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
July 29, 2020

Tour my updated home with me!

As we get ready to move out of our Fireside at Norterra home to another address (still in Fireside of course), I thought I would share all the updating projects we have done over the past several years. There are so many things I love about this home and a few things I would have done differently when we first moved in. 

In addition to my real estate career, I have a passion for interior design. I love helping my North Phoenix clients visualize changes they can make to a home when we're out house hunting. Also, friends and neighbors often ask my opinion on updates and remodel ideas. If you're wondering if an update is worth the investment, I can help with that too. 

Interestingly enough, we just sold this home in one day. We had five offers and accepted one that was $15,000 OVER asking price. I am a big proponent of keeping your home updated so you love it while you live there...and see the financial value when you go to sell.

Have questions? Don't hesitate to reach out! 

Posted in Sellers
July 29, 2020

Fireside at Norterra | Walk This Way

The longest walk you’ll ever take is the walk across your backyard in the Summer without flip flops. Your patio or pool deck reaches heat levels that would make your car dashboard jealous. That’s life in Phoenix, for sure! Many Arizona backyards include hardscape such as bricks, pavers, concrete, stone, or tile. Any of these hardscape materials can look amazing while providing you with a highly durable surface. But they all share the same drawback: they get hot! As Phoenicians, we understand this is part and parcel with Summer in the Valley. But standing on your patio shouldn’t feel like walking across hot coals at a motivational corporate retreat. Thanks to scientific advancements, coupled with the relentless pursuit of staying cool, we now have more options than ever before for making backyard spaces a little more livable. This is welcome news for people who love spending the summer barefoot – or for anyone with kids or dogs in their backyard. Any product that protects feet and paws from getting burned is worth looking into.


With this in mind, here are five DIY ways to dial-back the surface temperature in your backyard:


Deck Paint

Transform a plain concrete surface into a good looking, heat-reducing lounge area. H&C Cool Feel Deck and Walkway Coating is a water-based coating that rolls on like paint and provides protection from water, pool chemicals, stains, and UV rays. Can be tinted to hundreds of different colors. $67 a gallon at Sherwin-Williams.


Wood Overlay Tiles

Turn a hardscaped surface into a wood deck with real wood tiles that snap together like Legos. Customizable, stainable, and removable. Perfect for apartment or condo balconies. 9 sq. feet for $25 at IKEA.


Runner Rugs

Outdoor rugs are a foot-friendly solution to make rough surfaces comfortable while mitigating the high ground temperatures. features hundreds of indoor/outdoor runner rugs, including several that measure a whopping 22-feet long! Prices start at $78. 



The easiest way to cool your hardscape is by not letting it get hot in the first place. Good ol’ fashioned shade can be a real game-changer in your backyard. The options are limitless, and include solutions such as patio umbrellas, awnings, and pergolas. Try the Ohuhu Sun Shade Sail. It’s a home version of the popular shade solutions you see on playgrounds. Each 8’ x 10’ sail comes with heavy duty rope and a stainless steel hardware kit for mounting and hanging. $39 on

Soft Landing

If you don’t mind stepping up your budget, you can install commercial-grade foam flooring (think of the surface of a splash pad). Your pool deck will be transformed into a safer, softer, cooler place to hang out. The increased traction helps prevents slips & falls, and the cushiony material makes for softer landings whenever a tumble does occur. UV-resistant, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. The perfect surface in a cootie-filled world. Starting at $15 a sq. foot at

Did you know? 

Surface Temperatures on a 100-degree day:

Brick 150°

Concrete pavers 120°

Flagstone 115°

Travertine 110°


Posted in Phoenix Living
June 2, 2020

Fireside at Norterra | 1018 W Spur Drive 85085

Our newest listing in Fireside at Norterra! You'll love the versatility of this floor plan. In addition to the four spacious bedrooms, this home includes a bonus room, loft, and formal dining room allowing you to create that home gym you've always wanted. Or maybe a home office is on your wish list - there's space for that as well. Maybe your teens need a gaming room, study room, or craft spot - we've got you covered. 

You'll also enjoy all the resort-style amenities that Fireside at Norterra offers. Pools, tennis, fitness center, yoga, and more. Conveniently close to The Shops at Norterra for shopping and dining options. 

Posted in Just Listed
April 30, 2020

Norterra - CASCO Financial Tips During COVID-19

Rebecca Wyatt of local Norterra company, CASCO Financial chats with Shelley Sakala about managing your personal finances as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Many residents of the Norterra/85085 community have questions about what to do and not do as unemployment is on the rise. Not sure how the economy will be affected, Rebecca gives some sound advice for planning for the unknown. 


Posted in Phoenix Living
April 29, 2020

Norterra Homes - Common Snake Myths Debunked

Everything You Need To Know About Rattlesnakes


If you live in Norterra, a quaint community in North Phoenix, or really anywhere in Arizona, you're bound to encounter a snake or two. Yikes! Luckily for us desert dwellers, there are things you can do to "snake proof" your home/yard. Educating yourself about snakes is also key to coexisting with them. 

Bryan Hughes of Rattlesnake Solutions offers some fascinating information about snakes - Can they actually jump? How high can they crawl? What's their strike range? He has relocated snakes from Fireside at Norterra and all over the valley and offers a 24 hour hotline for anyone finding themselves in a panic situation. 

Check out their website for more information on the services they provide:  

Rattlesnake Solutions

Posted in Phoenix Living
April 8, 2020

Corona Virus (COVID-19) Phoenix Market Update

How the Corona Virus is affecting the Phoenix real estate market as of April 7, 2020. 

My interview with Josh Heape of Canopy Mortgage to tackle our most asked questions about how the real estate market is doing in real time. Is it a good time to buy a house? Is it a good time to sell your home? Should I refinance my home while interest rates are low?

We answer these questions and more. Obviously, we don't have a crystal ball to predict what will happen in the coming weeks, but we are staying on top of daily changes to be your source for guidance and factual information.

As always, if we can answer any questions you have about how things in Phoenix real estate will affect your personal situation, please don't hesitate to contact us! Josh can be reached at 602-330-6446. Call or text Shelley at 602-421-2324.


Posted in Sellers
March 8, 2020

State 48 Rock House - Coming Soon to The Shops at Norterra

Shelley Sakala, Realtor ® with The Sakala Group Real Estate Team chats with Mario Rana about the exciting progress happening at State 48 Rock House. When this brew pub opens in April/May of 2020 at The Shops at Norterra, guests will be able to enjoy the indoor/outdoor vibe of this restaurant.

Plans for State 48 Rock House include live music on the weekends, shaded outdoor patio area with corn hole, bocce ball, and more. Tons of seating indoors and out to enjoy the brew pub with a full menu.  


Posted in Around Town
Feb. 27, 2020

Fireside at Norterra | Homes with a View

Fireside at Norterra - POINT OF VIEW



Fireside at Norterra has a feature many Phoenix communities don't offer: fantastic views. The neighboring Sonoran Preserve serves as the backdrop for our desert lifestyle. It's not hard to see why so many homes in our community come with view fencing ("see-through" fencing that allows views of the surrounding land). What homeowners lose in privacy, they gain in "viewing pleasure".  And the value of a great view may extend beyond simple emotional value. As a rule of thumb, the better the view, the higher the property value. Exactly how much higher is debatable. In New York City or Malibu, a spectacular view might cost you a small (or large) fortune. Here in North Phoenix you can expect to pay a more modest premium. A great Fireside view might showcase the surrounding mountains, vistas, and cactus fields. Some homeowners, however, prefer the privacy of a cinder block wall. It's all a matter of personal preference.


Here are a few factors for a buyer (or seller) to consider when placing a value on a home's view:


1. Is the view a partial view or a panoramic view? Both can be nice, but are generally of unequal value. 

2. Is the "breathtaking view" only seen from the front yard? Is the picturesque mountain preserve visible from the tub in the master bathroom? Can you see the mountains from the living room or bedroom windows?

3. Is the view protected and permanent? That mountain you see today can easily disappear behind future residential or commercial development. Researching the zoning regulations might give you an idea about what the future holds.

4. Is the view built to last? A single tree on a neighbor's property might grow to obstruct your perfect view of the city.


When it comes to the value of a view, remember that a great view drives demand - which drives pricing. And while it's difficult to quantify how much your view is worth, it doesn't hurt to have a "million-dollar view" (even if you never see that million dollars).


Posted in Phoenix Living
Feb. 10, 2020

How To Make Your Home Stand Out In A Competitive Market

Give Them What They Want 

What makes your four walls and a roof better than the next person’s four walls and a roof?

The features, of course. When selling a home, price is important – but it’s not everything. A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders asked a group of more than 4,000 home buyers to rank the features most essential to a home-purchasing decision. The top ten ranking included hardwood flooring, storage solutions, and patio/outdoor living components. Laundry rooms and Energy Star certification also ranked high, while upscale features such as three-car garages were shown to be trending down in popularity.

Some of the design trends here in Fireside at Norterra are mirroring the preferences cited in the NAHB survey. White kitchen cabinetry remains popular, as well as quartz countertops. The iconic farmhouse sink is a coveted upgrade we’ve seen in quite a few kitchen remodels. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances can be found throughout our community, and continue to rank highly in popularity among home buyers across the country. Although the national trend is pointing toward smaller homes, elements such as square footage and room count are architectural decisions mostly beyond the control of the home owner. If your home happens to be on the larger side, don’t despair. Fireside attracts its share of growing families who may very well need that third garage parking spot. 

Home owners who pay attention to design and decorating trends often have an advantage when it comes time to sell. On-trend color schemes, updated appliances, and smart enhancements will help attract buyers - and the right features can even add an extra dose of emotion to an already interested buyer. Popular items like smart thermostats and luxe bathroom fixtures are among the DIY upgrades that can take an average house and make it stand out. The moral of the story when you’re selling your home: All things being equal… make your house unequal. Make it stand out (in a good way).


Posted in Sellers