Outdoor Tasks to Keep Your Home Looking Sharp

Wondering some ways you can make the outside of your home look a little nicer this season? Here are some things you can still accomplish during the warmer months to give your home that lovely curb appeal we all desire.

Update your outdoor lighting: Some fresh path lighting and new bulbs in your front porch light give your home that extra “wow” factor, not to mention make it easier for you to come and go when it starts to get dark earlier and the sun rises later in the morning. We suggest you use LED bulbs which are far more energy efficient and last almost five times longer than a normal light bulb.

Clean off your home’s siding: From wood siding to stucco, no matter the type of siding you have on your house, odds are it could use a little sprucing up. There are many different ways of going about this from a power-washer, to a soft-bristled brush by hand. Just don’t go too hard on it and make sure you don’t leave any streaks behind. With good preventative maintenance, a home’s siding can last for up to fifty years!

Inspect your foundation: Summer is a great time to inspect your foundation! With the weather being warm and mostly dry (aside from monsoons), it’s the best time to look at your foundation for cracks or damp spots (like under faucets). These things need to be fixed sooner rather than later so they don’t become larger issues later on.

Yard maintenance: Make sure your sprinklers are set to give your yard the water it needs (at least one inch a week). Also, stick to your mowing schedule. Letting your lawn grown too long and unruly can shock it too much later when you do eventually get around to cutting it. You might also want to consider laying some lawn grub-control to help deter bugs from eating your beautiful green lawn. These bugs will make your lawn not so green and beautiful if left unchecked.

Buy new tools: These will come in handy when doing the above-mentioned yard maintenance this summer as everything is blooming. An overgrown yard looks messy while a neat and trimmed one shows you truly care about your home. With plenty of holiday sales in the summer to choose from (Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day…), you’re sure to find some good deals!

 

iBuyer Companies: Are They Really Cheaper Than a Real Estate Agent?

Odds are, if you’ve been thinking of listing or buying a home these days, you’ve heard of iBuyer real estate companies. These are companies such as opendoor.com that promise to sell your home for significantly cheaper than your average Real Estate company. However, are these companies actually all they’re cracked up to be, or do their costs end up being just as much as a real estate agent, if not more, when it’s all said and done?

Check out this article we found by Teke Wiggin with inman.com titled “iBuyers Cost Sellers Up to 15% of a Home’s Value, Study Finds,” which takes a hard look at the actual costs of using these “cheaper” options when selling your home:

Market analytics firm Collateral Analytics puts hard numbers on the much-debated costs of using iBuyers.

Offering ammunition to agents who argue that iBuyers are often deceptively expensive, a new study by real estate data analyst Collateral Analytics has determined that the typical cost of using an iBuyer ranges between 13 and 15 percent.

Entitled “iBuyers: A new choice for home sellers but at what cost?” the study conflicts with claims made by some iBuyers on just how expensive such services wind up costing homeowners. Opendoor, for example, represents its service as more affordable than a real estate agent. But if the new research is correct, using an iBuyer would generally cost consumers two to three times more money than if they simply used a traditional agent.

“In all, the typical cost to a seller appears to be in the range of 13% to 15% depending on the iBuyer vendor,” write the authors of the report, Collateral CEO Dr. Michael Sklarz and Dr. Norman Miller, senior vice president of research and development with the firm. “For some sellers, needing to move or requiring quick extraction of equity, this is certainly worthwhile, but what percentage of the market will want this service remains to be seen. ”

The analysis adds to a growing debate over the value of iBuyers. Some agents argue these startups often bilk homeowners while others contend iBuyers are a reasonable option for their clients.

The divergent views came into sharp relief during two Inman Connect panels last month in which agents shared their experiences with iBuyers.

The report was not framed as an indictment of iBuyers. It describes the service as “a welcome alternative to traditional brokerage” for a portion of motivated homesellers. However, its most notable contribution to a nascent body of research on iBuyers involves its cost estimate of the service.

The report noted iBuyers charge sellers a convenience fee ranging from 6 percent to 9.5 percent, with some also docking the seller “for fees typically paid by buyers at closing, adding another 1 percent or more.” IBuyers tend to ask for “generous” repairs based on the results of a home inspection while some, such as Offerpad, pay for moving costs, write the authors of the study.

This all means that the total direct cost of an iBuyer “ignoring repair credits” is between 7 and 10 percent, versus the “typical 5 to 9 percent combined seller and buyer costs with a traditional broker,” according to the study. “Yet, that is not the end of the story or the comparison,” the authors write.

Due to costs and risks of holding and reselling their acquisitions, iBuyers must make “conservative” offers, according to the report.

“The more unique the home, the worse the season for selling, or the more competing inventory is present in the local market, the more conservative will be the offer price,” the study asserts.

To pinpoint the typical discount that iBuyers pay for homes, the report’s authors compared purchase prices of two unidentified iBuyers with home value estimates generated by Collateral Analytics’ automated valuation model (AVM) — a model that report claims “correlates very well with actual market values.”

The analysis used a sample of 6,000 transactions that took place across four markets — Phoenix, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Las Vegas — from January 2016 to February 2019. The report did not identify the two iBuyers, but a source familiar with the study confirmed they were Opendoor and Offerpad.

Offerpad spokeswoman Cortney Read said Offerpad’s average service fee is 7 percent and that some homes require only minor repair costs. She also added that Offerpad believes the report “does not accurately compare the mentioned fees,” focusing only on commission for real estate agents, while including other costs for iBuyers that “should be also reflected in the traditional real estate agent percentage amount.”

Opendoor didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the study, one iBuyer bought homes at a median discount (the median discount off market value that the iBuyer purchased homes at) of 4.5 to 6.9 percent. The other iBuyer paid a median discount of 2 to 3.3 percent.

These discounts reportedly have declined modestly over the years. In 2016, for example, one iBuyer’s discount was about 7 percent, while the other’s was around 3.5 percent. By 2019, those numbers stood closer to 2 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

The authors theorized that “pressure to deploy capital” may have “reduced the spread [between how much iBuyers pay for homes and how much they’re worth] as the iBuyer market matures.” Some of that pressure has likely come from Zillow Offers and other ventures that are trying to take a bite out of the growing iBuyer market.

“Ultimately, the spread [the discount paid by iBuyers] will be at an appropriate level to compensate the iBuyers for liquidity risks and capital costs,” they said.

Thus, the study’s “preliminary empirical results” suggest that sellers are paying “not just the difference in fees of 2 to 5 percent more than with traditional” agents, and a generous repair allowance, but also an additional 3 to 5 percent more to “compensate the iBuyer for liquidity risks and carrying costs.”

Taking all of this into account, the authors conclude the typical cost of using an iBuyer ranges from 13 to 15 percent depending on the company.

This cost estimate is in line with estimates from some agents that spoke about iBuyers at Inman Connect Las Vegas, but a bit higher than an estimate published by Market Watch: 11 percent.

The cost makes sense from a business perspective, the report notes. IBuyers must cover carrying expenses and deal with a number of risks including home burglaries, price declines and “adverse selection.”

The last risk refers to the risk that sellers who know about hard-to-discover negative characteristics of their home will be more likely to sell their homes to iBuyers at prices that iBuyers would not pay were they aware of those flaws.

“Not all sellers are better informed than the iBuyers,” they write. “Still, there is some risk of informed sellers taking advantage of relatively high offers.”

Where are you, Monsoons?

Even though there have been some sporadic storms across the Prescott and Quad City areas, many of us have been either feeling left out of the torrential downpours with nothing to show from dark clouds except a few sprinkles, or left wondering when the real Monsoon season is going to hit.

Compared to years past, when the Monsoon season has generally started the first week of July, we now sit in the first week of August with little moisture to show for it. Curious about when we might be getting that jaw-dropping, earth-shattering Monsoon season we’ve all been waiting for – where there is practically an awe-inspiring storm every day – we found this article on azentral.com, that gives some possible explanations as to where our Monsoons are and when they might grace us with their presence:

“The heat waves we often get in late June and early July are usually the result of a strong area of high pressure sitting over the state.

Because of the way air flows around a high-pressure ridge (clockwise), the Phoenix area is more likely to experience monsoon conditions when that high-pressure ridge is over the Four Corners region. That allows moist air to flow in from over the Gulf of California.

That moisture helps fuel our summer storms.

However, that high-pressure area hasn’t reached the Four Corners yet and that’s due, at least in part, to holdover weather patterns that brought cooler than normal weather through much of the spring.

University of Arizona climate scientist Michael Crimmins explains that the jet stream (a kind of river of air in the atmosphere) has been hanging around farther south than normal and hasn’t allowed that high-pressure ridge to push north.

‘The (computer) weather models have been really struggling with the monsoon ridge because the jet stream has been so wavy,’ Crimmins said. ‘(The jet stream) has been really active and kind of wintery going back to January and it’s kind of done that through June.

‘It’s only been in the last couple of weeks the models have the jet stream relaxing and pulling north and letting the ridge kind of build in. Whether they are right or not is the big question.’

The National Weather Service’s monsoon outlook has leaned toward a later than normal start to the onset of monsoon conditions. One of the factors in that forecast is the idea that a wet winter and early spring have helped keep temperatures down, which could slow the development of the monsoon.

Crimmins doesn’t necessarily agree that wet conditions earlier in the year are delaying the start of the monsoon.

‘The whole (monsoon) ridge is kind of a chicken/egg thing,’ Crimmins said. ‘I think the cool June is more of a symptom than a cause. It’s more reflective of that the ridge hasn’t rushed in and built up further north because it’s being pushed around by the jet stream. Even the Gulf of California has been turned over a couple of times by the winds blowing through Baja. It’s still not as warm as you’d want it to be for gulf surges.’

But Crimmins also isn’t in the camp of those who think the monsoon will get off to a late start. As a climatologist, he’s more inclined to lean toward historical averages holding up.

From 1948-2018, the most common start date for the monsoon based on the traditional definition of three consecutive days of a certain dew-point temperature is July 3 for both Phoenix and Tucson. The monsoon started on that date nine times during that period in Tucson and 10 times in Phoenix.

While it doesn’t seem likely that things could change enough to bring rain that quickly, it might not be too far off if the jet stream cooperates.

‘If it gets out of the way and can be supported by a kind of more natural circulation pattern, then the ridge could be allowed to build north,’ Crimmins said. ‘That’s what the (computer) models are trying to do over the next two weeks. We’re now into the week-by-week, day-by-day game with the monsoon’.”

How to Up Your Outdoor Entertainment Game

With our summer months coming to an end, we can’t help but want to squeeze in every outdoor party, BBQ, and get together that we possibly can before the weather starts cooling off again.

There is nothing better than having friends or family over for a fun backyard party. Grilling, good drinks, board and yard games, water activities, and just good company with good conversation. What’s not to love?

If you’re wanting to throw a few last shindigs before summer is officially over – whether you have a huge yard for entertaining, or just a small deck – here are some things you can do to revamp your parties for the remainder of the season.

Get Some Giant Games

Who doesn’t love games like Jenga and Connect Four? Well, now you can get giant versions of these to put in your backyard to enjoy at every BBQ. These paired with your more traditional games such as Corn Hole and Can Jam (a new game that is growing in popularity), and your guests will have plenty to do to keep the fun going all night long.

Get an Outdoor Bar and Cooler

A traditional cooler will do the trick when having friends and family over, but if you really want to class up your outdoor parties, perhaps consider getting a nice outdoor bar. These tables often have expanding tops that hold drinks in ice beneath the surface and also create space to set your party foods such as chips and dip.

Get a Camouflaged Speaker

Nowadays, with so many varying types of Bluetooth speakers, there are so many great ways to bring the beats to you. One of these ways is camouflaged speakers. These are weather-proof speakers that look like a part of your normal landscaping (ex: like a rock), so they aren’t obtrusive, but also provide great tunes year-round for your outdoor festivities. This way you can just connect to your speakers outside rather than having to bring out your indoor Bluetooth speaker every time you want music.

AZ Real Estate Market Statistics June 2019

As we come to the end of summer and the end of the busy season for the Real Estate world, let’s look at what Scottsdale Arizona’s Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) had to say about our market when looking back at the month of June.

“The loud explosions heard earlier this month were not coming from Independence Day celebrations. They were the 2019 year-to-date housing numbers being reported by ARMLS. The first half of 2019 began with a whimper and ended with a bang. May and June were both exceptionally strong with June having $3,265,463,755 in dollar volume, the highest total for any June in ARMLS history. As an added caveat, there was one less business day this year compared to 2018, making this year’s total that much more impressive. As we reach the halfway point for the year, 2019 ranks as the best year on record.” – Tom Ruff with ARMLS.

One of the biggest points mentioned on the services monthly breakdown of June was baby boomers vs. new home buyers:

“In a June 8 report, Freddie Mac asked the question, ‘Are Baby Boomers the Key to the Single-Family Market?’ The article states, ‘One of the most important keys to today’s single-family housing market is homeowners who were born before the first-ever episode of Star Trek aired in the 1960s. Today, more than 50 years later, Baby Boomers and other homeowners over the age of 55 control almost two-thirds of the nation’s home equity – about $8 trillion. There are also more than 67 million 55+ homeowners. Whether they decide to move from their current homes or age in place, the cumulative impact of their decisions on mortgage demand, affordable housing supplies, and the housing options available to Millennials and other aspiring homeowners will be substantial.

“63 percent of 55+ers prefer to age in place. This works out to an estimated 42 million homeowners who don’t plan to move. 27 million 55+ers would prefer to move at least one more time. Although movers are in the minority, it’s a big minority. According to the survey nearly 40 percent of all homeowners 55+ would like to move at least once more if they had complete control over it. This isn’t just about downsizing to a rental or nursing home; 19 million plan to buy a home and nearly 8 million expect to move within the next four years. What’s more, half of the 19 million likely movers expect to buy less expensive homes. These are big numbers with the potential to tighten home-buying competition in the housing market, especially for Millennials and other first-time home buyers.

“A recent Chicago Tribune article went on to say, ‘The boomers are a stick in the spokes of the homeownership cycle, which counts on older people exiting to free up houses that can be resold to first-time buyers, keeping the market moving’.”

Only time will tell how much our baby boomers will control the housing market, causing both prices and new listings to either rise, or decline.

Buying a New Mattress for Your Best Sleep

When buying new furniture, there are just some things that you don’t want to buy used.

One of the main examples of this is a new mattress. Sometimes you can get lucky and find these second hand in really good condition, however, in most cases, it is best to just buy a new mattress. This way you make sure not only is the mattress clean, but also you can buy exactly what you need regarding firmness, size, etc.

In mattress shopping these days, you’ve got more options than ever with no shortage of brick-and-mortar and online-only retailers to choose from. Each with deals almost always going on and comparable prices to one another.

So, how do you find a mattress that is just right for you? What are some things to look for when mattress shopping? How do you pick the right mattress for your firmness needs, sleeping position, size, and other factors specific to you?

Well, here are some factors you should consider when you’re shopping for a perfect night’s sleep.

  1. Mattress construction: The most popular mattress types are inner spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and adjustable air mattresses. Each has pros and cons when it comes to durability and comfort customization.
  2. Firmness: Mattress firmness plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft can cause aches and pains, so it‘s recommended that you test a mattress for 10- to 15 minutes in store before making a purchase.
  3. Sleeping position: Your mattress should match your sleeping style (side, back, face-down, etc.). You want a mattress that keeps your spine in proper alignment. For example, some mattresses are better for side sleepers, while others are better for back sleepers.
  4. Size: It’s not quite as simple as choosing between a king and a queen mattress. You should also consider your height, as some mattresses are a better fit for shorter people while tall people will want a longer mattress so their limbs aren’t hanging over the edge of the bed.
  5. Stability: For couples, you should consider how the mattress reacts when one person moves, so the other person’s sleep isn’t disturbed in the middle of the night.

Recreation.Gov Prescott National Forest Spotlight

Recently, on recreation.gov, our very own Prescott National Forest was featured as a “Highlighted Location” to visit. Us Prescottonians already know how gorgeous our outdoor living is here and how amazing it is with all our hiking, biking, kayaking, and so much more! We have an amazing playground for outdoor activites!

Here is what the website had to say about our beautiful national forest:

In the American Southwest, only 120 miles from one of the largest cities in the country, lies an outdoor and recreational wonderland of lakes, mountains, and desert just waiting for those who seek adventure and the chance to bring home a story. This astonishing place where “the desert meets the pines” is Prescott National Forest in Central Arizona, a year-round destination for camping, fishing, horseback riding, off-highway vehicle touring, and other exciting outdoor activities!

Prescott National Forest is guardian of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness, and part of a much larger area of protected lands as it borders three other National Forests in Arizona – Coconino National ForestTonto National Forest, and Kaibab National Forest. Prescott National Forest offers nearly 450 miles of scenic trails for hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The forest also contains a National Recreational Trail (Granite Mountain Trail) and a National Historic Study trail (General Crook Trail), and, with the mild climate of the area, visitors can enjoy hiking the trails year-round. Prescott National Forest also provides access to the Verde River, with opportunities for motorized boating, kayaking, and fishing. Once an active gravel pit, the Alto Pit in the forest is now a haven for off-highway vehicles like dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles. The 20-mile trail system offers something for everyone, with challenging rides for advanced recreationists and exhilarating learning opportunities for beginners. For more thrill-seeking visitors, Prescott National Forest has you covered with hang gliding, technical rock climbing and bouldering, and whitewater rafting.

When it comes to camping, the forest delivers a range of unique campsites and historic cabins that offer pine-clad mountain hideaways, rustic indoor retreats, and stunning stargazing spots. The best part of all is that there’s still a chance to plan a summer escape to this Arizona oasis. A number of locations have mid-week and even weekend availability in July and August. You can find more information about your camping options and check availability for your next trip to Prescott National Forest below:

Yavapai Campground

White Spar Campground

Alto Pit OHV Campground

Hilltop Campground

Sycamore Cabin

Horsethief Cabin

Lynx Campground

Groom Creek Horse Camp

Potato Patch Campground

 

Antelope Hills Golf Course

Antelope Hills Golf Course offers 36 holes of championship golf, a chipping green, putting green, bunkers, grass practice tee, and stalls. A public Golf Course, it includes a clubhouse with pro shop and a restaurant called the Manzanita Grill. Also located on the grounds is Centennial Center, a banquet facility. Antelope Hills Golf Course is located at 1 Perkins Dr., Prescott, AZ 86301.

For information on fees, hours, and services, give them a call or visit their website at: www.antelopehillsgolf.com / Phone: (928) 776-7888

Book a Tee Time

There are three ways to book a tee time at Antelope Hills, in person, by phone, or online. The lowest golf rates are always available online. Walk up or phone reservations are subject to higher prices than those posted online.

Academy

Junior Golf Program – This program is designed for kids (boys and girls) ages eight to 16 and consists of five lessons. Students may register for any or all sessions, but students are expected to attend the entire session. The cost is $50 per student for five classes of 1-1/2 hours each. If you have any questions, you can call Mack McCarley at (801) 915-8391.

FUNdamentals Golf Program – This program will equip juniors with the knowledge and ability to play golf in a courteous, fast, and safe manner, no matter what their golf skills may be. The instructor(s) will escort, instruct, demonstrate, and role play with the juniors from arrival at the golf course, to checking in for play, to playing golf, to completion of play. The program costs $10 and should take 2-3 hours to complete with the Certification and FUNdamental Golf Program Card distributed after the instruction. For times and registration, contact the golf shop at (928) 776-7888.

Manzanita Grill

Manzanita Grill offers a full-service restaurant and bar for golfers and non-golfers alike. Some of their special offerings include all you can eat prime rib buffet every Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and all you can eat seafood buffet every Friday from 11a.m to 8 p.m. You can call their phone directly for more information and reservations at (928) 777-1879

Centennial Center

Formerly known as the North Clubhouse, the recently remodeled Centennial Center is an ideal venue for weddings and banquets. Overlooking the golf course, this facility accommodates a capacity of 150. A complete selection of banquet foods and beverages are available from their professional staff. A/V equipment is available, making it the perfect meeting facility in Prescott. For information simply fill out the Weddings and Banquets form online.

Creating a Fire Evacuation Plan

With multiple fires currently burning in Arizona – and one pretty close to home just 16 miles South of Prescott near Crown King – we thought now would be a good time to talk about how you can implement a fire evacuation plan in your household.

Whether it’s a house fire, wildfire, or a fire from something else, it’s always good to be prepared and have a plan in place to execute in an emergency.

An evacuation plan is necessary for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. So, in case of a fire, what kind of evacuation plan should you have prepared and ready to use with your family members and pets? Below are just a few things to consider when creating your fire evacuation plan.

Have a Plan for Everyone: Consider the special needs of everyone in your household, including young children, pets, and elderly family members who may not be very mobile. Children don’t always wake when a smoke alarm sounds, so make sure someone is assigned to help them and choose a backup person in case the assigned person is away at the time of the fire.

For Pets: Assign pet evacuation to an adult. This allows the other parent/adult and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence. Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!

Have Multiple Exits: Visit each room of your house and find at least two ways out, including windows and doors. Make sure all escape routes open easily so you can get outside. Also, install emergency release devices on any security bars that are placed on doors or windows.

Choose a Meeting Spot: In the case of a house fire, decide on a meeting place outside, such as a neighbor’s house, mailbox or stop sign. It should be in the front of the house so emergency responders can see you when they arrive. Agree not to go back into the house after you leave. For wildfires, listen to emergency personnel on the scene on when and where to evacuate to.

Check Smoke Alarms: Check that smoke detectors are properly placed and working. The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing them in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping room and on every level of the home.

If You Can’t Get Out: If the planned exit routes are blocked and it’s not possible to leave the house, close all doors between you and the fire. Place a towel under the door and go to an exterior-facing window. Call the fire department to report your location.

Practice regularly: Practice and review the plan regularly (at least once a year) so that everyone knows the plan, and it stays fresh in their minds for if a fire were to occur. Consider having your children help create a fire evacuation plan too. Draw a map of the home and have children mark two exit routes and the locations of smoke detectors.

In Arizona, fires – especially wildfires – are common this time of year. It is imperative that you and your family have a plan and know what to do in an emergency situation such as this. Stay safe out there and create a fire evacuation plan. Even if it’s something you never end up needing to use, which we hope(!), at least you are prepared should it occur, rather than the alternative of a fire happening and not being prepared at all.