Phoenix Real Estate FAQ

In real estate there are few phrases that discourage a home buyer as much as this one: "Please be advised that there are 47 offers on this property. Talk to your buyer and respond to this email with your buyer's highest and best terms." That is the exact quote from the email response I received when [...]

Graphic indicating 47 offers for the same home resluting in it selling quickly In real estate there are few phrases that discourage a home buyer as much as this one: “Please be advised that there are 47 offers on this property. Talk to your buyer and respond to this email with your buyer’s highest and best terms.” That is the exact quote from the email response I received when I inquired about our client’s “favorite” property listing. This one happened to be a bank home foreclosure in Phoenix Arizona that recently cleared the trustee’s sale.

I’ve been selling real estate in the Phoenix area for almost 13 years and have helped many clients purchase bank foreclosures. I’ve had many rich learning experiences, joyous celebrations with clients, and my share of disappointments. “47” offers is the most competition I’ve ever experienced for a home regardless of  whether it was a  bank foreclosure, short sale, or a normal sale. Check out this video and add 45 more people to it:


Of course buying a home is not like this. I just thought it would be fun to insert this video.

Buyers rarely, if ever,  see each other. Occasionally a set of buyers may pass in the driveway of a property. However, in this case there was a constant flow of agents and potential buyers streaming in out and of this house. Some probably rubbed elbows and discussed the pros and cons of the house. Some may have even tried psychology to dissuade a competing buyer from putting in an offer.

Why so many offers? Here is the 1st reason: Lack of Homes for sale in Phoenix Arizona. This is especially true for short sales and bank home foreclosures. “Normal sales” are making a comeback.

But it must be said this property was listed for between $5000-$10,000 below market value — even at a time when most sellers are rolling the dice and pricing their homes at the top of the market.

What do I mean when I say “top of the market.” Let’s say you find 6 homes within a half-mile radius of the subject property to use for comparable sales. The average sales price of the 6 homes is $150,000 but the individual sales prices range from $138,000-$165,000. My definition of top of the market would be to price the property at $165,000 (because at least one seller was paid that much). In a seller’s market you find many homeowners who believe: “If  1 out of 6 sellers received $165,000 for their home we should also get $165,000 (or more) for our home.” This is exactly what happened during the real estate boom of 2004-2005.

Okay, now here’s the 2nd reason: this home was incredibly well priced and below market value. In my humble opinion when most home buyers and agents saw this home and the list price they thought: “what’s wrong with this house?” Well, there was nothing wrong with this bank home foreclosure. It was probably priced this low to get the very dramatic results it received — 47 offers. That way the bank could see what price the market would bear.

Though we won’t know the final sales price until it closes escrow, we can tender an educated guess what happened. Most of the agents presented comparable sales from the surrounding neighborhoods to their clients as they considered an “offer” price. They undoubtedly encouraged their clients to offer “over” the asking price because the property was worth more than the asking price. Many of them may have even encouraged their clients to offer considerably more than the asking price, even $20,000 above it.

Insanity you say! Perhaps not. In a seller’s market, and if you really like the house, sometimes you have to do what is necessary to get the house. But there is a safeguard built into any offer to purchase, at least where financing is involved: the appraisal. If the appraisal comes back lower than the purchase price you have 2 options: 1.) ask the seller (in this case the bank) to reduce the sales price to meet the appraisal or 2.) cancel the contract and get a full refund of your earnest deposit.

We have successfully done both. Recently a low appraisal resulted in our client getting a reduction in the purchase price of a bank home foreclosure from $525,000 down to $499,900. In another case the seller wanted the buyer to pay cash for the difference between the sales price and the appraised price so the deal was canceled and the buyer received a full refund of their earnest deposit.

So, the days are gone (at least temporarily) when a buyer can have a “one on one” (“mano-a-mano”) negotiation with the seller for a house in the Phoenix Real Estate market. Our housing market has taken on the feel of an auction with the house going to the highest bidder.

Betty asks… I live in a house in California (worth over 500k). Years ago I purchased a condo in Phoenix Arizona for investment real estate (have a 132k loan on it). It is now worth about 45k. I just retired in June as a teacher and do get about 4k coming in a month. I [...]

image of short sale questions and a house

Betty asking questions about Phoenix short sale homes

Betty asks…

CHASE -short sale (investment property)– will they take my house?

I live in a house in California (worth over 500k). Years ago I purchased a condo in Phoenix Arizona for investment real estate (have a 132k loan on it). It is now worth about 45k.

I just retired in June as a teacher and do get about 4k coming in a month. I have been sick for the last few months and thought when I retired I would get an easier job, but I can only work at home right now.

No credit card debt, but I NEED to get rid of the Arizona real estate (tenant lease is almost up/not paying, lots of problems). I am negative each month with that place.

I need help! If I did a short sale could the bank come after me and take my HOUSE? I have two separate loans, but both are with CHASE. I tried to do a short sale years ago, but I was “not qualified” because I was working and making too much money.

Need some advice, please.

Ron Wilczek answers:

Betty, any advice we give always begins with “Consult with your real estate attorney or tax accountant.” Having made that disclaimer, Arizona is considered a non-deficiency state and lenders have no recourse, particularly against purchase money loans. You know you have a purchase money loan(s) if the entire loan(s) went towards the purchase of the house, as opposed to a home equity line of credit where you can take cash out to pay off other debts. Lenders holding a home equity line of credit sometimes react differently and have been known to pursue a judgment after the short sale or foreclosure.
Your financial situation has changed. When you consider that your income has decreased AND your investment property is costing you money (and therefore draining your savings) you might have the financial hardship normally required for a short sale.
Regardless of whether you short sale, go to foreclosure, or file for a deed in lieu of foreclosure the lenders will not be coming after your California home.

 

Mary has questions about Phoenix short sale homes

Mary asks…

Upside down by about 50K on my current home in California and want to buy a new home in Arizona (new job).?

Potential well paying job in Phoenix area has me considering moving to AZ  from CA. From what I’ve seen, I could easily afford a nice home in the Phoenix area with the new salary. My dilemma is what to do with my existing California home?

I have a fixed 6.25 interest rate and put 20% down a little over a year ago on my current CA house. Even with that – I’m around 50K upside down.

Do I buy a new home in Phoenix (will I get a good interest rate?) and try to rent my CA house out? If it doesn’t rent, do I short sale? If no short sale then what?????? If I walk away (which I do not want to do) from my CA house after buying the new Phoenix house what can happen?

Any info is appreciated. Thank you.

Ron Wilczek answers:

That question may depend on whether or not you want to save your credit. Doing a short sale or going to a foreclosure will definitely ruin your credit. Rent out the house If you do not want to ruin your credit. Use an agent to help rent and manage it if you’re worried about being far away.  The housing market will eventually get better. You can think about selling it then, or you might find that you enjoy being a landlord and decide to hold on to it. The are many benefits to keeping it if you can.

Lending requirements have gotten much tougher. The only way you would be able to buy a house in Phoenix while renting out your California home is if you could afford to make payments on both homes. Mortgage lenders have gotten very tough on what is now known in the industry as “buy and bail.” Read more about “Buy and Bail”  in a post from 2 years ago.

 

James poses questions about Phoenix short sale homes

James asks…

What are the tax implications of taking a lender-approved loss on my home?

We recently moved for family and employment reasons from Phoenix, AZ, to San Antonio, TX. We have only owned our home in Phoenix for two years, and in that time, it’s value has decreased by at least $80k. We have been offered the option of a “short sale” by our lender, but I don’t know what the tax implications of that are. What would we end up paying in taxes if we had a “debt forgiveness” of $50k from our lender?

Ron Wilczek answers:

James –  any advice we give always begins with “Consult with your real estate attorney or tax accountant.” Lenders will generally issue a 1099 for the amount of the debt forgiveness. The real question is whether or not you would be obligated to pay taxes on that amount? That’s where we would again advise you to consult with your real estate attorney or tax accountant. Although there have been many cases ( in the early days of short sales) when a seller has not received a 1099, these days you can pretty much count on it.

There is at least one loophole and there could be more. The one I’m aware of concerns insolvency. In other words, if you are insolvent in the year you completed your short sale you probably won’t need to pay any tax on the amount of the debt forgiveness. Insolvency generally means that you have more debt than assets.

Lizzie asking questions about Phoenix short sale homes

Lizzie asks…

Buying a home in phoenix?

I want to purchase a home within the next couple of months with CASH. I can’t obtain a loan so I decided to just save up the $$. My questions are..

How are the taxes worked out when you buy with cash? Do you pay for the taxes on the property up front when you buy the home? Example: home price $50,000 taxes $5,000 would I need have $55,000 or are the taxes paid later?

Second question if a home is listed for $50,000 can I make an offer lower than this amount? Say like $45,000?

Third, how long do short sales take typically with a cash offer?

Fourth, if the site has the home listed for a certain amount is this the amount the bank had countered on a different offer & will accept or is this just an amount the listing agent is just throwing out there to attract buyers?

I want to know these things before hiring a realtor.. I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with buying a home if i don’t quite have all of my ducks in a row : )

Thank you!

Ron Wilczek answers:

  1. If you are buying a property with cash you will not have what is known as an escrow account. Escrow accounts are established when you buy a house with a mortgage. Each month you pay 1/12 of the taxes and insurance into the escrow account and the lender pays the annual taxes and insurance on your behalf. Since you are buying with cash you will be responsible for paying the taxes on your own. Generally speaking you will pay a portion of these taxes at the time you buy the house. Going forward you will be responsible for making bi-annual payments to the County.
  2. Yes, you can always offer less than the house. The seller has 3 options: accept your offer, counter your offer, or reject your offer. If they reject your offer you can always make another offer.
  3. Cash doesn’t necessarily make a short sale go any faster. The biggest factor in the speed of the short sale is the work load and efficiency of the lender’s employees. It can also depend on some other factors such as: the investor on the loan, or whether or not a mortgage insurance company is involved.
  4. Generally speaking the listing price is set by the owner and the listing agent. In cases where the short sale has been active for quite some time the listing agent may have already determined the amount the lender will accept. In those cases the listing agent will probably set the listing price to the lender approved price.

 

 

Steven asks questions about Phoenix short sale homes

Steven asks…

I have to foreclose on my home. Advice and steps involved?

My wife and I own a townhouse in Orlando, FL. My job in Orlando was ending due to the recession and the job outlook looked grim. I took a job in Phoenix, AZ while my wife quit her job and is having some trouble finding one in Phoenix. We have a professional leasing company find tenants for our town house while we rented a condo in Phoenix. Since my wife isn’t working, we are having difficulties paying our rent plus part of the mortgage (the rent doesn’t cover all of the mortgage plus our HOA fees each month). We thought about a short sale, but then was told that since we are not the primary residents in our townhouse, then a short sale wasn’t an option, which leads us to foreclosure. I don’t really want to do it, but I have lost over 100k in our home in the last 2 years and it’s financially draining on us. What are the steps in foreclosing a home? Do we just stop making payments? Do we advise our lending company first? I always hear of people just walking away from there homes, but there is got to be more to it than that. Any advice would be great.

Thanks.

Ron Wilczek answers:

Steven,  any advice we give always begins with “Consult with your real estate attorney or tax accountant.” Laws and regulations are changing over time. What you’re describing is a financial hardship. That is one of the primary requirements for a lender to consider a short sale. You do not have to live in the town house as a primary occupant to complete a short sale. I recommend consulting a competent real estate agent in the Orlando area as well as consulting with your tax accountant and real estate attorney.

Susan wants to know about Phoenix short sale homes

Susan asks…

First home with VA home loan, getting a little confused on things help?!?

We have been pre-approved for a VA home loan. Now I am house hunting and I’m wondering how much of a pain a foreclosure or short sale is going to be with VA. I know VA has their stipulations on closing costs, and condition of the house. Then I’m seeing lots of foreclosures/short sales that have a list of things that often contradict the VA such as they will not repair anything, which is VA required. Are banks often flexible changing some of these things? Or am I better off avoiding short sale/foreclosures since they tend to drag out longer and probably will conflict with VA requirements?

I do not have a realtor yet, I’m taking a trip this weekend to look at some places. We are moving from San Diego to the Phoenix area. I just wanted a better idea what I’m getting into here.

Ron Wilczek answers:

Susan, those are very good questions. I would recommend you check with the mortgage officer handling your VA loan. Your loan officer will have the most up to date and complete information regarding your loan requirements. Generally speaking, VA loans do require the house to be in a livable and reasonable condition. If the VA requires repairs to the house and the sellers won’t complete them your loan won’t be approved. Again, check with your mortgage officer for current loan program requirements. VA does have some special provisions that apply to construction, alteration, improvement, and repair of homes.

There is a nice product with FHA loans called the FHA 203K rehabilitation loan. The 203K allows you to finance required repairs into the mortgage. This will give you the opportunity to buy a home requiring some fixup which probably means a lower sales price.

I would recommend looking at normal sales, short sales, and foreclosures to make sure you find the home that is best for you. Again, consult with your mortgage officer to determine what you can and can’t financing to your loan. Once you are clear on the requirements you will be better prepared to decide what kind of home to pursue.

Helen inquires about Phoenix short sale homes

Helen asks…

Home Value Crisis, (military) What do we do?

I am hoping you can offer some help regarding our current situation. Let me preface this by saying that we are active duty military and are forced to move at other’s discretion. We bought our current home a little over a year ago in the Phoenix metro area. We were given orders to relocate and we did not want to lose money on renting a home, so we bought the cheapest house (a short-sale) we could find that would accommodate our family of 6. Now, we are facing orders to move again, soon. We purchased our home for about 200,000 and current market conditions place our current value around 35-40% less than what we owe. We have no problems making our payments, we budgeted well and did not buy beyond our means. However, what can we do? We do not have 70-80,000 to bring to the table if we sell for less than our home is worth. We are considering, when the time comes for us to move, to try a short-sale or let the property go into foreclosure. We are hoping since my name in not on the loan, only my husband’s credit will be affected and we can still purchase another home. Do you have any suggestions for individuals in this specific situation?
Just a note for some comments. Yes, we knew values were falling, that is why we thought we could get a good deal. Was it reasonable to think that the value was going to drop by 40% in one year? You may say yes, looking back now, but at the time, most average home buyers did not. As far as knowing we were not going to stay, you’re right; that’s why we put 10% down. We have always purchased homes when we relocate and either break even (boost to credit score for paid-in-full mortgage OR made money).  We have exceptional credit, put 10% down, used traditional, institutional financing, and bought a home that was 20% below market value for close proximity comps at the time.

Ron Wilczek answers:

You seem to have your head on straight and are knowledgeable about what to expect. Most likely a short sale is your best option if you don’t want anything to do with the house in the future. However, and as you know, a short sale will ruin your husbands credit. Therefore, if you desire to buy a home at your next duty station your income will need to be high enough to pay for the house on your own. The other option is to rent the house. However, that may cause you more problems than you want in the long run, and it is unlikely the house will ever regain its full value.

Ken wants to know about Phoenix short sale homes

Ken asks…

Home going into foreclosure?

I have a home in Phoenix Az, I owe 160K. I talked to the bank and asked If I could give them there home back..:) They had said no, but I could try selling the house unless I have $ 3800 to bring it back to current. I have it on the market as short sale for 120K only because the bank had told me I could do that. That way they just write off the difference and close the books on that home. My question is, if I can’t sell the house before the auction date, what would happen to me once the bank figures out what the difference is between what it sold for and their loss? Would the IRS come back on me and take whatever I have to pay the difference ? Would they seize my checks? Whats the negative on my situation besides losing my home? Thanks!

Ron Wilczek answers:

Alex and anyone in the same situation please listen up:

Foreclosure Laws can be different in EVERY STATE.. Please do not rely on information from people that really don’t know much about the subject since they are likely to lead you down the wrong path at a critical time. Your best bet is to contact a real estate attorney and your tax accountant.

The lender has to approve a short sale so they will immediately know the amount of the deficiency. If the home doesn’t sell and goes to foreclosure they will also be aware of the deficiency amount. The lender has the ability to issue a 1099 of the deficiency between the mortgage amount and what they receive from the sale. A 1099 means that the deficiency will be treated income for you in the year of the sale. In other words, you could be liable to pay the tax on the amount of the deficiency. Check with your tax person, but you generally don’t have to pay any tax on the deficiency amount as long as you are insolvent in the year of your short sale or foreclosure. Insolvency means that you have more debt than assets.

Powered by Yahoo! Answers

Jenny asks… I know the market is bad, but what are some tips that will get it sold quicker. The house is in Phoenix, Arizona. -4br 2 1/2 bath so far we are going to put in new carpet, what else will help Besides price.... There's a lot of competition for selling a house in [...]

image depicting home sale photography

Jenny asks…

Tips & steps to sell out of state property?

I know the market is bad, but what are some tips that will get it sold quicker. The house is in Phoenix, Arizona.

-4br 2 1/2 bath

so far we are going to put in new carpet, what else will help

Ron Wilczek answers:

Besides price….

There’s a lot of competition for selling a house in Phoenix. It’s important to have every advantage you can. We find that providing our sellers with excellent photography and plastering our listings all over the Internet are very helpful. See our ways to sell a house quickly in Phoenix.

I’ve heard other realtors call it “cheap and cheerful”. Paint and carpet and more important, as well as front yard clean up and color. Plant some new annuals, the flowers that come in the six packs. Many buyers won’t go into the house if the front yard is ugly.

If you’re having an open house, bake something. Smells of home cooking in the house is tremendous stimulator. If you don’t bake, go get some dough and bake them. Or the Glade candles are a good substitute.

 

More Phoenix Real Estate FAQ

 

Thomas asks…

Why won’t my house sell (asked before but with more info this time)?

Okay, I asked this question earlier but evidently didn’t share enough specific information. Looking for some steps to sell my out of state property, how do I sell my house located outside of Phoenix Arizona?

My dilemma: my house has been on the market for 13 months. I have lowered the price dramatically during that time but still no offers. It is located about two hours north of Phoenix, Arizona, in a beautiful retirement community called Prescott. The home has been freshly painted on the outside, has absolutely stunning views of two well-known mountains, and has pool, tennis court and trailhead access. My husband’s relocation company has recommended another $50K price reduction. Understand that this market is very slow, with approximately 200 other homes somewhat similar in square footage, lot size, etc. Some are priced higher, some lower. So what can I do to sell this house? We’re now paying temporary rent where we are now (in the Northeastern part of the country) as well as the mortgage on this house.

Ron Wilczek answers:

I’m glad you rewrote this question because there was not information to answer last time.

Do the following:
1. First check to see if the house is listed correctly on the MLS. Make sure it is priced what it should be, has the right location, cross streets, Thomas Guide, section, etc.

2. Offer 4% to the buyer’s agent

3. Offer to pay as much closing cost as legally allowed.

This is much better than lowering it 50k, especially if you have homes on the market that are priced higher than yours. With a 4% buyers agent commission you will attract “money motivated” real estate agents who will guide their buyer into buying your home by showing them higher comps.

Closing cost assistance will also help people purchase your home because they can use the money you are offering to pay to buy down their interest rate or get your home with less money down and less money out of pocket.

 

George asks…

Need to evict brother?

I need to evict my brother. I live in Illinois and my brother lives in my moms house in Illinois. My mom and dad live in Phoenix,Arizona my parents want to sell house now. My brother says a friend who needs to sell his house now will buy my moms house when he sells his, but my mom needs to get it on the market now. My brother is not cooperating, he never payed rent,  and lived there for 5yrs with girlfriend and his handicapped son who can not talk at 5yrsold — plus 11 yr,old daughter. Mom wants him out now as he is putting mom in credit problems. The utilities are in her name and my brother is very late on electric and gas. My mom gave him 6500 dollars to fix the house last year-NOTHING WAS DONE-MONEY GONE AND back siding is gone. I suspect my brother is addicted to drugs. How can I help my Mom  to sell out of state property and to get my brother and his girlfriend out of house ASAP. There was no contract to fix up the house with my brother, nothing was written but it was a verbal statement. CAN I GIVE HIM A 10 DAY EVICTION NOTICE? Thank You

Ron Wilczek answers:

There is certainly a lot of drama in this situation. Personally I think you should use an eviction service. This will keep you out of the most difficult and emotional part, as well as make sure everything is done legally. It will cost between $400- $600 to have it done for you, and worth every penny. Depending on local laws you may need to serve two eviction notices, one for him and another for the girl friend.

 

Carol asks…

I need to build a pool fence in a yard where the pool is in the center. Use wrought iron or removable mesh?

Hi –
I need to build a pool fence in my backyard in Phoenix, Arizona. My backyard is fairly large with grass on the west side, the pool in the center, and rocks on the right. Because of the layout, there doesn’t seem to be one ‘perfect’ way to lay out this fence.

Should I use a wrought iron material or the removable mesh?

Concerns with wrought iron:
It is too permanent & will look bad when we try to sell the house
It can be climbed
It will look like a prison cell in backyard

Concerns with Mesh fencing:
It won’t be as transparent
It will look like a huge fly swatter in my backyard
Do they look cheap???

Please help!!!!
Pictures of my yard:

Ron Wilczek answers:

Wrought iron is sturdy and does the job of keeping small children out of harms way. Any fence or containment will look like Sheriff Joe Arpario has annexed your back yard. But, it’s the law and so many little ones have died in swimming pools — that’s the way it is. In my experience the wrought-iron ones are much more durable and permanent. They are designed so they are not easy to climb unless a person has some pretty good strength, and that’s not characteristic of small children.

People who buy the mesh fencing generally do so because it can be taken down and stored easily. In other words a family who doesn’t have any children, but has grandchildren, can store the fence in the garage until the grandchildren come over.

Either way, make sure the gate to your backyard is locked to keep people away from the pool and make it more safe.

Regarding resale values, and if you’re going to sell your house in Phoenix Arizona, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

Laura asks…

If I were to rent a house in the Phoenix Arizona area, what am I responsible for besides rent???

I currently own a home but am thinking of selling my house and renting for a couple years. If I was to rent a house, who is typically responsible for the following expenses, the renter, or home owner:

1. HOA Fees
2. Landscape maintenance.
3. House Insurance.
4. Property Taxes.
5. Anything else I may be missing???

Ron Wilczek answers:

If you are paying rent for a house, the insurance, HOA and taxes should be paid by the landlord. However, you will need renters insurance.

Generally speaking you will be responsible for the landscape maintenance unless otherwise stated in lease. Some of the investors we have worked with have included bi-monthly pool maintenance in the lease. You need to read the lease to see what you are to pay, or you need to negotiate such terms into the lease. If you were not renting a house and you were renting and an older apartment, maybe the water and heat could also be included.

As a landlord, my renters were responsible for the first $50 of a repair to keep them from calling for every small detail. Unless they caused the problem and then it’s 100% (like drains, toilets, etc).

They are to have the carpets cleaned at their expense when they move out.

They are to maintain the landscape.

Mark asks…

Can’t grow grass…?

We live near Phoenix Arizona and usually our lawn looks beautiful but this year.  My husband accidentally put a grass killing fertilizer down and though we have re-seeded and re-fertilized with regular fertilizer… what little grass was there is dying and the yard looks yellow and there are bare spots. What can we do? It’s been 4 months since he put the grass killing fertilizer down. Whats worse is we are trying to sell our house right now and the yard looks horrible.

Ron Wilczek answers:

This is really not my area of expertise. What you should do is check the label to see how long it is supposed to last. Some last for years while some last only for a couple months. Some can be washed away or soaked down very far into the soil and too far to harm grass any further. What you can try is to saturate the lawn very heavily with water. Then let it dry. Repeat this several times. Usually that will flush most of the grass killing agent away. If it doesn’t work, then you may have to replace the soil down to a safe level or consider installing sod. Desert landscaping is also an option.  :-) You should contact a landscaper for more information. Perhaps your local Home Depot/Lowes garden center may have some more answers or possibly something to negate the killer. I’m so sorry about what happened.

More Phoenix Real Estate FAQ

Powered by Yahoo! Answers

More Phoenix Real Estate FAQ Sandy asks… Thanks! Please do not limit your search to only Phoenix foreclosures. If you do so it may miss out on the house you really want. In my area all bank owned homes and all HUD owned homes that have been foreclosed are listed with a real estate broker [...]

More Phoenix Real Estate FAQ

Sandy asks…

What’s the best way to get a list of home foreclosures / bank owned homes in the Phoenix area (I live in DC)?

Thanks!

Ron Wilczek answers:

Please do not limit your search to only Phoenix foreclosures. If you do so it may miss out on the house you really want.

In my area all bank owned homes and all HUD owned homes that have been foreclosed are listed with a real estate broker and in the MLS right along with all the other houses for sale.

Look at all the houses for sale that fit your needs and your price range and buy whichever one is the best house for the price.

Do not ever pay to get a list.  The exception would be if your looking to buy homes at the trustee sale. That’s a whole different subject.

Powered by Yahoo! Answers