BY BRUCE CATHCART

It has been a long, hot summer in the Coachella Valley so far this year with daytime temperatures exceeding 120 degrees in both June and July. After 36 years of living and working here in the desert during the summer I still get “cabin fever” and feel the need to escape to where I can breathe cool air that does not come out of a machine! So if we call our winter visitors who come to our Valley to escape the cold “Snowbirds” does that make those of us who leave the desert in the summer to beat the heat “Sunbirds”? In this week’s article I will offer some suggestions to my fellow Sunbirds on a few important things to do to preserve their homes while they are away on vacation this summer.

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

According to the Desert Area MLS as of 8/1/17 there were 860 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of July.  That’s down from the 1,333 pendings in the previous month (June) and up again when compared to the same time last year when we had only 822 pending sales.  In June there were 1,024 solds and we were down quite a bit in July with only 789 solds. This decrease in sold properties is the normal “seasonal” decrease we expect at this time of year due to the extreme heat with many buyers and their realtors going on vacation to cooler parts of the country! This is still another increase over last year when we sold only 728 homes in July 2016.  Our year to date sales total for 2017 stands at 6,479 homes compared to the same time period last year when we had sold only 5,707 homes. Statistically we ended our first seven months in 2017 exceeding last year’s sales by over 13%. We are continuing this trend for our third straight year starting off with higher volume of both pendings and solds. According to the Desert Area MLS “Statistics” the average home sale price and median home sale price for ALL HOMES in the Coachella Valley are up 7% this year when compared to the same time period for last year. 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 and home values here continue to improve. Our inventory of homes for sale was down significantly again this month with only 3,292 homes available on August 1, 2017 compared to 3,622 homes available on July 1, 2017. While we usually experience a “seasonal” drop in inventory this time of year as many sellers take their properties off the market for the summer months, this is the fifth such drop in as many months in the total number of homes for sale in the Coachella Valley. With home sales staying strong this year through July I now believe that there is a shortage of homes for sale in our market place, especially in the lower more affordable priced homes. As this trend continues, and if the interest rates remain low, we should see prices continue to move higher through summer and into the fall.

If you are lucky enough to be able to vacation away from the desert for a week or two this summer then here are a few important things you should consider doing to protect your home while you are away. While it is tempting to turn your AC off while you are gone to save on the electric bill I recommend leaving it on and just turn your thermostat up to between 85 and 90 degrees (especially if you have aquariums with fish, amphibians or reptiles in them that will be left behind). Closing all of your drapes and blinds, leaving your ceiling fans on and opening all of the doors in your home will help circulate the air and keep the house a little cooler. Make sure you take all of the food and liquids that can spoil out of your refrigerator. If you decide to just turn the AC off then you should have enough room to put all of your “meltables” (like candles and such) in the fridge! It is best to turn the water to your house OFF at the main valve provided your landscape sprinklers are on a separate line. If your sprinkler system is not on a separate line then I recommend for sure turning the water supply lines to your toilets and refrigerator off at the units as these are the main sources of flooding in vacant homes. Since we are only talking about a week or two vacation I would also recommend that a key (and alarm code if applicable) be left with a trusted neighbor or nearby family member in case of any emergencies and have them pick up the mail, newspapers, and any packages that are delivered in your absence. This service will likely cost you a nice souvenir gift from your travels, a few bucks or you watching their house when they go on vacation. Whatever the cost it’s a bargain should anything go wrong at the house while you are away! There are a lot of other little things that can be done to help preserve your home (like hide the valuables, spray for bugs etc.) but I believe that the few items that I have covered here are the most important tasks to consider when taking short vacations this summer. Of course for our Snowbirds who own homes here in the Coachella Valley and lock them up and leave them for 4 to 8 months each year the list is much longer… so I will save that information for a future article to come out sometime next spring!

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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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