By Bruce Cathcart

Hello September and goodbye Summer!  Too soon?  Probably, but already valley residents are welcoming the cooler mornings and evenings with increased outdoor activity.  Unfortunately cooler temps also mean that the “perfect excuse” of it being too hot to do anything will no longer apply.  Unlike the rest of the world where spring cleaning follows a long frigid winter of being stuck indoors we here in the Coachella Valley enjoy near perfect temperatures throughout the winter months and do our spring cleaning in the Fall after a long, blazing hot Summer! 

Through our property management division I recently had our first experience with a real hoarder.  We inherited what was purported to be the “perfect tenant” from another management company.  This tenant had rented this home for over 20 years, always paid her rent on time and NEVER complained or asked for repairs to be done.  When we did our initial safety inspection we discovered why she never wanted anyone to come to the house!  It was just like on TV where you could barely squeeze down the tiny open path from room to room because of the “treasures” she had collected and stored openly throughout the entire house and garage.  The late comedian George Carlin once did a bit about how “stuff expands to fill the space available” and while few of us will ever come close to reaching the capacity of a true hoarder, I know quite a few folks with a two car garage who can’t even park one car in it.  So it occurs to me that the difference between being a hoarder and being an organized collector is the method of storage.

This month’s article is dedicated to organizing your stuff… whether to “declutter” your home in preparation for a sale or to just get your stuff organized so you can once again use your garage for its intended purpose.  But first let’s take a look at the data for the month of August and see how the Coachella Valley real estate sales market is doing.  Over the past 30 days there has been some more bad press regarding the “Crashing Southern California Real Estate market”.  As we noted in last month’s sales data, here in the Coachella Valley we have not yet experienced any signs of a crash and are in fact still doing better than last year’s numbers.  Let’s see if that has held true for the month of August.

According to the Desert Area MLS as of 9/1/18 there were 802 pending transactions of residential properties here in the Coachella Valley in the month of August.  That follows our seasonal pattern being down from the 846 pendings in the previous month (July) and that is roughly the same when compared to the same time last year when we had 799 pending sales.  In July there were 878 solds and again, following our seasonal sales pattern, we were down significantly in August with only 756 solds.  That is also down when compared to home sales in August of 2017 when we sold 811 homes.  Again, August’s sales figures, though down, were good enough that our year to date solds for 2018 still lead last year’s year to date sales at 7,431 compared to last year’s total of 7,381.  These statistics show that the Coachella Valley real estate market is NOT going the same way that most Southern California real estate markets are trending.  But the gap is narrowing.  Last year was a GREAT year for the Coachella Valley Real Estate market.  So even if we equal or come close to last year’s figures, with average sale prices being UP and inventory being DOWN, 2018 would still be a BETTER year for home sales in the Coachella Valley! 

This month our inventory of homes for sale went down only slightly with only 2,621 homes available on September 1, 2018 compared to 2,676 homes available on August 1, 2018.  Last year at this time we had 3,227 homes available for sale.  Inventory this year has remained off by over 20% and so far it has only affected our June and August sales.  The drop is seasonal, but with only 2,621 homes for sale we’ll continue to keep a close watch on both sales numbers and the inventory of homes this coming month.

It seems that I, like most Coachella Valley residents, subscribe to the philosophy that “He who dies with the most stuff wins”.  I am blessed with a 4 car garage in which (until recently) I was unable to park a single car!  I prefer to think of myself as an “American Picker” rather than a “Hoarder”, but to tell the truth I had to get organized to avoid either label.  Fortunately for me I discovered the yellow topped black plastic “PROFESSIONAL”  boxes at Costco that sell here locally for about $7.50 each.  By the way, they sell for about twice that at the big box hardware stores.  My advice here is to buy as many as you can afford!  They are strong, desert garage summer heat resistant, and stack well.  You will be amazed at how much loose, space taking garage or household stuff will fit in each box and how quickly you will be able to safely and conveniently store your treasures.  Make sure you label the boxes (on the side of the lids) so you’ll know what is inside of each one for quick, handy access.  Once I made my initial purchase of 12 storage boxes for about $100 I made it a practice of buying at least one box each time I go to Costco… I use it to pack up the groceries and other Costco goodies to take them home in.  Afterward I add it to my organized collection of “stuff”! If you want to get really fancy Costco also sells some heavy duty steel shelving, that will hold about 15 boxes each, which you can get three of each down both sides of a standard garage and still squeeze in a couple of small cars.  That’s about 90 boxes total.  Wow, talk about being organized!  This is life changing stuff here!  This works especially well for decluttering your home and getting it ready for sale as not only will it declutter your home and make your garage look bigger, once your home closes escrow your stuff is already packed and you can just load’em up and move’em out!

So far the only downside that I have experienced by becoming an organized collector is creating all that extra space.  Already new stuff is expanding to fill it!

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.