By Bruce Cathcart

Before I jump into this week’s article, did anybody else notice it?  Last Friday morning I was up early and preparing for my morning run and there was a dry, cool breeze coming from the north.  I’ll admit it wasn’t much of a breeze and cool is a relative term here in the desert.  But I believe that it was the last day of summer!   I surely hope so as summer has definitely overstayed its welcome this year.

In searching for a topic for this article to sandwich all the pertinent CV sales data between I started thinking about some of the really cool celebrity homes and their history in our Valley.  Of course one thought led to another and I started to wonder what if I were suddenly rich and famous… what home would I buy here in the Coachella Valley?  Last year the iconic Bob and Dolores Hope estate located in the mountains above Palm Springs went on the market for sale at $34,000,000.00.  It is truly an amazing home with a long history and best of all the list price was reduced at the end of last year to a paltry $24,999,000.00!  I think I’d pass on this one though… it has always looked a little too much like a big mushroom for my architectural tastes.  Frank Sinatra’s famous “Twin Palms” desert compound sold a few years back for a modest $4,300,000.00 and is now available as a luxury vacation rental for about $2600.00 a night.  But Frank’s secret mountain hideaway “Villa Maggio” (named after the character Private Angelo Maggio that Sinatra played in the movie “From Here to Eternity”) located in the mountains off Highway 74 above Palm Desert just came on the market at $3,950,000.00.  I think I would have to pass on this one too as I’m not sure that I am ready to learn any of Sinatra’s secrets that are quite possibly “buried” on this property.

Before I share what I would buy, let’s take a quick look at the real estate sales activity for the Coachella Valley for the month of September.  At the end of August we learned that we were falling further behind last year’s total number of sales, but we had hoped that increased pending sales would result in higher September closings and help us to catch up.  Here’s what happened.

According to the Desert Area MLS (as of 10/01/15) there were 663 pendings of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in September.  There were 700 pendings in the previous month (August) which is typical of our summer sales pattern.  Looking at the pendings from September of last year (2014) there were only 562 pendings.  So this is another year over year increase in pendings activity for 2015 representing continued improvement in sales activity over last year.   In August there were 605 solds and in September we had 540 solds.   Compared to last year though, in September we sold only 482 homes.  Finally we are posting some year over year increases that are closing the gap between last year’s sales and this year’s sales.  In fact year to date sales for 2014 through October 1st were 6,514 compared to 6,405 for the same time period in 2015.  That’s only a 109 home difference from last year and, with our increase in pending sales in September, we might actually surpass last year’s total sales next month.

Our inventory of homes for sale was also back on the rise (as expected) this month with 3,717 homes available as of October 1, 2015 compared to only 3,611 as of September 1, 2015.   That follows our seasonal pattern of increasing inventory at this time of year and shows 475 MORE homes on the market today when compared to the same time last year.  This takes the pressure off for prices to increase and as expected this trend should continue through the end of the year.  With the uncertainty in the world events today, a falling stock market, a strong US dollar, and little or no jobs increase or wage appreciation, the Federal Reserve decided NOT to increase interest rates at their last meeting.  That is good news for mortgage interest rates and for our Coachella Valley real estate market.  This decision will hopefully allow our sales numbers to at least catch up to last year’s sales in the coming months and reverse the declining sales market that has plagued our Valley sales for the last two years.

So I am rich and famous and money is no object, which estate would I buy in the desert?  Since I can’t make up my mind I think I would have to buy two, one old and one new!  After all, it’s my fantasy.  In old Las Palmas there is an estate for sale that was originally built for a Chicago heiress in 1928 and named Villa Paradiso by Carry Grant because it is all that and more.  It has four residences totaling just less than 15,000 SF on 4 acres of land for $14,500,000.00.  I would also buy ”Casa Bella” built in 2012 on Clancy Lane in the Renaissance with over 15,000 SF on an acre and a quarter.  This mansion is truly a work of art and includes the highest quality of construction and modern materials plus every feature and amenity one can dream of… for only $16,995,000.00.  Since we all know that I won’t really be buying either of these magnificent estates it will be fun to watch and see who does!

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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