I’ve been thinking a lot about the market lately and how challenging it is to be a first time buyer right now.  I was talking to a loan officer recently and he was commenting on how nothing seems to be going smoothly.  Now, in my 9 years of selling real estate I can tell you that nothing about a real estate transaction is *easy* but buyers today are facing a compilation of crazy circumstances that lead to really challenging transactions. 

Here’s a small sampling of things I’ve seen…many that are just commonplace now:

  • Buyers waiting upwards of 6 months to a year to hear back on a short sale offer for their dream home
  • Having to buy your house “As Is” and not receiving any disclosures (even though the seller may have lived in the house)
  • Approval on short sales requiring quick closes
  • Appraisals not coming in
  • Receiving an approved offer on a short sale and then not getting enough time to complete the loan
  • Multiple offers and bidding wars
  • Crappy investor flips (with no water to the kitchen and no hot water to the house whatsoever)
  • Fannie Mae accepting an offer, collecting earnest money, requiring inspections to be ordered and then a week in deciding that they were canceling and going with another offer
  • Sellers accepting multiple offers and submitting them to a lender while keeping you waiting months
  • The house you are trying to buy going to foreclosure before you can close on it
  • Appliances going missing prior to closing
  • Crazy lender requests
  • Ridiculous fees from unscrupulous REALTORS and their 3rd party short sale negotiators

I get to the closing table sometimes and the buyers look like they’ve been through the ringer.  Because they have.  They’re weary and frustrated.  They’ve spent sleepless nights wondering if they’ll ever get a home.  And I’m tired of having to look them in the eye and hug them and say “This is not normal.”  And I’ve decided that I’m actually lying to them and myself because this is *normal* for now. 

It’s got me wondering if we’re *creating* a whole generation of homeowners who are going to be scared senseless at the thought of selling a home and buying again when they’re ready to move on.  Do they understand that this distressed market where the banks call the shots and sellers don’t care about their homes isn’t how it should be?  Will they ever want to buy real estate again? 

The loan officer encouraged me not to quit (for the record I wasn’t planning on it) because that’s just how things are right now.  I chuckled inside.  I couldn’t quit if I wanted to.  I love helping navigate the craziness and doing everything I can to anticipate and avoid complications.  And I REALLY love sitting across the table from clients hugging them and giving them their new keys. 

I’m going to pass that advice on to buyers and sellers right now…don’t quit! 

And remember:  it’s not always like this. 

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Christmas Tree RecyclingIt’s that time of year again…time to recycle your Christmas tree if you are in possession of one of the 30-35 million live Christmas trees sold each year.  Or more accurately: it’s time to treecycle.  In a national survey, 93 percent of consumers who used a real Christmas tree recycled their tree in some type of community program.

Christmas trees are recycled for five main types of large-scale uses for post-harvest trees.  These are:

  • Chipping (chippings are used for various things from mulch to hiking trails)
  • Beachfront erosion prevention
  • Lake and river shoreline stabilization
  • Fish habitat
  • River delta sedimentation management

Check out or more fun facts about Christmas Trees and Recycling here.

I’ve rounded up all the information for (most) of the Phoenix Metro Cities and their treecycling programs below.

**NOTE** Residents are asked to remove all nails, stands, tinsel, lights and ornaments from trees and most locations request no bagging of the tree. Flocked trees are not typically accepted because the flocking does not break down in the environment.

Apache JunctionThe City of Apache Junction is providing two FREE Christmas tree drop off points. The Apache Junction sites are available to accept trees for recycling from December 26 –January 23, 2011. Those sites are:

  • Prospector Park, 3015 N. Idaho Rd. (sunrise to 10:00pm)
  • Animal Control, 725 E. Baseline Ave. (24 hour drop off outside the facility)

Avondale Residents of Avondale can recycle their live Christmas trees at no charge. Proof of residency is required. Trees can be dropped off at A to Z Equipment, 803 E. Van Buren, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. December 26, 2010 through January 8, 2011 with the exception of Jan. 1 when this Service Center will be closed in observance of the New Year’s Day holiday and a modified 9am – noon drop-off on New Year’s eve (Dec 31).

Trees may also be left curbside for monthly bulk trash pick-up. For more information about Christmas tree recycling, call Avondale’s Field Operations Department at 623-333-4700

Buckeye Buckeye is offering curbside Christmas tree collection.  See the dates by zone here. Once the trees are placed curbside, residents are asked to leave them at the curb until they are collected.  For more information call the Buckeye Public Works Department, 623-349-6805.

Chandler Curbside Collection for Christmas Trees is December 27 – January 14, 2011.  Chandler residents, paying for City-provided solid waste service can place their trees at the edge of their driveway before 6 a.m. on their scheduled recycling collection day for curbside Christmas tree collection.

  • DO NOT block the sidewalk
  • DO NOT place the tree in the blue recycling container, or in the street, or alley.
  • DO NOT place tree in refuse, recycle or alley containers.

NEIGHBORHOOD DROP-OFF SITES – December 26 – January 16.  Chandler residents can drop off their Christmas trees at one of several neighborhood drop-off sites:

Live potted Christmas trees can be donated for replanting at City parks by dropping off at the City’s Community Center or can be scheduled for pick up by calling 480-782-2745.

Gilbert Drop off cut trees between December 26 and January 8 at the following locations:

  • Nichols Park at the southwest corner of Higley and Guadalupe roads (park hours are 5:30am – 10:00pm)
  • Hetchler Park (Gilbert Soccer Complex) at the southwest corner of Germann and Greenfield roads. (park hours are 5:30am – 10:00pm)
  • Dicks Sporting Goods in Santan Village Mall – South of Dick’s Sporting Goods in the gravel area from 8am-8pm. Drop locations are for Gilbert residents only and they are allowed two trees per vehicle.·
  • A to Z Rentals at 1313 East Baseline Road – A to Z Rentals requests ONE tree per Gilbert Resident household and no large dumping (i.e. scout troops picking up trees for people and dumping mass quantities at their site.) Hours of Tree Donation site for A to Z Rentals:  12/26/10 (9:00am-12:00pm), 12/27/10 – 12/30/10 (9:00am-4:00pm), 12/31/10 (9:00am-12:00pm), 1/1/11 (closed for holiday), 1/2/11 (9:00am-12:00pm), 1/3/11-1/8/11 (9:00am-4:00pm).

Glendale – The Sanitation Department has established several sites throughout the city where residents can drop off trees for recycling. From Dec. 27, through Jan. 9, bring a single, unbagged tree to one of the following convenient sites (be sure to remove all decorations, tree stands, metal stakes and nails):

  • Acoma Park – 53rd Ave. & Acoma Rd.
  • Fire Station No. 156 – 67th Ave. & Deer Valley Rd.
  • Western Area Regional Park – 83rd Ave. & Bethany Home Rd.
  • Foothills Park – 57th Ave. & Union Hills
  • Sahuaro Ranch Park – Southeast corner of 63rd Ave. & Mountain View Rd.
  • O’Neill Park – 64th Ave. & Missouri Ave.
  • Rose Lane Park – 51st Ave. and Marlette Ave.

Goodyear December 26-January 10. Drop-off sites are located throughout the City and are available 24 hours a day. Be sure to remove all decorations and lighting. Trees are chipped daily and used for mulch and ground cover at local farms. More than 20,000 pounds of Christmas trees were collected in 2009. For more information, contact the Public Works Department at 623-932-3010.

  • Foothills Community Park, 12795 S. Estrella Parkway, next to the parking lot
  • PebbleCreek Eagle’s Nest parking lot, 3645 N. Clubhouse Drive
  • Palm Valley Park, 13133 W. Monte Vista Drive, on the north side of the park
  • Goodyear Ballpark, 1933 S. Ballpark Way, in the northwest corner of the parking lot
  • Goodyear Parks Operation Yard, 200 S. Calle Del Pueblo, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa The City of Maricopa will once again offer free Christmas tree disposal. From Dec. 26 through Jan. 31, residents may drop off Christmas trees at the disposal lot located on the corner of W. Garvey Avenue and Honeycutt Road. Only Christmas trees will be accepted and we ask that all ornaments and other decorations be removed. For more information, contact Brian Duncan, Senior Code Compliance Officer at 520/494.2393 or brian.duncan@maricopa-az.gov

Mesa The City of Mesa offers its residents a variety of environmentally friendly ways to dispose of their Christmas trees after the holiday season.  Collected trees are taken to the Salt River Landfill and chipped into nutrient rich mulch.  Benefits from recycling these trees include extending the life of our landfills and reusing our natural and limited resources.  The following FREE 24-hour drop-off sites will be available Dec. 26-Jan. 16:

  • East Mesa Service Center, 6935 E. Decatur St.
  • Solid Waste Division, 730 N. Mesa Dr.
  • Superstition Springs Police/Fire Station, 2430 S. Ellsworth Road
  • Mountain View Park, 845 N. Lindsay Road (enter off of Adobe St.)
  • Dobson Ranch Park, 2363 S. Dobson Road

Green Waste Barrel Program – Residents participating in the Green Waste Barrel Program may place their trees inside their green barrel.  To ensure collection, the tree must fit completely inside the container with the lid properly closed.

Curbside Pickup – Curbside pickup of your Christmas tree is available for $19.95.  Simply call (480) 644-2221 for more details or to schedule a pickup time.

Salt River Landfill – Christmas trees may be taken directly to the Salt River Landfill, free of charge, with a current Arizona driver’s license anytime Monday through Saturday between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday thru Saturday.   The Salt River Landfill is located at Gilbert Road and the Beeline Highway.

Live Christmas Tree Donation Program – The City of Mesa also accepts the donation of live potted Christmas trees, five feet or taller, for planting at City parks.  Residents may drop them off at any Mesa fire station.

The Christmas Tree Recycling Program is a joint partnership between the City of Mesa and Salt River Landfill.  Additional information may also be found by visiting www.mesarecycles.org

Peoria A roll off box will be available at these locations from December 27, 2010 – January 14, 2011:

  • Lowes Home Improvement Store, 8497 W. Thunderbird Road (85th Ave & Thunderbird)
  • Former Safeway Grocery Store Parking Lot, 20713 N. Lake Pleasant Road (83rd Ave and Lake Pleasant Parkway)
  • Home Depot, 9201 W Peoria Ave (91st Ave & Peoria Ave)
  • Home Depot, 25650 N Lake Pleasant Road (99th Ave & Lake Pleasant Rd.)
  • Sunrise Mountain Library, 21109 N 98th Ave. (95th Ave & Lake Pleasant Parkway).
  • The Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 N 83rd Ave, enter off of Paradise Lane.
  • Wal-Mart, 7975 N. Peoria Avenue (79th Ave. and Peoria Ave.)

Phoenix – The city of Phoenix and A to Z Equipment Rentals & Sales will provide opportunities for residents to recycle Christmas trees.  Fourteen city parks will accept single trees from residents any time from December 26 – January 9. Trees should be placed in designated areas where special collection bins are located, with all tree stands, lights and ornaments removed.  The Christmas tree drop off sites are:

North Phoenix

  • Deer Valley Park, 19th Avenue and Utopia Road
  • Sereno Park, 56th Street and Sweetwater Avenue
  • Paradise Valley Park, 40th Street, south of Union Hills Drive
  • Cactus Park, 38th Avenue and Cactus Road
  • Mountain View Park, 7th Avenue south of Peoria Avenue
  • A to Z EQUIPMENT RENTAL & SALES – 15634 N 32 Street.
    Dec 26,  8 am to 4 pm
    Dec 27 to Dec 30, 9 am to 4 pm
    Dec. 31, 8 am to noon
    Jan 1, closed
    Jan. 2, 8 am to noon
    Jan. 3 to Jan. 8, 9 am to 4 pm
    PLEASE leave trees only during store hours.

Central/West/East Phoenix

  • Marivue Park, Osborn Road and 59th Avenue
  • Washington Park, Maryland and 23rd Avenue
  • Madison Park, Glenrosa Avenue and 16th Street
  • Los Olivos Park, Devonshire Avenue and 28th Street
  • Desert West Park, Encanto Boulevard and 67th Avenue
  • A to Z EQUIPMENT RENTALS AND SALES – 4050 East Indian School Road,
    Dec 26,  8 am to 4 pm
    Dec 27 to Dec 30, 9 am to 4 pm
    Dec. 31, 8 am to noon
    Jan 1, closed
    Jan. 2, 8 am to noon
    Jan. 3 to Jan. 8, 9 am to 4 pm
    PLEASE leave trees only during store hours.

South Phoenix

  • El Reposo Park, 7th Street and Alta Vista Road
  • Mountain Vista Park, 50th Street north of Ray Road
  • Desert Foothills Park, Desert Foothills Parkway and Chandler Boulevard
  • Cesar Chavez Park, 35th Avenue and Baseline Road

Queen Creek The Town of Queen Creek is offering two opportunities for residents to recycle their live Christmas trees at a Christmas Tree Drop-off location, just south of the Development Services Building, 22358 S. Ellsworth Road.  The Christmas Tree Recycling Drop-off will be available from 8 a.m.-noon on Jan. 8 and 15. All trees must be free of decorations and tinsel. Trees collected during this event will be taken to a Green Waste Recycling Facility.

Residents may also use their regular curbside scheduled bulk collection to dispose of the trees. Trees collected through curbside bulk collection will be taken to the landfill. Trees left for curbside bulk collection must be cut into 4-foot lengths and bundled. The bulk collection must be scheduled no later than the Monday prior to the designated Wednesday bulk collection day.
Please call 480-358-3450, option 7 to schedule a bulk collection or for more details on the Christmas Tree Recycling Drop-off.

Scottsdale Scottsdale is offering both curbside collection and drop-of locations.

Curbside Collection – The City of Scottsdale will hold its annual citywide Christmas Tree Roundup the week of January 10, 2011 to January 14, 2011.  If you have residential collection services please place your tree out where you would normally place your brush pile by 5:00am on the morning of January 10th. Please remove stands, lights and ornaments! No artificial trees will be collected!

Drop-Off Locations – On Saturday January 15th from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. the City will be collecting Christmas trees from two park locations. If you missed the tree roundup, or do not have residential collection services you can drop off your tree at either location listed below.

Scottsdale Ranch Park: 10400 E. Via Linda (North of 104th Street and Via Linda)

Eldorado Park: 2311 N. Miller Road (Southeast of Miller and Oak)

SurpriseChristmas trees can be dropped off at either of the following locations from December 26, 2010 through January 16, 2011.  Limit two trees per household.

TempeResidents can drop off Christmas trees at either of the following locations December 26, 2010 through January 22, 2011 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

  • 1320 E. University Drive (Household Products Collection Center)
  • 6111 W. All-America Way (parking lot west of Kiwanis Park Recreation Center)

Residents may place Christmas trees out for collection during their scheduled week for uncontained/bulky item collection.  Please do not place your Christmas tree, or other uncontained items, out for collection more than 10 days before the Monday of your collection week.   Please refer to the Brush & Bulky Item Collection Schedule to identify your collection week: brush and bulky item schedule

For more information call 480-350-8265

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283This is the water softener, water heater and half wall of a garage…really? 

Two of the biggest detriments to the real estate industry in (IMHO):  HGTV & Home Depot.  Home Depot’s old slogan was “You can do it.  We can help.”  The issue really is: SHOULD you do it?

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15 Years Ago Today…

by Shar Rundio

…I married my high school sweetheart, best friend, the love of my life and my favorite person in all of the world.  We were so young…both 20 (me by a month, him a month shy of 21) and we knew it but we also knew that we were meant to be together.  5 years of dating will tell you that! 

Wedding pic

Happy Anniversary, My Love.  I love you more today than ever and I love what we’ve become together.  Thanks for saying “I will” 15 years ago…and every morning, noon and night since. 

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**Update**  The winner is:  Cathie VanWert!

I’ve posted a couple other winners.  Keep checking back…I’ve got lots of good stuff lined up for this week.  And maybe we’ll actually talk some real estate, too.  But who am I kidding?  Giveaways are more fun.  THIS one is a good one!

Rock-It

It’s a Rock-It.  What’s a Rock-It you say?  To be perfectly honest, this is a new favorite thing.  But I love it…it turns anything into a speaker that you can use with your ipod or mp3 player.  Check out the video below to see all the fun things you can do with it.

Here’s how you enter (one entry for each item listed):

**Please leave a SEPARATE comment on the BLOG for each entry**

And now for the rules:

This giveaway ends at 9pm MT on Sunday 12/19. The winner will be selected randomly and notified by email, and this post will be updated with their name as well. Must reside in the USA and be 18 years or older to enter.  Odds of winning depend on how many people enter but based on the current readership your odds are pretty good. Winning only once seems fair but you’re welcome to enter any of the giveaways and then if you happen to win more than one you can choose which you’d rather have. Yada, yada, yada…

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