Category Archives: Prescott Living

Housing Market in Prescott

Still on the market...

We thought we’d wade in and divest ourselves of our tiny vintage cottage this year. Price-wise, it falls at the lower end of the spectrum. Location-wise, anything walking distance to downtown should be a good bet, so we listed it.

To clarify, it’s been a rental property for almost 20 years. We like it but we don’t need it. Apparently, no one else needs it either.

I know many adults who are renting now, who were long time home owners till recently. We all understand the reasons for this shift. Somehow, everyone just makes it work.

Higgins Surveying in Prescott ArizonaIn our case, we’re resigned to being landlords a bit longer and we’ve found some nice tenants. We have family members living in a couple other modest properties we own, thinking it helps them and it helps us. We’re setting aside the $$ for property tax and insurance, and we’ll continue to take it a year at a time.

What are you doing to make it work? Are you buying, selling, renting? Have you moved in with family members? Whether you’re new to Prescott or have been here forever, your $.02 counts.

Summer’s here and monsoons are easy

What do you do during the monsoons?

Hunker down and enjoy the rain? Run out and check your rain barrels like my hubby?

It’s that wonderful in-between time in Prescott Arizona, when we can tell fall is around the corner even though the clouds and our brand of humidity make us feel like taking naps.

School has started and there’s a buzz in the air. Let’s talk about new trails to explore, best campgrounds you’ve visited, favorite climbing and cycling spots.

Better still, send me some of your best photos of your warm season activities from this summer. Just email to ktcosmos – at – LooseEnds – dot – net.

Making the Choice to Live Green in Prescott

gemsm1.gifI caught up with realtor Robert Israel, Prescott’s Green Realtor (pictured below, right), recently and asked him some questions about the market for sustainable, environmentally sensitive homes here in Prescott. (By the way, you can read an article Robert wrote about green real estate in Prescott here.)

Here’s our conversation:

ktcosmos: Robert, how has the cooling housing market impacted the movement of green properties?

Robert Israel: There is no hard data to prove anything in this regard. All real estate is local. My experience and intuition says that green homes have not been affected negatively to any greater extent than the market in general. And, perhaps with rises in energy costs, it is getting more press (as justified by your asking for this interview and lots of other coverage), more interest from the mainstream, and, hopefully, more value.

Higgins Surveying in Prescott ArizonaIn fact the interest in and sales and construction of green properties has seen a continuous steady increase for many years now. Too, in the past, many of these homes have been more experimental in nature and without wide, mainstream appeal. If you looked at a newly constructed green home today, from the outside it would look exactly like a conventionally built home. Today even big tract home builders are starting to implement green features in all their projects.

ktcosmos: Since green sometimes means more expensive (in homes and vehicles), do you find that there is a limited clientele for homes featuring sustainable design? I mean, sure, my husband and I would love to live in a green home, but we can’t afford to build one.

Robert: First, there is a myth that green homes are so much more expensive so as to be out of reach for the general home buying public. In fact, they only cost 2 – 3% more when done correctly. Additionally the long term savings far outweigh this initial up front expense (which is minimal). There is a limited clientele for green homes because there is a limited inventory, which has contributed to the general public’s lack of awareness of the benefits of such buildings. Today, knowing what we now know, there are few reasons why a builder shouldn’t build green, other than perhaps ignorance or maybe greed. It makes sense all around: economically, socially and environmentally (the triple bottom line). The important thing to remember is that any intention of doing sustainable projects needs to be planned for up front. Tacking on green features afterwards is what can drive construction costs up. The passive aspects of the design are of the greatest importance: the building materials, how the home is sited on the property, and things like that.

For a long time, being an environmentalist was a luxury sport. Rising fuel/energy costs are part of what has changed that thinking. Now that baby boomers have come of age and are the ones to have positions of authority in government and various industries, we’re seeing a big change in this movement. Every new movement or paradigm needs an extreme segment to effect change.

ktcosmos: Is remodeling/retrofitting a standard home a good option for homeowners who don’t want to take a hit and sell their existing home at a loss, or does that present more problems than it’s worth?

Robert: Too many variables exist to be able to make a general statement there. It depends on the state of the subject property and where the upgrades are going. Although in general, no remodel or retrofit gets a dollar-for-dollar ROI. However, if a property is not too far gone, then it could be beneficial to invest in upgrades to make it more saleable. If mechanical systems are inoperable, the cost of newer energy-efficient ones is almost comparable to average ones. If someone bought at the peak of the recent boom, I would advise them NOT to sell at a loss if they do not have to. An upgrade or remodel whether green or standard would do little to recoup lost equity from boom time purchases.

ktcosmos: How are Prescott-area owners of green properties dealing with HOAs that don’t appreciate things like clothes lines, visible water catchment systems, and solar panels?

Robert: Some of those issues are in flux as we speak and there is hope that rulings will allow that an HOA cannot enforce certain restrictions in that regard. But as yet, it’s undetermined. I do not know about homeowners of green properties and how they are dealing with those issues. I typically only come into contact with buyers and sellers, so the ones dealing with these issues are not in my sphere of communications. And, in many cases, the green homes I’ve come across are already in areas without HOA’s.

ktcosmos: I love that you have carved out this very specialized niche for yourself, and wonder how does a person with passion for environmentally sensitive home construction balance that with the sales-y side of being a broker?

Robert: It’s a question of personal philosophy, value, and forward thinking that comes from looking ahead to the horizon. There are few things one can do in his or her career that have immediate pay-off. My belief is that if you are passionate about something and it has value now and in the future, and you’re right with your timing, you can’t go wrong if you’re persistent, ethical, and a little bit savvy about how you execute. I feel I am doing all of those things and it’s working out.

Robert: It’s a question of personal philosophy, value, and forward thinking that comes from looking ahead to the horizon. There are few things one can do in his or her career that have immediate pay-off. My belief is that if you are passionate about something and it has value now and in the future, and you’re right with your timing, you can’t go wrong if you’re persistent, ethical, and a little bit savvy about how you execute. I feel I am doing all of those things and it’s working out.

To clarify, I am NOT a real estate “broker,” only an agent… even though my certification says I am an “ecobroker.”

Additionally, I cannot make a living selling ONLY green homes. It’s a specialty that will eventually become more prolific. Balancing the green thing while being real about the current market is important. Not everyone is interested in green and that’s ok. There are so many people out there that are environmental watchdogs and who are very judgemental about those who are not being green. That is no way to effect change or do business. It only puts people off. I just do my part, period! People change only when they are ready … and I’m here when they are … or not! It’s a challenge as a realtor to maintain a balance between promoting sustainability and not being perceived by the public as an extremist. I am happy to work with anyone who is buying and selling real estate.

ktcosmos: You’re a trailblazer in Prescott: the first Ecobroker Certified person in your industry here. How did you first learn of that certification process and then what did it take to complete it?

Robert: I searched online for such a certification before I even got my license because I knew it was what I wanted to do. It’s a simple online course for realtors only that can be completed in your spare time, in about 1 – 2 weeks. I already had nearly a decade of experience in rob.jpgsustainable design, green building and architecture as a result of my last job in Prescott as a “co-founder” and Director of Operations for ECOSA Institute. I also have marketing experience and training in education and psychology, which are critical in any sales professional, although I certainly do not consider real estate your typical sales job. It’s very different.

Robert Israel can be reached at Steve Collins Realty and Property Development, (928) 778-3538, by email at rIsrael@cableone.net, or online at www.PrescottGreenRealEstate.com. Connect with other local business people who support sustainability by visiting the Green to Gold Network.

Becoming a Prescott Resident

gemsm1.gifOnce in awhile someone writes to AboutPrescottArizona.com wanting to know more about Prescott than is already available here. These inquiries come from folks planning to vacation or relocate to our area.

Jump over to the Loosely Speaking blog to join in the discussion about life here in Prescott, or comment below.

Here are some of the questions we hear from time to time, with very short answers following. Contact AboutPrescottArizona.com (ktcosmos@LooseEnds.net_ if you would like to share more detailed answers for any of these questions.

OR, if you have your own questions send them to me and I’ll add them here. (If you want your email address included so people can write you directly, please be sure to specify that. Otherwise, for your privacy your contact information will be omitted.)

1. Are there any natural foods stores in Prescott?

(Answer: yes)

2. What high speed internet options are there?

(Several options, including cable & DSL)

3. What if I am spiritual in a non-traditional sense; are there churches or groups that will meet my needs?

(Yes, a variety of such groups have a presence in Prescott.)

What is a Green Realtor

gemsm1.gifLately you hear the term Green applied to almost every aspect of business and commerce. Here is one more: The Green Realtor—a Realtor who is Giving Realty an Environmentally Ethical Niche.

So what sets Green Realtors apart? They are real estate professionals who have acquired special knowledge and expertise that most other realtors do not have, and who have integrated this expertise into all the services they perform for you, the client.

Many consumers these days are concerned about the human “footprint” on Planet Earth. With growing evidence and research on global warming, the constant drumbeat of stories on habitat destruction, loss of species, dead zones in the ocean, and the death of coral reefs—people want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and the good news is they can!

Higgins Surveying in Prescott ArizonaBuying or selling property is the largest financial transaction most consumers ever make—and as it turns out, buildings are the largest contributors to environmental degradation. There’s a logical reason for this. The building industry (the construction and maintenance of human shelter) consumes more energy and natural resources than any other industry in the world, including the automotive industry. This makes it the largest contributor of greenhouse gases that cause global warming and the biggest destroyer of habitat, leading to species extinction. So, while everybody needs buildings, Green Realtors understand which buildings are less destructive to the environment, and can guide you in making informed buying and selling decisions that can actually support a more healthy environment.

The new niche of Green Realty is part of the general green business movement that focuses on a Triple Bottom Line approach to business that takes into consideration not just Economics, but Environment, and Society too. These business people contend that it’s not just about money anymore. No matter what our profession, they believe, along with more and more major corporations, that we have to consider a bigger picture. When we do that, we have a real shot at creating a sustainable future for our children and generations to come.

Here’s how a Green Realtor can help concerned clients reach their goals:

  • Identifying Green Properties and Green Retrofit Potential for Buyers
  • Highlighting and Effectively Marketing Green Properties for Sellers
  • Providing Green Design Consultation for Healthy & Energy Smart Buildings
  • Contacts & Services for Special Needs Clients

The realtor-client relationship becomes a real partnership in the “green” context. Consumers who care about humanity’s shared future appreciate working with like-minded professionals. And for a Green Realtor, building a network of concerned professionals willing to take action for the greater good is part of creating a sustainable society. It’s a win-win for everyone!

rob.jpgby Robert J. Israel is Prescott’s Green Realtor.

Robert Israel, a licensed Realtor, has been a Prescott resident for over 15 years. Before becoming a Realtor, he helped to launch and served as the Director of Operations of the Ecosa Institute (www.ecosainstitute.org). Ecosa, a Prescott nonprofit school, was founded in 1999 to train professionals and college-level architecture and design students about energy efficient, healthy building design (Sustainable Design/Green Building). Robert has years of marketing experience and nearly a decade in the building trades. Rob brings all of this expertise to the real estate profession along with over 15 years dealing with environmental issues.
Buying or selling, residential, vacant land or commercial, relocating or investing? Contact Rob at Steve Collins Realty & Property Management (928)273-2420, or email: risrael@cableone.net.

How to find the right Prescott Home

gemsm1.gifIf you’re like most home buyers, you have two primary considerations when you start looking for a home. First, you want a home that perfectly fits your needs and second, you want to get that home for the lowest possible price.

To make that dream happen, negotiating skills are important, but so is getting clear about your needs versus your wants, before you ever submit an offer.

Make sure you know what you want. That may seem simple, but many home buyers don’t have specifics in mind before they go out shopping. In fact, there are two competing homes trying to get your attention: the one that meets your needs and the one that fulfills your desires. Unfortunately, you can’t always find both in the same place.

When you look at homes, you’ll find that you fall in love with one or another for entirely different reasons. Then you’ll start debating whether it is better to buy the 4-bedroom home with room for your growing family, or the one that has a huge eat-in kitchen that’s perfect for entertaining friends. Make sure you don’t end up being seduced into the house you love for the wrong reasons, only to regret it later.

As a rule, don’t shop with stars in your eyes: satisfy your needs first. If you’re lucky you’ll find a home that also fulfills your desires. Mainly, make sure you understand the difference before you get carried away.

Once you have a clear list of needs, enjoy a worry free transaction by being alert for these traps:

Avoid Bidding Blind. What price should you offer? Is the seller’s price too high, or is it a really great deal? If you fail to research the market in order to understand what comparable homes are going for, you may be “bidding blind.” Without this knowledge of market value, you might end up bidding way too much (and overpaying for the property out of ignorance or desperation), or too little (missing out on an excellent value.)

Unclear Title. Make sure early on that you will own your new home free and clear of any problems by having a title search done. The last thing you want to discover in the home stretch of your purchase is that there are encumbrances on the property, such as tax liens, undisclosed owners, easements, leases or other unresolved issues.

Higgins Surveying in Prescott ArizonaInaccurate Survey. As part of your offer, make sure you request an updated property survey which clearly marks the property boundaries. If the survey is not current, you might discover too late that there are structural changes that aren’t shown (such as neighbor’s fence extending across the property line).

Undisclosed Fix-ups. Despite disclosure requirements, don’t expect every seller to own up to every physical detail that will need attention. This is why you want to conduct a thorough inspection of the home early in the process. Although it isn’t required, it is in your interest to hire an independent inspector to complete this process. Then negotiate with the seller to fix the items the inspector found. A good inspector should be able to give you a written report of such matters, including some approximate costs of repairs needed.

Failure to Get Mortgage Preapproval. When you are preapproved, you can shop for a new home with a greater sense of freedom and security, knowing that the money will be there when you find the right home.

Contract Misses. If a seller fails to comply to the letter of the contract or changes the spirit of the agreement in some manner, this could delay the final closing date and settlement. It’s wise to agree ahead of time on a dollar amount for an escrow fund that would cover items that the seller does not follow through on. Make a complete list of such agreed upon issues, and then check each one off as it is completed.

christy-color.jpgRushing the Closing.
Understandably, you’ll be excited and anxious at this stage in the process, but TAKE YOUR TIME. Ask to review all paperwork the day before expected close of escrow. Is the interest rate accurate? Has everything been checked off? Do you understand all the fees that are listed? If you rush this stage, you could actually run into a last minute snag which could jeopardize the entire deal.

Article courtesy of Christy Foote, formerly a Realtor in Prescott.