Area Real Estate News & Market Trends

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Aug. 1, 2019

Phoenix Facing Affordable Housing Crisis?

Is Phoenix facing a potential affordable housing crisis?

PHOENIX (FOX 10)

Many new high-rises have changed the Phoenix skyline over the years, and there are even more in the works.

As developers continue to build up, however, many people are seeing their rent go up as well.

According to a recent study by Yardi, rents rose nearly 7% in the last year in Phoenix, nearly double the national rate. In the last year, Phoenix city officials say nearly two dozen high-rise projects have been completed or under construction.

In Phoenix, vacant, flat, dirt lots are quickly transforming into brand-new towers, as the city's economy continues to add thousands of jobs every year. The growth, however, is sobering for some.

"What it seems like they're forgetting are people who already live here," said Camaron Stevenson with the Arizona Housing Coalition.

Many families can no longer afford to live in their Phoenix neighborhood. Stevenson and his young family moved out of the Steele Indian School Park area because of the vertical trend.

"There were some high rise apartments built up across the street and our rent went up, so we got priced out of the neighborhood. We had to leave," said Stevenson.

The current proposal for that area is a $1 billion project called Central Park, which could include six towers, a hotel, homes, retail and office spaces. Meanwhile, the developer who purchased one particular piece of land in Downtown Phoenix is looking at rising above the rest by building a 550-foot tower.

The new developments are out of reach for many Phoenix families, with advertised rent starting at around $1,400 for a studio or a one-bedroom.

"We have one of the largest gaps in affordable housing versus people who need it in the country, and if we continue at this pace, we're going to see a rise in homelessness," said Stevenson. "All the downfalls in the 2008 recession, we're going to see that come right back at us."

The median home price in Phoenix is now just under $250,000, up 97% since 2011.

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Sonny in Arizona Can Help!

In such a competitive market, it's important to have the most updated information at your fingertips and the most experienced Realtor® at your side. I work with rental clients all the time to find them a perfect home! Contact Sonny today or call (623) 824-4275. Let me help you get that house!

July 11, 2019

VA Loans: What are they?

Everything America’s military veterans need to know

By Sonny Shrivastava

Homes for veteransThe process of qualifying for a mortgage and buying a house is complicated enough. What's this VA loan thing? If you know the basics and find a lender who’s knowledgeable, it can be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Did you know that in 2018, 610,512 VA loans were made with an average loan amount of $264,197? The VA was responsible for $161.3 billion in mortgages last year.

What is a VA loan?

A VA loan is a mortgage made by private lenders that is financially guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. There are no limits on how much you can borrow, but there are limits on how much the VA will guarantee. Some of the biggest benefits of VA loans is that they offer 100% loans with lower interest rates than traditional financing.

You may only use VA loans for a primary residence, which is the home where you live. You cannot finance an investment property, vacation home, or second home with a VA loan. The main attraction of a VA mortgage is that it is easier to get financing by offering zero down-payment loans with more lenient credit and income requirements than conventional mortgages.

What are VA loan eligibility requirements?

Most members of the military, veterans, reservists and National Guard are eligible to apply for a VA loan. Spouses of military members who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability also can apply. Active-duty military personnel qualify after six months of service. Reservists and members of the National Guard must wait six years, but if they are called to active duty before that, they receive eligibility after 181 days of service.

You might qualify if you:

  • Served 90+ consecutive days of active service during wartime
  • Served 181+ days of active service during peacetime
  • Were an active member of the National Guard or Reserves for 6+ years
  • Are married to a service member who died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related disability

Even though you may be eligible to apply for a VA loan, you still have to meet lender requirements which include income and employment verification, credit qualification, tax returns, and debt-to-income ratio.

Do VA loans require PMI?

Unlike other loans where you are putting down less than 20%, a VA loan does not require private mortgage insurance.  Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and conventional loans with less than 20% down require PMI. This can add a couple of hundred dollars per month to your payment and can end up costing you thousands over the life of the loan.

This translates into significant monthly savings for VA borrowers. For example, a borrower who makes a 3.5% down payment on a $200,000 FHA-insured mortgage would pay $100/mo for mortgage insurance alone.

Sonny in Arizona Can Help!

In such a competitive market, it's important to have the most updated information at your fingertips and the most experienced Realtor® at your side. This month alone I sold three homes for veterans and found one family their perfect forever home! Contact Sonny today or call (623) 824-4275. Let me help you get that VA loan!

May 24, 2019

Buckeye Real Estate on Fire

Buckeye fastest growing city in U.S.

By City of Buckeye

Buckeye fastest growing city in U.S.Buckeye, Arizona is now listed as the number one fastest growing city in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The list of the 15 fastest growing cities by percentage in the U.S. with populations of over 50,000 was released earlier today.  Census Chart of top 15 fastest growing cities - Buckeye, AZ #1

Buckeye was the only Arizona city to make the list again this year, and moves up from the 5th fastest growing city last year.

The city is likely to stay in the top 10 for years to come. With a planning area of over 640 square miles, it is only five percent built out today.

The list shows from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, Buckeye saw an 8.5 percent increase in population, reaching 74,370. City officials estimate the current population today at about 82,600.

“Buckeye provides our residents an excellent quality of life,” said Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck. “We offer good housing values while also staying focused on ensuring we remain a desirable community for years to come.”

In 2018, approximately 2,200 single-family residential permits were issued in Buckeye. So far in 2019, permits are exceeding that by 8%, with the city projecting it will issue about 2,400 permits this year.

There are also tremendous opportunities in Buckeye for retail shops, services and employment due to our rapid growth.

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties and Puerto Rico. Annual estimates for resident populations are produced by measuring population change, which includes all people currently residing in the United States.

To learn more about living, working, playing or relocating your business to Buckeye, please visit growbuckeye.com/ 

April 11, 2019

FHA Tightens Underwriting Guidelines

FHA's tightened underwriting standards impact banks’ profitability

by Candyd Mendoza

FHA loans tighteningFollowing the news of the Federal Housing Administration subjecting mortgage underwriting to a more intensive manual underwriting process, banks have started to pull back and will continue if yields continue to drop, according to a new study.

A Federal Reserve survey revealed that banks would tighten lending standards if short-term rates rise above their long-term rates. According to the banks interviewed in the report, this inversion of the yield curve would affect their lending practices and make them less profitable and more risk-averse.

“The yield curve just inverted in March meaning that short term rates exceeded long term rates,” Glen Weinberg, chief operating officer and vice president of Fairview Commercial Lending, wrote in an article. “Banks have already started pulling back the reins on lending by focusing on only the highest quality transactions that will be able to weather an economic transition.  This tightening trend will accelerate as worries about the future persist.”

Increased high-risk underwritings mean the FHA will approve fewer loans due to credit, income ratios, or payment amounts. High-risk loans are likely to be denied, and this would weaken many first-time homebuyers’ purchasing power, as the FHA is the largest low down payment loan provider in the US.

“The reason for the change now is I suspect someone was looking at the FHA portfolio and had an Oh sh** moment when they realized the outsized portion of the portfolio that is at much greater risk of default due to very low down payments and higher debt to income ratios,” wrote Weinberg. “This led to the abrupt change in underwriting to try to mitigate future risk as the economy enters a new cycle.  Unfortunately, the changes now might be too late as the real estate market is already starting to cool.”

March 11, 2019

Valley a Seller's Market

Most housing markets shifting in favor of buyers, but Phoenix bucks trend

From KTAR.COM

Pixabay Photo(MARCH 11, 2019) PHOENIX — Conditions for homebuyers are looking up in most of the nation’s housing markets, according to a real estate website, but Phoenix is bucking the trend.

“Nationwide and in most of the biggest metros in the country, market conditions have started to shift more in favor of buyers,” Zillow economist Jeff Tucker told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.

“Probably the most important thing for buyers is that there’s more inventory on the market than we’ve seen in the last few years.”

But Zillow found that five of the nation’s 35 biggest metro housing markets are moving in the other direction.

“Phoenix is actually a standout, kind of cutting against the trend, by remaining a pretty steady, strong market that is not actually seeing a lot of relief for buyers in Phoenix,” Tucker said.

“Inventory there has been lower over the last year than it had been in previous years.”

There is a big demand for homes in the Phoenix, Tucker said, especially from people living in more expensive housing markets in California looking to maintain their lifestyle for a lower cost.

He said housing construction is also booming in the city, with builders getting permits in 2018 to build about 30,000 homes.

“The continued demand for housing there is really supporting jobs in the area, and it shows no signs of slowing in Phoenix, in particular,” he said.

Tucker said Phoenix’s median home value was $265,000, and homes in the area tend to sell for about 2.5 percent less than they are listed for.

Phoenix stands out as one of the fastest home markets, he said, with houses going from being putting on the market to closing at an average of 61 days.

“That does actually mean for buyers in Phoenix things are still moving at a very fast pace, which can make (it) a little stressful for buyers,” Tucker said.

“If you’re a seller, though, that’s good news — you want to be able to close quickly.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

Nov. 7, 2018

Crime Prevention Tips

By Sonny Shrivastava

Crime Prevention in Buckeye AZNobody likes crime in his or her neighborhood, but did you know that most crime is opportunistic and not something that is neighborhood specific? That's right! If we all come together as a community by taking individual steps to make our homes unattractive targets for opportunistic thieves and vandals, we can improve the entire area. Here are some tips on how to reduce crime in Windmill Village, Sundance, and surrounding communities.

Tips to Prevent Burglary

Can you get into your house through an unlocked window, or by using a hidden key under a rock, flower pot, or door mat? If you can get in, so can a thief! It's easy to make your home more secure and reduce your chances of being a victim.

Secure your home:

  • Secure sliding glass doors with track locks or even a broomstick in the track to keep the door from being opened from the outside.
  • Secure windows by using track locks or slide a bolt through a hole drilled into the corners from the inside.
  • Do not hide keys anywhere on your property.
  • Give a spare key to a trusted neighbor.
  • If you just bought a new home, change the locks or have them re-keyed.

Check the Doors:

  • Ensure exterior doors are metal or 1 3/4″ wood.
  • Doors should always fit tightly and hinge pins should always be on the inside.
  • See who is at your door by installing a peephole or wide-angle viewer in your entry doors.
  • Always secure your garage door by putting a padlock through the roller track, especially when you are on vacation.
  • Keep your garage service door locked. This door is often behind a gate and hidden from the front, making it an attractive target for a burglar.
  • Lock the door from the garage to your home and make sure you have a deadbolt.

Discourage Burglars from Targeting Your Home:

  • Trim shrubs and trees to make your front door visible from the street.
  • Trim tree limbs that could be used to climb into a window.
  • Keep outside lights on after dark to light up porches, entrances and yards. This includes the back of your home. Use timers and motion detectors to turn on lights and to make it look like someone is home.
  • Lobby the HOA to keep up the appearance of the community. A neighborhood that looks run down tends to attract criminals.
  • Report broken street lights to APS or the HOA. Report suspicious or abandoned vehicles  to the Police.

Additional Tips:

  • Keep an inventory of all personal belongings, and keep this list in a safe and secure location.
  • Use this Serial Number Tracking Form to help police find stolen items.
  • Take the Home and Business Security Survey to know if you are doing the right things.
  • Contact your homeowners' insurance company to add theft insurance.
  • Join a Neighborhood Crime Watch group by contacting the Buckeye Police Department.
  • If you notice a damaged screen, a broken window, or an open door, don’t go in! Call the Buckeye Police Department at (623) 523-0234.
  • If it sounds like someone is breaking into your home, call 9-1-1 immediately! Leave safely if you can, otherwise lock yourself in a room. If the burglar enters your room, pretend to be asleep.

Windmill Village, Sundance, and surrounding communities are general safe and have very low incidents of crime according to the Buckeye Police Department. However, you should always take steps to make your house the least attractive target to a potential burglar or vandal.

How to Recognize Suspicious Activity in Your Neighborhood

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Click here for real estate listings in Windmill Village & Sundance, or to conduct your own home search.

Nov. 5, 2018

Best Time to Sell?

By Sonny Shrivastava

Windmill Village

Here's the Scoop…

I get asked this question a lot by clients. As a 12-year resident of Windmill Village, I've become very familiar with the season cycle of our community, which also includes much of Sundance. Every market is seasonal. Listing your home for sale at the wrong time of year can cost you thousands of dollars. Why is that? Supply-and-demand. When demand drops, so do prices. To get the highest price for your home, you want to list your house when there is highest demand.

Here is a birds-eye view of Windmill Village's seasonality over the last year using data from our Multiple Listing Service. The bars track number of homes going under contract during that month while the line tracks average price-per-sqft. As you can see, when demand drops so does the price. When demand is high, prices rise. This cycle repeats every calendar year.

Windmill Village seasonality

When Should I List My House?

My recommendations to clients are always based on cold, hard data. Based on the above chart, which tracks nearby activity over the last 12 months, the absolute best time of year looks to be spring to early summer. That's when we should see the highest demand and the highest prices. If spring/summer is not in your timeline, the next best option would be January/February. The winter bump here in Windmill Village/Sundance is likely due to snowbirds. We have a large number of smaller homes that are attractive to vacationers and those looking for a 2nd home.

Average prices increased dramatically in the third quarter of this year, which has led to a bit of a slowdown in the fourth quarter as buyers get priced out of the market. I hope you find this information helpful!

Don't miss my next blog post where I will share Windmill Village pricing broken down by home size.

Click here for new listings and recent sales in Windmill Village, or to conduct your own home search.

Aug. 8, 2018

Will the Housing Market Crash?

By Sonny Shrivastava

Yes, the housing market will crash. Eventually. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me this question I'd be retired by now. If I had a crystal ball with which to answer that question I'd be the richest man in the world. Since neither are true, let's rely on the experts to see what they say…

Supply and Demand

According to a July report from CoreLogic, home prices continue to rise in Arizona and that situation will not change until we see more supply. We are in a perfect storm for rising home prices because there are more buyers than there are houses for them to buy. According to CoreLogic, home prices in Arizona have increased an average of 7.4% year-over-year.

Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic, said in a press release that even in the most expensive markets, nearly four times as many renters were looking to buy than homeowners were willing to sell. Across the country, 15% of homeowners and 28% of renters have shown a desire to buy a home during the next year, yet only 11% of homeowners have shown a desire to sell. Until these numbers reverse, prices will keep going through the roof.

National Home Price Change

Red Flags

The real estate market never crashes without warning signs. If you are concerned about the market, here are some key indicators you can follow:

  • Mortgage applications
  • Existing home sales
  • Unemployment rate
  • Consumer confidence

Mortgage Applications

According to CNBC, mortgage applications fell 17% from a year ago. Don't fret, however. They fault soaring prices as the reason behind the drop in mortgage applications. In other words, buyers are getting priced out of the market and are choosing to stay put. On its face this doesn't appear to be negative news for anyone except banks and mortgage brokers. If anything, this drop in mortgage applications is likely nothing more than a symptom of a hot market. If more buyers get out of the hunt, however, we could see the market start to cool.

Existing Home Sales

According to NAR—The National Association of Realtors®—existing home sales decreased for the third straight month in June. This report has been all over the news lately.

Reading the headlines, you'd think something terrible was happening. Don't panic! When look at the actual numbers, existing home sales are down only 2.2% from a year ago—in other words, nothing. Headlines are often misleading. When pressed, Lawrence Yun of NAR said,

“The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market. What is for sale in most areas is going under contract very fast and in many cases, has multiple offers. This dynamic is keeping home price growth elevated, pricing out would-be buyers and ultimately slowing sales.”

While sales were 2.2% lower year-over-year nationally, median home price was up 5.2% in the same time period. June's national medial home price hit an all-time high at $276,900. The bottom line for NAR is the same as CoreLogic's—prices will continue to rise until more inventory comes online.

Unemployment Rate

Looking at the unemployment rate historically, it has been declining steadily since about 2013 and continues to hover around 4%. The trend line would indicate that we should expect to see only minor drops, if not a leveling. Regardless, this is great news. If unemployment starts creeping up, consumer buying power is reduced and fear starts to set in. If you see that happening, pay attention to the other indicators to paint a complete picture.


source: tradingeconomics.com

Consumer Confidence Index

The Consumer Confidence Index measures Americans' confidence in the economy. According to MarketWatch, this indicator hit an 18-year high in May. According to an economist at Barclays,

“Consumer confidence has remained resilient in recent months despite uncertainty stoked by anti-trade rhetoric and stock market volatility.” 

The high level of confidence reflects a sturdy economic expansion in the U.S. that’s about to turn nine years old with no end in sight. Job openings are at a record high and unemployment is at a 17-year low. This is all great news.

The Verdict?

Here we go with the crystal ball thing… If I had to wager money, I'd put my chips on the market staying healthy into the foreseeable future. The major indicators are all showing growth, confidence, and stability. The only softness we see is in demand fueled by buyers being priced out of their markets by quickly rising prices.

What is the worst thing I see happening? With fewer buyers due to affordability issues, we will see supply/demand reach more of an equilibrium. That means we could see appreciation retreat from its record high levels, but there is certainly nothing here that would indicate a "crash" or even a drop in home prices.

My Recommendation: If you are buying, get off the fence! The longer you wait, the less you will be able to afford due to rising home prices and rising interest rates. If you have an existing home to sell, use our free property valuation tool to get an idea of what it's worth.

Aug. 4, 2018

Buckeye 5th Fastest Growing City

By Sonny Shrivastava

Sienna Hills Community in BuckeyeBuckeye, Arizona is now the fifth fastest growing city in the country according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2017 list of the 15 fastest growing cities in the U.S. with populations of over 50,000 was released today. 

Buckeye was the only Arizona city to make the list, and moves up from the 7th fastest growing city last year.

The list shows from July 1, 2016 to July 1, 2017, Buckeye saw a 5.9 percent increase in population, reaching 68,453. City officials estimate the current population today at about 74,000.

“Buckeye provides an excellent quality of life for our residents,” said Buckeye Mayor Jackie Meck. “We offer the greatest value in housing along with a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities which creates the perfect environment to continue attracting new retail development and large employers to our great city.”  

In 2017, approximately 2,200 single family residential permits were issued in Buckeye, and the projection for 2018 is that at least 2,500 permits will be issued. 

Buckeye also provides excellent city services and events for residents. Our award winning Public Works Department, Skyline Regional Park and year-round family friendly events are just a few of the many benefits making Buckeye a great place to live, work and play.

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases estimates of the population for the nation, states, counties and Puerto Rico. Annual estimates for resident populations are produced by measuring population change, which includes all people currently residing in the United States.

To learn more about living, working, playing or relocating your business to Buckeye, please visit www.growbuckeye.com.

Source: City of Buckeye

May 14, 2018

Getting Cash Back on New Construction

By Sonny Shrivastava

This is quite possibly the biggest secret in the business…

When you buy a new build, did you know that you can have a Realtor® negotiate on your behalf, review your contracts, represent your interests, and pay you an incentive? Every builder budgets at least 3% of the base price of the home as commission to a Realtor, whether there is one or not. If you don't have one, the builder keeps this money.

The builder's sales office represents the builder's interests, not yours. All of the salespeople are licensed Realtors®, which puts you at a disadvantage. Who looks out for you, to make sure the terms are fair, you aren't overpaying, and you don't lose your deposit over a technicality?

That's where we come in. In order to represent you, the builders require that we accompany you on your first visit to the sales office. When you fill out the builder's registration form, we also fill out a Realtor® registration form to ensure we can represent you. The builder pays us a commission, and in turn, we will give you back 1/3 of our commission (equal to 1% of the base price of the home).

How Do I Get My Rebate?

Step 1: We accompany you on your first visit to each builder as your Realtor®
Step 2: We negotiate a great deal on your new home
Step 3: At closing we will credit 1% of the base price towards your closing costs

At close of escrow, we will issue a credit from our commission equal to 1% of the base price of the home towards your closing costs. This effectively reduces the cash due at closing by the same amount, putting that cash back into your pocket.

VERY IMPORTANT—The builders require us to accompany and register you on your first visit to their sales office. They set the rules. Contact us before you visit the builder, otherwise we cannot represent you or pay the incentive.

The Sonny & Daniella Team Can Help

In such a competitive market, it's important to have the most updated information at your fingertips and the most experienced Realtors® at your side. We recently negotiated double the incentive for several of our new construction buyers, saving each of them tens of thousands of dollars above and beyond what they were able to negotiate by themselves.

Contact Sonny & Daniella today, or call (623) 824-4275, and let us help you get 1% cash back on your next new construction home!

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