Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking back (2007)

Hard to believe that today is the last day of 2007. But hey... we had fun, right??

I have seen ton's of 'Year in Review' types of articles and TV shows by now and I thought I should produce my own... MOCO style... of course.

I'm not ready to finalize the wrap up of the sales reports for 2007 as of yet, but quickly looking at the data I venture to guess that sales of single family homes in my data area is off some 38% as compared to 2006 (and off 58% as compared to 2005). This year marks the worst year in overall unit sales since I began tracking the data myself in 2004 and it is the second year in a row the numbers fell from the peak year of 2005. That folks is a bad trend for a growing area.

I'll have much more next month once I finish all of the reports... it won't be pretty.

How about some other highlights from the year that was...

In January a community group took hold and helped cause some local commotion. They called themselves the watchdogs and were intent to 'protect' Kingman. They had their eye on certain development plans and made it known that they didn't want to see more traffic on Kingman streets... well... certain 'sacred' city streets... in their neighborhood.

Yours truly was NOT selected by the city to serve on the city Planning & Zoning Commission... which helped lead to a different decision for a later time.

But I was quoted in an article about the delay in the Hoover Dam Bypass project and the implications it could have on the Mohave County real estate market. So I have that going for me.

February is the shortest month of the year and it was a bit slow here at MOCO. Some highlights included Mohave County receiving an 'A' rating and the property owner on the north side of the Interstate near Kingman Crossing introducing themselves to the city and community. Kingman Crossing certainly was a hot topic all year long.

Of course I also started hearing grumblings from the local REALTORS about the new MLS organization that was brought on line at the end of 2006. Some of the comments were really funny... to me.

During the month of March, MOCO Real turned one year old... I'm almost over the uncontrollable 'drooling' stage at this point (I hope). MOCO Real also welcomed a co-contributor to the ranks. Yvonne has been a solid addition... when she has the time... when she is not closing four deals every other week (or so it seems).

At the state Association's Winter Conference, the Membership elected me to represent as the Region 1 Vice President to assume duties for 2008 and 2009. It was an easy election to win, there were nine less candidates for that position than there are for the upcoming City Council elections.

In April the local media covered our local Associations Government Affairs Committee that I had the pleasure of chairing in 2007... the article ran on a Friday... my house was egged on Sunday. Probably a coincidence or some old high school chum getting me back for toilet papering his parents house some 16 years ago.

On a better note, Kingman was included on a list of 100 best places to live. In the rumor mill, a large developer from outside of Kingman planning to build a large scale master planned community in Golden Valley was reported to be pulling up and bugging out. That rumor remains a bad rumor.

May brought probably the proudest moment of my involvement with our local REALTOR Association. Approximately 100 Members showed up at a city council meeting to weigh in on a council decision to change the Kingman General Plan for a parcel of property that the residents of this city own. The city council approved the major amendment to the General Plan, which was nice, but then came the referendum drive and the misinformation campaign that not many people were ready for (especially voters).

Kingman also saw another controversy emerge... the infamous quest of city staff emails.

Also that month I was able to attend the national REALTOR convention in Washington DC once again and a MOCO reader sent me some photo's of the progress at the Hoover Dam Bypass.

June was the month the full court press was in effect for the removal of the Kingman city manager. It wasn't even the July 4th celebration yet, but the fireworks began in earnest at city council meetings.

This was also the month that an informal citizens meeting was held the day of and preceding a city council meeting. The who's who of the good old boy network was fully represented among others. This is the meeting where one attendee furnished the quote of the year, most likely. You might remember quote comparing the current city council as, "six monkey's that are poisoning our city."

I also made my own revelation after that meeting. You'll have to scroll down towards the bottom of that blog post to see what I revealed.

Oh... and the state of Arizona held an auction for one section of land near the Kingman Crossing area. Nobody bid on that property that day.

Whew... that was the first 6 months...

My fisking scissors needed to be sharpened after July. Like I said... at this time there was a major misinformation effort afoot regarding issues surrounding the area known as Kingman Crossing. I felt that response was in order and did so at will. Here are three examples.

This is also the month I offered to work to bring the community together and come up with solutions that could satisfy enough interests to put most of the commotion to bed... let's face it, nobody can be proud of the things that were said in the media and at city council meetings throughout the summer. Of course... my effort was blown off by the various interests.

The embattled city manager made it through the first city council executive session in June, but in August he did not. I broke the news on this blog, but the local media did a much better job covering the news.

Perhaps the best blog post of the year came from this month (since I have to say so myself). This is the post about the local rental market. Please read it again.

We also saw prominent members of the community attacking a certain community group. No, not that so called watchdog group (they are in good graces with the good old boys dontcha know), but a different group with a simple mission to inform the public on issues and to register voters.

We also heard about a new hospital in the Kingman Crossing area for the first time... and most importantly to me in August... Avery Harper Linn was born (my second 'granddaughter').

The ballot pamphlets for the local issues election hit mailboxes in September and voters were asked to consider, among other things, on the fate of the resident owned property via Proposition 301.

Meanwhile, voters in Golden Valley said no to incorporating and becoming a city.

Back to the misinformation about the Prop 301... I had a couple of posts to write spurred by one of the many folks that began to comment here on the blog. The important thing in my eyes was the discussion that was going on about the issues that were brought up. My hope is that MOCO Real remains a great place to continue such discussions going forward.

Yvonne posted this article in October about her observations about comparing Santee and El Cajon California and how Kingman is poised to head in one direction or the other (hopefully towards the Santee solution). Plenty of good discussion ensued.

I attended an ice hockey game in Prescott Valley and fell in love... with the building the teams played in and hope that one day somewhere in Mohave County we might get our own version so we can all fall in love in the same manner.

The watchdog group proclaimed to everyone that Kingman should wait a year before working towards positive solutions. The columns and the letters to the editor were flying back and forth by all sides and I even poked around at the RAID website... only to be 'rebuffed' once again.

I was also witness to one of the eight wins of the season enjoyed by my beloved Philadelphia Eagles... I was lucky to be the witness of this event in Minnesota. No playoffs for the Birds but in December they beat the evil Cowgirls... which satisfies the season in my eyes since they didn't qualify for the quest to lose to the Patriots in the championship game.

Remember, remember the month of November. Actually there were some things I'd rather forget about November but that won't stop me from including the month in this year end wrap up.

MOCO Real got some exposure in the local media via an opinion piece... one that I'm still not commenting about. I did notice a spike in traffic for this blog though and I believe that covering the local issue elections played a big role in that to boot. I know of a good recipe for humble pie and for some good eatin' crow if you need them by chance.

Even though the elections did not go as I hoped, it did not deter me from my earlier proclamation to run for the office of City Council in the next election.

And after lots of help from many great folks, in December we all gathered enough signatures to be placed on the ballot for that upcoming election. It turns out that nine other community residents did the very same thing for the three open seats. Three candidates will face off for the office of Mayor.

After five years as a leader of the local Realtor Association, I attended my last Board of Directors meeting as a member of the board. This was truly an honor to serve others during that time. The Association is in good hands moving forward and am very proud of the others that give of their time to move the Association in a positive direction.

I was moved by the generosity of private individuals that came together to provide a plentiful Christmas holiday for over 75 family's in this great community that otherwise may not have been able to provide to their family. A very inspiring effort.

I've neglected the blog in the last week and a half or so during the holiday season for one reason only... I was able to spend quality time with my family. Not only my Kingman family, but I was able to spend time with my own family including my mother, grandfather, and uncle at my sisters family home now located in Las Vegas. My family hasn't spent many holiday's together since days gone by that I can hardly remember. Mainly because of location. We certainly are spread out through the country in places like Reno, San Diego, Florida, and before my sis moved to Vegas -- she and her family were in Hawaii. This holiday season has been especially gratifying to me this year... and I hope your season was as fulfilling.

To the many readers here at MOCO Real... thanks so much for stopping by and making 2007 a truly wonderful year.

I look forward to posting about what the new year will bring in 2008 and hope you will take part.

Be safe tonight, enjoy college football tomorrow, and I'll see you all back here for the first listings report of the new year.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

What to do about the housing crisis??

I found the housing crisis or credit crisis or sub prime mortgage crisis or whatever the heck you want to call it crisis was a heavy topic while I was making the rounds at the various holiday party's I attended this year. I heard plenty of opinions on why there exists a crisis, what is going to be done about the crisis, and beyond.

I do my best to listen when these conversations take place even though I'm often involved in said conversations. The truth is I'm not wrapped up in the complications and not into placing blame for things I have no business placing blame on. This is my first go around in what appears to be a deflating real estate market.

My simple explanation as to why prices are going down is simple... there are way more sellers competing with each other trying to appeal to a lesser population (in numbers) of buyers. It is the old supply and demand lesson I learned in my first week of a business course I took back in my college days.

"What is going to happen from here on out," seemed to be where the conversations at these holiday party's ended up going. I simply leave most of that to the experts... normally in the name of economists... and their opinions vary greatly.

I found this post from a team of economists weblog today and thought it was worth sharing.


Many economists and members of Congress have claimed that the housing crisis was greatly magnified because unqualified home buyers with limited incomes and assets were not fully aware of the terms of their mortgage loans, such as that the low initial (teaser) interest rates were only temporary. This belief in the beneficial effects of greater knowledge about mortgage terms is inconsistent with the evidence that the most sophisticated banks and investment companies, including Merrill Lynch, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley, have written down their housing investments by billions of dollars. No one can reasonably claim that these banks lacked the skills and knowledge to evaluate all the terms of, or the likelihood of repayment, on the subprime and other mortgages that they originated or held as assets.


Although there was some fraud by mortgage lenders and by borrowers, fraud was not the main reason why so many subprime mortgages were issued. Otherwise savvy investors greatly undervalued the risks associated with many of the mortgage-backed securities that they held. They and borrowers alike did not fully appreciate that interest rates were likely to increase from their unusually low levels, and that many borrowers lacked the financial means to meet their mortgage repayment obligations at higher rates, and sometimes even at the low initial rates they had received.


Some have proposed that families should not be allowed to get mortgages if they do not meet minimum standards of income and assets, even if lenders would be willing to provide mortgages, and would-be borrowers still want a mortgage after being informed of the risks. This proposal is a dangerous form of paternalism that denies the rights of both borrowers and lenders to make their own decisions. Moreover, it is ironic that only a few years ago, banks were being investigated for "redlining"; that is, for avoiding lending to blacks and other residents of poor neighborhoods. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in lending, and The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 requires banks to use the same lending criteria in all communities, regardless of the living standards of residents. As a result of the present crisis, however, banks and other lenders are being criticized for equal opportunity lenient lending to all, including black residents of depressed neighborhoods.

and finally...

The United States housing market is riddled with subsidies and regulations, including among many others, insurance by the Federal Housing authority of mortgages to first time and low income homeowners, tax deductibility of interest payments on mortgages –to families that itemize their deductions- and the quasi-governmental Fannie Mae and Fannie Mac Corporations that channel billions of dollars to the mortgage market. Nevertheless, both the White House and leading Congressional Democrats have proposed additional rules to help borrowers who may have difficulty avoiding foreclosure under present conditions. Treasury Secretary Paulson has been negotiating "voluntary" agreements with mortgage lenders to freeze the low introductory rates for five years on some subprime home loans, and to offer borrowers the right to refinance their loans into more affordable mortgages. The Democrats want to go much further than the administration, and have proposed, for example, to help homeowners renegotiate terms of their mortgages if forced into bankruptcy.

I am skeptical of additional government interventions into a housing market that already has too much.

Yeah... me too. Read the whole post at the link above.

I needed this before the holiday party season... I would have made for a better contributor in the discussions perhaps. But... it never hurts to simply listen to what others are saying... in order to inform yourself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas...

Thanks everyone for making 2007 a great year blogging here at MOCO Real. We've just started to scratch the surface with positive things we can do to make a difference. We are all in this together and can all make an impact. So to you and your family, I offer my best wishes to enjoy this holiday season.

Merry Christmas...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Posting has been light...

I've been doing my best to catch up on all things this week as we head towards the Holiday's. I'll be wishing everyone the best for those Holiday's later on of course.

For now though I'm just happy to share that my home was empty yesterday (besides me being there) but today it will be a full house as I'm expecting the granddaughters to arrive soon from New Mexico... and I'm headed out to pick up my lovely wife from the airport in Vegas.

Santa is dropping off my Christmas wishes a few days early.

I'll catch up with you folks in a bit.

A poignant letter to the editor today...

See the entire copy of the letter here.

I liked the following passages the most...

On Dec. 6, in a letter to the editor, the question was asked, Is Nugent's candidacy ethical? The same question can be asked of Monica Gates and John Salem. The implication is that developers are not ethical. I understand why we, citizens of Kingman, distrust the developers who have manipulated the city administration for many years to make decisions that would benefit them and not the public as a whole. To be fair, we must be aware that greed does not permeate the souls of all mankind.

... and...

The upcoming election comes at a critical time in Kingman's history. Developers and major businesses know that this area of Mohave County is vital to the success of their ventures which all of us will benefit greatly from. They don't have to develop in the city, and if the city government isn't prepared to provide leadership and secure plans for them, they are free to go to the county and develop and leave the city of Kingman begging for revenue or raising taxes so high to keep the city running. It is important that we elect a mayor and Council members who are highly qualified leaders of large organizations free of personal agendas and are most willing to be transparent with their activities, plans and involvement in local development and building the infrastructure.

The letter was signed by Dan E. Jones of Kingman. Dan I don't know you, but I think you are spot on with much of what you have to say. I hope there are plenty of Dan E. Jones' out there carefully weighing their decision on who to vote for next March and May. For those of you who want to get a head start and find out more about me (candidate for council that I am), please have a nice long look around this blog and get to know where I stand on local issues.

Also, in Sunday's KDM I understand that each city council candidate will be featured in that edition. Hopefully we will all get a better understanding on who the candidates are and how they view the issues in Kingman.

I hope the Miner includes each candidate profile on their website as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the campaign trail...

Yesterday I spoke before the Republican Men's Club in Kingman. Candidates for City Council were invited to speak and four of the ten on the ballot were there.

You can read the KDM article about that linked here.

I enjoyed the opportunity to speak on a few issues as my alloted time allowed me. I even had positive response from audience members when they approached me after the forum was over.

I look forward to speaking at other events in the not too distant future.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What I like BEST about Kingman...

Was on full display this morning.

Quietly, a group of people have been working on a very special project for the upcoming holiday season. I was lucky enough to lend my hand this morning... and when I say that I was lucky enough... I mean that because this group's effort was so well organized, there wasn't much left to do because of all the help they were already getting.

This group has no acronym, in fact I wouldn't even categorize these fine folks as a community group... but they gave to the community in a big way today. The effort was simply called the Kingman Giving Day.

The effort itself is not unique, in many -- if not most -- communities there are organized efforts like this one. In fact, I bet there are other such efforts in our own community right now. You may even be a part of something like this (and if you are... God bless you and your family).

The Kingman Giving Day effort help support at least 76 families in the greater community today, to assist those families to provide Christmas presents and a hearty Christmas meal. Yes, this was an 'adopt a family' effort.

The group was looking for volunteers with larger vehicles to deliver the Christmas goods today and I was fortunate enough to lend a hand to make a couple of deliveries.

When I arrived at the pick up place... Martin Swanty's Dodge... the site was overwhelming. For weeks the very kind people that were involved in organizing were compiling wish lists of gifts for the children, purchasing those gifts (the actual gifts that were on the list), wrapping the presents, creating personalized stockings, stuffing those stockings and so on. There was a large room full of organized boxes that just was incredibly touching to see. I was absolutely floored by the level of effort that went into all of this.

Beyond that, in the parking area below was a couple of trucks filled. One truck was filled with artificial Christmas trees (there were real trees as well... if the adopted family wanted one) and the other truck had either turkey or ham plus the typical fixings that go along with such a hearty Christmas meal.

I was able to take a few photo's that I will share in a second... when I took the photos though... half of everything was already delivered.

This is the BEST thing about Kingman. The people. Especially the folks that put all of it together. I'm not a very emotional person, especially when it comes to the liquid stuff that drains from eye-socket area, but I had the good kind of chills on multiple occasions this morning after realizing what it took to pull this kind of effort off. There are no words to express here, all I can think of is WOW!!

Again, this is not even the half of it... there were more boxes to the left of this photo... AND more than half of what was there in the morning has already been delivered.

By this time the truck that had the trees was gone, but you can see the boxes of trees waiting to be delivered. The moving truck had the food donations and it may not look that impressive when I took this photo -- but it was stacked pretty high and deep in the morning.

I really hope the effort put a dent in the population of people that wouldn't normally be able to have as many things for the kids and a hearty meal on the table for the holiday. This was a huge effort in itself... but I'm confident others are doing this during this season as well... and hopefully as many people as possible will be having a wonderful holiday because of it.

Truly a heart warming experience... for me just to witness, let alone to have been fortunate to help make a couple of deliveries. Congratulations to those that helped out for the Kingman Giving Day!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Kingman Community Survey (part two)

Yesterday I covered the good or the BEST thing about Kingman, according to those that responded to a survey taken in the early part of 2007. What I believe I saw on that data were mostly things and circumstances the city government can't really do much about (such as the weather).

When it comes to the negative or the WORST thing about Kingman... I believe we will see opportunities for the city to address and correct the issues that appeared in the survey.

So here we go...

(channeling David Letterman for a second)... From the top 10 list for 'What is the WORST thing about Kingman?'

#1 Traffic / Stockton Hill Road -- 245 responses. Oh boy... you know we could spend mucho time on this one. I'll keep it simple... as of right now Stockton Hill Road is the commercial strip of Kingman AND the main travel route that runs north to south. The premium corner lots for new commercial opportunities are taken.

I personally believe that the traffic will never be any better on this road than it is today. What I fear most is that it will only get worse if new alternative routes are not introduced in a timely manner. I can think of two infrastructure projects that could drastically alter the situation. One could be completed within a few years and the other could come on line within the next six years.

Both need to be worked on today.

#2 Drugs / Crime / Vandalism / Graffiti -- 208 responses. I would venture to guess that this kind of response would show up on an overwhelming majority of city surveys all across this great country of ours. Any amount of crime is too much crime so working to improve the situation will always be a great concern to this city government. At the very least, some of the perceived criminal activity takes place in a populated area just outside of the city limits to the north of the city. It still has an impact on the city, and likely a negative one.

Annexation is not the cure for the crime problem... but it is a part of it. The city does not call the shots in the county areas. You'll see later that 'Code Enforcement' is a problem to many respondent's of the survey... and Kingman cannot enforce the city code in some perceived problem areas. The more the city can extend the boundaries, the more the city can control along these lines... and I believe improvements can be made by doing so. I know it is a complicated process (annexation) but one that needs attention today.

#3 Growth / Too Fast / Greedy Developers -- 189 responses. This is a weird grouping and it will be difficult to fully address in a few written lines. We simply live in the fastest growing region in the United States and face many issues because of it. It is likely that the task of managing the growth to everyone's exact delight will be impossible.

'Growth' as the WORST thing about Kingman?? Nobody is going to call for a moratorium on new building, it just won't happen. Even if it did, there won't be anything the city could do about the growth that is happening all around the city limits of Kingman as the city has no controlling authority outside those limits.

Are we growing 'Too Fast'?? By what measure??

Lastly the 'Greedy Developers' bit is precious. I'm a free enterprise kind of guy and think that if someone puts up money on a project and is tied to the money and the project... they are taking the risk. If all goes well, the rewards... well... they'll be rewarding to say the least. I don't want to stand in the way of the process. Greed is in the eye of the beholder... I wish only success to those that take the risk in the hopes of finding rewards.

#4 Lack of Shopping -- 174 responses. Well I for one do not want to see the city enter into the retail business first of all. I don't expect the city to play commercial developer either. At most, I'd expect the city to follow its own guidelines for zoning and the like... and perhaps to be willing to changes land use designations as the growth patterns change where it is most sensible. Getting buy-in from the community at large is also key... but that could mean making a concise and clear effort to communicate with the community the reasons why possible changes are needed.

In a similar vein, 'Lack of Restaurants' was written in 54 times.

#5 (tie) City Politics / Good Ole Boys / not listening -- 123 responses. This clearly is an 'us' thing, a community issue. We speak with our votes and are asked to vote often on issues and candidates. When we don't vote (and many Kingman residents do not) we lose our voice to the special interests like the good old boys. Only you can affect an improvement for this issue.

#5 (tie) Poor Planning / Engineering -- 123 responses. I believe in planning, solid planning... but plans change because change is constant. We can moan about 'poor planning' after the fact, but to me it is not productive. Okay... things may not always go as planned... alter the plan as needed because of change. Loyalty to a plan is fine but only to a certain degree.

#6 Streets Unpaved / Maintenance / Narrow -- 122 responses. Well unfortunately there is no such thing as a free lunch, so someone will have to pay for the paving of unpaved streets within the city limits. This will likely mean assessments that will burden the property owners. I have a feeling this issue gets replaced in the future with what I'll term 'Road Construction' due to the growth. Hopefully though... the new streets in the newly developed AND annexed areas will include paving and proper width up front paid for by... you fill in the blank.

#7 Junky yards / Litter / Code Enforcement -- 121 responses. While I'll agree that the city government should attend to these matters... some of the onus is on... well... us. We know that people are going to move here... we should be setting the example ourselves for others to follow.

#8 Lack of Youth Activities -- 94 responses. On this I'd want to know more. What youth activities do we not have that folks want?? There was discussion about the parks and recreation services at the retreat and teen activities (the lack thereof) was brought up. I find it is easy to complain about such things but it is important to find out what isn't being provided... and then how best to implement and PAY for the cost to supply the activities. There were write in responses noting that 'Senior Activities' were the WORST thing about Kingman as well.

#9 Poor Wages / Lack of Good Jobs -- 90 responses. I thought that I heard the City and even the County are in 'hiring freezes' right now... so I doubt we can look to the local governments to provide jobs and better paying ones at that. It is not the governments job to create jobs in my opinion, I believe that we have to make Kingman more attractive to business prospects with the hopes that those business prospects would locate here, compete for employees, and let basic economics take its course.

#10 Police Response / Traffic Enforcement -- 69 responses. The city has a tough assignment to provide better road infrastructure that will help ease traffic burdens that could reduce the traffic enforcement issue and offer emergency services to respond in an increased timely fashion.

So as you can see from the top 10 WORST things about Kingman, as compared to the top 10 BEST things about Kingman, the city government has their work cut out for them. But many of the above issues are tied together throughout the list. It is possible that with only a few improvements, other improvements might be enhanced to some degree as a result.

Now for some other observations from the rest of the WORST list...

While 'Weather / Climate' was the top write in for the BEST list, 34 folks responded by saying the WORST thing about Kingman was the 'Weather / Too Hot / Too Cold / Wind'. Even mother nature can't please everyone.

On the top 10 list of the BEST things about Kingman we saw that 35 responses were for 'Low Cost of Living / Housing', but did you know that 'High Cost of Living / Housing' was written in as the WORST thing about Kingman 22 times?? As a REALTOR I find that amusing since what I see happening in the market over the course of the last couple of years is sellers saying their home is a smoking deal, while buyers are saying homes on the market are too pricey. Also there are more sellers right now than there are buyers... kinda matches up with the survey.

Oddly the same number of people responded to the WORST thing about Kingman by writing in either 'Everything' or 'Nothing'. Do you get the feeling that those folks are all or nothing types or even take it or leave it personalities??

5 people wrote in that 'Californians' are the WORST thing about Kingman. I find this funny because the first day I moved to Arizona I considered myself an Arizonan... not a Nevadan from where I moved from or a Jersey Boy from where I was born.

12 people wrote in 'City Manager' as the WORST thing... and the city council must have listened closely to those 12 people because that person was relieved of duties last summer.

2 responded by saying they 'Don't Know' what the WORST thing about Kingman is.

Then there is this... 3 people responded by writing in that 'Kingman Crossing' is the WORST thing about Kingman... my assumption here is the interchange along Interstate 40... that does not exist!!

There were 11 respondents that wrote in 'Taxes' as the WORST thing about Kingman. Kingman has no tax to collect other than sales taxes... these folks are just tough to please I guess.

Here is a list of notables from responses to the WORST thing about Kingman; 'Teen Pregnancy', 'Animals Have No Rights', ATV's / Dirt Bikes', 'Complainers', 'Immigration', 'Right to Work State', 'Car License Fees', 'Cemetery', 'Divorce Rate', 'Dog Haters', 'Tumbleweeds', and 'Young People' (elderly folks did not make the list, FYI).

'Realtors' received one vote as the WORST thing about Kingman... for full disclosure. Now while RAID did not get named as a write in on the list the term 'Anti-Growth / Development Atmosphere' did get 15 more write ins than 'Realtors'... just sayin'.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Kingman Community Survey (part one)

Yesterday I attended the City Council Retreat for as long as my schedule allowed me. Here is a link to a commentary piece written by one of the reporters from the KDM that was there covering the retreat for some perspective. I'm not commenting on that or the retreat itself but I am going to share some information and thoughts I have based on the Kingman Community Survey that was done earlier this year. The survey was discussed at the retreat for some time and I found much of the data interesting... and perhaps entertaining.

I'm going to share the written responses that appear in the survey for the BEST things and WORST things about Kingman that those who filled out the survey wrote in. Now I get surveys all the time and fill out many of them. Usually a survey starts out with multiple choice type of categories and then at the end you are sometimes asked to answer something in writing. I'm sure many of you have done things like I have done when you get to that part of a long survey... just fill in something (anything) or simply skip it all together. So some of these responses can get goofy... but even if they are... there is some entertaining value in them.

Here goes.

Top 10 written responses to the question 'What is the BEST thing about Kingman' (I almost feel like David Letterman reading that to myself).

#1 Weather/Climate -- 370 such responses. Unfortunately, no city government can take credit for this. There are other responses to follow that are similar. I'm not surprised by this response though... the weather here is favorable.

#2 Size / Atmosphere / Community / Pace -- 305 responses. I'm not surprised by this one either. I love this community as well, but the secret is out and partly due to the #1 above. More folks are on their way, if we want to maintain what we like about Kingman on this one we are going to have to pull together and come up with solutions to not only welcome the new neighbors but also manage a plan to disperse the growth in a way that allows us to keep the atmosphere, community, and pace that many here like. And also do it in a way that leaves us with the perception to some degree that Kingman is still a 'small town'.

The only other way to keep the size of Kingman the way it is... is for someone calling for a moratorium for growth. I'm not going to do that. I'd rather tackle the challenge from the paragraph above.

#3 People / Friends / Family -- 222 responses. This also is something that I don't think a city government can affect all that much. People are who they are, and Kingman seems to be lucky enough to have lots of good people here now.

#4 Location / Access -- 180 responses. Speaks for itself.

#5 Mountains / Open Space / Scenery -- 112 responses.

#6 Clean Air -- 96 responses. I think the wind helps out on this one now... and I believe Green technology will help keep the air clean in the future.

#7 Recreation / Parks / Golf Courses -- 51 responses. This is a tough one to comment on because I've heard plenty of negative comments in this regard as well. Many folks want 'more' and 'better'... heck it is human nature, but it is nice to see many respond saying that these items are the best thing in Kingman. I've enjoyed activities at the parks and golf courses myself.

#8 Safety / Low Crime Rate -- 49 responses. This is an important factor and one I hear all the time from people thinking moving to this area and buying a home. They always want to know about the crime rate and the quality of life matters in this regard. Can a city government do more and look for ways to improve further?? You bet, and I believe it is a must.

#9 Low Cost of Living / Housing -- 35 responses. This screams supply and demand to me and it is always up for someone's own interpretation... and I bet that can change on a whim... at will.

#10 Hospital / Wellness Center / Hospice -- 30 responses.

Of the 10 listed here I see only 3 items that the city could have direct affect on. Highest on the list from those 3 is the size/atmosphere/community/pace. We all know that many residents in this area really like the feel of Kingman. It feels like the right size town, there seems to be a good community feel, we like the feel of the everyday pace, etc.

I get that and that is why I alluded to the challenge that we all face as we watch Kingman continue to grow. How is the city going to help deliver what we all bargained for when we either chose to relocate here or simply grew up and decided to stay in Kingman?? That is going to be a real tough task... I'd hate to see this response slip down the list and would rather see it be in the #1 slot. There is no way that any one person or any one interest has the answer... as a community we are all going to have to weigh in on this and contribute.

16 folks answered that the city government and public services were the BEST thing about Kingman. Really this number should be added to because police and fire protection garnered another 10 write in's, the sanitation dept. also received 5 votes as the BEST thing about Kingman, taxes (I'm guessing the low amount of taxes we pay as residents of Kingman) saw 8 votes, and even Traffic and Streets were written in as the BEST thing about Kingman and all should be contributed to the efforts of the city government and public services.

Alright... how about these... for entertainment value...

There were multiple responses as the BEST thing about Kingman being 'Roads leading out of town / Leaving'. Think about that one for a second. 4 folks responded by saying 'Me / I live here'. Okay. 1 responded that the BEST thing about Kingman was that it is 'Better than Dolan Springs'... so the city at least has that going for them. Here's one 'Not California / LA / Phoenix'. 4 said 'Everything' (that might be my kind of response when I'm asked to write in an answer on a survey).

This last one that I'll share made me chuckle. One response as the BEST thing about Kingman was 'Mayor Byram' (current mayor)... no... that is not what made me chuckle... this survey went out in January of 2007 and 2 responses made the list for 'Monica Gates'... who is running once again for mayor this upcoming election.

I'm going to have to save the top 10 list of the WORST things about Kingman for later on... it needs it's own post. Look for it soon.

Another 'Development Agreement' in the works...

This time in Marana Arizona, just north of Tucson. Our good buddy Donna sent me a heads up on this opinion piece from the Arizona Daily Star. Please read the whole thing.

I am going to highlight a couple of bits from the opinion...

In a region growing as rapidly as Pima County, the town of Marana and private developers may be breaking new ground in a partnership agreement that demonstrates how major road-construction projects can be built without state funds.

A group of private developers agreed to finance roughly $40 million to design and build a major interchange at Interstate 10 north of the existing Tangerine Road exit. The new exit and accompanying loop road will provide access to a huge retail and commercial development planned for the area.

State money for such projects is scarce because construction costs have increased and too many road projects are competing for attention from the Arizona Department of Transportation's finite budget.

(my emphasis)

My guess is Marana has a similar financial situation that Kingman has. No ability to fund needed infrastructure projects as needed, and maybe a community of voters that don't necessarily like to vote to increase their bills they pay to the government (i.e. taxes).

I'm now aware of development agreement projects in various stages throughout Arizona that include the communities of Marana, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and Lake Havasu City. I bet there are others... and if you know of any more please add them in the comments.

Here is more from the Daily Star...

Some critics will see Marana's decision as a needless subsidy of private development. The land along Interstate 10 is extremely valuable for retail trade, they will say, and businesses would be attracted to it with or without help from the town.

While there is some truth to that, it ignores a fundamental fact of life in Marana. A former agricultural town that's rapidly developing into a suburb of Tucson, Marana has 34,000 people, all of whom demand services but want no part of a property tax.

The town lives and dies on the strength of impact fees for new construction, and sales taxes. The huge development along I-10 near Tangerine Road, which will be much larger than the Arizona Pavilions shopping center at Cortaro Road and I-10, is expected to generate around $3 million a year in sales taxes.

The town gets to keep 100 percent of those sales taxes after its part of the infrastructure cost is paid off, in 15 years, Reuwsaat said.

For a town that's heavily dependent on sales taxes, making an accommodation for a new development that will include a large outdoor mall, possibly two hotels and an autoplex on some 1,500 acres is a wise long-term investment. By investing a portion of its sales taxes toward repaying the infrastructure costs today, it speeds up construction of a badly needed interchange at I-10 and opens a new cash flow to the town's general fund. Sales tax dollars are the blood in Marana's veins.

Wow... how amazingly similar the situation there as the one we face here in Kingman, uncanny.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I emphasize 'WE' because there was no way I was going to be able to do this myself, 'WE' did it. We are running for City Council together.

I first want to thank the many folks who signed my petitions. I will be back to ask for your vote, as promised. I am so grateful that you gave me this chance to be on the upcoming ballot for what will be a new look City Council in 2008.

Now I'm going to get a bit more personal here. I want to thank the following people for their hard work in assisting the effort on the petition drive...

In no particular order...

Yvonne Reil, Donna Crouse, Ken Herskind, Lorraine Leeming, Jack Pozenel, Jim Brand, Brent Frazier, Wayne Wissenger, Shelly Henry, The Chambers Family, Rebecca Morgan, April Dillender, and Cherish Sammeli.

There are many more that gave me advice and support also along the way... too many to try and remember... but you know who you are and I thank you.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my 'sweet-baby' wife Gail for encouraging me to get this involved... for letting me follow through with something that has become somewhat of a passion... for being a true partner in this new experience for the both of us.

Alright... are you ready??

Let's move Kingman forward together!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

November Sales Report (2007)

It is almost year end and the data is shaping up now in terms of this year vs. last year. Stay tuned for a year end report but lets first take a look at the numbers from November. Some very interesting charts worth noting.

But 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:

Okay... the blue line is slowly heading south and it appears that the red line is, at the very least, flat-lining. Keep in mind that the blue line basically represents sellers that have hired a Realtor to help them sell their single family home in the Kingman area. Yes, there are some listings that are of the foreclosure type (either REO properties or short sales) but for the most part that line represents real sellers trying to sell their own property. Of course the red line represents sellers that have hired a Realtor to sell their single family unit... and have had success in getting the desired result.

The blue line still needs to ease off to a larger degree in order to purge the current listing inventory.

Average listings and sales averages chart:

The month to month numbers have been all over the place for both lines since June of this year and to me this signals some needed change. Yes the blue line (new listings) numbers are still much higher than the red line (sold properties) but the lines get close a couple of times and I believe the pricing gap is closing... which will be a good thing. When the numbers begin to get consistent again, and if all goes well, we should see less of a pricing gap between the lines.

2004 through 2007 unit sales chart:

2006 was clearly a down year as compared to 2004 and 2005... and the bad news is that 2007 is way off the pace of 2006. Again, for the umpteenth time, the sellers tried to put up a good fight but the buyers are clearly winning and their patience in this market will pay off. More on that in a bit.

2004 through 2007 average price chart:

Looking ahead to the year end data and 2007 is on pace to yield a lower average price than the average price in 2006... but just by a little. Still, a loss is a loss. You should notice that the yellow (2006) and the orange (2007) lines have been pretty close month in and month out throughout the year to this point, but it is also interesting to note that the average price per home sold in the months of October and November in each of the last three years is basically at the same price point. In fact it is likely that when we look at Decembers data... that the 2005 average price will be higher than the numbers for 2006 and 2007.

One last note, next year I will be dropping the 2004 data from this series of charts. The 2004 figures look lonely right now and many so called experts are saying that average prices may head down towards 2004 prices in the future. I am not a so called expert so I don't know how true that will be and will leave it up to the future charts to see how accurate the real estate pundits are next year.

2004 through 2007 median price chart:

The patient buyers are clearly winning and we are now able to see a measurable drop in prices this last half of the year. We are now seeing single family units selling for 2005 prices and below. If more sellers give in (in order to sell) then there is no telling how far down the price levels drop. Because of the overall inflated inventory of available listings I see no reason why prices won't continue to fall. Only when there is more balance between buyers and sellers will we see a 'bottom' of this market form. Sellers are simply competing with other sellers at this time and until we see buyers begin competing with buyers again I can't see how this equation changes.

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in November had 3.17 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2.17 car garage, included 1,727 square feet of living space, and was built in 1992. The average hold sold for an average of $118 per square foot of living space marking the lowest dollar figure since I began tracking this information.

It took an average of 108 days of marketing to attract a buyer to come to an agreement and a total of 153 days from the first day of marketing to the close of escrow.

Sellers reduced price $31,343 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $14,227 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in October was $45,570. One of the following bonus charts will show those figures and how they compare to previous months... and really... there is no comparison. Signs of desperate sellers are beginning to be noticed. Sellers are starting to give in and take what the market will bear.

Bonus Charts:

Yowsers!! Flex those muscles buyers.

Is it just me... or can you see a developing trend??

That kind of trend will likely lead to more sales down the road. Plenty of numbers here to chew on... for buyers AND sellers.

See you next time in the new year for the December wrap up and the annual report.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm back...

And I'm glad that I don't need a jacket... gloves... a warm hat with ear flaps... boots... and other articles of clothing needed to guard against sub freezing weather.

I am still in need of some signatures on my petition drive to qualify for the upcoming City Council elections next year. If you haven't signed my petition yet, do drop by my office and do so.

So much to catch up on. Looks like the city P&Z meeting is going to be a good one tomorrow night.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kingman Crossing discussion...

Greetings from cold country.

I left Kingman last Tuesday, the morning after the latest City Council meeting. I watched the meeting via the city website on Wednesday and read on Friday the KDM article about an agenda item that I thought was worth noting.

Watching the video, I could not hear the motion made by Council Member Tom Spear because his microphone either wasn't on or he wasn't speaking into it. I'm assuming that he moved to pass the recommendations by staff... one to finish the Design Concept Report with the URS Corp. and two to terminate the contract with S&Y Capital Group.

According to the Council Action document on the city website, the staff recommendation was approved. My confusion at this moment is that I counted two recommendations by staff under item 4 Old Business and the following is how the Council Action document reads...

Staff recommends that the Design Concept Report for this project be completed. The report is 90% complete and would be valid for a period of at least five years.
Staff recommends terminating the development management and brokerage agreements with SYCG, and authorizing up to $250,000.00 in contingency funds to reimburse their planning expenses. STAFF RECOMMENDATION WAS APPROVED BY A VOTE OF 6-0.

I have to admit that when I first read the KDM article... the beginning almost made it sound like the Design Concept Report was scrapped. I suppose that concern stemmed from the fact that a RAID member spoke at the meeting on Monday that there was no need to continue with the Design Concept since 60% of the voters voted against the Kingman Crossing proposed interchange at the last election (although I must have missed that issue on the ballot because I never saw such a thing).

But the following from the KDM article seems to clear this up... for me at least...

Once that report is official, it will remain valid for approximately five years, meaning that while the most recent Council action puts a stop to any direct city involvement for now, the report will be available if future officials choose to pick back up the project. If that happens, with all the preliminary work complete, officials could begin actual design of the project.

Now that there are 4 seats for wide open for new members of Council, it is nice to know that the Design Concept Report will be around for the new Council to at least consider. As I do believe the new Council will have to work towards solutions for both proposed interchanges along I40 and hopefully with as many options on the table as possible.

I return to the home office after a few more games of 'shinny'.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Agenda item at City Council tonight...

If you want, you can view the entire City Council meeting agenda at this link.

I wanted to pass along one item that is worth noting from that agenda.


Direction from Council on completion of the URS Inc contract for the Design Concept Report for Kingman Crossing/I-40 Traffic Interchange and termination of development management agreement with S&Y Capital Group (SYCG)

The contract with URS Inc for the Design Concept Report for the proposed Kingman Crossing/I-40 traffic interchange is approximately 90% complete. $52,254.00 remains to be paid on the original contract price of $321,457.00. The City of Kingman has signed a development management agreement and brokerage agreement with SYCG. This agreement authorized SYCG to spend up to $250,000.00 up front on the planning and preliminary design for the Kingman Crossing project. Staff recommends that the Design Concept Report for this project be completed. The report is 90% complete and would be valid for a period of at least five years.

Staff recommends terminating the development management and brokerage agreements with SYCG, and authorizing up to $250,000.00 in contingency funds to reimburse their planning expenses.

As you can see, tonights Council action will likely put another major tie to the former city manager to bed.

Now I don't know how the the usual suspects will address the Council tonight, and I won't be there to witness it for myself (I'll have to watch the video the next day).

I think I can safely say that all sides will support the termination of the the agreement with the SYCG (Stone & Youngberg Capital Group). This company was essentially hired by the city to manage the potential sale of the 168 acres of prime location property along Interstate 40 near Kingman Crossing. It is my understanding that in return for the sale, SYCG would collect 14% of the amount of sale for conducting the transaction.

Now... bringing this into the realm of real estate sales... 14% commission seems like a lot of fees. Let me admit that I have never been involved in this kind of transaction before... by that I mean be an agent on behalf of a government entity... so I don't know what may be involved. But 14%?? That never rested well with me. To me it sounds as if Kingman hired a 'partner' instead of an agent.

I do not know for certain if the former city manager hired SYCG or not, but their association has been synonymous for the last couple of years. The association attracted even more scrutiny when the infamous city emails started leaking out.

At the recent issues election, the voters turned down giving authority to the City Council to sell the Kingman resident owned property... so the termination of SYCG (since they were hired to manage a potential sale) was likely inevitable at this point.

Leading up to the election I was telling everyone to vote 'YES' to Kingman on all the ballot measures, but I wasn't supporting a sale of the resident owned property in the near term. I still believe that either leasing or selling the property is a wise move... only when the property is fully conditioned for highest and best use that would bring the ultimate value. In order to do that I felt that changing the designation to the property on the general plan to something along the lines of 'Regional Commercial' AND figuring out a sensible way to have infrastructure (say... I don't know... a traffic interchange in the area) provided to the property would lead us all in the right direction.

The eventual outcome of the election though tells us that other solutions will need to be sought and agreed to before the resident owned property can truly be the kind of asset that will benefit the entire community.

I don't even pretend to know the motivation of the SYCG plans. I have no idea if they wanted to help the conditioning effort to eventually sell the property for $50 dollars or $50 million dollars (I assume the value of the property right now is somewhere in that range). I will be comfortable if the Council decides to terminate the agreement tonight with SYCG and continue the URS Inc. design concept for the proposed interchange.

But this is also where I think the comments could get interesting, if there are any. The design concept decision is an opportunity for certain community groups and potential candidates for Mayor and Council to be on record as to whether they support the interchange or not. Might we hear some folks say that the remaining 10% of the design concept be sacked?? If so, why??

Of course you know that I'd support finishing the design. At that point the clock would start ticking and the city could then begin looking for ways to possibly produce what is designed and do so in a way to benefit the entire community. If at some point there appears a means to a positive end... a winning position for the city to take action on... then good. I prefer that the city keeps the options open for now that could lead to something good, Kingman certainly could use some good right about now (instead of waiting a year or until 2013 or whatever).

Should make for an interesting (and probably long) meeting.

Should Ft. Mohave be annexed??

No... not by Kingman.

Ft. Mohave is an area of unincorporated land just south of Bullhead City and at the recent Bullhead City Council retreat the subject of annexation came up in conversation.

See the article here.

(Bullhead City Council Member Sam) Medrano said that with retail businesses moving south along with the population, Bullhead City would eventually lose sales tax revenue.

“The longer we wait, the more it's going to cost us,” (Council Member Jan) Ward said, adding that El Rio developer Brad Hoover is on board with the idea of annexation.

Medrano also said he believes that Bullhead City and Fort Mojave are a lot alike and Fort Mojave residents would benefit from city services.

Our own City Council will have a retreat event on December 12 later this month.

Our two closest municipal neighbors (Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City) are busy with plans for annexation or have been entering into development agreements to help provide infrastructure.

Meanwhile... the loudest political groups in Kingman have been telling us all to wait a year.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A November to remember at MOCO

I want to thank everyone that stopped by in the last month.

I said earlier in my listings report that the November would not one to remember when it came to the local real estate market. However, there were more visits to this site in November than ever before... a little over 3,000.

According to my tracker there were 885 absolute unique visitors last month.

So once again, thanks for taking the time to stop by this place while you are on the incredibly vast and traffic jammed information superhighway.

Don't forget to tell others.

Onslaught of foreclosures??

There has been some news going around about a possible agreement between the mortgage lenders and the federal government about possibly freezing the current interest rates on loans that are due to reset next year.

Here is one article breaking the news.

Now... I know a little about this... but when I want to know more I seek out folks that have more experience in regards to these matters.

One of those folks is Jeff Brown, aka the Bawldguy. I am lucky enough to have simply found his blog and I read it as often as I can. He has been in the real estate business in the southern California area through many ups and downs in the market. The San Diego market sure has seen the extremes when it comes to the up and downs and Mr. Brown has been right there through it all.

Well, he has written two extremely important articles on the possible news that I alluded to earlier. I ask that you click on both links and give them AND the comments there a read.

Here is his article from his blog.

Here is another one from the BloodhoundBlog.

Both are smashing reads.

I would also like to mention that I'm lucky enough to have Mr. Brown visit this site from time to time and even chime in on issues here in our area. I have the utmost respect for the Bawldguy and I am very thankful that I have the association with him that I have.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

November listings report (2007)

Better, in a word, but mostly more of the same. I mean the listing numbers will look better on this report, but not 'better' enough... not in this slow part of the selling year. The total of new listing units fell again, the average price slipped back some, but as you will see in this report and in the sales report later on this month... there is hardly any reason to 'remember' the month of November.

As always... 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.


Today total listings available for single family residence equals 708 (down from 723 on November 1). The rate of new listings taken per day in October was 3.

There were 100 new listings taken in November (number down as compared to 112 in October). The average asking price for the new listings is $239,647 (while last month is was $259,998). The median asking price is $209,900 (down some from $214,900 previously).

The average newly listed home has 3.08 bedrooms, 2 baths, a 1.96 car garage, with 1,709 square feet of living space and was built in 1994. The average asking price per square foot of living space is $140. Lastly, 18 of the new listings were actually re-listed either by the same or different broker.

Units under contract:

As of today there are 83 total units under contract (down from the number of 99 last month).

30 units entered into contracts in the month of November (dropping as compared to 38 the previous month). The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $196,752 (down from $209,887 last month) and the median asking price for November was $174,900 (up slightly from the previous months $169,900 figure).

The average home that went under contract in November has 3.13 bedrooms, 2 baths, a 2.1 car garage, with 1,539 square feet of living space, and was built in 1997. The average asking price per square foot of living space for listings that entered contract this month is $127. It was also priced $16,560 higher when it first was listed as compared to its current asking price (the average price reduction was $16,829 last month). The average marketing time to reach a contract was 115 days (from 144 last month).


There isn't anything earth shattering for last month to really conclude on. The good news is that total number of new listings dropped, but on the flip side -- so did the number of units that agreed to enter a contract. I still see the average seller put their home on the market for a higher price than it will sell for. Of the listings that received an offer within a months time, the average asking price per square foot of living space was; $123, $107, $103, $92, and $75.

As you can see, buyers can be appealed to... with price. With the uncertainty of the real estate market, buyers are still being very careful and selective... but the buyer are out there.

Well, one more month remains... maybe there is one rally left?? I think that probability rests with the sellers.