Hello and Welcome to Baker's Blog! 

Here you can find answers to your real estate questions. Perhaps even real estate questions you didn't know you had. You'll also find thoughts, observations, and commentary on real estate and real estate related issues. Have a question or a suggestion for a post? Message me or give me a call. I'm always happy to answer questions and share information with others. And don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Feb. 17, 2020

Red Flags! Things To Look For When You're Buying A Home!

Red Flag

Sometimes you see about with a property that makes you wonder if maybe it isn't a deal-breaker, but it could be something that warrants some additional explanation or investigation. RED FLAGS! Here are a couple of examples of red flags to watch for.

Price Adjustments - Have there been big price adjustments or a lot of little ones? One or two changes, not a big deal, it happens. But if you're seeing a lot of them or significant numbers, you have to wonder, why is this listing not getting any traction?

Going off and on the market, multiple times - Buyers cancel, it happens, once maybe twice, but if you're seeing it multiple times, you have to wonder, why are Buyers putting in an offer to buy a property and then canceling? It may be a disclosure issue or a negotiation issue — something to ask about.

Statistics - How are the crime rates? The school statistics? Get on the internet look at statistics. Anything important to you. These are all good things to check out before you start getting invested in a property.

Neighborhood - Drive through the area at different days and times. And what about retail? Are businesses opening up, or are they closing down? What sort of an area are you looking for? An up-and-coming neighborhood or something already established? 

Disclosures - Are you being asked to waive disclosures? Even a fix and flip investor knows the work that they have done. And they have, at least, had the utilities turned on. If you are dealing with a bank-owned property or a probate sale, then no one will have first-hand knowledge of the property. But, if you're being asked to waive disclosures, ask why!

Less Than Professional Craftsmanship - It isn't unusual for a homeowner to make their repairs with less than professional craftsmanship unless they are a trade professional. But, if you are walking through a property that is a recent flip, or where a lot of replacements have been recently made, and you see less than professional craftsmanship, you may have to wonder what other repairs - that you can't see - may have been done, and done poorly.

Feb. 1, 2020

New Listing Coming Soon!

New Listing Coming Soon!

6416 W Christy Drive in Glendale, AZ 85304

6416 W Christy Drive in Glendale, AZ is coming to the market on February 14th!

Great three-bedroom, two-bath home with a pool in a convenient Glendale location with NO HOA! The home has 16'' tiles through the living room, kitchen, hall, and baths, and the kitchen cabinets and countertops were installed in 2013. The Great Room has vaulted ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace, and french doors that lead out to the side patio, back yard & pool. The master bedroom also has french doors out to the back yard, patio & pool. Newer pool pump & motor. Water heater new in 8/18. All appliances stay. The neighborhood park has a playground, tennis, racquetball, & basketball courts. Seller is having a home built & would like to lease home back until it is finished — an excellent opportunity for investor or owner that doesn't need to move right away. The home will be available for showings starting February 14th! More photos coming soon!

To receive updates on this listing, including status and price changes, sign up at https://www.lisarbaker.com/featured/

Sept. 30, 2019

Five Star Professional Award Winner 2019

I'm so very excited - an honored - to be selected for this award! You can click on the spotlight link for my Five Star Professional page, and click the photo for a video link about the Five Star Selection process.

"Lisa R Baker is part of a group of only 7% of real estate agents named a 2019 Five Star Real Estate Agent for providing an excellent customer experience in the Phoenix real estate market. Find out more by visiting https://fivestarprofessional.com/spotlights/48619."

 

Five Star Award Winner

 

 

 

Aug. 30, 2019

What Are Your Plans For The Weekend?

 

What are your plans for Labor Day?
How will you be spending your Holiday Weekend? Relaxing? Working?
House Hunting?


I hope everyone enjoys their 3-day weekend. 
But it's good to remember not everyone is taking the day off.

If you're around this weekend and doing a little house hunting, don't hesitate to reach out. I'll still be available by call, text, or email to answer your real estate questions.


Just getting started or thinking about starting your search? Click here to go to LisaRBaker.com. You can do a quick search or check out the Advanced Search and Map Search options. And you can save as many searches as you wish and receive daily updates for all - or just a few of them. The choice is yours.

Need a Lender? I have you covered. I only recommend qualified, experienced mortgage professionals, who work with a variety of scenarios to get you the best mortgage for your needs and the best service available.

If you have a home to sell, you can get an automated Market Report to give you a starting point for the value of your home. A Market Report is a great quick answer to your value question, but it's no substitute for having an in-person evaluation.

Call or click to get in touch with me so we can schedule one at your convenience. I can even make recommendations for staging options at no additional cost.

So enjoy your weekend, and if you're thinking about real estate, think ofLisaRBaker.com.


If you're moving to Glendale, check out MoveToGlendaleAZ.com or find it on my website by clicking Glendale, AZ on the top right corner of any page. You'll find links to Glendale resources for a variety of needs, from education to services to community information!

Ready to start your home search? Click here.

 

Aug. 19, 2019

Check out MoveToGlendaleAZ.com!

MoveToGlendaleAZ.com is now live!
See How It Can Help You Make Your Next Move

 

If you know me, you know I work all over the valley! It's no surprise to hear me talk about a Client out in Queen Creek or up in Anthem. I'm happy to go wherever I'm needed!

But, Glendale is my home, and it's where I'm the most connected. That's why I've launched  MoveToGlendaleAZ.com. It's designed to be a resource for relocating to Glendale. And I'm asking everyone to take it for a test drive. You can even start your Glendale home search right there.
 
And I'm always looking to improve. MoveToGlendaleAZ.com will change and evolve, and I welcome your input and suggestions for making it the best it can be. From my website, you can click to email or give me a call. 

If you are moving to Glendale or selling a home in Glendale, visit 
MoveToGlendaleAZ.com to see how I can help you make your next move!
July 2, 2019

With Escalating Valley Rents And Phoenix Seeing The Fastest Growing Rents In The Nation, Is It Finally Time To Trade Your Lease For A Mortgage? You May Be Surprised By What Your Monthly Rent Can Buy.

At The Intersection Of Renting Versus BuyingI started to write a post today about rental rates in the 100 most expensive cities, to compare ownership vs. renting, based on an article at Zumper.com. But it isn't the same comparing the cost of renting an apartment to owning a house. If you would like to read that article, you can find it here. 

Today I also read an article on KTAR.com that, according to HotPads, which is owned by Zillow Group, Phoenix had the fastest growing rents in the nation during the second quarter of 2019. You can find that article here.  

The Zumper article references 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, and the KTAR report mentions one-bedroom rents are higher but doesn’t specify apartment or house rentals otherwise.

So I wanted to compare apples to apples based on actual, local, MLS data.

The median sales price in Glendale for a 3+2 house recorded from 06/01/2019 - 07/02/2019 was $255,000. With an FHA loan with a good (not excellent) credit score that will run you about $1,560/month PITI. The median rental rate for an unfurnished 3+2 house in Glendale that closed from 06/01/2019 - 07/02/2019 was $1,550.

If you're renting a house in Glendale, you could be paying your OWN mortgage every month for ALMOST EXACTLY the same amount. And here is the local MLS data to back that up.

3 Bedroom 2 Bath Home Sales in Glendale June 2019

3 Bedroom 2 Bath Home Rentals in Glendale June 2019

Homeownership builds wealth and creates stability and a sense of community. If you’re ready to take the next step towards homeownership, I’m just a call or click away. If you’ve already reached out to a Lender, great! If you haven’t, or you aren’t sure where to start, I am happy to pair you with a local, experienced, Lender who understands your needs and knows what it takes to get the job done. And if you’re a few months or a few credit score points away from needing a mortgage, that’s ok. There’s no better time to start your home search than right now.

So don’t sign another lease until you’ve taken a look at what that monthly rent payment can BUY. Put your money – and me – to work for you on your path to homeownership.

 

May 7, 2019

What's The Property Status? Delayed, Active, Under Contract, Contract Contingent, and Pending.  What's the Difference and What Do They Mean?

You found the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, but your Agent says it just went from Under Contract to Pending. But what does that mean? Here's a quick guide to MLS listing status options.

Delayed - Delayed status is relatively new to MLS. It is the MLS equivalent of 'Coming Soon.' This status option lets you know a property will be on the market but isn't just yet. While anyone can put a 'Coming Soon' sign on a listing for any amount of time they wish, a property can only be in MLS as Delayed for 14 days before the listing automatically changes to Active. During Delayed Status, the property is not available to be shown, even by the Listing Agent. 

Under Contract-Backups - This status is shown as UCB and is for a property where the Seller has accepted an offer, but it is still in the ten-day inspection period. During this time the Seller is accepting back-up offers on the property in the event the current offer cancels. A back-up offer cannot take the place of the first offer unless the first offer cancels.

Contact Contingent on Buyer's Sale - This status shows as CCBS and lets us know there is an accepted offer that may or may not still be in the inspection period but is contingent upon the Buyer selling their current home. There's always a chance the Buyer's sale could fall through, and the Seller could accept a back-up offer if that turns out to be the case. If your purchase is contingent upon you selling your current home, this is disclosed to the Seller by the use of a Contingency Addendum. The Contingency Addendum lets the Seller know where you are in the process, and allows for you to provide them with any Purchase Documents for your sale. They will use this information to decide whether or not to accept your contingent offer.

Pending - A listing shows as Pending when all conditions and contingencies have been met or cleared, and the Buyer and Seller are waiting for the transaction to close. During this time the Buyer is typically in underwriting, waiting for final approval and a 'Clear to Close' from the mortgage company. A Pending status means that all Buyer inspections have been completed, any needed repairs have been agreed upon, and the appraisal has come in to cover the contract price.

Unfortunately, third party sites do not always show these different options. You may see a property that is UCB showing as available until it becomes Pending, or a Pending property not showing at all, as it is considered 'off the market.'

The best way to search and keep track of Active listings is with a true MLS search, one that is updated from the MLS database every 15 minutes. Feel free to set up your own true MLS search on my website. You can set up an unlimited number of searches with options not available on third-party sites, like accessibility or other unique property features, like guest quarters with a separate entrance. Need something specific? Find it in my search or give me a call. 

 

April 22, 2019

Seller's Property Disclosures. The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown. What To Expect, and What You Need To Know as a Buyer OR a Seller.

As a Buyer, the information you receive about a property will come from a variety of sources. Among these are public records, a home inspection report, and the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement, in most cases. As a Seller, the information you provide needs to come from you.

The Good.  The Seller's Disclosures Statement says "Sellers are obligated by law to disclose all known material (important) facts about the Property to the Buyer." It is a 7-page document that is one-part checklist, one-part fill in the blanks. Categories covered include Property and Ownership, Building and Safety, Utilities, Environmental Information, and Sewer/Wastewater Treatment. There's also a place for additional explanations and comments. It's pretty extensive and covers items that may not apply to every property.

By signing it, the Seller is certifying they have answered the questions honestly and completely, to the best of their knowledge, as of the date signed. Should the Seller's knowledge change between signing and the closing, they are required to revise it. And this happens. Perhaps they forgot something or received a copy of a Home Inspection from a Buyer who canceled. Anything on a report they did not know about - but now do - must be added to the disclosure statement. 

The Bad.  Things can get missed, forgotten, or overlooked. It can happen, and it is the most compelling reason there is to get a home inspection. A home inspection could reveal a condition the Seller did not disclose - for whatever reason. When the inspection reveals an issue, it is almost always because the Seller was unaware of it. Regardless, the Buyer only learned of it because of the Inspection Report.

Contrary to popular belief, Sellers are "not obligated to disclose if the property has been (1) the site of a natural death, suicide, homicide, or any other crime classified as a felony (2) owned or occupied by a person exposed to HIV, diagnosed as having AIDS, or any other disease not known to be transmitted through common occupancy of real estate, or (3) located in the vicinity of a sex offender."  If they know, they cannot lie but are only obligated to say "by law, I am not required to disclose that information." As a Buyer, if it is important to you, do your research during the inspection period. 

The Unknown.  Disclosures only cover conditions of which the Seller has personal knowledge. If a property is sold by a Bank, Trust, or through a Probate Sale, the entity selling the home is likely to have no first-hand knowledge of conditions that may exist. This situation is common, and the listing will specify that the Buyer must "waive the SPDS." Unfortunately, this is also a common ask with property flippers who SHOULD be required to complete disclosures, as even though they have never occupied the property, as are fully aware of the work that has been done, and have first-hand information about utilities and property conditions. If you are looking at a property where you are required to waive the disclosures, you need to ask WHY. It could be a logical reason, or it could be a red flag.

 

As a Seller, know that honesty is expected and that you also have rights. But also know that if you forget something, you can revise your disclosures at any time. Revising your disclosures may give the Buyer additional time to consider the inspection period, but that's a small price to pay for compliance. If you don't understand a question, your REALTOR can provide clarification and perhaps an example of when and how that would apply. And if you don't know something, that's ok, too. Just complete the disclosures to the best of your actual knowledge. 

April 13, 2019

Did You Know Arizona Residential Purchase Contracts Are As-Is?

Did you know Arizona Residential Purchase Contracts are As-Is?
Why that's important and what it means if you are the Buyer - or the Seller.


The documents used by REALTORS are updated and revised on a pretty regular basis, and there's quite a lot that goes into the revision process. In February of 2017, the Arizona Association of Realtors (AAR) revised the Residential Purchase Contract in a fairly significant way.

Before 2017, if a property was sold in "as-is" condition, that had to be documented in the Listing Agreement between the Seller and the Broker, specified in the MLS listing, and an "As-Is Addendum" was required to accompany the Purchase Agreement. This process notified all parties that the Seller would make no guarantees or repairs, even to a "Warranted Item." Warranted Items were operational systems required to be working for a sale (unless the property was being sold as-is).  In fact, there was an expression...

"If it flushes or flows, switches or glows, has moving parts or should open or close, it has to be working. Make sure everyone knows".

Sounds simple enough, right? Except there were countless debates and misunderstandings regarding warranted items. And sometimes, questions like "If a built-in espresso machine wasn't working, didn't it have to be? What about a fountain? Sprinkler systems?

So, after much deliberation, the term "warranted item" went away. Now, all properties are sold as-is, and your walk-through inspection before closing declares that any needed repairs that have been requested and agreed-upon have been completed and that the property is in the same general condition as the first time you entered it. 

But, if you are a Buyer using an FHA or VA Mortgage, some systems MUST be in good working order for the property to pass the FHA/VA inspection checklist. These are called Minimum Property Requirements (MPR). Among these are the heater, water heater, and stove. There must be running water from hot and cold taps, and, if the property has air conditioning or a swamp cooler installed, it must be working. There are also a variety of health and safety concerns that must be met that are not relevant to the warranted items discussion. For a full list, click here for FHA guidelines, and here for VA guidelines.

MPRs are also most often (but not always) a reason why a listing may not be eligible to be purchased by an FHA or VA mortgage, and why it may not show up in your MLS search results. Often, I will have a client send me a listing they found online, asking why it didn't come up in their search results because it cannot be purchased with FHA or VA financing.

Not everyone agrees with the decision to remove warranted items from the purchase contract. But one thing everyone does agree on is the recommendation to get a home inspection. Repairs can be negotiated after the inspection period, so if something doesn't work, you can ask the Seller if they are willing to fix it. But know they are not required to. If you don't plan on requesting repairs, a home inspection can help you make an informed decision on whether or not you want to move forward on purchasing a property. Just know that there is nothing that a Seller MUST fix to sell a property. So get an inspection, make no assumptions, and make sure you are aware of the details of your mortgage pre-qualification. And let me know when you're ready to start looking for your next home!

April 5, 2019

Why is there an Inspector and an Appraiser? Don't they do the same thing? Absolutely not!

At first glance, it's easy to think that the Home Inspector and the Appraiser do the same job. This is one of the most common conversations I have with new Home Buyers.

While both the Inspector and the Appraiser visit the property on behalf of the Buyer, they are hired by different people for different outcomes. 

When a Seller accepts a Purchase Offer from a Buyer, a 10-Day Inspection Period starts for the Buyer. During those ten days, the Buyer can - and should - have any inspections done that they wish. Typically the start with a Home Inspection. For that, they hire a Home Inspector. The Home Inspector goes through the property and creates a report notating a variety of things from the age and working condition of major systems to general conditions, to recommendations for current and future repairs. This report is delivered to the Buyer and belongs to the Buyer (in AZ, the Seller also gets a copy). The report may even recommend further inspection of an item, like the air conditioner, plumbing, or pool equipment. Regardless, the Home Inspector's report is designed to give the Buyer a good idea about the general condition of the home they are purchasing, without any regard to the value of the home itself. 

Because that's the Appraiser's job. While the appraisal is typically paid for by the Buyer and is performed on behalf of the Buyer, the appraisal is ordered by the Buyer's mortgage Lender.  The Appraiser also goes through the home and may notate if an item is working or not (especially if the Buyer is purchasing with an FHA or VA loan), but they are also looking at the general condition, fixtures, and finishes in the property, in relation to other homes that have sold in the area (Comparable Properties, also called Comps). The Appraiser calculates a report (the appraisal) stating their opinion of whether or not the purchase price of the home is in line with the sales prices of comparable homes in the area. The appraisal report gives reassurance to the Lender that the property is worth at least the same amount of money they are lending to the Buyer to purchase it. This report goes back to the Lender, and may, or may not be shared with the Buyer or the Seller.

Cash Buyers routinely waive their right to an appraisal, and often to a home inspection as well. It is their right to do so, although typically not recommended. However, an appraisal cannot be waived on a home being purchased with financing of any kind, since the Buyer does not have the right to waive the appraisal on behalf of the Lender.

And it's a good idea to start checking out Home Inspectors before you write an offer. That way, once your offer is accepted, you don't waste any time of your 10-day inspection period researching Home Inspection Companies. Need a recommendation? I've seen an inspection or two in my day, and I'm happy to help.