Your Weekly Pulse on Valley Real Estate

Aug. 5, 2020

Real Estate Home Inspections and Appraisals in the New Normal

Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, real estate transactions go on. Buyers and sellers still need to move, and the industry is looking for new ways to accommodate both the needs of the transaction and, of course, the safety of everyone.

Many traditional real estate activities can be performed virtually. While no one is suggesting that a buyer will be comfortable buying a home they have only seen during a Zoom visit, they can minimize the number of homes they physically visit by pre-screening these homes ahead of time through virtual tours.

There are a few vital pieces of the transaction that require in-person visits, however. Among these are home inspections and appraisals. Both of these professionals need access to the property to properly perform their duties, and it leaves some potential home sellers and buyers wondering if it's even possible to conclude a real estate transaction right now.

While everyone should cautiously move forward according to their personal sense of comfort, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and the professionals while they are in your home. Before setting the appointments, think through the parts of your home the inspector or appraiser will need to access and think through the process.

Contact the home inspector and appraiser and work out a plan together to keep everyone safe:

  • Communicate with them about off-limit areas, and what parts of the home they can access.
  • Have a notepad in which they can communicate what parts of the home they came in contact with, and offer hand sanitizer and wipes for them to use before and after touching parts of the home.
  • Finally, leave the home during the appointments, and clean properly once you return home

Life does move on - if you ae trying to buy or sell a home during this challenging time, it might take extra effort. However, working with your real estate team, you can conclude a successful real estate transaction amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

July 28, 2020

Public vs. Private Schools

Homebuyers know that the quality of the local schools is a critical component of their home search. Nothing is more important to parents than making sure their children receive quality education. Competition for college admission has increased to a fevered pitch over the past few decades, and parents want to set their children up early with the best opportunity for their future success. More and more, homebuyers are not simply looking at the public school system when choosing a new home, but the private school options as well.

Making the important decision about where to send your children to school requires some thought; here are a few of the benefits of each that can help you make the right choice.

Benefits of Public Schools

  • Higher Qualified Teachers - On average, public school teachers have higher educational qualifications than those of private schools, many having Master's degrees.
  • Strong Focus on Core Subjects - Public schools focus on the basics with an emphasis on mastery.
  • Wider Extracurricular Activities - Public schools tend to have a larger population and can offer a vast array of sports teams, theater, arts, and music programs.
  • Diversity - Public schools have students from all economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Benefits of Private Schools

  • Smaller Classrooms - On average, private schools have a smaller student-to-teacher ratio than public schools.
  • Strong Parent Involvement - Private schools not only encourage but rely on parent involvement
  • Less Red Tape - Private schools are not required to follow the strict state guidelines, which allows them to make quick decisions and adjustments based on each child's needs

Both public and private schools can offer students a solid education and school experience. Every community is different, and understanding the pros and cons of the local choices is becoming more and more important to parents.

Posted in Current Events
July 16, 2020

Real Estate Market is in a FRENZY!

Despite this current pandemic, many homes are going under contract in 8 days or less when priced under $400K. 

For Buyers: 

Greater Phoenix, with a population of approximately 4.8 million people has just 1.4 million single family homes, condos and townhomes in total inventory. Only 8,759 of these units were available for sale as of July 8th through the Arizona Regional MLS. If that number doesn't make your jaw drop, then this might: only 1,023 are single family homes under $300K and that number is diminishing every day.

Last month saw a surge of buyer activity, but it was not met with an equivalent surge of new listings. When compared to last year, new listings were down 7.8% while contracts in escrow soared 24% higher. For buyers under $300K however, new listings were down 22% in June compared to last year and are down 38% so far in July. This is causing an extreme amount of buyer competition in this price range.

When buyers extend their search over $300K, then new home construction starts supplementing inventory and providing some much needed alternatives. The top 3 cities for single family home permits are Phoenix, Mesa and Buckeye with notable spikes in building permits issues in Surprise, Maricopa and Queen Creek. The majority of new homes are selling between $300K - $500K, however buyers looking for brand new single family homes under that price point still have some options. The best place to start a search if looking under $300K is in Pinal County or Buckeye with average size homes being 1,800 - 2,000 square feet.

Conversely, new listings over $500K saw a spike last month, up 20% compared to last year. In June, 1,596 new listings came on the market and 2,046 were accepted in the $500K and above price range.

For Sellers: 

Brace yourselves! Half of the sellers accepting contracts under $400K in the first week of June were on the market for 8 days or less prior to contract acceptance. Sellers accepting contracts between $400K - $600K were on the market an average of 14 days while contracts between $600K - $1M were on the market an average of 41 days. Long story short is, IT IS A GREAT TIME TO BE A SELLER!

While 28% of all sales i July so far have closed over asking price, that percentage peaks at 41% for those between $200K - $300K. Top cities for closings over asking price are Tolleson, Avondale, Glendale, Gilbert, and Youngtown. Gilbert is the only city in that list with a median sale price over $300K. 

Seller-assisted closing costs remain popular and were involved in 23% of all sales in the first week of July. That percentage increases to 33% on transactions closed between $150K - $300K. Top areas where 50% - 60% of sales involved seller accepted closing cost assistance were Youngtown, West Phoenix, Aguila, Glendale, and Tolleson. 

This supports the theory that sellers receiving offers over asking price in the West Valley and other affordable areas are still open to accepting closing cost assistance if a contract meets their most important needs.

~Commentary and Infographic courtesy of Cromford & Associates LLC

July 15, 2020

How to Set Up Your First Home Office

Working from home is not a new concept, but recent events have created a mass shift in the American workforce and more people than ever before are working from home. While simply placing a laptop on the kitchen table is one way to work from home, having a designated home office offers a better environment for productivity and is easier to set up than you might think. 

  • The first step is to find the right location for your home office. Although it's great if you have a spare room to use, not everyone has this luxury. A corner of a master bedroom or living room, a loft area, or even a section of a well-insulated garage can work just as well.
  • Once you find the right space, create a list of the materials you'll need to be productive. A formal desk is best, but if you don't own one, then any table will work. Use bookshelves or storage cubes to keep paper, pens, and other useful items within easy reach.
  • Pay attention to the lighting - both natural light and lighting fixtures. Cool light, such as sunlight, is best for productivity. Make sure you have a desk lamp or floor lamp if the room doesn't have proper natural lighting. 
  • Once you have the essentials set up, it's time to add some personal touches. Add a plant or decorate a wall with pictures you enjoy, to bring the space to life. Consider the storage elements as well, such as pen holders or file folders.

A home office doesn't need to be fancy to be an effective and enjoyable space. The most important consideration is to ensure you can work in peace; it should also offer a pleasant place to be productive that is separate from your living space so you can unplug at the end of the workday.

July 10, 2020

Just Listed - 15217 S 182nd Lane

There is no need to wait for new construction when you can make this magnificent property with over $72K in designer upgrades your next HOME! Located in the breathtaking Estrella Mountain Ranch community, this home has countless features you must see in person to fully appreciate. 

This gorgeous kitchen featuring a gas range, stainless steel appliances, granite island, large dining area and ENORMOUS walk-in pantry awaits its next chef and entertainer. 

Each day you'll have the opportunity to relax in this sleek master retreat offering a soaker tub, glass encased shower and a walk-in closet.

The breathtaking views of this property cannot be contained within its walls. This low maintenance backyard on an oversized lot with a putting green and custom travertine and stone finishes around the pool and deck may truly leave you speechless when you see it in person! Just look at that sunset!

Estrella Mountain Ranch is a resort style, one of a kind community that is an oasis in the desert! If you'd like to continue your home search, click here. Call or text 602-518-5232 or email tonia.vickery@gmail.com to learn more about this listing!

Posted in My Listing Updates
July 1, 2020

Market Update - July 2020

Summer has officially arrived and I hope each of you are staying cool, safe and healthy! Despite the gloom and doom you may hear on the radio or television, the Arizona real estate market is doing exceptionally well! Below is brief summary of how buyers and sellers are fairing in today's real estate market. Long story short...WE NEED HOUSES TO SELL and TONS of people are buying their DREAM HOME!

For Buyers:

Greater Phoenix can officially be called a frenzy market once more as more properties are under contract than what's available. In the past month, the number of contracts accepted each week has jumped by 20% which brings the total recovery since April 5th to 68% and 2.5% higher than it was in late February;  pre stock market crash and COVID-19 restrictions.

As expected, the most frenzied areas are those with average sales prices between $200K - $400K which includes almost all of Southeast Valley and West Valley, North and South Phoenix. Of the 2,061 properties for sale between $200K -$300K, 4,333 are already under contract! In the $300K - $400K price range, there are 2,006 available for sale and 3,017 under contract which is 24% higher than this time last year.

All price ranges have rebounded in contract activity but May saw the largest comeback between $500K - $1M where the number of accepted contracts soared from 167% from a low of 148 contracts the first week of April to 395 the first week of June. That is 58% higher than last year's count in the same week of 250 contracts. Contracts over $1M are actually up 85% compared to this week last year.

Unfortunately for buyers, inventory is back to a pre-pandemic low. Two words come to mind...slim pickings. Inventory actually peaked in mid-April but inventory has consistently dropped week after week adding just 145 more listings since the pandemic began.

On a bright note, low interest rates and affordability still make it a good time to buy. However, ,if affordability drops below the normal range for those making a median family income, then the market will begin to cool. Fortunately, we are not there yet.

For Sellers: 

It comes as no surprise that there is an increasing percentage of closings over asking price. In fact, 23% of closings in June have recorded over asking price! It's also not uncommon for sellers to receive multiple offers, escalation clauses and appraisal waivers in today's market. Can you believe there have been 70 competing offers or more on homes under $300K?

If you have even the slightest desire to sell your home, NOW IS THE TIME! You should take full advantage of the market while it is HOT, HOT, HOT! Buyer activity may peak soon and enter its normal seasonal decline until December. If you have any questions about listing your home, I would love to help! Please ask about my FREE STAGING PROGRAM proven to help homes sell fast and for TOP DOLLAR!

 

~ Commentary and Infographic courtesy of The Cromford Report

May 21, 2020

Market Update - May 2020

I hope this market update finds each of you staying safe and well. I'm honored to share a bit of positive news with you as we have all been adjusting to this "new normal."

Buyers: 

Greater Phoenix contract activity dropped 39% over the course of 6 weeks between March and mid-April. The effects of those declines are now being reported over a month later as a 31% decline in closed sales. This is not surprising, you can't close what was never opened. But that's already old news, what is not getting reported yet us the 40% increase in accepted contracts over the past 4 weeks. This is key information for buyers right now, especially if they're on the fence waiting for the market to "crash." This 4-week increase in buyer demand will not be widely reported for 6 more weeks because these contracts still need to close. 

One mistake approved buyers make is waiting for closing reports before acting. By the time a property closes escrow and a sales price is publicly recorded, the condition that transaction was created under may have passed. The opportunity for buyer lies in knowing how many contracts are being accepted right now in their price point and area. They also need to know the average list price at contract to gauge where they are this week compared to 10 weeks ago. This information can only be obtained through a REALTOR®.

They will discover a significant increase in contract activity across all price points in Greater Phoenix, but the average list price per square foot is only down on contracts written over $500K. All other price points below $500K are seeing the average list price per square foot either higher than or equivalent to where it was 10 weeks ago in February. This does not indicate an impending doom for home values.

Buyers hoping for cheap homes should not retreat in despair, however. Mortgage rates have declined to an average of 3.26% according to Freddie Mac; last year at this time mortgage rates were 4.1%. So while the median sales price rose 8.9% over the last year, the principal and interest payment on a $300K, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage went from $1,450/month to $1,307/month. That's down $143, a 10% decline over the course of a year. The biggest mistake buyers can make is sitting around waiting for sale prices to decline while their potential mortgage payment plummets. Low mortgage rates are not something to ignore or take for granted as they can change quickly for better or worse.

Sellers:

The increase in contract activity is great news for sellers. However, there are fewer cash buyers offering top dollar for homes in "as-is condition" compared to 10 weeks ago; meaning increased pressure on sellers to do repairs and offer concessions to normal buyers in order to sell their home for their desired price. This is reflected in the percentage of homes closing with seller-assisted closing costs, which increased from 18% to 25% over the past 4 weeks.

The market over $500K is recovering slower than the other price ranges after dropping 58% in weekly contractsdue to travel restrictions and the stock market crash from late February through March. While contract activity rose 65% over the past 4 weeks, it's still down 30% from its peak 10 weeks ago. The irony is that one would expect a massive number of price reductions after such a dramatic drop in demand, but that was not the case. Instead, sellers over $500K simply picked up their ball and left the field. The highest percentage of cancelled listings were seen in the luxury market, which reduced supplly and mitoigates the loss in demand. As a result, sales prices over $500K have remained stable thus far and are up just 0.9% from this time last year.

~Data and infographic courtesy of Cromford Associates LLC & Tamboer Consulting LLC

 

May 15, 2020

Just Listed - 18293 W Tecoma Road

This well appointed home constructed in 2017 with over $66,000 in designer upgrades was JUST LISTED! You don't want to miss an opportunity to view this beauty nestled on an oversized lot in the lovely Estrella Mountain Ranch community before it's UNDER CONTRACT!

If your inner chef has been dreaming of a spacious kitchen to cook and entertain, you'll appreciate this gas kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances, back splash, a granite island, large dining area and an enormous walk-in pantry!

After a long day, can you imagine unwinding in this master retreat offering a soaker tub, glass encased shower and walk-in closet?

The beauty of this home is not limited to the interior as soaring ceilings, modern details and 12 foot sliding glass doors allow you to overlook this HEATED pool and magnificent mountain views.

Estrella Mountain Ranch is a resort style, one of a kind community that is an oasis in the desert! If you'd like to continue your home search, click here . Call or text 602-518-5232 or email tonia.vickery@gmail.com to learn more about this listing!

Posted in My Listing Updates
March 22, 2020

How Is COVID-19 Affecting The Arizona Real Estate Market?

Unless you've avoided all news and media outlets over the past few weeks, you have undoubtedly heard of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus by now. The impacts of this global pandemic are very evident in certain sectors but not so clear in others. Below are a few subtle changes real estate experts have noticed in the Central Arizona real estate market over the past week and a couple of assumptions for the 2020 housing industry.

Most economists anticipate most of the world will experience a recession during the second and third quarters of 2020. We are also likely to see a temporary fall in population due to increased mortality rates. Some of the effects we can likely expect for the housing market include:

  •  Buyers cancelling or deferring buying decisions out of fear of job loss
  •  Sellers taking home off the market and being less willing to allow strangers to view their home in person
  •  New home builders noticing a shortage of building supplies
  •  Self-quarantining decreasing the number of individuals house hunting or listing their home for sale
  •  Lower sales volume resulting in a decreased need for agents, title and escrow staff and lenders

Currently, all indicators for the Central Arizona market remain healthy. At the present time, there is little cause for panic, so if you are delaying a home purchase because you think the price will decrease, you are likely not making a wise decision. 

On a positive note, current and future home owners can take advantage of extremely low mortgage rates! Since supply is currently at a low level and most homeowners have a large amount of equity in their home, even if a homeowner lost their income and could no longer pay their mortgage, they could likely find a buyer quickly to release that equity. Home builders can also take comfort that migration trends still show families and individuals are likely to continue moving to Arizona.

As the world continues to navigate these unchartered waters, continue to stay informed by trusted professionals. If you have any questions or concerns regarding real estate during this time, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or email. 

Until next time, stay healthy and informed!

~ Information source: Cromford Report, Michael Orr, 2020

March 13, 2020

Real Estate Snapshot - Phoenix Metro

How's the market you ask?

Check out these numbers and tell me!

For Buyers: 

Not even the COVID-19 coronavirus can slow down the Greater Phoenix housing market. For every 100 active listings in the Arizona Regional MLS there are 111 that are already under contract. Greater Phoenix is officially a frenzy and it's only March. We can expect to see this continue at least through May without relief as buyer demand is typically highest in the Spring.

It's even more dramatic in the Southeast Valley, West Valley and North Phoenix and all areas where prices land between $175K-$300K. For a stark example, on March 7th in Glendale there were 3 properties for sale between $175K-$200K and 25 under contract. In Chandler there were 3 properties active between $200K-$250K and 37 under contract. In the North Phoenix Moon Valley area there were 8 properties for sale between $250K-$300K and 30 under contract.

There is a reason why people continue to pounce on what's available for sale. The average price for a 1,500-2,000 sf home is now $331K and continues to rise. That may seem alarming considering it was $324K at the peak in 2006, but contrary to popular belief it's more affordable today because of the interest rates. In April 2006, with an average of 6.51% the monthly principle and interest payment on a 30-year fixed loan with 10% down was $1,854. Today at an average of 3.45% the same home is $1,331, a savings of $523. More recently, over the last 16 months despite prices having risen 9.4% for median-sized homes the monthly payment dropped by approximately $112/month.

For Sellers:

There's not much more to say to sellers under $500K, frankly their homes may be sold before we're done saying it. The stark gap between supply and demand doesn't ease up until budgets go over $600K. Sellers in areas such as North Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, the Camelback Corridor and Downtown Phoenix still have plenty of competition to contend with, but well-priced, updated, move-in ready homes will still see heightened buyer interest.

The luxury market is doing exceptionally well, however sellers should not expect the stampedes seen in the rest of the market. There are 522 properties under contract over $1M, up a whopping 60% over last year at this time. However there are still 1,657 competing properties for sale in this price range and those that sold in February averaged 5-6 months in the market.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, The Cromford Report