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How Much is a Home With a View in Flagstaff Worth?

by Gary Nelson

The fabulous vistas of the Flagstaff area are certainly hard for a homeowner to resist. But how much are you going to pay to see those amazing views of the mountains, water, or other scenic features from the comfort of your home? What you need to determine is how much extra that cost is and if it’s worth it.

According to appraisers and analysts, there’s no simple answer. Principal data scientist Andy Krause at Greenfield Advisors says “Views are actually really difficult to quantify. It’s somewhat subjective. What makes a better water view? Do you want it to be wider? Do you want more of the water from a taller angle? You know, some of that is in the eye of the beholder.”

And that’s the difficult part of the equation. Not all views are equal, and not all tastes are the same.

If a view is a must have for your next home in Flagstaff, here’s a couple of tips.

Is the view protected?

A homeowner of an expensive home in Houston sued after a high-rise office tower was built across the street. The building ended up blocking their view and they no longer had privacy in their backyard, as office workers could see their backyard and pool. But if they had done some research, they would have seen that the area was zoned for such a building, and so the lawsuit was dismissed. To avoid this happening to you, it’s a good idea to check with planning authorities about zoning near your home and if there’s any large projects planned where your view is going to be.

Find a Great View with a Not As Great House

You may be able to find a house with a great view, but maybe the windows are smaller and don’t show off the scenery.  In that case, you may pay less for the home and then invest money in a limited remodel to add larger windows or perhaps a rooftop deck. Make sure you check the deed for restrictions as well as homeowner association rules, if any.

What could be better than a home with a spectacular view of the Flagstaff area? If you’re looking to buy a home in Flagstaff, whether it’s a spectacular mountain view, or just a regular view, we can help you find the perfect home. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool. And make sure to follow us on our blog every week for more real estate advice and news, along with articles about living in Flagstaff.

Remodeling to Get the Most ROI on Your Home Sale

by Gary Nelson

Are you planning on selling your home in Flagstaff, but feel you need to do some work on it to get a higher return? If your home is starting to look dated, that can adversely affect the selling price.  But on the other hand, you don't want to waste tons of money on improvements that won't be a good return on investment.  So where's the balance? If you do decide that your home needs improvements, then you need to focus on the things that will help sell it and make more money in the end.

The thing to keep in mind though is not every improvement will increase the value of your home. Many projects that need to be done can preserve the value.  So if you do those projects, the value won't be as adversely affected when you sell your home.

So to get down to it, what are the projects that get the highest ROI?

Outside Projects

Basically any project that boosts curb appeal is worth the investment. Remodeling Magazine found that the outside projects that recouped the most are garage door replacement, steel door entry replacement, wood deck addition, and siding and facade projects. Spending money on improving just the siding and facade can be a huge boost to the wow factor of any home.

Kitchens and Baths

The kitchen can really be a make or break deal for home buyers.  Potential buyers can spend the most time inspecting a kitchen.  So it really pays off to invest in a remodel if your kitchen has dated counters and appliances. Bathrooms are also important.  They send a powerful message about your home, so you can expect a high ROI on a bathroom remodel.

The Little Things

If you don't have the money to spend on major remodels, you can still focus on other projects that cost less and make a big difference. You can give your home a fresh coat of paint, trim trees and bushes, plant new bushes and landscaping. De-cluttering and cleaning your home only costs time. If you have an unfinished basement, you can put gray epoxy on the floor and paint the walls white. Never underestimate the power of improving the little things.

Keep in mind that every home is different, and so is every neighborhood. If you're not sure what improvements would be best to sell your home in Flagstaff, feel free to ask us. We know what sells a home in Flagstaff and what buyers are looking for.

Our Top Featured Listings in Flagstaff

by Gary Nelson

Looking for a great home in Flagstaff with plenty of room for the whole family and great features? Look no further than these two top featured homes!

2353 N Ricke Lane, Flagstaff

This home is back on the market, so do let it slip away this time! Located in Walnut Ridge Estates, this lovely home is set on a .39 acre lot with amazing views of Mt Elden.  With tons of room, updated kitchen and huge deck, you're family will have plenty of room to live and entertain.

Check out all the details and photos!

36 W Quartz Road, Flagstaff

With 5 beds and 4 baths, there's plenty of space for your family and friends.  The soaring vaulted ceilings adds to the spaciousness. Add to that an outstanding kitchen with great cabinets and stainless steel appliances, along with a huge back yard, and you have a deal you can't miss!

Check out all the details and photos!

Is Your Realtor Qualified? Part 3 of 4

by Gary Nelson

Is Your Realtor Qualified? Part 2 of 4

by Gary Nelson

As I stated in my last blog (Part 1 of this subject) I believe that unfortunately there may be a majority of Realtors who are not qualified to represent your best interests in a real estate transaction.  You can read that earlier blog here:  Is Your Realtor Qualified? (Part 1).   I have come to this conclusion by rubbing elbows with the best in the industry and also having experience with agents that are…less than stellar in their business practices.  It is my opinion that a Realtors “professionalism” can be measured by experience, dedication, adoption of technology and trends and finally education.  We will look at education in this blog.

Education:

I would divide this category into two sections, really. Those would be continuing education and also Realtor designations.  When it comes to “continuing education”, a Realtor has many choices, but the choices they make can be very telling.  What I mean is this: Is your agent dedicated to getting the best, most current education there is…or are they skating by, and only taking the minimum in continuing education hours because it is required by the Arizona Department of Real Estate?

A significant number of Realtors learn about changes to the industry by trial and error.  Scary, isn't it?  Name another profession where the "School Of Hard Knocks" is the most attended school for continuing education. 


In Arizona, a real estate agent needs 24 hours of continuing education in a 2 year period.  That is a pitifully low number of hours required.  That’s 12 hours of classroom time per year. But, the State also allows online education, webinars and live feeds.  So, your Realtor can actually be “educated” by sitting in front of a computer, take an online class, never interact with an instructor and move on.  But the worst part is, many real estate agents have learned how to cheat the online system, by not actually being at the computer while the timer is going!  Ultimately who they are cheating is themselves, but unfortunately that means they are cheating you too.

Additionally, many agents wait until the last few days of that 2 year period to take their classes and then scramble to find a live class or just take all their online renewal classes at once.  There are real estate classes called “renew-athons” where the agent can just take all 24 hours needed over a fun-filled weekend.  Many times these are online classes, but some of these classes are offered live in Mexico or on a cruise ship!  Now that is dedication to an industry.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some multi-day conferences in Arizona that give your Realtor a tremendous education.  2 dear friends of mine are Realtors and educators.  They have 1 ½ day conferences that provide wonderful education, discussion and insight into trends.  These classes are both fun and informative.  Also, some Realtor designations require multiple day classes and also provide the best education possible to a Realtor in today's market.

Another way that a Realtor can continue their dedication to educating themselves is by earning designations and certifications.  For a list of recognized designations and certifications, look to Realtor.org.  This is not Realtor.com, which advertises homes for sale.  Realtor.org is the website for the National Association of Realtors and the part dedicated to explaining designations is here: http://www.realtor.org/designations-and-certifications

As you can see, there are many ways a Realtor can extend their knowledge base and these are the programs that are recognized by the National Association of Realtors.  If your Realtor’s “designation” isn’t listed here, then chances are it took them an afternoon to earn.  It may be a private certification class to teach them how to “negotiate” with the big dogs.  When it comes to designations for a residential Realtor, the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) is the top designation one can get on a national level and the GRI (Graduate of the Realtor Institute) is the top state specific designation in most, but not all states.  In Arizona, the GRI program is regarded as one of the best nationwide and the classes and therefore the designation, is top notch.


So, when I started this blog in Part 1, I suggested that you ask your Realtor a series of questions specifically geared toward discovering what they do to stay educated.   My first suggestion would be to search for your Realtor here: http://services.azre.gov/publicdatabase/SearchIndividuals.aspx

That site is of course, the Arizona Department of Real Estate.  It allows you to not only see if any disciplinary action was taken against your Realtor, but also how many continuing education classes he or she has taken and what kind.

 In addition to that, here are some suggested questions for your Realtor:

  • What real estate designations do you hold?
  • How many continuing education hours did you turn in when you last renewed your license?
  • How do you typically get your continuing education hours?

After reading what I have outlined here, clicking on the above links and educating yourself on your Realtors education, you should be able to decide for yourself how well your current or prospective Realtor does when it comes to education!  How is this relevant to you?  Think of any other profession that requires continuing education to keep a state license and how you hope that person stays connected and educated!

My next blog in this series “Is Your REALTOR Qualified”, will discuss some agent’s worst nightmare:  Technology!  Technology and your Realtors relationship to it can make or break a deal.  Stay tuned as I explain why!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.

Is Your Realtor Qualified? Part 1 of 4

by Gary Nelson

Is your Realtor qualified to represent your best interests?  Odds are…they are not.  In a recently released study, the National Association of Realtors shocked the industry by revealing that the greatest threat to organized real estate is “marginal agents”.  Released in June of 2015, the National Association of Realtors report was called the “Danger Report” and detailed out that the greatest threat to the real estate industry are agents that are unskilled and lack the knowledge to effectively represent buyers and sellers.

From the Danger Report: “The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.”

For Sale Sign

The Danger Report continues: “The knowledge and competency gap from the most to the least is very large, due to the low barriers to entry, low continuing education requirements, and the lure of quickly making big dollars. For decades the industry has held the opinion that it’s a profession, however the reality is that those outside the industry don’t hold the same opinion. Most professions (doctors, lawyers, accountants, and engineers) require thousands of hours of study, beginning with a bachelor’s degree. Even becoming an earth driller requires an average of 704 hours of instruction, and becoming a cosmetologist requires an average of a 372 hours. But to become a licensed real estate agent requires an average of only 70 hours with the lowest state requirement being 13 hours.”  Arizona Requires 90 hours of classroom instruction to become a real estate agent.  

Here is a link to the startling website that was created: http://www.dangerreport.com

Do you think that is scary?  Well, this is worse:  In my opinion and having been in the business for 21 years now, I believe that well over 60% of Realtors have no business being in the business.  And 60% is being very, very generous.  That is of course my opinion, but this echoes the Danger Report and when I mention this to my colleagues, they all agree.   I have not had one single Realtor disagree with my assessment and some think that only 25% of Realtors are actually qualified to do their jobs!  At a recent leadership event that was hosted by the Arizona Association of Realtors, every colleague I asked felt that less than 50% of current agents should be in the business at all.  Several of my most respected colleagues said less than 25% should be allowed in the business.


Transfer Of Keys

And the sad thing is that the number of sales that an agent has in a year (what agents call “production level”) has very little to do with it.  Yes, an agent can learn the hard way, as they say, but unless they are keeping up with trends, changes to law and regulation, changes to commonly used forms and technology, how many houses they sold last year pales.  A Realtor may have sold 50 houses last year, but if they are not properly educated and dedicated, they could get you or someone else into a lot of trouble in this litigious society we have today.

So what does this mean to you?  It means you need to interview your agent.  Even your current one.  Even your friend.  Many agents will suggest and provide you a list of questions to ask a Realtor during an interview.  They are typically good questions, but usually the questions provided are easily answered in a positive way by the person that wrote the questions and then gave them to you!  I would suggest delving just a little deeper and maybe coming up with your own questions.  And how you do that is up to you, but if it was me…I would ask questions in these categories:  Education, experience and technology.  I will elaborate in upcoming blogs, give you some ideas to formulate your questions and talk about different Realtors’ general dedication to professionalism in the industry.  Stay tuned!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.

2016 Special Flagstaff Market Update!

by Gary Nelson

Special 2016 Report!  Here is the information you are looking for about what is happening in Flagstaff housing in 2016 and what occurred in 2015.  Inside Flagstaff, the average price paid for a “home” in 2015 was $320,785 and the median price was $295,000. This compares to the 2014 calendar year statistics of an average of $308,500 and the median price for a “home” was $291,900. This is for all types of homes. More accurately, a single family home had an average sales price of $388,288 last year as opposed to our all-time high, which was the 2006 average of $452,200. The average townhouse is at $277,349 and a condo is at $162,209.  It took an average of 94 days to sell a home in the past 12 months. That is down from 112 days on market the year before. Again, this is for the city of Flagstaff for the past 12 months. Rural markets near Flagstaff are slightly different, so please contact me for accurate information in rural areas.

When reading the above information, keep in mind that I average information over a one year period, not quarterly and not monthly.  Why do I average over a 12 month period?  Because we are an extremely seasonal market and a small market at that!  A comparison of a one month period to that month of the year before may show an increase or decrease of activity, but a minor fluctuation in closed sales would throw the data off to indicate a problem in the market.  Also, sales in Northern Arizona are typically slow during the colder months and heat up nicely during spring and summer.

When looked at on a monthly basis, we are seeing a steady increase in values in townhouses, and in single family homes. Less so for condominiums. Condominium sales continue to remain sluggish due to the difficulty in financing them and most sales are still cash.  This will change in 2016 as FHA has announced changes to their condo guidelines.  I will blog about that later, I am sure.

Flagstaff and its surrounding communities are under what many consider a “Seller’s Market”, with lower inventory of homes than Buyers ready to buy.  That is to price ranges to about $400,000.  Above that is a neutral market and above $700,000…I think is a Buyer’s market.  We are seeing very low inventory in most housing categories, but single family homes are leading the charge here in Flagstaff. 

For buyers looking in the Flagstaff area for a home this all means that there are very few choices when searching for a home and every once in awhile a “good deal” to be had.  Again, we are seeing very low inventory in Single Family homes and townhomes, making for increased demand.  We shall see how this year progresses.

For sellers looking to sell in the Flagstaff area, there is not as much competition depending on location.  Some areas in the Flagstaff market and some price ranges are still difficult to sell in, but we have had much stronger market conditions this past 12 months.  This means that you still have to concentrate on 3 things: price, preparation and presentation. You must be priced at market value. No “fishing” and hoping it sells. Secondly you must be well prepared, in good repair and staged to sell. Finally, you must be well presented with a great internet presence, graphics and a huge MLS (Multiple Listing Service) presentation, etc. Of course you need a top notch, experienced Realtor© to get the job done.

Who Buys?

Having been involved with Realtor association and MLS leadership on a local, state and national level, I continuously have conversations with Realtors from various parts of the state and country.  Realtors and real estate economists from across the nation and across Arizona all agreed that our markets have continued to increase nationally.  However Arizona, as usual, is beating to a different drum.  Almost all Realtors in various parts of Arizona are reporting a change in their market this past few years, of course. We have increased slightly in values and we will continue to experience a Sellers’s market in the outlying areas, but not in the Metro Phoenix market.  There is a change brewing in the Metro Phoenix area.  A HUGE change.  Demand has increased and supply is decreasing.  We know what that means, right? Typically, Flagstaff and the rest of Northern Arizona follows Phoenix by several months.  Also, there are several factors that are leading to the market we see in the Flagstaff area, which is much STRONGER than most in the U.S.

First, we have experienced less inventory on the market for the greater Flagstaff area this past 3 years.  Buyers still have choices, especially in the Townhouse and Condominium markets, but fewer choices.  Also, we continue to enjoy very low interest rates that are still hovering above the 4% mark, and have fallen slightly since January 1st.  In my work with the National Association of Realtors, I have heard many real estate economists that feel that relatively low interest rates will continue for 5 to 6 more years, barring any unforeseen economic disaster which the U.S. Government spent 2009 through 2011 staving off.

Secondly, Northern Arizona is greatly impacted by second home buyers from other areas.  I heard an estimate that for 2006 (Flagstaff’s all time high year for real estate), 57% of Buyers in the Flagstaff area were second or vacation home buyers!  Buyers come mostly from the greater metro Phoenix area and especially the Scottsdale and Sun City areas. The greatest impact seems to be from the completion several years ago of the 101 freeway both east and west of Interstate 17.  When the completion of the 303 occurs in the west Valley, it will have the same effect. This has made Flagstaff and its surrounding areas 20 minutes to a half hour closer to those trying to escape that blazing metro Phoenix weather!

Another impact, although a smaller one, is the buyer relocating to Flagstaff for its weather and lifestyle. This is a great place to live. Clean air, good schools, wonderful forests and tons to do. We are not seeing much of an increase in population (about 2.7% per year), so relocating buyers may be mostly replacing those that are moving out of the area.

In my opinion, California has a blown-out-of-proportion impact on home prices here. We do see buyers coming in from California, and many of them over-paying and in cash. However, as a percentage of our market they do not have that big of an impact on demand in Northern Arizona. Scottsdale has a much bigger impact on demand than the entire state of California!

So we seem to be in a more normalized market than what we have seen: A frenzied 2004 and 2005, a somewhat slow, but slightly increasing 2006 and a declining market in 2007 through 2011. The tail end of 2008 and early 2009 had the biggest drop. 2011 through 2015 shaped up to have good activity, less inventory, tentative buyers and deals to be had! The current market value of property in the Flagstaff area is roughly equivalent to what it was at this time 2005. But vastly different market conditions.

Use A Pro

The Crystal Ball:

So, what can we expect for 2016? The beginning of this year should see more of what we saw in the end of 2015 – less inventory of housing product than the year before and better sales, extremely low interest rates and “deals” to be had. As 2016 begins, our market will continue rebounding  with both number of listings available for sale and in actual sales.  Remember, 2011 through 2014 were “rebuilding” years, but each was different.  2015 will be recorded as different again.  And 2016 will have increasing buyer activity, too few homes on the market and great interest rates.

Flagstaff’s demand for housing product will continue to gradually rise driven primarily by the financial strength of the second home buyer and the availability of “cheap money”…very low interest rates in our country.


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.

Flagstaff Housing Update - December 2015

by Gary Nelson

Here is the information you are looking for about what is happening in Flagstaff housing in 2015.  Inside Flagstaff, the average price paid for a “home” in the past 12 months was $319,400 and the median price was $298,000. This compares to the 2014 calendar year statistics of an average of $308,500 and the median price for a “home” was $291,900. This is for all types of homes.

More accurately, a single family home has an average sales price of $382,500 this past 12 months as opposed to a our all-time high, which was the 2006 average of $452,200. The average townhouse is at $273,200 and a condo is at $163,600. It takes an average of 117 days to sell a home in the past 12 months. Again, this is for the city of Flagstaff for the past 12 months. Rural markets near Flagstaff are slightly different, so please contact me for accurate information in rural areas.

When reading the above information, keep in mind that I average information over a one year period, not quarterly and not monthly.  Why do I average over a 12 month period?  Because we are an extremely seasonal market and a small market at that!  A comparison of a one month period to that month of the year before may show an increase or decrease of activity, but a minor fluctuation in closed sales would throw the data off to indicate a problem in the market.  Also, sales in Northern Arizona are typically slow during the colder months and heat up nicely during spring and summer.

When looked at on a monthly basis, we are seeing a steady increase in values in townhouses, and in single family homes. Less so for condominiums. Condominium sales continue to remain sluggish due to the difficulty in financing them and most sales are still cash.  This will change in 2016 as FHA has announced changes to their condo guidelines.  More on that later!

I will be updating you soon with the 2015 year end market update.  Stay tuned for that in early January, 2016!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.

How To Winterize A Home

by Gary Nelson

This is how to winterize, or completely shut down, a vacant home.

So why would someone want to completely shut down a home, turning off all utilities and assuring that the property is not damaged?  Some people have a summer cabin or home that they do not use at all in the winter.  Others are going away for an extended stay and equally will not be using a property for a long time.  But most importantly, “winterizing” is what SHOULD have been done to all those Bank Owned properties, those foreclosures that are in colder parts of the country.  They should have been winterized properly, thereby avoiding huge repair bills to plumbing, appliances, drywall, flooring and more. Or they should have had the utilities, specifically the heating, maintained during the winter months.

For advice on how to prepare for short absences from a property and prepare for winter, take a look at my previous article, here:  http://www.garynelsongroup.com/blog/Preparing-A-Home-For-Winter

The biggest advice that I can give you to a total winterization:  Hire a professional.  Particularly a plumber.  The rest you can do, but a plumber that knows how to winterize a house is invaluable.  Regardless of whether you do most or all of it yourself or if you hire well, here is what needs to happen:

  • Start outside and get that garden or outdoor area ready for winter.  Put away furnishings and make sure hoses are unhooked and drained.  Lock doors, chain items up and prepare for your absence.
  • Plug holes or areas from animal intrusion.  Make sure that air vents have “vermin screen” installed or plug the opening completely.  Don’t forget dryer vents and chimney openings.  Chipmunks love dryer vents and birds love chimney openings.
  • Drain all water from the house and landscaping lines.  Turn off the water main, drain the system and use pressurized air to “blow out” the lines.  Using pressurized air will get water out of those low spots that you don’t even know exist. This is the function that a good plumber can do for you.
  • Turn off all heat sources.  Remember that if you are not heating the property at all, there may be consequences with damage to materials.  This is especially important with older homes.  Plaster, siding, flooring and other materials can be damaged by extremely cold temperatures.
  • Turn off the remaining utilities.  AFTER, the plumber blows out the water pipes, then turn off electricity.  Hint:  The plumber needs electricity to run his compressor.
  • Unplug appliances and shut off valves to systems.  You never know if someone will turn a breaker back on or switch a valve on and gas is running into your vacant property.  Consider locking valves and access doors shut.
  • Use RV antifreeze in toilets (both the bowl and the tank), drains and sumps.  This is important!  Any water that is left should have a quantity of antifreeze poured in.  Don’t use an automobile antifreeze.  RV antifreeze is biodegradable and won’t harm a septic system.  BUT, more importantly, the drains in your sinks, tubs and showers rely on an amount of liquid to seal out sewer smells in the “p trap” that is below that drain.  RV antifreeze is the perfect liquid for that.
  • Remove perishable foods.  Not only the refrigerator, but also dry goods or bottles that can explode in sub-freezing temperatures. Prop the refrigerator door open to prevent those strange smells.
  • Open cabinet doors and bedroom doors.  Proper air flow keeps things dryer and warmer.
  • Cover interior furnishings to protect them from dust and light damage.  Window light in high elevations can be very damaging to furniture.
  • Consider using a neighbor or friends to check on things during your absence.
  • Consider using a house check service to make sure things are alright during that long winter you are gone.
  • Lock everything up.  As I said before, consider locking more than just doors and windows.
  • Pay the bills.  Think long and hard about how long you will be gone.  What about home owners association fees, taxes, utilities or other recurring costs.
  • Make sure you have insurance coverage.  Does that policy allow for an extended absence on your part?
  • Keep a key with your trusted REALTOR.  You know that really good REALTOR that sold you that perfect escape?  He is a trusted individual that will lock that key away in a cabinet, making sure it is not coded to your address.  In an emergency, he can drop by the house or give the key to anyone you choose.  He is a phone call away!

These are some basic, general ideas on how to completely shut that property down.  These ideas are certainly not all that you should do and I urge you to do further research.  I also urge you to hire reliable professionals to take care of the intricate details!  I hope you have fun while you are away! 

 


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at www.GaryNelsonGroup.com.

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

Contact Information

The Gary Nelson Group
Realty Executives of Flagsaff
15 E. Cherry Ave. Suite 101
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Direct: 928-225-3510
Office: 928-773-9300
Fax: 928-774-1102


 

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