Friday, September 21, 2018

Flood Insurance Program Still Threatened

If you buy a property in the flood plain, your lender will require flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was scheduled to expire July 31, 2018. Trump delayed its expiration through November 30, 2018. Gee, do you think that date has anything to do with hurricane season and mid-term elections? After that, Congress has to reauthorize it. If they don't, you won't be able to buy flood insurance, so you won't be able to buy or sell a house in the flood plain unless you pay cash.  

This Wikipedia article discussed the history and problems of NFIP.

These two statements from the Wikipedia article on NFIP are particularly disturbing:

The cost of the insurance program was fully covered by its premiums until the end of 2004, but has had to steadily borrow funds since (primarily due to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy), accumulating $25 billion of debt by August 2017. 

Another criticism is that FEMA doesn't administer all policies, instead outsourcing many policies to private insurance companies. When a disaster occurs, FEMA makes payments to those private insurance companies to offset their costs. However, there is little oversight and few rules as to how the money should be distributed. As a consequence, private insurers have been known to use FEMA payments to hire attorneys that fight policyholders in court. One law firm is estimated to have received US $29M from FEMA payments to fight Hurricane Sandy claims. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Armory Park del Sol

Just a few blocks south of our revitalized downtown, in a lovely neighborhood where mature trees shade car-free side walks, you'll find the unique Armory Park del Sol. 
Built in 2001, the homes have 100 year old charm with modern conveniences. The Bungalow, Pueblo & Victorian-style homes were inspired by the surrounding historic neighborhood. 
Beautiful oak floors. Nine foot ceilings. 
Maple cabinets. Energy-efficient thermal mass masonry construction. Dual pane windows. Solar electricity. Tankless water heater. Trane heat pump. Central vacuum cleaner. 
No-step entry and wheelchair-accessible doorways and shower. Tiled bathrooms.Grapefruit tree in front yard. Secluded back patio. Grape arbor outside the kitchen door. 
Two-car garage faces the alley, while the front porches of the homes open to the quiet walk way to encourage a feeling of community.
The floor plan is here. Offered at $325,000.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Listing in Popular East Tucson Neighborhood

Great cul de sac location, next to common area. 
Around the corner to community pool and playground with swings, slide, jungle gym, ramada and basketball hoop. 
Home has two covered patios. Wrap-around yard. 
The red and yellow are gone, replaced by a fresh coat of white. Spacious living room has soaring ceiling, fan, skylight, and great mountain view. Gas fireplace. Tile and wood floors throughout. 
Kitchen has stainless steel gas stove, granite counters and breakfast nook. Dishwasher new in 2016. Formal dining room. Master suite has door to back patio, double sinks, walk-in closet plus bonus closet. Hall bathroom has skylight. 
Central AC and gas furnace new in 2016. New kitchen sink, faucet, disposal and under-sink plumbing in 2017. Gates replaced in 2015. Raised planters and clementine tree. Three bedrooms, two baths, two car garage. Sold for $212,000 on September 6, 2018. Home Sweet Home.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Flood Insurance Program Threatened

FEMA, the federal agency that provides flood insurance to homeowners living in the flood plain, is deeply in debt because of numerous major floods in recent years. Mortgage companies require flood insurance for homes located in the flood plain. The flood insurance program will expire July 31 unless Congress re-authorizes it. The House has passed a bill that will allow FEMA to write insurance policies effective for one year for four more months. The bill may not pass the Senate. Some Republicans contend that if FEMA makes flood insurance unobtainable, homeowners will be  unable to sell their flood-prone homes, and after the dust settles from all the foreclosures and bankruptcies, no one will be living in the flood plain and all will be well. Unfortunately, with climate change, floods are occurring where they never occurred before. The sea level is rising, and properties near the ocean that didn't use to be in the flood plain are now flooded on sunny days at high tide.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tucson #1 of Dog-Friendly Cities

SmartAsset has declared Tucson the most dog-friendly city in the county. They ranked cities based on number of dog parks, dog-friendly restaurants, home prices, weather and other criteria. One more reason to love our Sweet Desert Home.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Tidy Home or Great Investment Property

Sweet, secluded, second floor treehouse condo. Set back from Speedway. 
Private balcony with storage overlooks a lovely palo verde tree. 
Security doors protect your bicycle and/or patio furniture. Tile floors throughout. Living room is open to the kitchen.

Pantry, electric stove, microwave, reverse osmosis, dishwasher and refrigerator. Laundry closet with washer and dryer included. Master bedroom has walk-in closet. Both bathrooms have tub and shower. 
Ceiling fans in master bedroom and living room. Coat closet in foyer.
Nicely landscaped complex with spa and seasonally-heated pool. One covered carport space (#59) and lots of open parking. Only two blocks to Fry's and Walgreen's. Right across the street from the fabulous Mesquite Valley Growers. Even if you never buy a plant, strolling through this nursery is like a delightful visit to a botanical garden.

Sold for $75,000 August 13, 2018. HOA fee is $164 per month and includes garbage collection, water and  roof and exterior building maintenance.

Continental Ranch Home

Immaculate, move-in ready home in a fabulous neighborhood. 
Great room with high ceiling and gas fireplace is open to the spacious kitchen with a bay window in the breakfast nook, reverse osmosis water filter and cabinets with pull-out shelves. 
Formal dining room plus living room. The great room is through the door to the right.
Master suite in its own private wing has a bay window, luxurious bathroom and huge walk-in closet. New laminate wood flooring in master bedroom and public areas. Neutral carpet in the other three bedrooms. 
Tandem garage has workshop with cabinets and still has room for a small third car or toys. Whole-house water softener. 
Back porch with mister. Easy access to over 120 miles of car-free walking and biking on The Loop, following a landscaped path along the city's rivers. 
Two parks provide community pools, lap and kiddie pools, splash pad, basketball, tennis, skating, ramadas. All that fun, with a low $27 per month HOA fee. 

The interactive floor plan is here. Sold for $268,000 August 20, 2018.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Solar Art on the Santa Cruz

The street car bridge over the Santa Cruz at Cushing Street has been open for six years (!) and I finally went to see the solar art last week.
The bridge has rusted metal arcs with patterns cut into them. The side walk on both sides of the bridge has scenes from Tucson's history incised into them. A certain moments through out the year, the sun shines through an arc just right to complete an image on the sidewalk.
Last Friday at 10:30 AM, I went with some of my hiking buddies to see the symbol for Mars encircle the Phoenix Mars Lander. It happened to be the tenth anniversary of the Mars landing. The principal investigator of the landing worked at the University of Arizona.

On June 1 at noon, this article in Zocalo says the street car will be the illuminated image, but I'm not sure about that. As I recall, the Tucson Pressed Brick Company on the south side of the bridge will be featured this Friday.

Anyway, it's fun to think of the math and precision engineering and art that all combined to make this happen.

It's also fun to have brunch at Seis in the Mercado San Agustin after experiencing the solar art.

The Loop is One of the Best Things That Ever Happened to Tucson

Some bicyclists move to Tucson specifically because we have a 120 mile system of paved paths with absolutely no cars. I myself walk dozens of miles on The Loop each year. Here's a map of our marvelous Loop. You can get a copy of this and all the other bike paths in Tucson at most bicycle stores.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Student Loan Debt Precludes Mortgage Debt

Because the cost of acquiring a college education has increased so much in the past decade, many millenials have crippling student loan debt. Before they can begin to save a down payment on a house and take on a home mortgage, they need to spend years paying off their student loans. The rate of homeownership among young people has plummeted.

Inability to save the down payment is only part of the problem. Lenders will only allow borrowers to spend about 36% of their gross monthly income on all debts, including student loans, car payment, credit card payments and mortgage. If student loans are eating a large portion of their young peoples' pay checks, they won't have much left to qualify for a mortgage.

The other problem is the lack of jobs. College graduates who are unable to find a job or who lost a job will be unable to make their student loan payments. When they default on their student loans, their credit is trashed, and they are in a hole that will be very difficult to climb out of. Adding to the difficulty is that some employers do a credit check as part of the hiring process. Bad credit means no job offer. 

Some people who had been promised that their student loans would be forgiven if they worked in a public service job found that rug pulled out from under them last year.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Read or Die

My fabulous client Daphne Russell has had a huge impact on her students, inspiring them to read as if their lives depend on it, which of course is true. She is having a book signing of her book Read or Die at Borderlands Brewery this Friday from 6 to 10 PM

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Casual Elegance in the Catalina Foothills

The Wow Factor is off the charts! Exquisite custom masonry home on spectacular lot with astounding mountain views. Meticulously maintained with high-quality upgrades. 
Gorgeous, sunny kitchen with breakfast bar open to great room. 
Two-sided free-standing fireplace. PRE-PAID SOLAR LEASE has saved the owners over $8,000 in electric bills and over 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Whole house water softener and dual pane windows and doors installed in 2017. 
Office near entrance has bathroom and closet. It can be fourth bedroom with the addition of a door. 
Dreamy master bedroom has a fireplace, big beautiful shower and private patio. Breath-taking back yard with refreshing infinite-edge pool. 
So much outdoor space for entertaining and family fun. Come see the lovely palo verde trees in bloom. Watch the nearby Catalina Mountains change hue throughout the day and the seasons.
Four bedrooms and three bathrooms in 2,513 square feet. Two car garage. The floor plan is here. 0.98 acre covered with mature xeriscape and native desert. Sold for $553,500 on July 9, 2018.

We Have Some of the Country's Best High Schools!

US News & World Report says that Basis Oro Valley and Basis North Tucson, two charter high schools, are the third and fourth best in the country. Tucson Unified School District's University High School is ranked 27th.
They evaluated over 20,000 schools and ranked them based on graduation rate, offering challenging course, and standardized test scores.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

How to Turn a Home Renovation into a Vacation

If you're going to be spending a lot of money on a home renovation, consider charging it to a credit card that gives generous airline miles or cash rebates. The key is to be able to pay the cards off before high interest rates accrue. An article in the New York Times has lots of resources.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Old Friends Get a New Home

I must tell as many people as I can who are interested in purchasing a home in and around Tucson, AZ.  I just had the best experience with what I call the "Power Team" of Donna Moulton and Catherine Ellinwood.  I contacted Donna first, as a long time and trusted friend who I knew was a realtor in town.  I know a lot of other realtors, but without a moment's hesitation I chose Donna. 

So we went house hunting. After we went to houses for about three days, we honed in on a perfect house for us.  She went ahead and called her chosen loan officer from People's Mortgage, who she's been working with for over 15 years.  Catherine worked absolute miracles.  She knew about all of the types of loans we could get out there.  She checked each one and came up with an amazing deal for us with a great low interest rate.  The entire process has been seamless, from returning calls, prompt emails, to just basically being there every step of the way.  We have now signed at Title Security Company, which also went very well. Everything there (Donna was there of course) was explained to us. 

Donna brought over our keys even two hours ahead of the time she said.  I highly recommend getting your house with the "Power Team" of Donna & Catherine!

Sincerely,

Joan Vernon

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Cozy Santa Fe Style Home with Unobstructed Mountain View and Privacy

Everything about this peaceful retreat says Sweet Desert Home. When you decided to move to Tucson, you imagined a Santa Fe home with vigas and wooden ceilings. 
Concrete and Saltillo tile floors. Adorable hand-painted Talavera tile. 
A big kitchen where your friends and family will gather. 
French doors to your sheltered porch with a metal roof for watching and listening to the monsoons. 
A welcoming front patio with saguaro-rib ceiling and a rustic hand-made door with big old hinges. Rain-capture landscaping with mature native trees and flowering shrubs to support abundant wildlife. Flagstone walkways. Two blocks to miles of gorgeous desert trails for hiking and biking in Sweetwater Preserve. Voluntary HOA. 
Your private desert acre has views of the purple mountain majesty. Your dream is real. It's all here. 
Three bedrooms, two baths, 1,610 square feet. Two car garage. We had multiple offers on this great home and sold for $279,500 on April 6, 2018.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

What To Do If You and Your Dog Encounter a Coyote

Conflicts between dogs on a leash and coyotes shouldn't happen. Coyotes should be afraid of people, but if people feed coyotes or other wildlife, the animals can become aggressive. This is bad for wildlife, people and pets, so let the wildlife be wild!

When walking a dog in coyote territory, use a six-foot, non retractable leash. Avoid sunrise and sunset. Be prepared to act threatening toward the coyote. More tips are here

Javelina can and have caused serious damage to people and pets with their sharp tusks. It's best to stay away from javelina, because their eyesight is poor, they can't tell the difference between dogs and the coyotes that kill their young, and they could perceive an innocent dog and his human companion as threats.