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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foreclosure….Now What?

Is there life after?

That’s been a question that has been asked of me a lot lately.  People are often inquiring about what a short-sale – or worse – foreclosure does to their ability to buy a home again.  My answer is always, the same – consult an attorney!

In this challenging market, where homeowners are struggling to make their payments on a home that may not be valued at what the currently owe, the decision on what to do is a tough one.  No two scenarios are the same.

If a short-sale or foreclosure is the best option for you, then what?  How does one unbury themselves and get back on track?

I had the pleasure of working with Dean Wegner at WJ Bradley on a transaction a year or so ago – a great lender, with a dynamite staff that went above and beyond to get the job done. One of the smoothest transactions in a long time, too!  That being said, Dean has just published a “must read” book that is creating quite a buzz:  Life After Foreclosure.

Here’s a very real-life guide with practical strategies you can implement to get back on track.  It discusses legal, emotional and even psychological issues that need to be dealt with so you can swim to shore.  I encourage you to check it out – Life After Foreclosure is available at most bookstores and online.

©2011 Tom Weiskopf, PLLC. Tom Weiskopf, PLLC is an AZ licensed real estate agent with John Hall & Associates serving the Phoenix area. For more information, Tom can be reached at (602) 953-4000 or via e-mail at

Monday, January 24, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons….

Yep, I know, how cliché…..make lemonade.

But, it’s true – and I’ll tell you why:

A couple of years ago I went on a listing appointment in Sweetwater Ranch, a charming community in Scottsdale.  It was a beautifully remodeled home where every detail was meticulous.  The homeowners toured me through the home and showed me the granite, the imported sink in the half bath, the glass tiles adorning the wall, the built-ins and even the new door hardware.  They had put a great deal of time, effort and money into this home and it clearly showed.  We hit it off immediately, shared some common interests and chatted for well over an hour.  Mrs. Homeowner took me to the rear grounds with a quaint brick-laid patio, a trickling fountain and view of the mountains.  She spent hours in the back and here she tended roses, herbs and tons of citrus. 

She had oranges and grapefruit and tangerine and a lemon grove with more trees than I thought was possible for a Scottsdale subdivision.  She graciously offered me lemons and I was thrilled.  I love a lemon wedge in my vodka, with my salad or on my fish.  I have always wanted to make a lemon meringue pie and that was all I could think about as she handed me two sacks filled to the brim with plump, fragrant lemons.  I couldn’t wait to get home to search for the perfect recipe to bake my pie.  Her generosity was unbelievable and so heart warming.  I so appreciated her bountiful gift.

I perused Betty Croker and found a recipe that called for a lemon or two.  I figured that couldn’t be a very good one since it didn’t require much fruit.  So, I continued thumbing through books.  Colorado Cache, Palm Springs Life, Better Homes & Gardens, and several charity books my mother had given me with recipes.  Any with a lemon meringue recipe asked for just a few lemons, two to three at tops. 

I had 50 or so overflowing from the sacks.  I soon understood why Mrs. Homeowner had been so generous.

How does one get rid of so much fruit?  When we’re talking lemons, go ahead and make that pie, but also make some lemonade as a good batch will use 5 or 6!  (See links to recipes below). 1 cup of juice equals 5 to 6 lemons.

It’s citrus season here and throughout the valley you will seeing trees dripping with heavy branches from citrus.  I scratch my head as I wander through the produce section at Fry’s.  Oranges sell for $1.00 a pound.  Lemons are two for $.88.  Most people that have citrus have more than they can possibly use or giveaway, yet people are buying citrus?  If you’re looking for citrus, I can almost guarantee that if you go up to the door of a neighbor (or even a stranger, for that matter) and ask if you can pick some fruit, they will run – not walk – to the kitchen to retrieve some bags for your haul.

Trust me when I say that homeowners growing citrus are THRILLED to get rid of their citrus.  Mature trees produce an abundant amount of fruit – bushels and bushels – and most go to waste.  They rot and if you’re not careful, will attract roof rats in a heart beat. 

Roof rats, the same critter accused of spreading the plague in the middle ages, have been a problem for quite some time.  Reportedly, the first outbreak was seen in early 2001 in the Arcadia neighborhood, but have since grown and spread throughout the valley.  If you have citrus, or want to know more about these little critters, I encourage you to read up on roof rats.  Bottom line is you need to get the fruit off the trees, and keep the branches away from the house.  Some experts say citrus needs to be removed from the trees by March 1.

We love this time of year – the Barrett-Jackson, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Arabian World Show…but it’s citrus season too!  Go ahead, get out there, knock on the neighbor’s door and offer some fruit.  Who knows, you might meet a new friend!

Some of my all-time favorite lemonade recipes are found online and include:

And, mix it up a bit and add other delicate flavors like ginger, cherry or raspberry.  How ever you make it, you’ll bring a smile to someone’s face!

©2011 Tom Weiskopf, PLLC. Tom Weiskopf, PLLC is an AZ licensed real estate agent with John Hall & Associates serving the Phoenix area. For more information, Tom can be reached at (602) 953-4000 or via e-mail at

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Living the Dream

We all know someone who, despite it all, just seems to take everything for granted. 
For me, I am blessed – and know it!  As my Mom used to say, I thank my lucky stars everyday!
I have often said that I could live anywhere.  I am the type of person that looks for the good around me and soaks it all up.  I could probably be content in Des Moines or in Casper, although I’ll stick to where I am, thank you very much.  I’m just the kind of person that makes of best of things and my surroundings. 
But it doesn’t get much better than this!  I feel so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place, with clean streets, excellent schools, amazing restaurants, a plethora of cultural attractions, exhibits, events and other exciting things to do nearly every week of the year, plus, access to snowboarding, sailing and sandy beaches just a few hours away.  What a lifestyle!
Well, it seems the word is out.  The February issue of Sunset Magazine has arrived.  The cover boasts a snipe across it with “37 best towns to live your dream”.  As I always do with such a teaser, I immediately flip to the article and low and behold, there we are: Scottsdale, Arizona.  Our town was dubbed the best place to raise your kids! Low crime rates (and decreasing year over year), above state and national averages for standardized test scores, recreation and, of course, outstanding weather helped bump us to the top.   Runners up included Irvine, CA, Spokane and Missoula, MT.
So, if you already live in the Phoenix area, thank your lucky stars! If you’re shoveling the three feet of white stuff off the driveway, get on and get out here.  I’d love to share our lifestyle with you and help you find your own piece of nirvana. And, if you have kids, even better! After all, I speak from experience: Mine turned out amazing and I couldn't be more proud.
To  check out the complete article and 36 other places that might make a nice getaway, pick up the February issue of Sunset Magazine and see for yourself (it’s too new to even be online!).
©2011 Tom Weiskopf, PLLC. Tom Weiskopf, PLLC is an AZ licensed real estate agent with John Hall & Associates serving the Phoenix area. For more information, Tom can be reached at (602) 953-4000 or via e-mail at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011: The Year of Change

Change.  We either hate it or embrace it.  One thing is certain - we'll always have it.

How fortunate I am to hang my license at John Hall & Associates.  Each year, my brokerage hosts an annual meeting – an event that the attendees actually look forward to attending.  The event gives the state of the state, the newest and the latest, where the industry has been and what to look forward to in the year ahead. 

The special guests and speakers read like a who’s who of the industry.  Judy Lowe, Commissioner, Arizona Department of Real Estate; Richard "Rick" Mack, Phoenix-based real estate attorney, Michelle Lind, General Counsel, Arizona Association of REALTORS, and John Hall’s own Jim Sexton and Marge Lindsay got the prime billing.  But there was so much more:  Key leaders from the Phoenix board, Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, AAR, SEVRAR also joined us.  I can honestly say, all brokerages are NOT created equal.  To have such talent and wisdom all congregated together to share their insights and expertise was truly inspiring.  I am proud to hang my license with John Hall & Associates and work with such a talented and dedicated group of professionals where access to the industries greatest minds is always available and they're eager to assist.

Frankly, most of us are delighted to kiss 2010 goodbye.  We welcome 2011 with open arms but all need to embrace change. 

Change.  And how!  I’d say.  And for most – we’re talking more than just a new zodiac sign.

It’s a different time today than it was when I started in this crazy, exciting, fun and rewarding business.  How we did business 5 years ago – or even 2 for the matter – is no longer the case.  Short sales and REO’s have gone for less than 5% of the transactions several years ago to well over 80%.  If your agent hasn’t done or isn’t willing to do a short sale, chances are he or she should find another profession.  Short sales and REO’s are going to stick around awhile – Brace yourself, understand the facts and be prepared.

The number of licensees has dropped significantly the last couple of years.  And, still many of the “active” ones aren’t in it full time or involved with the direct buying and/or selling process.  Make sure your agent is devoted 100% of the time to real estate.  It’s the only way an agent can stay on top of things and give his or her very best fiduciary to the clients they serve.  If there not willing to do that, they should pack their bags.

Another change just around the corner is a new Arizona Purchase Contract.  At our meeting, the new proposed changes were unveiled – mainly dealing with the financing section.  Changes this past year with the lending institutions necessitate contract revisions.  AAR anticipates Executive Committee approval this week with the new changes going into effect February 28, 2011.  A word to the wise:  Make sure your agent knows how these changes will affect the buyer and the seller.  Significant money is on the table that could now be forfeited.

Technology is another roller coaster ride we all need to embrace.  Blackberry’s still hold the market but are quickly being challenged by the Android and other “smart” devices.  FLEXMLS, our computerized MLS system rolls out a new change nearly every week.  We’ve now got QR codes, digital video, new apps, digital signatures and oh-so-much-more that are allowing consumers greater access to more information on a daily basis.  Sellers should quiz their agent on how they are maximizing technology to get their property sold.

It’s going to be an exciting year – see ya later, 2010.  You’re outta here.  Change is here and we’re ready! Let 2011 bring renewed hope and optimism to us all. 

©2011 Tom Weiskopf, PLLC.  Tom Weiskopf, PLLC is an AZ licensed real estate agent with John Hall & Associates serving the Phoenix area. For more information, Tom can be reached at (602) 953-4000 or via e-mail at