Monday, December 26, 2016

My Kind of White Christmas

The view of the Santa Catalina Mountains from Tumamoc Hill on Christmas morn:
After the hike, we had a lovely Christmas dinner in the sunny, cactusy back yard of friends. So grateful that I can see snow but don't have to shovel it, drive in it, or wear boots to climb over mounds of it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tucson's Food Gains International Attention Again

The National Geographic has named Tucson as one of 10 recommended winter vacation destinations. The choices span the world, and we are the only place chosen in the USA. I have to question their praise for the Sonoran hot dog, but I've never had one, so maybe they are amazing. For unique fare in a lovely environment, I say get the beer-batter fried avocado tacos at Seis in the Mercado San Agustin at the western end of the modern street car line. Or the cornmeal-crusted chile relleno at LaCocina in the delightful Old Town Artisans. Thank you, I think I will.

And by now everyone knows that UNESCO named Tucson the first City of Gastronomy in the USA. I love traveling the world, but I sure miss the food of of the Old Pueblo when I'm in places that are less culinarily enlightened than my Sweet Desert Home.

Monday, December 12, 2016

When's the Best Time to Buy a Townhouse?

Dear friends of mine are moving back to Tucson and I am looking forward to helping them buy a townhouse when they get here next week. They are getting discouraged because the properties they like best are being sold so quickly. They wondered whether the snowbirds are buying the properties, and asked whether they would have better luck in June. This is what I said:

Check out this link to the Tucson Residential Sales Statistics for November.

The number of escrow closings of all types of real estate (single family, townhouse, condo, etc), is highest in June. At the bottom of page 4 in the link above, you can see that there were 150 closings of townhouses in April and 109 in August. This is contrary to the overall trend of sales peaking in June. Because townhouses are only about 9% of the sales, and the sample size is so small, I don't think this indicates anything about the best time to buy a townhouse. The sales that closed in April got under contract in March. This is when snowbirds are leaving.

Snowbirds tend to rent, not buy. I don't think you're in competition with snowbirds for townhouses in December, or any other time. I have shown many, many properties to snowbirds, but I can't remember ever selling anything to a snowbird. They come to their senses when they realize the expense and risk of owning a property that's vacant most of the time.

You can see on page 6 that sale prices peak in June. This is because most of the closings are in June, and that's because we have more buyers competing for the properties in May than in other months. Seems weird that people would want to move in June, but the school calendar is driving that.

The problem from a buyer's perspective is that demand is high and supply is low. On page 4 of the November sale statistics, you see there were 1,266 sales (buyers = demand). On page 10, you see there were 4,069 listings (sellers = supply). 4,069 divided by 1,266 = 3.21 month supply of listings. This is very low. Anything under a six month supply is considered a seller's market.

Why is demand high? Could be the down payment assistance program for low income buyers, and also the insanely low interest rates. Rates have gone up 0.5% since the election. Apparently this is because investors think the bond market rates will go up as the Republicans spend money on infrastructure without raising taxes to pay for it. When bond market rates go up, mortgage interest rates go up. So the disappearing down payment assistance funds and the rising interest rates may be what is motivating some people to get off the fence and buy. Also, there just isn't much to buy, so well-maintained, well-priced properties are often selling in bidding wars. Yes, bidding wars are back.

I think you need to buy when the property you want is on the market. Trying to predict when you will have less competition or greater inventory is probably not going to work.

Sorry, I wish this were easier, but that's the way it is now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Frida at the Botanical Garden!

This is the best idea I've heard all week. A Frida Kahlo exhibit that broke attendance records at the New York Botanical Garden is coming to our very own Tucson Botanical Gardens October 10. This is the only other garden where this touring exhibit will be displayed. Another reason to be grateful for our lives in Tucson.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Enchanted Plaza.

 You will fall in love with the Enchanted Plaza. Secluded little 19-unit compound is like nothing you've ever seen on this side of the Mexican border. 

Touches of colonial Mexico are everywhere you look. Talavera tile, beehive fireplace, blown glass sconces. 

Half bath on first floor, with full bath between the upstairs bedrooms. 
Front bedroom has a sink & French door. 
Private patio faces the beautifully landscaped courtyard. Refreshing pool & spa. 

Ramada with sink & gas grill. Only 2 miles to UofA. Closer to Reid Park, Randolph Golf, Loft Cinema, Whole Foods, Rincon Market. HOA fee covers pool, spa, landscaping, hazard insurance, roof, building exterior maintenance, water/sewer/garbage. See interactive floor plan here. This unique plazuela will surprise, delight and enchant you. This condo sold for $105,000 on November 16, 2016.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Things Sellers Leave Behind

Unfortunately, I have found live creatures in vacant houses. I'm not sure if I've ever encountered any dead creatures, but I have certainly crossed paths with the bad juju of former residents.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Special Family

Arizona Public Media's Story Corps was in Tucson to interview people about their perspective on love. Eli and Ben Schneider talked about what it was like to have two gay parents. Eli is now the manager of one of my favorite restaurants, Bentley's House of Coffee & Tea, which was founded by his mother Joanne Schneider, who now owns one of my other favorite Tucson restaurants, LaCocina. It was a pleasure for me to help  Eli buy his first home. 

Here the Story Corps interview here

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

3014 N Cherry Ave

This was my first home in Tucson. It is my best rental. The tenants love it, take good care of it and stay for years. Three of my tenants could only be lured away by home ownership. At least I got to help them buy their new homes.

In 2008, I installed 16" ceramic throughout, and it looks great. I also installed counter tops, a garbage disposal and a dishwasher. This home is 1,045 square feet and has two bedrooms and one bath. The ceilings are high and the windows are large. The floor plan is here. The walled back yard has a storage shed, mature native trees, and a patio where you will spend many relaxing hours. You can put your washer and dryer in the carport shed.

Two miles north of the U of A near the Mountain Avenue bike path. A few blocks from Albertson's, Raging Sage, Beyond Bread, Opa!, Lovin' Spoonful, Yoshimatsu, Blue Willow, The Folk Shop and lots of other cool stuff on Tucson's real main street, Campbell Avenue.

Rent is $950 per month, but if you pay before the first of the month, you can pay $935. Deposit is $950. Utilities at your expense. Electric stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, central air conditioning and gas furnace. Equal Housing Opportunity.

You must be self supporting, have good credit and good landlord references. No smoking and no pets. This house is rented through June 30, 2019. I am the owner/agent and property manager.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

You Won't See One Like This Again Anytime Soon!

 Extremely rare to find this quality and character in Central Tucson for such a low price. Extensive remodel since 2011 includes kitchen cabinets and appliances; custom bath tile in both bathrooms, new vanities & high efficiency toilets.
I helped the seller buy this house a few years ago. As he described it, it was a "junk heap". He is a professional home renovator, and the transformation he accomplished here is astounding.
Tile floors through out; standing seam metal roof; fully insulated walls & attic; dual pane windows; 200 amp service; AC; new water line, and gorgeous hand-crafted hall doors & cabinet faces.

Spacious country kitchen is open to living room, where French doors lead you to the side yard.

Ceiling fans in living room and each of the three bedrooms. Desert landscaping with rain water collection basins. Gardening beds with well-amended soil. Productive lemon and grapefruit trees sustained by gray water from washing machine.

One car carport. Laundry shed and solar dryer. Close to the concerts, plays, festivals, sports, zoo, golf and dog park in Reid Park. Four miles to downtown & UofA on Aviation Bike Path/Highway. See floor plan here. Under contract on the second day on the market. Sold May 20, 2016 for full price, $115,000.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What Does "As Is" Mean?

Sometimes my buyers become alarmed when the seller says they want to sell their house "As Is". Many people assume this means the seller has something to hide. Not necessarily.

Sometimes a seller wants to sell a house "As Is" because they don't have money to make repairs or they don't want to be bothered making repairs. If the sale is a short sale or foreclosure, "As Is" is frequently a requirement of the seller's lender in the case of a short sale, or the owner/mortgage company in the case of a foreclosure.

When the buyer and seller agree that the house will be sold "As Is", they both sign the Arizona Association of Realtors "As Is" Addendum. Lines 23 to 24 of the "As Is" Addendum state the seller still has to tell the buyer about known problems with the property. This is required by Arizona law. However, lines 8 to 14 of the "As Is" Addendum state that the seller does not have to fix even the "Warranted Items" mentioned on lines 172 to 177 of the Purchase Contract. "Warranted Items" are heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems, plus pool equipment, stove and built-in appliances. Without the "As Is" Addendum, the seller is obligated to fix "Warranted Items". With the "As Is" Addendum, the seller is not obligated to fix "Warranted Items". That is the only difference between "As Is" and "Not As Is". 

Lines 15 to 18 of the "As Is" Addendum state that the buyer is still allowed to do a home inspection, and the buyer retains the rights in Section 6j of the Purchase Contract. In other words, the buyer can cancel the Purchase Contract for any reason during the inspection period, and the buyer can even ask the seller to make repairs, but with the "As Is" Addendum, the seller is under no obligation to fix anything, even if the buyer's lender requires repairs such termite treatment or replacement of a broken water heater or window. If the buyer's lender requires repairs that the seller can't or won't make, usually the Purchase Contract has to be cancelled and the buyer gets his earnest money refunded.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Will Open House Signs Become a Thing of the Past?

 The Tucson Association of Realtors announced today:

The City of Prescott has banned all signs, including Open House signs, within the city limits in the public right of ways. This decision was made as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Gilbert v. Reed. Cities all across the country are looking at their sign codes and we could be dramatically impacted.

There are many people in Prescott who are working to change the situation and the final story on this has been written; however, it is a reminder for us just how much we can be impacted by decisions made every day in local town halls.

This pertains to the temporary, 18” x 24” signs that realtors put on public rights of way during an open house. The smaller, 9” x 12” signs that some realtors still drive into the ground on stakes in public rights of way are already illegal.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Exceptional Quality. Budget Price.

RARE Central Tucson home with garage, landscaping and updated kitchen. Dining area, master bathroom and bedroom expansion expertly added with PERMITS in 2005.
Spacious great room extends from the front door to the lovely back patio.
High quality features include recessed lighting, gorgeous cabinets, double pane windows in addition, tile flooring.
Upgraded guest bath and large guest bedroom.
Whole house water filter. Huge private lot with mature trees and desert-adapted landscaping.
Grey water from washer to irrigation tank. Nice shed. Great location near Tucson Botanical Gardens, Loft Cinema, Whole Foods, Sprouts. 2.5 miles along Pima bike path to UofA and modern street car. The interactive floor plan is here. Assessor records show 1,150 SF with addition. Offered at $150,000. Sold May 31, 2016 in a bidding war for $155,000.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

I'm Proud to be Endorsed by Such a Lovely Person

Donna is a really excellent Realtor. Donna did a wonderful job of advertising my home. She posted 50 photos, taken by a professional photographer, online, and had a guy come do a complete floor plan, which also helped buyers visualize my house. She had me write a short explanation of what I love about my house and the neighborhood and what's available nearby, which she also put online. I highly recommend her. She is easy to work with and not fussy. A woman from Oregon bought my house, sight unseen, based on all the promo done by Donna. It sold in a week! She's a real professional. If you ever need to sell your house, I recommend her.
-Jan Kindwoman

Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Really Sweet Desert Home

Welcome to this nature lover's paradise and its energy-efficient, well-maintained home. High vaulting ceilings and sunny rooms.

Tile floors everywhere except two carpeted bedrooms. Split floor plan with walk-in closet in the master suite. The floor plan is here.

Step-saving kitchen with pantry. Storage cabinets in the two-car garage. The owner has lovingly cultivated the yard over the years with desert plants to attract a delightful variety of birds.

Lemon and orange trees and a mature mesquite shade the large, private yard. Rainwater harvesting.

Huge back porch so you can comfortably barbecue, dine al fresco and gaze at the sunsets, monsoons and birds. Just block to trails in the desert. Convenient to Trader Joe's, Northwest Medical Center, Arthur Pack Golf Course & Regional Park, I-10, Tucson and Phoenix. No HOA! Lots of value here. Sold for $133,400 on April 4, 2016.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Vegetarian Suet

I think commercial suet is disgusting to handle because of the beef fat. What bird eats beef, anyway? Besides, if it's made in China, it's likely to be toxic. Here's my recipe for Vegetarian Suet.

Microwave for one minute
1 c instant oatmeal
1 c water.

Grind in food processor
4 c peanuts.
Put the ground peanuts in a large bowl with the cooked oatmeal.

Grind in food processor
1/2 c raisins.

Add to raisins and continue mixing in food processor
1/2 water.

Add raisin slurry to peanuts and oatmeal in the large bowl. Mix well and stir in
1/2 c sunflower seeds (optional).

Line 8" x 8" pan with foil or parchment paper. A plastic pan with a lid that seals tightly is ideal. Press the suet into the pan.

Cut the suet into four 4" x 4" sections to make it easier to break off a quarter of the suet after it is frozen.

Cover with plastic or the sealing lid and store in freezer until needed. Break off a 4" x 4" section for the suet cage.