What Should I Repair Before I List?

As realtors who’ve been in the business for fifteen years, we have been asked this question a lot.

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. First impressions make a big impact on buyers looking to call your home their own and you don’t want something scaring them away that could have been easily fixed before you listed. Taking time to repair or spruce up some of your homes weaknesses – and in doing so, highlighting some of its strengths – can make a big difference in how fast it will sell. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

Repaint walls.

Unless you’ve recently repainted, or the colors of your walls are in good shape and are colors that are trendy at the time, giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce up your home. It makes everything fell clean and new, and generally it can be a do-it-yourself project. Repainting helps to cover up any scratches or chips on the walls, as well as the any other kinds of normal wear and tear walls sustain due to daily living.

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, but walking into a room with scuffed and dull floors won’t make the good first impression you’re seeking. You want to ensure your floors look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas by getting the floors cleaned or buffed out. Likewise, if your carpet is worn or stained, consider paying a company to come shampoo them, or even replacing them altogether depending on how bad they are. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Cleaning off that brown grout that didn’t start out brown, or even completely re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

Refresh the landscaping.

We all love that amazing curb appeal don’t we? It’s the first thing you notice when you pull up to a house and the thing that has buyers saying “OH!” in either glee, or disappointment. Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the inside. Clean your walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces, and fill in mulch and gravel. These things not only make your home look great from the outside, but they also show potential buyers that your home was well loved and taken care of.

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small and simple fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. The great thing with these too is that all it takes is a little TLC and elbow grease to remedy the issues, and minimal cost on your part. Minor work for a great reward. Installing new faucets and sinks may also be worth the investment depending how dated or in disrepair they are.

Remember that you don’t need to go too crazy in getting your home ready to be listed and show well for buyers, but listen to your real estate agent who ultimately just wants to help you sell your home, and maybe take a few of the above tips into consideration.

If you have any more questions, you can call us at 928-771-111, or leave a comment below.

What’s the Difference Between Foreclosures and Short Sales?

If you’ve been looking to buy in the Prescott area, you know that the real estate market right now is a little crazy.

For sellers, it’s good news because we are at the top of our market and you can sell your home for top market value, capitalizing on your investment.

For buyer’s, the booming market can make it difficult to afford the house you require to accommodate you and your family, and not have to sacrifice some of your living needs.

This has led to many buyer’s looking into and considering short sale purchases, or foreclosure purchases. However, this also leads to the question: What’s the difference? If you aren’t familiar with these types of sales and purchases, they can seem similar, but there’s actually a pretty big difference.

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures aren’t just good for buyers, but also provide sellers options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.

Short Sales:

A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.

On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.

Foreclosures:

On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner. After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction.

In Sum:

Short sales are better for both seller and buyer, leaving the seller more financially sound and giving the buyer the chance to make a good deal on a home. Foreclosures, on the other hand, are usually worse for sellers and buyers than short sales. For sellers, it damages them financially and for buyers it’s a riskier purchase because homes are often bought sight unseen with no inspection or warranty.

Summer Is Almost Here!

With most of the Prescott and Quad city area schools ending the school year tomorrow (you heard right… TOMORROW!), summer is almost officially here for everyone!

Though it might not feel like it with the turn of cold weather we’ve had this past week, summer is upon us. The year has flown by and we find ourselves at the cusp of many people’s favorite season in Prescott that brings beautiful sunshine, fun filled festivities, and glorious monsoons. What’s not to love?

Filled with festivals, art shows, farmer’s markets, live music, the world’s oldest rodeo, and more, you’re sure to find something to do in Prescott, Arizona this summer to have fun and keep busy.

Every weekend the downtown square is packed with booths selling art and clothes – among other things depending on the festival – not to mention the great food that comes along with all these things. Kettle corn, funnel cakes, candied almonds, BBQs, and more. If none of those sounds good, there are plenty of restaurants downtown with mouth watering food for your summer fixes. Burgers, pizza, sandwiches, tacos, French fries, ice cream, frozen yogurt, coffee and tea, pastries, delicious beers and wines… you name it and the downtown area has it!

If festivals aren’t your thing and you’d rather have a little peace and quiet in nature, don’t fret, the coming of warmer months provides the use of our great outdoors in the Prescott and surrounding areas.

With miles on top of miles of beautiful trails, you will never be bored exploring the fast wilderness we call home. You can visit the City of Prescott’s website here for some recreational areas to enjoy this summer including the Circle Trail, Watson Lake, the Willow Creek Dog Park for your furry friends, Aspen Creek Trail, Goldwater Lake, and Heritage Park to name a few. Mountain biking, kayaking, trail running, fishing, playgrounds for the kids… there is a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy and get yourself some much needed Vitamin D after a long winter. While some of these places have free parking, be aware that some do charge a $5 parking fee, except for free day which is every Wednesday.

To get a better idea of some of the events going on in Prescott this summer, you can visit the city’s event page by clicking here.

Negotiating Tactics That Will Kill A Sale

Bargaining is a subtle art in real estate and the way you handle the back and forth that happens during contract negotiations can make or break a sale. Skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties and helps close a home smoothly, but if you’re not careful, a wrong move could cause a deal to crumble for the seller or buyer.

Here are some negotiation tactics buyers and real estate professionals should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.  This can leave a bad taste in their mouths in regards to you as a buyer and cause them to not want to accept any other offers you may make. Keep this in mind when you want to make a low ball offer and your agent advises otherwise. They have seen the downfalls of this tactic many times and are just looking out for you best interest.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). Fighting over a small dollar amount makes you look bad and makes the seller think you will be a difficult buyer to work with. The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it. People do not like to be given ultimatums and will not feel happy if they feel you are painting them into a corner.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if the inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate. Buyers must understand that unless they are buying a newly built home, every house has it’s little quirks of wear and tear from years of use. Combing the house with a magnifying glass and demanding it be in perfect condition could lead to the seller refusing to do ANY repairs, therefore leaving you as the buyer to do them all yourself, or walk away from the home that you possibly really like.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy. There should be realistic give and take on both sides of the contract to help foster a good relationship during your escrow, and help make everything go smoothly.

These are just a few things you want to avoid while negotiating a contract in order to not kill the sale. Remember that if your agent advises against these tactics, they are speaking from experience and out of their best interest for you.

Should You Use a Lower Down Payment?

If you have ever bought a home in the past, or have had friends and family who have bought homes, you’ve most likely heard the rule for down payments: save for a twenty percent down payment before you buy a home.

The logic behind saving twenty percent makes sense because it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal, which in turn also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment— some programs allow for as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a twenty percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down twenty percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for any home repairs the home may requite upfront, or perhaps even for doing some pricey upgrading right off the bat rather than waiting years and years until you have your money saved up again. These would allow you to immediately make sure your home is stable and to make the home the dream home you’ve always wanted.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary, there are many options out there for buyers now on the money needed for a down payment. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional twenty percent down payment and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional and local lender can provide some answers as you explore your financing options, and what the best choice is for you in your next home purchase.

Looking for more information, or some professional Real Estate Advice on this matter? Call us at 928-771-1111, we’d love to help!

Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day in Prescott

First off, Happy early Mother’s Day to all our mother’s out there! We appreciate you and all you do for your loved ones and community. As an office mostly comprised of women, almost all of whom are mothers, the Kathleen Yamauchi Group has a lot of experience with mothers day.

Living in Prescott, there are plenty of things to do to help celebrate your Mother’s Day holiday this Sunday. Whether you are a husband, son, or daughter, looking for some good ideas on how to treat your mother; or a mom looking for some good ideas on how you’d like to be treated this Mother’s Day, we’re here to help.

Below are some events taking place this weekend to help you celebrate, some good eats in town, and even some gift ideas if you need help with that.

Prescott Events

Mountain Artists Guild Fine Art and Wine Festival

When: Saturday May 11th at 9AM to Sunday May 12th at 4PM

Description: The Festival is held on Mother’s Day Weekend every year, which makes it a wonderful destination event for Mother’s Day! Come experience a beautiful weekend under the shade of the big trees of Prescott’s Courthouse Square. In addition to spectacular collectors’ artwork, the Festival presents an Arizona wine garden and marketplace featuring ten of Arizona’s finest Vineyards and Wineries. Each day guests can purchase their wine tasting tickets and receive their souvenir wine glass.

15th Annual Mother’s Day Wine and Art Festival

When: Saturday May 11th at 11AM to Sunday May 12th at 5PM

Description: This year, celebrate with Mom at Granite Creek Vineyards for our 15th Annual Mother’s Day Wine and Art Festival! Saturday May 11th and Sunday May 12th enjoy a fabulous weekend featuring award winning wines including a special new release, talented local artists, free face painting for the kids, and great live music! A delicious lunch is also available for purchase from Block Six Catering. $14 Admission ($7 Case Club) includes wine tasting, souvenir wine glass, art fair, and live music. Live Music from 12PM to 4PM on May 11th. For more information call 928-636-2003.

Board and Brush

This one isn’t actually an event, but it would be a great way to celebrate with mom this Mother’s Day. At Board and Brush, bring your own wine and enjoy time spent with friends and family while you make your very own rustic sign for your home. There are a plethora of options from kitchen signs, welcome signs, motivational signs, and so much more. Located in the heart of downtown, there will be plenty of restaurants and things to do when you are done with your sign. For more information, call Board and Brush at 928-899-5524.

Good Restaurants in Downtown (Some good places to take mom out for a bite to eat for either lunch or dinner, or both!)

Park Plaza Liquor Deli: Pizza, Fries, Sandwiches, and more. 928-541-9867

El Gato Azul: Seafood, Mexican food, and Salads, they have it all! 924-445-1070

Rosa’s: Italian food at it’s finest! 928-445-7400

Prescott Brewing Company: The best of the best of Pub Food. 928-771-2795

Farm Provisions: Burgers, Seafood, Sandwiches, Soups, and more! 928-776-3001

Bill’s Pizza: Considered to be possibly the best pizza in town! 928-443-0800

Tara Thai: Fine Thai cuisine. 928-772-3249

These are just a few of some of the really good dining options for the downtown Prescott area – trust us, there is so much more! Good food in Prescott for even more options.

Gift Ideas

Flowers: Very traditional, but always appreciated. This classic gift is sure to please your mom and make her feel special. Good places to get flowers would be Trader Joes or Sprouts, or if you’re looking for an actual arrangement, call Alan’s Flowers at 928-445-5131.

Household Chores: We’re sure if you’re short on cash, mom will understand, but that doesn’t mean you have to do nothing. Many of the women in our office have mentioned how much they appreciate extra help around the house as a Mother’s Day gift. Yard work, cleaning, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, and the list could go on and on because we all know how much our mother’s do to keep things running smoothly. Try taking over some of these tasks this weekend as a gift to your mom. She will love the extra help and the extra time she’ll then have to relax.

Gift Card: Don’t underestimate the good gift that is a gift card. When mom receives this, she gets a gift card to her favorite store and is able to buy whatever she needs or desires. This may seem less personal, but we promise you it’ll be well received when paired with some flowers, or another personal gift, or even on its own with a great card!

 

We hope this article gave you some good ideas on how to celebrate Mother’s Day in Prescott this weekend and again, Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there! We hope you have an amazing day!

 

Photo Credit: Photo by Giftpundits, https://giftpundits.com/our-free-photos/

 

Easy Ways to Revamp Your Yard to Enjoy the Summer

As we move into our summer months, it’s hard not to look forward to some much needed outdoor time after a long, cold, and wet winter. With warmer weather, clear skies, and birds chirping, many of us may be daydreaming about how to revamp our very own backyards to better enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Here’s a list of just a few quick and budget friendly ways to upgrade that outdoor living space for you and your guests to enjoy all summer long, and even beyond that.

Get Some Outdoor Seating:

The very first thing many of us think of when wanting to add to our backyard is some outdoor seating, or perhaps even an entire outdoor seating area. This could be anything from a bench or chair in the garden area, to an entire table and chairs setup to sit around and enjoy meals at with guests and family.

To accomplish this, however, there is no need to rush to the nearest furniture store where brand new patio furniture can get really pricey, really fast. You would be surprised the amazing finds you can get on websites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Since these pieces are used, they will come at a fraction of the cost and still allow you a beautiful space to sit and take in the summer days. A good place to look would also be garage sales and newspaper ads. And lastly, if you’re not liking anything used you’re finding, you could always opt to make your own cinder block and lumber bench, which wouldn’t be very pricey at all (click here for YouTube tutorial).

Build an Outdoor Fire pit:

If you’re looking for even more outdoor seating that helps you enjoy the outdoors and having guests over, you might want to consider installing an outdoor fire pit. This may sound like a pricey endeavor, especially when you look at some of the fire pits you can buy online or at your local stores, but it doesn’t have to be!

You could buy concrete retaining wall blocks for $1.25 a block and create an elevated circle on the ground with them that would only cost around $50. Or, even cheaper, you could just create a dirt ring on the ground and circle it with rocks from your very own backyard. Imagine drinking a beverage and making s’mores with your loved ones as you enjoy the cool night air and starry sky.

Add Some Lights:

This is a sure fire way to give your backyard that little extra “spark” it needs and to create a space for your chill summer night hangouts. The soft lighting gives a relaxed feel to your gatherings rather than the bright flood lights or outdoor lights you might use otherwise. At about five dollars a strand, you can almost buy as many lights as needed to wrap around your trees, run in a cool pattern from trees to house to fence, or drape trees in lights for a charming ambiance.

Plant a Garden:

Whether you have a ton of space for this or not, a garden could be a lovely addition to your yard if you feel up for the task. Not only would it get you in the outdoors this summer in the comfort of your own backyard, but it would also add a beautiful pop of color and be a focal point to show all your guests. You could do this by planting a flower bed or vegetable garden, or by buying some wooden barrels at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot to make flower beds out of. If you don’t have a ton of space in your backyard, you could also make a vertical garden by using a wooden ladder and terracotta pots and wire, or even by using a few pot hangers and some screws on your wooden fence. There are so many options and the internet has every “how-to” you need in order to start and complete your project.

Reuse and Recycle to Reduce Costs:

The best backyard landscaping tip of all when looking to re-do your yard on a budget is to reuse and recycle items whenever possible. Visit your local thrift stores and check the classifieds in the paper or online to find local garage sales. Purchase used planters, furniture, and even gardening tools to spruce up your lawn. Ultimately, to keep your backyard landscaping costs low, all you need is time and effort, and some creativity.

 

Service Animals vs. Emotional Support Animals in Renting

If you live in the United States, you might be shocked to learn that more than eighty-five million families own a pet in America. That is a whopping sixty-eight percent of households, which is well over half!

While many of us got these pets to be beloved members of our family, for other people, they got their pets for an entirely different and necessary reason, and the value of their furry friend goes far beyond companionship.  What we’re referring to here is, of course, Service Animals.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to: Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship are not considered work or tasks under the definition of a service animal.”

While service animals provide legitimate assistance to those with disabilities, the controversy related to emotional support animals continues to generate headlines as people take advantage of the easy access to getting your pet certified as an emotional support animal. People seek a “prescription” that includes everything from hamsters to peacocks and even pigs in order to be able to get rental properties they might not otherwise be qualified to rent because they own pets.

Where does that leave property owners who find themselves in a situation where a tenant is seeking an exception to the “no-pets” policy?

The Arizona Association of Realtors states, “Title 42 of the United States Code requires that landlords ‘make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling.’ Simply put, property owners may be required to waive a ‘no pets’ policy if the tenant meets the criteria under the Fair Housing Act.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued FHEO-2013-01 which states:

Housing providers are to evaluate a request for a reasonable accommodation to possess an assistance animal in a dwelling using the general principles applicable to all reasonable accommodation requests.  After receiving such a request, the housing provider must consider the following:

  • Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability – , a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
  • Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability?

If the answer to question (1) or (2) is “no” then the FHAct and Section 504 do not require a modification to a provider’s “no pets” policy, and the reasonable accommodation request may be denied.

When faced with this kind of housing request as a landlord, it’s important to know that the tenant must show their need is connected to their disability and the request is reasonable.  You are allowed to ask them to show the animal is necessary for their particular disability, but you are not allowed to deny them tenancy. According to the FHA, an accommodation is reasonable if it doesn’t impose an undue financial or administrative burden.  Making the wrong decision could violate the law and potentially require you as the landlord to have to pay damages to the disabled renter.

 

Prescott’s Whiskey Row Marathon

If you were around last weekend, you got to be a part of or witness Prescott’s beloved Whiskey Off-Road Bike Race. A weekend full of bicycle races, live music, beer, and so much more, it was a fun time for all who attended.

This coming weekend, as in tomorrow, Prescott is hosting the flip side of the Whiskey Off-Road bike race, which is the Whiskey Row Marathon. If you go to the Whiskey Row Marathon’s Website (whiskeyrowmarathon.com), you’ll first see a countdown letting runner’s know they have only 13 and a half hours left until their race as of right now! Of course, this time will vary depending on when you visit the site page.

The race starts early Saturday morning, May 4th, with various race times. The full marathon starts at 6:00AM with an early start at 5:00AM for those who might need more than 6 hours to finish the race (the course closes at noon). The half marathon starts at 7:00AM and the 10k at 7:20AM. Lastly there is a 2 mile fun run/walk that starts at 7:15AM.

This race has been a running tradition in Prescott for over 40 years and has been dubbed one of the toughest races in the country with its rugged terrain and high altitude of one mile above sea level. Racers will find themselves in for a real challenge!

This race isn’t just all about the fun though, it is actually put on every year for a very good cause! Below is a statement from Prescott’s YMCA detailing why this race is so important for the community.

“The James Family Prescott YMCA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community-focused organization. The Whiskey Row Marathon is our largest fund raiser for program scholarships which help families in our community. Proceeds from this race go directly into the scholarship fund at the YMCA to assist children and families in financial need to participate in child care, swimming lessons, youth sports and gymnastics classes. Without your participation and the community support for the WRM Races, our local families in need may not have a chance to make sure that their children flourish, even in times of economic hardship. At the Y we do not turn participants away for the inability to pay for our programs and we believe that all children have the equal right to learn water safety, Early Learning Objectives, character values and have opportunities for success in the intramural athletics. Your participation in this race not only promotes your personal health, but also promotes the overall health of the Prescott Community.”

We here in Prescott love our community and we love giving back to our community as well, which shows abundantly in businesses like the YMCA that seek to help the members of their community in any way they can.

Go downtown and cheer on those running in this race, then enjoy a relaxing morning at one of the many breakfast diners or coffee chops downtown.

For more information, you can also visit the city of Prescott’s website by clicking here.