Jen’s Corner

Tips for Finding a Rental in Arizona


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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!


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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


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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


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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


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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.

7 Signs That You’ve Picked the Right Real Estate Agent


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Buying or selling a home can be a complicated and stressful experience. There can be a lot of moving parts involved that may come as a surprise to people who have never been through the process before. This is why having a great real estate agent is critical.

Picking the right agent isn’t always easy, but you’ll definitely know if you’ve picked the right one for you. Here are seven signs that you’ve made a great decision in picking your real estate agent:

1. You like being around them

You don’t have to be head over heels in love with your real estate agent, but you need to at least enjoy being around him or her. You will spend a lot of time communicating with your agent, so the relationship needs to be a good one to help make the experience as painless as possible. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a person who you don’t like being around, especially if the going gets rough. If you don’t cringe at the sound of your agent’s voice then you might have found the right one.

2. They’re responsive and available

This point is non-negotiable. A good real estate agent will make themselves available to you and won’t leave you hanging when you’re waiting for a response. If your agent is leaving you feeling like a spurned date, they’re doing something wrong. The right agent understands how important and serious a real estate transaction is, and will always make sure to make your needs a priority.

3. They’ve asked you to get pre-approved

If you’re a buyer and you haven’t spoken with a mortgage professional before going out and looking at houses, a good real estate agent will ask you to. It might be frustrating if you don’t understand the reasons why, but a good agent knows that it’s for your own benefit just as much as theirs. There are a number of important things you might find out by going through the pre-approval process, many of which you should know before spending any of your time searching for a home. A good agent knows this, and wants you to know as well.

4. They’re proactive and not just reactive

This is one indicator that will set the right agent apart from everyone else. The right agent will not just go through the motions and take orders, they will be proactive in helping you identify and find the right solutions. For instance, instead of just sitting back and waiting for you to send properties you might have come across, a great agent is always on the hunt for the ideal property for you, and will communicate and suggest things that you might never have considered before. Being proactive is a mark of a true real estate professional.

5. They’re honest with you, even when it hurts

Just like honesty is important in a romantic relationship, so is honesty in a real estate relationship. The right agent will tell you the truth when you need to hear it, even if it’s inconvenient for them. It takes a lot of guts to be honest with someone when it might cost you money, but it’s also an ethical imperative, and a great agent will always put their own character, honesty, and integrity ahead of making a buck. And if they have to tell you the harsh truth that what you’re looking for is impossible, the right agent will do that too.

6. They don’t give up easily

A real estate transaction rarely goes off without a hitch these days, and sometimes it feels like the universe is conspiring to keep you from buying or selling a home. But it’s much easier to throw your hands in the air and say “I give up,” or “Someone else can figure this out,” than it is to buckle down and come up with a solution. The right agent doesn’t give up, and will uncover a way to keep things moving, even it takes some creativity. The right agent fights for you, and doesn’t throw in the towel after getting jabbed.

7. They want to build a relationship

One of the best signs that you’ve picked the right agent actually occurs either before or after you work with them on a deal. Even though real estate is transactional, the best agents look to build a relationship with their clients instead of just working with them on a deal and then disappearing. If your agent stays in touch, presents themselves as a constant resource, and is in it with you for the long-haul, then you’ve definitely found the right one for you.

10 Renovation Problems So Horrific Homeowners Will Wish They’d Moved

 

Sometimes the thought of renovating a home seems much easier than moving. But whether you’re undertaking a major restoration or a minor remodeling, what begins as a dream endeavor can quickly devolve into a nightmare.

Surprises may be lurking behind the walls and beneath the floorboards. Often, they can create a snowball effect where suddenly your initial project becomes an extreme (and expensive) home makeover straight out of a reality show.

The following home improvement mishaps are so extreme they may have homeowners asking themselves, “What have we done?” If it’s any consolation, at least they know they’re not alone. Instagram is filled with #renovationproblems that serve as cautionary tales. Take a look.

1. The vanishing contractor


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As some homeowners learn the hard way, not all contractors are created equal. These folks had their builder up and quit, leaving them with a very incomplete-looking home. But aesthetics aside, exposing wood like that is just opening up the house (literally) to a whole host of problems, from the elements damaging the wood to pests making their way inside.

2. Ouch!


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Even with shoes on, you still might not be immune from the hazards of hardware. Getting a nail in your foot will make you wonder if maybe you have a hole in your head for undertaking this project. You’ll definitely want to have your tetanus shots up to date in this case.

3. Drain drama


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Many homeowners like to keep a safe and sterile distance between the kitchen and the bathroom. So it’s definitely unpleasant when you discover that you’ve had a plumbing issue that connects the two. You wouldn’t blame this gal if she’s not able to enjoy a meal at home any time soon!

4. Getting to the (very) bottom of the issue


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Of course this homeowner wanted to get to the source of that dip in the floor but it looks like knowing when to stop may be the real problem. Perhaps this is a sign he’d really like to put in an indoor swimming pool? Now that’s a home improvement!

5. Fix one issue, discover another


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When you’re in the middle of a renovation sometimes it feels like the only surprises you uncover are bad ones. In other words, for every homeowner who stumbles upon an invaluable heirloom, there are dozens of others who find asbestos. Or, at least that’s how it feels when you fix one thing but then realize you’ve got another project that demands your immediate attention as this homeowner did.

6. Sheetrock shocker


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When you open up a wall, you may hold your breath and hope you don’t find anything creepy. These poor owners found creepy and crawling, just like something out of a horror film. This is one of those sights that it’s going to take a while to “unsee.”

7. Hole-y cow!


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An opening in the ceiling is really only appealing when it involves a skylight. And while the hole itself is an issue here, it looks like there may be some other problems as well. Let’s hope, for the homeowner’s sake, that’s not mold we’re looking at.

8. A rocky foundation


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You don’t need to be a structural engineer to recognize that this foundation has some significant flaws. This project is off to a rocky start, no pun intended. It’s also not a great sign that this happened on the very first day.

9. Rotten luck


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Dry rot is definitely not something you want to find at any stage of a renovation. This issue, in which wood decays because a species of fungi consumes it, actually isn’t “dry” at all, but rather results from too much moisture coming in contact with the wood. Unfortunately, this condition can lead to extensive and expensive repairs.

10. Kitchen, what kitchen?


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No doubt this kitchen will be beautiful when it’s finished, but this certainly looks like it could be challenging to live through this kitchen renovation. Hope they’ve got some friendly neighbors who’ll invite them over for a meal!

 

OMG…Hope This Doesn’t Happen With Your New Build


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I thought I had seen it all until I witnessed this! Yep, this house had to be picked up and moved across the street because of a BIG error. The builder ended up putting the house WAY to close to the fence on one side. So close that the neighbors could high five! Word is that the builder is taking care of the buyers and making it right thankfully.

My thoughts…how does this get that far to where they just noticed the issue? Just looking at it I could have told you it was too far over. If they had a New Build Ninja checking on their home regularly the issue may have been intercepted earlier. 

Anyway..random thought of the day. If you were the buyer, would you continue with the purchase? I’m wondering how many times the truck will have to back up and move over to line up the home perfectly.

 

5 Educational Tips to Learn About Buying a Home

How exciting to start the process of buying your own home! This is a very exciting time, but can also be scary with the fear of the unknown! Our goal is to help ease your nerves and learn the home buying steps before you hit the pavement and view some properties. The worst is when you find a home you’re in love with only to find out you can’t have it just yet. 

1) Who is this Ryan Guy? 

You’re probably wondering who this Ryan guy is that we recommend for your Mortgage! Check out this video of him explaining the process of applying for a home loan and answering some questions you might be already thinking! Talking to Ryan is going to be your first step in learning what you can afford and the steps it will take to achieve your homeownership dreams.

Meet Ryan!

2) The Downpayment Assistance Programs

Lots and lots of our clients have benefited from the Down Payment Assistance Programs including ourselves! Contrary to Popular Belief, these are not only for First Time Buyers. If you’re planning to occupy the home, let’s “taco” bout the Downpayment Assistance Grants.

Info about our experience here:

How We Bought For Only $750 Down

3) Buyer Cheat Sheet

A copy of our Buyer Cheat Sheet will be crucial to your home search. This has tips for what to do when preparing to buy, info about the loan programs, and a list of the home buying steps. You can use this as a checklist throughout the process to check off where you are and know what’s next.

Email me for a copy of the Cheat Sheet! 

Jennifer@evoaz.com
  
4) What Costs Can I Expect?

Next up! Here is a sweet informal video from Katie Lambert, our Team Owner, about some costs to expect when buying or selling a home. The first half is geared toward home buyers. Definitely take a peek at it when you get a chance!

Closing Costs for Buyers and Sellers

5) Where to Move?

So you’re ready to start looking, YAY! This link has 5 Tips for Choosing the Right Neighborhood. There are some GREAT tips here that you probably didn’t think of!

Tips on Choosing a Neighborhood

JD a.k.a. Jen Duncan

Jennifer@evoaz.com

480-707-7554

Phoenix Real Estate Tip of the Week…#1 – The Appraisal


An appraisal can be a scary thing! Is the home going to be worth what I’m buying it for? Or, is my appraisal going to be high enough so I can get rid of my Private Mortgage Insurance? Some people are wondering what the heck an appraisal is!

When you buy, sell, or refinance a home, it must have an appraisal completed to ensure the home is worth what you are purchasing it for. The only instance where you wouldn’t need an appraisal is if the buyer is paying cash and not taking out a mortgage.

An appraisal can be very exciting if you find out your home is worth more than you are buying it for, but can also be detrimental if it comes in under value and both parties can’t agree to lower the price. 

It’s important for your Realtor to take some measures to help with this process. Because the Phoenix Real Estate market is a sellers market currently, sellers are pricing their homes higher to see what kind of offers they can get, and they are getting them! Some agents are encouraging their clients to offer above list price in an effort to secure the home against multiple offers. However, this plan can backfire badly! It’s always a good idea for your Realtor to research the last 90 days of comparable home sales when putting together an offer to be proactive and avoid any appraisal headaches. A great listing agent will have a conversation with the appraiser to go over the comparable home sales, best features of the home, and perks of the neighborhood in an effort to educate them on why the purchase price should be supported.

We recently started the process of refinancing our new build home in Eastmark. Because the home is only 6 months old, there are not many listings on the Multiple Listing Service to run a comparable home search. This lead the appraiser to just grab homes in the same size range that weren’t truly a match to our home.

Here are 5 Things I Did to Help the Appraiser Determine Our Home Value:

1) Pulled all of the park facing homes that closed in the last 90 days that are model matches.

2) Compared lot sizes and similar features

3) Listed all upgrades that we’ve done to the home after moving in

4) Attached a sheet with all of our upgrades from the design center

5) Provided a link to the builder website to show the cost to build our exact model 

As always, if you are thinking of moving in the near future please feel free to reach out so we can chat about what’s best for you!

Much Love,

Jen Duncan a.k.a. JD a.k.a #NewBuildNinja

Jennifer@EvoAZ.com

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