Thursday, November 25, 2004

White Mountains Arizona Christmas Festivities

There's no better place to spend the Christmas Season than the White Mountains of Arizona! We have snow on the mountain-tops with Sunrise Ski Resort set to open December 10. In addition to all the beauty Nature offers during the winter season, there's plenty to do, see and enjoy! Here are some highlights:


December 4, 2004

Woodland Holiday Lighting Festival (Christmas Tree Lighting)- Pinetop


Woodland Holiday Lighting, Saturday, December 4th at the Woodland Lake covered bridge. Be sure and watch Santa and his elves arrive!



Scheduled for 2:30pm and all children under 10 are invited to spend some time with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Hot chocolate and cookies! The Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held at 5:00 pm-- don't miss it!



The Rotary Club food drive to help the less fortunate in our communities would appreciate your donation of canned goods. A donation wins you a Holiday Raffle gift!

For more information: Pinetop-Lakeside Parks and Recreation at 928-368-6700




December 2004 (date TBA)

Christmas Tree Lighting and Electric Light Parade - Show Low

Show Low Main Street's Christmas Tree lighting will begin at the Festival Marketplace in downtown Show Low at 5:30 PM. Hot chocolate and hot cider will be available along with a Christmas program and entertainment. The Show Low Chamber of Commerce Electric Light Parade will begin at 6:30 PM along the Deuce of Clubs.

Click here for more information

December 1 thru 12th - Snowflake/Taylor

Snowflake Heritage Foundation's Annual "Twelve Days of Christmas"

This event is held each year to "Celebrate the Season." to celebrate this joyous time of year. Santa Claus makes a special appearance, friends and neighbors gather at Heritage Square to listen to holiday music, gather goody bags-- and all are welcome to enjoy this festive event. Festivities begin with the Snowflake Town Lighting and Festival of Trees at Heritage Park on Main Street in Snowflake. Watch the magic of over 92 snowflake street lights light up the streets of the lovely little town!

Taylor's Christmas Tree Lighting will be held at the Taylor Rodeo Pavilion on December 3rd at the Taylor Rodeo Pavillion at 5:30 pm Santa will visit the children in Snowflake and Taylor, too. Enjoy music, entertainment, train rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, hot chocolate, cookies and the traditional Santa Goody Bags for all the children.

Other festivities included will be Valley View Baptist Church Christmas Program, Living Faith Christian Center and Silver Creek Community Bible Church Choir Christmas Program, High School Holiday Program, and a Holiday Historic Home Tour. There is no charge to these events and visitors are welcome.


December 2004 (date TBA)

White Mountain Historic Home Tour Tea - Springerville/Eager

A high tea and tours of the historic pioneer homes in the communities of Springerville and Eagar is offered each winter in the Christmas Season.

Find Out More

December 2004 (Date TBA)

Christmas Light Parade - Springerville/Eagar

Beginning in Eagar, the parade is traditionally held on the first Saturday evening in December to celebrate the joy of the season and welcome Santa Claus.

Casa Malpais Festival of Lights - Springerville/Eagar

The pathways through these ancient Native American ruins will be lit with luminaria (traditional Southwest candle-lit foot lights)during the holiday season. Overlooking the Town of Springerville, the carefully preserved 17-acre ruins were occupied in the 13th century, and feature the Great Kiva, a catacomb burial area, stairways, astronomically aligned shrines, and petroglyphs. A museum and gift shop displaying artifacts is in Springerville. Guided tours are also available.

For more information: Springerville-Eagar Regional Chamber of Commerce (928) 333-2123



"Stigmatized Property" - Arizona Specific Laws

Arizona’s Stigmatized
Property Law

In 1995, the Arizona Legislature enacted A.R.S. §32-2156, Arizona’s first stigmatized property law. This law provides that sellers, landlords and real estate licensees have no duty to disclose to buyers or tenants that (1) a person has died on
the property (whether by natural death, suicide or homicide); (2) a felony has been committed on the property; (3) the property is or has been owned or occupied by a
person who has AIDS or is HIV-positive, or has 'any other disease that is not known to be transmitted through common occupancy of real estate;' and (4) the property is
located in the vicinity of a sex offender (added in 1997).


The statute does not prohibit a seller or broker from disclosing such facts, rather the statute provides that if such facts are not disclosed by a seller or a broker, then no criminal, civil or administrative action may be brought against such person. The statute protects those persons from “failing to disclose”such facts, and apparently the statute does not necessarily protect a seller or real estate broker from making an affirmative misrepresentation concerning crimes or deaths on the property.

Originally, the legislature inadvertently placed language in the statute which
limited this protection to only those brokers acting on behalf of the seller or
landlord, which arguably excluded buyer’s brokers and possibly dual agents. The law
was amended in 1996 to include equal protection for buyer’s agents. In 1997, the
Arizona Legislature amended the stigmatized property statute to include whether the
property is located in the vicinity of a sex offender. Somewhat surprisingly, this
seemingly controversial change in the law went practically unnoticed. Therefore,
since 1997, a broker would not be legally required to disclose the fact, even if
known to the broker, that the subject property is located next to a property
occupied by a sex offender.

Stigmas Not Covered by the Statute

Whether a real estate broker must disclose information to a buyer relating to facts that may psychologically impact a property has been an issue of much debate in Arizona. As explained above,the Arizona Legislature enacted a law in 1995 which resolves the disclosure requirements for many of the stigma issues. But the statute
does not address all possible stigmas. The first reported court case to
address the stigma issue occurred in the case of Reed v. King, 145 Cal.App.3d 261, 193 Cal.Rptr. 130 (Cal. App. 1983) where the California Court of Appeals held that a buyer of a home may recover damages for the non-disclosure of the fact that there
had been a multiple murder in the house 10 years earlier. The Reed court held that if the buyer could prove that the murders had a “significant and measurable
effect on the market value,”and that the seller and his agent were aware
of this effect, the seller and the agent had a duty to disclose even though
the character of the information affecting the market value of the house was merely psychological. In response to the Reed v. King case, in 1987 California became the
first state to enact legislation concerning stigmatized property. Following the lead of California, many other states including Arizona have since enacted similar
legislation. Although it is now clear under Arizona law that the murders in the
Reed case would not have to be disclosed, the analysis of the murder case could apply to other types of stigmas.

The Arizona Department of Real Estate Commissioner’s Rules require a broker to disclose to a potential buyer in writing any information which the broker possesses which “materially and adversely” affects the consideration the buyer would pay.
Similarly, the common law developed by the courts essentially requires the broker to disclose to the buyer all material facts about the property known to the broker.
The items required to be disclosed may include “material facts”which are purely subjective and do not affect any physical condition of the property such as "stigmas” associated with the property. Those items which are not specifically protected by the stigmatized property statute may still be required to be disclosed.

A summary of the current disclosure requirements follows:

Death on the Property
The occurrence of a recent death on a property, such as a murder or suicide, may create a significant “stigma”against the property. Regardless, under Arizona’s stigmatized property statute, a seller, landlord or broker is not required to make any such disclosure, even if such fact is known. Once again, the law does not require the broker to remain silent, and a broker representing a buyer would certainly be free to make a full disclosure to the broker’s client
as to all stigmas, except that an occupant has AIDS.

Previous Occupant with HIV or AIDS

Even before the enactment of Arizona’s stigmatized property law, a broker’s disclosure that a previous occupant of a property was HIV positive or had AIDS would violate the Federal Fair Housing Act, which has protected “handicapped persons”since 1989. Even though there is still a portion of the public which has fears about
purchasing property previously occupied by a person infected with AIDS (which may arguably decrease the value of the home), under Arizona’s stigmatized property law
the broker is fully protected by not making any such disclosure.

Crime in the Area
The stigmatized property law protects the broker only from failing to disclose crime occurring on the subject property. Thus, an argument can be made that a broker is still required to disclose the broker’s knowledge of the existence of criminal activity involving the surrounding neighborhood, especially violent crimes. It still remains very much a grey area, and whether disclosure is required may depend on the type of crime, how recent it occurred, the type of neighborhood, and the type of persons purchasing the home.

Environmental Stigmas

Arizona’s stigmatized property law does not eliminate a broker’s duty to disclose environmental stigmas or the possibility the property is contaminated. For example, if the home is known to have had a meth lab, although the crime does not have to be disclosed per the statute, the possibility of environmental contamination must be disclosed. Obviously, if a broker knows of actual environmental contamination,
this must be disclosed.

The foregoing material has been exerpted from various sources and is presented here for general informational purposes, only. Many of Arizona's "stigmatized property" laws are still open to legal interpretation. If you believe you own or believe you may be buying "stigmatized property", consult an attorney or experienced Real Estate broker/agent for advice and resources.


Read Part I

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Murder, Mayhem, Hauntings - "Stigmatized Property"

The news is full of gruesome and shocking crimes, many of them committed in dwellings. These occurences can result in what the Real Estate industry calls "stigmatized property"-- a property that has potentially intangible blemishes that can affect perceived value by virtue of crimes, murders and/or natural deaths which occurred in the dwelling.

While it's easy to appreciate that the value of a home will be reduced if the roof leaks or the basement floods, the situation becomes more complex when the issue is psychological rather than physical.

Suppose a home is in excellent physical condition; but suppose as well that it's also been the site of a murder or a suicide. Is the home as valuable as a similar property where such events have not occurred?

Some prospective buyers would plainly be uncomfortable by such news with the result that either they would not bid on the property or they would reduce their offers.

The feelings of many buyers are entirely understandable, but it's also easy to see that sellers may be unfairly damaged, too.

If the home is the site of a suicide or murder,the individual who died was probably a friend or relative of the owners, and they doubtless feel enormous loss and perhaps wish to move. But under some state rules, when they offer their home for sale the owners must tell buyers of recent events at the home, thereby lowering its value.

The complicating factor is that a number of states have so-called "stigmatized housing" rules which say that owners and their brokers need not disclose the events at the home related to suicides, accidental deaths, natural deaths, ghosts, or felonies, or if the property is next-door to a sex offender. These rules are inconsistent so that the disclosure requirements in one state may be very different than another. Many states have no rules dealing with stigmatized homes, a legal gap which offers no guidance to buyers, sellers, or brokers.

The result is that what must be disclosed depends on where you live. A murder may have to be disclosed in one state, not disclosed in another, or disclosed today but not after several years.

But, it's not too surprising that state rules are often divided on this issue. Stigmas are related to personal values, preferences, and perceptions, matters that are almost impossible to legislate.

If you own a property which is or may be stigmatized, or if you are considering the purchase of such a property, make certain to speak with knowledgeable brokers/agents and/or attorneys in your state to see what disclosures, if any, are required

Read Part II - "Arizona Specific Laws"



Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sellers' Disclosure - Know the Law

Disclosure laws are becoming more and more strict, and sellers now have a much greater obligation to disclose material facts that can affect the value/sale of their home.

What is a "material fact"? It is anything that could affect the sale price or exert influence on a buyer's decision to purchase a home. States are increasingly tightening up laws on the sellers' obligation to disclose known conditions not readily apparent, such as a cracked foundation.


    State laws
  • Most states require some form of seller disclosure. The form of disclosure can vary. Some states require a seller to complete a questionnaire about their property's condition; in other states, disclosures can be made verbally. In some states, seller disclosures are voluntary. The only sellers excluded from disclosure laws are banks and mortgage companies selling foreclosure properties.

    Federal and local laws
  • In addition to state mandates, some local and federal laws require sellers to make specific disclosures. Federal law, for example, requires sellers of homes built before 1978 to disclose any known lead hazards (lead paint).

    Real estate company requirements
  • Some major real estate companies require prospective sellers to complete a disclosure form before listing their property.


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TIP:
A fact that is material to one buyer may be of no concern to another. If you're in doubt as to whether a condition should be disclosed, consult your real estate agent or a property attorney. And ask yourself if you'd want to know this information if you were the buyer. If the answer's yes, then disclose.



    Toxic Hazards
  • Structural defects are one thing; health risks from exposure to toxic chemicals are another issue altogether. Homebuyers are becoming increasingly concerned about environmental hazards and toxic materials in houses, especially in older homes. Common toxic substances include lead paint, lead pipes,asbestos insulation, asbestos ceilings, formaldehyde insulation and glues, and carbon monoxide or radon gases. Have your home tested for these substances. More buyers are requesting such tests, and may expect you, the seller, to correct the problem or offer a lower price to cover the cost of removing toxic substances.

Tip: Defects as Deal Breakers

Homebuyers many times back out of real estate deals when the home inspection reveals a problem. To avoid the potential for failed deals and the inevitability of having to disclose a newly found defect, have your property inspected before you put it on the market


...Coming Soon - Murder, Mayhem and Things That Go Bump in the Night - "Stigmatized Property"