Ways to Net More from Your House Sale

Penny Saved, Penny EarnedMy grandfather once taught me “A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned.”  Nowhere is that more true than in the sale of a home — probably due to the number of pennies involved in the transaction. With sales price being such an important factor for a seller, few stop to think about ways to minimize the costs of selling their Phoenix Arizona Homes.  Monitoring and controlling the costs during the escrow process is key to saving thousands of dollars and to receiving larger net proceeds from the transaction. Here are some costs to keep your eye on…

One of the largest costs is commissions paid to the real estate agents. Commissions vary from 5%-7% of sales price depending on the type of real estate transaction. While lower costs may seem like a winner, many times you get what you pay for in an agent. With so much riding on the selling price, a real estate agent should bring great service, a solid marketing plan and sharp negotiating skills to the table. If your agent is bringing less to the table, you will see a lower sales price.

With every home sale, home owners are required to pay the Owner’s Title Policy and to share in the escrow fee paid to the local title/escrow company. While the fees are not negotiable, the title/escrow company used to process the transaction is negotiable. All title/escrow companies publish their fees in rate books which are readily available to review and compare.

Do you live in a Home Owners Association (HOA)? If so, then your HOA may charge a transfer fee, disclosure fee, or capital improvement fee. Few homeowners understand what their HOA will charge them for the transaction but charges may run from $500-$2000. A quick phone call to the HOA should clarify what fees are charged. While these fees are non-negotiable with the HOA, there is the possibility of negotiating/sharing the cost of these fees with the buyer for your home.

In any real estate transaction, a Home Warranty is considered a must purchase for the new buyer. The cost ranges from $325-$600 and is a negotiated item payable by the buyer or the seller. Many times home sellers pick up the cost of a Home Warranty for the first year to protect the new buyer from unforeseen repairs.

Are you in an area where 1st time home buyers are known to be moving? If so, you may want to prepare yourself for requests to contribute to the buyer’s closing costs. These contributions are generally up to 3% of purchase price and could be more. The contribution covers appraisal fees, A.L.T.A. title policy, impound accounts, origination fees and other loan costs. While the contribution to buyer loan costs can be very important to getting a home sold, stronger buyers rarely need such assistance.

Do you want to learn more about ways to control your selling costs and get the most money from the sell of your home? Contact us at (602) 753-0177 or www.ThompsonGroupAZ.com.


Quick and Easy Home Staging Strategy

Are you planning on selling your home in today’s Phoenix Real Estate market?  Home values according to the Phoenix MLS are higher now than any time in the last few years.  Studies show that staged homes will sell faster and for a higher price than homes that are vacant or not staged.  Many sellers will turn to professional home stagers to prepare the home for sale before listing the home with a Realtor.  If your bank account won’t allow for professional home staging advice, here are some great tips that will allow you to maximize your selling price.

The Staging rule of thumb to keep in mind: You are trying to help potential buyers feel that your home will become their castle. To do this, just remember that appealing to a home buyer’s five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, will be the key to successful staging.

Sight – Light, bright homes with neutral colors and a few colorful accents appeal to more buyers. Bold, vivid colors may be more “you”, but remember that you’re trying to provide more of a “blank canvas” that a potential buyer finds attractive now, but can also visualize making their own.

Sound – Ever heard the expression “the silence was deafening” or “quiet as a tomb”? Well, walking into a totally-silent home can be like that – possibly eerie or oppressive, but rarely welcoming. Leave some soft, light music playing to help provide a tranquil, inviting ambiance.

Smell – Make sure to avoid any strong aromas. Of course it makes sense to make sure noxious smells like pet odors, last night’s fish dinner or poker-game cigars are not the first thing to hit a potential buyer as they enter your home – but don’t forget that exotic incense, heavy floral accents and even cleanser smells can be offensive to many. Make sure your home is aired out well, and then provide simple, clean, subtle aromas with the restrained use of potpourri or air fresheners.

Taste – Could a plate of fresh-baked cookies entice a buyer?  Maybe, maybe not – but it would certainly make your home more memorable.

Touch – Physical comfort is important. Remember that “Ahhhh!” feeling you get when you walk into a cool building, getting out of the heat of summer? Any Realtor showing your home – and any potential buyer – is going to be much more comfortable in your home if your AC is set appropriately. Be careful not to over-cool (or over-heat!) but do try to make your home feel comfortable to visitors.

Today’s market can be a great time to sell Phoenix Arizona homes, but keep in mind the competition. Do you need help with staging your home before putting it on the market? We would love to help.


Experience Matters – Questions to Ask Your Agent Before Selling

Our clients have presented us with many unique situations when selling their Arizona Homes. Whether moving out-of-state to take a new job, hoping to buy a bigger home with a pool, needing to be in a new school district, or looking to downsize to a home that is more manageable, our clients all had something very important in common. Each had future plans – plans that depended heavily on how the logistics of the sale were handled and the financial results of the sale.


Marketing and Selling Homes is Serious Business.  A well planned and executed sale of a home allows the homeowner to move forward with their next phase of life. However, mistakes may cost thousands of dollars and hours of stress when escrows are canceled. Nothing may be more important in the transaction than the knowledge and experience of the agent giving you advice. So, here are a few good questions for you to ask your agent:


  • What do you know about the area? At times, knowledge of the area can be the key to selling a home. Buyers that are new to the area need to know information about schools, movie theaters, shopping and more. An agent who lives in the area can help buyers identify how they will enjoy the area – and many times, the home will sell quicker.


  • How do you market my home? Believe it or not, some agents think that ordering a “for sale” sign and putting your home in the multiple listing service (MLS) is how to sell a home. This is only the beginning! Great agents should be able to deliver to you a written marketing plan tailored for the Phoenix Real Estate market along with success stories from using that plan.


  • How much are the costs of selling my home? In order to plan for the future all homeowners with Phoenix Homes for Sale need to know the amount of money they will have after the sale of the home. Great agents should be able to estimate the cost of real estate commissions, title fees, loan costs, repair costs, and property taxes.


  • When will the buyer’s loan be approved? Without loan approval, the sale of the home cannot close escrow. In tracking a lender’s process, a great agent should know how to use the LSU (Loan Status Update) form, what “PTD” conditions are, and what is the time needed for a lender to get loan documents to title after full loan approval. Being able to track the lender’s progress is essential for a seller to know whether they will close on time or not.


  • What is breach of contract and how do you handle this? In the Arizona purchase contract, the seller is unable to exit the contract while the buyer retains over five exits from the contract. However, if the buyer is in breach of contract, then the seller may exit the contract. Breach of Contract occurs when the buyer takes actions that are contrary to the written contract. This is a serious situation that experienced agents should have a plan to handle.

Do you want to learn more about how to make your home-selling process go smoothly? I would love to help with your transaction. Contact me at (480) 776-5214.


Smooth Transition

A few years ago my team and I were introduced to a truly painful situation – a senior client who had suffered a major health issue and had to be cared for at a local skilled nursing facility. In addition to his health issues, he needed to sell his home quickly to pay for his medical expenses. Due to the logistics and quick nature of the sell, it was truly impossible to sell his home for the best value.

This past month, my team and I had the opportunity to work with another senior client as he sold his home and moved to a local retirement community. Planning for the sale took 6-12 months prior to the home being advertised for sale. These transactions tend to require more up-front work and a well thought-out plan since the client is moving from a house into a place of residence with a floor plan about the size of an apartment.

I believe the hard work paid off. Our client had a smooth escrow and did get the best value for his home.


Phoenix Market Update – 2014 Mid-Year Review

Overall, the Phoenix Market is showing a balanced market. While there are plenty of buyers in the market, sellers are not as able to push for higher sales prices in most neighborhoods. Here are a few quick facts:

  • Overall Home Supply – At the end of April, the total number of Phoenix Homes for Sale for the entire MLS was 29,769. Year over year, this is an increase in housing inventory of 9505 units or an increase of 46.9%. The number of sold listings for the entire month of April 2014 was 7,677. Based on the April sales, the inventory of active listings represents a 3.9 month supply.
  • Local ZIP code of 85224 – The Chandler ZIP code of 85224 shows at the end of April there were a total number of 116 active real estate listings, with the total number of sold listings coming in at 67. In other words:  there is about a 1.7 month supply for this popular Chandler ZIP code.
  • City of Chandler –For the entire city of Chandler, the active inventory of homes totals 963. The number of sold homes for the month of April came in at 430 meaning that Chandler maintains a 2.2 month supply of homes.
  • Phoenix Home Sales –Year-to-date, the Phoenix MLS recorded sales of 24,712 homes – or an average of 6,178 homes per month. That puts the Phoenix market on pace to sell over 70,000 homes for 2014.

Do you need to make a move in the near future? Or are you looking to maximize your selling price? Here at the Thompson Group, our goal is to show you the BEST options for your situation. Give us a call at 480-776-5214 or find us at www.ThompsonGroupAZ.com.


Foreclosure Averted

Earlier this year, my team and I were presented with a unique selling situation. One of our long time clients received a notice of foreclosure and had a limited time to sell their home – or lose it to the bank. Our home owner had equity in their home, but had been unable to make payments for several months. Further complications included the seller’s need to paint the home and replace the carpet.

The seller managed to personally paint the home and we found a carpet vendor to install carpet and who would wait for payment until close of escrow. Additionally, our proactive escrow officer got the seller accurate payoff numbers from their bank. When we found a buyer with solid financing, all the pieces were in place to close the transaction. I am proud to report that with the support of my staff and my vendors we were able to get this transaction complete and help the homeowner avoid foreclosure.

If you know of someone facing a similar situation, please let us know!


Jamie Thompson


Home Improvements That Sell

In older Mesa neighborhoods, many properties could be considered “diamonds in the rough.” For one particular property, the neighborhood built was from 1983-1988. Although the home boasted an excellent location with easy access to downtown phoenix, local freeways, and lots of amenities, the property also came with everything popular from the ‘80s – vinyl flooring, brass fixtures, Formica counters, and oak cabinets. Sales in the neighborhood over the previous six months reflected the outdatedness with unimproved homes being sold at $100,000, $110,000, $113,000 and $120,000.

One of our owners decided break the mold and improve a home in this area with new paint, granite counter tops in the kitchen, tile, and carpet floors. I worked with the home owner to help select colors, materials, and contractors. The result: the home sold for $133,000. The sale netted the owner $13,000 and $17,000 more than the highest unimproved sales. When you compare to the lower sales in the area the home owner did even better! It just goes to show that refreshing and rejuvenating an older, out-of-date home can do wonders when it comes to not only selling but increasing your profits.


Phoenix Market Fall Update – Change Is in the Air

Autumn is in the air and providing a welcome relief from the hot Phoenix summer. Along with the wonderful fall weather came the new Obama health care, government shutdowns and other changes. And the Phoenix real estate market is also seeing changes. Rising inventory and rising interest rates are turning the Phoenix sellers market of the past two years into a more balanced market. While sellers may not see the rise in home values over the next year, buyers are going to see a lot more homes to consider before buying. Overall, we should see a balanced market for both buyers and sellers.

  • Overall Home Supply  –  At the end of September, the total number of Phoenix Homes for Sale for the entire MLS was 22,300. Year over year, this is an increase in housing inventory of 1,537 units or an increase of 7.5%. The number of sold listings for the entire month of September 2013 was 6,354. Based on the September sales, the inventory of active listings represents a 3.5 month supply.
  • Local ZIP code of 85224 – The Chandler ZIP code of 85224 shows at the end of September there was a total number of 97 active real estate listings, with the total number of sold listings coming in at 71. In other words: there is about a 1.5 month supply for this popular Chandler ZIP code.
  • City of Chandler – If you are looking for a “starter” home in Chandler, inventory remains low. For the entire city of Chandler, the number of active listings for single family homes between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet is 94. The number of sold listings in September came in at 53. THAT means there is about a 1.8 month supply of starter homes in Chandler.
  • Phoenix Home Sales – Year-to-date, the Phoenix MLS recorded sales of 68,035 homes – or an average of 7,559 homes per month. That puts the Phoenix market on pace to sell over 90,000 homes for 2013.

Do you need to make a move in the near future? Or are you looking to maximize your selling price? Here at the Thompson Group, our goal is to show you the BEST options for your situation. Give us a call at 480-776-5214 or find us at www.ThompsonGroupAZ.com.


Does Your Agent Understand Short Sales?

In most situations, a well-planned short sale of a home has a lot of advantages over foreclosures. Indeed, a close look at the Phoenix MLS shows that there are still plenty of short sales among all Phoenix Homes for Sale. However, a short sale is not to be taken lightly — preparation and experience is essential! Among the important questions to consider when pursuing a short sale is the big question: Does my Realtor understand short sales?

To help you evaluate how prepared your Realtor is for handling a short sale, have a discussion with him or her about the short sale process, and be sure to ask lots of questions. If you don’t hear the answers or the knowledge and familiarity that you’re looking for, be prepared to keep looking for a Realtor that’s equipped to help you.

  1. Who is the service company and what do they do in the process? In general, the service company of the mortgage is the name on the mortgage statement you receive every month. Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo are common service companies. In most cases, the service companies are only in charge of processing the file and have very little to do in the decision-making process and negotiation of the sale itself.
  2. Who is the investor? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mack and Ginne Mae tend to be the investors of the majority of loans. Large service companies such as Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo may also be an investor on a mortgage. The investor is usually the decision- maker on each loan and has specific guidelines to follow in negotiating a short sale. Experience in negotiating with different investor guidelines is essential experience for a Realtor to have in order to have a successful close of escrow
  3. Who is the MI Company? Not all loans have MI (mortgage insurance), but some do. In the event that there is MI on a loan, you be certain that the MI Company is going to negotiate with you (the seller) before allowing a close of escrow. The MI Company is generally covering the loss in the short sale and paying out the investor for the loss on the mortgage, So, the goal of the MI Company is to reduce the lost payout as much as possible.
  4. How will each be negotiating with me? This is a great question for an agent. Negotiating with service companies, investors and MI Companies is not like negotiating a normal purchase contract. The process is bureaucratic, paperwork-intensive, and detailed. Experience really pays here and a good Realtor will know how to get it done and cost you very little at closing. However, a lack of experience and less-than-thorough paperwork by your agent could result in you writing a large check at closing, or worse, a foreclosure.
  5. What are the potential tax consequences? In every short sale, there are potential tax consequences that a seller must deal with. Asking your CPA or tax advisor about your particular situation and possible consequences is a very important part of planning for your future. A Realtor should have some general knowledge of the potential consequences as well as a good reference for you to get further help, but should also encourage you to discuss with your CPA or tax advisor.
  6. What are the potential liabilities after closing? Most loans are written as “non-recourse”, meaning that the lender will not be able to pursue you in the future for a loss incurred. However, some loans are recourse loans in which the financial institution may choose to pursue legal and collection avenues for the loss. When working with a recourse loan, there may be future liability and it is wise to consult an attorney about the situation.

Our Phoenix AZ Realtors have the short sale knowledge and experience to help you succeed – contact us at www.ThompsonGroupAZ.com or 480-776-5214.


Getting Ready to Sell? … Freshen Up the Inside

A prospective buyer’s willingness to buy more quickly – and at a higher price – is often driven by emotion. A home that shows exceptionally well helps arouse the prospective buyer’s emotional desires for that home. First impressions count. That’s why you’ll see neat, clean homes getting snatched up while others just sit there on the market. Builders of homes in the Phoenix Real Estate market spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to stage a model home properly, and they do this for good reason. Buyers will buy the perceived value of the property.  Buyers buy the image and feeling that a received from experiencing the property.

The emotions that you, the Seller, are trying to stimulate are triggered by sensory experiences. Aim for the senses – especially touch, smell, and sight. Uncluttered, clean, fresh-smelling homes sell faster and for higher prices. Try to clear your mind of any preconceived notions, then walk into your house, close the door, look around… and truly feel your house. Then consider these steps:

  • Organize and de-clutter! Remove clutter from countertops, desks, and garage. Remove excess furniture. Organize closets, drawers, storage areas. Throw away, sell or store excess! Rent a storage unit if necessary. Clutter makes the home appear smaller and masks the home’s good points.
  • Freshen up interior paint as needed. Again, fresh paint is the best bang for the buck. Light, neutral colors such as beige, white, or off-white have a broader appeal and can make small rooms seem larger and airier. Remove ‘tired’ or busy wallpaper. Brighten drab garage interiors, storage areas with fresh paint. Paint/stain woodwork as necessary.
  • Make kitchen and bathrooms sparkle. Clean/oil cabinets, clean appliances/fixtures. Add fragrances. New color-coordinated towels are an excellent investment. Fresh looking kitchen and bathrooms will often make or break a sale.
  • Clean floors and carpeting. Add carpet freshener to carpeting which is ‘tired’ or to eliminate smoking or pet odors. If you have a smoker in the house, ask that person to smoke outside and to dispose of the ’spent’ smokes in the trash.
  • Make minor repairs. Tighten loose knobs, fix leaky faucets, lubricate squeaky hinges, replace filters, tighten loose banisters, repair doors and doorknobs, remove stains, and make sure your doorbell works.
  • Make sure all lighting fixtures work. Add new bulbs with the highest wattage allowed to make your rooms seem brighter. Light, airy homes seem bigger and more inviting. It’s well worth the extra cost.
  • Is the fireplace in good working order? Remove ashes from the fireplace and add fresh logs.
  • Buy fresh, colorful indoor flowers or plants. They get a lot of mileage, and they will enhance your new home as well.
  • Exterminate. One bug, dead or alive, will make a bad impression on prospective buyers. Hire a professional.

Selling your home is a process, not a single event. Getting your home ready to sell is part of that process. As you prepare to put your home on the market, make sure to pay close attention to how your home is prepared to show – it can make all the difference in the world.

Do you need help?  Contact us at www.ThompsonGroupAZ.com or 480-776-5214 to get started.