Here we discuss all matters Real Estate, with an emphasis on Tucson Arizona. We welcome your story ideas. Via Realty is a boutique real estate company founded on Jan 1 2000 by 2nd generation Arizonan Wayne D Anderson, a Realtor since 1989. 520) 327-1550. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Check Your Auto License Plate Frame!

A new law will come into effect on Jan 1 2009 which you should be aware of. Here are the details from the AZ DOT Motor Vehicle Division:

License Plate Holder Law - State law* requires that the state name at the top of Arizona license plates must be visible. Any license plate holder or cover that prevents the license plate from being clearly legible, is in violation of this new law.
* A.R.S. 28-2354(B.)

Fines in Pima County could be up to $133 per violation! Other municipalities may have different fines. In a casual survey around my neighborhood, a majority of the vehicles that I inspected have license plate frames that violate this law. It is a simple thing to remove the plate and frame and re-attach the license without the frame or use a new frame that does not obscure the information on the license plate.

In another "fine" matter, Before the U of A vs ASU football game a few weeks ago, I spied City of Tucson workers busily citing parking law violators in the Sam Hughes neighborhood. Did you know that you may not park within 5 feet of a driveway entrance or 10 feet from an alley entrance? If you didn't know this, you could be surprised with a $180 parking ticket. Beware!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The January Effect

Chart: Total Sales Units vs Month 2004-2008

When one looks at the Tucson MLS statistics, an interesting pattern is quite evident. In the past 4 years, closed sales numbers hit bottom in January, then begin to climb again in February and March, peaking within the next few months.

The peak occurred in June in 2004, 2005 and 2006, with sales numbers March, April and May not far behind. The peak in 2007 occurred in May, but the numbers for February March and April were also not far behind. The numbers for 2008, while down considerably from previous years, had a significant percentage jump in February and March, peaking in June with 1034 closed sales, slightly behind May which had 1,025 closed sales.

Since there is a lead time between when a buyer looks at and decides to make an offer on a home and the closing, (lets say 45 days for argument's sake) you might conclude that it would be wise to have your home on the market in January to catch those buyers and the others that follow in February, March and April. I would agree with that conclusion.

Interest rates are now at historic lows, there is a "First Time Buyer" Federal tax credit available through April 2009 (as much as $7500 for married buyers who file jointly and $3750 for those married or not who file individually) Inventory has been reduced considerably since last year. History points to an improved market in the early part of this year, compared with the previous months, although the actual numbers may still be below last years, YTD. Regardless, a window of opportunity is opening for those who want to sell their home now, and January is the time to begin.

Census Releases Growth Figures. AZ in 2nd Place!

This just in from the US Census , Arizona comes in second, behind Nevada in population growth (percentage wise) since 2000. adding almost 1.4 million souls in that time frame.

Arizona's actual growth in population (not percentages) since July 1 2007 was 147,000, fifth behind Texas, California, North Carolina, and Georgia. Here is a link.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Check out These Homes

One of the ways that we promote our client's listings is to design and publish e-flyers. Here are three of our most recent ones:

2005 4 BR 2 BA Home for under $100 per Square Foot!

Big East Central House with Guest House!

Cute East Side 3BR with RV Parking!

They have been submitted to Oodle, Google Base, Vast, Yahoo, HotPads, Trulia, Zillow, Geebo, OLX, Backpage, DotHomes, CyberHomes, FrontDoor, and others, to get the maximum web exposure possible.

Thought you would find this interesting!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Good News

More good mortgage news from the Federal Government. In a move to further push mortgage rates down, and stimulate the housing market, Treasury Secretary Paulson is considering a new plan to reduce mortgage rates. Further implementing the purchase of mortgage backed securities, the move could push rates to 4.5%, according to an unnamed government official. Here is more from Bloomberg News.

We have seen substantial reduction in mortgage loan rates in the past two weeks, one lender we follow had a Dec 2 quote of 5.25%, APR 5.404% for a 30 year fixed conventional loan and 4.875%, 5.135% for a fixed 15 year conventional mortgage!

Refinances are gaining steam and despite the cloudy take in the article, lenders do have money to lend and are offering it to qualified buyers with decent credit.

This is a big opportunity for someone who has been sitting on the fence waiting for a good reason to buy a home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Change is Here

Well a lot has happened since my last post. We have elected a new president, the financial markets are in a tizzy and yet interest rates and the local housing market have been better than what many people might expect.

A local lender e-mailed me his rate card yesterday an it showed that there has been a downward move in the 30 year fixed conforming mortgage to 5.875 with an APR just over 6% @ 6.035. 15 year checking in at 5.5% with an APR of 5.765%. This is cheap mortgage money!

I remember when I started in the real estate business in 1989 and we were praying for single digit rates. It took a while for that to happen. The market was terrible, with the collapse of the S&L industry, the RTC properties flooding the market, IBM moving out of Tucson and difficult credit policies. Deja vu with a twist! As we got through those challenges, we will go through this one too.

The Tucson Association of Realtors came out with a new statistics report for October and although showing a slight decrease in sales since Oct 2007, it also shows a 4.16% increase in sales price over Sept 08. Listing inventory is slightly higher, but well below a year ago, which is good, since it lowers competition for your listing. The report is available on our web site. Click on the "Market Report" to view the pdf document.

Yesterday I viewed about a dozen properties in the central city. One thing that I noticed is that the properties that were priced right were being shown by agents who were working with buyers. Two things: pricing is key to activity and there are buyers out there!

Finally, with a new administration coming in next year, it might be wise to schedule an appointment with your tax person or CPA to get an early start on a strategy in the event that there are changes in tax policy. Currently we enjoy a $250K exemption in capital gains on the sale of a primary residence ($500K for married couples) This could change. Also, keep an eye on any proposed changes in the capital gains rate for investment properties.

Despite all of the negativity out there, I still see positive things ahead for our marketplace. Tucson is a great place to live, the weather is marvelous and Arizona is still a net gainer in population. We have the U of A and DM, not to mention Raytheon. There are buyers out there, some with cash. (We closed on a cash buyer last month who relocated to Tucson) Home prices are stabilizing and if you are a buyer, there are some great deals out there for you. I am counting my blessings.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Words of Wisdom

A few days ago, I had to drop off my car at the shop. Rather than take a taxi or enlist a friend for a ride home, I decided to walk. Holy Hope cemetery was near my route, so I took a slight detour through this old Tucson landmark. It's a peaceful place, with huge trees and cool, moist grass. It is also the resting place for many of Tucson's famous and not so famous pioneers.

I have always enjoyed looking at old headstones. It's a perfect way to get a bit of history and sometimes to find some wisdom. I found both that morning.

During my walk, I encountered the grave site of Clyde Wanslee. Mr Wanslee, who died in 1984 at the age of 70, had a car dealership located at the 5 Points intersection south of Downtown. The thing that I remember most about this car lot was his sign "Ugly but Honest" This lot was a fixture in the Tucson landscape for many years, and Clyde sold a lot of cars.

One thing that I learned at Mr Wanslee's grave site was that he was a champion cowboy.

And now for the wisdom: This was also engraved on Mr Wanslee's headstone:

"A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold". Prov 22-1

RIP Mr Wanslee. Thanks for the reminder.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tucson a "Bicycle Friendly" Town!

The League of American Bicyclists named Tucson and Pima County as "Bicycle Friendly" giving the region a "gold" rating for education, engineering, enforcement and encouragement of bicycle oriented issues. Here is a link.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


What are FICO and CLUE? When you hang out with real estate people, you will hear a lot of lingo or jargon. Two very important words that often appear in real estate conversations these days are FICO and CLUE, and it is helpful for you to be CLUED-in to make your real estate experience more successful.


This is from
FICO® scores are your credit rating.
They range from 300-850, higher is better
Most lenders base approval on them
Higher scores mean lower interest rates
FICO® scores are calculated based on your rating in five general categories:
Payment history, amount owed, length of credit history, new credit, types of credit used.
For the full scoop, go to

CLUE® Reports

CLUE reports are insurance history reports on losses associated with personal property. Of particular interest are losses due to water damage in a home. CLUE reports are important to home buyers and sellers. A home with a bad CLUE report will be hard to insure, and as a result, hard to sell, and to buy. It is very important to know about this issue and prepare your purchase contract with this as a contingency when you are purchasing a home. This from Choice Trust:
"The C.L.U.E. ®Personal Property report provides a five year history of losses associated with an individual and his/her personal property. The following data will be identified for each loss: date of loss, loss type, and amount paid along with general information such as policy number, claim number and insurance company name. " For more info click here!

Friday, March 7, 2008

New, Higher Limits for FHA Insured Loans!

The department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced new maximum mortgage limits for FHA insured residential home loans. The new limit for Pima County is $316,250. This is good news for home buyers who are looking for a low down payment loan with somewhat less stringent underwriting criteria. Some lenders are offering down payment assistance programs with FHA insured financing. This allows home sellers to contribute towards buyers down payment and closing costs with full documentation qualifying. The limits were raised in other parts of the country, as high as $729,750, reflecting the higher prices for homes since the last FHA limit adjustment. This is great news for everyone in the real estate markets since it will make it easier for home buyers to secure low down payment FHA financing and will also help home sellers sell their homes if they are priced at or below the new maximum limits.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Clouds of Southern Arizona

These Cloud formations were encountered while on the Middlemarch Road in Western Cochise County, near Dragoon, AZ. Taken around noon, the temperature was a balmy 65F. After seeing the weather reports from the North East, it almost seemed unfair....

This is a shot of a "Century Plant" what I believe to be known as "Agave Parryi" described here by the experts at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.

Some of the clouds are what meteorologists describe as "lenticular" created by stable, moist airflow over mountains. Science aside, they are beautiful!

Here is a great view of a lenticular cloud. Notice the lens-like rings around it...

These smooth-edged clouds are an unusual sight. At least to this native of Southern Arizona!

Just another day in Paradise!

If you have any cool cloud shots that you would like to share, shoot me an e-mail!


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Townhomes and Condos!

We have been looking at a lot of town homes and condos with clients who are interested in leaving their yardwork behind and purchasing a home that offers more leisure time in exchange for a monthly Homeowners Association fee. Such fees cover common grounds maintenance and insurance and sometimes water, roof and other items.

Town homes and condos may also be a good choice for parents who want their scholar to study instead of pulling weeds in the yard of a college investment property. Some of these properties offer garages and security which enable you to leave the property for extended periods of time, a perfect scenerio for Snowbirds.

We recently listed two affordable properties, one a condo one a townhome. Both are fixups and one, although it is a town home, has no association fee. See them here and here.

If you are looking for something bigger or better, here is a link to out Town Home/ Condo search page .

There is a lot to know when looking at a town home or condo. You need to check out the bylaws and covenants as well as the financial health of the association, to avoid problems with the HOA or being stuck with an unexpected assessment. We can help you navigate this territory.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is Tucson Recession Proof?

In an opinion piece in todays Arizona Daily Star, Economist Richard Carlson has an optimistic view of Tucson's future economic prospects. While outlining the excesses in the real estate markets of a few years ago, Carlson believes that Tucson's economic foursome of DM, the U of A, Hi Tech and retirees will keep our city in the black, even if other parts of the country suffer a recession. He is predicting a growing local real estate market by 2009 and another Baby Boomer "boom" by 2012. Here is a link to the article.

In light of today's near record low mortgage interest rates, the huge selection of homes available and motivated sellers who are offering incentives, perhaps it would be prudent to buy the home you want now, at an affordable price and rate. The alternative is trying to catch the bottom, while risking paying more for your dream home and gambling on tomorrow's mortgage market. If you consider the long term, buying now may be the best plan.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Million Dollar Home Tour

Yesterday I spent the greater part of the afternoon touring some of the finest homes offered for sale in the Northeast area of Tucson. Asking prices ranged from $1.4 million to almost $3 million. The homes sizes ranged from about 4400 to 7800 square feet. All but one had 5 bedrooms and at least 4 baths.

Most of these homes are of fairly recent vintage and are fully equipped for comfortable, modern life. A few offer horse facilities, with corrals and barns while others boast unparalleled city views that stretch into Mexico.

The lots for these homes are generous, ranging from 3.3 acres to over 7. Lots of privacy here!

Construction was varied, from rammed earth to stuccoed double adobe to modern frame stucco. Flooring was also eclectic. I saw large format Saltillo, natural stone, gleaming hardwood and polished concrete. There was something for everyone.

Most of these homes have a Southwestern flavor and the styles were typically Santa-Fe with a couple of exceptions. One home that was literally nestled in the arms of the Catalina mountains offered a modern, contemporary style that would be comfortable anywhere in the world, but distinguished itself for the Sunbelt lifestyle with a wrap-around porch where one could follow the Sun and catch 100 mile views.

All of the homes offered outstanding guest facilities, some more elaborate than others. All were of a style visitors would be hard pressed to leave. Typically included was office space, upgraded kitchens, dining areas and multiple bedrooms. One even boasted a screened room for pets and people! These are the guest houses, mind you!

Two of the seven homes that I saw seemed to offer the best value. If you would like to have my opinion regarding the winners on this tour, give me a call or an e-mail and we can talk about finding your place in the Sun.

Here is a link to the properties that I saw.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fed Makes Sharpest Cut Since 1984

In an effort to put some energy into the economy, the federal reserve cut the prime rate by a hefty 3/4% to 3.5%.Who wins and who loses? Here is a link to Yahoo Finance that has one take on the story.