Tucson Real Estate and Community News

Jan. 1, 2019

Top Smart Home Features Buyers Want

Technology is on an ever-evolving road. While we may not all be driving flying cars...yet...we still are leaps and bounds above anything we've ever seen before. Our smartphones hold more technology than what was used to put a man on the moon. And the idea of passenger flights to the moon is closer to becoming a reality than ever before. As we begin to rely more heavily on technology in our everyday lives, it makes sense that smart home features stick out in buyers' minds when looking at houses. According to an Innotech article from August 2018, 81% of people who utilize smart home devices in their current home want properties with smart home technology already installed in them when purchasing a new home. If you're interested in selling your Tucson home in the future, what are the top smart home features you need to have in order to appeal to buyers?

Today's buyers are looking for properties with smart home features already installed in them. They're even willing to pay more for those houses. But which features are they looking for the most?

Top Smart Home Features Buyers Want

Smart Security Systems

At the top of most Tucson home buyers' list of smart home features is a smart security system. I've spoken before about how a home security system increases the chances of your home sale. We all want to feel safe and secure in our own homes. For a couple hundred dollars installed, your home, property, and family can be protected. And buyers like to see this system in place before they even move in. PC Mag reviews all the technology on the market to see which products provide the best service to the consumer. They choose Vivint, LifeShield, Abode, and SimpliSafe as their top picks for Best Smart Home Security Systems.

Smart Thermostats

One of the easiest smart home features to add to your Tucson property is a smart thermostat. Many of these devices "learn" your family's day-to-day habits as far as temperature regulation goes. They automatically adjust to accommodate your lifestyle. In turn, these systems save anywhere from 10-12% of your household's heating and cooling costs. Nest and Ecobee4 rank high on PC Mag's list of the Best Smart Thermostats currently on the market.

Smart Appliances

Next, we turn to smart home appliances. No longer are we content with our appliances being simply energy-efficient. Buyers want even more. How about a smart refrigerator that controls the temperature for maximum food freshness, lets you create a grocery list, searches for recipes online, and even allows you to listen to music while you cook? The Samsung App Fridge provides all of that and more. LG's ThinQ line includes a refrigerator that adjusts its energy usage to ease up during peak times and take advantage during off-peak periods. They also have a washer and dryer that can be scheduled to wash during off-peak times, too. This lowers energy consumption costs. LG's smart oven allows you to download some preprogrammed recipes so that your roasts, bread, and other baked goods come out perfect each time. You can even check on your dinner while kicking it out by the pool or watching a movie with the family at home directly from any mobile device. 

Smart Lighting Systems

Finally, buyers look for better lighting systems in their smart home features. Changing over to LED lights is great. But how about the ability to control every light in every room directly from your smartphone? Phillips offers several different models, as does Wiz and Sylvania. Think about it. You're on vacation but you don't want anyone to know that no one is at your Tucson house. Leaving lights on in several rooms while you're away for a week can be costly. An astute thief might recognize that these are the only rooms with lights on all the time, too. Change things up by switching lights on and off throughout the household at various times and in various rooms while you're gone. This adds another layer of security.

Even if you aren't thinking about selling your Tucson home right away, these smart home features make your life a little easier. And, when you do decide to sell, your home looks much more appealing to buyers. They're willing to pay more if a house already includes these features. So, installing them in your household right now would be a great idea.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Selling Your Home
Dec. 26, 2018

Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas yesterday filled with joy and time spent with loved ones. With New Year's Eve around the corner, many people begin taking down their Christmas decorations this week. But what do you do with the tree? The City will not be collecting trees at the curb during your regular weekly trash pickup. You could turn your tree into firewood by chopping it up yourself. Or, bring it to one of the Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018 locations to have it "trecycled" into free mulch for residential gardens.

Since you can't just toss your old Christmas trees to the curb for regular trash pickup, bring them to one of the Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling locations to be turned into wood chips for the public to use in their personal gardens.

What: Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018
Where: Various locations around Tucson
When: Now through January 14th, 2019
Contact: City of Tucson Recycle Infoline (520) 791-5000

Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018

Eight different areas around the City act as drop-off locations for the Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018 program. Make sure you strip all the lights, decorations, tinsel, and other items from the tree, including the stand. Talk to your neighbors to see about creating a "tree pool". Bring as many trees as you can transport to any location listed below. Most places stay open from sun-up to sundown seven days a week until January 14th. I've added the hours for those locales with restricted times.

All trees collected during the Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018 event get ground down into wood chips. They provide a lovely alternative to dirt in your landscape design. They also provide nutrients to flowerbeds and gardens when used properly. After January 2nd, bring a container with you to the Los Reales Landfill to pick up your own free wood chips from the recycled trees.

Tucson Christmas Tree Recycling 2018 Locations

  • Golf Links Sports Park (2400 S Craycroft Rd)
  • Los Reales Landfill (5300 E Los Reales Rd - Monday through Saturday, 6 am to 5 pm)
  • Naranja Park (810 W Naranja Dr - open through Jan 6th)
  • Purple Heart Park (10050 E Rita Rd)
  • Randolph Golf Course Parking Lot (600 S Alvernon)
  • Silverbell Site (Corner of Silverbell & Goret)
  • Tank's Speedway Recycling & Landfill (7301 E Speedway - Monday through Friday, 7 am to 4 pm, Saturday, 7 am to 2 pm. Cannot leave trees outside the facility's gates.)
  • Tucson Rodeo Grounds (3rd Ave, North of Irvington Rd)

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Dec. 18, 2018

Tucson Zoo Lights 2018 Happening Now

'Tis the season of giving. Were you able to participate in the Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson event? Yesterday was the deadline to drop off your presents. If you were able to participate, thank you very much. Our senior citizens will be so grateful. Looking for some Christmas fun that the entire family can enjoy together? Visit the Tucson Zoo Lights 2018 going on nightly right now.

Enjoy some family-friendly Christmas fun at the Reid Park Zoo during Tucson Zoo Lights 2018.

What: Tucson Zoo Lights 2018
Where: Reid Park Zoo (3400 Zoo Court)
When: Now through December 23rd & December 26th to the 30th, 6 pm to 8 pm
Contact: Reid Park Zoo (520) 791-3204

Tucson Zoo Lights 2018

Usually, the Reid Park Zoo shuts down at 4 pm in the winter time. However, it opens back up from 6 pm to 8 pm for Tucson Zoo Lights 2018 between now and December 23rd. Guests sip on hot cocoa as they meander around the grounds looking at all the twinkling lights and animal displays. Santa promises to show up for pictures and he's bringing some falling snow with him. If you want to nibble on something while you drink your cocoa, the zoo sells sweets, s'mores, and other food for you to snack on.

The zoo closes for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Santa will be super busy, as you can imagine. That's when he heads back home to the North Pole. Even though he won't be returning after Christmas, Tucson Zoo Lights 2018 starts back up on December 26th and continues through until December 30th.

Other Zoo Fun in December

Tucson Zoo Lights 2018 is only one of the fun family-friendly events happening at the zoo this month. During winter break, bring the kids back for a behind the scenes tour of the zoo until January 5th. And just before the new year hits us, the zoo hosts Winter Camp 2018 for kids ages 6 to 12. Winter Camp takes place on December 27th and 28th and offers lots of hands-on activities, arts and crafts, a special tour of the zoo, and animal interactions unavailable to the regular zoo-going public.

Enjoy Christmas fun with the animals at during Tucson Zoo Lights 2018. And while you're at it, have a very Merry Christmas!

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Tucson Events
Dec. 4, 2018

Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson 2018

For most of us, the holidays provide happy memories. We look forward to spending time with family, doing activities together and exchanging gifts. However, for our elderly population, it can be depressing and lonely. The Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson 2018 program provides gifts and a bit of companionship during the holiday season. But they need your help in order to accomplish this.

Help make this Christmas merry and bright for a lonely senior citizen by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson program this year.

Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson 2018

Since 2003, Home Instead Senior Care has managed to deliver over 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 senior citizens nationwide. You can help make this Christmas merry and bright for our local elderly population by participating in the Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson program.

All you have to do is visit one of the specially decorated Christmas trees at one of the locations listed below. Pick a tag (or three) off the tree. On that tag, you'll find the name and request of a specific senior citizen living here in the Tucson area. Purchase that gift and then return it (unwrapped) along with its tag to the box located next to the tree you took the bulb from. Home Instead works with local volunteers to wrap and deliver all presents to their intended recipients in time for Christmas. 

Where to Find Santa to a Senior Tucson Trees

  • Search Tucson homes for saleCurves (Tanque Verde Rd in Tucson & La Canada in Oro Valley)
  • Home Instead Senior Care (3208 N Tucson)
  • Ignite Sign Museum (331 Olsen Ave)
  • K-Mart (7055 E Broadway)
  • Pantano Christian Church (1755 Houghton Rd)
  • Rocco's Pizzeria (2707 E Broadway)
  • Washington Federal (all Tucson & Green Valley locations)

There are 1400 senior citizens in the Tucson area hoping to receive a gift and a kind word this year. Can you help make that happen? Be a Santa to a Senior Tucson 2018 trees will be up at all participating locations until December 17th. Please do what you can to make the holidays special for a lonely senior this year. 

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Tucson Events
Nov. 27, 2018

Creative Ways to Pay Your Tucson Mortgage

Congratulations on buying a Tucson home. In order to do so, you had to be smart with your money. Saving up for your down payment was merely the tip of the iceberg. Now, you've got to pay for it. But you don't necessarily have to be the only one to do so. Sometimes, it helps to get creative when it comes time to pay your Tucson mortgage.

Why pay your entire Tucson mortgage yourself when there are several creative ways to get others to pay it for you without having to move out.

Creative Ways to Pay Your Tucson Mortgage

The Classic: Roommate

One of the classic ways to creatively pay your Tucson mortgage is to rent out your spare room to a roommate. Depending on your monthly mortgage payment, the rent paid by a roommate covers anywhere from 25-50% of it. This helps free up money for you to pay off your credit card or student loan debt, make improvements to your house (which increases its value) or pay down your mortgage. Do some research into what rooms for rent typically run in your area to stay competitive. If you're anywhere near U of A, you're bound to receive more interest and garner more rent due to student turnover. But, even if you're not near campus, room rentals are on the rise due to the cost of individual rental units going up.

Airbnb Calling

Hotels are so "yesterday". Vacationers want a more "homey" feel when they travel. Thus, the rise in popularity of places like Airbnb. Another way to pay your Tucson mortgage is by becoming an Airbnb host. Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to rent out your whole house either. Some hosts only rent out a room for the week. And, while a traditional roommate brings in enough money to partially pay for your mortgage, renting a room for a week might actually pay your entire mortgage for the month, depending on where your house is located. However, before you sign up as a host, you need to check with your insurance company to see how this might affect your homeowner's insurance. Traditional insurance might not cover you if something happens while you rent out via Airbnb.

Hello Hollywood

Finally, consider renting out your home for ads or even movie shoots. Location scouts are always on the lookout for beautiful homes to shoot advertisements or movies in. Places like Home Studio List allow you to sign your home up on a roster for consideration. And they pay good money, too, if you're chosen. This creative way to pay your Tucson mortgage offers the biggest paycheck for the least amount of time. And don't worry if you think your decor leaves something to be desired. Many companies provide their own "set dressing" to exchange out for your family's furnishings.

A few things to keep in mind when considering any of these options. No matter which one you choose, you're going to be inconvenienced in some way. Before you sign any contract, read the fine print. Make sure you understand all the terms in place. And always check with your insurance company first to make sure you're covered in case anything goes wrong. Good luck!

Santa's Calling Tucson 2018

A quick reminder: the deadline to sign your child up for a phone call from Santa is this Thursday, November 29th. Download your Santa's Calling Tucson 2018 request form and email it into the Parks & Recreation Department by close of business on the 29th. Phone calls will be made on December 4th and 5th. If you miss the deadline, your child still receives a personalized letter from Santa. So, feel free to send in your request anyway.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 21, 2018

Santa's Calling Tucson 2018

When you were a kid, how much would you have loved to receive a call at home from Santa? Standing in line with dozens of other children to talk to him at the mall is one thing. But imagine hearing the jolly old elf himself talking directly to you straight from the North Pole? If you sign your child up for Santa's Calling Tucson 2018, they'll be added to Santa's list.

 When you sign your 4-10 year old up for Santa's Calling Tucson 2018, they'll receive a phone call from the jolly old elf himself. Deadline for requests is Nov 29th.

Santa's Calling Tucson 2018

Search Tucson homes for saleMake Christmas something special. Sign your child up for the Santa's Calling Tucson 2018 event. The Tucson Parks and Recreation Department works with Santa and his elves each year to host this event. It's provided absolutely free of charge to any child between the ages of four and ten. Santa will attempt to call every child on his list between 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm on December 4th and 5th. If he receives more requests than the two days will allow, he'll add the 6th to the roster as well.

All you need to do is fill out the Santa's call request form and email it to santascalling2018@tucsonaz.gov. Or, download the form and send it via snail mail to 900 S Randolph Way, Tucson, AZ 85716. All requests must be received in the Parks & Rec Department no later than November 29th, 2018. If your Santa's Calling Tucson 2018 request doesn't make it in time, Santa promises to send your child a personal letter. So, one way or another, Santa makes sure your child isn't forgotten.

Want to make Christmas extra special for your child? Sign up for Santa's Calling Tucson 2018. Then, watch their faces light up when Santa calls them personally from the North Pole while his elves continue to work away behind him. It's a magical time for everyone. Just make sure to get your request in before the November 29th deadline.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

 

Posted in Tucson Events
Nov. 13, 2018

Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018

Next week, Tucson families gather together to count their blessings with their families. The City of Tucson believes that we should always celebrate our loved ones. They don't want to wait until Thanksgiving to do so. That's why they'll be hosting the Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018 this Saturday, November 17th.

Bring canned food with you to the Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018 on Nov 17th. All food collected goes directly to our local food bank for the holidays.

What: Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018
Where: Reid Park (900 S Randolph Way)
When: Saturday, November 17th, 10 am to 2 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: Sierra Boyer, City of Tucson (520) 837-8032 or via email

Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018

Search Tucson homes for saleThe Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018 marks the 13th year that the City of Tucson has held this celebration. And this weekend looks like the perfect fall weekend to hold it. Temperatures should be in the low 70's under mostly sunny skies. Sounds like a great day to spend at the park, doesn't it?

The City offers tons of fun things to do at the festival. Play games for fun and prizes. Get your face painted. Create a fall-themed work of art at the craft stations. Let loose on the inflatables. There's tennis, disc golf, and even some class demonstrations. Visit the Reid Park Zoo for just $1. The Edith Ball Rec Center offers free swimming for the afternoon. They've set up a special inflatable obstacle course in the water specifically during festival hours.

While Admission to the Tucson Family Festival in the Park 2018 is absolutely free, the City is asking that all guests bring canned food with them. All canned food collected will be given to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Please give what you can. Also, your $1 admission fee to the Reid Park Zoo benefits the zoo's conservation fund. 

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Tucson Events
Nov. 6, 2018

Download Your Tucson Smart Home Water Guide Now

When you live in the desert, water becomes an extremely precious commodity. The City of Tucson offers rebates when you take certain steps to curb your household water usage. Learning how to identify leaks and repair them when they begin can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Now, the water department offers an online Tucson Smart Home Water Guide to help you with this task.

Identifying and repairing any water leaks in your home helps reduce water waste and costs. Download your free Tucson Smart Home Water Guide in English or Spanish today.

Tucson Smart Home Water Guide

Search Tucson homes for saleThe average Tucson area home uses anywhere from 6000 to 15,000 gallons of water per month, depending on a variety of factors. The EPA reports that we lose as much as 10,000 gallons of water every year through leaks in our homes. Sometimes, these leaks are obvious. Other times, they're slow and harder to detect. Conserving water and minimizing loss through leakage helps lower your household expenses.

The Tucson Smart Home Water Guide teaches you how to read your water meter. Oftentimes, this can be the first indicator that you have a leak somewhere. It also provides tips about how to visually identify leaks inside and outside your Tucson home. Do you have a continuous leak you haven't been able to locate yet? Learn how to perform isolation leak tests in your service line, irrigation system, pool, supply pipes, and all water-using appliances (dishwasher, clothes washer, evap cooler, pond, water feature, etc). Finally, the Tucson Smart Home Water Guide also provides helpful conservation tips to be more efficient in and around your home.

Where to Get Your Tucson Smart Home Water Guide

The guide is conveniently available in English and Spanish. You can download the English version here or the Spanish version here. Would you prefer a paper guide that you can thumb through at your leisure? Simply email your request to pico@tucsonaz.gov. Make sure to include your name, address and whether you'd like an English version, Spanish version or if you'd like one of each. You'll receive your guide(s) in the mail as soon as they can process your request.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Homeowner Tips
Oct. 30, 2018

Helpful Money Tips for the Tucson Home Buyer

Even with the "bubble burst" of the mid-2000s, real estate continues to be a relatively good investment in the long term. Prices are on the rise. The Tucson real estate market appears to be strong right now. Whether you'd like to upgrade, downsize or desire to own your very first home, it's a good time to do so right now. First, follow these money tips so that you're ready to pounce when you find your perfect Tuscon home.

Whether you're buying your first or fifth Tucson home, these money tips help alleviate some of stress that comes up whenever you make a major investment like purchasing a property.

Helpful Money Tips for the Tucson Home Buyer

Be Prepared

Search Tucson homes for saleRemember the Boy Scout motto: "Be prepared"? That's a good motto for anyone in their everyday life. That's why the first one of my money tips is to be prepared. Get your financing in order. That means paying down your debts as much as possible. This increases your credit score. With a good credit score, you qualify for better interest rates. Keep spending to a minimum. Save up as much money for your down payment and closing costs as you can. Then, contact a lender and start up the loan approval process

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Another one of my helpful money tips is to carefully consider the size of your Tucson home before you buy. Keep in mind that more square footage usually translates to more expense. After all, you're going to need to heat/cool the place, pay for the electricity to each area of the home, and take care of the lawn (which could increase your water usage). Also, a larger Tucson home incurs higher property taxes and more homeowners' insurance.

Maintenance Costs

Speaking of taking care of the lawn, don't forget maintenance costs when buying a Tucson home. One of the best money tips I could give you to keep maintenance costs down is to regularly inspect your major appliances, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, and the roof. By doing so, you're more likely to find and fix a problem before it becomes a major (and more expensive) issue.

Build Up Your Equity

Finally, the last of my money tips I'll leave you with today is to try to build up your equity as quickly as possible. How do you do that? Pay down your mortgage. Instead of a 30-year mortgage, consider a 15-year loan. Yes, the monthly payment ends up being a few hundred dollars more, but you pay the entire loan off in half the time and you save tens of thousands of dollars in interest. Also, borrow less by putting a sizeable amount down.

Follow these helpful money tips to alleviate your stress. When you're ready to purchase a Tucson home, please contact me. I'd be happy to show you what's available right now.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
Oct. 23, 2018

How to Tell the Difference Between a Fixer-Upper and a Money Pit

To maximize your Tucson real estate investment, experts believe you should buy the worst house in the best neighborhood. Then, add some elbow grease to bring it up to snuff with the rest of the homes in the area. However, purchasing a property where the combined sale price and cost to fix it up exceeds the home's value is not a sound investment. How do you tell the difference between a fixer-upper and a money pit? Concentrate on a few key areas to determine if this property is worth the expense, time and effort.

Don't confuse a fixer-upper with a money pit when buying a Tucson home. Find out which areas to concentrate before you invest in a Tucson home.

What to Look at When Buying a Fixer-Upper (Top to Bottom)

Roofing

The roof can be one of the most expensive items to replace in a fixer-upper. They typically last around 15 to 20 years. However, water and other damage severely shorten the roof's lifespan. It would be worth the extra cost to hire a roof inspector to examine its condition and provide you with an estimate to repair, if necessary.

HVAC System

Search Tucson homes for saleWhen you live in a desert community like the Tucson real estate market, you quickly understand how important the heating and air conditioning system can be. Replacing or installing an HVAC system is almost as expensive as replacing the roof. But it's a necessary expense when you buy a fixer-upper, especially if you have plans to flip the property. As temperatures begin to lower, it's the perfect time to get these repairs done, too. After the summer heat fades, HVAC company schedules begin to open up. So, finding a professional at a decent price becomes easier.

Electrical

Older homes weren't built with modern conveniences in mind. You need to make sure that your Tucson fixer-upper can handle the electrical load placed upon it by today's lifestyle. A new electrical panel and extra circuits might be required.

Plumbing

Has that Tucson fixer-upper sat vacant for a while? Then, most likely, it has plumbing issues. Pipes break down faster when they're not in use. Also, look around for signs of leaks (water stains, spots, etc). This could indicate potential problems within the walls.

Foundation

Finally, take a close look at the foundation. Every home settles. Hairline cracks aren't unusual. But, if the cracks run horizontally and are 1/4" wide or more, then they may be cause for concern. Other ways foundation problems make themselves known? Doors that stick when you open or close them. Sagging/uneven floors. Gaps around windows and exterior doors. Cabinets and countertops that separate from the walls.

Always hire a home inspector to investigate the Tucson fixer-upper you're interested in purchasing. From there, determine which areas require further investigation. Then, hire the appropriate professionals to come out and take a look. Ask for estimates. This will help you determine whether that home is a fixer-upper or a money pit.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home