By Bruce Cathcart

Many years ago when I was a young man and first came to live in the desert I remember laughing at a post card I saw while getting a date shake at Shield’s Date Gardens.  It read: “The Coachella Valley, where the sun spends the winter and hell spends the summer”.  Here it is some 35 years later and I realize that this must have been written by an angry old man… because after this last summer I no longer think it’s that funny, just an accurate description of our weather.  So to paraphrase another old saying, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the desert!

This brings me to the topic of this week’s article, Location, Location, Location.  Clearly, if you do not enjoy 350 days of sunshine a year, the Coachella Valley is not the right location for you.  That is of course assuming you are a full time resident.  What are some of the other locational factors that you should want to be close to, but not too close, here in the Coachella Valley?

I’ll describe several of these items in just a moment, but first let’s take a quick look at the real estate sales activity for the Coachella Valley for the month of October.  At the end of September we were only 109 sales behind last year’s total number of sales, and we were hoping that the increased pending sales in September would result in higher October closings and help us to catch up.  Here’s what happened.

According to the Desert Area MLS (as of 11/01/15) there were 750 pendings of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in October.  There were 663 pendings in the previous month (September) showing a small increase that usually accompanies the cooler weather.  Looking at the pendings from October of last year (2014) there were only 630 pendings.  So this is another year over year increase in pendings activity for 2015 representing continued improvement in sales activity over the same time period last year.   In September there were 540 solds and in October we had 596 solds.   Compared to last year though, in October we sold only 517 homes.  Again 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 7,337 compared to 7,300 for the same time period in 2015.  That’s only a 37 home difference from last year and, with our increase in pending sales in October, we will surely 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 4,463 homes available as of November 1, 2015 compared to only 3,717 as of October 1, 2015.   That follows our seasonal pattern of increasing inventory at this time of year and shows 600 MORE homes on the market today when compared to the same time last year.  This represents both a monthly increase as well as a year over year increase meaning supply is now exceeding the demand for homes setting the stage for a “buyer’s market” through the end of the year.  With interest rates staying flat and pending sales staying strong I am confident that the end of this year’s sales numbers will exceed last year’s sales numbers and reverse the trend of a declining sales market that has plagued our Valley sales for the last two years.

Nobody wants to live right next door to a hospital, but no one wants to live too far away from one either!  Fortunately we have three great hospitals scattered across the Coachella Valley that allow us choices to live in many great communities and still be within a reasonable distance from first rate medical care.  Unless you are moving into a retirement community, the same is true of good quality schools.  We have numerous California Distinguished Schools throughout our Valley.  As for the correct distance from the school, I don’t mind hearing the band and roar of the crowd in the distance on Friday nights, but I don’t want to hear the bells and buzzers signaling the start and end of daily classes.  Shopping and services are also important and we have everything from Walmart Centers, to shopping malls to world class El Paseo, not to mention some of the finest dining on the planet here in the Coachella Valley.  So how close is too close?  For some, too many DUI’s means walking distance.  For me, I prefer a short drive to commercial centers.  And speaking of driving, proximity to freeways and highways is important, but I would rather not be able to hear them when relaxing by my pool while trying to avoid the summer heat.  Airports, entertainment venues, the list is long and the Coachella Valley has it all.  Just remember to use your common sense when shopping for a residence… location, location, location means close, but not too close!

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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