Category Archives: Seller

If History Plays Hob with a Phoenix House for Sale

3-18-historyWould you buy a house where someone died? Would it make a difference if the death was peaceful or…otherwise?

You might never have considered such questions, but the answers can become a serious issue for a Phoenix house for sale—especially if it has a history that could be right out of a CSI episode. And what if you are the owner of a Phoenix house for sale with this kind of issue? It may be labeled as stigmatized—the unpleasant term that can attach to a house for sale which buyers or tenants may shun for reasons unrelated to its physical condition.

It’s a good thing that the list of potentially disturbing events isn’t a long one: death; murder; suicide; scary illness; being haunted (rather, the belief that it’s haunted—let’s not get into that discussion!). An owner might have known of a sketchy history when he or she purchased the property, or perhaps found out later on. The information may not have made a difference before, but it could impact the number of prospects who will make offers on a house for sale—in Phoenix (or anywhere, for that matter). What to do?

Selling for the Right Price

What of happenings that are simply gruesome? Another property in California’s Bay Area had a grisly past involving drugs, murder and other heinous activities. This was a stylish home in an affluent neighborhood which sat empty while other comparable homes for sale came and went. Then one day a young businesswoman made an offer well below the asking price. The bank that owned the property had a list price of $335,000, already below values in the area. After negotiation, the buyer bought the home for $261,000. She saw past the horrific story to the potential that it offered to someone not affected by the drama of days gone by. And probably counted on the fact that her remodeling efforts—plus the many years she planned on living there—would make future buyers much less likely to worry about what would gradually turn into a distant past.

Telling the Right Story

One otherwise quaint home in a western small town was widely reputed to host paranormal activity. The stories of what previous owners had faced from ghosts of the past were widespread enough that even non-believers might think twice about taking it on. For some properties, it is just a matter of putting the right spin on the story. Events that took place decades ago often bring allure to a property—while more recent activities may cause buyers to hesitate. The Realtor® took the ‘problem’ head-on by making the most of it, figuring that a good ghost story could add to the appeal if it was marketed correctly. It sold at a premium.

The takeaway: if you have a Phoenix house for sale that’s connected to a sad, tragic or paranormal history, don’t assume the worst. Some ‘stigmas’ may mean a sale takes more careful handling (but that’s just one more reason why a call to my office is a good first step).

With the right story and the right price, you’re pretty certain to find the right buyer—one who either overlooks the past, or is fascinated by it!

Phoenix Real Estate and the Many “Months” of March

3-18-marchThis March has been such a busy one on the Phoenix real estate calendar that I thought it would be a good idea to double-check everything just to be certain I wasn’t overlooking any important happenings.

It wasn’t just that the first day of spring on the 20th is the traditional start of what’s regularly the busiest time of year for Phoenix real estate activity. This is a reliable phenomenon, further reinforced by the 61 million results you get when you Google “Spring Real Estate Selling Season.” To be accurate, the National Association of Realtors® fudges a little by calling spring and summer the hottest seasons for real estate activity—but it turns out they are pointing to the fact that many sales initiated in spring close during the summer (which is when people prefer to move).

March also has a red-letter day on the 23rd, which is when Freddie Mac, the mortgage reinsurer, is set to kick off their ‘Home Possible’ program. It’s a lowering of their down payment requirements, so mortgage lenders will have more leeway with borrowers. That should provide a further boost for Phoenix real estate activity, which has been laboring for years under tough lending requirements that discouraged some otherwise well-qualified home buyers.

Then there is March Madness, in which basketball plays havoc with more than just television schedules. You could say that it plays hob with appointment times for many Phoenix home showings, since the last five minutes of most of the games take at least half an hour.

Just in case the calendar has even more events that might affect Phoenix real estate, we thought we’d better check to be certain we haven’t overlooked any upcoming happenings.

We found out we can relax.

True, this March is Optimism Month, which is certainly thematically in tune with the positive spring real estate outlook (speaking of ‘in tune,’ March is also Music in Our Schools Month and Play the Recorder Month).

It’s International Ideas Month, which, for anyone who’s been following the headlines, is certainly arriving in the nick of time. For those who are, internationally speaking, prone to sticking to their old ideas, March is also International Listening Awareness Month. It’s Mirth Month as well as Humorists are Artists Month. It’s also Noodle Month (does this have a connection with Mirth Month?), Peanut Month, and National Nutrition Month.

In addition to minding nutrition, this is a month for safety: it’s National Collision Awareness Month, as well as National Cheerleading Safety Month. It turns out, there are another couple of dozen other Months that are taking place right now, but most have little to do with buying and selling homes.

What seems better connected to Phoenix real estate is the fact that this is also Umbrella Month, although it’s too early to know the precipitation total for the whole month. It hasn’t prevented many showings or open houses, for sure.

In any case, if you are thinking of taking advantage of the Spring Selling Season, it’s also a terrific month to give me a call!

Relocating from Scottsdale is at Hand, Identifying the ‘Where’

3-11-relocationOnce you’re mentally prepared for the relocating experience (to self: “it’s definitely the right move”), where is the first order of business. Perhaps you’ve outgrown your Scottsdale home anyway—the family simply needs more space. Perhaps relocating is necessary for work reasons; or now that the kids have moved out, you’re ready to downsize. No matter what the reason for relocating from Scottsdale, thoroughly evaluating the possible destination communities before deciding to buy couldn’t be more important.

While your real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in guiding you to the right home within your target area, the original question—designating the search perimeter—is pretty much in your wheelhouse. If you are not already committed to an area because friends or family make it an easy decision, one way to think about narrowing your choices is to recognize and prioritize the elements most important in your day to day living:

If you have kids, the quality of the school districts will play a major role in relocating. The web offers a number of rating and comparison sites (to find them, just search for ‘school district ratings’). How you winnow the field will be different depending on the age of your children and your own priorities. Once you’ve narrowed the field, you can get an inside look at where your kids might be studying if you include tours of potential schools in your house hunting forays. See if you can seek out parents of current students to get their take on the school’s performance: it’s the bottom line.

It may not be a major concern in all neighborhoods here in Scottsdale, but remember that safety is paramount—so you want to choose a community that is comfortable for you. Again, the web makes this research much easier than in years past. Many police department websites include crime maps where you can find both nonviolent and violent crime statistics organized by zip code. Before relocating—in fact, even before you begin your property search—make sure the target areas are safe!

You might not be a resident of the new community just yet, but you can act like one during your research phase. Hang out at a local park; take a stroll through the neighborhood. Have a family dinner at a nice restaurant, and breakfast at the local diner (be sure to pick up any flyers that are laid out on the counter). Look for community events, like fairs or festivals. These simple experiences will give you a sense of the community—one that should make your move less intimidating. Just a little time spent in the neighborhood can help you decide whether the area feels right to you.

Population densities and traffic profiles can differ widely from what you are used to here in Scottsdale. Some are pedestrian-friendly, others in a nearly permanent state of gridlock. Picture your daily commute, whether you’re heading to work, taking the kids to school, or both. How close are grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers? Are doctors’ offices, salons, and other services handy—or a painful 25 minutes away? Looking beyond the house and at the community as a whole can make relocating the success you hope it will be.

If you have to leave Scottsdale, the most fundamental stress-reducer is the one that comes first: the expert handling of the sale of your Scottsdale home. Do give me a call: after all, that’s where I come in!

Selling Your Phoenix House Means Raising its Emotional IQ

3-11-emotionaliqWhen it comes to selling your Phoenix house, the first attributes that will bring in prospective buyers will be found in your listing description: size, location, and all the details that either match prospects’ wish lists (or don’t). Price is in there, too. Next comes curb appeal, which can turn on or turn off prospective buyers. Although it is often the second “at bat” you get when you are selling your Phoenix house, it’s not usually decisive. The third attribute can be just that—a bunch of factors that can hook your ultimate buyers.

Call it your home’s “emotional IQ.” Everything else is important, but emotion plays a powerful role in selling your Phoenix house. That’s because home is, well, home—where people hang their hats, raise their kids, and spend their precious downtime. When potential buyers come to your house, they may think they are checking out four walls and a roof, but they are much more likely to be seeking a place that tugs at their emotions.

All very well and good, but how do you up your home’s emotional IQ (and snag the sale in the process)? Look objectively at your home, then think about the emotional plays that will get them where it count—through their senses. Give your home a quick sensory scan, looking for things that cue all five:

Sight.

Is your home clean? Is it decorated and staged (but not so much that potential buyers can’t imagine themselves in it)? Make sure your home is as spotless as possible, and warm but not personal. When room entrances are arranged to feel open, they look welcoming: a strong way to please the eye.

Sound.

Does your home sound like a home? There’s nothing less emotionally pleasing than doing a walkthrough of a perfectly empty shell of a house. Attractive floor coverings (rugs and throws) can eliminate the unbroken echo of footsteps—and make your home feel more inviting; less clinical. And don’t forget a drop or two of 3-in-1 oil or WD40 for squeaking doors!

Smell.

The nose is a powerful emotive factor. Aromas can evoke nostalgia, bringing on the feeling of well-being that comes with familiarity—but it can also sound alarm bells. Make sure the air doesn’t carry strong chemical or perfume smells. Better to throw a few cookies into the oven before walkthroughs arrive. It makes it easy for potential buyers to imagine themselves living, working, eating, and enjoying time in your home.

Touch.

Look for surfaces potential buyers may touch, and make them clean and inviting. Importantly, door latches and light switches should feel sound and serviceable.

Taste.

No—nobody can really taste a home, but selling your house may come down to leaving your personal taste at the door. It’s risky to forget to focus on the most tasteful place of all—the kitchen. The old real estate agent trope that gorgeous kitchens sell houses is more true than not, so if yours is hopeless, you may judicious to spend your upgrade dollars in a modern, open kitchen space.

How does your home’s emotional IQ add up? If you’re lacking in just one area, congratulations. You know what to fix, and a few subtle tweaks will help a lot. If you’re lacking in many areas, give me a call! I may be able to recommend some quick fixes, or point to a home staging professional. Don’t forget: Whether buying or selling your house, things can get emotional. Take a deep breath, remember the real purpose of a home, and be ready to move!

Advances in Senior Housing Meet Demographic Shift

3-11-seniorlivingAs the demand for age-restricted senior housing continues to grow nationwide, it’s certain to influence more than just the new home builders whose bread and butter depends on paying attention to such trends. It’s also likely to influence the character of neighborhoods as a whole, Scottsdale’s included.

The numbers tell a story that’s been written about for years. As Scottsdale’s baby boom generation joins their cohort’s arrival into retirement age over the coming decades, they will become part of the wealthiest generation of senior home buyers in history. Senior housing developers are very well aware of that fact, but its full impact has only really begun to be felt recently. One evidence: the National Association of Homebuilders reports that starts of age-restricted homes nearly doubled between 2012 and 2013.

Part of the reason may be cultural—but it’s also possible that improvements in health and longevity could be involved. Today’s older generation views senior housing through a different lens than did their forebears, which means that new senior housing communities are taking on a look that’s considerably different from retirement neighborhoods of the past. There are multiple influences that are shaping the new senior housing mold. Among them—

  • Many senior citizens continue to hold jobs. Earlier forecasts of dire results from predicted shortfalls in retirement savings don’t seem to be working out that way, since a great number of seniors are showing marked determination to put off full retirement indefinitely—regardless of financial need. Delaware’s Benchmark Builders reports that more than half of the residents in their age-restricted communities still work at least part-time, a trend being echoed throughout the nation. Developers are moving senior housing out of the Sun Belt and closer to urban areas to facilitate easy commuting (some are even incorporating office facilities as part of resident amenities!).
  • A number of housing projects are being designed to provide a patchwork of age-specific sections. While grandparents may enjoy living on a street or block devoted to neighbors in their age bracket, in the best of all worlds, they also would choose to be close to children and grandchildren. Some new housing developments are setting aside sections for young families close to senior housing blocks.
  • Options for active older home buyers are crucial. In 1960, activity choices in many retirement communities began and ended with shuffleboard. Increasingly, senior housing projects are aimed at buyers who have no intention of pursuing a sedentary lifestyle. They look for active environments, with walking trails and easy access to amenities beyond the community. Indoor walking tracks, lap pools, hiking and biking trails and exercise equipment are becoming must-have features.

Today’s typical senior as part of a financially powerful demographic, is changing the look of retirement neighborhoods. But independent thinking has long been a notable characteristic of the boomer generation—so it also follows that not every Scottsdale senior will make that lifestyle choice.

Senior or not, I’m always standing by to further your next residential move!

St Patrick’s Day: Perfect Day for Selling a Phoenix Home?

3-11-stpatsMany people don’t fully understand why it is that St. Patrick’s is the perfect day for selling a Phoenix home, or for buying one. But if ever there were a right time to explain it, this is it. There is one drawback to any such explanation, though: namely, that it makes so little sense.

That does not seem to make much difference to a lot of real estate industry marketing supply companies. I can bear witness to that fact, in the form of the postcards and various art pieces that are pitched to Realtors en masse ahead of every St. Pat’s. As you might guess, they are green (usually very green), and almost without exception bear some rendition of a four leaf clover. Also rainbows, pots of gold, wee leprechauns wearing green top hats with buckles on them, and sometimes horseshoes (to indicate the Luck O’ the Irish, of course).

What could this have to do with selling a Phoenix home, or buying one? That’s very hard to pin down. There is the simple good will postcard, that says, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” with no further connection. That’s a nice thought, certainly, and not risky. Who wouldn’t want to have a happy St. Patrick’s Day? There is one with a good-looking home at the end of a rainbow, with a wee little leprechaun holding a “Welcome Home!” sign—certainly a strong connection between selling a Phoenix home and the celebration.

One of the best ones is the poster that features two shades of green, a cartoon three-leaf clover (mistake there, if you ask me) upon which is printed in Celtic-looking letters, “You don’t need to have the ‘Luck of the Irish’ to sell your home.” You have to like that one, because it doesn’t discriminate against people who aren’t Irish (the closer you get to St. Patrick’s Day, the more you run the risk of seeming to snub the non-Irish among us).

There is one postcard with a lady bug crawling over clover leaves emblazoned with a sentimental poem, but the emotionality of the poetry is tempered by the heading, “For all Your Real Estate needs just give me a call!” Balance is important on St. Patrick’s Day…but it’s not clear that the card with the green beer mugs got that message (which is “Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Remember, parade watching is like real estate. Location, location, location.”).

One that also tips the scales in the direction of crass commercialism is the picture of the big pot o’ gold brimming with gold coins. It says, “It takes more than Luck to sell your home.” I’m not sure what the St. Pat’s message is for that one—that selling your Phoenix home requires you to go out, find a leprechaun or rainbow, and wangle a pot o’ gold? It’s simply not the case.

If you ask me, an experienced Realtor with a great marketing plan and a reasonable price will do the trick better than pots o’ gold or four-leaf clovers. Still, that can’t keep me from wishing you a terrific St. Patrick’s Day, as too!

Today’s Brave New World of Phoenix Real Estate Marketing

2-27-marketingIn Phoenix real estate as in many other businesses, successfully drawing the public’s attention, then communicating value, are what separate can-do practitioners from the pack. It’s pigeonholed under “marketing” instead of “selling” because the latter sounds more like a one-on-one activity, whereas “marketing” depicts the kind of effort that goes out to the world at large.

The past couple of decades have produced sea changes in the way Phoenix real estate brokers and agents need to approach their marketing approach. It’s not just the way all the advertising and communications media have been transformed; it’s also the expectations of the people they are intended to reach—the buyers. When a homeowner intends to put his home up for sale, one way to insure success is to be aware of the elements that make up any marketing plan designed to take advantage of today’s 2015 Phoenix real estate marketplace.

  • Technology is at the forefront of good marketing, and today’s Realtors® can choose to put it to their clients’ advantage. A responsive website, striking visuals, good content, and specific details to accompany their business cards, brochures, and other traditional marketing materials build more than their own brand—they launch every client’s Phoenix real estate listing across the virtual Universe!
  • Today’s real estate market rewards creativity more than was hitherto the norm. Because the web has made so much information so accessible, having a knack for standing apart from the crowd is more important than ever. Using techniques to attract attention is the first step in guaranteeing marketing success, so understanding search engine optimization (and using that knowledge regularly) is vital. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I make sure to post this blog regularly!
  • A social media presence is a must for anyone conducting real estate in Phoenix —and it just so happens that it’s the perfect venue for Realtors® to shine. It’s a very personal (well, not quite an in-the-flesh handshake—but as personal as electronics allow!) way to expand networks and engage people in a diverse cross section of prospective audiences.
  • Using electronic and social media is part of the story, but monitoring their effectiveness (“the metrics”) is a necessity to track how well they are working. By tracking this information and using the results to take advantage of what works best, every Phoenix real estate client shares in maximizing their listing’s exposure.

Effective real estate marketing uses ongoing research—and the strategy and energetic tactics that reach out to take advantage of the whole spectrum of today’s communication resources.

If you are thinking of listing your own home, I hope you’ll give me a call to see all that I can do for you!

Kitchen Tweaks Broaden Scottsdale Homes’ Market Appeal

SONY DSCJust as the kitchen is a magnet for family activity, when a Scottsdale home goes up for sale, it’s the one room guaranteed to get rapt attention at every showing. Older Scottsdale homes can be at something of a disadvantage here, especially when structural design elements prohibit their being transformed into one of today’s popular airy open plan kitchens.

Perhaps you’ve already taken a paintbrush to your cabinets to give them a new look, or discovered the transformative power of inexpensive subway tile on a dingy backsplash. If your kitchen is still looking a bit uninspired, enhance it before the home showings start with a final inexpensive tweak or two.

Where empty wall space is present, you may be able to create additional storage space. Open shelving is a trendy look that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional. A blank wall can be transformed by installing rustic wooden or sleek metal shelving units…but with one proviso: open shelving does double duty as display space—and that’s no place for mismatched or over-the-hill china and glassware!

A little of the right kind of handiwork can go a long way toward adding some 21st Century features to an aging Scottsdale home. Where an outlet is handy, transform a cabinet shelf into a docking station for smartphones and tablets. A small wall-mounted flat screen monitor can bring TV (or web video) to liven up the area. Hooks mounted near a back door can be made available for hanging backpacks, grocery bags, keys, or leashes. A bottom kitchen drawer can be transformed into a rollout pet feeding station.

No matter what else, it’s a plus whenever a kitchen space can clearly function as a gathering place as well as the meal preparation hub. It may be as simple as placing stools on one side of an island, adding a pub table and chairs, or transforming a neglected corner into a coffee station (those Keurigs make it a snap!)—giving your Scottsdale home yet another spot for a family to congregate.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry reported that kitchens were the top remodeling project in last year. In fact, 82% of NARI members stated that kitchen remodels represent their primary work—and I think we can guess what the results for 2015 will be. It makes a good argument for putting in a little elbow grease and creativity to spruce up the kitchen before you put your Scottsdale home up for sale.

You can also give me a call: I’m pleased to do a no-obligation walk-through for my feedback on how your listing should fare in today’s market!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: When to Publish Scottsdale Listings

2-4-whentolistIt is a good bet that the first place the public will spot your house for sale will be the Scottsdale listings. If 90% of those who actually do buy a home go to the web during their search (researchers at the National Association of Realtors® say so), they will either go directly to the Scottsdale listings or find them through a Realtor’s site.

If you think like an advertising director, you might wonder when, exactly, the best time would be for your new listing’s premier? Is it in the dead of winter? Springtime? Summer? And is there a perfect day of the month, or (come to think of it) day of the week?

The NAR® has weighed in with some concrete answers. Well, actually, not really answers per se—more like information to help satisfy our curiosity. It turns out there really is no single best time for Scottsdale listings to debut, for a couple of reasons; nonetheless, in case you’re curious (I was) about the findings, here they are:

The most popular home listing debut last year was Thursday, May 1, 2014. Second, April Fools’ Day. April and May were sprinkled liberally through the Top 25; but June, and March were all up there, too. But although the 20th was one of the top days of the month for listings launches (as well as the 24th through 30th), the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ranked often enough to tilt the overall results toward early in the month.

As for the most favored day of the week, there really wasn’t a clear winne­­r—though there were definitely a couple of losers. Saturday and Sunday were all but ignored as days anyone first listed their homes, possibly because most real estate professionals are out in the field most weekends. Launching listings is a job best performed at an office desk.

Closings—the days that home sales are signed and sealed—­­­had the same unpopular pair of days: weekend closings were predictably rare, as were Federal holidays. Two strange exceptions did pop up last year: Sunday, November 30, and Sunday, August 31. That has to be because of the natural inclination for people to pick the end of a month when they need to come up with a deadline. Often enough, we have to scramble to meet any deadline…if it happens to fall on a Sunday, too bad!

But although we have all this information about what the most common days to inaugurate a listing or finalize a home’s sale, that ­­really doesn’t answer what’s the best time to do either. After all, just because more people pick similar dates, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily advantageous. You might even argue that the best day to begin Scottsdale listings would be the least popular one, since your listing would be more likely to stand out when it’s the newest. Lonely, but brave!

There is one good answer to when is the best time to list your home: it’s whenever you’re ready. There are plenty of prospective buyers at all times—and as has been well-documented, a lot of them start looking in the dead of winter, when outdoors activities are at a minimum. As for when is the best time to give me a call? Anytime!

Forming an Effective Team Puts Your Scottsdale Agent to Work

1-21-agentOne of the most effective ways to maximize your chances of achieving the best residential real estate deal possible lies in your ability to partner effectively with your choice of Scottsdale real estate agent. Your agent is your local guide through the complexities of Scottsdale’s market—your assistant, tutor, and trusted right arm in the enterprise of buying and selling a residence. It’s your Scottsdale agent’s job to make the team an effective one—but for all parts to truly work as a unit, some basic elements should be in place…and clearly understood by everyone:

For prospective buyers, when your real estate agent fully understands your search criteria, the end product is a more focused search that yields the intended results most efficiently. It will conserve an under-appreciated asset (your patience)—and free your schedule by eliminating properties that aren’t right for you. Shopping for a home can lead to a bewildering jumble of options. Simply searching online for properties, or driving around likely neighborhood choices looking for “For Sale” signs is an inefficient and time-consuming stratagem. What’s more, tapping into a Scottsdale agent’s comprehensive understanding of the market—past and present—makes you much more likely to unearth the best value/price offerings as they become available.

For those who are selling a Scottsdale home, an experienced agent wades through less-than-serious inquisitors, keeping you from getting bogged down with fruitless showings or unreasonable offers.

A move into an unfamiliar area comes with a certain level of risk. A trusted agent equips you with the insights you would otherwise be missing. It can mean the difference between landing your dream property and buying into a subpar situation—one you might regret for years. You only need imagine buying a home in the warmer months only to be blind-sided when access becomes iffy during the rainy season. An agent will have a more complete understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of all of Scottsdale’s neighborhoods—as well as the ability to help you make an informed choice, irrespective of when you are available or ready to buy.

Establishing a candid relationship with your Scottsdale real estate agent will not only afford you a buying or selling experience that’s as untroubled as possible, it will also provide you with a resident’s comprehensive knowledge of all the local factors long-time residents take for granted. Buying or selling, I hope you will consider giving me a call for a no-obligation chat about the current market!