a median priced home[1] in 2004 and held it for nine years, the current median tenure of a homeowner according to NAR’s annual Profile of HomeBuyers and Sellers, would have $28,114 in equity from the combined benefit of price appreciation and paying down the mortgage principle. A borrower who bought a median price home in 2012 would have more than $23,000 in equity.

It is important to note that borrowers who purchased in 2006 and 2007 at the peak of the market and thus those who experienced the sharpest price declines are now nearly in positive equity. A person who purchased in 2006 and owned through 2012 (not pictured) would have been underwater by roughly $28,200, but by 2013 this gap was down to $4,700. Continued price growth in 2014 will help to further ameliorate this gap. Homeowners who purchased since 2007 are in positive equity.

Even through the visitudes of the great recession, for most homeowners housing remains an effective vehicle for building equity and wealth.

[1] With a 10% downpayment at the prevailing average 30-year fixed mortgage rate

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Holiday Tips from Ty Pennington

Courtesy of Ty Pennington on 09 Dec 2013

You definitely want to keep the cold out of the house during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the outdoors in for a natural holiday touch. Here are 7 ways to do it…

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington

1. Pinecones are perfect for the winter season. Since they’re small and lightweight, they work great for hanging décor and as small accents in larger displays. Paint-dipped pinecones are trending this year and they’re DIY-friendly too.

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington stand alone pot from bHG / DIY ornament from Good Housekeeping / yarn pine cone project from Camilla

2. Dried fruit will add a pop of color to your décor, but it’s also lightweight for hanging accents like tree and doorknob ornaments or festive garland. This one is easy to DIY too, but if you need some pointers check out this DIY post on Gardenista.

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington dried fruit ornament from Etsy

3. Evergreen trimmings are good for lining shelves, mantles, staircases and window treatments. Making small decor out of a few trimmings adds simple fare, like the door hangers below. It’s also nice to mix them into a larger holiday arrangement for a fresh touch and scent!

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington staircase garland from The White Company / winter display on Cozy Bliss / mini evergreen door bags from Funky Junk Interiors

4. Birch logs are a winter staple, especially for the fireplace and tabletop decorations. You can make cool candle holders and centerpieces using different sized logs to display on your holiday tablescape. Also great for the front porch or balcony!

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington birch log centerpiece from Nib / winter woodland tablescape from The Rooster and The Hen

5. Walnuts are small and delicious too! Like pinecones, they make great accents to larger displays and painted walnuts are also trending this year. I like them in wreaths, holiday candle displays and ornaments on the tree.

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington ornaments on Sweet Paul Magazine / candle centerpiece from Cathrines Hjerteron

6. Winter berries like cranberries will give you another pop of holiday color around the house. They’re pretty flexible which gives you a lot of options when it comes to décor and you can incorporate them into pretty much anything. Some of my favorites are the classic cranberry/popcorn garland, cranberry wreaths and candle displays.

7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington 7 Natural Holiday Décor Ideas | Ty Pennington candles from One Kind Design /  garland from Best Friends for

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5 Reasons to Close on Your New Home before the End of Year

(Courtesy of Deanna Lawley)

new_home_concept_cutoutIf you are debating on whether you should make an offer on a new home before the New Year, now is the time to stop deliberating and submit your bid. Between 2013 tax benefits, and avoiding mortgage rate roulette and changing lending rules, closing before the end of the year can offer significant financial benefits. Top mortgage and real estate experts share five ways you will benefit if you buy a home by December 31, 2013.

1.) Avoid rising rates roulette: Mortgage interest rates, while still attractive, are up 1 to 2 percent over this time last year. It’s possible to lock in a 30-year fixed rate mortgage at about 4.5 percent, says Shari Cashman (Gencor Mortgage). According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s forecast, mortgage rates will likely rise to about 5 percent in 2014. If you buy now and the rates drop, you can always refinance. If you wait and the rates rise, you are stuck, says Todd Huettner (Huettner Capital).

2.) New Year, new lending rule: Lending rules will change on January 1, 2014 and it could be harder to get a loan. 2014’s rules will allow you to borrow less, at your same level of income, says Huettner. 2013’s current mortgage rules allow for a 45 percent total debt to income ratio (DTI); in 2014, the DTI will go down to 43 percent. What does this mean? You need to make or reduce your debt in order to buy the same house!*

3.) Easier financing: If you are waiting for home prices to decrease, don’t. 2014’s mortgage changes could make it harder to get financing, says Robert J. Spinosa (RPM Mortgage). So if you are looking to save a few dollars by waiting for home prices to drop, you could miss your window to secure a mortgage entirely.

4.) Lower sales could mean higher inventory: It’s an after-Christmas sale before Christmas! While 2013’s housing theme was limited inventory and higher prices, historically, the fourth quarter of the year usually slows down the housing market and this year is no exception, says Greg Cook (First Time Buyers Network). Housing sales have been declining since September so inventory has increased. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing-home sales declined for the second consecutive month in October, while constrained inventory means home prices continue to see double-digit year-over-year gains. You may get the deal of December!

5.) Maximize tax deductions: It’s important to remember that if you buy before the end of the year, you can begin deducting interest and building equity immediately, says Cashman. Some closing costs and points are tax deductible in the year you buy a home. Buying now allows you to include them on your 2013 tax return. If you buy even one week later in January, you have to wait a year for your 2014 return to take the deduction, says Huettner.

*If you decide to buy in 2014 and need to lower your DTI, Huettner recommends the below tips:

• Make more or owe less. If you do not project your income to increase, paying down debt is the easiest and fastest way to lower your debt to income.


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Top 5 questions to ask your Realtor when Selling your Home

Finally, the news about the housing market in terms of both the number of homes sold and selling prices has been encouraging. As a result, many homeowners who have delayed putting their home on the market over the last four years are now considering doing so. For most of us, our home is our single largest financial asset and the commission we pay a real estate professional to sell it is substantial. As a result, we have a right to have high expectations of the plan they execute to sell our home.

A seller’s objective is typically pretty straight forward – sell my home for the maximum price in the shortest amount of time. Top real estate professionals do not sit around and wait for a buyer to stumble upon your home. They actively seek out and market your home to all possible qualified buyers.

To make sure your home is sold quickly and for the best price, here are questions you should ask before you select an agent to sell your home.

1. What is your plan to market my home to local buyers?

Real estate remains hyper local. The National Association of REALTORS ® reports in 2011 that home buyers moved around 12 miles from their previous home to their new home. That means there is a very good chance the buyer of your home lives in your town or one nearby.

Buying a home is not an impulse purchase and it takes about three months from the time a buyer starts their search to signing a contract. During that time, they continue to work, shop, eat, and play in areas immediately adjacent to your home and community. Ask your agent what their plan is to reach out to that local buyer.

2. What is your plan to market my home to out of market buyers?

Depending on your home’s price and community, it may also be attractive to a relocating buyer. Listing your home on one of the many free Internet listing services like, or is a smart thing to do, but it’s only a starting point, like a listing in a phone book. It requires that the buyer seek out the site, and sift through search results to find your home and it’s not an aggressive marketing program. To get the best results, successful agents use outbound marketing and other forms of media to reach out to buyers in other areas.

3. What is your plan to market my home to other local top agents?

Holding open houses for both agents and local home shoppers continues to make sense. Some real estate professionals believe in it and others view it as a waste of their time. But all agents in the market can bring you a buyer, not just the one with whom you list your home. Having them actually see your home’s unique character versus just online photos makes solid sense. Having professionally-created, good quality printed materials like flyers and postcards keep your home in front of them long after they’ve walked out the door.

4. What types of media will you use to advertise my home?

We now live in a multi-media world where we encounter advertising everywhere and the way consumers find information is constantly changing.

Be cautious of agents who use only the web to market your home. Ask them how they are going to take advantage of multiple media outlets such as social media, mobile apps, text codes, local real estate magazines, direct mail and other printed materials to reach buyers everywhere – as well as on the web. It is their responsibility to advertise your home to as many of the right potential buyers as possible, not the buyers’ responsibility to happen upon your home on the agents preferred platform.

5. How are you going to realistically price my home?

Pricing a home requires an intimate knowledge of the market to get it right. You want to get the best price, but there can be a disconnection between your expectations as a seller and the price for which your home will realistically sell. The best marketing in the world will not sell a grossly overpriced home.

Ask your agent to share their track record of list price to sold price and days on market on their ten most recent transactions. Homes that sit on the market too long and go through multiple price reductions may have been overpriced – and ultimately may sell for less than they would have if priced correctly from the beginning.

Homes priced right sell more quickly and with less hassle. Additionally, you are less likely to run into bank appraisal problems when the buyer is securing a mortgage.

Calculate the commission you pay to get your home sold and we think you will agree that you have the right to expect a very aggressive campaign. The best agents in your town will meet or exceed the expectations that we’ve laid out here and you deserve to work with only the best.

(And the best is Scottsdale HomeStore Team!)
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Open House coming Up?


An inviting open house can put your home on buyers’ short lists.

Four weeks before the open house

  • Ask your parents to babysit the kids the weekend of the open house. Then book a reservation for your pet with the dog sitter or at the kennel. Having everyone out of the house on the day of will help you keep your home tidy and smelling fresh. Plus, no dogs and no kids equal more time for last-minute prep.
  • Line up a contractor to take care of maintenance issues your REALTOR® has asked you to fix, like leaking faucets, sagging gutters, or dings in the walls.
  • De-clutter every room (even if you already de-cluttered once before). Don’t hide your stuff in the closet—buyers will open doors to size up closet space. Store your off-season clothes, sports equipment, and toys somewhere else.
  • Book carpet cleaners for a few days before the open house and a house cleaning service for the day before. Otherwise, make sure to leave time to do these things yourself a couple of days before.

Three weeks before the open house

  • Buy fluffy white towels to create a spa-like feel in the bathrooms.
  • Buy a front door mat to give a good first impression.
  • Designate a shoebox for each bathroom to stow away personal items the day of the open house. 

Two weeks before the open house

  • Clean the light fixtures, ceiling fans, light switches, and around door knobs. A spic-and-span house makes buyers feel like they can move right in.
  • Power-wash the house, deck, sidewalk, and driveway. 

One week before the open house

  • Make sure potential buyers can get up close and personal with your furnace, air-conditioning unit, and appliances. They’ll want to read any maintenance and manufacturer’s stickers to see how old everything is.
  • Clean the inside of appliances and de-clutter kitchen cabinets and drawers and the pantry. Buyers will open cabinet doors and drawers. If yours are stuffed to the gills, buyers will think your kitchen lacks enough storage space.
  • Put out the new door mat to break it in. It’ll look nice, but not too obviously new for the open house.

Week of the open house

  • Buy ready-made cookie dough and disposable aluminum cookie sheets so you don’t have to take time for clean up after baking (you can recycle the pans after use). Nothing says “home” like the smell of freshly baked cookies.
  • Buy a bag of apples or lemons to display in a pretty bowl.
  • Let your REALTOR® know if you’re running low on sales brochures explaining the features of your house.
  • Clean the windows to let in the most light possible.
  • Mow the lawn two days before the open house. Mowing the morning of the open house can peeve house hunters with allergies.

Day before the open house

  • Put away yard clutter like hoses, toys, or pet water bowls.
  • Lay fresh logs in the fireplace.

Day of the open house

  • Put checkbooks, kids’ piggybanks, jewelry, prescription drugs, bank statements, and other valuables in the trunk of your car, at a neighbor’s house, or in your safe. It’s rare, but thefts do happen at open houses.
  • Set the dining room table for a special-occasion dinner. In the backyard, uncover the barbeque and set the patio table for a picnic to show buyers how elegantly and simply they can entertain once they move in.
  • Check any play equipment for spider webs or insect invasions. A kid screaming about spiders won’t endear buyers to your home.
  • Clean the fingerprints off the storm door. First impressions count.
  • Put up Post-It notes around the house to highlight great features like tilt-in windows or a recently updated appliance.
  • Remove shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and other personal items from the bathtub, shower, and sinks in all the bathrooms. Store them in a shoebox under the sink. Removing personal items makes it easier for buyers to see themselves living in your house.
  • Stow away all kitchen countertop appliances.

One hour before the open house

  • Bake the ready-to-bake cookies you bought earlier this week. Put them on a nice platter for your open house guests to eat with a note that says: “Help yourself!”
  • Hang the new towels in the bathrooms.
  • Put your bowl of apples or lemons on the kitchen table or bar counter.
  • Pick up and put away any throw rugs, like the bath mats. They’re a trip hazard.

15 minutes before the open house

  • Open all the curtains and blinds and turn on the lights in the house. Buyers like bright homes.
  • Light fireplace logs (if it’s winter).
  • Didn’t get those cookies baked? Brew a pot of coffee to make the house smell inviting.

During the open house

Get out of the house and let your REALTOR® sell it! Potential buyers will be uncomfortable discussing your home if you’re loitering during the open house. Take advantage of your child- and pet-free hours by treating yourself to something you enjoy–a few extra hours at the gym, a trip to the bookstore, or a manicure.

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