It is a seller’s market out there folks! And a strong seller’s market at that! That’s why it is so important for you, as a buyer, to be represented by an agent who is looking out for your interests and your interests only.
Here at the Kolb Team, we subscribe to The Cromford Report, which is an organization that tracks everything real estate in the Phoenix valley on a daily basis. The Cromford Market Index is an index/chart that indicates whether we are in a buyer’s or seller’s market, tracked on a weekly basis.
A score of 100 on the index is an even market, meaning no advantage to buyer or seller. A score below 100 is a buyer’s market, while a score above 100 is a seller’s market. The chart below is the Cromford Index for Sun Lakes over the past 5 years. The current score is 336.7 in Sun Lakes - an astronomically high seller’s advantage. For comparison, Phoenix is at 549, Sun City West is at 245.4, and Chandler and Gilbert are above 760.
As we discussed in last month’s newsletter, historically low inventory and high buyer demand is creating this very strong seller’s market. To put it plainly, you need a good, experienced buyer’s agent in this market. A buyer’s agent who works for a team or large brokerage in the area in which you would like to buy can be especially advantageous, as often they are exposed to new listings before they go live, giving you the opportunity to see and possibly write an offer before the general MLS population sees the property. Because we do list over 60 houses a year, occasionally we also represent buyers as well. In most cases, a different member of our team will represent the buyer, thereby keeping the fiduciary responsibilities separate, and creating a fair and smooth experience for both sides.
Here are some other advantages to using an experienced buyer’s agent:
- Sign Calls – You see a new sign go up in your neighborhood and decide to just call the listing agent on the sign to see the house. That agent will gladly show you the home and write an offer for you if you are interested, but he/she is primarily representing the seller (and also the seller’s interests). Any comps they run will be supportive of the selling price they have set with their client.
- Open Houses – You stop by an open house, you really like the property, and are interested in writing an offer. Again, the listing agent is often holding the open house, or if not, probably a new, inexperienced agent from their brokerage. Either way, you are not getting the best representation. Ask your agent for a handful of his/her cards to take with you and tell the open house agent that you already have representation.
- Use an agent that is very experienced in the neighborhood where you are looking. They know the models and are very knowledgeable of the community, amenities, HOAs, etc.
- Experienced agents can be creative in writing competitive offers that are most appealing to the sellers. Things like being flexible on closing dates, agreeing to proceed to close no matter where the appraisal comes in, and escalation clauses can help give your offer the competitive advantage when multiple offers are possible.
FIRPTA – Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act
If you are from Canada, Mexico, or another country outside of the U.S.A., and own real estate in the U.S. – this is a must read!
FIRPTA is a complicated and technical act that applies to any non-U.S. citizen who disposes of property in the United States.
With travel and testing restrictions being imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for you to be aware of FIRPTA. The tax applies to all properties sold for over $300,000. The tax is between 10-20% depending on circumstances.
Some exceptions do apply, and an attorney or accountant would be able to assist with answering questions and completing appropriate forms. For your information, IRS Form 8288-B is the application for either a reduced or waived amount of FIRPTA tax. Of course, if you plan to file, be aware that the title company must have proof of the necessary application paperwork having been sent to the IRS BEFORE close of escrow. They will need a copy of the 8288-B form AND a copy of delivery confirmation to the IRS (FedEx or UPS label). Therefore, it is essential that you do some pre-planning prior to listing your home for sale.
If a waiver is not requested, you will want a title company that works well with FIRPTA. Some title companies will offer to hold funds for 90 days - some will not. The advantage of using a title company that will hold the funds is that it gives you and your accountant time to calculate gains/losses and apply to the IRS to have the funds released to you if applicable. Otherwise, you will be filing a U.S. tax return for a refund of any monies owed to you.
Homes sold for less than $300,000 may have no withholding required under FIRPTA. If the sales price is $300,000 or less, the buyer signs an affidavit on or before closing which would state that they intend to use the property for personal purposes for at least 50% of the time the property is occupied for each of the first two 12- month periods immediately after closing. This would typically be relevant for a snowbird or investors who purchased the home as a rental.
FIRPTA can be a very confusing and complex area and you will want good counsel when making decisions. We partner with qualified accountants and attorneys, should the need arise. If you are a foreign investor in U.S. property and thinking of selling, let us know in advance and we will recommend some resources for you.
Shred-A-Thon 2021 For ALL Sun Lakes Communities
Our Shred-A-Thon this month (Saturday, February 13) was great! We collected food for emergency food boxes for Jacobs Mission which helps foster families.
Recipe of the Month
Sweet Corn Couscous with Green Beans and Hazelnuts
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- kosher salt to taste
- ¾-lb green beans (trimmed, blanched, and cut crosswise in ¼-in pieces)
- 1¼ cups sweet corn
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced small
- 3 tbsp dried cranberries
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp parsley, mostly chopped with a few whole leaves saved for garnish
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts for garnish
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add butter and onion, and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes).
- Add couscous and stir until toasted.
- Add stock, season with a pinch of kosher salt, then cover and cook until couscous is tender (about 8-10 minutes).
- Add beans, corn, bell pepper, and cranberries.
- Season with a little salt and pepper, and cook a few minutes until corn is tender (adding a little more stock if necessary).
- Add in chopped parsley, toss well and check seasoning one last time.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with whole parsley leaves and hazelnuts.
Highlight on Local Business Owners
Off The Deep End Pool Service is a family-run business in Chandler striving to serve their clients with professionalism, integrity, fairness, and dependability. Off The Deep End boasts a wide customer base, and offers weekly maintenance as well as equipment repairs and maintenance. Clients appreciate the honest fair pricing, quality work, and that all technicians are CPO-certified. They have all the tools and supplies needed to meet all your pool and spa needs.
Buyers of the Month
We have buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase and can’t find homes. If you or someone you know is thinking of selling and can accommodate, get in touch with us. We have your buyer.
Ellen "Nellie" Cashman, An Irish-born Arizona Pioneer (History of AZ Series)
In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day right around the corner, we are sharing Ellen “Nellie” Cashman’s story. Born in Ireland’s Midleton, County Cork, she came to the United States with her mother and sister in 1850 when she was around 5 years old. The trio settled in Boston. In 1865, the family moved to San Francisco, and in 1874 and 1880, Nellie moved to British Columbia and Tombstone, respectively – and alone. She stayed in Arizona until 1898, when she relocated to Alaska’s Yukon to join that state’s gold rush, and her final resting place, with the help of friends, was in British Columbia in 1925, when she succumbed to pneumonia and rheumatism. You might note that Miss Cashman moved to all these places by herself – in her 79 years, she never married, which wasn’t very common in the 19th Century. Judging by her list of accomplishments, she was far too busy for the trappings of married life anyway!
In British Columbia, she opened a boarding house for miners to stay at, and in lieu of collecting rent, she asked her lodgers for donations that she would take to the Sisters of Saint Anne to help build the Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Victoria. While on a trip to deliver the collection, she learned of a dire situation in the Cassiar Mountains that endangered the lives of several dozen miners (who were already sick with scurvy). Despite the heavy snowstorm, avalanches, terrible cold weather, and the Canadian Army saying it was far too hazardous to even attempt, she gathered a 6 man search party, and after 77 days in the very unfavorable conditions, successfully found the sick and trapped mine workers, and brought them food and medicine. This earned her the nickname “Angel of the Cassiar”.
Upon arriving in Arizona, Nellie stayed briefly in Tucson, to prospect, and also open a restaurant. The real action was in the silver mines of Tombstone though, so after a few months, she moved there. Mining and prospecting is an expensive proposition, and the ever-enterprising Miss Cashman operated several businesses to foot the bill, including retail (a footwear store and grocery) and hospitality (boarding house, hotel, and restaurant) ventures. Charitable work also remained an important part of her life, and she helped raise funds for Tucson’s Saint Mary’s Hospital, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and Tombstone’s very first public school. To assist the families of miners who came to the US from Ireland for work, she was active in the Irish National Land League. Following the death of her sister, Frances, from tuberculosis, Nellie took in her nieces and nephews, and cared for the 5 children for a period of time as a foster mother. A room and a meal was not denied to a weary mine worker who was unable to pay; nor was a chance to become rich, as she sometimes gave a small piece of her own prospects to those who could not afford to buy a full stake.
Ever on the hunt for valuable precious metals, Miss Cashman later ventured to other parts of the southwest and then on to Alaska, first in the Yukon, and then to a few other locales, where – as you may have guessed by now – she opened a store catering to fellow miners. Upon her passing in 1925, she was cared for by the Sisters of Saint Anne, at the same British Columbia medical facility she was instrumental in getting built 5 decades prior. Her reputation preceded her, as her business acumen, fearlessness, sense of adventure, generosity, philanthropy, charity, and genuine care for others was widely known. In a time when women usually stayed in the same city they grew up in, married young, had children, then stayed home to tend to their families and house chores while playing it safe and hoping to be lucky enough to live past 50 or so, Ellen “Nellie” Cashman certainly broke the mold!
Previous installments of our History of Arizona series include Arizona’s first inhabitants, and the story of Powell / Pauline Weaver, one of Arizona’s first pioneers. Learn more about the rich history of our state in future newsletters.
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Aging Gracefully at Home in Sun Lakes, AZ
Aging gracefully at home is something we should all consider. As a matter of fact, the pandemic has us all taking stock of the spaces we are living in. And, we are all trying to make our spaces into the homes of our dreams. Likewise, creating a comfortable and beautiful space we can grow older in. Similarly, there are huge benefits to growing older in our homes, not only emotionally and physically, but growing older in your own space tends to come with better health outcomes.
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Real Estate Update
Wondering about your Neighbor’s Home Sales Price? Find out here to see what sold last month. The report is broken down by HOA, address, and floor plan (if the agent listed the model in MLS).