Maureen Tatum | Scottsdale Real Estate, Phoenix Real Estate, Cave Creek Real Estate


If you've ever experienced the frustration of paying more than necessary for home repairs, remodeling, or upgrades, you're not alone! Most of us have done it at one time or another, and it's not a pleasant feeling!

The good news is that if you make up your mind to do a little research, ask questions, request a free quote, and get two or three estimates, then you probably won't have to repeat the same mistake. Unless it's a dire emergency, it's always better to take your time in choosing a contractor or repair technician for a home project.

While it may be a little more time consuming to get recommendations, compare prices, and talk to several contractors, it's well worth it -- both in terms of monetary savings and peace of mind. Since the typical homeowner incurs many expenses, every year, to maintain their plumbing, electricity, roof, floors, HVAC system, landscaping, appliances, and much more, the amount of money you can save from comparing estimates and researching contractors can really add up!

The ideal scenario for hiring a home contractor is to get a recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor. That doesn't necessarily guarantee that you'll be getting the best value for your dollar, but it's a darn good starting point! Online reviews of contractors can also be helpful, but sometimes they lack the detail and credibility that's essential to a meaningful recommendation. No review is complete unless it says whether the customer would hire the contractor again and if they (the customer) would recommend them to family and friends.

Since no one's perfect, it's also helpful to know what the contractor could have done better. A lot of times people will say something like, "I was satisfied with the end result, but the project took a lot longer than expected and the contractor always showed up late." Asking questions, comparing prices, and asking for references are among the ways to increase the likelihood that you'll be satisfied with the contractor you choose and the quality of work they provide.

Depending on the scope of the project and its estimated cost, you may also want to check whether the contractors you're considering are accredited with the Better Business Bureau and if anyone has filed a complaint against them. Being accredited does not mean that the BBB endorses the business, but it does indicate that the business does meet certain standards and that they have agreed to make a good faith effort to resolve consumer complaints. In order to be accredited by the BBB, businesses need to submit an application, meet accreditation standards, and pay a fee. To keep their designation, they must maintain at least a "B" rating with the Bureau and continue to comply with its standards of professionalism, honesty, and customer responsiveness.


Buying a house may prove to be a long, complex journey, especially for a first-time homebuyer who decides to pursue a residence on his or her own. Fortunately, many real estate agents are available to help first-time homebuyers make their homeownership dreams come true.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that first-time homebuyers can use to find the right real estate agent in any housing market, at any time.

1. Go Beyond a Web Search

In many instances, it is easy to conduct a web search of real estate agents in a city or town. However, a diligent first-time homebuyer will know to look beyond a simple web search to discover the ideal real estate agent.

Take a look at a real estate agent's website. By doing so, a homebuyer can learn about a real estate agent's industry accomplishments and experience.

Also, don't hesitate to contact a real estate agent's office directly. This enables a homebuyer to have a brief conversation with a real estate agent and find out exactly what this housing market professional is all about.

2. Host a Face-to-Face Meeting

A face-to-face meeting may prove to be exceedingly valuable for both a first-time homebuyer and a real estate agent, and for good reason.

During a face-to-face meeting, a homebuyer can ask questions and learn about a real estate agent's industry expertise. Plus, a homebuyer can receive comprehensive insights into what it will take to acquire a top-notch residence at a budget-friendly price.

Meanwhile, a face-to-face meeting helps a real estate agent learn about a homebuyer's goals. A homebuyer can provide information about what he or she wants in a dream home, and a real estate agent can offer details about what a homebuyer should expect at each stage of the property buying journey.

3. Receive Client Referrals

Although a first-time homebuyer may feel comfortable with hiring a real estate agent after a face-to-face meeting, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Thus, a homebuyer who requests client referrals from a real estate agent ensures that he or she can make the best possible decision.

A real estate agent should have no trouble providing you with multiple client referrals. Then, you can reach out to this housing professional's past clients to find out how he or she has helped homebuyers achieve their desired results.

Spend some time reaching out to a real estate agent's past clients – you'll be happy you did. With additional client insights at your disposal, you can improve your chances of choosing the perfect real estate agent.

Lastly, it is important to remember that a real estate agent should be available to guide you along the homebuying journey. This housing market professional boasts in-depth industry experience, and as such, can share deep insights to help you make informed decisions as you go from homebuyer to homeowner.

Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and a first-time homebuyer can employ a first-rate real estate agent and gain unparalleled support throughout the homebuying cycle.


One decorating principle that’s a huge help for any homeowner is that of layered lighting. This is the different aspects of lighting that you’ll use in different rooms of your home to complete your lighting needs. The layers of light create a basis for the design of the room. These three main aspects of lighting also have a practical purpose which is nice as well. Below, you’ll learn more about the three main components of lighting for any room of the house and how to best use them. 


Ambient Lighting


Ambient lighting is often the base of where people start with their lighting design in a room. This type of lighting allows you to get the overall feel for a space. The brightness level should be good enough for anyone to walk through the room without walking into things. The illumination may not be bright enough for activities that require a lot of focus like reading or chopping vegetables.


Accent Lighting 


If you think of a retail store and how the shiniest things have the brightest lights focused on them, you’ll discover that you can use this type of lighting right in your home. Think of a chandelier hanging over a massive dining table. Accent lighting is usually for decorative purposes. The lumens that are given off are typically not enough for any other purpose than to attract attention to the item the light is shining on. This type of lighting is best used for things like display cabinets, statues, and china closets. The bottom line is that the accent light will add some drama without actually adding much practical use. 


Task Lighting


This type of lighting is important because it’s what ensures that you won’t chop your hand off while you’re chopping up vegetables in the kitchen. Task lighting varies widely from room to room and can be anything from a desk lamp to a reading lamp to lights on the vanity for shaving and putting on makeup. Task lighting is all about being functional. When you’re trying to decide where to put your task lights think of everything from safety to convenience. The last thing you should worry about with task lighting is the look. While these lights are great under cabinets, for example, so the more creative you get with where to place your task lighting the better the look will be.  


Using this simple yet useful design principle can help you to light your entire home correctly. The right lighting can truly transform a space and give it the depth that it needs.            



Selling a home rarely proves to be a simple, straightforward process. However, if you plan ahead for the house selling journey, you may be better equipped than other sellers to identify and address potential hurdles.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you plan for the home selling journey.

1. Identify Your Home's Strengths and Weaknesses

No home is flawless. Fortunately, if you allocate time and resources to analyze your residence, you can identify your house's strengths and weaknesses. You then can take the necessary steps to transform assorted home weaknesses into strengths.

Oftentimes, it helps to hire a home inspector before you list a house. A home inspector will perform an in-depth evaluation of your residence and help you identify any underlying property issues. Next, you can use a home inspection report to prioritize property repairs.

2. Price Your House Competitively

What you originally paid for your house is unlikely to match your home's current value. But if you define a "competitive" price for your residence, you could boost the likelihood of enjoying a successful house selling experience.

The definition of a competitive home price varies based on the current state of the real estate market, a house's age and condition and other factors. If you gather lots of data about the housing sector in your city or town, you can see how your residence stacks up against the competition. Plus, you can use this information to establish a price range for houses that are comparable to your residence and price your home accordingly.

It generally helps to account for recent home improvements when you list your house, too. For instance, if you recently replaced your house's roof, this upgrade could help you differentiate your home from the competition. It also may help you get the best price for your residence.

3. Upgrade Your Home's Exterior and Interior

Enhancing your home's curb appeal is crucial. If your house boasts a stunning front lawn, pristine siding and other great exterior features, buyers may fall in love with your residence as soon as they see it.

In addition, don't forget to maintain a neat, tidy home interior. By cleaning each room of your house and eliminating home clutter, you can show buyers your residence's full potential.

For those who are unsure about how to accomplish their home selling goals, you may want to employ a real estate agent. This housing market professional will take the guesswork out of the home selling journey and do whatever it takes to help you succeed.

Usually, a real estate agent works with a home seller and teaches him or her about the housing market. A real estate agent then implements a home selling strategy. And if a seller has concerns at any point during the house selling journey, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.

Streamline the home selling journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you could reap the benefits of a fast, profitable house selling experience.


If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’re probably learning many new vocabulary words. Pre-approved and pre-qualified are some buzz words that you’ll need to know. There’s a big difference in the two and how each can help you in the home buying process, so you’ll want to educate yourself. With the proper preparation and knowledge, the home buying process will be much easier for you.  


Pre-Qualification


This is actually the initial step that you should take in the home buying process. Being pre-qualified allows your lender to get some key information from you. Make no mistake that getting pre-qualified is not the same thing as getting pre-approved.


The qualification process allows you to understand how much house you’ll be able to afford. Your lender will look at your income, assets, and general financial picture. There’s not a whole lot of information that your lender actually needs to get you pre-qualified. Many buyers make the mistake of interchanging the words qualified and approval. They think that once they have been pre-qualified, they have been approved for a certain amount as well. Since the pre-qualification process isn’t as in-depth, you could be “qualified” to buy a home that you actually can’t afford once you dig a bit deeper into your financial situation. 


Being Pre-Approved


Getting pre-approved requires a bit more work on your part. You’ll need to provide your lender with a host of information including income statements, bank account statements, assets, and more. Your lender will take a look at your credit history and credit score. All of these numbers will go into a formula and help your lender determine a safe amount of money that you’ll be able to borrow for a house. Things like your credit score and credit history will have an impact on the type of interest rate that you’ll get for the home. The better your credit score, the better the interest rate will be that you’re offered. Being pre-approved will also be a big help to you when you decide to put an offer in on a home since you’ll be seen as a buyer who is serious and dependable.  


Things To Think About


Although getting pre-qualified is fairly simple, it’s a good step to take to understand your finances and the home buying process. Don’t take the pre-qualification numbers as set in stone, just simply use them as a guide. 


Do some investigating on your own before you reach the pre-approval stage. Look at your income, debts, and expenses. See if there is anything that can be paid down before you take the leap to the next step. Check your credit report and be sure that there aren’t any errors on the report that need to be remedied. Finally, look at your credit score and see if there’s anything that you can do better such as make more consistent on-time payments or pay down debt for a more desirable debt-to-income ratio.