Is it a good time to buy a house in Phoenix?

I purchased my home almost exactly one year ago in 2016. I’ll share my thoughts as I carefully considered whether I wanted to buy my house or continue renting, but I pulled the trigger, and I have no regrets in owning. I wrote about the buying process, here, with a focus on millennials like myself.

There are a few factors you want to consider as a buyer.

  • Ability to borrow. Interest rates vary based on the term length, amount, and other features like PMI and loan-to-value (LTV) that is usually offset by your down payment. If you get a mortgage that is favorable to you and at a rate that is reasonable (now about 4.10%). Interest rates significantly affect how much a person can acquire for the same amount of cash.
  • Inventory of homes. While there are data points out there to find exactly how many homes are officially on the market, driving around in the neighborhood of your desired house could give you an idea whether there are some similar houses vying for your business. Personally, I liked using tools like Zillow to just get a peek at kind of homes available. Accessing the MLS (free through a real estate agent) will give you even more up-to-the-minute listings on homes with plenty of search criteria. When the buyer has plenty of choices, sellers tend to be more flexible since buyers are more scarce than the number of homes available. If homes stay on the market longer, that’s a good thing for the buyer since they have some leverage in negotiating.
  • Values are determined by buyer’s demand, not (only) algorithms. Websites like Zillow and Redfin are helpful tools to gather basic neighborhood and expected home value data. Comparable house research is worthwhile so you can make an informed decision and don’t pay the top-dollar just because it was listed at that. Don’t read too much into the forecasts – sometimes it’s better, sometimes it’s worse.

I feel like housing prices are accelerating upward, but not at a dangerous pace. With plenty of apartments being built around the Phoenix and East Valley, those typically repress the buyers from jumping into the market. For me, the threshold to say no to renting was $1100. Once you cross that $1000/mo line, most mortgages can be had for around there.

All that said, I didn’t regret working with a buyer’s agent. My agent was very helpful to understand local real estate trends. A good agent will bargain on your behalf and will make sure you get the house for a fair price for you and the seller.

I don’t expect to “double” my investment on my home when it’s time to sell. Realistically, following the Great Recession was the best time to get in and double one’s investment over a several-year period. I’d be happy if my home holds its value long-term. The benefit of the home is that (super long-term here) when you retire, you have minimal living expenses and you have a roof over your head.

[Answered on Quora]

What to do with your home when relocating?

In my experience, when relocating, my employer and the contracted relocation company was very flexible based on my needs, but clear communication is crucial to a smooth transition.

Here are a few options to consider if you’re relocating:

  1. Consider renting the house out. This might take some additional time to find and vet a property management company, but if you still want to have your home for later in life, this could be an option. Of course, you would have to float the mortgage until you find renters and there might be additional items that need to get fixed — a challenging time just before you relocate across the country.
  2. Sell your home directly. When you’re relocating, time is of the essence so you can move out exactly when you need to so the movers can pick your belongings up. Selling a house on the market (typically with a real estate agent) can take several weeks or months. By selling your home directly to a direct buyer like OfferPad, you usually get more flexibility in the sale and you can take advantage of special perks for going with them to make the sale and the move easier. Note that their purchase price will be a little less than “full market price” but often with traditional selling, fees and commissions can result in approximately the same price as if you sold directly.
  3. Hire a real estate agent. If you desire a more relationship-oriented representative to sell your home on your behalf, you can likely ask friends and family for referrals. Not all agents are the same, so you’ll need to do plenty of homework to evaluate them and select the one you want. If you have time on your side and you are very flexible, an agent could be a good option. From my experience, corporate relocations aren’t typically very flexible as you’ll be working and getting situated in your new destination. Keep in mind that the agent works for you and should be guiding you on all the many steps and decisions that you have to make.

I hope these tips help. I’ve been through a corporate relocation before and it was a great learning experience. Get comfortable with conceding on some aspects of the move and live happier in the process. Losing sleep over a few dollars isn’t worth it and can negatively affect you in your transition. If you do a Google search for “sell my home fast” and real estate investors will usually appear. The benefit of the larger, trusted home buyers is that they can provide homeowners a better price, provide additional services, and make it simple to move forward because they operate on a larger scale than most individual agents.

[Answered on Quora]

How to view all posts by a Facebook user

First, you need to know the Facebook User ID (or Page ID) and you can get that easily by going to This will take your Facebook address and display its ID number to Facebook.

Second, replace the “000000000” with the Facebook ID you acquired above. Use this URL to see the content published by that user or page easily.

Once you do that, you’ll see all that stories that have been published by a user on Facebook unless they marked them as private or only shared among certain friend groups. You don’t need to be friends with them to see their public posts.

[Answered on Quora]

Employee Spotlight: David ‘Nemo’ Neal

At the heart of our Forth co-creation platform are designers, engineers and industry experts who work together to comprise our diverse community. David ‘Nemo’ Neal is a transportation designer at Local Motors who is deeply rooted in this community, and his experience shows. Nemo is a linchpin in our automotive community, which involves supporting a global network of designers who share their designs openly across a wide variety of co-creation projects.

Before he joined Local Motors, Nemo was an active member of our automotive design community dating back to 2008. Inspired by all the talent and great work shared by everyone else, he contributed actively in the comments and developed relationships with many members of the community. He eventually joined LM in early 2014 as a designer and has been active in the community to this day.

The community benefits immensely from Nemo since he is often the conduit between product development and project management — ensuring that the vehicles we build are successful. If you have a clarification about a project’s requirement or want to get a second opinion on your design, he’s always there with a friendly and straightforward response.

His diverse background has helped him appreciate all that LM has to offer. From DJing and selling insurance, to growing up in several different states, to having a deep admiration for all things related to automotive design, Nemo blends his talents and passions together for us.

Now, let’s hear from him. And don’t forget to add your own questions for him in the comments below.

Where were you born and raised?
This is always a tricky question for me. I was born in San Antonio, Texas. Throughout my childhood, I lived in San Antonio and Austin, Texas, Anaheim, California, a few places in Iowa and also Colorado — but not necessarily in that order.

If people ask where I’m from, I say Austin. I love that city.

Where did you get the nickname Nemo?
When I was scheduling a DJ gig in the late 1990s, I told the promoter my name was Scott Neal. Later, we both began promoting the event with the headliner “Nemo,” and the promoter and I didn’t even know who that DJ was. I went ahead and played my set in what was supposed to be Nemo’s spot. It was only then that the promoter seemed confused — he thought my stage name was “Nemo” when it was spoken to him in the past at a loud venue. Thrilled with his set, he told me, “Well, I guess you’re Nemo now…” and the name stuck around beyond DJing.

What’s your favorite food?
Do I have to pick one? I’m kidding; I would have to say authentic Texas BBQ is where my heart is.

What’s your dream vacation?
I’d love to grab the kids and wife, strap into a decked-out RV and experience the ridiculous tapestry that makes up this country, which makes it so special. In particular, I would avoid the usual amusement parks and such, and instead find the real gems all over. I’d also like to try regional foods I have never had before. Go where the locals go.

Alternatively, a European vacation with a focus on historic vehicles and manufacturers would be awesome. However, this would only happen if I went with my designer friends. My wife and kids would be bored.

What do you do for Local Motors?
Officially, I’m a transportation designer, but that’s a faint shadow of what I do. My favorite part of my job is working deeply with the Local Motors online community to foster co-creation on all the amazing vehicles we make. Related to that, I help shape the face of co-creation with the Forth team. Day to day, I enjoy helping our project management and product management teams across many different types of projects.

It’s fascinating to learn about all the aspects of what it takes to make a vehicle come to life. From the initial challenge to the planning stages, marketing, and of course the design and engineering. I enjoy being involved and learning all along the way.

What did you do before Local Motors?
While I’ve been involved in design since a very young age, I have also been DJing since the late 1990s as a side hustle experiencing just about everything in the DJ world.

Before I came to work here, I was an insurance broker for seven years. It was lucrative but ultimately unfulfilling. I’ve had many other positions in sales, food, and management positions. I even did auto body repair and restoration for a couple of years. I have had at least two jobs at a time ever since I was 18. I felt trying different positions helps me stay relevant as a person, ultimately making me more useful. I guess that’s why I like to be involved with so much here at Local Motors as well.

What projects are you working on now?
Recently, a couple of projects that I’ve been involved with include exploring new vehicle concepts and developing some useful internal documentation on co-creation processes and community engagement for the Forth platform.

What do you love about Local Motors?
The short answer is the culture and the shared passion for changing the world. Everyone here at LM aspires to make an impact and celebrate that impact as a team. The atmosphere of Local Motors is unique to any other place that I have ever worked. It’s a great environment that fosters creativity and solutions-based thinking.

I used to hate going to work every morning, but not since I’ve come to Local Motors.

What advice do you have for future employees?
If you work here, free your mind of the expectations of industrial design. Whatever you assume it to be like, Local Motors isn’t that. It’s probably much better. Be ready to play your part in creating awesome things. It isn’t always easy, but the work is undoubtedly worth it. Most of all, stay humble.