Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Buyers Want 2010

Once upon a time in a place long ago named 2006, a laundry upstairs, and a laundry downstairs was desirable, and actually offered in some homes. Kitchens were an entertainment area to be viewed from the great big great room so that family and friends could applaud the gastronomic feats being performed. At least that's what I was told. Kitchens had to be huge open places. And many times, they had to be placed just so in the floor plan. Homes had bells and whistles, lots of them. And many had horns, buzzers, whizbangs, gizmos in addition to the bells and whistles. THAT was when money was free for the asking. When tricked-out homes were not limited to the usual financially favored-- but to nearly anyone. Way back when.

But buyers in 2010 are looking at things very differently. Frugality and simplicity are the new norm. Home theaters are no longer necessary, and neither is a swimming pool. Buyers are looking for smaller, less expensive homes. They're ditching, libraries, studies, formal living rooms, and formal dining roomgs, opting instead for "flex space".

While a roomy kitchen is still desirable, counter-tops and cabinetry no longer have to be top-of-the-line. A casual open area near the kitchen suits today's buyers best. Stacked washers and dryers, smaller closets, are indicative of the smaller, more affordable homes. that are attracting buyers.

And for the resale seller, times are a-changing, too. No longer beseiged with multiple offers, today's resale sellers are faced with buyers demanding much more from them. Buyers are asking for repairs and other concessions. Qualified buyers are somewhat tough to come by in the new financial times, and sellers who want to keep them interested are having to change their attitudes.

So, for the most part, gone are the days of over-indulgence when it comes to today's buyers. It's all about affordabiity.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Secret to a Vacation Home

Buried under an avalanche of housing market doom and gloom is a little piece of information that might make you smile knowingly or shock and surprise you-- Vacation property has never been more popular. It's true. Seriously, it is.

In 1995, the American Resort Development Association, a Washington D.C.-based trade group associated with resort travel and real estate, reported that thirty-five percent of American households felt they would probablybuy recreation property within the next ten years. That figure was up from twenty-six percent only two years earlier in 1993, and it has continued to rise recently.

All of us desires an escape. A place to get away from ever-increasing hectic and hurried modern lives. We all dream of a place, no matter how small and modest, where we can just disappear to on weekends, or several times a year to relax, recharge, reconnect with ourselves and each other, gain some perspective, or just plain regroup and plan. Catch a breather. The key here is that this is OUR place, not someone else's place. Not a place we rent, but a place that's all our own. Our stuff is there, and it stays there. Our stuff is there when we come back; and like an old friend we've not seen in a while, our place and our stuff is familiar, yet somehow we see it through different eyes. Our vacation place is just enough unfamiliar to be totally refreshing-- a little surprise in a way.

Because there's something about a second home that works a change on us when we are there. In different surroundings than our usual habitat and habit, we are try new things, we're quite different people as we break free from the constraints of our daily routine and move in different patterns at different times, and we explore. Turning off the daily demands of business and everyday homelife, we enjoy the feel of a different breeze, we appreciate the different scents on the air, the different sounds or complete quiet and peacefulness-- and we become different, too. We forget all responsibilities and deadlines and places to be and just be. We sit in the shade. We rock contentedly in the rocker on the porch or deck and listen to the crickets at night. We look up into a night sky so filled with stars that it could break our hearts with the weight of all that beauty. No city lights. We sleep well. We wake refreshed and looking forward to the day. Will it bring a new adventure? Will we try a new sport? Find our way around the surrounding environs, stop at yard sales, have morning coffee in a new place with the locals? Make sun tea that'll taste better for being made on our back deck in the fresh air? Rise at dawn to catch a glimpse of the deer? Or will we just stretch out and read that novel?

And while many Americans have the joy of discovering that owning a second home vastly improves their quality of life, and also their perception of the quality of life itself, they also find that they've improved their investment portfolio, too.
Mountains, lakes, streams, golf courses, ski areas, wildnerness and wildlife are very limited resources, and getting more so each day. A well-situated resort vacation home here in the White Mountains of Arizona is almost certain to be of great value no matter what the housing market looks like. Then, too, potential rental income can make your investment even more beneficial by paying for itself while you are back at home in your primary home.

There probably are investments that will offer more for you financially. But the lifestyle "equity"-- those memories and experiences you share with your loved ones at your vacation retreat are worth more than money can buy. With only a small monetary downpayment, you create years of family holidays, special family celebrations, weddings, friends and good times, and then, when you eventually sell, you pocket your financial profit. Truly a win-win proposition. Or, if love of your special retreat continues on down the years, it becomes a valuable heirloom, one that you pass on down to the younger members of the family and for future generations to enjoy. THAT's making a family history that everyone will remember and talk about fondly. Real meaning.

And so, a vacation home should be purchased for recreation and personal enjoyment first, and as an investment vehicle second. Make your vacation home purchase based on pure emotionality! And, maybe you'll later join the many folks who are buying a vacation home now for the purposes of retiring to it later. That's exactly what's happening in the White Mountains of Arizona. And, it's telescoping the availability of prime vacation properties significantly. There are young retirees, telecommuters, and workers who work via the Internet coming to live in our resort communities; even some who are willing to commute during the week. This phenomenon reduces the number of existing resort properties that will come on the market. And as you might guess, the nation's largest single cohort, the "Boomers" are leading the race to improve their quality of life. They make up the primary buyers of vacation property, and there are lots of them, and many of them do have the wherewithall to live the dream. There are 80.5 million "Boomers", and this will create a rough and tumble mad scramble for resort vacation properties such as we have in the White Mountains.

Here in the White Mountains of Arizona, we have a very finite amount of land, squeezed as we are between Government lands and Tribal lands, just a thin strip winding through the mountains and the Rim. It may be just the perfect time for you to make your move and stake out your "little piece of Heaven" before the rush that will surely come.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

White Mountains Forest Land Development

File this under “Progress”, but you can add a question mark—“Progress?” depending on whether you think developing forest lands is a good idea.

The U.S. Forest Service is starting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Black River Exchange in response to a March federal court order.

The Greer Coalition Inc. and the Center for Biological Diversity had filed suit against the Forest Service's decision in October 2005 which stated that the proposed exchange could proceed.
      The court remanded to the agency its decision authorizing the exchange.
      The proposal would exchange 337.74 acres of National Forest north of Greer with 396.35 acres of private lands located on the Black River and Blue rivers. The court directed the Forest Service to address and evaluate the environmental impact of the proposed exchange should the selected federal land be developed using multiple shallow water wells.
      A new appraisal of land values will also be prepared.
      The draft EIS is scheduled for availability in February, and the final EIS is anticipated for July.
      The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests supervisor invites the public to submit comments on the proposal and offer suggestions on the scope of the proposed exchange.
      For more information or to comment on this proposal contact Bruce Buttrey at the Springerville Ranger District (928) 333-4372.
      More information on the proposal is available at the forests' Web page:

NPC Rodeo Club Reestablished

Young Rodeo Lovers Back in the Saddle

After three years of being largely defunct, the Northland Pioneer College Rodeo Club is back!
The club was brought back with the help of the college and community members. Members are now able to compete in 10 rodeos throughout the year with a chance to complete in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) finals.

"It just got re-established," Sandy Doyle (who, with her husband, John, coaches the team) said.
The club was reestablished with no funds and no participants and had to start from the beginning, recruiting kids and enrolling them in the college. He said advisors from the college helped him get off on the right foot.
"The college has helped out a lot," John said.

The Rodeo Club is made up of seven members: Choc Westcott, 20, Casey Rudder, 19, Pat Curtin, 19, Marissa Marciano, 18, P.J. Thomas, 21, Rendi Lamb, 18, and Ace Long, 19.
To be eligible to compete, the students must have a high school diploma or GED, carry 12 credits through the college and maintain passing grades.

The club would still need funds to operate. Eddie Hancock, the Town of Taylor, Rob and Shawna Bolten and Victoria McCarty have made sure the kids have a place to practice in Taylor and Show Low.
"They donated the use of arenas," Sandy said.
More help came from other community members. Dax Austin provides the Rodeo Club with bulls for their practice and Reed Flake provides the steers and ropes. Bullfighters Shawn Corbello and Clifford Maxwell and Taylor Ambulance are also on hand for every practice.
Practice for the Rodeo Club occurs two or three times a week for two hours each day. The members practice their different areas of expertise: Westcott and Rudders are team ropers, Curtin, Thomas and Long are bull riders and bronc riders and Marciano and Lamb are barrel racers.

Not only must the Rodeo Club's members stay conditioned, but their horses have to be taken care of and their equipment kept in top shape. It's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun for the members, who all agree that rodeo is a thrilling pastime.
"I've always wanted to do it," Westcott said.
Thomas said rodeo was "just a dream I developed in high school. I started doing it. I made a lot of friends doing it. It's kept me out of trouble. There's nothing I'd rather do."
The members just got their first taste of competitive rodeo as a club, participating in a NIRA rodeo at Cochise College in Douglas Sept. 21 and 22. NPC had two winners. Long placed third in the saddle bronc event, while Curtin won a jackpot bull ride worth $2,500.
It was the first of the 10 rodeos that the NPC Rodeo Club will participate in as part of the Grand Canyon Region of the NIRA, which takes in 10 college rodeo teams in Arizona and New Mexico.

The next rodeo for NPC's riders will take place at Dine College in Tsaile Oct. 26 and 27. At the end of the year, each region is represented at the national level for the finals.
Rodeo participation can be very expensive, but many area organizations and businesses have helped them with donations and discounts. Among those to be thanked are: Hawkeye Feed, High 5 Design, The Tack Shop, Cowboy Up Supply, Eddie Hancock Ranch, Hatch Construction and Paving, Doyle Electric, Yellowhair Buckles, the Law Office of Ron Wood, Gold Level Construction, Mobile Cellular and Eagle Realty.

But the newly reformed club still needs help and would like others in the community to help out with either sponsorships or fundraisers, and support from the community would be welcome.
Aside from competing, the NPC Rodeo Club will promote a rough-stock clinic in the future, which will be open to the public. For more information on this or to become a sponsor, call John Doyle at (928) 521-6005.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Visiting Your White Mountains Cabin? Call ahead for provisions

Forget something? If you're on your way up to the White Mountains of Arizona, either to your own vacation cabin, or to headquarter in a rental cabin to LOOK for your own vacation cabin, Click here to find a cabin for sale maybe you forgot some provisions! If so, think about calling ahead to Eddie's Country Store in Pinetop. (928-367-2161)

Eddie's Country Store is a White Mountains favorite, that's for sure-- and if you call ahead and give them your provisions list, they'll have it waiting for you. Eddie's is owned by the Basha's supermarket chain, and does offer many of the products you'll find in a large store, including a full-service meat counter. Don't miss that! There are also bakery goods, good fresh produce, seasonal offerings, and a line of specialty products that you won't find elsewhere. Eddie's will also have some area food taste-treats, such as pies, cakes, breads on occasion-- right outside the store.

On Friday, Saturday & Sunday, you'll find an extra-special treat awaits you: Outdoor-cooked apple-smoked meats cooking in big cookers in the parking lot. Ribs, chicken, and a tender tri-tip can be picked up there. It's a good idea to call ahead and reserve your barbecued meats, but usually you can snag some on spur-of-the-moment. Eddies also has a wonderful selection of wines and spirits that many find extraordinary. Some camping cookware is available, and you can buy your fishing license there, too. Local craftspersons or sellers of speciality items are many times invited to display their wares inside the store. There is also a small restaurant on the premises, serving breakfast, lunch and supper, which offers some of the store's specialty apple-smoked meats along with traditional quick and tasty meals.

All in all, it's a very friendly well-run operation, (Jeremiah Navarro, Manager) and it's actually fun to go there. And don't forget the marshmallows!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Multiple Washers & Dryers - The New Trend!

While home interior vacuum systems are a real convenient plus for the homeowner or the potential buyer, it seems there's a new movement afoot (for some), and that is, multiple washers and dryers throughout the home. This, according to the Wall Street Journal this month.

Gone, apparently, are the days of the basement laundry area! It seems many homeowners, including those with vast square footage and aging (ahem) Baby Boomers who would prefer not to lug laundry baskets up and down the stairs, are opting for washers and dryers in other rooms such as, bedrooms, and most importantly, guest rooms. Some homeowners, according to reports, are putting washers and dryers in every closet of every bedroom. How they do that, the female half of "Your White Mountains Realtors" does not know!

There are currently no real statistics on how many homeowners are refitting closets to accommodate extra washers and dryers, but according to reports, builders and interior designers say that the trend is catching on, most notably in higher-end homes. So we may begin to see some of this trend here in the White Mountains of Arizona, especially in our vacation/second home market, which homes, in many cases, find the owners enjoying their beautiful cabins with their guests. It would be a blessed convenience for guests to be able to perform their laundry tasks away from the main laundry area; and, even launder their own linens prior to leaving-- fantastic!

But even if a vacation home is sans extra laundry, some home owners are spending upwards of $2,500 on the newest machines that come in designer colors and run quietly, or buying specialized machines for delicate items and durable items.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Understanding the White Mountains Real Estate Market

Understanding the White Mountains Arizona Real Estate Market

We have to take a deep breath here. Although we provide buyers with a very nearly overwhelming verbal explanation/discussion of the market intricacies during many of our initial contacts, the subject of what forces drive the market in the White Mountains of Arizona is important enough to deserve wider distribution. We’ve studied it in-depth ad nauseam, watch it on a daily basis, and are probably one of the best resources a White Mountains Arizona real estate buyer can work with. At least that’s what they tell us, and we appreciate that very much.

Our market is predominantly a vacation/second home market. As such, “real value” as in price-per-square foot considering age, condition, upgrades, comparables, etc., must be considered in the context of many intangibles to value, both real and perceived that are overarching big players in our market. Many buyers have a “sticker-shock” reaction to the prices asked for vacation/second homes and mountain cabins in The White Mountains with—“That’s crazy!” But is it really? Or, “It’s a buyer’s market— hasn’t anyone up here heard that?” Sure we have; but, the White Mountains Arizona real estate market has some thick and natural (of course!) insulation against national real estate downturns.

A good place to start getting your head around this market, is a comparison of “real value” versus intangible value, so take a look at Aspen. There, a small, ancient single-wide mobile, cheek to jowl with another equally ancient single-wide mobile will command in excess of $1million dollars. Well, you may say that the White Mountains is no Aspen— and others may answer, “Not yet…” (because indications are that the White Mountains is heading resolutely in that direction). Anyway, from your $1million dollar-plus trailer in Aspen, you may sit on your front steps, strap on your skis, and get on the lift. Just like that. To many, that ability is not only worth millions, it’s priceless.

Similarly, with some of the nation’s most glorious lakes, rivers, streams, four-seasons, skiing, camping, fishing, good water, no pollution, no industry, no gridlock, no crime, peace and quiet, security--- ad infinitum lifestyle benefits, the White Mountains may have even more to offer than “ski from your doorstep”. These attractive and compelling qualities are hyperactive “location, location, location” realities. And these qualities may not be to-the-eye represented in the wood, brick and mortar of homes and their prices.

Did you know that there are areas in New England that actually tax homeowners on the view they enjoy? That’s true. Should homeowners there have the right to ask more for these million-dollar view homes? Sure. If a governmental body has decided that the views have value, why not? Fortunately, no one is taxing views here in the White Mountains; but, the market is placing a value on these “intangibles”, including views, be it mountains, thick pine, peaceful meadows, the golf course, etc., outside the square footage, age and amenities of homes.

So much for some of the valuable intangibles that fuel our market prices. Now let’s talk about the area, itself, and what that means to the pressures of supply and demand. Over 750 square miles. Big, yes. But, out of that, only an estimated 12% to 13% can be privately owned. The rest belongs to The Tribes and to the State/Federal Government, the BLA, too. Now out of that 12% to 13%, there is a vast amount of land that is wild, windswept, rocky scrub where the traditional cattle herds needed huge amounts of land to graze. This use is disappearing, but this difficult land still remains, much of it for sale. There still remains the “wide-open spaces” appeal to many for this rugged land and independent lifestyle (we appreciate those individuals and salute them), but the majority of buyers want the flip-side of our market’s coin. They want our cool mountain vistas, and they want trees. Pine. The more the better. And so, the small remaining balance of available land is considered prime with correspondingly supply/demand high prices for obvious reasons. The White Mountains can boast of the largest stand of Ponderosa in the nation; but, the majority belongs to the aforementioned entities. That leaves very little for private use.

That fact reminds us of some very revealing stories about potential buyers from out of our area—and there are many similar stories, all with the same general theme. A private pilot, while flying in his plane over Rim Country from Flagstaff to Show Low was very impressed with mile after square mile of heavy Ponderosa pine forests. He figured, out of all that forest, he’d be able to buy at least 100 acres with no problem. And since there was so dang much of it, most probably the 100 acres could be had for a song. He was, therefore, extremely disappointed and slightly angry to learn that he’d been flying over miles and miles of National Forest Service land. Similarly, many who drive to our beautiful area arrive at our office wanting land “close to the Ski resort” or “on that big lake”, or “on that stream with the little waterfall”—again, disappointed to learn that all those miles of pine, aspen, meadow, lakes and streams belong to The Tribes or the government.

But, hey, we learned that lesson when we first came to Arizona, to Flagstaff, in particular, where, talking to a Realtor we were asked, “Do you like trees?” Well, what else were we there for but Ponderosa and maybe a view of the San Francisco Peaks? We thought the Realtor was fibbing when she told us each Ponderosa added about $5K to an asking price… Abandoning Flagstaff for the White Mountains in the belief that things might be different here afforded us a similar situation with the addition of lakes, streams and creeks added to the "no can do" list. But! The White Mountains was the closest to "heaven on earth", in Arizona, and we soon realized we'd stumbled onto something very special. And so, when OUR buyers show some anger and disbelief when they hear “the news”, about what they can and cannot have at any price, we totally understand, because on the face of it…

All this sounds like, “You’ll take what you get and like it”; but that’s not true. With good understanding of the market, and happy appreciation of all the wonders and beauty a vacation home in the White Mountains offers in addition to the enjoyment of your White Mountains vacation home’s four walls, you can “Take what you like and love it”. It doesn’t have to be a full-out glam vacation cabin, either. It can be a modest dwelling in the pines, a headquarters, a quiet place to come back to after days of fun, adventure, plenty of sunshine and clean air. Cool summers for the children to enjoy, crisp autumn air with just the hint of a distant wood-burning stove at dusk, delicious trout sizzling in the pan, sunrises and sunsets from your deck, pleasant neighbors— we could go on and on. When you open the door of your new vacation home OR your permanent home here in the White Mountains of Arizona, you open a whole world.

Life is better in the White Mountains

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hot Tubs Make Vacation Home Rentals Pay Off!

Thinking about renting out your White Mountains Arizona vacation home? Here's an interesting and valuable tip:

"Anyone who plans to rent out a second home to vacationers should consider adding a hot tub", says Bill May, owner of Sunspots Inns, Resorts and Rentals, which maintains more than 100 properties in Hawaii and other vacation spots.
This is according to a recent article written by Tom Kelly of the Los Angeles Times, which article is attributed here in part or in total.

May estimates that vacation rental condos with hot tubs bring in an average of $14,000 more annually than rentals without hot tubs.

"It's a four-season amenity and something people really like to have available, even though they might not use it," he says. "It would probably pay for itself three times over in less than a year."

Beyond a hot tub, "What people want and will remember is that the home is pristinely clean," says Penny Taylor, May's wife and business partner. "Renters remember crisp linens and sparkling floors and are after a spot where all they need to bring is clothes and food."