By Bruce Cathcart

The Coachella Valley has always been considered a desert resort community since (by definition) tourism and vacationing is a major part of our local activity and economy.  Valley residents know this as they live with and many work at the numerous resort hotels and country clubs that cater to our visiting “snowbirds” that come to stay and play in our desert paradise each winter.  In recent years the addition of four major music festivals (2 Coachellas, a Stagecoach and a Desert Trip) to one of the world’s largest tennis tournaments, two PGA golf tournaments, the nation’s best art festival, an international film festival, an international bike race and so many more events has led to a boom in the vacation rental industry.  While this has been financially great for many individual homeowners (and cities), it has been a nightmare for many of their neighbors and small community associations.  In fact as you read this article many cities are struggling to find ways with which to deal with the new found popularity of homeowners who are renting out their homes and the problems that they are creating… but in the meantime, what can you do to help cope with a neighbor who rents their home out to strangers on a regular basis?

Before I get to some suggestions on that, let’s take a look at the sales data for homes in the Coachella Valley for the month of April.

According to the Desert Area MLS as of 5/1/17 there were 1,073 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of April.  That’s down from the 1,268 pendings in the previous month (March) and just about the same as this time last year when we had 1,039 pending sales.  In March there were 1,047 solds and we were surprisingly down in April with only 910 solds.  This is still a huge increase over last year when we sold only 807 homes in April 2016.  Our year to date sales total for 2017 stands at 3,351 homes compared to the same time period last year when we had sold only 2,793 homes.  Statistically we ended our first four months in 2017 exceeding last year’s sales by 17%.  We are continuing this trend for our third straight year starting off with higher volume of both pendings and solds.  This is an excellent trend for our valley and even though I estimate that the majority of the homes here in the Coachella Valley are still about 15% below the high market values that we experienced in 2006-7, this positive data indicates that the Coachella Valley real estate market continues to improve.  Our inventory of homes for sale was down again this month with 4,206 homes available on May 1, 2017 compared to 4,674 homes available on April 1, 2017.  This is the second large drop in as many months in the total number of homes for sale in the Coachella Valley and while we still have plenty of inventory out there at this time, if this trend continues it won’t be long before there is a shortage of homes for sale in our market place.  Check back next month and we’ll see if this trend continues and what that will mean for prices and sales for the coming summer months.

Your next door neighbor is bragging about all the money he is making by renting his house out to festival goers while you have to put up with 10 to 20 strangers who invade your normally peaceful neighborhood that come and go at all hours not to mention party at volume until dawn causing you sleepless nights and anxiety worrying about your children and pets.  Sound crazy?  Unfortunately, this situation has become more common than you might think.  So what can you do besides wearing ear plugs and a blindfold to bed or leaving town for the weekend?  Regardless of the neighborhood that you live in there are several City or County ordinances in place that can be enforced by local law enforcement officers, code enforcement officers and private security companies if you live in a gated community with an HOA.  They include noise ordinances, disturbing the peace, public intoxication (or under the influence) and many of our desert cities now have “hotlines” to call for assistance.  Contact your city and see if they have such a hotline and then make a list of these numbers so that you have them handy should you need them at two in the morning!  I do not recommend that you confront the occupants, instead call one or all of the appropriate agencies and let them know that you have a problem.  In addition, a short video on your phone will serve as evidence should it be necessary.  Depending upon the relationship that you have with your neighbor, you might also call them and ask that they contact their renters with a request to cease whatever activities are causing problems for the neighborhood.  After the renters have gone you should follow up with your City officials.  If you live in a gated community with an HOA you should follow up with your HOA Board and HOA Management Company as well as with your neighbor.  When approaching your neighbor I advise sharing your experiences with them and then looking for solutions to be proactive in avoiding future bad rental situations.  One suggestion is to encourage your neighbor and/or their management company to create an information sheet to be given to all renters that describe the local ordinances and any HOA or landlord Rules and Regulations that are expected to be obeyed by the renters.

It looks like vacation rentals are here to stay.  The bottom line is not to lose your cool during what can be a stressful situation and make the appropriate phone calls both before and after an incident to let the professionals handle the matter.

Join me each month this year as we keep a close eye on our Coachella Valley real estate market.  If you have a real estate question or concerns please email me at the address below. 

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at bycathcart@laquintapalmsrealty.com or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.

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