Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sales reports for July...

Some months I'll do a little checking on the market before I actually mine the data for the listing and sales reports. I just did that today and noticed some things that will likely be very interesting for the upcoming reports.

First, it appears that unit sales will be steady again with at least another 50 sales for July. New listings will also be steady around 130 or so.

Looks like new sellers are asking for less again for what will be the fourth straight month. And that figure will go down again in spite of one new listing hitting the market for $1.2 million.

As you know in the last report for June, the average and median price for that month hit an all time high for all the years I've been tracking this data. When I get the sales report ready for July we will likely see the average and the median plummet well below the stats for July of 2006. In fact they may be closer to 2005.

Now this could just be a one off month in the grand scheme of things. Supply certainly continues to out pace demand since January of 2006. But it will be interesting to see how the new average numbers affect the actual sales activity in units for the rest of the year. I make no guesses at this time, I'd make a wish -- but you could probably guess what my wish would be.

See you in the morning with the listings report for July.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Be part of the solution...

The resolution appears in the Miner today. Here is your link.

Across the top of the front page it reads... Realtor seeks solutions to problems in city -- page 6.

I want to thank the Miner for running with this, I hope there is some positive reaction to it.

Much work to be done, thanks to all that have helped so far to this point.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who's In??


WHEREAS, the residents of Kingman have become very involved in decisions that the City Council will consider regarding the possible sale of city owned property; and

WHEREAS, the residents of Kingman are concerned about the city possibly entering into agreements with private developers that may have an impact on the total amount collected from the sale of land and/or sales tax revenues within the city limits; and

WHEREAS, the residents of Kingman have voiced a need for more parks within the city for the community to enjoy and to protect designated areas for such parks; and

WHEREAS, the residents of Kingman have shared concerns about public safety and convenience in regards to traffic flow throughout the city and this proposed Kingman Crossing Interchange; and

WHEREAS, the residents of Kingman have expressed a desire to offer input on the future retail and commercial growth opportunities at this site to best serve the wants and needs of the community; therefore be it

RESOLVED by an inclusive group of representatives from community organizations in the city to offer a proposed solution to the city leaders as follows:

· Solutions yet to be determined

Should the City Council agree to effect this list of solutions the representative groups herein will do all in their power to obtain a no vote from a sufficient number of citizens at the referendum to allow the City of Kingman to implement these solutions.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The community group resolution...

You've seen me mention in front of City Council that now is a great time for the community to come together on important issues the city faces. You know that I've put together a resolution that I hope will attract all of the various and interested community groups to sit down together and provide a list of solutions that will work for all. A set of solutions that will come with enough support to clear an easy path to follow for city staff and an even easier decision for the city leaders to make.

I've shared the resolution with the Kingman Daily Miner, and at this point have agreed to print it either in the Sunday or Monday paper. I was even asked to write a little something to go with it. They sort of have an exclusive with it at the moment.

Tomorrow I plan on sharing the resolution right here on MOCO.

For now though, I'm heading to Vegas to check out my sisters newly purchased home. She doesn't move in until August but would like me to make sure that the doors are locked and the pool is operable (I'll be glad to test that out for her).

I'm also set to spend some sales tax dollars that Kingman won't collect while I'm there. Maybe in the near future that won't be the case and I'll be able to add to the prosperity of Kingman.

Happy belated birthday to Jeff Brown's blog

One of the classiest bloggers ever had his blog's first birthday on this last Wednesday and I missed it completely.

I missed it even though this was the same gentleman that invited me to San Diego last weekend to catch a major league baseball game featuring my beloved Philadelphia Phillies.

I missed it even though he has shown an interest in this blog and the local political issues that continue, and has even tried to convince me to be the next mayor around these parts.

Please do me a favor... click here... and wish his blog a happy birthday... even though it is belated.

Jeff Brown is the BawldGuy Talking.

Local lenders take note, Jeff is not the normal Realtor. He helps his clients reach a healthy and wealthy retirement through the use of real estate investments. Read his blog first and it will help you get an understanding. Be sure to call him if you have investor clients, he will increase your business.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Horrible news in Phoenix

Here is a link.

Apparently two news helicopters crashed into each other while filming a car chase and four people are dead.



There was a game I used to play back in my high school days in a physical education course I took called 'New Games'. The game is Ultimate.

I have to admit a couple of things about the New Games class. First, my classmates were mostly non-athletic types looking for an alternative for the regular phys. ed. course. There was no need to run a mile in a certain time to make a grade or anything else like that. I was athletic in high school and probably shouldn't have been in that class, but I do like playing games instead of just doing push ups and running four laps around a track. I honestly dominated in many of the games the teacher had us play. 'New Games' were 'new' to most of my fellow classmates... even games like basketball and floor hockey. In that class I was Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky and I loved every second of it.

Another admission and motivation for taking that course was the fact that I had a bit of a crush on a girl that I knew was going to be in the class. I was more sly and clever back in those days.

Back to Ultimate. It is a game that is played with a frisbee and it is a cross between football and soccer. There is a lot of fast running involved and there is not supposed to be physical contact between players. Here is a little more about the game. Here are the rules of the game.

At this time I do not think there is an organized league for such a game in Kingman. I guess I'm looking for more activities to be involved in... especially ones that could help me get back into some semblance of shape. I remember this game being loads of fun and it was even a favorite of the kids in New Games... who wouldn't normally play games like this.

I know that most that come to this blog are looking for real estate news and political stuff mostly, but if you have an interest in perhaps spreading this around in a effort to form a regular activity please contact me. I'd love to see this kind of activity get started around here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So I went...

I decided last night to take in the much anticipated public flogging of the current city manager at the Residents Against Irresponsible Development meeting.

It ended up not being all that much of a flogging, I'm happy to say.

My good buddy and sometimes MOCO commentator Billie Dickmeyer made me feel welcome right off the bat, which is always nice. I ended up seating myself at a table with fellow KGVAR Member and president Rita Zumwalt. Both Rita and I were interested observers only, we didn't plan on contributing questions of the city manager.

Here are some... well... highlights really isn't the word but I can't think of anything else.

From City Manager Paul Beecher:

Regarding and talks so far with the land owner (Vanderbilt Farms) and the commercial developer (Vestar) on the Kingman Crossing traffic interchange...
  • There have been maybe three meetings so far where nothing more than generalities have been discussed.
Regarding the planned Rattlesnake Wash traffic interchange along I40...
  • Feels that project is extremely important for the growth of Kingman.
  • Stated something along the lines that if the city was to pay the entire portion of the cost to build the TI, that ADOT would pay the city back... or reimburse them... since the RW TI is already a planned project. This wouldn't be the case at Kingman Crossing since ADOT does not have the KC project in the works.
Regarding the infamous emails...
  • The city manager said that he now has a personal email service and rarely uses the city email account.
Regarding the infamous well sites at the master planned development in Golden Valley...
  • At the beginning of it all he says he was told that the sites had no access and trusted that source at the word. Realizes now that there was access to well sites.
Regarding impact fees...
  • Says that in his position he will always want more funding for the city. In other words he would take the position that impact fees should be maintained, not lowered -- and wouldn't mind seeing sales tax rates increased. But he also reminded folks that he doesn't set those policies since he is not an elected member to the City Council.
  • He prides himself on being a tough negotiator.
  • When asked about reducing the impact fee rates for churches and non profits, he says that if that were to happen it would mean increasing the impact fees on a different category of building.
  • Also alluded that at the time the impact fees were rolled out, the housing market was already beginning to 'bust'.
Regarding the city owned property along I40...
  • Stated that the property does not have to be 'highest and best use'. He has seen other cities in similar situations give land to use for new schools and such things.
Regarding collection of city sales taxes...
  • Said that in the previous two years there was about a 10% increase year over year, but notes that this year is tracking an increase of only 1.3%.
The city manager was challenged again and again on issues from his past locations of employment. In his responses there were a couple of common themes...

1) He said over and over that "you'd have to understand those issues" when talking about things that happened in either Kansas City or Dover NH.

2) He also said several times that he "doesn't care what the paper/articles say" from his past places of employment. He seemed to imply that the media got it wrong, and one particular critic from Dover also has 'it' wrong in his litany of charges against our current city manager.

Hat's off to the city manager for even agreeing to attend the event. I'm not sure how productive it was for him or for RAID. On the whole, the event never really lived up to the potential... I certainly do not feel I got much out of it.

One of the things that did perk up my ears was when the shows moderator (or lead pontificator more like it) said that the city must pay attention to the 1200 members of RAID that signed the petition for the referendum challenging the city decision to change the general plan. Maybe I'm wrong in how he said that, but the event was videotaped by the local public access channel and someone can correct me.

If I did hear it wrong I have an excuse. I had a hearing examination the other day and I have moderate hearing deficiency and am really thinking about getting some hearing aid devices.

But I hope somebody catches the video production of what the moderator said and can either confirm it, or set me and my poor hearing straight.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Plenty in the news this morning

First, the State Land Department has canceled the auction for the 640 acres south of the city owned lands south of I-40 near Kingman Crossing.

This news puts a kink into the grand plans the city was working on to fund the proposed traffic interchange in that area.

Next up, master plan developer Jim Rhodes did submit an affidavit to the ACC about his employment of Erin Kenny, a former Clark County (Nevada) Commissioner that is on her way to jail for various things that politicians get in trouble for sometimes. The ball is back in the ACC court again and now we all wait to see how they play it. For all the Rhodes detractors that may read this blog let me remind you that I have no dog in this fight and all I really want to see is a decision from the ACC.

Lastly, tonight there is a RAID meeting where the embattled city manager will be in attendance to take questions from the group. I'm sure the public is invited and I think I may make an appearance, if anything to drop off the resolution that I would like to see RAID be a part of.

The city manager stuff is old news by now. The current City Council decided to keep him in spite of the overwhelming public criticism that was on display for a couple of months. Maybe RAID can keep the pressure on the city manager to some degree.

The question I'd ask is the one about when he witnessed a flat bed truck that had just dumped trash on city property, if he called in a report to the police or bothered to try and get a license number.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sellers and price

I'm reading one of my favorite RE blogs, RenoRealtyBlog, and I find this for sellers in the current market.

Contrary to popular belief, when selling your home its value is determined by one thing and one thing only - what a qualified buyer is willing to pay for it. No more and no less. Sure, many sellers will argue that their home has an insurance replacement value, or an appraised value, or a tax assessed value, but unless your insurance agent, your banker, or your tax assessor is willing to write you a check for the home - guess what? None of that matters. A home without a buyer has no value in the market place. Sure it might have a value to you the seller, and it might have a value to your banker, and to your insurance agent, and to your appraiser. But none of these people are buyers.

Read the whole thing here.


A quick look at July


Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

New listings so far in July: 100 (4.5 a day)

Closed listings so far in July: 34 (1.5 a day)

Listings under contract so far in July: 37 (1.6 a day)

Water from the sky...

An odd occurrence happened yesterday.

First there was a preponderance of clouds, but these were not the thin clouds we often see high up in the atmosphere... these were darker in color and cruised much lower.

Suddenly, water started falling out of these darker clouds. Nothing major where I was, just some steady drops... and they were pleasantly cool to the touch.

Must say that it is an odd phenomenon, these dark clouds leaking water. The dark clouds are again with us this morning.

I think if the water falls out of the clouds again today, I'm going to go out and play.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Something new...something old...

Something new...

There is a new place to shop in Kingman for clothes and other accessories. It is a familiar national chain and judging by the amount of cars I've seen in the parking lot since it opened (even though the official grand opening hasn't happened yet) I'd say the folks in Kingman are thrilled.

It is a new Ross Dress for Less retail store.

Due to open at a later time in this 'strip mall' is an Office Max (or Depot, I get confused). Quite the location considering there is a Staples store just six or so doors down in the same center. Also in the shopping center there is a Big 5, Big Lots, PetSmart, and other things I can't remember at the moment.

This shopping center used to be the home of Wal-Mart and the Albertson's grocery store. Albertsons closed and Wal-Mart relocated behind this shopping center and became a Super Wal-mart.

The good news is that sales tax dollars are being spent right here in Kingman. My wife is contributing sales tax dollars as I type. This really is good news for a cash starved Kingman (she is not shopping in BHC or Vegas). Wish there was more of this kind of excitement in this town... not the town to the west 40 miles away that already has so many more shopping venue's (where fine residents of Kingman spend what could have been potential sales tax money for Kingman).

Something old...

The bad news is that more traffic will be on Stockton Hill near the most bottle necked area.

Today, the 'Save the Sacred Street of Seneca' folks (another friendly nickname for the Clipboard Brigade) are pleased while looking for the best bargains on name brand apparel, while adding to the traffic count. They know that the commercial developer at this shopping center was one of the interested parties to the original Kingman Crossing project that was rejected by the city in years past. They don't have to deal with a new 'nuisance' to the quality of 'their' life.

Oh, but 'this' nuisance maintains the integrity of the General Plan. All hail the General Plan!!

Never mind that traffic flows in this town stink, the General Plan must be maintained and protected at all cost!! Let them eat cake.... errr.... I mean... Let them drive on Stockton Hill!!

Somehow these same folks that swear allegiance to the General Plan have convinced some residents of Kingman (that clearly aren't paying attention) that by voting for their referendum that a new regional park will magically sprout up. It seems the talk of jungle gym's really got folks excited enough to sign a petition sheet, simply astounding.

Something new, perhaps...

I'm a solutions kind of guy. So how can something old work together with something new?? How about working together?? (yeah that sounded lame but humor me for a minute)

I've written a resolution, an INCLUSIVE resolution to see if 'together' the residents of Kingman can find a solution where perhaps the city and its leaders have not (as interpreted by the many opinions shared over the last few months).

I'm following up with what I shared with City Council at the last meeting. I'm organizing an effort to have representation from the outspoken community groups -- with various levels of interest regarding the management of our city property and the possible public safety and convenience improvements proposed for the same area -- to sit down and hammer out solutions that can be presented in a unified way to the city leaders. As in, this is what we want, this is what we will support... there we just did your job for you and given you an easy decision to make.

Regional parks are NOT on the ballot. Enclosed shopping malls are NOT on the ballot. Rather, very important issues that could affect the future of this city are. I know they can seem complicated, but they are simple. Especially simple if the community groups I have in mind join this effort to be part of the solution instead of remaining part of the problem.

I'm hopeful to share this resolution very soon. I've asked for some help on this to make sure the effort is indeed as inclusive it can be.

In my view, the Clipboard Brigade is a very important piece to this puzzle and I'm hoping they will take part to help in the collaboration.

I am half happy today because of the new sales tax that is being generated at places like Ross. Tomorrow I want to be happy that city finance issues are dealt with, and at the same time public safety and convenience issues are. Working together at this time can help achieve this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My submittal...

I now will share with you the document I sent to the Miner last Sunday.

I'm not sure I care if it is run in the paper or not any longer. It was written before Monday's City Council meeting and things have changed since then.

What has changed?? Well as you will see I called for Council to reverse their decision on the major amendment. No motion was made at the meeting to do so and later they set in motion, officially, to face referendum.

Also what has changed is that a particular community group already responded to my idea of sitting down to form a collaborative positive solution to the problems that face Kingman, and is not interested in negotiating. Loyalty to 1,190 signatures is all that matters it seems. Maybe some of these folks are running for office next year after all.

I'm not going to put what I wrote in block quotes and it follows this....

By Todd Tarson of MOCO Real Estate News

I offer the following as a concerned citizen of Kingman only. My views and opinions are not necessarily those of other Realtors that belong to the local Association that I’ve had the pleasure of representing as a leader over the last four plus years.

I have been a staunch supporter of finding a solution that allows the construction of a new traffic interchange near the Kingman Crossing area along Interstate 40.

When I first heard about the major amendment to the Kingman General Plan to change the land use designation of the city owned lands, I was in total support. So much so that I helped rally the Members of the Kingman/Golden Valley Association of REALTORS to ask the Kingman city leaders to approve the major amendment. I testified to this fact at the Kingman Planning & Zoning Commission on April 24th and contacted City Council members and the Mayor either in person, by phone, and email.

The Members of KGVAR responded on May 7th at the City Council meeting, over 100 Members were in attendance and many appealed to the Council to approve the decision. I’m still very proud of the efforts that were undertaken by all who contributed.

Initially approving the general plan amendment helps condition the city owned lands for highest and best use. My mind has not changed on that fact. However, in recent times I have changed my mind on the current progress of things attributed to the possible traffic interchange and the management of the city owned lands.

So I am asking the Council to reverse their decision to approve the major amendment to the general plan that was decided on back at May 7th’s City Council meeting.

Today the city faces a referendum on this issue. In fact the honorable Mayor Byram is facing at least his third referendum and is most likely to lose on this one like he has the last two that I am aware of. Referendums do not bode well for the city’s reputation and I’ve heard various media sources talking about this one around the state. We’ve heard from an interested buyer of 640 acres of State Trust land that he has backed off because of the political climate Kingman is experiencing today. The negative effects of this referendum are not needed at this time.

The liability of revelations of recent city staff undertakings is making the whole process too risky at the moment. I’m speaking of some findings in the infamous emails that Travin Pennington has been after for months now.

On the Kingman Daily Miner’s website there is an article posted with the date of February 26th of this year. It is a question and answer interview with the current city manager and includes the following quote attributed to him regarding the city owned lands…

“So it's exciting, and to me, it gives us, because we control it, it gives us a lot of opportunities to get the community involved and do the right thing. And that's really what the Council, the previous Council and this Council, wanted to do, is maximize our piece of the puzzle to the benefit of the community regardless of how it turns out.”

Yet on the VERY same day the article is posted he dispatches the following email…

“I was out on my quad yesterday and saw a truck leaving our property with an empty flatbed; upon further investigation I noticed that whoever it was had dumped a lot of trash at the sight, that, along with the car chassis, several tires, a broken doll house and too many Wal Mart plastic bags to count must surely qualify our property as blighted.”

It is hardly exciting to me as a property owner, an agent for property owners, and someone who will always stand for the rights of property owners to have a government official getting ‘excited’ about blighting property… especially since, as a resident, it is my property he is excited about blighting.

The city manager is supposed to be a good steward of the city and my first reaction when reading his email was he just witnessed a crime against the citizens of Kingman. Did he call the police and give a vehicle description? Did he use his quad to chase down the flatbed truck to get the license plate to report?

Instead I get the feeling that only the excitement of potentially blighting the residents of Kingman’s best asset was on his mind at the time. For shame if I am right.

Recently the City Council decided to keep the current city manager in his position. Fine. Maybe they can consider ending their relationship with S&Y Capital Group. It is no secret that S&Y has been hired to sell the property the city owns at some point for 14% of the sale plus repayment of other costs associated to the project that they have incurred so far. At that rate I have to question the motivation for a firm that has no development experience, no end users and, based on the e-mails, are trying to supplant the legal processes under State Statute and the City’s own Ordinances by declaring the City property at Kingman Crossing as “re-development land or blighted land” so that no vote of the people is required to sell this land and by scheming to sell this land to a “private entity for a nominal sum”.

You see if the city was to market the property themselves, with the help of extremely talented people in the real estate business that already live right here in Kingman, and offered a buyer-broker fee of 2.5% to whoever represents a possible buyer and somehow managed to sell the property for $20 million dollars, the cost would be $500,000 of the proceeds of sale.

At 14% S&Y would only have to sell Kingman’s best asset for just a little over $3.5 million dollars to receive the same commission. Why are we in a position to either leave millions of dollars on the table or pay exorbitant costs out of the proceeds of any potential sale?

The city has a legal team and I’m sure could handle a transfer of property agreement and thereby wouldn’t have to pay anyone to represent them, not a local Realtor and certainly not an outside consulting firm with a high price tag. Why part with so much potential money that is needed for future projects such as another traffic interchange?

I am currently engaging other community leaders in an effort to put aside our own differences and work together to form a consensus that everyone could support. The community groups I am hoping to attract to this panel would be from the Business, Builders, Landowners, and Realtors groups and would of course also include RAID and the developer on the north side of the Interstate across from the city lands (Vestar).

I ask that the issues of traffic interchanges, city owned land sales, land use designations, and others be put on hold at City Hall to allow for a unified proposal to come from the community. A proposal by consensus that will be supported by the residents, one that we will all be proud of and enjoy the benefits from for the future of Kingman.

I ask the current city leaders to please consider reversing the Council’s decision on the major amendment to the General Plan to put an end to the need of the controversial referendum issue on the November ballot. The community can come together on this most important issue and provide the solution.

I have so much faith in this effort that city leaders will be begging the same group for a solution to other important issues like expansion by annexation.


I've come to find out that when I attempted to email the Daily Miner what I've written above, the emails were not received. I've had some weird email issues lately so this does not surprise me. After I had initially sent the email to the editor I called and left him a message to be looking for what I had written. When I talked to him today... he was still waiting.

Like I said, now that what I have written is nearly a week old and some things have changed I'm not expecting them to publish this. However, I have given them something else to chew on that speaks to what is written above. More on this next week.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

From the comments...

I wanted to respond to a comment left on an earlier post. Because the subject manner in that post doesn't necessarily match up with the comment, I figured I'd start a whole new post.

Here is the comment...

What's your call on the ACC reopening the hearings on Jim Rhodes' Perkins Water Co. Will it happen? Would they shut Rhodes down at this point? Please respond if your able. Thank you.

First thanks for reading Dominic. This subject is a real doozy around these parts, one that I've tried to stay away from because I'm not sure I have a clear opinion on all the issues.

To answer though... I first want to take all the names out of the equation. The developer, the local developer that has filed suit against the developer, the players at the city, and others. No names, no favorites.

With this in mind, as a Realtor myself living in Kingman when I found out that a master planned development was in the offing in the Golden Valley area I was very excited. Why not?? 30,000 planned rooftops, commercial property, parks, entertainment and recreation, schools, and maybe even a four year university all would benefit the region -- let alone Golden Valley.

What an incredible vision.

Then we find out the developer gets the required water issue from ADWR, even better. Having another local user of our own water resources slims the chance for say Maricopa County playing political games with Mohave County to set up an AMA in an effort to tap in to our local resources for an area a three hour drive away. Especially since the city of Kingman sold our water rights to the Colorado River some time ago leaving us with 'only' the water we can find under our collective feet.

Now I'll stop to say that water resources for this area equals a political firestorm of its own. I do not know how much water is underground in the aquifers, nor do I pretend like I do. Many say that we are running out of water and many others say that there is more water underground in perhaps the largest set of aquifers in the country. The truth is somewhere in the middle -- I'm guessing.

The position I'm taking is that we've seen the Phoenix area manage to try and set up AMA's in other parts of the state for their own use. If they have their eyes on our water sources, it must mean there is plenty of water down there in the ground. There is no way they would want access to our water to help support millions of people in the Phoenix area if there isn't enough for maybe 100,000 people in Mohave County that use it.

In other words... there is more than one 800lb gorilla in the room. I believe that no matter what, no matter how much water there actually is, no matter who eventually gets to draw the water, the water will be drawn. I'd rather see the water stay here in Mohave County than go to another part of the state. If we use the water here, it likely means that opportunities for prosperity are local. If the state sets up an AMA and sends the water to Phoenix, the locals lose out on chances of prosperity.

This brings me to the ACC and the developer. Again, I do respect the job of the ACC and I believe they are doing their job and after two years are real close to coming to a decision. There are a couple of commissioners that I feel are playing politics over all this. They've checked over the applicant (in this case the developer) over and over again with a fine tooth comb and apparently haven't found anything to officially reject the application... after two years.

As local citizens of Mohave County we should be on our County Supervisors to push the ACC for a decision, either up or down, after all this time. We should be on the ACC ourselves for a decision. Write them, call them, email them.

As far as the ACC shutting down the applicant, I suppose they could by simply voting in favor of denying the applicant, but I doubt that spells doom for the entire project. The developer could simply hire a utility company that already has the blessing of the ACC in Arizona, for one. The developer could ask (again) to be annexed into Kingman's city limit's to use water. So there are options for the developer. And with the current housing market I can see the developer taking his time and exploring all options.

This is how I'm seeing the situation with all names removed. I won't comment on any of the players involved. I don't know how the ACC comes down here, I just hope they come up with a decision... finally.

Of course if there is something I'm missing or facts that I'm not aware of, besides involving names, please feel free to point them out to me. For example, I don't care to comment on who is a crook or an alleged crook. I'm letting the courts figure that one out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Must.... Hold.... Back....

There is an article in the Miner that appears today in regards to my comments made to City Council on Monday night. As soon as this article appears online, I'll share it. I was going to wait until it was online but I think I can pull this off anyway.

What I'm trying to hold back is a negative reaction I'm feeling to, as reported, a response to my comments. I'm particularly speaking of RAID's response to my comments as they appear in the article.

First let me say that I can't for the life of me think that I'm the one that is being responded to.

I did not ask RAID to pull their referendum at the meeting on Monday night. In fact I stated that I don't believe I have anything to bargain with them on to even ask them to pull their effort. I also added that I believe the city is also in no position to ask RAID to pull the referendum.

Here is what I am referring to...

RAID President Mike Bihuniak took the opportunity to respond to Tarson's comments. "Almost 1,200 people took the time to sign our petitions on this referendum, and there were over a dozen volunteers that came to RAID and asked if they could carry our petitions. For us to now tell those people... we are going to sit down and negotiate away their rights would be crazy. It would ruin our credibility, and it just doesn't justify the process."

Here was my line of thought.

1) Ask City Council to reverse their decision to effectively end the need for the referendum. I knew that it was a long shot to even get Council to think about reversing. I admitted that I didn't know if there was existing protocol that allowed for a reversal.

Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, this particular referendum only adds to the dysfunctional local political scene. Others from around the state and beyond are taking notice and there is negative connotations.

If I quizzed you right now on this I'd ask "Who did I ask to end the referendum and by what means??"

2) Ask the various community groups and leaders to collaborate on a possible solution for the hotly contested issues surrounding Interstate 40 possible traffic interchanges, management of the city owned land, and even suggestions for the state lands if there are no bidders once again later this month.

I'm convinced that all the community groups have some great ideas as to how to achieve the best solution to the issues we are facing. Doing so together gives us the chance to provide an easy decision for the city leaders and a clear path for city staff to follow. It is easier to cook a meal that you've never cooked before with a recipe to follow.

Now for example the Realtors Association can come up with solutions on their own to present to the city... but I have a strong suspicion that another community group would be against some of our ideas and we'd be right back where we are right now fighting amongst ourselves. This is not the time to be divided as a community, the issues that we face are very important. Enough so to leave out voices in this effort only makes the decisions for the city leaders that much more difficult.

All I asked was that we come together and collaborate. Clear our own varying differences and support something we all have input on.

The quiz question here is "Who did I exclude in an effort for real community collaboration efforts on the most important issues the city faces today??"

I believe that if you don't want to be part of the solution then you are part of the problem.


The article from the hard copy version that typically leaves black ink on your hands, was not included in the articles for the website so no link to share. No big deal... just make sure you get a copy of the hard copy version today and read for yourself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It is fisking time again...

This time I'll fisk a letter to the editor that appears here in the Daily Miner online site.

Once again, this is nothing personal. In fact I have recently sent something to the Miner that they might print... and that will be subject to fisking by anyone who so chooses.

I can't possibly address the whole letter, even though it is not that long, it is just so loaded at the beginning I know I'll be at this awhile.

Here goes...

I was surprised that the city is going to continue working with Vestar.

First, there was a referendum with more than 1,000 signatures to get Kingman Crossing on the ballot in November.

First off, the referendum issue is not on the city working with a developer. The ballot issue involves reversing a City Council decision to change the land use designation on the General Plan. There is no comparison here... only misinformation.

The Council and the city are ignoring this effort (the 1,000 sig's -- my add) and proceeding ahead with "their" plans. What seems clear to me, but I may be wrong - is that if we give Vestar an unbelievable 60-percent tax break for an indefinite time, how is the city going to make money off of the sales tax? I thought sales taxes were our lifeblood!

Once again this issue has nothing to do with the referendum. Completely different items here that are being crossed for no good reason.

The developer (Vestar) is on record as saying they have made no such negotiations with the city about reimbursement for providing the infrastructure that the city does not have the money for and therefore can't provide.

This November on the ballot voters will see one referendum that lets the voters decide on reversing a decision by City Council to allow a change to the General Plan. Voters will also see a choice to give the City Council permission to sell the city owned lands. There will be nothing on the ballot that speaks to the traffic interchange or the developers involved on the north side of the Interstate near Kingman Crossing. Nothing on regional parks or anything else that can be considered a hot topic of discussion.

Once Kingman Crossing is complete, will they have full occupancy? Can they succeed where others have failed?

That is up to them, the private company that was hired by the private property owner of the land on the north side. Sales tax dollars are very important to this city, so the hope here is that they do have full occupancy and are successful.

The real success would indicate that more folks in Kingman stay in Kingman to spend money and the good and services they require... AND that other shoppers from the region also come here to do the very same thing. These represent two things that are NOT happening right now.

We will then have more small businesses going out of business because they can't compete.

Small business will have to adjust and service their current customers better so that they are still a relevant choice for the consumer. I'd love to buy deli meat's at a real deli in Kingman, but the kind of deli that I'm talking about does not exist here. In fact there are a ton of small business opportunities that will be available at a certain point once Kingman grows to support such things. Go to any big city in America and you will find plenty of small business success. I don't buy what the writer says here and I think it is a cop-out.

Now I hear that Frontier's Call Center is going to leave and take quite a few jobs out of Kingman.

Actually, the personnel loss is minimal at Frontier. Maybe 50 jobs and of those Frontier has hired a consulting firm to aid those employee's in their efforts to find other jobs either in Kingman or otherwise. Many of the remaining employees are doing the same job they've been doing, but doing so from home instead of the call center on Stockton Hill.

What Kingman really lost out on was another 150 to 200 jobs to add by the call center closing. How?? Frontier was in the process of reducing their number of call centers across the country and the consolidating effort led to selecting a few properties to continue call center activities.

Even though Frontier had this nice big building located in Kingman already, with enough room for the extra employees, they decided on other locations where they had to buy the facilities. The reason was that they felt there wasn't enough of an employment base currently in Kingman to support what they call a Super-Center.

Kingman lost out on potential jobs that will have a larger affect on the community then the actual jobs that were lost. To me it is a clear signal that Kingman has not matured enough to be thought of as a great place to do big business with a large employment force. That is scary, especially to the tax base.

If we lose what little sales tax base we now have, how will we recoup the income for the city? I believe it will be by raising everyone's property taxes.

Uh.. right now in Kingman we don't pay property taxes. The property taxes that you do pay currently go the Mohave County. However we have heard over and over the current mayor (this current term and his previous) that Kingman needs a property tax. So it is possible that we will be voting on that subject again. Last time a property tax for Kingman was on the ballot it lost badly.

The city council let Paul Beecher write his own contract, and now we are letting Vestar write their own terms and conditions. Haven't we learned anything from our past mistakes?

The above is nothing but fear mongering and misinformation. The last thing I want to see is a private company writing their own agreement. If something like that was to happen, I'm certain we'd see another referendum on any decision the City Council makes to that effect, I'll even grab a clipboard with a RAID sticker on the bottom and help get the signitures.

Again, I might have something in the paper that will up for public scorn. I'm ready for it and hope that when it comes the folks doing the scoring would simply show me where I'm wrong.

I'll keep my eyes on the letters to the editor for more fisking opportunities, so until next time, you don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

"Mr. Tarson's Blog"

MOCO Real Estate News was referred to at last nights City Council's meeting. Referred to as Mr. Tarson's blog, anyway.

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting anything like that and in fact I wasn't really listening at the time (add my hearing deficiency to boot) so I don't have the details of what was actually said as of right now.

At the time it was brought up I knew that I was the next person to speak on the issue of delaying the payment of impact fees that the local builders association helped propose to the city. By the time my ears really perked up, the Mayor said that in fact Mr. Tarson was next to speak. When I addressed the council I stated that not everyone reads the blog or something to that affect.

Towards the beginning of the meeting during public comments, I offered my plea to the council to see if it was possible to open up their decision to change the general plan for the land use designation change and reverse their decision... for now. I've served on different boards and each one has different rules on this kind of thing.

I knew it was a long shot, my asking the council to reverse their decision, which is why I followed up with telling them that I believe that in Kingman there is a ton of talent among the various community groups that have all risen to express their concerns over growth related issues (especially revolving around the proposed traffic interchange and city owned lands near Kingman Crossing). That I hoped that council would allow for the talent to get together and clear the air amongst ourselves and bring forth a solution that would appeal to all.

I wanted to make what I was saying as positive as possible. I will be contacting the various community groups to see if they are interested in doing what I just outlined.

That was part of what I had offered to the local newspaper on Sunday morning. I still plan on sharing that with the readers here at some point.

I should also note that during the meeting I took a call from my sister that is in the process of moving to Las Vegas from Hawaii. She informed me that her and her husband will be making me an uncle for the second time!!


Here is the link to the video of last nights meeting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Divorcing commissions

I've been offering my buyer clients an opportunity to negotiate 'my' commission that 'they' pay when purchasing a home or property.

Of course right now there aren't that many buyers to work with.

Yes, I'm talking about my flat fees.

Many, especially in the real estate business, will argue that the seller pays all the commissions because they agree to pay their listing broker all the commissions, and thereby agree to compensate a buyers broker out of those commissions.

Yeah, traditionally, I agree.

I'm not traditional.

Follow this link to see some shared information on this 'divorced commission' idea by one of the folks that have inspired me to offer my clients a flat fee to represent them.

Hopefully more buyers will hear about how they may be able to save on fees for their representation (or at least get a better value for that representation) and the little revolution in my industry will be on.

Carnival of Real Estate

I haven't been all that involved in the carnival in recent months, but I thought I'd share this week because I love the format.

Sadie's Take on Delaware Ohio is the host this week.

This is the link to the carnival.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hop and pop..

I once worked with a gentleman who was in the armed forces at one time as a Navy SEAL team member. I was young and full of vinegar at the time and was always bothering him about stuff that a person in that line of work did.

He referred to some missions as 'hop and pop', as in hop into a hot zone... do some killing... and leave the area.

These days I use the term for when I travel to Las Vegas or even Phoenix for just a day trip.

I had one such day yesterday and will be on another later this week. On Friday, my wife informed me that she really wanted to go to a baseball game in Phoenix to see her favorite Diamondbacks play and as luck would have it they were in town hosting the San Diego Padres. So I agreed yesterday to catch the game.

I was reluctant at first to go, but then I remembered that I'm a very lucky guy being married to a woman that likes baseball enough to want to go to games. I guess I was reluctant because I had scheduled an appointment with a potential client for today and didn't want to spend the night in Phoenix. I actually didn't want to go to Phoenix because of the heat I'd have to endure as well. I also have to be in Phoenix on Thursday for an AAR meeting (another hop and pop 'mission' -- except I won't be doing any killing).

Last nights game was worth attending, I'm glad I got over my reluctance.

The starting pitcher for the Padres was working a perfect game through the first four innings. The D-backs' hitters stood no chance to that point. By the time the bottom of the fifth began the Padres had built themselves a 4-0 lead on the back of three home runs.

The D-backs first baseman hit a high towering shot that barely cleared the right field fence next to the foul pole with one out in the bottom of the fifth to break up the perfect game, no hitter, and shutout. Because the Padres pitcher had thrown nearly 100 pitches by the end of the fifth he was taken out for the sixth inning.

The D-backs rallied on a bunch of station to station singles, plating the three tying runs on one of those singles and two sacrifice outs.

The home team took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, and their closer finished off the Padres in the ninth. Game over.

We didn't know at the time we arrived but immediately after the game there was a planned fireworks display. I figured that we would leave after the game and maybe benefit from not having to deal with the traffic from over 36,000 fans in attendance (there were more people at the game last night than live in the city limits of Kingman). Well, because we parked in the parking structure where the fireworks were being set off from, my hopes were dashed. The Phoenix finest informed me that nobody goes into the parking structure until the fire chief gives the okay after the fireworks are over.

So it took another hour longer than I expected after the final pitch of the game for the drive home. I knew that my lovely baseball fan wife would sleep on the way home, which gave me time to put some thoughts together -- which is the real point of this post (if you are still reading).

This morning I penned those thoughts that I have about some current issues going on with the Kingman Crossing proposed interchange and the possible sale of the city owned lands on the south side of the Interstate in that location. I've emailed the word document it was written on to the editor of the Kingman Daily Miner and said that they are free to use it as a column or a letter to the editor.

It is timely to tomorrows City Council meeting, so I'm holding out hope that it will appear in the morning paper. I do plan on presenting some of these thoughts to the public at the meeting, but realize that I don't have the luxury of time to make all the points I want to make during the comments from the citizens portion of the meeting.

If it doesn't appear I will share what I have done here on little old MOCO, but I honestly hope to link what I have done instead.

Heck of a game though, last night.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Annexation example...

Here is a surprise... one of the communities in Arizona is attempting to annex more property.

The community is Surprise Arizona.

See what they are doing right here about the issue.

An annexation opportunity...

I'll go off the deep end for a minute or two here.

As residents of Kingman, we all know of the 800lb gorilla that sits about a twenty minute drive from here with plans on building a master planned community with upwards of 30,000 homes. Currently the land is not in a city; not Kingman, not Bullhead City, not even in the Golden Valley are that is considering becoming an incorporated and independent city.

Much has been written about since the developer bought the property, much of it is controversial in nature. The developer has allegedly stepped on enough toes to be challenged in civil court actions (which I have no details about and won't comment further).

What I do know is that at the time of purchase, this developer came to the city with a plan for annexation. Why?? I bet the answer is water resources. My understanding is the city answered thanks but no thanks (there is an established pattern of these kinds of decisions lately).

Go to this link that is still on the city website and click on the links under the Golden Valley Ranch subset. See the plans for yourself.

Apparently when the city of Kingman told the developer to get lost, the developer began a quest to start up their own water company (this could be heresy and please correct me if I'm wrong). The Arizona Corporation Commission has been considering the case for two years now and recently want to open up the case once again because of some things happening in Las Vegas involving a former Clark County Commissioner there.

If the ACC does reopen the hearing it could mean many more months before a decision is made, delaying the project that does appear to have some promise, in my opinion.

Love the developer or hate the developer.... the developer is an angel or is the devil... that's up to you and not the point here.

The point is that Mohave County is growing at a fairly quick pace and maybe only 4% of that growth is in the current city boundaries. Not acceptable when you consider that the new residents outside of the city lines will be draining the city services to some degree.

Expansion and annexation has to be explored yesterday not tomorrow.

Here I'll challenge the RAID folks a bit. They have proven that they can handle a petition drive. Typically annexation is done by petition of the land owners and 51% of land owners and 51% of assessed value is needed for annexation. There is one very large land owner that once tried to get annexed into the city. This shouldn't be difficult.

The benefit of this movement would be more sales tax dollars in the Kingman area that are dreadfully needed for such things as building and maintaining a new regional park. Not to mention the potential for development that is further out and not necessarily in everyone's backyard. It would give the private property owners some more security on their investment, not only for the newly annexed areas, but also for the current residents living in the current city boundaries.

Worried about the cost of new sewer systems and the like?? Well there is this thing about grandfathered rights of property owners. The city could simply recognize those rights for the newly annexed areas until the city can properly budget for the improvements at a later time.

Even Lake Havasu City is allowing some that are on septic systems to remain that way if the cost of connecting to sewer is more than $17,500.

Annexation should be the thing. Towards the southwest into Golden Valley and the I-40 industrial corridor. Towards the north to not only include the Butler area, but also even up Stockton Hill to Vock Canyon. And of course east along I-40 and Historic Route 66 to the mountain ranges.

Back to the 800lb gorilla in Golden Valley for a second. The ambitious plan to create something out of nothing in Golden Valley is going to require a huge advertising campaign. Similar to some degree of the one I see for The Villages in the state of Florida (only there are no hurricanes or other natural disasters in Arizona). Kingman won't be on the hook for the advertising, the private property owner will, but you Mr. and Mrs. current home owner will undoubtedly benefit from that advertising. Not everyone is going to fall in love with the master planned development especially since your home is so much nicer and a better value (wink).

There would also be other benefits to our community from the growth, the spread out growth, the 'not in my back yard' growth.

For all the folks who say they aren't anti-growth and want to see community amenities such as regional parks, now is the time to pound the table and demand expansion from the city leaders. If the current leaders won't provide it then let's get a new slate of leaders in there that will listen to the table pounding.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reimbursement vs. tax incentive

It's too bad the Kingman Daily Miner has not updated their website in a couple of days because there is a really good article today that I love to share the link to.

The gist is information on the distinction between infrastructure reimbursements and the term many in the community have been throwing around lately... tax incentives.

The developers were quoted in the article and it is nice to finally begin to have them comment on the issues. I know it will continue.

Like I've been saying all along what the developers might be asking for is a reimbursement of funds needed, that the city clearly does not have, to build a traffic interchange near the Kingman Crossing area.

There is obviously much more to this and I hope the story continues to unfold. I'll be linking such good articles when they become available.

Deferred payment of impact fees

Recently the local builders Association (NABA) has been addressing such issues with the city as the proposed new ordinances (UDO) and the building impact fees (or development investment fees). I'll be talking about the latter.

The impact fees have been a real source of contention in Kingman since they have been introduced. The common price tag that has been thrown of an impact fee to a builder at the time of permit issuance is $8,000. Now I don't know what the actual fees are, the number I just posted is the number that keeps coming up when I talk to builders.

Here is the resolution that NABA has managed to put on the next city council agenda.

d. Resolution No. 4453 – Development Investment Fees

The Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1423 which authorizes municipalities to enter into development agreements with the developers of residential properties to pay development fees at a time rather than at building permit issuance. The net effect of this legislation is that the purchaser of the property will pay the City’s development investment fee rather than the contractor who builds the house. Staff recommends approval.

No emphasis, it is as it appears on the agenda.

Simply put, this is a deferral of payment of the impact fees to the time of closing.

What I don't like is the "net effect of this legislation is that the purchaser of the property will pay the City's development investment fee rather than the contractor who builds the house."

Before I go off on some sort of rant here, let me just say for a moment that the ultimate goal is that the impact fees either go away or become much less punitive to home builders and buyers. I know the builders Association is working in that direction and I want to offer any help I can in doing so. Impact fees need to be addressed for commercial property as well because they too are too stiff and are causing more drag on the local economy.

Now back to the rest of the story... I've talked to builders who currently add the impact fee to the price tag of the home (which is typical) meaning that really the buyer is paying for the fees anyway (an artificial cost created by the government). I've even had a builder tell me that they put their profit margin on top of the impact fee.

What I want to be clear on before I can support this resolution in any way is the buyer going to negotiate the price of his or her new home with a builder and head to the closing table to find out that THEY have to pay the impact fee before closing?? Say they negotiate a home purchase for $200,000... does the buyer find out later that they basically pay $208,000??

I'm against impact fees, don't get me wrong, but if anyone has to be responsible for paying the fees I believe it must be the developer/builder and those fees must be included during the negotiation of the home purchase.

Bottom line, the impact fees need to go. There aren't impact fees in the county areas that are outside the small confines of the Kingman city boundaries. Builders have shifted focus to build and develop outside of Kingman. In fact I've heard someone say that of all the growth in Mohave County only 4% of it is actually within the city limits of Kingman. I'd say the impact fees are having a negative 'impact' on Kingman.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A follow up

I've been getting some feedback today from last nights forum... and many supporters of the Realtors position seem to share some confusion.

First, I've heard repeatedly that the KGVAR representative seemed to be against an interchange at Kingman Crossing. However Dave Hollingsworth did say that the KC and the Rattlesnake Wash TI were both needed and everyone involved should be looking towards solutions for both.

Other feedback shared with me is that many thought that Dave seemed to support the efforts of RAID, as far as the land use designation change that RAID successfully has challenged in the form of a referendum to vote on later this year. According to RAID and other folks that I have some respect for (including Mr. Hollingsworth) it appears the city of Kingman may have looked the other way in preparing the information in, perhaps, an illegal or unethical manner in order to present the major amendment to the General Plan for City Council to vote on. The details here are many, but I'll just say that at this time I'm inclined to trust the various folks I've discussed this with over the last few weeks... and that it will perhaps change the direction of the KGVAR committee in the coming days and weeks.

Back on May 7th, we asked the Members of KGVAR to mobilize to support the decision to change the land use change and many Members did show up to do just that. The City Council decided to pass the major amendment. I just watched a few videos of city meetings and up to that point on May 7th, not one word about the process being illegal or unethical was uttered by the 'clipboard brigade' (my friendly nickname for RAID). I certainly felt, at that time, that moving the process along and changing the land use was sensible in reaching the highest and best use of the city lands to condition the property for a future sale.

I wasn't able to be at the May 7th city council meeting but others told me that the talk of a petition drive for a referendum began that evening. I'm not sure when the alleged ethics of the city's process to change the land use actually began, but I think the media helped uncover it and RAID and some others jumped on.

I can say that if the process was possible for the city to do this in record time, but it would take a regular private property owner much longer than the five weeks this apparently took the city to achieve then -- yes -- I'm going to have some reservations about what happened. In fact I'm considering right now to cast my vote in favor of the side that RAID is on. If the referendum was successful, I would then ask the new city leadership next year to do this again, but do it under the same rules that apply to any and all private property owners. If it doesn't pass the required muster, then it shouldn't be considered for a decision.

Lastly here, I am challenging a comment made by the RAID spokesperson from last night. One where he said to the effect that RAID was not ever against a traffic interchange near Kingman Crossing.

Again, watching the past videos on the city website of the 4/24/2007 planning & zoning meeting, two members stated they'd rather see a traffic interchange only at Rattlesnake Wash and there was no need for a second TI. The other member that spoke said that she did not want a TI at KC because it would mean more traffic on her residential street.

At the city council meeting on 5/7/2007 all of the RAID members that spoke were against the major amendment but said things such as; Rattlesnake Wash is the better option, developers were not to be trusted (especially out of town developers), and to put the entire project off for at least another year. All things that pointed to opposition of the traffic interchange (I'll be fair and say that in one sentence a founding member said that he wasn't against the interchange under some conditions).

Now at a later city council meeting a member of RAID stated for the record that RAID was not against a TI at Kingman Crossing... and I was elated that he did. I do believe that presently the group is not anti-traffic interchange and that they still have unresolved problems with other issues surrounding the entire project. But it certainly wasn't always the case.

I presented that last bit here because some feedback I'm getting is that I've become too soft on RAID myself. Sorry folks if this wasn't good enough but it is all I have.

I think the time is right to work together with RAID on some, SOME issues. I certainly want to see them with a seat at the table for hopefully more public discussions. We can be free to disagree at times (and I'm certain there will be time for that), but for now RAID (and other community groups) should be recognized for some valuable contributions.

Last nights forum event...

First off, it was packed to the gills and that was good to see.

I took some notes from each of the various contributors on the panel and I'll share them with you. I'm sure later today the link will be up from the Daily Miner as well (when I was on my walk this morning in my neighborhood I glanced at a neighbors paper to read the front page).

City Councilman Tom Spear was the first to present his view of the issues surrounding Kingman Crossing and the traffic interchange. He passed out a copy of a presentation from April 16th and basically recited from that presentation for his 10 minutes of time.

He did throw in that the initial proposal that was proposed by a local Realtor broker a couple of years ago amounted to a high risk and responsibility with the potential for a low reward for the residents of Kingman. It sounded very similar to what the current city manager stated at the end of the last City Council meeting on July 2nd. My opinion here is that Mr. Spear isn't getting the ALL the facts from city staffers on the original proposal that since has turned into the city hiring expensive consultants and the talk of back room deals.

He did mention that the city currently hasn't the funding for the Rattlesnake Wash interchange and that the city will have to manage their best asset (the city owned 168 or so acres near Kingman Crossing) in order to raise the funds needed later on for RW. Overall Mr. Spear feels that these decisions on the interchanges are Kingman's future.

Next up was the KGVAR representative, David Hollingsworth. Dave was the local Realtor broker that proposed a plan to build a traffic interchange at Kingman Crossing a couple of years ago. He reiterated that his clients proposal called for the construction to be paid for by private interests only with no money coming from the city coffers and that tenants lined up for the project at the time included Target and Kohl's. Further along he noted that Target is building a regional store now in Bullhead City and likely won't have plans in Kingman for at least another 5 years or so, the same would go for Kohl's. According to Mr. Hollingsworth, the deal he had in place would have netted the city of Kingman $15 million dollars and one privately funded traffic interchange.

He mentioned that in our current economy that many private businesses are tightening belts, but the city just passed a budget that doubled in size. He strongly feels that the city doesn't need to pay an outside consulting firm 14% of the eventual sale of city lands when there are more than capable local resources that could accomplish this task for far less cost.

Dave then presented a fair idea and said that the city should stop everything that is happening at the staff level on this project and create a blue-ribbon panel of representatives of community groups (similar to what was represented on the forum's panel) along with the private developers at Kingman Crossing to come to a consensus on solutions that would benefit the developers and the community as a whole.

He spoke of one of the controversial emails from the city that has been uncovered talking about the city manager stating that since the city owned lands is partially being used as a dumping ground, the city could classify the city owned lands as redevelopment or 'blighted' lands and wouldn't need the blessing of the voters to sell the property as the city sees fit. I believe this is the big concern here and Dave's idea about community groups having a say right now speaks to this. Dave's quote was basically if we did the blue-ribbon panel idea we (the residents) wouldn't be 'blighted' by the city. Strong stuff indeed.

John Kirby of the Builders Association was next. I know the local chapter of the Builders Association only recently was organized and it is good on them for how far they have come along to this point. John quickly spoke about the organization efforts of the local builders and stated that the builders recognize the importance of growth and even more shopping needs for the residents. I'll do my best to paraphrase one shining comment... John said that the folks they have talked to really wish there was more shopping choices in the community, how badly it is needed... and that was just the men they talked to. I butchered it, but his delivery was clever.

He also hoped that the out of town developer would consider using the local builders and contractors for the new projects.

Marvin Robertson of RAID was next on the panel. His most memorable quote was something along the lines of RAID was organized to get the city government out of the closet. I'm not sure if it was some sort of double entendre or not. I had higher hopes for Marvin with his time, but he mainly reviewed the history of RAID and how they got their start and how they've managed to get referendums on the ballot. Then he passed around copies of the RAID vision statement. Nothing against him or RAID, I guess I was just expecting more from the leading community watchdog group. No proposed solutions offered, in my opinion, to my dismay.

Representatives from Vanderbilt Farms (land owner of north side of Kingman Crossing) and Vestar (the developer) were next. Sort of a "hello, how you all doing" kind of thing at first, but I think them getting to know us and us getting to know them had to start somewhere. Please more, please talk to us directly about your plans and not through the city at this time. If you can tell, not many have all that much faith in the city at the moment.

Ryan Desmond from Vestar spoke at some length about the difference between an 'incentive' deal and a 'reimbursement' program, and how Vestar could likely ask for a 'reimbursement' deal at some point after their fact finding is finished. Again, I'm hoping that they continue to shed light on the matter to clear up what I feel are misconceptions running rampant at the moment.

It was then time for questions from the audience. 'Questions' was the key word, but the first to stand up directed a comment at the developers stating that their project would ruin the character of Kingman and that he didn't want to see this place turn into the 'peoples soviet socialist republic of California'. First impressions hopefully aren't everything.

I had hoped the question and answer period would have offered something better than what was seen on the whole, but the issue is still very hot and many are impassioned one way or the other a bit too much I suppose. But... this is why more public forums are needed moving forward. More of the information needs to be revealed and addressed. Last night was a good first step in that direction... but there is much work that needs to be done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This could be fun...

Tonight the Mohave County Republican Forum is hosting an event of interest.

Speakers from various community groups (including KGVAR, RAID, the Builders Association) have been invited to speak to the Forum's members about the most pressing issues of the day, including Kingman Crossing.

In fact, the developers of the north side of Kingman Crossing will also be in attendance and will present information as part of the panel.

David Hollingsworth will be representing KGVAR, and honestly I can't think of anyone better in our own Membership to handle the duties.

I, along with other members of KGVAR's Government Affairs Committee and our Association president will also attend as part of the audience.

This should be a sellout crowd tonight, which is why I've waited till the end of this post to offer the when and where for the event. If you are interested in attending you will want to be there early.

The when -- tonight at 6:00pm. A dinner is normally served at 5:30pm and the cost to attend is $10 I believe (so it is not a free event).

The where -- the Elk's Club on Gates across from the Cerbat Golf Course. (sorry I don't have the actual address)

See you there, but if you cannot make it you can be sure that I'll cover the happenings on the blog.

Monday, July 09, 2007

June Sales Report (2007)

June was a record breaking month as far as average price and median price is concerned. Well before we hold a big party to celebrate, the number of sales was flat so I doubt the market is coming out of the woods right now.

The most likely reason that the average price and median price shot up higher was most likely due to the average size home was over 1700 square feet, the largest average since I've been keeping track of that data.

I've decided to add one more monthly chart for review, it is the median price chart. I've been keeping median prices since 2004 so I know the data is good.

So let's get is started, first the disclaimer...

Disclaimer... all data compiled for this report comes from the WARDEX Data Exchange and does not include any sales activity from outside that resource. All research is done only on single family homes and there is no inclusion of modular homes, commercial properties, or vacant land. The geographical area researched includes; all areas within the boundaries of the city of Kingman, north Kingman, the Hualapai Mountain area, and the Valle Vista subdivisions. Click here to see maps of the included area's.

Listings and sales in units chart:

The new listing numbers have been bouncing back and forth for awhile now, but they are still too high and continue to add to an inflated inventory which won't help sellers too much. I was hoping to see the sold numbers at least continue on some kind of upward path, but they fell.

Average listings and sales averages chart:

I dare you to say that all is good by the newly established record for a one month average price in sold SFR's. I'll have data later on showing that the homes sold in June were larger than in previous months. Sellers in June still conceded over 8% off the original listing price. I bet the sold average heads back down again before it can cross the new listing average (but I've been wrong before).

2004 through 2007 unit sales chart:

As you can clearly see, sellers are still not even on par with last years less than stellar numbers to this point in 2007. What we should hope for is that the orange line heads north of the yellow line within the next few months and that will only likely happen if the asking prices continue to slide to reflect what the market IS bearing.

2004 through 2007 average price chart:

You can clearly see that June was a record breaking month for average price. Better than 2005 at any point during that record breaking sales year. The higher priced home market seems to have some life, for the first time this calendar year a home closed for over $500,000 in my search area (according the WARDEX data exchange). Twelve of the 50 closings in June were for more than $300,000 (yet there are still 187 listings on the market for more than $300k).

2004 through 2007 median price chart:

Here is the new median price chart that I will continue to run with the monthly sales report. Once again a new record for highest median price in my search area (yet not as dramatic as the average price chart shows).

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in June had 3.22 bedrooms, 2.1 bathrooms, a 2.16 car garage, included 1,756 square feet of living space, and was built in 1996. The average hold sold for an average of $133 per square foot of living space.

It took an average of 114 days of marketing to attract a buyer to come to an agreement and a total of 158 days from the first day of marketing to the close of escrow.

Sellers reduced price $12,316 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $6,750 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in June was $19,066.

Your turn... you be the expert. What do these numbers tell you?? What do you tell sellers?? What do you tell buyers??

Please be aware...

I was talking with a friend over the weekend who is in the construction supply business and he told me that copper was being stolen from houses under construction. Like say when the electricians are finished, the thieves are coming in and simply pulling all the wire and such.

Then browsing some blogs this morning (I'm still catching up) I found something that I wanted to share. It comes from Jay Thompson of the Phoenix Real Estate Guy. Read it here.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Freedom to Own Real Estate...

I'm still catching up, and that would include my favorite real estate blog sites.

I came across this from Mr. Swann at BloodhoundBlog.

Please read it.

Response to the open letter to Realtors...

Yeah, I'm still catching up on things and I found something interesting from the letters to the editor section of the Daily Miner.

Here it is here.

Now my turn to answer in a civil manner. I do appreciate the tone the author offered in the open letter, I must say.

I also must remind everyone that I'll be speaking for myself on this one, this will not be a response from KGVAR.

My emphasis if needed...

To all the wonderful Realtors who have made this city what it is today, can you stop a moment and think of what it might be in the future?

See that was nice of the author of this letter. And yes I can think of what the future might be for Kingman.

I can see that growth opportunities will be taken advantage of OUTSIDE of the city limits of Kingman from here to eternity. Kingman probably has missed the boat on key issues that really could have made a difference, such as annexation. There was a time when the Rhodes development approached the city to have the proposed new development in Golden Valley annexed as part of Kingman. Now it is likely that Rhodes will get final authorization from the Arizona Corporation Commission to utilize their own water company and there will no longer be a need for that master planned development to be a partner with Kingman.

Once that development is built out there will be more rooftops out there than in the city limits of Kingman. Where do you suppose new commercial opportunity might want to locate at that point?? No sales tax dollars for the City of Kingman, more lost opportunities.

I can see the impact fees continuing to be a burden for the chances for growth inside the city limits.

I can see a primary property tax being implemented because of sales tax dollars that will likely be spent outside the city limits. Sales tax dollars that could help to maintain community parks and important services, and hurting property values for the fine residents of Kingman. But what choice will the city have if it itself wants to stay in business??

Instead of "hawking" a whole bunch of new strip malls east of town, how about a wonderful regional park for all citizens to enjoy! Something like Los Angeles's Griffith Park or New York City's Central Park, somewhere where the whole family can go and enjoy such things such as picnicking, hiking, riding ATVs or bikes ... or horseback-riding trails for the whole family.

I have zero problem finding places to ride my ATV in Mohave County, and none of the places are more than a half an hour away. I'll assume it is just as easy for folks that have horses to do the same. Hiking trails are also abundant in Mohave County. I certainly wouldn't want to ride my ATV in a small 168 acre park right off an Interstate. I've picnicked with friends and family at Centennial Park many times since I've moved to Kingman, and Centennial is only a hope, skip, and a jump from the city owned lands.

BTW, just how much would it cost the fine citizens of Kingman to not only build such a regional park, but to maintain it and be on the hook for liability issues?? And just where would the funding come from??

It would also conserve our precious groundwater instead of being "flushed down the drain" in a commercial environment!

Last time I checked it takes tons of water to maintain a park and I bet even more groundwater would be needed for such a park than would be used at a commercial center.

Also, will all the "mom and pop" shops on Stockton Hill dry up also?

If successful 'mom and pop' shops continue to offer valuable service and goods to their customers I don't see them going away no matter where they are located. There are many such shops in larger cities all over the country that do very well even though they compete with more modern style retail centers. The days of the local general store have long been over.

Will employees be working at this new commercial center at minimum wage just to scrape out a living?

No one will force anyone in Kingman to work for a min wage job. Most folks that do start at min wage jobs are younger and less experienced workers. It does not take long to get the kind of work experience needed to find better paying work. If the Kingman labor force can prove to employers that they, on the whole, are more productive than what a low paying job can offer then you'll see better jobs come to the area.

But as we've just seen in recent weeks, one of the larger private companies in town is closing a call center in Kingman because they feel that the Kingman labor market couldn't support plans for a larger 'super-center' and have chosen other markets to invest in. That may not have happened if they could have pulled folks that proved they are better than what the lower paying jobs offered. Better paying jobs have to be earned, they are not entitlements. Frontier Communications just told us all in Kingman that our labor force hasn't earned better opportunities.

I sincerely hope that you take things into consideration, not just now for your profits but for our future generations here! Do you want your children or grandchildren to have to leave this "ghost town" when the water dries up? Don't we have enough greed in government and the oil companies at the moment? Can you make a difference in the future of Kingman? I challenge you! Thank you.

What I'd like to know is how does a park (that needs resources such as funding and water) keep our children and grandchildren here in Kingman??

You know what could keep the kids here??

Maybe a four year university, even if it is just a small one tied to some sort of parochial school (like a Catholic sister school to a Notre Dame type of program, or an LDS sister school to BYU). Maybe at a school like this a research center could be established to study the actual water resources there are in the area and how best to recharge them or to help find new sources.

Jobs and opportunities can also keep our kids here. With the influx of the baby boomer generation and the continued population growth of the country... coupled with the fact that the southwest seems to be the place that folks will want to be from here on out... opportunities will be plenty.

Education and opportunities is what Kingman needs much more than a regional park at this time. The focus should be there and to expansion of the city borders.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm sure they are nice people...

I have nothing personal against any ONE member of RAID or their families. Of those folks from RAID that I've had the pleasure of speaking with I've always found them rather nice and willing to hold a civil conversation about apparent differences of opinion.

Many folks say that I am anti-RAID or that if RAID says the sun rises in the east I retort that the sun rises in the west. It isn't so. In fact RAID has done some good things in the overall scheme of current events.

However, I have taken great pleasure in offering rebuttals to some of the columns that certain members of RAID write in the Kingman Daily Miner. It takes guts to write a column in the media for all to see either in the newspaper or online, and I respect those guts.

Today I am going to fisk another column that appears in the paper, no not a column from a member of RAID -- but a column written by what I'm guessing is a spouse of a member. No hard feelings here, just plain old rebuttal.

Here is the column for all to see.

Fisking here, my emphasis if needed...

First, in the current economy, and with the doubts the citizens have about their leadership, why would any investor want to buy a section of land unless he could "steal it" or was already assured by the City Council that he could rezone it however he wanted.

The land in question here is the State Trust lands that were not bid on last week. As I understand it the land included 640 acres (a full section) with 26 acres earmarked for a high school and another 30 acres or so to be designated by the city to be for a community park. So really it was for 584 acres that was up for bid... actually less when you take into account the easements that would be required for streets and other public services... but we will use that number for this exercise.

Since when is $27,397 an acre a steal for that much property around here?? Who pays that kind of money for land in this market with the idea of NOT capitalizing on it at some point?? The opening bid had a minimum placed on the land at $16 million, do the math. Oh it would be a 'steal' if a person was buying one acre or even 10 acres... maybe. As I understand it, a developer in Golden Valley bought the land for his development for much less per acre (please correct me if I am wrong)... and he doesn't even have those crazy impact fees to worry about like a developer in the city limits would have.

Do we really need more commercial development? Drive around and notice how many vacant commercial buildings are for lease all over town. Are you considering these local property owners who can't lease their buildings?

So are you saying that if the city artificially limits growth that all will be well in Kingman?? That by limiting growth we'll save the economy?? Opportunity brings opportunity. Don't forget about the sales tax dollars that are NOT collected here in Kingman at this time, but yet are being collected in other locations such as Bullhead City and even in Las Vegas when residents of Kingman shop and entertain themselves there... two places where there is opportunity and plenty of commercial development ongoing to this very moment. Keep in mind that both locations continue to also see residential development a key component in the success they are having... even in this softer economy that they are feeling just like we are.

Are you considering the 1,000-plus homes for sale (some for more than two years) when the City Council approves more subdivisions? Some of these people really need to sell their homes but can't! What about them?

Yes they can sell their homes. The market is always right and never wrong. I've not been in the real estate business long enough to experience sellers bringing money to the closing table myself, but many respected brokers and agents that have been in this business for a much greater time have told me about just such markets in the past. Kingman needs to get people excited about moving to the area again to help the market swing back to something more normal (by normal I don't mean the 30% gain in value we saw in average price from '04 to '05 or the 17.5% gain from '05 to '06). Otherwise we should all expect to see this softer housing market continue. Do you want to be part of the solution or not?? Saying no to growth will only hurt the current property owners even more. We are in a bad part of a cycle and it will take more time to get things back in balance, especially if growth is halted.

I understand from a reliable source that there are more than 1,000 homes around the city going into foreclosure!

Foreclosure rates are up ALL OVER THE COUNTRY. Kingman is not a country unto itself here. There are many factors that are affecting folks that bought homes in the past. Some of it even has to do with the fact that some prominent businesses in Kingman are closing shop and fine folks are being let go from jobs.

I ask you, is limiting growth the best medicine for those most affected??

People bought their homes three years ago when the market was inflated and now they are worth $50,000-$150,000 less in today's market!

I don't know who your 'reliable' source is, but I know a guy who tracks housing data locally on a blog somewhere and the average priced sale in May 2007 was $64,881 higher than in May of 2004. I'll try to find the link for you when I get a chance. Will property values head south?? Well after 3 to 5 years of double digit gains (which is abnormal) I would wager that a correction of some sort could take hold.

Again I have to ask is limiting growth the best prescription to what is ailing the current market??

I have also heard that there are less than 30 escrows being closed a month! And we have 500 Realtors in the area!

So 30 a month eh??

55, 51, 31, 42, 40, 64... no these are not the winning Powerball numbers... they represent closed escrows from the last six months of single family homes in the city limits of Kingman, SFR's in Chaparal Mesa and in Valle Vista (which I believe are outside the city limits)... they do not include modular home sales... SFR sales in the north Stockton Hill area, Golden Valley, or anywhere else... they also do not include land sales... nor non REALTOR represented transactions.

Even still, the numbers are not impressive I realize and they are down considerably. But I'm wondering how limiting growth will turn those numbers around??

There is more to the column, but that is all I have to comment on... oh except for this...

By the way, I am NOT a member of RAID.

Obviously... RAID is NOT anti-growth, right??