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First Time Home Buying Misconceptions

by Gary Nelson

Are you thinking about buying your first home in Flagstaff? No doubt you’re excited about your decision, but may have some doubts about whether you’re able to make this work. There are certainly misconceptions circulating that may give you some doubts. Friends and family may be telling you things that are outdated or simply not accurate. Times change, and the housing market is certainly something that changes.  What are some of the home buying misconceptions that may deter you?

  1. You need a 20% down payment to get a mortgage.

At one time this was the case. Decades ago, you had to pay 20% - 50% down for a mortgage and needed almost perfect credit.  This obviously limited home ownership. In order to make it possible for more people to own a home, the government created the Federal Housing Administration and began offering “FHA Loans”. Today the FHA will back a loan from a home buyer who only has a credit score of 500 and a 10% down payment. And for those with a better credit score of more than 580, you only need 3.5% for a down payment! Because of this provision, more people are able to buy homes today.

  1. You Can’t Qualify For a Mortgage With Student Loans

Debt is debt, whether it’s a credit card or loans.  Just because some of your debt is a student loan doesn’t make a difference, beyond what your total debt is compared to your income. And this is what lenders look at – your debt to income ratio. What really matters is if you’re managing your current debt and can afford to add a mortgage to it.

  1. You can save money by not using a real estate agent.

This belief is simply not true. Some people may thing that using a real estate agent is going to add to the cost of buying a home. Sure they make a commission.  But the point is that the seller is the one who pays that fee, and it’s worked into the selling price of the home, regardless of whether you decide to use an agent. So why wouldn’t you use an agent if it’s not going to cost you in the end? It makes buying a home so much easier. The agent takes care of all the paperwork, appraisals, inspections, and other matters that are part of the process, so you don’t have to.

  1. It’s cheaper to buy a home that needs a lot of renovating.

Some people who watch home improvement shows may think that buying a home that needs major renovation is the way to go. If you can do most of the work yourself, maybe. But if you have to hire all the work, not to mention the time and materials, it will not be cheap. Save yourself the pain and chose the home in Flagstaff that meets your needs without all the mess of renovation.

If you’re ready to buy your first home Flagstaff and the surrounding area, we can help you make your first home buying experience a positive one.  We’re happy to answer any questions about the process and make sure you have the right information going into the home buying process. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool

Moving With Pets

by Gary Nelson


Are you getting ready to move into your new home and you have pets? To be sure, it will be a worthwhile challenge. Your pets have perhaps even been used to the same surroundings their whole lifetime. When you move, it causes a huge disruption to that sense of protection that your home provided, especially since they don’t know why everything has suddenly changed. That’s why moving is so stressful for animals. How do you remove some of that stress to make the change more bearable?  Here’s a few tips that can help.

Moving With Dogs & Cats

Prepare for the First Few Days

Make sure your dogs and cats are comfortable during the first days in your new home.  Prepare an ‘overnight kit’ that has enough food, litter, toys and other needed items to help your bets feel at home.

Keep Them Out of the Action

If you have a friend who can watch your pets or a kennel during the move, that would be ideal.  After you’re done moving everything in, then you can move them into the fully furnished home after the action has subsided.  But if that’s not an option, try to find them a quiet room in the new house to adjust to.  Make sure you also check on them regularly and try to stick with feeding and walking routines.

Keep Them Inside

Also ensue that your dogs or cats don’t go outside until you get to the new home. They can get lost easily in this strange new surrounding. Again, keep them inside for a few days to let them have time to adjust to their new neighborhood.

Move the House Before You Move Your Pets

Moving your pets last during the move is always the best method.  Try to get as much set up as you can before moving your pets in. You can set up one room first to move them into and keep them there to let them adjust.  Give them plenty of attention and toys to make them feel at home.

Update Their Info

After you move, visit a local pet store or vet to update their tag and chip info.

Moving With Fish

Moving fish can be tricky.  They are easily traumatized and can die easily from a move. To help, if you’re moving short distances, move them in plastic bags filled with their old tank water.  But if you’re moving a long distance, it may be better to find your fish a new home rather than risk them dying.

Moving With Birds

Birds can be, well, flighty.  Just because your bird hasn’t flown off your shoulder before doesn’t mean it won’t after a stressful move. It actually happens more than you think. So make sure you keep your bird caged during the move and even a few days after.

Moving is never easy, but if you prepare, you can make it easier for your furry family.

If you're planning on buying a home in the Flagstaff area and have questions about buying now or saving for a larger down payment, feel free to contact us to help you decide what works best for your situation. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool. 

5 Reasons to Use a Real Estate Agent When Buying or Selling

by Gary Nelson

Real Estate Agent

Whether you are buying or selling a home in Flagstaff, it can be quite an adventure. What you need is someone to guide you through this complex process so that you have success on this adventure. Some home buyers and sellers are tempted by instant gratification, so they may turn to selling or buying a home on their own.  This is called FSBO, or "for sale by owner." You've no doubt seen a few lawn signs around the Flagstaff area that say this. But is going it alone the best route?

The reasons you need to hire a Flagstaff real estate professional hasn't changed over the years. In fact, projections of higher mortgage interest rates and home prices has made it even more crucial to have help when buying or selling a home. Here are 5 of the top reasons you need help when buying or selling a home.

1. Do you want to deal with all the paperwork?

Arizona has regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in the Flagstaff and Arizona markets.  They know what paperwork needs to be completed and know how to do it. Save yourself that headache and let a pro take care of it.

2. What do you do when you find your dream home?

Many people don't realize that there are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Do you know what they are? A real estate professional does. Let them take care of the process.

3. Are you a good negotiator?

Real estate transactions require negotiations with a number of parties. Most people are not familiar with this process or practiced in negotiation tactics. You need to negotiate with buyers (who want the best deals possible), home inspection companies, all the way to the appraisers.  There are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

Do you know what your home that you're selling in Flagstaff is really worth? Do you know what the home you're buying is worth? It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to a study by Collateral Analytics, FSBOs achieve prices significantly lower than those from similar properties sold by real estate agents:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

To get the most from your transaction, you need someone who's familiar with the Flagstaff market and can set the optimal price.  And if you're buying, you need someone who can tell if a home is set at the right price and can negotiate the best price.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the Flagstaff, Arizona market?

There is so much information out there on the news and on the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on in the Flagstaff area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring a local agent in Flagstaff who has his or her finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one. You need someone who is going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

If you're buying or selling a home in Flagstaff, you can count on The Gary Nelson Group to help you through the process. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. And you can always feel free to call us at 928-225-3510 to talk to an experienced agent today to start you on your journey of buying or selling your home in Flagstaff.

How to Find the Right Mortgage Lender

by Gary Nelson

Mortgage Broker

Finding a mortgage lender in Flagstaff or online can be a challenge, especially if you don't know what to ask or what points to cover. It's ideal then to prepare to talk to mortgage executives at different types of institutions, like a bank, a lender, and a broker. As a buyer, your first meeting with a lender should be to see if you trust them and what you qualify for.

First you need to find a lender. How do you do this?

1. Talk to a lender before you start looking for a home.

Processing mortgage paperwork can take a long time, so you should start looking for lenders and rates before you decide on your house so you don't lose out on it. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will make the entire process smoother. In fact, some real estate agents may reject offers from buyers without a mortgage pre-approved, so it makes send to be prepared.

2. Contact different types of lending institutions. 

There are multiple ways of getting a loan. There are banks, credit unions, online lenders, and brokers who offer mortgages. Check out different websites to see where you can find the best deal. Even though you can visit banks and credit unions in person, you may have to call an online company.  Remember to be careful of scams with online lenders.

3. Research common terms and conditions. 

Make sure that you get familiar with the terms and types of mortgages that you may talk about with a lender. Here are some of the terms you will likely encounter:

Interest rate: This is the amount you pay to borrow the loan. The interest rate is a percentage of the loan. You pay this on top of the money you owe to repay the loan.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): This is the amount you will pay every year for the loan including fees and interest.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM): This type of mortgage has interest rates that change over time. Rates may start low and then increase which works fine you are planning to sell the house after a few years.

Fixed Rate Mortgage: This type of mortgage has interest rates that do not change over time. If you plan on keeping the house the full length of the mortgage, this type is ideal.

Hybrid Adjustable Rate Mortgage: This type of mortgage has fixed fees for the first year or two. After this point, the rates may change.

Make sure that when you talk to a lender that you're prepared.  Check back on our blog every week for more real estate advice.

Should You Use an Appraisal Contingency?

by Gary Nelson

The time has come at last! You're buying your new home in Flagstaff.  Things are going smoothly so far. The seller has accepted the offer, the contracts are signed and you've put down your deposit.  Now comes the appraisal.  What could go wrong? It turns out that the home is appraised for less than what you offered. Now the bank refuses give you the loan.  Of course you want to avoid this and you can with appraisal contingencies.

Not everyone knows about appraisal contingencies. But you should, because they can save you a lot of trouble. They are conditions that have to be met on a real estate contract before it becomes legally binding.  Most real estate contract include these conditions:

The appraisal contingency: This states that the home has to be appraised at the sale price or higher.  This will help keep the mortgage from falling through.

The finance contingency: This mandates that the deal is based on the bank granting the loan.

The inspection contingency: The home must pass inspection.

If these conditions are not met in a certain period of time, you can back away from the deal with your deposit.

How exactly does an appraisal contingency work? When a home is appraised, the bank will usually only loan the amount that the home is appraised for.  That means that if the appraisal is lower than the seller's asking price, you can walk away from the deal and get your money back if the seller refuses to lower the price.

But isn't this the same thing as a finance contingency?  Almost. If the bank agrees to a smaller loan that meets the finance contingency, then the seller can demand that you make up the difference from your own pocket.  In this case the appraisal contingency protects you, otherwise you have to come up with that extra money, or be in breech of contract and possibly lose your deposit. That's why you should have both the appraisal and finance contingency in a contract.

Does this mean you should always have contingencies in a real estate contract? That depends. Usually a seller can get offers from multiple buyers, especially in a hot market.  The easier the deal is for the seller (by not having contingencies), the better chance you have of getting the home.  But you risk that you won't get the loan you need. In the end, it's up to you, based on the market and what risks you want to take either way.

5 Reason Why Owning a Home in Flagstaff Makes Sense

by Gary Nelson

The dream of owning a home in Flagstaff has never been more attainable.  Recent reports show that the number of people who own a home has rebounded from recent lows and is headed in the right direction.  The reasons to own a home may differ from person to person, but there are also many basic similarities.

Here are 5 basic reasons you should own your own home.

  1. It’s a way to save – When you pay your mortgage, you build equity in your home that can be used later in life.  You can use it to pay off credit card debt, put a child through college, or renovations.  If you pay rent, your landlord is the one with that equity.
  2. Tax savings – You can save on taxes by owning your own home.  You can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, and profits from selling your home, but make sure to always check with your accountant first to find out which tax advantages apply to you in the Flagstaff area.
  3. Lock in monthly costs – When you get a fixed rate mortgage, you will lock in your monthly costs for up to 30 years.  Even when your home value increases, your monthly costs won’t.
  4. Cheaper than renting - According to the latest report from Trulia, it is now 37.4% less expensive to buy a home of your own than to rent in the US. That number varies throughout the country but ranges from 6% cheaper in San Jose, CA to 57% cheaper in Detroit, MI.
  5. No other investment lets you live inside of it – You can invest your money in gold or the stock market, but you will still need somewhere to live. In a home that you own, you can wake up every morning knowing that your investment is gaining value while providing you a safe place to live.

Before you sign another lease, why not sit down with to better understand all your options.

We're excited to present an all-new home search tool to our website! You can now more easily find the perfect home in Flagstaff.  If you've used our previous search feature, you'll notice similarities.  But this new search page makes it easier to refine your property search so that you only view the homes that meet your specific criteria.  Plus, it's mobile friendly, so you can use it on the road as you're searching the Flagstaff area for homes.

There's two great ways to search for your next home in Flagstaff:

Search by Location

You can search for homes in Flagstaff using a number of easily defined criteria.  Looking for recently listed homes? Just click the "New (Within 7 Days)" box.  You can select a specific location, a property type, specific home features, garage spaces, square feet, acres and more. And of course you can define your search by price range.

Draw on a Map - NEW FEATURE!

Don't quite know the name of the exact location you want to find a home in? If you can find it on a map, then you can search for it on our search tool.  This powerful feature lest you draw a shape around the area that you want to search in.  The, just like the Search by Location tab, you can refine your search using the same parameters.

Searching for the perfect home in the Flagstaff area has never been easier! Visit our new home search page today to start your journey to finding your new home.  And feel free to contact us any time at 928-225-3510 if you need help.

Are all the kids moved out and you have the house to yourself? Are you planning on retiring where you are or do you want to move somewhere more desirable? Are you living in a home that's beyond what you can care for?

Is there a way for you to match your current needs with your future goals?  The answer for you might be the equity you have in your house.

CoreLogic states in their Equity Report that the average homeowner has gained $14,000 in equity over the past year.  And the farther west you go, the higher it can be! So the question is, do you know how much your home has appreciated?

If your someone who's looking to find a smaller place to live, you could sell your home and use the profit to buy a smaller home or condo, while eliminating some of the maintenance of a larger home.

If you want to buy a vacation home, you could use the additional cash from the sale of your home to make a down payment on a vacation home in a place where you want to retire. If you can't afford to live there full-time, then you can rent it out during peak vacation times and pay off the mortgage faster.

Purchasing your retirement home now will allow you to take full advantage of today’s seller’s market, allow you to cash in on the equity you have already built, and take comfort in knowing that a plan is in place for a smooth transition into retirement.

There are many reasons to relocate in retirement, including a change in climate, proximity to family and grandchildren, and so much more. What are the reasons you want to move? Are the reasons to stay more important? Meet with a local real estate professional who can perform an equity evaluation to determine your options, today!

Is Now the Time to Buy Your Dream Home in Flagstaff?

by Gary Nelson

If you’re thinking about moving into your dream home in Flagstaff, you should seriously think about doing it earlier in the year rather than later. The reason is that the two components of your monthly mortgage payment, which are home prices and interest rates, are both expected to increase during the year. Also, interest rates are expected to rise.  Here are some predictions:

Freddie Mac

“While full employment and rising inflation are signs of a strong economy, they also have the potential to push mortgage rates and house prices up. The higher rates and higher prices create significant affordability concerns, which may continue to characterize the housing market for the rest of 2017.”

Lynn Fisher, Vice President of Research & Economics for the Mortgage Bankers Association

“By the time we get to the fourth quarter of this year, we will still be under 5 percent – we are thinking 4.7 percent…Something north of 5 percent by the time we get to 2018, and by the time we get to 2019, we show fourth-quarter rates hitting 5.5 percent.”

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist

“Despite some regional disparities, title agents and real estate professionals do not expect increasing mortgage rates to have a significant impact on the housing market this spring. Continued good economic news, increasing Millennial demand and confidence that buyers will remain in the market even if rates exceed 5 percent bode well for 2017 real estate.”

Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

“We will probably see rates higher at the end of year, around 4.5%.”

So if you’re in the position to buy your home now, then don’t delay.

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