The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2005

The Musings of a Mother of Small Children

Is it just me, or do Anthony LaPaglia and Captain Feathersword look an awful lot alike:

OK, maybe you can’t tell here, but if you ever get to watch an episode of The Wiggles, check out that jolly, feather-toting pirate. The resemblance is eerie… and they’re both from Austrailia… I think Mr. LaPaglia is moonlighting between episodes of Without a Trace, is all I’m saying.


The long holiday weekend wrapped up beautifully for my family and we are happily back to our normal routine this morning. I have two houses closing this week and am not anticipating any problems.

Anyway, one of the activities we took part in this weekend was a trip to the Dobson Ranch Library Park. It was kind of an impromptu thing, but it ended up being perfect timing because not only was the weather stunning, but a group of men were racing their sailboats on the water next to the park.

We sat in the grass with the warm sun on our backs and watched as they placed their boats in the water and then took practice runs around the course. Finally, it was time to start and they all lined up at the starting point. As soon as someone signaled the start of the race, the breeze that had been blowing consistently all morning stilled and the boats sat motionless in the water. It was one of those moments that felt like such a metaphor for life: GET READY, GET SET… everyone just sit and wait. But shortly the wind picked back up and the boats began their race. It just goes to show, it doesn’t matter how hard you try, somethings just can’t be planned for or avoided and you have to wait them out. Such is the life of anyone involved in real estate, I’ve come to learn. In the end it doesn’t matter. Everything still happens, just at it’s own speed.

Things to be Thankful For

I know this is a pretty common blog topic for the week, but I’d like to chime in anyway and give you a little run-down of the things I’m especially thankful for right now. It’s really been a stellar year for the Newlins in general and I would be remiss not to acknowledge the things I am lucky to be happy about.

1. I am thankful that in the last six months I’ve gotten to spend more actual physical time with my kids than probably the rest of their lives added up. Ben said to me a few weeks ago, out of the blue, “Mommy, I really like your new job. Because now we get to see you all the time except a little bit when you have to work.” That statement made everything I’ve gone through to make this career change work, worth it.

2. I am so thankful that my friends and family think enough of me to use me as their agent and refer me to their friends and families. Without my strong network of support I would definitely not be able to do what I am.

3. I am thankful that I get to live so close to my extended family. I know lots of people (my husband included) who do not have this luxury for one reason or another. I feel spoiled that my parents live a block away, my sister and brother are in town and I even have an aunt and a Grandma in the Phoenix Metro area.

4. I am thankful to have an amazing husband who puts up with me and all of my drama and eccentricities. When people come over and see all of the beautiful things he has done to our house I am so proud he is with me.

5. I could not possibly be more thankful that my kids are healthy, brilliant and beautiful. Yes, they drive me insane fairly regularly, but I honestly sometimes feel like I tricked fate by getting such amazing children. (I know, I know, everyone feels this way, and knowing that doesn’t change that I do feel this way.)

6. I am thankful to have an amazingly close group of girlfriends that I communicate with on a daily basis which has survived different high schools and colleges, marriages, children and moves to other states.

OK, that’s probably the big ones on my mind. I hope you are happy and feeling thankful today too! Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Sick of Condo Deceits

I’ve been sick, AGAIN. It was just a cold, this time, so not nearly as bad as the flu we had recently, but still not fun. I do have to give credit to the latest technologies in cold medicines, however. I am in love with those melt-away sore throat lozenge strips. I thought they were gimmicky at first, but now I keep them in my nightstand drawer for when I wake up in the middle of the night with a sore throat that keeps me from falling back asleep. You know, the kind where you swallow because you think it will make it feel better, but really that only makes your throat more raw and then it hurts worse? These are PERFECT for that. They melt in like 10 seconds and numb your throat and then you can go right back to sleep. LOVE them.

Anyway, when I wasn’t testing pharmaceutical advancements this weekend, I went condo-searching again with some newly acquired clients. They are leaning toward a subdivision called Montage up on Scottsdale and the 101. It’s a brand new condo conversion (apartment complex that is usually remodeled to some degree and then sold off in pieces as condos) that goes on sale December 3rd. We are checking around to make sure there is nothing they like better. My latest pet peeve is agents who fudge the date the complex was built in the MLS. They think that because something has been completely remodeled they can call it built in 2005. This is very irritating to clients who are looking for a brand new style and show up at a complex that is 20 years old and looks like it has a brand new coat of paint. Unfortunately, this deceit is quite common.

That was my weekend in a nutshell. Hope you’re staying healthy and looking forward to the short week!

A Room of My Own

Last night when Jason got home from work I sent him right back out again… WITH the boys. It was soccer practice night, and I usually go with, unless I’m staying home with the baby, but yesterday I was just feeling so totally and utterly disorganized. Lately, I have actually been quite busy with clients. This means that during nap time, when I’m not chasing my cute little lunatics,

I spend hours running CMAs and doing searches on the MLS for my clients. It also means that I’ve had lots less time to keep the house clean.

Anyway, last night was just one of those times when I needed an hour or so alone with the house, or I was going to go crazy. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to tackle until I got started, but this is what I ended up with:

This is our reading room, but Jason has been hinting lately that maybe the dining room table is not the best place for all of my Christmas present projects. So I cleared out the space, did some serious dusting, and set myself up a little sewing central. It only took me about an hour, and boy do I feel much better about life in general.

Sometimes you just need a little space of your own, I think. It makes life feel so much more manageable.

Lessons Learned Every Day

Things are moving along smoothly in the real estate world right now. The two deals I have in escrow are so far problem-free (knock on wood). I have learned a couple of new things so far on these transactions:

1. The On-site Waste Water Treatment Facility Addendum is used if there is a septic tank on the property being being purchased or sold. The addendum states that the seller will have the septic tank ‘serviced’ before close of escrow. Just in case you were wondering, ‘serviced’ entails having the tank drained (I know, ew), and costs about $400.

2. When the seller agrees to fix something during the inspection period, the time to determine if this has been done is at the final walk-through, after close of escrow is too late.

3. If, as a buyer, there is ANYTHING you feel nervous about and would like to have an expert look at about the house, do not hesitate to order an expert to come out during the inspection period. It’s your right and you’ll kick yourself later if there’s something wrong you could have known about before you bought.

Other than those transactions, I have also been out showing properties. Last Saturday I took clients through 15 or 20 condos in Scottsdale and Phoenix. It was an interesting experience for me. I’m not used to dealing with gate codes, parking spots and locating apartment numbers. New challenges are fun!

Weekly Meeting

I just got back from my weekly sales meeting where I garnered the following information about the market:

1. New home sales were down in September 2005 from September 2004 1.73%, which is not much, but indicates the building slowdown many have been predicting.

2. Residential resales in September 2005 were up 20.91% from September 2004 (12,086 vs. 9,996). The resale market is still holding strong!

3. Price reductions on the MLS are the talk of the town. Scores of homes are going up at one price and being quickly dropped down. Most real estate professionals agree that this is not because prices are actually dropping, but because so many sellers have inflated expectations due to the outrageous market we had previously been experiencing. (Score one, for pricing your home correctly to begin with! It’s quite likely that if you end up reducing your price, you will actually get less than you could have if you had just started out in the right area.)

4. The word on the street is that the investors have finally left town for more uncharted territory like Albuquerque, New Mexico and Independence, Idaho. Hooray!

So now is a great time to buy. Prices are softening as are sellers. And would-be sellers, now is still good for you; interest rates are low and demand is still high. Call me if you’re interested!

Christmas Projects in the Works

The Backtack II gallery is up! This is a gallery for all of the people who participated in the swap that I have been involved in. Somehow, my bag didn’t make it in, but I resent my pictures and hopefully they will be added soon.

I have spent literally hours viewing the photos of all of the amazing bags. The ones I really love I have tracked down at their original sites and tried to get a better understanding of how they are constructed.

One of the things that I feel has been lacking in my work so far is embellishment. I think it’s just a rookie error, I was so focused on getting the bags or other projects to be functional that I overlooked making them pretty. So now that I’m putting together all of my Christmas presents, I have been focusing on trying different types and methods of decorating my works.

Here are my two latest bags:

What a fun Christmas this will be!

The Home Pricing Game

In the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with quite a few situations in which I’ve been called upon to recommend a listing price for a home. This is not shocking; it is, of course, a large part of my job. However, because I entered the real estate biz at such an unusually high activity point in the market, I am now still really getting a handle on the ins and outs of pricing a house in a more ‘normal’ market. Let me tell you, it’s not a simple thing.

As a home owner thinking about selling your home, I think it’s important to understand that pricing your home is more of an art than a science. First you have to think about what is most important to you in the situation. Are you in a position where you need as much money as you can get from the house, but have flexibility with your moving schedule? Do you need to get out of the house as quickly as possible and can afford to get a little bit less? Most likely you are somewhere in between. You have some time constraints and would like to get as much out of the house as is comfortably possible. This is where a sliding scale starts to come into play.

When someone wants to talk to me about maybe selling their home, I put together what’s called a CMA (comparative market analysis). Basically, I start by running a search on the subdivision the house is in on the MLS (multiple listing system). I look for houses that have sold or are pending sale in the last six months that are similar to the house I’m trying to price. If I’m lucky I will find four or five properties within the subdivision that have sold recently and are very similar on paper to the house I’m trying to price. If I’m unlucky, I will have to go outside of the subdivision, but within a mile of the subject property to find comparable properties. Either way, ultimately I will end up with an approximate range of where to sell the house. This process is usually done before I’ve actually seen the house, so the actual condition of the house is something that will be used to figure the listing price. We then will take into consideration the things I mentioned earlier, time and financial needs. All of these things will go into determining a price for a house. And as you can tell, most of them are quite subjective.

A last hurdle is, of course, the appraisal. The appraisal may happen after the house is already under contract, but it’s important to keep it in mind through the entire process. Your leeway in pricing only extends as far as the house will appraise. If you can’t get it to appraise for what you’ve sold it for, you have a big problem. This is why we always need to stick to the comps and stay within the range, unless the buyer is willing to waive the appraisal. But, that is a different story for another time.

It’s not vital that the seller understand every detail of pricing their home, but it’s good to have a general picture of the process. Sometimes I wish it WAS a science.