Real Estate Information Archive


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Family & Friends Mortgage - 7/13/2017

by Gina McKinley

Somehow it just seems right to give your kids a mortgage when they buy a house, if you can afford it. Wouldn’t it be great for someone to pay you 4-5% interest on a secured loan? Yes it is until the IRS sticks their nose into it. THEIRS??? Yep. Read on…

Anytime a lender and borrower can agree on rates and terms, it can be a good match but IRS has specific rules that govern the transaction especially when the parties are family or friends.26614035-250.jpg

The loan must be done in a business-like manner with a written note specifying the loan amount, interest rate, term and collateral. IRS requires that the mortgage be a recorded lien to allow the interest deduction.

Sometimes, a friends and family situation might have a less than normal interest rate on the mortgage. However, the rate charged in the note is regulated by the minimum applicable federal rate which is published monthly by IRS based on current Treasury securities. For July 2017, the rate is 2.57% for terms over nine years.

The seller must report the interest paid to them along with the name, address and Social Security number on schedule B when the buyer uses the property as their principal residence.  A mortgage between family and friends can be good for both parties. It may allow the borrower a slightly lower rate without the expenses of a traditional lender while giving the note holder a higher rate than they can earn in available investments.

Your tax professional can guide the transaction whether you’re a buyer or a seller and your real estate professional can help arrange to have the documents drawn and filed.

When you are faced with the idea of “helping your child” or a friend buy a home in Chandler, or just a loan, make sure you have the right advice. If you have any questions or need a recommendation for a tax professional, please give me a call today at 480-355-8645 or email me at

The Simplest Way to Get More Clients

by Gina McKinley

Getting more clients is often easier than we make it.  We spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on marketing and lead generation, yet we overlook the simplest way to generate business…

Talking to strangers.

Think about it.  Every day we’re surrounded by potential clients.  At the store, in Starbucks, and during our workouts, people who might have real estate needs are no more than a few feet away.

But, we rarely take advantage of these opportunities because striking up conversations with strangers can feel awkward.

That’s why I recommend reading the article “Three Scientifically Proven Steps For Talking With Strangers”.

It’s a quick read (five minutes) and will help make starting conversations with strangers feel natural.

Let me know what you think of it!

P.S. – Wearing your nametag or branded clothing is one way to meet more people, but it requires they start the conversation.  When you’re the one who initiates contact, you’ll find yourself meeting far more potential clients.

P.S.S. - We are a top team in the South East Valley as ranked by Top Agents Magazine and RealTrends. We are currently hiring. The ideal realtor candidate is serious, motivated, integrity, and drive. Please call us today!

Down Payment Problem - Are You Sure?

by Gina McKinley

There are many first time home buyers who think that they need to save up a large amount for a down payment.  Most of the time, waiting to save up funds can either price them out of a market with rising home prices (like the Phoenix area is now, especially in the lower price ranges) and they end up paying more for a house that they could have bought last year for less.  On the flip side, I have also spoken to first time home buyers who hear about the down payment assistance programs and have no money saved at all, and find qualifying difficult.  How much down payment to have can be a fine balance, and there are many different options available.

There is increasing difficulty for first-time home buyers to save for their down payment as indicated in the graph.  Several factors that contribute to this trend include rising rents, rising home prices, student loan debt and flat wages.down payment graph.png

Some would-be buyers feel they cannot buy a home today but a large part of those decisions may be based on inaccurate assumptions.

Nine out of ten non-owners believe they need ten percent or more for a down payment. The typical down payment for first-time buyers is six percent. VA has 100% loan programs as well as USDA for certain qualifying areas and buyers. FHA is known for 3.5% down payments. And FNMA and Freddie Mac have down payments as low as 3% and 5%.

There are gift provisions available for buyers who have an “angel” who would like to help them with their down payment.

There are ways to borrow against a person’s qualified retirement program for a down payment. It isn’t necessarily limited to the buyer but could include a relative. Interestingly, a son or daughter can borrow against their retirement to benefit their parents.

In some respects, having good credit and sufficient income is more important than the down payment. Don’t rely on “common knowledge.” Get expert advice and counsel to see if there is a way to advance your dream of owning a home.

In Maricopa County, we also have government down payment assistance programs like the Homeowners For Arizona, a 5% down payment grant for a conventional loan.  There is also the Home in 5 for FHA loans, where the grant can cover most if not all of your down payment.  However, this doesn't cover closing costs (it can be difficult in competitive price ranges to have the seller pay for them) so you'll still want to have some savings. Knowing what the best loan program for you is prior to looking for a home is one of the many reason's it's a great idea to talk to a lender first.  Contact me today at 480-355-8645 for a recommendation of some of the best loan officers in Chandler, Gilbert, and the rest of the Valley!

Don't Have a CLUE?

by Gina McKinley

For most home buyers and sellers, this is just one of those many documents that crosses their way when they're buying or selling a home.  However, this can have some big implications for some buyers depending on what's on the CLUE report (also known as a claims history report) as well as other people in general when going to renew your home or auto insurance.

If you haven’t heard of a CLUE report, it has nothing to do with the table game searching for a murderer. It is a report showing the insurance claims on your home and car for the past five to seven years.10340976-250.jpg

This database is used by insurance companies to evaluate risks and determine rates. C.L.U.E. stands for Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange. Rates can be increased not only due to legitimate claims but data entry errors also. Sometimes, simply asking a question without filing a claim can be logged as a claim.

For that reason, similar to verifying the accuracy of your credit report, it is important to check out the CLUE report on your home and car. The reports are free and there is a process for correcting mistakes.

An interesting and sometimes costly surprise occurs during the home buying process. The claim experience of the prior seller could impact the price of the premium of the new buyer. For that reason, you can ask for a copy of the CLUE report on the home you’re interested in buying prior to writing a contract.

Lenders will require a new buyer to pay a year of homeowner's insurance up front, and then will calculate a monthly portion of the premium to go into their escrow account.  If there are excessive claims on the report, the premium could skyrocket and the buyer may not be able to qualify for a mortgage on that home, even though the loan amount is in the range they qualify for.  For this reason, it's important to get a copy of the CLUE report as well as contact your insurance agent during the inspection period for a quote.

If you need help getting a CLUE report or a recommendation for an insurance agent, give me a call at 480-355-8645 today!

Emergency Kit for the Car

by Gina McKinley

There's one item that I've needed in the past but is missing on this list...toilet paper!! You'd be surprised when showing homes just how many times nature can call, not just for you but also for your clients!  Being prepared for any type of situation is great, not only for real estate but also for life in general.  You never know when an emergency can happen...

Mickey Mantle said “If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”

Similarly, if people planning their summer travel knew they were going to have an emergency, they would have the right things available. Only 5% of drivers carry all recommended emergency supplies in their cars.9111296-250.jpg

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that all Americans have some basic supplies on hand in order to survive for at least three days if an emergency occurs. Some of these things would be more important if you lived or traveled in remote areas.

  • Reflective hazard triangle or road flares
  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Crucial medications
  • Emergency radio with batteries
  • Bottled water for each person and pet in your car
  • Non-perishable, high-calorie food
  • Distress signal flag
  • Matches or lighter

During cold weather, additional items are recommended:

  • Windshield scraper and brush
  • Blankets and extra warm clothing
  • Road salt or cat litter to help with tire traction
  • Tarp for working outside in weather

It is recommended that emergency supplies should be checked at least twice a year to see that all of the items are in working order and in good condition. It is important that items are replaced if any of them are used during the year.

The American Red Cross is among many sources where emergency preparedness kits and supplies can be purchased.

My knowledge and expertise for a variety of situations is how I help negotiate wins for my clients. To learn how my preparation can best help you, please give me a call today at 480-355-8645 or email me at!

What Can You Expect?

by Gina McKinley

Some of my clients have come to me with horror stories to tell about the experience with their last agent.  While I won't share those, I strongly value communication and our other core values that make us the 'HAIL' team - honesty, accuracy, integrity, and loyalty.  We do our best to give our clients the best service possible so they feel comfortable and confident with both the home buying and home sale process, and do such a good job that they want to introduce us to their family and friends! 

Businesses must treat customers fairly if they expect to do business with them again or get recommendations to their friends. Customers of stores like Nordstrom’s understand that a salesperson is an employee and represents the company.


The line becomes less clear in some industries, especially ones that involve real estate. Agency is a legal relationship authorizing a person to act for or in the place of another. It involves responsibilities that exceed treating a person fairly.

The duties a buyer or seller can expect to receive from a real estate salesperson or broker include but are not limited to honesty, accountability, full disclosure, representation and reasonable skill and care. Buyers and sellers might additionally expect obedience, loyalty and confidentiality.  State laws can differ on specific duties.

Mortgage and title officers are limited in their duties to the buyer to honesty, accountability and specific requirements under the federal Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act.

A special relationship with a real estate agent makes it advantageous to have them coordinate efforts with the other professionals in the home buying process. Since most buyers’ and sellers’ transactions are infrequent, the agent can bring valuable experience to the transaction.

Every buyer and seller should discuss the level of service they expect from the real estate professional they work with. Another good question is what happens if the purchase and sale are within the same company.

Having that discussion up front is one of the ways we can best serve you.  One of the most important questions to be able to answer is, "What are your expectations of me as your REALTOR?" When we sit down to talk about your real estate needs, you will find that my job is to represent your interests only during the process. If you're interested in hearing just how I do that, please give me a call at 480-355-8645 today!

Hands-Only CPR

by Gina McKinley

Most of the time in Chandler we hear about CPR with alternating mouth-to-mouth breaths due to the number of drownings (or near drownings) due to the number of swimming pools we have in Arizona.  Swimming pool safety can be a big issue, especially with smaller children.  However, this is something that people should be aware of since you'll never know when you come across someone who may need your help. 

Hands-only CPR can save lives.  The American Heart Association states that "Almost 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die.  CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival."  Most people who survive a cardiac emergency are helped by a bystander.   

  1. Check for responsiveness – shake the person and shout “Are you OK?”11700251-250.jpg
  2. Call 9-1-1 – either tell someone to call or make the call yourself
  3. Compress - Push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 per minute.

The victim should be flat on their back preferably on the floor. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the victim’s chest and place the heel on top of the other hand lacing your fingers together. Lock your elbows and compress the chest forcefully; make sure you lift enough to let the chest recoil.

Chest compressions should be continued until the person shows obvious life-like breathing, the scene becomes unsafe, an AED (automatic external defibrillator) becomes available, or a trained responder takes over the emergency treatment.

Alternating mouth-to-mouth breaths is not necessary using this method. Compressions are adequate except in drowning or drug overdose situations where 30 chest compressions are followed by two mouth-to-mouth breaths.

Watch this two-minute video and consider taking instructions from the Red Cross or other qualified provider. Every household should have at least one person trained in life-saving skills.

And, if you come across someone who needs help with either selling their home, buying a new one, or is looking for an investment property, give us a call at 480-355-8645 today!

Must Be This Tall to Ride

by Gina McKinley

This really does bring back some memories...I remember standing in line to ride the go-carts and being so excited to finally be able to not have to stand on my parent's toes just to reach that height! But, I was still too small and had to wait and watch everyone else get to go while I sat on the sidelines.  It's happened to us before when we've missed out on a house we wanted, too. And it almost happened to a couple who wanted to pay all cash - they did not have any proof of funds that a seller could see.  "I've never had to do this before!" But today is a lot different than it was 20 years ago.  So enjoy the read and come back... 

Surely, you remember being a child at an amusement park when after having stood in line with your friends and family, waiting to get on a terrific ride, you discovered the sign that read, “you must be this tall to ride.”This Tall3.png

Not only was it disappointing, it was slightly embarrassing. You never want to go through that again.

A remarkably similar situation occurs when people are buying a home. After finding the right home and negotiating the contract, they find out that they don’t measure up financially.  It’s not something that anyone wants to go through if they have a choice.

Regardless of what you think you know, if you’re buying a home with a loan, you need to physically visit with a trusted mortgage professional before you get serious.

  • You’ll find out your credit score which will directly affect the mortgage rate you’ll pay.
  • You might discover blemishes on your credit that possibly can be corrected.
  • You’ll even get a pre-approval letter that you can submit with an offer which could dramatically affect your negotiations in the current competitive market.

Some rides don't turn out to be as good as you thought they were going to be.  A person certainly doesn’t want that disappointment with a lender. Contact me for a recommendation of trusted mortgage professional.

It would be my pleasure to introduce you to a professional loan officer. Contact me… When I bought my first home in 1985, people took your word you could afford it. It doesn’t seem that way anymore. If you are getting a loan, sellers want a loan officer to say that you can. If you are paying cash, they want to see proof you have it. 

And if you are an all cash buyer here in Chandler, lets talk about how you need to be ready, and what documents the seller will need to see.

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

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!

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