The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2007

Busy Busy Bees!

Just in case you think I’ve just been lazy lately about not posting and there’s no good reason for it, I have photographic proof to the contrary:

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This is what’s called the Trifecta Board that hangs in my office. It’s basically a monthly tally of agent business. Every time an agent closes a deal, opens escrow on a deal or gets a new listing, they get a line on the board next to their name that corresponds in length to price of the home (I don’t know exactly what the inches to dollars ratio is, but I think the full span of the board represents $500,000).

Jesi and Ben are a team at my office who’ve been in the biz quite awhile and who usually kick everyone’s rears in just about everything (Jesi is also our managing broker at the office). There’s two of them, they work hard, and they know what they’re doing.

I had Lizzie (another agent at my office) take a picture of me in front of the May board, because unless they manage to pull something fabulous out of their hats in the next 8 hours, for the first time, my line is actually longer than their’s! This month I’ve had a closing, two buyers open escrow on homes and have signed three new listings. It’s been a great month! And all of that has taken several of the previous months this year to get going. Thus my total lack of free time.

And really quick for the grandparents in the audience, a few pictures from our first ‘Adventure Day’ of the summer (I’ve designated Thursdays as our get out there and do something new with the kids day of the week to keep the summer fun, this week we went to Tumbleweed Park and we took Gray’s birthday twin and BFF, Cat):

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Babies! and Stress! and Babies!

So this morning as I was getting dressed to go sit an open house, I said to Jason, “Do you think if I button my shirt like this it looks like I’m not pregnant?”

To which he said, “I guess maybe it kinda looks like you might just be fat…”

Because that’s what you want to hear, oh you know, EVER, if you’re female.

This conversation stemmed from my current paranoia, which is that people will stop wanting to hire me as their Realtor because I’m turning into a big fat pregnant lady. I’m afraid they will worry about my impending delivery and what will happen to their house, or their house-searching when I’m incapacitated and decide it’s not worth the risk and go with someone else.

It’s a reasonable fear, although I can assure you, I’ve got it all worked out. I have another agent in my office who I work with on a regular basis and know her style and general knowledge-base. She has agreed to take over my business temporarily for me while I’m birthing. And to make the transition just that more seamless, her name is also Elizabeth. In fact, you can just pretend she’s me.

My other stress in real estate right now is the current vibe between sellers and buyers. I have several sets clients who I’ve been showing houses to for a few months (some even more than that). In the last couple of months, I’ve probably written on average, a contract every week that has either been rejected or countered so unreasonably that we couldn’t make it work. I’m starting to get the idea that there’s some general bad blood between sellers and buyers. The market is beginning to stale and attract flies, I think, and it’s frustrating to sellers, who are taking it out on buyers. I did a listing presentation two weeks ago and the couple told me about how they bought the house they are getting ready to sell. It was a sweet story where the previous owner was selling without an agent (FSBO, for those in the know) and they went over, knocked on the door and sat down at his kitchen table and told him how much they could afford to pay and he told them what he needed out of it. They ironed out a deal that suited all parties, shook hands purchased the home. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t seen any of this good will evidenced in any deal I’ve done, or even attempted to do, lately. I think sellers have really become insulted and jaded by low-ball offers and people trying to steal their houses out from under them. The poor buyers are so beat up by inflated home prices or selling their own home first that they’re just not willing to put up with anything from the sellers. It’s a frustrating time to buy and sell houses in Phoenix and an especially frustrating time to be a Realtor.

Oh, and just in case you hadn’t heard the word: the latest flavor is… Blueberry, again! But hey, so far we’ve been really good at blueberry, so I’m sure it will be yummy and perfect once again.

The Zillow Debate Continues…

I know, I know, no one is reading this because I’ve alienated all of my readers (including my husband and father) by not posting for months. I apologize, of course. It’s been a busy few months. I found out in January that I’m pregnant with number three! And by Saturday morning I will be able to tell you what flavor of baby is next on the menu (we have that exciting gender ultrasound Friday late afternoon). So basically, I hate the first trimester of pregnancy. I’m sick and miserable (though I was definitely less sick this time… some are taking that as a sign of other possible differences in this pregnancy… like I don’t know, the gender, maybe? Or maybe this one has three arms… who knows?) and tired, and miserable and stressed, and miserable. But I’ve passed all of that, and just recovered from a nasty stomach virus and have moved on to the cheerful, energetic, eat all the time part of pregnancy. So beware of expanding waistlines.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by real quick and post a link to this article I saw a couple of weeks ago and thought was relevant. I posted when Zillow.com first came out about my tests of it and how I don’t believe that it is in any way a reliable way to get information on the value of your home. Apparently the State Board of Appraisal is in agreement.

However, apparently the House of Representatives is not. This is the latest from them. Which is fine. The National Association of Realtors has long held that as long as we don’t charge for value estimates, we can give them. And it would make sense that the rule applies to Zillow.com as well. But we all know that if you ask 10 Realtors what the value of the home is, they’re not all going to have the same answer. For your own protect, I suggest you think of Zillow.com as the two year old Realtor who’s really just picking his estimate by pointing a chubby little finger at a list of numbers he doesn’t understand. It’s about that accurate.

Knitting This, Organizing That

I’ve been meaning to post pictures of some of my more recent knitting projects. I think the cold snap out here has kicked my hobby into high gear. Too bad my desire for woolen creations will be gone with the chill in about two weeks. But until then, Jason has a new hat:

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This was his Christmas present that didn’t get finished until slightly post-Christmas. And hey, it’s reversible:

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I also tried my hand at cables and came up with this hat for myself:

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I love it, but I think I’m going to also do one in a more solid color so the cables stand out better.

Lastly, I went to a baby shower this weekend and attempted my first ‘sock’ pattern to take as a gift. Of course it was way more complicated and time consuming than I thought tiny baby sockies could possibly be, so I only have one done:

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It will also have to be delivered slightly late (luckily the babe is still tucked away in the womb so he is not yet missing it.)

In other news, we have begun our kitchen remodel. A couple of weeks ago our horrid old dishwasher died and we were forced to buy a replacement. Since we were buying a dishwasher, we figured we might as well bite the bullet and replace the oven/range as well (Spencer’s gave us a discount). Sadly, though we love our new appliances, they have really shined a spotlight on the shoddiness of the rest of the kitchen, thereby prompting us to head over to IKEA and purchase our new cabinets. We haven’t begun ripping out our installing the new cabinets yet, but Jason did take a minute this weekend to put together our new freestanding pantry so that we could get all of the crud off the counters that’s been living there for lack of enough cabinet space. Check it out:

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SO SO much extra space:

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Oh my goodness I am going to love my new kitchen so much I’ll never want to move!

Exchanging Equity in a Down-Trending Cycle (and other fancy-pants talk)

I attended a Century 21 Seminar this morning. It was up at the Desert Ridge Marriott (which is huge and gorgeous, by the way) and was intended to be the kick-off event for an Arizona-based revitalization of the company that Century 21 is starting.

Basically it was about half hokey-stand-up-and-cheer-yay-Century-21 and half interesting-information-about-the-real-estate-market-today-and-how-to-tackle-it. There were a few bits of the latter that I thought were interesting enough to pass on to you, Dear Readers (or as I like to call you, Dad).

The main speaker, Jim Droz, spoke mainly on the premise that the real estate market right now is a changed place, which we all know. It’s not the hotbed of activity and price increases that it was two years ago, obviously. But he went on to say specifically, we are now in a downward trend that will likely continue for the next 3 to 4 years. His information shows that real estate continues in 4 to 5 year cycles; one for the up cycle, then one for the down cycle; and that our last up cycle peaked in August of 2005. He predicts that our next up cycle peak will happen in 7 to 11 years or the years 2014 to 2018.

Our market is currently overvalued (along with Washington state, Hawaii, Nevada and California out here in the west) and when house markets are overvalued or undervalued they will eventually ‘revert back to average,’ according to Droz.

I know all of this sounds like information one would need a time machine to have. How can you say for sure that home values will continue to decrease for three more years with total certainty? You can’t, obviously, say it with total certainty. However, his information makes logical sense. Here in Arizona we are currently paying more on average for our home loans in respect to our incomes than one can reasonably afford. That fact alone dictates that something has to change. Since it is unlikely that employers across the board will decide to offer 37% raises, it makes sense that home prices will cycle down-wards until we reach stasis again.

Another point Droz made about the market is that to most people, this information about the currently declining prices is irrelevant. The fact is that for most average consumers, if they’re looking to sell, they’re also looking to buy. Basically, they will just be exchanging equity. If they sell for lower this year than they could have two years ago, it doesn’t really matter because they will also be buying lower than they could have two years ago, and they’ll end up in approximately the same position.

If you are an investor not looking to 1031 exchange (again, just exchanging equity), the next three years should continue to be a good ‘buying’ period, and if you can wait six or seven to sell, you’ll be in the money.

Anyway, for me this firmed up some general ideas I had about the market we’re currently experiencing and gave me the verbiage to convey it to my clients. I hope it’s interesting to you, too!

When You Give the Wooden Salad Bowl

I know what you’re thinking: Two posts in one day? What has happened to our lazy Arizona Realtor blogger? Has she gone crazy? This can’t be her! But don’t you worry, I haven’t picked up a new speed habit or even passed my duties on to another more reliable Realtor. Nope, there’s a good reason for my wordiness: I started the last post yesterday and wanted to get it out, and this post must be done today, thus, the illusive dual-post day. I’m sure I’ll be back to monthly blogging before you know it!

The reason this post has to be today, you ask? Today is my five year wedding anniversary. That’s right, I’m apparently just sane enough that I’ve convinced a man to marry and be with me for five full years. That or Jason is just crazy enough to have done it. Five years. FIVE YEARS. Boy that makes me feel old.

I’m sure someday I will look back on our wedding photos and think Seriously? That dress and that hair, seriously?? just like everyone else does, but not yet. I still love it all:

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Wasn’t it a pretty setting? The only thing marring the scene were the planes that flew directly over head every 3 minutes or so.

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My favorite part about this photo is that Jason looks just a tiny bit terrified. Like, Um, what did i just do?

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So yes, I might be slightly nutty, but you tell me I don’t have fabulous taste. Tell me those dresses aren’t stunning (and yes, I’m taking credit for how hot my friends are too).

Jason, if you’re reading, Happy Anniversary. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend these last five years with anyone else. I love you!

The Calm in My Storm

I know it’s trite and silly to jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, but for some reason, I’m just always so much more motivated to improve myself my life at the start of a new year. Maybe it’s because the stress of the holidays is finally over and I can focus on new goals that don’t only involve survival. Maybe it’s the idea of starting fresh with a clean slate. The errors of 2006 are anchored in the past while I have the ability to move forward and attempt to be a better person.

Whatever the reason, I’m more determined than ever to have a spectacular year. I’m going on year three in real estate, and it’s officially been a year and a half since I quit my 9 to 5 job and moved into the field full time. Last year I had about 35% more income than the last full year I worked at my 40 hour a week job. I was able to buy my first brand new car last year, and I even got the perfect color (I know it’s not supposed to matter, but it just really does to me). All of these successes make me even more motivated to push forward and excel this year both personally and professionally.

I’m going to refrain from putting together a list of resolutions because I think most of what I want will come from two major changes I need to make: I need to be more organized and I need to keep my willpower intact and not let my laziness take over.

Basically, I’m a totally chaotic person at heart. My colleagues at the office can tell you that my desk is a veritable storm, and I don’t even do the majority of my work there, so you can imagine what the one I have at home looks like (and well, while we’re at it, the dining room table, which is my spillover area). I feel like both in business and home life, I’ve been working harder instead of smarter. Yes, I get most everything accomplished that I need to, but it takes me three times as long as it should and makes me basically insane. And because I’ve made myself insane with clutter and overwork, I tend to give up on things occasionally (like cleaning and organizing) and lay on the couch and watch TV, when really if I just took the time to declutter and clean, I wouldn’t feel insane and need the downtime. It’s a vicious cycle.

So those are my two goals for the year, and here’s my start:

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This is a chart of my listings and purchases. I’ve been meaning to put it together and finally got it finished. I’m feeling more organized already (of course, I cropped that picture in nice and tight so you can’t see that our bedroom is littered with toys and papers… all in good time, all in good time).

Stuffed Peppers

Alrighty, well I’m really trying to get ahead of the curve here. The holidays pretty much wiped me out. What with Christmas cookies to be baked for the many holiday parties, to packing up our entire family (and presents!) to spend the end of December in Portland, Oregon, to hand-knitting a reversible hat for my husband’s gift, it’s been a ridiculous month. I’ve had a great time, but I’m SO glad it’s over.

The holiday clean-up is still in progress, but I did manage to actually cook dinner tonight. And it was even my own recipe:

Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients -

Four green bell peppers
Box of rice (garlic flavored if possible)
3 mild Italian sausages
1/2 white onion, diced
1 small zucchini chopped
1/2 can of tomatoes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese (plus 1/4 cup for tops)

Preparation -

Cook box of rice. Cut sausages from casings and brown until cooked and crumbly. Mix all ingredients under green peppers (except extra 1/4 cup of cheese). Slice the tops off the green peppers and scoop the seeds out. Fill the green peppers with mixture and add extra cheese to the top. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and peppers are cooked.

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Do you like my apron? A gift from my crafty mother-in-law. I love it!