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.

 

Prescott’s 2019 Veteran’s Day Parade!

In Prescott, Arizona, Veteran’s Day is a special holiday.

With about 7,000 Veterans in our town and a population of 42,000, that means that about 16.5% of our population is made up of U.S. Veterans. That’s a lot! This doesn’t come as a shock considering Prescott has a great VA Hospital, is known as a great place to retire, and has been attracting more retirees, including veterans, as the years pass.

That being said, Prescott celebrates our Veterans the only way we know how… with a parade of course!

On Veteran’s Day this Monday November 11th, from 10:30AM to 1PM, there will be a parade in downtown Prescott to celebrate all those who’ve fought for us, our freedom, and our country, and whom we are honored to know.

Here’s some more info about the parade from the City of Prescott’s website:

“Opening ceremony begins at 10:30am on the main stage (Cortez St and Union St) across from the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza. Parade will begin promptly at 11:00am.

Parade route is as follows: Corner of Cortez St and Willis, south on Cortez St to Goodwin St, Weston Goodwin St to Montezuma (Whiskey Row)), and then north on Montezuma to Sheldon St.

Participation in the parade is free. Please click 2019 Veterans Day Parade Application for a participation application.”

We hope to see you there as it is a beautiful Prescott tradition that honors our Veterans and is fun for the whole family – not to mention there are plenty of fabulous places to eat and drink with your loved after the parade!

Happy early Veteran’s Day to all our Vets out there! We could never say thank you enough for the sacrifices you’ve made for us and for your country! We are forever grateful!

 

 

The History of Veteran’s Day

In case you didn’t know Veteran’s Day occurs every year on November 11th. It originated as “Armistice Day” in 1919 on the first anniversary of the end of World War 1. In 1926, congress passed a resolution for the remembrance to be an annual observance on November 11th and in 1938 it became a national holiday. It was officially renamed Veteran’s Day by president Dwight D Eisenhower in 1954.

According to history.com, “In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed by Congress, which moved the celebration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. The law went into effect in 1971, but in 1975 President Gerald Ford returned Veterans Day to November 11, due to the important historical significance of the date.”

Veteran’s Day differs from Memorial Day because it pays homage to all Veterans, whether living or dead. However, it is meant to especially give thanks to living veterans who’ve served their country with honor during war AND during peace.

While it is mainly an American holiday, some other parts of the world observe it was well. Great Britain, France, Australia, and Canada commemorate the veterans of World War I and II on, or near, November 11th. Canada has a holiday called Remembrance Day and Great Britain’s holiday is called Remembrance Sunday, which takes place the second Sunday of November. It is also common in Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries to observe two minutes of silence on November 11th at 11AM.

In the united states today, history.com says there are:

  • 1 million living veterans served during at least one war.
  • 2 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • 2 million veterans are women.
  • 7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War.
  • 5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War.
  • Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, about 558,000 are still alive.
  • 2 million veterans served during the Korean War.
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • As of 2014, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
  • As of 2014, 3 states have more than 1 million veterans among their population: California (1.8 million), Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.7 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community, and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.

That is a lot of men and women who put their lives on the line for our own, for our freedoms, and for our country! This coming Veteran’s Day, we would like to encourage you to say “thank you” to the Veterans in your life, or any Veterans you might encounter during your holiday celebration. They are the true heroes and we owe them more than we could possibly understand, or ever pay back.

To all our Prescott, Arizona, and U.S. Veteran’s out there, we say thank you for your service and all you’ve done for us!

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.