Archive for January, 2010

One of Top Five Worldwide Mineral Museums….

Thursday, January 21st, 2010


A sheet metal worker quiety assembled specimens of minerals during his lifetime as an avocation, and donated the extensive mineral collection to the University of Arizona.  Hubert C. Monmonier was instrumental in putting the Arizona Mineral Museum on the international platform, donating a collection conservatively valued at eight million dollars, according to Mark Candee, curatorial museum specialist.

One of the top five mineral museums in the world is located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson at the Flandrau Science Center on the lower level.  The Mineral Museum is 115 years young and originally was housed in the Geo-Science and engineering buildings.  It was originally established to showcase the minerals from Arizona, also known as the copper state.  More than 2500 pieces of minerals are currently on display.

The Museum is a research museum and has an extensive database with the DNA of thousands of minerals.  Technology today is such that an ruby from Burma  can be distinguished from an ruby  from India or South Carolina, Candee said.  The University of Arizona has one of the best labs in the world for identification and ten to fifteen new minerals are identified each year.  The Museum works in conjunction with the space program in an effort to determine the DNA of “space materials”. 

The best minerals from Bisbee and part of the private collection from the Graham Family will be on exhibit for six months beginning February 6. Additional minerals from the Smithsonian will also be displayed.  American Indian jewelery, made with local minerals, are also on exhibit.

 Minerals in today’s economy are definitely not loosing their value, Candee said.  All one has to do is look at the price of gold, silver, and platinum.  Those may be the most popular investment minerals for the general public, but people who know minerals invest in them for capital appreciation as well as their beauty. 

Rare and amazing minerals are on display at the Museum and for those lay people, wandering around the Gem and Mineral show, with eyes open, will provide a brief on the multitudes of minerals, their colors, facets, and pricing. 

A trip to the Mineral Museum on the UofA campus may be in order after touring the show, as well as spending time at the Main Show February 11 – 14 at the Tucson Convention Center. The theme is “Gems and Minerals”., verry appropriate!

of A Mineral Museum:

Tucson Gem and Mineral Society:  

Tucson Hosts World’s Largest Gem and Mineral Show…

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

More than 100,000 people who sell or trade gems and minerals have begun descending upon Tucson for the world’s largest Gem and Mineral show. 

With more than 6,000 dealers spread throughout the city, Tucson will become a mecca for the international world to examine specimens, gemstones, and jewelry.  It has been called “the swap meet to millionaires and billionaires, those connoisseurs of minerals” by Mark Candee, curatorial specialist at the  University of Arizona Mineral Museum.

There will be 44 shows ongoing in Tucson motels and hotels, and tents are now going up to house the huge shows such as the shows off of I-10 on the Frontage Road, the Tucson Electric Park show, and the show off of Palo Verde called the Holodome. 

This show began 56 years ago in a Quonset hut at the Rodeo Fairgrounds and has grown to become vast contributor to Tucson’s economy,  bringing  more than 150 million into local  business coffers.  “It is our Christmas” said Candee. 

The original show with 10 to 12 dealers was put on by a volunteer organization to showcase mining and minerals from the Bisbee-Tombstone area.  Since then, internationally renown museums and private collectors vie for the privilege of being represented at the “Main Show” , held at the Tucson Convention Center downtown, February 11 through 14.

 Many shows are “wholesale only” and appropriate documentation must be shown including tax exempt status information.  Gemologists and jewelers from throughout six continents converge on these shows to purchase millions of dollars in gems and minerals for their respective companies, such as Tiffany’s.

But the general public can attend many shows – and if a person began the first day and tried to see every show within the three week period, looking ten hours a day, that person would not see everything!  Tailgate shows spring up throughout the city, and locals feel that electrical excitement when gem show comes to town, 

Shuttle services are avaialbe throughout town transporting people from one show to another which helps with traffic movement.  The Tucson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau can answer many questions about the Gem Show.  Googling “Tucson Gem and Mineral Show” brings up a myriad of websites.

Perhaps the highest compliement paid is that Munich Show in Germany, which is Europe’s largest show, strives to be known as “The Tucson Show of Europe”.


The Official Guide to the Main Show :

The Tucson Show Guide:

The Pueblo Show:

JOGS Show:

Gem and Mineral Show You Tube Videos:

Tucson Home Sales … Yearly Statistics

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

The average price of a home in Tucson is down less than $4,000 since a year ago, but up more than $2,000 from November.  The average housing price, at $202,376, in Tucson is comparable to prices at the end of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004.  Likewise the median price is down from $163,000 in January 2009 to $154,262 in December, which again reflected first quarter 2004 pricing.

Looking at 2009 the numbers are:

   yearly-statistics4– (Please open for yearly statistics – click “Notify” and the page should open)

The greatest number of properties sold in the 85757 zip code where Star Valley is located as well as several other new home communities built during the boom.   A total of 42.22% of the listed  properties on the market sold. 

35.83 per cent of the properties listed in 85706 zip code sold;  an area roughly bordered by Irvington Road to the north, south to Valencia, a bit east of I-19 to just east of Benson Highway.  The area, 85746, which encompasses Ajo to the north, including the Tohono O’Odham nation, south to Pima Mine Road,  west of I-19 and east of Sandario Road, had 32.87% of active listings sold.  This includes the Midvale/Mission Road area where many homes were built in the 1980’s and later.

The area where properties are selling most rapidly is considered southwest Tucson.  Ironically beyond Sandario only 6.90% of the homes have sold, but this is also know as the Brawley Wash area and includes Three Points, aka Robles Junction. 

The greatest number of homes on the market are in Oro Valley in the 85755 zip with 244, and in the 85737 zip with 237 homes. Also in the Northwest, 85739 which includes Saddlebrook Active /Adult Community, 244 homes are on the market.

 The Catalina Foothills in 85718 has 296 homes on the market, and 85750, also foothills has 284.  Much of this is considered District 16.  Looking southeast into the Vail area which includes Rancho Del Lago, another master planned community built in the mid 2000’s, 304 homes are on the market. 

Tax credits are still available and bond money for foreclosed homes is also available, with some restrictions.  Interest rates remain low and FHA requires only 3.5% down.  In some instances, with lender own properties, there may be help for buyers to purchase foreclosed homes. 

Talk with your Realtor and ask what is out there for financing as well as what types of homes are available in your price range.  Your Realtor is there to help you.  Or you can call me or e mail me at for professional assistance.

Resources: Tucson Association of Realtors Monthly Housing Statistics:

Pizzeria Vivace…Seconds Please!!!

Friday, January 15th, 2010
Classic Pepperoni Pizza anyone?
Classic Pepperoni Pizza anyone?
The attention to detail which Daniel Scordato pays in his white table restaurant Vivace, carries over to the
casual pizzzeria, also in St. Philip’s Plaza, Pizzeria Vivace.  Only fresh ingredients are used and the creamy mozzarella cheese used in all dishes in homemade. 
The pizzas, more than enough for one person, are far from the “delivery type” pizzas.  From the simple Margherita which is fresh mozarella and basil on a tomato sauce, to the more complex vegetarian Eggplant, Zucchini, and Roasted Pepper with mozzarella and Trugole cheese with both tomato and pesto sauces, Pizzeria Vivace will not dissapoint.
The crust is crisp and light and does not overpower; the distinct taste of each ingredient comes through
and dances on taste buds. An interesting shrimp pizza is on the menu, with mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese with both the tomato and pesto sauces  – and also the most expensive item on the menu at $17.00.  This should tell you Pizzeria Vivace is affordable.
Although the Italian Grinder, shown above, is no longer on the dinner menu, perhaps a bit of prodding might get the kitchen to reinstate it.   The crunchiness of the bread combined with the sopprasetta, mortadella, crescenza cheese, ham and chopped kalamata olives sent my son into rave reviews. 
It is easy to see the freshness of the greens with a light dressing – bad salads need to be drenched to offset the stale flavor.
Located on the south size of St. Phillip’s Plaza, almost in the back of the plaza on the “river side”, finding it might take a bit of doing, but well worth the effort.  There are two smaller rooms for parties, or intimate dining, as well as the main dining area plus bar area.  Now open only for dinner between 4 and 9 pm Mondays through Thursdays, and Fridays and Saturdays between 4 and 10 pm, reservations may be a good idea:  520-529-2700. 
Like the gourmet restaurant across the way, a full complement of wines, domestic and imported beers are available.  And not to be outdone by Vivace’s, desserts are legendary – Honey Panna Cotta with rasberry sauce, a Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato with more chocolate sauce and hazelnuts, and the old standby, Cheesecake with lemon prosecco zabaglione.
Stuffed Red Pepper with Chicken Meatballs, Mushrooms, and Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Red Pepper with Chicken Meatballs, Mushrooms, and Tomato Sauce

Vivace Restaurant:

So What’s The Draw To Tucson? (2)

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Although Tucsonans enjoy all types of events throughout the year, January and February are the high note months for locals and winter visitors alike.  Several events take advantage of Tucson’s balmy climate and put Tucson on the international stage.

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the largest gem and mineral show in the world, moves into Tucson at the end of January and runs until February 15.  Huge white tents dot areas of the city and the Gem and Mineral Show literally is throughout the city in most all hotels and motels, especially those along the I-10 corridor.   Unimaginable beautiful gems and minerals, muti facets in brilliant colors are on display for sale by vendors from six continents, just not Antarctica.

Not only are gems and minerals on sale, but beautiful beads for beading afficianados.  Middle Eastern rugs, African art and masks, artifacts indigenous to the areas dealers are from, beautiful weavings, and high quality “junk jewerly” line room after room of motels where courtyards are turned into international marketplaces. If you are a gem or mineral dealer- or a geologist – this is your show. 

The “Main Show” at the Convention Center is slated for February 11 through the 14th where fine specimens of minerals and gems are exhibited.  This is the show for collectors  and dealers from throughout the world and boasts a rare find to see so much quality in one area.

February 25 marks the Tucson Rodeo Parade, the beginning of “La Fiesta de los Vaqueros”, or in local parlance, Rodeo Days.  Rodeo is huge in Tucson, so huge that there is no school!  During  Rodeo day, people sport their cowboy hats, shirts, jeans, and of course, beautiful – often hand made – leather cowboy boots!  It’s tradition! 

The Rodeo Parade is the longest non motorized parade in the United States.  Rodeo draws riders from throughout the world and is a huge draw for locals as well as visitors.  The Rodeo Museum will be open where memorabilia, including old carriages, are on display. 

Spring training begins at the end of February and an afternoon in the ballpark with the sounds of cheering, the organ blaring the familiar tune cuing for home team cheering, plus the smell of hot dogs permeating the air add up to a grand afternoon.  The Colorado Rockies play at Hi Corbett Field and the Arizona Diamondbacks strut their stuff at Tucson Electric Park.

Golfing fans have Accenture Match Play which  starts February 15 and runs until February 21 at the Ritz Carlton Golf Course.  Again golfers from throughout the world compete for the “last man standing” championship.  This world class event will be televised and once again, Tucson will be on the international map.

Next week I will blog about each one of these events in depth.  Book your reservation and plane ticket to TUS and come to know and understand why we love Tucson!  Remember, each of these events is outdoor!

So What’s the Draw to Tucson?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

As I have said  on my website, Tucson is a city with a small town feel.  It is impacted by the University of Arizona and Pima Community College.   The city has a collegiate atmosphere and because of both schools, Tucson is a big sports town.   Basketball and football are huge sport for both the men’s and women’s teams, but  baseball is also good  winter-spring sport, both spring training for major leagues as well as college baseball. 

Biking is not just a sport, but a means of transportation for many individuals.  Tucson is one  of the premier cities which emphasizes biking as a mode of transportation as well as sport.  Home to El Tour de Tucson, an internationally famous bike race held every November, Tucson welcomes guests for biking holidays.  Bikers can be seen most any time of year, road riding, or mountain biking.  Just recently Lance Armstrong and his team were in Tucson for several weeks practicing for another international event.  Some hotels have bikes for casual riding, and the myriad of bike shops offer bike rentals by the day, week, or month.

Flanked by mountain ranges; the Catalinas to the north-northeast;, the Rincons to the east; and the Tucson Mountains to the south, hiking trails abound at all levels of difficulty and lengths.  From casual walking on not very steep grades, to rigorous day long hikes, Tucson is your town!  And there are trails at all elevations, 2400 feet about sea level which Tucson is, to more than 8,000 feet above sea level which is the top of the Catalina Mountains at Mount Lemmon.  This provides for hiking in all types of vegetation and geological formations, from stately saguaros to lofty pines.

And Golf…golf is a huge sport and Tucson is home to Accenture Match Play held in February.  Top golfers congregate at the Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton golf course for the last man standing championship.  Spectator tickets are available and Match Play draws capacity crowds.  But for those who want to play golf and not be a spectator, Tucson offers both excellent city courses at reasonable pricing, as well as an plethora of private courses, many designed by noted golfers. 

These are a few reasons which entice people to Tucson, and why Tucsonons love their city.  I’ll continue with this love affair I have with my city tomorrow.  But for readers wanting information immediately, or wanting a relocation package, contact me at terry@terrybishop,com and let me know and I’ll get one in the mail to you pronto.  Leave your name and address and it will arrive in your post box priority mail.


Tucson Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:

Accenture Match Play:

Biking in Tucson:

Hiking in Tucson:

Tucson Golf Courses:

NAR President Guest of Arizona CRS Chapter…

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
Vicki Cox Golder, National Association Realtors President in Tucson
Vicki Cox Golder, National Association Realtors President in Tucson

Vicki Cox Golder, President of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) told Realtors and guests NAR is providing resources for consumers as well as Realtors with the launching of  The resource gives consumers information about property ownership, information about such varied topics as installing new windows, becoming more energy efficient, to contractor scams and how to detect them.  The website, more than 20 pages, is a tool for Realtors and consumers alike and is a timely source of information.

Cox Golder spoke to members of the Arizona Council of Residential Specialists (CRS) and guests at the installation breakfast of the CRS 2010 officers in Tucson.  

Much of her time, Cox Golder  said, is spent testifying on the Hill, informing Congress of the importance of FHA, extending the tax credit, and positioning for higher conforming loan limits for areas of the country where property values are extremely high.  At present NAR is trying to make sure that the mortgage interest deduction on properties more than $250,000 will not be eliminated.  “Taxes in general are on the radar screen” she said, and the tax credits now expire April 30.

“Right Tools Right Now” is another new program NAR has launched, for Realtors and like a toolbox, it has a variety of “tools” which Realtors can use immediately.  These include the President’s weekly podcast, webinairs, as well as pamphlets and brochures which can be downloaded and used in presentation kits.

“NAR is listening to what you, the Realtors need, and especially now to stay in business,” the President said. She emphasized the need for advanced designations and continuing education.  In that vein,  there is Realtor University, on line classes designed to increase the standards and professionalism of the Realtor community.

NAR has also established a Realtor Credit Union where a $100 deposit will open an account.  Small loans can be taken from the credit union which may help some Realtors stay in business.

Cox Golder is the Owner of the Vicki L. Cox and Associates here in Tucson located on Golder Ranch Road.  Tucson is proud that she has become President of the National Association of Realtors.


NAR website

House Logic

Right Tools Right Now:

Arizona CRS:


Consider Tucson as a Relocation Destination…

Monday, January 11th, 2010

While much of the country is facing bone chilling temperatures, mounds of snow and snow drifts making roads nearly impassable, and heating bills which will totally upset the family budget, we here in Tucson Arizona are facing temperatures in the high 60’s and low 70’s.  Our evening temperatures dip about 30 degrees which is typical of desert weather. 

It may be time to consider a move to the sunny southwest where there is sunshine nearly 350 days of the year.

The price of homes has dipped considerably.  For retirees, homes in many areas are extremely competitively priced, and that combined with the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit – which is applied to anyone who has not owned a home in three years, sweetens the purchase price.     The home buyer who has owned a home which sold and is buying again may be entitled to a $6500 tax credit.  Checking with one’s accountant is always prudent. But one can purcahase a comfortable two bedroom home in an active adult community for $250,000 or less.

For families and military personnel, buying in Tucson may be a sound financial decision,  Using a VA loan with no money down and the military housing allowance, then calculating costs and deducting the tax writeoff for interest and property taxes, many military people will come out paying far less for a home on a monthly basis than they would for a rental.  Find a Realtor who can help you calculate the costs, and then run the costs before a reputable loan officer. 

The average and median price of housing here in Tucson has decreased substantially within the past two years.  Savy buyers with a good Realtor can look at both short sales and foreclosure properties.  Buyers who want to give a property their own touch have a golden opportunity to purchase a foreclosure property which may be deeply discounted, and then take the money saved and turn the home into their own private palace.

And if you are coming from a situation where you must sell your own home, remember you may take a haircut on your home when you sell, but you can probably  purchase at an equally low price. 

Ask your local Realtor to put you in touch with an agent located wherever you want to move.  Your agent and that agent can work in tandem to maximize benefit for you, and your Realtor will be paid a referral fee by the Realtor from whom you purchase a home.  It is a win win situation for everyone!

Weekend Wanderings…Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain

Friday, January 8th, 2010

The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain has opened its doors and vies as another world class establishment.  Situated against the Tortolita Mountains in Dove Mountain, the hotel picks its colors from the Sonora Desert and the Southwest.

The Ritz Carlton is located north of  the Gallery, for which Accenture Match Play is famous.  The Accenture Golf Classic pits the best golfers in the world against each other and is an international draw for golfing afficianados.  Now golfers will have a world class place in which to hob nob about the tournament and the course designed by Jack Nicklaus, and the course played by Ritz Carlton guests.

Only a little more than seven miles east of I-10 off of Tangerine and north on Dove Mountain Boulevard, the ride to the Ritz Carlton meanders up Dove Mountain, past new master planned communities, and rises into a land of saguaros, a signature of the Sonora Desert.  Nearly to the end of Dove Mountain Boulevard is the turnoff to the Ritz Carlton, and one climbs further into the moutain, past the guard gate.  The land is pristine, craggy with rock formations and typical Sonora Desert vegetation providing green contrasts of sage, cacti, deset marigold,  brittle bush, and creosote.

The hotel has several patios which face the mountains, and the main lobby glass window fronts to the mountains, providing  a spectacular view of mountainous desert scenery.  It is not a contradiction that the mountains are in the desert.   The Sonora Desert is not like the Gobi or Sahara; a living green desert is often its moniker.

Situated so one can go out at night and overlook the city lights of Tucson, or stand at the entrance to the hotel and watch a spectacular sunset, the Ritz Carlton has left as much of the desert natural as possible; therefore the resort can offer adventures in hiking and bking many resorts, not attuned to the environment, cannot.   The normal resort ammenties are also available; pools, exercise rooms,  golfing, and of course a full service spa for ultimate pampering.

Unlike a city property, there are acres and acres to explore.  Not only are there rooms and suites, but there are also casitas available for those guests who would like to stay for longer periods of time.  Locals can enjoy breakfast and the scenery, or a leisurely lunch with friends on the patio, or for those who want a night on the town, dinner is scrumptious.

We welcome another world class establishment!   Salude to the Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton!  May you live long and prosper!



Association Fees???

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

So what about the nasty little pesky association fees which can add anywhere from $20 to your monthly payment to upwards to $300 or more.  Most master planned communities have association fees as do many Active Adult communities, and of course gated communities.

When purchasing a property, remember that Association Fees go up, they very very rarely come down.  Every $6.00 at a 6% interest rate for 30 years can buy another $1,000 in property.  So if the Association fee is $180 a month, a home $30,000 more than the home being considered -without an association fee – costs the same amount.

People often want the convenience and ammenities of a home which has an Association fee.   But there are others, such as home owners who purchase to have a property to go to in the winter months, who may not want to pay an association fee year round.  For the price of the Association fee, a gardener can be hired, and remember, here in Tucson, we don’t mow grass, we rake rocks.  Hiring someone to come by once or twice a month to check on the property and trim up the landscaping may be less expensive. 

Checking the ammenities offered in a community with an Association fee is an easy task, especially with the help of a Realtor.  Some subdivisions are golf course communities, some have heated pools and other have pools, some subdivisions have a rec center and exercise room with new equipment, pool tables, card rooms, cooking classes, bocci, weekly get togethers, and common areas which allow for walking with one’s dog.  Take note of what is being offered and run cost comparisions about the different areas.

If there is an Associaiton, the Realtor should check the budget of the Association and determine there are no major capital improvements about to come due, such as a renovation of the Rec Center.  An assessment may be placed on all owners so funds are available for the project.  Ascertaining there are no lawsuits is also prudent.  A buyer doesn’t want to purchase in a new community and immediately get dunned  with addiitonal levies.

Some associations will tend to the landscape of the front yard but not the back yard.  Check to make sure what is included in the fees.  In Townhome communities or condos, often utilities  are included.  When computing the fee, estimate the dollar amount exterior insurance, water,  and electric would be , then deduct that from the fee to get a more realistic number. The homeowner has to pay utilities anyways; paying the fee may be beneficial.

Determine what is offered with the fee, and then judge the property accordingly.