Home Warranty Advice from the Pros

We recently sat down with a few of our favorite home warranty professionals to find out what they think real estate agents need to know about home warranties. We also sat down with a few agents and asked what they think buyers should be aware of. We received some great responses and we’re sharing those with you below.


Yvette Myer | Old Republic Home Protection | yvettem@orhp.com | 480.244.8485

Here is some advice I always offer to real estate professionals when discussing home warranties: Without fail, protect yourself and your buyer by having a licensed HVAC tech perform a thorough HVAC inspection during the 10-day inspection period. General inspectors aren’t licensed HVAC technicians. So, if they report that the HVAC needs further diagnosis, you should make sure that happens. Only licensed HVAC technicians can properly diagnose an HVAC system. Consider also that many systems can be overworked, especially during triple-digit heat. The last thing you want to hear about is an inoperable A/C unit right after your clients move into their new home. You should be certain that the unit is fully operational before that day, and the best way—really, the only way—is to have a licensed HVAC technician inspect the unit(s). If problems are found during the inspection period, or prior to close, protect your client by ensuring all necessary work is performed.


Sharp Chen | Choice Home Warranty | sharp@chwpro.com | 949-426-5450

There are local representatives who can guide agents and their clients through the claims process. My CHW claims manager is local to AZ and handles escalated real estate claims with technicians, authorizations departments, and homeowners directly.

Data from several studies has shown that including home warranty coverage in a listing marketing plan makes great sense. You can also reach out to past clients to let them know home warranty coverage is available, even if they’ve been in the home for years. This is a great conversation starter and a wonderful value-add.

Seller’s Coverage is a NO-RISK way for the seller to protect their budget during the listing period. We don’t get paid a premium until closing – even if we’ve paid a claim. No Closing – No Problem.


Josh Guzowski | AHG Home Warranty | josh.guzowski@homeserveusa.com | 602-790-1602

Homeowners may not realize that with most home warranty companies there is an option to choose their own contractor. This is highly beneficial if there is a licensed and bonded contractor a homeowner trusts, but they also want to take advantage of their home warranty plan. Please note there are proper procedures to follow for each company, so remind your clients to review their contracts prior to going with their own contractor. Keep in mind that since this is a referral industry, home warranty companies are always looking to add strong vendors to their network who come highly recommended by Real Estate Professionals.


Martin Sears | West USA Realty Estrella Branch Co-Owner and Manager | martinsears853@gmail.com | 623-853-3380

Agents and buyers should know about the daily per diem for the claimant in the event of an issue that makes the home ‘non livable’. Check the fine print for the per diem cap, as well as max days per the policy. Example: If there was a part order for x amount of days before the repair could be made versus a minimum day per diem for alternative housing then this would certainly be a problem.


Felix Sandoval | Alan K Realty Group/My Home Group | alan@alankrealtygroup.com | 480-868-3222

Most clients don’t know the extent of what a home warranty covers, and most companies offer different levels of coverage. It’s important to know what each has to offer. Clients think they are saving a few dollars up front by choosing a less expensive level of coverage only to find out later they don’t have the coverage they thought they had. Always inquire about A/C units and tile roofs.


James Kramer | Desert Point Group, Home Smart Realty | azagentjames@gmail.com | 602.380.7379

Clients also don’t realize that there as a menial fee (co-pay) and at the end of the day they save a ton of money on unexpected costs. I think that home warranties often has a bad stigma with clients, but in my experience, they can be a very helpful and definitely gives clients peace of mind.


We hope this article gave you some further insight into home warranties and answered some questions you might have had. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to any of the above representatives or agents. You can also contact me anytime at matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com or via phone at 480-759-1500.


Tips for Working from Home

3-minute read


So many things in our world have changed drastically and for many, work is at the top of that list. We know the switch to working from home full time can definitely take some getting used to. When you add a spouse or roommates and kids all at home at the same time, this transition can become even tougher. With that in mind, we wanted to share some tips to make your new work from home life productive and enjoyable.



Designate a Work Space

Not everyone has a home office or area they can designate for work only. If that is your reality, don’t worry! Here are a few suggestions for creating a great work from home space. First, make sure you have good lighting. Natural light is a plus, as it has been proven to increase productivity and elevate your mood. Next, take care of your back by choosing a comfortable but straight-backed chair to ensure good posture. And finally, utilizing a basket for work supplies will help to keep them all in one place and also make for an easy clean up at the end of your day.


Set a Work Schedule

Working from home takes both discipline and flexibility. Per PCMag, “Set a schedule, and stick to it…most of the time. Clear guidelines for when to work and when to call it a day helps many remote workers maintain work-life balance. That said, one of the benefits of remote work is flexibility, and sometimes you need to extend your day or start early to accommodate someone else’s time zone. When you do, be sure to wrap up earlier than usual or sleep in a bit the next morning to make up for it.”

Don’t Neglect Your Personal Routines

It’s important to keep your work/life balance, balanced! If you used to meet a colleague or friend for coffee one morning a week, do it virtually via FaceTime or Google Hangouts. This makes for a fun happy hour too! If you stopped at the gym before or after work, get in a walk or online workout. The activity and interactions will help to keep you energized and maintain connections.


Try to Minimize Distractions

Kids, pets, spouses – with everyone home 24/7, the distraction possibilities are endless! We suggest going over schedules in the morning, so everyone knows what to expect (like keeping the house quiet for a video call at 11am, etc.). Set out snacks and plan some activities for the kiddos that will keep them busy during your ‘office hours’. And remember to go with the flow! Not everything will be in your control – we’re looking at you family pet – and if background noise gets a little loud, you might just have to hit the mute button to get through a call.


Take Breaks

Just like you did when you were working in an office, take breaks to clear your head and check in on your ‘co-workers’, a.k.a. housemates. Everyone is having to make adjustments right now, and it’s important to stay connected. Eat lunch together, go for a quick midday walk, or have a 10-minute dance party with the kiddos to get the sillies out.



With a little planning, some structure and a lot of flexibility, working from home can be productive and fun! We hope you found these suggestions helpful and would love to hear your tips and tricks for working from home. Please share in the comments below!

Mortgage Forbearance | What Your Real Estate Clients Need To Know

Watch this 5-minute video explaining what you, and your real estate clients, need to know about mortgage forbearances right now.

Mortgage Forbearance | What Consumers Need To Know

Do you want to know what’s really going on with mortgage forbearances right now? Watch this short video from Matt Askland. It’s worth your time.


Mortgage Rates | What You Need To Know

Do you want to know what really going on with mortgage rates? Watch this video from Matt Askland. It’s definitely worth the time!




Federal Reserve Rate Cuts | What You Need to Know


The Federal Reserve just made another emergency cut to the Federal Funds Rate, but it may not be clear how this will affect you. Below are things that you need to know:

  • The Federal Reserve does not control mortgage rates.
  • The Federal Reserve sets the Federal Funds Rate and Discount Rates. These are the costs for overnight loans from bank to bank or from the Federal Reserve to member banks.
  • When the Fed’s cuts their rates, mortgage rates can actually rise.
  • Lower Federal Reserve rates can be good for stocks, so investors often sell mortgage bonds to raise cash for stock investments.
  • When bond prices fall, mortgage rates rise.

How does this affect you?  Last week was a bad week for rates, but I believe this was a market overreaction to the massive influx of refinance applications that were submitted. With this new Federal Rate Cut announcement, there is a good chance we will get back to the lower rates of the previous week. We are optimistic things will settle again soon.


I’m always monitoring the markets to know what’s happening with mortgage rates, and keeping my customers protected is my number one goal. With that in mind, here is what you should be doing to be ready for a drop in rates:

  1. Get your application in NOW.  Click ‘Apply Now’ in this link to get started: Online Questionnaire
  2. Start gathering required documents that are listed in the ‘Apply Now’ link above.
  3. When you receive the request to send in Loan and Income Documents – Get them in ASAP!

Most Importantly, Be Armed & Ready for us to lock your loan rate in.


Call or email with any questions. I’m here to help!


Matt Askland
Retail Producing Branch Manager
Cardinal Financial Company, Limited Partnership


Q&A With Max Dewitt, East Valley Expert with Realty One Group

Interviewed by Matt Askland, Cardinal Financial

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into real estate?

-2014. I was born and raised here in the East Valley. I am a fourth generation Arizona native, and my son (and daughter on the way) makes it five generations! I graduated from ASU and then failed out of medical school, got divorced, had a quarter life crisis and wound up in real estate in 2014. I met my wonderful wife in 2015, have been married for three years and we have a little girl on the way. We love to get outside and honestly, love to work. We get to be together and help people we care about and even find ways to get our son Waylon involved. He probably knows more about this business than most agents. My wife (who is also an agent) and I together average about one house a week, and approximately 50 homes a year. We have eight agents that make up The Steadfast Group. In 2018 we did 108 homes sales and about $32 million in production.


In hind sight, is there anything you wish you had done differently as a new agent?

-Be more assertive. I had a lack of confidence when I first started out, and in my opinion, I lost out on opportunities as a result of that.  I also built a custom home that I couldn’t sell. These mistakes cost me time and money and were a huge learning lesson.


What does a typical day look like for you and what are your hours?

-Normally I’m up at about 5:30am. I leave the house between 7am and 8am, take Waylon to school, get to the gym, then to the office for a few hours. I wish I was better at keeping a set schedule, but I find some of my most productive days are when I can make time for an unexpected showing or meet a new client. My days tend to be pretty long. I’m usually working through transactions with my wife or sending emails after our son goes to bed, but I make it a priority to find time to dedicate to my wife and son throughout the day. This business is stressful, and if you care about your clients, it’s hard not to work. So often, your own life gets neglected. Being able to really maximize the family time we have together takes discipline but it’s worth it!


How do you survive the summers/slow times?

-Every year is different. During slow times I focus on my marketing. For example, I like to send CMA’s to those that may be ready to sell. We usually come up with a good list of new clients and prospects.


How do you stay engaged with past clients?

-We like to keep it basic. We focus on interpersonal relationships and try our very best to follow the “golden rule.”  I send holiday cards, thank you cards, and postcards with seasonal messaging, and I take it one step further and have extras printed to hand out as necessary. I always take time to personally and sincerely engage on social media. I like to host client events like Easter egg hunts, movies, shoot out competitions, etc. I always post these on social media as that’s great for referral business. My repeat clients and referrals amount to about 90% of my business. I don’t do any farming and I stay as far away from Zillow as I can!


What is your recipe for a successful open house?

-My agents do the open houses. We always advertise on social media and go door to door and invite the neighbors. We utilize the open houses to network the neighborhood and always use 20 signs.


What Valley area do you anticipate being the next hot spot?

-I like watching the freeways grow and tend to focus on those specific areas. I also use that as an opportunity to educate potential clients, which helps them make informed decisions on the neighborhood they want to buy in.



It’s Not Too Late to Goal Plan for 2020


Interviews by Matt Askland, Cardinal Financial

A few months ago, we wrote an article that talked about the importance of goal planning and provided some helpful tips and best practices from other local Valley agents. Many of the agents we interviewed at the time mentioned that they struggled with setting aside the time to effectively goal plan before the end of the year, which got us to thinking … goal planning really can happen at any time during the year. Obviously, the earlier you start, the more time you have to reach your desired outcome. However, the important part is to make it happen and follow through.

We reached out to west valley agents Aubrie Jones, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and Rafael Escobedo Jr., West USA Realty to get their take on last year’s performance and how they’re turning their 2019 wins and challenges into goals for 2020. Here is what they said.


What type of prospecting did you do in 2019, and how will you improve that for 2020?

Aubrie: I am fortunate enough to have a 100% referral-based business with 98% of my clients being active duty military and veterans. I don’t do the types of things that are traditionally considered prospecting. My main focus is on care and engagement with my Sphere of Influence as they are critical to maintaining my referral-based business. This engagement includes birthday wishes, social media engagement, handwritten notes, and customer appreciation events. One of the main goals I have for 2020 is to be more intentional and strategic on maintaining and improving contact with my database and Sphere of Influence.

Rafael: My main source of prospecting is in developing a personal relationship with all of my current and past clients to ensure I earn their business for life. My goal is when family and friends hear the words “Real Estate”, I want them to immediately think of me and to be willing to bring me up in that conversation because of the level of service and experience they received in the past. In 2020 I will improve by continuing to build those relationships and host customer appreciation events.


Where did most of your leads come from last year, and what is your goal for 2020?

Aubrie: 100% of my leads came from referrals. I plan to improve on that for 2020 by ensuring I contact my SOI more frequently as there were a few missed opportunities last year due to my own delays in speaking to people more frequently.

Rafael: I am in the relationship business. In 2020 I plan to dedicate time each week to reach out to past clients and focus on FORD (Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams) during our conversations. I try to make myself available at all times. Not only am I their Realtor, I’m their friend. Most of my business (85-90%) has been generated from past client and friend referrals and I intend to grow that in 2020.


What was your biggest win in 2019? How would you like to top that in 2020?

Aubrie: I am consistently able to achieve $6 million or more in sales every year, but I know that I could do better by being more intentional and strategic in my database management and personal contact. It is always a big win for me when I am able to help military families buy or sell homes as stress free as possible. No one moves more than military families so my goal for 2020 is to be able to help 30 more families here in Arizona.

Rafael: My biggest success in 2019 was being in the Top 1% in the state. That was a huge milestone considering 2019 was my second full year in the business. My dedication and passion for people has been the key to my success. I believe that if you care enough and are willing to go above and beyond you can succeed in real estate


Looking back at 2019, what would you like to do more of – either personally or professionally – in the coming years, and how will you achieve that?

Aubrie: Part of maintaining a healthy mindset and balance in my life is travel and time with my family. I love to travel and since I have retired from the Air Force five years ago, I’ve had wonderful travel experiences. I would love to be able to continue this endeavor. I also am very focused on decreasing personal debt by being more disciplined with my spending so that I can start planning for future retirement.

Rafael: I would love to spend more time with my family and give back. One hour everyday will be dedicated to playing with our three kids. 2020 is going to be my year of giving and helping families that haven’t been dealt the best cards in life. There is no greater feeling then being a blessing to others.


We hope this article helps you get in the goal planning mindset and sparks some ideas for how to achieve bigger success in 2020. I’m a big believer in goal planning and am happy to share with you my goal planning process and strategy. Feel free to reach out anytime at matt.askland@cardinalfinancial.com or via phone at 480-759-1500.


Rafael Escobedo Jr
West USA Realty

(623) 251-8086


Aubrie Jones
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
Certified Military Relocations Specialist


2020 is a Great Year for Real Estate


2020 is shaping up to be a very good year for the real estate market in Maricopa County, and here’s why.

The new 2020 conforming ($510,400) and FHA ($314,827 for Mariciopa County) loan limits are easing the financing requirements that we usually face with higher home prices. What does this mean for you? You can get the home you want at a payment that you can afford.

The NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) has released their Housing Market Index, which decreased one point in January to 75. This is still a very strong level and is only one point off a 20-year high.

Rates are still historically low, and it looks like they will stay that way for a while. That great credit score you worked so hard for is paying off (and you deserve it!). A low rate means you can spend more on your dream home, while keeping your payment at an affordable amount.

With higher loan limits and still low rates, 2020 is going to be a great year to buy. Give us a call today at 480-759-1500 to discuss your options!

Top Real Estate Marketing Trends for 2020


In this ever-changing digital marketing landscape, marketing professionals recognize that online marketing will continue to be one of the most important channels for your overall marketing strategy moving into 2020.

With all of the advancements in video, live streaming, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, messenger bots, etc., online marketing continues to be one of the most prominent tools when it comes to marketing your business.

However, several things have changed in the past year. Social media algorithms continue to dominate the conversation with users seeing a massive decline in overall engagement, reach and followers on their brand and business pages. Instagram rolled out beta testing on “hiding likes” in the U.S. – which means users who are part of the test will no longer see the total number of likes and views on photos and videos in the feed and on profile pages. However, they will still be able to see how many likes their own posts received.

Facebook rolled out their “Special Ad Category” which requires all U.S.-based housing, employment and credit advertisers to select the “Special Ad Category” option in Ads Manager when creating ads. This feature now restricts several ad targeting options — removing the ability to target ads by age, gender, zip code, multicultural affinity or any detailed options describing or appearing to relate to protected characteristics — to prevent advertisers from running discriminatory ad campaigns.

In addition, we’ve seen a shift in consumer behavior. Over the last five to seven years, the average consumer needed 16 touch points before pulling the trigger and making a purchase.  Today, it is estimated that the number of touch points for that same consumer has increased to 33.

So, with the constant changes, increased competition, and consumers needing ever-increasing points of contact before saying yes, it is more important than ever to remain ahead of the game in terms of your digital marketing strategy.

What does all of this mean for Realtors? We’ve put together a list of the top five real estate marketing trends we see as being key for real estate agents in 2020.

  1. Streaming Video Ad Engagement

Video was a digital marketing must in 2019 and that trend will continue to increase in 2020. Marketers report that more than 74% of U.S. consumers 13 years of age and older watch streaming or online video weekly with 41% watching daily. What’s even more staggering is that of that 74%, close to 80% will watch online ads in exchange for free content. From listing videos to video testimonials and live streaming open houses via Facebook/Instagram Stories and IGTV, video marketing is not going away and should remain at the top of your to-do list in 2020.

  1. Chat Marketing: Messenger Bots

Chat Marketing is dramatically changing the way businesses acquire, retain, and service their customers. We saw massive growth in chat marketing in 2019 with real estate agents using messenger bots as one of their initial touch points to prospective clients, as well as immediate follow up to those searching for more information about a particular listing. With the rise in popularity of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram’s Direct Message platform, we recommend real estate agents look for a CRM solution that can utilize, store, and segment various interactions through these messaging apps.

  1. Social Media Stories Are Here to Stay

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website or landing pages, reach new audiences or initiate higher engagement with your followers, then Facebook and Instagram stories is a must for your overall marketing strategy in 2020.

It is estimated that there are more than 300 million accounts using stories on a daily basis so it’s important to develop a solid strategy that focuses on current, relevant content and immediate feedback from clients. Posting live during an open house or showing unique behind-the-scenes footage can encourage more people to attend. Use polls or the countdown feature to build anticipation for an upcoming listing or development project. When using stories to promote an open house or new listing, we recommend you show your face so that audiences have the opportunity to get to know you.

Lastly, be sure to incorporate the location stickers and three relevant hashtags to help your content get discovered locally.

  1. Your Email Marketing

With an increased focus on privacy, you may have noticed a significant decline in your campaign’s open and click through rates this year. You are not alone. Despite these current stats, email is still an incredibly effective tool in real estate to remain top-of-mind amongst your clients, nurture prospective leads through the sales cycle, drive traffic to your website, and deliver timely, relevant market data or blog content.

Our recommendation for 2020 is to ensure your audience lists are up to date and that your campaigns are mobile friendly. Also, make sure you are personalizing your email content based on data from website visits, click-through history, and email preferences. Finally, remember that the quality of your email marketing campaigns always trump quantity. Do not spam your audience as this is not an effective strategy to convert or maintain existing clients.

I hope you found this information helpful. By turning these trends into action, I am sure your real estate business with thrive in 2020. If you have further questions, or need assistance with developing your marketing strategy, please email us at hello@onyx-communications.com. Good luck in the new year!

Original post written by Carole Gurule, Onyx Communications