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Phoenix Arizona Real Estate Blog

Gina McKinley


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 273

Would-be Buyers with Student Debt

by Gina McKinley

This is very interesting...these loan programs would help a lot of first time buyers buy their first home in the Phoenix area. Buying a home now can be a great option as paying a mortgage will help you build wealth and equity versus paying rent for money that you would never see again. Read on to learn more...

59% of non-owners are not comfortable taking on a mortgage with their student debt according to the Aspiring Home Buyers 2017 survey. It is estimated that the college graduates have an average of $37,172 in student debt.16522219-250.jpg

Fannie Mae, who has loan programs with as little as three to five percent down payments, has announced changes to how student loan debt is treated that could make the difference in qualifying for a mortgage.

For the 5 million borrowers who participate in the reduced payment plans, actual payments are considered for calculating debt-to-income ratio rather than maximum payment amount.

Non-mortgage debts paid by another party for at least 12 months won’t be included in calculating debt-to-income ratio.  For example, payments being made on a student loan by the parents would not be counted against the DTI ratio for the student.

These changes can make it possible for would-be buyers with student debt to get a home now instead of waiting for years. Being pre-approved by a trusted mortgage professional is the best way to confirm that these changes apply to your situation.

Call me today at 480-355-8645 for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional, or send me an email at

Got Email Overload?

by Gina McKinley

Do you struggle to keep up with the flow of emails entering your inbox?  If so, I have the perfect article for you:

Got Email Overload? 14 Email Management Tools for Organizing Your Inbox

And yes, I realize the irony of emailing you an article about email overload J

Seriously though, email overload is less about the volume of messages you receive than it is about the way you manage those incoming messages.  Consider using one or more of the tools listed in the article to help automate your email management.

I hope you find it useful!

P.S. We have 9 active buyers looking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Please call us today!

The 5 Best Questions to Ask in Listing Appointments

by Gina McKinley

Did you know the quality of the questions you ask in a listing appointment impacts whether you get the listing at the price and commission rate you want?

Listing appointments are sales presentations.  And in sales presentations, the more you know about potential customers’ wants and needs, the better your odds of success.

Here are the five best questions you can ask sellers during a listing appointment to get them to tell you what they want and need.

Question #1 - Why did you choose now to sell your house?

You want to know why sellers are choosing to sell.  But, more than that, you want to know why they’re choosing to sell now.

If timing is important to the sellers, you can use that information to steer them away from “testing the market” with an unrealistic list price.

Question #2 - What would happen if you didn’t sell?

The answer to this question will tell you whether the sellers need to sell or whether they just want to sell.  If renting the house or staying put are options, you might end up with an expired listing on your hands.

Question #3 – What research have you done on the value of your property?

Before you present your CMA or recommend a list price, you want to know what you’re up against. 

Sellers who haven’t done any research might want an unrealistic list price based on what they “need” to get out of the sale.  Sellers who have researched the value of their property might have used unreliable sources (Zillow anyone?).

Question #4 – What have been your previous experiences with selling homes?

If the sellers have sold before, get them to elaborate on those experiences.  You want to know what went well and what didn’t.

When you know what went well previously, you can show the sellers how you’ll repeat those positive experiences.  When you know what didn’t go well, you can show the sellers how this experience will be different.

Question #5 – What would you expect from me as your agent?

Even if the sellers share some of their expectations of you when they answer question #4, you still want to ask this question.  The surest way to get a full commission is to demonstrate exactly how you’ll exceed sellers’ expectations.

P.S. We have 9 active buyerslooking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Call us today!

Good Info - Good Decisions

by Gina McKinley

Having the best information when making a home buying decision is key, but it goes much further than making sure it's a quality house in your preferred neighborhood.  Understanding how the economy can affect that decision is important too; even in an appreciating market, the biggest hit to affordability is rising interest rates.  That's why it's important to get the best loan options and interest rate possible - at the end, I'll have a resource so you can find out if you can take advantage of these low rates while they're still here.

While low inventory is certainly challenging buyers, not having a clear understanding of mortgage financing is also causing issues. By having good information, they are able to make better decisions as well as compete favorably.Mortgage Rate History0517.png

Most buyers don’t realize how the mortgage rate is determined for a borrower. While annual income is important, a good credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, loan-to-value ratio and ability to repay the loan are vital concerns.

A variety of myths seem to permeate the market such as rates are set and released once a day; FHA loans are for first-time buyers only; pre-qualification commits the lender; lender fees are not negotiable and adjustable rate mortgages always go up.

Misunderstanding of actual mortgage practices may be a contributing factor to why more buyers are not taking advantage of what are still historically low mortgage rates.

While getting solid information about mortgages and being pre-approved from a lender are very important, it is only one step in the home buying process. Success in buying a home in today’s market should begin with a real estate professional who will coordinate all the different parts of the transaction including mortgage, title, insurance, and inspections.

This is so true, especially in today's market with low inventory levels! Having someone who is a full time professional who has the connections to make the home buying process as stress-free as possible will make a world of difference in your home buying experience.  Give me a call at 480-355-8645 or email me at today and I'll be able to put you in touch with the right people to make one of your biggest purchases one of the easiest you've ever done!

Reasons to Refinance

by Gina McKinley

Even with the mortgage rates being so low the past several years, it's still a good idea to ask the question on whether or not to refinance your home.  In addition to the reasons listed below, you could also refinance out of an FHA loan into a conventional loan so your mortgage insurance can be removed with the refinance or automatically removed down the road.  Take a look and at the end I'll have a resource to see if refinancing is right for you and your family.‚Äč

Regardless of the reason to refinance a home, the basic question to ask is: “Do you plan to live in the home long enough to recapture the cost of refinancing?” There are always expenses involved in refinancing which can be paid in cash or rolled into the new mortgage.

From a strictly financial standpoint, the break-even point is achieved when the cost of refinancing has been recaptured by the monthly savings. It would take approximately 23 months to recapture $4,000 of refinance costs with a lower payment of $175 a month. Below are some common reasons why people refinance:


  1. Lower the rate
  2. Shorten the term so that the loan will build equity faster and be paid off sooner.
  3. Lower your payment to reduce your monthly cost of housing.
  4. Convert an Adjustable Rate Mortgage to a Fixed Rate Mortgage to stabilize your payment due to concern of rising interest rates.
  5. Cash out equity to be able to use the money for another purpose.
  6. Combine a first and second mortgage.
  7. Consolidate personal debt so the interest is tax deductible.
  8. Payoff higher cost debt such as credit cards, student debt, etc.
  9. Remove a person from a loan as in the case of a divorce.

Points paid to purchase a principal residence are tax deductible completely in the year paid. However, the points must be spread over the life of the mortgage on a refinance. For that reason, consider getting a “par” value loan with no points. It may have a slightly higher rate but the interest will be fully deductible and it will lower the cost of refinancing.

Determine the break-even point on your situation by using the Refinance Analysis.

Do you fit into one or more of the above categories?  We've refinanced our home to take advantage of some of the above benefits - just because you've taken a 30-year fixed rate mortgage doesn't mean that you have to carry it for the entire life of the loan.  Call me today for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional!

How to Blog Your Way to More Referrals & Leads

by Gina McKinley

Have you considered starting a blog? If not, there are a few reasons you might want to add blogging to your lead generation efforts.

First, blogging is one of the few ways you can attract buyers and sellers for free. The only investment needed is your time.

Second, blogging allows you to build trust and credibility with your readers. When people perceive you as a trusted expert, they’re less likely to haggle over commission or interview other agents.

Finally, blogging makes it easier for buyers and sellers to find you. Search engines love blogs and regularly rank them at the top of search results.

If you’d like to blog your way to more referrals and leads, start by following these four steps.

Step #1 – Determine the Purpose

Is the purpose of your blog to educate people about the buying and selling process? To give tips and advice to current homeowners? Or, do you want to share your knowledge and expertise about a specific area or neighborhood?

Blogging is most effective when readers know what to expect from you. Determining the purpose of the blog upfront helps maintain the consistency of the content.

Step #2 – Determine the Place

Although you can share your blog across many platforms, you must choose one place to host it. Most agents either use their website or a dedicated blogging site (such as ActiveRain or

Hosting your blog on your website is best when your site is set up for lead generation. If your site isn’t set up to capture visitors’ information, a dedicated blogging site might be a better option.

Step #3 – Determine the Frequency

When you first start your blog, it’s best to have a set publishing schedule. Doing so will help you build the habit of blogging. Publishing once a week is best. But, you can get away with one post per month if the primary purpose of your blog is to keep in touch with your network.

Step #4 – Do It

This is the hardest step. Many agents blog once or twice and then quit. You must blog consistently to experience the benefits.

The key is to block off time in your schedule to write. You might also want to start with shorter posts until you’re comfortable blogging and have made it a habit.


P.S. We have 9 active buyers looking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Please call us today!

7 Must-Haves for Every Realtor

by Gina McKinley

The word "must" gets thrown around a lot in real estate.

You must be active on social media. You must use video. You must work with internet leads.

The truth is, you can be successful in real estate without social media, video, internet leads and just about every other must out there.

In fact, there are only seven true must-haves for every Realtor.

#1 – A Plan

You don’t need a formal business plan, but you do need to know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve it. Make sure your plan is in writing and set aside time to review it at least once per month.

#2 – A Clear Value Proposition

In your marketing materials and in-person, you must communicate to potential customers why they should work with you instead of someone else. Your value proposition could center on your experience, track record, previous careers, local knowledge, or anything else that distinguishes you from other agents in your market.

#3 – A CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

Your network is your most valuable asset as an agent. You must have a reliable place to store, manage, and access the contact and personal information of the people in your database.

#4 – A Consistent Way to Generate Leads

If your income is unpredictable from one month to the next, inconsistent lead generation is the likely culprit. To smooth out the peaks and valleys, invest in marketing and prospecting systems that give you a consistent flow of potential buyers and sellers.

#5 – A System for Tracking Lead Sources

You can’t know what’s working and what isn’t unless you track how you get your leads. You can use something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or you can use your CRM.

#6 – A Place to Log Expenses

You might have heard the saying, It’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep. If you don’t know how much money you’re spending, you can’t know how much money you’re keeping.

Programs like Quickbooks, or apps like Expensify, make logging expenses easy so you always know what you’re keeping.

#7 – A Transaction Management System

The quickest way to damage your reputation and endanger your license is to drop the ball during a transaction. You must have a system in place to ensure you have the proper paperwork, meet contract deadlines, and follow-up on outstanding items.

P.S. We have 9 active buyers looking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Please call us today!

Pre-Listing Packets: Use Them to Win More Listings

by Gina McKinley

Pre-listing packets are one of the most overlooked marketing tools available to agents. Yet, a compelling pre-listing packet can all but guarantee you win every listing.

In case you aren’t familiar with pre-listing packets, they’re marketing materials and information you send to sellers before going on listing appointments (more on what to send in a bit).

There are two main benefits to using the packets.

First, they allow you to wow sellers before you ever step foot in their door. Sellers excited to meet with you are less likely to haggle over commission or hire another agent before giving you the chance to make your presentation.

Second, pre-listing packets take pressure off the appointment. Listing presentations can turn into marathons when you need to cover everything from your experience and services to pricing, commission, and contracts.

By giving sellers some of the information in advance, you reduce the number of items you need to cover in the appointment.

If you’d like to use pre-listing packets to win more listings, there are three critical items you’ll want to include.

#1 – Testimonials

Having 3-5 testimonials in your pre-listing packet builds credibility and establishes you as an expert. Ideal testimonials are one or two short paragraphs and contain specific reasons why past clients loved your service.

#2 – Your Marketing Plan & Samples

Showing sellers you have a concrete marketing plan helps ease concerns you’ll just throw a sign in the yard and then disappear. Sending your marketing plan as part of the pre-listing packet is yet another way to establish your credibility and expertise ahead of the appointment.

You’ll also want to send samples of your marketing. It’s your opportunity to show off your best work and get the sellers excited about what you’ll be able to do with their home.

#3 – Your Value Proposition

Sellers don’t need to know your entire work history or background. What they care about most is how you’ll help them sell their house.

In your pre-listing packet, make it clear why you’re the best agent for the job.

Do you sell homes for higher-than-average sales prices? Do you have lower days-on-market or do you offer a guaranteed sale program? Do you have a team of agents and staff that provide superior customer service?

The better you’re able to communicate your value proposition ahead of time, the less heavy-lifting you’ll need to do in the appointment.

P.S. We have 9 active buyers looking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Please call us today!

An Alternative to Paying Tax Today

by Gina McKinley

This is a great strategy to take advantage of…my experience with one of our first rentals was to 1031 exchange the property into two additional rental homes in Chandler.  My husband and I were able to turn a monthly cash flow of about $100 into a $600 monthly cash flow. Read on until the end and I’ll have a resource for you to find out how you can do it too!

The cartoon character Wimpy would say that he’d gladly repay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Some real estate investors say a similar thing to Uncle Sam to be able to hold on to their proceeds from the sale of an investment and agree to pay the tax later.


The benefit of a 1031 exchange is that it allows the investor to defer the tax due from the sale into the replacement property. This allows more money to be reinvested. In the example shown, the investor has 27% more to invest now by deferring the tax into the future.

The property to be exchanged must be like-kind which means real estate for real estate.   Rental property can be exchanged for other rental or investment property.  Personal-use properties like a first or second home are not eligible for exchanges.

There are some critical dates that restrict the validity of the exchange. The investor must identify the replacement property within 45 days of the sale of the relinquished property. The replacement property must be closed within 180 days of the sale of the relinquished property.

  • The replacement property must be equal to or greater in value, equity and debt than the one being relinquished.
  • All net proceeds must be used in acquiring the replacement property.

There are specific rules involved in constructing a valid tax-deferred exchange. There are three professionals that should be involved: a tax advisor, a real estate professional and a qualified intermediary who will assist in the acquisition and transfer of both the relinquished property and the replacement property. Additional information can be found in IRS Publication 544.

This is a very strategic process that should be started prior to listing your rental home for sale. I’d be happy to share the 1031 exchange company we used and to help guide you through the process of exchanging your existing Chandler rental home to purchase more income properties in Chandler or anywhere in the East Valley. Give me a call at 480-355-8645 or email me at!

3 Simple Ways to Earn More Without Working More

by Gina McKinley

3 Simple Ways to Earn More Without Working More

Earning more without working more sounds too good to be true, right? isn’t.

Most training teaches you to earn more commission either by raising your average sales price or by increasing the number of deals you do. And while those are both great ways to increase your income, they also both require more work.

If you want to earn more without working more, there are three simple ways to do it that you won’t find in most training classes.

#1–Stop Breaking out Your Checkbook

If you’ve been in this business for any amount of time, you’ve probably offered to chip in money to keep a deal together or help a client in a tough spot. And there’s nothing wrong with doing that if it’s the only option available.

Thing is, breaking out your checkbook is rarely the only option available.

Next time you’re tempted to contribute money to a deal, ask yourself a question first. If you were forbidden from breaking out your checkbook to solve the problem, what else could you do?

You’ll be surprised how many solutions you can come up that don’t involve your money.

#2–Change How You Discount

Discounting your commission is always less-than-ideal. But, you might feel there are situations where it’s necessary. When you do, changing the way you discount can help you keep more of your money.

Most agents discount by giving up a percentage of whatever it is they consider their full commission. For example, an agent might offer to take a listing for 5.5% instead of her normal 6% (a .5% discount).

A half-percent discount doesn’t sound like much, but it’s $1250 on a $250,000 listing. That’s a lot of money to give up. If you want to keep more of your money, discount by dollar amount instead of discounting by percentage.

Using the example of a $250,000 listing, start by offering a $500 discount. If the seller continues to negotiate, you can still go up to $750, or even $1000, and still be better off than offering the .5%.

#3–Examine Recurring Expenses

Pull up your most recent bank and credit card statements. How many recurring expenses can you find?

Examples of recurring expenses are subscriptions to news sites, web hosting and SEO services, and premium accounts on listing portals. These expenses are often between $10 and $100 per month, and they add up quickly.

Are you using all the products and services you’re paying for? Are they contributing to your business? If you find any that aren’t (and you probably will), cancel them.

Because recurring expenses are automatically withdrawn from your account or charged to your card, it’s easy to forget about them. That’s why you want to do a quick review every six months or so to make sure you aren’t paying for products and services you no longer need.

Earning more without working more can be as simple as keeping your checkbook in your pocket changing the way you discount, and eliminating useless recurring expenses.


P.S. We have 9 active buyers looking to buy in the next 6 months.  We are seeking serious, motivated, and integrity driven realtor partners for our team.  Please call us today!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 273




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