Selling a home in Scottsdale is both an art and a science. Most real estate professionals say the most stressful conversations with their clients involve the asking price and the way the home is presented for sale. This article will focus more on the factors that make the biggest impact on prospective purchasers.
Selling a Home in Scottsdale – Following “Stage Coaches”
For most home sellers, personal possessions are important parts of who they are and what their home means to them. To potential buyers, however, they mean virtually nothing. They’re not interested in your children’s photos, your bowling trophies or the handmade quilt your late grandmother gave you several Christmases ago. Real estate agents worth their salt advise their sellers to tidy up, clean out and pack up most personal items. The reason? Prospective home owners need to clearly imagine themselves and their family in every room in your house. If they look around and see nothing but constant reminders of the seller and their family, they may quickly lose interest. In addition, people’s tastes vary – what you like may not necessarily represent the likes of potential buyers.
That's one reason selling a home in Scottsdale often includes staging the home for the best presentation possible. Today, home staging is more popular than ever – even in a seller’s market. According to a leading national real estate sales firm, staged homes spend half as much time on the market than non-staged homes. In addition, homes that are staged sell for over 6% above the asking price.
Staging can also help the buyers envision how the house will appear once they move in, even though the majority of people don’t have professional decorators at their disposal. Savvy agents refer to staging as being responsible for “aspirational selling.” Buyers imagine living in the house the way it’s set up and decorated for the best sales presentation.
One real estate agent – who is obviously bullish on home staging – says staging homes for sale is a key to her success. “When I put a house on the market, it’s going to look nice. It benefits both me and the seller. They refer me to other people, so it’s an investment I make in my business.” The investment in home staging can range anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the home’s size and whether or not furniture needs to be replaced. Renovation and staging websites often include rental items like furniture, furnishings, rugs, paint, window treatments, accessories and other props.
Selling a Home in Scottsdale – Online Staging
Real estate agents who coach their sellers into staging their homes readily admit one of the advantages of selling a home in Scottsdale by staging is for taking photographs as much as anything else. Even though there will be dozens of people walking through the home, an even larger number of prospects routinely search online, viewing interior photos of the homes they plan to visit. Attractive photos will draw more buyers.
Most real estate professionals say a common problem in trying to stage a home the seller is currently occupying is getting them to understand the philosophy and purpose of staging. Diplomacy is an important attribute of agents dealing with sellers during the “hand-holding” phase. In addition, a key to staging is to give small rooms the appearance of being larger than they really are. That way, buyers start the mental process of envisioning where their furniture – or new furniture – can be placed to best showcase the rooms in the home.
As an example, an eat-in kitchen would naturally have a table in it. A smaller-sized bedroom that appears to be too small for a bed should have a bed in the room. Professional stagers work to position the home to sell to the prospective purchaser. A young couple with children, for example, needs to be able to imagine the rooms as they will best appeal to them, using the type furnishings they can envision. That often involves removing antiques or artwork from an older seller’s home. It may also mean depersonalizing the home so the potential buyers don’t identify too much with the existing homeowners.
Some home stagers go so far as to re-organize closets and kitchen cabinets in an effort to remove any items that may dissuade prospective buyers. While not all rooms require staging, it’s always best to keep all rooms clean and uncluttered. Sometimes giving the potential home buyers an “empty canvas” to use their imagination is a good idea.
One last thing about selling a home in Scottsdale : There are no formal or steadfast rules for what should and shouldn’t occur during the home staging. However, as in most personal or business relationships, first impressions are important. As an example, the front porch, doorway, foyer or entryway are all equally important. Make sure they are appealing to visitors that enter the home with a passing interest and leave it with the home high on their list.
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Scottsdale home improvements can cost tens of thousands of dollars – but they don't have to. Landscaping upgrades are among the most popular improvement projects because of their relatively inexpensive price tag. In addition, a landscaping facelift can dramatically transform the way a home appears, often adding value by recouping the investment made. Whether your goal is to improve your home’s curb appeal, grow a colorful flower garden or create a relaxing backyard wonderland, by following these simple tips you can save money with Scottsdale home improvements to your home’s surroundings.
Scottsdale Home Improvements: Decks
If you have a wooden deck that needs to be brought back to life, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Take time to carefully inspect the structure and foundation of the deck. Pay close attention to the load-bearing posts, the stair stringers and ground-level support joists. Check to make sure bolts and screws are tight and secure. If you see any boards that are showing signs of deterioration, replace them now – they will only get worse. Also, be sure to tap down any nail heads that have popped up on the good boards.
The next step is to swab the deck, matey! You’ll be surprised at what a thorough cleaning can do for the appearance of a tired or worn-looking deck. So, after you’ve made any repairs, scrub down the deck with the following mixture: Mix a quart of regular household bleach and 1/3 cup of your favorite powdered laundry detergent into three quarts of warm water. Use whatever scrubbing method or material is best for you, but experts recommend a stiff-bristled, long handled brush – or an old broom you’re planning to throw away. Once you’ve given it a good scrubbing, hose down your deck and take a look at your revived surface. If you choose to finish the deck, a semitransparent stain is a popular choice for the protection and enhancement of old wooden decks.
Scottsdale Home Improvements: Fences
Fencing is a favorite item on homeowners’ lists of Scottsdale home improvements. A good, sturdy fence is important for giving you privacy and for keeping children and pets safe and secure. The downside of good fencing? It can be expensive. Fencing materials alone can cost upwards of $14 per linear foot for select grade picket fence board. In addition, because properly installing a fence requires the right tools and some expertise, it’s usually not a recommended do-it-yourself project for the average homeowner. However, if you’re considering replacing an old fence with something newer, homeowners can save a good deal of money in doing the tear-down and removal themselves. All that’s usually required for that stage of the Scottsdale home improvements project is a sledgehammer, a crowbar, a hammer or two and a truck to haul off the old fence – plus a generous helping of “elbow grease!”
The pricing of new fencing is usually based on the materials you select. Decide what best suits your needs and meets your budget. Homeowners often find a less expensive fence provides the same results as a top-of-the-line model that can throw your budget for a loop. Lastly, before you start swinging that sledgehammer, take another look at your fence. If it’s still sturdy and solid, but just needs a new look, try a fresh coat of paint. You may be surprised at the results, and you’ll save money, too.
Scottsdale Home Improvements: Landscaping
Let’s be honest. You can spend a small fortune on sod, plants and flowers – but you don’t necessarily need to. While greenery and flowers are important parts of your Scottsdale home improvements landscaping makeover, you can save money and still get what you want. The best time to buy trees, shrubbery and plants – including mulch and garden accessories – is late in the growing season. Visit the big-box stores where the prices are lower because they buy in bulk. Be careful, however, to inspect their plants and flowers carefully. They likely don’t receive the care and treatment they would at a professional nursery and garden center.
Experts suggest you buy perennials, since as the name implies, they reappear every year. You can also get some plants for free, by organizing a neighborhood garden swap or by sharing cuttings from neighbors’ yards. All you have to do is snip from the areas of new growth, pot the cuttings and water them sufficiently.
Scottsdale Home Improvements: Patios
Patios are popular, and keeping them updated shouldn't cost a great deal. If it’s time for a patio makeover, follow these tips from the experts. Inspect the concrete floor. As long as the structure and foundation is sturdy and sound, a worn appearance can usually be spruced up with concrete paint. Specially made paint for concrete floors comes in a variety of colors and, with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can make your patio as unique as you want.
If you’re considering starting a patio from scratch, consider this: Devote a portion of your yard to pavers. They’re easy to work with, easy to take care of and fairly inexpensive. Professional installation of pavers can cost as little as $5 per square foot in some areas of the country.
The final step is to update the furnishings on your existing or new patio. You can save money by looking for deals on various websites like DealCatcher, or by going to eBay or Craigslist. Garage and yard sales may also offer great bargains on gently used, pre-owned furniture that’s perfect for your patio. If you currently have patio furniture, but need to give it a little TLC, you can sand the metal frames and give it them fresh coat of spray paint. Adding new weather-resistant seat cushions and a medium-to-high-quality patio umbrella is also a nice touch.
Scottsdale Home Improvements: Gardens
Creativity is your friend when it comes to creating and cultivating a garden gallery as one of your Scottsdale home improvements. Dishes from a dollar store or containers and canisters from a flea market or yard sale can be used as unique flowerpots. Plus, before you go out and buy something new, take stock in what you have that can be reused or recycled for a different purpose. An old chest of drawers or dresser can be used as a potting station for all your garden implements and tools. In addition, an unused dining cart can be transformed into a mobile grill accessory. Be careful, however, not to overdo it. The last thing you want is for your facelift to look junky. That will defeat the whole purpose of your improvement project.
By using your mind’s eye to envision the transformation of the outside of your home, you can find interesting and useful ways to use your imagination without spending a lot of money to make these and other Scottsdale home improvements.
You can find more articles pertaining to home improvements in the Scottsdale Home Improvements section of our site below Scottsdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. We also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook and would love for you to follow us there as well.
The Scottsdale mortgage market remembers – as do we all – the U.S. housing crash of less than a decade ago. One of the hallmarks of the crash was mortgage lenders who required little or no supporting documentation. When the housing market was booming, they were called “stated income” loans and were advertised as “low-doc” or “no-doc” loans. After the dust settled and the ashes cooled, they were named “liar loans.” That time in American financial history was notable because it represented a reckless, irresponsible precedent that none of us hope repeats itself. Lenders and borrowers alike could essentially put anything they so desired on the mortgage lending application to close the deal. Now, one bank is offering a loan product that brings back memories — most of them bad.
Scottsdale Mortgage Market – What’s up with Docs?
An FDIC-insured community bank in New York City has recently unveiled a new loan program known as “Lite Doc.” The program requires verification of the borrower’s employment and two months of bank statements. For borrowers that are self-employed, the bank requires documentation of just one year of the P&L, profit and loss statement. By comparison, most mortgage loan applications currently require two years of Form 1040 income tax statements, two years of employment W-2s and a minimum of four pay stubs. In addition, they require bank statements and credit reports.
The Lite Doc loans, offered by New York based Quontic Bank with offices in New York City and Miami, are not required to comply with the stringent new “ATR” rules, or “ability to repay” requirements established in the aftermath of the housing crash as part of the Dodd-Frank legislation. Why? Because of a new loophole that allows the bank an “out.” Quontic Bank has been designated as a community development financial institution, or CDFI, by a U.S. Treasury program designed to provide funds to revitalize low-income communities.
According to the Treasury website, “The fund,” established in 1994, “serves mission-driven financial institutions that take a market-based approach to supporting economically disadvantaged communities." Quontic qualifies since it makes loans to borrowers in a low-income community, Queens, New York. In addition, CDFI lenders enjoy exemption from compliance with the “ability to repay” rules.
To be fair, the “Lite Doc” loans aren’t exactly the “low-doc” loans of the early 2000s. Lite Docs require a 40% down payment and a minimum FICO credit score of 700. In addition, the borrowers must be able to substantiate that they have a minimum of 12 months of principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI) in the bank at the time of loan closing. Lastly, Lite Doc loans are only made for the purchase of owner-occupied primary residences.
A Quontic spokesperson said a large number of the bank’s customers are immigrants comprised of half-dozen or more family members who pool their money to meet the required down payment. They don’t have the normal or traditional income documentation available to them that other borrowers may have, because many are paid in tips and bonuses.
While Quontic Bank is able to make Lite Doc loans to anybody in any city in America, so far they have chosen not to do so. The Quontic program is only a few months old and the bank has made just seven Lite Doc loans to customers in New York and Miami. There are others in various stages of processing, the spokesperson says.
An attorney who specializes in consumer financial services issues had this to say about the CDFI banks. "The CDFIs get this privileged status because their sole purpose is to help consumers. They don't have a traditional profit motive. The concern about steering borrowers into inappropriate loans isn't there.”
However, the attorney admits, while the Lite Doc product may not be a “prudent loan,” it is not an illegal loan. And if there’s no strict verification of income, there’s always the possibility that borrowers will falsify or overstate it.
Banking insiders contend lending programs like Lite Doc can be successful, but only if the underwriting guidelines are adhered to and aren’t relaxed. In addition, they warn, the lending documentation that is gathered needs to be accurate because federal regulators will examine the loans on a regular basis.
So what, if anything, does this new product mean to the Scottsdale mortgage market? Maybe nothing… but it’s worth keeping an eye on. In the last decade the mortgage lending business has implemented stricter underwriting rules – frankly, because of the billions of dollars in legal settlements they were ordered to pay as a result of their reckless lending practices.
While some in the Scottsdale mortgage market will argue that credit restrictions have been overcorrected in an effort not to repeat the financial sins of the past, others feel lending standards should be more relaxed. No doubt a happy medium is required to further stimulate home ownership, which is at an all-time low. However, we've seen the results of families borrowing more than they can afford to repay. Millions of Americans endured the pain of foreclosure brought on, in part, by irresponsible lending practices in combination with a recessionary economy. Here's hoping the Scottsdale mortgage market will never experience those misfortunes again.
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The Scottsdale real estate market, like most housing markets throughout the U.S., presents a challenge for that segment of the population commonly referred to as “Millennials.” Millennials are generally identified as men and women between the ages of 25-34. Let’s look at the ongoing dilemma many Millennials face in today’s complex real estate environment.
Scottsdale Real Estate: Where Do Millennials Fit?
It wasn’t long ago that home ownership was a goal every red-blooded, hard-working American citizen aspired to achieve. Parents scrimped and saved to provide their children with at least a portion of the down payment needed to buy their first home. Home ownership was viewed as an expectation by some, and a mark of success by others. Being able – or willing – to buy a home was somewhat of a rite of passage, after all, who wants to “throw money away” on rent each month?
Today, more than a few things have changed – no doubt as a result of what a large segment of Millennials have personally experienced – shaping their thoughts, opinions and goals. During the housing crisis of less than a decade ago, millions of Millennials witnessed firsthand the effects foreclosure can have on a family. Even if they weren’t directly affected by rampant foreclosures, they surely know friends or relatives who were. It’s perfectly understandable that for many, the scars associated with the financial battles they and their families faced were both real and memorable.
Couple the housing crash with a recessionary economy and a job market that consistently failed to meet their growing expectations and it’s no wonder many Millennials who probably could be buying homes have opted not to for now.
Scottsdale Real Estate: Statistics
Generation Progress, a national progressive advocacy and action network for young people, recently cited data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They expressed an optimistic outlook of the current Millennial labor participation market. Generation Progress said for older Millennials – between the ages of 25-34 – the participation in the U.S. labor force is much higher than the national average. While many Millennials are working again and presumably earning more, the possibility of buying a home is a reality within reach. The question that remains, however, is will they buy?
For many of these potential first-time purchasers, the home buying process is rather daunting. They are finding that a home they can afford now may not fill the bill for their “forever home.” Even though the cozy little two-bedroom starter home is affordable and larger than their one-bedroom apartment, Millennials are pausing to ask themselves, “What happens when we want more room, start a family, or want to move to a nicer neighborhood?” When you’re young, the chances of outgrowing your first home are pretty good. Thus, the Millennial dilemma continues. Should they buy a home they can afford now knowing they will want to move sooner than later, or keep saving for a down payment on a larger home?
Consider this statistic, courtesy of the National Association of Realtors: “… for the last three years, Generation Y/Millennials (buyers 18 to 35) is the largest share of home buyers at 35%.” So, the good news is a number of Millennials have entered the Scottsdale real estate market and have purchased homes. Let’s take a quick look at the positives and negatives that Millennials still wrestle with.
Scottsdale Real Estate: Positives
Nationwide, home prices are expected to continue to rise through the rest of the year. In addition, mortgage interest rates are still very low – despite rumblings from the Federal Reserve that they won’t stay low. Simply put, it’s a good time to buy a home. The most important thing to consider is compared to next year, today’s Scottsdale real estate market may look like a bargain.
Scottsdale Real Estate: Negatives
While many Millennials may have saved enough money for a sufficient down payment, some may not realize that’s only the beginning of their cash needs. In order to close a home sale they’ll need closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, maintenance, utilities and more. In addition, if they plan to do any remodeling, even painting or re-carpeting, they’ll need additional money.
Experts say maintenance and repairs usually run home owners 1% – 2% of their mortgage costs annually. So, conservatively, if your mortgage is $150,000 that 1% would cost you roughly $1,500 per year, or $125 per month. Another point to consider: If you move to the suburbs and have formerly been a one-car family, you may now need two cars. Statistics show most Americans spend nearly half of their household income on housing and transportation.
Millennials, like most first-time home buyers will eventually learn their best option may be to buy something now they can get into relatively inexpensively while interest rates are low and prices haven't gone any higher. Then, as the newly-acquired property appreciates they can sell and move up to a larger home – hopefully enjoying the profits of their investment. With soaring rents nationwide, that may be more appealing than continuing to pay rent.
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