Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mesa, Arizona Luxury Homes

Little family.  BIG HOUSE.  This was one of the original homes we looked at but after having a baby during the hot summer months, this family put purchasing a new home on hold.  When we looked at homes again in the fall, they put an offer on a smaller short sale home in the same neighborhood.  After months of waiting, this home kept coming back into their minds as the home they really felt suited the needs of their growing family.  It has over 5500 spacious square feet with a sparkling pool on just over an acre.  Perfect size for a family who loves to be surrounded by extended family members and friends. After some serious negotiating that about turned my hair gray, we came to an agreement.  Followed by some hairy moments with an on-line lender we were able to close escrow.  The true beauty of this home is in the eye of the beholder.  The Gardner's had a vision of what this home could become with some simple remodeling, a coat of paint and new carpeting.  They went to work immediately after closing to start gentle renovations.  Here are some before & after pics. . .
The kitchen got a much needed cosmetic facelift which made a world of difference.  Check out these before and after pics of the kitchen. . .
                  The leaded glass pattern on the cabinet doors really POP!
Kitchen island looks amazing with the rock veneer removed and the stunning black painted contrast. The most dramatic change made was to the downstairs floorplan to make it more functional.  From the front entryway the double doors to the left opened to step down directly into the workout room.  The step down was eliminated and rather than opening into the workout room a hallway was created that lead to the workout room on the right and to the new master bedroom on the left.  A wall was removed between the two downstairs bedrooms to create a large new master bedroom.  The workout remained intact just a little smaller.  The downstairs 2nd bathroom remained intact, too.  The following pics don't do it justice but will give the general idea. . .
                                                 Front Entry - Before
                                                  Front Entry - After
                                              Workout Room - Before
                                                Workout Room - After
                                       New Downstairs Master Bedroom
The upstairs opens up to a loft play room with access to all the upstairs bedrooms.  Originally a swinging bookcase concealed the entrance to a storage room.  The bookcase has been removed and a door added.  Here are the pics of the improvements made. . .
I have not captured everything that was done to the home before moving day but you get the basic idea of the vision that the Gardner's have for their new home.  I appreciate the opportunity to work with them and to be invited back to celebrate their accomplishments.  I wish them many years of happiness as they continue to make improvements in turning their house into the home of their dreams.

Making your dreams of home ownership is my business.  I am committed to make them a reality for you, your family and friends.  Call 480-570-5263 today to schedule a free real estate consultation.

Barb Merrill Works 4 U!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Apache Junction, AZ Short Sale

And the Mother of the Year Award goes to ... Ronda ... for exceptional generosity in giving her daughter the opportunity to own a home!  Over a year ago Ronda went to her daughter with an idea.  Being home prices hit bottom and mortgage interest rates were at an all-time low, she was willing to put up the down payment money and qualify for financing to enable her daughter to buy a home.  That is when I was contacted to help Ronda find a home within her budget that her daughter would love.  We looked at a lot of homes in Apache Junction, AZ.  All of them were distressed home sales.  We saw foreclosures, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HomePath, HUD homes, short sales and every other diamond in the rough out there.  A fixxer did not scare these women!  Love happened when we found this short sale in July, 2012.  The soon as we put in an offer, the sellers took the home off the market because they weren't sure if a short sale was in their best interest being a second home.  I kept the lines of communication open with the sellers agent and finally the sellers decided in our favor to accept the short sale offer in September.  The original offer of $104,000 was already 2 months old and the sellers were just beginning the short sale process with their bank.  Ronda should also receive the Nobel Peace Prize for exhibiting surpassive patience in the face of an excruciating long short sale.  She hung in there while the sellers bank lost their financials and had to resubmit all their documentation twice, was told it would be processed by the end of the year and wasn't and went through a handful of negotiators who no longer work for the bank.  A mother's love is enduring.
Patience payed off in a big way!  The coveted short sale approval letter came for the original offer amount 7 months later.  During those 7 months property values increased.  The lender's appraisal came in at $111,000 during escrow.  With improvements recommended by the home inspector, the current market value at closing is $121,000.  For a total earned equity of $17,000 while waiting for short sale approval.  Not a bad investment for this cozy 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom 1463 sf home!
I would be happy to represent you and your family in the very important decision of selling or purchasing a home in the Phoenix metro area. I have been representing families since 2006 as a full time REALTOR, GRI and Associate Broker. With my years of experience during the transitioning of home values in the Arizona real estate market, I will gladly share with you my expertise to get you and your family into the home of your dreams.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Forever Young in Sun Lakes, AZ

People are the heartbeat of real estate.  Each real estate transaction is as unique as people are unique.  Over the course of a lifetime, I meet people that have had an influence on me because of how they have conducted their life.  Last spring, I had the priviledge to work with Shirley.  She's 80 years young, (she's okay with revealing her age) looks like shes 60 and has the energy of a 50 year old!  She works full time for Walmart.  Don't get me wrong. . .she's NOT a greeter!  She heads the jewelry department for one of our local stores.  She is a trusted employee with over 15 years loyality to the company.  She processes all the jewelry inventory that is received and sold in the store.  She didn't start out with this coveted position.  She was willing to work any job just to have the opportunity to work.  She started out in the bakery doing a manual labor job for minimum wage.  Shirley is no stranger to hard work.  She raised 6 children as a single mother while holding down 2 jobs to meet the family's needs.

Her work ethic was evidenced in her home.  When I listed her home I found out that she had changed out the toilets herself with the help of a neighbor to set them in place, she had arranged to have hardwood flooring installed and found some beautiful leaded glass kitchen cabinets doors at a second-hand shop that she had custom fitted.  She always had her home show ready even within a moments notice.

Shirley needed guidance and direction from me to navigate through the Phoenix metro area real estate market.  In turn, I was blessed by her wisdom that comes with years of experience to give me guidance and direction to navigate through my middle age years.  Work has given meaning and fulfillment to Shirley's life.  She is an inspiration to me of how I want to grow young!

During early spring of 2012 the Phoenix, AZ real estate market was in the beginning stages of a sluggish recovery.  There were an abundance of homes on the market.  We were competeing against a short sale across the street but Shirley was determined to sell.  Shirley's 2-story home in Ahwatukee was to large for one person.  She was ready for a single level home in a resort community.  We had an accepted offer in 65 days for only $7,900 less than the original list price of $249,900.

The sluggish economy paid off for Shirley in a big time way.   After looking at several villas in Sun Lakes, Shirley decided on this meticulously maintained single-level 1781sf 2 bedroom with a den which features an open kitchen with beautiful quartz countertops overlooking the spacious family room and gracious dining room.  With the split floor plan, this home is perfect for guests along with all the amenities Sun Lakes has to offer for visiting family and friends.  The best part is the Sun Lakes community provides a guarded entry, security patrol, exterior maintenance of villas including the roof and complete front and back landscape care.  The owners had the home on the market for almost 6 months.  They originally listed the home for $225,000 and had reduced the price to $199,900.  They were anxious to move to Florida and accepted Shirley's offer of $195,000.  This home has everything on Shirley's wish list including the price!

And I can sell yours, too.
I was able to arrange with both title companies and lenders to close escrow on the same day.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Timing is Everything in Real Estate

Is this the cutest couple ever!?! I'm bias because this is my nephew, Jon, and his super cute, mega intelligent and legally blonde (I told you I was bias!) wife, Suzy. They were blessed to have funds available to purchase a home for cash at the beginning of their life together. They couldn't have timed it better. We started looking at homes in the beginning of October, 2011. They had a limited budget and were willing to invest some sweat equity into a home they could call their own. I had them focus their search on for a home in Mesa, Arizona. This website only features HUD owned foreclosures available to anyone for purchase. The first 15 days on market HUD takes owner occupant bids only.  Don't get that confused with first time homebuyers.  HUD only requires that the bidders actually live in the home upon close of escrow regardless of how many homes they have owned in the past.  After 15 days on market, if the home has not sold to an owner occupant, the bidding is open to 2nd home and investment buyers.

Look at this great HUD home Jon and Suzy were able to purchase in Mesa, AZ!  HUD homes are greatly misunderstood. They have a bad reputation as being the bottom of the barrel properties but that is simply not true. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development underwrites FHA mortgages. When a person who has a FHA mortgage loan stops making the payments and the home is foreclosed upon, it is returned to the financier who is HUD. Then HUD liquidates the asset at the current appraised value. Yes! HUD has a full-blown appraisal of it's properties before they are ever listed on the market. They are listed at the appraised value. And that's not all! They also have a home inspection done of the property. They post the results of the home inspection on their website for potential buyers to view. Everything is disclosed up front. There's no guessing game. It is. . . what it is. . . and that's "as-is"!

HUD homes are as diverse in condition as any other foreclosed property. We looked at several HUD homes during the house hunting process. Using the list price as the appraised value to gauge their bids, Jon and Suzy started out bidding below list price. That approach wasn't working even though they would have had great bragging rights for getting a home for under appraised value. They were getting out bid by $20,000. As the reality of the situation set in, and Suzy was counting the days toward the end of the semester and the beginning of the next, they got more serious about placing a competitive bid. By the end of November, home prices were beginning to rise due to the lack of low-priced home inventory in the Phoenix metro area. They took my advise and bid over list price.

We made a strategic bid for $3,363 over list price on a single level house in east Mesa, built in 1999 by Dietz Crane Homes.  We wanted to outbid the competition by the smallest possible margin. Even one dollar over the next bidder will get the property. No one knows the amount of the other bids. It's all done electronically, with one bid per buyer and no call for highest and best. Not even the listing agent knows the winning bid until it is awarded by HUD.

It was sweet success for Jon and Suzy!  They were the highest bidders at $76,363.  Their first home has 3 bedrooms, two full bathrooms, 1309 sq.ft., fully equipped kitchen with an extended covered patio and clean concrete surfaces surrounding the house.   The repair work was minimal.  They did some minor stucco patching on the exterior and had the carpets cleaned. 

These two do have something to brag about now!  It has been 6 months since Jon and Suzy have closed on their house and already the value of the property has increased by $10,000 over what they paid.  Perfect timing and smart decisions paid off!  Congratulations!!!

I have to add one last picture of the pink bedroom.  Suzy liked this room, especially the colorful ceiling fan.  She wouldn't change a thing!  Very legally pink!

I wish Jon and Suzy years of love and enjoyment in their new home.

I value the privilege of home ownership and am committed to treat all my clients with the same care as I do my own family.  Your best interest is my priority.

Barb Merrill Works 4 U!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Home Sweet Retirement Home

Bill and Rose sold their family home in California back in the 1990's and took part of the proceeds of the sale to buy a super deluxe motor home with all the bells and whistles. Ever since then they have been calling the motor home "home" while they traveled the country taking advantage of the best weather for every month of the year. Of all the places they have experienced, they chose Arizona to settle down and make their permanent hub. Arizona is the perfect choice! They have childhood friends from Wisconsin who have also selected Pinal County for their retirement homes. They love the golf, restaurants, wide-open spaces, plenty of sunshine and spending time with their friends.

I had the privilege of working with Bill and Rose. They became like family. We found the home pictured to the left in the Park Homes neighborhood of Los Arboles in Coolidge, Arizona on one of their visits in November, 2011. We originally put an offer on a Short Sale home in the same neighborhood last spring allowing time for the Short Sale to be processed during the summer months while they were enjoying cooler weather to the north. Even though they loved the Short Sale home, the 2nd lien holder of the property refused to negoitiate causing us to reluctantly move on and look at other options. This home was investor owned. The investor-owners gave meticulous attention to every detail of this home. It was like brand new, only better, because it included a fully landscaped front and backyard with complete watering systems installed, window coverings throughout and upgraded light fixtures and ceiling fans. This house was move-in ready!

Look at the spotless interior. . .

That is just what these snowbirds were looking for! They want to continue traveling without the worries of huge mantaintance bills that would damper their travel plans. The home they purchased was built in 2006, has 1323 spacious sf with 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, plus a 2-car garage operated with an automatic garage door opener. Rose loves to decorate and has plenty of room to fulfill all her creative dreams!

I treat my clients like they are my family. I welcome the opportunity to represent you, your family and friends with all your real estate transactions in Arizona. Become a part of my family circle by clicking on Check out homes for sale in Arizona today!

Barb Merrill Works 4 U!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where is Arlington, Arizona?

Do you see the city of Arlington anywhere on the map? Either, do I!

I have lived in Arizona for over 30 years and I had never heard of Arlington until now. This is my story about John, Melanie and Arlington, AZ. I met John and Melanie at a showing of my listing on Sunaire Drive in Florence, AZ. They were newly married and had set up a wedding registry at their favorite credit union for their wedding guests and family members to deposit money in their behalf to be used towards a down payment on a home in lieu of gifts. John and Melanie had been gifted the necessary 3 1/2 percent for a down payment plus excess for closing costs, they both had stable and long term employment, good credit and with the help of one of my favorite lenders was able to meet the qualification requirements for a FHA mortgage. Although, they loved Florence they were open to suggestions about a location that would better suit John's commute into Phoenix everyday.

They were looking for an acreage property on the outskirts of the Phoenix metro area to raise their future family. I found in my MLS search a well-built HUD foreclosed home along with a fixer in Arlington, AZ that fit their criteria. I asked them if they were adventurous enough and could humor me in exploring the possibility. They were on board! We took a daytrip out to Arlington to look at homes.

Arlington, Arizona is a stone's throw east of the Palo Verde nuclear plant.
Yep! That's it! If you blink while you're driving by you'll miss it!

They fell in love with a home in Arlington that day. We made an offer on this HUD home and it was accepted!!! It was built in 2006 with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 1510 square feet on an acre lot with a primeter fence, complete with a fully covered extended back patio and 2 car garage. Thanks to my favorite lender, Gary Smith of BNC National Bank, he was able to build the $1,100 repair escrow into John and Melanie's financing package as a FHA 203K. This would allow them to have the repair money set aside in an escrow account to have the repair made after closing. After a thorough home inspection, it was determined that there was a water leak that inundated the garage with water almost immediately after turning on the main water valve. They found that it was due to a broken valve on top of the hot water tank. After closing it only cost $150 to have it repaired. The remainder of the repair escrow was credited to the principle balance of their FHA mortgage loan. Awesome deal!!!
Gorgeous views of mountains from back patio! House sits on a little hill for optimal viewing in all directions. Creosote bushes to Melanie's delight!
Other than the water heater repair the home was in good condition. It was evident that the previous owners took pride in ownership. Being this was a foreclosed home it was being sold in the "As-Is" condition. HUD was agonizing slow with their answer at the beginning but in the end, John and Melanie have a beautiful home to enjoy with their family for years to come. And they lived happily ever after.

Barb Merrill Works 4 U!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Best of Country Living in Florence, Arizona

Gorgeous View of Desert Vistas from Sunaire Property

21461 E. Sunaire Drive east of Florence, Arizona was the second acreage property I had the privilege to sell for the Mattingley family. Classic Arizona country living attracted Lawrence Mattingley to this property back in the 1980's. After he passed away in 2004, his children inherited both properties. Being they lived in Colorado, it was impractical to keep the homes and I was contacted through a referral to assist them in selling both properties. The main house, along with a carport/workshop and guest house are situated on a picturesque hilltop on 4.5 acres with unobstructed desert views of BLM land and mountains in every direction.

It has a charming farm style eat-in kitchen large enough to feed an entire crew of ranch hands!

Being the home on Sunaire was a site built home, the value was higher so the decision to sell the acreage with the mobile home in Javelina Desert Forest Estates was to be sold first. I sold the property located at 10680 N. Sagewood Lane, Florence, Arizona in June, 2009 for the Mattingley family. We worked hard and fast together to register the manufactured home with the MVD and record the affidavit of affixture with Pinal County, arrange for engineer certification of permanent affixture, test the well, pump and inspect the septic system and treat for termites. The front staircase had to be fortified to meet lender's conditions. It was just in the nick of time, too, because this was the last manufactured home that the mortgage broker approved before his underwriter discontinued financing manufactured homes. I arranged with the various service companies to be paid at close of escrow being the Mattingley's lived out-of-state and were not financially prepared to meet the expenses of selling the properties.

Everyone got what they wanted! The Buyers got a piece of heaven on earth, including a huge 1200 sq. ft. RV garage and workshop to die for!

I looked forward to every trip out to the Sagewood property. I came from the hustle of the Phoenix metro area to this beautiful, pristine cactus garden paradise. It is so quiet you can hear the wind blow and the cactus wren chirping. I love nature and was fascinated by the beauty of the cactus in bloom. Following are some of the pictures I took in the springtime:

I wish to thank the Mattingley's for the opportunity to work with them in selling their properties. It was not only a pleasure associating with them but a rejuvenation of spirit every time I visited their properties which I so needed in our busy world.