Why Prescott?

Prescott Homes For Sale

Ever wonder why Prescott, Arizona, is such an incredible vacation destination, an ideal town to raise a family, plus a picture-perfect place to retire?  Undeniably, this quaint mountain town offers a perfect trifecta for all ages.

Prescott’s Appeal

Prescott is a quaint mountain town full of history and one of a kind beauty.  This popular community is known for its pleasant climate and vast amount of outdoor activities and recreation. In fact, the annual average high temperature is an enjoyable 69 degrees.

Where to Visit in Prescott

Historic Whiskey Row and downtown Prescott are high on the list to visit while in Prescott.  Not only can visitors stroll around the historic and majestic Yavapai County Courthouse, visitors can also shop in numerous specialty shops and antique stores, have lunch at several award winning restaurants, and grab an ice cream and sit on the park benches and enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains.

Visit Prescott during Fourth of July and enjoy the World’s Oldest Rodeo, which was founded in 1888. This event has week long activities of parades and numerous rodeo performances that are guaranteed to entertain.

What to Do in Prescott

Indoor or outdoor, whatever the preference, there are plenty of options for things to do in Prescott.  The Prescott area has several lakes that offer the perfect setting for a picnic or a day on the water kayaking or canoeing.  Visit Goldwater Lake, Granite Basin, Watson Lake, or Willow Lake, all of them offer beauty that leave visitors in awe. Feel like staying inside?  Consider the Sharlot Hall Museum or the Phippen Art Museum, each offer history and a relaxing option for a day on the town.

Family Fun

Take the kiddos to Heritage Park Zoo.  The Zoo offers a personal small town experience with the fabulous animals of larger zoos.  Visiting during the winter?  Check out ice skating at the Prescott Valley Event Center.  It is fun for the entire family.

Golfing Prescott

The near perfect climate in the Prescott area allows year around golfing.  There are several top-notch world acclaimed golf courses for visitors and residence to enjoy.  A few of Prescott’s area golf courses include:  Capital Canyon, Prescott Lakes, Talking Rock, Prescott Country Club, and Stoneridge.

Living in Prescott

Prescott has been named the Number One Best Value Town in the Southwest by Sunset Magazine, in a recent article about Top 20 Best Value Towns.   Combine that with Time Magazine’s declaration that Prescott is one of the “happiest and healthiest cities in America” … it’s settled, Prescott is the perfect place to live!

“Once again we are proud to be recognized for our many unique qualities,” said Prescott Mayor Harry Oberg. “It’s no secret to us in Prescott that the quality of life here is world-class. Our cultural and heritage amenities, variety of businesses, scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and even air quality make Prescott a top destination to live, learn, work and play.”

Prescott has earned these well-deserved accolades due to Prescott’s higher education opportunities, variety of businesses, scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and air quality.

Housing in Prescott

Mountain homes, downtown historic beauties, luxury homes on golf courses, family communities, and rural properties are all available in Prescott, Arizona.  Prescott is a splendid compliment for the varied life styles of all ages.  There are over 70 major subdivisions in the Prescott area, each with different amenities and styles.

Want More Information?

The best way to learn about Prescott is to ask someone who lives and immerses themselves in the Prescott lifestyle.  Give Colleen McElmell with CLA Realty a call at (480)688-4443 for more information on all that Prescott has to offer.

What Should You Remodel To Get The Most For Your Money?

Remodel with best Return on Investment

Kitchen?  Paint?  New Shower?  What should be remodeled first to give you the most return on your investment?  Below we will analyze where to best spend your valuable remodel dollars, to stretch them further, boost the value of your home, to sell your home faster and for more money.

It’s important to remember that there is not always a direct relation between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.  When you view remodels as a whole, you create an overall house improvement and potentially a significant return on your investment. In fact, according to Realtor.com, “On average, in 2017, you can expect to get back 64% on every dollar you plow into home improvements”

Important Warning!  As with all projects, make sure you don’t over spend for your neighborhood.  Know your market before you open your pocketbook and bring out your hammer.

For a $10,000 remodel, let’s take a look at Top 5 Target Projects to get the most bang for your buck!

  1. Kitchen. This is one of the most expensive rooms to remodel in your home. To be fair, it is also one of the rooms that receive the most attention from potential buyers. Sadly, $10,000 is not going to get you a full kitchen makeover and still leave you enough to make many other upgrades.   As an alternative, consider upgrading the appliances, resurfacing the cabinets, or possibly upgrading the countertops.
  2. Master Bath. Yet, another expensive room to do a full remodel. With some creativity it is still possible to create a ‘Wow’ effect.  Frameless glass shower enclosure, updating the fixtures, and installing a new vanity and countertops are all valuable items to consider.  Each will provide a valuable return on your investment.
  3. Paint. Fresh paint speaks volumes. On the interior, repaint and keep it neural with soft earth tones. Finish the project by selecting some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.
  4. Replace The Carpet. Tired, old, stained, dirty, worn-out carpet sends a loud message to potential buyers. Replace the existing carpet. It is best to stick with a neutral shade.
  5. Curb Appeal. This is a low cost bonus. Trim up the hedges, green up the grass, plant some flowers, give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a wonderful accent color, add shiny new house numbers, and maybe even a new mail box. New outdoor lighting is an easy cost effective improvement that is a minimal investment.  According to Realtor.com “the 2017 data suggest that “curb appeal” projects (such as new doors and exterior siding) generate higher returns than improvements done on a home’s interior… If you’re trying to sell, pretty up the outside and it’ll pay off in spades.”

Bonus Tip . . . if there is an existing room that looks out to the backyard,  push it out!  Replace the existing windows with some French doors and build a small deck.  This little addition has just increased the “size” of that room, adding value to the house, while using very little of your budget.  Win, win!

According to Bankrate.com, the top three remodeling projects to receive the highest Return on your investment (ROI) are:  Fiberglass Attic Insulation (108% Cost recouped), Steel entry door replacement (90% cost recouped), and Minor kitchen remodels (80% cost recouped).

All in all, keep an eye on your budget and the market condition in your neighborhood.  A little remodel can go a long way.  For more information on ways to increase the value of your home and to help sell it faster, give Colleen McElmell with CLA Realty a call at (480)688-4443.

Source: Trulia.com, Realtor.com, Bankrate.com

Tax Reform Impacting Home Ownership

Tax Reform and Real Estate

In early November, the House GOP leaders took their biggest step yet in their attempt to overhaul the U.S. tax code by releasing legislation that proposes sweeping changes to the current system.  The proposal unveiled a new top tax rate, new tax brackets, a lower corporate rate, and a compromise on the state and local tax deduction.

The implications of tax changes are wide spread.  The question that most households are asking is “How is it going to affect me?”  One of the changes in the spotlight is the treatment of taxes on mortgage interest.  The National Association of Realtors, as well as the local Prescott Area Association of Realtors, have been paying close attention to the tax proposal and its impact on homeowners.

REALTORS® are on high alert since the tax reform could threaten most of the tax benefits of owning a home.  The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is opposed to the tax reform legislation. “This bill is a direct threat to consumers, to homeowners and to our businesses. Not only will millions of homeowners not benefit from the proposal, many will get a tax increase. Additionally, homeowners could lose substantial equity from the more than 10% drop in home values likely to result if the bill is enacted.”

Below is a summary provided by NAR to help us understand some of the specifics of what the Legislation would do in the recent proposal.

  • Caps the mortgage interest deduction at $500K for new mortgages
  • Cap applies to new mortgage debt (but not refinancing) incurred after November 2, 2017.
  • Limit is not indexed to inflation causing its value to even further diminish over time.
  • Income from passive activities would be taxed entirely at the 25% rate. This means that all rental activity is taxed at a 25% rate.
  • Increases the standard deduction. Puts homeownership tax incentives beyond the reach of more than 90% of American families.
  • New rules would require homeowners to live in their home for 5 of 8 years before a sale to qualify for the exemption, versus just 2 of previous 5 years with the current legislation. This will create a hardship to homeowners who have to move inside that five-year window.
  • Exemption phases out for single filers with incomes over $250K ($500K for joint returns).
  • Eliminates the deduction for state and local income or sales taxes.
  • Eliminates the Mortgage Interest Deduction for second homes.
  • Eliminates the deduction for moving expenses.
  • Eliminates the deduction on interest on student loans.
  • Eliminates the deduction for medical expenses.

All communities in Arizona are going to be impacted by these proposed changes.  Prescott, Arizona, residents need to brace for the changes as well.  The Prescott Quad city area is comprised of four thriving communities:  Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt.  These are diverse communities with approximately 1,300 homes for sale at any given time, ranging in price from $50,000 to $5,000,000.

Prescott, who has a population of around 41,000 people, has a unique economic structure with it being a blended community of families and retirees.  The median resident age is 56.7 years, whereas the Arizona median age is 37.4 years.  The growth is also evident in the household income figures, the estimated median household income in 2015 was $48,210 (Arizona’s average is $51,492), that is up from $35,446 in 2000.  With the Prescott area being heavily populated with middle-class homeowners, the local REALTORS®, community leaders, and business owners are paying close attention to the recent Tax Reform proposal.  House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, the author of the tax bill, said the House should pass the plan by Thanksgiving.

As homeowners and potential homeowners, it is important to know the implications of the tax reform.  Millions of middle class homeowners would see a tax hike under this proposed plan.  In addition, if homeowners buy a home and then have to move within 5 years, they could be hit with a significant tax bill under this plan.

REALTORS® spend a significant amount of time keeping informed on laws and strategies to help guide their clients.  Visit http://lil.ms/1vd4/48auqe for more information on how this legislation will affect homeownership, visit CLARealty.net, or give CLA Realty team a call at (928) 662-9200.

Newlywed’s Guide To Buying a Home

Buying your first home

An exciting step for newlyweds is purchasing their first home as a married couple.  Planning a wedding is most often a stressful event in a new couple’s life.  Purchasing a home can be stressful as well, but with advanced planning, the stress can be lessened, leaving memories of a successful purchase.

Below are some tips to make buying your first home a smooth and positive experience.

Make Financial Goals

The first thing you want to talk about is your financial goals as a couple. Are you both spenders or savers? Do you want to have a joint retirement savings or keep them separate? Identifying these factors is a crucial first step before you walk down the aisle or across the threshold of your first home together.

Set Expectations

Just as there are numerous towns and subdivisions that you can choose to call home, there are equally number of styles of homes, amenities, and ‘must haves’ that need to be determined before you begin the home search.  Make a list of ‘Must Have’, ‘Negotiable Items’, and ‘Can’t Have’ about your future home and discuss them with each other.

Make a Plan

A spending plan or a budget is a vital step in planning for a new home purchase. Think of it as a financial road map that will get you through starting your lives together.  This spending plan will be a valuable tool while finding a home. You will want to take into account all the money coming in and all the money you have set aside. Compare those numbers with financial goals you previously discussed– how much do you want to have left over when it is all said and done? Those numbers will help you establish a spending cap for your new home.

There are several on-line budgeting tools available.  Dave Ramsey has an easy on-line budgeting tool available for free at DaveRamsey.com.  Be complete and accurate with your numbers.  Try living on the budget for a few months before signing on a new home.  This will allow you to work out the bugs and ensure that you are in the right price range when purchasing a home.

Items to Consider to Qualify for a Home

Credit Scores

While new couples have formed a joint union, their credit scores haven’t. The scores are determined individually, but both scores will count toward qualifying for a loan, if both incomes are needed because of the amount of the mortgage. The mortgage interest rate depends on the credit score as well as the type of mortgage and the length of time. The first step is to obtain your credit report/scores, and review the reports for any errors. If the scores are less than you hoped, raising scores a hundred or so points in six months is achievable.

Pay Down Debt

Not only will your credit score be considered, but also your total debt level and debt-to-income ratio. Tightening your belts and get rid of as much debt as you can will help you qualify for your new home. It is advised to NOT close the accounts after paying off debt. A factor in your credit score is your used debt compared to available debt. If you close an account, you’ll decrease your available debt total.

Save for Down Payment

Expect to pay a 20 percent down payment. If your credit score is at the border of going from mediocre to good, a larger down payment might persuade the lender to not only approve the loan but give you a lower interest rate.  There are Government Grants available for first time home buyers, read more about it at BankRate.com.

Increase Gross Income

How much house you can afford depends on how much you can pay every month. Most lenders prefer that you keep that figure at no more than 28 percent of your gross income. For example, if your household income is $4,000 a month before taxes, then your ideal maximum house payment would be $1,120 (which is roughly a $220,000 home at 5% interest rate). If you make $6,000, you can afford up to a $1,680 monthly payment. Goals could include getting a new job at a higher salary level from six to 12 months before you apply for the mortgage, getting a promotion at work, working overtime, going from part-time to full-time work, or possibly getting a second job.

Making the decision to purchase a home as newlyweds is an exciting event, for more information on purchasing a new home, contact the CLA Realty Team.

Why People Are Moving To Prescott, Arizona

Prescott Arizona

Prescott, Arizona, is proudly known as “Everyone’s Hometown.” This charming town provides an overwhelming community and family atmosphere to its residents and visitors. Not only does historical Prescott offer downtown activities, but it also delivers peaceful living and abundant outdoor recreation.  With the Prescott National Forest surrounding the mountainous town, miles of hiking trails, multiple area lakes, and a dog-friendly downtown, it is not a mystery why people are moving to Prescott.

Prescott is conveniently located at a mile-high elevation in the mountains of north central Arizona in Yavapai County, approximately 95 miles south of Flagstaff and 95 miles north of Phoenix. The climate alone entices visitors to fall in love with Prescott, allowing residents to “brag” about its near perfect climate.    The town’s warm Summer season, a mild Fall season with beautiful foliage color changes, mild white Winter season, and overwhelming Spring beauty, all combine to make this town prime for active living.  In fact, the annual average high temperature is an enjoyable 69 degrees. Now that is worth bragging about. Continue reading

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