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Jean's February 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: January 31st, 2020 5:53PM


February in Arizona – sunshine, hot air balloons floating over the desert…cool evenings and tourists. It is magnificent.

FEBRUARY  – the month of love – all kinds…from romantic to loving our friends and family (and showing it)…and showing kindness and respect for people we meet in life…and while your heart is leaping – remember its LEAP YEAR* so we have an extra day in February this year.

February 14      Valentine’s Day

February 17      Presidents’ Day

February 29 – last day of February this year so celebrate because we won’t get another on until 2024. It's a gift of one free day!

What is this phenomenon called Leap Year?  February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years and is called leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. ... This is what we would call a period of eight days


The Barrett Jackson Car Auction has wrapped and the famous Phoenix Open (since 1932) finishes up on February 2nd (known as the Waste-Management TPC). We’ve always got something going on here so we can't show it all but here are a few:

  • February 1 (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) Our friend Jack Comiskey will be showing his art at the AZ SAGE ART MARKET, Holland Community Center, 34250 N. 60th Street, Building B, Scottsdale.  He's won many awards in his career.
  •  February 8th – the 67th annual Parada del Sol parade and Festival in Old Town Scottsdale
  • February 8th & 9th – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HOOPS CONTEST – at Heard Museum on Central Avenue. A gathering of native tribes from all over the USA competing in Hoop Dancing on the lawns at Heard.  Absolutely fascinating to watch. We took Al’s Mom there a few years ago – loved it!
  • February 8th & 9th – Street Eats Food Truck Festival – taste local food either by getting samples or buying full portions.  Held at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
  • February 13th  -23rd – 65th Annual Arabian Horse Show at West World/Scottsdale.  Shows, competitions and all sorts of activities around this equestrian event
5 Financial Benefits of Owning a Home
You want to make smart financial choices for your future. Do those include buying a home? Here are five financial benefits that point to yes.

1. Tax breaks: As a homeowner, you may qualify for tax benefits. These deductions can help offset other costs of homeownership. Potential deductions include the interest on your mortgage, property taxes, and home equity lines of credit.

2. Stability: If you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, you'll know what payments to expect for the life of the loan. Rent, on the other hand, often increases annually. When you own a home, you also typically have more control over expenses such as utilities, so you can make choices that encourage efficiency and save money each month.

3. Forced savings: Each month, as you pay down your mortgage, you are adding equity. This can be an excellent way to build wealth. In the future, you can sell the home for a profit or borrow against the equity to obtain needed funds. Medical emergencies, college tuition, and home repairs or renovations are common uses for these funds. If you pay more than the monthly payment each month, you'll reach your goal faster.  All extra paid goes directly to building your equity. Wouldn't it be a gift to yourself to have a paid-for home when you retire?

4. Good health: A mortgage looks good on a credit report and can help you establish a healthy score. As you faithfully pay off the loan, your score can increase. This can prove helpful in obtaining lower insurance rates and qualifying for lower rates on future purchases.

5. Final payment: When you buy a home, there will come a day when you no longer have to make your mortgage payment. It will eventually be your property, free and clear. (Time to celebrate!) This scenario is much different than paying rent, which will continue for a lifetime.

Getting Your Legal Life Organized

In January we talked about property maintenance and doing it on schedule.  This month the topic is the  maintenance of your personal records. 

Everyone who has assets (that’s just about every adult) would be wise to have their legal documents in order.  An attorney who specializes in Wills/Trusts would be the best way to go. 

Death is something most people are uncomfortable talking about.  We know it can make your adult children squirm when you try to discuss the reality that you will eventually pass. Since none of us will get out of here alive,  being prepared equals wise planning. And a very kind gift to your survivors.  

Obviously if you’re 65 or over, it is even more important to have everything done.  We’ve known of situations where death was sudden with no final arrangements in place; thus, putting additional stress on the family. We’ve unfortunately known this to happen to friends who are very young as well.  Reviewing your documents every few years is wise.  Situations change.  Laws change.

 Here’s are forms/issues to discuss with your family and/or attorney::

  • A Will or Trust (or both)
  • If you have personal items, you wish to go to specific people – write them down and keep with your legal documents.  Label if possible. Ask your loved ones if they will want something specific.  
  • Have your documents in one place (ours are in the Cloud with access available to our Trustee) and/or safety deposit box.  Tell your family where everything is.
  • A major issue families discover in a sudden death is that nobody knows where the information is and particularly, how to access your computer, accounts etc. 
  • Discuss with your family [and have in writing] your specific wishes regarding burial/cremation, funeral or memorial services.
  • Make those arrangements ahead of time (have your burial plot or pre-paid cremation plan in order) so your survivors don’t have to figure this out in their grief.
  • A designated person to be able to act on your behalf if you are unable or uncomfortable doing so.  Generally, if you’re married, the surviving spouse makes those decisions (medical and financial).  A secondary person should also be designated if the spouse cannot or there is no spouse.  This could be in the form of POA’s (Power of Attorney) for general decisions and/or specifically to make your medical decisions.
  • Your physician and/or family member should have your Living Will (directive as to your wishes in a medical emergency) available in case of emergency

Both of our parents were very specific, in writing, as to their wishes and their documentation was all in order which made a difficult situation easier for us when the time came.

Note: We have a wealth of resources available.  If you have proven resources (attorney, CPA, elder care, etc., please share for our list.


The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)  announced the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2020. In most of the U.S., the 2020 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $510,400, an increase from $484,350 in 2019.

These loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls "high-cost areas," where 115% of the local median home value exceeds the baseline loan limit. Those limits will increase from $726,525 to $765,600.

The conforming loan limits for Fannie and Freddie are determined by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, which establishes baseline loan limits. Earlier today, FHFA published its third quarter 2019 FHFA House Price Index (HPI) report, which includes estimates for the increase in the average U.S. home value over the last four quarters. According to FHFA’s seasonally adjusted, expanded data HPI, house prices increased 5.38 percent, on average, between the third quarters of 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the baseline maximum conforming loan limit in 2020 will increase by the same percentage.

Those limits above are for one-unit properties. Two- to four-unit properties have also increased. For more details on that, a mortgage lender can fill you in.

This is great news for homeowners and homebuyers as it’s a true economic indicator that the housing market continues to be robust. Additionally, conforming loans are ideal for many buyers as it allows for low down payments. (information from Brad Slager/Homeowners Financial)

Phoenx and Scottsdale areas - New Construction

DESERT RIDGE: As posted by our local Realtor’s Association (SAAR): Shea Homes has purchased approximately 25.06 acres of land located at 56th Street and Deer Valley Road in Phoenix, closing escrow on December 11, 2019. Construction of model homes is slated to begin in the second half of 2020. The new community name will be Talinn at Desert Ridge.

The homebuilder plans to build approximately 83 single-family homes during Phase 1. The homes will range in size from approximately 2,318-3,738 square feet. Floorplans are expected to be like those currently available at Emblem/Aloravita in Peoria. The community is slated to have amenities such as a large community park and recreation center.

"Our team is working hard to meet the increasing demand for new homes in the Valley," said Shea Homes Arizona Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ken Peterson. "But we don’t close on a land deal until we are certain we’ve found the right spot. Talinn at Desert Ridge will bring some of our most popular Shea floorplans to the highly coveted Desert Ridge area. We think homebuyers are going to be pretty excited about this new Phoenix community."

Shea Homes is planning to close on an additional 54 lots for Phase 2 of Talinn at Desert Ridge in late 2020.

SCOTTSDALE (Tatum/Bell to Grovers):  In 2019, D.R. Horton bought the land surrounding Bell Road and Tatum Boulevard, for about $80 million, according to public real estate records. The deal breaks down to more than $670,000 an acre, the highest price ever paid for vacant land in the city of Phoenix.

To better describe the location – from Grovers/Tatum (east side) going south to Bell Road surrounding the Fry’s shopping center at Bell/Tatum is the location where this major project will be built. The land is over 121 acres and will have a massive clubhouse in addition to other amenities. The neighborhoods will be connected by sidewalks inside this gated community.  There will be both single family homes as well as condominiums.

The plan for this development [to be called ARABELLA]  is to be built in three phases – the first of which will hopefully be opening around the end of this year.  Information on home prices isn’t yet available. Based on what Horton paid for the land, luxury condos and houses will be built there.  As this project progresses over the months, we’ll keep you posted.

How to Get the Most from a Home Inspection
Buying a home is probably the single most significant investment you'll make in your lifetime. When you're making such a significant purchase, you want to know exactly what you’re getting.

This is the goal of a home inspection. A professional inspector will review the home and point out any potential concerns. Here’s how it works.

1. Arrange for the inspection: Typically, you will include an inspection contingency as part of your offer to purchase the home. This contingency will allow you to order an inspection (at your expense), then determine if you would like to proceed with the purchase, based on the results.

2. Complete the inspection: You should be present so the inspector can review any items of concern with you in person after it is complete.

He or she will inspect all the home’s systems, structural components, and general condition and provide a report that notes any areas of concern.

3. Request repairs: You’ll review the inspection report with your real estate agent and decide if there are any items you would like the seller to address. You can request that the seller make the repairs or provide a credit to cover their cost.

Typical things to address are safety concerns and essential functions (doors, windows, locks). If the sellers refuse to negotiate, you can decide whether you want to move forward with the purchase or move on to another home.

We always schedule a home inspection for our Buyers - with Nau Inspections .
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
Kudo's to a Local Business

While parked in a restaurant parking lot last week, someone hit our front passenger side (and RAN) leaving a long, ugly scrape.   We took it to SERVICE KING, 3756 E. Bell Road, Phoenix to see what it would cost to repair. They took a look, asked to take the vehicle to the back.  In 10 minutes or so, John returned saying he’d been able to buff and treat the scrape so we could barely see it. We were in and out in a jiffy. Now THAT is CUSTOMER SERVICE.  And note that SERVICE KING goes out of their way to help Vets with jobs and discounts. We’d gone there years ago when a car had damage; their work is superb…which brought us back this time.

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Quick Quiz
Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just reply to this email for the answer.

Which US state produces the most roses for Valentine’s Day?

Puff Pastry Hearts

Yields 16 hearts
  1/3 cup sugar
  3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
  1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (follow directions on package if frozen)
  5 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, combine sugar and spices. Roll dough out slightly with a rolling pin, keeping a rectangular shape. Then brush 3 tablespoons butter on one side and sprinkle the spiced sugar evenly over the dough.

Starting with each of the short ends of the dough, roll them toward each other (like you would with a jelly roll) until they meet in the center of the rectangle. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 40 minutes.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll crosswise into 16 slices and place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Gently and evenly press them down to 1/4-inch thick, then pinch and shape the bottom of each slice to create a heart shape. Brush with remaining butter and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes).

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
What is a contingency?

When a contract to purchase a home includes a contingency, this means the deal is contingent on (conditional, subject to, depends on) something for it to move forward. In other words, it is contingent on something the buyer must do.

If a contingency clause is written into the contract, and the condition is not met, the buyer can break the contract without penalty.

Several types of contingencies are shared in real estate contracts. The buyer may include a home inspection contingency (to complete an inspection of the property), a financing contingency (to obtain a mortgage for the purchase), or a home sale contingency (to sell their current home before purchasing the new one).

Contingency clauses usually specify a date by which these conditions must be met. If they are not met by the deadline, the buyer can request an extension, or the contract may be canceled.

The scam usually begins with an unsolicited robocall that sometimes appears on the caller ID as Social Security Administration. Scammers attempt to scare the victim by claiming that his or her Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity. The objective is to fraudulently take money or obtain personal information from the victim. Scammers attempt to isolate the victim and claim that the only way to resolve the issue is to transfer money or provide sensitive information..

Many seniors who have been affected … are either too embarrassed to report their loss or don’t know where to turn.  The scam resulted in the theft of $38 million from Americans in 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

PLEASE BE AWARE - PHONE SCAMS ARE RUNNING RAMPANT - the IRS or SSA are NOT going to call for a chat.  Anything involving your personal information situations will be mailed. And even then - be cautious.  Call the agency involved to be sure it is from them.

Scams are scary but for the most part, people 
are good.  
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
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