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. 8, 2019

Under Contract But Not Out of the Woods

So you saw a house you liked, but it went under contract before you could see it. Or perhaps you put in an offer, but there were multiple offers, and the Seller accepted another Buyer's contract. So you think it's gone forever?

The first 10 days after a contract has been accepted is the INSPECTION PERIOD. During this time, the Buyer finds out all they can about the home; property inspections, disclosures, five-year insurance history, and HOA CC&Rs. The inspection period starts the day AFTER the contract is accepted, and ends at 11:59 PM on the 10th day. (If your contract is accepted on Sunday, Monday is day ONE, and the following week Wednesday is day 10). During this time the Buyer can reject the premises, cancel the contract, and have their earnest money deposit returned. 

So, keep an eye on that property, even if it goes under contract with someone else. It may go back on the market, and you may have another opportunity to make it your own. I'm under contract right now with a Buyer who missed out the first time and is getting a second chance at her dream home. Just make sure your REALTOR knows if you want to submit a back-up offer or to be kept informed about the status of the home.

And if you're a Seller, celebrate cautiously during those first ten days. Sometimes things happen with Buyers, and they cancel. If they do, you'll likely be back under contract again in no time! 

 

Feb. 1, 2019

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates
Dec. 27, 2018

THE SEVEN THINGS YOUR QUICK-CASH SALE INVESTOR DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR OFFER. AND WHY NOT.

Girl with glasses shushing

If you're a property owner, you are no doubt inundated with unsolicited quick-cash offers to purchase your property. You receive handwritten letters and postcards, text messages, and phone calls.

With home values strong and competitors like OpenDoor and Zillow purchasing properties, it's becoming more and more difficult for Fix-and-flip and Wholesale Investors to find profitable investments. So they are calling, texting, and mailing every homeowner and their relatives trying to buy homes before they get listed on the open market.

There are seven things Investors don’t want you to know.

1.    They are offering you far less than your home is worth, so they have a wider profit margin to fix and flip it. The cheaper they can buy your home, the more money they can make.

2.    They are offering you far less than your home is worth so they can wholesale it to someone else. Again, cheaper…

3.    They buy and sell homes all day, every day. You know your job far better than someone who has never done it. Wouldn’t you feel like you had an unfair advantage over someone who doesn’t do it every day?

4.     They have no obligation to look out for your interests. Cash-Offer Investors are purchasing for themselves and don’t represent you or your interests. While still legal, their attorneys have written their own contract that heavily favors the buyer-investor and not the unrepresented Seller (that’s you). Investors are not REALTORS and are not bound by the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice.

5.    You don’t have to automatically discount your purchase price or give them a credit at closing for repairs for items they find during the inspection period. While everything is negotiable, the standard AAR Purchase Contract your REALTOR utilizes allows for the Seller to have the opportunity to make any requested repairs, if they choose, instead of automatically giving the option to renegotiate the terms of the agreed upon price and contributions at closing. You don’t have to knock dollars off your sale price – or your bottom line – for an Investor’s exhaustive wish list.

6.    Inventory across the valley is LOW in most markets, and it is highly unlikely your home will sit on the market for an extended time. According to MLS Market Summary reports, for the last half of 2018, the average Cumulative Days on the Market (CDOM) has ranged from 60-65 days. When you consider most closings take 30 days from the time a purchase contract is accepted, that’s a pretty remarkable timeline for getting full market value for your home.

7.    They don’t want you to hire a REALTOR. They may suggest it’s easier if you don’t get ‘professionals’ involved, but full-time Investors are professionals. They don’t want you to have someone on your side who understands the purchase contract and real estate laws in Arizona, and who will represent and leverage your interests in the transaction.  Some offers claim to save you money in commission (by only charging you a commission for THEIR REALTOR) but then can cost you more in the end in listing and 'convenience fees’ - in addition to the repair credits — all without the benefits that representation by a licensed REALTOR would provide.

I understand that for some Sellers the quick-cash offer is a great way to go. But please keep in mind, the priority of the Investor-Buyer is their profit margin. So, before you entertain the idea of a quick-cash offer, from either a private investor or a large company, know your position. And give me a call. I’m happy to run some numbers and give you the information you need to make an informed decision that’s right for you.

 

Aug. 9, 2018

WHEN MY HOME IS FOR SALE AND MY KEY IS IN A LOCKBOX, HOW DOES MY REALTOR MAKE SURE ALL THE OTHER REALTORS CALL BEFORE SHOWING MY HOUSE?

You've Staged The Rooms And Taken The Photos.  

You wonder how many potential Buyers will come looking before the offers start rolling in. Will the showings begin during the week? Will they wait until the weekend? You've asked for a couple of hours notice before a showing, but are willing to be flexible. Just enough time to clear the dishes and grab the dog.   

What if an Agent is driving around with clients, and decides to pop in and take a quick look unannounced?  A Real Estate Agent can face fines for using a lockbox without following the showing instructions, but sometimes mistakes - and accidents - happen. Everyone has likely heard a variation of an embarrassing story about a Seller being surprised by a REALTOR. But it can be avoided.

The most common electronic real estate lockboxes (the ones I use) have a feature titled Call Before Showing, or CBS. A CBS code is a 7 digit code that can only be obtained from the Listing Agent, who sets the code on the box itself. If the CBS feature is enabled, an Agent trying to access the lockbox who doesn't have the additional code will be told they do not have permission, and the box will not release the key.  And the CBS code can be changed by the Listing Agent at any time. It's an extra layer of protection, and I don't put a lockbox on an occupied listing without it.

You have enough concerns when you're selling your home, and a showing mishap shouldn't be one of them. So clear those dishes and grab that dog, you've got a house to sell!

July 25, 2018

IF YOU'RE LOOKING TO BUY OR SELL A HOUSE NEXT MONTH, IT'S NEVER TOO EARLY TO START ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

So, What Are The Right Questions?

Of course, there are always the basics. "How much house can I afford?"  and "What will I need for a down payment?" Or if you're selling, you might be asking "How long will it take to sell my home?" and "What are houses selling for in my neighborhood?"

Then there will be the questions along the way, like "What does a title company do?" and "How long can I take to decide?" or "How long will it be until we hear back from the Buyer or Seller?" 

Communication is key. And not just in real estate. However, when you're making decisions regarding one of the most significant financial investments you can make, communication is essential. You should be asking questions early and often.

The right questions will not only pertain to the real estate transaction itself but also get the answers you need to help you make the best decisions based on the available information. Knowing what to expect and what could be unexpected can also lower your stress level by helping you feel better prepared.

It doesn't matter if you're looking to buy or sell next month or next year. The right time to ask a real estate question is when you have one. You never know what kind of difference the answer can make. Is there a real estate question I can answer for you?

July 10, 2018

WHEN YOUR FLEDGLINGS FLY FREE, HOW DO YOU PART WITH YOUR EMPTY NEST?

When The Last Child Leaves Home, For Some Parents There Is No Question Whether Or Not To Keep The "Empty Nest." They Stay Where They Are And Remodel A Room (Or Two). Maybe There Are - Or Will Be - Grandchildren. Perhaps There Are Close Ties To The Community, Or It Is An Heirloom Home That Has Been Passed Down From A Previous Generation. There Are Myriad Reasons Not To Move, And It Is A Very Personal Choice Made For Very Personal Reasons. 

But what about the parents who don't want to stay? The parents who want to downsize, travel, or relocate closer to other family members or interests? Letting go of your family home can be an emotional process, whether you've lived there for 5, 10, or 20 years. But you want to move on to the next phase of your life.

Often when I list a home, I consult with the Sellers regarding staging and preparing their home for the market. I give them a plan for packing and purging, and removing personal belongings like photographs and memorabilia. We pare down decor items and sometimes bring in new linens, shower curtains, and occasionally small rugs and sometimes window treatments. I will come in and complete the finishing touches, and sometimes move a couple of last-minute items before the photographer arrives.

When the listing photos are finished, I send them over to the Sellers to preview.  And the Sellers almost always comment that they hardly recognize the place or that it doesn't even look like their house. And that's what I like to hear. Letting go can be complicated, even when change is the desired result.  For some Sellers, the process of transforming their house can be cathartic, as they start to see it less as their house, and more as potentially somebody else's. For some Sellers, a well-executed staging strategy can be the first big step towards stepping away from their old home, and into their new life. 

If you're one of those Sellers, give me a call. I'd be happy to have a conversation with you about transforming your house into someone else's home, so you, too, can spread your wings and fly!

July 3, 2018

THE TOP 3 SELLER FAQ FOR STAGING TO SELL YOUR HOME

Many Of My Clients Ask In Advance If I Will Help Them Prepare Their Home For Sale.

They know me and are familiar with my staging process and results, and perhaps I have even staged and sold a home for them in the past. But when that isn't the case, there are three questions I am frequently asked.

1. What do you charge for your staging services? I don't. If you've listed your home with me to sell, you pay nothing extra for my staging consultation, staging strategy, and the staging I do before the photos are taken for the listing. I want my client's listing to have every advantage in today's market. And I love doing it. 
2. Will I need to rent furniture or decor items? Not typically. I haven't had a situation yet where we haven't been able to stage a home with the Seller's current furniture. I may bring in some new linens or decor items from my stock, but there's no rental fee involved. If a Seller has already sold or moved most of their furniture and would like furniture brought in for staging, that's certainly an option we can explore.
3. Do I have to stage my home? Absolutely not. If you have no interest in staging your home for sale, it is not a requirement. But if you're going to be packing up items anyway, packing them up in advance during the 'pack and purge' phase of the staging strategy will save you time and stress after you've accepted an offer on your home and the clock starts ticking. Often a little decluttering and light strategic furniture moving are all that's needed to take advantage of the added value my staging services provide. Or perhaps we implement some but not all of the strategy suggestions. The choice is always yours.

Oct. 27, 2017

WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T JUST SWEEP HOME STAGING STATISTICS UNDER THE RUG

CAN STAGING A HOME REALLY HAVE AN IMPACT ON ITS SALE?

Absolutely! I have seen first hand the impact staging can have on a home's marketability and value. But don't just take my word for it. 

According to the National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging report:

Buyers' Agents
49% of Buyers' Agents cited that a home's staging had an effect on most Buyer's view of the home.
77% of Buyers' Agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.
One-Third of Buyers' Agents said that staging a home increase the dollar value offered between 1% - 5% compared to other similar homes on the market that are not staged.

Sellers' Agents
38% of Sellers' Agents said they stage all Seller's homes before listing them for sale.
39% of Sellers' Agents stated that staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time the home is on the market.
When staging a home, 29% of Sellers' Agents reported an increase of 1% - 5% of the dollar value offered by Buyers, in comparison to similar homes. And 21% of respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between 6% - 10%.

So where did Buyers find staging to be the most helpful? 55% of the Buyers said the Living Room, 51% said the Master Bedroom and 41% said the kitchen. Those are 3 of the 4 most common rooms to be staged, with the Living Room at 83%, the Kitchen at 76%, and the Master Bedroom at 69%. The Dining Room came in 4th, at 66%.

My favorite section is the Home Improvement Items Recommended.  The most recommended items were decluttering (93%), entire home cleaning (89%), carpet cleaning (81%) and removing pets during showing (80%). This section is my favorite because these are the least expensive and easiest things to do to prepare your home for the market. I have counseled Sellers on staging from decluttering and cleaning to selecting paint colors and furnishings. When deciding whether or not to stage your home and to what extent, there are always multiple variables that need to be considered.  But the benefits almost always outweigh the effort, and research illustrates the question of staging shouldn't just be swept under the rug. 

The report can be read in its entirety here. https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/profile-of-home-staging
 

Oct. 11, 2017

THE TOP 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING REAL ESTATE IN ARIZONA, IF YOU'RE MOVING HERE FROM ANOTHER STATE

THE PROCESS OF BUYING A HOME CAN VARY FROM ONE STATE TO THE NEXT. REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU'RE MOVING FROM, HERE ARE THE TOP 5 THINGS YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A HOME IN ARIZONA.

1.  You will not be required to have an attorney.  The Arizona Constitution, in Article 26, Section 1, allows for licensed real estate brokers or agents to fill out and complete documents related to the sale of real estate in Arizona. Not to over-simplify it, but these documents are drafted by attorneys, and agents are filling in the blanks. That's not to say you aren't advised to consult an attorney (or accountant, or other professional), just that you aren't required to hire one. Once your purchase offer is accepted, a file (escrow) is opened at a Title Company, and your earnest money check is deposited. The Title Company will handle the transfer of title and funds, and collect the Buyer's and Seller's signatures on the necessary documents.

2. The average home purchase takes 30 days from contract to keys. There can be exceptions. Short sales may take months to get approval from the bank who owns the property, and cash transactions can close in about two weeks. Other factors can affect a typical timeline, by a couple of days or weeks. Often an agreed-upon closing date can be adjusted with the permission of both Buyer and Seller, but don't just assume closing can always be extended. There may be a deadline on either side of the transaction that, if missed, could jeopardize the sale.

3. Within 3 days of your offer being accepted, you will receive the Seller's disclosures about the property. Once your offer has been accepted, the Seller's Agent has 3 days to deliver the Seller's Property Disclosure Statement (SPDS). The SPDS is a detailed questionnaire completed by the Seller about their knowledge of the property. You will also receive a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Report (CLUE), which shows if the Seller has filed any insurance claims on the property in the last 5 years. Sometimes these documents will not be available, like when the Seller is a bank or a trust. There are also several things that are not required by law to be disclosed (Is this house haunted?). Your Agent can go over those items so you can determine if any of them are of particular concern to you.

4. You will have 10 days to have the home inspected. You should always have the home inspected by a home inspector. If there are any specific areas of concern, such as roofing or plumbing, have a licensed contractor in that field also perform an inspection. The inspection period is also the time to check out the neighborhood and anything else that may affect your desire to purchase the home. Your REALTOR will give you a Buyer Advisory document directing you to sources of information and things to consider.

5. You will not get your keys when you sign your closing documents. Once you sign your documents at the title company, they will send your signed loan documents back to your lender. Your lender will transfer the purchase funds to the title office, who will distribute the funds. The title office will then submit your deed to the County Recorder's Office to be recorded. Upon confirmation, the title office will notify everyone the sale "has recorded." The funding and recording process is all done electronically, typically in 24 hours or less. Once this process is complete, you will get the keys to your new home!

Purchasing a home is a complex transaction, and this is, in no way, meant to be a comprehensive overview of the process, or of any of these steps. They simply seem to be the top 5 differences Buyers who own or have previously owned property in other states encounter when they purchase property in Arizona.

Sept. 9, 2017

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU CAN QUALIFY TO BUY A HOUSE, BUT YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO BUY ONE.

IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY. RENTERS QUALIFY TO BUY A HOME. THEY HAVE GOOD CREDIT AND STEADY INCOME AND ARE READY TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP. SO WHAT'S HOLDING THEM BACK? DOWN PAYMENTS AND CLOSING COSTS. 

Fortunately, Arizona home buyers have a couple of programs available to them. And qualifications for these programs can vary. Income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratios, the type of loan and purchase price are just a few of the factors. Some down payment assistance programs offer funds in the form of grants, which do not require repayment and some programs are part of a mortgage program.

So before you think you can qualify for a home, but can't afford to buy one, talk to your REALTOR about available programs, and get qualified with a participating Lender.  

You can check out some of the currently available programs here.  And if you are looking for home buying assistance, you can contact me here.