May 7, 2022

How to Decorate Like an Interior Designer

Websites Designers Use That YOU Can Too

Have you moved into your dream home and found out that your old furniture just isn't cutting it? Maybe you want some new lighting pieces or artwork that will make the place “yours.”

Of course, you can hire an interior designer but if you like to go the DIY route, it helps to know where to get the best ideas, furniture, and accessories from places the designers use themselves.

Wayfair, IKEA, and Amazon offer common products, but if you want to be more unique and stylish, check out these stores.

For the budget friendly:

Structube – Modern furniture to update your space.

Article – Modern furniture with a focus on mid-century modern.

Poly & Bark – Free shipping and returns for this whole house renovation site.

Equilibrium – Canadian made furniture and great prices along with design services.

Rove Concepts – Elegant indoor and outdoor furniture.

For the unique finds:

Aretmest – Curated handmade décor and furniture

Schumacher – From design to bespoke articles, you'll find tons of inspiration here.

Circa Lighting – You won't see these Light Fixtures in your neighbor's homes. Gorgeous and unique.

1st Dibs – An auction site guaranteed to get you one-of-a-kind finds from furniture to art and décor.

If you love to decorate, redecorate, or are simply looking for a few focal pieces, all of these websites will help you create a dynamic, interesting, and totally-you space.

Posted in Real Estate Tips
Feb. 5, 2022

Fall Back In Love With Your Home

Whether you've been in your home two or twenty years, these tips can help you re-envision your spaces, get specific about your wants and needs, and create the “feeling”  you want your house to convey.

So how to begin?

Step 1: Purge

Yes, it's time to get rid of some things or re-purpose them. This is the time where anything that is broken must be fixed or tossed.

Step 2: Clean the House

I mean really clean the house. Deep clean every room, area rug, carpet, and window. Wipe down the cabinets, baseboards, and doors.

Step 3: Survey your home and ask these questions:

·        Would a piece of furniture improve the mood of the room?

·        Do I have a piece of furniture in a different room that would work well here?

·        Is there too much furniture in the room? Does it feel crowded or cramped?

·        Would the room feel brighter and more open if I rearranged the lighting or added more lamps?

·        Could moving the furniture around make the space more inviting?

·        Are there items in the room you don't even notice that could be parted with?

·        Do you really need to keep that gift you don't like out on display? (Even if you love the person who gave it to you??) The answer here is NO. You have my permission to hide it in the basement and take it out when the gifter comes to visit.

Step 4: Check out Pinterest

Pinterest is safer than watching home shows where they remodel a home over a week. That's not going to happen. Really, it's not. Create a few mood boards on Pinterest to help define your taste and understand the look you're going towards.

Step 5: Be more particular about your purchases

Trendy, cool looks are fun for sure, but are you willing to re-decorate every 5 years for the next trend? Traditional pieces and designs that have held the test of time can be updated without extravagant costs. Save trendy for accents like pillows.

Step 6: Paint

Paint anything and everything you like. Cabinets. Walls. Furniture. You can hire professionals or get crafty and transform a home completely just with paint. It's one of the most cost effective ways of updating your home.

Step 7: Decorate with Houseplants

I'm not talking about creating a jungle, just a few pieces to accent a room. There's something about a little greenery that perks up any room.

Step 8: Buy Pretty Storage Bins Baskets

You might be surprised what you can pick up at Walmart or estate sales. Keeping your home organized brings a feeling of calm and peaceful to your life.

Step 9: Change the Window Treatments

Okay, draperies can be expensive but maybe you can switch them to another room or create a new look by adding sheers or a different hanging rod.

Step 10: Invite Friends Over

Create a gathering with people you love. Inviting people into your home for a relaxed evening like cocktails and hors d'oeuvres brings the house to life and gives your the opportunity to show off all your hard work.

I hope that once you finish your home revision, you'll see all the things you fell in love with when you first bought it.

If not, call me and we'll look for a new home. I'm sure yours will sell quickly now!!

Posted in Household tips
Jan. 14, 2022

Cost of Rent V Buy in 2022

Cost to Rent vs. Buy in 2022


**Owner Occupant Buyers Retreated in 2021


For Buyers:

As the cost of purchasing a home increases in Greater Phoenix, the question of whether to rent or buy becomes harder to answer for some buyers. The overall median cost of a home is currently $425,000, and for a typical 1,500-2,000 square foot home, the median cost is $420,000. The estimated payment, assuming 10% down and including principal, interest, taxes and insurance, is $2,123. The median monthly rental rate for the same size range, recorded through the Arizona Regional MLS, was $2,195 in the 4th quarter of 2021; just $72 per month more.


Some buyers might question the advantage of purchasing a home in order to save $72 per month. However, the financial advantage of owning vs. renting is typically realized for those who own their home for at least 3-5 years.


Let’s assume, hypothetically, that a buyer purchased a home today for $420,000 with a $42,000 down payment (10%). Over the next 5 years, their home’s value fluctuates up and down and in the end doesn’t appreciate. That may sound horrifying, however during this time the loan principle has been paid down to $336,000. The homeowner’s equity has doubled from $42,000 to $84,000 without their home appreciating a dime, and with 20% equity they no longer have to pay private mortgage insurance. Their payment declines $200. Still a win.


Now let’s assume, hypothetically again, that while our homeowner is paying down their loan, the home value fluctuates up, down and sideways, but still averages a 6% appreciation rate over 5 years (close to the current rate of inflation). The home would then be worth $562,000, an increase of $142,000.


After 5 years, this hypothetical homeowner went from $42,000 to $226,000 in equity, and their monthly cost was nearly the same as what they would have paid in rent anyway. For this reason, even when the monthly payment required to buy is close to that to rent, buying still wins in the long game.


Mike Balzotti

Posted in Real Estate News
Dec. 9, 2021

Christmas Cookie Recipe

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Posted in Recipes
Dec. 9, 2021

Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Winter Home Maintenance Tips

Posted in Household tips
Nov. 19, 2021

Why Zillow Closed Its I-Buying Program

Searching Zillow for houses seems to have become an American pastime especially throughout the pandemic when people were looking for more space for a home office and a bit more breathing room to escape from screaming children, loud televisions, and even their pets, while being cooped up. 


As an agent, I appreciate clients doing their homework, finding out what the market is bearing, and finding listings that represent the buyers’ desires. Oh, but that Zestimate… I’m probably not the first real estate agent to tell you these “zestimates'' are inaccurate at best, and downright deceptive at worst, but it’s true; if you’re relying on automated valuation models found on the internet by companies that have a vested interest in getting you to list and buy with them, you may find yourself mighty disappointed - zestipointed if you will. 


Many people were tempted to have Zillow come and make an offer on their homes. When they saw what that “convenience” would cost, shock kicked in. Did you know their closing costs and fees were 8-12%? That is substantially more than a regular real estate sale. It’s hard to believe they lost money with that amount of customer fleecing.


However, after reporting losses of approximately $304 million in the 3rd quarter from their home buying segment, and a projection of another $240 million loss for the 4th quarter, Zillow decided to end their program altogether. If you’d like to read their announcement click here.


It’s no surprise to me that Zillow is closing down its “ibuying” platform. Shocking to no one but apparently Zillow themselves, buying properties at inflated prices and then selling them for a loss is not a winning business model. Further, they’ve even discussed how challenging it is to get an accurate “future sale” price in volatile markets which makes their zestimates a lot more like a guesstimate. 


I will still encourage you to house hunt and dream (and let’s face it judge - who paints their kitchen green and red polka dots?) on Zillow. But when you want to know the value of your home, I offer a ‘bank grade’ Collateral Analytics tool along with a Comparative Market Analysis to accurately assess the value of the home. You MAY receive more than that value in this hot market due to the lack of inventory, but not because your home’s value zestfully grew. 


If you’d like to know your home's current value, feel free to reach out.

Posted in Real Estate News
Nov. 18, 2021

Winter Holiday Events

We may not have snow, but we know how to make the Holidays Bright!


What is Christmas without the Nutcracker? Our own Arizona Ballet performs this timeless classic at several venues around the city.



A hallmark of the holidays in Phoenix is the Zoolights event. Come out for a magical evening of holiday lights while you stroll through the zoo with a hot chocolate while listening to holiday music. It's a beautiful must see event.


Who says you can't ice skate outside in the desert?? Strap on your skates in the city center in downtown Phoenix and enjoy an incredible time skating with the people you love.


The Botanical Gardens located next to the Phoenix Zoo, offers a romantic sophisticated evening with cultural interest.



Don't miss the symphony performing Handel's Messiah.


Oct. 28, 2021

Gainey Ranch Homes

Luxury Living in Gainey Ranch


Gainey Ranch offers all the amenities you love in an ideal setting and incredible location in the most desirable place to live in the country, Scottsdale, Arizona. The single family homes in Gainey Ranch have stunning views of the rolling golf course, water features, and desert landscape.


The club at Gainey Ranch boasts a fully equipped workout facility, tennis courts, and swimming pool. If you'd like to host a wedding or large party, they have the perfect banquet room for your special occasion.


Located near downtown Scottsdale, where you can dine at over 90 restaurants, browse through 320 shops and 80 art galleries, or hike nearly 60 miles of trails, Gainey Ranch is the perfect location.


There are 10 mini-neighborhoods within Gainey Ranch, where you can meetup for a book club, take tennis lessons, try out a Zumba class, or simply enjoy the beautiful landscape of Gainey Ranch.

July 8, 2021

4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Security System for Your Russ Lyon Sotheby’s Home




Home security systems are becoming more and more popular these days, with brands such as Ring and SimpliSafe suddenly appearing in homes all over the country. Making the decision to purchase a security system for your Sotheby’s home is definitely a good idea, as there are more than 1 million burglaries in the United States per year according to the FBI. However, with so many different systems on the market today, it’s important to consider a few things before committing to one that may not meet all of your needs. 

1. How big is your home? 

The first thing to think about is the size of your Sotheby’s home. Realistically, a DIY security system may not work if you have a larger home with a lot of space to cover. Similarly, an expansive professional set up is likely not necessary if your home is on the smaller side. Determining the size of your residence and the areas that you want to protect can help you narrow down the list of possible security systems that will be a good fit.  

2. Do you want to monitor the system yourself or have it professionally monitored?

Another important consideration when buying a home security system is how it will be monitored. There are many DIY brands available that offer self-monitoring, meaning that you can view the live/ recorded video via a mobile app and will receive a push notification when a sensor is triggered. With this option, it’s up to you contact the fire department or police if assistance is needed. Some of these DIY brands also offer professional monitoring for an extra fee, where the company will contact you if any sensors are triggered. If they can’t reach you or if you need help, they will send local first responders to your residence. There are also many professional security companies, like ADT, that will completely set up and monitor the system for your Sotheby’s home. 

3. How much do you want to spend?

The cost of a security system involves the initial equipment purchase, installation if you choose to have someone set it up for you, and a monthly fee for ongoing video or professional monitoring. With so many different systems available, it’s important that you find one that fits in your budget and that you’re comfortable with for your Sotheby’s home. After purchasing your initial security equipment, many brands offer an affordable monthly fee for access to their app where you can monitor your video feeds. The cost may be higher if you decide on a brand that sets up the equipment and monitors it for you, but they typically provide more services, such as contacting emergency services directly if needed.

4. What other features do you need? 

Although video doorbells, door/window sensors, and motion detectors often come to mind when thinking about home security – there are many other products available to meet all of your needs. Do you need security cameras inside your home as well as outside? Do you want a panic button that connects you to emergency services? There are also products that work as part of a larger home automation system, where you can lock your doors and control the temperature of your Sotheby’s home through an app.


There are many things to think about before choosing the best security system to protect your home. Make sure to thoroughly research the benefits, costs, and features of each system on your list before deciding on one. If you haven’t found your dream home yet, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s can help! Check out current listings in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and Phoenix.

Like this article? Please feel free to share it on your social media pages or post a link on your site: 


Posted in Household tips
Jan. 9, 2017

How Moving Impacts Your Taxes

As we’re getting into tax season, you could be impacted in a big way if you moved last year. If you did, your tax return is about to get a little more complicated. At Sotheby’s Scottsdale, I thought I’d share a few scenarios that could affect you and what you should know moving forward. 

Moving to Arizona

If you just moved to a Sotheby’s Scottsdale home from another state, you’ll need to file a part-year tax return. It doesn’t matter if you changed employers or stayed with the same company during your move. Your W-2 forms will provide income information for each state you lived in. 

You might want to look at an online service for assistance if you plan on filing your own taxes. Many of the online programs will facilitate a question-and-answer format. The online programs might also help in answering questions as to whether you’re able to deduct moving expenses. 

If you bought a home

There are many perks to being a Sotheby’s Scottsdale homeowner. You can deduct mortgage interest, real estate taxes and loan origination fees. 

If you bought your home with a mortgage, you’ll need a 1098 form from your mortgage company. This form shows deductible mortgage interest for your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, points if the buyer paid any, and real estate taxes paid out of escrow. If you paid mortgage insurance premiums last year, you can also deduct that money. 

If you paid cash for your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, you won’t need a 1098 form and won’t obviously be able to deduct mortgage interest or loan origination fees. However, you’ll still be able to deduct real estate taxes. 

When filing your taxes, you’ll also need the closing statement and Closing Disclosure. Both forms explain the financial details.  

If you sold your home

While there are not as many tax perks when selling your Sotheby’s Scottsdale home, you can still keep the money made from the sale tax-free. says, “A profit of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for couples filing jointly does not have to be reported to the IRS as long as you primarily lived in the residence for at least two of the last five years.”

You should keep track of any major home improvement projects, as well, since you can subtract the expense from the profit as expenses for the home.

As you get ready to file your tax return, just remember you could be entitled to some additional deductions if you moved last year. 



Posted in Real Estate Tips