There are a number of Scottsdale homebuying mistakes that need to be avoided. Let's look at three very important tips that will help you avoid common pitfalls associated with buying your first home. Anticipating your needs will go a long way in assisting you in the process you're about to undertake. In addition, it will help make the experience a potentially fun and rewarding one.

We're reminded of a true story about one first-time homebuyer who had scrimped and saved diligently for several years to accumulate a down payment. However, because he was self-employed he worried whether he would have enough for a sufficient down payment and if he would be able to qualify for a mortgage since he didn't earn a "traditional" salary like most young borrowers who work for somebody else.

Unfortunately, stories and concerns like these occur all too often and can fall into the category of Scottsdale homebuying mistakes to avoid – especially among prospective first-time buyers. The Economic and Strategic Research Group of Fannie Mae recently conducted a survey to better understand what consumers know about mortgage qualification criteria. The findings revealed that roughly 40% of potential borrowers did not know when asked about minimum down payment requirements. In addition, 54% and 59%, respectively, were not aware of minimum credit scores and maximum debt-to-income ratios to qualify for a mortgage loan. The lack of knowledge in these basic areas of mortgage qualification is both surprising and disconcerting. Furthermore, it can contribute to common mistakes first-time homebuyers may make as they try to avoid Scottsdale homebuying mistakes. Now, about those tips:

Scottsdale homebuying mistakes you need to avoid at all costs.

Seek professional advice
The above story about the first-time buyer, we're glad to report, did have a happy ending. The prospective homeowner sought help from a local HUD-approved housing counseling agency who reviewed his credit score, advised him on making some minor changes, and provided him assurance he could qualify for a HomeReady mortgage through Fannie Mae. The HomeReady program allows borrowers to pay as little as 3% for the down payment. In addition, it requires completion of an online education course. With the help of a professional, our first-time buyer was able to qualify for a low down payment mortgage – with his self-employed income – and purchase the home he wanted.

Understand the loan process
Lack of knowledge can be the single most detrimental problem to overcome for any first-time homebuyer. Fear of the unknown is likely the cause of many young buyers remaining on the sidelines when it comes to participating in the homebuying market and avoiding Scottsdale homebuying mistakes. The irony, however, is that in today's informational age there is a wealth of knowledge available to prospective homeowners with just a click of the mouse. Virtually every reputable real estate company and hundreds of publications – both in print and online – provide easy to follow guidelines concerning how to go about searching for a home to buy and financing the home you choose.

Armed with a basic understanding of what is involved in shopping for a home, how to obtain information on homes for sale, and the various financing options available a first-time home buyer can and will have an advantage that comes with knowing what to expect. The old adage, "Knowledge is power" certainly rings true when it comes to avoiding Scottsdale homebuying mistakes.

Avoid these typical pitfalls
There are three major issues that can thwart first-time homebuyers during the process of buying and/or financing their home purchase:

• Going rogue
While it's both enlightening and educational to do some preliminary online home shopping, it's probably not a good idea to strike out on your own and visit homes you like. As we've mentioned above, talk with a housing counseling agency, a real estate professional, or a mortgage lender to help you better understand if you're fiscally ready to buy a home or continue renting. Statistics provided by the Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report show that just 46% of buyers were able to buy the first home on which they issued an offer. This confirms that in a fast-paced real estate market, competition and disappointment go hand-in-hand. It's probably a good idea – and good business – to enlist the aid of a professional to better enhance the outcome.

• Shopping for homes outside your price range
Many real estate professionals recommend first-time buyers get pre-approved before they begin the home buying process. Pre-approval can include the completion of a mortgage loan application and the submission of pertinent supporting documentation such as tax returns, W-2s, or pay stubs to verify income. In addition, a preliminary credit report can be ordered for those prospective applicants concerned about their credit scores preventing them from qualifying for a home mortgage. In addition, real estate agents and mortgage lenders advise first-time home shoppers that just because you're approved for a certain price range doesn't mean you should necessarily spend the entire amount. We suggest using your pre-qualification amount as a guideline to demonstrate what you may be able to afford and compare that to what you can comfortably afford to pay each month – taking into consideration your other monthly expenses. The bottom line here is, look at only those homes that are in your price range and that you can comfortably afford. This is a better plan for avoiding Scottsdale homebuying mistakes financially.

• Not comparing mortgage quotes and notes
Recent research cited by Fannie Mae shows just two-thirds of prospective borrowers actively received more than one mortgage interest rate quote. Comparison shopping for the best interest rates, terms and conditions will give you a better selection from which to choose, and will ultimately give you peace of mind knowing you considered other mortgage options. In addition, if you don't take the time to shop around, you could be spending thousands of dollars more than you need to over the life of your mortgage.

Read more about home buying tips in the section of articles on Scottsdale Home Buying Tips just below our Scottsdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. Remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.

The Scottsdale housing and economic outlook for 2017 seems to be filled with nagging questions about how gradually increasing interest rates may affect the continued improvement of the housing market. While interest rates have edged slightly upward in the last several weeks – most notably in response to the stock market's post-election gain – home mortgage rates are still comparatively low. But for how much longer? An extended period of rising rates may paralyze homeowners with low rate mortgages who would otherwise potentially be in the market to buy bigger or newer homes. Economists call such market conditions "rate lock," which could take a toll on housing demand during 2017.

Scottsdale housing could be affected by rising interest rates.

The past Scottsdale housing outlook has enjoyed a seven-year run of near record low mortgage interest rates. That has encouraged homebuying and has increased home values dramatically since the housing crash of nearly a decade ago. Yet, the aforementioned increase in mortgage rates since the election has real estate professionals and prospective homebuyers a little on edge. Higher interest rates, of course, translate to higher monthly mortgage payments. That can cause existing homeowners to stay in their homes a little longer rather than trading up. As one real estate professional put it, "It doesn't take much to turn off the faucet in this market because inventory is so low and prices have gone up so quickly." The most recent mortgage interest rate increase boosted the monthly cost of owning a typical home in United States by slightly more than $70 per month. That equates to roughly $26,000 over the term of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage loan. While $70 per month is not a substantial amount, it probably has already had an impact on marginal borrowers concerned about additional expenses. Experts fear another half-point rate increase could impact even the more qualified borrowers.

In addition to the affordability aspect and the psychological impact that a higher monthly payment may have on a family purchasing a home, mortgage qualification may also become an issue. The Scottsdale housing market has already seen some households who spend 35% or more of its income on mortgage payments. Most experts recommend that debt-to-income ratios fall between the 30% to 33% range. As interest rates rise, the debt-to-income ratio will be strained causing some lenders to reconsider whether a borrower may qualify or not.

According to CoreLogic, Inc., roughly 66% of homeowners in the United States who have mortgages enjoy rates less than 4.5%. Economists say rates would probably need to increase above 5% before homeowners face the "rate lock" dilemma mentioned earlier. And that's where the concern begins to form. Because of the strengthening U.S. economy, the Federal Reserve will likely increase short-term interest rates this month. While the rates on Fed funds have no direct correlation to mortgage interest rates, an increase by the Federal Reserve would likely send a message that interest rates in general will likely rise – even if only slightly. Home mortgage interest rates are more closely tied to the yields on U.S. Treasury bonds. Those yields usually rise during inflationary periods, and while economists predict mortgage rates will increase in 2017, nobody really owns the proverbial "crystal ball."

Interest rates have risen largely due to the improved economy. In addition, investors are gambling that increased government infrastructure spending along with resultant tax cuts will continue to accelerate growth. The underlying hope is that the additional growth will spur increased wage growth, and higher wages should offset the increases in higher mortgage payments. However, one economist warns that since so many American homeowners have low rates on their mortgages, it could result in an ironic disincentive by encouraging homeowners to pursue employment in other cities if it means their mortgage payments will be higher.

So, what does all this mean for the Scottsdale housing outlook moving forward? If history is any indication, rising interest rates can impact the economy quickly and dramatically. Mortgage interest rates in 2013 increased almost a full percentage point to 4.5% on the heels of investor predictions the Federal Reserve would decrease its bond buying program. The result was a decline of 8% on the sales of previously owned homes over the next six months. In addition, sales price increases dropped from an average of 9% to roughly 5%. Therefore, if 2013 is any indication the market could potentially experience a cooldown in home prices.

Of course, it remains to be seen what affect increased interest rates – if they do occur – will have on the Scottsdale housing market and the resulting economic outlook. However, one thing to remember is that even interest rates in the 5% range still are relatively low when compared to other times in American history. Naturally, home prices continue to rise, meaning mortgage loan amounts are higher than ever before. However, going forward there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to home affordability. History has proven more times than not that even in the face of housing challenges home affordability is a luxury still readily available to most Americans. Whether it's more affordable mortgage products with more favorable terms and conditions or more affordable housing units entering the market, the bottom line is that housing is too big a piece of the U.S. and world economy to be adversely affected for long.

We've weathered such storms before and with the exception of the housing crash of a decade ago, the industry has rebounded steadily and has learned from its mistakes. Time will tell if the slight interest rate increases will lead to a slowdown of the housing recovery, or if it will provide the impetus for creative lending, improved mortgage products, more affordable housing and sufficient motivation for first-time homebuyers to buy. While the challenges can be daunting, the industry remains hopeful that only slight interest rate increases will occur, resulting in minor fallout that can be absorbed by the market through greater home inventory and a continued steady demand.

You can find more articles pertaining to the Scottsdale housing outlook in the "Scottsdale Economy" section of articles just below Scottsdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember to also check us out by finding us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

Selling your home in winter can be one of the most successful Scottsdale home selling strategies you can employ. Recent data provided by Redfin confirms listing your home during the winter can actually mean a faster sale and a higher price. One main reason is there are fewer homes on the market during the winter months, because most sellers wait until the more popular spring and summer months to list.

Scottsdale home selling strategies to consider during the winter months.

Let's take a look at the Redfin data and see how it supports one of the best Scottsdale home selling strategies that can be utilized.

The Redfin information includes the percentage of homes that sell higher than the initial asking price and go under contract within the first 30 days. Interestingly, the findings show a higher percentage of offers above the asking price occur in winter than summer and fall. In addition, they are competitive with the more traditional spring home purchases. Furthermore, homes that sell in the winter don't stay on the market as long as homes in the summer and fall. A total of 46.2% don't last 30 days on the market, while only 23.7% of U.S. homes for sale are on the market during the winter months. This compares to 32.6% of homes for sale in the spring and 26.7% of homes for sale in the fall.

Conventional wisdom has always pushed the idea that winter was not a good time to list your home. However, that's not always the case. While there may be fewer homebuyers looking during that time of year, the ones that are in the market are serious. In addition, buyers looking in the winter often need to move, so they are usually less likely to make unrealistic offers and typically want to close the sale as quickly as possible. These two characteristics are attractive for any home seller.

As part of the Scottsdale home selling strategies employed by savvy sellers, winter or off-season purchasing can be advantageous. Since home shoppers may be fewer in the winter, homes on the market can often sit unsold longer. This makes for motivated sellers, which is good for a serious buyer.

While going against the grain in trying to sell a home in the winter is seen as a potentially good idea, it's not a no-brainer. There still are challenges that need to be overcome. One real estate professional shared her view on including winter selling among Scottsdale home selling strategies: "There are pros and cons to selling a home in the winter. There does tend to be less competition around the holidays, but it could work to the seller's advantage in that their property may have more interest than when the market is more saturated with other homes."

Another advantage in selling a home during the winter is that real estate agents usually have more time to give their clients, and may be more dedicated to selling a property than when they're consumed with having a number of listings competing for their attention.

As far as one of the best months to list your home, some experts say early January is key. The reason? Many sellers target the spring market as their starting period and plan accordingly. Buyers, however, seem to be much more ready and responsive to looking at home options well before the start of spring. As such, mid-January and early February listings seem to perform very well.

So, here's the proverbial bottom line when it comes to employing Scottsdale home selling strategies that include listing your home during the winter. If you need to sell your home in the winter don't let the cold temperatures prevent you from doing so. The perception may be that winter is a bad time to buy or sell a home but, of course, that is dependent upon where you live and how severe the winter weather is. In parts of the country that have milder winters or breaks in winter storm activity, listing your home then could be a smart move and a successful one.

An experienced real estate professional added this important caveat,”For most areas, although properties may not look as green and appealing as other times of year, that's not the whole picture. For both buyers and sellers, the competition is usually quite diminished, which can certainly work to your advantage. For buyers, less competition means they have a greater chance of getting the home they want without getting into a bidding war.”

As usual, the decision to sell your home comes down to your own personal choice. We recommend working with an experienced real estate agent who can guide you in the right direction should you choose to list your home in the winter. Providing the home buying market with winter inventory may just mean the difference between reaching a relatively captive audience and getting lost in the shuffle as other properties come on line in the more popular spring months. As a seller, you should ask yourself this question: “Am I better off showing my home to a smaller, more serious group of potential buyers during the winter when they are desirous of purchasing, or during the spring when both the supply of competitive homes as well as the demand of more buyers make for a more hectic marketplace?”

See more articles pertaining to Scottsdale home selling strategies in the two sections of articles on Scottsdale Home Selling Tips and Scottsdale Homes for Sale just below Scottsdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right.

Remember, we also post tips daily on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out there, too.

Scottsdale home improvement trends are slow to catch on – especially compared to the world of clothing and fashion design, where trends come and go with the seasons. In the interior design business trends often change annually. Let's look at five home improvement trends worth keeping an eye on.

Solar Roofing

Some of the latest Scottsdale home improvement trends include solar roofing

While solar improvements have been around for decades, it's only been recently that the technology has moved past solar panels being an expensive niche market to a sustainable reality for many homeowners. Solar power experts attribute solar's recent acceptance and accessibility to two main achievements: improved efficiency and the growing support from utility companies, state and local government municipalities and environmentally conscious investors. This means attractive leasing options, government subsidies and certain tax breaks for customers who choose to go solar. As for Scottsdale home improvement trends, solar panels are making huge inroads in the construction roofing sector.

As one home improvement contractor recently put it, "We are seeing a lot of interest in solar from homeowners who are redoing their roofs. It's the perfect time to consider adding solar panels." In addition, roof design is already being impacted to accommodate the demand for solar as an alternate source of power.

Smart Homes

The rapid advancement of technology has placed home automation in the forefront of a growing trend in the home improvement and home building markets. New products are consistently introduced to the marketplace to promote the new technology as well as assist homeowners in better managing their homes – from the convenience of controlling lights to automatically setting thermostats and other energy saving devices.

One notable sign that smart home technology is here to stay occurred recently when mega-company Google purchased Nest, a smart thermostat company, for $3.2 billion. Experts say Scottsdale home improvement trends tend to address needs homeowners never thought they had before, but now the technology exists to meet those needs. As technology improves, new devices enter the marketplace to include items such as portable cameras, Wi-Fi enabled doorbells, two-way speakers, and other smart home features. Homes are consistently being retrofitted with smart home technology and such devices will soon become standard in new home construction. However, despite home automation advantages like lowering power bills and making homes safer, a consistent return on investment for the average homeowner is difficult to achieve due to the ever-changing improvements in technology. To quote another Scottsdale home improvement expert, "We all want a better mouse trap, the problem is newer and better mousetraps cost money… and keeping up with the technology can be both challenging and costly."

Energy-Efficient Windows

Home automation has even made its way into the area of making windows more energy-efficient. Recent studies show windows are around 25% more energy-efficient when they are locked. Modern technology enables a reminder to be sent to the homeowner to close or lock their windows to save energy. In addition, energy efficiency is expected to continue to be popular among Scottsdale home improvement trends. Currently, decorative glass films and coatings can make windows better insulated against the heat and cold. Window glazing, a process whereby windows are coated with a frosted or opaque background, may be the next evolution in energy-efficient windows. Experts say this technology may soon be able to be communicated by the flip of a switch as window manufacturers research the best way to deliver the process to the marketplace so it can be affordable for all new construction.

Barn Doors

Though usually thought of as an interior design treatment, the installation of barn doors requires enough aspects of construction to qualify as a building or home improvement trend. Interior barn doors slide on a special bar mounted above the door frame. The frame is designed to provide a smaller footprint and profile for interior thresholds. In addition, smaller customized barn doors are often utilized to hide an entertainment center or disguise a pantry or other storage. Since barn doors offer a unique combination of rustic charm and functionality, the popularity of this trend is growing.

Electric Car Charging Stations

Ongoing growth in the electric car industry is impacting one major aspect of home construction and remodeling – the family garage. Slowly, a greater number of homeowners are making the transition to electric cars. As this happens charging stations have become popular fixtures in family garages. Top-of-the-line car charging stations are still costly, starting between $2,500-$3,000. Self install units can be as cheap as $300. Construction and home improvement experts say we should expect charging stations to become more popular in garages in the future.

With the emergence and predominance of home automation, new home construction and Scottsdale home-improvement trends have changed dramatically in the past 8 to 10 years. Home automation combined with a greater emphasis on green homes providing sustainable energy will continue to grow in years to come. Furthermore, experts predict improvements in technology and changing lifestyles will dominate home construction for the next several decades.

The age of technology in which we are currently living is moving so rapidly in comparison to the advances made in the last generation it's hard to fully comprehend. It wasn't long ago that such "modern conveniences" like an electric garage door, a central vacuum system, or motion sensitive security lights were thought of as high tech. Today, homes can virtually regulate themselves with respect to heating and air conditioning, energy usage, home security measures and other technological advances that have been adapted for in-home use. Perhaps best of all is that as innovation occurs much of the focus will be on delivering that innovation and technology to the home buying and homebuilding industry. After all, what better way to pay for this emerging – and sometimes expensive – technology than by folding it into a 30-year mortgage as part of the sales price of a new home?

You can find more articles pertaining to Scottsdale home improvement trends and projects 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.

Much of the real estate news over the past 12-18 months has centered around an improving U.S. housing market that’s finally on the way to recovering from the last recession. Sales prices and home values have grown steadily during that time, while home inventory levels have been near historic lows. New home construction, though brisk, has struggled to keep pace with growing demand. As we prepare for the end of another calendar year, many analysts are asking the question, “Is the Scottsdale real estate seller's market over?”

Let’s take a more in-depth look into answering that question.

Is the Scottsdale real estate seller's market over?

The simple answer is “yes and no.” According to nationwide data, experts say the Scottsdale real estate seller's market news making headlines next year will be that the real estate market in 2017 will be very similar to what it was in 2016. Case in point: a nationally recognized real estate website took a survey of prospective homebuyers and reported that 52% are first-time buyers – an increase of 19% from the previous year. Real estate professionals say they, too, expect a larger number of first-time buyers entering the market next year, but express caution that with those new buyers comes challenges to both the real estate market and the buyers themselves.

What has caused the forecast for more first-time homebuyers to be looking into the 2017 market? Several factors:  A seemingly stronger job market and continued lower interest rates seem to be the real motivators. Plus, rents have risen almost as steadily as home values, prompting a number of first-timers to consider buying as a more sensible financial decision than renting.

The influx of first-time buyers will bring challenges – some of them of very real concern. Low home inventory is expected to continue to plague the delicate balancing act of supply and demand. Some experts say to absorb the expected 19% increase in first-time buyers, the market needs a minimum of six months of supply. However, the market has had 49 consecutive months of less than six months home supply. So, experts say, the Scottsdale real estate seller’s market will probably continue, as well as throughout the nation as a whole – with some areas or regions seeing slight shifting to the contrary.

So, where will seller’s markets continue?
Cities throughout America where the population continues to increase at a steady pace are the likely candidates for seller’s markets to continue. In these metropolitan areas, housing simply won’t be able to keep up with demand. When that happens, the fewer available homes on the market become more valuable and the seller’s benefit.

In some markets, real estate professionals report a slight increase in housing inventory which has caused asking prices to be more reasonable. In addition, some sellers are offering more concessions in negotiations such as paying partial closing costs or repair allowances. However, some of the increased inventory is artificial, in a sense, because those sellers aren’t committed to selling – they are simply testing the market to find out what level of interest there may be in buying a home at a certain price point. The result, experts say, is a dilution of the so-called Scottsdale real estate seller's market due to a perceived glut in inventory.

What about buying power and financing?
As always, chances are if a buyer qualifies for a mortgage loan he should still be successful in buying a home in most markets – even in a seller’s market. Experts recommend using some strategy in planning your purchase. Here’s why.

According to the website survey referenced above, over half the home shoppers responding planned to purchase in seven months or so – in the spring and summer – the housing market’s most popular time to buy. Real estate professionals say if you want to avoid competing offers and not engage in bidding wars, consider buying now or either wait another full year. That way, the market is a little leaner and there aren’t as many buyers – first-timers and others – scrambling for a limited supply of homes on the market. One expert likened the strategy to shopping for Christmas presents in, say, September. You’ll likely have everything available you’re looking to buy – without the hustle and bustle of last-minute shoppers and long lines. Given the existing home supply challenges with low home inventory, which experts say probably can’t and won’t change substantially in 2017, smart buyers could enjoy reasonable prices and less competition by buying this winter or waiting until next fall.

If you’re not ready to enter the market at the present time – because you don’t have a down payment or a lease that doesn’t expire until next spring – remember that the real estate market is cyclical. The market will likely cool off in what has been the most active areas. What that will ultimately mean is homebuyers will probably again have the upper hand one day. One expert had this to say about market shifts.

“Balanced markets don't really exist for a long period of time – they’re really only transitional. It could be six months or a year, but at some point in time even the hottest of markets… head into a buyer’s market.

So, what’s the bottom line?
It’s likely, as experts agree, that the Scottsdale real estate seller's market will feature headlines including slight increases in interest rates as a result of a Federal Reserve move in the next few months. In addition, now that the elections are over there will be less daily concern about a U.S. economy in flux, although we’ll all keep a watchful eye on foreign trade and its impact on the global economy over the next year or two. Lastly, though the home ownership participation rate has been the lowest in decades, it appears to be climbing slightly, giving real estate professionals and economists hope for greater increases in 2017 and years beyond.

See more articles pertaining to a Scottsdale real estate seller's market in the section of articles on Scottsdale Real Estate News just below Scottsdale Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. And remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.