Archive for November, 2015

Sun Warmth and Happiness!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Wafting through the air is the fragrant smell of turkey soup, simmering on the stove. The heat is cranked to take the chill off the house, and outside lies the beauty of the first snow…diamonds laden on the trees, undisturbed. The snow plows have not yet rumbled through the neighborhood, turning the pristine precipitation to an unappealing brown mess.  I am too old for this cold, this icy season where temps go to zero, when the wind blusters through the trees, and a foot of snow needs to be shoveled from the driveway.

Escape!  Escape to Tucson is the answer!  I will join the hundreds of winter visitors escaping from the northern climes to sun, temps in the 60’s and 70’s, to being able to take a walk outside without slipping and sliding on ice covered pathways.

Tucson is a haven for those who want to escape to a warm, dry climate.  Those arthritis sufferers suddenly find relief from the pain in the dry climate, and some come on the recommendation of their physician. Others swell the Tucson population because they want to golf and enjoy the myriad of outside activities, not spending  winter cooped up inside their northern abode.

Winter rentals are abundant, and Thanksgiving marks the influx of “winter visitors”, affectionately called “snowbirds”.  The majority however arrive after the Christmas holiday.  Many have purchased winter homes, often in active adult communities where activities range the gamut from book clubs to pool tournaments, from cooking classes to exercise classes.  Golf, pickle ball, and swimming is a draw for many of these communities, as well as restaurants on premises, community dinners, and group outings to various places in Arizona.

The cultural scene in Tucson is also a draw, the city is the home of the University of Arizona, and those who desire ongoing education can attend to Olli ( ).  Broadway comes to Tucson at the many theaters, both large, and small and intimate, and the music scene encompasses all genres.

Tucson has several art museums as well as the Center for Creative Arts at the University of Arizona, home to the Ansel Adams collection. And Tucson is a gastronomical delight with the best Mexican food in the nation, as well as restaurants which represent all cultures:  Ethiopian, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, plus a myriad of excellent food trucks.

How can you not want to escape cold, grey, dreary weather and exchange it for warm, bright, sunshine and a city which will welcome you with open arms?







Weekend Wanderings…

Friday, November 27th, 2015

IMG_1504With temps in the 70’s, and sunshine throughout the days, what a weekend to take advantage of Tucson outdoors! It’s a perfect weekend for hiking on one of the many trails in the Catalinas, the Tucson Mountains, or the Rincons. Wear hiking boots if you have them, and bring plenty of water, along with your snacks. Take your cell phone in case of an emergency. has information about the various trails, the locations and categorizes them according to strenuousness. Snakes should not be a problem since they like to sun themselves at 80 degrees or warmer.
For unique southwestern gifts for the hard to buy for on your holiday list, check out the Native American Heritage Social and Indian Craft Market Friday through Sunday from noon to 6 pm at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel and Suites Courtyard, 5151 East Grant. There will be native foods, arts and crafts, music and dancing. More than 15 nations will be represented. Admission is by donation.
The fine art of Ikebana Flower arranging is on exhibit at the Tucson Botanical Garden, 2130 North Alvernon Way. Graceful arrangements with few branches and flowers express the artistic talents of the creator in the interpretation of humanity and nature. Although seemingly simple arrangements, the study of ikebana flower arranging is a life long pursuit and is a creative art expression. While at the Botanical Gardens, wander over to the Butterfly Magic exhibit and be entranced by the beauty of the winged insects.
Animal lovers to attention! The Pima Animal Care Center is having a Black Friday Promotion today from noon to 3 pm and every day through November 30. Come and fall in love with one of the kittens, cats, puppies, or dogs and take it home, already spayed or neutered. The fees are being picked up by Zappo’s and Best Friends, so you only pay the $16 dog license fee. The animals have also be vaccinated and microchipped and come with one free vet visit! PACC is at 4000 North Silverbell Road.
Fact: Did you know if you have a dog which has not been spayed or neutered, in six years, that animal can have 67,000 – yes, sixty seven thousand – offspring. Most of those animals are homeless so care for your pet by spaying and neutering!
If you have to take advantage of Black Friday Sales, locally owned shops on 4th Avenue are having Black Friday Sales. Wander along the iconic 4th Avenue which is home to fun shops in which to browse and buy, and stop for a bite to eat at one of the locally owned restaurants.


Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

canstockphoto12656041Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. I am a very fortunate woman to have so many people surrounding me who are a source of inspiration, support, and help. They all exhibit honesty and subscribe to ethical behavior which is the cornerstone of my business.
These are people to whom I go to when I need information and they are people who help make a real estate transaction smooth and seamless.
My first shout out is to my able assistant, Andrew, who is so anal, the very antithesis of what I am, scattered and disorganized- he keeps me on task and isn’t afraid to call out those things which I need to do which somehow get lost in the shuffle, intentional or not!
No transaction can begin to get off the ground without the lender, so to Courtney Walker and her crew at Cornerstone, thank you. I appreciate all you do and the speed in which you can turn a loan into a home for a client! The shorter the period of time, the happier everyone seems to be.
For transactions for which I have control – my “go to” gal is Tina Banks at Fidelity National Title. Fidelity charges less for title and escrow services than other companies here in town so are a better “deal” for buyers and sellers, and Tina knows the business inside and out. She’s an expert at explaining and her patience is admirable!
To Zack Collins at Fidelity – how could I even begin without you? You provide me with the resources I need to start a transaction – the very information about the property itself. And you are so willing to look up weird things that I ask.
And to Kimberly Keegan at Fidelity- thank you for your knowledge, time, and effort not just to me, but to the entire Tucson Realtor community in promoting things like the TAR Home Tour.
Chris Webb, with an apt last name, Webb, the face of internet marketing, my go to for all things computer, a source of marketing ideas who shares his time willingly and a marketing guru for Cornerstone Lending, thank you. I’m implementing much of what you suggest.
How can we complete a transaction without my inspector who knows building – with experience as a contractor in two states, building inspector for the Town of Marana, and home inspector for umpteen years- Paul Juarez- Inspect One, thank you. You are thorough, explain to buyers and sellers any problems, how they should be fixed if necessary and you are not afraid to “kill a deal” if that is in the best interest of the client. I appreciate your honesty.   And because there are two types of homes in Tucson, those which have termites, and those which will get termites, thank you to Tucson Exterminating for all the homes they check for me, and for their good pricing and honesty.
This is my “immediate” team. And two more, Garrett Flores, who fixes my computers and keeps me up to date and doesn’t let me have down time when the computers are temperamental…and to Troy Ruboyianes and his team, especially Melissa, you keep me on track financially and when I look at the numbers, I learn so much, sometimes not what I want to know! A CPA on board is essential!
Thank you all – you help to make me successful and you contribute to smooth transactions for both buyers and sellers…and to all the agents on the other end of the transaction, we all know, we need you too!
Thank you!

Why Read the Prelim and Title Commitment?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

title-commitment-600What does the preliminary title report and commitment for title contain?
In addition to the findings of the title search, the prelim includes the legal description of the property and this should be checked with the legal description on the sales contract. The sales contract describes the property three ways; the street address, the parcel identification number or the assessor’s number, and the legal description.
There will often be a plat map showing the location and dimensions of the property and often a partial plat map of the subdivision. There may be drawings showing easements of the property on the plat map.
In the description of the property, easements will be described; most property contain utility easements. If there is common property, this too will be noted on the commitment.
If there is a Homeowner’s Association, the commitment will make reference to that fact and indicate where the HOA documents can be found in the recorder’s records. This will include the original documents for Covenants, Codes and Restrictions, and any amendments.
CC and R’s originally were put in place for the benefit of the builder and upon the build out of the subdivision, the Association is turned over, along with any common property, to the residents of the subdivision. There is nothing which requires a HOA; I live in a subdivision built in 1979 and upon the transfer of the “Association” to the residents, the residents promptly voted to abandon the HOA. This document is recorded.
Builders protect their investment by requiring standards so a resident doesn’t paint his house purple or store junk cars in the front yard. This would make the area less desirable for potential buyers and infringe upon the builder’s ability to sell new homes.
HOA dues must be brought up to date if in arrears, prior to transfer of title. Likewise, property taxes will be referenced and must be current prior to transfer of title, including late fees and penalties. The name of the association and management company with contact information is specified.
All liens on the property must be cleared prior to conveyance. And in community property states, the marital status of the buyers are specified. If a married person takes title alone, the spouse must sign a disclaimer deed which is recorded.
And of course any and all mortgages are itemized with the recording number, and including any Home Equity Lines of Credit. And the deed must be recorded from the grantor to the grantee.
Requirements to be fulfilled prior to recordation are itemized as well as the manner in which the documents must be signed, such as margin requirements.
The preliminary title report and commitment for title are important documents and must be read by the buyer, the seller, and both agents so that any errors can be corrected or problems with tile be solved prior to recordation.

Why Have Title Insurance?

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

red-flags-collection_23-2147512332Why have a title search? Truthfully you may be purchasing a piece of property which actually may not be yours. Liens follow the property, not the people.
Suppose I sell you a piece of property at a rock bottom price, offer to finance it for you, tell you I will do everything, and all you have to do is give me earnest money of $20,000. It’s such a bargain you hop right on, so you give me good funds for $20,000. We sign the paperwork and alas, the property is now yours. I file all the paperwork and you think I am absolutely wonderful….Until you realize when you purchased that property from me, you also purchased all the liens; they are now your responsibility.
They can be mechanic’s liens for work completed but not paid; medical liens from doctors and hospitals, judgment liens handed down by a court for accidents or other legal entanglements, back child support, internal revenue service liens, HOA liens for back dues–liens for just about anything—you have just purchased all of them and they could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That’s just one of the reasons you need a title report. Maybe this is a second marriage and the property was purchased during the first marriage and there are children by that marriage. These children may have claim to the property when that spouse is deceased, and the living spouse actually has nothing.
Perhaps one spouse has died and the surviving spouse has not probated the estate. This happens frequently and the property is in the name of both spouses. A dead person cannot have claim to a property, it must be dispersed as the will deems or intestate (by the state). This must be completed before any transfer of property so that the legal owners can be found and possibly agree to the transfer.
Very often it is an investigative mission to find surviving heirs. I had a situation where the woman who was in a second marriage, wanted to sell her property. She had children by her first marriage and her first husband had died. The wife never took care of the first husband’s estate. He wanted his children to receive his portion of the property.
Immediately that means the wife receives only half of the value of the property, not the full value she anticipated. There were five children, spread all over the country. One of the children had died so his heirs were in line to inherit one fifth of one half of the proceeds of the property. We couldn’t find him and this was going to tie up the conveyance of the property. Finally we located him, and then we were able to put the property on the market. Had we a contract waiting, we probably would have lost the deal.
Good agents always check title prior to putting property on the market. Usually there is no problem, but sometimes a real estate/estate attorney needs to be called to unravel the title in a legal manner. Title insurance insures that good title is being passed to the buyer. Always read the preliminary title report and immediately take care of any red flags.

Weekend Wanderings in Tucson…

Friday, November 20th, 2015

bicycle-20clip-20art-1197114401399640364Steren_bike_rider.svg.med7 am Saturday morning the shotgun start of El Tour de Tucson starts the beginning of the 104 mile race. The sun will be climbing over the Rincon Mountains to the east and those fit souls, having had nourishment to get them off to a good start, will be pedaling the first stretch of the annual bicycling race.
The temps will be in the high 40’s, low 50’s during the first start of the morning. Those athletes crouched on their bikes in a position, trying to avoid drag force, otherwise known as wind resistance, should not be riding into wind bursts. In other years, competitors have faced rain, snow, and both cold and hot temperatures but the weatherman promises the Saturday ride should be pleasant.
Always the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the Greater Arizona Biking Association brings together more than 9,000 contestant for various rides around Tucson. The longest race, 104 miles skirts the city and wends its way along winding and rolling hills. There is also a 75 mile race, a 55 mile race and a 40 mile race for those less robust, but wanting to participate. Fun rides for families and children of 11 miles and 5 miles are available.
The day culminates in El Tour Fiesta, an event downtown at the finish line, where awards will be presented with music, food, and the excitement of the race finish.
If shopping for arts and crafts is more your vein, then visit the Tucson Museum of Art annual art and craft show. This juried show on the grounds of the Museum, brings together more than 100 artisans and is a perfect time for gift shopping. The beauty of the hand crafted items is astonishing. Find unique pottery, interesting jewelry sure to draw comments, different crafts worthy of positive comment, and of course paintings.
It also marks the opening of El Nacimiento, the intricate hand made representation of the nativity scene, a true work of both love and art. It is housed at La Casa Cordova in the Historic Block, a home believed to date back to pre-Gadsden purchase. It is on display from November to March. Stop in at Café A La C’art for a bite to eat or purchase from vendors at the artisan fair.
It’s perfect weather for a hike in one of the trails in our mountain ranges, or just a meandering walk downtown to see what’s new. If you’re tired, take the trolley. And of course at night, the music scene comes alive. Sunday at 4 the Sunday Jazz Jam, open to the public and free, is in full swing at Lowe’s Ventana Canyon sponsored by the Tucson Jazz Society.
Always something to do in Tucson, just open your eyes and see!

The New Closing Document?

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

signing_document_4Before October 3, pre Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations, the title company drew up the closing disclosure statement which used to be known as the HUD-1. With the implementation of CFPB, in Arizona, it is now the responsibility of the lender to draw up the closing disclosure and get it to the escrow officer with whom the buyer and seller will “close escrow”. The real estate agent should also be present and explained the closing statement to the clients prior to close of escrow.
Lenders, under CFPB, are now required to get the closing disclosure to the parties three business days prior to the scheduled closing. It is a simpler form that the HUD-1 and spells out the loan amount, the interest rate, the monthly principal and interest and any prepayment penalty .
The projected payments show how the payment is calculated with principal, interest, mortgage insurance and estimated escrow which includes taxes and insurance. Projections are for Years 1-7 when Mortgage interest is required and then from years 8-30 or the life of the loan when mortgage insurance is no longer required. Estimated taxes and insurance are spelled out in a separate box. These are not static costs, they can rise yearly as taxes increased as well as insurance.
Closing costs are estimated and the cash to close is spelled out. The second page is a breakdown of the closing costs detailing all loan costs; loan origination fee, services the borrower did not shop for; and services the borrower shopped for.
Taxes and government fees which include recording fees are spelled out as well as all pre paids which include hazard insurance premium, mortgage insurance, prepaid interest, and tax escrow accounts on a monthly basis. The initial escrow payment at closing will include insurance, mortgage insurance if applicable, and taxes and these are computed in the closing costs needed by the borrower to close escrow. Other fees will include Homeowner’s Association fees, Real Estate commissions with the amount and to whom it is paid, and owner’s title insurance.
The third page includes a calculation of “cash to close” which includes total closing costs, anything paid out of escrow such as an appraisal, any closing costs which are financed, and the down payment, any deposit, the funds for the borrower from the loan, any seller credits or other adjustments, and then the cash to close figure is derived.
The remainder of page three is a summary of all the transactions from the previous pages, and shows the borrower’s transaction as well as the seller’s transaction so the net due seller is calculated. Any deposits, amount of the loan, and seller credits are displayed; adjustments such as taxes or HOA fees, showing as a debit or a credit for the buyer and the seller. Any mortgage payoff is shown on the seller’s side.
Page four are loan disclosures about features of the loan, whether there is a demand feature, if the loan can be assumed, what happens with a late payment, if there is negative amortization, and will the lender accept a partial payment. The escrow or impounds will be spelled out, and the estimated property taxes if the buyer declines an escrow account will be shown.
The last page shows the total amount which will be paid if the buyer holds the property for the length of the loan and makes payments as scheduled. The amount of interest paid during the life of the loan is shown as well as the amount financed. The higher the loan interest rate, the greater the amount of interest paid. The annual percentage rate is shown and is different than the interest rate for the loan. The APR includes all the funds necessary to close escrow. And then the box which will show the total interest rate percentage over the life of the loan will knock your socks off! It is the total amount of interest paid over the loan term as a percentage of the loan amount.
Contact information for the lender, the mortgage broker, the real estate broker for the buyers and seller and the settlement agent are listed with name, address, identification number, state license number, contact person and the contact identification and state license number, e mail address and phone number.
To view this form:


Taking Title in Arizona…

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

2926345The manner in which a buyer takes title to a property in Arizona has legal and tax consequences.
Arizona is a community property state.  Neither the real estate agent nor the escrow officer can give legal advice on how to take title. However general guidelines have been published and are reproduced here.  These are definitions provided by Fidelity National Title Agency, Inc.  Thank you.


COMMUNITY PROPERTY WITH RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP:  Community property with right of suvivorship is a method of ownership by husband and wife that vests title in the surviving spouse upon the death of one of the spouses.

COMMUNITY PROPERTY: Arizona is a community property state.  There is a statuary presumption that all property acquired by husband and wife is community property.  Community property is a method of co-ownership for married persons only.  Upon death of one of the spouses, the deceased spouse’s interest will pass by either a will or interstate succession.

SOLE AND SEPARATE:  Real Property owned by a spouse before marriage or any acquired after marriage by gift, devise, descent, or specific intent.  If a married person acquires title as sole and separate property, the spouse must execute either a disclaimer deed or quit claim deed.

JOINT TENANCY WITH RIGHT OF SURVIVORSHIP:  An undivided interest in property taken by two or more joint tenants.  The interest must be equal; occurring under the same conveyance, and beginning at the same time.  Upon death of a joint tenant, the interest passes to the surviving joint tenant or tenants, rather than to the heirs of the deceased.  If a married couple acquires title as joint tenants with right of suvivorship, they must specifically accept the joint tenancy to avoid the presumption of community property.

TENANCY IN COMMON: A method of co-ownership where parties do not have survivorship rights and each owns a specific undivided interest in the entire title.

CORPORATION: Any group of people “incorporating” by following certain statutory procedures many take title to real property in the name of the corporation.

GENERAL PARTNERSHIP: Title may be taken in the name of a general partnership duly formed under the laws of the state of the formation of the partnership.  A partnership is defined as a voluntary association of two or more persons as co-owners in a business for profit.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP:  A partnership formed by two or more persons under the laws of Arizona or another state and having one or more general partners and one or more limited partners.  A certificate of limited partnership must be filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, a certified copy of which must be recorded.





Title? Escrow? What’s the Purpose?

Monday, November 16th, 2015

title-deed-paper-document-rolled-isolated-white-background-41043141Arizona is a title company state. The escrow company- escrow officer- closes escrow, not an attorney. In attorney states, close of escrow takes place with the attorney for the buyer and seller.  The attorney is responsible for clearing the “chain of title”. In title company states, it is the title company which insures the chain of title.
The escrow company and title company are often used interchangeably, but they are different. The escrow company is responsible for preparing all documents and ordering the title report from the Title Company. The escrow company holds the money and disburses it according to instructions from the lender, reviews the files to make sure all the conditions of the contract have been met and makes sure all contingencies have been fulfilled.
Some of the larger Brokerages have relationships with title companies; on the purchase contract, the Title Company and the Escrow Company are different.   Often the prices for title and escrow are higher than if the same company performed both functions. It is the buyer’s choice to choose the title and escrow company.
In Tucson, we are seeing real estate agents “recommend” in the MLS listing, that a specific title company or escrow officer be used.   The buyer and buyer’s agent can choose any company and does not have to abide by this “recommendation”. The purpose is to generate more business for that company (owned by the brokerage) which generates more money for the brokerage, which is allegedly used for additional marketing.   (These relationships also exist  for the lender and the home warranty company.) The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is investigating whether this is a violation of RESPA rules –The Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act since consumers allegedly pay more.
Most big brokerages have disclosures in the myriad of paperwork which clients are asked to sign. Whether those disclosures are explained to the client depends upon the agent;some agents can’t explain the documents to be signed.
Once the contract has been signed, the agent “opens escrow”. The earnest money check and the purchase contract are given to the escrow officer. The escrow agent orders the title search.  The preliminary title report is issued and it is important for the agent to read the “prelim” in case there are red flags.

Often a person with a common name will be flagged for back child support, or a lien on the property. These must be cleared prior to transferring title. If the buyer/seller is not this person, he/she will have to sign a “not one in the same” document and provide proof he/she is not that person.
Other onerous title issues may occur. If there has been a death of one of the owners and the estate has not been probated, often heirs must be located and/or the estate probated prior to the surviving spouse transferring title.
On occasion, I have had to refer these title issues to a real estate/estate lawyer. However, it is far better to insure the title is clear prior to listing the property so that any transaction can flow smoothly. Waiting until escrow has been opened and title problems solved may put the kibosh on the transaction.
When dealing with sellers where one party may be incapacitated, it is important to get a durable power of attorney. Sometimes this takes a while; agents are often eager to get property on the market. Being knowledgeable about title issues prior to putting a property on the market is essential for a smooth transaction.

Weekend Wanderings…

Friday, November 13th, 2015
Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

Tucson, home to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, continues to recognize Veterans Saturday with the “Hats Off to Heroes” festivities. Starting at 11 am and continuing throughout the day, culminating in the Tucson Pops Orchestra’s tribute at the bandshell with special guests The American Bombshells from 5 to 7:30 pm, the day will be packed with activities.
The 5K Fun Run begins at 10 am at the Northwest corner of Reid Park, and the Veterans Resource Fair runs from 10 am to 3 pm at the Bandshell. Throughout the day there will be military displays in various locations in the park, and the food court opens at 11 am offering those yummy diet busting fair foods which we all love! Strains of music will reverberate throughout the day with live music playing at the bandshell from 11 am.
Folks can wander downtown to the Second Saturday for more music and entertainment at various venues. Check for the schedule. Take an evening ride on the streetcar or stop in one of the myriad of restaurants for a snack or dinner. Take your jacket or sweater since temps will be dipping during the evening to the 50’s. It’s fun to wander downtown during the evening, seemingly a different landscape than the hustle and bustle of business people scurrying to and fro during the day.
Need a new bike in preparation for El Tour de Tucson? Plenty of cycles from which to choose will be for sale at the Fall Bike Swap Sunday sponsored by the Greater Arizona Biking Association. (GABA). At the corner of 6th Avenue and 7th Street downtown, both individuals and bike shops will sell bikes, from the most elementary to the fanciest of gear.
More than 4800 dogs will strut their stuff at the AKC Coyote Classic Dog Show from 8 am to 4 pm every day this weekend beginning today at the Pima County Fairgrounds on Houghton.
The University of Arizona basketball plays Pacific tonight at McHale with tip off at 7:30. Saturday at 8 pm U of A football meets Utah at the Arizona Stadium, but wear blue because Utah is wearing red.
There is always something to do in Tucson; if you need more ideas, check this website: