Trilogy at Vistancia remains my favorite active adult community in the Valley. When I do a walk-through of a new home in Trilogy, I’m consistently impressed with the quality of construction. With many builders, I leave a walk-through looking like a blue-tape blizzard has blown through, due to so many quality control issues. I’ve done walk-throughs with Shea Homes where we haven’t even torn one strip from the blue tape roll. Just amazing!
Equally impressive are Trilogy customer support and onsite staff. They’re helpful to my buyers and responsive to needs after close of escrow. Every time I accompany them on a tour of Trilogy’s amenities, I learn something new.
As an obvious fan of Trilogy at Vistancia, I was pleased to receive the following email from one of the Sales Staff notifying me of a new parcel release:
I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to give you a quick update on our Trilogy at Vistancia community in Peoria Arizona. I am very excited to share we are days away from opening our next neighborhood Desert Bloom aka Parcel C-12. This quaint neighborhood will have approximately 99 home sites and will be released in phases. The first phase we will release home sites 1582 through 1622. Please let me know if you have a client who you think may have an interest – if so, highlight the specific lot of interest and I will be more than happy to provide more information!
Sales will commence on Saturday, November 17, 2012. While I am not anticipating needing a drawing, you just never know. So, should we have more than one individual interested in the same lot we will have a drawing for that specific lot to determine who has the first opportunity to purchase the home site. If a drawing is necessary it will be held on Saturday morning, November 17th, 2012. The party drawn who has the first opportunity to purchase that specific lot will have 4 hours to execute a purchase contract. Should they fail to execute a purchase contract in the 4 hour window then the 2nd interested party will have the same 4 hours to execute and so on until the lot is sold.
I have included a copy of the new neighborhood map for Desert Bloom at Trilogy (Parcel C-12) below for your reference. I also included a copy of the overall Trilogy community map so that you can see where this new neighborhood is located within Trilogy. The location is spectacular – in the heart of the community and extremely close to the Kiva Club. We saved the best for last – this will be your clients last opportunity to enjoy a new home in a premier location!!
Here’s an updated price list (remember — BASE PRICES ONLY — no lot premiums or personal upgrades):
A couple of important points to remember when you consider purchasing a new home. Most importantly, don’t EVER contact a new home builder directly until your Realtor has registered you. Otherwise, the builder will not allow you to work with your Buyer’s Agent. Furthermore, the builder will require you to sign a disclosure that says you understand and agree that the builder’s agent ONLY represents the BUILDER, not you!
Read more in one of my previous posts about new home representation in Phoenix here.
For many considering Phoenix real estate, new homes are an attractive option. Call or email if you have any questions at all! I can help you evaluate new home subdivisions across the Valley and compare prices with resale homes in the same communities, which are often available.
As further evidence that the Phoenix real estate market is in full recovery, many homebuilders are aggressively expanding their land holdings in anticipation of continued recovery.
As noted in the Arizona Republic, Taylor Morrison Homes of Arizona, for example, has already purchased 700 lots in 2012, has contracts on 1,000 more, and is seeking additional opportunities in Maricopa County.
The builder has communities under construction in the East Valley, but the current focus is on North Valley locations, such as Lone Mountain, Vistancia, Terramar, and parts of Scottsdale.
Charlie Enochs, Division President of Taylor Morrison Arizona, expects the builder to build twice as many homes in 2012 as it did in 2011.
Taylor Morrison isn’t alone. The City of Scottsdale recently reported a 52% increase in building permits issued over the previous fiscal year.
The uptick in construction activity is a function of resale inventory scarcity, frustration over short sale logistics and waiting periods, and aggressive incentives offered by homebuilders.
From my perspective, it’s refreshing to drive through new home subdivisions and see and hear the hustle and bustle of construction. For a few years, construction came to a virtual halt. In fact, in some parts of the Valley you can still see skeletons of subdivisions abandoned mid-build, victims of the housing bust and weak economy.
2009 – Home Builders Abandoned Communities
Today – New Home Construction is Back
Considering a new home in Phoenix or Scottsdale? I have helped many buyers save money by representing them on their new home purchases. In fact, purchasing a new home without dedicated Realtor representation can cost you big time!
For more information on how a Realtor can help you buy a new home, read this posting.
You read that right. I DON’T TAKE PHONE CALLS…while I’m in appointments.
Have you ever scheduled an appointment to meet with someone only to find they spend more time on the phone and answering the phone during your appointment than they do actually meeting with you? It’s a personal pet peeve of mine that I’ve addressed in my business.
Could the caller be a hot lead for a new listing? Or a buyer hoping to interview me as their Phoenix Buyer Agent? Absolutely.
But a have implemented a Service Standard that says scheduled appointments take precedence over all other interruptions, except in the case of a rare emergency. You’ve waited your turn to meet with me, so why is it fair to allow someone else to essentially cut to the front of the line?
Does that make me less accessible to my real estate clients? Not at all!
If the issue is important enough for someone to leave a voice message, I promise to return the call as soon as my appointment ends. Anyone who interacts with me knows that I am super-accessible and that I return calls!
How about you? Do you care when someone you’ve scheduled time with doesn’t give you their uninterrupted attention?
The Art and Science of Selecting a Phoenix Real Estate Broker
Issues to Consider and Questions to Ask
One of the largest single transactions you’ll ever complete is the purchase or sale of a home. A multitude of factors play a role in the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of the transaction, not the least of which is your choice for representation. While some choose to navigate the real estate waters without representation, most elect to employ the services of a professional Realtor.
Whether you’re looking to sell a Phoenix condo or a buy luxury Scottsdale home, picking a Realtor can be an overwhelming proposition. The recent housing boom and the perception of ‘easy money’ has caused a huge swelling of the Phoenix real estate agent ranks, especially among Phoenix Realtors and Scottsdale Realtors. Virtually everyone knows a Realtor, or several. The problem is, how do you select the best one for your needs?
I put together the following list of suggestions as a good starting point for any prospective homebuyer or homeseller looking for ‘the perfect match.’
For Buyers and Sellers
Ask around: A good place to begin the screening process is by asking colleagues and friends if they’ve ever worked with a real estate agent that they think did a great job. Ask very specific questions so you can get a feel for how the agent truly performed. “How often did the agent communicate with you? Were they easy to reach? Do you feel they negotiated effectively for you? Was there anything they might have done better? What kind of personality do they have? Have you heard from them since the sale closed?” Have you ever had someone give a glowing review of a restaurant that you just “had to try” only to find once you went that it was mediocre at best? Everyone has different preferences, so don’t rely too heavily on the opinion of a friend’s experience.
Don’t compromise: When researching Realtors, do your homework and listen to your instincts. As easy as it is to take the path of least resistance by working with the first agent you meet, don’t settle for an agent who you feel gives you any less than 100% effort and professionalism.
Consider certifications and designations: Real estate is an ever-evolving field. Trends change, contracts change, momentum changes. In short, the only constant is change. You should consider working with a real estate agent who continually strives to better themselves and stay abreast of the latest issues and trends. Certifications and designations reflect a proactive effort to hone ones skills and result in a better educated, better informed real estate agent.
Ask for references: In fact, if a long list of references isn’t voluntarily offered, I’d be cautious. Any highly-performing agent will have accumulated a long list of satisfied customers that they can gladly refer you to.
CALL THE REFERENCES! You’d be surprised how few home sellers ask for a list of references, and then fail to call even one single person on the list. Pick 2 or 3 references from the list and CALL THEM! Ask a few very specific questions about their experience with the agent and take notes so you remember which feedback belonged to which agent.
For Prospective Home Sellers
Visit open houses, but BEWARE: Successful real estate teams often divide their agents into Listing Specialists and Buyer Specialists. In Phoenix real estate, if you visit an open house, you will most likely be greeted by a Buyer Specialist on that team who may not be equipped to answer your questions about the team’s listing program. You should ask for the Team Leader or Listing Specialist to schedule a listing consultation.
Beware: New Realtors and those who don’t carry many listings will often volunteer to hold an open house to pick up buyers. These agents may have no affiliation with the Listing Agent whatesoever, except that they work in the same brokerage office. While they may be excellent agents-in-training, to maximize your chances of working with an experienced team you should only work with a Listing Specialist or Team Leader. Note: If you ever visit an open house in which you were very impressed with the agent holding the house open but you’re not quite ready to sell, be sure to get his/her card and jot a few notes down on the back, then file it away in your “Mortgage” file so you can pull it out and look them up when it comes time to sell.
Also, never visit an open house if you’re currently working with a Buyer’s Agent without your agent present. In Arizona real estate, your agent will not be entitled to represent you if you view the open house without them present. And as mentioned above, many agents holding open houses are specifically looking for unrepresented buyers, so be up-front with them. See my earlier posting about this subject…
Interview the local specialist(s): Most neighborhoods are served by many Realtors, but may be dominated by one or two ‘local experts.’ A local expert isn’t necessarily the best choice, but can serve as a good starting point. They have likely visited/previewed more homes than anyone else that works in the community and are better in tune with price dynamics and neighborhood trends. Furthermore, the local expert usually lives in the area, which means they have a vested interest in preserving property values. Be aware, however, that the local specialist may not be the right choice for you. Local knowledge may be offset by a stronger marketing plan or an agent with a better personality fit, among others.
Tips for the interview: There are many pieces of information that you should collect before and during the interview in order to make the best choice for your needs. Does the Realtor show up on time for your appointment? Are they dressed professionally? What sort of ‘vibe’ do you get at the very first moment you meet? Are they comfortable to be around and easy to communicate with? Do they sound like they know the area? Remember, this agent will be representing you to prospective buyers, title officers, lenders, and other Realtors. Your agent should convey the image that you’d expect of a professional and have the knowledge and experience to get your home sold!
Once the introductions are made, let the interviewee ‘lead’ the process. They should ask for a tour of the home before you ever sit down for the presentation. During the tour, do they ask lots of good, fact-finding questions about your home? Do they tour the entire home, including the back yard, sides of the house, closets, and garage? They should already be trying to determine how to best position your home for the market, even before the listing is issued. A thorough inspection is part of the process.
Focus on the Marketing Plan: After the tour is complete, the interview begins. The Realtor will present his/her marketing plan and why they believe they’re the best candidate for the job. You should look for a marketing plan that advertises to a broad segment of the market, both online and in print.
Make sure your agent will communicate with you: As I detailed in an earlier post, the biggest complaint I hear from sellers about past Realtor experiences is that their Realtor fell out of contact with them after they scored the listing. “They took my listing and I never heard from them again!” Your agent should commit to providing detailed, written status updates so you will have a formal record of the progress on the sale of your home. You should know what is being done at all times to market your home, as well as how it’s being received by the market.
Ask for a cancellation clause: Ask each listing agent interviewee if they will put in writing that you may cancel the listing agreement at any time if they’re not performing to your expectations. Any Realtor that believes in their quality of service should be willing to offer the same assurance. Just ask for it.
Don’t put too much weight on sales stats: Many articles encourage you to ask a Realtor about their listing statistics: average days on market, list-to-sale-price ratio, etc. I disagree.
Why? Because stats can be deceptive.
For example, of you list your property on the low side of fair market value, it’s highly likely that your agent will sell your home faster and closer to the asking price. In this example, days on market and sales price as a percentage of list price will both be favorable for the listing agent.
And what about short sales? I represented clients in a Phoenix short sale that took 6 months to close. That’s a transaction that could negatively impact my days on market (time to sale) stats. To pad my stats, I’d have to turn these clients away.
Finally, you can’t easily validate an agents statistics. I quit providing sales stats when on one listing appointment I had my sales statistics recited back to me by a seller who had previously interviewed another agent that worked in my area. Not surprisingly, the other agent had superior numbers. It’s pretty easy to position yourself against the competition when you know the competition’s numbers.
The bottom line about sales statistics is that they don’t always tell an accurate story. You can ask for them, you can’t confirm them or interpret them. Place more emphasis on other screening factors mentioned here.
For Prospective Home Buyers
Don’t commit until you’re comfortable: It’s a commonly-accepted practice for a Buyer Broker to require clients to sign a Buyer Broker Agreement, which confirms agency and outlines party commitments. In my opinion, you should not sign a BBA until you have a chance to evaluate a buyer’s agent. At a minimum, you should have an initial consultation, be set up to receive Phoenix real estate listings or Scottsdale real estate lisings, and go out for one property showing appointment to determine whether or not there’s a good match with the Realtor. You will learn so much about the agent the first time you go out to view properties together and you’ll know whether or not you’ve found the right professional. Once you’re confident that you have, you should be ready to commit to the agent just as the agent is committed to you.
How well does the Buyer Specialist know the process? You should ask all the questions you can think of about the purchase process, escrow, inspection period, and the contracts. Even better, ask to review some of the forms that you’ll experience during the purchase process. Does the agent answer your questions promptly and confidently? Do their answers make sense? If the Realtor can’t explain things clearly or you just get the feeling they don’t have everything straight, then find someone else. No need for you to be a ‘learning case.’
There are so many Scottsdale real estate agents and Phoenix real estate agents that it’s hard to even know where to begin to look for the right one for your needs. If you follow the tips that I’ve offered here, you will be on the right track. Just remember to be patient and not to compromise your expectations.
Bargains can be found on Phoenix properties regardless of market conditions. Currently, the Greater Phoenix real estate market is facing a supply shortage, with less than a 2 months supply of inventory. Still, there are steps any prospective home buyer can take to maximize their chances at finding and securing the right property at the right price.
Here are my recommendations:
Work with a Realtor
It may sound self-serving considering the source, but your best first step is to find a Buyer Specialist to guide you through the purchase process, from initial search through close of escrow. I’ve posted tips on how to pick a good Realtor, which you should review if you haven’t already hired one. Don’t settle on just any Realtor — determine the service standards that are important to you and filter candidates against these criteria. And if you find an agent doesn’t meet your expectations and you’re not able to resolve your concerns with them, find another one ASAP. You have too much at stake to settle for a so-so member of your team. ‘Nuff said.
Develop a Search Plan
Your Buyer Specialist should have a specific plan to help you find your hidden gem. My approach involves a thorough initial consultation, after which I build a targeted search and notify you anytime properties matching your criteria are listed. In certain cases I can also tap into alternative resources, such as wholesalers and local ‘fix and flip’ investment groups. Different buyer needs dictate the need for different strategies and an experienced Buyer Specialist can develop the best one for your situation.
Be Ready to Pounce!
Over the course of your search, you should see enough properties to know when you find “The Property.” You’ll understand how features relate to value for your chosen area. Once you do find your Phoenix or Scottsdale property, don’t hesitate for a minute. Write an offer ASAP! Even in the strongest of buyer’s markets, you don’t want someone else to come in ahead of you, resulting in your loss.
Structure a Smart Offer
There’s more to value than sales price for both buyer and seller. An experienced Buyer Specialist thinks outside the box to help you craft an offer that positions you favorably to the seller and sets you apart from any competing offers. I’ve helped buyers acquire properties at lower prices than competing offers by putting together offers that didn’t give away anything of material value to my clients, but offered added value to the sellers. The key is to understand what is most valuable to both parties, as well as what’s not, and reflecting those differences in the offer.
Sadly, you can’t always win.
It’s important to note that there are so many variables involved in the process and things beyond your control, it is possible do everything right and still experience multiple rejected offers and a protracted search. So while nobody can guarantee a perfect experience, I believe that the issues I’ve identified here can help you buy Phoenix properties in any market.
For buyers looking for properties in the Phoenix area, it might seem like the market has changed overnight. Media reports have been pumping that “it’s a buyer’s market!” for (literally) years. Indeed, for years that has been true.
However, a look at historical numbers shows that the Phoenix real estate market has been improving for years by at least two measures: new listings and number of units sold.
A look at new listings shows that, with the exception of a slight increase from 2009 to 2010, the number of new listings per year has been declining since 2007. In fact, the annual total of new listings in the Phoenix area was lower than the height of the market in 2005 (in terms of median and average prices).
The chart above represents the supply side of the equation. Now let’s look at demand.
You can see below that 104,725 homes were sold in 2005, then the number of units sold plummeted to much lower levels for the next 5 years. In 2011, the number of homes sold in Greater Phoenix was almost on par with the frenzied year 2005. And 2012 is off to a robust start!
I’ll cover price changes in an upcoming post but, thanks to Economics 101, we can reliably predict that a drop in supply (# of listings) and an increase in demand (units sold) should lead to a corresponding increase in prices.
To be continued…
On Friday, Fannie Mae which, with Freddie Mac, holds or guarantees about 1/2 of all outstanding mortgages, declared a $2.3 billion loss. Analysts had expected a loss of about $0.68/share, a fraction of the reported $2.54, which sent shares of FNMA falling 9% for the day.
The huge blow is largely attributed to a surge in foreclosures. As if anyone needed confirmation, sub-prime (or Alt-A) holdings, which account for 11% of Fannie Mae’s portfolio, were to blame for more than half of the repoted losses. The company issued a statement that it believes the worst may be over by year end, but many industry analysts expect to see defaults continue as a result of the Alt-A lending that was done well into 2007. Risky financing + falling property values = foreclosures.
The implications of this situation are huge. First of all, Alt-A financing will all but disappear. For buyers of Phoenix real estate and Scottsdale real estate, at least, so-called stated loan options are generally relics of the past. Now buyers that qualify can still leverage traditional FHA and VA programs, which only require 3% down, but fewer and fewer ‘private’ programs are available for buyers who have less than 20% to put down.
The huge losses are also bad news for homebuyers. Since the losses continue to mount, the government is stepping in to assist the mortgage giants. To make up for the losses, FNMA is increasing its rates, which will be passed along to the homebuyer in the form of higher interest rates. Anyone who understands the theory of amortization realizes that a rise in interest rates has a much more significant impact on the cost of a loan over its lifetime than even a substantial reduction in purchase price.
Many of the prospective home buyers who are sitting back to see if prices continue to fall may miss out on their best opportunity to purchase. They may find they no longer qualify to purchase or, worse, may end up paying more than expected due to higher interest rates.
While the numbers lead me to believe we’ll continue to see prices lower, in my opinion it is an excellent time to buy. Inventory remains high, from Scottsdale luxury homes to Phoenix condos, and interest rates are still low in a historical context. No matter how much prices fall, if average buyers either cannot qualify for a mortgage or if the cost of borrowed money rises, buyers will lose. Pundits will argue that they’d expect a Realtor to say that, but I’d say that uncertainty is the greatest risk of all. We could see all of the people left holding the bag by trying to time the top of the market joined by those who tried to time the bottom.
There’s a scam going around that anyone who’s in the market for a rental home should be aware of. Here’s how it works:
Someone posts a fraudulent ad, usually online where it’s free (like on Craigslist) for a rental property at a smokin’ rate. When an unsuspecting tenant responds to the ad and agrees to rent the property, the con artist, posing as the owner, agrees to meet the tenant at a site other than the property to collect the deposit. He tells the tenant that the deposits are normally $1500 but that he’ll reduce them to $1250 if the tenant agrees to have the doors re-keyed, because the last tenant ran off with the keys. When the tenant hands over the deposit, the ‘landlord’ drives off and is never seen or heard from again.
To avoid being duped on a rental property, follow these tips:
- Never trust a deal that seems too good to be true. It probably is.
- Always inspect a property prior to purchase or rental. If the ‘owner’ has some story as to why he/she doesn’t have the keys, sever contact immediately and let the opportunity go.
- In many larger cities, tax records are readily available online in the public domain. Check the name on the tax record to see if it matches the name of the ‘landlord.’ If not, they’re not authorized to lease or sell the property. If so, feel free to ask to see identification prior to signing any contracts or handing over any money.
- To be safe, think about working with a Realtor. A Realtor is likely to spot a scam before it affects you.
Phoenix real estate and Scottsdale real estate scams are becoming more and more widespread in today’s tumultuous housing market, but a little bit of caution will help you from becoming an unwilling victim.
Here’s a look at what the latest sales reports tell us about Phoenix real estate and Scottsdale real estate sales activity. All data is from reports published in mid-June using data through the end of May, and compiled by the Arizona Association of Realtors, the Scottsdale Association of Realtors, and the Phoenix Association of Realtors.
Phoenix Real Estate Update
Average Days on Market:
Single Family: 93.28
Single Family: 92.51
Single Family: 86.38
Average Sales Price:
Single Family: $255,568
Single Family: $249,483
Single Family: $239,035
Over the past three months, the single family market for Phoenix homes and Scottsdale homes has showed signs of stabilizing, even correction. The market for Phoenix condos and Scottsdale condos, however, still remains unstable and no significant inferences can be made.
Consult a qualified Phoenix Realtor or Scottsdale Realtor for additional information.