Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Phoenician Real Estate Contracts

The Phoenix Real Estate market right now is a very strange beast. The overall spread has changed from being heavily weighted with short sales and foreclosures on the listing side and investors on the buying side to a more balanced and wider mix of traditional sales, first time buyers and even move up buyers!

This is leading to a departure from standard contracts being presented during transactions. Investors are routinely denying buyers the right to SPDS (seller disclosures) and CLUE reports (insurance claim history). Flippers are requesting that buyers waive appraisal contingencies and come up with any shortfalls themselves in the way of cash. This is due to the speed of the rising market and the appraisers lack of ability to keep up with rising prices caused by bidding wars.

Other contractual lovelies in the market are listings requesting cash only offers (to get around appraisal issues), REO's that require you to pre-qualify with them (in an attempt to gain your financing business). REO's have their own total set of real estate forms that are presented in the form of seller addendum's and forced upon the consumer.

The other thing affecting contracts is the sudden change from a buyers market to a sellers market. Buyer concessions are almost impossible to get via the purchase contract, multiple offers and bidding wars have also made it harder to get an offer accepted with VA and FHA loans. Sellers are preferencing cash and conventional financing when faced with high levels of interest in their property.

There really are a lot of moving parts to transactions right now and its more important than ever to make sure the market overall is understood.

I for one will be glad when shortsales, REO's and flips are a little less present than they are today!!

Chris Spalding

Sunday, July 1, 2012

3x5 Folded Card

Classic Scrolls Thank You Card
Elegant thank you cards and notes by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Local Home Builder Profile - K Hovanian

For my next series of blogs I will be profiling local Builders. You will have noticed recently a sudden surge in the number of new builds up in the Northwest valley. Today I'll be discussing K Hovanian.

This builder has 17 home sites across the valley - Energy efficiency is a huge selling point for new builds and KH offers their flagship offering the "High Performance Home". These offer superior construction, comprehensive moisture management, efficient insulation, low E-windows, low-flow water, better air sealing and higher indoor quality. This new high tech home has energy efficient appliances and fixtures as well as high efficiency heating and cooling. All of these features combine to offer a high-efficiency, high comfort home that will translate into savings on your utility bills.

My local community is the "Enclave" at Stetson Valley (Happy Valley road and 51st Ave). The homes available are as follows.


Harbor - 1682sq ft - Single Level, 3 Bedrooms, Den, 2 Baths, 2 Car Garage.

Oasis - 1825sq ft - Single Level, 3 Bedrooms, Den, 2 Baths, 2 Car Garage.

Homestead - 2072sq ft - Two Story, 3 Bedrooms, Loft, 2.5 baths, 2 Car Garage.

Manor - 2353sq ft - Two story, 3 Bedrooms, Loft, 2.5 baths, 2 Car Garage.

Villa - 2468sq ft - Two story, 4 bedrooms, loft, 2.5 baths, 3 Car Garage.

There were originally 84 lots and there are 38 left available today. There are no available spec homes as these get sold immediately that they are available in the current market. The builder still has two offered incentives, $5000k towards options and $5000k towards closing costs. The build time right now is between 4 and 6 months.

New builds should be a serious consideration in the current real estate market. With limited inventory and homes in good shape selling quickly, this is one way that you can make sure you are not "settling" for a home you do not totally love! with a new home you still can secure the lot and design the house to meet your wants and needs.

Call me today for more information or if you need any general help buying your new home!

Chris Spalding


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top 5 Tips for DIY Staging: #5 Minimize the Mass

Minimize the Mass:

This one is tough, but is equally important as any of the other steps. Raise your hand if you are guilty of having furniture that is too big for a space, or too much furniture in one space. (Mine is raised right now!)

You really want your furniture to showcase your home while it is on the market. So while that might mean your favorite recliner that's blocking the fireplace isn't in prime position for the TV, it could mean that a prospective buyer walking in to a house will be bowled over by that beautiful focal point in the living room. So make sure that the way that your furniture is arranged complements the space and shows off the best features of the house. Don't get stuck in a rut of having all your furniture against the walls either. Properly placed, furniture will help define a room and give the home that feeling that everything flows easily within it.

So this lovely property up in North Glendale is listed at $499,000 and this is a family room that you step down in to from the kitchen. The one thing that jumps out at me, at least from the photograph, is how do I get in there to sit down? Do you have to squeeze between the table against the wall and the arm of the sofa? Take a look at the foosball table and the painting on a pedestal and then look at the picture below….
You can't easily walk around this furniture to the family room, and the foosball and wet bar don't exactly appear to have room enough to comfortably entertain for that purpose either. This is an excellent example of how a minimizing a few of these extra pieces and rearranging existing furniture, could really make this house stand out in a GREAT way.

This doesn't mean you have to go buy new furniture. TRUST ME! I am a huge proponent of working with what you have, and simply rearranging artwork and furniture in new and pleasing ways.

If the problem is too much furniture in a space, consider moving a piece to a different room. Can that dresser double as a sofa table in the living room? Or can that highboy be moved to the foyer or dining room? Move furniture around in unexpected ways and dress it up with decor appropriate to the room and nobody will notice a thing but how fabulous the house looks! Otherwise consider minimizing some of the bulky or extra furniture by temporarily placing it in storage until your house sells.

Be sure to read all 5 of the TOP TIPS FOR STAGING YOUR HOME TO SELL!

Happy Selling
Michelle Spalding

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top 5 Tips for DIY Staging: #4 Clean the Closets

#4 Clean the Closets:

I remember my mother's insistence that I put my clothes in my drawer NEATLY. I was impertinent. Who cares what my drawers look like anyway??? Well, I'm sorry mom. You were right, I was wrong.

Did YOU know that prospective buyers will look inside your closets, and drawers and cupboards, and.....you get the idea. But they will look EVERYWHERE. Some may be trying to be nosy, but most just want to get a feel for how their things will fit inside this house. If you have private documents or valuable belongings, put them under lock and key while your house is being listed. Agents have a responsibility to look after a buyer that is perusing a home, but it is crucial, particularly if you wish to hold your house open to protect your privacy and your most prized possessions.

It's an extra step to tidy up closets and things that many of us dread on a good day, but if you can begin to pack off-season wardrobe items, persevere with pruning the junk drawer and perhaps even that wrangle that wild shrub alongside the house, I promise it will make your home show better. As an added plus you will begin to feel and BE more prepared for your move. Ample storage is a huge selling point, and crammed closets and jam-packed drawers can send both conscious and subconscious messages to prospective buyers that your house lacks space. Bottom line is closets and drawers look far more spacious when we minimize the mass, so take the time to complete this step and it will make a noticeable difference.

One valuable organization tip for those unruly cupboards with lots of loose bottles and extraneous items is to take a trip down to your local hardware store and pick up cloth drawers in the closet section, or even use baskets and plastic containers you already have lying around the house. They are perfect for storage inside the cupboards of laundry rooms and bathrooms in particular, they make packing a cinch and they are a relatively inexpensive way to make the house stand out and get you organized in the process! Because really, doesn't it make you feel so much better than this…….

Messy Closet

Happy Selling!
Michelle Spalding

Up Next…..Tip #5 Minimize the Mass

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top 5 Tips for DIY Staging: Tip #3 Apply a Coat of Color

#3 Apply a Coat of Color:

Some of us are more brave than others when it comes to color, particularly those that became addicted to TLC's Trading Spaces. Trust me, I had my own affection for crushed violet and a deep eggplant purple in my bedroom. When it came time to sell my house though, my trusted agent was diplomatic but truthful in informing me that not everyone would appreciate my same passion for purple. He's a guy, so I get that the complexity of shade was lost on him, but I understood his advice and was grateful we took it. Because, keep in mind, you ideally want your house for SALE to appeal to 90 out of 100 people to give you the greatest odds of garnering a pleasing proposal. SO…..repainting rooms with courageous chromatism to a more neutral paint color can be a great way to go!

Not everyone has a penchant for pink bedrooms, so even when it has been expertly painted and professionally decorated, it could turn off a buyer in thinking about what they are going to put in that pink bedroom. I ALWAYS advise my buyers that paint is relatively cheap and easy to change, but there are those folks that find things like that impossible to overlook. Plus, you as the seller will often find you can paint in something neutral for far less than a buyer will mentally deduct for having to repaint it themselves.

A little paint touch up to take care of picture nail holes, dirty smudges or dents and dings will really make your house outshine the rest. In the current market, with 60% of the homes for sale being distressed, meaning a short sale or foreclosure, buyers are being educated by real estate agents on purchasing a property "AS-IS." Yet this is precisely why investor flips are so successful. Often times they are purchasing homes that have fantastic "bones" but need a few cosmetic changes and updates to really make it stand out. They have mastered the art of neutralizing a home and making it "move-in" ready for precisely those buyers that cannot look beyond a sellers tenderness for teal.

So take a tip from these technicians of transformation and don't let the gorgeous features and upgrades in your home turn off potential prospects that don't have the same passion for pigmentation that you do!

Michelle Spalding

Up Next…..Tip #4 Trim the Trees and Clear the Closets

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top 5 Tips for DIY Staging: Tip #2 Pack Away the PERSONAL

#2 Pack Away the Personal:
A buyer really NEEDS to imagine themselves and THEIR things in the house. This means making your home appeal to 90 out of 100 people. It's not that you don't have fabulous taste, it's just that neutral can be better when it comes to selling. Try and keep in mind that your objective is to ultimately move, so the sooner you can begin to emotionally detach, the easier you will find the process of selling. Not everyone will appreciate the same things that you do. So remove yourself from the picture….LITERALLY! 

On a side note, this photo is a personal pet peeve of mine when it comes to pictures in MLS…seeing "photographers" or the sellers themselves in the pic. Yikes!

Try and look at your home from a neutral viewpoint. If this proves impossible, find a trusted friend who will give you an honest opinion of what buyers may notice that you miss. Don't have such a friend? Well then, find a real estate agent or home staging expert that will tell you what will help you sell your home the quickest and for the most $$$$. This is particularly crucial if you've had your house on the market already with little to no interest or offers.

I have nothing against your teddy bear collection, but buyers will notice it and the cork board of personal notes before they notice the beautiful plantation shutters

It relates to curbing the clutter, but like it or not, right or wrong, prospective buyers make judgements about who we are or what was in the house before them when viewing it. Such as, why is that creepy mannequin sitting in your formal living next to the baby grand piano? I wish I was kidding.

Why give them the opportunity to make a negative judgement that could lead to either NO offer or a LOW-BALL offer? Remove some of your personal or religious mementos, knickknacks, or collections and put them in to safe keeping.

This is also true of that beloved antique chandelier hanging over the dining room table, or the hand carved shelf you bought on that fabulous trip you took 10 years ago. If you don't want them to WANT it, you need to REMOVE it. Sure your agent can always list things that don't convey (meaning come included with the house), but if you REALLY insist on taking those $300 ceiling fans with you, it's best just to get them out of sight rather than allow a deal to fall apart over contingencies.

It might go without saying, but keeping your home clean and tidy while it's on the market is a MUST. There is nothing worse than finding dirty laundry on the floor and an unmade bed when you are in a house with a buyer. Particularly one that is listed on a lockbox with a message that says "show anytime."

So remember……...Less is more in staging your home.

LESS of YOU = MORE money from the BUYER!

Up Next….Tip #3 Apply A Coat of Color!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 5 Tips for DIY Staging: Tip #1 Curb the cLuTTeR

#1 Curb the Clutter: 

Sure those beloved school photos of the kids or grandkids plastered all over the refrigerator are adorable. But while your friends enjoy admiring them at a dinner party, they are a distraction and a detraction when a prospective homebuyer views your home. Take a look around, especially areas where the mail tends to collect and magnets and artwork accumulate and..... MINIMIZE, MINIMIZE, MINIMIZE.

What do you think those cereal boxes and baskets on top of the fridge say to a potential buyer? One possibility is: "This home doesn't have enough storage." Don't let your house send the wrong message.

The same goes for decor and collectibles. A great decorator rule of thumb is to pair things in 3's. So take an appraising eye at tabletops and counter tops and begin to pack up a few extra picture frames, figurines or books piled on the shelf. This will do two things: First of all it will help you get started on your way to packing for your big move, and most critically it will help buyers see less of your things and more of the house. This is KEY! You are showcasing your house to SELL....at TOP DOLLAR....and you want prospective buyers to see it in the best light possible.

Of course, this post wouldn't be complete without a couple of examples of what not to do, courtesy of the current Arizona Regional MLS listings.

Homes for Sale in Surprise Arizona

How about this house in Surprise, AZ. It has some great features that can be easily overlooked by say...the shower cap, Trader Joe's grocery bag and other oodles of clutter EVERYWHERE. With buyers these days looking at online portals and finding their future home in websites such as Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com, do you think this listing will jump to the top of their favorites?

Homes for Sale in Scottsdale, AZ

Located in Scottsdale this home has been on the market for 458 days. Why stop short of the clutter clean-up and leave all the liquor bottles and magnets on the fridge? Find spare room in a cabinet and clear off the fridge and remaining countertop clutter.

Up Next....Tip #2 Pack Away The Personal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How long until I can get another loan after a Shortsale or Foreclosure?

I get asked this question frequently. Many people today have been faced with tough decisions related to their primary residence. Some people are trying to decide what to do upon facing financial difficulties arising from unemployment or ballooning interest rates. It is important when faced with these decisions to understand the ramifications of choosing to short sell or foreclose upon your home.

First of all, let me say that you need to get help from professional sources before you ever decide to go down one of these routes. Make sure you have all the facts in front of you before making any decision. A realtor can appraise your property accurately and give you an overview of what to expect in the event of a short sale. A real estate attorney can advise you on whether there are any legal issues in your specific situation. A financial advisor can help you cover the potential economic ramifications and finally your accountant can make sure you have covered the tax implications. OK so now you are ready to move forward. Here is the bottom line as regards how long the credit hit will keep you out of the market (** this is an estimate only at time of publication based on current market data).

Short selling your house will keep you from the market for the least amount of time.

Fannie Mae - 2 years with a LTV of 80% 4 years for an LTV of 90%
FHA           - 3 Years from completion date
VA             - No specifics on this yet, assume foreclosure rule of 2 years
Jumbo        - 7 Years from Trust Deed Date

Foreclosure will lead to the following waiting periods.

Fannie Mae - 7 years from Trust Deed Date
FHA           - 3 years from Trust Deed Date
VA             - 2 years from Trust Deed Date
Jumbo        - 7 years from Trust Deed Date

These are guidelines only and everyones credit will be impacted in a different way based upon where they were before and how well they behave financially after the event.

Remember as much as 60% of all transactions right now are distressed, meaning they are either short sales or bank owned properties. These transactions are the signs of a very specific period of our economic history.

If you have questions or concerns related to any of the subject matter in this blog, please feel free to call me any time for a free and confidential consultation.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Seller Ye May Be

In my last blog I wrote about buyers needing to see beyond certain cosmetic deficiencies in order to secure a great "steal" in the current Phoenix real estate market. In this blog I want to persuade ye "Sellers" that it is not the best idea to be on the other end of the aforementioned "Steal". Here are a few tips to make sure your home is leading the current trend of multiple offers received within days of listing your home and not being low balled by a consortium of Canadian investors who are here on holiday.

1/ I'm sure your kids and extended family are awesome! but anyone looking to buy your home already has their own gorgeous family to dote on. Remove pictures of your family that are scattered around the house on shelves and coffee tables.

2/ People like collections, but they like their own collections! They like to see space for themselves to store their selection of 100 cabbage patch dolls, they don't want this confused by your collection of memorable British Royalty collector plates and cups.

3/ LIGHT!!! - People like to see natural light and feel like a home is welcoming. Make sure all the lights are on in the house if you know it is going to be shown. Ensure all the blinds are open and the house has as much natural light as it can possibly enjoy.

4/ Good Photos! - Make sure you have a realtor that owns a good camera and has a reasonably good photographic eye. You don't want a picture taken of your kitchen with a loose trash bag on the floor and a cat sitting on your granite. You also want to avoid pictures of yourself in the mirror taking the picture!!! and pictures including tenants asleep on sofas and chairs! (This happens more than you would think!!).

5/ Simple and clean homes. You are going to be moving soon anyway, maybe listing your home is a great time to start packing. Put away all the nic knacks and personal paraphernalia that is in your home, do your best to make it show like a model. Don't make the buyer have to use their imagination more than they should have to!!

6/ Everyone wants to see your collection of animal heads and find out where in the world they were all captured, lets share that with them right before we list our house! then tuck them neatly away in moving boxes. MANY THANKS

In summary there are a number of things that you can do, to make your home look more like a blank canvass for the next potential owner, you don't want it to be a memorial to your own personal taste. Use a realtor with a camera and a good eye. Listen to advice when it comes to staging your home. Some Realtors will offer a free home staging consultation (I do this for my clients). Listen to the realtor when he values your home, try and take the emotion out of this part of the process by listening to a neutral professionally licensed third party.

Good luck and as always, if you would like my help or have questions for all things Real Estate please dont hesitate to give me a call or send me an email!

Chris Spalding
(602) 312-7237

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Just cant see the wood for the trees

You walk into the house, the floors are sparkling clean, each piece of furniture is meticulously polished, the hardware around the house is glimmering. There is not a single item or nic knack that is out of place! every light in the place is turned on and is shining on YOU! is this pre-heaven? Nope this is a model home. New home buyers cheer in elation at your good fortune! Now look over to the left shoulder at your distant home buying cousin, yes the "used home buyer". This little chap is not so fortunate and relies upon the current market inventory and the ability of those representing this inventory to present their wears in a favourable fashion or in some cases NOT!!!

The first room on the top has duel sleeping/clothing storage capability for modern living. Underneath your imagination is the only obstacle to the number of fridge magnets and reminder notes one could store in this ensemble.

Get on with it Spalding! Whats your point?

Well my point is this:

In the current market there is a very low number of used homes for sale. As a buyer I encourage you to try your best to look past certain cosmetic deficiencies. I have recently had buyers who have been worried about (to name a few), dirty baths, paint color, carpet stains. I had one person at an open house ask me whether the previous owner had a dog, I felt worried for a second that there was urine or damage somewhere around the house, I couldn't smell anything that would suggest any dog issues. I told her that I wasn't sure and asked her why she was concerned (which she really was for some reason) and she told me she had found a small dog bowl in the back yard by the pool equipment!


The properties in mint condition are selling fast but if you have the vision to see past the minor issues you still can have your dream home at an incredible price. And its the buyers who are willing a little in the way of updates on top of cosmetic fixes that are currently getting the real "steal" at the bottom of the market.

The market is definitely active in early 2012 with an overall price increase across the valley of 2%. We are still at historic lows and with interest rates better than ever, now is still a prime time to buy your new home.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or real estate needs.


Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 And The State Of The Market

My friends, its my opinion that the market in Phoenix is no longer in ICU but has been moved into a regular ward. The recovery is officially underway and slow progress is now being demonstrated in the stats. There are several key factors that together will lead towards slow progress in 2012.

Inventory (aka number of homes on the market). 

The 2011 high for inventory was 42,881 in January and ended a consistent slide with 24,712 available on the market in December. The reduction of our inventory plays a major part in the supply and demand piece required to kick start a recovery.

Months Supply Of Inventory

This metric is a good way of viewing the market from a 30,000 foot level. As an example the MSI in December of 2007 was 15.98 months and now stands at 3.51 which is a reduction of 80.4%!

New List Prices

New list prices trended up in 2011 and overall showed an improvement of 4.76% for the year.

Sales Prices

The average sale price for the year showed a valley wide increase of 3.31%, a modest increase for sure but a step in the right direction.

Foreclosures Pending

Foreclosures pending are homes in some stage of aquisition by the lender, prior to actual foreclosure. The high in November 2009 was 50,568 and December 2011 ended out with 19,979. A reduction in this number each month is a good metric in support of a recovery since ultimately the pricing discrepancies wont be adjusted until this number is greatly reduced.

Distressed Sales

Bank owned sales and short sales are referred to as "distressed sales". In December 2011 these sales accounted for 59.8% of all transactions.

Average Days On Market (How long does it take to sell my home?)

The DOM number came down through 2011 and ended the year at 95. This means the average house sat on the market for 95 days before it sold. Be aware that this number is probably articificially inflated by the number of short sales in the market that take much longer to close.

Overall there are many key indicators that suggest the market is positioned for a much healthier 2012. Please feel free to contact me any time for questions or concerns. 

Chris Spalding