Andrea West

Top 1% of Realtors Nationwide

(602) 524-9378

Your Scottsdale Real Estate Specialist
"Making your Scottsdale luxury home, golf home, vacation home or second home a reality"

How to find the perfect place to call home.
By Andrea West

Finding a great neighborhood is one of the first steps to buying a home.  The neighborhood in which you live will heavily dictate your whole way of life - things like walking to a nearby park with your kids, feeling safe outdoors, being close to restaurants and shopping, enjoying a short commute, and knowing your home will appreciate at a healthy rate.  But how do you find the best neighborhood for you and your family?

First, you must determine what type of neighborhood appeals to you.  Do you have children and want a great school district?  Do you like the outdoors and want to be close to hiking and biking trails.  Do you want an HOA?  What about the proximity to your job?  Do you want a golf course community?  Do you want to be within walking distance to campus?  Do you want a gated community?  Make a list of things that you want.

Next, start to research.  Go online to look at school test scores or the best places to hike.  Pull up crime statistics.   Use mapping features to map out the distance to your job.  Many master planned communities have websites that tell of upcoming events.  Try to attend one of the events so that you can talk to people that live in the community. 

 After you’ve done some preliminary research, get in your car and drive around.  Look at the exterior of the homes and the common area.  Are they well maintained?  Talk to the neighbors and see what they have to say.  Neighbors are a great source of information.  They will let you know if there are any issues with the HOA or any upcoming improvements to the community.  Look at people’s cars.  Are they well kept?  Are they similar to yours? 

Scouting out a great neighborhood is just as important as finding a great house.  It will make you feel at home and give you a sense of community.





Home Prices

We began last year in a seller’s market and ended 2013 in what can best be described as a balanced market, with both supply and demand at what might best be described as typical.  We continue this trend for 2014.

For the second year in a row sold data shows a strong recovery in sales prices in Maricopa County with the average sales price up 16.9% year-over-year. The median sales price was up 20.9%, giving local homeowners restored value and increased equity. The median sales price ended 2013 70% above our May 2011 bottom of $108,300 and 30% below our June 2006 peak of $264,800. When we take a closer look at the median sales price appreciation, we see that all the gains took place in the first half of 2013. The median sales price ended 2012 at $153,000 and then appreciated each month through July reaching $185,000, the exact same price we closed out 2013.

Moving forward through the 2014 spring market, we continue to see modest appreciation and a return to a more normal, balanced market.

New Home Sales Rose 9.6%

New Home Sales rose by 9.6 percent from December 2013 to January 2014 to an annual rate of 468,000, well above expectations. The 468,000 rate was the highest level since July 2008. Pending Home Sales for January also came in just above expectations and well above December's reading. In addition, research firm CoreLogic reported that completed foreclosures fell by 19 percent from January 2013 to January 2014, while the Case Shiller 20-city Home Price Index ended its best year since 2005.

Homeowners Insurance
by Andrea West

November 16, 2013

When purchasing a home it is critical to secure a new homeowners policy early on during the escrow process.  Most lenders request to have the information on the new policy only days before closing.  However, based on a transaction that I had earlier this year, I now ask the lenders to have the buyer fulfill that condition early on.  After telling lenders the following story, they usually comply.

Earlier this year, I listed a luxury home as a short sale.  Many parties were involved in the transaction including realtors, lenders, escrow officers and attorneys.  After months and months of going back and forth with the lenders and attorneys, we finally had our short sale approval letter from the sellers' lender.  A few days before closing, the buyers' lender called me and asked if we could get an extension on closing as the buyers current insurance company would not insure them on their new property.  Everything else was completed for the file to close. This was the only outstanding condition in the lender's file, and the short sale lender would not grant us an extension.

The reason for the problem with the insurance was because the buyers had previously had two very large claims that were thousands of dollars. They used their insurance like they were supposed to and ultimately got punished for it as their current insurance company would no longer insure them. Not only that, they were having great difficulties in obtaining insurance from any company.

After lots of hard work and scrambling, we were finally able to find an insurance company that would insure them. The buyers paid a hefty premium for it, but at least they were able to get it.  Fortunately, the transaction closed and both the buyers and sellers were happy.

Therefore, in order to assure a smooth closing process, make sure that you have your homeowner's policy lined up as early in the process as possible.

More on Appraisals
by Andrea West

October 5, 2013

Whether you are refinancing or selling a home, the value an appraiser places on a home can be detrimental.   As a follow up to my article last month, “What Happens When the Appraisal Comes in Low”, this month, I would like to discuss if there is anything we can do to get an appraisal to come in high.

The first step, is to pick up and de-clutter the house.  If your house is listed, we would have already done this.  If you are refinancing, you may need to do some straightening up.  Clear clutter away, clean, spruce up the front and backyards, and touch up any chipped or damaged paint.

After this is done, the next step is to go through the home and make a list of all of the upgrades and updates.  If your house is listed, we would already have this prepared.  The key is to make the list as detailed and “fancy” as possible.  Use descriptive words.  For instance, instead of “new marble around the fireplace” you might say “Emperador Dark polished 12x12 marble fireplace surround””.  It sounds more expensive!  The same holds true for the rest of the house.  Do this for everything from the hot water heater to new paint on the walls. 

Next, look at comparable properties in the neighborhood AND within a one mile radius of your house.  Again, if your house is listed, I take care of this.  If you are refinancing, please call me and I will provide comparables to you.  The key is to look at them closely and find things wrong with them.  Maybe the other properties back to a busy street, lack views, or need repair.  Take notes and be prepared to give them to the appraiser. 

As I mentioned last month, a lot of appraisers are from out of the area and are not familiar with the properties that they are appraising.  We have to do everything we can nowadays to help influence the value.  Although we ultimately cannot control the outcome, doing the steps mentioned above will definitely help!

Mortgage Rates: Lower than 28 out of the past 30 years

What Happens When the Appraisal Comes in Low?

By Andrea West

September 2, 2013

With the increase in property values, we are facing many instances where homes are not appraising for at least the purchase price.  If the buyer is financing a property, the lender will require an appraisal.  If the buyer is paying cash, typically, no appraisal is involved.

So what are your options if a house does not appraise?  Per the Arizona Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract, the buyer has 5 days after the notice of the appraised value to cancel the contract and receive a refund of the earnest money if the appraisal comes in less than the purchase price.

Most buyers, however, try to work something out with the seller within those 5 days.  Basically, there are 4 options.

1.)    Pay the purchase price.

2.)    Renegotiate with the seller and possibly split the difference.

3.)    Renegotiate with the seller and pay the appraised value.

4.)    Cancel the purchase contract.

So, why are appraisals coming in so low?  The Home Valuation Code of Conduct or HVCC was established in 2009 to set up a sort of firewall between lenders and appraisers in the form of middlemen known as appraisal management companies.  By doing so, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hoped to prevent inflated appraisals and perhaps another housing bubble.  What we’ve found in the real estate industry, however, is that a lot of appraisers are from out of area and are not familiar with the properties that they are appraising.  Hence, appraisals seem to be all over the place, many of them low even though comparable sales indicate otherwise.

How Accurate are Zillow’s “Zestimates”?

By Andrea West

August 14, 2013


I was invited to attend the Zillow Premier Agent Summit at The Phoenician this summer.  There were about 100 other Valley agents in attendance.  Spencer Rascoff, the Chief Executive Officer spoke, as well as Svenja Maarit Gudell,  Zillow’s Senior Economist.  It was an informative day listening to the executives at Zillow as well as networking with other Valley agents. 


One item that was discussed was the Zillow “Zestimate”.  Many of you are familiar with it and use it to predict the value of your current house or  to predict the value of a home you may be interested in purchasing.  If you are not familiar with the “Zestimate”, it is Zillow’s valuation estimator for the value of a particular home.  


Although the “Zestimate” is a great tool when used as a guideline, it does have a margin of error.  Svenja Maarit Gudell said the national median error rate is 9.1%.  This means that if your home is worth $500,000, Zillow may estimate it $45,500 lower or higher.  This range is $454,500 - $545,500 which is quite large when negotiating a home sale or purchase.   The best way to value a home that you are looking to sell or buy is by looking at recent comparable sales in your neighborhood.  Most of these are recent sales in MLS or the Maricopa County tax records.  I have access to these.  If you are interested in seeing comparable sales in your neighborhood, please call me or send me an email.  I would be happy to provide them to you. 


Zillow uses past sales data to determine the “Zestimate” and does not use any type of forward looking measure when determining the value.  As the Phoenix Metropolitan Area market is on an upward trend, many Zestimates are off.  Again, Zillow is a great guideline, but when it comes down to negotiating a sale, it is best to use current neighborhood sales.

30% of Zestimates are within 5% of the sales price

54% of Zestimates are within 10% of the sales price

77% of Zestimates are within 20% of the sales price

April 15, 2013

Listen to Andrea West discuss the current real estate market on radio station 1100AM!

February 21, 2013 - HomeSmart Awards Luncheon

Andrea West is pictured with HomeSmart President and CEO, Chuck Lemire (left) and HomeSmart Chairman and Founder, Matt Widdows (right) at the 2012 HomeSmart Awards Luncheon at the Phoenician Resort on February 21, 2013.  Andrea is the #5 HomeSmart Agent by Sales Volume.  She also won the Triple Diamond Award!  Congratulations to Andrea!

January 21, 2013

Happy New Real Estate year!  We are off to a HOT start!  Last month, the Phoenix-area housing market continued its run as one of the hottest real estate markets in the U.S.    Sales of previously owned homes and condominiums hit their highest level for a November in seven years.  The median home price for the Phoenix ticked up to $167,500 a four-year high.  The median price was up 4.7% from October and up 31.9% from November 2011 -- marking the 12th consecutive month with a year-over-year gain.

The price increase is due mostly to the fact that greater demand has continued and has been met with a relatively low supply of homes for sale.  But, the better news is that the median price has also been pushed higher by a shift in the types of homes selling this year compared with last.   More homes selling today are higher-cost move-up homes and fewer are lower-cost foreclosed properties.

The decline in foreclosed homes selling on the market has helped the area recover. Foreclosure resales — sales of homes that were foreclosed on in the last year — fell to 17.2% of the area's home resale market last month. That was the lowest level since December 2007 and down sharply from March 2009, when foreclosures accounted for 66.2% of homes sold in the Phoenix area.

What does this really mean for buyers and sellers in the Phoenix area?  It is a good time to get that house on the market if you have been wavering, and on the buying side, interest rates are still low, just be prepared to jump on your dream house when you find it!

August 13, 2012 - Sellers, are you in the game? 

Do you want to sell your home? If you are not actively getting your home
ready for sale, you should be! Don’t sit on the sidelines, now is the perfect time to put your home on the market.   The late summer sales lull is coming to an end, and fall sales are in full swing. And, if you haven’t been paying attention, the Scottsdale area housing market is in need of homes to sell.


The inventory of homes for sale is still at historical lows, while the number of anxious buyers increases daily. What exactly does this mean? Well, Scottsdale home prices are definitely on the rise.   Measured quarterly, the median sales price has jumped from under $300,000 to $360,000 since thebeginning of the year.  This is exactly what savvy sellers have been waiting for. So if you want to sell, now is the time, get off the sidelines and into the game!


If you are interested in recent sales prices for homes in your subdivision or zip code, I'm ready to show you what the market is up to.


June 5, 2012 - Phoneix-area home prices continue to rise! 


This article comes courtesy of Mike Orr at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.  The Phoenix area is really leading the nation in a turn-around in home prices.  Phoenix-area homeowners will be relieved to see the median single-family home price in the area went up 25 percent, from $112,000 to $140,000, between April 2011 and April 2012.   On average, home prices were up 25% from a year ago, inventory of homes for sale is down 54%, and home sales were down in April due to low inventory.


If you are thinking about selling your home, now is a great time.  With low inventory, good homes sell fast!  If you are looking to buy a home, just be prepared to make your best offer!


Click here to read the full text of the article. 



May 22, 2012 - Scottsdale area home inventory at historic lows


As a realtor my job is to help people buy and sell homes.  Lately, the "help people buy" part of my job has become increasingly difficult.  I have buyers lined up waiting to find a home.  They are stalking their MLS portal like a lion stalking its prey.  Just wait for a new listing, then pouncing on it if the opportunity presents itself.  Yes, its really that bad right now!  A good problem to have I suppose!


Usually in a good economy we see a 4 to 5 month supply of homes on the market.  Right now, in the Scottsdale area, we have less than a 2 month supply of homes!  Valley-wide, there are fewer than 10,000 homes on the market in May!  Prices are rising, and the median price per square foot is up for the 3rd quarter in a row! 


This really is good news for the Phoenix area as a whole.  We are leading the housing recovery in the US.  This is also great news for buyers and sellers alike.  For sellers, if you have been on the fence about selling your home - now is the time to get off!  Even if you thought you were underwater before, there is a good chance you aren't anymore.  Good houses are going fast, it isn't uncommon to see multiple offers on the first day of a listing.  For buyers, it's still a great time to buy.  Homes are still far from historic highs, interest rates are at historic lows and new homes are popping up everyday.  Buyers should have your prequalification ready and be prepared to make your best offer, fast! 


April 16, 2012 - The Scottsdale housing market is on FIRE!


Prices are up 20% as a sellers market returns.  Yes, you read that correctly, SELLERS market! 

It seems like forever ago when a home would actually appreicate in value, you could sell your home quickly and for top dollar and even see a bidding war or two.  Well, those days are here again. The seller’s market is back in the Scottsdale area!

The main reason for this is the decrease in the inventory of homes for sale. And, in that available inventory, even a smaller percentage are "good homes".  There are roughly half the number of homes for sale today as there were this time last year. Historically low mortgage interest rates and an increase in investor and cash buyer purchases are the main reason for this fantastic turn around.

Since the market bottom, prices have appreciated nearly 20% and seem to be gaining ground every day. The percentage of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales)continue to free fall from a high of 74% of all sales in September, 2010 to only 47% of all sales last month.

This is all great news for home sellers, and I personally am seeing many re-enter the market to take advantage of the current conditions. Even though it is a sellers market, this is also the time for 
homebuyers to buy.  Prices look like they will continue to increase steadily; while mortgage rates should remain near historical lows.

Click to start the search for YOUR dream home!

August 13, 2012 - Arizona Republic -"Home Construction on the uptick in Scottsdale"

June 1, 2012 - Arizona Republic - "Phoenix-area housing prices on the rise"


Great news for sellers and buyers, the real estate market is back!

May 3, 2012 - CNNMoney "Buying a home won't get much cheaper"  - The time to buy is NOW!

Phoenix Business Journal - Phoenix housing market shows strong rebound - Fannie and Freddie Set Timeline Requirements for Short Sales.

Beginning June 15, real estate agents working with distressed homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should expect to receive a decision on a short sale offer within 30-60 days.