Mary Ann Toohey - The Maricopa Real Estate Co | Maricopa, AZ Real Estate


It's not always easy to see your home through the eyes of prospective buyers, but there are a few things worth knowing that can make or break a potential sale.

While your real estate agent will often be the best source of information and advice when it comes to home staging, here are a few crucial basics that many homeowners overlook:

  • Curb appeal: Sometimes first impressions can be the strongest and most indelible memory in the minds of potential buyers. If your front lawn needs mowing and your hedges are looking shabby, it definitely sends the wrong message to would-be buyers. Conversely, if you have a manicured lawn and impeccable landscaping, it speaks volumes about the pride of ownership and quality of care that the current owner (you) has given to the property. One important thing that a lot of homeowners forget about curb appeal is the "drive by factor." Many house hunters will screen properties that potentially interest them by driving by and getting a quick, general idea of how it looks. This process of evaluation (and elimination) is often done on a pass/fail basis. In other words, if the appearance of your property creates an unfavorable impression, they will cross your house off their list and move on to the next one.
  • Clutter is always a turnoff. Many homeowners equate "clutter" with too much furniture in a room. While crowded, cramped living spaces do comprise a big part of the problem, there is much more to it than that. Other symptoms of a cluttered home are tables and counter-tops that have little or no empty space. The same can be said of walls that are too "busy" with framed photos, paintings, clocks, nick-knacks, and miscellaneous memorabilia. Very often understatement and simplicity create a better impression than visual clutter and excessive "busyness". One aspect of your home's appearance that is especially worth mentioning are your closets. While some people might say that closets are "out of sight and out of mind," unfortunately, that principle does not apply when your home is on the market. Since the type and amount of storage space available is a high priority item for many potential buyers, they are almost invariable going to open and look in every closet and storage space in your house. If those areas are crammed with clutter of every description, then that is going to leave prospects with a bad feeling about the cleanliness and the amount of care the house has received. If you're getting ready to sell your house, it's definitely time to de-clutter those closets and other storage areas. (Hopefully, people will be a little more forgiving about the appearance of your basement and attic, since you may be in the process of packing up to move!)
Maximizing your curb appeal and minimizing the clutter in your home are two of the most important things you can do to enhance the marketability of your home. Scraping off peeling paint and touching up areas that need a little TLC are other relatively easy fixes you can do to make your home look more inviting and well cared for. Your real estate agent can give you a list of other helpful home staging ideas that can help make the difference between a quick sale and a property that languishes on the market for months.

Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.

Mortgage points

While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.

If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.

PMI costs

If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.

The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.

Mortgage interest

Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.

Property taxes

Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.

Home energy tax credits

Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

IRA Withdrawals

Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.


Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.


f you are on the fence about buying a fixer-upper house, you may be wondering if it’s as affordable as you think it might be. Depending upon what needs to be done in the house and how extensive the projects are, you may be in over your head buying this type of home. Here’s a few things that you should consider before you buy a fixer-upper:


Can You Do Any Of The Work Yourself?


If you watch any television remodeling show, you think that remodeling can be done in an hour. They make it look so easy! Too bad it isn't like that in real life. If you attempt a job, and it takes longer than it normally would, that can set you back on dollars. Even worse, if you can’t complete the job yourself, you may need to hire someone to finish it, which will cause you to incur unexpected costs. Ask yourself the following questions before you decide to undertake your own home improvement projects in a fixer-upper home:


  • Do You Have The skills? 
  • Do you have the time to complete the job? 
  • Will doing the repairs stress you out? 
  • will you be happy if the results are less than professional? 
  • Do you actually want to do the job yourself? 


Before You Make An Offer, Price Out Repairs


Before you even make an offer on a fixer-upper home, make sure that you find contractors and price out the repairs that the home will need. If you do decide to do the work yourself, make sure that you price out the supplies that you’ll need. No matter what you decide to do for your repairs, you should add an additional 10-20% on to the estimated costs for other unforeseen problems.   


Don’t Forget About Permits


You’ll need to check out the permit costs for any and all repairs. Doing work without a permit may save you money, but it could cause problems once you try to resell your home. Contractors can arrange the permits for you. Getting these permits can be a time consuming matter and frustrating at times, so be prepared to go through some paperwork when you start the repair process. 


Understand The Cost Of Major Structural Work


If the home needs major structural work, it’s a good idea to hire a structural engineer for a few hundred dollars in order to inspect the home before you even put in an offer. This way, you can be confident that you have everything budgeted properly and understand the full extent of the problems. 


Generally, it’s not a great idea to purchase a home that needs major structural work unless you fall into the following categories:


  • You’re getting a great discount
  • You understand all of the problems that you’re facing in the home
  • You know for sure that the problem can be fixed
  • You have an estimate for the repairs
  • You know how you’re financing the repairs
  • You have the budget to complete all of the repairs. 


There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a home that needs significant repairs. It can be a great bargain if you have the budget and the will to complete the projects at hand. Just know what you’re getting into when you buy a fixer-upper home!   


If you want to enjoy a fast, seamless and profitable home selling experience, it helps to be flexible. That way, you won't feel pressure to accept the first homebuying proposal that comes your way. Instead, you can listen to various homebuying offers, consider their pros and cons and choose one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Unfortunately, the stress associated with selling a house can escalate quickly. And if a home seller is not careful, he or she risks making rash decisions that may lead to subpar results.

When it comes to selling a house, it generally is a good idea to be flexible. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help sellers maintain their flexibility throughout the home selling cycle.

1. Evaluate the Housing Market

The current housing market may favor buyers or sellers. If you want to maximize the profits from your home sale – and maintain your flexibility throughout the home selling journey – you should examine the real estate sector closely.

Assess the prices of available houses in your city or town that are similar to your own. This will allow you to see how your residence stacks up against the competition and price it appropriately.

Furthermore, evaluate the prices of recently sold houses in your area. With this housing market data, you can determine whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market and plan accordingly.

2. Don't Hesitate to Counter a Buyer's Offer

After you list your house, it may be only a matter of time before you receive an offer on your house. However, just because you receive an offer on your house does not mean that you have to accept this proposal.

Remember, your duty as a home seller is to accept the ideal homebuying proposal based on your home selling goals. If an offer fails to meet your expectations, you should not hesitate to counter or reject this proposal.

In most instances, it helps to counter a buyer's proposal. If you submit a counter-offer that matches a buyer's needs, both you and a buyer can move forward with a transaction. Or, in the worst-case scenario, a buyer will reject the counter-offer, and you can move forward with your attempt to sell your house.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

If you're unsure about how to stay flexible throughout the home selling journey, you can always hire a real estate agent. In fact, with a real estate agent at your side, you can get the insights that you need to succeed in any housing market, at any time.

A real estate agent will learn about your home selling goals and help you map out a successful home selling journey. Plus, he or she will list your residence, promote it to the right groups of potential buyers and ensure you can make an informed decision about whether to accept, reject or counter a buyer's proposal.

Want to sell your house? Consider the aforementioned tips, and you can operate as a flexible home seller.


Bidding on a house can be a stressful process, especially when you’ve found your dream home. While the wait to hear back on if your bid has been accepted can be a time of anxious anticipation there are things you can do to make it less so. By being prepared ahead of time and knowing what to expect you can create a smoother, and therefore, less stressful bidding process. Keep reading for some tips on how to do just that below! Know what you’re willing to spend. Decide on what your ideal price and what the maximum amount you will be willing to spend are before beginning the bidding process. This is an ideal step to take before beginning house hunting as well. Doing so will allow for a more streamlined bidding process, especially if there is a bidding war. Knowing when an offer is out of your budget will prevent financial stress now and in the future as well. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Before putting in your bid get everything you need in order to ensure you are pre-approved for a mortgage. Once you are approved you can show the seller your pre-approval paperwork when placing your bid. This will help you look more serious about your offer and even a more attractive buyer to the seller. Schedule a home inspection. Scheduling a home inspection before placing your bid will allow you to make a more informed offer on the house you are interested in. To get the most out of your inspection have a list for the inspector of any concerns you had about the house during your walk through. Ask your real estate agent for a referral to an inspector they know and trust as they will have worked with many before. The real estate agent knows best. Listen to any advice your real estate agent may have for you throughout the bidding process. They are an expert in the home buying field and familiar with the different intricacies of home buying procedures. Not every home buying process is the same and an experienced real estate agent should be familiar with variations to each sale. If your real estate agent suggests a course of action follow suit to ensure that the buying process goes more smoothly. While I can’t guarantee an entirely stress-free experience when bidding on a house, there are things you can do to help ease any anxiety that comes with attempting to buy your dream home. With preparedness and a smart real estate agent on your side you can feel more confident and less anxious in your bidding process. Once you have the keys to your new home in hand you will be glad you took the steps necessary to create a smooth and successful process!



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