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Ahhh........Fall In Dixie

by Jeremy Larkin

Am I the only one who feels this way about Fall in St. George & surrounding areas? "How" do I feel you might ask? INCREDIBLE! This post is the perfect escape from the pain and suffering of the news, the economy, the election, etc. For this small moment in time we won't discuss real estate, ok?

There is just something that I love about this time of year, not that I have anything against Winter, Spring & Summer of course.

For me it begins with the way that in early September the sun starts to angle differently in the sky...it's fairly subtle and most people don't even notice it at first. By mid-October it comes in the windows in such a way that I just want to stop curl up on my best chair and read a book while basking in its' light.

Zion National Park in Fall

I never wait any later than mid-September to begin listening to Kurt Bestor's "Seasons" album...a veritable soundtrack to the Larkin Family fall. Listening to the tunes "Road Less Traveled" and "Hymn" while admiring the beauty of fall have a tranquilizing effect like nothing else I've experienced.

"Marathon Weekend" is the next date that I mark off as a Fall in Dixie rite of passage. With its' passing I know we are just weeks from what my brother Travis and I refer to as "Chamber of Commerce weather".....you know what I'm talking about.

Next we find ourselves into late October & early November....by this time the river bottoms & surrounding Tamarisks turn a golden shade that just screams Autumn! While many regions have been into the throws of Autumn for several weeks, Halloween comes and truly signals the arrival of fall in a Desert climate like ours.

These are the days that a mid to late afternoon ride on my road bike puts me into an absolute state of tranquility and appreciation for nature (that I don't get any other time of year) as I ride the city trail system through these same river bottoms and Tamarisk groves.

In this same time frame you would be well served drive up "Airport Road" to the Cliffs above St. George and look East anytime in the late afternoon. This is the scene you might find on such a day:

Breathtaking, isn't it? You may recognize that photo from our www.GoStGeorge.com homepage. We owe a good friend Larry Gardner a great deal for that photo. He took it from that exact spot near the airport after a fall rainstorm in the fall of 2003 or 2004. He titled the picture "Fall(in) in Love with Dixie."  Most appropriate.

For me the fall season is capped with the arrival of Thanksgiving and the annual tradition of throwing a football with family in the street outside our home. My Mother, aptly named "Dixie" puts on a sort of "Martha Stewart" Thanksgiving that has made it very easy to feel nostalgic about the season. Which reminds me, I need to ask my wife who's family we are eating with this year........but I digress. 

I know I'm getting a little sentimental here, but you haven't heard the HALF of it....my poor wife has to listen to it all day long, and not just from ME!

My almost 9-year old Pierce says things like "what a beautiful sight" or "Dad, isn't it a beautiful day?" That's my boy!

Wow...I think I just nodded off at the keyboard! At 2:00 PM today you will find me and buddy Jon Sparks on our bicycles taking in the fall beauty, even if just for a single hour mixed into a crazy schedule of work, church & community service & families of 4 small children each.

What will you do to enjoy this remarkable season? Any fall traditions, memories or recipes? Tell us about it right here on the Dixie Real Estate Blog!

 

By the time most of you read this we may be on our SECOND ever foreclosure tour, and the whole concept will be old news since we had the tremendous luck of being featured on the FRONT PAGE of "The Spectrum" Sunday edition! Click on picture below to see the entire article.

Fortunately they angled the picture such that my bald spot is hidden............

The amazing part is that it was the SECOND time our story & commentary hit the paper this week...the Thursday paper featured another story about the affects of the foreclosure market and I was honored to share a few thoughts - see the full article HERE.

Controversial? I knew for a fact that some controversy would be stirred up by our actions in hauling people around in a van to look at bank-foreclosures, but I LOVE the dialogue that gets opened up.

On the Spectrum.com website the following comments were made:

"Sadly this is like a bunch of vultures gathering to claim another victim of tragedy."

"Why are developers and realtors snapping up these houses and flipping them at higher prices, just like they did a couple of years ago?"

"Will Washington County have several more of these rampant growth cycles of highly inflated house costs only to crash again and again? Vote (a specific ticket) if you want the cycle put on a corrected course."

Before I had time to respond on my own an astute reader essentially took the words from my mouth by saying, and I quote:

They are snatching them up and reselling them for what people are willing to pay. Why does the grocery store "snatch up" produce at low prices and sell it to you for a profit? To Make Money! These people are smart and have kept themselves solvent so that when these opportunities arise they can capitalize. the price isn't inflated if the buyer is acting in their best interest and is happpy to pay the price asked.

As far as victim of tragedy goes, that is a stretch. Most of these homes were bought with little if any money down and by people who overstated their income to qualify. At the time the bought them there were plenty of affordable homes for them to choose from but they choose to bit off more than they could chew. other than a tattered credit rating most of the home owners lose very little money. The real losers are the banks that lent them the money. Finally, to think that who you elect to public office will change the natural ebbs and flows of capitalism is pretty naive. As long as people need a place to live and builders over build there will be peaks and valleys in realestate markets. The trick is for the buyers to make prudent decisions and for government to stay out of it. Supply and Demand Baby!!!!

I truly couldn't have said it better myelf....

Who goes on these types of tours? Well I will tell you EXACTLY what kind of people right here:

  • We had 2 older couples from Alaska searching for a second home.
  • Another retired couple who are currently renting but see that buying opportunities have finally arrived
  • A father & his 15 year-old daugher came from Northern Utah to research an investment property that could serve as a second home also.
  • A St. George couple, parents of 4, who are looking for an investment property as well as relocation from their current home.
  • A former Seller client of mine with his fiance who were researching the market to see if they could afford a home later this year.
  • A Spectrum reporter who in my view, had a great time and learned alot

Amazingly for our first tour, it went off without a hitch. We left exactly on time and even after seeing 8 homes with a potty stop at Hart's and a few special presentations by our Home Inspector Mike Chris, we pulled into the lot exactly 2 minutes ahead of schedule. The best part? We had FUN presenting the current market and personal anecdotes to a great group of potential buyers.

Stay tuned for more developments on this issue, but this maiden tour confirmed a few things we already knew in advance:

  • There is a foreclosure situation happening locally as well as nationally that cannot be ignored.
  • One of the very first & best steps I can personally take is to spend LESS time complaining about it and MORE time getting the excess inventory in front of the buyers who are looking for it
  • The Buyers are looking for it.

Next tour? Saturday November 1st - full details here: www.SoUtahForeclosureTour.com

 


 

 

 

 

"Haunted Houses" Foreclosure Tour

by Jeremy Larkin

Very few people I know HAVE NOT seen the image below by this time. I had it emailed to me (literally) by 6 different people - thanks for thinking of me!

That said, it is hilarious and tragic all rolled into one. It is, however, the reality of our current market and will be for some time as far as I can see.

The flip side of all this pain and suffering is the load of purchase opportunities that pop up when "blood is running in the streets." Of course.....I do not know when the "bottom" nor do I dare predict it.

One thing I DO  know for is the fact that we will ALL know where the bottom was once it starts going up......hindsight is interesting, ain't it?

I am personally trying to make the best of this market with our very first "Foreclosure Tour" this Saturday which I wrote about last week. This is NOT a "sales tour." The intent is to provide buyers with they want, access to bank foreclosures, and educate all on tour about both the opportunities as well as risks involved in buying a foreclosed home. We will have our Home Inspector & lender there to field pressing questions.

Additionally, I'm sick  and tired of so much negative press, doom, gloom etc. This is my way of saying "hey, le'ts do something about this problem" by getting this inventory in front of today's buyers.

I spent the afternoon today previewing  properties for the tour and narrowed down the 8 we will be touring. A couple of these homes probably ARE haunted....they have certainly been let go.

On the low end is an absolute "beater" that is essentially a duplex and has ALOT of opportunity for  an investor, currently priced at $153,900. A perfect example of a home that needs a bunch of work but could be a killer rental.

On the high end is a luxury home in Green Springs at $495,000 that would have easily sold at $700k+ in the peak of the market. All this home needs is a fresh front yard and installation of the back. Many bank foreclosures are in almost mint condition but the builder got under water and just couldn't resurface for air.

We have seen great interest in the tour, but are still taking registrations. We would love to see anyone who is intersted in either capitalizing on, or just simply learning about this market. Check it out here: www.SoUtahForeclosureTour.com.

To all of our readers out there, keep fighting! This market is tough and we are going to have to "hunker down" before it gets less tough, but so much good will come of it. It is our chance bring America back to reality on 3 key issues:

1. Home Values. 2. Credit (as in not giving it away like business cards) 3. Consumer spending.

Until then, keep smiling.

 

Is the Media Trying to Ruin My Life?......

by Jeremy Larkin

I guess they may not MEAN to ruin our lives.....they just want to sell papers, TV time, increase Internet viewing. But they are ruining our lives anyway.

If you don't belive me, consider the following "incident" experienced by one of my Seller clients this week:

  • They listed their home with us a few months back and after a relatively short time on market, we placed the property "under contract" with a ready, willing and able buyer to close yesterday, October 9th.
  • They day before closing, October 8th, all parties were ready to go with a fully approved loan, documents waiting at the title company. My clients had moved 90% out with the exception of their beds to a rental home.
  • Mid morning the Buyer's agent recieved the following letter from their buyer: 

My husband and I have been watching the news very closely and it seems just too risky to buy a home. We know that the appaisal came in above the purchase price but we heard that houses went down 16% yesterday making this purchase worth way less than the price before we even buy it. For this reason I do not want to go through with buying the home."

Wow.

THE OUTCOME: Since (like most normal people) the Seller couldn't afford to pay both rent and a mortgage payment, they are now moving BACK in to their home without the proceeds they really needed to pay off some debt, etc. The Buyer missed out on a great buy on that home (truly), neither agent got paid, nor did the mortgage lender, nor did the title company, and the profit that everyone DIDN'T make DIDN'T go back into the economy.

Oh and by the way, houses didn't fall 16% in 1 day, nor have they ever done so in 1 single day, but the Buyer thought they heard that and the rest is history. That's a funny statement though.

As if the Country isn't already facing a huge economic crisis, the Media compounds the issues 40x over by printing headlines such as:

  • "Is your Wall Street Money Safe?" (CNBC.com) - How do you think that headline affects the markets? Do you think many people ran to their broker and said "CASH OUT!!"?..I'll bet so.
  • And my personal favorite: "Credit Markets Frozen!" (just about every news outlet in the world....) - How many totally able people may decide to not even try to make a home or other purchase by hearing that? "What's the use?" they probably say...

That's strange about the credit situation..my credit card still works, my home equity line is still completely open to me and people continue to buy and sell homes, cars and everything else under the sun right now.

Let's take this 1 step further. Been to Wal-Mart lately? How about In-N-Out Burger? What did you find? TONS of people spending money, that's what. People washing their cars, shopping at Kohls, fueling up, going to movies, going to DISNEYLAND!! (I LOVE Disneyland). I was in Costco today and the place was ABSOLUTELY PACKED.

The world of commerce has not stopped turning as near as I can tell.

Look, I DO NOT have a crystal ball, but many of us may be wishing we had lots of cash to buy up real estate, stocks, diesel trucks, whatever during this period. There are GREAT buys in the market on alot of items.

The world has not ended. On the contrary, it is actually revolving quite normally in so many regards. But we DO face some tough challenges in the short term. You may just have to unplug the news and stop reading the paper to survive this moment in time.....I know I have.

St. George Marathon - A Dixie Tradition Gets Wet in 08'

by Jeremy Larkin

The St. George  Marathon was wet for the first time in 25 years, according to Leisure Services director Kent Perkins.

“This was a great opportunity for us to see how we could deal with adversity,” Perkins said. “It wasn’t a fast race by any means, but there are still a lot of people who persevered and did really well.”

I ran 2 years ago under a starry cover at the 6:45 AM start and perfect blue skies as the day broke. It was almost too hot by the finish.

My wife has run 3 times and is (obviously) considerably more insane than I am. The proof of this statement was last year when she showed up with essentially no training whatsoever and ran the race. This might not be a big feat for the "alpha males" and hard-core distance athletes of the world, but Megan will be the first to tell you that she is not a runner.

I went to mile 15/16 which is essentially at the entrance to Snow Canyon State Park to "pick her up" as per her pre-race plan to accompany friends to that spot and drop out. Instead she was all smiles and just kept going. What a woman!

Going to the Marathon Finish line has been a tradition of mine for many, many years. It began with wathching my father run "back in the day." If you don't get choked up watching people of all ages, shapes and sizes struggle in after 26.2, you may not be human. The general "energy" around town the entire weekend is electrifying and the traffic is downright 'thick' by Southern Utah Standards, but it adds to the excitement.

If you haven't run or at least attended the St. George Marathon, put in on your calendar for next year. If you aren't brave (or stupid) enought to run 26+ miles, do the "Mayor's Walk", put on by the St. George Exchange Club. It starts at 7:00 am that covers the last 2 miles of the course and includes a T-shirt & scones after at the finish line. It is the perfect chance for families of runners and other interested spectators to drink in the excitement and see the course without major risk of blisters or bleeding nipples (really)....

See you next year!

Lipstick Needed for Pig - September Sales Figures are in!

by Jeremy Larkin

Look, I'm not going to sugarcoat this: Sales were down in September, the Economy is a mess and the Media isn't helping in any way shape or form. This is what Washington County Real Estate Sales have looked like for the past 3 months:

  New Listings Active Listings Sold Listings Months Inventory
Sep/2008 768 6,292 183 34.38
Aug/2008 818 6,403 227 28.21
Jul/2008 935 6,501 232 28.02

That last column is what we call the "absorption rate." 28 months of inventory was not good. 34 months of inventory is LESS good.

The flip side?

  • Credit actually IS available and we continue to see people buy and sell homes.
  • There are so many good stories out there, but nobody is telling them.

We just sold a home for 3 sisters from Idaho. They had held this condo in their family for many years and made a nifty profit. They were REALLY happy and it was closed and recorded just 38 days after it hit the market.

We assisted another young couple get into their first home last month and they are tickled pink. It was a bank-owned property, priced extremely well, and it got them out of a small apartment.

Then there is another family living in my immediate neighborhood whose' house is under contract to close sometime next week. They have owned it for 3-4 years, will take a nice little profit, use it to pay off some debt, then rent a larger home for a while preparing to buy again down the road.

I understand it is tough right now...BOY do I understand it. However, there really are good things happening for some people, housing values are getting back in line for the "everyman" and tremendous opportunities are surfacing for investors.

When all else fails I count my blessings every day to have a wonderful wife, 4 hilarious little kids and for every chance I get to enjoy the simple pleasure of pedaling and suffering on my mountain bike or road bike.

If you have any good, OR bad stories to tell about this market is affecting you, send them on over.

 

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Photo of Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group Real Estate
Jeremy Larkin - The Larkin Group
Keller Williams Realty
50 E 100 S, Suite 300
St. George UT 84770
435.767.9886
Fax: 435-359-5085

St. George Real Estate - Your premier destination for St. George,Utah Real Estate Listings, Home Values, MLS Search, REO/Foreclosure Info &  St. George Real Estate Statistics.  Serving St. George, Santa Clara, Ivins, Washington, Hurricane, LaVerkin, Toquerville & more! Specializing in REO/foreclosure properties, frustrated Sellers, First-Time home buyers, and Investors. Looking for the most LOCAL St. George, Utah real estate information available? Your search is over!