Jen’s Corner

Tips for Finding a Rental in Arizona

I get the question from a lot of people on how to find a rental if their credit is less than stellar. It’s ok, we’ve all been there! No need to be ashamed. Here’s my best advice to help you find a home to rent.

1) Fill Out a Mortgage Application

You’re probably like…what?! Jen, I told you I just wanted to rent. Yes, I know! Here’s the deal. Most people I talk with want to buy a home at some point. It’s a great idea to chat with Ryan Gilliam to get an idea of your credit situation (it may not be as bad as you think). I once put off applying for a car loan because I thought my credit was too low and it turns out my score was 80 points higher than I was seeing on popular credit tracking websites. Even if you decide not to buy a home in the future, Ryan can give you a game plan to get your credit in tip top shape. He doesn’t bite… I promise.

Mortgage Application

2) Write a Letter

When preparing to apply for rental homes, write a letter explaining your situation (include a family photo). If you’re worried about your credit, write about what you are doing to improve. It also helps to talk about your family and how this home would be great for you.

3) Start Your Search Here!

Start by checking out the Team EvoAZ website to search rentals from the MLS. These are properties that we can show you and we know there won’t be any issues with scams (we’ll talk about that in a minute). You can save favorites! These properties may be either managed by owner or through a property manager.

4) Search Homes By Owner

This Facebook group has been helpful to many of my clients. Arizona Rentals Homes By Owner Please make sure to do your due diligence to verify that the owner is the actual owner of the property and you’re not getting scammed.

5) Avoid Scams

There are MANY scams out there where they want you to put down your deposit and first month’s rent and then you don’t get the keys. You can search the owner name of a home on the County Assessor website. Never give money without seeing the home! If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t go for it and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. If you find a 4 bedroom home that is $800 a month in Gilbert, it’s probably a scam.

6) HotPads

I have had clients use HotPads to find a home for rent. You can search homes, apartments, and rooms for rent. To find a room for rent, search for homes for rent and be sure to select “Filter” and scroll down. Then you can filter to just homes with a room for rent.

7) Be Flexible

Most rentals will only hold the home for you for a MAX of 30 days. If you’re able to be flexible and start your lease earlier you may have a leg up on someone who needs a full 30 days. Be sure to check your current lease to see how much notice you need to give. Most require a 30-60 day notice. Be prepared to put down an earnest money deposit to secure a rental. That will go toward your first month’s rent or security deposit.

8) Resources for Families Getting Back on Their Feet

MOMnationAZ posted an amazing resource to help families who are having a temporary hardship. Check out this post to see what resources are available.

I also love Maggie’s Place for Moms who are pregnant or have littles who need help getting back on their feet.

House of Refuge is another great housing program that helps families with transitional housing and employment support.

If you have any questions about finding a rental contact me at Jennifer@EvoAZ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JenDuncanRealtor/

To Rent or To Buy? That Is The Question!

Some people don’t think buying a home makes sense. They feel like renting is a smarter move.

On the other hand, some people think renting doesn’t make any sense.

For the most part, arguing it one way or another is about as useful as arguing politics or religion — whatever “side” you’re on, you have your point of view, feelings, and reasons.

But there are also people who are open to debate. If that’s you, read on. This will give you some food for thought and help you make up your own mind about whether it makes more sense to buy a home or rent one.

At least you have the option

Picture living back in Medieval times.

Only a few people are allowed to own land, and you’re not one of them. You can live on a lord’s land, but you’ll have to give him a certain percentage of whatever you grow or raise.

How do you feel about that? Are you OK with that? Is it fair? Probably not…

So, look at it this way: At least now you have the option of buying property. Whether or not you want to exercise that right is your choice.

And it is a choice. You can also decide that you’d rather not own the property you live in. You can certainly still rent from a landlord. (Although they probably won’t accept bushels of wheat, baskets of vegetables, or a goat as payment. You’ll need to somehow convert that to cash money.)

But owning property isn’t for everyone. It comes with responsibilities, risks, and limitations that not everyone is cut out for.

Both come with responsibilities, risks, and limitations

Many people who claim renting makes more sense feel that way because:

  • They feel like values are too high. (Unaffordable.)

  • They feel like it’s too risky. (The market could crash. Values could go down.)

  • They could lose their house (if they lost their job and fell behind on mortgage payments).

  • There’s a lot of cost to maintain a house.

  • It will “tie them down.” (They won’t be able to move to the coast of Costa Rica and surf for 7 months.)

All of those are valid and possibly true reasons for not buying a home. However, renting also comes with responsibilities, risks, and limitations:

  • Rents aren’t necessarily more affordable than buying a house, and they can go up over time (and probably won’t go down).Conversely, the value of a home you own will most likely go up over time, even if it does go down.

  • There’s risk that a landlord could not renew a lease and force you to move.

  • While you aren’t usually entirely responsible for maintenance, you can be held responsible for things that break or get damaged. You may also be responsible for some upkeep and maintenance costs.

  • You don’t have much say in what gets done around the house or apartment. You’re at the mercy of a landlord doing something (or allowing you to do something to it).

  • A lease can tie you down as much, if not more, than owning a house that you can choose to sell or rent out if you want to move at some point.

Obviously this isn’t a complete comparison list of risks, responsibilities, and limitations. There are certainly more we could get into. It’s just to make a point, which is…

Whether you buy or rent a home, you will have risks, responsibilities, and limitations placed upon you. The only true solution is to live for free in your childhood home forever and ever — and even that probably isn’t entirely “free” or without responsibilities and limitations.

You can’t live somewhere entirely for free, but…

…what you can do for free is figure out whether you should buy a place to call home, or rent one instead.

6 Reasons Your Agent Wants You Pre-Approved Before Showing You Homes

Ever had an agent deny to show you a home because you weren’t pre-approved for a mortgage? It’s not because they’re mean, or they don’t value your business… it’s actually because they’re looking out for your best interests.

Let’s face it, shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like walking into a grocery store without a wallet. You may have the desire to buy, but you lack the ability. Let’s cover some basics…

What is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, a mortgage pre-approval is written assurance from a lender or broker that you’re able to borrow money to purchase a home up to a certain amount. It’s based on the income, employment and asset documentation you supply at the time of application, in conjunction with your credit history. So let’s look at the 6 reasons you should get pre-approved.

1. It carries more weight than a “pre-qualification”.

A pre-approval differs from a pre-qualification. With the former, the lender has actually checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a specific loan amount (usually for a particular time period such as 30, 60 or 90 days). A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home, but it’s a less accurate indicator of your ability to purchase. A pre-approval always carries more weight.

2. You’ll know how much house you can afford.

Getting pre-approved before you begin house hunting allows you to know how much house you can realistically afford. Knowing this narrows down the options and makes the selection process more efficient. Not to mention, it protects you from the unpleasant surprise of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t fit your budget.

3. It adds clout to your offer.

In many markets, homes attract more than one offer. If the sellers are weighing one offer against another, they may lean towards the one accompanied by a pre-approval letter. That’s because pre-approvals instill confidence that the buyer is financially capable of purchasing their home.

4. It could increase your negotiating power.

In addition to strengthening your offer when compared to buyers who haven’t taken this step, getting pre-approved may give you the upper-hand when negotiating the price. If the homeowner is eager to sell, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer from someone they’ve been assured is financially capable of purchasing their home.

5. It saves time.

Obtaining a mortgage is a lengthy process. Getting pre-approved ahead of time shortens the time between contract to close — this way you’re ready to proceed with finalizing the mortgage once you’ve found the home you want to purchase.

6. Without it, most agents won’t work with you.

Makes sense, too. Right? Think about it: when you hire an agent, he/she will invest countless hours showing you homes over the course of your house hunt. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want assurance that your hard work would lead to a favorable outcome for both you and your client?

New Housing Is Just Around The Corner As Building Permits See Dramatic Increase

There’s no denying that the inventory crisis (which, according to the recent Housing Shortage Report from Realtor.com, is the worst facing the US in more than 20 years) has made things difficult for buyers. But according to a new report from the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, things are about to start looking up.

According to the report, 1.3 million new building permits were issued in May 2018—up a solid 8% from last year. And housing starts (construction on new homes that’s been started but not completed) was at 1.35 million—up a whopping 20% from May 2017. (Both new building permits and housing start statistics are at a seasonally adjusted annual rate).

All this new construction—both construction that’s already started and construction that will soon start thanks to new permits being issued—will be hitting the market soon. And when it does, that new inventory will cool off markets across the country and make it a lot easier for potential buyers to find and buy a home.

The Takeaway

So, if you’ve been thinking about buying a home but have been hesitant thanks to the high prices, crazy competition, and low inventory, get ready—all this new construction means things will be looking up soon.

4 Ways To Rock As A Real Estate Client

Why do you care if your Realtor considers you a good client or not? Because the better client you are, the better results you will have. No, you and your Realtor do not have to be in love with each other, but effort on your part will bring you better results and a more positive transaction. Here are some best practices.

1. Be easy to educate

Most Realtors are teachers at heart, and the more you can learn, the better prepared you will be. Yes, your friends, family and various websites have lots of good information to give, but nobody has a better “boots-on-the-ground” perspective on your local neighborhood and various current trends than your Realtor. Ask all the questions you like and try to absorb as much info as possible. Yes, there is a lot to learn, but you will find that you become educated very quickly.

2. Be easy to communicate with

If your Realtor must text you five times before you respond, you will eventually miss some important info or even the house of your dreams. Ask your Realtor for communication expectations and let them know if you prefer calls, emails or texts. If there is a time that you do not wish to be contacted at all (say, when you put your kids to bed), make sure your Realtor knows that in advance. They will probably have a “no-contact” time, too. Of course, if your Realtor is constantly difficult to reach, you may want to consider switching to somebody else.

3. Be as available as possible

Of course, you are not expected to take off work to see a home, but see what accommodations can be made in your schedule. This is critical in viewing homes in a hot market. If you are selling a home, please be mindful that after-work and evening showings are highly likely. The more people that see your home, the better and higher price offers you will get.

4. Be loyal

House purchases and sales do not just take your time, they take your Realtor’s time too. If your Realtor learns that you are also working with several other Realtors, it is understandable that they will just not be as motivated to work hard for you. If you are unhappy with the Realtor that is selling your home, ask for a meeting to turn things around. Again, be clear about your expectations and be willing to listen.