Archive for March, 2011

Tucson Gardening and Weekend Activities…

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

It’s the weekend, I’m trying to keep  Saturdays clear  to do things around the house; the normal – clean, pick up paper mess, put things in order, generally take care of all the mess made during the week.  Sometimes the disorder can be substantial!  And of course run the vacuum around the tiles and then mop the floors.

But it’s springtime and the roll-offs are in the neighborhood which means it’s a grand time to clean out the garage and trot all the junk to the roll-off.  This saves multiple trips to the dump for everyone in the neighborhood and I am eternally grateful that our little enclave orders the roll-offs from the city.

Last weekend the pool was the order of the day.  It is now sparkling, having fished out some of the Arizona Elm leaves which find a home in the bottom of the pool, along with the tiny leaves from the pomegranate bushes.  The birds enjoy a feast for a king when the pomegranates begin to turn from green to red, and then the fruit is full of small holes where seeds have been pecked.  Occasionally I find spots of red bird droppings and smile to myself because I have more than a few plants of various species which came from just that type of planting.

John and Debbie, who own Fiesta Growers and are regulars at the St. Philip’s Plaza Sunday Farmers Market, brought me the seeds I ordered last Sunday.  This weekend I will plant them in pots so I can eat fresh salad for the next few months, at least until it gets so warm I will give up watering. The lettuce mix will provide red leaf and green leaf lettuce, a bit of endive and I will mix that with the peppery arugula which makes a tasty meal or sandwich filling.  The spinach is always dark green and almost sweet, delicious right from the pot and so tender it is a raw treat.

For fun there is French Breakfast Radishes and I confess, they germinate fast and I like to see progress.  Crunchy with a bite, they are delicious just pulled from the pot with the dirt scraped off and eaten in a few bites.  But the bulls blood beets provide beet greens for salads and vegetables and eventually have a bulbous sweet deep red beet.  That’s a two for oner…greens and beets!

Basil grows well in Tucson and I spike my salads with fresh basil for a refreshing change of pace, and I can freeze what is leftover for fresh herbs during the rest of the year.  The cilantro is a Tucson staple for Mexican food as well as Chinese food, and that too along with the parsley is good in salads or as garnishes.

Learning to garden in Arizona is not akin to gardening on the east coast. It takes a few years of practice.  I don’t want the rabbits to eat my fare, nor do I want the javelina to snort around, hence the pots.  It’s a beautiful weekend and I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labors!


Fiesta Growers

It’s Spring…Clean Out, Clean Up… Look at Your Home From The Eyes of a Buyer…

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Tucson real estate is no different than real estate in any other location;  periodically we should take a gander at our surroundings from the eyes of a buyer, even though we are neither buying or selling.

How we keep our yard and our surroundings both exterior and interior, reflects the neighborhood in which we live, and consequently the property values.  The person down the road may have his home for sale;  I may have an unkempt yard with some junk on the side, but visible from the road or by a potential buyer who is walking the area, and my junk may impact the value of my neighbor’s house.

“Harumph” you may say.  How can that be?

Comparative market values, otherwise known as “comps” are cumulative.  Certainly they reflect economic conditions of the time, they reflect the area, and more specifically they reflect a neighborhood.

Given two identical homes, one which has been maintained in a well maintained neighborhood and the second in a neighborhood where there is an occasional older car someone wants to restore  “someday”, which is sitting in the yard with two flat tires collecting dust, and another home where the weeds are becoming a wonderful goat patch, and perhaps another home where the facia board is chipping and flaking, which home will command the higher price?

It is not one home which creates this scenario of a neighborhood which is “run down”; it is the cumulation of homes which cause this impression.

The combination of “mess” creates the image of people not caring about their surroundings.  Buyers do not want to buy into that type of neighborhood.  If the neighborhood looks a bit “run down” today, what will it be in five years?,  they think.  And rightfully so.  Blight begins with one person not caring.

Spring is in the air and spring is traditionally a time for clean up and clean out.  Ask your neighbors to take pride in their neighborhood and get rid of the “junk” and the things which devalue the neighborhood, or just begin yourself, and offer to help an elderly neighbor clean up their yard.

So how does your junk impact your neighbor?  If he/she must price his property lower because of your treasures in your yard and those of your neighbors, when it comes time to sell your home, you will pay that price and probably more in a lower sales price, and potentially in a buyer who also doesn’t care about maintaining the property, or an investor whose only interest is in the rent.

Go back and look at your home from the eyes of a buyer.  It’s eye opening!

Tucson Winter Visitors … Think About Tucson as a Second Home…

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

March generally is the last month that Tucson is home to winter visitors.  Easter marks the end of the season, but Easter is late this year in April and April is the time the crocus and daffodils rise from their winter sleep in the northern country.

Those who wintered in Tucson this year, I am sure, were grateful to miss all the snow, the sleet the ice and the difficult winter their stay at home counterparts witnessed.

Home prices now are low as are interest rates and this is an ideal time to think about purchasing a second home.

Many people arrive in November for the holidays, and granted the holidays without snow are different!  But hiking, birding, or just plain walking  in Tucson’s warm air and sunny days with a light jacket is joyous.

Active adult communities abound including golf course communities where the retiree can play a round of golf every day!  There is an abundance of private and public golf courses from which to choose including the world famous Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton course, made famous by Accenture Match Play.

For non golfers, Tucson offers a plethora of things to see and do.  Those people who opt for an active adult community often have planned activities including book clubs, art lessons, pottery lessons, tennis lesson, culinary lessons, exercise classes, poker and billards rooms and on and on.  But you don’t have to opt for an active adult community to be party to all of those things.

Tucson has an excellent library system and book clubs abound.  For more formal instruction, the University of Arizona and Pima Community College offer classes in literature for the general public, not just students.  The Tucson Museum of Art provides art classes as does the Sonora Desert Museum and for people who want to try something new, the Sonoran Glass Art Academy can help you learn to blow glass while you create beautiful items for your home and friends.

The Tucson Park and Recreation Association sponsors pottery classes in different venues in Tucson. You can also learn to salsa dance, play tennis, learn to swim, take up beadwork or any number of hobbies.  Golf lessons are also offered!

The Audubon Society has a year’s worth of activities for birders and the Sonora Desert Museum also provides classes about the natural habitat of the Sonora Desert.  The Tucson Botanical Garden is another popular place to enjoy time and classes as is the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service where one can learn to become a Master Gardener.

Living in an active adult community provides instant activities, but for those who want to customize what to do during retirement, think about a house anyplace, then pick and choose your activities from all that Tucson and its surrounding area has to offer!

For more information, contact me: or check my website

Why Continuing Education Beyond That Mandated By The State?…

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Why should you, the buyer or seller, care about the level of continuing education your Realtor® has, and whether he/she continues to take classes beyond the mandatory continuing education requirements for license renewal?

The real estate industry is constantly changing.  Short sales and foreclosures on the market brought new designations: SFR, the National Association of Realtors® designation for Short Sales, Foreclosure Real Estate, and the CDPE which stands for Certified Distressed Property Expert, and now the new classes designed for Investors in Distressed Properties.

Working with distressed buyers demands an entirely new set of skills and requires considerable paperwork which the lender, (or sometimes lenders), need to make a decision whether a short sale is granted.

Essentially this paperwork is a prerequisite for the bank to ascertain whether mortgage fraud may be involved.  Mortgage fraud, if litigated and proven, carries prison terms as well as fines for all participants.

No agent wants to subject himself/herself to possible prison terms nor do they want to subject their seller to such conditions.  Sometimes a seller genuinely does not understand that hiding assets is not protocol!

Financing is another area where the Realtor® who has additional education can make a transaction work where a Realtor® who does not understand the nuances of financing will let the potential transaction go by the boards…only because he/she doesn’t know how to structure the transaction.

With the changes which have occurred in obtaining a mortgage, many people cannot now qualify because of credit issues.

A Realtor® who has information about credit repair can pass the name of a good credit repair person on to his/her client.  Often credit can be repaired in a short time which will put the buyer in the driver’s seat to purchase a home within six months.

A knowledgeable Realtor® has knowledge far beyond the types and prices of homes on the market.  He/she spends time and money on continuing education in order to serve clients best.

Look for a Realtor® who has continuing education beyond what is required by the state.  Check the state database of the Real Estate Commission to see what types of classes your agent has taken and when.  Look for advanced designations such as GRI, CCIM, CRS, SRES, ABR, the most rigorous of which is the CRS or CCIM, the latter of which is for commercial properties.

Tucson Real Estate Market Showing Some Steam…

Monday, March 14th, 2011

The Tucson real estate market is experiencing some steam with an increase of 23.08% in volume from $130,258,440 in January 2011 to the $160,319,228 in February 2011. This number is about $15,000,000 higher than February 2010.

Are we out of the woods yet?

The average sales price increased 9.22% from January 2011 to February of 2011;  $166,998 to $182,388 in February, but still short of the 2010 numbers which were $201,219 in January 2010 and $195,996 in February 2010.

The average list price increased 8.43% from $177,036 in January 2011 to $191,957 in February 2011.  This compares to $201,219 in January 2010 and $206,843 in February 2010 .

The median sales price in February 2011 is $137,000 a decrease from February 2010 of $13,000 ($150,000) but an increase from January 2011 from $134,250 or 2.05%. The median sales price in January 2010 was $160,000.

A total of 2,272 properties were under contract at the end of February 2011, an increase of 60.34% from February 2010 when only 1,417 were under contract.  This is a 12.87%  increase  in February 2011 from January 2011 when 2,013 properties were under contract.  This compares to January 2010 when only 1,155 properties were under contract.

Total sales units in February were 879 compared to January 2011 when 780 were sold, an increase of 12.69%.  This is more than January 2010 when 712 units were sold and 741 in February 2010.

The numbers of new listings too have declined which may bode well for the Tucson market, maybe signaling that inventory is decreasing.  February new listings total 1,487 as compared to 1,949 in January and 2,104 in February 2010 and 2,424 in February 2010. The month over month 2011 decrease is 23.70%, a substantial number.

Active listings have declined from January when 7,147 properties were listed, and February numbers of 6,947 active listings, down 2.80%.  This is still higher though than 2010 numbers when 6,739 properties were listed in February and 6,618 in January 2010.

The area with the greatest number of properties on the market is the Northwest with 1772 active listings.  This is followed by the Central area with 869 properties for sale and the North Catalina Foothills areas with 727.  Only 17 properties are available in the extreme Northeast.

Looking at price points, the majority of homes sell between $100,000 and $159,999.   Running the gamut however, Tucson has 44 active properties priced at $29,999 or lower and at the other end of the spectrum, 194 properties price at $1,000,000 or higher.

The average number of days to sell a home in Tucson is 107 days.  The extreme Northwest properties sell in an average of 51 days while the northeast properties take 130 days.

The majority of people are paying cash for their real estate purchases (336), followed by Conventional loans (251) and then FHA financing (195).  VA loans totaled only 55.  The cash purchases may be reflective of the fact investors are active in Tucson.  Resort and second home buyers are also cashing in on the “bargains” here and many second home buyers also pay cash.

Prices are similar to the end of 2003 and the first month of 2004.  As Marshall Vest, Chief Economist at the Eller School of Management at the University of Arizona told the industry at the Economic Summit, “buy all you can buy, hold it for five years, and make a killing!”


Springtime in Tucson!

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Cerulean skies, warm breezes, and temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s mark spring time in Tucson.  Buds begin to burst from branches.   Golden desert marigolds pop up along highways, the tall, deep blue lupines stand at attention, while the pink globe mallow and red parry pestemon  make a mark on the Arizona landscape.

This is the time to hike, to bike, to be outdoors embracing the warmth and beauty of all Tucson offers.

The smell of the air is fresh, doors and windows are thrown open and the stagnant air of winter is replaced by clean spring fragrances.

Shorts and tees replace long pants and sweatshirts.  The dormant earth comes alive again with color, wafts of newly blossomed vegetation wander in the air, and the delicate feel of regeneration is once again upon us.

It’s the time to enjoy the many free outdoor events which bring together a myriad of cultural activities and represent the creative talents of the Tucson area.

The Tucson Festival of Books winds down today at the University of Arizona campus. Authors, publishers, lovers of books, and literacy advocates  congregrate on campus to listen to panel discussions, enjoy readings by authors, attend workshops,  or enter writing contests.  The event is free and each year grows larger, attracting renowned authors who share their creativity.

Art is in the air and March 18 to the 20th is  Oro Valley Arts in the Park, another free event.   Musicians will perform,  art work of all mediums as well as crafts will be displayed for sale, activities for children are available, and the delectable smells from the food vendors will fill the air. Friday and Saturday hours are from 9 am to 4 pm and on Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.

The Tucson Museum of Art will be open March 25 through 27 as well as the homes on the Historic Block in downtown Tucson for the Annual Spring Artisan Market.  This is the perfect place to purchase unique gifts which can range from one of the kind pottery to a pair of hand crafted earrings,  hand painted cards, or intricately blown glass.

Much of the history of Tucson and the old Presidio are within this historic downtown area and a tour of the homes in this area reflect Tucson’s connection to both Mexico and Spain.   The Presidio of San Augustine del Tucson dates back to 1775, and the Cordova house in particular is a good example of the old adobe construction. Tours are available and are conducted by docents of the Tucson Museum of Art.

Not only is the weather enticing during Tucson’s springtime, but there is plenty to see and do!  Come, enjoy the beauty of  spring time in Tucson and the events which represent Tucson and its culture!


Tucson Festival of Books

Oro Valley Arts in the Park:

Tucson Museum of Art: