Archive for November, 2010


Home Prices Expected to Dip in December

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House Prices Dip in December, Up Again in January

According to the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, Metro Phoenix home prices should hold steady for the rest of November but take a dip in December.

The region's median home price is projected to be $120,000 this month and then slip to $117,000 next month. These figures are based on the home sales under contract and tracked by the ARMLS Pending Price Index.  If themedian price does fall, it will be a new 10 year low for the Valley and signal a double dip in prices.

Pundits predit that the median price will climb back in January to $120,00 and then drop again in February to $105,000 though many home sales for that month have not been finalized.

For any real estate questions, please contact us at


First Friday in November

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This Friday was Date Night. With so many options open to us, we decided on walking down Roosevelt and experiencing all that is First Friday. What makes First Friday in Downtown Phoenix so appealing?

Every First Friday of the month, Downtown Phoenix, especially the Roosevelt District, becomes a huge art gallery. Studios, art spaces, family circus’, magicians, jugglers, and musicians line the street in an effort to entertain.

My date and I walked into a variety of open studios, many were homes converted into art spaces. We listened to a various bands; one singer sounded like Alanis Morrisette.

We grabbed a quick snack at Tammy Coe’s and stood in line at Bliss for drinks. The line was too long but we managed to have a look at the interior. The restaurant is very upscale for the area and a fabulous place for drinks.

First Friday is organized by Artlink, a nonprofit organization "…dedicated to bringing together artists, the public, and businesses for a greater understanding, appreciation, and promotion of the arts and the development of a strong and vital downtown Phoenix arts community."

Grab comfortable shoes and experience First Friday while the weather is perfect, you will have stories to tell.

For any questions about First Friday, CONTACT ARTLINK.

For any other questions, contact us at .  

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3 Steps to Lock in your Mortgage Rate

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Always consult with your financial adviser for any questions pertaining to mortgage questions. Here are a few ideas:


1.Get the lender to clarify its ground rules for locking, preferably in writing. They should provide a set of general rules upfront, which might become more precise after you have submitted an application.


2. Take charge. All of the requirements to lock listed above except the appraisal and title report apply to documents that you provide. If the lender is willing to make the two exceptions conditions for retaining the lock rather than requirements to lock, which most of them will, you have control over when you can lock. Alert borrowers will submit the required documentation with the application.


3. Protect yourself. The prices you lock are those quoted by your lender after you have been cleared to lock, not the prices quoted to you when you selected him. The initial price quotes probably compared favorably to the prices quoted by other lenders, but the lock prices may be a different story. If you have no way to verify that they are competitive, given your investment in the transaction, your lender may be tempted to game you.

Always use a mortgage professional.

If you have any real estate  questions, please contact us at or call 602.687.9933.


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3 Ways to Maximize Social Security

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I never see myself retiring. Right now, I have energy and the passion in what I do but life may have other ideas. I may have to retire "down the road' and I would like to be prepared. When to retire is always a difficult question. The “when” to retire will determine the amount that I may yield regarding Social Security.

What are some possible strategies to maximize Social Security income returns for individuals and married couples?


1. The "Social Security do-over."This strategy is geared toward individuals who have started to take Social Security benefits early but wind up working again.

Individuals who began collecting Social Security benefits early — at age 62 — and who re-enter the work force at some point afterward can stop receiving payments until age 70. What's the upside? When this individual truly retires again, Social Security benefits will have increased proportionately based on his or her earnings.

What are the key caveats? First, a "do-over strategy" will require the individual to pay back all Social Security income previously received. Those considering this strategy must be certain that they have the savings set aside to pay it back as well as very detailed tax records on the amount of tax already paid to the IRS on those received benefits. If taxes have been paid, a tax credit or deduction may be available.

Equally important: If spouses decide to take advantage of this strategy, they should be in good health and have longevity on their side. One of the biggest risks of this strategy is if both spouses die shortly after paying back their benefits, the money that they paid back to Uncle Sam is lost as far as heirs are concerned. However, if just one spouse pays back the benefits and dies shortly after, the surviving spouse can still collect the spousal benefits.

This strategy is easier to execute than you might think. Anyone older than 62 and younger than 70 who are already receiving benefits can start by filing a Request for Withdrawal of Application.


2. The "file and suspend" approach.The second possible strategy is geared only toward couples in which one spouse is the breadwinner, and who have sufficient assets or sources of income so that only one set of Social Security benefits is needed.


This is how it might work: A husband who has worked until Social Security qualifying age files for benefits while the wife, who has stopped working well before the qualifying age, files for spousal benefits. The husband then requests from the Social Security Administration a suspension of benefits while the wife continues to receive her payments. The husband's benefits — which would be more significant in this hypothetical instance, given his "breadwinner" status — continue to grow until he decides when to start receiving benefits again. Over the long term, this can create an even greater income stream when a couple is further along the distribution stage of their retirement financial plan.


3. Restricting benefits.The third potential strategy addresses married couples in which one spouse is retired and the other is still gainfully employed, and consists of restricting benefits to a spouse.

Here's how it works: Let's say a wife stopped working and is collecting Social Security benefits calculated from her time in the work force, but her husband still has a career and hasn't begun collecting Social Security. As long as he is at full retirement age, currently age 66, he can begin to receive spousal benefits, and then when he retires, he can suspend them and collect his own full benefit.

This means that he would get half his wife's Social Security income each month while still allowing his own benefits to accrue. Then, at age 70, he would apply to stop receiving the Social Security spousal benefit and file for his own. The bottom line: This becomes free money that most Americans simply don't know about.

Obviously, it is very important to work with an accountant or financial planner when making such decisions because many moving parts need to be carefully considered.

Clearly, retirement means different things to today's generations than it did in the past. What all retirees and pre-retirees need to think about are the various tools at their disposal that can maximize their financial planning over the long run. Actively viewing Social Security as one of these tools can be a critical step in the right direction.

For any financial advice, please ask your financial planner or consultant.


For any real estate questions, you may contact us at or 602. 687.9933.

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