Merry Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, which of course means that the following day, Wednesday, is Christmas!

With all the tradition and nostalgia that Christmas tends to bring, it’s no wonder it is many people’s favorite holiday. Not only does it bring amazing food and drink, but it also is a time for family to come together, enjoy one another’s company and the festive holiday, and of course we can’t forget about the presents!

There’s gifts, hot cocoa, apple cider, cinnamon scented everything, Christmas trees to decorate, Christmas lights galore that leave us in awe, the magic of snow (well, sometimes), those early Christmas mornings spent with your loved ones eating a hearty breakfast and opening presents in your pj’s, and oh SO MUCH more! Every family has their own traditions that make the holiday special.

Amidst the chaos of the season and all the opening of gifts, we pray you’re able to take it all in. Take in the moments that are far too fleeting and the cherished time spent with loved ones during this season that only comes once a year.

We hope you have a good Christmas Eve tomorrow and we wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS this year!

Making and Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

As we approach the end of the year, something that might be on people’s minds is what their New Year’s resolution will be for the year 2020 (wow, how is it already 2020?!).

If you’ve ever made a New Years resolution, odds are you won’t be surprised to hear that over half of all New Year’s resolutions fail – honestly we’re shocked it isn’t more.

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are to diet or eat healthier, to exercise more, to lose weight, to save more money, to quit smoking, and to learn a new skill or hobby.

We all start the year with good intentions and goals to “be better.” However, somewhere along the way – whether it be the first week, the first month, or somewhere after that – that goal slowly falls to the wayside. It could be that life throws us a curveball, or we set too lofty a goal to meet, or that goal becomes not so important to us anymore, etc…

Whatever the reason, with such a high rate of people giving up on their New Year’s resolution, how can we make this time around more successful? How can we stick to the goals made with good intentions to be better people than we were the year before?

Here are some tips to help you make and keep that New Year’s resolution this year:

  1. Make your goal a lifestyle change: Go into your New Years resolution with the mindset that this is a lifestyle change and not a temporary fix. For example, if you want to diet and exercise to lose weight, it’s best to start making healthier and realistic lifestyle choices. A burger with a side salad instead of French fries. A thirty-minute walk after work instead of one of the many episodes you’re going to binge on Netflix. Diets and exercise plans tend to come and go, but if you make a lifestyle change instead, you’re setting yourself up for a better chance of success and learning how to have a healthy balance.
  2. Keep your resolution simple: Start out with one small goal that is easy to keep. If you’re trying to change your entire lifestyle from the 31st of December to the 1st of January, of course you are going to feel overwhelmed and give up! Start out small and make your way up from there.
  3. Set clear, realistic goals within your goal: Take your resolution one small step at a time. If you try to bite off too much at once, you’ll likely give up. Set a goal to lose 5 pounds and have a plan on how you’re going to do this. Once you reach that, set a goal to lose another 5 pounds and a plan for that as well. If your goal is to save more money, start out by trying to save $50 a month and decide how you’re going to do this (by not getting your daily Starbucks, by riding your bike to work 2x a week to save on gas, by making a budget for going out with friends so you don’t overspend, etc).
  4. Create a schedule: How often are you going to check yourself in your goal to evaluate how you are doing? If you just make a goal with a vague “I’ll do this for the year,” it’ll be hard to keep yourself accountable. Give yourself a timetable to evaluate your goal once a week, or once a month to ask, “How am I progressing? What can I change if I’m not progressing the way I want?”
  5. Get support: Find friends and family who support your goal and want to be there for you along the way. They can also help keep you accountable and can be a good support system to lean on when you’re feeling week and wanting to give up.
  6. Give yourself grace: You won’t be perfect and there might be times where you slip up in your goal, but don’t let that talk you into giving up completely. Have grace for yourself, knowing you aren’t perfect, and just try to get back on track the next day.

First Time Home Buyer Struggles

In recent history, first-time home buyers once accounted for 40% of annual home sales in the United States according to NAR’s (National Association of Realtors) chief economist Lawrence Yun. However, 2019 has shown that the first-time home buyers of today still have not fully returned, making up only 31% of all homes sales thus far this year.

Because of this, home sales are still running at an annualized pace of 5 million, which means the housing market has essentially remained unchanged since 2000. This is odd because even though that number has remained the same, the US population has not.

From 2000 to 2019, the United States has seen growth of nearly 45 million people in population and 20 million in number of households. One would think that with a greater population and a greater number of households, that home sales would go up, but that hasn’t been the case because of first-time home buyers struggling to purchase.

So, why is it that first-time home buyers are having trouble breaking into the market? Well, there might be several things at fault here:

Student debt, which has tripled over the past decade. The population of those who have it are those who are younger, fresh out of college, in new careers, getting married possibly, and perhaps already have kids (or your general makeup of those whom are looking to buy a home for the first time). It’s hard to get qualified for a home loan when you aren’t making very much money, have to support a family, and have 50k plus in student loans over your head.

The real estate market is booming. What this means is affordability has gone down because home prices have risen fast. While interest rates have gone down and it takes a smaller share of monthly income to own, first-time buyers are struggling to find homes within their price range that meet their needs.

Starter home listings are in short supply. This is due to homebuilders focusing on expensive homes rather than affordable homes that millennials could buy, which makes it hard to purchase.

Not FHA Certified. A lot of homes that first-time home buyers could possibly afford are your condos and your town homes. However, many first-time home buyers also need to use an FHA loan, which cannot be used on these types of homes because they aren’t certified for them.

Credit Scores. Many millennials haven’t made the best decisions here with student loans (like mentioned above), credit cards, new cars, etc. Nowadays, a good credit score is crucial to purchase a home considering requirements to obtain a mortgage are tighter than ever because no one wants a repeat of the housing market crash.

These are just a few of the factors affecting first-time home buyers and we’re sure there are more because you never know what someone’s struggles may be, or why they’ve been having to rent all these years rather than purchase a home of their very own. Hopefully, as the economy continues to do well, so will those seeking to purchase a home, which will enable them to do so.

Are you looking to buy a home for the first time, but aren’t sure if you qualify or what you might qualify for? Call our office today at 928-771-1111. We work with some amazing lenders and it doesn’t cost a thing to talk to one, and see what your options might be!

Tonight is Acker Night!

Acker Night is finally here and we are so excited!

From 5PM to 8:30PM, Acker Night will take place, an event produced solely by volunteers. Opening ceremony takes place on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza at 5PM. Musical acts will begin at 5:30PM and go until 830PM.

A tradition continuing for thirty years now, there will be over 500 performers dispersed throughout the downtown area to sing, play instruments, and raise money for music programs and instruments for the youth in Prescott. Nearly every shop in the downtown area will have someone performing accompanied by complimentary hot cocoa, apple cider, and goodies to eat that they kindly provide free of charge for our delight.

You do not want to miss out on this time-honored tradition that has such a beautiful history behind it. The courthouse will be lit up, there will be carolers and performers everywhere gracing us with their musical talents, there will be dancers performing in the streets, and do we need to mention the hot beverages and treats again? Bring your friends and family, and enjoy the show! BUT, don’t forget your layers because after 5PM the temperatures will drop low! Grab that winter scarf, put on those wool socks and ear muffs, and snuggle up in your coziest jacket. Grip a complimentary hot beverage to warm your belly as you walk around engulfed in music and joy, and take in the Christmas season festivities.

Happy Acker Night to you all! Stay warm!

P.S. For those who are not from Prescott and do not know what Acker Night is, here is a bit of history:

Acker Night is an event that was created to fulfill the wishes of Prescott resident and patron James S. Acker. Living from 1865 to 1955, James S. Acker stated, “All the residue of my estate… I give to the City of Prescott to be used for parks and for promotion of music, particularly for children.”

When Mr. Acker died in 1955, he wanted much of his estate to go towards supporting and promoting music with the youth, which is where Acker Night comes from and why it was created.

Not only did he donate his estate for music, but he also donated a good number of parcels of land he owned to the City of Prescott to be used for parks. Today, from his generosity, we have Acker Park, an 80 acre parcel of natural parkland near the downtown Prescott area. The park includes a one mile loop trail, picnic areas, restrooms with a mural on the outside of the building depicting the history of the land and the nature there, mosaic art walls, an amphitheater, geocaching spots, and more!

Due to Mr. Acker’s generosity – and to fulfill his wishes – we now have Acker Park and one of our favorite Prescott Christmas events: Acker Night!

 

How To Become A Morning Person

We all have those people in our lives, don’t we? Those who always wake up on the right side of the bed, bright and early, ready to face the day. They are energetic and get out of bed with feet hitting the ground running. On the flip side, there are others who wake up bright and ugly, and the only thing they want to hit is the snooze button for the next thirty minutes.

As annoying as some morning people can be, do you ever wish you could become one of them? The ones that wake with a start, feeling refreshed and ready to go. The ones that get in that morning workout or wrap up some work before the rest of us even have our alarms going off. They seem so happy and seem to accomplish so much more in their days, and we are jealous!

Well, it might not be an easy or pleasant transition – especially since we are now in winter where when you wake up early it’s still dark outside – but if you really want to try to gear yourself into becoming more of a morning person, here are five tips to help you achieve that early bird status!

1. Create a morning schedule. Physically write down the things you’d like to complete in the morning and set a time for each. Then stick with it. Once you force yourself out of bed early one or two weeks consistently, you’ll find it gets easier and easier to do.

2. Let the light in. Whether natural or artificial, light tells your brain it’s time to get up and get going. If your room lacks large windows where you can open the blinds up, consider investing in a timed lamp or alarm clock with a light.

3. Prep and eat breakfast. Although there are many of us who chose the skip breakfast, it is key to perking up your energy in the morning. Try prepping protein-focused meals the night before or grab a yogurt or fruit and try to consume it right after you wake.

4. Get your body moving. Whether it’s a short walk around your neighborhood or a rigorous 5:30 am spin class, getting your blood pumping will help wake up your body and has a ton of other benefits, like stress and anxiety reduction.

5. Feed your mind. Stimulate your brain and do something you enjoy first thing in the morning. Try reading a favorite book, catching up on the news, doing daily meditation, or setting intentions.

Christmas Parade and 65th Annual Courthouse Lighting

Join us in downtown Prescott for first the Christmas Parade and then later that night for the 65th annual Courthouse lighting.

These events officially kick off Prescott’s Christmas season, which could arguably be labeled the main event season in Prescott considering our town IS called “Arizona’s Christmas city.”

And… trust us when we say, the Christmas events coming up in the next weeks are ones you will not want to miss!

The Christmas Parade will begin at 1PM on Saturday, December 7th, giving you plenty of time to walk around after the parade and enjoy the downtown area before the lighting ceremony begins at night.

At 5PM there will be musical groups performing Christmas songs followed by a reading of the nativity story from the Bible to bring joy and cheer, and a reminder of the reason for the season. The lighting of the courthouse is at 6PM where the entire downtown area is lit up in a spectacular show of Christmas lights and celebration.

Nearly every tree is wrapped in colorful lights, the gazebo is a beacon on display of Christmas radiance, and the courthouse building itself it aglow with Christmas lights and light up decorations to showcase its historic beauty.

Enjoy the lights, an awing sight to see, and hang around afterward to take it all in. With countless restaurants, coffee shops, bars, vintage shops, and so much more, you will have no trouble finding a warm beverage and something to do with your friends and family after the lighting.

We hope you come out to see the show, to take in the Christmas season, and connect with your loved ones!

Tips For Winterizing Your Home This Season

Though we posted this article last winter, we felt it was worth posting again because it is such helpful and vital information to have in the winter season.

Living in Prescott where winter temperatures drop below freezing and we get some pretty crazy snowstorms depending on how “wet” the season is that year (snowmagedon February 2019 am I right?), we all should know how to properly winterize our homes.

Even though we don’t get as much snow as other places such as Flagstaff just north of us, or Colorado’s white winters, we still get enough accompanied by some temperatures that could wreak havoc on unprepared homes. Burst pipes, inadequate insulation to keep in heat and save energy, a furnace that cannot keep up with the freeze, and many other things.

Below is some advice from our very own Sheila Mengarelli on how to winterize your home this season. Take a look at her tips and tricks, and make sure your home is properly equipped for the cold months – and hopefully snows – still to come!

Tips to Winterize your Prescott Home

  • Service your Furnace– Have your furnace serviced fall and spring by a local HVAC company to keep you high and dry.

 

  • Change the filters— Don’t forget to change the filter in your furnace. When you put the first furnace filter of the season in, don’t forget to set your digital calendar to remind you to replace it at monthly intervals throughout the cold season.
  • Inspect your Gutters– Clogged gutters can cause water that is blocked to freeze and seep into your home. Take the time to clean them out and make sure that your downspouts are carrying the water away and not toward your house.
  • Repair drafts– Electrical outlets, door frames, windows, and recessed lighting areas typically tend to be drafty. Sealing up these areas can save on your energy bill. Simply use a wet hand, or incense, to move over the areas to spot potential leaks.
  • Check your insulation– Attics require 12 inches of insulation. Moisture problems can occur if your insulation has backing paper, so take the time to do an inspection.
  • Check for any exposed pipes outside– Pipes must be insulated from the cold too. Not only does it keep the pipes from freezing, it will prevent condensation from freezing on them, helping to save on energy bills. Make sure any drip systems are drained and water spickets are off.
  • Vacation — Will you be away for an extended period of time? Never turn your furnace off. Set it at 50 degrees. This will keep your home at a steady temperature no matter what the weather brings. It’s also a good idea to set your water heater to vacation or away mode
  • Check your smokealarm – While you are inspecting so many other aspects of your home, don’t forget to make sure that your smoke alarms are all functioning, and replace the batteries as needed. Also, make sure that you have a functioning fire extinguisher as well.

 

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!

A holiday full of good food, good people, and good laughs, we are excited to get into full swing of this holiday about giving thanks.

Perhaps you spend the holiday with friends, family, watching football, or on vacation, but no matter how you celebrate the holiday, let’s remember to give thanks for all we’ve been blessed with. Food on our plates, a roof over our heads, and all those we love around us – these are just a few of the things we here at the Kathleen Yamauchi Group are thankful for.

Whether your life is going great, or you’re having some struggles right now, we pray you still have many things to be thankful for as well.

From all of us at the Kathleen Yamauchi Group Real Estate, we want to say HAPPY THANKSGIVING! We pray you have an amazing and blessed time with your loved ones, eat all the good food, and have the best Thanksgiving Holiday yet.

Ready or not, Thanksgiving is on Thursday and we’re here to help!

Below is a list of all the things you may need to purchase at the grocery store so you don’t forget anything! Cooked and basted turkey, stuffing, cranberries, green beans, honeyed ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and the list could literally go on and on! Is anyone else’s mouth watering? Courtesy of our friends at Lawyer’s Title, they have thought of everything you could ever possibly need to buy at the store so you won’t have one single staple Thanksgiving dish or food missing from your feast.

So, print off this list, do your grocery shopping, and get ready for Thanksgiving because it’s only three days away! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, we are thankful for you!