Nov. 20, 2017

Three Things You Can Do As A Homeowner To Reduce Taxes Before Year End

Homeowner tax savings

Listen to Bob's Tax Advice or You May be Kickin Yourself in the Head

Is there anything can we do to keep some of that hard earned money? Robert Hockensmith thinks there is. In fact, these 3 simple ideas Bob talks about are so simple that any homeowner can do them. He didn't take advantage of tax tips so he is kickin himself in the head

If you pass on taking advantage of these ideas and you may be kickin yourself in the head. Ouch! Don't do that. Be smart and save yourself a few bucks. After all, owning a home allows us to access some tax benefits that are otherwise off the table. 

Homeowners - Need some Tax Advice?

You can call Mr. Hockensmith's office at 1-602-264-9331. He will be glad to help you with navigating your personal or business tax strategies. Your tax burden will be lessened and your wallet widened. 

Audio Transcript:

JOHN: What are the top three things you can do as a homeowner to reduce your taxes before the year-end? I'm John Cunningham; Phoenix real estate agent with eXp Realty and he's Robert Hockensmith; the AZ Money Guy. Robert is a local CPA who has great answers to all your tax questions. Now, Mr. Hockensmith personally represented me 18 years ago in a rather nasty tax error, which ones aren't nasty, right. But at the end of the day, my $25,000 debt was cut down to a few hundred dollars, thanks to Bob's hard work. And Robert, thanks for joining me today, how are you man?

ROBERT: I'm doing well, thanks, John.

JOHN: Awesome, let's just quickly skim the three tops for today's conversation. What Bob's going to do is, he's going to share some ideas that will save us some money. Robert, this is the part where I hand off the batton. What are the top three things homeowners can do to reduce their taxes before year end?

ROBERT: John, what I'd like to do is explain to people that we've got about seven and half weeks to go before the end of the year and there are some things that will be done to help people, especially in line with the new tax law, that by the way was passed by the house today. So the new tax law was in fact passed by the house, it goes on to the Senate, we expect that it's actually going to be in front of President Trump's desk before Christmas. We'll find out what that upset says, the house will have a conference, then the final bill will be put before President Trump and we know he's going to sign it. The reason why I tell you all that is because you need to care of some things into 2017, because chances are you will not be able to do these things in 2018 or you will choose not to do these things in 2018 because of the new tax law. So this is like last chance effort before the end of the year.

#1 Prepay your real estate tax: Most people know that the real estate taxes paid by their mortgage to an Escrow account. But often times, if you don't have a mortgage or you can actually choose to pay your real estate taxes not through an Escrow account but directly. You pay your real estate taxes in May and then October each year typically. What you can do is in October or now until the end of the year, you can actually prepay your taxes that are going to become due in March of next year. The government says that, if you write the check and you actually pay the tax ahead of time, you will get a tax reduction on the Federal and the state of Arizona of tax return. So often times I have people that literally prepay their real estate taxes. Now if you start this process you're going to need to keep doing this, but like we said, that may not be the case with the new tax law.

JOHN: Okay so Bob, what you're saying is, if I have an annual tax bill of $3,000, I can pay the whole thing before March and I'll get credit for that is that right?

ROBERT: You want to pay the whole thing before December 31st.

JOHN: Oh I see, okay, got yah.

ROBERT: You pay the whole thing before December 31st, the government says cash, business taxpayers which is, all individuals get the deduction at the time they write the check. So paying your taxes for real estate purposes early actually gives you a better tax reduction in one year and if the new law goes through like we think it will, you're not going to need to prepay next year.

JOHN: I see, very good to know, that's definitely a money saver.

ROBERT: Absolutely, in fact, to give you an example; your number was pretty average; $3,000 is what the average homeowner pays in real estate taxes for their home. About a $200,000 home and about $3,000 is the average real estate tax per year. If somebody prepays that, and you're in the 25% tax bracket which is what most family taxpayers are in, they would literally save 25% of $3,000 or about $850 on their Federal taxes for 2017 and they will save another $100-$150 on their state taxes for making that check written.

The second thing that they can do between now and the end of the year is, actually make another mortgage payment. Now, this may sound counter-intuitive, but if you make another mortgage payment between now and the end of the year, that additional mortgage payment will mostly be interest and you’ll be able to take an additional mortgage interest deduction on that payment. We found that again, the average mortgage payment for the average home runs about $1,000 a month. If you assume that about 75% of that $1,000 is interest, which is pretty average, as the first  10 years of a 30-year mortgage, it's 3/4 a time interest and less than 25% for principles typically.

JOHN: So for all those guys listening right now, I think Bob just found enough money for you to buy your wife a really nice Christmas present.

ROBERT: So $1,000, you figure 75% is interest, that's $750, you are saving yet again about $200 in taxes for doing that on the federal side and you're saving another $50 in taxes on the state side for doing it. And here’s the bonus, here's the plus, you've just added an extra home payment to your mortgage which then reduces the amount of interest you're going to pay the following year, so it's a win-win-win.

JOHN: Actually while we were talking, I looked up my tax records and of course they went up again, they are $3,700, so I guess I'll be making that payment before December 31st.

ROBERT: Let me explain the reason why it went up, two years ago we had a bill ''proposition 206'', it's not 206 I'm sorry, that was passed that basically said; we will not raise real estate taxes for the next five years, that was Proposition 187. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon and voted it in and unfortunately few people actually read the fine print. What it said was, we will not raise our real estate taxes for the next five years for businesses. Homeowners are making up the difference; it means literally that in the next five years you may see your real estate taxes double because they have to make up the difference for losing the real estate taxes from businesses. So we homeowners, we taxpayers, individual are going to actually see our real estate taxes almost double in the next five years.

JOHN: So we're going to catch up to California pretty quicker.


JOHN: I don't like that.

ROBERT: Here's the bad part, the bad part is, with the new tax bill, you're only allowed to write off up to $10,000 worth of property taxes which is certainly going to be, we're going to be paying less than $10,000, most of us, which is good. But those of us who have more expensive homes might, in fact, find that we lose the tax duction when these taxes go up again.

JOHN: So far we've talked about prepaying the 2018 property taxes for homeowners, we've talked about making one extra payment, do you have anything else that homeowners can do to save a little money?

ROBERT: Yes. Absolutely, John, there are some things that are going to go away it this new tax bill goes through, which again we believe it will happen. Renewable energy credits for your home such as solar, or a water heater, or a new roof, or new windows like the double pane windows or triple pane windows. These are actual tax credits that if you enter into the contract between now and the end of the year, you're going to actually get a tax credit rather than a tax deduction for those expenditures. Now let me explain the difference between a tax credit and a  tax deduction. A tax credit actually knocks you taxes down dollar for dollar. A tax deduction reduces your net income and then we compute taxes based on your net income. But credits are always better than deductions because typically $1 in tax credit is equivalent to about $3 in tax deduction. So you can go to Ross and buy a clothing item for $1 instead of $3, you would save a lot of money, that's the reason why tax credits are so valuable.

JOHN: Awesome, that's excellent Bob. Well, you know today we've got some good ideas to help us with our tax burden and keep it to a minimum and thanks Bob for all your answers today. If someone wants to speak with you about their tax matters, what’s the best way for them to get in touch with you?

ROBERT: They can call our office at 1-602-264-9331. They can contact us on the web at and they can reach out to, so there are three ways to contact.

JOHN: That's fantastic. Thanks everyone for listening, I'm Phoenix real estate agent with my special guest, Robert Hockensmith signing off until next time, thank you for joining us.

ROBERT: Thank you.


Posted in For Sellers, Homeowners
Oct. 18, 2017

2002 W. Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041 | Big Beautiful Place to Live and Play

2002 W Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041

2002 W. Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041 is big and beautiful. There's room for everything from people, to toys, and cars. Imagine, you, your family, and friends. It's your weekend Christmas party. Everyone is having a good time. They all love your place and won't stop complimenting you on your home. 

2002 W. Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041 | Let's Make it Happen!

2002 W Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041 | dream homeThis doesn't have to be a dream. It's totally within reach.

The location at 21st Avenue and Vinyard are convenient to Pastor Elementary. It's close to work. Shopping is close too.

If you can pull this off you and your family will be set for years to come. You've got room to grow your family. Everyone can have their own room. Then all you'll have to worry about is who gets what room. It never ends.

2002 W. Carson Rd, Phoenix AZ 85041- Payment

Maybe the best thing is that the payment is similar to what the landlord is sticking in his pocket every month (thanks to you).

You need a great loan to get this done. Last thing you need is to be taken advantage of. I'll make sure that doesn't happen. Just give me a call and I'll connect you with Taum at Marketline Mortgage. Feel free to call Taum yourself. You can text or call him at 1-480-967-8286.Low down payment

I've known Taum for 12 years. He is the guy I recommend when anyone in my own family needs a home loan. That's how much I trust him.

Let's make this happen. Best thing you can do is get on this before everyone else does. That's the number one secret to getting a great place.

You don't want to get in a bidding war. You just want to move on this before the rest of the crowd finds out. All you need to do is text me or call me at 1-480-442-3501. I'm John Cunningham at eXp Realty. 

Posted in For Buyers
Oct. 12, 2017

National Placement and Referral Alliance

Phoenix senior Housing

Senior Housing | National Placement and Referral Alliance 

Finding senior housing for a loved one can be tricky. If you are looking for senior housing in Phoenix this conversation is for you. Phoenix senior placement advisor Scott Fischer and Senior Real Estate Specialist SRES© John Cunningham at eXp Realty discuss the formation of the NPRA.

Scott is also the founder of Options for Senior Living, a placement company dedicated to excellence in the senior home placement industry in the Phoenix metro. Scott worked for many years in the medical industry in nursing administration. He is the co-founder of Professional Association of Senior Referral Specialists (PASRS). 

John Cunningham is a member of the PASRS organization. He is dedicated to helping people when it is time to sell a family home so that those proceeds can be used to help their aging loved ones pay for their changing needs.

Senior Housing Standards | How they Impact Families

Senior Housing Specialist ImposterNo one wants to put their mother or father into the hands of an amateur when it's time to move. That goes double for the people who will be assisting them with selling their current property and finding their new place.

Often times this need to take action arises so fast in the onset of an unexpected medical event that the family finds themselves scrambling. That is a terribly scary moment. 

This is why Scott has formed these important organizations. People deserve high-level care. Seniors deserve excellence. These two organizations are helping to raise the bar for professionals working in the senior housing industry. In turn, the families being served by these dedicated pros are getting better care.

Listen to the National Placement and Referral Alliance Conversation

transcript below

JOHN: I'm Phoenix senior real estate specialist John Cunningham with EXP Realty. He’s Scott Fischer; founder and president of Options for Senior Living, co-founder of ''PASRS''; an organization dedicated to raising the bar for residential senior living. As a local real estate agent who serves the senior community, it is easy to notice how important it is professionals in our industry do a better job to serve the aging and that’s why I admire Scott so much, he's taken the bull by the horns. If you'd notice in my interview with Scott, he's a bit of an architect, that is to say, when Scott sees a problem, he's very good at coordinating and organizing many people to come together and doing great things. It’s no surprise that he 00:57, so Scott is called information and National Placement and Referral Alliance or the NPRA.

The NPRA is a new nationwide organization whose primary goal is to unify best practices and create standard credentials for those who work in the placement industries and Scott is currently serving on the board as the treasurer. Good morning Scott and thanks for joining me today!

SCOTT: Hi John! Good morning, it’s good to be back with you.

JOHN: Awesome! Before we get going, I just want to lay the groundwork for today's discussion and today what we're going to do is talk with Scott about why he's sworn in the national alliance. And before Scott dives, I think we'll skim the treetops if you will and just give a quick overview of what I'm going to be asking Scott.

We're going to go over the primary objectives of the national alliance.

We're going to find out one catalytic issue that makes the timing of this so important.

We're going to talk about some of the best practices and concepts that are consistent from state to state.

And we're going to find out if there are any plans for licensing or regulating this group of professionals if there's going to be any such of a national certification or credentials.

JOHN: So Scott, going back to our first question, what are the objectives of the national alliance?

SCOTT: Well John, similarly is when we launched PASRS eight years ago, it was in response to our community here in Phoenix and Metropolitan Phoenix. There were such a wide variety of business practices and there was no definition of an industry in our community and so PASRS attempted to create definition and create kind of a boundary (what's in and what's out in terms of conduct and behavior for the professionals that participated). And we did that by bringing together a lot of different companies and a lot of different industries that work together, that touched our world, so that it wasn’t just those of us that were playing in the backyard and decided what our fences were going to look like, but we got input from our community and we thought that was really important.

And so, nationally, the same thing exists and there are different state laws in different states, in different regions of the country. And so, really the motive was to create an overall definition boundary for our industry; we are a non-regulated industry of professionals and prior to any licensing whatever life for yourself as a realtor, there were people that were just running and gunning doing whatever, there was no disclosure, there was no contract and commissions weren't talked about, so it was all sort of a run and gun kind of a thing and similarly we're in that place.

JOHN: Of course it is astounding to me Scott, that in 2017, the placement industry really hasn't changed if you will, I’m astounded by that.

SCOTT: I'll tell you, 15 years ago I wouldn't even consider this an industry; we were just a bunch of rogues at that time honestly. Seriously, I had a physician that was referred to me and he just called me ''the bounty Hunter'' and I was just kind of offended by that, because I was like; wait a minute I come from a clinical nursing professional background, I approached my business using those values, but not everybody did. When you evaluate a business, there are businesses that are great opportunities, moneymaker so to speak or business opportunities, because there’s no qualifications or training, no barriers to entry, no money to get involved. So people that are investing are looking for business or a job or moneymaking opportunity would look at this and go oh my gosh - this is such a great opportunity and of course because of the demographics of our nation, we're an aging society. So people have flocked to our senior living industries and particular this placement thing and of course, there is no regulation, no guidelines and so, therefore, PASRS was so important in Phoenix.

And so while I said there was no industry, I'll challenge you down and say hey; there’s a real industry here now. People respect what we do, not everybody wants to work with a paid referral source like us, that’s fine. But for the most part, the people that do what we do don’t walk around their head hung low like we're shamed up because people think... The Bounty Hunter, we're really professionals that offer great value and great service to the clients and families and the communities that we work with. So it’s all about this unregulated industry that really has invited us to do something nationally with this organization.

JOHN: Now Scott, with the formation of the NPRA, there's got to be one catalytic issue that's really pushing this thing and you've kind of touched on some already, but how does that make the timing of this so important?

SCOTT: Back when we started PASRS, there's a gentleman with the name Chuck Bongiovanni and Chuck and I have known each other close to 30 years. And Chuck owns the largest franchise system for referral replacement companies in the nation called ''Care Patrol''. And Chuck was foundational and he was in these early board meetings and served on our board at PASRS, but he always kept an eye on the national, because his business extended outside of here. He saw that families across the country were getting...There was a collision of interest that were happening on the internet. You know years ago there wasn’t if you wanted to go to a hotel and you want to Google John hotel or Marriott hotel, you could get the Marriott hotel. If you Google it now, what do you get? You get 25 management companies that all represent Marriott, but you may or may not ever get to Marriott website. You get all these other online companies that make reservations for people. Similarly, I think the realtors have had issues with the Zillow and the things of the world where it’s been difficult to reach the private guy like you. And people sometimes are just researching online to find information; they don’t necessarily want to get tangled up in a referral company.

Well, there's a lot of online referral lead generating companies out there that once people are doing their research, they may or may not know that they are entangled with one of these lead generators and what happens is, personal information gets forwarded on to providers assisted-living facilities and home, may or may not be with the knowledge of the families that are doing the searching. Sometimes they know, but many times they don’t and we have a lot of documentation that would support that.

JOHN: So they go in feeling like they’re working with a professional directly, when in fact they're filling out some sort of a form that shotguns all their contact information out to people who would like to do business with them.

SCOTT: That will like to do business and get that ''lead''. Well, we don’t think families are necessarily leads, we think they're families that have a loved one that potentially could use senior living services or care and that kind of stuff. So the binding part of this, and this is where I think the answer to your question in a long way is the issue that binds together is; these online lead generating companies have binding contracts with the providers. And the providers are now bound because the lead enters their referral system at that moment they make that connection to that lead company online. Then, their personal information is tied up with that provider for two years through that lead generating company. And actually it goes on like this that as long as the online company makes contact with the family and the provider once every two years, then it continues on as a two-year thing, so essentially leads can be owned for a different item.

JOHN: This issue can probably be a whole separate discussion, but I’m hoping that you’ve been tossed around something that will be some sort of a fix for that problem because that’s a huge problem.

SCOTT: It is a huge problem and so nationally as we're organizing, Chuck been a catalyst to bring us together over this issue and it’s not the only focus of NPRA, but it is the catalytic issue that brought us together, so that we can begin to stressing with other industries; the hotel industry, the realtor industry. You've guys have encountered some of these very same issues, how do we navigate this, how do we educate families that have a choice, how do these contracts of binding people up, how does that not violate the opportunity for families to choose later who they would like to work or have represented them. So that’s the catalytic issue that's bringing us together, but there are other objectives of course, but that’s the one that’s now created the impetus for us to get together.

JOHN: Let’s talk about some of the best practice concepts that are consistent from state to state.

SCOTT: One of those is that what sets us apart is that John, we need rather than an online thing where we thought of a form and it is sent in. We as local agents, our practices to meet with the family face-to-face, meet with the potential residents face-to-face when it’s all possible, we refer to places that we have been to, that we've worked with before, that we have an ongoing history with. Online companies refer you to places that someone in Colorado has never been to a place in Arizona, they've got them in their database, but they don’t know how to finesse this.

JOHN: It's just there to make money really.

SCOTT: It's just there to make the money, make the connections and so on that face-to-face presents sets us apart from the online company, so that’s one of the best practices that’s consistent across the country. Here's another one; there are lots of people that assisted-living is costly, they get involved in their state Medicaid programs, different states have different programs, but they are all government-funded and government-supported. And so, it's illegal for us and it’s the best practice that we would charge any providers for referral for someone who’s already involved and enrolled in one of those state Medicaid programs, so that’s out of bound, that’s consistent.

Our payment, the way we get compensated and paid is via the families don’t pay after via contract with the providers John. And so, there’s a practice that’s going on for years that a guy like me would play someone in a home or a facility, keep a relationship to collect the fee, keep a relationship with the family and then 2, 3, 4 months later stimulate a reason to move and move them to the next facility for the second placement and the third placement.

JOHN: That's like snake little stuff; I don't like that at all.

SCOTT: We call that journey, so we're having a consistent policy against that, which is adopted into our national best practices. We require professionals to carry liability insurance, we need to protect or advocate for educators, that’s what we do. So we need to carry on professional liability insurance that, that's what professionals do, realtors do, attorneys do, physicians do, and nurses do. We need to carry on professional business liability insurance; there are four or five, we’ve identified 11 across-the-board that we're going to adopt and they're on our website now. But there’s a highlight of a handful of them John and those are really important that we all buy into and adhere too.

JOHN: It sounds like you've already kind of touched on my last question which is; are there any plans for licensing or regulating any national certification or credential that is to be coming down the pipe.

SCOTT: Most people say that licensing is the way to go and all that and I would challenge that. I was a registered nurse for years and nursing director and I would get these quarterly newsletters from the state board of nursing here in Arizona and I would have hundreds of people with licenses that were in trouble for stealing medication, sleep on-the-job, drinking at work. Those were all these violations of practice. So licensing doesn’t necessarily make people good people or doesn't necessarily curb their chroming behavior.

JOHN: That’s for sure.

SCOTT: I think that if we go about this in terms of best practices where people voluntarily adhere to these things, sign their names to it and we hold them accountable. And then the second part of that is this national concept of certification or credentialing. NPRA is looking at a way and we're going to create a subcommittee across the nation of looking and creating a curriculum that industry-specific that would be our national brand, our national credential that agents, not just companies, but the individual agents would be educated on after continuing education on an annual or semiannual basis or whatever and have that national certification or credential. The only thing that's out there right now is a national company called ''the certified senior advisor credential'', it's the CSA. It’s not specific to our industry, although a lot of our industry professionals have gotten that credential, we want this thing to be very specific to a particular industry and even potentially tailored state to state, so that’s our plan.

JOHN: It sounds like a great start, I will be excited to watch this thing take root and grow. So today we got some pretty darn good insight into the senior living placement industry and I like to thank you, Scott. Scott from the national placement referral alliance, and I'd like to thank him for joining us today. Scott, if anyone wants to speak with you about senior housing needs for their loved one, what's the best way to get in touch with you?

SCOTT: Thanks John! Our local office number here in Phoenix or 602-845-1320, that’s our options for senior living office. Our email is and definitely take a look at our website for the national alliance too john, and that's of

JOHN: Beautiful! Thank you, everyone, for listening, I'm Phoenix real estate agent and senior real estate specialist John Cunningham with my special guest Scott Fischer signing off. Until next time, thank you for joining us.


Posted in Senior Housing
Oct. 6, 2017

Homes for Sale in Phoenix | Phx Metro Market Report October 2017

Thanks for checking out the Homes for Sale in Phoenix | Phx Metro Market Report October 2017. It gives you the change in median home value for your Phoenix metropolitan city as compared to this time last year.

Homes for Sale in Phoenix | Get Your Home Valuation Now 

Even if you don't plan on moving it's good to keep up with values. That goes double for you who is thinking about moving. The biggest mistake that most people make when they add their property to the homes for sale in Phoenix list is pricing. Mess up the pricing, and you can suffer big time. You can add months to the selling time. You could leave money on the table. Pricing Homes for sale in Phopenix leaves money on  the tableSo the moral of the story is" get the price right, straight outta the gate or suffer the consequences.

It's Your Money | You earned it | You keep it

It takes 15 seconds to get your home valuation. When you get your report study the 3 categories of properties: Active listings, Homes under contract, and Sold homes. If you are thinking about selling this report will be a great help to you.

The active listings represent your direct competition. The homes under contract give you a good sense of what the market is liking right now. The sold listings represent reality. Sold properties show what a seller and buyer agreed to with respect to price. Your pricing emphasis should give much respect to these sold home prices.

Sept. 8, 2017

Home Staging Your Phoenix Home for Sale

Home Staging Your Phoenix HomeHome Staging Your Phoenix Home for Sale

Home staging has gained increased traction to become a powerful marketing tool when selling your property in Phoenix. Of course, you cannot just list your home and expect buyers to come knocking with bids. It is the subtle art of showcasing and prepping a property for sale to catch an eye of a large pool of buyers and help sell it for a top price.

Here are amazing home staging tips and tricks to get you started.

Start off by Improving Your Property’s Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is an essential home staging tool you ought to use to lure in onlookers and passersby. It’s well known that most potential buyers do a speedy drive-by first to check out the location appeal of their potential buyers. Use the following tips to make a convincing impression:

  1. Thoroughly power-wash the walkways and siding.
  2. Spruce up your garden with fresh, lush greenery and blossoming flowers.
  3. Put out an easy-to-read house number sign.
  4. Stay on top of your lawn and add fresh sod.
  5. Give your porch floor a fresh, dazzling paint job.
  6. Ensure that the front windows are clean and looking marvelous.
  7. Bring on board a Professional Home Stager

Let’s be honest; home staging can be quite demanding when it comes to cost, time, energy, and design skills it requires. That’s why it actually pays to hire a pro stager. A reliable stager will make the whole process effortlessly smooth. 

Give Your Property a Thorough Clean-up

A clean property will make a buyer fall in love right off the bat. From polished windows and shining floors to scrubbed grout and sparkling countertops, every nook and cranny of your home should look fantastic. Do a bang-up job; it’s perhaps the single-most important way to put your best foot forward and make a compelling impression. 

Unclutter Your House

Clear the way from all the clutter – toys, extra shoes, old carpets and so forth. It might take quite an effort and time, but it will be worth it. Perhaps you move the extra stuff to a friend’s or relative’s house.

Choose Neutral Colors

One of the best ways to home stage your property is to give it a fresh coat. It’ll leave your place looking dazzling and new. Of course, paint adds a flare of style, personality, and sass to your property.

Go for a Neighborhood-Wide Style

Naturally, you ought to up features that your neighborhood is known for. It is certainly what buyers are looking for a home; otherwise, they wouldn’t be hunting for a house in your neighborhood. If your house is tucked away in a luxuriant suburb, try hanging a hammock.

Try above home staging tips to make selling your property in Phoenix an easy affair.

Posted in For Sellers
Sept. 7, 2017

How to select the right home or placement for your loved one

 Listen as Scott discusses how to choose the right home for your loved one

Transcript below:

JOHN: I'm Phoenix senior real estate specialist John Cunningham with eXp Realty and he's Scott Fischer; president/founder of options for senior living and co-founder of PASRS - an organization linked to raising the bar for the residential senior living. Good morning Scotty thanks for joining me today!

SCOTT: Hi John! Good morning, it’s good to be with you today!

JOHN: Yeah, I'm glad we can do this. And before I get started, I just wanted to let everyone know that our main topic today is going to be how to select the right home or placement for your loved one. And here's a quick overview of what I'll be talking with Scott about; there are over 2000 choices for the right home or placement and we're going to want to know how does someone make the best choice and we're going to talk about what assisted-living is and is the name the same as a nursing home or independent living. We're going to find out what a referral agent is or what a placement agent is and what these guys do and how they get paid. And then we're going to ask him who regulates assisted-living places and agents and what are the trap doors for problem areas when someone is looking for assisted-living or senior care. So Scott, going back to our original topic of how to select the right home or a place for a loved one, how does somebody begin to navigate this?

SCOTT: It can be overwhelming prospect John, you mentioned that just here in Maricopa County, there are over 2000 licensed facilities that doesn’t account for what we call ''independent living facilities'' or retirement communities, those kinds of things and I'll talk a little bit more about what distinguishes one from the other later. But when you have that many options and you have a health concern or a changing health care picture for a loved one, where do you go, how do you figure this out? Honestly, in today’s, people go to the Internet for a lot of information, there are some trap doors in that, let me get back to that, please. But of course there are great tools, the Arizona department of health services has a wonderful tool on its website that gives people kind of A-Z checklist on things to look for when they begin looking for assisted-living. It’s this overwhelming prospect that really created the niche that my business emerge out of 15 years ago, so even back a little longer than that as the first round of baby boomers were hitting retirement and their parents were aging and those kinds of things.

This referral specialist or placement agent kind of profession began just to appear, and so we became like the middle people like you're trying realtor between the consumers and the inventory. We've word there in-between the consumers and the inventory, so we become very acquainted with the different levels of care that are available, the different styles of assisted-living, the senior living, the capacity and perhaps the limitations of what these different facilities have to offer and we offer that inside an expertise to the consumer who's trying to do their best to research through this really modeled area. Even assisted-living itself has a licensed entity by the department of health, that’s really just happened over the last couple of decades, so it's a relatively new environment.

JOHN: Okay so just going down to the basics because I think that what happens is; with people they've never ever had to deal with this and then someone in their family gets to the point where they need something more than just a wrong house to live in and they really don't know where to go. So, what is assisted-living and is it the same as a nursing home or independent living, tell us about that?

SCOTT: Great! So you've heard of I think the three major areas to consider. So assisted-living was identified and designed and developed to initially be kind of a stopgap for seniors who are in some period of decline. It incorporated a lot of social activities, support with things like activities of daily living assistance, so people can get help with their bathing, their dressing, their showering, their medication management, meal preparation and those kinds of things. Assisted-living was not initially designed for people who needed very high levels of care, what we would call these kinds of nursing home people; we're wheelchair bound, having to be spoon-fed, maybe become incontinent of their bowels and bladder, we would consider those more historically the skilled nursing or the nursing home people right. So assisted-living was the middle gaps, so you hear initially these people who lived in these independent living, retirement communities here in Phoenix back in the 70s, they started seeing these campuses of care emerge when they had large independent living communities on them, small assisted and maybe even the skilled nursing unit where long-term care people could live at the end of their live.

An independent living, therefore, is people who are largely social, largely independent, don’t need any help or care need yet, but they were giving up their homes and the management of their homes for this great resort lifestyle, which was kind of how we saw it. So assisted-living then became a licensed entity by the department of health services to fill that second gap. And then, of course, we still had skilled nursing on the end which the nursing homes are licensed skilled nursing facilities who have nursing staff present 24/7, not just caregivers or CNAs, but registered and licensed practical nurses that are in 24/7.

JOHN: Okay, you guys who work in the placement industry are well acquainted with what’s out there and when you speak with somebody about their family member you probably have all sorts of ideas about what might be a good option for them.

SCOTT: And this goes right back, so we'll kind of circle back to the very first part of your question; how you start. Then I said, well you go to the Internet and people start gathering information. When I get contacted John, the first thing to do is to know how to navigate this; is I want to eyeball or see that person face-to-face. As long as it doesn’t cause them panic, paranoia, and disruption in their world which is potentially an issue if you’re starting to meet with or talk to someone who has some forms of dementia right.

JOHN: You're intense guys Scott; sometimes you make me feel paranoia.

SCOTT: Well you're not the only one, but my clients I have been really careful with because I don’t want to create any anxiety or disruption for them particularly if there is some dementia in the picture. But it’s important for me as a former nurse and the clinician and really everybody on my staff, we want to start with that face-to-face assessment because we need to gather as much information as we can and you can’t just do that filling out an online form in my estimation. I have to see this person to know how they're going to best fit into the right senior living environment later and that’s a big discerning, dividing factor between myself and local agents that does what I do and some of these online service providers, lead generating companies, you just can’t get all that filling out a form. So, by doing that face-to-face assessment John, you quickly give us some direction on whether or not independent living is going to be enough support for that person right now or whether we need to be in assisted-living or inside assisted-living, there are multiple choices and options to go down, but that face-to-face assessment and meeting with the family meeting and meeting with the potential resident, that’s where it all starts.

JOHN: You know there are all sorts of different sizes of facilities and houses that people can live in. I've met a lot of people who are in group homes where there may be 4-6 or 8 people in those and I've met people who run really large facilities where there are maybe 400-500 people live in. And, is it the same exigent that oversees these facilities or are they different to people who regulate those?

SCOTT: The Arizona Department of Health has an assisted-living license that they issue to these large facilities and to the small residential facilities. And so they're all part of the Bureau of licensed residential facilities under the umbrella of the department of health, so that’s where they all house or reside there. The state divides the facilities by the numbers of beds that they host. The definition for a group home or an assisted-living home like you refer is to is a facility that licenses 10 or fewer beds. And then what they call an assisted-living center licenses facilities 11 beds or more. So there are some really large group homes that are 20 and 30 beds that are licensed to a center. So there are small centers or big centers like you said that have hundreds of people in them and then there are these small private residences that assisted-living is the licensing entity on.

JOHN: Just listening to all the options makes me feel a little bit overwhelmed and I’m sure that when somebody has been looking on their own for a little while and might begin to feel a little overwhelmed, maybe they feel some sense of relief when they run into a guy like you. Hopefully, that's the case and maybe that eliminates some of those trap doors, but let’s says if someone doesn't have a professional helping them and they begin to navigate these by themselves, what are some of the big obstacles or trap-doors as you referred to that they could run into?

SCOTT: let me touch on the Internet thing for a minute and I don’t want to take a shot and this isn't my 11:40 so to speak about Internet companies, that's not it at all, but here's the situation. So families are searching online, they're just gathering information John and often, let me equate it like this; sometimes if I'm looking for a hotel and I'm looking for a specific hotel, how often do you Google that particular hotel and end up finding yourself on a website that's not that hotel, but one of these in-between broker companies like Expedia or Kayak, do you hear what I'm saying?

JOHN: Oh yeah!

SCOTT: So similar thing happens with assisted-living, I’m looking for a particular facility or I'm looking for a particular ZIP Code as a family member who is concerned about a loved one. And now I find myself not on that website or I'm not getting the information, what I'm getting is an invitation to be on a website that brokers these situations. And then what they don’t know often is that the online entity that you're now engaging with has a binding contract with the facilities that they all represent. And so they will at times even without your permission or that you didn't know that you authorized it, you’ve now authorized your personal information or your family member's personal information to these third parties and I have story of families not knowing what they’ve done now getting 10, 20, 30 emails from the facility. And so people are just unaware fully of what's going on and there’s all kinds of disclaimers and disclosures in those websites so I have to say be very careful about when you navigate online or what you’re looking and where you share your personal information, that’s a big deal.

Here's another one - you're just a concerned loved one and you see these new places being built and they have them been built all over town right now, we're in a boom for builds. Even when it says senior living or we have assisted-living or this and that, whatever. Assisted-living inside the license of assisted-living, each one of these facilities has to apply for different levels of care within that license. So, there are a lot of facilities out there that don’t take care of people to the highest level of license. So we have a great license with a breadth of services that can be provided at assisted-living so that we don’t have to always put people end up in these nursing homes so they can still live in the assisted-living, but not every facility license itself at that level. So what they don’t tell you; the sales directors is not going tell you when you move in is that - hey, there could be a time when mom's going to have to leave because her care has exceeded their license. So they don't tell you that a lot of times, so what I find is I get called, it works fine for me because this happens two years ago and I get a call that mom's, they didn't tell them that mom won't be able to stay the rest of her life and now I get a call from the family saying we got a referral or someone gave me your name that you could help us find a new place that mom needs more care than the place she's currently in.

Here’s another one - you have a loved one who has a memory care or Alzheimer’s, dementia needs and there’s a dementia place right down the street from you so you go on and talk to them and you move mom in. Well, not all of them are equipped and this sounds crazy, but it's true. Not all of them are equipped to take care of people who have agitation, paranoia, and combativeness. When some people have dementia there are psychiatric symptoms that come along with it and not every facility wants to take care of those people who have that season or that expression in their disease process. So it takes a professional that knows where those facilities are that take those people or that have a higher tolerance of behavior disruption. So that's where we come into to kind of guide people through some of those, but those are just three that I thought I roughed up my head.

JOHN: That's well spoken, I really appreciate you for setting a little light on that topic and today we got some good insight into senior living placement and we definitely discussed the various options that are out there and kind of talked about what assisted-living is and we were able to show how there's a difference between a nursing home and an independent living, an assisted-living and memory care. We discussed what a referral or placement agent is and how they get paid.

SCOTT: Let me talk about that for a second. So, as I mentioned a few minutes ago; the referral agencies then you know began emerging to be that broker, that in-between person, similar to serving the community like a realtor does. Our fees are paid on a referral fee or contractual basis with the receiving facilities John, so I literally have hundreds and hundreds of contracts with these small residential homes all the way up to the big memory care and assisted-living communities. We typically do not refer to a deal with these skilled nursing facilities, it gets complicated because you're dealing with insurance money and Medicare dollars and all that. So there are some off-limits to that in terms of paying referral fees for those kinds of placement. So we stick to the assisted-living, the senior living, the group home and things like the independent living.

The industry itself though is a new entity, it's an unlicensed, unregulated business, so where you guys as realtors John have to go get your...You have to take a class, you have to get a license right to do what you do. There's a million guide, more than a million, there were a couple of dozen and that was 15 years ago, there are now several hundred people running around Phoenix now calling themselves referral or placement specialist. Some of those people have clinical backgrounds, most do not, it’s the beauty of the business, for a few enterprise there’s no barrier to entry, there’s low investment, all side are pretty good. The downside for the community is that there’s no license assured, no barrier to entry, nowhere to check these people out. So, as part of the group you mentioned ''PASERS (the professional Association of senior referral specialist)'', I was involved in some advocacy work several years ago at the area agency on aging here in Phoenix and there was a lot of questions, concerns and even complaints at their offices; the senior helpline, the ombudsman’s office about people that do what they do and there wasn't any process, there wasn't any disclosure on how people get paid. There were a lot of unethical practices that were being identified.

And so myself and a couple of colleagues that were concerned with the help of the folks at the agency, we formed this non-profit trade association that we call ''PASERS'' that is dedicated to establishing, educating, establishing best practices and educating the public and the community on these pitfalls, these trap doors, the behaviors, the professional behaviors that have been an issue and these best practices and code of conduct have established a guideline for agents like myself to operate our businesses within that framework. So, it’s been widely received by a lot of the assisted-living industries, that interest is growing, we have touched over just under 50 agencies now statewide that are voluntarily participating with us as industry members. And John like yourself and another couple of hundred of what we call affiliate members, other industry professionals that touch what we do have joined us as part of our membership, so we're really proud of that. And just in the last few weeks, myself and a couple of my buddies have launched the first national alliance of placement agencies, I'm on the founding board of directors for that, we're just getting off the ground, but that includes representation from Washington, Oregon, Florida, California, Arizona and other states to come. So, it’s pretty cool that there’s a movement to make sure that how we serve the communities locally is addressed via the highest level of professional standards that we can come up with for us.

JOHN: I love that, I think it’s awesome that you’re directly involved in helping to build an organization that is there to raise the bar and makes those involved in our seniors' lives more competent and professional. So after that little slobber, Scott went on to talk about who regulates assisted-living places and the regions and then finally he discussed what the trap-doors were involved in the industries. So, I just like to thank you, Scott, for joining us and I'd also like to invite you to maybe join us again for one of these conversations. Someone wants to speak with you today about housing needs for their loved ones, what's the best way to get in touch with you?

SCOTT: I'll give you our website John, and there’s a contact us button on our website, but if someone were to go to You can reach us via the website and you can email us at and our office number is 602-845-1320. My staff and I cover the valley from surprised San Tan Valley, we're all over the city and there are 7-8 of us now; four nurses in the staff, so we're busy and we're here to serve families if you need our help.

JOHN: Thanks everyone for listening. I'm Phoenix real estate agent and senior real estate specialist John Cunningham with my special guest Scott Fischer signing off. Until next time, thank you for joining us.


Posted in Senior Housing
Sept. 5, 2017

Types of Pools to Consider When Buying a Home

Types of Pools to Consider When Buying a Home in Phoenix vary. There are above ground pools, and below ground pools. Each can be constructed with varying materials. They all carry benefits. They all have weaknesses. Let's examine each and see what makes the most sense for you. After you are done reading this information you can head on over to see the pool homes on the market.


Types of Pools to Consider

  1. In ground pool with a vinyl liner. These pools are less expensive. The general consensus is that they are the least expensive in-ground pool to buy.They do tend to cost more to maintain because of chemical usage. Installation isn't as fast as you might think either. The durability is definitely a weak spot too. They tend to attract dirt and generally demand more time cleaning as a result. 
  2. In ground pool with a fiberglass liner. This is going to surprise you. Fiberglass installs very quickly and affordably. These pools use fewer chemicals than their vinyl brethren. They have an ultra smooth finish that makes it very easy to clean compared to just about any pool finish. The interior finish is attractive and elegant looking. When these pools are well maintained and cleaned they tend to hold their re-sale value well. 
  3. Above Ground Vinyl liner. These pools are inexpensive, and a good way to go if you are on a budget or not sure about how long you will reside in your current place. 
  4. In ground concrete (gunite) pool. These are the most expensive pools to buy. The cost of construction is greater, and so is the long-term value. While the up-front cost of an in ground concrete pool is the most expensive, the monthly maintenance is higher too. The plaster or pebble finishes tend to collect dirt which demands more frequent cleaning, chemicals, and running of electrical pumps and filters to keep the pool clean.

Advice from an Expert Pool Builder

It's your Pool   |   You be the Judge

Here in Arizona most of us think that having a pool is a must. I know I do. When it's 110 outside nothing seems to fend off the heat like a nice cool swimming pool. 

See pool homes in Phoenix, Pool homes in Scottsdale, and pool homes in other valley cities before you make your final choice.

Posted in For Buyers
Aug. 3, 2017

How to Sell a House with No Equity

low equity home sale



Do you need to sell a house with no equity? Selling any home can be a drawn out, overly complicated and long affair. The process can even become harder if you, as a seller, owe more to the bank than what the current value of the home is. 

Extracting the equity in a home is considered to be the biggest benefit to a property owner during the selling process. Homeowners who don’t have equity may be subjected to lengthy delays during the selling process.  Sometimes the fear of foreclosure can be suffocating.

Get to Know More about Home Equity

Home equity refers to the quantity of money the owner of the house has right after subtracting unpaid balance on the residence in relation to the present market valued which is estimated by the valuator. 

Regardless of the size of the nest egg tied up in a home, a homeowner who wants to sell their home has lots of options to consider. This is why it’s so important to lay out all the options before taking a path.

Ways on How to Sell a House with No Equity

Perhaps you are one of those homeowners who would like to sell your house without the certainty of earnings coming your way from doing so. If that’s the case you need to spread out your options on the table and go with the choice that best suits you. Let’s look at some options.

1. Selling Through Realtors

One of the best means of selling a home with no equity is to sell it through the help of a realtor. An agent who is skilled and professional in the field of selling a house is often a seller’s best choice. Since they know how to sell a house, they can immediately and effectively help you on the things you need to do to get the best buyer for your house.

2. Short Sales

Perhaps, another great and commonly used type of method in selling home with no equity is the short sale. This primarily occurs when the owner and the lender agreed to sell the home just to prevent the occurrence of foreclosure. A short sale is considered to be better than foreclosure as it could be a bit less damaging to the future buying ability of a home and your credit.

3. For Sale By The Owner

While it is always recommended that every home seller need to seek assistance from an agent, huge numbers of people are savvy enough in selling their home without any help or assistance. This type of method can greatly help in reducing costs at the same time maximizing the profits. If the buyer is already showing their interest to purchase your home, then you can just ask for the assistance of an attorney and title company to help you complete the transaction.

These are some of the more common ways to sell a home that is under water. You can also consider selling to an investor who may be willing to improve the home and share the increased equity with you. This can be risky and tricky. Done right, it can mean the difference between breaking even or being foreclosed on. Done wrong and it can be the demise of any hope of walking away without financial scars.

Please. Call or text me (John) at (480) 442-3501 to talk about your options. I’d be happy to meet with you and break ground on a game-plan that is right for you. Here's a link to my calendar to schedule a time to meet





Aug. 3, 2017

How to Sell a House with Structural Problems

Structural issuesStructural problems are no fun. These issues manifest throughout the house in different ways. The issue could be uneven or sagging floors, bowed walls, moisture issues, doors that won’t close properly, crawl space, cracks on the ceiling and more. Houses for sale sometimes have structural problems, and it takes creativity and commitment to work past them. 

Arizona requires sellers to disclose all information related to a house’s foundation damage or any structural problems. Don’t try to hide the issues as it will not fool the home inspectors. On that note, if you are selling a house with structural issues, you can consult a property lawyer or a real estate agent to help you understand how the disclosure works. 

The problem, however, with selling a house with structural issues is that most prospective buyers are unwilling to buy a property with foundation problems. With a property survey, hidden structural secrets about your house could be revealed that could cost a potential buyer a huge sum of money for repairs. Thus, most potential buyers shy away when they find that a property has foundation issues. 

To Sell Your House, Do You Have to Fix the Structural Issues?

If you are selling a house with structural issues, it is not necessary that you fix the structural problems. What you need to do is let the potential buyer know about the issues and adjust the price down in order to cover the cost or to give credits for the closing of the sale. If you want to get the maximum price out of your property, you can consider repairing these damages. 

You might be able to recover the cost if you have some work done around the house ahead of time. This way, you can also obtain better offers from potential buyers seeing that the house is in good order. You don’t have to tend to every minor repair. Address the major items and most buyers will be happy. 

Usually, the foundation air conditioner and roof repair costs are the issues that really scare potential buyers so focus on these issues. 

Sell the House at Greatly Reduced Price

If you are eager to rid of the property and don’t have the time or don’t want to spend for repairs, an option would be to sell it, but often at a greatly reduced price. Even if your house has some structural problems, many buyers out there would be willing to buy it especially at a significantly reduced price. Often, these buyers would do the repairs themselves and resell the property at a nice profit. discount the price for structural damage

That being the case, selling a house with structural problems really depends on your situation. It depends on your finances, your equity, and the property’s possible sales price. If you are not looking to get a lot of money from the house but only want to be rid of it, say when you are relocating somewhere else soon, then this method may be best for you. 

In selling a house with structural problems, the best thing to do is to have more than one structural expert (contractor and engineer) provide an assessment or repairs and their costs. Having real numbers is important in selling a house this way and with the help of an expert, you can be sure you can get the best out of your property even when there are structural problems to deal with. 

Give us a call or go to the app store and download our app for a list of contractors and engineers who may be able to help. Simply type in “John Cunningham” in the app store search and download the app for free. 


Aug. 3, 2017

How to Sell a House with Multiple Owners

Selling your portion of a propertySelling a house with two owners is easy and hard, depending on what the owners make it to be. There are several types of ownership, and each one of them has different unique exposures. Here we will unpack what you need to know if you are looking to sell your house and there is another owner besides you. 

ways to hold title to property in AZWhen you became part owner of a property in Arizona you were asked to elect how to take title. Married couples often choose Community Property or Community Property with Right of Survivorship

Tenancy in Common or tenants in common is used when parties want to share ownership and not give each other survivorship rights. This is commonly used where the owners may hold different percentages of interest in the property. One might have 70% and another 2 may have 15% each. 

Sole & separate Property

This is a way to hold title if someone owned the property before marriage or take title when a family member gifts a property to you. Spouses must sign a disclaimer deed when their partner acquires a property under Sole & separate title.

Trust (with a trustee)

This type of title allows AZ property to be held in a corporation or individual behaving as the trustee in a trust. 

Sell Your Shares 

One way to sell the house or get your money from the property is by selling your shares. As long you can find a buyer, you can transfer your share and walk away. This is only possible under some of the ways to take title in our state. Check with your attorney before initiating a sale.

Negotiate With Co-Owners 

There are other types of concurrent ownership where you cannot sell your share of property without the consent of the other. An example is Community Property with Right of Survivorship. In this case, both parties are owners of the property instead of simply sharing them. Thus, they cannot sell or transfer the property if there is no consent from the other. If it seems that you are "stuck" in an ownership position that you want out of you will need the help of an attorney if the other owner (s) are unwilling to come to an agreement with you or if you simply need help parting ways amicably.

What to Do When One Owner Refuses to Sell the Property

Sometimes, you are met with difficulty in selling the entire house when one of the owners refuses to do so. In times like this, the first course of action is to negotiate with the other party for a solution. If a solution isn’t found, you can bring a lawsuit to force the other owner to sell. In this case, you will need to help of a lawyer experienced in partition suits. 

Partition suits are a suit for the property to be partitioned and force its sale. By calling for a partition suit, you are effectively going to court to ask the judge to settle the matter for you. If there is no possible resolution, the parties may request the judge to instead order for the sale of the property. This will cost time and money, but the best option if all other choices are exhausted. 

If you find yourself between a rock and a hard place we can refer you to several real estate attorneys who work in this line of the law. Text or call John at (480) 442-3501. You can also email John at