What is Escrow?

Here is a simple question that we take for granted sometimes. Most of our clients ask us what Escrow is.

Whether you are buying or selling real estate, you will most likely deal with a large amount of money during the transaction. Therefore, it is important that a third party handles the transfer of money and paperwork from each party. The Escrow Officer is a neutral party who will ensure that all requirements of the loan are met. They will also request the original loan payoff amount (ensuring that it’s paid by close of transaction). The Officer also records the deed, disburses funds accordingly, among other things.

Essentially, opening escrow is when you use a party who is not involved in the transaction to hold something of value and ensures each of the parties involved hold their part on the deal and that all terms of the contract are satisfied.

When the buyer makes an offer and the offer is accepted, the buyer has 24 hours to open up Escrow. This means that the buyer is serious about purchasing the property and will write a check to the title company (amount to be agreed upon by all parties), which will make the process official and will held by the Escrow Officer. The amount paid at the beginning is used towards the value of the property being bought. If the transaction is canceled for a justifiable reason, the “escrow” money is returned to the buyer.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us! The information provided is based on the state of Arizona.



What’s the difference between home inspection and appraisal?

Here’s a common question that we get often: What’s the difference between home inspection and appraisal? Most buyers and sellers don’t know why they need an inspection and appraisal.

home inspectionHome inspection is the buyer’s choice. In Arizona, buyers 10 days after acceptance of contract to inspect the house and request any repairs. We highly recommend that all buyers hire a professional home inspector to perform the service. This step is not a requirement, but this is the buyers chance to find out if there are any major issues with the property they are purchasing. The report provided by the professional inspector is lengthy and it details EVERYTHING that is wrong in the house. Don’t get discouraged when you see one. Your Real Estate Agent will go over it with you and point out what major repairs should be taken care of prior to finalizing the sale. It’s worth to mention that during a seller’s market, many buyers waive the inspection to give them a competitive advantage over other offers (talk to your agent about this if you want your offer to stand out, and you are able to perform the inspection yourself or if you are buying a newer home)

Home AppraisalHome appraisal is ordered by the lender. This step is necessary only when buyers are borrowing money from an institution. This is not necessary when it’s a cash deal. Lenders, such as banks, want to make sure that the house they are letting you borrow money for is worth and is a good investment for them. If house is worth less than what you are willing to pay, lenders will not provide all the money you are asking and is qualified for. Lenders only provide the amount that the house is worth. This is for their protection and to ensure they are lending money for a good investment.

Please contact your agent for any specific questions or email us at fwilliamsteam@gmail.com and we will be more than happy to answer your questions.

Why school district matters, even if you don’t have kids

When seeking out your ideal home, you’ll probably evaluate various locations before you finalize the purchase and secure a residential mortgage. You’ll consider the neighborhood, how safe it is and how far the commute to work or the grocery store will be.

In your evaluation of a home’s location, don’t forget to check out the school district. Even if you don’t have school-age children – or any children at all – choosing a home in a good school district is a smart move.

School districts and home value

When making a home purchase, it’s important to think about the future and your plans for the home. Someday, eventually, you’ll sell it. When that day comes, you want your home to have a good resale value.

Many factors go into this value and school district is one of the most influential factors. Parents will always want to find the best schools for their children, which means they’ll usually seek out homes in good school districts.

A study by Trulia found that 19 percent of homebuyers say they want to buy a home in a good school district. But among parents with school-aged children who are looking for a home, 35 percent said a good school district was among their top priorities. A survey by Redfin revealed that 5.6 percent of recent homebuyers chose to move specifically to be in a good school district.

Since there will always be a select group of homebuyers seeking out homes in good school districts, these houses tend to hold their value better than those in poor school districts. This includes during times of economic turmoil, such as in the late 2000s, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Larry Stone, an assessor in Santa Clara County, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that identical homes one block apart could have a price difference of as much as $100,000 if one were in a better school district than another.

“It’s the single biggest thing, in my judgment,” Stone said.

How to find a good school district

Your real estate agent should have information about the school districts you’re looking at homes in. Additionally, websites like Zillow might have information included in home listings.

You can also conduct your own research. Find out what the teacher-to-student ratio is; lower is better because it means the teachers may be able to give students more individualized attention and address their academic needs better.

Also, try looking up testing scores, awards the school or teachers have received and technology in the classroom, Fox Business suggested.

Finally, a school that has extensive after school programming and a variety of extracurricular activities available to students is typically a good sign.

Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2015 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.


Today’s blog post is from Academy Mortgage, after reading it we thought of how important this subject is and decided to share with you. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us.


How much should I list my house for?

But, how much is  my house worth? How do you know how much to list my house for?

The simple answer is: the current market determines the value of your house. It’s all about supply and demand. However, there are other factors that influence the price of your house. The main ones are:

  1. Location
  2. Nearby features
  3. Size and appeal
  4. Age and condition

When providing a market analysis, we review all sales in the neighborhood for the past 6 months and we make sure to look at houses that are similar to yours. This is why sometimes houses in the same location and that look similar have different prices. It’s about how upgraded they are. So, if you want to list your house at top dollar, make sure it is upgraded. We go over these details during our meeting and we point out features that should be changed in order for you to list your house at a higher value. Keep in mind that curb appeal is very important, the first impression of the house can make it or break it.

Don’t hesitate to email us with questions. We are here to help!

What are the costs involved in buying a house in Arizona?

imagesHello home buyers,

we will keep this simple, short, and sweet! Here are the major and most common costs that are the buyers’ responsibility:

Earnest deposit: amount you give to ensure the property is taken out of the market. It will count towards the price of the house.

Home inspection: the average price for a home inspection in Phoenix is $220, but it varies according to the size of the house. It is the fee you pay a professional to thoroughly inspect the house and provide a report.

Appraisal fee: this fee is to pay for an Appraisor to inspect the house and provide its true value.

Down payment: the initial payment of the house (this amount will vary according to the type of loan and also based on how much money you have available).

Credit report fee: fee associated with checking your credit score.

Recordation fee: fee charged to transfer title to new owner

Property tax: this fee is prorated and you will be responsible for paying the remainder of the taxes for the year.

Lender fee: fee charged for originating the loan

Loan discount fee: if you buy down the interest rate, you will have to pay lender according to how many points you bought.

Mortgage Insurance: if your down payment is less than 20% of the price, you will have to pay for mortgage insurance.

Any questions? Send us an email!


Please note that there might be additional fees, make sure to talk to your lender and agent to get a complete list for the specific house you’re buying.



What’s the difference between FHA, VA, and Conventional loans? Which loan is best for me?

Let us start by saying that we will cover the 3 main types of loans: FHA, VA, and Conventional. Also, it is not possible to determine which loan is best for you without gathering all of the details of your financial situation. This overview will give you an idea of which one might be best for you, but only after talking to your loan officer, you will be able to know for sure.

  1. FHA: It’s a mortgage issued by the Federal Housing Administration, which is operated by the government. This is an attractive mortgage for those who don’t have a large amount of money for the down payment as it allows for as little as 3.5%. Typically you need a credit score of at least 580 (lower credit score doesn’t automatically disqualify you for FHA loan).  You also need to have at least 2 years of employment history. One major aspect is that even after you qualify for this loan, the house you chose must also meet the minimum appraisal standards, otherwise the bank will not issue you the loan. With this type of loan you also have to automatically pay for mortgage insurance.
  2. VA: It’s a mortgage designated only for US veterans and Service Members. It’s governed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. It was created to help returning   members to purchase a house. With VA loan you can pay as little as 0% down payment and you are not required to pay mortgage insurance. Most lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 (others will accept lower credit scores, but charge a higher interest rate).
  3. Conventional: this loan is not issued by the government. This type of loan conform from guidelines provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you will receive, making your monthly payments lower. Also, down payment can be as little as 3%.  With this loan the private lender (usually banks) will evaluate your LTV (Loan to value ratio). If you are able to make a down payment of 20% or more, you are not required to pay for mortgage insurance, otherwise you will have to add that to your monthly payment.

Keep in mind that there are down payment assistance programs available as well (eg.: government grants, which you don’t have to pay back). For more details and to find out which loan is better for you, contact your mortgage broker. These are guidelines and a low credit score doesn’t automatically disqualify you for a mortgage loan.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us.

I want to buy a house! What do I need to do to buy a house?

Hello home buyers!

We get this question very often! A lot of people come to us saying that they want to purchase a house, but are unaware of the process. They usually ask if now is the right time or not. Let’s start answering your questions…

  1. clock Is now the right time? Only you can answer this question. We can give you all the numbers and tell you that interest rates are on its all time low and how it economically makes sense. However, if you are not ready, no matter what we say will make sense to you. The right time is when you feel is the right time, when you are ready to make a long time commitment and investment. If you say yes to this question, the next step is to evaluate your economical situation and contact a loan officer to get prequalified to purchase a house.
  2. prequal Prequal. What’s that? Do I need one? A prequal is a letter from your loan officer that states your purchasing power. It will list the maximum amount you can buy a house for. This is the first step because you need to be aware of what you can afford. If you are not yet qualified, your loan officer will tell you what steps you need to take to be able to purchase a house in the future. Without the prequal, we can’t submit any offers and it would be a disservice to you if we showed you a house that you might not be able to afford or by the time you get your pre-qual, the house you loved is no longer available. We are more than happy to put you in contact with the loan officer we work with!
  3. choosing Choosing your Real Estate Agent. As you know, we only get a commission if the transaction is completed and as a buyer, you don’t pay us anything! The commission fee is negotiated with the seller. However, it is very important that you get a good agent to represent you. We make sure you get the best deal possible, navigate you through the process, avoiding pitfalls, and make it stress-free.
  4. finding the right houseFinding the house. Agents have access to real time information on houses that are actually active. Part of our job is to listen and understand what you want. We conduct an interview and after that we send you a. list of possible houses. After you review the list, we schedule showings so you can find your dream home!
  5. contractContract. After you find your dream home, we write the contract for you. This is one of the most important steps and the reason why you want a great agent representing you. We have market knowledge and will advise you on what direction you should take and we will make sure we write a clean contract that will get your offer accepted.
  6. appraisal and inspectionInspections and appraisal. After your offer gets accepted, it’s time to inspect the house and appraise. You have an inspection period, during this time we will help you hire a competent inspector who will provide a report with any anomaly with the house, together we go over this report and negotiate with the seller items that need to be fixed. After this is complete, it’s time for the appraiser to come and see how much the house is actually worth. This process is important because the lender needs to know if the house worth the price agreed between buyer and seller. If the house appraises for more, the lender will see that it’s a good investment and won’t have a problem lending you the money. However, if it appraises for less, the lender will not let you borrow the amount you asked for (even if you qualify) because they will see it as a bad investment. You can still buy the house if you want, this just means that you will have to come with the difference on your own.
  7. keysClosing & keys. Congratulations, you have a house! Finally, after we work out the previous steps you are ready to sign and get the keys!


The information provide pertains to the state of Arizona, if you are in a different state, please contact a local specialist. If you have any questions, please email us.