News for the ‘Sellers’ Category

The new Key is here! (Repeat)

Today I stepped into the future…ish.

As Realtors here in AZ, my wife Kathy and I depend on our MLS access to show homes, list homes, and to track who has seen our listings. In the old days, everyone had an actual key, and someone losing their key was a major problem…all the lockboxes would have to be manually re-keyed, every time!

Recently, we’ve been using the GE Supra e-key. This system depends on the key itself connecting to the network, and telling everyone where that key was during that day. The listing agents would get notice of buyers viewing the house, and they can request feedback from the buyer’s agents. It was a great system, but there was a weak link. The only way the key could connect to the network was through a phone line…not a digital line like Vonage or Magic Jack, but a real live copper wire landline like Qwest. Since we had long since moved our Fax services to MyFax, the $100 a month Qwest bill was being paid just to keep our keys updated.

I had been hearing rumors about a new wireless key that was being rolled out in other states, and when Qwest had another outage (4th this year!) I started scrambling to find a way to update our keys that did not involve borrowing access to someone’s copper wire phone for 10 minutes. While Googling AZ MLS Keys, I came across a note on another broker’s website that one of their agents had gotten the newest version of the key, the GE Activekey, and that all their agents should upgrade. The ARMLS website doesn’t mention the upgrade, or the fact that their offices have moved. Flexmls, our Web tool for ARMLS, had a link to a pdf doc “explaining” the transition. Unfortunately it was only a flier that said the upgrade was coming soon!

I called ARMLS support, and they gave me the number for new ARMLS service center…at the Mesa location of the South East Valley Regional Association of REALTORS (SEVRAR). (Wow, I hadn’t thought to check their website! They had a link to the same PDF document about the pending upgrade.) The numbers I was given for the ARMLS center were wrong, so I called SEVRAR and asked about the new ActiveKeys. They let me know that the key exchange was going on, and had been for some time! All I needed was to bring in the old key and exchange it for the new one. Considering the state of the saga so far, I made it to Mesa within the hour and exchanged the key.

Incidentally, the ladies at the ARMLS center let me know that volume is very low so far, ( ya think?!) and that they are just letting word get out to avoid setting up a schedule to roll the new keys out. A sloppy but effective way to limit traffic, I guess!

If you’re involved in real estate, you should get out and get your new key ASAP, it’s a big improvement over the old model, despite the fact that it seems to be the exact same device, in a different case. The new key connects via cellular tower every few minutes and uploads your information to the same network as the old key. No more land-lines!!

That brings me to the only issues I have with the new device…its appearance! I guess they got a lot of feedback that the old style was too small and was easy to lose, and the numbers were too hard to read, anyway, it’s now much larger, white with giant blue buttons. Giant backlighting and a flashlight make it even cheesier, and around our office we call them “the Jitterbug keys”, after that phone that’s designed for seniors? The one with the TV commercials?

The ActiveKey… or the Jitterbug?

Put the old key in a white box with a bump antenna, and Voila!

The stylish and impressive Jitterbug

If you see a senior out front of a house, struggling with their Jitterbug phone, be kind, it may just be your neighborhood Realtor!

Jim Allyn

Broker

Allyn and Associates

480-296-4304

Edited: July 28th, 2010

Arizona Attorney General on Loan Modification

AZ Attorney General Terry Goddard had the following to say regarding mortgages and loan modification.  This quote shows that he has a better picture of what is happening in our economy than most, and it makes me hope that he’ll try a run for governor soon.  On his Facebook page, Goddard says:

“It is in the best interests of all concerned parties – borrowers, investors in mortgage-backed securities, servicers, communities and the nation’s economy – to, whenever possible, avoid foreclosures by modifying loan terms to make them affordable for borrowers”

Thank you Mr. Goddard!

Edited: December 16th, 2009

Pool Barrier Laws - Not Just for Homes with Children

Pool Barrier Laws - Not Just for Homes with Children
By Diane Cole, AAR Communications Director
as seen in the Arizona Republic, June 2002

Is a wall around the yard all I need to satisfy pool barrier laws? Do I need a fence around the pool as well? Can I just keep the gate and sliding door locked? How well do you know pool barrier laws?

In 1991, Arizona passed the pool barrier law, Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 33-1681, requiring an enclosure surrounding the pool area. The law allows cities and counties to adopt their own ordinances, “…provided that the ordinance is equal to or more stringent than the provisions of this article.” Ordinances vary widely between cities and counties; homeowners and buyers need to research the laws carefully to make sure their home is in compliance.

According to Greg Conrad, City of Phoenix Development Services Supervisor, most violations are caused by not using or not maintaining barriers properly. Tickets for code infractions in Phoenix cost $50-$2500; failure to comply can result in criminal action with six-month jail sentence and fine. In Tucson, the most common violation is not having self-closing, self-latching gates or the gates don’t work properly.

To help you gain a basic understanding of Arizona’s pool barrier laws, this column will answer some of the most common questions.

  • What is a pool barrier?
    Generally, under state law, a fence or wall separating the pool from the house or a motorized pool cover requiring a key switch to operate are considered pool barriers. Fences or walls must be at least five feet high with openings no more than four inches wide. If doors or windows give direct access to the pool, doors must have self-latching devices and windows must not open more than four inches. City and county ordinances may be different.
  • Who is required to have a pool barrier?
    A.R.S. §36-1681 requires that all residential swimming pools are enclosed by a barrier. Families with children under six must also have a barrier blocking access to the pool from the house. Homes where all residents are six years of age or older and homes with pools built prior to the effective date of the law are exempt under state law, but be aware that some city and county ordinances differ. Some require homes built before the effective date be brought to code if remodeled or sold, regardless of the age of children residing in the home.
  • I’m ready to make an offer on a house with a pool. What information should I receive?
    The Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) Residential Resale Purchase Contract, used in most resale home transactions, includes a “Notice to Buyer of Swimming Pool Barrier Regulations,” in which the buyer and seller acknowledge the existence of state laws as well as possible county and municipal laws, and the buyer agrees to investigate and comply with these laws. The seller is required by law to give the buyer a copy of the pool safety notice from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The Contract also requires the buyer be given a Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement, which discloses any known code violations on the property.
  • The house I want to buy has a fence around the pool, but it doesn’t meet code. Who is responsible for bringing it up to code and how long do we have?
    The AAR Purchase Contract states: “During the Inspection Period, Buyer agrees to investigate all applicable state, county, and municipal swimming pool barrier regulations and, unless reasonably disapproved within the Inspection Period, agrees to comply with and pay all costs of compliance with said regulations prior to possession of the Premises.” Check city and county ordinances for their specific requirements.
  • We have an above-ground pool in our backyard, so we don’t have to worry about pool barrier laws, do we?
    Above-ground pools are covered by the same state legal requirements for an enclosure around the pool. The pool must be at least four feet high with a wall that is not climbable and steps or ladders that are locking or removable. Again, check city or county ordinances for different requirements.
  • Where can I find pool barrier information?
    • Start with your city and county. A list of the departments overseeing pool barrier enforcement and additional information can be found on the AAR website.
    • Some cities and counties have ordinances online, www.az.gov.
    • Read the state law online, www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/36/01681.htm.
    • Other resources:
      • Consumer Product Safety Commission, www.cpsc.gov
      • “Urban Survival - Life Safety Planning” - brochure from the Phoenix Fire Department, in English and Spanish; call 602/256-3179

 

Reprinted with permission from the Arizona Association of REALTORS.

Edited: June 29th, 2009

10 Ways to Make Your House Greener

Everybody’s talking about the importance of eco-friendly living. We found some of the coolest and smartest products - at every price point - to help home owners do their part for the environment.

By Wendy Cole | February 2009

 

Smokefree Fireplace

As chic as it is eco-friendly, the EcoSmart Fire system gives you the pleasure of a fireplace without the pollutants. The self-contained unit is fueled by clean-burning denatured ethanol, a renewable resource. These portable fire boxes can be placed anywhere inside or outside a home since they require neither a utility connection nor a chimney. To make this green product even greener, the company will plant two trees on the buyer’s behalf for every unit purchased. Cost: Models range from $2,100 to $11,500. www.ecosmartfire.com

 

Vintage Year for Wall Tiles

Old wine bottles and other recycled glass get a new life as exquisite, glossy tiles suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. Glass donated by the public is sorted by color, ground into granules, and turned into tile by high-temperature fusion. Bedrock Industries introduces no colorants or oxides to the production process, which has saved hundreds of tons of material otherwise destined for landfills. Also, 100 percent recyclable material is used for shipping. Cost: Tiles start at $36 per square foot. www.bedrockindustries.com

 

Composting for the Masses

Instead of tossing food scraps in the garbage, NatureMill’s fully automatic and odor-free composter will recycle up to 120 pounds of kitchen waste, including paper, per month. A built-in computer on the 17-pound unit (20 by 20 by 12 inches) controls the mixing, heating, and aeration process. After two weeks, a red light pops on as a reminder that your composted fertilizer is ready for immediate use on your garden or lawn. Compost can also be piled outdoors until you need it. A NatureMill composter can recycle its weight in waste every 10 days, diverting more than two tons of waste from landfills over its life. Energy use is just 5 kilowatt-hours per month. Cost: Prices start at $299. www.naturemill.com 

  

Your Plants (and Lawn) Have Your Number

You’ll never overwater another houseplant with the Botanicalls system. Digital sensors in the soil let your African violet or potted palm text message you when it needs water or light. The unit will also send a texted “thank you” after the plants’ needs have been met. The do-it-yourself kit offers a connection to your leafy green pal via Twitter. You can view status updates online or have them routed to your mobile phone. Botanicalls comes with all necessary parts to set up a soil moisture sensor communication system, even a leaf-shaped circuit board. While human intervention is necessary for the actual watering, the reminders are a novel means of keeping houseplants healthy so they can help reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Cost: $99. www.botanicalls.com

A bigger water savings may come from Cyber-Rain XC, which lets you hand over the chore of watering your lawn to your Windows PC. Here’s how it works: Your sprinkler system receives information wirelessly from (more…)

Edited: February 16th, 2009

Homes Sales to Increase in 2009

 
We all know the first half of 2009 will be challenging, to say the least.  But how are we going to look by the end of 2009?  Well, the National Association of REALTORS announced their projected sales numbers for 2009 and for the first time in years the projections aren’t all bad, in fact by the end of 2009 most housing numbers are expected to increase.

The good news, after 2 years of falling home sales, the NAR estimates a 6% increase in existing home sales in 2009.  They also project a slight increase in the median home price from $198,600 in 2008 to $200,800 in 2009.   It may be a small increase (1.1%) but it’s a major improvement from the previous years -9.3% drop.

The NAR also has a number they refer to as the affordability index, which relates the median price of a home to the median income of buyers.  Right now it’s at 131, which means that a buyer making the median income has 131% of the income necessary to buy a home priced at the median price.

That’s a mouthful, but what it means is that homes are more affordable now than in a long time, and home sales are expected to be up 6 or more percent in 2009!

If you would like more information about investing in Arizona real estate or Phoenix foreclosures and REOs contact Jim and Kathy at jimandkathy@allynassociates.com.

Source:  January 2009 issue of REALTOR magazine

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Edited: February 4th, 2009

Short Sales Can Benefit Everyone

Short Sales and foreclosures made up over 40% of sales in the third quarter of 2008 making short sales commonplace in the Phoenix area.  Without experience and persistence a short sale can be very challenging to close.  But before we get into the details of short sale challenges let’s answer a very basic question, What is a Short Sale? 

A short sale is when a mortgage holder accepts less for the property than what is owed.  It’s that simple, but seeing the sale through to the finish can be a long and arduous process.  Each financial institution is different, I’ve seen Short Sales take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to close, the average usually falling somewhere in the middle.

The first step is to call your lender, discuss your situation and the possibility of a short sale.  Request information on their short sale process and a ”Short Sale Packet.”  Next, talk to your REALTOR about listing your property.  You may need an offer on the table to get the lender to look at your packet, so be sure to discuss the offer and approval processes with your lender.   And as with all major financial decisions you should consult your Accountant and/or Attorney to discuss the financial implications.

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Edited: February 3rd, 2009

What is a Short Sale?

 
Short Sales and foreclosures made up over 40% of sales in the third quarter of 2008 making short sales commonplace in the Phoenix area.  Without experience and persistence a short sale can be very challenging to close.  But before we get into the details of short sale challenges let’s answer a very basic question, What is a Short Sale? 

A short sale is when a mortgage holder accepts less for the property than what is owed.  It’s that simple, but seeing the sale through to the finish can be a long and arduous process.  Each financial institution is different, I’ve seen Short Sales take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to close, the average usually falling somewhere in the middle.

The first step is to call your lender, discuss your situation and the possibility of a short sale.  Request information on their short sale process and a ”Short Sale Packet.”  Next, talk to your REALTOR about listing your property.  You may need an offer on the table to get the lender to look at your packet, so be sure to discuss the offer and approval processes with your lender.   And as with all major financial decisions you should consult your Accountant and/or Attorney to discuss the financial implications.

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Edited: February 2nd, 2009

Three Steps to Safety – When you go away

A little prep before your vacation can help make it easier to relax while you’re away.  These three things will help to keep your home from looking vacant and help ensure you find things as you left them.

  1. Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and newspaper, and offer to return the favor.
  2. Put an automatic timer on at least two lights and a radio (an oscillating fan can also give the appearance of movement in the home). Consider photoelectric sensors to turn outside lights on and off automatically.
  3. Tell a trusted neighbor when you’re leaving and when you’ll return. Include an itinerary and phone numbers where you can be reached in an emergency.

 

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Edited: January 17th, 2009

Important Questions to Ask an Agent

When you’re looking for someone to represent you in a real estate transaction, you need to find someone you can trust. You need to find someone that’s on your side, and someone that has your best interest at heart. To help with this process we’ve listed a few questions to consider when choosing an Agent to represent you.

  • Do you have an active real estate license in good standing?
  • How long have you been licensed as an agent?
  • Why do you think I should list or buy with you?
  • What professional designations do you hold? Are you a REALTOR?
  • What party will you represent — the buyer or the seller?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Do you belong to an online homebuyer’s search service?
  • Have you listed or sold in my neighborhood lately?
  • How will you price or comp my home?
  • How will you market or find my home?
  • How will you keep in contact with me during the selling/buying process, and how often?
  • What is your fee?
  • Will you work with cooperating brokers?
  • How will I know what is expected of me and when?

Important questions to ask yourself about the Realtor:

  • Is the agent a good listener?
  • Is the agent accessible?
  • Is the agent part-time or full-time?
  • Is the agent cooperative and enthusiastic, or rude and arrogant?
  • Do you think you can have a good working relationship with the agent?

In the end it’s your choice, you should feel comfortable with the person representing you.  The right real estate professional can make the difference between a successful and positive real estate transaction.

Jim and Kathy are REALTORS specializing in foreclosures and REOs in Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, and Queen Creek. To find out more about Arizona Real Estate contact Jim and Kathy at jimandkathy@allynassociates.com

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Edited: January 1st, 2009

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Arizona Trivia

How long do Tarantulas live? Males typically live 2 - 3 years and females have been known to live as long as 30 – 40 years.

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