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Home staging hacks that cost almost nothing

by The Cross Team

Small changes can sell a house for a higer price & faster. Below, are some ideas to stage your home "on the cheap." 

1. Curb Appeal

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The tone set by a property for drive-by visitors will dictate buyers’ emotional reaction. They will either love it or hate it based on their first impression. So, neat and tidy is the recipe here.

Manicure the lawn, trim the bushes and weed all flower beds. If the mulch is faded, add a layer of new mulch to freshen it up. These simple changes will add loads of curb appeal.

Once the yard is in order, hang a seasonal wreath or welcome sign on the front door, and use flower pots to add color to the walkway and porch.

2. Use the "90 Day Rule" 

Decluttering is one of the most important things you can do to stage your home. Try the "90 day rule." If you don't need it in the next 90 days, box it up & get it out. 

3. Stage rooms with a purpose

If you have a formal dining room, make it look like a formal dining room. Not an office for example. Potential buyers like the spaces to make sense. 

4. Pay attention to details

Detail each room, and sprinkle seasonal decor and color throughout. Go beyond ordinary house cleaning, and shine door knobs, cabinet handles and fixtures.

If you have wood cabinets, use a refresher like “Old English” on them to make them look new. Clean all of the baseboards, trim and corners in each room.

If you have broken or worn electric and light switch plates, replace them with contractor grade plates. They cost very little and make a great first impression.

In the bathroom, replace old shower curtains with new ones. If you have a white tub, consider using a darker color such as navy to make the bathroom “pop.”

5. Bring in the Light

Clean all of the windows and window treatments. Remove treatments if they block too much light. Use lamps to highlight darker areas. Experts suggests at least one lamp or light for every 100 square feet.

Replace globes and light bulbs in light fixtures so that they all glow evenly, and use Edison-style bulbs in fixtures when appropriate. If your budget allows, replace outdated light fixtures with inexpensive current fixtures.

Latest smart home trends for 2017

by The Cross Team

Best Smart Home Trends of 2017

Turning your home into a “Smart Home” isn’t complicated or expensive. Some of these home gadgets can end up saving you money in the long-run. Here are a few of the latest trends in Smart Home tech for 2017.

Amazon Echo- ($99) If you're looking for a central control point for your smart home gadgets, you'll have a hard time finding a better option than Amazon's voice-activated smart speaker, or its likable virtual assistant, ‘Alexa.'

Philips Hue Smart LED lightbulb- ($26.99 for a 2-pack) The Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit lets you enjoy all of the benefits of Hue's well-connected platform and, for just $15 each, you can add extras to your set up. The bulbs are also pretty good looking and have easy-to-use smart controls.

Nest Thermostat- ($219) Works with Alexia and is packed with all sorts of money saving features.

August Smart Lock- ($149) August's Smart Lock adds smarts to the deadbolt you already have. Its simple interface, integration with HomeKit, and reliability earned it an Editor's Choice.

SkyBell Video Doorbell- ($188) With 1080p resolution, SkyBell's video quality is terrific, and integrations with Alexa, Nest, and IFTTT help it stand out in an increasingly competitive category. Free online video storage is a major plus, too.

Nest Indoor Cam- ($197) The Nest Cam Indoor's reliably 1080p streaming, easily installable magnetic base, and solid app set it apart from the rest of the market.

Belkin Smart Plug- ($34.99) WeMo's always been a solid smart home starting point, and at just $35, the WeMo Mini is the line's best offering yet.

Neato Connect Robot Vacum- ($239) The Neato Botvac Connected boasts the best performance of any bot vac we've tested. It's not cheap, but with the price comes an intuitive app with remote control. Who doesn't want that?

Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades- (From $175) If you're looking for smart shades with a lot of features and flexibility, Lutron's Serena Shades are the best bet. You can schedule them, control them remotely via an app, and even use Siri to open or close them. Just be ready for a big investment.

Putting smart tech in your home can certainly help to sell it when it comes time to sell. I hope this is helpful. Please give me a call with any real estate need or question. 

How to tell if you are in a flood plain

by The Cross Team


News has been coming out of Houston that only around 15% of the houses in Harris County where Houston is located has flood insurance. It's hard to imagine your house being destroyed & no insurance to pay for it. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people who have been affected by hurricane Harvey.

While a hurricane is very unlikely here in Phoenix, we have had some flooding in the past. So how can you tell if your house is in a flood plain? For one, this would have been disclosed when you purchased your home. If you are still curious how close a flood plain is to your home, I have put a link to The FEMA Flood Map below. Simply put in your address, hit Search, and then hit the button labeled "View Web Map." From there a map will display showing flood plains in aqua blue. You can never be too careful.

Click Here To Access FEMA Flood Plain Map
Give to victims of the hurricane Harvey through The American Red Cross

Please email me or call me with any specific questions. I'm always here to help!

Could the Phoenix market eclipse again

by The Cross Team

We've all heard the term "housing bubble." But how does it happen, and how do we know Phoenix is not in one? A housing bubble happens when prices rise too quickly and then demand drops because houses become overvalued.  Once demand starts slowing down, homeowners start dumping their properties in fear of losing their value. This is a bubble bursting. 

According to Core Logic, cities like Denver, Houston, Miami and Washington D.C. are in a housing bubble right now and could have a maket eclipse in the near future. These cities have had home price increases of 7% or even more over the past year. Once prices get so high that demand slows, homeowners and investors flood the market with home inventory, driving down prices creating a bubble burst. That cycle began in Phoenix around 2006-early 2007 when the market hit it's peak. By the time 2008 rolled around, houses were overvalued & people started walking away from their homes. This not only caused a flood of homes to come on the market, but almost all of them were "distressed" properties meaning short sales or foreclosures. 

Right now in 2017 we are on a HEALTHY 3%-4% growth rate here in Phoenix depending what area of the city you are in. This is sustainable growth and is what a healthy market should look like. This is why WE ARE NOT IN A HOUSING BUBBLE.

So don't plan on any market eclipses happening anytime soon in Phoenix. The only eclips around here will be the one on Monday. If you would like to find out what your home is worth, or would like to find a great deal on a home give me a call! 

How to get a great deal in a seller's market

by The Cross Team

 

Getting a great deal in a seller's market is possible if you know what you are looking for and are well prepared. 

As a reminder, a seller’s market is one where there is 6 months supply or less of homes to choose from.  At present, there is 2.6 months supply of homes in our market. That means if no other homes came on the market starting today, it would take us 2.6 months to run out of homes at the current buying rate.

So we are well within a "seller's market." So how can you still get a good deal? Follow these tips: 

 Get Ready To Buy  

The best way to prepare for your homebuying experience is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. It is important to get your finances in order quickly.

Start talking with a qualified loan officer before you hit the pavement to go look at homes. Getting a loan pre-approval will show sellers that you are serious about buying a house.

Once you have your pre-approval, I will be able to provide a list of all the properties that meet your search criteria.

View Homes As Quickly As Possible  

When there is a high demand for homes, do not be the buyer who waits until the weekend to view those properties. The faster you can see the home, the better chance you have of getting it into contract.

If you wait, others may are also interested in it and the property may already be off the market by the time you get around to seeing it.

When you can, get into the house as soon as possible for a showing. This is especially important, critical even, when there is a low inventory of homes on the market. 

Getting in quickly for a preview could be the difference between writing an offer on the perfect house and continuing your search because another buyer beat you to it.

Avoid Overpaying

Home prices often go up slightly during a seller’s market because the supply of homes is limited.

Whenever possible, remove as much emotion as you can from your purchasing decision to ensure you do not get into a bidding war. Part of my job is to keep you away from that. 

In Closing

Getting a good deal on a house in a seller's market is very doable if you follow these steps. Call me anytime for a free consultation! 

Why inspectors don't test the heater in the summer

by The Cross Team

 

Did you know that home inspectors don't inspect the heater in the hot summer months? But why? 

An A/C or heater is tested by measuring the air going into the intake where the filter is at, and the air coming out of the vents throughout the house. The difference between the two is called the temperature differential or the temperature split. In the summer, it is simply too hot inside & outside of the house to get a temperature "split" to test the heater. Plus you can damage a heat pump system by switching from A/C to heat in a short period of time. Let's be glad the heater doesn't spit out 110 degree air. 

The reverse also happens in the winter. On a cool day it is hard to test the A/C. 

10 things for sale by owners need to know

by The Cross Team

Selling your house yourself might seem like a tempting proposition. Selling a house is a series of negotiations that if not handled with a professional touch could end up blowing the deal or worse ending up in court.

Here are 10 things For Sale By Owners need to consider: 

1. How do you price your home given the current market situation? 

2. How will you know if the buyer is truly pre-qualified? 

3. Every buyer always wants something off the price. How will you know what is considered reasonable? 

4. What will you do when the buyer asks for too many repairs without killing the deal? 

5. What do you do when the appraisal comes in low? 

6. What do you have to disclose in the state of AZ so you don't get sued? 

7. What do you do if the appraisal comes in $10,000 low? 

8. What happens if the buyer's loan is rejected at the last minute? 

9. What do you do if the buyer breaches the contract? 

10. What are your closing costs & how much will you walk away with at closing?

You only have 1 shot at doing it right. Call Brian Cross today at 623-297-9767 for a free no-obligation home selling consultation. 

7 reasons to stay away from Next Door & Zillow Instant Offers

by The Cross Team

Situations such as job loss, finances or health can create a desire to quickly dispose of real estate. Companies such as Opendoor and Zillow are making it very simple to get a valuation and accept an offer online.

But what seems like a convenient and easy solution masks some serious drawbacks for the homeseller and the real estate market.

Let’s look at seven reasons to pass on the instant home purchase offer.

1. Inaccurate valuations

For years, homebuyers and sellers have been lured by the Zestimate, Zillow’s estimation of a property’s value. What real estate pros know is that Zestimates aren’t accurate.

Zillow’s Zestimate is “calculated from public and user-submitted data, and is what Zillow calls “a starting point.” According to Zillow, the error rate is about 5 percent nationwide.

For the most accurate evaluation, nothing beats an in-home consultation by a local agent. Because the home is unique. There may be upgrades, layout features and other factors that can have a direct impact on a home’s market value.

Sellers need to know what their home is actually worth; the computer’s best guess is only a starting point for a proper valuation.

2. Low offers

These investors that purchases your home outright are not going to give you market value. Their entire profit model is based on buying the home on the cheap. Their goal is to make a profit on your property.

They will have to put money into the property to make it salable, plus cover their overhead. Like a trade-in at the car dealership, you give up top dollar for ease.

But we’re not talking about mere hundreds of dollars. We’re talking thousands. Maybe tens of thousands.

Are you willing to give up this kind of money for “convenience”?

3. The fees add up

The highest agent commission structure in the U.S. is 6 percent (split between the buyer’s and seller’s agents). That could be a reason people look at the idea of a company or investor stepping in.

They think that the loss found in a low offer will be offset by not paying agent fees. That’s not how this works. Not only will sellers get a lower-than-market-value offer, they’ll likely BE PAYING COMMISSIONS AS WELL. And in some cases, they will cost more than an agent.

Companies that buy homes outright, such as OfferPad and Opendoor, charge for various services — including service fees and “experience” fees. Don't get caught paying these fees!

4. We are in a seller's market

In a downturn market, you’d expect to see investors swooping in with lowball offers. But in the current housing market, there’s little need for homesellers to take such a drastic measure.

In the Phoenix area, inventory is lower than it has been in years. That means less homes for buyers to choose from. Why would you sell your home at a discount in a market like that?

5. Reducing inventory raises prices

Home inventory in the U.S. continues to set record lows. As a result, many homebuyers are frustrated trying to get into a home and prices continue to escalate.

Although this doesn’t affect the homesellers who don’t plan to buy immediately, it does impact the community and the people they know.

The more homes that go off the market via instant offers, the tighter the inventory becomes for homebuyers.

Sure, some of those homes will get put back on the market, but expect the price point to go up. This especially impacts those looking for affordable homes.

6. Investments don’t always bring buyers

Investors don’t always flip houses for buyers. They often rent them out. Although not all renters are poor caretakers, there isn’t much incentive to put effort and care into the property.

Get enough renters on a street, and the curb appeal drops significantly. What do you think that does to home values?

In addition, renters come and go. The community makeup of a neighborhood changes with renters. People who aren’t in a place to stay rarely make long-term relationships with those around them. As a result, the neighborhood suffers from a lack of community.

7. Low offers drive down comps

Imagine two or three homes on a street taking an instant offer. If this becomes a trend, appraisers may not be able to disregard the data.

So, if you, the seller, take an instant offer, you are messing with your neighbors’ home values. That might not be your problem today, but it could be in the future.

When you go to sell your next home, you’re going to be pretty mad if a bunch of people on your future street sell out to an investor for convenience.

Don't get caught! 

About the ONLY benefit to an instant offer is choosing your own closing date. Often times the closing date can be negotiated on the contract anyway. You only have 1 shot at getting it right! Click here to get an instant home evaluation! 

Remembering our troops on Memorial Day

by The Cross Team

Remembering Those Who Have Fallen On This Memorial Day

The Cross Team at Realty One remembers those who gave the ultimate sacrifice on this memorial day. Your memory & gift to our country will not soon be forgotten. 

Here are some events happening around the west valley to commemorate those who have fallen: 

Avondale

Avondale’s Memorial Day service will be at 7 p.m. May 29 at the amphitheater at the Avondale Civic Center, 11465 W. Civic Center Drive, Avondale. The one-hour event will include speeches, music, tributes and a candlelight vigil.

Avondale Mayor Kenneth Weise will deliver an address and a representative of Luke Air Force Base will be the keynote speaker. The Anderson School of Music will provide musical performances. Ceremonial presentations will include the posting of the colors and a POW/MIA ceremony. To honor the memory of the fallen, a wreath will be laid on the flag-lined path that features bricks engraved with the names of veterans and flags of the six branches of the military. The evening will end with a candle lighting remembrance. Those planning to attend are encouraged to take lawn chairs or blankets.

The city is hosting the event in partnership with the American Legion Crandell Palmer Post 61, VFW Pat Tillman Memorial Post 40 and the Scottish American Military Society. For more information, contact the Parks, Recreation and Library Department at 623-333-2400 or avondaleaz.gov/events.

 

 

Buckeye

Buckeye’s Memorial Day ceremony will be at 9 a.m. May 29 at the Louis B. Hazelton Memorial Cemetery, 23100 W. Broadway Road, Buckeye. The 30-minute event will include a keynote speech from Steven Borquez, an officer in the Buckeye Police Department, who will share his experience as an Army combat veteran. He received the Purple Heart after he was wounded by a roadside bomb wile serving in Afghanistan.

Master of ceremonies will be Scott Lowe, the city’s public works director, who served in the U.S. Navy.

A bugle that was donated for use for special military events and funeral services for veterans will be used for the first time at such an event. The event will feature Buckeye residents and employees and include a tribute to fallen Vietnam servicemen of Buckeye and the Navy Seal cadets performing “Taps.” The city is staging the event with the Buckeye Patriotic Committee, the local American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Elks Lodge and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. For more information, contact Myra Curtis at 623-349-6322.

 

Litchfield Park

The Litchfield Park Memorial Day ceremony will be at 7 a.m. at the World War II Memorial on the west side of Litchfield Elementary School, 255 E. Wigwam Blvd., Litchfield Park.

The 30-minute program will be led by Mayor Thomas Schoaf and will include patriotic music, the placing of a floral tribute, a prayer and a moment of silence. Taps will be played, followed by a memorial presentation.

Light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Sonny Culbreth, interim city manager, at 623-935-9040.

 

Cub Scouts

Pack 990 

Pack 990 will be holding a flag placing ceremony to remember the fallen this Sat- May 27th. The event will be at Veteran's graves at Resthaven Cemetery in Glendale, AZ at 7AM on Saturday. 6450 W Northern Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301

3 reasons we are NOT in a real estate bubble

by The Cross Team

With housing prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the market is heading for another bubble. To alleviate that fear, we just need to look back at the reasons that caused the bubble ten years ago.

Last decade, demand for housing was artificially propped up because mortgage lending standards were way too lenient. People that were not qualified to purchase were able to attain a mortgage anyway. Prices began to skyrocket. This increase in demand caused homebuilders in many markets to overbuild.

Eventually, the excess in new construction and the flooding of the market with distressed properties (foreclosures & short sales), caused by the lack of appropriate lending standards, led to the housing crash. 

Where we are today…

1. If we look at lending standards based on the Mortgage Credit Availability Index released monthly by the Mortgage Bankers Association, we can see that, though standards have become more reasonable over the last few years, they are nowhere near where they were in the early 2000s.

2. If we look at new construction, we can see that builders are not “over building.” Average annual housing starts in the first quarter of this year were not just below numbers recorded in 2002-2006, they are below starts going all the way back to 1980.

Bottom Line

Mortgage lending standards are appropriate, new construction is below what is necessary and home prices haven’t even recovered. It appears fears of a housing bubble are over-exaggerated.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 64