Friday, September 29, 2006


From sun up to sun down, a little review on the REALTOR Caucus held yesterday at the Desert Ridge Marriott Resort & Spa put on by the Arizona Association of REALTORS.

Many other attendees actually got to stay at the beautiful resort (on their own dime... I think) but because of scheduling I could not. However this has happened before on meetings that I have had to attend in Phoenix. No problem. I like driving (but the lear jet was quicker).

Each time I've had to take this day trip to Phoenix I have left Kingman when it is dark. Usually I leave around 4:00am (I left later this time because the meeting didn't start till 9:00am). So I always get to enjoy the sunrise. Often they are brilliant displays. Likewise on the way home I'm in for a show as the sun begins to set. This time I happened to have my camera with me for a change and decided I would try to snap a photo of the sunrise and the sunset (all the while keeping one eye on the road at 80MPH, kids don't try this at home). So above you are seeing the sun rise in the east and at the end of this article you'll see the sun set in the west. Neither photo is all that great but I wasn't pulling over to set up any shots. Just point and click.

Onto the Caucus. It was a nice event and just another example of why I have plenty of faith in our State Associaiton.

Richard Mack of Richard V. Mack & Associates and Michelle Lind, AAR's General Counsel made up a panel on real estate related issues. Now I did not take notes and frankly don't remember all that many highlights of this part of the program. Nothing against these two at all, but I think legal speak is boring to listen to, yet I find it very interesting to read. I'm sure there will be an occasion when I'll be in a discussion somewhere when something that one of these people on the panel said something that I'll find useful to use for my side of the conversation. But for now I'm drawing a blank.

Next up was economist Elliott D. Pollack. His presentation was very good. You can see the slideshow here. Mr. Pollack kind of reminds me of Richard Belzer with his delivery. Not an exact match but similarities. Plenty of info on housing and the economy. It was very Phoenix centric information but nonetheless I found it interesting. He said that in 04/05 that builders built an excess of 20,000 units, and now that excess needs to be absorbed. What caused the excess demand couldn't be answered but for all the reasons given, investing was at the heart of most of it and the only remaining pressure from demand is from population growth. Which alone does not equal the demand levels from those years any longer.

Bottom line he said that it will take time to absorb the excess supply of housing units to bring back some balance to the market, but that this will be the third best year in the history of sales in real estate. Better than 2003 and earlier. Good stuff and please take a moment to check out the slideshow for many more interesting facts.

The last presenter in the morning was AAR's Vice President of Government Affairs, Tom Farley. Once again I did not take notes as he listed the many items the State Association is working on with the legislative process. He did mention Mohave County's ongoing battle about the land split 'Matrix', so we did get a little shout out for the north west part of the state.

After luch the groups of people were broken up into their regional area's to discuss issues that are more on the local side of things. Then each regional VP gave a review of these issues in front of the main body of folks that showed up. Our regional VP, Michelle Pepper, did a great job representing us. It was a difficult task because I'm sure that I was a pain in the ass the whole time during the regional breakout session.

And of course just when many of you all thought I had learned to say no to things, Michelle asks me if I would be interested in being the regional VP for 2008-09. Did I say no??

Just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in.

Well it's not quite that bad, I should digress. I at least get a year to concentrate on my business a bit more and that the position is not as labor intensive as the current leadership positions I am involved in. And ssshhhh... I was kind of hoping for that all along... but don't let that little secret out.

Of course I would still be subject to blood tests, drug tests, eye exams, credit checks, IQ tests, polygraph tests.... What?? Are you saying that's wrong?? None of that applies?? Hmm. Oh.. the represented Associations just have to accept me for the position?? Well now I'm not so sure if I'll get the job afterall.

What I am realizing is that leadership is now in my blood. Oh the flies will most certainly be in the ointment, the monkeys will be in the wrench, and the pain will be in the ass now for sure for some years going forward. It's okay, I'm bringing you along for the ride.

The event was great and I am glad that I participated. I was looking forward to listening to the Phillies game on the way home on my XM radio but there was a rain delay. No matter they lost anyway and probably blew their chances at the playoffs. No worries, I'm used to it.

This was sunset last night. And it is also sunset for this post. But the sun will rise again later.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Happy Birthday Mom!! From your favorite son with love, Todd.

Been out this week...

Too many all day meetings hit me this week. Oh but I have lots to say, and it appears I'll have time to say these things just a little later so hang in there.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My favorite property in Mohave County...

As I stated earlier, I had an all day meeting in Lake Havasu today. I take Interstate 40 to the Havasu turnoff when I head there. Along the way in an area called Yucca you will pass this unique looking residence.

Sorry the photo is not any better, but keep in mind that the speed limit is 75 on the freeway and I have to keep one eye on the road so the composition may be less than desired.

I pass this place each time I head west on the freeway and always think a couple of things. First, I want to buy this place some day. Don't really know why... it's way out in the middle of nowhere. I certainly wouldn't like the commute. And second, if I did buy the place someday I'd have Titelist painted on the side somewhere visible to the freeway side. To me it looks like a giant golf ball plain and simple. Hey, I realize this is a crazy reason to want to buy the place, but luckily for me I am married to the woman I am married to because she would never allow me to do such a thing.

Some lore about the place that I am familiar with, some of which may be wrong as I hear the stuff second and third hand, it used to be a restaurant. I imagine that location wouldn't be so good for such an enterprise. I believe it has a new recent owner. It is now painted this gray color and used to be a tan or beige. You can tell that some work has been done to the property as well on the lot and such. You may also see in the photo a couple of other sphere's, there is also a UFO type of model somewhere on the land. It's the kind of motif that I would imagine late-night radio show host Art Bell might be inclined to live in, if you ever listened to the show you'd know what I'm talking about.

This place was listed a few years back and I thought the asking price was somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000. Too expensive for me back then and probably too expensive today. Glad to see that it appears to be taken care of by the current owner. I hope that this place becomes some sort of protected landmark in the future.

Yucca is a small, real small community. There is development in the area though and I could see it expand and become more popular in the future. The I-40 corridor has plenty of commercial opportunity and the folks who may end up working out there may want to live in closer proximity.

I was lucky enough to have my camera in the vehicle with me so I snapped the photo and wanted to share it. Hope you like.

Greg Swann is the man...

He is now at 100 posts for the day. Way to hang in there Greg. Plenty of good stuff as well. I need to catch up on about 40 of them.

I'm sure he'll be sleeping in a few minutes.

BTW, Ardell is no slouch either, last I checked she was in the 60's. Well done by both.


Ardell finished her posts as well with time to spare. Real Estate Blogs are going to make a big difference in this business. Plenty of great information for the client as well as the professional. Be sure to check out blogs, like the ones on my blogroll, for an incredible amount of useful information.

Catching up on things...

After a busy weekend I'm still catching up on things a bit. I'll be in a meeting for the next couple of days to sign off on the new MLS product with the vendor. It may be an all day kind of thing. Oh I know, I know, what are you going to do while waiting for me to get back on track with the blog??

Well there is a very intersting contest going on in the real estate blog world right now. No, not the kind of contest in the Seinfeld episode... nothing even like that. But someone will be master of their domain by the end of it to say the least.

Ardell DellaLoggia and Greg Swann are attempting to post 100 blog article's today. It started at 12:01am this morning and will go on for all day. Right now Ardell is at 20 and my main man Greg is at 45 and counting. I'd say they are both off to real solid starts.

They've got plenty to say today so be sure and check it out.

Photoblogging in Zion National Park

Here's just a few photo's of my recent hiking trip. Keep in mind that I do not feel comfortable with heights or I might have taken more quality photo's. I'm a bit weak in the knee when I'm looking over cliff's and such. I regret I didn't get more into it while I was there. I'm also 235 pounds and didn't see anyone else in my weight class at the top of these hikes, I was beat.

My wife however can do these hikes all day long and wish for more daylight to do even more. Still, I had a great time even though hiking is really not for me. I'd like to thank my sister in law Dawn, her husband Anthony, and friend Tracy... along with my wife for waiting for the slow poke on the way up AND the way down the trails. I was in good company for sure.

My motivation to make it to the top of the trails?? I brought along my XM radio to listen to the Phillies games. For one thing, sure couldn't beat the view while taking in the game. It may just be better than being at the game.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Carnival of Real Estate is up..

And is being held at Jonathan Millers Matrix site. Join the carnival here.

After a long weekend of hiking up steep trails, along sheer cliffs, I think I'll take some time today and head over to the carnvial to catch up on anything I've missed.

I'll be back later but hopefully I'll see you at the carnival... I'll buy you some cotton candy if we run into each other.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I'm off...

I heading out again for a 3 day weekend. I'm off to Zion National Park in Utah. It's a camping trip which also means a hiking trip. Not a huge participant in these activities... especially during football season... but my wife is an enthusiast.

Plus this is the place that I met my wife just a little over 7 years ago, on a similar type of camping and hiking extravaganza. I'm gonna miss you all and will have plenty of time to think of new posts while I struggle for breath on the hikes (I was in better shape 7 years ago for this kind of activity).

Meanwhile here are some links to some great reading.

Jay Thompson wants to raise the bar for getting a real estate license. Some great ideas. Read it.

The fella's at sellsius managed to post 50 articles on their blog yesterday. I was worried about the quality of the content, but to be honest the quantity really didn't have any negative affect on the always spot on quality you normally will find at their site. Read it. Read it all.

Thinking about buying a brand new home from a developer?? Check out Greg Swann's bit about why it's a great idea to bring along your favorite Realtor. Just don't forget to negotiate up front to save yourself even more money. Read it.

Ardell, from the Rain City Guide, has a nice informative article about things to consider if your thinking about purchasing a home. Read it.

Greg Tracy has a good discussion going about the positives, in his view, of dual agency. Read it.

For you folks who are on the fence about starting a blog for your business, Jim Cronin from the Tomato has an article for you to consider. Read it.

What?? Nothing on Zillow or or Google and real estate?? I've left that up to others who are better at the subject than I.

Enjoy... I will miss all of you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Gunfight at the KGVAR Corral

I'm headed to the Board of Directors meeting for this month at the Association. Big day because we are proposing the budget for next year. I'm already hearing rumors swirling around and members are getting pretty fired up.

I'm not going to discuss the particulars on our local budget, but I will say that I hope that the meeting room is filled this morning. It would be a great opportunity to educate the members on the issues that face the Association in the coming years with the big changes that have been made.

I hope I'm wearing the white cowboy hat by the end of the meeting, but I suspect many of the Members think I'm wearing the black cowboy hat this morning right now.


I guess I'm too big and strong. I'm too threatening perhaps. Maybe I'm intimidating more than many years of playing hockey I thought could have made me.

Other than the other Board of Directors and the Committee Chairs who attended the meeting, exactly zero other members showed up to hear about the changes to their dues changing and how it will affect the budget for next year.

Dang it!! I knew I should have put the new fishing boat that I want on the budget.

More 'Matrix' help...

The Goldwater Institute has been following our local little battle with Mohave County over the restrictive measures they are trying to introduce on landowners.

See here.

I'll be making sure this article is seen by the County Supervisors before the October 2nd meeting where they are expected to decide on the 'Matrix'.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

MLS discussion...

"Meet the new boss..."

Most everyone knows that lyric from The Who. I'm going to replace the word 'boss' with 'MLS' for this discussion. Let's pretend that you have the opportunity to have input on a new MLS organization start up.

Will it be "Meet the new MLS... the same as the old MLS"?? (I know the syllables don't exactly match up if you were to be humming the tune, but please play along anyway)

I ask the question because of my involvement with starting up a new regional MLS (again we are referring to it locally as a Data Exchange on not MLS, but it's the same thing). I have some ideas and think that I could affect change while the organization is in the infancy stage, but I want to hear from others on this. Other bloggers in the biz, other local Members if you happen to be reading, even want to hear from anyone outside the MLS world, please feel free to offer up what you'd like to see an MLS type of service provide.

We all know that the data found in the traditional MLS have real value to many an interested party. Many, what I'd consider, outside forces want a crack at the data for their own use to perhaps add some value to buyers and sellers. Current Members want a well policed and organized data base for use in a cooperative manner to better represent their client. Brokers... well I think that brokers want control of the data, but I'm not a broker so I can't say what their motivations truly may be outside of the client interest (I at least hope that client interest is at the heart of their motivations). However I do hear brokers talk about protecting the data at all costs a lot. Exactly what that means I really don't know, or at least it hasn't been explained in a way that I am comfortable with.

Today I just sat through a 4.5 hour long Board of Directors meeting for the new data exchange (WARDEX) that is being created in my local area. Plenty of great insight was shared by the various interim Members and represented Association Executives that were in attendance. We all have different wants and needs it seems, we definitely have different expectations as to what we may be creating. I won't go into those details or my views at this time, if ever, and if I do share anything I'll limit it to my views only.

But now is your turn so please play along. How would you manage the data of the MLS if you were in my shoes. What would you propose??

New blog...

Wow... Not sure the authors name as of yet, but a fellow blogger sure hit the ground running. Check out Real Estate 2.x (formerly as of this morning Real Estate 2.0) He's (I'm assuming it is a he) even drawn the attention of already. Those ninnies are claiming the term Real Estate 2.0 and have issued a cease and desist letter.

Our good buddies at the sellsius blog are helping our new blogger out. (BTW sellius dude's, I love the new look)

I think this is going to be really fun to watch unfold.

A house is a home, not an investment...

I've been saying this. Here's another that is saying the same thing.

(hat tip to Jonathan Miller of Matrix for the link)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Kignman Crossing on Agenda...

Back in June I posted this article about the proposed Kingman Crossing Interstate 40 interchange that this little city is in dire need of.

Looks like the City Council will be deciding, possibly, on the future of this project tonight according to the Kingman Daily Miner.

If ever local politicians can pull their head out just long enough to do something right, tonight is a real opportunity to do so. If this project can become a reality it will mean more commercial property development in Kingman. It will also help redirect traffic and save time driving around the city, not to mention the time saved for emergency service vehicles that may mean the difference between life and death.

This is an investment the City of Kingman can make to see real returns. Currently Kingman only gets tax revenue from sales tax and impound fees from new construction. The proposed interchange will add incredible tax revenue opportunities, the citizens have been hearing rumors about Lowe's and Target wanting to move into the area but only if they were to get Interstate 40 frontage. Well this is it. Keeping our fingers crossed tonight.


Things seem to be headed in a positive direction. Read it.


Not good news for the Hoover Dam bypass project. On Friday construction crane towers fell during some high winds. Luckily no one was hurt.

See this report in the local paper. Here is another article. And another.

This is the most important project in the area, especially to the future growth in Mohave County. We've already seen project delays in the past that has put off the completion date by over a year from when it was origionally due to be complete.

So not good news at this time. However, each time I head to Vegas I generally use this highway and you can see real progress being made. One day it will be done and travellers will be able to avoid the traffic backups at the Dam (not long ago I was in one such traffic snag where it took me almost two hours to get through this area). The picture below is the artist rendering of what the bridge will look like when it is complete.

Carnival of Real Estate is up at

Hurry - hurry - hurry... step right up. Greg Tracy at BlueRoof Blog hosted the carnival this week. He's done a fine job as well.

I'm honored to have been the pick of the week article. Really honored I cannot begin to say, all those many fine articles from many great fellow bloggers. It was nice just to be a part of the carnival this week.

Thanks again Greg!!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Todd and Zoe

The photo is of me and my granddaughter Zoe. Granddaughter you say?? No resemblance (because she is cute and I am an ogre) you say?? Aren't you like 35 years old, you say??

Well here is the confession. My wife has a few years on me, no biggie. She has two sons both in their early 20's. Zoe is the daughter of her son Bob. Bob is married to Summer. Both Bob and Summer are good looking human beings, hence the cuteness factor of their child. My wife had plenty to do with Bob's looks, she'll say. My wife is darling so I won't disagree. So Zoe is not blood related to me, and I've never had any kids of my own (and likely will not unless I father a love child a la Jesse Jackson some day -- my wife won't stand for that though so it's not really an option for me).

I wanted to post this because Bob and Summer had been living in Kingman since last Thanksgiving. Before that they were in Clovis New Mexico. Bob is a builder by trade (his father is a very successful builder in Kingman and Bob is doing a great job following in his Dad's footsteps). Zoe was born in Kingman and we were lucky enough to have her around untill Bob and Summer moved to Clovis for the first time in early 2005.

This past year has been a blessing watching Zoe learning to crawl, then learning to stand, now she is running around like you might expect a 21 month old would. She is just starting to say a few words. She's got Daddy down pat. Still a struggle for Grampa though.

Well, Zoe -- and her parents, headed back to Clovis New Mexico earlier this month. The more I dwell on this the more I realize how much I absolutley miss having Zoe around. She always made my day and it never was a burden to watch Zoe for her parents from time to time.

I thought it might be a bit weird to be considered 'Grampa', most of my longtime friends are my age at the most and they certainly had their day when they found out the news. But I can't begin to tell you how gratifying it is when Zoe pushes me off the couch in our little game we play. She gets a big kick out of it each and every time she does it. So much so that now she follows me off the couch after she pushes me, I have to be mindful because she goes over head down to the floor. I make sure I catch her.

I'm gonna miss that game, and I'm wondering what other games I'm going to miss out on. Zoe, Grampa loves you and hopes to visit often. Who am I going to watch football and hockey games with now?? (she is such a good kid that she lets Grampa change the channel off the kid's TV station to watch such events, God bless her)

I already miss you Zo Zo.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I am not a philosopher..

The title of this article says it all, but I do have some observations I'd like to share.

This year has been a year of learning in this profession unlike any other. I haven't been to one continuing education course nor am I a part of any designation program among the many in real estate related educational opportunities. It's this blog thingy though that has opened my eyes. No, not my blog, but the many others that you will find in the blogrolls on the right.

The issue is the future of our business. I don't have my arms completely all of the issues that face the real estate industry at this very moment, but the picture is starting to clear.

Currently I am serving as an interim Director on the WARDEX Board of Directors. WARDEX is a new organization being created by the three local Realtor Assocaitions in Mohave County. WARDEX will serve as the MLS (although we are calling it a Data Exchange now) for the members of the three Assocaitions. I have an active hand in creating the bylaws, the rules and regulations, and the policies of WARDEX.

One issue that we are debating is the data in the MLS, as in what to do with it. Protect it from outside Internet forces who 'scrape' such sites to provide content for themselves?? Protect it so that the brokers can manage the data as they see fit?? Protect it from outside Realtor members who are not part of the regional area?? Decide not to share the data with Internet start ups that will come back to Members to sell them advertising?? These are some of the things I'm hearing that we should consider. Protect, protect, protect. Protect everyone it seems other than the seller in my opinion.

When are we going to realize and admit that there are millions of human beings that use the Internet with the intent to make some kind of purchase??

I am one of those humans that uses the Internet to make a purchase. I play hockey and have done so for many years now. I play in an adult roller hockey league in Lake Havasu in the cooler months of the year (can't even consider ice hockey 'round here because the average temp in Havasu is HOT, ice doesn't do well where it is HOT). A couple of years ago it was time for me to replace some of my gear (equipment). I play goaltender and it's important to have protection from the puck and the errant swinging sticks. I've been gaining weight around the midsection in a typical fashion and some of the gear that I was using just didn't get the job done any longer.

There are no hockey pro shops in this area and it's unlikely that I have time to head down to Phoenix or Las Vegas to shop at the limited places that may carry the kind of equipment I need. So I did the next best thing. I used the Internet. I shopped at They have a great selection of gear but the problem was the information was pretty limited on how the stuff fits, how good of quality it is, that kind of stuff. I couldn't even log on to say a manufacturer site for better information and I simply wasn't plucking down $500 or more for goalie pads without more information.

My next stop was ebay. Why?? Immediate dialog with the seller was at my grasp, it's what me as the consumer wanted. Yes, some stuff was used and not in 'brand new condition' but at least I was speaking to someone (through the computer) who could give me more information before I made an offer. Hockey equipment for goaltenders is hard to find anywhere, believe me it is -- maybe not so hard in Canada. I bought most of my new gear from sellers on ebay, not all, but most and mostly for the reasons I just stated.

Now to bring this back to real estate. I think if us members are hellbent on 'protecting' the MLS, we will be nothing more than a retailer like, which is a fine service I should say but sometimes isn't enough for me as a consumer. MLS is still a fine service as well but is it everything that the consumer wants?? If it is not, then the consumer will find another outlet, like I did with ebay.

I've recently started to put my listings on Internet sites like Google Base,, etc., these are other outlets that consumers can find information about property for sale and I'm getting response from potential buyers. I bet my selling clients like that. Clients like results, they're funny that way. Heck I bet I'm not even getting response from other potential buyers who may already have a Realtor picked out and working with. Buyers are doing much more legwork these days. They are spending their time looking for properties on the Internet they may be interested in. They may or may not hire an agent to help them in the efforts to purchase a home.

Of course these buyers could stumble upon my website that has a local IDX feed (a search engine for property in my MLS) and shop for a home. However my site doesn't quite compete with the Googles of the Internet. It's way more likely that a potential buyer will find information about a property I have listed on Google Base than on my own website.

What do my selling clients hire me to do for them?? Protect the data from those on the Internet who 'scrape' data for their own use?? Nope. Protect the data for the broker to use as they see fit?? Only if it can be proven that this practice sells property. Protect the data from Realtors outside the area?? No. To worry whether or not an Internet search provider will sell advertising to Realtors?? Not on the client radar I'd say.

My gut feeling says that there should be as many search sites as needed. And the MLS data should appear on sites like that at will. Oh a limited amount of relavant data and nothing that would be considered confidential information of course, but the key is to get the listing to appear where the buyers are looking. I'd say that is a specialty that Realtors aren't very special at doing. Google is though, and Google probably becomes the defacto initial search online for potential buyers in a short amount of time.

As a leader at the Association level I'd like to at the very least be in a position to partner with search sites and grant them access in a limited fashion of the data found in the local MLS. That way the Members are again on an equal playing field and their clients would ultimately benefit. And after all without the client there is no need for the service I provide.

Really sellers, I'm NOT picking on you...

Here's a recent letter to the editor of our local newspaper.

Sellers, you are not alone...

Even the President of the National Association of Realtors is having some difficulty selling his home. It's been on the market for over a year.

Hat tip to John Wake for this article.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

'Matrix' goes to Supervisors...

I wasn't able to attend yesterday's P&Z meeting. The following is an email that was sent to me that covers what happened..

Today the Mohave County Planning & Zoning Commission met for its regular monthly meeting. Item 44 on the agenda was "Discusion and possible action RE: Consideration of a policy regarding standards of evaluation for proposed minor land division applications, in the unincorporated areas of Mohave County, Arizona."

This was essentially the last item on today's agenda. The meeting opened, though, at 10 am this morning with a call from the Commission Chairman, Earl Hamlyn, to move this item to the top of the agenda. Other Commissioners disagreed with shuffling the agenda, indicating that many people who intend to speak either in favor or opposition to the Matrix were probably not yet in the audience, as they would have known that it was almost last on the agenda. It was agreed that those in the audience wishing to speak on the issue could speak either in the morning or later when item 44 was again before the Commissioners, in the original agenda order.

Item 44 finally came up at around 5:15 pm. Many in the audience had left for good and there were approximately 15 speakers on this item. Those who spoke on the issue were predominently against the Matrix. I believe 10 speakers opposed, 3 had concerns about specific components of the matrix and 2 were in favor of it.

The Matrix has been altered since last week's Matrix "workshop".

The Planning & Zoning Commissioners removed all infrastructure and service requirements from lot splits which create parcels that are 5 acres or greater, with the exception of maintained, 2 wheel-drive passable roads. Two Commissioners indicated that they would want to see proof of maintenance agreements and/or receipts, paid invoices, etc. for roads that are privately maintained, though.

Parcels less than 5 acres must be in a fire district or have an agreement for fire protection service acceptable to the Commission.

Parcels less than 2 acres must also have a connection to water service acceptable to the Commission or be on a shared well arrangement acceptable to the County.

Parcels less than 2 acres must also be within 1/2 mile of a paved road.

Parcels 1 acre or less must be on a paved or surface-treated, dust-controlled roadway.

Parcels 1 acre or less must have direct access to a public sewer or a denitrifying alternate septic system.

I believe a copy of the new Matrix is available at the Mohave County Planning & Zoning Department's web site.

The Planning & Zoning Commissioners voted 6-2 in favor of recommending this matrix as a guideline for adoption by the Board of Supervisors at their October 2, 2006, meeting. (Commissioners Joe Bibich and Bill Abbott voted against recommending the matrix to the Board of Supervisors.)

The Board of Supervisors must now be targeted with constituent opposition to the proposed matrix.

By the way, today the Commissioners used the new Matrix as the criteria for evaluating this month's requests for rezone applications for minor land divisions. The Commissioners claim that consistency is a goal of the Matrix. They have yet to demonstrate any consistency in their recommendations for rezone requests for minor land divisions since first using matrix criteria at their April, 2006, meeting.

I want to thank Kent Luken for the update. Sorry you had to be there the entire day, I had no idea it would take so long.

Time to get serious now, time to go to the County Supervisors and let them know how we feel about this. Hopefully the elected members will listen to the public, something this Commission has simply refused to do -- save for two members.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Real estate anecdote..

I hold the first part of the Membership orientation course for our Association and am looking for some great short stories or anecdotes that I can share with the attendees. If you know of any please share them with me. My stuff is getting old.


County P&Z today...

Okay well I covered this fairly well, today at the meeting the commission will totally ignore the public outcry about their proposed 'Matrix' and submit whatever new 'Matrix' they come up with to the County Board of Supervisors for the October 2nd meeting.

You know what?? Go down there today and give them hell anyway, just for the fun of it. The commission is not an elected body yet they are acting like they do not have to answer to anyone. I will temper my thoughts a bit because I know of at least a couple panel members who have listened to the public on this and want to submit no 'Matrix' to the Supervisors. To those members of the commission I say thank you.

I love politics and I loathe politics.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Attention KGVAR Members...

This is a reminder that I, as your fearless leader, have led a key change to our Association bylaws that you all approved for the upcoming elections. That's right no more excuses that it was too difficult to get on the ballot for a seat on the Board of Directors, all you have to do is head to the Board Office and petition yourself.

Right now Rita Zumwalt, next years president, is working with the nominating committee to fill out the ballot for the election in October. What?? She hasn't called you?? You want to be on the Board of Directors?? Well then it's time to head down to the office and make your intentions known.

Don't forget you can also call Rita to request to be a committee chair for next year as well. This year has seen some relative success with committe involvement but much more is needed. We are not a small organization any longer and we will continue to grow. The Board of Directors is no longer a catch all for all of the business for our Association. Input from all walks of the Members is more than needed.

Members, times are changing... and quickly. Changes will affect our Associaton and it's so apparent that your contribution is vital. Are you up to the challenge that lies ahead?? I hope so. Many members of the current Board have given up precious hours of our business and lives to make a difference and the experience is rewarding.. yet also tiring. I look forward to be the immediate past president next year but I assure you that I'm not going away quietly.

Many challenges will face not only our business, but our clients as well in the coming term. We are standing up to the County and City on important issues surrounding growth and private property rights. I notice many more Members every day that will be great leaders of our Association that will hold our convictions true going forward. The key for us is your willingness to be involved.

Do tell your brokers that their input on the new WARDEX data exchange organization is needed, now is the time for them to step up and organize themselves to be on the same page to help counsel the Board of Directors of the Association. Feel free to crash any committee meeting that you think you can help with, you'd be surprised how much a few hours volunteering your time can make a difference in the Association and the community.

We are in good hands with the current Board of Directors but terms are expiring, you be the difference in enhancing the direction of this emerging Association. You are invited, you have been asked, you can make the difference.

This Association is only as good as the Members make it to be.

Monday, September 11, 2006

August sales report (2006)

It's that time again, time for the sales report from last month. As always I take the data straight from the local MLS, that I am a paying member of, and the data may not always be accurate. I sift through the data and exclude information I deem to be incorrect that could corrupt the findings. Data shown is for Single Family Homes within the City limits of Kingman and includes the North Kingman, Valle Vista subdivision, and units in the Hualapai Mountains area outside of the City limits but are areas where many SFR's are located. See here for an example of the areas researched for this report.

Well, not a total bounceback month but it is nice to see more activity from the previous month. Hopefully this is a new trend in the making. As you can see the total listing activity dipped a little in August while the sales perked back up to the level seen in June. I noticed the phone ringing and other such activity in August and it has continued through the first week in September.

The average sale price dipped again towards the number reported in May of this year. This is a hopeful sign that those sellers who really need to sell and move on to another home in the area or just out of the area all together are making significant deal in order to do so. I was hoping to see the average list price come down as well, but I alluded to why it may not have in the listings report I shared on the first of this month.

In August the average home sold was a 1,534 square foot home built in 1995 with 3.07 bedrooms, 2.09 bathrooms, a 1.87 car garage that reduced its initial offering price 8.7% (one unit actually reduced it's price $109,900 to have a final sales price of $115,000... kinda makes my eyebrow raise a bit. Still even without that sale factored in the average price reduction is 8%).

Of the 70 homes that closed escrow 24 were new construction (down from 27) and 46 were existing homes (up from 38). New construction sale price increased 4.3% from the previous month while existing home prices fell 7.8%.

The charts above look back and compare this years data to the 2004 and 2005 years. Please click on any of the charts for a larger view.

I think that we will continue to see the sale price fall in the coming months as motivated sellers quickly distance themselves from the not as motivated seller. That is good news for any buyer that is looking to get into the local market because there should be plenty of choices to consider. It may still be some months before the investor type of buyer is interested in buying in the local market. I still see many units for rent in my resources and rents are nudging lower if anything right now.

If you would like further clarification on this report please leave a comment here, email me, or contact me by phone. I'll be happy to talk to you. Look for more reports in the weeks and months ahead.

I Remember...

There was one summer in particular in my childhood years I will never forget. I spent the summer of 1986 in Morristown New Jersey with my Uncle Lenny (Lenny is actually my Dad's cousin but I always knew of him as an uncle). Uncle Lenny was planning to move from New Jersey to the northern Nevada area where my family was living, so my folks sent me back east with him to spend some time there and to help him move.

All the family stuff aside, this was the summer of New York City for me. I was 15 years old that year. It was the year that the Statue of Liberty turned 100 years old. My uncle took me to NYC about five times while I was back east. He took me to the neighborhood that he and my Dad grew up in Brooklyn. I ate at Peter Lugers. I shopped at Macy's (it was much larger than the Macy's in Reno). I couldn't believe how nice the NY Public Library was, how big, the woodwork throughout the place, that kind of stuff. Unlce Lenny thought it would be funny to ditch me in Little Italy to see if I would freak out. I didn't, I loved it there. Had a slice of pizza and was making friends when he reappeared.

But what topped it all off for me was having a late lunch at the Windows of the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center. I think the Chrysler Building is the finest looking tower, I think the Empire State Building is the most fascinating tower, but the Twin Towers gave me the feeling of power and magnificence from a location that can't be beat.

On the ground in between the towers I remember looking up at both towers and sort of spinning around, it almost made me fall.

This closely resembles the image in my memory. Just spin your monitor around a few times and see if it doesn't make you a bit dizzy.

I just loved being there in a way that I could never describe it. In the summer of 2001 my wife and I were given two tickets in a luxury booth at a Phillies game for a wedding present. While we were back east we took a day and went to NYC. On the agenda was visiting the WTC. One thing led to another and that plan was scrapped because of time. But that was okay we though because we'd make sure we make good on those plans the next time we visit NYC.

Then 9/11 happened like two months later. I just remember that morning turning on the TV as my wife said something was happening there. The TV clicked on just in time for me to see the second tower fall (remember I live on the west coast). Just like that the towers were no more. I immediately thought of those days as a youngster in the city and the other visit just a couple of months before. I held those feelings first because I had no idea what had happened with the highjacked airplanes, the terrorists, the crashes, or the suffering of the thousands who were trapped.

I took it for granted that the Twin Towers would be there forever. The loss I felt that morning for those buildings... those buildings... was like the feeling when I've lost a friend or family to death. Of course just a few moments later I began to catch up on the events of that morning that led to the destruction and obviously like the rest of America my feeling turned towards those who were killed and those who were losing their loved ones.

I won't turn this into a political post or a tribute to any of the victims. Others do that much better than I do (in fact check this out, you will like, great job Jay). This effort was just my way to remember a property with tall skyscrapers on it that filled my memory banks in a way that no other place has. The NYC skyline has always been my favorite site to see. Other buildings will be going up in the Twin Towers place but my memory will always have a clear picture of the beauty that was the World Trade Center.

Carnival of Real Estate at one of my favorite sites...

In my short time as a blogger I've come to really enjoy one site in particular. It is the Real Estate Tomato. The information there is great, please check it out.

This week the Tomato is hosting the Carnival of Real Estate. All kinds of relavant information. So hurry, hurry, hurry, and step right up.

I think the other reason that I like the Tomato is because I like eating tomatoes. I was eating them while I was watching week one of the NFL football season all day long. A little salt, olive oil, pepper.... Mmm, mmm. Sometimes balsamic vinegar and fresh cheese, oh it's all good. I also notice that I get hungry after viewing the Tomato blog. I don't think that was Jim's intent, but whatever.

Rough week for my blog...

Sorry that I haven't kept up last week. Business kind of picked up somewhat, that's the good news. The four meetings I attended on behalf of the Association or the new WARDEX outfit really put a kink in my attention to this blog.

Thanks for continuing to stop by. New info this week I promise!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wrap up on proposed Minor Land Division Matrix public forums

I will try to remain composed as I rerun yesterday's public forum/workshop/meeting/fiasco or whatever anyone wants to call it. Blood pressure is already boiling.

On September 7th, 2006 the Mohave County Planning and Zoning held the second in a series of two public workshops on the issue of the proposed Minor Land Division Matrix. From the beginning, the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of Realtors has raised our objections to any kind of plan along this route.

To me the fundamental issue is that the Commission believes it needs a guideline (as some members of the panel call it) so they can make better decisions on whether or not to allow rezoning and/or lot splits. So the Commission is attempting to put together a document to use in this manner, it is being called the 'Matrix'.

One panel member (hellbent on passing such a measure, Larry Sinagoga) said that private property owners should know ahead of time, before they even dare to apply to make a request for a rezone, if they would be allowed ask for a request to rezone. Huh?? You mean to tell me that a piece of paper that is not a law should be my determining factor on whether or not I'd like the County to consider my request on MY PROPERTY?? Mr. Sinagoga and the other esteemed members of the Commission will one day cease to serve on that panel, but their legacy is to be producing a piece of paper that would limit any chance for a private property owner to inquire about rezoning his/her property.. I just don't get it.

To top that off, Mr. Sinagoga also stated that the Matrix would only be a guideline and private property owners would still be able to make a presentation for a request for a rezone in front of the Commission... again, what?? Well why have the 'guide' or the Matrix then in the first place if you are still going to consider a special exception from one of your buddies??

See, lets say you own 40 acres in a rural part of Mohave County right now and it is zoned AR-36 which means at the present you wouldn't be allowed to split your property into two plats. Hey no problem really, but maybe in 5 or 10 years you decide that maybe it's time to see if you can change the zoning requirements so that you could maximize your property investment. Right now you file a request with Planning & Zoning, they do some amount of research, notify other property owners in the area, and recommend you to make your presentation at the P&Z Commission.

Now your big day is here and you make your case in front of 8 members of the Commission. They weigh their decision based on whatever criteria they have in mind and on other presentations for or against your request from other human beings. The tally up their votes and notify the private property land owner. In this example, lets say you lose to the tune of 5 against to 3 for. You then get a chance to challenge that decision in front of the County Supervisors who have the final say (for clarity the Commission could rule in favor of the request but the land owner would still have to wait on final word from the elected County Supervisors).

To me this is the way it should continue to be done. What the P&Z staff and some members of the Commission are doing though is trying to lessen the workload. There has been hundreds of requests for rezones each month since the word got out about how great of an investment land is in Mohave County. Too much work for the publically paid employees of P&Z and too much paperwork for the volunteer Commission. This is where the proposed 'Matrix' comes into play.

If the 'Matrix' is passed then all of the members of the Commission will be forced to use that piece of paper as the prevailing guideline for their decisions... until of course they let one of their buddies have a waiver or an exception... which they clearly said they would do. Also they are hoping to stop the requests from land owners by showing them the 'Matrix' before they even are given an application for rezone by saying basically that you have no chance at your due process before the government that your property taxes are paying for, thank you very much, don't let the door hit you...

To me, the Commission IS THE MATRIX. I simply could care less if Mr. Sinagoga wants to use his own guideline to make his decision, but I don't want his guideline to be the rest of the panels guideline for determining their own decision. Mr. Sinagoga would never allow me to rezone any land in Mohave County and that is fine with me... but he is not the Mohave County Zoning Czar. In fact there is no such position in the County. I'd like a chance to make my case to the rest of the panel though. The proposed 'Matrix' takes away my opportunity for my voice to be heard... unless they are going to grant me a waiver or exception... which makes no sense. Why have the stinking piece of paper in the first place then??

My comments to the panel basically covered that. Of course I was a bit nervous and I should have said more (I even had more time to do so), however I was the last public speaker on the slate and it was getting late. I did make the comment that the Commission should ask the County Supervisors to excuse the Commission and instead place a Czar in charge of county lots splits and rezones. I don't think that went over very well with the panel or P&Z staff.

My Association has asked the County to consider adopting ARS 11-809 which would bring the County into compliance with state legislation on these matters. Of course many on the panel don't like that because it becomes an ordinance and not some silly guideline that no member of the public voted for. This is government employees running the roost instead of listening to the public on the matter. The 'Matrix' was the idea that came from P&Z staff and they have done their best to lobby the Commission to adopt such a measure. In fact they are already using it to deny, deny, deny requests from the public.

Once all the members of the public had their chance to say, the panel began discussions on altering the 'Matrix'. Right there on the spot they wanted to come to an agreement on a guideline to use. One of the members of the Commission, Bill Abbott, remarked that they were supposed to report to the County Supervisors their findings at the public workshops. He then noted that most of the members of the public voiced out against the use of ANY kind of 'Matrix' or guideline (to which he received a round of applause) even though he himself would be in favor of some sort of guideline. So what did the panel do anyway?? They went on to create a 'Matrix' in the face of the public that just spoke out against having such a guideline. Gee thanks for wasting two afternoons of my time. The panel, not as a whole, has an agenda and it is clear that the tax payers of Mohave County simply do not matter. I left the workshop as the panel continued to alter whatever 'Matrix' they were working on, so I don't know how it all ended before the workshop broke for the evening.

To the Commission... please consider the fact that you are there for a reason. Sometimes that reason is to make difficult decisions that could affect either or a combination of the County, the private land owner making a request, or the private land owners in the area of a potential rezone of property. If you plan on relying on a piece of paper to make this decision, fine, it is your choice. But please don't expect that each and every member of the panel has to use the same criteria to make their own conclusions. Not only for the current Commission, but for P&Z Commissions of the future. How dare you think that your silly proposal (given to you by publically paid government employees) shall be the standard that all private property land owners must adhere to. It is just wrong.

What's next?? I was invited to speak to some republican group (can't remember the particular name of this group) next week, and also invited is a County Supervisor (Buster Johnson) and the Chairman of the P&Z Commission Earl Hamlyn. Oh I do hope Mr. Hamlyn makes an appearance.

Related Posts

Tuesday's public workshop at P&Z

Land split matrix (again)

Draft resolution to defeat the 'Matrix'

Mohave County P&Z Land Split Matrix Proposal...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

See here...

It's just not possible to agree any more than I already do with this fine article on the BlueRoof Blog. Greg may be rehashing this article but no matter, it is damn fine reading and client-centric.

Money quote for me...

The value of a good Realtor today is more facilitatory. They coordinate the home buying or selling process and give area knowledge and expertise to their clients while protecting them and their best interests.

If leadership doesn't turn this into some kind of mission statement or vision statement then all hope is lost. Well... I don't mean to be that dramatic but you get my drift.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's carnival time again everyone...

Carnival of Real Estate is up at Come out and see what everyone is blogging about in the real estate world. Wow, this was a great collection of work.

The big news in the industry...

On September 3rd this gem of an article was published by the NYTimes. Please read it over when you have a moment. To me this article represents part of the all out assault on the real estate business. Yes of course there happens to be many more challengers on the market for various levels of service that a consumer would find useful in a real estate transaction to choose from these days, I don't deny it and in fact I have my arms wide open to those challengers.

I'd like to do a lengthy post here to tell you all of the in's and out's of the NYTimes piece, but Jim Kimmons at Transforming Real Estate pretty much nailed it.

As agents and brokers, we are way overdue with educating the public on the service we provide and in turn, how we are compensated. I've said it before that all things are negotiable in coming to an agreement to hire a real estate agent to help you buy or sell real estate. There is no one way, or one rule to follow.

More on the listings report...

Like I said in my previous post, I thought there was something up with the new construction listing numbers that entered contract last month.

24 new construction homes entered into contract (average asking price $283,892, median asking price $289,900). All right, time out. The average asking price of a new construction home jumps -- in one month -- UP 28% and the median jumped 50%!! I'll be looking into these numbers a bit more. I'm going to guess that builders really were handing out deals last month. There may be huge discounts in price. Please remember that the figures shown here are based on the listed asking price, I won't know the final sales price until the transaction closes and is reported. But I assure you that I'll be on it.

This is what I posted late last week. Well looking closer at these figures I noticed that 20 of the 24 listings were sold in one particular subdivisions. 9 of these listings hit 'under contract' status on the same day and all of them are scheduled to close escrow on the same day (9/15). My take is that an investor gobbled all of these up. If I am right I'll bet the final closing price would be for much less than the $153 a sqare foot asking price was.

I wish this was a sign of a turnaround in the market (to the positive) but I'm having a hard time believing that only this builder is having success while the rest of the new construction homes just sit there. Had to have been some kind of deal with an investor. All of the homes are on the same street.

Plus if I look again I notice that 5 listings offered by the same agent and builder hit the market on 8/28 and took contract on 8/31 and are scheduled to close on 12/31 of this year. Of course I'll follow up when the properties close. I really hope that my feelings on this are wrong, I hope this is a sign of good things to come.

Friday, September 01, 2006

August listing numbers report (2006)...

I think the word I'm looking for is HELP!! Have we learned nothing?? This summer has been dead as a doornail but the asking prices, as you will see, continue to climb. I'll do a preliminary look at the sold data at the end of this report (and follow up with the official report in a couple of weeks) and you can tell me what you think.

Today total listings available for single family residence equals 785 (up from 768 at the start of August). 303 are new construction homes and 482 are existing homes on the market.

There were 168 new listings for the month of August (173 in July). 1 home has already closed and 11 have entered contracts. The average asking price for these new listings is $266,750 (up from what I thought was a more reasonable $248,605). The median asking price is $229,900 (up from $219,900).

55 new construction homes listed (average asking price of $283,772, median asking price $269,900). Zero of these have closed this month and 8 have entered into contract.

113 existing homes listed (average asking price $258,464, median asking price $209,900). 1 of these has already closed and 3 more have entered contract.

59 homes entered into contracts in the month of August (up from 48 in July). The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $227,619 (up from $212,516 in July) and the median asking price for July was $225,000 (up from $189,975 in July).

24 new construction homes entered into contract (average asking price $283,892, median asking price $289,900). All right, time out. The average asking price of a new construction home jumps -- in one month -- UP 28% and the median jumped 50%!! I'll be looking into these numbers a bit more. I'm going to guess that builders really were handing out deals last month. There may be huge discounts in price. Please remember that the figures shown here are based on the listed asking price, I won't know the final sales price until the transaction closes and is reported. But I assure you that I'll be on it.

35 existing homes entered into contract (average asking price $189,033, median asking price $169,900). Both of these number are down from last month 10%. That's right DOWN!!

When a listing enters into contract it is very probable that the transaction will close and property will change hands. From this report alone I am left scratching my head.

I'm guessing that builder are dropping their prices to enter into contract... I'm guessing. But then they turn around and ask for an increase (in average listing price) of 16% over last month. Maybe the builders are just having more success?? Again, I'll have to look into these numbers more closely as the sales figures for the month become final.

But there is no excuse for the existing home seller to be setting a higher average listing asking price. Even though it's only 2% higher than last month, the contracts entered into on existing homes FELL nearly 10%.

I am continually blown away at local MLS meetings on Wednesday mornings during the hotsheet report of how long it takes for everyone in attendance to list all of their price reductions. It literally takes longer to announce those price reductions than it does for the agents there to feature their new home listings. It wouldn't take so long if the price was set correctly based on the market in the first place.

My preliminary sales report for the month of August shows only 62 sales with an average sales price of $210,000 and a median price of $191,000. I'd say the path to success leads from reality and the new listing information hardly reminds me of reality.

I'll be running a report on price reductions when I get a chance. Maybe even this holiday weekend.

For now though, I'm on my way out to Las Vegas tonight for a concert. I'm getting too old for these kinds of events being it is a rock concert and all, however after doing this report I do need to bang my head and might as well do it at a concert.

See you all later and have a great and safe holiday weekend!!