Sunday, November 30, 2008

You've heard of the CRA...

Investor's Business Daily has an editorial complete with their facts and myths for all to see linked here.

I'm not really trying to play the blame game, instead I'm looking more for solutions and at the end of the piece there is this...

The exotic securitizations that have gotten so much of the blame were a symptom, not the cause, of the crisis.

The architects of the crisis want to divert attention from their own culpability by blaming the markets rather than their own regulations mandating that banks make high-risk loans based on race.

In fact, regulations had almost everything to do with this mess. And instead of strengthening them to atone for the alleged "sins of capitalism," we should be abolishing them.

Two bills in the House would be a good place to start. HR 7264, which has nine co-sponsors, would repeal the CRA. And HR 7094, with 17 co-sponsors, would dissolve Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

During the last severe slump, President Reagan deregulated the economy, saying: "Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem." He's as right today as he was then.

Whoops... copying the above and agreeing with it is sorta letting my inner-Reagan shine through a bit much... oh well.

Happy Sunday!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy shopping day...

I know that today is called 'Black Friday' but to me that doesn't sound all that great this year. I realize the reference is for the prospects of merchants--retailers being in the 'black' for the year (you know, turning a profit).

But with the endless media reports of the next Great (I've never understood what was so 'Great' about it) Depression accumulating in my RSS feed readers and such, I've decided to call this day simply 'shopping' day. So enjoy yourselves out there, and be safe.

Also, the three local municipalities have launched a shop local campaign... click here to read all about it from

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm giving thanks...

It is the season after all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so very much for stopping by on occasion to read MOCO Real.

I sincerely hope that you have time for friends and family this year, to share a hug with those that you love, to smile and laugh a little extra for this Thanksgiving holiday.

For me, I'm thankful that my home is full of cherished company for the long weekend. Our family tradition is changing somewhat this year due to the loss of a loved one who always found time to spoil us with her Thanksgiving feast. I might do some sort of live-blogging of my attempt at preparing both the turkey (already in the brine as I type) and the ham... could be good a few laughs.

Together we face serious challenges that we may not have seen before in our lives. It is always my intention to wish for good fortune for all and I continue to do just that for you. But the 'news' reports indicate that times may be restrictive to one degree or another. If there is a silver lining there, it might just be that we will truly appreciate the other things we have always been thankful for on this holiday. Only you know what those are, and I wish you all peace, prosperity, opportunity, health, and love.

Thank you readers, you make my day everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An interesting attack on the so called 'impact fees'...

I was just emailed a heads up about a letter to the editor found in today's edition of the Miner online.

Here is a preview... but please be sure to read the whole thing linked here...

There is very little value added, in my opinion, to attach labels to people who have an established set of beliefs and then collectively attacking everyone who has the same label but don't agree on specific issues.

A case in point, most of the city council members have identified themselves as Republicans but their votes often are aligned with the new Obama financial plan of "spreading the wealth."

We all should be asking if the mayor will be joining Governor Napolitano and asking the Congress for a bailout because we spent more than we earned and we can't break the habit. The financial problems we have are not owned by a political party, but by everyone who wants more than they can afford, and especially wants someone else to pay for it.

A different way to look at it as compared to many of the other arguments so far.

National Real Estate stuff...

Meh... Not much fun in dealing with these sorts of reports.

Here's a few blurbs from the first article... (both articles found on

Realtors' group calls on Obama to adopt housing stimulus measures

That's part of the headline to the article... wow... NAR is testing my will to remain a member quite a bit these days. First asking members to support the (now failing) bailout, and now running to a new president looking for a handout. Sad.

On to other bits...

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, noted that the drop in October sales didn't breach the "gentle upward trend" in sales.

But he pointed out that much of the activity is now related to foreclosures.

Along these lines, the NAR estimates that 45% of all transactions are tied to properties in foreclosure.

Our local market is above the pace based on the latest reports from the last few months here at MOCO.

Meanwhile, the median sales prices fell 11.3% in the past year to $183,300, the October data showed. This marked the lowest sales price since March 2004.

The local median price was the lowest in Kingman since July of 2004 according to the data I have been tracking (since 2004).

(NAR Chief Economist Lawrence) Yun called on the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to fund a $50 billion stimulus program for housing by lowering interest rates on new mortgages. Essentially, the government would pay points on new mortgages so buyers could qualify for lower rates.

In addition, the NAR would support direct purchases of long-term mortgages in the open market to bring down long-term mortgage rates, Yun said.

I'm just not in the mood for this.

The other article, linked here, is a wrap up from last month that the Case-Shiller group tracks.

Home prices in 20 major U.S. cities dropped 1.8% in September from the prior month, and they fell a record 17.4% on a year-over-year basis, according to the Case-Shiller home price index published Tuesday by Standard & Poor's.

Shouldn't be a shock.

Here's how prices in the 20 cities performed in the past year:

Phoenix, down 31.9%; Las Vegas, down 31.3%; Miami, down 28.4%; San Francisco, down 29.5%; Los Angeles, down 27.6%; San Diego, down 26.3%; Detroit, down 18.6%; Tampa, down 18.5%, Washington, down 17.2%; Minneapolis, down 14.4%; Chicago, down 10.1%; Seattle, down 9.8%; Atlanta, down 9.5%; Portland, down 8.6%; New York, down 7.3%; Cleveland, down 6.4%; Boston, down 5.7%; Denver, down 5.4%; Charlotte, down 3.5%; Dallas, down 2.7%.

Emphasis mine above as a reminder that we are located in between both bolded locations.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Indy Mac -- foreclosure fix

This was aired November 10th. The message is clear, if a person is having difficulty making their payments on any note but especially their mortgage it is important to contact the noteholder. In this interview the spokesperson from IndyMac said that 50% of the foreclosures are happening to people who they have tried to reach but for whatever reason they refuse to make any contact back.

Here is the interview:


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Letters to MOCO...

In keeping with my desire to post other opinions of reasonable issues, real estate related mostly... with a flash of local politics as well... another letter from a MOCO reader has appeared.

Without further ado, I'm passing this along from Michael Allison. Here is his take on an idea for what to do about foreclosures, banks, and vacant homes.

As you know, banks and other lending institutions own more real estate than ever before and they are just sitting on them. The longer they hold them the more the price goes down, until eventually an investor buys the property - rehabs it and resells it making a profit. Nothing wrong with that.

However, here is what I would like to see happen. Each bank that owns property opens a division in their bank that operates as an investor with a twist. Using fix and flip formulas, the bank picks houses with a lot of equity and very few issues to habitability and gets it ready for move-in. Then they hire a management company to get the unit sold on a lease to own contract. Management companies require nothing out of pocket. They only get paid from a portion of the rents. Now, the house that was just drawing money is now producing money. All of the costs to the bank will be pulled from the equity in the house on the final purchase price. Lease to own contracts are the least expensive and will put Americans back in houses. So, instead of the investors making all of the money, Joe the plumber ends up in a house with a little bit of equity and the banks no longer have property on their balance sheets making it difficult to lend money. At the end of the lease period, the bank provides a loan to the home owner. Which is how they make money in the first place. Everybody is a winner. I am a contractor and I want to help rehabbing these house so the economy can start moving again. Please contact me so we can worked this out.

I have been pushing this idea around for a couple of days now and I have heard that banks do not want to be in the real estate business. They don't like to allocate the resources to deal with delinquent mortgages and foreclosed properties. What they are effectively doing is pushing their head in the dirt hoping the problem will go away. If they let the properties go for 50% of value instead of the 80% they are holding out for, the properties would be flying of the shelf. Maybe you could help them realize that they are in the Real Estate and make them use some of the bail out money to get these house off their books by fixing them up and selling them.

Michael Allison

If you would like to contact Michael, please email me and I'll forward it on to him.

Thanks for the mail Michael, and readers please feel free to drop me something that you might want to share on subjects often covered on the MOCO blog.

As seen on the local interwebz...

I found this little bit on a message board in a long thread regarding the Rhodes Homes -- Pravada master planned community in Golden Valley. For three years a decision has been waited on to allow a utility company to provide water services for the long planned community.

The person that left the following post goes by the moniker The Magic Man, take what he posts for what it is worth to you, but I've always found the person as knowledgeable on local issues.

I was just contacted by the ACC. Here is what they said.

I am contacting you on behalf of Chairman Mike Gleason of the Arizona Corporation Commission ("ACC"). The approval for the Certificate of Convenience and Necessity ("CC&N") is awaiting the Recommended Opinion and Order ("ROO") from the Administrative Law Judge and for it to be presented before the Commissioners. After discussing this with the staff attorney we are anxious for this to be scheduled for the December 2008 Open Meeting. I agree with your concerns about economic growth in your area as well as the entire state.

If the ACC is at least moving on this... I take it as good news. If all goes well and approvals are handed out, it then rests on the developer as to when building starts and if the master planned development is successful. As it should be.

The 'more-on' impact fees...

Title in salute to an old TV show (as in the right on Dan Rowen and the more-on Dick Martin... feel free to look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls!).

Ah yes, back to local impact fees. Our friend Ric Swats has put together an interesting column complete with looks at Arizona Revised Statutes and even bits of the Kingman Municipal Code for good measure.

Read the entire column here at

One bit from the column...

The third paragraph, quoted in its entirety, says “Development fees shall result in a beneficial use to the development.”

State law also requires specific accounting and proof of the benefit the development receives from the payment of the fees.

It would be very difficult to prove diverting traffic to Kingman Crossing will be of benefit to businesses at the three current I-40 exits. It would be very easy to prove that it is, in fact, detrimental. So impact fees from construction accessed by way of Stockton Hill Road and Andy Devine could not be used to fund Kingman Crossing or Rattlesnake Wash because there is no way to prove they are of benefit to the developers.

Council members repeatedly referred to impact fee money benefitting Kingman Crossing or Rattlesnake Wash at the meeting Monday.

That law is quite specific. Not only does the money have to be spent to the benefit of the particular development, it must be held in a specific account and the interest on the account must also go to the benefit of that development.

Councilwoman Robin Gordon spoke about the possibility of lawsuits if the fees are lowered. It is more likely that the impact fee money already collected, but not spent to the benefit of the development from which it was collected, becomes the subject of a lawsuit.

Now I must admit that I'm not an attorney (although I'd be happy to play one if I was on TV), so I'll leave it to you to do your own fact-checking. We'll see where this goes.

Here is the write up from the KDM edition from yesterday. Incredible comments appear below, including this one...

PLEASE TELL ME WHAT "REVENUE" YOU ARE TRYING TO PROTECT HERE!!! Have you looked out your windows lately and see the economic carnage???

Yep, read the whole thing. Verrry Eeen-ter-es-ting!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Letters to MOCO...

Got this one just a few minutes ago and wanted to share. It is from a local developer regarding the decision last night on the subject of so called 'impact' fees.

Open Letter to the People of Kingman:

I understand that the city counsel effectively killed any hope of reducing the impact fees that builders pay via new construction permits. As a developer myself, I am absolutely stunned and shocked at this council’s decision.

I believe that the NABA (Northern Arizona Building Association) presented valid arguments for reducing these fees. Was anyone on council listening? Basically, these “fees” are simply new “taxes” that make homes and buildings more expensive. It also drives business and development out into the county where the city will not receive any new sales tax revenue from these businesses.

And as a developer, I want the pubic to know that all new projects in Kingman already are required to provide substantial improvements such as streets, curbs, sewers, underground electric, water lines, curbs, water retention areas, and other important infrastructure that benefits the entire community. I also understand that these new homes provide additional burdens on the overall system such as the waste treatment plants, but these new home owners also contribute towards these plants via their water and sewer taxes moving forward.

However, there is a much greater concern that I have. This council decision sends out a very loud “anti-business” and “anti-growth” message to investors, businesses, and people thinking of coming to Kingman which is simply devastating to our town’s future.

This city and nation is in one of the worst economic times since the Great Depression, and our federal government is doing everything in its power to stabilize the economy and put our country back on a positive tract.

So, what do our leaders here in Kingman do in their infinite wisdom? They basically gave “the bird” to the main economic driver of Kingman (construction), and also sent out a very strong signal to businesses in general thinking of coming to Kingman…. “We are anti-business. We are anti-growth. And, we will make it as hard and expensive as possible for you to set up shop in our town.”

Thanks a lot city council!

Kenneth Herskind

Developer, La Costa Luxury Townhomes

Thank you Ken.

Readers... I'm happy to publish your thoughts as well on any reasonable subject, especially if you believe that the other media outlets won't publish them (they have their reasons). Feel free to send me what you have. More voices need to be heard on important issues that face our community.

Thinking of buying a foreclosure??

Well, Popular Mechanics has a decent write up on some points to look at with some added advice.

See the article linked here.

From the article an important piece of advice...

That's why everyone we talked to agreed on one definitive piece of advice for prospective foreclosure buyers: Hire a home inspector. With this litany of possible pitfalls, Lutzke said, you'd be crazy not to have an expert tell you exactly what shape the house is in. Staub tries to get any buyer he works with to schedule a home inspection; for the .01 percent who have resisted in the past, he said, he eventually just broke down and paid for it himself. "Absolutely, get a home inspector," he said. "It's worth the investment." Whether the same can be said for that bargain house remains to be seen.

No Change for Impact Fees has the write up from last nights Kingman City Council meeting...

KINGMAN – Local builders were stunned and angered when the Kingman City Council decided not to give further consideration to lowering impact fees following a public hearing Monday night.

On Sept. 2, the Council voted 6-0 to initiate the process to consider reducing the Transportation Development Investment Fee by 50-percent. On Monday the Council voted 4-2 not to direct staff to research and draft an ordinance, effectively ending any hope builders had for a reduction of impact fees in the near future.

Read the whole thing linked here.

One other telling quote from the article...

Dr. Munawar Pavacha is building a 16,000-square foot medical building and is paying $120,000 in fees and permits. The $5.30 per square foot impact fees amount to $86,400.

“I wish I was never here,” Pavacha said. “Now I’m stuck.”

I hate seeing people say things like that... it is the second time in recent months that I have seen or heard a property owner say something like that. Not good for business.

Monday, November 17, 2008

As a town drowns in debt...

Found an article that was published last Monday in the NY Times and linked here.

A doom and gloom article like all the endless reports from the main stream press on housing these days. I wouldn't have posted it here except for the last quote in the article, copied below...

“My house is underwater, so I’m not doing too much impulse shopping or any renovation. But I’m not cutting back on this,” said Ray Lopez, a database administrator, as he placed a $24 petite sirah on the counter. “Life’s too short.”

See not all is bad in this economy... guns and spirits/booze will probably do alright (and lottery tickets). The housing article and quote remind me of a lyric...

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows they learned to swim

--U2's End of the World

From the mail bag...

I'm talking the traditional mail, not email on this one.

Last week I received a newsletter from the Mohave County Landowners Association (no link and as far as I can tell, no web site). I am not a member of this association but I suspect I received the newsletter because I am a property owner in this county and this is an effort to create more association members.

I thought I'd share with the readers here some of MCLA's take on what is happening around these parts. I'll just share some bullet points and offer how to contact the association at the end if you are interested in getting this sort of information in your mail box.

From newsletter #68

From the heading 'MOVING FORWARD'

Despite all the bad news and problems on Wall Street and other national news, MCLA remains optimistic about the future of Mohave County. They talk about the strategic location between Phoenix and Las Vegas, the availability of relatively inexpensive land, and plentiful groundwater to foster commercial and residential development.

Also mentioned is the growing industrial park at the Kingman Airport and opportunity to expand the Interstae 40 Industrial Corridor. Goes on to say that hundreds of millions of dollars have been dedicated to upgrading the transportation routes in the area.

Now from the heading 'KINGMAN'

MCLA offers the opinion that Kingman has the best long-term development potential of the incorporated areas of Mohave County... due in large part the vast expanse of privately held undeveloped land and possible annexation of said land.

Mentioned is the construction of the new hospital in the Kingman Crossing area of Kingman. The hospital under construction had its 'topping off' celebration a couple of weeks ago. The new hospital hopes to start receiving patients in the fall of 2009.

This newsletter included a review on the special election that took place over a year ago in determining the present fate of 168 acres of land that is under the ownership of the city of Kingman near the proposed Kingman Crossing interchange. Included is a bit on the efforts of a slow or no-growth activist group... also known as my favorite local special interest political action committee group... also know as RAID... in that special election a year ago. Moving on...

Goes on to say that the landowners on the north side of I40 are still moving forward with plans of a regional shopping center AND an infrastructure improvement. Talks about a potential sales tax reimbursement agreement between the city and the developer/landowner, but concluded that this sort of agreement would be a hard sell.

Also describes a bit on another I40 infrastructure improvement slated to begin in 2013 with completion sometime in 2015... and that is just phase one of a two phase project. I've mentioned the Rattlesnake Wash interchange plenty of times here at MOCO and the MCLA assesment of the project is very similar.

A map was included in the newsletter focusing in on the more east side of Kingman and notes the proximity of some future projects.

I'll skip the stuff about Bullhead City and Lake Havasu and move on to the heading titled 'JOBS'...

First up is some information about the old North Star Steel plant under new ownership Nucor, and how it plans to invest $30 million dollars to upgrade the plant and actually reopen the middle of next year (2009).

Next is the new county jail that has started construction. Also the new Canyon Distribution Center nearing completion.

Under the heading 'HOOVER DAM BYPASS'

MCLA has indicated that a key element for the future growht of Mohave County will be the completion of the new bridge in late 2010. The go on to mention how it may impact the home construction market as mega developers anticipate future growth in the county once the project is completed. Also mentioned is the funding needed to widen the 15 mile approach to the Hoover Dam Bypass has been identified and bids have been sought for that project.

There's plenty of other good information included in the newsletter as well, for that you will have to contact the association to get a copy (and perhaps become a member). To contact the Mohave County Landowners Association, phone 800-441-2816 toll free -- or 753-3055 locally. You might also try email address

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What is an FHA Short Refinance??

Paul Dunn has the answers here. Might be worth looking into as a way to avoid foreclosure.

FHA Short Refinance is when a home owner refinances a loan where they owe more on their mortgage than their current mortgage is worth. FHA Short Refinance applicants are upside down on their equity, and so they need an FHA Short Refinance. The only way to refinance the home for any reason, is if the current lender takes a “short pay” on the amount owed and writes it off as a loss, thus the FHA Short Refinance. It is basically the same as a short sale with the exception that the home owner keeps their home.

City Leaders share views on city finances...

A few elected city leaders were guests at the Mohave Republican Forum event last night and has an article covering... linked here. Please click on that and read the whole thing.

One quote from that article I wanted to share here...

One part of addressing income is that the three cities also agreed to a marketing program aimed at keeping more tax dollars in the region.

“We’ll roll out a campaign to shop locally. During this holiday season we’re asking people to shop locally,” (Council Member) Young said. “If you don’t find what you want here then shop Havasu, but keep it local because those tax dollars are so important.”


Also from the KDM today a preview to a short agenda for the P&Z meeting tonight, including this...

Nine other citizens also have applied to serve on the commission in the event the commissioners decide not to recommend reappointment of an incumbent. The applicants include former commissioners Mike Blair, Vance Miller and Scott McCoy, as well as newcomers Bill Delmar, Debra Sixta, Daniel Del Monaco, Ronald Tanner, Scot Kern and Todd Tarson.

I'll go out on a limb and say the last dude on the list has as good of a chance to be appointed as Ralph Nader did to win the election for president of the United States a week ago. (Hey... if you can't laugh at yourself...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Welcome, Californians

According to this article, folks in California may be faced with huge increases in taxes (income or otherwise).

Home prices here are back down towards 2004 levels and rents are still very inexpensive. Sure could use some great new neighbors and we are only one state over. We also just passed a change to the Constitution that won't allow for taxes on property transfers.

Hope to see you soon!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

October Sales Report (2008)

Last month turned in a better than expected performance. More units were sold in October of 2008 than in each October the previous two years. Without details it may have seemed that it was a good month for sellers, however once again more than half the closed sales last month were sold by banks holding non performing assets.

I'll let the data speak for itself... after the disclaimer...

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

Listings and sales in units chart:

The spreads between new listings and closed sales continue to get slightly better and certainly better than it was last year. Still... not a fine time to be a seller in this market. However, more REO properties (foreclosures) are on their way to the new listings category, I doubt we see these lines cross next year (not a real prediction, just a feeling).

Average listings and sales averages chart:

The spread here really need to close from the listing side down because I don't see the closed sales average increasing as more and more bank owned properties hit the market next year.

2005 through 2008 unit sales chart:

As you can see, production numbers are up as compared to the last two years. If 86 more units sell in the remaining two months, production will be higher than it was last year. The last two years might have the look of a 'bottom' in terms of production... I certainly hope so (but not holding my breath). Even if it is though, sort of a hollow victory given that production has relied on the sale of bank owned properties, especially the last three months.

2005 through 2008 average price chart:

And clearly, the bank owned properties that sold are 're'-setting the prices (there will be a comparison later). It is still a supply and demand issue now, and will be so going forward.

The average price of closed sales fell 27.9% compared to sales recorded in October of 2007.

2005 through 2008 median price chart:

The median sales price for closed transactions is off by 26% as compared to October of 2007.

The price range of sales for October 2008 is $43,900 through $417,000.

Average SFR statistics:

The average home sold in October had 3.04 bedrooms, 2.14 bathrooms, a 1.79 car garage, included 1,581 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994. The average hold sold for an average of $90 per square foot of living space.

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 $20,423 to attract a buyer on average from the first day of marketing, and conceded another $8,232 to the buyer in the transaction. The total average price concession for the homes sold in October was $28,655 (16.78% total reduction).

Bonus Charts:

Foreclosure Impact:

In terms of units sold, of the 57 sales reported for October -- 29 were listed as foreclosed on (51% of units sold).

The price range of foreclosed units sold for October was from $43,900 up to $250,900.

The average price of foreclosed units sold for October was $112,989 (20.5% lower than the overall October figure).

The median price of foreclosed units sold for October was $107,500.

The average foreclosure home sold in October had 3.03 bedrooms, 2.17 bathrooms, a 1.62 car garage, included 1,487 square feet of living space, and was built in 1994. The average home sold for $76 per square foot of living space. Owners of foreclosed on homes conceded 13.9% off the initial offering price.


Traditional sellers (I call them human sellers) averaged a sales price of $172,270 in October, or a price that was 52% higher than bank owned sellers. Traditional sellers received an average $102 dollars a square foot of living space compared to $76 dollars a square foot for bank owned sellers.

However, it also took traditional sellers more than twice the time to attract a buyer and close on their sale (68 days for a bank owned sale to attract a buyer and contract compared to 149 days for the traditional seller). More than three additional months of mortgage payments and other monthly costs associated with home ownership.

Bank owned properties are out producing traditional sellers and are using price to get it done. Traditional sellers with marketable property do not need to compete with bank owned properties on a dollar for dollar basis, however traditional sellers would be wise to out work other traditional sellers at this time. The work is not difficult, the price simply needs to be set to attract buyers... and buyers do exist... even in this market.

Until next time... happy selling (and buying!!)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Breaking the Cycle

I read other blogs about Real Estate. Mainly, I do so that I can keep up with what is going on in other markets besides Kingman/Golden Valley. That’s right; real estate is local just like Evan Fuchs wrote recently in an article called, Market Panic: A psychological phenomenon.” Which by the way is great!

While it is true the economy globally is behaving erratically, there is almost predictability to it all. An announcement made one day makes the market go up, the hype ends and the market goes back down. Simplistic, but true. The question is why and when will it end. The truth is, it will end. We don’t know when, but it will end. So what about now?

Well, there are some out there taking the plunge. What about those brave few who have purchased homes during the 'economic crisis' --I’ll tell you what—at least locally they have done remarkably well. These brave soles have been able to take advantage of some terrific deals.

Since October 1st to present in Kingman alone:
15 brave soles have bought a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home including a 2 car garage*.

These folks paid from $87,000 to $215,000 for their home. One of these fine folks, with the aid of a realtor, was able to negotiate a price of $59 a square foot for their house.

Evan Fuchs said in his blog:

One of these days some smart people are going to get sick and tired of watching and waiting and swimming against the current. Sometime just this side of exhausting themselves, they will act on the opportunity in this crisis while everyone else is still focusing on the danger.

I say, Congratulations to those of you who took advantage of this market and enjoy your new home.

*For simplicity sake, I asked for data on: 3 bed, 2 bath homes with a 2 car garage (stick built) in Kingman only, closed sales only, Oct 1 through Oct 30th only.

Hot air blowing at city council meeting...

... maybe enough to provide electricity for all of Kingman.

Last Monday night I was interested about an issue that Kingman's City Council had on their agenda. The issue had to deal with finalizing an ordinance for adoption to the city code that would layout the guidelines for use of wind turbine personal energy source on private property.

I had no intention to speak on the issue myself so I decided to just watch the live video of the meeting linked from the city website from the comfort of home.

This article appeared yesterday in the KDM that covered the meeting and the issue. I have no problem with the article, and there was no way that all of the comments made at the meeting could be included (the paper may buy ink by the barrel, but they only have so much space on a sheet of paper to put it).

I thought there were some interesting discussions from that part of the meeting so I've decided to share them with you. Please keep in mind that some of the following comes with my editorial slant. It should be easy to identify, and if you decide you want to see the video for yourself -- here is the link -- and I've also indicated the time on the video where the discussion was taking place (in an effort to save you time if you decide to check on what was said as compared to my editorializing).

One last thing before I begin... this issue, to me, is a private property issue. I'm not a big fan of the Global Warming crowd but I am open minded enough to understand the benefit of using technology and inginuity to capture such things as solar and wind resources that can be turned into electricity on private property. I am amazed by the continued progress being made.

I believe that these current alternative energy products that are available at this stage are similar to the time when color television sets first were introduced to the market. Color TV's were excessively expensive and not too many productions even came through in color at that time, yet consumers were given a choice to buy a product that offered something that must have appealed to them. If it wasn't for those consumers that bought the first generations of color TV's, progress would not have been made and the products would not have evolved. Today it is really difficult to find a black and white only television set.

Okay, on with the show...

30:51 -- Mayor Salem calls on agenda item 7b, Public Hearing – Ordinance No. 1628 – Text Amendment to Section 26.000 GENERAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES... let the fun and frivolity begin.

31:50 -- Mr. Jeppson begins his presentation on behalf of the city.

36:11 -- Council Member Deering begins his first assault on the proposed ordinance by wondering if CC&R's will be affected by the ordinance. He is quickly reminded that the city does not enforce CC&R's (duh). Property owners agree to abide by the CC&R's of a subdivision up front and may choose to part ways with certain property rights in doing so.

38:21 -- Council Member Gordon reiterates, correctly, that the intention of the ordinance was to not exclude property owners with smaller lots from the ability to control their own needs to utilize an energy source that has the ability to reduce utility costs (that increased by 20% this year) and improve the property they own.

38:52 -- Deering begins his 'theoretical' of a new resident moving to Kingman on a fixed income finds a home with a 'nice view' out the backyard only to have some idiot neighbor put a wind turbine up on his own property and interfering with said 'nice view'. Or in other words... the rights of an actual property owner are subordinate to someone with a 'nice view'.

39:29 -- Council Member Watson begins to play the 'gotcha' game. First asks Mr. Jeppson if he has spoken with, what she believed, was the only resident in Kingman with a wind turbine system. She finds out that there is at least one other resident with a wind turbine system INSIDE the city limits... appears to be taken aback by that fact.

Nevertheless, Watson goes on to say that the one resident she knew of with a wind turbine was sold a lemon. Indicating for her, reason enough not to allow anyone else in Kingman to choose to purchase a wind turbine energy system.

Offers that perhaps it is not windy enough in Kingman for wind turbines. LOL!!

Goes on further to say that a hole had to be dug to install the tower and needed 6' by 6' by 6' worth of concrete to keep the tower in place.

Mrs. Watson says that there are a lot of yards where a back hoe can't access a backyard to dig such a huge hole. Gee... guess that means that property owner can't use this system then eh??

Mrs. Watson informs us that there are moving parts on a wind turbine.

She also states that she visited with a representative from the local electric company (that recently increased rates 20%)... but never follows through with a point. At least we know where some of her opposition might be coming from though.

Admits her job is not a consumer protector but... lots sizes do make a difference. (I though size didn't matter... oh... that something else, my bad)

Also proposes that only a select few should be considered for using such a system. Calls for a 'highly restricted area' of use. I took that to mean test cases if you will, and until those rascally wind turbines actually produce enough electricity to placate her, she'd only then consider letting the rest of us pee-ons have access to an alternative energy source like wind.

Next she worries if homeowners move out, how would the city get 'them' to take the wind turbines down... in case the house sits empty for two years. As of right now, there are no vacated homes with wind turbines in the city of Kingman.

Continues on about the one resident she is aware of and how he only managed to save a little over $50 dollars since the system was installed back in June.

Councilwoman Gordon correctly asks what any of Mrs. Watson's concerns have to do with the ordinance. You rock, Mrs. Gordon!!

Mrs. Watson says that the council isn't suppose to be the protectors of the community. I'm not making that up. (Using it a bit out of context?? Me?? A little.)

43:56 -- Council Member Young wants to insure, before passing the ordinance, that the city will have licensed engineers and installers in the mix. Of which is already part of the ordinance they were considering and if passed would be part of the process before the city gave out the required permit to a property owner that wanted to install a wind turbine on their property.

Mrs. Watson agrees with the 'buyer beware' aspect... but still.

45:31 -- Council Member Lyons, the pragmatist of the council, reminds the council that they sent this item back to P&Z to fix the ordinance and thinks they fixed it and seemed ready to move forward. (would have saved another hour or so if...)

46:26 -- Council Member Watson states that if two wind turbines were right next to each other on a property line that the wind turbines would run into each other.

47:40 -- Council Member Deering says kids will be kids and if he was a kid he'd be climbing up these poles in his neighbors backyard. Says that we put fences around pools... indicating that maybe fences are needed around these poles.

Lyons had the solution for the ever youthful Deering... grease the pole. Lyons doesn't say much in the meetings, but when he does contribute often times it is gold.

49:00 -- Council Member Young says she talked to a lady that lives near a wind turbine and the noise decibel levels are higher than what is allowed by the proposed ordinance. Mr. Jeppson said if that is true the property owner would be in violation of the ordinance.

Mrs. Watson goes for another 'gotcha' moment and asks if there were three turbines would the cumulative noise be greater than the allowable decibel level. Mr. Jeppson answers that the noise level is gaged from the property line and if it was too noisy, the property owner would be in violation of the ordinance.

Mr. Deering goes for a 'gotcha' now as well. What if there were three turbines across the street and he heard them all night. Who is in violation?? Seriously.

52:00 -- Council Member Deering is upset at how the proposed ordinance has evolved. It used to be a one acre minimum so that the noise would dissipate and when the tower fell over that it would only fall on the owners property. He would hate to see a wind turbine in every backyard in Kingman.

So in review (again) his big concern is that he doesn't want to see a wind turbine in every backyard in Kingman. His other concern is that kids will be kids and climb the poles on someone else's private property.

Councilwoman Gordon says that these systems at this time are cost prohibitive and it is doubtful that every property owner in Kingman will have one of these systems in their backyard. Says its a situation that is not likely to happen. Also says that homeowners would likely have insurance in the rare case that a tower falls over and damages a neighbors property. Again, Mrs. Gordon, you rock!!

Then Council Member Walker reminds council that these towers are engineered and built to withstand winds of 140MPH and require a stamp of approval by engineers before the issuance of a permit. Goes on to say that the people should have the option, even though he wouldn't be interested in buying one for himself at this time. Well done sir.

Councilwoman Young offers that the biggest concern will be that people who own small lots will come back and say that they can't have a wind turbine because they may not have the optimal wind advantage, that when these are so close together some people just won't be able to have them. If that is her biggest concern, she needs not to worry. The next generation of alternative and renewable personal energy sources will be smaller and cheaper, but yes not everyone will be able to utilize these products.

58:28 -- Mayor Salem opens up the floor to the public. First up... local columnist Gwen Gillman.

Mrs. Gillman is extremely concerned about the possibility of placing wind turbines (long I sound) or is it turbines (short i sound), whatever, in residential neighborhoods. Stated that the reason the P&Z commission passed along the ordinance to council was because 2 dozen people in attendance at the meeting were advocates of windmills and there was no opposition so she feels that P&Z easily relented to just "let's approve this"... yet she was extremely disappointed that commission approved. This from a member of a special interest group intent on ensuring that the common folk in the community is allowed to have their voice heard. Can you just smell the irony??

Goes on to say that wind turbines cost between $10,000 to $16,000 but have yet to be proven to work properly or that the city hasn't done a wind study to determine if there is enough sustainable wind in Kingman to ensure if wind turbines actually work. Really. But then comes back and says that "all of us in Kingman think we have too much wind," yeah seriously, "most of the wind comes in gusts, which is not the same as sustainable wind." At least now I'm in the know on the difference.

She then goes on to say that a Northern Arizona University professor has been doing a study on wind in the Flagstaff area and finds that there are only small pockets of areas that produce sustainable winds in Flagstaff. She uses that talking point as a reason why wind turbines should not be placed in residential neighborhoods 200 miles away in Kingman.

Goes further and demands that until wind energy special interests can prove their worth, which they haven't according to Mrs. Gillman, they need to be placed on large 40 acre parcels which people can buy into.

Says wind turbines would definitely add noise pollution and otherwise be a distraction due to constant motion (but I thought she just said there wasn't enough sustainable winds in Kingman). Oh and these wind turbines would decrease property values (LOL).

Right now we can enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains, sunsets, and clear skies... but if these evil free enterprise capitalists get their way us folks in Kingman would be stuck with hundreds or thousands of 60' towers with airplane propellers affixed to them all over the city of Kingman. Scare tactic anyone??

She also believes that P&Z was just humoring the wind turbine special interests and simply passed them on to city council for the final decision. Then begs the council to do the right thing and not allow private property owners the opportunity to "uglify" Kingman.

No questions from council for Mrs. Gillman (darn it).

1:02:04 -- next up, Harley Petit. He reveals that he is neither pro or con about the wind turbine issue.

But he lists his concerns; noise -- because if there are six of these things the sound would come through in stereo, visual pollution -- kinda like utility poles but with the added distraction of the rotating mass, utility rates -- if the rates go up and people use dastardly things like wind turbines the utility company won't make as much revenue effectively charging us more for using less (I had a tough time following that one).

Believes the wind turbines are the future, but for now they don't belong in the city.

Shares a web address for what happens when catastrophic failure occurs to a wind turbine. If the tower and blades disintegrate it would spread debris over a 500% radius. A mass explosion (just like our growth rate at one point in recent history). He then shared that he thought there would be guarantees that nothing like that would happen, but... it's just something that can't be guaranteed (you still following the logic??).

Wants to know more information... particularly height, prop wash (turbulence), and what will the city do when the turbines are abandoned -- especially if there is a 6' by 6' by 6' concrete footing in the ground. What if the city wanted to put a water or sewer line through that footing... who would excavate that??

I was left with wondering what he might say if he was actually for or against this ordinance.

1:05:23 -- Donna Crouse now takes the podium. Reminds council that the reason the ordinance was proposed was so that there would be some guidelines. She addresses one of Mr. Deering's concerns about the evolution of the ordinance (this has been going on for a year now), reminds everyone that technology continues to change. She says that the technology has improved enough in order for these turbines to have a smaller footprint so that they can be used on smaller lots (the latest turbine models I've seen for sale do not require guide wires to help keep the structure in place). She offered compliments to the city staff for all their hard work on the ordinance.

1:08:21 -- Richard Salmonsen is next and points out that air conditioner units produce between 70 and 80 decibels of noise. The ordinance allows a maximum of 60 decibels for the wind turbines.

He then goes on to take Councilwoman Watson's shared views on wind turbines to task. States that the footings for wind turbines do not need a 6'X6'X6' worth of concrete. Could be as little as a 24" diameter hole 8' feet deep. Reminds that no matter what the need is for the particular backyard might be... the system has to meet the engineers standard before getting approval.

Says that if council is worried about the wind turbine poles collapsing then the city needs to worry about every street light falling down because street lights do not have as stringent of engineering demand as the wind turbines do.

Says that a few of his customers in the county area have purchased a second unit (or more). Agrees that the cost of the units are expensive, but if some folks are installing more than one unit then it must mean the units produce an effective amount of energy for the consumer.

Talks about having the units installed properly by licensed contractors, something that apparently wasn't the case on the installation Mrs. Watson talked about earlier as her reason not to allow any more of these products to set foot in Kingman.

States that not every homeowner will be able to take advantage of the benefits of a wind turbine, similar to the fact that not every homeowner would be able to get benefits from solar power, due to interference from trees or simply the alignment of the home structure.

Councilman Deering tells us all that he lives on a hill on the golf course and couldn't imagine himself putting a wind turbine up. Thinks he would be ruining the view for the golfers (I don't play golf for the view). Also says that if you live on a small lot, he wouldn't want his neighbor to put one up, he would hate that. Also admits that if a neighbor planted a tree and obstructed his precious view that he'd be alright with that... but not a wind turbine.

Now Councilwoman Watson tries to play 'gotcha' again, this time with Mr. Salmonsen. She asks if he has heard of the installing company that installed the wind turbine that she feels was a lemon. Rich answered by informing Watson the particular installing company wasn't in business any longer, nor were they authorized installers. So much for the 'gotcha' moment.

1:23:48 -- Barron Yankowicz speaks briefly to council but makes a point about the size of satellite dishes not all that many years ago compared to what is common today. I believe that in time we will also see smaller wind turbine units that generate power as well. If it wasn't for the people that invested in the large satellite dishes, expensive tuners, and whatnot... it would have taken longer before the next generation of smaller and cheaper products to reach the market, kinda like the color TV's I talked about earlier.

1:25:43 -- Tony Kuc says that he has one of these units and also a solar power generator and both produce about half his electricity a month. I know Tony and he has a large home and has a full house of kids. Says he uses between 4,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of electricity a month.

Mrs. Watson asks Tony if the wind is blowing 5 MPH and the blades are turning... is power being created?? The answer is no, the unit Tony sells begins generation at 8 MPH.

Tony did very well, it was almost a free commercial for his company. He answered all the questions that council had.

1:32:36 -- Denise Bensusan at the podium. I'm not normally a big fan of her activism (anti-growth), but I got a kick out of her at this meeting. She believes that if this city would open up to green friendly energy that companies would consider moving to the area. I don't have any data to back that up, but I do tend to agree with her on that.

She also talks about opportunities to create 'green' jobs... green, black, white, purple, pink... in this local economy I don't think it matters what color the jobs are... the jobs though are important. More the better.

Points out that not everyone that is considering purchasing a wind turbine will be doing so for the cost benefit, says that some are just wanting to use cleaner sources of energy in their own effort to improve the environment. I'd consider getting one to improve the value of my property, but that is just me.

Talks about the individual and their right to purchase whatever kind of energy they might want, as available. Denise... I will likely not agree with you on too many things (based on things I've heard her say about other issues), but thank you for your valuable input on this issue.

1:37:02 -- Mayor Salem closes the public hearing and turns the issue into an action item.

Mrs. Watson says there is a difference between personal rights and public responsibility. Seems intent on using one falsely to trample on the other. Says that even if people use wind or solar power that they couldn't get all their needs met and still would have to rely on a utility company for the rest of the needs. So no matter what, even if the utility need is cut in half, that people would still need a utility company. Yeah, I'm not following either. Then wants to move to send all this back to the P&Z or staff (wasn't clear) and perhaps just adopt what Bullhead City or Lake Havasu have done with their alternative energy ordinances (yeah, lets not be leaders ourselves).

From there... plenty of back and forth among council members. A couple of leaders proved themselves as friends to property owners and the rights owners have, and a couple of others completely failed to protect those rights.

I was also very impressed by the shrewdness of the votes made by one particular council member on both of the proposed motions made.

1:47:51 -- Alas... an ordinance was approved, starting at a half acre minimum.

Folks, if you have a decent sense of humor then (at least until the movie theater opens back up) there is no better entertainment option in Kingman -- for the money -- than catching a city council meeting (either in person or via internet or local cable).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Historic evening...

I doubt that my political spectrum matches up exactly with any other person I know or have ever known... but at the risk of stating something that may offend someone, anyone... on a night like tonight -- pretty cool to be an American in this moment in this age.

Especially knowing the obstacles our nation has overcome to get to this very point in history.

I wasn't alive when men and women of our country worked together to send men to the moon and back for the first time.

I wasn't alive when an entire generation of Americans sacrificed so much for the benefit of the future of the country during WWII.

Both great moments in American accomplishment.

In my lifetime, this is the moment that might be on that sort of level.

God bless our country, God bless the United States of America.

Prop 100 is approved by Arizona voters!!

Thanks to everyone that voted in favor.

Thanks for protecting the rights of property owners in this state.

(Results linked here)

Private property rights foreign to a couple of city leaders

"Nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of." -- Thomas Jefferson

That passage was on my mind as I watched the city council meeting live on my home computer last night.

Another T-Jeff adage was to own land and make it productive is the right of every American.

Watch the wind turbine issue and the ensuing discussion... property rights are becoming more and more threatened by elected leaders in this city all the time.

Happy Voting Day!!

Whatever happens to be your voting pleasure today, I just want to pass along my best wishes to the many that will go out and let their vote count today.

Days like this are the most important to us 'little' and 'forgotten' folks. It is the one day a year (or so) that the powers that be pretend to give a darn, the day they answer to us.

Even though I voted early last week, today is the day that my voice is heard. Today is the day I really can't argue with the results, the people speak today.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

October Listings Report (2008)

You mean October is over already?? Gosh, seems like last month flew by. Well, it probably did for me since I spent most of the month watching baseball (and loving every minute of it this time around).

Well... back to reality... back to numbers that just aren't moving around all that much. At least not to the degree that signifies any real 'change'... nothing that we might have 'hoped' for (like the hope and change mantra?? There is a national election next week don't cha' know... my friends).

So let's get right to it... after the disclaimer of course...

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.


As of November 1, total listings available for single family residence equals 592 (up a tad from 585 on October1). The total number of units that are listed as 'foreclosure' listings is 87. The rate of new listings taken per day in October was 3.22. Compared to last years total listings available on the market are down by 18.1%.

There were 100 new listings taken in October (up a bit as compared to 89 in September). The total number of units listed as 'foreclosure' listings for October was 29. The average asking price for the new listings is $201,437 (up from last months $193,360). The median asking price is $151,900 (up from $149,450 previously). Newly listed units are down 12 units from last year and the average initial offering price dropped 15.9% as compared to October of 2007.

The average newly listed home in October has 3.17 bedrooms, 2.15 baths, a 2.09 car garage, with 1,685 square feet of living space and was built in 1995. The average asking price per square foot of living space is $120. Lastly, 16 of the new listings were actually re-listed either by the same or different broker. 4 units listed last month are already under contract and of those one had closed in October.

The original price of new listings last month was from $59,900 through $1,200,000.

Units under contract:

As of November 1 there are 75 total units under contract (down compared to the number of 86 last month). Of these, 28 were listed as 'foreclosure' sales.

47 units entered into contracts in the month of October (off from the 54 the previous month). Of these, 18 units were listed as 'foreclosure' sales. The average asking price for homes that received contracts was $164,844 (up from $151,928 last month) and the median asking price for October was $134,200 (up a little from the previous months $138,900 figure). Units entering contract are actually up from October of 2007 by 17 units and the average marketing price is down 16.2%.

The average home that went under contract in October has 3.28 bedrooms, 2.21 baths, a 1.85 car garage, with 1,761 square feet of living space, and was built in 1991. The average asking price per square foot of living space for listings that entered contract in October was $94. It was also priced $14,753 higher when it first was listed as compared to its current asking price (the average price reduction was $17,081 last month). The average marketing time to reach a contract was 125 days (from 104 last month).

The advertised price of units that entered contract was from $39,000 through $599,900.


Inventory levels seemed to have moved towards a friendly trend. Starting in February, each month saw lower amounts of units listed for sale than the previous year. No, this does not solve the inventory issue but the trend is clear, there are less units being listed for sale than at the high point since I've been tracking this data. I realize that the total units listed figure is up slightly over the number last month, but compared to last year the number is better and has been in every month this year except for January.

Also, the average price reported for the new listings is skewed a bit by two new listings that have an asking price over $850,000 (the other is the $1,200,000 listing). If it wasn't for those two listings the average asking price would have been lower than the previous month.

The foreclosure market did not have as good of a month as prior, that inventory is swelling a bit and conventional sellers made some ground on the banks in terms of attracting offers in October. Banks still have the better ratio of success in relation to contracts against listings though.

I'd say that this report is decent news for sellers, at best. If sellers take a long look at the under contract data figures, I think if they can be just a bit more aggressive on price then they'd see more activity. Buyers are starting to pay closer attention to price levels. The buyers still have the upper hand as foreclosures continue to hit the market. But in a month where conventional sellers did fairly well, the writing is on the wall. Lather, rinse, repeat.