Joseph Domino 480-390-6011

Communication is the key to a smooth home sale.

It is amazing how often I meet people you are upset or angry over the way certain aspects of their home sale was handled. Invariably, I find that the problem is often really just a miscommunication that could have been easily solved by simply contacting the other party to clarify.

When processing a real estate transaction there are usually many players involved. You have buyers, sellers, buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, loan officers, loan processors, inspectors, appraisers, escrow agents and more. Often these participants have need to follow their own procedures, but what should always be common is the objective to complete the sale and close escrow with minimal problems.

When we see something that does not look correct, rather than jump to the conclusion that the other guy is trying to pull a fast one, it may be prudent to first communicate your concern to the other party. It really does not matter if the communication is via telephone, email, text or fax, what is important is that the lines of communication remain open.

Far too often I see agents, lenders, even appraisers having to defend their position before they ever have a chance to clarify why they chose a course of action. Even worse, they immediately run to their client and profess that the other guy is just a jerk that should not be trusted. Too often this sours what could have been an amicable deal.

Personally, whenever we initiate a new transaction, I prefer to make contact with each player to introduce myself and discuss a course of action. I find that upfront communication establishes a positive foundation. It is also one reason why I like to work with people that I can rely on to get the job done right.

My client(s) might think that “this is too easy”, but after all that is what you want the client to think. Keeping the lines of communication open will make the whole process go better.

Want a smooth, hassle free sale? Let me and my team help you buy or sell your next home.

Visit: www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com



Be it ever so humble…

Johnson who was famous for such important works like “A Dictionary of the English Language”, knew what many people who came afterward began to realize.  That owning your own property, your own home, would enrich your life and give you a feeling of purpose and stature.  Americans have always felt that home ownership, whether small apartment home or sprawling estate should be viewed with the pride of ownership and sense of accomplishment.  As author John Howard Payne stated “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.”

The housing crisis which resulted in many foreclosures and short sales is now well behind us and many of the people that were affected are again able to purchase and restart the pursuit toward the American dream. While many are still a bit gun shy it has been shown that home owners in the United States tend to have greater wealth and higher incomes than their tenant counterparts.

Today, home ownership in the U.S is at an estimated 63.5%, down from an all-time high of 69% in 2004.  But the number is starting to trend upward and with the improving economy and job outlook that movement should continue.

What does home mean to you? Is it a place that gives you unconditional love, happiness, and comfort? A place where you can bury your sorrows and shame without guilt? To have a happy home, you don’t need the trappings of opulence. Any place can be home as long as you are comfortable and secure. A small house in need of repair would be a palace to a homeless person.

While the number of wonderful historical references to the wonders of home are nearly boundless.  Here are a few that may warm your heart or lift your spirits.

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”. – Jane Austen

“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world”. – George Washington

“Peace, like charity, begins at home.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Or you can simply sum it up by saying: Home Sweet Home”

Let me help you find your “Home Sweet Home”. 
Visit: http://www.Scottsdale-AZhomes.com

Get to know Phoenix before you relocate.

The Phoenix Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), affectionately known as The Valley of the Sun, is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas of the country.  Whenever I encounter someone that is considering relocating to the area they often ask “Where should I live in the Phoenix area”?  This is always a difficult question to answer because Phoenix, is in many ways unlike any other metro area in the country with regard to employment and housing.  The Phoenix MSA, consists not only of Phoenix the largest city, but several other large cities like Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tempe.  Together with about a dozen of smaller suburbs Phoenix comprises a massive land area of nearly 10,000 sq. miles.  Traveling from one end of the valley to the other can literally be classified as a “trip”.  Lengthy commutes become not only a matter of time, but of distance as well.  With few public transportation choices, most residents here use their automobiles to commute.  When you factor the cost of gas, wear and tear on your car and the wear on your nerves, commuting can get very expensive, very fast.  So living within a reasonable commute is not only important from an economic sense, but from a travel time perspective as well.  Time behind the wheel in traffic is time away from your personal life.

When it comes to employment here in the Phoenix area, again we break from the tradition found in many other parts of the country. Instead of just one central employment hub as in many older cities, there are several employment hubs throughout the valley.  Downtown Phoenix, which has shown encouraging growth in the last few years, of course is one employment hub.  But Phoenix also boasts of job centers in the North Central corridor, Deer Valley and several west valley areas. Scottsdale which is home to GoDaddy, Pay Pal and Vanguard (just to name a few) is another employment hub.  The east valley cities of Chandler, home to Intel, Verizon (and other high-tech companies) and Mesa with its fast growing Gateway Regional Airpark are homes to thousands of jobs. Tempe, home to Arizona State University, is also home to American Airlines (formerly U.S. Airways), State Farm Insurance, Wells Fargo and others.  With all these options available to someone relocating you can see that when relocating to the Phoenix area one must research many factors before deciding on where to live.

When I interview relocating clients, I find that most people want to live in a community that is clean, convenient, low crime, good schools and offers a variety of entertainment choices.  Fortunately, regardless of which area in the Valley you will be employed, there are housing options that will suit most people’s needs within a reasonable commute. You just have to know where to look.  I always recommend before relocating to the Phoenix area to pay us a visit.  Learn more about your employer and place of employment. But most of all, find a good Real Estate Agent that knows the local area.  Their expertise will be invaluable when it comes to making Phoenix a great place to call home.

Want to know more?  Visit my website at: http://www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com where you can find lots of information about the area, search for homes and get all your questions answered.

Dog Cancels Contract!

In most real estate transactions buyers visit several homes before deciding which one interests them and perhaps wish to make an offer.  In a hot market buyers do not always have the luxury of multiple visits and time for extensive research before making an offer.  Fortunately in most cases the Buyer’s contract offers an inspection period to further research the details of a home.

But most buyers think the inspection is limited to a physical inspection of the home, but in most states (Arizona being one of them) the inspection covers a broad spectrum of items which may be material to the buyer’s long term enjoyment of the home.  One area I like to stress to buyers when showing homes is to observe what is going on in the neighborhood.  After all once they move in they are going to deal with these issues on a daily basis.

So as an example, look around to see the conditions of other homes in the neighborhood. Are they being maintained?  Is there junk all around the yard? Listen to the sounds you hear.  Do the neighbor kids have a garage band that hasn’t yet found their sound?

One item that can become a real issue between neighbors are pets, in particular barking dogs.  A barking dog or dogs can quickly wear on your nerves and can be the source of real disagreement between otherwise friendly neighbors.

Whenever showing a home not only do we walk the yard, we listen.  But one visit may not be enough.  On any given day the neighbors may be out of town, or just away for a few hours.  When they return later so do their pets.

Recently I had a situation where I showed a home to a buyer on a weekend and during our visit all was quiet, the birds were singing and everything was peaceful.  But when we returned during the weekday for the home inspection there were two dogs next door (you know the yappy kind that never shut up) that were not happy with our presence.  The buyer of course was worried: “Will I be able to deal with this noise every day?”  She even commented that had I known I might not have offered on this house!

What as an agent are you to do?  Of course you want to see the sale go through, but you must also protect your client.  In our case we discussed the buyer’s options according to the contract that she had signed and some options for further research.  As it turns out after discussion with several of the neighbors it was an issue that they had also had previously tried to resolve with no success.  The buyer then chose to invoke their right to cancel the contract based on discovery of new information during the inspection period.

In this case the presence of noisy dogs led to the cancellation of the sales contract.

Do schools make the community great or does the community make the schools great?

One of the most important criteria that Buyers ask about when considering a house is the quality or rating of the schools. Even if the buyer does not have school age children they consider this attribute to be important for resale and investment.

Schools are important to a community, but I might also argue that the community is important to the school. Schools can be more than just a place to learn the 3Rs, they can be a magnet for the community and activities of all sorts. Schools provide a venue for sporting events, local theater groups, day care centers and often become polling places on Election Day.

While many associate quality schools with affluence or neighborhoods where property taxes provide a large influx of money, money alone cannot solve a school or school districts problems. I have visited neighborhoods across the Phoenix metro area and say with confidence that it does not matter which socio-economic group, inner city or outlying suburb, any school can excel, in any neighborhood, with community participation.

In reality it is willingness of the parents, the neighbors, the clergy, police and others that make the schools great. In every highly ranked school that I have visited there was one common thread. Support from the local community. Support can take on many forms from sponsorships by local businesses to support for fund raising groups. Volunteering for committees, becoming classroom aides or even running for school board will make the school the best it can be.

Good schools and good communities go hand in hand.

Its 2:00am. Do you know who to call for help?

Recently I had the chance to oversee a clients in a home purchase in one of Phoenix’s “no man’s land” communities.  The property address was shown to be in one of the more desirable suburbs, but was actually physically located in a different town. This phenomenon occurs quite often here in the Valley of the Sun, and is often confusing to buyers.  Buyers assume from the mailing address that the city provides municipal services, zoning guidelines, code enforcement and more, but that is not always the case.

There are many areas of the Phoenix metro where the property has an address associated with one town but actually resides within the municipal boundaries of another.  In addition in some suburban areas people are surprised to find that services like water, fire protection, trash collection, road maintenance and even electrical services are provided by private companies.  Other services like police and code enforcement may be provided by the county instead of the municipality.

For many people that relocate from other parts of the country, particularly from eastern parts of the country, this comes as quite a surprise.  So using a “mailing address” alone may mislead a buyer as to where they are actually living and what they are buying.

Why is this important? First it is important to know when you pay your real estate tax bill (or any tax) where the money is going and what services you can expect in return.  But it might also be important to know what quality of service and rate the private company charges vs. a municipal provider. Lastly, as a homeowner you always want to know who you can contact if you have a problem.  If you call the emergency number in the middle of the night for the city or town that is on your mailing address, you do not want to be told “We don’t serve that area.” “Call the provider on you monthly billing statement.”  Even 911 emergency calls could be effected.

As a home buyer you should always be aware of what you are buying before you fall in love with your new house.  As an experienced REALTOR®, I always verify the location and jurisdiction(s) of local providers for any property that my clients have an interest.  Purchasing a home is the likely the largest investment you will make. Be sure you know what you are purchasing and what it will cost.




Statistically Speaking

One of the most useful and often misused tools are real estate statistics related to sales and market data. While statistics, when properly gathered, are hard to refute they can easily be misinterpreted. Many times a person that is not familiar with a local market may draw incorrect conclusions about the health of a local real estate market. The results are often Buyers or Sellers with unrealistic expectations.

Two areas that I often see being misinterpreted are month to month sales data and using zip codes instead of neighborhoods.

In the case of month to month sales data, one could easily misinterpret the health of the market simply by comparing one month to the next. Depending on what part of the country you are located there could be huge changes month to month. But the changes could easily be explained by researching year over year data to see if there is a seasonal trend. One example might be the case of comparing the number of closings that occur in winter months to summer months. In many areas of the country closings in January will logically be lower than in May because many buyers (and sellers) are reluctant to execute a move in the winter. Since real estate closing typically take 30-45 days that means any contracts signed in early spring may not close until late spring or summer. Not necessarily indicating a bad market, just a seasonal trend.

Another problem I often see are using zip codes as the boundaries for market data without regard for unique neighborhoods within the zip. Any agent that knows his/her local market can tell you that within a zip code you can have neighborhoods that are very desirable with very healthy sales and other neighborhoods where homes are languishing. One such example could be the case of a zip code that contains both historic neighborhoods and homes that have no historic significance. The sales of homes in historic districts will almost always trend at a different rate than the other homes in the area. In some cases the two properties could be literally across the street from each other with different market conditions.

So essentially, when attempting an apples to apples comparison you must be aware that there are different types of apples. Using a Granny Smith apple when the recipe calls for Gala apples or selecting a Golden Delicious instead of a Macintosh will yield a different and perhaps undesirable outcome.

So to summarize, I can say that in my opinion the statement that “All real estate is local” is right on the money. Both Buyers and Sellers can benefit from the expertise of a local agent that does indeed know the local market.

Use your statistics, but before you do understand what they are telling you and apply them correctly to avoid costly mistakes.

Tennis for Everyone!

If you love tennis, there is no finer place to call home than Arizona’s premier tennis community Winfield. Nestled at the base of Winfield Mountain, in the shadow of Carefree’s Black Mountain, this unique tennis community offers play at every level from “social” to 5.0 leagues. The 6 hard court and 2 groomed clay courts blend into the natural surroundings creating a stunningly serene environment.

Loaded with amenities and located in the desert foothills of N. Scottsdale, Winfield offers homes from the mid $300s to over 1 million. Every one of the 511 homes has equal access to all facilities. No “equity memberships”, initiation fees or monthly food & beverage fees make Winfield more affordable than most upscale guard gated communities.

While tennis is king in Winfield, there is plenty to do for those who do not play tennis. There are numerous clubs, activities and a robust social circle that will make any resident feel welcome.

Want know more about life in Scottsdale’s finest tennis community? Visit me at: www.Scottsdale-AZHomes.com

Why plumbers make so much money.

I recently had the chore of playing plumber this week, twice actually. Once to help my son repair a toilet (oh joy) and secondly to repair a sink in our powder room.  As you might guess, what appeared to be a 5 minute job turned into several hours of grumbling, bending over with even a little cursing added on for good measure.

The interesting thing about doing plumbing work is that regardless of what the repair is the same truths remain:

  • Every wrench in your toolbox is either too big or too small
  • Your arms are too short or your hands are too big
  • Once apart, you will very likely see stuff that no one should see, ever
  • No matter how old or new the fixture is, they no longer make that style
  • Once you finish repairing/replacing the fixture it has a very good chance to leak

It should also be noted that plumbing manufacturers are sorely behind the times with regard to manufacturing and distribution of products. While most suppliers today can cross reference a product by it’s part or model number, it is not so with plumbing. If you need to purchase a replacement part for a plumbing fixture you need to know the name of the “style” or “gallery”. Is it the Elite Series ? How about the Inspiration Series? Perhaps you have the Icon Gallery with European trim? Which part did you need again? “Oh that one is no longer available, we have a universal replacement but it only comes in gold.”

Now you know why the plumber walks in the door, says “you need a whole new fixture”, and “you might as well replace them all while I am here”.  He is probably right.

Nothing is worse than 3 hours of facing a plumbers crack, except the bill.

Time is of the Essence, believe it!

Most real estate contracts contain “time is of the essence” clauses.  Unfortunately, it is also one of the contract provisions that is most likely to be overlooked or abused.  Too often one party or the other fails to act within the time that is required to insure a smooth transaction.

What does it mean to use and agree to a “time is of the essence clause”?  It means that you agree to and understand that your actions may determine if the sale and closing of the property occurs on time or even at all. In real estate transactions, performance by one party at or within the period specified in the contract is necessary to enable the next step or phase of the contract to continue in a timely manner. Party A’s performance may be necessary in order for Party B to perform their responsibility.

Without a time is of the essence clause parties would only be required to perform within a reasonable time.  Imagine trying to meet a Close of Escrow date if all parties only had to perform such important actions like inspections, appraisals, repairs and funding loans within a reasonable time?

Lenders in particular are often guilty of ignoring “time is of the essence clauses”. They see a closing date of aa/bb/201x and base their timelines solely on this date. But what if the buyer is in another state or even another country?  What if there is a holiday near the date?  The closing actions such as signing documents, wiring money, approving the Closing Disclosure and recording deeds may take longer than a standard transaction. Waiting until the last minute to perform your action may not give the next party time to perform theirs. Even worse, failure to act within the time required may constitute a breach of contract.  If Party B feels that they cannot act because they are waiting for Party A, problems could arise that jeopardize the sale.

Whenever a new transaction is initiated, it is important that all parties be made aware of their obligations and time requirements. It is essential to executing a smooth transaction.