Archive for December, 2014

Time is Money…

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Because people do not look at homes frequently, many view it as an interesting past time. Realtors® are more than happy to show property, but because they must manage their time carefully, good agents are careful how they spend their time.
The first step is to have a consultation with the client/customer to determine whether the buyer is qualified and for how much. It is not in the buyer’s interest to show properties which are higher in value than what the buyer can afford. That just sets the stage for ultimate disappointment for the buyer. At the same time, types of loans can be discussed: VA, FHA, Conventional, and Down Payment Assistance programs. The Realtor® can recommend lenders and discuss why local lenders are a better option than lenders out of area.
The agent should prep the buyer on what to expect and how the nine page purchase contract (Tucson) document protects the buyer and the seller. This is a legal contract; terms and conditions can be enforced by a court. The buyer needs to know what is in the contract and what can be enforced against him/her.
There are other documents the buyer will be asked to sign, and one is the buyer’s agency agreement. This in essence, is an employment contract whereby the buyer employs the agent to represent him or her and it extends for the length of time determined by the buyer and his/her agent. Many agents, myself included, do not ask a buyer to sign the Buyer Broker agreement until writing a contract. The buyer has no idea how I will represent him/her and whether they will find working with me beneficial. And the buyer should only sign one Buyer Broker agreement, otherwise he/she might be responsible for paying more than one commission.
Every state has different rules, regulations and statutes governing real estate. Many states are “attorney states”. In some states, negotiations are conducted on a verbal basis. Arizona is not an “attorney state”. The Realtor® – buyer’s agent -writes the contract, presents the contract to the seller’s agent, and both agents negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract on behalf of their clients. In Arizona, any verbal agreement concerning real estate will not stand up in court. All agreements must be in writing, signed by all parties.
If a person is from another state, his/her previous experience may color how he/she believes a transaction should be conducted. I had a client once from New York City who told me I was conducting the transaction all wrong. I pulled out my Real Estate Law book for Arizona and pointed out to him the statutes which governed. His previous experience colored why he believed I was incorrect. We must be cognizant of where people come from and what procedures they are accustomed.

Tell Me About Your Agent…

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Ask anyone to describe their image of a real estate agent and what do you hear?  I laugh when I hear big hair – the 1980’s; Cadillac, Realtor® car, Country Club lunches…because of course, the Realtor® belongs to a country club!  Oh and money… overflowing the pockets!

Real estate agents are not Realtors® but Realtors® are real estate agents.  Realtors® subscribe to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR Code of Ethics ) and real estate agents do not.  There is a higher standard of care for clients when using a Realtor®.  Make sure your agent subscribes to a local Board of Realtors® because it offers you, the consumer, a higher standard of care.

When buying or selling what is probably your greatest asset, be sure you are dealing with a reputable person.  Generally that person will be a Realtor®.  He/she can guide you through the morass of paperwork and explain all that you are signing and why.  If that person shoves paper at you and doesn’t explain what you are signing, then you should not sign!  Ask to see the Code of Ethics.

Advanced designations are one way to cull Realtors®.  Beyond the normal continuing education units your agent must attend, that person understands the importance of knowledge which he/she can impart to the client and use to represent the client in a more professional manner.

Usually these designations are classes the agent must pay for out of his/her own pocket, take time to attend, and usually pass a test at the completion.   If your agent has a group of alphabets after his name, those are the designations.  Some are more prestigious than others.  Ask what these letters mean.

As the market begins to heat up, more and more people will go into real estate.  There is a perception that real estate is an easy career and the agent can make a huge income and just look at houses all day with people.  This is a myth!  Ask any successful Realtor®, the reality is far different!

So ask too, how long have you been in the market?  Remember, you are the employer and the Realtor is your employee.®

Weekend Wanderings: What’s Going on in Tucson?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Realtors and other volunteers wearing a red Santa hat in front of stores ring their bells for the Salvation Army, Christmas lights and icicles adorn the fronts of homes, the vendors of Christmas Trees have replaced their pumpkins with balsams and firs, and the stores are ready for another Christmas shopping weekend.
Less than three weeks until Christmas! Oro Valley celebrates its tree lighting ceremonies at the Oro Valley Market at 12155 North Oracle tonight between 5:30 and 8:00 pm. Santa will arrive to greet residents at this festive occasion.
Luminarias which line the paths at the Tucson Botanical Gardens will be on display this weekend and next weekend for a nominal fee. There will be refreshments and musical entertainment for your body and soul as you wander the pathways of this magnificent garden, home to lush and often rare plants.
For those with a bent towards animals, check the Reid Park Zoo’s animal light sculptures from 6 to 8 pm. Here is an opportunity to see the zoo and it’s animals at night…hmmm, wonder if the animals sleep as we do? This extends to December 23.
San Xavier Del Bac, the Mission Church, south of Tucson, stands as “the white dove in the desert” and can be seen in the midst of the desert from Interstate 19. Originally built to convert Native Americans to the ways of Christianity, the Baroque architecture is among the finest in the US. The interior art work in is stunning.
El Naciemento, the intricate Mexican Nativity Scene, is on display at La Casa Cordova in the Historical Block of the Tucson Art Museum. Displaying this nativity scene has been a tradition for decades.
Decorating gingerbread cookies and making ornaments out of candy canes are on the agenda for children attending Winter Wonderland, a program from 10 am to 2 pm at the Children’s Museum.
Unique stores line downtown Tucson, a place for gastronomical delights, music of all genres, and theaters to present entertainment from Broadway to the ultra modern. And now, stores are decked out in holiday decorations – competing for the best of downtown. Take a gander downtown, ride the trolley, and enjoy the December spirit.

Tucson Active Adult Community…Is That What You Really Want?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Tucson’s Active Adult Communities offer a plethora of activities. What activities do you, the active adult buyer, sincerely believe you will participate?
Are you planning on taking advantage of Tucson’s wonderful climate and surrounds? Would you rather snuggle on you patio with a cup of java and a great book? Perhaps you’re an artsy crafty person? Or are you longing to play golf and go out to eat at night? Planning on traveling to all the national parks in the Midwestern and Western states? Or taking classes to get another degree?
Think long and hard about what you want to do in retirement…and think too about your budget. We don’t like to admit it, but money governs much of what we do.
Active adult communities offer planned, structured programs with people from the same community participating. If you are an outdoors person, is it to your advantage and interests to join an “open” hiking club where people from throughout the city belong? What about arts and crafts? Would you consider joining Philabaum’s Glass Art classes in downtown Tucson, or classes at the Tucson Museum of Art, or the Sonora Desert Museum? Or perhaps you are a classic car enthusiast.
I knew a retired gentlemen, a Fortune 500 Executive, who enrolled in the University of Arizona for a degree in fine arts and graduated at the age of 76. He fulfilled a lifelong dream. Think about what you would really like to do in retirement. This is much like making New Year’s Resolutions, I’m going to do x, y, and z. But are you really going to do those things, or are those the things you think you should do in retirement?
The Homeowner’s Fees in retirement communities are expensive. In some communities there is a substantial fee which is paid when you purchase the house and the funds go to the capital reserves. There are monthly fees after that ranging from a nominal fee of $20 a month to more than $400 a month.
You want to consider that for every $5.00 you spend in HOA fees, you could purchase another $1,000 in a home. A $400 fee would get you an additional $80,000 in house. HOA fees do not appreciate like a home, and often they go up with inflation.
The purpose of these exercises I’ve discussed during the past few days is to get you to really think about what you want so that your Realtor® can help you get the most bank for your buck. It is pointless to pay for things you may never use, and there may be other options which suit your needs and wants more than an active adult community.
You are making an entire lifestyle change and you are committing a substantial amount of money to make this change. You will want to make sure you are doing what you really want to do, not what your friends, family, and neighbors think you should do!

Tucson Arizona, Active Adult Community Anyone?

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Tucson has a range of active adult communities which run the price gamut from the $80,000 range to more than a million dollars and likewise span a distance from Catalina down to Green Valley and Tubac, a distance of about 60 miles; and from the foot of the Rincon Mountains in the east, to west of the Tucson Mountains approximately 40 miles.
In each area, the topography is different and although many people believe the desert southwest is flat and barren like the Sahara, nothing could be further from the truth. Topography and landscape may be a factor in deciding where to put down roots. And there is the question of how urban one wants to be. This harkens back to our discussion yesterday why making the list of what is important for you when retiring is crucial.
There are town home communities as well as mobile home communities, condo communities, manufactured home communities, and single family residence communities. Each type of community offers different living conditions and different ammenities. There are golf course communities and non golf course communities, newer homes and older homes. And all are governed by CC and R’s, Covenants, Codes and Restrictions.
The CC and R’s are legal documents which residents can be held to uphold. It is important that you read these for not only do they indicate how many pets you can have and how big, or what color you can paint your house, they often also govern the ages of children who can live in the community or purchase property in the community.
I know of communities where anyone younger than 55 cannot purchase a home, and proof of age is a requisite. A child younger than 55 cannot purchase a home for a parent even if the sole purpose is for the parent to live there. There are communities where rentals are not permitted. Someone who is 55 plus and desires to purchase a winter home which will be rented until retirement is prohibited from doing so by the CC and R’s. Such a covenant may impact on your financial planning.
If you are expecting children and grandchildren to visit for a month, know what the C C and R’s say. In some communities, children younger than 18 years cannot stay in the community for more than a few days. And certainly, if you ever anticipate that a grandchild will live with you on a permanent basis, definitely understand the provisions in the C C and R’s. There was a situation where a grandmother took in her grandchild and was forced to sell and move from the community. It didn’t matter that the grandmother became the legal guardian, the law upheld the C C and R’s.
Active Adult Communities bring together people of like mind, they offer camaradie, activities, and peacefulness to those who purchase there. As in any property purchase, it is important to know what you are buying and how you can use your property. Your Realtor is crucial in helping you wade through the do’s and don’ts of purchasing in an Active Adult Community.