Happy Almost Halloween!

Tomorrow is Halloween! A day full of fun, dress up, candy, pumpkins, friends and family, and more!

Halloween on Mount Vernon

In Prescott, a common place to celebrate the Holiday and go trick-or-treating is on the iconic Prescott street of Mount Vernon, occurring on Thursday October 31st (obviously).

Probably Prescott’s main Halloween attraction, this is a town “event” you won’t want to miss. The entire street gets closed down in the afternoon as trick-or-treaters flock to the site by the hundreds. People come from all over to trick-or-treat, get some cocoa or cider that is often offered by many homes, enjoy all the Halloween decorations the residents worked so hard to put up, and walk down the beautiful street of orange stained trees changing for the Fall. A family event for all, you’re sure to have fun and a night to remember at this time-honored Prescott tradition.

Make sure you dress warm though! The temperature high on Thursday is only 60 degrees, which means it will get pretty chilly at night during trick-or-treating hours.

Halloween History

In case you were curious about the Halloween holiday and it’s historical origin, here’s a small history recap of how Halloween came to be from history.com:

“Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2019 occurs on Thursday, October 31. It originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats.”

 

Whether you’re staying at home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, going to Mount Vernon with your friends and family to partake in the festivities, going to a Halloween costume party, or just staying in and watching scary movies, we hope you have a great Halloween holiday! From all of us here at the Kathleen Yamauchi Group, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Ways to Make Your Home Cozier for the Holidays

We all love the Holidays, right? The smells of pumpkin and cinnamon, the decorations, the gatherings with loved ones, the amazing food and holiday drinks… there is too much to name!

When these holiday seasons come, there is nothing better than walking into a house (especially your own) and being welcomed with that Holiday cheer. However, maybe as much as you want your home to be cheerful for the holidays you just aren’t very good at decorating, or you simply can’t find the time or money to spruce your home up for the holidays. Well, we’re here to help. Here are some easy ways to add that holiday cheer to your home without too much work or effort at all:

Candles: A candle goes a long way in bringing that holiday cheer to your home! Pumpkin spice, hazelnut, cinnamon stick, forest… there are so many different scents that will bring people into the holiday mood as soon as they step through your door. Another way to use candles for the holiday is to set up a group of them (like the white pillar type) on a decorative tray or display. These touches help create ambiance in your home and give it a touch of the holiday season.

Throw Pillows and Blankets: While these can get a little pricier, you can still find some good deals on them and they help tie in the holiday feel of your home so much! An easy way to accomplish this with pillows is to simply get pillow covers. Then you can just swap out the covers for every season. Ones for year-round, ones with pumpkins on them for Halloween and Fall, ones that are plaid or have trees on them for Christmas, or whatever your heart desires. This solution also makes storing the decorations a lot easier since you are only storing a folded pillowcase rather than an entire pillow.

Wall Art: Swapping out a picture or painting for a festive holiday sign is an easy way to spruce your home up for the Holidays. A sign that says “Home Sweet Home” becomes a sign that says “Happy Thanksgiving” or “Merry Christmas” and just like that, your home has some extra Holiday cheer. If you’re feeling especially crafty, these signs can easily be made from home with an old piece of wood, some sandpaper, and some paint!

Indoor Christmas Lights: While most people hang Christmas lights up outside, which is also cheerful and inviting, a way to decorate the inside of your home for the holidays is to hang some Christmas lights up inside. There’s something magical and awing about twinkling lights, and they are sure to bring that Christmas charm and spirit to your home! Plus, you can get them for relatively cheap at places like Walmart ($5 a box!).

Make Paper Snowflakes: Have any kids? Well this would be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas. Relatively mess free and easy, make some paper snowflakes with your children as you sip hot cocoa and apple cider. Then string them up for all to see – and to your children’s delight – to add some extra holiday decorations to your home.

Hang Garlands: These can either be bought fairly cheap at the store for any holiday (coming in oranges and purples for Halloween and Thanksgiving) or can even be made from fresh cut tree limbs off your Christmas tree! Either way, they are an easy way to dress your home up for the Holidays! Imagine a garland made of orange and yellow leaves, or tinsel and ornaments!

These are just a few easy ways to help decorate your home for the holiday season this year! We hope we’ve given you some good ideas to try out and that you have an amazing Holiday season with your loved ones this year!

iSquatters: When iBuyer self-tours go wrong

Today’s Real Estate game is changing and that includes new companies buying homes and turning around to re-sell them, commonly known as iBuyers. However, in places like Arizona where this type of Real Estate model is growing, there are some scary risks for agents and their clients whom go to see these iBuyer homes. Check out this article below from inman.com detailing just how serious and real some of these risks are.

Invasion of the iSquatters: What happens when iBuyer self-tours go wrong? Some iBuyers have drawn tech-savvy squatters who gain access to homes through company apps in a bid to find shelter or abuse drugs.

by Veronika Bondarenko

October 23, 2019

Mrgudich had been planning on touring a home listed on Opendoor with a buyer when he noticed something strange through a window. A child was running around the dining room while a woman looked on. Instead of buzzing the door open through an app on his phone, Mrgudich knocked — and promptly heard the sound of the lock clicking shut from the inside.

“I put one and two and three together and I go, ‘Alright we have a squatter here,’” Mrgudich, who works at West USA Realty in Peoria, Arizona, told Inman. “So I turn to my buyer and explain the safety issue briefly and suggest that we move on.”

The iBuyer model, which has grown in popularity for its convenience, has also posed new risks regarding squatters and people who enter the home to use drugs, party or engage in activities other than touring the home. Ever since Arizona police arrested a couple found squatting inside an Opendoor home with two children and a cache of drug paraphernalia in September, agents have been discussing safety issue they see with iBuyer homes.

Over the past four years, iBuyers have exploded in markets nationwide. Startups like Opendoor and Offerpad allow homeowners to unload their properties for an all-cash offer in exchange for a seller’s fee of approximately 7 percent.

Opendoor, which recently acquired a Georgia-based title and escrow company, currently operates in 20 cities and recently began providing home loans. Offerpad, meanwhile, has raised nearly $1 billion in equity and debt capital and hopes to operate in 30 cities by the end of 2020. Traditional real estate companies including Keller Williams and eXp Realty have also all launched their own instant-offer platforms.

Zillow Offers, another iBuyer platform, also operates nationwide and allows buyers to tour homes on their own through an app.

The iBuyer model has been particularly popular in states like Georgia and Arizona, where all of the major iBuyers have a presence.

With Opendoor, Offerpad and Zillow Offers, in particular, interested buyers can find for-sale homes near them through the companies’ apps and enter the property with or without an agent — either by entering a code on a front-door keypad or unlocking the home directly through a phone.

All Offerpad homes currently have traditional lockboxes but some also have instant access through a phone code.

Heather Gearhart, an agent in Chandler, Arizona, recalled in a recent Facebook post seeing a key left inside the front door of an Offerpad home. Bob Hertzog, another agent in Arizona, said numerous agents across the state have been discussing the problems they encountered when trying to tour iBuyer properties.

In August, Hertzog entered an Opendoor-listed home with a buyer when a man with disheveled hair ran past them while incoherently mumbling something about wanting to buy the property. They toured the home anyway but, upon coming in, noticed that the protection preventing the air conditioner from being tampered with had been torn off.

“In Phoenix, it gets so hot that people living on the streets or people who don’t have a home definitely look at this like an opportunity to shack up for a while,” Hertzog told Inman, adding that he tried to call Opendoor to report the problem but gave up after sitting on hold for nearly 30 minutes. “We’re starting to see it more and more.”

iBuyers acknowledge that their homes pose a risk of attracting squatters. An Opendoor spokesperson told Inman that, upon receiving reports of someone in a home, the company will “immediately engage with any impacted customers, investigate and regularly refer matters to local law enforcement.” It also said it has home monitoring systems, security patrols and customer-vetting systems in place to minimize risk.

Offerpad, meanwhile, told Inman that “home sellers have always encountered the unfortunate risk of becoming a victim to vandalization or breaking and entering” but that the company is working on a new security system that, once in effect, will improve safety at its homes.

Nonetheless, agents who have encountered problems at these homes believe the companies’ screening systems aren’t comprehensive enough considering that anybody with a smartphone can claim to be an interested buyer in a bid to gain access. Hertzog said that without the traditional high-security lockbox agents use to enter an open house, no security system can deter people with bad intentions from seeking out the homes.

“It takes seconds to kill somebody or hurt somebody really badly,” Hertzog said. “They can sit there and say all day long that they have monitoring systems and things like that but it didn’t work in my case.”

Robert Siciliano, a cybersecurity analyst and chief security architect at ProtectNow, told Inman there is no such thing as a 100 percent secure empty home — but the text-to-open-home model has attracted a new type of squatter that is specifically looking for homes with full amenities that are easy to open.

“When you can get a code online and walk into a house, you’re going to see a whole new stream of squatters take advantage of the situation,” Siciliano told Inman. “What you’re going to see is serial squatters with full knowledge of how to game the system.”

At the same time, Siciliano advises agents who are entering any open house alone not to “trust that the company is managing that risk” but rather take their own precautions every time they enter a home, iBuyer or not. This includes doing a full scan of the property before going inside, having alarms and easy access to law enforcement ready on one’s phone and getting trained in basic self-defense skills.

Given iBuyers’ young age (Opendoor launched in 2013 and Offerpad launched in 2015), the high risk of squatters may be part of the growing pains they need to get through as the companies work out more sophisticated systems and learn how to weigh easy access against security. But, at least in areas where iBuyers are most prominent, some agents are only now figuring out how to keep themselves safe while touring the homes.

“We’re just holding our breath, quite frankly, and hoping that there’s no worst case scenario,” Mrgudich said.

What To Do With All Those Fallen Leaves

As much as we love this Autumn season, if you rent or own a home, odds are you’re either buried in fallen leaves, or about to be.

Who doesn’t love the trees as they change from bright greens to yellows, oranges and reds? However, what you might not love is when all those leaves vacate the trees and relocate themselves all around your yard. Clogging gutters, covering walkways, and decomposing to look not so nice anymore, the leaves can quickly become a nuisance.

So, what can one do? Well, here are some tips and tricks on ways to deal with all those fallen leaves this year.

Use a Lawn Mower: If the majority of the fallen leaves are on your lawn (or you could even rake them onto your lawn), one option is to mow them. Just like grass, the leaves will get chopped up and sucked into the collection bag, making it easy for you to toss them in the trash. Not to mention, any tiny ground up pieces left over make for an amazing mulch on your lawn.

Use a Vacuum: This is probably the easiest option for collecting all those pesky leaves, or least laborious aside from hiring someone else to do the job. Using a leaf vacuum, you can suck up all the fallen leaves and along with other tree debris such as pine cones, and then just empty them into the trash. Done!

Use a Leaf Blower: If you have a smaller yard, simply raking the leaves is probably your best bet, but if you have a large yard with a lot of large trees, then a leaf blower is a good option for you.

Turn the Leaves into Mulch: As mentioned above, chopped leaves make for a great mulch. Spread them over your shrubs and garden to help preserve moisture and insulate your plants during the cooler weather. They also make for a good weed suppressant and help with the spreading of weeds.

Use a Tarp: If you aren’t concerned about any grass or lawn underneath, laying a tarp down under your larger trees is a good option as well. Once the leaves fall, all you have to do is pick up the tarp and empty it into the trash. Super easy!

Have Fun!: One last option (and definitely our favorite) is to make this a fun family time! Maybe instead of the above options, with your family you rake the leaves into a huge pile for jumping and playing in. Break out some hot cocoa or cider while you’re at it and enjoy the fall weather with those you love most!

Aging in Place and What Every Senior Should Know

In Prescott, Arizona, we have a large senior population as our town has become a hotspot destination for retirees. With a great hospital system and plenty of doctors to choose from, events going on downtown every weekend, four mild seasons of weather, and a beautiful landscape, who wouldn’t want to retire here?!

With this larger population of seniors and retirees, what is being found a lot more often in these groups is “aging in place.” Aging in place is what it’s called when older Americans choose to stay in their homes throughout the aging process rather than go into assisted living facilities.

To get a better idea of what this looks like and what you as a senior citizen should consider when doing this, you should read this great article from Porch.com.

In the article, which you can read by clicking here, they go over everything you need to know from what aging in place is, what it looks like, how to prepare your home for it, types of in-home services you can use, the type of insurances you are going to want, and so much more.

They’ve got some great insight on how to spend the max amount of years in the comfort of your very own home after you retire. We hope you enjoy their article as much as we did!

How to Cut Costs When Moving

As we get ready for the Holidays, cutting costs wherever we can is probably something that is on all of our minds. This is especially true if you’re in the middle of a move, or about to move.

If you’ve ever moved before in your adult life, you know that it can get really expensive really fast. So, in a time when you’re trying to save money for Thanksgiving and Christmas,  and all the gifts and travel costs that come with it, how can you minimize your moving costs?

Well, we’ve got some tips to help you do just that! Brought to you by our friends over at A & C Brothers Moving and Storage, here is some of their expert advice on how to best cut costs during your next move.

Here’s How You Can Cut Costs When Moving

Regardless of whether you’re just moving to the next town or all the way across the country, moving between homes can be a pretty expensive process. Despite the unavoidable expenses, though, it’s not impossible to move on a budget. From collecting boxes to hiring moving services, there are smart ways to keep your costs down when moving.

These tips will require plenty of extra work from you, but they’ll help you relocate successfully without breaking the bank.

Get rid of stuff you don’t need.

Most people are guilty of wanting to keep stuff they hardly use or probably won’t use anymore. Unless the items hold great sentimental value for you, now should be the perfect time to get rid of them.

When we say rid, we don’t mean throwing them in the trash. You can either arrange a garage sale, give them away, or donate them to charity. Surely, you can find a good use for the extra money you’ll earn at the garage sale. The possible tax deduction from donating your stuff isn’t so bad either.

By purging your stuff, you’ll have lesser things to pack and worry about. More importantly, you’ll end up with lower mover’s fees because there’s fewer stuff to move on the big day.

Use Improvised moving supplies.

You may not notice it, but moving supplies can eat up a good chunk of your moving budget. The great news is, it’s relatively easy to cut costs on moving supplies if you plan things ahead of time.

For starters, you can collect boxes from friends and family instead of buying them. If you can’t have them for free, try purchasing some from your neighborhood grocery stores. Don’t get brand new moving boxes, if possible. They’re quite expensive for something that you might end up using just the one time.

If you need packing supplies to protect your fragile belongings, make use of common household materials like blankets, towels, clothes, and newspapers as alternatives. They’re just as effective, but they won’t cost you a single penny!

Hunt for reliable moving companies with great deals.

If you want to score a good deal, ask for quotes, and get as much information from different movers before making a decision. However, never hire a moving company just because they’re offering you the lowest price. You’ll want reliable movers who can move your belongings from your old house to the new one without even a scratch.

When looking for the right movers to hire, always check online reviews – both on their website and social media platforms. These sources should provide you valuable insight into their quality of moving services.

Avoid moving on busier days and months.

As with most things, timing is everything. The schedule of your move has a significant impact on how cheap or expensive your relocation could be. Moving on weekdays is generally cheaper than moving on weekends, while the spring and summer are the busiest and most expensive seasons to relocate.

Most moving companies offer discounts for moves scheduled during the slower months of the year. If saving money is what you’re really after, you might want to move during the fall season or early winter.

While it’s so much easier to pay and have other people take care of the entire moving process for you, this will cost you a fortune. Like we said, moving on a budget is possible, but it will require a lot of effort and planning on your part. Anything that you can do on your own saves you from paying other people to do it.

Good luck!

Columbus Day History

Columbus Day, while perhaps becoming slightly controversial in our time, is still a celebrated day on the calendar every year (for now).

Though there is still school and it is not a bank Holiday, it is recognized every year on the second Monday of October and this year that day is on Monday the 14th.

That being said, here is a quick video from History.com that ponders whether or not Columbus was truly the first person to discover America.

Click Here to watch the video.

 

For some things to do this weekend, you might head to the Downtown Square where there will be a Craft show going on all day Friday and until 3PM on Saturday.

Another option would be to head over to Watson Lake where there will be a Corvette car show from 10AM to 2PM on Saturday.

Also going on at Watson is “The Big Sting – Its a Country Thing” from Friday at 3PM to Saturday at 11:30PM. This event states, “Come see what all of the Buzz is about… Escape to the Country for an Exclusive Music Camp out weekend in the rocks with You and 3000 of your closest friends with the Shadows Foundation out at Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona. Concerts, Food, Beer, Camping, family, friends, sunshine, Corn Hole, other games and more!”

We hope you have a fabulous weekend in our amazing town of Prescott, Arizona!

Things to Never do to Your Home

Whether you are going to be in your home for 10 years or for the rest of your life, you always need to be considering resale when deciding which home projects to tackle next. That being said, here are some things you should never do to your house, both to save yourself money while you live there, and also to make your house more appealing when it comes time to resell.

Get Rid of Your Only Tub: No matter how much you want a super dreamy walk-in shower, if it requires getting rid of your only bathtub, don’t do it. A home without a bathtub can be a huge turn-off for many buyers who like having that option or who have kids and need a bathtub for this purpose.

Leave Your Cabinet Doors on While Painting them: Painting cabinets has become very popular in recent years because it is a cheap way to update your kitchen/bathroom look without the huge price tag of replacing the cabinets. It’s something that isn’t that hard to do yet makes a big difference in appearance. However, if this is your next project, make sure you remove the cabinet doors and drawers when you do so. Take the doors off and paint them separately, don’t leave them on while you do this. It makes for a much cleaner look in the end.

Plant a Tree Close to the House: This seems like it would be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. If you’re wanting to plant a new little sapling in your yard, make sure you do so with ample space away from the home. Otherwise, in years to come, that tree will grow large and could cause issues from falling branches and roots that grow underneath the home, going into foundation and piping. If that’s the case, it could cost you big bucks to remedy if you’re still living in the home, or even be something buyers ask you to remedy before buying your home.

Cover Wallpaper with Water-based Paint: Wanting to get rid of that tacky 70s wallpaper to have a fresh and updated look? Well, in case you didn’t know, depending on the condition of the wallpaper, you can actually paint right over it instead of going through the agonizing trouble of removing it. However, don’t use water-based paint when you do this. Water-based paint can actually re-activate the wallpaper glue and cause it to peel. We’re thinking peeling painted wallpaper wasn’t the updated look you were going for? Instead, make sure you use oil-based primer, let it dry, and then you can apply a normal latex paint over that.

Paint Exterior Brick: Now, this one might have some mixed reviews as to whether or not this is okay to do, but if you’re planning on being in your home for a long time, painting the brick on the outside of your home might not be such a good idea. Painting brick can destroy the brick and mortar, which could go so far as to cause a crumbling foundation. When comparing those costs, it’s just not worth it. If you’re looking to up your curb appeal, perhaps paint the door or add some shutters instead.

Tear Out Character: While your home might have some little corky features you aren’t thrilled about such as custom millwork, tin ceiling tiles, stained glass windows, etc., don’t be too quick to rip these things out (unless of course they are beyond saving and in disrepair). These classic details give your home character that buyers love and appeal that is hard to come by these days.

These are just a few things you should probably re-consider doing to your home or look further into to make sure you do them properly, if they are things you’ve been considering doing.

There are so many cheap and fun ways to update your home these days. Things that make it homier for you, but also things that can add great re-sale value to your home in the long run. But, make sure you do your homework on these house projects first! Not all of them are created equal.

How to Sell Your Home This “Off” Season

Although we love the Fall season, in the Real Estate business, it does start a downturn in our industry. The market slows with less people out looking to buy a home as they prepare for the holiday season with their family. Even though Prescott has a great housing market, we are not immune to this slower season.

So, what can you as a seller do then to help sell your home if you are trying to sell during this time? Well, check out this great article below from HomeLight about just that. They have some great tips on things you can do to sell your home this season, as well as some great advice to help with this process as well.

October Events in Prescott!

Fall is here and that means it’s time to start kicking off Prescott’s Fall season events! From fun events in downtown to pumpkin patches around the quad cities, there’s plenty to do! Check out this month’s events below, brought to you by our friends at Lawyer’s Title.