BY BRUCE CATHCART

Despite a record breaking temperature of 94 degrees on Thanksgiving Day Coachella Valley residents are wasting no time in getting into the holiday spirit this year.  Lowes in La Quinta sold out early of their popular blow up lawn decorations and outdoor decorations and lights are popping up on houses throughout our valley.  As they say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”!  The Christmas tree is the centerpiece of every Christmas celebration and according to the American Christmas Tree Association 78% of U.S. households will display Christmas trees this season.  Sadly, based upon historical averages, over 200 of these trees will unintentionally go up in flames this year causing millions of dollars in property damage and resulting in the loss of several lives and personal injuries.  Thankfully modern LED strings of lights have replaced the original tradition of placing lit candles in the trees or I am sure those statistics would be much higher!  None the less a live tree covered with electrical wires, artificial snow, tinsel and glass balls in your home still poses a higher than normal risk of an accidental fire so in this month’s article I will share with you several common sense tips that will hopefully keep you and your tree shining brightly into the new year!

Before I get into some fire safety tips for your Christmas tree, let’s take a look at the statistics for home sales here in the Coachella Valley for the month of November.

According to the Desert Area MLS as of 12/1/17 there were 1,037 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of November.  That’s significantly up from the 828 pendings in the previous month (October) and even higher when compared to the same time last year when we had only 790 pending sales.  In October there were 742 solds and we were back down in November with only 677 solds.  But that is still better than last year’s home sales in November (2016) when we sold only 646 homes. Our year to date sales total for 2017 stands at 9,548 homes compared to the same time period last year when we sold only 8,494 homes.  Statistically we ended our first eleven months in 2017 exceeding last year’s number of sales by just under 13%.  According to the Desert Area MLS “Statistics” the median home sale price for ALL HOMES in the Coachella Valley is up about 5% but the average home sale price is now up over 20% this year when compared to the same time period for last year. This huge increase over last year indicates that not only are we continuing to sell more homes this year, but the homes are selling for considerably higher prices.  At this rate it won’t be long before the Coachella Valley home values are back to the high market values that we experienced in 2006-7.   Our inventory of homes for sale was back up significantly this month with 3,836 homes available on November 30, 2017 compared to only 3,601 homes available on November 1, 2017.  This continues last couple of month’s trend of a higher number of homes available for sale each month here in the Coachella Valley.  Typically our inventory of homes for sale continues to grow at this time of the year and this confirms it.  Despite earlier fears that we would be faced with a critical shortage of homes for sale here in the Coachella Valley it appears that our inventory is increasing right on schedule and putting our market back in equilibrium where the inventory is adequate enough to meet the demand.  Home sales in the Coachella Valley tend to tend to take a holiday vacation and go flat starting about the second week of December and continuing through the second week of January so it appears that home prices have reached a plateau and should stay stable through the end of January 2018.  

The first fire safety tip for your Christmas tree is to pick a fresh tree with green needles that don’t fall out when touched.  As the tree dries out the needles begin to turn brown and become more prone to catching fire.  Before placing your tree inside your home it is recommended that you cut a couple of inches off the base of the trunk so that the tree will be able to absorb water better and stay fresher longer.  Make sure the tree stand has a water basin and fill it daily!  It seems that every house has the perfect spot for the Christmas tree… your job is to make sure that spot is at least 3 feet away from any heat source like the fireplace, candles, heat vents or your everyday lamps and lights.  Make sure that you have a working smoke detector in the same room as you place your Christmas tree and make sure that the tree is not next to or blocking an exit.  If the tree does catch on fire you want to be able to get out of the room it’s in!  Now if you are like me each year you try and get at least one more year of use out of those strings of lights you have been using for the last 10 or so years.  That’s fine as long as you inspect them each year for frayed wires, excessive wear and broken light bulbs.  Make sure that they are “UL approved” according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and don’t exceed the maximum number of strings allowed on a single circuit.  ALWAYS turn your Christmas tree lights “off” before going to bed or leaving your home.  After Christmas is over most trees are pretty dried out so make sure you dispose of your tree properly.  Don’t let them hang around until Valentine’s Day, do not just lean them up against the side of the house or your wood fence and do not leave them in your garage!  Most cities here in the Coachella Valley have special disposal/recycle sites to accommodate your tree.  By taking advantage of these few common sense tips you should be able to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year” without having to worry about your Christmas tree accidentally becoming your Yule log!

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From all of us here at La Quinta Palms Realty, we wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and a prosperous New Year!

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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