Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

July 22, 2019

The 10 Commandments of Home Buying

Recently, we heard that several Buyers (not ours, thank goodness!), had ruined their home loan process and new home purchase by:

1."Borrowing" money from their down payment, or just spending it outright.

2. A couple of others went out and bought new furniture/cars.

3. Another charged up one credit card to the tune of $20K.

 

When you are buying a home, you want your financial records and everything associated with your finances to be super squared away so you can qualify for the lowest rate available at the time of your application. It's an admittedly stressful chore to prepare for applying for a home loan. Following the 10 commandments below will help you watch your P&Qs on your way to home loan success.

I. Thou shalt not change jobs, become self-employed, or quit your job

If potential buyers are looking at location, location, location, potential lenders are looking for consistency, consistency, consistency. Someone who changes jobs frequently or has a on-again, off-again work schedule sends up red flags of caution to a loan officer. It's best to put your head down, sit and stay for now. Change jobs after you change your mailing address.

II. Thou shalt not buy a car, truck, or van (or you may be living in it)

Your lender wants to see absolute certainty that you will pay them back. Yes, they expect you to pay them back. They're counting on that. One way to show them you are reliable and dependable is to hold off on making any large purchases.

III. Thou shalt not use credit cards excessively or let current accounts fall behind

Oh, yeah. Heavy credit card use or not paying bills on time puts some serious dents to your credit score by negatively impacting your debt-to-income ratio—something a loan officer looks at closely. Stay the course, steady as you go. Pay monthly bills on time and do not open any new lines of credit, no matter how appealing the offer may be!

VI. Thou shalt not spend money that you have set aside for closing

The old saying, slightly tweaked, works here: You use it, you lose it. Don’t jeopardize your ability to pay closing costs buy spending the money you’ve set aside for that specific purpose. That super deal, that gotta have it anything must wait.

V. Thou shalt not omit debts or liabilities from your loan application

For real. In today’s day of you-can-find-out-absolutely ANYTHING on the Internet, if people really think they can hide the $20,000 owed in back taxes, unpaid utility bills, child support, judgements-- they're dead wrong. Even shading on small debts or liabilities will make your dream home just that…a dream. 'Fess up', tell all, lay it all out on your loan application.

VI.Thou shalt not buy furniture

Yes, that new living room suite would look perfect in your new-home-to-be. But remember Commandments II and III? The same extreme cautions apply here. Stay focused, keep your eye on the goal. The furniture can wait.

VII. Thou shalt not originate any inquiries into your credit

Each time you make an inquiry about your credit, or another entity pulls your credit, your credit score loses points. Not fair? No, but it's a fact. And if you only have a handful of accounts or a short credit history, credit inquiries can have a much greater impact on your score. If you absolutely must, must, must see your score, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – once each year at annualcreditreport.com. It’s smart to request a credit report from each of these three major credit reporting agencies and to review them carefully. It's possible each credit report may have inconsistent or conflicting information; even inaccuracies. If you spot an error, request a dispute form from the agency within 30 days of receiving your report. You should make this credit "sweep" before applying for a home loan to make sure your credit reports are accurate.

VIII. Thou shalt not make large deposits without talking to your loan officer

If a friend, family member, or a stranger wants to give you a cash gift that's more than 50% of your monthly income, maybe to help you with the down payment make certain the lender understands it’s a gift and not a loan. What you will be required to do in this case is have the donor write a gift letter to the lender and include the relationship to you, the address of the property you're purchasing, the total amount of money gifted, the date of the donation, and a statement saying that nothing is expected in return. If in doubt, ask your loan officer.

XI. Thou shalt not change bank accounts

Hate your bank or credit union? Who doesn't? Switching financial institutions during a home loan process could prevent you from printing off necessary copies of statements required. Unless you receive and keep paper statements. Faililng in this can really complicate things with your lender when you’re asked to prove your income, spending, or identity. Just stick it out with your current financial institution until you're in your new home and then say "Bye!"

X. Thou shalt not cosign a loan for anyone

Cosigning a loan for anyone, even your nearest and dearest who really would appreciate your help, at any time is never a good idea. No matter who the person is, or why you're being asked to cosign, the bottom line and huge risk is always this: if the person you cosign for defaults on the loan, the bank will demand that you fulfill the financial obligation. Such an unanticipated financial event can ruin your ability to pay your home loan. You actually risk foreclosure on your OWN home if your cousin stops paying his car loan. Your good deed can come back to bite you!

Posted in home buying tips
July 14, 2019

White Mountains AZ Disc Golf!

Disc Golf in the White Mountains!

NATIONAL DISC GOLF DAY – First Saturday in August

Grab your discs and call up your friends! The first Saturday in August is National Disc Golf Day! On August 2, 1974, disc golfers in the Rochester, NY area decided to make their annual City of Rochester Disc Golf Championship a big national tournament to find out just how many other people around the country were playing disc golf. They called the event the American Flying Disc Open, and to attract the attention of the Frisbee™ community; they put up a brand new 1974 automobile to be awarded to the winner! The Registrar at National Day Calendar approved the day in July of 2016.

Disc golf shares the common traditional golf goal of reaching each target (golf hole) with the fewest number of strokes, or in disco golf, more accurately, throws. Some of the earliest versions of disc golf involved school kids tossing things like tin lids on a self-made golf course. By the 1970s, though, players competed in league play and tournaments…using those familiar plastic discs. Since then interest in the sport has continued to grow.

Requiring far less equipment, Disc golf is very much like the traditional game in many ways. But rather than clubs and a ball, the only gear necessary is a disc or Frisbee™. Starting from a tee pad, most usually a rectangular area made of anything from rubber to cement or even brick, the player works down the fairway after each throw.

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May 17, 2019

Buying & Selling a Home at the Same Time

Buying & Selling a Home at the Same Time

Whether you decide to buy new home first, or sell your current home first, you should know your options!

Buying a new home and selling a current home at the same time can be stressful.  Selling first may make you feel "homeless" and rushed.  Buying first may involve two mortgages. So let's review each scenario.

Buy Your New Home First

  1. Make an offer on a home with a contingency to sell your current home first; then list your current home for sale.
    If you’re worried about selling your home too quickly and not being able to find another one to buy. Find your dream home first, and then make an offer with a “Buyer Contingency.” This means that your offer is contingent upon your current home selling.

  2. Use personal savings, a HELOC or bridge loan.
    Most people can’t afford to pay for two mortgages at the same time, or buy a home with cash. If you don’t have that kind of savings, you can use a HELOC, which is a loan in which the lender agrees to lend a maximum amount within an agreed period (called a term), where the collateral is the borrower’s equity in his/her house (akin to a second mortgage). Or a bridge loan, a short term loan lent by a bank to cover the interval between buying a new house and selling your old one. to cover the costs of purchasing a house while you’re still paying the mortgage on your old one.

  3. Rent out your current home to cover your new mortgage.
    If you can find tenants who are willing to pay more than what you owe on monthly mortgage payments and what it costs to maintain your home, it makes financial sense to rent out your current house and purchase a new one. The downside is that you’ll need to have a down payment saved, and being a landlord comes with a lot of responsibility.

Sell Your Home First

  1. Put in an offer on a new home with a settlement contingency
    As soon as you put your home on the market, start looking at places to buy, but don’t make an offer on any of them until you’ve accepted an offer on your current home. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to know exactly what you want to buy so you can make an offer as soon as you find it. When you make the offer on your new home, you can include what’s called a “Buyer Contingency” This means that your offer is contingent on your current home selling by a specified date. If it doesn’t sell by that date, you can cancel.

  2. Sign a rent-back agreement with the owners of your new home
    A rent-back agreement is when the buyer allows the seller to stay in the home for an agreed-upon period of time, in exchange for rental payments. If you negotiate for this when you sell your house, you can stay in your home while you search for a new one; you just have to pay rent to the person who bought your house. Warning: this may reduce the number of offers on your home.

  3. Find a temporary rental to live in while you search for a home
    If you can’t get a HELOC or Bridge loan and need the money from the sale of your home to buy a new one, this is a good option for you. You can sell your home and move into a rental while you search for your dream home. This is a complication, but it allows you to make an offer on a home without a Buyer Contingency.

As experienced REALTORS, we know what your options are and how best to make use of them. If you have need or want to buy and sell at the same time, we can coordinate the entire process for you to make it as smooth as possible. There are a lot of moving parts in these situations, but having the right professionals on your side makes all the difference.                      Contact Us and We'll Get This Done for You!

April 17, 2019

Local White Mountains AZ Realtors Know

Using Realtor.com, Trulia, and Zillow, and dozens of non-local websites online, many buyers and sellers might think “Why does anyone need a real estate agent?” The answer is everyone does!

Those websites are designed to be user friendly and have the effect of making consumers believe the entire real estate process is easy-peasy, just like the website. But, the truth is there's a mountain of work that goes into a real estate transaction besides finding a home. Or selling a home.

You might think this a propaganda, considering what we do for a living, but give us a minute! This is probably the biggest financial decision/investment you will ever make. That's huge. So, here are a few reasons why it's really important to use a local agent rather than try to go it alone.

First, agents know the area. Zillow, Trulia, and all the others don't. Not at all. They want you to believe they do, but they don't. They don't know neighborhoods, they don't know the construction type good/bad, they don't know the condition of the home, they actually don't know where it is, except for the zipcode. That's VITALLY important in the White Mountains AZ, a small but extremely varied market. All those property aspects and many more affect the value of a home, including whether it's financeable, what type of financing, cash only, etc. It may look fantastic seen online, but only an experienced local real estate agent can tell you the "nuts & bolts" about the property. And whether it's what you're looking for.

These big online websites also pepper their websites with handy-dandy information that leads consumers to think they've gained knowledge that they can use. Typically, not. They'll attempt to instruct consumers on many areas of real estate and real estate transactions. But, it takes a real estate agent to actually explain these processes and how they apply to a consumer's very specific situation, goals, and abilities. Good local realtors also know their areas better than anyone. They are your best resource for finding a home in the neighborhood and price range you want.

Buying and selling requires sharp negotiating skills. Depending on the home,there may be substantial competition, cash offers, bidding wars, and other factors to consider. Local agents know all about this. They do this for a living. You may buy/sell a couple of houses in a lifetime. Real estate agents do it 100s of times! You need someone who will always have your back and your best interests.

They've got "people". Experienced agents know everybody-- mortgage companies, good/bad, escrow companies, home inspectors, tradespeople, movers-- all resources you need. The good, the bad, and everything in between. This expertise is of tremendous value when it comes to handling transactions that pose very different situations.

They do a ton of work to earn their commission. And you may only see a fraction of the work, time and effort they put in on your behalf. Because, a big part of an agent's job is to make things easy for you. To take the heat, bear the stress, take on the worry, work through difficult situations and sometimes difficult people with experience and savvy. So you don't have to. So you don't see it. It's what we're hired to do!

March 30, 2019

Don't Settle for Less Than Your Asking Price 5 Ways to Boost Your Home Value

Boost the value of your home with lightingDo you want to know about some easy effort, low-cost but highly effective things you can do to increase the asking price of your home?

If you're seriously thinking about putting your home on the market, or if it's already up for sale, you can boost your home's value by making some small changes that will certainly make your home stand out during showings, and also address any potential issues before buyers do. Here are five super-easy ways to boost - if not skyrocket the value of your home.Skyrocket the Value of Your Home

Kitchen and Bathrooms First

If you're considering some remodeling, updating, or upgrading, the kitchen and bathrooms are where you should concentrate first. Those two areas are proven to affect the value of your home the most, and you’ll benefit from spending the most time and money on improving them. To keep costs down and avoid expensive major overhauls, pay attention to only what will give you the most return on a relatively small investment of money and time versus renovation.  A fresh coat of paint, maybe a facelift of countertops and cabinets, new faucets and fixtures will actually leave you with a high return.

Move It All Around

You've heard this before: De-clutter! Clutter is visual noise and seriously detracts from the buyer's attention to all the value aspects of your home. Get rid of any clutter.  Moving furniture slightly away from the walls will also make the rooms seem more open and spacious.  Less is more!  Store away whatever furniture you don't need to increase visual appeal and a clean look.  Are there any rooms you might transform into an extra bedroom?  A few new pieces of furniture can transform a small den or home office into a guest or extra bedroom that will appeal to buyers and is a simple way to increase the value of your home.

Lighten Up

Many times lighting is gets overlooked when staging a home for showings. First impressions are lasting impressions, so light it up for a positive first impression.  Make every room bright with new higher wattage light bulbs, keep blinds, draperies, curtains open to allow more natural light.  Make windows sparkle. Lighter paint colors will also create a spacious and uplifting feel to the rooms.  Most people, and this includes buyers, feel relaxed and happier in a bright and welcoming space.  A well-lit room will subconciously boost buyers' moods, making them feel "at home"-- and that's exactly what you want.

Low-Cost High Value Improvements

Think about what you can do to refresh and revamp your home without hiring others to do it for you. Pay attention to the "main attractions" that people tend to notice first, such as the kitchen cabinets and the flooring. Again, a fresh coat of paint will work miracles! Observe with a keen eye things like dated wallpaper.  Removing old or decorative wallpaper that once made sense, but does no longer, goes far and away to making the home appear fresh and modern. Simply cleaning up and squaring away makes an immense difference, both inside and outside.  Get rid of and replace any old worn out rugs or furniture to make the whole room look brand spanking new.  Shape up the outside similarly.  Removing chipped paint and repainting, beefing up the landscaping will go a long way to increase value.

Repairs Offer Big Returns

It’s important to address any major repair issues before buyers and other agents notice them. Consultation with a REALTOR is crucial to discover any underlying issues that could negatively impact an offering price on your home.  Consider having a prelisting inspection to uncover repairs/replacements you should make, giving you an opportunity to fix them before your home is put on market. Plumbing or heating/cooling, or water pressure, or leaks, for example, will diminish the value of your home. Although repairs may not always be low-cost, the return on the investment is very good.  These are often necessary steps to take to get the best offers on your home.

In summary, you don't have to and shouldn't "go for broke" to maximize the value of your home.  Knowing where to focus your prelisting home revamping efforts will make your home stand out even in the most competitive markets. By following these five simple tips and enlisting the professional opinions and suggestions of an experienced local REALTOR, you’ll be successful in bringing serious buyers to the table with the kind of offers you're aiming for in no time at all.

Thinking about selling your home? CLICK HERE for a free home evaluation and send us a message-- we would love to help!

March 21, 2019

White Mountains AZ Painted Rocks! Be Inspired and Inspire Others

Rock Painting Totally Rocks!

Beautiful painted pebbles with uplifting messagesSaw a post in our Facebook feed announcing a group event.  Hiding a painted rock, giving coordinates, and encouraging people to find the cache, leave a painted rock behind.  Fascinating.  I wanted to find out more.

Well, it's a thing. A beautiful, uplifting thing. The "Kindness Rocks Project", was founded by Megan Murphy.  From the website The Kindness Rocks Project: "It all started with a single stone on a beach in Cape Cod and now spans the globe. The Kindness Rocks Project, founded by Megan Murphy, is based on the profound truth that one message at the right moment can change someone’s day, their outlook, and, indeed, their whole life. The messages on these thoughtful pebbles take many forms: gratitude, affirmations, encouragement, and offers of hope—all signposts along the way for someone to find at exactly the right time."

It's pretty easy to participate, even if it's just you and maybe a couple of others.  But, YOU can do this alone, and maybe make a tiny difference in the world, quietly, one painted rock atPainted rocks with a beautiful butterfly theme a time. I'm (Pam) going to start painting rocks.  Maybe, just maybe someone who needs to hear something good will find one I tuck away somewhere.  Call it "random acts of kindness". "OUR GOAL IS SIMPLE… TO PROMOTE RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS TO UNSUSPECTING RECIPIENTS BY PAINTING AND DROPPING INSPIRATIONAL ROCKS" Just thinking outside yourself and getting outside in nature is a good thing. DOING a good thing is even better. For everyone.

There are Facebook groups from all over the country that you can join, and maybe some nearby!  Just search Facebook groups.

Here are some tips for getting started from AZ Rocks, a website you should visit:

Rock Painting and Hiding Tips

  • Once you’ve found a rock, please re-hide it for the next person to find, and include a clue(optional) to where it’s hidden in your photo post on this page or the page of your particular group
  • Smooth sandstone works great. Look at waterways for smooth rocks and unique shapes. Let the rock talk to you!
  • Please refrain from taking rocks from other folks’ landscaping. Do not collect rocks in national parks and monuments or in State parks – it is illegal.
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March 17, 2019

White Mountains AZ Real Estate Downsizing Your Home - Is It for You?

Big family home to small and cozy homeThe Wachter Team increasingly is seeing home sellers and buyers who are in the process of downsizing.  And we can relate.

When was the last time we used a gigantic soup tureen that Pam made?  Or the enormous turkey platter?  The place settings for 12?  Certainly visions of joyful gatherings, parties, the fun and enjoyment we remember tug at our fond memories.  But, more and more as we and others look around our big homes, stuffed with a lifetime of things that mean things, we're a little lost. 

So we fully understand our downsizing clients.  We want to help.  It's such an emotional time.  But it makes sense to look at downsizing from a logical standpoint.  Is it right for you at this time in your life?  Time to focus on the future and not the past?  Let's think it through together.

  • How Much Space Do You Really Need?  Empty nesters probably don't need that 3rd or 4th bedroom.Dos and don'ts of downsizing a simple guide  More than likely friends, family won't mind being put up in a nearby hotel for family gatherings.  More than likely children and grandchildren may be distant.  At least that's what we're seeing. And most family will empathize with your desire to give up the family home that you kept for them all those years.  Most family just want you to be happy.  How often to you have company?  Really, how often are children and grandchildren able to visit?  Look at things the way they are.  Not the way the used to be.  Yes, it's hard, and we all yearn for days gone by-- but there's a whole lot more life to come!
  • Would You Like or Need the Extra Money?  A large family home has usually built up a lot of equity over the years, and in many cases we see that the home is owned "free and clear".  The opportunity to capitalize on that investment is a huge plus.  Think of what you could do with the money the sale will free up.  You might be able to retire a few years earlier.  Be able to travel, see and do things you've always wanted to do.
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March 10, 2019

White Mountains AZ Retirement Living 55+

Cozy warm interior of a smaller homeWith more and more people retiring every day, many are considering White Mountains AZ for retirement living.  And our 55+ communities are extremely attractive, including RV resorts!  The White Mountains offers unlimited recreational, educational, senior support services, a huge medical center, and a peaceful and quite lifestyle.  Roads are all excellent and typically uncongested.  There's always something to do in the White Mountains!

These RV resorts are not the "trailer parks" of old, either.  With nicely appointed Park Model Homes, or well-made newer manufactured homes, even RVs, these well-kept and pretty communities offer seniors a lovely setting in the small-town atmosphere of the White Mountains.  There are also several "stand-alone" home communities, too.  Many of these communities allow you to own the land under your home.  There are a few that do offer homes on leased land.  HOA fees vary, but are affordable and can include pine lots, waterfront homes, water features, clubhouses, fitness centers, bike and walking paths, golf, tennis, RV and other storage.  All are close to shopping, goods/services, and medical facilities.

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March 5, 2019

Pickleball in the White Mountains of AZ! Come play with us!

Come and play with us in the Pines!  Do you know about pickleball?  Maybe you do, but if not, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. Due to the exploding popularity of this scores of years-old game, parks and recreation departments are adding pickleball to their sports programs. But what is pickleball exactly, and why is it becoming so popular?

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a "paddle sport" that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong using a paddle and plastic ball with holes-- like a whiffle ball. The game is appropriate for players of all ages and skill levels. Basically, anyone can play. And the rules for pickleball are simple, making it a great introductory sport. But, depending on levels of play, pickleball can be quite a challenging, fast-paced, and competitive game when people become more experienced at playing.

 

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Feb. 28, 2019

Tips for Searching for Homes Online

Most home buyers "ask Google" to help them find homes online.  From those results, people pick from whatever pops up in a search.  But, most people really don't know where to find homes online.  They think that the websites with the most pictures, some Q&As, is the best place to look.  Unfortunately, that's hardly true.

Websites that have homes from all over the country (and world) pull data from many sources.  Some good, some not so good.  They're what are called "aggregators"-- putting together lots of data from everywhere, with much of it not of much use, outdated, or just plain unreliable.  But those websites look busy with a lot of activity, so people are attracted to them.  It can be maddening when information is incomplete, or just plain wrong.  Most importantly much of the data needs refinement, and that refinement can only be done by Realtors who are "on the ground" in that market.

These websites also charge real estate agents hefty fees to be "featured".  It is "pay to play".  But what does that mean?  Did the website choose the agents who appear on the website?  No.  Those are paid advertisements with no relation to actual experience or professionalism of the agent.  So that begs the question, "Who are you actually contacting?"  You really don't know.  You also will more than likely hear from several unknown agents who have paid the website for your information to follow up on.  Who are they?  You really don't know.  Are they best suited for the work you need them to do?

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