If you’re a homeowner, you probably already know that a remodeler’s best friend is paint. Painting is relatively easy, it’s cheap and it can make a big difference in the appearance of your home. Therefore, it should be at the top of your Scottsdale home improvements checklist. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your next paint job go smoother than ever.

Scottsdale Home Improvements: Painting Tips

Try these ideas on for size –– and convenience!
Use a lint remover to clean dust, fuzz, or other debris particles from a paint roller.

There's no need to ever clean another paint tray. Simply line it with aluminum foil or a small plastic bag, pour your paint in, and remove and dispose when finished.

If you’re doing more painting the next day, don’t clean your roller or brush. Wrap it with aluminum foil, make sure it’s air tight, and put it in the refrigerator. It should last for days.

If you have an old roller, you can salvage it and use it again by trimming the ends with scissors.

Hate the smell of paint? Mix a little vanilla extract in it.

If your masking tape has hardened, put it in a microwave for thirty seconds and it will soften up.

Keep paint cans clean by wiping your brush on a rubber band stretched across the top of the open can.

When it’s time to clean up, put your brush in a pot with a little vinegar and heat it up on the stove. Even a stiff brush will come clean more easily. However, this works on latex-based paints only.

For more information on Scottsdale home improvements see the other real estate related categories to the right. To keep you better informed, we also post daily on Twitter and Facebook.

While housing continues to make a steady recovery, the percentage of first-time Scottsdale homebuyers remains very low. At only 32% of all home purchases, first-time buyer totals have fallen to the lowest level in almost thirty years.

Why Scottsdale Homebuyers Aren’t Buying

The percentage of first-time Scottsdale homebuyers remains very low.

Despite market conditions seemingly being favorable for first-time buyers, they simply aren’t getting involved. Low mortgage rates, promising employment opportunities for college-educated prospects, and rising rents ordinarily would signal a ripe opportunity for those looking to buy their first home. However, according to a recent survey, those same increasing rents and higher home prices are hindrances to young couples trying to save money for a down payment. Factor in the scarcity of new and existing homes in an entry-level, affordable price range, and it’s easier to see why first-timers are hesitant to enter the market. Many still think it may be too difficult for them to qualify for a mortgage.

Survey respondents cited debt as the major factor for putting off buying a home. They said too much debt prevents them from saving sufficient money for a down payment. And over half of those surveyed specifically blame student-loan debt.

Ironically, younger buyers still have a strong desire to own their own home. Of first-time buyers that made a purchase, 64% say their primary reason for buying was their “desire to own” rather than rent. That percentage represents an 11% increase from just one year ago.

Repeat home buyers surveyed cited their desire for a larger home as the main reason that motivated them to purchase. Many feel even though home prices are high, the values are rising as well and with interest rates near all-time lows there’s no better time for them to upgrade.

A majority of those surveyed — 80%, in fact — viewed home ownership as a good long-term investment, with 43% saying that home ownership was a better investment than the stock market.

The report was released during which time the U.S. home ownership rate is at its lowest level in 50 years, 63.4%. That rate leveled off in the third quarter of this year, marking the first time since 2013.

Other interesting survey findings were as follows:

Cash purchases still comprise a large percentage of home transactions. While most buyers needed mortgage loans to buy their homes, that percentage dipped slightly. Not surprisingly, roughly 50% of first-time buying prospects cited the mortgage approval process as being more extensive and more cumbersome than they anticipated.

Today’s Scottsdale homebuyers have the highest average FICO credit scores in history. And more borrowers are qualifying for mortgage loans — notably so among middle-income black and Hispanic borrowers — even though they comprise a smaller percentage of the total housing market.

As expected in this technology-driven world, today’s home buyers are utilizing mobile apps and real estate websites more and more to search properties and mortgage rates. They are also making quicker decisions and taking action faster than ever. Statistics show buyers purchase their homes on average in 10 weeks compared to 12 weeks during the period between 2009 and 2013.

What does this all mean for first-time Scottsdale homebuyers? First-timers hesitant to become purchasers need to be more aware of low down payment mortgage programs. In addition, if their credit is relatively good, financing should be available at low interest rates. And, even though home sales prices are high, so are rents. So, they should take a look at purchasing while the time may be right for them.

Get more up to date news and tips for Scottsdale homebuyers by checking out our other articles under the Scottsdale Real Estate News section just below Scottsdale Real Estate Categories to your right.

A scam tied to the new "smart-chip" enabled credit and debit cards has reached the Scottsdale economy as millions of Americans await their banks to send the new cards. While the chips are designed to put an end to counterfeiting, as usual, the bad guys have other things in mind.

Crooks Target The Scottsdale Economy

Because it’s new, scammers are banking on you not knowing much about the smart-chip cards and how the banks will issue them. They’re sending out emails under the guise of your bank or financial institution requesting that you "updated their files" so they can mail you your new credit or debit card. Naturally, what they’re really trying to do is steal your personal financial information — either by you completing the emailed form or clicking a link in the email that would download malware to obtain it. It's just the latest in a series of identity theft scams to hit the Scottsdale economy.

Protect yourself as best as possible by knowing these tips:

  1. More likely than not, your bank will automatically send you your new card by mail. If you don’t receive it, call them and request it.
  2. Banks and financial institutions rarely call you on the telephone to request information of a confidential and sensitive nature about your checking, savings or loan accounts.
  3. Don’t click on suspicious email links. If you receive an email that asks you to do so, call your bank and verify it as soon as possible.

If you think you may have already fallen prey to this most recent identity theft scam, don’t panic. Call your bank and notify them of what happened. Report it to the local authorities, the credit bureaus and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) Lastly, monitor your credit report for any signs of identity theft or anything else unusual.

Being vigilant is one of the best ways you can thwart the scammers trying to illegally profit in the Scottsdale economy.
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When it comes to Scottsdale home improvements, going solar probably isn’t your first thought. Adding solar panels to an existing home sounds to some like an idea that will never see the light of day. However, it may be time to seriously consider going solar — a new day is dawning.

Scottsdale Home Improvements: Let the Sun Shine

When it comes to Scottsdale home improvements, solar panels are probably not on your list

From 2013 to 2014 solar powered homes increased by 30%. Greater growth is expected through 2016 and beyond. In fact, California recently became the first state to generate over 5% of its electricity from utility-scale solar power.

The reasons solar panels should be considered among the top Scottsdale home improvements are many. Saving money on your home’s electric bill is one. Increasing the value of your home is another. For many, becoming a part of the movement to decrease our carbon footprints is an even bigger incentive. It is estimated that in just 20 years a home powered by solar energy can offset tons of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere.

One of the biggest challenges solar energy faces are the commonly-held misconceptions of many homeowners. Let’s address a few.

Solar panels are unaffordable.
Experts say the cost of solar panels has reduced dramatically. Ten years ago the average cost for solar panels on a home’s roof was $43,000. Today the cost is roughly $29,000. In addition, there are renewable energy tax credits available for homeowners who use solar energy. Plus, if you install solar panels on your home, you can claim a 30% rebate. That could give new interest in adding solar energy to your list of home improvements. Still need convincing? There are solar panel leasing options available.

In bad weather, solar panels are useless.
This is a common misconception. The truth is that solar panels operate off of ultraviolet light which is present even on cloudy days. Case in point: Germany leads the world in solar energy implementation despite enduring harsh winters with minimal sunlight.

Solar panels require constant maintenance.
On the contrary, rooftop solar panels need minimal maintenance. Manufacturers recommend you clean the panels with a water hose once a year. Normal rainfall will usually suffice. The only other suggestion is to make sure there isn't excessive debris such as pine straw or leaves that may block the panels from doing their job.

If you’re ready to look into solar for one of your desired home improvements consider this: not all roofs are able to accommodate solar panels. Contact a roofing contractor trained and certified in photovoltaic (solar panel) work by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. And do your homework. Ask for references you can contact.

If everything checks out, you may just enjoy the solar energy advantages resulting from your Scottsdale home improvements wish list. That’s guaranteed to give you a sunny disposition!

So, you’ve decided to sell your home? Before you do, consider these Scottsdale home selling tips for the best results.

Follow These 4 Scottsdale Home Selling Tips

Consider these Scottsdale home selling tips. New to home selling, these ideas may help.

Choose the right real estate agent. Of course, you can try to sell your home yourself, but most people seek the aid of a professional. Once you choose a capable and knowledgeable real estate agent, you will enter into a listing agreement with their brokerage firm. The agreement usually requires you to give your agent 3-6 months to sell your home. During that time, if the home sells you will pay the agency a commission for their efforts.

Be prepared to sell. In this information-rich and high-tech real estate market, first impressions are important. So, if your home isn’t in the best condition — especially if it’s priced too high — it may be on the market longer than you want. And a house that’s quickly identified as having been for sale for a long period of time automatically sends red flags to prospective purchasers as having problems. If you’re serious about selling, commit to a price range with the listing agent and be ready to accept a contract in that range. This could very well be one of the most important home selling tips we can offer you here.

Create a relationship with your agent. While the real estate brokerage firm is important, more important is the agent charged with selling your home. He or she will be your point person. Make sure you and your agent are on the same page with respect to sales price, projected sales time frame, move date and other components during your Scottsdale  home selling process. It will make for a smoother, less stressful experience.

Move quickly when you receive an offer. Many times in a bustling real estate market, when you get a serious offer, you need to act quickly. When you accept the offer and escape the contract, the countdown to closing — the ultimate goal — begins. Sellers often underestimate how long the home selling process can take. And once your home is under contract with a buyer, it can take several weeks before financing is approved and the actual closing occurs. Be prepared to move quickly in the event your purchaser is paying cash or is pre-approved for financing. You certainly don’t want to lose a potential sale because you weren’t ready to move. The bottom line: expect the unexpected. Have a plan and know what your next move will be regardless of whether the closing will occur a month or more, or if it will be in a week.

Follow the above Scottsdale home selling tips and you just may turn the "newbie" label into a savvy experienced home seller!

Find more tips to help you sell your home by hopping over to our Scottsdale Home Selling Tips section of articles just below the Scottsdale Real Estate Categories to your right.