Find Your Dream Home AZ Group Blog

Here you will find our latest blog and inspirational post to help you with the home buying and/or selling process. Thank you for stopping by!

October 2017

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June 12, 2018

6 Mistakes To Avoid When Trading Up to a Larger Home

Unlike the experience of buying a first home, when you're looking to move-up, and already own a home, there are certain factors that can complicate the situation. It's very important for you to consider these issues before you list your home for sale.

Not only is there the issue of financing to consider, but you also have to sell your present home at exactly the right time in order to avoid either the financial burden of owning two homes or, just as bad, the dilemma of having no place to live during the gap between closings.

Six Strategies

In this report, we outline the six most common mistakes homeowners make when moving to a larger home. Knowledge of these six mistakes, and the strategies to overcome them, will help you make informed choices before you put your existing home on the market.

1. Rose-colored glasses

Most of us dream of improving our lifestyle and moving to a larger home. The problem is that there's sometimes a discrepancy between our hearts and our bank accounts. You drive by a home that you fall in love with only to find that it's already sold or that it's more than what you are willing to pay. Most homeowners get caught in this hit or miss strategy of house hunting when there's a much easier way of going about the process. For example, find out if your agent offers a Buyer Profile System or House-hunting Service, which takes the guesswork away and helps to put you in the home of your dreams. This type of program will cross-match your criteria with ALL available homes on the market and supply you with printed information on an ongoing basis. A program like this helps homeowners take off their rose-colored glasses and, affordably, move into the home of their dreams.

2. Failing to make necessary improvements

If you want to get the best price for the home you're selling, there will certainly be things you can do to enhance it in a prospective buyer's eyes. These fix-ups don't necessarily have to be expensive. But even if you do have to make a minor investment, it will often come back to you tenfold in the price you are able to get when you sell. It's very important that these improvements be made before you put your home on the market. If cash is tight, investigate an equity loan that you can repay on closing.

3. Not selling first

You should plan to sell before you buy. This way you will not find yourself at a disadvantage at the negotiating table, feeling pressured to accept an offer that is below-market value because you have to meet a purchase deadline. If you've already sold your home, you can buy your next one with no strings attached. If you do get a tempting offer on your home but haven't made significant headway on finding your next home, you might want to put in a contingency clause in the sale contract which gives you a reasonable time to find a home to buy. If the market is slow and you find your home is not selling as quickly as you anticipated, another option could be renting your home and putting it up on the market later - particularly if you are selling a smaller, starter home. You'll have to investigate the tax rules if you choose this latter option. Better still, find a way to eliminate this situation altogether by getting your agent to guarantee the sale of your present home (see point number 5 below).

4. Failing to get a pre-approved mortgage

Pre-approval is a very simple process that many homeowners fail to take advantage of. While it doesn't cost or obligate you to anything, pre-approval gives you a significant advantage when you put an offer on the home you want to purchase because you know exactly how much house you can afford, and you already have the green light from your lending institution. With a pre-approved mortgage, your offer will be viewed far more favorably by a seller - sometimes even if it's a little lower than another offer that's contingent on financing. Don't fail to take this important step.

5. Getting caught in the Real Estate Catch 22

Your biggest dilemma when buying and selling is deciding which to do first. Point number 3 above advises you to sell first. However there are ways to eliminate this dilemma altogether. Some agents offer a Guaranteed Sale Trade-Up Program that actually takes the problem away from you entirely by guaranteeing the sale of your present home before you take possession of your next one. If you find a home you wish to purchase and have not sold your current home yet, they will buy your home from you themselves so you can make your move free of stress and worry.

6. Failing to coordinate closings

 

With two major transactions to coordinate together with all the people involved such as mortgage experts, appraisers, lawyers, loan officers, title company representatives, home inspectors or pest inspectors the chances of mix-ups and miscommunication go up dramatically. To avoid a logistical nightmare ensure you work closely with your agent.

June 12, 2018

The Top 7 Contractor Questions to Ask Before Signing a Contract

With a raft of home improvement websites that specialize in matching homeowners to contractors, and social media sites making it easy to receive referrals from friends and family, finding a reliable contractor is a straightforward process.

Once you find a potential contractor, you must ensure he or she is the right fit for your home improvement project. That's why many experts advise making a few key inquiries to learn more about a prospective contractor and assess accountability before hiring one. Before you select a contractor, ask these questions to set realistic expectations, avoid hitting major snags and ensure you get what you want.

Do you have references? "It is always a good thing to ask for references. You don't necessarily need to call them, but you should always request them," says Nathan Outlaw, owner of Onvico, a general contracting company in Thomasville, Georgia. "If a contractor hesitates or doesn't want to give references, it quickly tells you that they may not be worth doing business with." There's an even better question to assess a potential contractor's credentials, according to Monica Higgins, a former licensed real estate agent turned construction manager who owns Renovation Planners, an LA-based company. She suggests asking: "Can you provide the addresses of previous jobs, so I can drive by and see the work myself?" While checking out past projects may not be feasible (for example, you may be able to drive by and look at a house's addition, but unable to enter a stranger's home to look at a kitchen remodel), Higgins says your contractor may have photos of that remodel. If you do talk to a contractor's references, you'll want to ask what he or she was like to work with, if the projects were finished on time and if they were happy with the finished work.

Are you licensed and can you show me proof? Outlaw says a lot of contractors will attempt to pass themselves as licensed – even if they aren't.  "No matter what the contractor says, you should do a search for license verification on your favorite search engine and check to see what licenses, if any, the contractor you wish to hire has," Outlaw says.  Still, your prospective contractor's website may say that he or she is licensed. That's why Outlaw says you should ask to see proof. Also, keep in mind your state should have a website that allows you to look up home contractor's licenses. So, if you get a license number, you can at least learn if the contractor is legitimate.  It's also a wise idea to put the contractor's name in a search engine and see if there's a history of negative reviews for his or her work. You can also find contractors at home improvement websites, such as Angie's List and Houzz.com, that match homeowners with contractors, but while a company may claim that the contractor is vetted, that may or may not always be the case. For instance, the San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón recently announced that his office is suing the popular website HomeAdvisor.com, alleging that it rarely does criminal background checks. So, it never hurts to look someone up on the internet to see if any worrisome information pops up.

Are you insured? In other words, you want to make sure you're protected from being sued if someone is injured on the job in your home. Having everything down in writing will also keep a project from going off the rails.  "A handshake is a great thing between friends," Outlaw says. "However, in the professional world, you need a contract to protect both parties." Outlaw says the contract should spell out the scope of work, a schedule of when you're paying the contractor and what will happen if changes need to be made or one of the parties doesn't pay or complete work.  "The proof should be sent to you with the contractor's name or company listed as the insured and the owner – you – as the certificate holder. Don't just accept them handing you a certificate. Call and request one yourself," Outlaw says.

 

Do you have a warranty? No matter how straightforward the project, it may still go awry. Maybe a contractor had a bad day, or the materials he or she purchased weren't of the best quality. Inquiring about a warranty is important because you don't want to pay for, say, a beautiful but slanted deck.  Charles Thayer, founder of All Around, an exterior home improvement company based out of Golden Valley, Minnesota, suggests following up with, "May I see it?"  And be sure to read the warranty, in case there's anything in the fine print that you don't like. For instance, most remodeling projects will have a year's warranty, though some states require warranties to last longer. It's also good to remember that if a problem arises, it may not be the contractor's fault but rather the manufacturer of the materials, in which case, the manufacturer's warranty may cover the costs of fixing whatever issue arises.  "If they don't have one, it may mean they don't really plan on standing behind their work," Thayer says. While these are tough questions to ask, making these inquiries may help you spot the legitimate contractors from the con artists.

Can you tell me more about the process? It's key to find out what you're in store for, especially if this is a potentially long, expensive or involved project, to avoid problems down the road.  Thayer says some questions you'll want to ask of a big project include: "Where will workers park? Where will materials be staged? Where will the dumpster go? If the dumpster is on the street, who is getting the permit for that? These are all important questions that many people forget to ask about until they can't park in their own driveway or when their lawn is ruined by a dumpster. Everyone should be on the same page."  Even if you don't know what to ask – maybe it's a bathroom remodeling, and you know there won't be a dozen workers, for example – you can still ask questions like, "How long will this take?" If you have any pet peeves, like smoking in the house, this would be a good time to discuss any concerns.

 Can you tell me more about the process? It's key to find out what you're in store for, especially if this is a potentially long, expensive or involved project, to avoid problems down the road.  Thayer says some questions you'll want to ask of a big project include: "Where will workers park? Where will materials be staged? Where will the dumpster go? If the dumpster is on the street, who is getting the permit for that? These are all important questions that many people forget to ask about until they can't park in their own driveway or when their lawn is ruined by a dumpster. Everyone should be on the same page."  Even if you don't know what to ask – maybe it's a bathroom remodeling, and you know there won't be a dozen workers, for example – you can still ask questions like, "How long will this take?" If you have any pet peeves, like smoking in the house, this would be a good time to discuss any concerns.

 Where is your business located? This may seem like a strange question to ask, but it can be especially important if a contractor approaches you at your front porch to do work on a project. You want to vet this person, and asking where he or she is from is a good place to start. "Especially after a storm, don't sign up with the first contractor to show up at your door. Ask for references and try to work with someone local," Thayer says. "Avoid storm chasers. They roll into town and then disappear as soon as the work is done."  In fact, government organizations, police stations and groups like the Better Business Bureau frequently put out notices, warning the public to be extremely wary about contractors dropping by your house after an intense storm.

Posted in Home Appliances
Nov. 14, 2017

Heart, Brains, Courage & the Power of Belief

Heart, Brains, Courage & the Power of Belief

Winner's Circle Network®

 

Have you ever thought of "The Wizard of Oz" as a story about the power of beliefs? With the holidays fast approaching, it's a sure bet that this classic film will be broadcast soon. Perhaps it is time to take a look at the "story beneath the story" of this memorable tale.

You see, Dorothy and her pals all wanted something. As is often the case, they looked for someone else to give it to them, someone in authority who had "the power." They teamed up because they figured their efficacy was greater together than it was separately, and they were right. They were a real team with a common vision and not just a collection of separate individuals. They were able to overcome life-threatening danger to finally come face to face with what they believed to be the all-powerful Wizard.

When they met the Wizard, they discovered several very important things. Perhaps the most important thing they discovered was that each already had whatever it was he or she felt was lacking; it was their personal beliefs that needed changing.

The Lion wasn't really a coward - he proved that on the journey to Oz - but he believed he was, so most of the time he acted like it. When the Wizard gave him a medal and reminded him of his bravery, he affirmed the truth of a new belief, and that was all it took. Same thing for the Tin Man and the Scarecrow. Dorothy could have gone home any time she wanted, she just didn't know it. For her, the journey was a risky rite of passage into her own strength and her own heart. Each of them had "the power" all along.

So, you see, "The Wizard of Oz" can be seen as a wonderfully entertaining story about the power of belief and the importance of becoming our own authority. Who is your Wizard of Oz, and do you really need that person to tell you what you already know about yourself in your heart?

 

 

Nov. 4, 2017

People Listen to Me

There was an interesting past article from Harvard Biz Review - "Stop Underestimating Your Own Influence." It began with, "We persistently underestimate our influence. We don't suggest ideas to our boss or ask coworkers for help because we fear rejection. So, we wind up missing opportunities because we doubt our own powers of persuasion."

Is it our powers of persuasion we doubt, or is it our sense of self-efficacy - the ability to cause, bring about, or make happen - that we doubt? Today, let's spend a few moments on this vital question.

Efficacy, or human agency as it is sometimes referred to in sociology and philosophy, is the capacity or capability of a person to act in any given situation. Self-efficacy simply means our own ability to act in a given situation. What it really comes down to is our belief in our own ability to act, to cause, to make something happen.

Beliefs are powerful things. At the very foundation of our behaviors and actions are the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our abilities. In the subject matter of the Harvard Biz Review tweet, it's not so much that we underestimate our influence, but we don't really believe that we actually have influence. We stop ourselves from contributing because we don't believe that what we have to say has value. 

How many times have you had something to say in a meeting or conversation, but stopped yourself before a word escaped your lips because you didn't believe you had anything worthwhile to contribute? Self-editing in social situations is one thing; stopping yourself from contributing is quite another.

"People listen to me when I speak because I have valuable and worthwhile things to say." When you find yourself holding back, feel free to use this affirmation - this statement of fact - to change your inner belief about you. All of us have worthwhile ideas, creativity, and energy to contribute and it is time to truly believe it, inside.

It will change your life.

Oct. 30, 2017

How Long Do Your Appliances Last?

Appliance Life Span

Posted in Home Appliances