Blu, the Dog

His name is Blu, because of his gorgeous, piercing blue eyes.  We left off the ‘e’ because we named our other dog Skye and gave it to her.  Sort of a play on the whole Adam and Eve thing – Adam gave Eve a rib – Blu gave his e to Skye.

Blu is a full breed Siberian Husky.  The breed ‘standard’ for size is about 55-60 pounds for males. Blu is 80 pounds, and he is not fat.  In addition to those stunning eyes, he comes with a pure white, long double-coat.  The damn dog is gorgeous, and I get many compliments on how beautiful he is whenever we are out.

He’s great with people and other dogs and is not the type of dog that would ever bite or cause harm.  In other words, he’s absolutely useless as a guard dog, though he does howl very nicely.

He’s an indoor dog and needs a lot of exercise.  Our yard isn’t sufficient for him, so he gets to go for walks and I frequently take him to the dog park to play.  With the Las Vegas summer approaching, he’ll spend the majority of his days inside and I’ll go back to my routine of taking him out at night instead.

I didn’t want this dog.  Don’t get me wrong.  I adore him and I would never give him up.  He just wasn’t on my list when I decided I wanted a dog.  That decision came from someone else in my household (who shall remain nameless).

I wanted a German Shepherd, which I also got.  I named her Skye and she’ll get her own story later.  For now, let’s focus on the devil-dog, Blu.

He’s cunning and highly intelligent. He watches TV. Yes, he really does.  He will sit completely still, ears perked up and watch any TV show that contains dogs or cats.  Yup, Animal Planet is his favorite channel.  He can sit through an entire one-hour show, especially if it is one of the dog agility shows.

He can open doors with handles.  He was doing this by six-months of age.  We had to install door knobs instead of handles throughout the house because of him.

He plays with balls like a cat.  He’ll bat the ball around the house all by himself.  He’ll do it with bones too, which can be dangerous.  He especially likes to do this just before I’m ready to feed him dinner.  It’s his little before dinner playtime.

He will listen and sit only when he wants something. Blu is completely food-driven.  You can get him to do almost anything you want with a piece of cheese or a carrot.

He has a variety of howls that he uses, depending on what he wants us to do for him.  He rarely barks and it doesn’t sound normal when he does.  He’ll bark a little when outside with Skye if a stranger walks by.  Again, it sounds odd and eventually he carries the bark into a howl, so it’s really kind of difficult to take him seriously.

He loves laying on the cold, tile floor, especially by our bedroom door when the air conditioner is on and there is a draft.  He absolutely refuses to sit still in the car when we are heading to the park, forcing me to remind him to stay in the backseat, so that I don’t end up crashing into a building.

He pees on all the bushes in the backyard, and has created pathways (also known as holes) in these same bushes so that he can run through them.  He chases bees, which have not stung him to date,  miraculously.  I hope he isn’t allergic to them.

He knows numerous words including ‘cheese, carrot, bone, park, treat, outside, potty, play, eat, sit, stay, down, speak, paw, car, back, off, ball, water, home.’ The words involving food get his attention very quickly.  The rest, not so much.

There’s always more to say about Blu.  This picture when he was still small pretty much sums it up.  He’s a troublemaker, defiant, and beautiful.

 

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Real Estate Contracts are Serious Business

I’ve been working with wonderful buyers that had their hearts broken recently when I advised them NOT to place an offer on the home of their dreams that they FELL IN LOVE WITH, was in their price range, met all their criteria, and could have been theirs.

It was a difficult decision all around.  We spent a great deal of time at the property and I could see and feel how much they wanted this house.  The listing agent gave me all indications that an offer from my client would be highly considered by the seller.  My clients were, to say the least, ECSTATIC.

It was late in the day, so they went home to think about their price, and I went to the office to review the listing information and a short sale addendum that was required for submitting offers to this listing agent.

That’s when my heart sank.  I knew I couldn’t let my buyers write an offer after reading the addendum that was required.

The listing agent was stepping outside the parameters of our standard contracts and was asking the buyers to sign an addendum that benefited the seller, and took away most of my buyer’s rights.  Since the agreement required a $10,000 earnest money deposit, I knew that this was NOT something I could allow my buyers to sign, and I confirmed this by seeking advice from my broker (as well as several other agents in my office.)

We all agreed and I went back to my buyers and discussed the addendum in detail, as well as the potential consequences of signing such a lopsided document.  Of course, the decision was theirs, and I recommended they consult an attorney if they elected to take the risk.  They chose to pass on the property, as much as they loved the house.

When the Las Vegas real estate market was at its height a few years back and prices skyrocketed, buyers signed documents that were not always in their best interest.  Now that the market is reversed, and we have low inventory,  buyers and sellers need to carefully review all documents before signing, and question those that may ask for fees or require that rights are waived.

When in doubt, seek the advice of a licensed attorney.

Las Vegas Home Inventory Continues to Decline

They say that sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. That’s what we’re seeing in the Las Vegas home market right now.

Available homes continue to decline and the number is at a historic low, with less than 5,700 single family homes, townhomes and condominiums in the Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas areas.  Where are the rest of the homes?  There are actually over 21,000 ‘on the market’ in Las Vegas, and 74% of these are UNDER CONTRACT!  Once under contract, you can still submit an offer on a home, but the odds of actually buying it are slim because someone else is first in line.  You’re a backup offer at that point, with zero guarantee of getting the home.  Do you want to write offers on these properties?  Probably not.

Unfortunately, the homes that are available are causing buyers to scramble, making offers sight unseen.  Multiple offers is the norm, and I mean MULTIPLE – 20, 30, 40 offers PER HOME.

My advice to buyers is simple. Stop. Breathe. Think before you make that offer.

No one ever absolutely, 100% needs to buy a home right now, this minute.  Yes, you want to buy one, and you want to buy a good one, and you want to beat out Mr. Smith and be the offer that is accepted.  It’s called competition, and we all love competition.

And we want to win.

Buying a home in Las Vegas is not a competition.  It’s a financial and family decision that needs to be thought through.  Before you write that offer on that house, be sure it makes sense for you.  Don’t allow current market conditions to make you compete, and possibly settle, for something that you may not really want.

Your real estate agent should be setting you up with searches for Las Vegas homes that meet your criteria.  When they come on the market, you will need to move fast.  But if you don’t get your offer in, and you don’t get that house, then be patient and try again.

There will always be more homes in Las Vegas to buy.  Even though there aren’t that many right now, it will change, as it always does.

Visit my Keller Williams website to search for homes.  You can call or email me for more information on the current market.

Yes, You Can Buy a Home in Las Vegas so Stop Renting!

Even if you don’t have enough for a down payment right now, and your credit isn’t the greatest, why aren’t you considering buying a home in Las Vegas?  There are ways to improve your credit, and there are programs available for down payment assistance.

Here is an example of a client that worked with me to buy a home, who had good credit, but very little down payment.

We found a cute two bedroom, two bath home with a one car garage in the Southwest area of Las Vegas.  The buyer offered $85,000 for the home, and the offer was accepted by the bank.

The buyer had qualified with a lender, who was able to offer her a Nevada DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE program of $4,500 (paid back over 20 years at less than $35/month).  The buyer also received an FHA loan at 3.5% interest, as part of the program.

The offer included that the bank would pay 3% toward the buyer’s closing costs, which helped lower the amount out of pocket the buyer needed to come up with.  After all costs were included, the buyer paid LESS THAN $2,000 out of pocket to purchase the property.

The buyer’s monthly payment, INCLUDING PRINCIPAL, INTEREST, TAXES, INSURANCE, THE BOND PAYMENT AND HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION FEE is …

Wait for it …

Wait for it …

Ding, ding – $650/month

Of course, every case is different, and only a lender can review your information and determine if you are eligible.  If you can meet the following requirements, you may be eligible:

  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • Maximum income of $78,000 for one or two people
  • Must be a first-time home buyer (cannot have owned a home in the last three years)

Even if you don’t qualify under this program, you could be able to purchase sooner than you think.  It doesn’t hurt to ask and I’m here to help if you would like to consider buying instead of renting.

Visit my website to look for homes for sale in Las Vegas

Let’s Write an Offer and THEN See it, Okay?

This last weekend, I was working with a buyer that wanted to see a bank-owned home that recently came on the market.

The clients were there before me, peeking in the windows (wouldn’t you?).  I went over to the electronic lockbox, pointed my key at it, and retrieved the door key.

That didn’t work.  In any of the doors.

It was Saturday.  I needed to let my clients see the inside of the house, so I called the listing agent, only to get a receptionist that couldn’t help.  She told me the key couldn’t be updated until Monday. I really didn’t expect anyone to run right out and open the door, so I was fine with that, and my buyers understood.

The interesting part was that there were MULTIPLE OFFERS on this property that had only been on the market a couple of days.  Wait – so either someone stole and/or replaced the REAL key, or people are writing offers on properties SIGHT UNSEEN?

Yeah, let’s go with option #2.

Of course they are silly!  That is the latest ‘game’ we get to deal with in the Las Vegas real estate market (previously used during the big price boom).  Agents don’t show properties – they write offers on properties and show them AFTER their offers are accepted.

Duh.

I’m not a fan of this practice, because I think you should actually take your clients to look at what they may be plunking their hard earned dollars on.

But do they have anything to lose?

Not really.

The current lack of inventory is causing some to play the numbers in a new way.  It’s easier to sit down and write 10 offers than it is to drive around and show 10 houses, of which many may be under contract before you get to the office to write the offer to begin with.

Of course, some offers that are accepted using this technique end up cancelling because the buyer then goes to see the property and doesn’t like it.

I personally think it is better to have a buyer excited about their offer being accepted on a house they’ve ALREADY SEEN, than one where they are excited and then disappointed afterwards by a house they SHOULD HAVE SEEN FIRST.

Nuff said.

I Hate Laundry

It never ends. It’s there every day, no matter how often I do it.  Why won’t it go away?  Better yet, why do I have such a difficult time mastering it?

I can’t be the only person who hates to do laundry, at all levels.  I take that back.  I don’t mind putting the clothes in the washer, adding soap, playing with the cool digital controls and hitting ‘start.’

I have a nice high-efficiency top loader that we got last year.  It has lots of features and even plays a little tune at the end of the washing cycle rather than producing an annoying buzz.  My only complaint is that if you put too many clothes in it that have arms and legs (that would be all shirts and pants), they do tend to get a little wrapped up in each other.  More like twisted, snarled and tied, in ways that no human doing yoga could ever imagine.

I’ve learned to overcome the yoga poses in the machine and grab the right garments to easily get the knots out, so it really isn’t that big a deal anymore.

The clothes manage to get into dryer in a timely manner and it does a nice job of getting them ready for the next phase.

I call it the ‘sitting in the dryer’ phase.

For a couple of days.

Or more.

Maybe it’s the laundry basket that I hate, because once the clothes get there it means I need to do something with them.  I call this the ‘staging’ phase

Where they sit another day or two in the basket.

On top of the dryer.

Waiting to get folded, or put back in the dryer to be DE-wrinkled because I need to wear them again, whichever comes first.

Of course, there are days when staging doesn’t exist.  Clothes make it from the washer to the dryer, transfer to the laundry basket while still warm, make it to the bedroom, get dumped on the bed, folded immediately, then they make it to the ‘pre-final’ phase.

The top of the dresser.

90% of all clothes placed here will remain here.

Indefinitely.

They actually end up here in both the pre-final and ‘beginning’ phases.

The beginning phase is where you take the nice clean clothes from the pre-final phase, wear them, and then put them back on top of the dresser (in a new pile of course), where they wait to get to the ‘laundry room’ phase.

This can take a couple of weeks.

Or more.

I’m sure you’ve determined by now that I do have a pretty good system.  It works for me, even though I do get irritated with myself for rarely getting to the ‘completed’ phase, which is where the clothes make it to their designated locations, like the closet or actual drawers in the dresser.

But if I did that, I’d have nothing to write about.

Las Vegas Homes for Sale Drops Nearly 50% Since November, 2011

As of today, there are just over 6,400 homes that are not under contract and available for sale in the Las Vegas real estate market. Back in late November, we had over 12,000.

That drop is significant and is causing a lot of frustrations for buyers looking for properties. They are encountering multiple offer situations on all the best homes and are having to run out immediately when a property comes on the market to have the best chance of getting the home they want.

Reviewing the market conditions, there are two situations that I see that are causing this drop in available homes:

  • Nevada legislators passed AB 284 that went into effect in October, 2011, forcing banks to produce original documents before they could file notices of default and foreclose on properties in Nevada. Banks have taken a few months to figure out how to work through this, and are just now getting back up to speed. Bank filings during the last few months have decreased well over 90%, reducing the number of available bank-owned homes on the market.
  • As bank properties became less available, Las Vegas short sale homes became the focus.  However, since the properties can take time to actually sell, buyers have been placing offers on more than one and ‘locking up’ several properties per buyer.  I believe this has caused a temporary reduction in inventory that will change as the time to process short sales with banks decreases.

In the meantime, inventory is low and buyers are panicking.  In my opinion, this will change over the next several months and we will see more inventory.  Educating Las Vegas home buyers is essential to ensure they understand how to buy in this market.

If you or someone you know is interested in purchasing a home in Las Vegas, it is a great time to buy, a little patience is necessary, and I’m here to help.

Visit my real estate site to search for homes.

Blu Should Have Been Named Something Else

My dogs are about to turn three at the end of May, and they continue to amaze me.

Especially Blu.

We did a lot of research before buying dogs, and I KNEW that a Siberian Husky was prone to being a bit, let’s say, stubborn.

However, I think that is the wrong word to use for him.

Over time, he has trained us to work around his lack of obedience. As he grew, one of the first things he learned to do was pull down the door handles so that he could get into any room that he wanted.

We switched to door knobs that he couldn’t turn.

If we leave a door open in any room, we have to go check the trash cans to see if he was scavenging, and look for missing bras.

Doors are always closed in the house.

We trained both dogs to use a bell at the back door when they want to go out. Blu learned early that the bell was a good way to get outside frequently, regardless of whether or not he had any business to do. He has a little ‘routine’ that he does. If you let him out alone, he’ll wander in the direction of the potty zone, and then take his sweet time for a while. Next he’ll come around the pool and head for the grass. Once he hits the grass, he knows that we are going to come get him because the dogs are not allowed in the grass.

He then lays down in the grass and waits. Once we are within reach, he bolts. Most of the time he heads back to the potty zone, because he never actually DID his business when he first went out. Then he’ll try the routine a second time, at which point we generally win.

Recently, he has decided that he wants to be a lap dog and enjoy the leather couch. Of course, he is not allowed on the couch. He knows this. He jumps on the couch and we yell at him to get down.

He stopped jumping on it and we thought he was finally trained.

Not so fast my friend.

He has decided that an alternative to the couch should be the ottoman, where he parks himself frequently, whether or not we are in the room. Unfortunately, we aren’t as disciplined about making him get off the ottoman because he kinda looks cute doing it. Our bad.

So for some reason, he has now decided that he should start getting on the couch again. I caught him there a couple of weeks ago and chased him off. He also managed to leave a nice wet spot, hopefully from licking, right smack in the middle of one of the cushions. I got out some leather cleaner and made the couch look reasonable again. When I was done, I left the room, and within TWO MINUTES, guess who was on the couch?

He wasn’t just sitting on the couch. Oh no, he was lying down across the whole thing, with his head hanging off and his tongue sticking out. He made himself quite comfortable and it appeared as if he was saying, “Hey there, look at me, I’m on the couch again!”

So, I solved the problem. We made a stick out of newspaper a while back, which he doesn’t like. I made a couple more and stuck all of them on the couch over the cushions, which seems to work for now.

Now, Blu seems to know that my other half has allergies, and when the dog hair gets to be too much, it really does affect him. That may have been why he was spending all his time on the couch, especially on his side. It’s not that he doesn’t like my other half, I think they have a mutual admiration for each other. I just think Blu likes to bust our chops anyway he can.

So now that the couch was off-limits, Blu really didn’t have much to work with.

Except the bedroom doors.

Both dogs know when the doors are closed. They also know when the doors are closed, but not properly latched. You can guess where I’m going with this, right?

So my other half heads into our bedroom the other day and I immediately hear screaming, as he chases Blu out of the room. The door was obviously not latched the last time he went in there, so this one is on him.

In any case, Blu did not just enter the room and head for the bathroom trash can. He decided to make a pit stop. On our bed.

On ‘his’ side of the bed.

Specifically on ‘his’ pillow.

The dark brown sheets totally gave up the pure white hair.

This is how life rolls in our house with the dogs. And now that Blu has proven that there is little we can do to ever get him to respect our space, I’ve renamed him.

Defiance.

That about covers it.

Las Vegas Real Estate Market Report – March 28, 2012 – Buyer Frustration

“It’s already under contract.” Those four words are used frequently in our Las Vegas real estate market now.

That’s because 69% of all homes that are listed in our Multiple Listing Service (MLS) are just that, under contract. Yes, there are nearly 22,000 homes ON THE MARKET, but less than 6,700 are actually AVAILABLE.

As a buyer in this market, finding the right home isn’t easy for several reasons:

  • Many properties end up with multiple offers, and the best properties have offers the very first day they hit the market.
  • 60% of the Las Vegas homes for sale are short sales, which take a significant amount of time to purchase. Because of this, many real estate agents tend to ‘lock up’ two or three homes for one buyer, placing the property in ‘contingent’ status and making it no longer available. This is done because it is difficult to tell what may happen when the banks review the offers on these homes, or how long each home may take to get processed.
  • In October, the Nevada Legislature passed AB284, which is a bill that forced banks to have proper documentation in order to file notices of default and foreclose on homes. This dried up the foreclosure market temporarily, which is why there are so few bank-owned homes for sale in Las Vegas now. In the last several weeks however, the banks have started their filings again, so this should change soon.

Las Vegas is heading toward the busy season for home buyers and therefore the competition is going to be high. Though the number of available homes is small now, it should increase over the next several months as banks begin foreclosing again and some of the short sales get released back into the market, giving buyers more choices.

If you, or anyone you know, is considering purchasing a home in Las Vegas, I’m here to help.