Shadow Mountain Serenity: 3031 E Friess Dr, Phoenix AZ

Shadow Mountain Serenity: 3031 E Friess Dr, Phoenix AZ

Looking for a rental home that doesn’t feel like a rental home? You’ve landed on the right page.

Nestled in the foothills of Shadow Mountain, this terrific five bedroom, three bath home is the pride of North Phoenix. That’s right, I said five true bedrooms.

A first-time rental, the relocating owners have painstakingly upgraded this home over the course of the last two years. From the architectural stone on the front exterior to the pavered front and back patios, you will be welcomed by the pride of ownership that simply does not exist in typical rental housing.

Featuring 4 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms up, and 1 bedroom and bath down, the 1998 construction boasts a family room, living room and formal dining area in addition to an eat-in kitchen nook.

And the kitchen … oh, the kitchen!

Recently remodeled with richly refinished cabinets, glass mosaic backsplash tile and newer appliances, you’ll be tempted to spread out on the generous kitchen island and simply bask in the room’s grandeur.

If you must leave the kitchen at some point, I highly suggest you only do so in favor of the resort-worthy backyard. The expanded back patio has been recently upgraded with pavers and a built-in firepit. Sit down for a spell on the built-in bench swing and let the world disappear for awhile as you laze away the day.

And, of course, the coup d’etat … the pebble-tec swimming lagoon (to just call it a “pool” would be a gross disservice). Fenced to accommodate those with fledgling swimmers, a salt-water filtration system was recently installed to spare your eyes, skin and hair the harsh chlorine experience. Perfect for a dip on those warm summer days, you’ll feel you’re treating yourself to a “staycation” in your very own home.

And what kind of resort experience would it be if you had to maintain said lagoon yourself? You provide the mimosas; the landlord will provide the pool service.

Of course, none of these amazing features would matter in the least if the home was not centrally located. Nice as the total package is, you likely wouldn’t want to commute to the other side of the moon to enjoy it. As the old adage goes, the three rules of Real Estate are location, location, location. Fortunately, the home sits along the prestigious 28th St and Thunderbird corridor. With high-end custom homes dotting the neighboring subdivisions, you will be equally thrilled with the ready access to the 51 freeway for an easy commute to downtown Phoenix.

If this is the lifestyle you envision, but aren’t quite ready to make the long-term commitment of a purchase, come take a test-run with us. Your only regret will be that you waited so long to start living the life you’ve always wanted.

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Full Property Details

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Has Housing Found It’s Legs? The Summer (And the Chicken) Will Tell.

The latest sales numbers are in, and the news is encouraging.  Closed sales and pending sales are up rather dramatically and the listing inventory is sub 40,000 (37,000 and change at last glance) for the first time in recent memory.  The underpinnings of the Valley Real Estate market have been statistically improving steadily with each passing month.

Is the bloom returning to the rose?

All signs seem pointed towards a market poised for recovery.  Said recovery may, in hindsight, prove to already be well under way.  Of course, bringing supply back in line with demand is the most tangible proof we have of a recovering market, but it doesn’t answer the question we Realtors can’t escape.  We hear it in the line at Starbucks and when cornered by someone three martinis deep at cocktail parties:

“When are prices going to bottom out?”

That, my friends, is the 2 trillion dollar question.  Let me preface my forthcoming opinion with the following.  Anyone who tells you definitively where this elusive “bottom” is probably derived their opinion by studying flow charts, statistics, MADD Magazine and cutting the head off of a live chicken under the cover of midnight prior to the winter solstice.

My voodoo is no better than their voodoo.

That said, when I consult the astrological charts and the Arizona Regional MLS data, I am left with two distinct impressions.  First, it is self evident that the house of Apollo will be foreclosed upon prior to the arrival of the harvest moon.  Secondly, that the cocktail question cannot be properly answered in its current construct.

Here’s the way I see it.  A segment of the market has already bottomed out.  Not just any segment, mind you, but the primary driver of the past year’s Real Estate activity across the greater Phoenix and Scottsdale area.  Of course, bank owned property is to what I am referring.  With a disproportionate number of actual consummated transactions involving foreclosure properties at present, it is my humble opinion that the banks have already crashed their values through the floor.  Attracting multiple offers and bidding situations in many instances, they would be hard pressed to erode pricing further now that demand is lined up around the corner in the form of cash laden investors.

The next part of the equation, though, might be difficult to swallow for Valley homeowners (A + B = oh Crap!).  With foreclosure properties really driving pricing, few traditional sellers have been able to compete.  Foreclosures have sold at record clips while resales have lagged behind their typical share of the market.  As such, a gulf has opened up between the bank properties which are selling and the non-bank owned homes that are collecting dust at non-competitive prices.  For the market at large to officially “bottom out” in my opinion, resale prices still need to fall further to decrease the gap.  Buyers need a reason to start buying resale homes again, and that reason is all wrapped up in pricing.  Most folks would prefer to buy a well maintained home from a mom and pop seller than an abandoned bank owned property, but not if it is priced a couple hundred thousand dollars higher.

Synopsis:  I think the lowest prices that the Valley will see are presently or very nearly at hand because there is a great deal of demand for these homes.  There will be good values still to come as resale prices drift further down, but don’t expect the bank owned bargains you are seeing today to get substantially better in the coming weeks and months.

As the title suggests, I think the summer will tell the tale of our market’s health.  The spring is always our most active season, so I want to see how the market reacts when the seasonal buyers leave town.  Will we retain the momentum from a brisk spring or will we recede back into the doldrums as the mercury rises?  I predict the former, but again, that’s just my voodoo.

It wouldn’t be a Real Estate post without a call to action, so I’ll leave you with this. Wherever prices are next year, interest rates are highly unlikely to be in the 4’s like they are presently.  If you’re asking me, and even if you’re not, I think it’s time to buy.  Last call for bargain shoppers is looming.

Now, about this chicken …

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So You Don’t Want to Make Any Repairs, Eh?

One of the age old adages of Real Estate is that everything is negotiable.  By and large, it is true.  However, another adage to bear in mind is that there is a time and a place for everything.  Let’s examine the sticky issue of seller repairs during the course of a typical transaction, for example.

Buyer’s aren’t the only ones who can experience a healthy degree of remorse after consummating an agreement to purchase a home.  The phenomenon also extends to sellers who are convinced that they have undersold their property.  Hard to fathom that anyone who watches the news these days and has an idea of what is going on in the current market would think it is possible to undersell right now, but it happens.  While a remorseful buyer may look to the home inspection as an escape hatch to get out of a purchase they no longer wish to make, a remorseful seller may decide to stonewall all buyer inspection requests because “they are already stealing the house.”

There is also the case of a seller who has received a subsequently higher offer.  Legally bound to the terms of the contract with the first buyer, the higher offer can only be placed in backup status.  As such, some sellers with a better backup offer in hand will be inclined to stonewall the inspection demands of buyer number one in hopes of chasing him/her away.  This would enable the more favorable terms of the second contract to be moved to the forefront.

Well, in each case, there is a problem with the strategy.  A seller cannot retroactively change a purchase agreement to an “as is” transaction.  The time to address such terms is during the initial contract negotiation.  Unless overridden with constructive language, the boiler plate of the AAR (Arizona Association of Realtors) purchase contract warrants that certain systems of the home are in working order upon the close of escrow (receipted proof of any/all corrective work is required to be furnished to the buyer 3 days prior to closing).

Section 5a of the AAR Purchase Contract:

Seller Warranties: Seller warrants and shall maintain and repair the Premises so that, at the earlier of possession or COE: (i) all heating, cooling, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems (including swimming pool and/or spa, motors, filter systems, cleaning systems, and heaters, if any), freestanding range/oven, and built-in appliances will be in working condition; …

In other words, the seller is contractually obligated to make any repairs necessary to ensure that the systems referenced in the passage above are in fully functional condition at closing (or possession, whichever comes first).  I am not an attorney, but according to the suits in our downtown corporate office, “functional” is to mean “as intended upon original installation.”  In other words, your A/C may work, but if it has a temperature split outside of the ideal range, you are most likely technically obligated to repair the component that is preventing it from functioning in accordance with original specifications.  Faulty wiring (double taps in the breaker box, reversed polarity, etc), non-functioning fixed appliances, leaky shower valves … you are on the hook for those repairs.

Let me reiterate, I am not an attorney, so please do not refer to anything stated in this post for legal guidance.  I am but a simple Realtor with a simple message:

Unless you struck the seller warranty language out of your original purchase agreement (good luck with that in this market unless you happen to be an asset manager for a bank and willing to discount the price of the home dramatically), there are certain repairs you are stuck with, lest you be in breach of the purchase contract.

That’s where fun new topics such as specific performance lawsuits come into play.

Read the contract to which you are agreeing, and don’t let your agent dismiss the fine print as “just boilerplate.”  That boilerplate contains specific rights and responsibilities of which you need to be aware prior to ratification.  The Devil is always in the details.

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New Construction Vs Bank Owned Homes – A Brewing Battle?

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It is an inevitable starting point for many buyers right now. Before I can finish saying hello, I am bombarded with requests to see bank-owned and short sale housing. Frankly, were we to change places, I would most likely do the very same. I am aware enough of the opportunities this market has created in the foreclosure arena to dedicate a more or less weekly post to bank-owned property spotlights, after all.

However, there are values everywhere right now. Resale homes have been dragged inexorably closer to the shallow end of the pool by the bank properties, and builders have been forced to sell off their inventory homes at even deeper discounts than usual. There is no part of the market that isn’t coughing up a bit of water.

Ah, brand new construction at foreclosure pricing … can it be?

New construction homes in Phoenix Foreclosure Pricing

In some cases, yes, it can.

Builder spec homes just might provide the alternative to bank-owned property that Phoenix area value hunters seek. A spec home is either one which the builder constructed without a waiting buyer in the wings or one in which the original buyer bailed out on the transaction after construction commenced. These homes make great options for buyers who prefer brand new construction, but don’t want the lengthy wait involved in having their new home built from scratch. A buyer can typically move into a completed spec home within 30 days. Of course, if construction is complete, the new buyer will not be able to make any cosmetic choices in regards to flooring, cabinetry, etc. The big discounts, however, are often very persuasive arguments for that sacrifice.

Eager to dump existing inventory in the best of times, builders are even more anxious to get their specs off the books in this market. As evidenced by the near standstill in new permits being pulled by builders for new projects, it is cut and run time for many. I am seeing completed spec homes with significant levels of upgrading being advertised for sale well below base price. In other words, if you signed a contract to build from scratch, you would pay more for a home with absolutely no upgrades than you would for the completed home with cherry cabinets, slab granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, premium culdesac lot, etc.

Another advantage that a builder can offer a prospective buyer right now is tough to beat in-house financing. Not usually a fan of running my loan through the same guy who is selling me something, any conflict of interest concern tends to melt away when they disclose the cheap rate blocks they have purchased for their customers. In addition to the low sales prices, I have isolated several builders who are paying up to the maximum allowable buyer closing costs. A recent client is getting a fixed rate in the 4’s with an additional buydown for the first two years. At no out of pocket cost. All he has to show up to closing with is a downpayment. Not too shabby. *

You have to be careful, however. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many struggling builders throughout Maricopa County. While a little financial pinch works in the buyer’s favor, too much can lead to unfinished subdivisions, mechanic’s liens and other fun stuff. You want to do your research (or better yet, work with a knowledgeable Realtor 😉 to ensure you are not walking into a doomed project. I recommend national builders with ample working capital and developments that are nearing close-out.

Ghost towns make poor investments

You don’t want to get stuck in a ghost town.

Bear in mind that you may have to venture a bit further from your desired location if brand new construction is your bent. Scottsdale is largely landlocked, with only the valuable land in the North remaining open to development. There is infill construction in central Phoenix, but the majority of new home projects are located in South Phoenix (Baseline corridor), North Phoenix (I-17 corridor) and pushing ever Westward towards LA. For those in the Southeast Valley (Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Queen Creek), there are still plenty of options.

I spent the last week looking at a fair amount of them, as a matter of fact.

I had one of those purported foreclosure buyers who ended up buying a brand new spec home from a quality home builder instead of any of the bank-owned homes in the same price range that needed work, had no available warranty and disclosure information and no special financing incentives.

The moral of the story is not to rule anything out. Look less at the property label (bank-owned, resale, new) and more at the property itself. You just might be surprised at the unexpected bargains that are available to be had across the full color spectrum of the 2009 Real Estate market.

Give me a call if you want to find just the right shade of perfect.

The color of money

* I always advise speaking with a reputable outside lender to compare programs/costs

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