The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2006

Taking Stock of the Situation

I’m sure you’ve heard a bazillion times by now that the real estate market slows down near the end of the year. It’s like the car industry; not that many people typically think about making a major purchase right around the holidays when they’re all ready spending their bonuses on gifts for the family or holiday parties. So, you know, things usually get a little quiet. Well listen to this oddity: things haven’t been quiet around my office. Things haven’t even been quiet around my desk.

I was having a conversation with my manager last week about how I had been expecting extra time to finish up my Christmas shopping and crafts, but that I hadn’t even had time to fit in all my real estate appointments lately, and she totally agreed with me. She said she has four closings this month and that it’s been years since she had such a busy December. Her opinion is that the market is starting to perk up a bit. I tend to agree.

In case you haven’t heard, interest rates are back down to under 6.5% for a 30 year fixed and of course even lower for a 15 year fixed. Both of our mortgage representatives at the office have speculated that rates will continue to dip slightly in the new year. We still have tons of inventory on the market and prices remain on the plateau (or even slight decline) they hit about a year ago, but there seems to be some awakening of activity going on.

In the next year (hopefully sooner), I plan to take advantage of buyerness of the current market and acquire a rental or possibly a fixer-upper. It’s a great time to get a deal!

Limey Madness

I want to a dinner party this weekend. We had this idea that we could mimic the show Iron Chef and pick and ingredient that everyone would have to use in the different courses. We chose lime as our main ingredient.

Debbie made ceviche:



Laura P. made a yummy salad with a lime vinaigrette and limed veggie skewers. Laura T. made a tomatillio lime salad and a cilantro lime pesto.

I did a Tequila Lime Chicken Pasta:

tequila lime chicken pasta.jpg

And we finished it off with four lime desserts made by Danielle, Jessica and Laura P.:

lime desserts.jpg

There were, of course, margaritas, limeade, lime sherbet smoothies and even Pepsi with Lime for beverage choices.

It was a totally fun experiment, but I think we learned that there’s a reason why people usually balance the flavors of their meals a little better. By the third bite of the evening, the only thing I could taste was lime. In fact, I may have had my fill of lime for the month.

Next time, Mexican, maybe.

The Lime Gals:


Laura T., Jessica, Debbie, Danielle and Jackie, Laura P. and Me! (Yes, I realize Laura T.’s eyes are closed, but mine are closed in the other one we took and it’s my website, ha!)

The Last Week

OK, so my plan to post daily died in its infancy. You know, it’s been one of those weeks. Gray caught a cold, then gave it to me. The kids had Friday off for Veteran’s Day. Life just got in the way, as usual. But I’ve got a few comments of the week.

Friday, for the holiday, the kids and I headed over to the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park up in Scottsdale. We rode the train and the carousel and played at the park. The scene was mobbed with kids, moms, playgroups and even a few dads, but it was just an amazing day. The weather right now could not possibly be more gorgeous. How lucky are we to live in a place where the high is 82 and the sky is clear mid-November. I keep expecting it to get chilly but it just hasn’t at all yet. It’s lovely. I guess I will keep my sweaters packed away until we go to Oregon over Christmas.

Yesterday I attended the Defensive Driving School for ticket offenders. I got one of those photo tickets for going 56 in a 45. It was an OK experience. Not too painful. It would have been less painful if I hadn’t been an idiot the night before and taken a full dose of cold medicine before bed. I have a weird sensitivity to the stimulant in the decongestant and was up literally until 3:30 AM unable to sleep. Anyway, the teacher let me knit during class (I’m making myself a winter hat for the OR trip) and I learned a couple of interesting things. The first was that in Arizona one in nine drivers has a gun in his or her car. A GUN. ONE IN NINE. The instructor told us this during the road rage section of the class and it made me fear for Jason’s life. He has no tolerance for anyone doing anything he perceives as rude or stupid while driving and regularly engages in intimidation techniques and hand gestures. Jason, they probably have a gun! Quit it! The second thing I learned was that the guy sitting next to me attended his 1079th movie with his wife last week. They’ve been married 52 years. Amazing! (And also, still a lot of moves to see regularly, like 20 a year… Wow.)

Lastly, I walked my neighborhood again yesterday to pass out a flier for a free turkey drawing we are doing. This time my sister helped me do it and we got it done in an hour and a half. It was awesome. And I’m not sore at all. Thanks, Sarah! I’m so never doing it alone again.

Sunday at Shemer

We just got home from Sunday at Shemer, an art fair in Phoenix at the Shemer Art Center on Camelback. We went because a colleague of Jason’s has a girlfriend who was exhibiting her paintings. He invited Jason and told him there would be kids activities as well.

It was a gorgeous day and I’m so so sorry that I forgot to load my memory card into the camera before we left. The sun was shining and the museum sits right up against Camelback Mountain. We walked around looking at booths of original art, the kids painted paper lanterns and made their own colored silly putty, we ate Honeybears BBQ and sat in the grass and listened to the jazz band. It was a perfect afternoon.

Two of my favorite of the artists were this artist and this one. I love seeing things I like and getting to speak to the actual artist as well.

Today was one of those days I wish we had more of. It made me think we need to have less on our schedule and more fun family outings. In no time at all the kids will be big and we won’t have opportunities like this anymore.

A Word on Fashion

If you’ve watched Project Runway on Bravo at all this last season (and if you haven’t, you should), you know that there was quite the uproar (OK, maybe it wasn’t an uproar per say, maybe more like an upmeow, I guess) over Kayne, the super-gay pageant dress designer who used to be fat, and his ‘taste level.’ Kayne stayed until the final five, if I’m remembering correctly, and even won a couple of the challenges, but was constantly being labeled tacky and overdone. The other contestants, and ultimately the judges decided that he just didn’t know where to stop.

This discussion of Kayne made me sad and a wee bit uncomfortable, because I loved almost all of his stuff and frankly, I think they might question my taste level too. Which is funny, because I’m not known for loving ruffles or bright colors and feathers and God forbid I be caught dead in anything even resembling a pageant dress.

When I was in seventh grade my ‘friends’ passed around a slam book. I think we got the idea from a Sweet Valley High novel, and honestly, we should have known better because I’m pretty sure that Jessica got voted biggest floozy and Elizabeth most giant nerd ever and everyone’s feelings were hurt even in the book. But despite all of that, being the obnoxious young teens we were, we made up categories ranging from prettiest to smartest to worst hair and passed it around writing names under each. But the time it got to me I was horrified to see my name unanimously under Worst Dressed. It was a whole drama and Rene’ Peru stuck up for me and it was the reason she and Arwen Rhan (yes, her parents were huge fans of Lord of the Rings even before it starred Liv Tyler) weren’t best friends anymore. Anyway, looking back, it’s not totally surprising. I have a unique sense of style. It comes from my mother, and her mother before her and my siblings each have their own variations of it. We like clothes and we like things that are different. When I was 13 I didn’t really know how to channel this and often ended up in the no-man’s land of Hawaiian print shirts with striped pants and whatnot.

I don’t think the slam book incident took away my desire to be different, but it certainly made me take a hard look at what I was wearing and just be much more careful in general with my fashion choices. I still made several quite unique decisions with prom dresses that will live on forever in pictures (what? A denim halter with rhinestone buttons, a white tulle skirt and silver platforms isn’t what you wore to your Jr. prom?) but I think I really made myself be more conservative than I really wanted.

I was thinking about all of this today when shopping at American Apparel down on Mill. It’s a weird store. It has really cute basics in all colors, but also totally bizarre stuff you might not touch with a ten foot pole. I came upon these leggings and was just totally amazed:


The conservative, doesn’t want to be openly mocked, side of me was aghast, but the 12 year old who likes sparkle and anything shiny or outrageous is still convinced that with the right shirt dress or skirt and top over them they would be awesome. And of course I’d have to have the right event… Man do I wish sometimes that I was that girl who could wear anything and no one would question me. That mod girl who rocks the black nail polish and the pink hair, or the super hippie who always wears her hair in braids, the old lady in the fancy dress at the grocery store. I want a style all my own and people to look at me funny if I show up in a simple jeans and sweater set, because it’s just not me. But to achieve that, I’d have to not be afraid of people voting me worst dressed, wouldn’t I?

Some day, I hope to be confident enough in myself and who I am that when I see something fabulous, be it copper lame’ leggings, or a poofy black lace skirt, or rhinestone studded tennis shoes, I buy it and wear it, and don’t give a thought to who might laugh at me when I do. Maybe even someday I’ll wear them all together (talk about the crazy old lady in the grocery store).

Slow But Still Steady

Well, the real estate market has begun to settle into its normal pre-holiday slump. Even in the recent years when the Phoenix market has been red hot, the buying and selling has dropped off between Thanksgiving and New Years. It just makes sense; people aren’t generally interested in packing up their entire house and family and moving while the tree and holiday lights are up.

However, because we currently have 47,114 properties on the market in the Phoenix metro area, there are plenty of people becoming downright desperate to sell. That fact, in combination with low interest rates (6.5% with no points and set to dip a bit in the next couple of months) makes it really a fabulous buyers market. First time buyers with no cash have can fairly easily get sellers to contribute to closing costs. Investors can find screaming deals if they look hard enough.

Anyway, my listings are pretty quiet lately. Showings are down, but haven’t completely halted. I hear that million-dollar listings are teaming with traffic still, interestingly enough. I’ve counseled my clients that things will be slow for the next few months, but that we’ve got to wait it out and we may still get lucky. We’re priced right and they look great, we just need to hold out for that family who has to transfer to Phoenix for a new job or something similar.

In the meantime, I’m taking a class in the next couple of weeks on Pre-Foreclosure properties. Unfortunately for many, the non-traditional mortgages people have been utilizing to purchase homes possibly out of their price range have begun to catch up with them. The foreclosure market is heating up, and investors are going to need agents who know how to negotiate the territory. I’m also interested in getting into a bit of investing myself.

So there you go: real estate content. I knew I could pound some out.

Gray says, “Buy a house or I will suck your blood!”
(Had to throw that one in for the grandparents.)

Evil, Killing, Duck-Monsters

Seems like everyone and their mother is doing NaBloPoMo. I hadn’t heard of it until a couple of days ago (been so busy and out of the blogospere lately) but now all of my favorite blogs are full of new content. I haven’t signed up officially, but since I managed to post yesterday, on the starting day, I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep up with a daily blog for the month of November.

On that note: Gray and I went to the park near our house today. It has a little man-made lake complete with ducks and pigeons and occasional toy boat races. I brought a bagel with us because I thought it would be fun to feed the ducks (and also we had an egg bagel leftover from one of the many recent trips and seriously, who eats egg bagels? EW.) So as soon as we got to the park, we headed over to the water/bird area. There was another mom/son combo already there feeding the birds, as well as a group of people eating lunch in the Ramada over looking the water. As we walked over, the other mom and son finished giving out whatever they had and began to walk away.

As we got closer to the water, we realized that the big geeseish/swan-like creatures (um, I’m not what you’d call a fowl expert… they are as tall as Gray is and brown and have a weird beak with a lump on it and long necks… water ostriches? What do I know?) were there along with the pigeons and ducks. Upon seeing us, all of the creatures headed in our direction. This was when Gray proved just how smart he is and took about 10 steps away from me. I, on the other hand, reached into my bag and pulled out my bagel and started ripping off little pieces and throwing it to the birds (as you do).

The pigeons were in hog heaven, gobbling up the little bits of bread. The large birds, on the other hand, were not interested, one tiny bit, in the pieces of bread. One, in particular, started toward me and just kept coming. I had no idea what she was intending to do to me, but I did not like the look in her beady eyes. I backed up five big steps or so and waved my arms around a bunch. This deterred the idiot pigeons and a big flock of them flew off, but Mother Goose or whomever, didn’t bat an eye, she just kept moving toward me.

I wouldn’t say that I have a fear of birds, but I have to admit, irrational though it may be, just about any aggressive animal making a move in my direction freaks me out, feathery and nursery-rhyme oriented nonetheless. I wasn’t sure that this bird even cared about my bagel anymore, I was starting to think she wanted to eat my hand for lunch.

So, you know, I lost it. I screamed and threw the entire bagel at her. I used my bagel as a weapon against a giant duck. And it turned out I was wrong, it was the bagel she wanted. Just not any little pieces. After it bounced harmlessly off her side, the bird picked up the entire bagel and turned around and walked away. The rest of the birds disappointedly followed suit, mumbling to each other, “Not again! Why to they always give up and give the whole thing to her? What do they think she’s going to do, peck their knees out? Morons.

And of course, all of the people eating lunch heartily enjoyed the exchange. Gray and I high-tailed it over to the swings, and on the way passed the other mother and son. I asked her how she escaped being mauled by the birds and she giggled and said, “Well they don’t actually bite. They come toward you, but eventually they stop. They won’t really hurt you,” in a voice that implied the question: the state lets you keep your children?

So there you go. Daily posting often has nothing to do with real estate. Sorry. (Interest rates are low! Buy now!)

My Little Halloweenies

Did you have a spooky night last night with the ghosts and goblins? Ours was fun and adventure-filled!

Gray was a clown (because his only addition to the costume brainstorming was that he wanted a balloon):


(Have you ever seen a more mischievous clown? I can just see the little wheels turning in his head…)

Ben was a dragon. Sadly this costume is the emergency back-up dragon costume, instead of the mommy-sewn, specifically blue and silver, both with horns and wings costume that is still in 8 bazillion pieces on my sewing table. Ben has been saying for over a month that he wanted to be Fire Drake, who is the main dragon character in a book he recently read. Unfortunately, because of our many ridiculous plans already in place for the month of October, I put off going to the fabric store to create this costume until the Wednesday before Halloween. By 8:30 PM Monday I had been working on the thing for 6 hours straight and the tail spikes were giving me utter fits. I could tell that even if I sewed through the night and into the next day, it wouldn’t have been done in time for his party at 3 PM. BAD MOM. Thus, we pulled out the emergency back-up costume (which belongs to Ben’s Uncle Sean).



But Ben had fun and I still do plan on finishing Fire Drake (might as well, huh?).

Sweet Catalina is the third Munchkin in these pictures (Gray’s birthday twin). She’s a turtle (and practically a head taller than Gray!).

I like to think in this photo that they’re playing Rock Paper Scissors to see who gets to torture her little sister, Ava, next:


Tired Legs, Job Completed

So I just got back from my first time ‘walking the neighborhood.’ I have a new subdivision I have been marketing to for the last month or so with a couple of other agents in my office. It’s a cute little neighborhood in Chandler called Twelve Oaks. We split the 700 or so homes in the subdivision up among the three of us and have put together monthly marketing ideas that we’re currently carrying out. This month, our idea was to deliver candy in small bags with our business cards in a sort of reverse trick-or-treat.

In the real estate business you hear of lots of agents who walk their neighborhoods monthly delivering information or goodies to promote themselves. You also hear of lots of people who pay someone to do this for them. I have done lots of mailings, but hadn’t yet attempted a large door-to-door campaign, until today.

Oh my lord, those agents who do this every single month are either saints, masochists or liars. I had exactly 244 houses to cover. The other girls and I assumed this task would take a couple of hours. It took me 3 hours and 45 minutes, almost exactly. Um, ow, my legs hurt. And also? The place on my arm where I tied a tape dispenser so that I could carry a box full of almost 250 bags of candy and still be able to get a piece of tape off to attach the bag to the door without setting everything down at every house (one of the other girls brought a rolly suitcase, she’s so smart!).

And just in case he’s reading, I would like to let the man who at first refused my candy because his sister-in-law is and agent and he has to use her, and then took the candy when I told him I had one for every house, and then when I came back around the block to do the other side of the street, complained that the candy was melty because I’d been walking in the heat too long, that I hope his sister-in-law has a hearty constitution and God love her for having him as a client. I have this feeling he’d be the kind of client we like to call “High Maintenance.” (And if I see him ever again, he will receive no candy from me.)

Anyway, it was an interesting experience. I do feel like I have a better idea of my clients in this neighborhood, and of their homes. It’s a neighborhood with large lots, RV gates and even actual RVs (there is no HOA!). It’s a neighborhood where the majority of people have Halloween decorations out and kids play football in the cul-de-sacs. It’s right next to a park, a school, and airpark (Stellar) and not far from Chandler Mall. I feel like I would like to live in this neighborhood (just not next to the melted candy guy). So I guess it was a good day after all. But next time I do it I’m going to enlist the help of my husband. You think he’ll take payment in homemade eggplant lasagna?

The Reunion

Don’t you hate when you’re too busy to blog about something that you wait so long to do it you’re totally bored with the topic? Yep, me too.

Basically here’s what it comes down to:

I enjoyed being on the reunion committee (or The RC, as we liked to refer to it) because it was really fun and interesting to meet people who I’d only heard about in high school. I actually like the snotty cheerleader I just assumed I would hate. I remembered why I enjoyed the company of one of my best friends from Jr. High. And that girl who was friends with lots of my friends, who I hadn’t really known? Well it turned out we probably would have been friends if we’d really known each other.

I also liked knowing exactly who was coming and hearing from people even before the reunion. It was fun to know that people were excited to come back and see other people from our class.

Being on the RC was a loser deal for a couple of reasons. Number one, there was just so much time and planning involved that getting excited about the actual event wore off after awhile. By the time I’d spent three hours sewing the tablecloth to put on the memorabilia table, I was ready for the whole thing to be over. Secondly, on the actual weekend of the event, we spent every waking hour picking up supplies, decorating, setting up, partying and finally cleaning up and recuperating. The entire experience was so exhausting that it’s a little difficult to look back on it and feel like it was really a fun time.

Regardless, it was fun to go back and see everyone. I hung out with the dancers from the company (most are married and pregnant or trying, a couple are making it big in New York or Hollywood), the nerds from my AP classes (doctors and lawyers or financial consultants who confessed they are tired or working so much and wondering if all the schooling was really worth it), the slackers I hung around with for entertainment value (still slackers, still hilarious) and ran into various other people I remembered a little bit, or not at all. Also, somehow, I didn’t see my husband for the entire 6 hours the reunion lasted. I’ve heard he hung out with the other husbands he knew and smoked cigars. Figures.

Me and My Girls Before the Reunion Madness

reunion before.jpg

Laughing with The Dancers At the Slideshow (We used to be so flexible!)


With Friends (That’s Roxanne from The Apprentice!)