Sunday, March 30, 2008

Response to a Daily Miner Op/ed...

Oh no... you may be thinking... what did Nick Wilbur write about this time that warrants a response?? Not Nick Wilbur?? Oh... it must be that rascally editor then, right?? No??

It is actually nothing of the sort... other than there was a certain op/ed piece in the KDM. The article appeared on the KDM website on 3/28... on the sports pages. I found it very interesting and noteworthy because the opinion was on the state of the National Hockey League. I know, I know... you must be thinking what is the National Hockey League?? Well I don't have time to explain, and this blog post is meant to be light hearted so hang in there with me on this one.

You'll find the entire column linked here.

The NHL's scoring, snoring dilemma

Shawn Byrne
Miner Sports Writer


First of all, thank you Mr. Byrne for even attempting to publish something about the NHL on your pages. I have to say that it is unexpected.

I notice many vehicles around town that have bumper stickers or window decals with NHL team emblems on them. I see people wearing hats and t-shirts as well with their favorite teams. I've even seen some homes with their teams represented on flag poles. There are what I call 'underground' fans of the great game of hockey... even way the heck out here in Kingman.

The team sport of hockey has always been my favorite sport to watch... and play. While I was a better baseball player, hockey has always been my game. I didn't start playing hockey until I was in my early adult years... and I only played in organized recreational leagues. I started in Las Vegas and now continue to play in Lake Havasu. I just realized that I still use my goalie chest and arm protective gear that I bought 14 years ago (could explain the inordinate amount of bruises I've received this season).

More from Mr. Byrne...

There are five games left in the National Hockey League's regular season. The Phoenix Coyotes are six points out of the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

I wish I cared.

A league that I used to follow closely has gone by the wayside, and now I can only hope that the league makes some changes to entice me back into the fold.

The games themselves are too long and have way too few goals or even opportunities to score.


I have my beef's with the NHL these days as well. I still follow the game quite closely, but starting in the 90's the game changed for the worse because of emphasizing a defensive brand of strategy to win games. Larger and often times less skilled players were chosen to play for teams over better skilled players because the bigger player got in the way better and closed off scoring chances and therefore goals. Team coaches protected their jobs by winning with this new strategy to clamp down on part of what makes the game of hockey great.

Of course fans were spoiled in the 80's and early 90's by great skilled players such as Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman (before he became a checking center), and a few others. Players like this simply had their way and piled up scoring chances and points. There were a few teams that were truly powerhouses while the rest of the league was merely average. The team defense concept was in response to being embarrassed by the best skilled players in the league... and it was easy.

As this year's regular season comes to a close, the team with the most points is the Detroit Red Wings. This doesn't mean they're the best team - the Stanley Cup playoffs will determine that.

The Red Wings average a measly 3.16 goals per game. The Coyotes are at a whopping 2.66. For a game that has 60 minutes of ice time, the lack of scoring results in a snooze fest for fans.


While I have my issues with the game of NHL hockey, in my opinion it is not the lack of scoring goals that makes the game a 'snooze fest'. Besides, Mr. Byrne the Stanley Cup playoffs start in a couple of weeks, there is no way you are going to tell me that those games will be a 'snooze fest' if you really are a hockey fan anyway.

The NHL will never be anything more than a cult following for a small percentage of sports fans. As much as I love the game, I've known this for many years.

Never mind capturing my attention on television, it can be complete torture attending a game live when you add in the 40 minutes of intermission time.

I attended my first live hockey game in 1986 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Up to that point, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to see my beloved (at that time) Rangers play in person.


Oh I now see your problem... you're a Skirts fan (Skirts is derived from the team being called at times the 'Blue Shirts' because they wear blue jerseys, I think lowly of the Rangers and therefore I refer to them as the 'Skirts', 'Smurfs', 'Rags', and even 'scourge of humanity'... but forgive me, I'm a Flyers fan).

I'd hate to spend my hard earned to sit in the 'Garden' and watch the 'Rags' play hockey as well.

I was eager to attend the Pittsburgh Penguins-Rangers game. I took the PATH train over to Manhattan, walked to the Garden, and then was crushed.

The marquee said, "Rangers - Sold Out."

I ventured to the front of the arena just to reminisce about the few times I had gone to the Garden as a youngster. I was staring at the model of the seating arrangement located in front of the ticket windows. I silently wished there was some way I could get into the magical palace.

From nowhere, a guy approached me then and asked, "Do you need a ticket?"

"What do you have?" I asked.

He showed me a red ticket. I looked at the model and my eyes lit up. Red seat! That would be right behind the glass! "How much?" I asked.

"Ticket value," he said.


Red seat!! Hilarious. A real hockey experience would call for a fan to sit in the 'Blues'. Heck I even did that once... I learned some incredibly wild foul language in that experience. Glad I didn't wear any orange and black that day.

For only $20 I sat right behind the glass for my first hockey game. I had a fight break out right in front of me, and without hesitation, I became a glass pounder.

When I left that game, however, I was glad that it was over. It was a night filled with anticipation that ended with major disappointment. Three periods of hockey, two intermissions and an overtime period that ended in a 0-0 tie. Not exactly what I would call fun.

Even then, I knew that hockey needed to spice things up some.


Zero to zero games are rare these days, just so you know. The NHL adopted a new rule that if the game is tied at the end of regulation and overtime (even at 0-0) teams hold a 'shootout' to determine the winner. A goal has to be scored at some point.

I hate the 'shootout' for the record. Sure, I watch the shootout and am entertained by it, but it is a silly way to determine a winner of a game... that's just my opinion.

Mr. Byrne... just so you know the league front office has been tinkering with changes throughout this entire decade. The game still suffers.

In a recent discussion with my boss about the state of hockey, we arrived at a couple ways for the game to be improved, and maybe, bring us back into the fold.

Eliminating the center line would be a good start. Keep the two-line passing rule, but get rid of the middle line to allow for more fast breaks. More scoring would lead to more excitement.

That's what baseball did. They lowered the pitcher's mound in 1969, and more runs have been produced. Additionally, stadiums are now built to encourage more home runs. When a pitcher throws a shutout today, it really means something.

It would be the same for hockey.


Another FYI, since the 2005 season, the red line and two line passing infractions were taken out of the game. If you watch closely you will see attempts at long stretch passes to forwards moving ahead of the defenders creating glorious chances... when those attempts are successful. The red line only matters in terms of 'icing' infractions at this time... but the coach of the Coyotes (the Great One) has offered an idea to remove 'icing' calls short of the red line but only after the puck gains the neutral zone. If this happens... the red line is dead.

When a goalie keeps another team scoreless, it would have more meaning than it does now.


If you are really that jacked up to see many goals, I invite you to come to Sara Park in Havasu this upcoming Wednesday for the finals of the league I play in. Last week I played goalie for two teams and gave up 9 and 6 goals in each of those games... and both of my teams won their games.

I've posted 2 shutout's in the last 3 years playing goaltender. Winning still is more important than shutout's to me. Team play and defense determines the amount of goals that are going to get by me, this year all four of the teams in the league are balanced and high scoring.

Another rule that we decided would add some excitement would be a take-off from basketball's three-seconds rule.

On power plays, a defensemen could only be in a predetermined area in front of the goal for five seconds. The defensemen would have to skate out of the area, opening up the inside for an attack by the team with the advantage.


Boo!! Any rule that borrows from basketball is not needed in hockey. Besides, you won't find D-men camped out in front of the goal unless there is an offensive player camped out in front of the goal. And five seconds is a long time in hockey when you are a player down trying to kill a penalty.

These two simple changes would allow me (and maybe my boss) to watch the Coyotes' last five games like a fanatic, and whether or not Phoenix made the postseason, I would tune into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

I really miss the days when the NHL meant something to me.


Can't help you with they Yote's. They will miss the playoffs this year but I think they've turned a corner and we should see them make the playoffs next year. They have a really nice young team in the making.

And since one of your requested changes has already happened, I urge you to watch the playoffs this year. The Western Conference part of the tournament should be incredible. The Ducks, Sharks, and Red Wings are great teams in a great conference.

Of course I'm partial to a certain team in the Eastern Conference that still has work to do to qualify for the playoffs. They won't win it all this year, but like the Coyotes, the Flyers are a team on the rise and my expectations will rise.

Mr. Bryne, please know that us hockey fans are out here in Kingman. We are more of an underground kind of group. I can't speak for the others, but this hockey fan appreciated seeing your column in the Miner. Throw us a bone once in awhile.

Also, I've mentioned our league in Havasu. We are winding down play for this year (it just gets too hot to play outdoors). Sure, it's only a roller hockey league but it is the best thing we have at this time. No one can afford to keep a sheet of ice in Mohave County (not even the good old boys with all their riches). Hockey is still hockey though. There is a nice youth organization in Havasu and an adult league.

There is talk of a new events center in the Bullhead City area that would bring a minor league hockey team to the area. In my opinion a better value for your dollar. No one will ever confuse Mohave County with a province from Canada in terms of hockey, but the sport is on the ever so slow incline of interest in this area.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Realtor fees...

I've been following the stock and commodity markets here and there for the last year. I'm certainly not a financial guru and I'm not investing in either at the moment. I'm attempting to learn a bit. In my browser (Firefox) I usually open a few tabs and keep them open for most of the day. One of those tabs has been MarketWatch.com and as it just so happens, they've been including many real estate related articles that have attracted my attention. You may have seen some links from my blog posts that will take you to an article on MarketWatch. (I am getting the feeling though that MarketWatch is the Fox News of Wall Street)

I found another this morning that is worth sharing. The writer seems to be answering questions from a 'mailbag' of sorts and addresses two in this article linked here.

The first question is about the building market, a fine read but nothing new.

The next question addresses Realtor fees. I'm going to break the question and the answer down in the following...

Realtor commissions

Question: I understand that the standard commission the seller pays a Realtor has been around 6%. We would like to sell our house but with the market downturn, we lost equity we had built up in our home, which makes the sale prohibitive if we are to pay 6%. Our home is worth $220,000 and that is what we owe. Do you see the 6% figure change with the market conditions? --Tatjana, Minneapolis.

It just so happens that my wife and I are closing on a home purchase in Minnesota and I've come to understand that the seller paid more for the home than he is selling it to us for. There are no Realtor fees being paid to anyone (not even a referral fee for me) for this transaction.

Sellers all over the country are in this predicament, not all sellers mind you... mostly sellers that have bought within the last few years. We've all heard by now that many sellers that are upside-down are simply walking away letting the financing institution that loaned them the purchase money to deal with it.

It won't be uncommon for sellers to have to bring money to the closing table themselves to close a transaction for property... with Realtor representation or without... during this current market for certain circumstances.

The seller above assumes that she can get the dollar amount she shared. She is saying selling at that number leaves her in a break even situation without hiring a Realtor. So I say, don't hire a Realtor.

Here is the author of the article's response...

Answer: First of all, there is no such thing as a "standard" commission. Sales commissions are negotiable, and everyone is free to charge whatever they want.


Bingo!! The answer goes on but this first couple of sentences seem to be mythical to many folks thinking of hiring a sales representative to market and successfully transact a property transfer.

That said, the truth is that most brokers charge the same rate, and most won't bargain. It's either take it or leave it. Most won't cut their rate, either, unless the property is so pristine that it will sell itself with little or no effort on the agent's part or the seller agrees to show the property himself whenever a possible buyer shows up at his front door.


Yeppers... most brokerages won't bargain. No need to... in my experience... most consumers don't negotiate. However, both sides have fault in this. On my side, we have to do a better job at explaining and justifying our fees... and on the consumer side, they have to do a better job at simply asking for explanations and justifications of fees they are about to agree to.

Of course consumers could pick up the yellow pages and call three or four brokerages and find out that each one charges a 6% listing fee with no offers to bargain. The consumer is going to be faced with a certain perception that leads to a reality... that really isn't all that certain.

The first question that should be asked of a broker is... "are your fees negotiable??" If the answer is no... hang up and move down the list until you hear the "yes" answer.

But -- and it's a big and important but -- there are plenty of brokers whose business model is different from their colleagues. Some charge a point below their competitors to set themselves apart. And then there are discount brokers whose fee is based upon the services you desire - the rate might be different if you do your own advertising, for example, or if you hold your own open house. And there are flat-fee brokers who charge a minimum amount to simply put your house into the all-important multiple listing service.


While I am not a broker myself, I am part of this new progressive group of professionals that does have a different business model. If you are a consumer... you can find pro's like me. The above is just a few examples out of probably thousands of different possibilities.

Realize, however, that you won't get full service with these companies. In other words, you get what you pay for.


Oh, that's nice and all -- but I disagree on the premise. First of all, someone define 'full service' for every consumer. You won't be able to... each and every transaction that I've been involved in since becoming a Realtor has been different. One size does not fit all. Yet all of the transactions I've been a party to... transacted basically under the same manner.

Put property on the sales market. Attract a buyer. Negotiate the sales agreement. Close the transaction. The fundamentals are the same, but there are many different ways to accomplish the fundamentals.

I hope you understand where I'm going with this. Full service is subjective.

You might also be interested to know that commissions are rising ever-so-slightly, not falling, largely because brokers maintain they have to work harder and spend more money in advertising and the like to sell houses in this market.


Maybe commissions are rising a bit... but profit margins are slimming... mainly due to marketing efforts (they cost money).

Profit margins you ask?? Don't tell me that just because I may collect 6% in fees for transacting a property transfer that you think ALL of that money goes into my next spending spree at Target (in Bullhead City).

It is taking longer to market a home and if your typical broker is advertising your listing then he/she is spending money to advertise in one form or another. Gone right now are the olden days (of 2005) when a broker put a listing on the MLS and received an offer on that property five minutes later via the fax machine. Back in that 'golden age' of sales, I noticed many listings were being taken for 5% or 4% on single family homes. Now... not so much.

Also, many brokers are charging so-called "administrative" fees because they say the volume of paperwork and legal requirements are such that their costs have multiplied over the years.


Well... could be. I'm wondering if the author here is referring to 6% plus 'administrative' fees?? I haven't seen that one as of yet. Sounds lame though.

I believe they should raise their commissions to cover these costs so sellers will know what they are paying, but most prefer to sneak in the fee when the seller is signing a listing agreement and doesn't pay much attention to anything other than the commission, if he pays any attention at all.

Whoah... loaded allegations there I'd say, but if true... that's bad -- really bad.

Most sellers don't even question the charge when it appears on the settlement sheet, if they notice it then. But they should, and unless they were told about it upfront, they should refuse to pay it. I have, even when the agent said if I don't pay it, the broker will take the fee out of his share of the commission.


Sucks for that agent then. The agent needed to explain the 'fees' up front in a clear and concise manner. Clients need to know what they are paying fees on and it is only up to us... the folks in the business to make sure our clients are in the know. I consider that a minimum for 'full service'.

I'm a lucky agent today. I'm closing on a home today (fingers firmly crossed as we speak, making it more difficult to type than normal). I was hired by a seller last May to list a nice home in a favorable area of Kingman. We entered the market at a then comparable price for the market.

We negotiated my fees well up front and it was clear to my client what he would be paying for if I successfully marketed and closed a transaction for his home. I believe that he would tell you today that he got full service at this time in this market with prices falling monthly. Yet today (if all goes well) he will save $4,100 in fees as compared if I had only offered a 6% commission rate.

My client had to adjust the asking price (down) to be in line with the market during the time I was marketing the property. My client finally received an offer he could agree to, and today we close (fingers still crossed though, taking nothing for granted).

I consider this transaction profitable for my business, I negotiated for a fee that worked for me... and for my client. The transaction would have been more profitable if I had closed on it closer to last May than at the end of this March... but that is and was my risk.

Th bottom line... consumers MUST negotiate fees, MUST feel as if they understand the fees, and MUST hold their broker accountable to those fees. I know that I've been writing here about sellers in this post, but the MUST's apply to the buyers as well.

If you've read this post, you cannot say that you don't know of a real estate professional that won't bargain or negotiate fees. You know of at least one. There are many out there and before too long my guess is the business model I use will outnumber the old fashioned 6% model.

How much will you pay in fees on your next transaction on a property?? The answer is totally up to you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MOCO Interview...

I'm going to try something new and a bit different. I'm going to try and interview some folks from time to time and share whatever insights they may have with the readers here.

My first victim... errr... interviewee is someone I consider to be a good friend. I've known him for less than a year, but in his time in the Kingman area he proved to be a solid citizen. He has recently decided to move on out of the area and pursue other interests in California. So this is sort of an 'exit interview' if you will.

Today's interviewee is none other than Brent Frazier. Now many of you don't know Brent and that is fine, he was the local public relations person for Rhodes Homes most recently while working for a firm out of the Phoenix area. Because of that relationship, Brent at times seemed to gain some notoriety -- good or bad depending on who was talking.

While in Kingman, Brent spent time helping the Boys & Girls Club raise money, helped form the organization formed to create more voter awareness and participation -- known as CIVIC, and was involved in other clubs such as Rotary.

Now Brent is a couple of years younger than me and we happen to share some of the same kinds of humor and other interests (mostly political and sports related). So some of the questions you will see asked are somewhat serious and others... well not very serious at all. You are free to interpret the questions and answers in any manner you wish to. This interview was just an idea to have some fun with... but not at anyone's expense other than for the interviewee and the interviewer.

So let's get to know Brent and hear his own words.

Here we go...

MOCO Real: Where were you born, raised, and schooled?? Tell us what you studied in college and share some of your experiences working for the Republican Party. Where do you see yourself and career in 5 years??

Brent: I was born in Lynwood, California. I lived in Southern Cal until the age of 15. We bounced around a couple of times, which was probably a prelude of things to come for me. When we moved to Arizona we moved to Bullhead City. My grandparents had been living there for several years. To this day I’m not quite clear on why the move was made. I went to high school (10-12th grades) at Mohave High School. My freshman year took place at Don Lugo High School in Chino, Ca. Culture shock would be an understatement when describing my initial reaction to school in BHC. I came from an extremely diverse student body of over 2,000 (that’s just my freshman class) to a very homogeneous student population of roughly 1,500 (for the entire school).

Shortly after turning 21 I had an opportunity to move to Tempe. Figuring it was time for a change I jumped on it. I moved into a three bedroom apartment with three other guys in our early 20’s. It was like living in a frat house without the crazy initiation rituals and hazing.

Fast forward to the last 90’s and I am now enrolled in Arizona State University. After changing my major twice after realizing that my academic pursuits weren’t quite in line with my abilities I ended up getting a Bachelors of Interdisciplinary Studies. The great thing about this program is that I got to study two different areas rather than the one that a traditional degree program offers. I studied political science and education.

It was around this time that I had begun getting interested in politics and government and the role that each plays in our daily lives. In high school I couldn’t even tell you the difference between a Democrat or Republican (there’s probably less difference nowadays). While completing my degree I had an opportunity to volunteer for Senator Jon Kyl’s 2000 campaign. I did typical volunteer/intern activities (stuffing envelopes for mailings, answering phones, etc.).

My last semester required me to complete an internship. Given my experience with the Senator’s campaign I was able to intern in his Phoenix office. This was a great experience that allowed me to get to know some great people. In addition to the kinds of duties I described above my primary project was putting together a program where the Senator would invite prospective Service Academy candidates to learn about the opportunities that each of our Service Academies offer and ask questions of representatives from each. We held the program in the auditorium at Dobson High School. It included a video presentation as well as comments from the Senator, and each Academy representative. It went very well and I was quite proud of it. The gentleman I was working under in the Senator’s office was quite pleased as well.

This experience allowed me to obtain a job working for Congressman John Shadegg. He represents Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District which encompasses parts of North Phoenix and Glendale. My worked the front desk and was essentially a glorified intern. However, I was able to get more involved in constituent issues and help them to get problems solved. I was responsible for dealing with issues pertaining to: education, military, veterans affairs and service academy nominations.

At the time I accepted the job working for the Congressman little did I know that just a few short months later one of the single most important events in history (and certainly the most important since I’ve been alive) would take place. I woke up the morning of September 11th as many others did not knowing that anything had, or was about to happen. Upon learning that a terrible and gravely historic event had taken place my thoughts turned to what the day would have in store at the office. It turns out that nothing overly dramatic took place. We spent the entire day in our Chief of Staff’s office watching the news coverage that pervaded every single outlet. We had a few phone calls from folks providing their theories for why this incident took place, but other than that it was not very busy as far as our office was concerned.

The excitement I anticipated on that day did end up coming about however. It was a few weeks later that the anthrax scare we all experienced began to sweep the nation. Several DC offices had scares and at least one U.S. Senator had anthrax exposure. I remember being on conference calls with all the other congressional offices from around the country getting instructions on how to open our mail.

I was one of those moments that you clearly pay attention to what’s being said, but in the back of your mind you know that these things only happen to “other people” and would never happen to “us”. We were told to be aware of suspicious packages that were wrapped in materials other than those typically used, were sent from a foreign nation, had foreign or indistinguishable writing on it as well as a few other clues to look for. The most important being a white powder inside.

Well, as it turns out one day we received such a package. Well, almost. It met all of the indicators we were to look for, accept for the white powder…at least from what I could tell. I handed it over to our office manager who promptly contacted the FBI. The man from the Bureau was there about ten minutes then left. About 20 minutes after he left I was sitting at the front desk when the door opened. In walks a fireman in full gear, oxygen mask…everything. He cleared out our office. I walked out to find 2 fire engines and 3 police cars and someone wrapping red tape that read “Bio-Hazard” around our office. Seeing the stunned and interested faces of the people in neighboring offices was something I’ll never for get.

It turned out that there was nothing in that envelope and the firemen didn’t find anything of concern, but they felt it was best to not take any chances. Needless to say it made for a memorable day.

A couple of months later I had accepted a position with the Arizona Association of Industries (AAI). AAI is a manufacturing trade association and has recently merged with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. When I started I was hired to be groomed to become their in-house lobbyist. Over time the true nature of the association and its financial condition became apparent and our staff began to wither. Over the 2 ½ years I worked there we went from a staff of 9 and 2 contract employees to just me. I was responsible for the day to day operations of the business as well as member recruitment and retention, staffing committee and board meetings, planning and executing events as well as working with our board to coordinate our lobbying efforts.

I left AAI to go back to school. Fast forward two years later and I had been offered and accepted a position with the Arizona Republican Party. I was responsible for working with our internal database and disseminate voter registration lists to candidates and issue campaigns. I also helped out with other projects going on around the office. While I was there I also became the Arizona contact for the RNC’s Voter Vault program.

While working for the Republican Party I met a guy by the name of Kyle Moyer. He owned a firm that ran political campaigns for candidates as well as issue campaigns for corporate clients. Kyle and I had developed a good rapport and discussed some other opportunities for working together prior to him finding out that I’m originally from Mohave County. Once he learned this he asked me how I’d feel about going back. At the time he was expecting some growth in the firm and needed to bring Tony Johnson back to the office in Scottsdale. He and I both figured that given my background in Mohave County it would be a good fit.

As for where I see myself in 5 years I would have to say that I will be married with children and hopefully being in business for myself. Whether or not I’ll still be living in San Diego is another story, but we’ll see.

MOCO Real: Okay, good... the boring stuff is out of the way. Onto more important things.

Next question...

MOCO Real: Many people know that you are a LA Dodgers fan, but if you were a Philadelphia Phillies fan… would you have booed Mike Schmidt during his heyday in Philly??

Brent: If I were a Philadelphia Phillies fan I’d hang myself. Hence, I would be unable to boo Mike Schmidt or anyone else.

MOCO Real: No... sorry... that was the wrong answer. We were looking for something along the lines of, "of course I'd boo Schmidty as it is a requirement for Philly fans to 'boo' the best players we ever had."

Next question...

MOCO Real: You’ve recently resigned from your position with a public relations firm out of Phoenix and have decided to relocate to another state. Why??

Brent: The short answer is that there were no opportunities for me at this time in Kingman. I had been in communication with people from the new hospital about a position similar to the one I held with Kyle Moyer; however, they are not going to be filling that position for a couple of months yet and I had to make a decision right away.

I could have stayed with my firm as I had an offer to go back to Phoenix, but decided that it was time for me to make a change. I had an opportunity to move in with a buddy of mine in San Diego and I took it. Simple as that.

Next question...

MOCO Real: The public relations firm that used to have you in their employ, used to have a fairly notorious client that made news in Mohave County from time to time. I heard the former client of your former employer is a master planned development developer. Is it true that part of your expected duties to the former client were; babysitting his children, making late night Taco Bell runs for him, and piloting his helicopter?? If those rumors were unfounded, would you please describe some of the duties you had??

Brent: Ahhh yes…you’re referring to Rhodes Homes. Yes I had quite an interesting relationship with that client. Actually, he preferred Buffalo Wild Wings to Taco Bell, which meant that I had to head to Bullhead City, as there is no Buffalo Wild Wings in Kingman. Furthermore, he enjoyed going to a good sports bar to watch his favorite teams and sadly, there wasn’t such a place in Kingman so we had to head to Havasu or Bullhead.

As for piloting his helicopter I was supposed to begin lessons to do so just prior to him cutting back on operations in Mohave County. Well, when those cuts got made, guess what else got cut? You guessed it…my helicopter pilot lessons. Darn the luck.

As for other duties…I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you.

MOCO Real: Well as you know, killing is not allowed at MOCO... so we'll leave it at that.

Next question...

MOCO Real: Will Hawaiian styled shirts ever go out of style??

Brent: Absolutely not. Living out here near the beach has proven this to me. In fact I’ve started collecting cans so that I can save up for my Tommy Bahama wardrobe.

MOCO Real: Good news for my Don Ho section of my wardrobe.

Next question...

MOCO Real: You served on the Board of Directors for the CIVIC group that was formed to promote the benefits of voting and increase participation of voters. That sounds nice and all, but wasn’t it true that the real agenda of the CIVIC group was to pass out brochures to unsuspecting attendees that promoted the new proposed ‘Pravada’ development in Golden Valley??

Brent: In spite of popular belief CIVIC was not intended to promote voter education and participation in the coming elections. It was a secret ploy by Jim Rhodes to sucker the fine people of Kingman into coercing the city council and other elected officials into supporting his Pravada plot. Worked like a charm didn’t it? In the words of John “Hannibal” Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together”.

MOCO Real: Nice 'A' Team reference... takes me back all the way to the fifth grade.

Next question...

MOCO Real: Isn’t it a fact that the ‘brainchild’ behind the formation of CIVIC was Jim Rhodes himself and that he attended each CIVIC meeting and required attendees to learn the secret Jim Rhodes handshake before entering and being duped into the following 90 minute hard sales pitch to reserve lots in ‘Pravada’??

Brent: Actually, Jim didn’t attend the meetings himself, I had a small camera implanted in my eye and a tiny mic inserted in my nose that would allow him to watch the proceedings from the comfort of his limousine. He liked to cruise the Las Vegas strip counting his money and watching CIVIC meetings.

MOCO Real: Well the CIVIC meetings that I have attended were very good, so it does not surprise me that the former client of your former employer would want to stay abreast of the topics at those meetings. And I've heard that he has the kind of money to use at his discretion to pull something like that off.

Next question...

MOCO Real: For some reason you happen to be a Buffalo Bills fan, an embarrassment for you I’m sure. Who would you rather have playing defensive end in their hey-day… Bruce Smith or Reggie White??

Brent: Considering that Bruuuuce actually played for my beloved Bills I’m not going to dis him by saying I’d rather have Reggie. I loved watching Reggie and believe he’s one of the greatest players of all time, but I don’t think he would have done any better for the Bills than Bruuuuuce did. However, given some of Reggie’s public comments in front of government bodies I would have loved to have him speak up for my client at city council meetings.

MOCO Real: Mr. White is peacefully resting in the 'big stadium in the sky' so we won't ever know what he could have contributed at local government meetings.

Next question...

MOCO Real: In your honest assessment… on what exact day will I turn on my water faucet in Kingman only to see exactly zero water run from it because your former employers former client used up all the water??

Brent: I just consulted with my Magic 8-Ball and it has indicated to me that on December 8th 2073 (my 100th birthday) at approximately 5:39am. This is also the day that the final home in Pravada will be constructed and the 10,000,000th resident will have moved to Mohave county.

MOCO Real: Imagine the traffic on Stockton Hill... yeesh!!

Next question...

MOCO Real: In your time here in the Kingman area you proved to be a very popular person and many folks seemed to have known your every move. You became quite a ‘hit’ on the local political scene… some say due to your uncanny ability to ‘stir the stew’… others say due to your former employers former client’s penchant for allegedly enriching wannabe elected officials. An ‘unnamed’ source on a local Internet discussion forum had the following to say… “I do know for a fact that BF (Brent Frazier) has approached at least one candidate trying to give that candidate money.” Dude… how do you answer this allegation??

Brent: Lies…lies…lies. I approached at least 5 candidates and offered to contribute to their campaigns…yours just wasn’t one of them. Sorry dude.

MOCO Real: By the way Brent, you are a lousy 'rumored to be' campaign manager.

Next question...

MOCO Real: Also from the same ‘unnamed’ source came a perceived problem because it was alleged that you (a) attended every City candidate forum, (b) offered to give City candidates money, and (c) attended every City Council meeting. If the above is true then it is a problem in my eyes. You were just living in the Chaparal Mesa subdivision (which is outside of the Kingman city limits) and not eligible to vote in city elections. How dare you, as a citizen of this country, attend these functions and offer to give money to candidate(s)??

Brent: Again, lies…lies…lies. I missed at least one City candidate form. I missed a handful of city council meetings and as I previously stated I offered to contribute to no less than 5 council candidates campaigns.

As for my living in the county and outside of the city limits, guilty as charged.

Next question...

MOCO Real: Obama or Hillary… who are you voting for??

Brent: Isn’t Obama’s full name: Barak Hillarysinsane Obama?

Ok, you’ve pinned me down, and forced me to make a decision. That’s rough for a guy who’s by nature very indecisive. However, if I must make a choice I would say that I’ll be voting for:

Mickey Mouse.

MOCO Real: Well, I do suspect that Mr. Mouse will get some 'write in' votes with the limited choices we are facing in the upcoming elections this year at the national level.

Last question...

MOCO Real: Okay… you’ve moved on to what you think will be greener pastures for you. What conditions would have to change for consideration of ever living in the Kingman area again??

Brent: In all seriousness, had there been even one opportunity for me to earn a decent income with a company that had growth opportunities for me I might very well still be living in Kingman (to the dismay of several people…ok, person, who regularly reads your blog).

As I stated earlier, I tried to get a job that would keep me there, but nothing panned out. I mean, sure, I could get a job there. There are some jobs, but nothing that one could consider a career; nothing that would allow me to own a home, support a family, or enjoy the kinds of things that all of us would like.

Will I find that here in San Diego? Maybe, maybe not. I do believe that my chances are much greater here of finding the things I’m looking for at this point in my life. I’ve always said that if I were retiring or starting a family that I could see myself moving back up to Mohave County. Hopefully there’s some water left for me and my family when that time comes.

MOCO Real: Thanks Brent, you've been a good sport about all this. I wish you the best in your new endeavors and wherever life's journey takes you.

One thing I have noticed since Brent has moved out of the area a couple of weeks back... the weather sure has been better... coincidence??

Two years now...


MOCO Real turns two today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Those risky loans we keep hearing about...

A real good friend of mine works for IndyMac in mortgaging. We mostly talk about sports related stuff since we are both fans of the same teams. Once in awhile we make fun of our other friends, but rarely do we talk business (even though our industries are closely tied together).

IndyMac has been in the news lately as one of the many banking institutions that is poised to fail, according to many Internet types that seem to know everything about everything. Even the talking heads on the cable news outlets forecast death and dismemberment for these institutions.

My good friend is in upper management (a regional executive... but I'm not sure of his title) for IndyMac and I cringed as I asked him how things were for him... such as job security right now. His answer somewhat surprised me. He said that his orders have changed a bit and he will be part of a group that will be focused on approaching 'performing' borrowers with ARM's (adjustable rate mortgages) and other sorts of creative financing programs to get the borrowers off those (what could be) toxic loan programs and into a locked long term loan. He says the task is very large (over $6 Billion dollars worth of loans in just the portfolio he will be helping to manage).

However, he is excited about the task and is positive that it will make a difference. He also told me to check out a new company that is being set up to do basically the very same thing.

Here is a link to an article that appeared on Monday about new start up PennyMac, or Private National Mortgage.

From the article...

PennyMac will raise capital from private investors, acquire loans from financial institutions seeking to reduce their mortgage exposures, and seek to create value for both borrowers and investors through loan servicing.


Sounds simple (I'm sure there are complications and specifics both I and the article are leaving out), and it sure sounds tons better than a government bailout.

Lastly, it does sound like there will be plenty of money making opportunities and even profit margins along the way. We shall see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Discuss...

I found a couple of statements on the Internet this morning and just wanted to pass them along. Feel free to discuss them in the comments.

An unwillingness to take personal responsibility is the single biggest threat to growing prosperity in society.


And...

Conservatives are much less likely to rack up a big credit card bill than 'liberals' are.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The market... as compared to national news

This morning there was a release of news related to the national real estate market. Read the full article here.

I'll do some side by side comparisons as compared to our local data and what it shows us.

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- Boosted by a record decline in prices, the U.S. housing market showed signs of stability in February, with sales of existing home rising modestly for the first time in seven months, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday.

Resales of U.S. homes and condos rose 2.9% to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 5.03 million, ahead of the 4.85 million pace expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

It's the strongest sales pace since October. Sales are down 23.8% compared with a year ago.


Sales are down in the Kingman area 52% compared to a year ago. I've found that historically, our local market lags as compared to reports for larger market areas. If the west region of the country says one thing heading one direction... in Kingman our market seems to lag behind a month or so. We'll have to wait and see if this continues.

Also keep in mind that I don't do sales forecasting for the local market.

Inventories of unsold homes fell 3% to 4.03 million, representing a 9.6-month supply at the February sales pace. Inventories are not seasonally adjusted, but a decline from January to February is unusual.


Our local inventory fell 7% from the previous year. I'm not sure how much of the percentage drop is due to cancellations and/or expirations but likely that figure is a large part of the rate decrease (sales are incredibly weak after all).

At our local February sales pace, the figures indicate that we have over 31 months worth of inventory. This is probably not entirely a true indication of where we are at, it's awfully scary though that our inventory problem is as bleak as it is.

The median sales price plunged to $195,900, down 8.2% from a year earlier, the largest price decline recorded. Prices of single-family homes fell 8.7% in the past year, also the most since the records begin in 1968.


Our local median price decrease is at 17% to the bad as compared to the February 2007 data.

Since the credit crunch first hit in August, resales have been "stuck" in a narrow range around 5 million, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate agents' trade group.

Sales rose in three of four regions, with the West still lagging. Sales rose 11.3% in the Northeast, 2.5% in the Midwest and 2.1% in the South. Sales fell 1.1% in the West.

Median sales prices are down 13.4% in the West, largely because the market for jumbo loans above $417,000 remains frozen, Yun said.


Still correcting out here in these parts. Good to see at least other regions at least treading water favorably. Who knows when we stop sinking??

There will be a series of housing market reports coming out this week. I'm expecting a mixed bag of good news and bad news.

Update:

I found an early media reaction and commentary to the housing news shared earlier. Read the whole thing here.

Commentary: After much preaching about prices, home sellers get religion

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- You might be tempted to think that there was a remarkable resurrection in the housing market in February, given the news that existing-homes sales rose for the first time in seven months. But remember, Easter wasn't until March.

If there was an epiphany a month early, it came from home sellers who seem to have gotten the message that the way to move inventory in this dismal market is to beat the competition on price. The median price of existing homes sold in February dropped a record 8.2% from a year earlier, to $195,900.

Lo and behold, you drop prices and sales go up, nearly 3% for the month. That isn't what you'd call spectacular, especially given that sales are still down almost 24% year over year. But you can't expect miracles in a month like February, a short 29 days of generally dismal weather in most parts of the country when sales are usually sluggish as everyone gears up for spring.


Where have I heard things similar before??

The market may be poised to ascend, but there are still some pretty big stones that have to be rolled out of the way before any revival is more than fleeting:

* March traditionally kicks off the spring selling season, and a flood of inventory onto the market now could easily reverse February's gains.

* Prices are falling, making homes more affordable, but in many markets they are still wildly out of relation to buyers' ability to pay.

* Rates are affordable in the mortgage market, but only the most-creditworthy borrowers are getting the chance to obtain those rates; many marginal borrowers are still frozen out.

* The number of delinquencies and foreclosures is continuing to grow and will likely do so for several quarters yet, threatening to pour more inventory on the market and take more buyers out of it.

Even with February's numbers, the evidence that new life is being breathed into the housing market is scant. If you want to believe, you'll just have to take it on faith.


A tempered enthusiasm, and interest to see where the market goes from here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Prayers...

Soon after I first moved to Kingman, my wife and I joined a bowling league together. This is where I first met Mike and Barb Blair. Immediately I felt befriended by the Blair's. My wife has known the Blair's for many, many more years than I have lived in Kingman.

Mike has served on the Kingman Planning & Zoning for quite some time and has recently resigned that position for family matters.

Last week, unfortunately, Mike's wife of over 30 years passed away after a long battle with illness.

I consider the Blair's friends of mine and I am saddened by this loss. Every time I saw Barb at places like the bowling alley, she insisted on a hug (and I'm not really the hugging kind of person). She always asked how I was doing and brought a smile to my face. The Blair's are very genuine and I'll always appreciate the friendly contribution they have made on my life.

God has eased her pain, but those left behind are feeling some from the loss. May God bless the Blair family at this time. Thank you Barb for all the smiles, laughs, and friendship.

Barbara Ann (Barb) Blair

Barbara Ann (Barb) Blair passed away peacefully on March 13, 2008. Barb was born in Denver on April 8, 1948.

She is survived by her husband of 30 plus years, Mike; their daughter, Lana and her husband Todd; and her pride and joy, grandsons, Caleb and Logan. She is also survived by her sister, Sharon and her husband Keith Gates, and their daughters, Jessica and Vanessa and their families; also all the relatives in Minnesota and all her friends in Kingman.

There will be a Celebration of Life from noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, at the Kingman Elks Lodge, 900 Gates Ave.

Please, in lieu of flowers, if you would like to make a donation to the Kingman Cancer Care Unit, their address is Kingman Cancer Care, P.O. Box 3014, Kingman, AZ 86402.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ah... What the heck...

The last post got me back into the political mindset so I figure... what's a couple of more posts with with a local political theme??

I'm going to make some comments off of an article that appeared on Monday in the KDM. Some may call it the sour grapes article since it covers the reactions from some candidates that didn't move on passed the primary election.

Article here.

Candidates reflect on losses, turnout

James Chilton
Miner Staff Writer

Bill Nugent pulled in just 23 percent of the votes cast in the mayoral race last week, and after the primary election, he described his defeat as a reflection of what the voters truly wanted.

"Not much to say other than I take the message loud and clear," Nugent said. "Status quo keep going."


In other words... 'Welcome to Kingman... just don't move here, bring jobs here, develop new opportunities here, or blink while driving through along the Interstate'.

Oh... was that too harsh??

Although he received endorsements from the real estate association, the homebuilders association and four of six votes from the Miner's Editorial Board, Nugent secured just 23 percent of the 4,331 votes cast in the mayoral race.

"I'm not bitter. I'm really not," he said. "In fact, I'm somewhat enthused that a thousand people believe in small government," he said of the 1,014 votes he did receive.


I doubt there will be a 'next time', but just in case... next time Bill, I hear having no agenda, buying hot dogs for people at the park, and an 'aw shucks' attitude speaks well to over 2,000 typical voters in Kingman.

Mr. Nugent could have campaigned quite a bit harder and I guess I was expecting him to do just that, but alas -- he did not. (Don't worry... I have criticisms for my own campaign as well.) It must be clear to see from the results... a strong voter education campaign must happen if we are ever going to see a different outcome in these elections for those people that voted for both Mr. Nugent and Ms. Gates. Growth scares the 'jeebus' out of the typical 60% of voters that have the needed votes right now, but it is not about them. It is about the extra thousand or so votes from voters that DON'T vote... but really need to in this community. It is really not that hard of a hill to climb.

Realtor and Council candidate Todd Tarson, who pulled in 18.45 percent of the vote, said intends to run again in two years if Salem, Gordon and the other incoming Council members fail to change what he too called "the status quo."

"I'm obviously disappointed in the results, but I'm not embarrassed," he said. "I'm pretty proud."


One thing I noticed throughout the coverage of the campaign was that I was referred to as 'Realtor and candidate'. Don't get me wrong, I love the pre-fix of Realtor and I have no issues with it. It's just that I never noticed anyone else getting tagged with such a job descriptor with the consistency that I did. Did you ever see 'Retired racing enthusiast and candidate Harley Pettit' with consistency in the Miner?? I didn't either. Again, not a big deal... just something I noticed.

I am proud of the of the votes that I tallied. I have received numerous calls and emails since the election results (just got another call as I was typing) sharing with me their disappointment that I didn't at least move on to the general election. I have been stopped by other fine folks at supermarkets, other stores, and at places where eating takes place that said they voted for me and were saddened by my results. I've even been contacted by voters that didn't vote for me but wanted to pass along well wishes and congratulations for having the guts to simply be part of the important election cycle. All of it humbles me, all of it makes me truly feel honored.

Tarson said he was happy to have shared the stage with his fellow candidates, and that the election had been a learning experience for him.


Now time for 'Todd Tarson... you are a lousy campaigner' comments.

I knew from the beginning that my success was predicated on one thing only. Additional voters that don't normally vote. I did a lousy job appealing to those potential voters in the numbers I needed for success.

If 'our' side really wants to make an impact in future elections, we all must reach out to the folks that are somehow registered to vote, but choose not to. We need to find out why they aren't voting and perhaps give them real reasons to lend their voice to this community.

Many people helped me acquire the necessary signatures needed to qualify my petition to run for council, however after that I took on the bulk of the campaign duties myself. It was my mistake to do so. Even though I had offers from many nice people (with plenty of great ideas) I chose to run my own campaign. I just didn't have the time I truly needed to dedicate to get more votes.

Like other candidates, I attended most of the forums that were offered by the different community groups. One thing that I noticed was at most events, the same faces were there as previous forums and overall the events were not that well attended. I know at the beginning the room at the Elk's Club was full of attendance. It doesn't take all that many people though to fill half that room. My best guess was that the candidates were speaking to about 60 to 100 people at any given forum. It is also my feeling that these folks could be counted on to vote (which is a good thing), but the messages were not getting out to the non-voting public.

The media coverage for the forums was spotty at best for the forums. While a few of the forums received front page attention, I never noticed any of the staff writers asking follow up questions of the candidates to clarify any positions. One exception, new staff writer for the Miner -- James Chilton -- did ask candidates follow up questions at the NABA (builders association) forum, but I never saw any reporting in the Miner of that event. (In fairness to Mr. Chilton... he told me that he had been on the job for a whole 2 hours before being sent over to cover that event, and in a later conversation he told me he had zero background on the issues important to Kingman and NABA... that he didn't know what Rattlesnake Wash was or the issues surrounding it. I bet he is a quick study though and will do just fine in his new position.)

I'll save my words about The Standard journalist, and RAID member, Marvin Robertson for perhaps another day... but I will say that I didn't appreciate his editorial comments attributed to the things I said at the forums. He doesn't need to speak for me, only write what I said. This is a person with I'm sure infinite wisdom on many things, but he didn't even do basic things like ask questions of this former candidate for clarification on issues that I brought up at various forum events before editorializing my comments.

It was my mistake to rely on the things I did during my candidacy, and mine only. Like I've said before though, this was an incredible learning experience. If the chance to run again does come about, I'll be campaigning much differently and more aggressively.

I will say that I thought that Robin Gordon ran an incredible campaign and I'm very proud of her. I may not agree with all of her issues going forward, but she must be commended for the fine campaign she ran that had obvious success.

Like Nugent, Tarson has his reservations about the mayor-elect regarding some of the things he's said about developers.

"He said some things during those (candidate forums) that I didn't challenge, like that 'wolves at the door' comment; they aren't wolves at the door, they're opportunities at the door," Tarson said. "If things don't get better soon in our economy when we have the opportunity to make it happen, it's going to fall on him."


Mayor Elect John Salem is a quality individual and I will never say otherwise. With that said, he is now a public official (just not officially until June). There were things about his (lack of) issues that I was not comfortable with during his campaign. He said he was against using tax money to pay for one proposed interchange along Interstate 40, but favored making room in the budget with our tax dollars to pay for a different proposed interchange... different standards for different people doesn't sound equitable. He did impress many people, therefore voters, though and I'm not arguing with the voters at all here.

I believed that this election was about the community and as a candidate, Mr. Salem offered me nothing in the way that spoke to improving the opportunities in the community. He wasn't my choice for mayor.

With that said, he will now be mayor and I will support him as best as I can... especially when he is actively leading the community towards more opportunity and prosperity for the 'regular' people here in Kingman that he says he identifies with. That does mean when he is leading the charge for a more growth oriented agenda, one that I'm sure he will see is the best for this struggling community at the present. I will support his efforts to make Kingman a competitive marketplace for new business, to bring new demand, improve infrastructure, and provide modern and accepted amenities familiar with 99% of other similar sized communities throughout the country.

I'd much rather be a friend of the new mayor and council, rather than a foe. I'd rather be a supporter instead of a detractor. This community needs all the support it can get. The task will be large, but if we elected the right people then we should all expect to see progress... not excuses.

If you click on the link for the article you will see some other comments from other former candidates. They are interesting, but I'm not going to review them here.

I wish the new Mayor and the soon to be newly elected Council nothing but the best and I hope that I can help garner support for important issues that would favor the community. They will deserve a fair opportunity to put Kingman back on a path for progress. Please join me in wishing them well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rentals...

Every once in awhile I like to offer some insights about the local rental housing market. Before I get to that, here is a pretty good article about the apartment building market.

Forget that American dream about the four-bedroom home on one acre with the white picket fence. That's the dream that people stretched too far for in the past few years, and you see what kind of trouble that got us into.

At the moment, the dream looks more like a two-bedroom apartment of 900 square feet with a security buzz-in. After years of playing second fiddle to the single-family sector as millions became homeowners for the first time, the multifamily housing market today is leading the band.

Please keep in mind that this content is from a national media source as you read.

I was given some information by a fellow Realtor that he was using in his efforts to bring such apartment building opportunities to our local area. His information stated that Kingman has a deficiency of these kinds of apartment complexes here. I don't know how his quest is going at the moment, but his information that he shared does not surprise me especially after seeing this article.

Mark Obrinksy, chief economist for the National Multi Housing Council in Washington, says that demand has increased for apartments, especially professionally managed apartments. He points out that the apartment industry, unlike its single-family counterpart, did not overbuild during the housing boom from 2002-2006 and so the increased demand today is leading to a pickup in construction.

"The long-term demographics are quite favorable for rental housing," Obrinksy said in a news release last week. "The nation's 75 million echo boomers are already entering the housing market, and most begin as renters. Strong immigration levels add even more demand."


In the short run, I don't know if Kingman is attracting 'echo boomers' or 'millennials' or 'Generation X's or Y's' (or whatever they're called) in great abundance to affect the current market. Our community would have to be offering jobs first and it is just not happening at the moment.

So while the rest of the country may be seeing more of this kind of building development, at the moment, we aren't. However, I'm sure that many sub-contractors and building suppliers here locally wouldn't mind a few of these types of projects to pop up sometime soon.

But if you're looking for some good housing news, multifamily is it today.


Well... I'm glad to see there is some good housing news in the national media at least.

Now onto some observations about our local rental market. When I build up the nerve... I'll sometimes risk life and limb, head out of my office and make a hard left, carefully peek into the office next door, and ask the property manager extrodinairre -- the lovely Helena -- about the state of the rental market.

I made it out safe and sound today, only getting a two thumbs down upon my request for information. Pretty much the same story that it has been for the last year or so.

Lot's of empty rentals waiting for tenants. Rents being driven down by the market forces. Tenants moving out (due to eviction or the promise of paying even less in rent somewhere else) leaving damages to property sometimes in the thousands of $$.

Should I wrap this back into politics for minute here?? Well I'm still afflicted with the political fever at the moment, so why not??

This is what Kingman is attracting at the moment. These are the results. Community stake holders are not moving here in decent numbers any longer. Those that are moving here for a long future in Kingman are being outnumbered by folks who will leave once again as rents rise... but for now the welcome mat is out for folks that really don't give a darn about the community or the property they dwell in.

The no-growthers should take notice. The longer you continue to attempt to thwart new development (that bring the prospects of jobs, opportunity, and amenities) the better the odds are that the folks thrashing property across town will be the only ones left to serve you. This is why a progression of growth opportunity needs to be explored at every turn. We must all work together to improve this community, not stagnate it. Your selfish reasons for limiting growth will only hurt you in the end.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New political poll on sidebar...

Now that I'm not in the race for council any longer I thought I'd put up a poll for you to cast your online vote. Please have fun with it. You can change your vote if you decide to if a candidate ends up not to your liking.

If the traditional media continues to hesitate to ask the difficult questions, I may reach out to the remaining candidates via email for a question and answer type of format and offer the results here at MOCO.

Feel free to give me some ideas on the tough questions you'd like to see the candidates answer in the comments.

Care about water resources??

Plan on attending the next Northwest Arizona Watershed Council meeting. More information below...

MEETING NOTICE

DATE AND TIME: WEDNESDAY, MARCH 19, 2008

3 PM TO 5:00 PM

LOCATION: 101 EAST BEALE, KINGMAN, ARIZONA (COOPERATIVE EXTENSION OFFICE)

AGENDA ITEMS:

1. Welcome and Introductions – Elno Roundy, Chairman
2. News from Arizona Department of Water Resources – John Fortune, ADWR
3. News from Mohave County – Kevin Davidson, Planner II, Planning and Zoning Department
4. News from City of Kingman – Dean Wolslagel
5. News from Cooperative Extension – Aline Parker
6. News from Bureau of Land Management – Paul Hobbs
7. Discussion on Developing a Water Fact Sheet for the Sacramento Aquifer – Elno Roundy
8. Drugs in our Water?? – Discussion – Earl Engelhardt
9. Watershed Council Website – Discussion – Denise Bensusan
10. Any other water topic – open discussion

So what now for MOCO??

This site has seen some changes in recent times. It did evolve into more than just a real estate related source of information. Local politics did dictate on many occasions while I was preparing to run for city council and while I ran for city council. It is probable that I will continue to offer the best information of the local real estate market and updated pertinent information on local issues that affect the economy and politics.

When the final general election is over, I'm going to ask a council member or two if they'd like to be a contributor on occasion here at this site. We'll see if there are any takers that would want to lend their insight on the local issues. At the very least, I will be making an effort to at least contact the council from time to time to do a question and answer article for the readers. The worst they can say is no.

Of course I will continue to offer relevant real estate related news as I find it, whether it be national news, statewide, or local.

And as always, I'm counting on you -- the readers here at MOCO -- to contribute as much as you can. If you want to pass along something that the good folks should know then please don't be bashful. Together we can make a difference. You have a voice here so use it.

For me personally, it is time to reorganize my office and tend to some other maintenance issues in my life. The phones are ringing a bit more for business related things, that is good. Hopefully it will continue.

Thanks again for stopping by and having a look. I'm here to serve.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Water for 40,000,000 people

I returned from my annual Arizona Association of Realtor's Winter Conference event. One big highlight of the conference was when the head of the Arizona Department of Water Resources -- Herb Guenther -- informed the attendees that there is adequacy of water resources in Arizona to sustain 40,000,000 people in our state.

Farwell to "The Wire"

For the last few years a TV show on HBO called 'The Wire' has run its course and came to a completion last Sunday night. While the show never had a popular following like others on that cable network (like The Soprano's and Sex in the City), it did receive a loyal cult following over the years.

I won't get into the all the specifics of the program but over the years the show documented an ongoing criminal investigation into the illegal narcotic trade on the streets of Baltimore Maryland. Once I became a fan of the show in the first season I read many articles saying the depiction of the investigation and the life on the streets was basically spot on with the reality of real life.

The Wire was a drama but it never seemed to be overly dramatic, it always seemed real to me. The writing and the vast array characters made the show. Sometimes the story line was so involved, so intricate, I had to thank the god of invention for creating the DVR just so I could skip back to watch a scene or two over and over again until it all made sense.

There were five seasons of the show in all. Each season brought something new to the story, a new element if you will. The first season was about cops and street thugs. Season two the story shifted a bit to labor union dock workers and some ties to the drug trade there. Season three welcomed in big city politics in the mix. Season four was the most heartbreaking of all, in my opinion, because a good portion of the story brought us into the classrooms of the public school system in the inner city. It tugged at the heart strings because if there is even a shred of accuracy depicted from that storyline, then something drastic needs to be done otherwise it is a shame and a sham to call the school system 'public'.

The kids the writers introduced to us were still in the school system, but the street life was beckoning and tragedy awaited a good portion of the characters.

They put the lid on season five last Sunday night but the new element introduced in that last season was newspaper reporting. I suppose that was fitting since the creator of the show used to be a reporter for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. The Sun went so far as to let the show use the actual name of the paper and, as I understand it, the property where the reporters work to do the filming.

Now I'm not going to bore you with my take on everything but I did find an interesting blog post the other day that covers the relationship of the paper media with what was depicted on the show. I think it summarizes things in a way that might say a few things about our own local paper media.

Here is the blog post from Extreme Mortman.

How fitting that in last night’s “Bonfire of the Vanities”-esque finale of David Simon’s “The Wire” on HBO, grizzled Baltimore Sun city editor Gus Haynes makes a reference to Tom Wolfe.

In Wolfe’s sprawling big city drama, the people on top — no matter how crooked or how lying, and no matter whether their stated purpose is to do the public good or harm — always finish on top. In “The Wire” conclusion, the ending appears upbeat — lots of smiling faces, lots of individual accomplishment, peppy music. But the folks who succeeded are, for the most part, crooks and liars.

The point was driven home — actually, bludgeoned home — by the Sun paper winning a coveted Pulitzer Prize, for essentially knowingly lying. David Simon has the paper winning an award for public service that they most certainly did not deserve. That comes after Haynes, in a newsroom rant, cites journalistic luminaries Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass.

The irony is that today, in real life, newspapers are being done in by the Internet, by bloggers. In Simon’s “Wire,” the Internet is acknowledged — but it’s not the reason for the newspaper’s black eye. It’s their own fault. It’s trampling on the truth, and disinterest in fact checking if it means missing a prize.

There’s an old media anecdote that reporters are told: Your mother says she loves you? Check it out. And there’s the oft-told line that a New Yorker fact checker once made a call to verify that the Empire State Building was, indeed, still there.

In last night’s “Wire,” all of that good public will that newspaper have fought long to build up came crashing down. Not through disgrace or firing, but through an award. Actually, a silly award.

Yes, Tom Wolfe deserves his shout-out. And old media deserves its Simoniz.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Aftermath

Early, early this morning I removed my campaign signs throughout town. Sleep wasn't easy with some feeling of disappointment from the results of the primary election. Of course I had hoped for a different outcome, but it was clear to see that my message did not get out to enough people.

I have zero regrets though about getting this involved and putting my name on the ballot. I did get to say some of the things I wanted to during the campaign in public, and in private conversations I said the rest of the things that needed to be said... but just not to enough voters.

I think the turnout was great, over 4,000 or about 25% of the registered voters and I was lucky enough to garner over 700 votes. I'm proud of that. I'm not going to argue the results of the voters, they let it be known what was on their mind. They liked who they liked.

Before the vote, I had been asked a few times if I didn't make it to the general election if I'd consider running again in two years. Right now it is too early to make that kind of decision. This election was fairly easy to be involved in for me because the housing market is slow, I have been in a volunteer mode on behalf of others for the last five years, and there were no incumbents in the race. Also there were obvious issues that I wanted to have a say in that will be coming up within the next two years.

For now I'm going to concentrate on improving my business (I even sold one of my listings on Monday so it wasn't all bad news this week). I'll likely be spending more time with my wife in Minnesota once it starts to warm up there (I hear the fishing is good in that part of the country). My mother-in-law was recently given some bad news health wise so I'll be helping out there as much as possible. My sister is expecting her second child later this week and since they live in Las Vegas now instead of Hawaii, I'll get to be more involved with my own family. And maybe, just maybe... I'll manage to get a round of golf in sometime in 2008. I'm sure I'm going to focus a bit more on 'Todd-time' for the time being.

For the 700 plus friendly voters that honored me with their vote... I'll be voting for Keith Walker and only Keith Walker in the general election. He is the only candidate remaining that proved to me that he'd give an opportunity to developers looking to front the costs for infrastructure needs of the community and explore a public/private partnership. Even though I consider him a 'good old boy' because of his close ties and friendships with that group, he did appear to be genuine when speaking on the issues that were the most important to me.

The newly elected mayor says he's an 'average guy' and ran on no agenda (according to this morning's paper)... well I do hope he realizes that many average folks around here are looking for work and other opportunities. It is no time be 'average'. The last two years of 'average' hasn't worked out for many families in Kingman. I know all too well his direct ties to the long time power brokers in Kingman and my guess is that the new mayor will do what they tell him before he answers to the 'average guy'... but I hope he proves me wrong. He is the candidate that said he would protect us all from the 'wolves at the door'... and for someone like me that doesn't equate progress with a pack of 'wolves' his comment is not very encouraging.

I'd like to offer my sincere best wishes to fellow candidate that also didn't move on to the general election, Allen Mossberg. He was a true gentleman and I thought he would have made a great council member. If he decides to run again and I don't, I'd probably like to help him next time.

To the many readers from across the world here at MOCO, my friends and family throughout the country that kept encouraging me, the local folks that voted for me, the local Realtor Association that financially backed my campaign with PAC money, and my incredible and beautiful wife Gail that was there for me every step of the way... I say to you all thank you. This has been a great experience in my life, one with no regrets.

Cheers Kingman.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I lost...

Congratulations to the winners, your new Kingman mayor is John Salem and one new Council Member is Robin Gordon.

I thank each of the 765 folks that voted for me this election season.

Maybe next time.

Election Day!!



Monday, March 10, 2008

February Sales Report (2008)

Production numbers fell again to a new low since I've been tracking this data in 2004. Average sales price tumbled below any number posted in 2006 and 2007, very soon it looks as if this number will align with 2005 numbers or even drop back down below that to 2004 levels. The only hope appears to be the stronger numbers of units under contract I reported on in the last two listing reports, here and here.

The charts will do most of the explaining, 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:

It has been a very long time that this chart symbolized a 'pretty picture' where there was some semblance of balance between new listings and sold production. The longer this picture looks the same, the longer the market will likely suffer.

Average listings and sales averages chart:

This chart remains a mess, but clearly states that buyer's can take their time to get the best deal... whenever they feel that may be.

2005 through 2008 unit sales chart:

Place your bets... will next months unit sales end up above the orange line representing weak 2007 numbers??

2005 through 2008 average price chart:

February's average sales price is lower than the average sales price we saw in July 2005, so pretty safe to say that the market is back to 2005 levels.

2005 through 2008 median price chart:

More of the same. The price range of successful closings in February was $98,900 on the low to $319,900 on the high.

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in February had 3 bedrooms, 1.9 bathrooms, a 2 car garage, included 1,593 square feet of living space, and was built in 1990. The average hold sold for an average of $111 per square foot of living space.

It took an average of 84 days of marketing to attract a buyer to come to an agreement and a total of 117 days from the first day of marketing to the close of escrow. These numbers are improved from the prior month as almost half of the closed listings received a contract within a month.

Sellers reduced price $13,820 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $7,970 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in February was $21,790. These figures also dropped quite a bit, but keep in mind that the original listing price for these listings was below $200,000 dollars for the first time in a long time. The previous 6 months original list price was between $217,000 and $249,000... there just wasn't as much room to drop prices to reflect the current sales threshold.

Bonus Charts:

Sales price per livable square foot continues a consistent slide.

Here you will see what I spoke about earlier. While the numbers look like they are coming down, nearly half the closed listings last month went under contract in less than a month. Probably meaning that nearly half were listed with an attractive list price from day one. If that continues then I suspect we will see these numbers improve.

Well, let me know what you think. There is plenty of data with plenty of trends identified. Tell me where all this goes next. I won't hold you to your predictions as there are many variables at play including; what is happening politically at the federal level, the state level, and even the local level. Some are saying the bottom of the market has appeared, while many more seem to indicate that we are in for an even rougher ride.

I am interested in the month of March for many reasons, it is my hope that we will see a new 'march' towards something better... both for the real estate market... and for better community leadership with the results of the local primary election.

See you next time.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

No KDM endorsement for me...

I don't know if this is a bad thing... or a good thing.

Here are some of the views of the council candidates they are endorsing...

Address the format of City Council meetings: Move Call to the Public to the beginning of meetings and find a new venue to accommodate more people.


This is going to take all of two meetings to accomplish and I'm hearing the city is working with the county to make the County Building available for City Council meetings.

Spur economic development. Consider making economic development research a full-time job for Council members.


In other words, this candidate -- once elected -- will be asking for a raise.

Extend Louise to DW Ranch Road to lessen the burden on Stockton Hill until funding can be found for Rattlesnake Wash.


DW Ranch is about 9 miles away from Stockton Hill Road. Come on. How could this proposed solution do anything for the traffic on Stockton Hill?? This is not a solution at all. And the funding for Rattlesnake Wash?? Well a big chunk of that is supposed to be state funded, but the state is $1.7 BILLION in the hole right now with no money in the transportation funds... what if the state doesn't come through?? How long do we wait to find funding??

Hire a city manager and a city economic development manager.


I just find this laughable since the above is more of a no-brainer rather than a campaign agenda.

Well, I've said from the beginning that I felt it was more important to appeal to the community rather than the media for votes and support. I feel that I am getting support and votes. I'll know soon enough after the votes are counted.

I wish these candidates and the rest the best of luck on March 11th. I feel the candidates treated each other with respect and I am grateful for having the opportunity to meet all of them.

Please vote on March 11th, make your voice heard.

Community First

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My observations about the upcoming election...

March 11th is almost here, just a few more days. This experience for my campaign is one that I have no regrets with. I'm extremely pleased to have decided to get this involved and run for office. Win, lose, or go on to the general election... the last few months worth of experience has been a pleasure.

I've met so many wonderful people that live in Kingman that I haven't before. We really do have a great community, one that I'm proud to be a part of. Each time that someone has told me that they are either voting for me on March 11th or has already early voted for me has been an honor and I'm very humbled by the many nice things that have been said about my candidacy.

Again, the following will be my observations on how things are going based on feedback from various people that I've had election discussions with. I know that I haven't talked to everyone, nor do I believe that I've even scratched all of the different sides of either the candidates themselves or the issues and how the voting public views all of it.

The mayoral race...

Wow. Very, very interesting. All three candidates seem to have large groups of supporters. I've had the opportunity to meet all of these candidates and listen to them speak at forums and have read the in depth and thorough editorial board reviews that appeared in the local KDM.

It has been somewhat enlightening, and even amusing at times, listening to the critics of each candidate. One candidate is described as a bully, one a failed mayor, and the other one a propped up candidate of the 'good old boy' class. In my opinion all of these criticisms are simple broad brush strokes against each candidate and for the most part, not entirely true.

I feel that all three candidates are running for office for the right reasons as each sees them, however they have different views on the issues. I'm more comfortable with two of the candidates and their views than the the other. The main reason for this is because I get the sense that the one candidate is pursuing a protectionist agenda and I don't see how that will benefit the community now or even into the future when this community needs to explore all potential opportunities starting now... not protect us from them.

Again, folks, this is my observation and opinion only... and I will not be making any endorsements for any current mayoral candidate in the primary.

The poll that I have been running on the right sidebar here at MOCO has been interesting to follow. With less than 200 votes though, I don't think it gives any clear indication of what the results will actually be come the night of March 11th. When I add up all the feedback from the people I have talked to during this campaign, neither my head or my heart is telling me what the results will look like. To me, this primary mayoral race is wide open.

The council race...

Obviously as a candidate in this primary race this will be a bit more difficult to write about. Hey, I make no bones about it, I want to win... this is why I decided to get in the race. I can't be as impartial as I've been about the mayor's race above.

Here is the question that I have been asked over and over for the past month... 'who else should I vote for??' I've been asked that about 20 times in the last week alone from folks that I know and some that I've never talked to before.

I have wondered if some of the people were just putting me on the spot, but I never really got that feeling that this is what was happening. It is obvious that there are some good choices among the nine candidates and decisions will be difficult for voters. All of us candidates have had the opportunity to speak at forums and attempt to convey our views of the important issues, but with so many candidates I know that it has had to be difficult for the audience of the forums to not think that many of us were answering the same questions in a very similar manner.

My answer to the folks that wanted to know who else to vote for was basically the same as the following...

I have been doing my best to speak to the issues that I think the community is asking for the most help on. Better planning, more infrastructure, more public conveniences, a path for more jobs and business opportunity, and to make Kingman more competitive environment to attract all of the above. I've tried to earn votes by speaking to those issues.

There are some campaign issues that I'm hearing too much of that do not speak to the community in my opinion. For instance, the majority of the people in Kingman really don't care where the 'call to the public' appears on the city council agenda... yet that issue gets brought up quite a bit in the forums. To me that is an easy issue to get out of the way. It would take all of a couple of council meetings to amend.

I simply do not think the 'call to the public' is as an important of an issue as say... jobs, amenities, and improved public services. And certainly the solution for the 'call to the public' is easy in comparison.

Voters have choices and one choice is simply to not vote for a candidate that is not speaking to your issues... or... contact the candidate that you want to know more information of on the issues that are most important to you. Make those candidates answer your questions before deciding.

Personally, I do like a few of the other candidates and some of their views. I won't reveal who those candidates are simply because at this time we are all competitors for the same seats on council. Until the last vote is counted I want to earn the votes of the voters, so I hope others understand that it doesn't do my candidacy any good to recommend other candidates for possible votes.

Lastly...

I've met my goals in this part of the campaign. I had the opportunity to speak to the issues that I feel the community wants resolutions on. I've stated my case.

Agree with me or not, now more than ever is the time to vote. Folks, normally we might see 3,500 voters show up and be counted... we must do better. We must have a better sample of the community... but that is squarely on you to deliver. I won't tell you how to vote, I have only hoped to earn your vote, but most of all I want you to vote. Voting gives you the right to be the boss and it is my belief that, if elected, the voters will be my boss.

Thank you, it continues to be an honor.

Community First