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Scottsdale Real Estate News - June 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for June 2014:

Scottsdale Mortgage Rates Continue to Slide

Scottsdale mortgage rates fell again last week for the fifth week in a rowScottsdale mortgage rates continue to fall. Nationwide, for the fifth week in a row, 30-year fixed mortgage rates dropped and now are at an average 4.12 percent, according to a national survey. That was down from the previous week's average of 4.14 percent.

Despite an announcement by the Federal Reserve that it would begin to taper its stimulus, which brought the expectation that mortgage rates would increase gradually, rates have remained near all-time lows. The Fed has announced four declines in its monthly bond purchases since December because the economy appears to be steadily healing. But the Fed has no plans to raise its benchmark short-term rate from record lows.

According to Bankrate, a number of factors have played into rates remaining low, including slow overall growth in the U.S. economy. Without strong growth in investments, mortgage rates tend to stay low because they are related to yields on long-term government debt.

Warmer weather has yet to boost home buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher interest rates beginning in mid-2013 have made homes less affordable for would-be buyers. At the same time, a limited supply of homes is available to buy. New construction has focused increasingly on rental apartments, instead of single-family homes.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has told Congress that the economy is improving but noted that the job market remains "far from satisfactory" and that inflation is still below the Fed's target rate. She said she expects the Fed's near-zero target for short-term rates to remain appropriate for a "considerable time" after the bond purchases end.

Stay plugged in here with our website and we'll keep you up to date on the latest Scottsdale mortgage rates, and news that affects those rates.


Pending Home Sales Rise in April

The National Association of Realtors said this past week that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index rose 0.4 percent to 97.8 last month. The index remains 9.2 percent below its level a year ago.

More people signed contracts to purchase homes in April than the prior month. But the pace of buying is still weaker than last year, as higher prices and relatively tight supplies have limited sales.

Pending sales are a barometer of future purchases. A one to two month lag usually exists between a signed contract and a completed sale. The index indicates that home buying has barely increased in May.

Would-be buyers have gotten some help in recent weeks from falling mortgage rates that we just talked about in our first story. Average rates for 30-year, fixed mortgages declined for the fifth straight week to 4.12 percent.

Still, rates remain above their lows of 3.51 percent a year ago. The rising rates in the second half of 2013 and higher home prices appear to have reduced the pool of potential homebuyers.

The Realtors group said last week that sales rose 1.3 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million. Purchases of homes over the past 12 months have dropped 6.8 percent.


5 Best Things to Buy in June

Tools are one of the best things to buy in the month of JuneShifting gears a bit away from "all things related to Scottsdale real estate", we thought we'd bring you a little buying advice in something besides Scottsdale real estate, and give you some tips on some other things you might find a good deal on in June.

Tools: Father's Day is June 15th, and retailers are discounting prices on tools and other home improvement equipment. Even if you're not buying tools for Dad, you may want to assess your own supply, since tools rarely go on sale. Check out coupons and newspaper ads for home improvement stores to compare prices.

Designer Clothes: If you're in the market for some hip summer clothes, June is an excellent month to hit the sales racks. All the big fashion houses are making way for their fall collection, so now is a great time to scoop up those latest trends you've been eyeing.

Gym Memberships and Equipment: Anyone working on their beach body, or those simply trying to maintain a healthy one, will benefit from slashed prices on gym memberships, fitness apparel and workout equipment in June. With new year's resolutions long forgotten and more people getting outdoors to take advantage of the nice weather, there's less of a demand for indoor gym equipment and gym memberships. Lack of demand equals a decrease in prices.

Grills and Grilling Supplies: If you delayed buying a new grill for the summer, June and July are the best months for deals on grills. Also shop for grilling supplies, including utensils and grill baskets.

Dishes: Due in large part to June being such a popular month for weddings, dishware companies offer discounts on their products to try to win spots on registries. That's good news for everyone in need of new place settings, soon-to-be-married or not. Expect discounts to start around 25 percent off and to go as high as half off, or more.

See you next month for another issue of our Scottsdale real estate newsletter!


Scottsdale Real Estate News - May 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for May 2014:

Scottsdale Housing Market Happy to See Spring

The Scottsdale housing market is glad to finally see spring arriveThe term "Spring Thaw" means different things to different people, depending on where in the world they may live. But a thaw in the Scottsdale housing market is the same no matter where you may live.

After a weather-weakened winter for Scottsdale housing sales, as well as most everywhere else in the country, more potential buyers signed contracts to buy a Scottsdale home in March.

The National Association of Realtors says pending sales of existing homes rose 3.4 percent from the previous month, the first monthly increase in nine months.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association, said, “After a dismal winter, more buyers got an opportunity to look at homes last month and are beginning to make contract offers.”

Sales activity is expected to steadily pick up as more inventory reaches the market, and from ongoing job creation in the economy. The increase in contracts for Scottsdale homes was welcome news because actual sales of existing homes were flat in March. Contract signings in March were still 7.9 percent below March 2013.

A slow start to the year will likely mean fewer overall sales throughout this year compared with 2013. The NAR forecasts total existing home sales of 4.9 million this year, compared with 5.1 million last year. The association forecasts housing prices will rise another 6 percent to 7 percent this year.


Case-Shiller Thoughts on Home Pricing

The latest Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report, "Going forward, if home prices continue to rise, there are a limited number of options to offset the rising cost of purchasing a home: 1) an equally sizable increase in wages or 2) a marked reduction in credit restrictions. Given the significant slack in the labor market, the latter option of easing lending standards appears to be the most probable and fast-acting solution."

Despite continued price gains, most other housing statistics are weak.

Sales of both new and existing homes are flat to down. The recovery in housing starts, now less than one million units at annual rates, is faltering. Moreover, home prices nationally have not made it back to 2005. Mortgage interest rates, which jumped in May last year and are steady since then, are blamed by some analysts for the weakness. Others cite difficulties in qualifying for loans and concerns about consumer confidence. The result is less demand and fewer homes being built.


Scottsdale Homeownership at Lowest Level Since 1995

The Scottsdale homeownership rate in the first quarter of 2014 stands at the lowest since June 1995.

The rate of homeownership at the end of the first quarter of 2014 was 64.8%, which is 0.2 percentage points lower than the first quarter 2013 rate of 65%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Mortgage Applications Dive

Scottsdale mortgage applications fell recently to the lowest level since 2000.Applications for Scottsdale home mortgages fell last week to their lowest level since December 2000 as both refinancing and purchase applications declined.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5.9 percent to 333.2 in the week ended April 25. That was the lowest level since December 2000.

The combination of higher rates, new regulation and tight inventory in the Scottsdale housing market are all leading to a weaker spring market than we have seen in years.

The MBA's seasonally adjusted index of refinancing applications declined 6.9 percent, while the gauge of loan requests for home purchases, a leading indicator of home sales, fell 4.4 percent.

Fixed 30-year mortgage rates averaged 4.49 percent this past week, unchanged from the week before.

Call us today or use the contact link at our website to take advantage of the spring thaw in Scottsdale housing, and let us know how we can help you find the perfect Scottsdale home for your needs and your budget.

Scottsdale Real Estate News - April 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for April 2014:

How Much Scottsdale House Can You Afford?

Before you start to look for a Scottsdale house, the first question you should ask is, "how much house can I afford?"

Last month, we devoted our entire Scottsdale real estate newsletter to helping those considering selling their home figure out how to find the right agent to help them market their property.

This month, we're devoting our entire newsletter to helping potential Scottsdale home buyers know just how much Scottsdale house they can afford to buy.

How Much Scottsdale House Can You Afford – Basic Factors

When buying a Scottsdale house, one of the things that must be in line is your debt to income ratioWhen you are wondering “how much can I afford to spend on a Scottsdale house,” the bottom line is what size mortgage can you qualify for? There are several variables from your personal financial history that will factor into the answer, including:

  • Your income
  • Your credit rating
  • Your existing debt
  • Your down payment

To those existing factors, you can add some variables of the Scottsdale housing market, and your own choices as you plan to take on a mortgage:

  • The mortgage term (fifteen years,thirty years, fixed rate, adjustable rate, etc.)
  • The current interest rate
  • Private mortgage insurance (if your expected down payment is less than twenty percent of the purchase price)
  • The current Scottsdale real estate market

How Much Scottsdale House Can You Afford – The Firm Answer

One way to do it is to go to your bank and request pre-approval for a mortgage. With a pre-approved loan in hand you will know exactly how high you can go in shopping for that perfect Scottsdale house.

Instead of just a guess you will have a firm number in hand when you begin to look at all the homes for sale in the Scottsdale market. You won't be in for any surprises when you make an offer on a Scottsdale house and then find out you don't even qualify for the mortgage to buy that house.

Having a pre-approved loan also facilitates your ability to move quickly on a Scottsdale house when you do find the right one. Time can be of the essence—especially if you have competition for the purchase of the home you have your eye on. Very often, the first buyer who brings money (and an approved mortgage) to the table is the buyer who actually walks away with the title. With your loan pre-approved, you won't have any hold ups in the process, because you won't have to be waiting to hear back from the lender.

Can You, or Should You, Buy a Scottsdale House Now?

When buying a Scottsdale house, try to buy less house than you actually qualify for.Owning a Scottsdale house should not burden you or make you feel like you've bitten off more than you can chew. After answering the question "how much Scottsdale house can I afford?", the next question you need to answer is, "How much house SHOULD I buy?"

There is a lot to be said for not maxing out your credit limit when buying a home. If you choose a Scottsdale house with a price lower than the maximum you were pre-approved for, you will have an easier time making your payments, or better yet, you should be able to pay extra on the principle and save yourself money by paying off the loan early.

The more down payment you can bring to the table, the smaller the loan you will have to be paying interest on. In the long run, the largest portion of the price you pay for a house is typically the interest on the loan. If you hold off on buying the house until you can save more down payment, you could save in the long run, even though you may end up paying more for the house later.

How Much Scottsdale House Can You Afford "On Your Present Income?"

Ask yourself whether your job is secure. Are you certain to keep the salary you are currently making. If you're making good money when you fill out your loan application, but later get downsized or laid off, you could be in serious danger of losing your home if you can't keep up the payments. It happened to a record number of people during the recent "Great Recession."

To ensure the security of your home, you might consider some or all of the following measures, and factor their cost into the overall cost of your mortgage and home ownership:

  • A life insurance policy on the income earner sufficient to pay off the mortgage so the family could stay in the home in the unfortunate event of losing the income earner.
  • Disability insurance and unemployment insurance, enough to make sure your family could continue making house payments if the income earner were injured or laid off.
  • Sufficient savings for your family to live for several months (including mortgage payments) if the income earner were laid off and needed time to find a new job.

These possible scenarios add weight to the idea we mentioned about choosing a home that does not stretch your financial resources to the maximum. If you purchase a Scottsdale house that maxes out your current ability to pay, it would be that much harder to make ends meet if you found yourself living on a lesser income in the future. A lower monthly payment could be an easier target to hit if you find yourself having to do with less than your current level of income.

How Much Scottsdale House – Bottom Line

When buying a Scottsdale house, never try to do it on your own, get an agent to help you.As you can see, answering the question of "How much Scottsdale house can I really afford?" is not a cut and dry process. There are many variables. But one thing that holds true, regardless of your financial status, job security, amount of down payment, or any of the other factors you have to consider, is this:

When buying Scottsdale real estate, you should ALWAYS have a real estate agent working for you to help you through the homebuying maze.

It's true, you can look up some of the Scottsdale homes for sale online yourself, but a real estate agent or broker has the inside track on all the available properties, probably including some inside knowledge about how long various properties have been on the market, how willing the sellers might be to negotiate, and when a Scottsdale house is overpriced for the market. A real estate agent working for you will be doing everything he or she can do to get you into the Scottsdale home you really want, for the least money possible.

If you're just starting your Scottsdale house hunting expedition, consider these tips, and be sure not to try to do it on your own. After all, having an agent helping you find the perfect Scottsdale house to fit your needs and your budget will not cost you any more than doing it on your own. In fact, in most cases, having an agent helping you will save you money in the long run.

Call us today or use the contact link at our website to let us know how we can help you find the perfect Scottsdale house for your needs and your budget.

Scottsdale Real Estate News - March 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for March 2014:

7 Things Scottsdale Home Sellers Should Do Before Hiring an Agent


7 Things Scottsdale Home Sellers Should Do Before Hiring an Agent

Scottsdale home sellers who are thinking about selling their home need to do everything they can to make their agent's job easier, which will benefit them during the process of selling their home.

Last month, we devoted our entire Scottsdale real estate newsletter to helping homebuyers not overpay for their home.

This month, we're devoting our entire newsletter to helping Scottsdale home sellers with seven things they need to do before hiring a real estate agent.

1 – Research Home Values In Your Neighborhood

Scottsdale home sellers should do advance research on home values in their neighborhood before contacting a real estate agent.Most Scottsdale home sellers have an idea of what their home should list for, but the savviest sellers check comparable home values before meeting with a listing agent.

Your goal should be for you and your agent to be on the same page in terms of the value. Sometimes you'll find conditions will be in your favor, and sometimes you may be disappointed with the current market, (but) regardless of what you discover, your research will help you and your agent create a realistic plan for selling your home.

Look at recent comparable sales in your neighborhood. Scottsdale home sellers can find that information through online real estate sites like ours. Sellers need to be realistic, using homes with comparable square footage, the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a similar level of amenities. It's also important for sellers to consider their home's condition relative to the comps.

2 – Check the Mortgage

Before meeting a listing agent, Scottsdale home sellers should pull their loan documents and find out exactly what they own on their mortgage.

Knowing your loan amount upfront will help your real estate agent know what strategy to take with your home. If the amount you owe is more than the market value, then you're underwater. Selling as a short sale is totally different than an equity sale.

Even if your home is in the black, it's important to work with precise dollar amounts to help get a better estimate of what you stand to make from the sale. Depending on what your agent thinks you can get in the current market, that information might also make the difference between listing and waiting it out.

3 – Learn About Any Liens Or Disputes

The more Scottsdale home sellers can tell their real estate agent in advance about any liens and other issues that could hold up a sale, the better.

If you know about any issues like liens or property disputes, deal with them before you put the house on the market.

Think about any tax issues, disputes you may have had with contractors or other problems that could have allowed a creditor to put a lien on your house. Be upfront about disputes with neighbors, especially if they pertain to your property lines. It's easier to settle those matters before listing your home. And if you're selling a property that belonged to a deceased relative, make sure your house has a clean title before contacting a real estate agent.

4 – Clean Up Everywhere

Many Scottsdale home sellers fail to keep their rooms neat and orderly. This could cost you a saleThis should be obvious, but a lot of people don't seem to get it. You want your real estate agent to walk into a clean home. Some Scottsdale home sellers miss this.

Think of it as making a great first impression. If your real estate agent believes your home is winner, they will market it at a higher value. If they think it's a dump, they'll be more likely to express those feelings and they may want you to give your home away.

So what are Scottsdale home sellers supposed to do? It's important to clean the home as if you're having your in-laws over for dinner. You wouldn't have papers piled all over the place if your in-laws were coming over. Clean up the place and put things away so they are not visible to buyers looking at your home.

Don't limit your cleaning to inside the home.

Curb appeal is criticial. You want your real estate agent to have a mental picture of your home being a winner, so if the lawn needs to be mowed or the bushes need to be trimmed, do it!

5 – Hold Off on Improvements

You may be thinking about making some improvements to your home before you put the for sale sign in the yard. Our advice… hold off until you've hired your agent.

What you think will be a great return on the investment may not be what's in demand by buyers in your market, and your real estate expert will be able to advise you on this.

The danger is, if you make the wrong upgrades before hiring your agent, and then your agent advises you to do something different, you've already spent the cash and there's not much they can do about it.

Scottsdale home sellers are always tempted to go overboard, but you shouldn't because you're moving. If you run those decisions by an agent first, they'll help you stick to what's necessary and keep you from making choices that are specific to your tastes, which might not appeal to the local buyers they may already be working with.

6 – Note Upgrades You Have Made

If you take our advice in the previous section and hold off on upgrades and improvements until after you've hired an agent, you're going to be ahead of the game. But if you have made improvements already, be sure to have details on these upgrades to show your agent.

These improvements can range from major expenditures such as additions, to smaller investments such as new carpet or flooring. But knowing about these updates can help your agent price your home correctly and market it effectively to buyers.

But while listing agents want to know about the improvements, they don't need to know what you spent. The cost of updates is not as important as the fact they have been made. Real estate professionals will know what value is added to the home with the upgrades, and in many cases it's more than the initial investment.


7 – Set Your Schedule

Scottsdale home sellers need to be flexible on times they will allow their home to be shown to prospective buyers.Scottsdale home sellers need to give some thought to their schedules before listing their home with an agent. That will help maximize the potential time your property could be shown to prospective buyers. Your agent should make recommendations for ideal showing times given market conditions, but the key is to be ready for the potential change in routine, if needed.

In many cases, sellers may have to make some small adjustments to their lives during the sales process. Your "at home" schedule may need to be changed slightly to accommodate showings so you're not at home when potential buyers are there to see your place. And if you have pets, you should be prepared to have the animal out of the house for showing, especially for open houses.

It comes down to scheduling and planning, but your real estate agent needs to know your level of flexibility in order to make the most of the buyer's schedules.

Keep these 7 tips for Scottsdale home sellers in mind before you even think about listing your home for sale.

Scottsdale Real Estate News - February 2014

In our Scottsdale Real Estate News for February 2014:

7 Ways Scottsdale Homebuyers Overpay


7 Ways Scottsdale Homebuyers Overpay

Scottsdale homebuyers may not get a do-over when buying a homeScottsdale homebuyers often undermine their own best interests and end up overpaying for a home.

First-time homebuyers, as well as those looking in a hot market, are susceptible to overpaying because they have a hard time exercising discipline when it comes to price.

Any buyer can make a mistake, and if they don't keep a level head, that mistake can end up costing them a lot of money. And when buying a home, you may not get a do-over.

This month, we're devoting our entire newsletter to helping Scottsdale homebuyers not overpay for their home.

1 – Open House Fever

Sellers oftentimes use open houses to drum up interest in their property. But looked at from a buyer's point of view, open houses should be a big caution flag.

Oftentimes, with a lot of people milling around in an open house, it brings out the competitive nature in all of us, and it's all too easy to end up overpaying because of the hype.

Thankfully, open houses aren't mandatory. If you're interested in a property, we suggest that you ask for a private showing where there are no distractions like food, music or overly enthusiastic looky-loos.

Even in a private showing, buyers need to be conscious of staging techniques that are often designed to wow them into complacency.

Remember, that staging look is not how it will be when you live there. Those are topical treatments to make a house look good. Keep a level head on your shoulders and examine the basics like plumbing, roof, electric and the foundation. Once you see the underside of a home, you'll be less inclined to overpay.

2 – Not Being on the Same Page

Scottsdale homebuyers could overpay if they are not on the same page with their wants and needsIf you're buying real estate with your significant other, you'd better get on the same page or you'll end up stretching your wish list — and that will cost you.

If you're staying in a home for a while, why overpay for a one-year advantage, like being close to a school when the child is going to be moving on to another school anyway, or graduating soon. Discuss your timelines and long-term goals, then go looking for a home.

Make separate lists of your wants versus needs, then rank them from most to least important, and compare.

After visiting homes, check back with your lists. You'll be amazed at how adaptive  they can be, so keep an open mind. For some Scottsdale homebuyers there are things that are worth overpaying for, but you need to know what that is for your spouse, and you need to set boundaries so you don't overpay on everything.

3 – Being in a Hurry

Typically, Scottsdale homebuyers spend months or more searching for a home. But not all buyers have that kind of time, especially if the purchase is driven by a life change, such as a new job or a divorce.

Any time a lengthy process is condensed into one or two weekends, the potential for mistakes is greatly increased. If not handled properly, a rushed purchase during a potentially stressful life change can often lead to buyer's remorse on multiple levels, including overpaying or choosing a home in the wrong location.

A Scottsdale homebuyer in a time crunch can mitigate the problem by working with an experienced agent who is active in the area, like we are.

We may have specific knowledge about a property that can be advantageous to the you as the homebuyer, especially if you're on a tight timeline. It could be that we know of a house that's a better fit, or we might have a local's understanding of maintenance issues, for example.

4 – Making Lowball Offers

Unless the home you're looking at has been sitting on the market for months or more without so much as a nibble, we will most likely advise you against making a lowball offer, which is substantially below the asking price. Lowball offers really aren't offers at all because sellers either don't take them seriously or see them as an insult.

Besides the high likelihood of losing out to a higher bidder, the big risk is starting off on the wrong foot with the seller. If the seller gets insulted, or feels that yours is not a serious offer, they are less likely to respond with a reasonable counteroffer, and you've basically shot yourself in the foot for any further communications from that seller.

While that doesn't mean the deal is dead, it can mean that the seller will be reluctant to negotiate when you make a serious offer. By starting off with a respectful offer, even if it's below the asking price, Scottsdale homebuyers create an opening to adjust the price downward as the deal moves toward closing.

5 – Not Knowing the Neighborhood

When you don't know an area, you won't know a good location from a bad one, and that ignorance can cost you.

It is always best to be a well-informed buyer, but obviously this doesn't always happen.

There's a simple solution — work with an experienced agent like us who knows the Scottsdale area.

If an agent can't provide additional details about a particular neighborhood or doesn't seem to know the community, it's best just to move along and find an agent who does. Hyperlocal knowledge can help buyers find the best listings and secure the right price. We know the Scottsdale neighborhoods you may be looking at well… so we can provide you with expert knowledge of the area you may not get elsewhere.

6 – Bid Fatigue

It is not uncommon for Scottsdale homebuyers to have multiple offers rejectedIn a competitive market, it's not uncommon for buyers to spend months making offers on multiple homes. The process can be exhausting, demoralizing, and expensive.

Scottsdale homebuyers can most definitely get fatigued in this market. Bidding on homes and not getting anywhere can be very frustrating, and sometimes that frustration does cause buyers to up their budget.

Increasing your budget isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially in a competitive market. The key is staying within an affordable range.

We strongly advise buyers against overpaying just because they're worn down. It makes more sense to either rethink your wants and needs in a home, or even consider sitting it out a bit, if you're able to do so.

7 – Falling for the Goalpost Shift

A deal is supposed to be a deal. But in extremely competitive markets, sometimes sellers renege after accepting an offer, only to jack up the price. The phenomenon is common enough to have a name: the "shift-the-goalpost sale." Unfortunately, some buyers do fall for it.

Sometimes, Scottsdale homebuyers put up with sellers reneging on offers because they fear losing out on the property or just don't want to go through another round of searching. But, buyers can end up paying tens of thousands of dollars more when they continue negotiating with sellers who reneged on accepted offers.

What's a buyer to do? Taking legal action likely just means more money spent on lawyers. Instead, buyers need to either take a firm stand and say no, or risk losing the property.

Keep these 7 tips for Scottsdale homebuyers in mind before you even start your home search. And depend on us to help you avoid making any of these costly mistakes.