Sept. 9, 2021

Who Is Your North Phoenix Neighborhood Specialist?

If you’ve lived in the area awhile, chances are you’ve seen, heard, or even run into Shelley Sakala. Shelley has lived in the neighborhood for the past 14 years, and has made it a point to consistently market herself and The Sakala Group real estate team in the local community. She is a regular contributor to this publication (check out her real estate report on page 21).

The other components of her marketing strategy are equally strong, including direct mail, community event sponsorship, Adopt-a-Street, and an instore presence at CVS Pharmacy. If you think she’s “everywhere,” you’d be correct. And that’s by design.

Before Shelley became a licensed Realtor, she worked as a certified Meteorologist for ABC 15. Sure, she can talk about the weather with expertise. But the biggest lesson she learned while working in television was the importance of marketing.

TV news is competitive here, with the top 5 news stations all reporting the same stories while fighting for eyeballs. The only real differences between stations are the personalities and the marketing. When you hear positioning statements like “Most Trusted News Station” or “Most Accurate Weather,” those are catchy phrases designed to shape how the audience feels about a news station. It’s the magic of marketing!

Shelley takes the marketing lessons learned from her time on the news team and applies them to her real estate business. “It’s all about standing out from the competition. There are so many real estate agents out there fighting for listings,” says Shelley. “It’s as competitive as any industry around. If you don’t find ways to actively and consistently market yourself – and your listings - you get lost in the shuffle.” 

Lest you think Shelley is all marketing and no substance, her track record speaks otherwise. She is the #5 ranked realtor in her company (out of 2,400 total agents). “Yes, it’s important to market yourself and generate leads,” she says. “But if you don’t have the chops to get the deals done, your time in real estate will be short lived. You’ve got to hold your own when it comes to customer service, promoting your listings, staging homes, advising your clients, and negotiating…not to mention managing contract details that can potentially derail a sale.” 

As any Realtor will attest, it doesn’t matter how slick your marketing game is if you forget to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

The third part of the recipe for Shelley’s success as a Realtor is local expertise. When you’re first starting out in real estate most realtors take any piece of business you can get – even if it’s on the other side of town. But as your business grows, it becomes increasingly inefficient to properly service a listing on the other side of town. Shelley tells us about the strategy that sets her apart from other Realtors: “Early on, I made the decision to focus my energy on the local community and become a neighborhood expert. By concentrating on the Norterra and Anthem areas, I’m constantly increasing my knowledge about the local community.” 

This neighborhood expertise helps Shelley better serve her sellers with everything from pricing, listing descriptions, and home inventory. And her buyers benefit from inside knowledge about the community. “I know which floorplans are the most sought-after,” she adds. “I can tell you about the hidden features - and quirks - of each model. I know which elevations have the best porch for hiding Amazon packages, and which backyards see the most critters. For home buyers, there’s value in knowing which street goes all-in with Christmas lights, which section of the neighborhood has lots of kids, and which is the quiet cul-de-sac.” 

As a resident, Shelley keeps her ear to the ground about new restaurants and businesses coming to town. “Here’s why that matters,” she explains. “Tell prospective buyers at an open house that a new Dutch Bros is being built nearby, then watch how quickly their barely interested teens get suddenly excited about the house you’re showing. That’s just one benefit of being a neighborhood expert.”

The final ingredient in her recipe for success is her team of high-performance agents and staff. “I have the best team in the world,” Shelley says. “They are all experienced, motivated professionals who work hard and always super-serve our clients. I would not want to do this job without them. As a team, we rank #8 nationally, which is a testament to their talent and their effort.”

When she’s not helping clients buy and sell homes, she’s usually fixing them up. “Remodeling and redecorating are my passion,” Shelley tells us. It’s a way for me to exercise the creative part of my brain while investing in my own home. The only problem is that I quickly run out of rooms in my house to redecorate.” Thankfully, Shelley has found an outlet for her design efforts. “I have been asked for design tips by friends and neighbors more times than I can count. And I’m always happy to help. Decorating is subjective, so I’m flattered when someone asks me for design advice.” 

Shelley’s eye for design has caught the attention of the local TV stations. She’s a semi-regular guest on TV segments highlighting the latest design trends, and how they affect real estate prices. The combination of her decorating skills, real estate experience, and comfort level in front of the camera makes her an ideal and sought-after guest for TV. It’s great exposure that boosts her marketing presence.

How has all this marketing panned out? 40% of Shelley’s business comes from new clients. While the other 60% is made up of repeat customers and referrals. “This tells me two things,” Shelley says. “It means my marketing strategy for attracting new business is working. It also tells me The Sakala Group is delivering on the promises we make in our marketing messages. Let’s face it… EVERYONE knows someone who is a real estate agent. So, when I get a new listing, I know that the seller actively bypassed a friend or family member and hired me, instead. That’s a very high level of trust, and a great motivator for me to make my customers outrageously happy.”


To reach Shelley, call or text (602) 421-2324. 


Posted in Phoenix Living
Sept. 8, 2021

Phoenix Housing Market Update September 2021


As a REALTOR® in North Phoenix, I've had a lot of questions recently on the current status of the market. Is it still super challenging to buy a home? Are we headed for a bubble? Should I sell now or wait. So today, I'm tackling these questions by looking at the facts. Still not sure if it's the right time for you to buy or sell? Call me. Let's chat #602-421-2324.

Posted in Buyers
Sept. 3, 2021

Is Cash A Must To Buy A Home In 2021?


Today I'm dispelling the myth that you have to present a cash offer in order to buy a home right now. There are actually a lot of things that a seller considers when looking at your offer, and believe it or not, cash isn't always the most attractive offer.

Don't be discouraged if you're interested in buying a home right now. Recent data shows that in July 2021, 71.4% of transactions closed with buyers that had obtained a loan. 28.3% of buyers paid cash. More buyers are using loans to buy their homes than cash.

So don't just stand on the sidelines if buying a home is on your radar. Let's chat!

Posted in Buyers
Sept. 3, 2021

What Is An Off Market Listing?


North Phoenix home buyers have a successful ending to their house hunting! I knew at a listing appointment that I had found the perfect home for them in Fireside at Norterra.

Another example of how hiring the neighborhood expert pays off. Not only do I know the floor-plans and neighborhoods within Fireside at Norterra, but I also know the neighbors that live there. Having a list of buyers looking to find something in the same neighborhood is a great advantage when someone wants to sell their home. It's a win win for both parties.

Posted in Buyers
Aug. 30, 2021

The Stillery - New Restaurant Coming To Happy Valley Road AZ


The Stillery is coming to North Phoenix. Start spreading the word! This is going to be a local hot spot once it opens in our Norterra community. Daily live music, featuring local talent as well as acts from Nashville, fabulous food, and a dance floor will surely bring some excitement when they open. Serving lunch, dinner, and weekend bruch. Stay tuned for updates as they work towards their estimated opening January 2022. 

Posted in Around Town
Aug. 28, 2021

New Restaurant Opens In North Phoenix


A welcome addition to the dining options in the Norterra/85085 community of North Phoenix. Conveniently located east of 19th Avenue on Happy Valley, you'll love their fresh, simple approach to delicious food. Mesquite-grilled carne asada or chicken creates the perfect start to your burrito, bowl, quesadilla, or tacos. Vegan options as well. Check them out!

Posted in Around Town
May 16, 2021

Moving Out of Santa Barbara




Californians are moving to Arizona by the thousands, and it’s easy to see why: The difference in home prices in incredible.


The median home price in Santa Barbara County is $861,000*

The median home price in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is located) is $395,000*


*According to Redfin


Shop Phoenix homes now


Phoenix homes are less than half the price of Santa Barbara County homes! With historically low interest rates, you can set yourself up in a beautiful home and cut your monthly mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars.


Arizona also ranks #7 in job growth in the United States, featuring large companies like Banner Health, American Express, Honeywell, and Chase Bank. With an unemployment rate 36% lower than California, Arizona has fewer people competing for jobs.


The Greater Phoenix Metro area, known as The Valley of the Sun, includes 9 cities with more than 50 unique towns. The Valley has just about every type of community imaginable: golf course homes, mountain estates, suburban bedroom communities, retirement communities, suburban living, luxury homes, and even desert homes on the edge of the wilderness.


The 9 cities of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area:


Phoenix Shop Phoenix homes now

Mesa Shop Mesa homes now

Chandler Shop Chandler homes now

Glendale Shop Glendale homes now

Scottsdale Shop Scottsdale homes now

Gilbert Shop Gilbert homes now

Tempe Shop Tempe homes now

Peoria Shop Peoria homes now

Surprise Shop Surprise homes now


With a stronger job market, less competition, year-round sunshine, and homes that are half the price, making the move to Phoenix is more attractive than ever – and a smart way to build wealth.


Posted in Phoenix Living
Jan. 26, 2021

Tips to Update Any Bathroom In Your Home

Transformation Tips for Any Bathroom In Your Home 


Are you lost when it comes to updating your home? Do HGTV shows and Pinterest make you feel like your home is completely outdated? Some people are gifted at home decor (you know the ones), and some need a little help to break it down.


Not to worry! We’re tackling a different room each week and showing you a few changes that will transform your space. Simple things to replace, where to shop, …and if you want to gut the place, we’ve got those suggestions too. 


NOTE: These are also the updates we suggest if you need to give your home some love before listing it. 


3 Ways to Update Any Bathroom


* swap out contractor mirrors 

* update light fixtures

* replace cabinet pulls


Ideas to Completely Transform the Space 


* transform that unused tub into a sleek walk-in shower

* replace the vanity countertop and/or cabinets

* paint the cabinets

* refresh the flooring 

Posted in Phoenix Living
Jan. 19, 2021

When Should I Sell My Phoenix Home?

How To Know When To Sell Your Home 

I have a friend in California who loves to surf. When I asked him how he knows when the perfect wave is coming, he laughed and said he doesn’t waste his time waiting for the perfect wave. He leaves that for the competitive surfers. When my friend sees a really good wave, he rides it for all it’s worth. Then he paddles out again and grabs another really good wave. He does this all day long, and goes home tired and happy. He loves surfing because he spends his time riding waves instead of waiting for them. Meanwhile, the beach is filled with frustrated would-be surfers who sit on their boards, waiting for some life-changing wave to appear.

This same scenario could describe the real estate market for 85085 & 85027. Homeowners looking to sell their homes fall into two categories: Those who sell their homes, and those waiting to sell - waiting to see if interest rates will drop further or home values will keep rising. Look, I understand the desire to get maximum value. But this strategy forces you to chase a moving target. There’s no alert telling you when it’s the absolute best time to sell. There are, however, several indicators telling us that now is a GREAT time to sell.

Indicators For When To Sell

1. Interest rates are historically low (below 3%!)

2. Home values are very strong

3. Inventory is limited

4. Demand is high

5. Houses are moving quickly

When you can check all five boxes at the same time, that’s about as clear an indication as you could hope for. NOW IS THE TIME TO SELL, PEOPLE.

Sure, you might be able to squeeze out a few more dollars for your home by waiting. Then again, interest rates might go up, canceling those gains. Or perhaps demand will begin to cool off as the foreclosure market heats up in the wake of Covid-19.

You can’t control market conditions any more than you can control the waves or the tide. But you can work with your Realtor to create a strategy for selling your home at the price and terms you want. And if a bidding war erupts and you end up with some extra money in your pocket, even better!

Here’s the bottom line: This is the strongest local seller’s market we’ve seen in more than a decade. Equity has come roaring back for Phoenix home owners. And many homes are selling in just a few days (if not hours). As a seller, you’re in an excellent position to sell. So, what do you want to do? Do you want to sit…or do you want to surf?


Posted in Sellers
Sept. 8, 2020

Does A Realtor's Experience Matter in a Good Market?


After the initial slowdown resulting from the Coronavirus lockdown, the real estate market bounced back in a big way. Home buyers who were ready in January were even more ready by the time summer arrived. Many sellers, however, pumped the brakes on their plans to move. There was just enough economic uncertainty to make them think twice about relocating from the safety of their nests. The net result: Inventory went down, home prices went up, andhouses started flying off the shelves. Our team saw homes list and sell in a matter of weeks,days, and in some cases, hours, as buyers scrambled to grab their dream homes and lock in thehistorically low interest rates.

During times like these when homes “practically sell themselves,” we often see a slew of new real estate agents appear. Enticed by the illusion of easy money, people will complete a course, take an exam, and join the other 27,000 real estate agents in Phoenix. Personally, I love seeing people begin a new challenge. That was me 18 years ago when I changed careers from TV news to real estate. Whenever new agents enter the market, the increased competition pushes meto keep grinding, to stay current in my knowledge base, to keep sharpening my skills, and to continue super-serving my clients. All of these things have helped prepare me for markets like this, where sellers want top value and buyers are competing for the home of their dreams.

So…does experience make a difference in a robust real estate market?

You bet your bottom dollar it makes a difference!

Here are five ways an experienced Realtor can make a huge difference for both buyers and sellers:

1) Experienced Realtors leverage their experience on your behalf. Whether it’s guidance on the offer you’re making or suggestions about the repairs you’re demanding, experienced Realtors know the difference between dealbreakers and dealmakers, and can advise you accordingly.

2) When multiple buyers want the same house, an experienced Realtor can take you to the front of the line. How? By presenting you along with your offer. All things being equal, sellers would rather sell to someone who loves the home as much as they did. An experienced Realtor knows how to communicate your enthusiasm for a home.

3) An experienced Realtor recognizes when a buyer is a “flight risk” – someone likely to cancel the deal on the house you’re selling. Perhaps the buyer objects to putting down a substantial deposit, or insists on a long closing period. These are red flags sellers shouldn’t ignore - and an experienced Realtor will spot.

4) Experienced Realtors have a network of professionals who specialize in helping get deals done: Lenders, repair people, title companies, painters, and staging companies. All of these can contribute to the speed of the sale. If your real estate agent is Googling title companies and mortgage lenders, you might be dealing with someone who has less experience than you’d prefer.

5) An experienced Realtor has a team of people to help keep everything on track. From research to marketing to paperwork to communications, a Realtor with a strong team of specialists has more time to spend focusing on the most important deal there is: yours.



Posted in Sellers