Ask an Expert {Answers from Rockstar Realty AZ}


selling your homeWe are excited to introduce you all to Renee Niskanen….

Renee is a Realtor at Rockstar Realty AZ. She is our Ask an Expert for the month and she is answering all of your questions! See below for all of the great information about Arizona real estate, factors to consider when both buying and selling your house, and more!

Visit the website for more information about Renee and the team at Rockstar Realty AZ

Your real estate questions/answers:

1) What factors should you consider when deciding to do a major renovation or move?

While there are many factors to consider with doing either or even both renovating or moving, a few of the most important things to consider is 1) Financial Peace — are those decisions in your families’ best financial interest? Before making those decisions, do your budget, assess your priorities, know all the costs (the hidden costs and account for surprise costs), don’t count on equity in the future from renovations or moving – you can’t predict the future and neither can your real estate agent or contractor. 2) Evaluating the Reasoning — Is the desire to move or do a major renovation a way to fill up some space in your life where your needs perhaps emotional or spiritual aren’t being met? Sounds strange to write that, but I do know many folks that run from project to project or home to home trying to seek out happiness, but don’t find it in either of those things. 3) Being on the Same Page as your spouse (if married) moving and renovating can be very overwhelming, emotional and expensive experiences that can put a strain on your relationships in many ways. Make sure decisions are made  together and have a plan on how to get through disagreements ahead of time.

2) If you are selling your house, is it better to have it staged or empty?

It really depends on the space inside the home and if you have the budget to stage it. Smaller homes can sometimes look bigger with the right furniture inside of it. And larger homes can sometimes lack a comforting feeling when empty. For any room in a home that is an awkward space, staging it can show a buyer how they might use that space. Trust your real estate agent and let them advise you based on your space and budget. Most of the time an empty vacant home works just fine. I have worked with sellers that lived in their homes while selling it and they did not have a budget to stage. They let me go room to room and stage it with what they already have. We start by making sure they won’t be offended by this process which involves removing all personal items, reducing clutter and moving furniture, accessories and décor to give the home a better flow and use of space.

3) If you are unable to remodel your entire house, what is the best room to renovate in order to get the best return when selling your house?

Minor kitchen, minor bath and, actually, landscaping (curb appeal!!!) renovations are proven to get the best return when selling your home. I would be a little cautious of renovating bits and pieces of a home before selling it without having a consistent design flow throughout the home. A lot of buyers today who are hooked on HGTV want to see consistent design flow throughout the entire house. I would suggest doing a pre-listing consultation with an agent if you think you might want to renovate prior to selling and let them make suggestions based on your budget and the comps of homes in your neighborhood. Sometimes you are better off pricing it right pre-renovated to sell, so the buyer can come in and put their own touch on the home. And today, buyers can take advantage of renovation loans – where they can include the cost of renovating in the actual loan. The home will be appraised based on the value the renovation will add.

4) What additional costs should you factor in to selling your house?

Always consider your closing costs (title fees, insurances, taxes, etc. A good number to consider is 2% of the actual purchase price; commissions for both the listing agent and buyer’s agent comes from the seller– commissions are always negotiable, but you can average it at 6% of the actual purchase price; a home warranty for the buyer (if you agree to it) – average of $500; costs of repairs after inspection (if you agree to repairs); cost of keeping utilities on during the time the home is listed; cost of getting the home ready to sell; and the cost of actually moving. During your pre-listing appointment, your agent should be able to take the time with you to review all the estimated numbers so you have a good blueprint of costs to sell. If you are in a home with a domestic well and septic system, you may also be responsible for the costs of those inspections.

5) How do you “get ahead” when you sell when the market it high but still must buy another house?

The market isn’t necessarily high in general across the Valley. The market in one neighborhood is going to be different in another neighborhood. Property taxes and HOA’s or no HOA’s affect your monthly payments and differ between parts of the Valley as well. Downsizing should help you get ahead because utilities will be lower. Ask yourself how much space do you really need. Again, consulting with an experienced agent and lender (if needed) is a good idea to set your expectations and reach your goal of getting ahead.

6) Does the seller have to disclose if there are scorpions in the house?

Yes. The seller does have to disclose if scorpions have been present in the house — even if you’ve only found one. This is a question on a document the seller must fill out referred to as the SPUDS (SPDS). It’s the Sellers Property Disclosure form. If you do have scorpions, I would recommend having the home treated for pests and write it in on the disclosure form.

7) Is it worth it to get professional photos done?

ABSOLUTELY. With my brokerage – we take care of the professional photos for the seller. You are not expected to pay for those – it’s included in our service. So if for some reason you take the home off the market or it doesn’t sell – you are not expected to reimburse those costs. We also take the time prior to photos to make sure the home is photo ready. I have a background producing TV segments and photo shoots and it is actually a fun task for me.

8) Is there any way to avoid (or minimize) paying the 6% fee to a realtor?

It’s not a fee, it’s a commission. Commissions are always negotiable. If you agree to 6%, that would be most likely 3% going to the listing agent and 3% going to the buyer’s agent. Agents work very hard for commission – a huge misconception in the general public is that we don’t do anything. It couldn’t be further from the truth. We are covering the cost of marketing your home including paying for advertising, the sign costs, costs of doing open houses, costs for professional photos and other miscellaneous costs as well as our time. The realtor also pays part of that commission to their brokerage and also has to pay part of that to Uncle Sam. Your agent will be worth it. Listen to what Dave Ramsey has to say about using a qualified real estate agent in selling your home….

9) In Arizona is there a time of year that is the best time to put your house on the market?

People may disagree with me, but I say no. I’ve heard many different responses to this question. In many cases, putting your home on the market isn’t according to when you feel like doing it, so “the best time of the year” is irrelevant. Arizona is experiencing growth – good for sellers; Rent is very high – good for sellers; interest rates are going up – putting pressure on buyers to act fast or not at all; some areas of town are a seller’s market – great time to sell; some areas of town are a buyer’s market – great time to buy.

Every real estate transaction is unique – there is no such thing as one size fits all or a magic formula when working with buyers or sellers. If you are thinking about buying or selling, it’s best to do a consultation with an agent and lenders (if needed) ahead of time to put together the best plan for you and your unique home and financial situation. In fact, it’s best to interview several – just make it clear that you are interviewing at this time and are not signing any documents. I am always available to do a consultation to discuss your individual needs. Feel free to call me at 602-999-8876 or email me at [email protected] Rockstar Realty AZ.

We owe a huge thank you to Renee for being our Ask an Expert for April and for providing us all these extensive answers to our questions!

We are now taking questions for our next Ask an Expert! If you have a question for a Anna Rodney from Arizona Doulas, comment below or email your questions directly to SMB at [email protected]

Previous post from our Ask an Expert Series

Expert Series {Answers from Rites of Passage– all things puberty}


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here