Toma Partners on the Mark Winsor Show

Join Toma Partners team members Mike Garland and Angela Monty on the Mark Winsor Show, Tuesday May 29, 2012 at 5:00 PM AZ. We’ll be discussing Toma Partners’ unique approach to luxury real estate, short sales and life in general. You can listen and watch at Mark Winsor Show .

Every Tuesday Mark invites guests to talk about a variety of topics about Arizona business and law. He is distinguished for his knowledge in Arizona’s anti-deficiency laws and for compassionately and professionally helping people facing foreclosure or selling their house through a short sale.

See you Tuesday!

Mark Winsor Show





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Defining Luxury – 15 Signs of a Luxury Home

lux·u·ry: The state of great comfort and extravagant living.

Based on a recent review of a listing for a luxury property in the Arcadia area, here are some indicators of what a luxury property will include:

15 Signs of a Luxury Home

1. Location

Arcadia, Paradise Valley, Silver Leaf – These are all highly sought after areas.

2. Size/ Square Footage

Luxury properties are usually 4,000 sq.ft and larger.

3. Lot Size

Depending on the area, luxury properties have a lot size at least ⅓ acre or larger.

4. Custom Built/ Personally Designed

Luxury homes are not track homes. You will not see another home exactly like it. Luxury = Unique.

5. Curb Appeal

Anything from the finish on the outside of the home (Stucco, facade), landscaping, fountain, how the drive-way is paved, brick or stone. etc. that says “I am unique.” from the curbside.

6. Custom Floors

Stone instead of tile, premium 5” hand scraped hardwood, very unique and expensive.

7. Windows and Doors

The windows  may be wood but with aluminum exterior for durability. Aluminum windows may run approximately $25,000 without wood. Aluminum and wood windows cost approximately $80,000.00, for example.

8. Kitchen Appliances

Brands/Makes/Models matter: Viking, Wolf, Monogram. Why are they more costly? What is the difference? They cook faster, are more convenient to use, and look nicer.  Boiling a pot of water on a good range doesn’t get vapors around the pot, the hood actually works. Luxury fridges do not give food freezer burn, and food stays fresher longer.

9. Interior Door Hardware

Hardware for track home doors may cost $6-$7 each, luxury home doors may be $30-$50 each. The main difference is touch, feel, and appearance.

10. Doors

Solid wood doors are $350-$500 a piece, vs. a track home door is hollow and may cost $60-$70 each.

11. Luxury doors lock in three places (Top, bottom and center)

They cost $380 without installation and require a more intensive install.

12. Home Theater

Home Theaters require special wiring, sound and screen equipment and take up a large amount of space.

13.  Smart Home System

Regulates temperature, lights, music, intercom, locks, etc.

14.  Rear and Roof Elevations

Luxury homes will look just as good from the back as it does from the curb. Roof elevation- dressed up roof with nice tiles (clay mission, for example, vs. cheaper concrete tiles). Nice roofing tile is 3 times more expensive than a concrete tile.

15. Garage Doors

Luxury homes will have upgraded wood and aluminum doors vs. all aluminum. Price difference may be $4500 vs  $1200.

How do you define luxury? Let us know!



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The End of Short Sales as We Know Them?

The time is limited for homeowners who want to ensure they aren’t hit with a big tax bill when they short sell their home. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is set to expire on December 31, 2012.

At the height of the housing crisis, Congress passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 to provide some consolation to folks who had lost their homes. This Act has encouraged countless homeowners to negotiate a short sale with their bank instead of just letting the home go to foreclosure. If this act expires, short sellers would be taxed on the forgiven debt.

According to the bills original sponsor, Rep. Charles Rangel from New York, “the law was intended to relieve the unfair tax burden by removing the “phantom” income in cases where the lender forgives part of the mortgage on the sale or disposition of one’s home. While the law cannot repair the borrowers’ credit or punish those who misled them into taking out inappropriate loans, it addresses a fundamental unfairness in the lives of those who find themselves in these dire circumstances.”

Why is this important? For homeowners who are considering short selling, the window to benefit from the current law is closing. The short sale process may take from two months to over a year, meaning that short sales begun now have a chance of being concluded after the act has expired, opening the homeowner to the additional tax liability. For neighborhoods, the expiration of this law will likely lead to more foreclosures which tend to lower home values.

There is a proposed extension of the Act, HR 4202, Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act of 2012 (“proposed 2012 Act”). This proposal basically extends the current January 1, 2013 expiration date for two years until January 1, 2015. However, the bill has only an 8% expectation of passing, according to

Leading Arizona Real Estate Lawer, Chris Combs, warns“… there will be a chilling effect on the recovering housing market. The number of short sales will be significantly reduced. Many “underwater” homeowners will continue to make their mortgage payments and hope that the value of their home eventually appreciates to the amount of their mortgage, rather than do a short sale and pay a significant tax bill.”

Remarkably, here is  little media attention to this issue which may affect millions of homeowners. We have compiled a few relevant articles that are linked at the end of this post.

If you are considering a short sale, we recommend initialing the process soon. Use this Short Sale quiz to help  –  Click here for the Short Sale Quiz

Reference Articles:

Miami Herald – Mortgage relief faces a nightmare

GovTrack.Us – S. 2144: Mortgage Cancellation Relief Act of 2012

Combs Law Group – Unless New Bill Passes There Will Be a Chilling Effect on Short Sales

Trulia Blog – Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Expires Dec 31 2012!




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5 Foreclosure Myths for 2012

Here are some comments from Carl Medford as published by Trulia. His notes on buying foreclosures and trends on the luxury real estate market are on point with our experiences, also.

Beginning in 2007, foreclosures rocked the real estate world. Like an out-of-control freight train, they began decimating the market, peaking in 2009. Myths and rumors began propagating like mushrooms as consumers struggled to understand the new reality. Although many misconceptions have come and gone, we still encounter five myths on a regular basis.

1. There is going to be a flood of new foreclosures to the market.

This rumor has appeared every year since 2008 and has been routinely debunked. However, recent announcements that the Feds reached a settlement over the robo-signing scandal have reignited speculation. The idea is simple: Since the cork is now out of the foreclosure bottle, we’ll soon see another flood of REOs inundating the marketplace.

My personal opinion: don’t hold your breath.

Banks have learned that if they control inventory, they can affect local prices. By releasing homes in measured amounts, they realize higher prices than if they released a glut of homes. In addition, they’ve learned that if they can mitigate their losses by agreeing to a short sale, everyone wins.

2. You can go directly to a bank to buy a foreclosure.

Every few weeks I’m asked how to buy foreclosures directly from a bank. Someone knows a friend being foreclosed on and they want to step in and grab the house before it hits the market. Don’t we all? In reality, banks have a simple system – they first offer properties on the courthouse steps. The rest they assign to asset mangers who then hire local real estate agents to put them on the market along with all the other homes. Want an REO? Pay cash at the courthouse steps or get in line witheveryone else when they hit the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

3. You can get a killer deal by submitting lowball offers on foreclosures.

You would think this myth would be dead by now. Unfortunately, like Elvis sightings, it just won’t go away. Here’s the truth: Banks want REOs sold in 30 days or less, so they typically appear on the market priced slightly under comparable properties. If the property doesn’t sell quickly, the bank will lower the price after about 30 days. Lowball offers are ignored and are, quite frankly, a waste of everyone’s time and effort. You might get a deal by offering a lower price on a foreclosure that’s been sitting on the market for more than 90 days, but remember that there are good reasons it’s gone unsold for so long. And even if you have cash, your lowball offer won’t be accepted —seriously.

4. You can’t use foreclosures when doing an appraisal.

Or short sales, for that matter. That is no longer true. In fact, in many neighborhoods, that’s all that’s there. Therefore, foreclosed or distressed sales represent the actual value of homes in the area and HAVE to be used to appraise other properties. Don’t like it? Get over it. Times have changed and the ways neighborhoods are valued have changed as well.

5. Foreclosures are only affecting the bottom end of the market.

This used to be true. However, while foreclosure rates on the lower end of the market have actually decreased,they’re actually increasing on the upper end. According to Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac, the market share of foreclosed homes under $1 million is shrinking, but those among properties valued over $1 million are rising – up 115% since 2007. And foreclosures on properties valued upwards of $2 million have increased by 273%. While some well-known jet-setters have melted down and lost everything, others are choosing to strategically default. They see it like liquidating a poorly performing portfolio – they have enough resources to cut their losses and move on. Historically, banks have been reticent to foreclose high-end homes and absorb a large loss, but defaulters are now forcing their hands and mansion foreclosure rates are moving on up.

Myths control behavior, and this has never been truer than in the housing market. Savvy agents will work hard to educate their clients, debunk myths, explain market trends, educate with solid facts – and actually close transactions.



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Spring Trends in Phoenix Real Estate March 2012

Almost everything you read about the Phoenix real estate market is based on data that is 3-6 months old. Often, news reports reflect exactly the opposite of what is currently happening in the market.  For example, I read a lot of stories suggesting prices are declining.  Wrong! Prices are on the way up; they were falling 6 months ago.

  • Fact: We are currently in a sellers market, not a buyers market. You will likely be bidding against multiple buyers.
  • Fact: In LUXURY there is no question that VALUES ARE DROPPING across the board.  The lack of financing continues to make it difficult for buyers to secure luxury homes. Until this changes don’t expect values to increase.

As of this month, we suspect that under-$400,000 prices will level off in coming months after a short spike in values and that luxury homes will continue to fall through the end of the year and perhaps though the next.

The Raw Data on Phoenix Real Estate

We draw our data from the Cromford Report, the recognized source of single-family residential Phoenix Area. You can access it directly here- Click for direct access to raw data. We’ve put together a quick view for you below:


  • Annual Appreciation: 0.70%, 13.20%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 0.70%, 8.20%

Paradise Valley/Cave Creek/Fountain Hills

  • Annual Appreciation: -9.20%, -8.80%, -17.00%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: -8.30%, 2.80%, -13.00%
  • Caution, data from smaller cities varies greatly because of the limited number of transactions.


  • Annual Appreciation: 6.8%, 7.6%, 6.2%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 6.9%, 6.9%, 4.5%

Overall Market Data (Data from Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai County)

  • Annual Appreciation: 7.5% (Compared to value of March 2011)
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 7.1% (Rate of Change)
  • Annual Sales: 9.2%
  • Active Listings: -41.5% (Change in Inventory Rate.)
  • Average Days On Market: 145 days
  • Months Of Supply: 3.2
  • Average Active Listing Price is $153.15/Sq.Ft. vs Sold Price of $91.58/Sq.Ft. (Price changes of 72.9% are normally made prior to the sale of the home.)

Share comments based on your experience, below.



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Looks matter – More than you think when listing your home

Tips for listing your home for sale

What determines the value of residential real estate? – Yes, the answer is location, Looks matterlocation, and location. But when you are selling property, you can’t change the location. You can do several things, however, to improve the looks of the property that will have the dual benefits of increasing the sales price and accelerating the sale.

Cleanliness counts

Make sure the home is clean. If still occupied, have it tidied up, with clean kitchen, bathrooms and yard. Have the carpets shampooed and windows cleaned to give the perception of cleanliness. If the home is vacant, make sure it is free of trash and clutter. The cost of a few hours work will be more than compensated by higher price or faster closing.

Repair what you can without spending a fortune

Making repairs, remodeling or even adding another room pays off. In fact, homeowners who make improvements or update kitchens and baths can experience up to a 150% return on investment. If maximizing the sales price is important, do the basic repairs that make the home functional. Some examples of common repairs are: fixing leak stains, replacing worn out carpets, replacing broken glass, and replacing light bulbs.  Basically do the things you wouldn’t normally do because they are minor and a headache. Potential buyers feel the same way which negatively impacts the sales price more then the cost of repairs.  The goal is to make a buyer feel like your home is well maintained and clean.

Stage the home

A few items of staging in a vacant home go a long way to accentuate nice features and take away the vacant feel. Staged homes sell up to three times faster and for considerably more; providing between a 319% to 578% return on investment. For smaller homes a few items in kitchen and baths make a difference. For higher value homes more elaborate staging commiserate with the value of the home give the perspective buyers a better feel for the home. Be sure the photos on the marketing of the home show the staging.

Take good pictures

Once the home is clean, repaired and staged, invest the time and money to have quality photographs taken. Most buyers begin their home search online and pictures are often the deciding factors for which homes they will actually visit. Some Realtors post photos taken on a mobile phone that do not do justice to the property. Good Realtors will use professional photographers that do everything possible to portray the home in the best way. They shoot photos when natural light is optimum. They have quality equipment, including special lenses for tight angles or wide panoramic views.



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Arizona Real Estate Bouncing Back in 2012? It’s possible.

Toma Partners Broker Ben Toma recently attended the  The Crosby Team’s Agent Appreciation Event which included a briefing by Prime Lending’s Scott Eggen. He presented some interesting  data about the Arizona real estate market.

The Crosby Team‘s Cindy Wolfinger has permitted us to share some highlights with our clients. See also this recent NBC Channel 12 story on the same topic.

·         Maricopa County MLS inventory is at the lowest level since April 2006

·         Declining inventory is a leading indicator of appreciating home values, which is where we are right now in the cycle.  Increased home values are a lagging indicator of a healthy housing market.  In other words, if you wait to buy until you see an appreciating home market, the bottom of the market will be in your rearview mirror!

·         Data suggests that we are migrating toward a multiple offer situation on existing home sales. I think you would agree we are already seeing this today!

·         Days on market are dropping lower each month.

·         Building permits are at an all-time low, but as the price of homes increase, builders will increase their production.  Builders have been in survival-mode as buyers can buy an existing home for less than it cost to build.

·         We may see an increase of bank owned inventory in the Spring of 2012 as banks begin to bring homes to market, now that the “robo signing” documents have been correctly filed and the foreclosures are legally compliant.

·         Unemployment rates are dropping and giving Americans more confidence.

·         If the current consumer sentiment trajectories continue, we could see a very confident consumer thru 2014.  A confident and employed consumer is much more likely to consider a move up buy or other real estate purchases.

·         The Federal Government’s program called “Operation Twist” will keep 30 year rates low through June 2013!

·         The US Economy has it’s issues, but the US is the “best shirt in a pile of dirty laundry”!



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Phoenix Home Pricing Trends January 2012

Increasing – Stagnant – Falling  – Price changes are all over the board!

Home prices in the Phoenix Valley are increasing, holding steady and falling, depending on the area code and type of property. Here are some of the trends we are seeing now. You can check for yourself using data from the Cromford Report.

Homes are finally appreciating

In many areas of the Valley we have seen prices increasing. Some areas specifically include:

  • Sub-$100k areas where investors are picking up distressed properties, making them livable again and either renting  or selling them. Phoenix is known for great values in this type of housing and investors are coming from around the US and Canada. Their investment is helping bolster the market, especially on homes that would require renovation before any lender would provide a mortgage.
  • High end condominiums, such as the Optima Camelback in Scottsdale. These properties and similar ones are appreciating with the general improvement of market conditions in the Scottsdale area.
  • Far outlining areas like Maricopa that were the first to feel the pain of the housing bust. These locations were hit hardest but now are seeing some nice appreciation.

Home prices are stagnant

Many areas that were hardest hit appear to have reached bottom, we hope. Outlying towns of Surprise and Queen Creek, for example, have had stagnant pricing for the last few months. Certain well-designed neighborhoods of newer homes have in fact seen some appreciation in these areas as well.

Still looking for the bottom

Home prices in much of the Phoenix Valley are still falling. The biggest losers at the moment are high value neighborhoods that withstood much of the recession but are now feeling the pain of the rest of the Valley. In particular, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills and Northern Scottsdale.

Track home prices by city with complimentary access to the Cromford Report hosted by Toma Partners. For more detailed information (by zip code, for example) contact us directly.



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Santa’s Workshop Saved! Arctic Client Celebrates Early Holiday Thanks To Valley Real Estate Firm

Toma Partners, LLC guides a high-profile multimillion-dollar short sale to benefit of “Arctic Bank” and a high-profile North Pole resident.

Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) worked with Phoenix real estate firm Toma Partners, LLC in a nine-month-long negotiation process according to an inside source at the North Pole’s Arctic Bank.

“We work with luxury homes and high-profile clients all of the time – but none as high-profile as Claus,” explains Toma Partners designated broker Ben Toma. “I am very proud that our team was able to bring this deal to fruition on-time and confidentially, despite the source leak at the bank.”

Toma Partners – a luxury residential real estate company – hired professional interior designers to stage the residence and used professional studio lighting photographers to document the property.

“I know my property was beautiful,” says Claus. “But I had never seen it so beautifully lit and photographed in all of the years I’ve been there.” Continue reading



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September 2011 Phoenix Real Estate Market Trends

This Newsflash is our response to frequent questions from clients who wonder if the information they have read or heard on the residential market is accurate. We give you the raw data, just the facts, with a short opinion in the last paragraph.

Market Data:  Toma Partners provides an individual city breakdown because real estate is local and overall market averages can be misleading.  Caution, data from smaller cities varies greatly from month to month because of the limited number of transactions.


  • Annual Appreciation: -8.3% (Values are dropping/increasing at this rate.)
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: -2.0% (The drop/increase in value is getting better or worse at this rate.)
  • 4,625 Active Phoenix Homes Listed For Sale: 47.87% Short Sales, 16.54% Foreclosures & 35.59% Normal Sale.
  • 1,894 Homes Sold Monthly: 24.18% Short Sales, 47.94% Foreclosure, & 27.88% Normal Sale.

Continue reading



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