The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Utter Incoherence

Holy crap, I’m exhausted. My brain is slightly gooey. It’s like the consistency of an bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream with chocolate sauce left untouched on the counter for 7 minutes. It’s kinda drippy, but you’re still gonna eat it anyway. Wait, we were talking about my brain, weren’t we? That’s a terrible analogy. See, I’m just not totally there.

I think there’s two things to blame for my current mental state (or lack thereof):

1. I’ve driven 396 miles just for work this week. I haven’t gone a day without an appointment to show houses and/or list a house in like 3 weeks. I’m not complaining, I’m just tired. So I guess I am complaining, a little bit. I need a nap.

2. I may be a touch hungover from an extra glass of wine or two I possibly consumed last night wishing one of my dearest friends, Kelli, luck on her move to Colorado. Kell stayed in our guest room last night because her cute little house has been packed up and cleaned for renters to move in and she is shoving off tomorrow morning, early, to start her new life. I’m not really one to dwell on things I can’t change that make me sad, and in general I have a tendency to feel discomfort regarding affection. (I know, you would never have guessed me for the strong silent type, would you?) Unfortunately, the fates intervened last night and we happened to watch Michael Scott’s final day at Dunder Mifflin before moving to Colorado on The Office, with Kelli. It may have put me over the edge. It’s possible I did a small amount of crying. I think the Chardonnay helped with that. I also may have tweeted some profanities involving the state of Colorado as a whole. Stupid Colorado with it’s crappy charmingly gorgeousness and happy place seemingocity.

So that’s where I am today. Over worked and under napped. I also have dog poop on my shoulder. I just remembered that. I should really change my shirt.

I did head out this morning (Jonas in tow) to photograph an adorable new listing I have going live today. I’m telling you, the decorating in this house is so frickin cute I want to spit.

Like really? That cowboy room? Kinda makes me wish I was a cowgirl.

And this desk in the master bath? I never realized I wanted a desk in my bathroom until now. Who thinks of stuff like that? Apparently my client does. So adorable.

While we were there Jonas stepped in dog poop in the yard. Then, when I put him in the car he managed to scrape it all over his carseat, and when he realized what he had done, he swung his foot up to get his leg out of the mess and scraped the remainder of the poop onto my shoulder. So we went to IHOP. I thought it might help us cheer up from all of the driving and saying good bye and dog poop. But really it was kind of just gross food. Lesson learned.

 

Writing Listing Descriptions: Why I'm Bald On One Side of My Head

One of my many jobs as a real estate agent is writing those little 800 or less character blurbs about my listings that go into the Multiple Listing Service. I’ve written before about my theory that a description with a touch of flair will get more notice than the same claims of architectural perfection every other listing agent is making. I like to call this the Red Uniform Shirt Principle:

It’s fairly universally agreed upon that the color red is a standout and a power color. In a normal situation, your eye is automatically drawn to the person wearing red in any room. However, my oldest son’s school has a dress code of red polo shirts. At any given time most of the children in the room are wearing the same shade of candy apple red polo. So instead, red becomes neutral. It’s invisible and the norm of the situation. The standouts are any other color besides red.

I wrote a description of my new Tatum Highlands listing for the MLS last week that included a list of Pros and a list of Cons about the house (which I would completely print here if I hadn’t already rewritten it and now it’s gone from the planet and I can’t find it anywhere. *DER*). I felt comfortable doing this because it’s honestly a house without a lot of faults. My theory was that pointing out the fairly minor issues about the house would create a sort of goodwill with the reader (potential buyer) that would allow him to give more credence to my positive claims about the house (Well she admitted the house has carpet in the master bath, so she’s probably telling the truth that it’s otherwise updated and move-in ready, right?).

Not everyone is in agreement with me that different is better. My client, the seller, was not totally convinced this was the way to go. He wondered: Do we really want to point out faults a buyer might not see as faults until they read it and risk them not wanting to view the house at all? I talked to another agent I know and trust and she was on the same page with him. Creative and clever – YES. Pointing out what’s wrong with the house to the public – NO.

I’m still not on board with the idea the original was a detriment to the listing. I think the general public is intelligent and they will respond positively if you treat them as such. Pointing out things they would have seen within 30 seconds of entering the house anyway, is an honesty that could potentially save everyone a lot of time and get buyers in the door of my listings who are more likely to write an offer because the house has what they want. It’s all about quality, not quantity, right?

However, I am an advocate of changing things up on my listings to see what works (and I’m also an advocate of keeping my clients happy), so I rewrote the description last night. I think I actually like it better now. I was inspired by a girlfriend on Facebook yesterday who was discussing her online dating life and the do’s and don’ts of writing an online ‘Looking For Love’ profile. I don’t think I sacrificed the stand-out factor when I compromised by pulling out the ‘Cons’, in fact, I might start doing all of my listing descriptions like this:

Sweet Tatum Highlands single (family home) looking for love. She’s a youngish (12 YEARS OLD) brunette (NEUTRAL PAINT THRU-OUT) and likes to keep in good-shape (MOVE-IN READY). She has a desirable figure (LAYOUT WITH LOFT) with fabulous assets (WALK-IN CLOSETS IN MOST ROOMS AND LOFT). Her hobbies include having swimmers in her lovely GATED PEBBLE-TECH POOL and hosting cooks in her REMODELED KITCHEN. She also enjoys a thorough rubdown of her GRANITE COUNTERS with a nice natural stone cleanser. This cutie has a lot to offer a good partner (buyer). Come out and get to know her a little better. You may just find she’s that special someone you’ve been looking for.

I would love some feedback on this one, though. What do you think?

If you’re another agent, do you think it’s bad form to point out the flaws in your listing? What do you do to make your listings jump out at the buyer?

If you’re a potential buyer (or have ever been one), do you even read the descriptions, or do you block them out like we do because they’re BS (baloney spit. This is a family-friendly website)? If you read that a house is more realistic than THE BEST HOUSE EVER ON THE PLANET EARTH, COVERED WITH GLITTER SHAVINGS FROM THE HORN OF A UNICORN AND CONSTANTLY FRAMED BY A DOUBLE RAINBOW, does it make you cross it off the list? Is there anything you’d like to see done with the descriptions as a consumer?

Desert Ridge Listing – The Story of a Shortsale

I have a new listing going live today, but you’re so sweet and nice for coming here to read my blog, that I wanted to tell you about it first. It’s in Tatum Highlands, which is just North of the Desert Ridge area in Phoenix.

Stats:
3 bedrooms and a loft
2.5 baths
2 car garage
2368 square feet
Pebbletech pool
Granite in the kitchen
$249,900

It’s a great house and she has it decorated so sweetly. It’s really like a model. I wanted to say to her, “Darling, you’re making my job too easy, really. Don’t you want to pour some red wine on the carpet and move a pool table into the dining room up against a wall so that it’s both pointless and makes the room look ridiculously small? Or affix religious or political stickers to the back glass sliding door that can’t even be removed with acid?”

That said; it does have its flaws, as any property does. And I believe in being honest about what’s going on with a house because a potential buyer is going to see everything once they walk in the door anyway, so I really want a buyer who comes to the door wanting what we have to offer. So, the main issues with the house in my opinion are:

1. It’s a big house for only 3 bedrooms. Plus it’s a two-story, which makes it unattractive to retirees, who might want only 3 bedrooms. But, the good thing is the loft has a huge walk-in closet (as do all of the other bedrooms). So it really just needs a little drywall and a door to make it into a fourth bedroom.

2. There’s carpet in the master bath. Huge pet-peeve there for me. But it’s a minimal cost to tile the bath.

3. It’s a shortsale. Which, in this market isn’t uncommon, and it’s a Bank of America, Equator file, so it should go quick.

Otherwise, the house is neutrally painted, has spotless carpet, granite in the kitchen and huge closets in every room. It’s a fabulous house with a gated pebbletech pool and a nice grassy yard. It should make some family very happy.

In light of my rant about my past clients who ended up in short sale or foreclosure, however, I want to tell a little background story on this house and these sellers. I feel like people who just read the news about the foreclosures and haven’t been through it themselves have a misconception that it’s mostly people who couldn’t really afford the houses they bought anyway or who were destitute by the time they lost the house. In my experience most of these people aren’t like that.

The couple who owns this house (don’t worry, I got their permission to tell the three people who read my blog this. Or I will get their permission. At this moment I haven’t written it yet, so I don’t have their permission yet. But I’ll ask first, swear. By the time you’re reading this I’ll have permission, is what I’m saying.) was also my client three years ago when they purchased the property. They were a friend of a dear friend of mine who recommended me to them. I took them out to look at houses once or twice just so they could get a better idea of the area, before the husband accepted a job in civil engineering out in Scottsdale. They were moving here from Detroit and the abysmal employment situation there. It was a positive change for them at the time. They were sad to move away from family, but ready to have stable jobs and a new adventure out here. Of course, when they were actually ready to pull the trigger on a purchase I was 8.99 months pregnant with my youngest, so I dragged my contracting, bloated belly out to Scottsdale to meet them and do a warm hand-off (while trying not to give birth on the table between us) to my partner-in-crime and fellow Elizabeth to complete the transaction. While I delivered the Tiny Tornado, Lizzie showed them property and managed to find them their dream house, for $380,000. They put down a hefty 20% (almost $80K) and closed in 30 days or so.

Fast forward three years to present day. I got a call from them a couple of weeks ago to discuss selling the house. The wife had been laid off from her job (in the construction industry) and the husband’s civil engineering job was drying up as well. His firm had notified him they would be transferring him to Orange County, California. Because this sounded less than attractive to them (higher cost of living, even farther away from family), the husband had applied for another job in Ohio, and he got it! They were planning a move back East, closer to the family they missed and to a job with government security, benefits and a raise for him. It will be a happy move for them.

When we sat down to discuss the house, however, the numbers didn’t add up to a smooth exit. In my professional opinion, they would need about $40K in cash to cover the deficit between what they could sell it for and what they owed, and then another $16Kish in real estate commissions and closing costs, just to walk away (without even considering the $80K they put down and which will, in any option, be lost). And of course they don’t have $56,000 sitting around totally liquid. Who does these days? You there, raising your hand in the back, please email me your address so I can come visit you tomorrow night and bring you a cookie. In my black ski mask and silent shoes. All real estate agents can pick locks; it’s a fact. Didn’t you know?

After ruling out the concept of paying to sell their house, we discussed the idea of renting the house out until it could be sold for enough to cover the debt and sale. This seemed like a viable option until we really put pen to paper about the numbers. Basically, they couldn’t rent it for what they owe monthly on the mortgage. They would have to pitch in $300-400 per month to cover the mortgage, taxes and HOA fees. In addition, there would likely be thousands of dollars over the years in upkeep (even though renters are totally known for being really fastidious in areas of pool maintenance and carpet cleanliness. And I caught a leprechaun yesterday and he took me to his pot of gold). Plus, the market hasn’t even normalized yet, and even when it does, ‘normal’ equity gains are 3-5% per year. So let’s pretend the market normalizes in two years and we start to regularly gain 4% in equity yearly. 4% of $250K is $10K. Thus, it’s going to take, at best, another 5-6 years after that to regain the equity necessary to sell the house and break even. The smart bet is on 10 years, though. Thus, if they have renters in the house ALL OF THE TIME (which is unheard of in the world of investment properties) for the next 10 years and they pay $300 per month in addition to the rent to cover the mortgage plus taxes plus HOA fees, that’s $36,000 out of pocket just to sell it to break even. Plus $5,000 or so in upkeep. It’s almost as unattractive as finding the cash to sell it outright. Not to mention the fact that this is a best case scenario. Worst case looks more like: they can’t find renters, it sits empty for long enough they’ve drained their reserve funds paying the mortgage and their rent in Ohio, a water pipe bursts and they don’t know about it quickly because they’re in Ohio and the bottom story floods and molds, and they have to let the house go to foreclosure (and probably they get pink eye. Because pink eye always goes along with worst case scenarios).

This couple weighed their options and considered the consequences of a short sale. They would take a moderate to considerable credit hit and wouldn’t be able to buy a house for at least two (possibly closer to four) years. But no anchor of ‘the Arizona house’ around their necks (and waking them up with nightmares) for the next 10 years. They decided a short sale made the most sense. They will be listing their house and taking an offer to the lein-holder as a request to renegotiate their contract. I’m told this happens in the corporate world all of the time.

These people, in my experience, are much more commonly the people who are short-selling properties. They are normal, responsible families. Life has thrown them some unpredictable twists and short-sale (or sometimes foreclosure) makes the most sense.

Open House Chaos… and Success!

People always say to me that it must be nice to be a Realtor-Mom because my schedule is flexible; so I can be around when my kids need me, and work when they don’t. Let’s just be real for a second, though. You’ve been around small children before, right? Have you ever noticed large blocks of time when they don’t need an authority figure? Or is it just my offspring who will seek and consume whatever toxic substance exists within our home as soon as they are left alone for more than 3.5 seconds? And then there’s the fact that people who are looking to make one of the largest purchases and/or sales of their years/lives aren’t super into being pushed to the back burner in lieu of potty training. So, you know, while Mommying and Realtorness sound like they should go hand in hand, it’s nothing but a tightrope walk of responsibilities when you get right down to it.

Case in point: Yesterday was my sweet Minion of Darkness (AKA: Jonas, child numero three)’s third birthday. It was also the best possible option for an open house on my newish listing in Ahwatukee. Last weekend was a holiday (thus not optimal for maximum traffic) and Saturday this weekend was the first set of soccer games of the season for the other two offspring. So, keeping in mind that if Jonas’s birthday had fallen on a weekday, my husband would not have taken the day off of work, I scheduled the open house and attempted to plan birthday fun around it.

Here’s how it went:

5:30 AM (Sunday morning. Just in case you wondered) – Eyelids leaped open, jumped out of bed to finish wrapping presents and commence Realtorfication Beauty Process.

7 AM – Fam was hustled into the GOV and over to Jonas’s breakfast joint of choice, Dunkin Donuts, to enjoy a lovely family sugar rush together.

7:30 AM – Back home, present opening time! Pillow pet sufficiently appreciated.

8-9 AM – Fliers printed, open house signs loaded into car, other Realtory gear organized and loaded.

9-9:43 AM – Balloons purchased, trek to open house made.

9:43 AM – Arrived at listing. Dug through purse and realized that although I have signs, fliers, business cards, Flip video camera, laptop, balloons, awesome zebra print skirt and general house-selling skillz, I do NOT have my lockbox key, which will allow me access to the house. Thus rendering all other supplies null and void.

9:44 AM – Internally debated merits of turning around and driving 40 minutes home to get lockbox key, versus the humiliation of calling client to have her come let me in to her house to hold it open.

9:45 AM – Decided desire to appear professional < need to get house open to the public sooner than 1.5 hours late. Called client. Groveled. Blamed birthday child for scattered brain.

10 AM – Placed open house signs and balloons. One balloon escaped. Environment and open house were both ruined.

10 AM – 2 PM – Crazy busy open house ensued! Lots of traffic! Lots of positive feedback! No meal planning or grocery list making occurred. Much missing of family birthday fun did, however.

2PM – Picked up open house signs. Every single balloon popped. Obviously balloons and Ahwatukee do not like each other. Or my Realtor nemesis was stalking me and cold-heartedly assassinated my open-house advertisements. It’s possible.

Does this little illustration of my life help you understand why I flicked that mommy on the playground in the forehead the other day when she suggested it is so great that I have a ‘flexible job’? Will you testify on my behalf?

Anyway, I did manage to sneak in a quick walking video of the property while I was there. Take a look, just in case you’re in the market for an Ahwatukee cutie:

Standing Out (or Even Outstanding) in Ahwatukee

I always tell my sellers that getting the best price for their house is about two things and only two things: price and exposure. It needs to first be priced correctly to get any kind of attention at all, and then it needs to be well marketed. That’s it; that’s the magic formula.

Of course, both of these things are open to interpretation. It’s not always as easy as just posting a new listing to every website you can find. I have a theory about marketing my properties that I’ve been working for the last 10 months or so that lots of agents would probably disagree with (or at least mock). But that doesn’t matter, because so far, it’s worked.

My theory is this: the text and photo captions on the MLS listings are so dry and meaningless that most people searching just blip over them. Buyers and agents just flip through listings glancing at photos and blip right over the text we listing agents slave over. There’s really only so many ways you can say ‘This house is splendiferoius!’ (Also? Most aren’t.)

So I’ve been attempting to spice up my descriptions in order to make them eye catching and memorable. Perfect punctuation and grammar isn’t going to get you a second look, but my theory is that maybe this will:

This house is so awesome there is no way I’m going to be able to sufficiently describe its greatness in the space provided here. I should just give up. You should just come see it. OK, I’ll give it a try, but in order to conserve space I’m going to omit all proper sentence structure and just give you key phrases of fabulousness: Mountain Park Ranch, corner lot, 2.5 car epoxy floor garage, vaulted ceilings, newish roof, newish Trane A/C, stainless steel appliances, tile throughout (except bedrooms), big walk-in closet in master, move-in ready, granite counters in kitchen, kitchen island, lots of light, well cared for, neutral paint, shed on side of the house, koi pond, low HOA fees, great community pools, NORMAL SALE (sellers actually have equity and will act reasonably!), whoops, ran out of spa

Of course it was raining the day this photo was taken. You know, like the only day it has rained this year. So picture this lovely house with a blue sky behind, because that's how it looks the other 364 days.

You know having 'mountain views' is something of a status symbol here? 'Oh, yes, I have MOUNTAIN VIEWS from my front drive, do you?'

And look, TWO different mountain views! That's like practically the Rolls Royce of mountain views.

Granite counters and stainless appliances, not bad at all. (OK, it's granite tile, not slab. But it's not that lousy job of granite tile with the thick grout. It's the classy thin grout granite tile. Still awesome.)

You may love the curtains, but you can't have them, the sellers are taking them with. They'll fight you to the death for them; these curtains are like another child. (Kidding. Sort of. They're taking the curtains.)

It's a bedroom incognito. The bedroom is disguised as an office. But don't worry, there's a closet, it's really a bedroom.

Isn't that a pretty string of lights on this cute patio? I know, it is. But you can't have those either. Still a nice patio, though

Nice big lot. You can barely see that koi pond off in the distance there. Wait, there's a koi pond???

Yep, how rad is that, a koi pond! Hi, fishy, fishy!

And totally not a lame 'takes up the whole yard and would be a total waste for someone not interested in caring for fish' kinda koi pond. Nope, this one's off in the corner, so it could be easily disposed of for someone who's not the 'koi pond' type (although I don't know who those people are, koi ponds are awesome!).

Because all you really want is your house to stick out enough in a buyer’s head for them to want to walk through the door, then the house has to tell its own story.

By the way, if you’re in the market for an Ahwatukee cutie like this one (4/2/2.5, 1833 sqft, $237K), email me! We just listed this one today!

Sometimes a Goldfish Feels Like a 6 Foot Bass

Offers Received: 3
Deal Killing Obstacles Overcome: 4
Flexible Positions My Seller Contorted Herself Into to Make the Deal Happen: 7
How Sure I Was The Sale Would Not Go Through: 85%

Last week one of my listings closed escrow. Did you see that big beautiful rainbow that appeared over Phoenix and seemed to end right at the I-17 and Greenway? That was Heaven’s indication that it had granted a miracle on a townhouse there.

Don’t get me wrong, this property was actually a lovely, well kept home with a really great amount of space for a fabulous price. Unfortunately, it was also a townhouse purchased by my seller in 2003, attempting to be sold in a market rife with short sales and foreclosures looking to knock it from it’s price-perch and lenders who shudder at the thought of providing financing for a property whose HOA has a delinquency rate higher than 15%.

My client is one of the good guys who’s been stomped on and kicked in the gut by the economy and the housing bubble. She purchased a home well within her financial abilities and took amazing care of it. She did preventative termite treatments (who does that? Smart savvy gals, that’s who) and paid to have roof work done even though the roof maintenance is technically covered by the HOA. She wanted to protect her investment. She made payments above her minimum monthly mortgage. In a fair world she would get a nice medium-sized check at close of escrow when she sold it for her efforts.

Alas, real estate is not a fair world. Recently, my dear seller met her Prince Charming and got engaged. PC had also bought a home within his financial means, but he did it closer to the peak of the market. When I met with the two of them to discuss their options about consolidating their assets, I started in with a talk that’s become standard for me, “Hello, you owe more than you can demand for your property(ies). Rent? Short sale? Stay put?” and quickly learned these two were of a different stock. They explained to me that short sale and foreclosure were not an option for them. They would pay the banks the difference to eventually sell both of these properties and buy their big dream house in Chandler. No, they didn’t have buckets of cash in the bank with which to do this, but they had some and were willing to jettison the easier of the two first and then work on saving up to pay the considerable difference on the other one in time.

We started with pricing this property to get them out of it in the black, but barely. The comps didn’t support our price, but they also weren’t nearly as nicely kept, placed or move-in ready, so we started with our best case scenario and worked from there. We had slow and steady traffic but no offers for a couple of months. Finally we got a low-ball offer that would leave my client out of pocket several thousand dollars. Smart lady that she is, she did the math and realized that because they were carrying two properties, it would only take her a couple of months to make up the out of pocket cash by not having to make the mortgage payment. Rather than dwelling on the principle of the loss she was taking (which oh so many people get caught up in), she decided to bite the bullet and accept the offer.

This offer held firm for just a few days before the buyer’s financing fell through due to improper qualification. Because my seller had already resigned herself to being out of pocket and her wedding was quickly approaching, we dropped the price a minimal amount to wake up the buyers and show that we were willing to deal.

This was a successful tactic, our traffic picked up a bit and quickly we had the promise of another offer. Not an actual offer in hand, but a buyer who wanted to write one. The agent just had a few questions for the HOA about the default rate they were currently experiencing. Apparently this buyer had been bitten by this issue before, with a deal that got to the very end, and then was rejected in underwriting because the HOA default was more than 20%. I put the agent in touch with the HOA and it turned out the HOA for this property is in about the 18% delinquency range. It also turns out the magic number this particular buyer’s lender was looking for was <15%. And thus, offer #2 blinked out of existence.

Of course, at this point my client’s wedding was almost upon us. She called on Wednesday to say she was gearing up for the rehearsal dinner and the big event, and that her place was a touch more cluttered than usual, but if someone wanted to see it, that was still ok. ‘Selling the house is the big priority,’ she told me (dream client!). In real estate, big events, or trips out of town are signals for the governing gods to send in a well qualified, highly urgent buyer with an really great offer. So I got a call about an hour before her rehearsal dinner was scheduled to begin that I was getting a full price offer which would need a response within the next 12 hours.

So back under contract we went. It was a dream offer for my client, but I had my serious concerns. Number one was the appraisal (the spouses of listing agents know to expect night terrors ending in cold sweats and desperate screams of, “oh, no… oh no!! Not the APPRAISAL!!! OH THE HORROR!” in about the middle week of escrow). Number two was the nagging HOA delinquency issue. Both are potential problems that are difficult to head off before their time without raising alarms or waking sleeping beasts. You don’t want to give a buyer a reason to get cold feet, so generally speaking, a listing agent has to do a certain amount of wait and see.

So wait and see we did. Number two stayed sleeping monster (and I continued to stress about it until the actual call from the escrow officer that title had changed hands). Number one woke up and chomped right down on our windpipe. The appraisal came in $12K under value. I actually don’t at all blame the appraiser in this case. He did all that he could. It was an FHA loan and his hands were tied with the totally inflexible binds of FHA regulations.

Negotiation commenced, and my client ended up dropping $9K, the buyer brought $3K extra to the table and we made the contract ‘As-is’. It was ugly for my client’s pocketbook, but she was willing to take the loss to move on to married life in her husband’s home.

Loan documents were slow and we ended up closing a few days late (another frustration for my poor client as she had rushed to get out of the house on time), but amazingly, that little $90K sucker did actually close. And let me tell you, to me, it was as exciting and relief-inducing as any of my bigger closings. Real estate doesn’t pay based on effort and amount of maneuvering, but pride of the catch pays out on just that scale.

Early Bird Gets The Worm

Houses Shown: 8
Pretty Fabulous Deals Found: 3
Motor Vehicles That Weren’t Mine I Was Allowed to Operate: 1
(SCORE!)

I took a buyer out last Saturday in the North Scottsdale/Desert Ridge area. My client has been renting in the McDowell Mountain Ranch area (or ‘The MMR’ if you’re a cool kid and hang out there a lot) and she would really prefer to buy in that area. Unfortunately, she also really likes new builds. She told me a few weeks back that if she could just build new in The MMR, that would be PERFECT! I told her they should probably just bulldoze off the top of the McDowells, and put a community up there, don’t you think? It probably wouldn’t hack off the environmentalists or anything. The HOA, though, you don’t want to get in trouble with them. They get cranky if you paint the house the wrong shade of Desert Sand; they probably would write a REALLY mean letter if you removed the scenic mountain views. We can’t have that. Thus the quandry: Resale and probably needing work in The MMR, or New and Fabulous but at Desert Ridge.

We did, however, find several decent candidates in both categories, and we reaffirmed my understanding that well-priced houses in all price ranges are going fast. For example:

1. This cutie on Rockingham:

Is a new build by Del Webb (a division of Pulte) at Fireside at Desert Ridge. We orginally saw it back in December when it fell out of escrow with the buyer who had been building it. The original buyer had ordered a bunch of fancy upgrades like hammered plank hardwood floors, plantation shutters and travertine everywhere (there wasn’t carpet anywhere in the house). When we saw it they wanted $475,000 for it. It came on to the MLS last week at $434,990. By the time we got out to see it it had been snatched up. They do, however, still have several nicely upgraded specs at really fabulous prices (AND, apparently if you’re really nice and look totally trustworthy they might even let you drive the golf cart to go see the specs! Completely worth the trip just for that).

2. This MMR single-level on Caribbean:

Is not super upgraded (laminate counters, older appliances, needs paint) but pretty move-in ready and exceedingly well-priced at $330,000 (I’m not even going to tell you what another client of mine paid for exactly the same model 2 years ago). It had been on the market 8 days when we saw it and the Realtor Remarks on the listing said to hold all offers until Monday because the seller was out of town. Monday I checked in to see if we could see it one more time and they had 3 offers and a bidding war going.

3. The last fabulous deal we saw wasn’t right at all for my buyer because the yard is 90% pool and it has some traffic noise issues (backs to 105th and MMR Road) and needs paint, carpet, appliances and nicer counters, but priced at $307,900 for more than 1900 square feet, 3 bedrooms plus an office and with a pool in McDowell Mountain Ranch, I think it was the best of the bunch, investment-wise:

Yes, it would need some money into it to get going, but in these times of recession, I can see this as an excellent rental property. It’s still showing as ‘Active’ in the MLS, but I would be surprised if it doesn’t have any offers on it currently.

Clearly deals AND buyers are still out there, so if you see something you like, jump on it!

Cute New West Mesa Listing

Average Lot Size of a New Build in Metro Phoenix: 5000 Square Feet
Lot Size of This Cutie House on Kiva: 7187 Square Feet
Miles This House Sits Outside of the Tempe Boarder: 2.5
Approximate Dollars Per Square Foot Cheaper It Is Because of This 2.5 Miles: 29


I have a great new listing off of Baseline and Country Club. Check it:

It’s your basic older starter home in a central location. I have to warn you that it is a short sale. I know, I know, it’s a touch ironic (or is it just unfortunate?) that I’ve been extolling the woes of short sales this week only to list one like 3.5 minutes later. That’s right, have a good chuckle.

So no, it’s not going to be as easy to purchase as a normal sale, or probably even as smooth-sailing as a foreclosure, but I can promise you that I’ve actually closed a few short sales before AND that I’m going to make well sure my clients and their attorney are happy with the approval letter before we let the buyer know it is time to have the house inspected and appraised.

This house has been moderately remodeled. It has a new in 2007 kitchen with a stone back-splash and stainless steel appliances. It has a nice big laundry room with a counter and cabinet and a huge walk-in pantry. It has 4 decent sized bedrooms and a nice big backyard.

Yes, the house is in Mesa. You’d be surprised how many clients I have worked with who just don’t like the idea of Mesa. Mesa doesn’t have the hip reputation of Tempe or Scottsdale and it’s not generally thought to be as new and upcoming family destination like Chandler and Gilbert. It’s kind of the red-headed stepchild of the East Valley. I, however, am a born and raised Mesonite (yep, just totally made that word up) and I understand the true, unappreciated, undervalued fabulousness that is Mesa.

I grew up just along the inside of Mesa border where it sits against Tempe and Chandler. I had all the benefits of a central lifestyle, without the higher taxes and price tag of either. No really, check it out:

The circles are Tempe’s average monthly price per square foot and the triangles are Mesa’s. Look at how much crazy-pants lower Mesa it! Gotta love that!

So in these dollar-conscious recessional times of ours, how can you not love the value that Mesa-almost-practically-Tempe gets you? That’s all I’m saying! Come check out my new listing. Now. Cause I said so.

All That and a Bag of Jellybeans

I’ve got a SAH-WHEET (‘What does MY back say?’ ‘Dude, OK, but what does MY back say?’) new listing that actually went live on the MLS just before Christmas; although I waited to tell you about it until the tryptophan from Christmas dinner and the champagne from New Year’s Eve had sufficiently exited the systems of the masses and everyone is all perky at the prospect of a new year to be more organized and thinner and smarter and all of that. I feel like now you are all a little more prepared to handle the awesomeness that is Parkview:

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The basics:

$245,000
Recker and Frye (Gilbert)
2933 Square Feet
5 Bedrooms/3 Bathrooms/3 Car Garage
Granite in the Kitchen
Upgraded Tile and Wood Floors
Currently Dirt, but Pool-sized Yard

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The seller of this house upgraded all of the flooring to custom, detailed tile work and wood right after she purchased in 2006. The house is adorable and huge. It has a small loft in addition to the five full bedrooms.

But every rainbow is beget by a touch of grey and so it is with this pretty property. It is a short sale. While this is mostly unfortunate for the seller, it also isn’t a bag of jellybeans for the buyer (I totally just made that one up. Think I can make it happen? ‘How was your day, dear?’ ‘Well it was just a bag of jellybeans, sweetheart!’)

A short sale, I’m sure you know (unless you’ve been living under a rock), is a property where the seller owes more than the house is actually worth, so in order to sell it, she has to get permission from the bank who holds the loan. This permission-getting process generally takes between 6 weeks and 6 months. The good news is that while a short sale used to be a little bit of a shot in the dark, the banks have come around somewhat and a deal is almost always eventually worked out.

In this case, there is only one lender (I’ve seen them with up to three, which, as you can imagine, slows the process even further) and we’ve already started communication with the bank, so I’m crossing my fingers for a swift turnaround.

The point is, if you’re looking for an adorable, upgraded, well-cared for 5 bedroom in East Gilbert and you’ve got some flexibility on closing time period, this might be the house for you! Call me! We’ll have a bag of jellybeans time! (No? Not feeling it? You’re right. *SIGH*)

 
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