Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are Your Selling Expectations Realistic for Your Fountain Hills Home?

If you are thinking of selling your Fountain Hills home, you probably have three main objectives: 

1. Selling your home for the highest feasible price.

2. Selling your home as quickly as possible.

3. Selling your home with a minimum amount of contingencies. 

As your experienced Fountain Hills real estate professional, I understand these goals and I will help you meet them! 

I also want to share insights from a survey by HomeGain, which says that 75% of home sellers believe their home is worth more than more than their agent's recommended price.

This isn't surprising. After all, your property tax assessment may be higher than the market value of your home. Your replacement cost in your home insurance policy may be higher than the market value of your home. It only stands to reason that your personal opinion of your home's value may be higher than the current market value.

But I'm going to tell you what your home is likely to sell for, given current market values and recent home sales in your neighborhood. After all, selling your home and experimenting with the market are two different things. Over-pricing your home just to "see what happens" usually backfires, and here's why:

1. Most home buyers need mortgages, and mortgages require appraisals. If your home fails to appraise for the sales price, there's no deal.

2. The first 30 days on the market are critical. If your home is over-priced, buyers are likely to avoid it, which extends your days on market. The longer your home lingers on the market, the more it has to compete with new listings, and the weaker your negotiating position becomes. 

Getting top dollar for your Fountain Hills home begins with a realistic assessment of your home's competitive strength in the market!  With over 30 years of experience in Fountain Hills real estate, I have helped home sellers succeed throughout all market conditions! When you have questions about selling your home, call me! I will be happy to help you! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FHA "Flip Rule" Extension Benefits Fountain Hills Investors and Home Buyers

House-flipping became a dirty word during the downturn of the housing market, but the practice is back in vogue. It also has the conditional blessing of the Federal Housing Authority. This is good news for property investors and home buyers in Fountain Hills. Here's why!

Arizona property investors have been an essential part of our housing recovery. They absorb foreclosures, repair distressed homes and either return them to the market, or rent them out. As attractive as buying a foreclosed home on the cheap may sound, most home buyers are not financially equipped to deal with a home that needs extensive repairs.

Recognizing the important role investors play in the housing market, the FHA has extended its blessing of "house flipping" by allowing buyers to finance homes that have been owned by the seller for 90 days or less. Inman News has an excellent article on the subject, and I'm going to touch on the main points.

1. The home purchase must be an "arm's length" transaction, meaning the buyer and seller cannot be working together, or be in cahoots in any way. The seller must also provide good chain of title proving their ownership.

2. If the home sale price is 20% more than what the seller originally paid for it, the seller must show documented proof of repairs, or provide other detailed, viable explanations to justify the markup. The FHA may require a second appraisal to validate the price.

3. If a 20% markup is involved, a home inspection is mandatory, and the buyer will be provided a copy of the report. Any significant defects would require full repair before an FHA-backed mortgage would be approved.

These sensible guidelines protect home buyers, and empower them to purchase "flipped" homes with FHA mortgages. In turn, property investors have a wider market of qualified home buyers.

If you are a first-time home buyer, you won't recognize a "flipped" home from any other on the market. As your Accredited Buyer Representative, I can verify the last sale date of the home and confirm whether or not you may be looking at a flip. There's no need to avoid them, but you will want to be aware of this type of seller and do your homework. I will help you!

Let me be your guide to the Fountain Hills real estate market! I have helped Arizona home buyers and sellers for over 30 years, and I'd like to help you too! I will provide you with expert, professional representation throughout the home buying process. This saves you time and money, and protects you from potential headaches. 

Contact me today and find out more about home buying in Fountain Hills!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Enjoy Holiday Events in Fountain Hills!

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us! Whether you need a little help getting into the seasonal spirit, or just want to find good family entertainment, you'll enjoy these upcoming events in Fountain Hills!

Start with the "Stroll in the Glow" in downtown Fountain Hills on December 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.!

Experience the visual feast of 60,000 holiday lights and ornaments decorating the Avenue of the Fountains. Stores will be open late, so you have plenty of opportunity to browse our unique retailers along the Avenue. There will be carolers, a tree lighting ceremony, and an appearance by Santa himself, so bring the kids!

The Fountain Hills Theater presents "Christmas Jukebox" November 30 through December 23! This popular, always-original show features holiday music selected by the audience. Enjoy wonderful holiday memories, and make terrific new ones as these timeless songs weave together in an engaging performance. Tickets to the show also make a great gift!

They are also presenting "Annie" from December 7 through December 23. The plucky Orphan Annie will warm your heart in this classic family favorite.

The Fountain Hills Community Chorus offers two holiday concerts, Sunday December 2 at 4:00 p.m. and Monday December 3 at 7:00 p.m. The rich, four-part harmony delivered by this 70-member choir will amaze you. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information, call #602-318-5693.

Looking for more to do? The Chamber of Commerce has a list of events you can explore!

If you are visiting Fountain Hills during the holidays, why not put a new Arizona home on your wish list? When you are are ready to enjoy the splendor of panoramic, desert views from your own home, I'll be happy to help you! Contact me today about home buying in Fountain Hills!

Wishing you all the best this holiday season,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AZ Home Building Trends Boost Fountain Hills Home Values

The drought is over for new home construction in Arizona! According to, new home construction in the greater Phoenix-Scottsdale area is up by 66% compared to last year. Builders have raised their new home asking prices by an average of $15,000 during a six-month period in 2012.

The strength in home building activity is good news for area employment, which has experienced a 5% gain in construction jobs during 2012, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. In turn, these jobs help boost our local economy, spurring car sales, retail purchases, and generating spending on dining and entertainment.

But what does new construction mean for home sellers in Fountain Hills? Is there any cause for concern when Arizona home buyers can choose between new construction and an existing home for sale?

Here's the good news: aside from the local economic benefits, new home construction also tends to boost overall home values in the area. This is because home appraisers are looking at the most recent sales in a given area for like-kind properties. It's certainly preferable to have your home compared to newly-built homes on the market, instead of compared to foreclosure sales.

In fact, the median list price for a Fountain Hills home is averaging $364,000, which is 33% higher than a year ago. The median sales price for a Fountain Hills home is $315,000, which is 49% higher than last year. Nothing to sneeze at!

While it's true that home buyers can be attracted to a newly-built home for the bells and whistles, an existing home that is well-maintained in a good location has nothing to fear. Location is often the biggest factor in a home buyer's decision. You simply can't replace some of our beautiful homes in Fountain Hills at today's construction costs! This is just one reason why expert real estate marketing makes the difference when you are selling your Fountain Hills home!

If you are thinking of selling your home, contact me for more information about our Fountain Hills real estate market. I can show you the latest sales trends in your neighborhood, and give you direction regarding the price and sales strategies that would best apply to your home. Because I have over 33 years of real estate experience, I can help you succeed no matter the season, or the market conditions!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can You Buy a Fountain Hills Home After Foreclosure?

There's good news for prior homeowners in Arizona who experienced a foreclosure, personal bankruptcy or short sale: you can buy a home again. There is a minimum waiting period, and the amount of time you'll spend in the "penalty box" varies depending on the circumstances.

Here's an outline put together by the Wall Street Journal, with my own two cents thrown in:

If you completed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be eligible for a new FHA mortgage in as little as 12 to 24 months - as long as your credit history is clean, and you have a suitable income and down payment for qualifying.

If you had an FHA-backed mortgage in the past, and experienced a foreclosure or short sale, you need to wait at least 3 years before being considered for another FHA loan. If you can prove that the previous foreclosure or short sale resulted from events beyond your control, you have better odds of approval.

If your prior mortgage was backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, and you experienced a short sale or foreclosure, you may be waiting up to 7 years before you are eligible under their guidelines.

In general, short sales, depending on how they were reported by the previous lender, could be treated equal to a foreclosure event. VA and FHA mortgages are the most forgiving when it comes to issuing a new mortgage after a previous short sale, with a wait period of two or three years, respectively.

It's best to leave nothing to chance and obtain a copy of your credit history before beginning your Fountain Hills home search. The key to qualifying rests not only in waiting out the clock, but in improving your credit score to meet current underwriting criteria.

While mortgage underwriting will be stringent, lenders have shown a willingness to reconsider former homeowners who lost their home due to events beyond their control. Over 700,000 former homeowners nationally are now re-eligible for a mortgage. We can expect that the Arizona real estate market will have more than its fair share of returning home buyers.

With the escalating cost of rent, compared to reasonable home prices and low mortgage interest rates, home demand in Fountain Hills and the greater Phoenix-Scottsdale area is expected to increase!

Whether you are a first-time home buyer, or you are a former homeowner returning to the market, you need professional real estate guidance you can trust! As your Accredited Buyer Representative, I have the experience and local knowledge to guide you through our Fountain Hills real estate market. I have helped Arizona home buyers and sellers for over 30 years, and I'd like to help you too!

If you are ready to enjoy the splendor of panoramic, desert views from your own home, let me show you how to get started. Contact me today and find out more about home buying in Fountain Hills!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fountain Hills Home Sales Show Fewer Distressed Properties

The weather may be cooling off, but home sales in Fountain Hills are heating up! Best of all, we are seeing fewer short sales and foreclosures in the market. Also, the ratio of short sales to foreclosures shows a sharp decline in foreclosures.

Here's how the Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, AZ distressed property ratios looked as of July 31, 2012:

  • Zip code 85268 - short sales 14% of home sales; foreclosures 5%
  • Zip code 85259 - short sales 16% of home sales; foreclosures 3%   
  • Zip code 85255 - short sales 18% of home sales; foreclosures 2%
  • Zip code 85268 - short sales 31% of home sales; foreclosures 5%

    When considering the impact of distressed home sales, short sales are the lesser of two evils, because these sales are conducted using current fair market value.This preserves the market value of nearby homes. Foreclosures are often sold at a discount from fair market value, which can pull down values of surrounding homes.

    Nationally, we are seeing a brighter picture across the board. HousingWire reports that nearly 2.5 million distressed homes will be removed from the "shadow inventory" during 2012.  There is also good news from Lender Processing Services, which reports that mortgage delinquencies are down by 30% since the peak of the housing crisis in 2010. 

    If you're still uncertain about buying or selling a home in today's market, keep this in mind: short and foreclosures are a part of any housing market, even in the most robust economies. Waiting for these categories to "disappear" before you buy or sell a home isn't a realistic strategy.

    For the latest Fountain Hills home sales data and market activity, contact me! I have over 30 years of experience in Fountain Hills real estate which will be your advantage when buying or selling a home!

    Whether you are relocating to Arizona or you are already a resident of our sunny state, I can help you make the most of today's opportunities!


    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Home Buying vs. Renting in Fountain Hills, AZ

    If you are a renter in Maricopa County, you may not realize that your cost of living could be cheaper as a homeowner!

    A new study by Trulia compared the costs of owning a home against renting.Here's how the study worked and what it means for Fountain Hills.

    Trulia examined rental and home sale markets in major metros, from June through August of 2012. When adding up the costs of home ownership, they considered the closing costs, property taxes, homeowner's insurance premiums, and mortgage loan interest. They also considered the effect of itemizing allowable home expenses from income tax.

    For rental expenses, Trulia used the average rents for comparable properties and included renter's insurance premiums. They also used a 7-year term of home ownership vs. 7 years of rent for the purpose of the study.

    And the result? For Phoenix, AZ, the cost of renting averaged $1,223 per month. The cost of home ownership averaged $625 a month. Homeowners are ahead by $598 a month!

    Skeptical? The results are similar in Tucson, AZ. Renting averaged $1,172 per month; home ownership averaged $635 a month. Homeowners pocket the difference of $536!

    There are situations where renting makes sense, especially for short-term occupancy. However, if you are looking at seasonal occupancy on an annual basis, ownership still serves you better in the long run. It all comes down to your personal needs, lifestyle, and long-term goals.

    How do things look in Fountain Hills? Our proximity to Phoenix gives us similar price ranges for housing costs. But why not do some comparisons of your own? I have all the information you need about the beautiful homes for sale in Fountain Hills - and I can also help you find rental properties. Whether you wish to own or rent, there's one thing we can all agree on - Fountain Hills is a wonderful place to live!

    With over 30 years of Fountain Hills real estate experience, I have the local expertise to guide you through our fast-changing Fountain Hills real estate market. If you are ready to enjoy the splendor of panoramic, desert views from your own home, let me show you how to get started. Contact me today about home buying in Fountain Hills!

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Fountain Hills Real Estate and the Arizona Housing Recovery

    There's more good news for the Fountain Hills real estate market! According to the National Association of Home Builders, four metropolitan areas in Arizona are shown in their Improving Markets Index: Phoenix-Scottsdale, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma.

    Of the four Arizona metros, Phoenix-Scottsdale has experienced the strongest gain in home prices since 2011.

    Cities named in the Index have shown at least six consecutive months of improvement in home prices, employment, and housing permits. Here's how it looks for Phoenix-Scottsdale:

    • Home prices are up 13.6% from their low point in June 2011
    • Employment has improved by 4.3% since Sept 2010
    • Housing permits are up by 4.3% since March 2009

    Arizona's housing recovery is also noted in a report by 24/7 Wall Street, which ranked Arizona as #1 in price improvement. According to their analysis, Arizona home prices increased 16.6% from July 2011 to July 2012. Statewide, the median home price as of July 2012 was $248,229.

    We are still far from the market peaks of 2007. Distressed properties will continue to affect Arizona real estate for some time to come. However, it is the opinion of industry analysts that we have seen the bottom of the real estate market! With improvements to the short sale processes, continued low interest rates, and strengthening local employment, our home prices will improve at a gradual pace.

    Fountain Hills is well-positioned for growth, having the advantages of natural beauty, ample recreation, and proximity to corporate centers, shopping and dining. If you are considering a move to Arizona, start by looking at the beautiful Fountain Hills homes available now!

    Whether you are buying or selling a Fountain Hills home, put your trust in my 33 years of local real estate experience! I can help you make the most of today's opportunities in the Fountain Hills real estate market. I will also provide you the courteous, professional service you can count on! Contact me today for help with all of your real estate questions!

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Mortgage News for Fountain Hills Home Buyers

    What goes down, must come up! Due to recent pricing changes by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, mortgage interest rates may tick upwards after October 1, 2012. The government-sponsored mortgage monoliths are increasing the fees they charge to mortgage lenders by 10 basis points, which will increase costs for home buyers.

    The motive behind the change is to even the playing field for investors and private capital. Since the housing crisis began, private money fled the mortgage market, leaving Freddie and Fannie guaranteeing the majority of residential mortgages. Now that housing is in recovery, it makes sense to get private capital back into the game. This spreads around the risks of mortgage financing and should reduce the odds of tax-funded bailouts in the future.

    Naturally, any increase in lending costs will be passed along to the borrower. According to Bloomberg, the increase of 10 basis points will cost home buyers $4,000 over the life of a $200,000 mortgage. It will be largely transparent to the home buyer, as the increase will be in the form of slightly higher interest rates.

    Given that median home prices in Fountain Hills and the greater Phoenix-Scottsdale area are hovering just under $200,000, the mortgage pricing changes should not disrupt anyone's home buying plans. After all, residential mortgage interest is tax-deductible, and the monthly payment impact in Bloomberg's example would be about $11.

    Where the concern comes in, is that this pricing change is independent of market factors or economic policies. We have enjoyed low mortgage interest rates and affordable home prices for so long, that it's easy to take these conditions for granted - but they won't last forever. Now is the time to explore the beautiful Fountain Hills homes we have on the market!

    As your Accredited Buyer Representative, I provide tremendous experience and local expertise to guide you through our fast-changing Fountain Hills real estate market. If you are ready to enjoy the splendor of panoramic, desert views from your own home, let me show you how to get started. Contact me today and find out more about home buying in Fountain Hills!

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Shadow Inventory Fades in Fountain Hills

    If you've been worried about the "shadow inventory" of homes in Fountain Hills, it's time to stop worrying!

    Distressed properties account for a shrinking share of the residential real estate market in Maricopa County, according to the latest reports by DataQuick. Foreclosure sales in the metro Phoenix-Scottsdale area are at their lowest levels in 4.5 years.

    Fountain Hills real estate has steadily improved during the past year. Foreclosures and short sales accounted for about 4% of the market last month. In early 2012, distressed properties accounted for 10% of the market; and a year ago, as much as 14% of the market. We've come a long way in a relatively short amount of time!

    Our proximity to Phoenix often causes broad assumptions about local market conditions. But there's good news there,  too. Phoenix foreclosures are down by 50% from a year ago, and down by 66% since 2009. Metro Phoenix-Scottsdale home prices are enjoying double-digit gains as a result. 

    This being said, we can still expect seasonal norms to affect Fountain Hills real estate in upcoming months, though any pullback in sales should be modest. We also have the uncertainties of an election year, which could influence market behaviors.

    The bottom line: Fountain Hills, Arizona, is a magnificent place to live, work and play! Statistics aside, buying a home is really about the quality of life you can enjoy in your new neighborhood. The natural wonders of our serene, desert vistas, along with our thriving culture, and our abundant recreational opportunities will always attract new residents! 

    Whether you are relocating to Arizona, or you are a current resident who is thinking of buying or selling a home, I'm here to help you! 

    When you have questions about Fountain Hills real estate, contact me! As a real estate professional with over 30 years of experience, I will provide you with the best in local expertise and Fountain Hills market guidance!

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Short Sale Rule Changes Could Help Fountain Hills Home Sellers!

    While home values have been improving in Fountain Hills and the greater Phoenix-Scottsdale area, prices remain below the peaks reached in 2006. Homeowners who made purchases during the height of the housing boom have been struggling with negative equity. Add in a personal hardship, and it becomes a recipe for foreclosure. 

    Fortunately, there is help on the horizon! The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced new short sale guidelines effective November 1, 2012, for mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These government-sponsored agencies back more than half of all residential mortgages in the United States, and their short sale improvements could have a wide effect on the housing market. 

    Here are some highlights of the new short sale program:

    Homeowners who are current on their mortgage can be eligible for a short sale, if they have a qualifying hardship. Hardship categories include job loss, death of borrower or co-borrower, divorce, disability, or job relocation exceeding a distance of 50 miles from the home.

    Mortgage servicers who work on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be empowered to directly expedite qualifying short sales. 

    Documentation requirements for homeowners “most in need”, who are behind on mortgage payments and have qualifying hardships, are significantly reduced. 

    Homeowners who have sufficient assets will be asked to make a financial contribution to the short sale. In return, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not pursue a deficiency judgment for the difference between the sale proceeds and the outstanding mortgage balance. This clause seems to address the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

    Overall, the changes in the short sale process should reduce new foreclosures and further stabilize home prices. This is good news for all Arizona homeowners! Median home values in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area have improved about 28% from a year ago, thanks in part to a reduced inventory of homes for sale

    If you are thinking of selling your Fountain Hills home, contact me for the best in local expertise and market guidance! With over 30 years of experience in Fountain Hills real estate, I have helped home sellers succeed throughout all market conditions. 

    When you have questions about the Fountain Hills real estate market, feel welcome to call me! I will be happy to help you! 

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    The Necessary Tools for Owning a Fountain Hills Home

    Becoming a home owner is an exciting time, but do you have the tools to do it? There are certain tools every Fountain Hills home owner needs to have to ensure a smooth sailing. If you are not familiar with these tools, it is important to become familiar so you can fix any problem that comes your way.

    Duct Tape: Every homeowner should have at least one roll of duct tape. Known to solve almost any problem, this is one item you will need repeatedly. If the duct tape you are using will be hidden from plain sight, using original grey will work just fine. However, if you are more particular about the appearance of the tape there are different colors and designs you can get. 

    Hammer: Having a simple hammer will come in handy as you decorate your Fountain Hills home. Make sure your hammer is large and sturdy enough to get a nail through a wall. Buying a small hammer is helpful when using thin nails, but if you predict a larger project in your future, you should also invest in a larger one. 

    Flashlight: What seems like an obvious tool to have, it is also the most easily forgotten.  Moving is a complicated process and remembering to have the most simple items sometimes seems like the hardest part.  Having a flashlight is not just important when the power goes out, but also helps when fixing something in a dark area or looking for something under a large piece of furniture. 

    Tool Box: Another obvious one, but keeping your tools organized is a great way to keep your home clutter free. When something needs to be fixed the last thing you want to do is spend hours looking for one screwdriver. Keeping all of your tools in one area will be beneficial when working on a large home repair.  If you have too many tools to fit in a tool box, invest in two. A smaller one that holds the everyday tools, hammer, screwdrivers, nails, etc. Also buy a larger one for tools that you may only once in a while.

    If you have any questions regarding home repairs, feel free to ask! Also, if you or anyone you know is interested in buying or selling Fountain Hills real estate, contact me! I look forward to helping you!

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Views on Home Ownership after the Housing Crash

    After the real estate market crashed a couple years ago, many people never thought it would turn around again. The looming question is, how did the crash affect the views on owning a home? As a Fountain Hills Real Estate agent I faced the crash head on, answering questions from clients and perspective clients about when things would get better again.

    A long lasting debate has been between renting and owning a home. After the crash many reports stated that home owners would turn into renters and that the rental market would rise while the ownership market would continue to crash.  However recent statistics show that people would rather purchase a home than rent a home. 

    Not every person was affected by the crash, in fact about 2/3 of the country was not involved and therefore their only connection was what they saw through the media. These people were shown to not have changed their opinion on owning a home. 

    Younger home owners that were immediately affected by the crash stated that they were a little shaken up over the crisis. Being new to the real estate market younger investors were not quite sure how to handle the situation, therefore questioning whether to buy or rent a home. This had many of them wondering if they should rent a home over buying. In the end many of the younger investors still decided to purchase their home based on statistics from the past year.

    During my career as Fountain Hills Real Estate agent I have found the more experienced buyers can handle tougher situations. The crash had many older home buyers still thinking positively and rarely negative thoughts towards buying a home.  However reports did show that older home owners that had been forced into foreclosure did look at the market in a negative way. 

    With the crash behind us and the real estate market climbing back many people say that they would definitely buy a home over renting a home. The market will continue to rise and as it does more people will feel comfortable making the decision to purchase a home.

    If you have any questions regarding the real estate market, feel free to ask. Remember, if you or anyone you know is interested in buying or selling Fountain Hills real estate, you can contact me. I look forward to speaking with you!

    Tina Nabers
    Nabers Property Management & Real Estate
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