By Bruce Cathcart
I just finished reading an article titled “The Top 30 Cities to Retire in the US” which has obviously inspired the subject of this month’s Real Estate article for CV Weekly. In one of my previous articles I mentioned that I read a lot of “not so good” articles so you don’t have to… well this top 30 list was one of them. Not one city in California made the list and Fargo, North Dakota was ranked #15. Seriously folks? Fargo, North Dakota the new mecca for retirees? The article did point out that the winters there were “cold”. In terms of an understatement, that’s like saying the summers here are “warm”. Clearly their criteria used to determine “best” did not include world class doctors and facilities, incredible cultural events, festivals, theaters, entertainment, fine dining and of course large resort style communities designed specifically for 55+ adults with modern, quality built, affordable housing and all the amenities one can imagine! Obviously near perfect weather was not an issue for them either. If any of these things were considered then the cities in the Coachella Valley would have been #1 on their list!
Before I share with you the top 4 places to retire in the Coachella Valley I want to take a quick look at the real estate sales activity for the month of March. New readers should know that each month we track the sales activity of homes (and condos) in the Coachella Valley to monitor the relative health of our sales market with the hope that this information will help buyers and sellers to make good decisions in buying and selling their homes. The number of homes sold in 2014 was 11% less than in 2013. So far 2015 is off to a slow start with total sales for January and February being 12% LESS than in 2014. We are hoping for a strong March to make up the difference.
According to the Desert Area MLS (as of 04/01/15) there were 1,024 pendings of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in March. There were 888 pendings in the previous month (February) which means activity is up again following our normal seasonal sales pattern. Checking the pendings from March last year (2014) there was only a slightly higher number at 1070 for the month. But by not keeping pace with last year’s pendings it is a pretty good indication that we will not keep pace with last year’s number of sales in the coming months. This could mean another year of overall declining sales for homes in the Coachella Valley. Checking the actual sales data, in February there were 546 solds and in March we rebounded with 777 solds. This is slightly better than March 2014 where there were 748 solds. So while we gained a little ground in solds last month, we are likely to lose that gain in April closings and still not make up for the lack of sales in January and February. Our inventory of homes for sale stayed relatively the same with 5,054 homes available as of April 1, 2015 compared to 5,099 at the beginning of March. Lack of inventory is not a reason for the current lack of sales. So far I would describe this year as “surviving but not thriving”.
If you are 55+ years of age and ready to retire, the Coachella Valley offers 4 communities specifically designed with affordable homes (and reasonable home owner fees) with active lifestyle amenities just for you! These are amazing, large, resort style communities that include gated and patrolling security, golf courses, tennis courts, club houses, fitness centers, restaurants, theaters, libraries, craft rooms, and social activities just for seniors. Without ranking them in order, they are: Trilogy (www.mtlq.com ), Heritage Palms (www.heritagepalmsindio.com ), Sun City Palm Desert (www.scpdca.com ), and Sun City Shadow Hills (www.scshca.com ).
Combined, these communities comprise approximately 11,000 homes starting in the low $200,000’s and up to $800,000.00 with HOA dues starting from $223.00/month at Sun City Palm Desert to a high of $350.00/month at Heritage Palms. New homes are still being built at Sun City Shadow Hills while the other three communities are now offering resales only. For more information check out the websites listed in this article. If interested please contact your trusted real estate agent for more information. For those retirees who are hesitating to retire here in the desert because of the weather in the summer, all I can say is you are retired! Go visit friends and family in the summer, heck we are only a two hour drive to the beach or the mountains… or better yet, just drive 20 minutes to the Palm Springs airport and take a 4 hour flight to Fargo, North Dakota!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.laquintapalmsrealty.com.