Phone: (480) 234-9225

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Seller Incentives May Just Get the Job Done

Sellers providing an incentive to a buyer just may be the proverbial cherry on top of the sundae according to some.  Frustrated with the looky loo’s traipsing through your family room at dinner time without making an offer?  Some buyers may need an extra nudge to get them to buy.

Getting a potential buyer to pull the trigger can be through various incentives and some sellers are smart enough to understand this strategy.  We’ve long seen sellers offering a home warranty protection plan to the buyer, but we are also seeing incentives taking on a more creative flair. 

Customized incentives seem to be catching on according to an article in Realtor Magazine, and they’re getting results.  How about a (sizable) gift card to the local Home Depot so the buyer can redo the counter tops or get a new vanity for the powder room?  Maybe it’s a credit at the local garden shop/nursery to update the landscaping.  How about a credit towards closing costs?  Other ideas include a year’s worth of HOA dues paid by the seller or the pool service pre-paid for a year.  Find out which seller incentives are tempting buyers here.

If you’re thinking about selling, have staged the home to its best potential and still need to stand out from the crowd, considering an incentive to the buyer and promote it prominently! 

As an agent myself, I'd love to know some of your ideas for incentives - let me know what's worked for you as a seller, or what you'd be attracted to if you were the buyer.  Post your comments and let's see those ideas!

Giving the buyer an incentive may just may be your ticket to the sold sign rider out front!

Photo from Flickr courtesy of stevendepolo.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Home Takes Center Stage for the Holidays

There's no place like home for the holidays and here's the December, 2011 Market Watch from the market gurus at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.  A new consumer survey from Coldwell Banker Real Estate confirmed that the majority of Americans wouldn't have it any other way. Approximately four in 10 respondents (39%) say their holiday get‐togethers include 15 or more family members and friends, and more than half (54%) say they stay overnight with their families so they can all be in one household during the holidays.

Additionally, the survey of nearly 1,000 people found:
  • More than three‐quarters (78%) of Americans "deck the halls" by decorating their home for the holidays. The vast majority (67%) say they decorate some, without going overboard, while 11 percent say they "go all out." Only 21% don't decorate at all.
  • Most people claim they've never snooped for presents. 77% of respondents said they have never looked for stashed‐away presents before it's time to open them. (Only 23% freely admit to peeking around)!
  • People gather in spots where they can mingle and graze. When asked which room is most used during the holidays (the kitchen, dining room or living room / den), the kitchen and living room are split almost evenly as the most popular spaces (41% and 43%, respectively), while 12% said the dining room is the most frequented area.
We all have a favorite memory or tradition that involves the holidays and being home with friends and family. We cook and share food, host parties and bring everyone together in our homes. At Coldwell Banker, we recognize that a home is more than just a place to live. This is true more than ever around the holidays.
Holiday events, memories and traditions underscore the emotional side of owning a home in a fun way, highlighting the role of family and their homes as central holiday headquarters. Watch this man-on-the-street video created by Coldwell Banker that showcases just how intertwined home and family are for some.

Here's the latest market trends for select ares. If you'd like trends for an area not listed, let me know and I'll get that to you.

Wishing you happy memories, continued traditions and Happy Holidays to all!!

Photo from Flickr courtesy of mikebfotos.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More on the Intertwined Sticky Tricky Cobweb Net called Short Sales

There’s no doubt about it, short sales are going to be around for a while.  But they’re not for the newbie nor for those with a short fuse.  Buyers and sellers both need to take a deep breath, cross more “t’s” and dot more “i’s” than you ever thought possible and remember, “it aint over ‘till the fat lady sings.”  And in some cases, that fat lady could be singing and knocking on the door some six years after the short sale closes.

Yep. Nothing’s easy with a short sale and nothing is short either!

Real estate attorney and short sale guru Scott Drucker gave some great insight and advice the other day about short sales that buyers, sellers and the real estate agents on both sides of the transaction should note. 

Before I go on further, you’ll need to note:  I’m not an attorney and make no claims to be one.  If you’re looking for an expert, seek one out and get legal expertise.

Many know that Arizona is an anti-deficiency state.  Not many know what that means and/or what they need to know or do to ensure the lender isn’t knocking on the borrower’s door some six years later wanting to collect the amount owed.  Some agents are telling their sellers incorrect information about a deficiency release and the law suits are ramping up.

Here’s a few notes – just the tip of the iceberg, mind you – you and your agent must consider:

Before the property closes, the seller will want to obtain a written deficiency waiver.  Ah, you may say that sounds simple.  Trust me, it’s not.  More often than not, the waiver the seller gets may not be adequate.  The language in it may be unclear and not sufficient enough to prevent the bank coming back looking to collect the amount owed.  If you were a seller on a short sale, pull out the deficiency waiver and read it.  Better yet, have an attorney read it and give their opinion. 

I’ve seen short sale homes under contract for 2, 3, 4 or even 6 months or longer.  If we’re lucky, the buyer will hang in there because they love the home.  The unfortunate part is that a seller may have to cancel the transaction just before it is scheduled to close because the language from the lender does not adequately release the seller of the debt.  That leaves the buyer with nothing. No home, countless months and emotions that have been wasted and they’re back to square one. And, the seller loses the home to foreclosure and gets a hit on the credit.

Scott often talks about the 3 magical words he looks for in a deficiency waiver: release, waive and deficiency (or “full satisfaction of the mortgage debt”).  And, the release needs to apply to both the lien and to the debt.

If you’ve been down this road, you likely have a 1099C.  Just because you were issued a 1099C, that does not release you of the deficiency.

My advice to you, a potential seller considering a short sale: Get legal advice from an expert like the folks at Mack Drucker & Watson.  They offer a couple of different programs – affordable programs that will keep you back side covered.  From a consultation and document review from start to finish to a full service negotiator on your behalf.

Photo credits: Cobweb from Flickr courtesy of Jonathan Camp. Debt photo from Flickr courtesy of alancleaver_2000.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Future is Bright for AZ Jobs

Sunshine isn't the only thing drawing people to Arizona - according to a recent report, the Arizona job outlook is also bright.  Opportunity is knocking Arizona - in fact, according to new research, Arizona ranks #3 in terms of adding jobs over the next few years.  Employment in Arizona is expected to increase 2.8% over the next 5 years according the research.

That's great news for Phoenix area real estate - Read Where the Work is Heading in the latest issue of Realtor Magazine for full details and other states that made the list.

Photo from Flickr courtesy of Aaron Gustafson.

Monday, December 5, 2011

November’s Priciest Home

If you’ve been following the areas priciest homes this past year, many have incorporated the Tuscan or Spanish influence and overlook the valley in far North Scottsdale.  As we round the final stretch for the year, November’s priciest home takes us back to Paradise Valley – and, it’s as far from traditional as can be.

Perched in the heart of PV between the Biltmore and Scottsdale gives November’s priciest home at
5937 N. La Colina Drive
prime billing when it comes to location.  Simple clean lines give way to some of the valley’s most spectacular views in this modern contemporary home.  Turns out the architect who designed this beauty was Charles Schiffner, son-in-law of Frank Lloyd Wright.  The home was marketed and sold by auction, with no reserve.

Closing at just over $450 a square foot, buyers Garel and Karen Westall of Carlsbad, NM came in with the highest bid.  This modern gem spans 9,500 square feet and features 4 bedrooms, 5 ½ baths including the gymnasium-sized steam shower in the master, a home theatre, a sleek and fully equipped studio/guest house and a spit-shined 4-car garage.  The home sold for $4,345,000 in the all-cash transaction.
Master sitting area.
Home theatre.

Here’s the details:

Listed September 1, 2011.  Auctioned October 20, 2011. Closed November 10, 2011.
Total days on the market was 45 days.
Original list price was $5,000,000.  Final sales price was $4,345,000.
Sales price per square foot: $456.26.

Photos courtesy of ARMLS.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baby Boomers Impact on Housing

Another benefit of hanging my license at Coldwell Banker: Each month the brains at corporate put out the monthly Market Watch - This month's edition does a great job - not so much in reminding many of us that we are indeed getting older (it's pretty obvious each morning as I notice a new sag someplace) - but the effect the boomers have on the market.   

Here they come! Recently, the New York Life Insurance Company did a survey of Baby Boomers as they prepare to enter retirement. Here are some interesting facts surrounding Boomers.
  • Beginning in January, 2011 and over the next 20 years 78 million Baby Boomers will begin turning 65 in the United States. That’s 10,000 people a day for the next 20 years! Baby Boomers represent 26% of the US population so soon, one in four US citizens will be in retirement.
  • Baby Boomers have their own set of needs, desires and values that they will be bringing to the consumer table. 47% of them plan to downsize their home in preparation for retirement. When asked about their retirement necessities, 94% said the Internet, 60% said shopping, 51% said pet care and 47% said providing the funding of education for their children and grand children.
  • When asked about their biggest concerns as they contemplate the next 20 years, Boomers responded, health care, outliving their income and the decline or potential decline in Social Security. Additionally, 22% said that they are delaying their retirement due to current economic factors. Of those who are waiting, only 10% said that they plan to sell their home as part of their financial process of preparing for retirement.
  • The Median income of Baby Boomers entering retirement is $62,300, the highest in history, but due to life expectancies, many think it will be a challenge. Currently, the average life expectancy for Boomers is 79 for males and 83 for females, but keep in mind that’s an average and many will live much longer creating various housing needs as they age. Currently, the state with the largest number of Baby Boomers is California with 8.9 million currently in the state.
If you ask me, let's invite them to consider Arizona!  Where else can you get our lifestyle, diversity, culture and attractions?  

For more detailed information, check out...

Some good stuff.  If you'd like the latest market trends for another valley area not included above, let me know and I'll send it to you.  Watch for updates each month.

Photo from Flickr courtesy of x-ray delta one

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tierra Santa May be McCormick Ranch’s Best Value

McCormick Ranch has often been regarded as one of Scottsdale’s most desired communities. Its central location, manicured greenbelts and pathways, shops and eateries have helped make 85258 a sure bet in terms of values overall.  Tucked away in the northeast corner of McCormick Ranch lies one subdivision often missed – Tierra Santa – a community offering carefree living, resort-like amenities and single family home prices that’ll make you think it’s a condo.

I’ve just listed a property in Tierra Santa – Arabian Gardens if you ask the tax assessor – that’s a perfect example.  The community is quaint and residents know one another.  Situated between Mountain View and Shea just west of the 101, you discover a charming Italianate colonnade of about 50 homes, all single family homes ranging in size from about 1,525 – 2,160 square feet.  Central to all is an impeccably groomed lawn complete with pool, cabana and tennis courts. 

The community takes care of all front landscaping and that helps explain the pristine curb appeal all the homeowners enjoy. 

Here’s a peak at 8778 E. Appaloosa Trail – it’s a 1,800 square foot home with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. It would make a perfect lock’n leave vacation home or create a great easy-maintenance lifestyle for someone who appreciates being close to hospitals, shops, dining and the freeway. 

The living room is impressive with its soaring vaulted ceilings, marble-clad fireplace and snow-white tiled floors.  Beyond lies the formal dining area and an open great room space and ample kitchen.  The split floor plan provides privacy for visitors.  Out back, the bubbling fountain takes center stage from the sprawling covered patio and no-hassle desert landscaping. 

Most homes in McCormick Ranch were built in the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s.  Not so here.  Homes in Tierra Santa – Arabian Gardens came much later – this home was built in 1993 and you’ll notice the difference with ceiling heights, fire sprinklers and other more modern design elements lacking in most of 85258.

If you’re looking for a central location in North Scottsdale at a bargain price, you may want to consider Tierra Santa.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Prescott Vacation Getaway Blends Historic Charm with Today’s Luxuries

Sitting on the front porch the other day, a couple riding their bikes stopped at the corner and said, “this has got to be the cutest street in America”.  Like this couple, I, too, fell in love with the tree-lined street of Prescott’s Mt. Vernon Avenue and recently gobbled up a vacation cottage there.  My passion for preservation, magnetism towards historic homes and the terrific real estate values got me hook, line and sinker.  So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m ready to share the cottage with others and am starting to market it as a vacation rental getaway.
Location, location, location.  Mt. Vernon is just a couple of blocks from the town square Prescott, Whiskey Row, eateries and the many antique shops that line Cortez.  Built in 1910, the cottage has a personality all its own. 
With my background in the luxury hospitality industry and in anticipation of a guests every need, it has been well appointed, including antiques and period furnishings, a well stocked kitchen with tools to create any feast, and rich linens and plush, thirsty towels.  With two bedrooms and two full baths, the cottage is nicely set up to accommodate family and friends.  Satellite TV and high speed internet will keep the techies connected, too.  Weekend or week-long stays are encouraged, and like the Phoenix/Scottsdale seasonal visitor, there is also a market for furnished vacation rentals in Prescott for a month or two.
Check out the complete rental details on VRBO, a terrific site targeted to those looking for vacation rental property and weekend getaways. 

Like Lombard Street in San Francisco or Michigan Avenue in Chicago, it didn’t take long to learn that having an address on Mt. Vernon is one that commands attention.   Even the organized tours make Mt. Vernon a must.  One thing is certain, sitting on the front porch watching the passersby is as close to perfect as I’ve ever found.  Well, sandy beaches and umbrella drinks, excluded.  It’s the ideal RX for that much deserved getaway.

Friday, November 4, 2011

October's Priciest Home

Now that we're into November and the stats are in, here's the scoup on October's priciest property.  The priciest home sold in the month of October, 2011 is another Desert Mountain beauty.  After 3 years on the market, 10029 E. Boulder Bend Road in North Scottsdale has closed for $4,400,000 in an all-cash transaction. With over 8,100 square feet, October’s priciest home sold for $540 a square foot.  That’s on par with what other homes in Desert Mountain are now recording.
The key is still proper positioning in the market.  Originally listed at $7,495,000, buyers for three years have traipsed through this estate but not biting.  The new buyer picked it up at a 41% discount.  Another feather in the “buyers demanding exceptional value” quiver.  It makes you wonder, if it was positioned a little differently from the beginning, how long would it have sat on the market?
I was fortunate enough to be included in a high powered real estate seminar yesterday on proper market positioning and marketing strategies for optimal results.  In that session, I had to chuckle – the presenter called “Active” listings “homes currently listed by not selling.”  I had to think, “how true is that!”  We often talk about “actives” - when in fact, they are anything but active….they’re still sitting on the market coaxing the buyer pool to drag their muddy feet through the living room.  What really matters is what has closed – that’s the true indicator of market value.
Enough on that subject for the time being.  Back to the Boulder Bend home: The custom homes sits on just over an acre overlooking the Valley of Sun, as it should in Desert Mountain.  Built in 2005, this Lee Hutchinson-designed home enjoys spectacular views with its placement between the 16th and 17th holes of the famed Geronimo course. 

A casual living yet elegant lifestyle awaits inside.  5 bedrooms, 8 baths, a home theatre, dual offices, and an exercise room are sure to please.  What caught my eyes was the exquisite details and finish work inside.  Flowing water features, onyx, hand carved beams, stacked stone….the list goes on and on.

Here’s the details on October’s priciest home:

Listed October 11, 2008.  Closed October 20, 2011.
Total days on the market was 1,104 days.
Original list price was $7,495,000.  Final sales price was $4,400,000.
Sales price per square foot: $540.80

Photos courtesy of ARMLS.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fountain Hills: The Secret's Out

Scenic Four Peaks.  Photo from Flickr courtesy of midiman.
Arguably some of the best views in all of the Valley are offered in Fountain Hills.  If breathtaking views is part of the criteria for your second home or vacation home, Fountain Hills needs to be part of the search.  Often overlooked, and happily so if you talk to residents of Fountain Hills, it sits to the east of Scottsdale on the back side of the McDowell’s.  As you crest the hill on Shea Blvd, you’ll immediately see why locals want to keep it a secret.
Fountain Hills fountain photo from Flickr courtesy of Brent Schmidt.
The founding fathers of Fountain Hills clearly made a huge error in naming the town.  “Hills” don’t even come close to describing the picture postcard views that unveil themselves in every direction, around every curve.  We’re talking mountains here.  Peaks, complete with a dusting of snow at certain times of the year.  And, the fountain is really an enormous geyser that shoots straight into the heavens. 
This small, sleepy little town is quiet and quaint.  No big box stores or shopping malls to congest the scene.  Local shops and eateries provide refreshing charm. And from what I’ve heard, golf that is second to none.
For the home buyer, Fountain Hills offers it all – from condo’s and townhomes to lock ‘n leave patio homes.  Single family villas to sprawling estates behind gated entrances.  And, nearly all have taken advantage of the spectacular views and natural desert terrain.
A testament to the love affair locals have with Fountain Hills may be best illustrated by the number of homes for sale in town.  Inventories are at an all time low.  In going through the MLS today, there are a total of 356 listings – that’s it.  And, when you cull out the condo’s from the total number of listings on the market today, you have 219 single family homes to select from.  That’s it. Period.
And, last month, while most other cities in the valley were closing 50, 60 or even 70% of total sales in the REO/distressed segments, Fountain Hills sales was exactly the opposite.  70% were “normal” transactions.  Wow.

See for yourself - see all active single family homes currently available for sale in Fountain Hills here.
Panoramic views of Fountain Hills from Flickr coutesy of mlabowicz.
With inventories like that, it’s a seller’s market in Fountain Hills.  Those views are indeed worth the few extra minutes drive east on Shea.  If you’re tired of stucco walls and homes on top of one another, consider Fountain Hills. But hurry.  When a home hits the market, it’s likely not to last long!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Driving in Phoenix

It's not often that I pass on an e-mail, but this one I just had to share.  It reminded me of a previous blog post entitled, "The Guide for the Winter Visitor" that addressed driving on the streets of Phoenix.  Thanks to friend and my reliable fix for much need humor, Kent, here's what he had to share:
Those of you who spend much time in the saddle cruising this continent will understand that the really funny thing is that it’s all so true!
1. 'Phoenix' actually consists of Scottsdale, Chandler, Tempe,   Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Tolleson, Avondale, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Sun City, Sun City West, Sun City Grand, Sun Lakes, Surprise, Laveen, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, and half of the Mexican border.

2. The morning rush hour is from 4:00 am to noon.  The evening rush hour is from noon to 9:00 PM.  Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.
3. The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph.  On Loop 101, your speed is expected to match the highway number.  Anything less is considered 'Wussy.’
4. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere.  For example, cars/trucks with the loudest mufflers go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, in the East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.
5. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended.
6. Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's an offense that can get you shot.
7. Road construction is permanent in Phoenix.  Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment during the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting. 
8. Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, rabbits, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.
9. Maricopa Freeway, Papago Freeway and the 'I-10' are the same road.  SR202 is the same road as The Red Mountain FWY.  Dunlap and Olive are the same street too.  Northern and Shea are the same street.  Also, Glendale Ave. becomes Lincoln Drive.  Jefferson becomes Washington, but they are not the same street.
‘I-17’ is also called The Black Canyon Freeway as well as The Veterans’ Memorial Highway.  The Superstition is also known as US 60.  The 101, 202, and 303 remain a large mystery to most of us.  It is not yet determined if there is a Red Mountain and a San Tan or just a Red/Tan Mountain.  The SR51 has recently been renamed the Piestewa Freeway because Squaw Peak Parkway was too easy to pronounce.
SR101 is also the Pima FWY except west of ‘I-17,’ which is also The Black Canyon FWY, and The Veterans’ Memorial HWY.  Lastly, Thunderbird Rd. becomes Cactus Rd.---but, Cactus Rd. doesn't become Thunderbird Rd. because it dead-ends at a mountain.
10. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it has been 'accidentally activated.'
11. If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be 'flipped off' accordingly.  If you return the flip, you'll be shot.
12. For summer driving, it is advisable to wear potholders on your hands.
13. Please note that there are many, MANY more issues to the phenomenon of driving in Phoenix---like the 4-cars-through-a-red-light rule---but these will at least get you acquainted with our unique life on the road.
Actually, you should be fine if you just focus.  Put the phone down, the make up away, the beer in the cup holder and the cigarettes in your pocket. 

And, if you need a map, I'm happy to provide a Phoenix/Valley map to any one who asks.  Good luck out there and drive safe!

Photo from Flickr courtesy of Jimmy_Joe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Meaning to a Frightful Halloween

Wonder whatever happened the Halloween’s you cherished as a kid? Until my latest discovery, they sure have been a far cry from the good old days I remember from my past.  I may have found America’s favorite spot for Halloween.  And, a scary one, to say the least.

As a kid, Halloween was one of the best days all year - second only to Christmas.  I remember planning my costume for months, picking out the best neighborhoods with the greatest propensity for the best candy.  As soon as school got out, my friends and I would converge and we’d spend hours getting into our costumes and plan the nights’ festivities. 

Some of the greatest memories of my past Halloweens were those homes that went all out with decorations.  Some homes set up little spook houses you’d have to meander through to get the prized candy.  The ones with the fishing line tied to the ceiling that would brush up against your cheek as you walked by.  Maybe it was a bowl of slim with eyeballs in it that you’d have to put your hand in before any treats.  I remember a scarecrow sitting on a bench that would literally come to life and lurch towards you as you’d approach the doorstep.  Ah, those were the days. 

One thing I have noticed is Halloween in Arizona is different.  People get into here much more so than other places I’ve lived.  But, it’s still a far cry from my youth.  I may have had a dozen (at most) little guys come to my door this past year in Scottsdale
Having temps well north of  -2° outside surely may make Arizona evenings more conducive for a memorable Halloween.  Take a look at one Arizona spot that really gets into the spirit.  Haunted spirits, too.

Prescott, Arizona is known for a lot of things.  There’s always some sort of an event going on or an exhibit on display down at the Square, but at Halloween time, one particular street in town may make the top 10 list in all of America

Take a glimpse at
Mt. Vernon Avenue
.  Halloween on Mt. Vernon has been a tradition going back many years.  Maybe the old, turn-of-the-century historic homes with paranormal sightings and haunted out buildings has something to do with it. 

I was talking with a Mt. Vernon homeowner the other day – Ralph - and he warned me about what happens on Mt. Vernon each and every Halloween.  And trust me, it scared the **** out of me.

Hundreds – make that thousands - of ghosts, goblins, Barbie’s and Harry Potter’s converge on this quaint little street in quintessential Americana.

I had heard Mt. Vernon was the place to be, but he helped clear any cob webs from my thoughts.  He said every year is grander than the last and shared his experience of last year, 2010.

The tradition of Halloween on Mt. Vernon goes back years.  The historic mansions and bungalows have long been favored as “the” street for any holiday and Halloween is no exception.  The city closes the street off to traffic and people from all over – literally – spend the evening along Mt. Vernon.  Years ago, the city would help subsidize the residents of
Mt. Vernon Avenue
with treats, but that is no longer the case.  Homeowner’s enthusiastically support the tradition on their own and do so with open arms.

Mt. Vernon homeowner’s go all out with decorations and treats.  So much so, I've seen tour buses driving past as their passengers gawked at the homes.  You'd think you were in Beverly Hills or something.  Nope, this is Prescott's Mt. Vernon Avenue.  Giant spiders reach out with their hairy arms as you approach the sidewalk, witches invite you to bob for apples in huge pots with steam bubbling up from the ground.  Ghosts play Ring-a-around the Rosy and eerie music is piped from a head stone.  Pickett fences are dressed in cob webs, or scarecrows, or skulls.  Orange lights twinkle in the bushes.  Ghosts sway from the trees.  Each home is an experience and no two are alike.  And even better, the candy is said to be biggest and the best in all of Arizona.  We’re not talking the bite-size morsels you get in a 2 pound bag, either. 

Last year, Ralph posted a sign at the front door of his historic Craftsman bungalow saying they would accept callers from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  It said that he and his wife were enjoying a family dinner together prior.  The hands swept to 7 o’clock, the door hardly could shut.

His advise to me:  “Shop at Costco, don’t skimp and plan on spending about $500”.  I laughed.  I thought he must take stand-up comedy lessons from the same place Kyle surely goes.  Guess not.

Ralph went on to say, last year, between the posted hours, he and his wife greeted 3,462 trick or treaters.  Some people had more than he did as they weren’t adhering to restricted hours.  Ralph spent over $500 at Costco and still ran out of treats before lights were out at 9.  "We counted 'em," he said.

Talk about a frightening Halloween!  That’s down right S-C-A-R-Y!

Imagine, over 3,000 sweets.  Even at a quarter a piece, that’s $865, and he didn’t have enough candy because he ran out.  It’s hard to fathom that much candy.  That’s a small loan for many folks!  Maybe the local dentists should step up and help out this year!

So, if you’re walking the streets of Mt. Vernon this Halloween, do me a favor.  Tell who ever greets you at their door how much you appreciate all they do to make Mt. Vernon such a special and memorable place.  They’re the ones keeping the spirit(s) alive and we need to applaud them for their generosity.

Monday, October 3, 2011

September’s Priciest Home

10777 E. Distant Hills Drive, Scottsdale

Although the luxury market continues to be sluggish throughout the Phoenix and Scottsdale area, Stephen D. Tuttle did what he could to spur the real estate market on.  He put his name on the title to 10777 E. Distant Hills Drive.  The residence located in North Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain estate is September’s priciest home sale with a sales price of $4,200,000.
Perched high on the Lost Star hillside, this custom built estate boasts 5 bedrooms, 6 ½ baths on nearly an acre of picturesque Sonoran desert.  The main home offers 7,330 square feet and is dressed in rich woods, iron detailing, and natural stone.  The separate guest house accommodates a richly appointed living room with an additional guest suite.
I'm sure any caterer will appreciate this kitchen.

The open floor plan of this Desert Mountain beauty was designed to maximize the desert vistas, enormous windows to the absolutely stunning views beyond.  The home features a great room concept ideal for entertaining, a climate controlled wine room, game room, mosaic lined pool, 7 car garage, and even an elevator.  It was built in 2010 by luxury home builder, Paul Lovato for Lance and Lori Mortensen but reportedly, they never lived there – rather, “had a change of plans”.
Just imagine soaking in that hot tub!
Views of the Desert Mountain golf course from Tuttle's new home.

Here’s the details on Tuttle’s new digs:

Listed December 20, 2010.  Closed September 15, 2011.
Total days on the market was 250 days.
Original list price was $4,975,000.  Final sales price was $4,200,000.
Sales price per square foot: $572.91

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scottsdale Adds World Class Medical School to its CV

Arizona continues its climb in providing unsurpassed medical care with the latest announcement by Mayo Clinic.  Teaming up with Arizona State University, the duo plans to develop a $266 million medical school branch in Scottsdale at the Mayo Clinic campus off of
E. Shea Blvd
132nd Street

The facility to be named the Mayo Medical School-Arizona campus could begin teaching med students by 2014.  This has got to be a positive thrust for real estate in the 85260 and 85259 zips.

Check out the article in AZ Central for complete details. 

Graphic from Flickr courtesy of Vectorportal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Distressed Luxury at the Arizona Biltmore

I blogged last week about a gargantuan bank-owned Paradise Valley home with exquisite details inside and out.  His and hers everything.  And a garage to handle your 21 automobiles.  It might surprise you to know, REO’s in the luxury segment are not that uncommon.  Bank owned properties are becoming more and more prevalent in the ultra-luxury residential market.

Last week’s home was priced at $15,995,000 – that’s about $640 a square foot.  Probably well under the builder cost considering the details and amenities.  If you thought that was a bargain, wait ‘til you see this mind-boggler REO gem: 

Just off of Camelback Road sits the venerable Arizona Biltmore Resort.  A destination that has long been a haven to the rich and famous – both seasonal residents with second homes and those that call their Biltmore estate a primary residence.  Visitors would arrive – and still do – from around the world to this sprawling resort to thaw, relax and bask in the desert sun since the 1930’s. 

The meandering drive leading to the hotel can take your breath away.  It is lined with truly sterling properties with manicured lawns, impeccably trimmed privet, flowering perennials and rich canterra doorways to welcome their visitors.  One such home is now being offered as a bank owned REO – 41 E. Biltmore Estates.

Situated on the Biltmore course, this custom estate sits on over an acre with stellar views from every direction.  Built in 2002, the 17,800 square foot home features nine bedrooms for when the hotel is sold out, 11 baths, wine room, library, entertaining spaces galore, four-car garage and flawless rear grounds.  Meticulous attention to the details abound, amazing fixtures, state of the art features, and imported facets. 

Truly a great buy for the value minded, priced at $6,950,000, 41 E. Biltmore Estates is being offered for a mere $390 a square foot.  Builder’s cost on this desert jewel is likely to be more than double that. 

Entry at 41 E. Biltmore Estates
My kind of kitchen.
Master Bedroom
With 9 beds, guess you need this double sized laundry room!

Now, I’d say that’s a five-star residence!

Photos courtesy of ARMLS.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Scottsdale Earns Ribbon for Best US City

In a new report by, Scottsdale enters the show ring once again as one of America’s best!  The judges adorned our fare town with the pristine white ribbon, awarding Scottsdale as the 4th of the best US city. 

The site studied 100 of the nation’s largest cities and looked at a number of factors including, quality of life, low unemployment, recreational attributes and schools.  In fact Scottsdale out performed all other cities except for one – Irvine, CA – for its quality of education.  The trophy for the best city went to Raliegh, NC.

The top five winners are:

Raliegh, NC
Arlington, VA
Honolulu, HI
Scottsdale, AZ
Irvine, CA

Find out what most of us already know and read the full story and learn more about Scottsdale being the fourth best US city.

Photo from Flickr courtesy of Shorts and Long | The Both And

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buyer Beware

We’ve all put the lipstick on the proverbial pig and hoped for the best, but when it comes to real estate, as a buyer, we may want to rethink how we go about selecting the perfect home.  The pig is still a pig!  After all, we’re buying more than underwear here.  What is one of the biggest investments we make in our lifetime, that warm and fuzzy feeling we get when we drive up to the front and take a quick walk around the may not be the best way to buy a home.

Ever since HGTV has captured our attention, we’ve seen what a bit of spit and polish, usually in the way of paint, flooring and staging can do to enhance a homes appeal. Have you stopped to think about what may be covered up by all that nice new paint and shiny floor?  I stumbled across a great article I have to share that caused me to raise an eyebrow and may shed some light on how you go about purchasing your next home.

Many of us are drawn to the d├ęcor and cosmetics and tend to overlook other elements.  A word to the wise, you may not want to discount that house with the pink paint and shag carpet – those are easy fixes if you can see beyond the obvious.  The dream of your future may very well be a gem in the rough!

Photo from Flickr courtesy of Pig by (aka Brent).

Not Your Everyday Bank Owned Home

People are always looking for a great deal, especially when it comes to real estate.  You can find a foreclosure in nearly every neighborhood.  And, August market statistics show these types of sales made up nearly 70% of the transactions.  Usually, they are priced to sell and don’t stay on the market very long.

We’ve seen the news segments showing a couple who lost their job, couldn’t get a loan mod, went through their entire life savings and finally had to walk away from their home.  Unfortunately, those stories of hardship are pretty common lately.

Distressed properties can be found in every price range.  Foreclosed properties are not just in the lower priced segments any more. 

But, I have to point out another side to the foreclosure story.  Homeowners that didn’t lose their jobs.  People with bank accounts as hefty as a small country.   People who lost equity in their home (who didn’t) and didn’t have a snowballs chance in Phoenix to make it up.  People that sat around the pool one night drinking their glass of Opus One and decided not the make any more mortgage payments.  These are the folks that coin the new term: Strategic default, and it’s the reason we’re seeing REO’s in the ultra-luxury market as well.

Thanks to Candy over at Candy's Dirt for pointing this one out: Here’s one bank owned beauty I just had to pass along.  And, I don’t know the full story behind it, but I do know that the couple that turned it back to the bank did at the time have income – significant income, I might add. Sure the bills must be exorbitant.  The maid and lawn service alone has to cost a small fortune.  Plus, the annual real estate taxes of $52,000 would surely put a dent in most people’s check books.  For whatever reason, they decided foreclosure was their best option.

Here’s what they gave up:

5 acres, 7 beds, 10 baths spanning 17,000 square feet in Paradise Valley (well, actually a total of 25,000 feet under roof).  The home features two pools, a 2 bedroom guest house of nearly 2,000 square feet, movie theatre, his and hers libraries, his and her dressing rooms, a billiards room, a piano room, a wine room, an exercise room and a Jay Leno-like garage to accommodate 21 cars.  Oh, I can’t forget the $1.2 million security and sound system and its own solar electric generating station.

Now offered for sale, it can be yours for a mere $15,995,000.  The bank has reduced the list price from its original asking price of $17,900,000. Check out the full listing here.

Now, I’m trying to figure out what the hardship must have been.  I’m guessing the true hardship facing the previous owners of this bank owned beauty is deciding on Brazilian hardwood or Italian marble for their new digs. 

Photos courtesy of ARMLS.