Archive for the ‘General’ Category.

Queen Creek’s Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Center January Calendar

If you haven’t visited this magnificent equestrian center, you have a treat in store!

A wonderful facility with a myriad of events, come see! Come ride! There’s something for everyone!

Horseshoe Park

Continue reading “Queen Creek’s Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Center January Calendar” »

Automated Valuation Models in Real Estate


As a Real Estate Broker, Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) are the bane of my existence most days. The infamous Zillow “zestimate” is widely quoted by both buyers and sellers and is notorious among agents for it’s inaccuracies.

I was delighted to learn that Mike Orr of the Cromford Report evaluated several of the most common, here are his findings! The following is courtesy of The Cromford Report:

Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) for homes appear to be multiplying quickly these days. I thought that it was about time we applied some Cromford® style reality testing to these, because most members of the public seem to assume these computer-generated numbers have some resemblance to reality. Just as a stopped clock is completely accurate twice a day, every AVM is going to be right sometimes. However each one often gives estimates that are wildly different from all the others. Some are starting to make very bold claims of accuracy, but what do these claims really mean? If a home has not sold in the past few days, there is no “right answer” to compare an estimate to. Even a full appraisal is only one person’s opinion of value, and another appraiser will almost certainly disagree with the first one. Some of these estimates change dramatically from one week to the next. The real world does not behave like that.

I feel the public is being given a lot of data that in many cases will just add to the confusion and give a false sense that a correct answer actually exists.

To apply some mathematics to the problem I looked at 100 homes and examined their estimated values from 6 sources:

  • Zillow Zestimate
  • RPR RVM Value*
  • Monsoon Comp Based Valuation*
  • Monsoon FCV Ratio Valuation*
  • Redfin Estimate
  • Homesnap Estimated Value

(those marked * are intended for use by real estate professionals only)

Only Monsoon was successful in finding all 100 of the homes in the sample, while Zillow and Homesnap each failed to find 1 (not the same one). Redfin and RPR failed to find 4 homes due to incorrect address data in their master files, usually inherited from the incorrect address data at the Maricopa Assessor. In addition I found that Redfin and Homesnap both refused to give an estimate for all the homes that were currently active listings. That knocked another 6 homes out in each case. Homesnap also refused to guess on another 3 homes, meaning that (along with Redfin) it had the highest failure rate of 10%. To be fair though, Homesnap had the fastest response time, which endeared it to me while conducting the survey. Monsoon was the slowest to respond, but was by far the most flexible in allowing user adjustments to the properties used for comparison. I made no adjustments except in 1 case where there were no comparative sales within 4 miles, so I increased the range to 5 miles.

I took the average value from the 6 sources and compared each source to see if it appeared to be biased in any particular direction. One source stood out as an outlier in this test – Zillow’s Zestimates were on average far higher than all other sources, and not by a small amount. The average Zillow Zestimate was 22% above the average of the other 5 sources. Of course it is statistically possible that Zillow is right, but it is also extremely unlikely. It is more likely that Zillow has decided that it will get more traffic if it applies significant bias to the upside. Home sellers love to believe their home is worth more than it really is. Zillow is (far more often than not) telling them what they want to hear. People love to be told what they want to hear, not what they need to hear (something cable news channels discovered long ago). Still I could be wrong about this, so I will continue to test more samples.

The other 5 sources were much closer together. Homesnap tended to be 5% above average, RPR 1% above average, Redfin came in at the average, while Monsoon Comp Base Valuations were 1% below average and the FCV Base Valuation was 5% below average.

This is not to suggest any of them were consistently “accurate” if that means anything. The variation between any one estimate and the average estimate could vary wildly for all 6 sources. Here are the maximum and minimum variations within this sample of 100:


Maximum Above Average Valuation

Maximum Below Average Valuation

Zillow Zestimate



RPR RVM value



Monsoon Comp Based Valuation



Monsoon FCV Ratio Valuation



Redfin Estimate



Homesnap Estimated Value



This means there is a reasonable chance that the specific estimate you are looking at is more than 20% above or below the average value of the other 5 models. It is very likely if your specific estimate comes from Zillow.

As a statistician, I am tempted to talk about standard deviation, but I suspect the audience for this topic among real estate professionals is rather small. So I will resist the temptation. Deviation sounds like a bad word and you want as little of it in your samples as possible. Rest assured that the standard deviation in this set of values is much higher than you would like. The conclusion is that ALL automated valuation tools are very dangerous when given too much credibility. The human touch is important is estimating the value of a home, especially useful if that human has taken a good look inside and around the house before deciding what it might be worth in today’s market.

Let me just cite one example among my 100 test cases: 6115 N 38TH PL in 85253

  • Zillow = $1,514785
  • Redfin = $968,388
  • RPR = $739,830
  • Homesnap = $725,000
  • Monsoon = $1,159,206 (comp)
  • Monsoon = $1,030,858 (fcvr)
  • Average = $1,023,011

With a standard deviation of 29% ($294,088) this is a highly inconsistent set of values.

Another problem I found is that many of the systems use incorrect addresses. For example Zillow has one entry for 3802 E BETHANY HOME RD and another for 6002 N 38TH PL. This is actually two address for the same home, which sits on the corner between Bethany Home Road and 38th Place. Only one is acceptable to the US Postal Service but many real estate databases contain the other address. Funnily enough, Zillow gives 2 different estimates for the one house, though the difference is only 2%. RPR has a habit of including homes that never existed. If there was once an MLS listing for a future home to be built, RPR acts as if that home is real, This is a bad assumption if that listing was from 2007 through 2009.

Perhaps the bottom line is that buyers and sellers are better off when the Real Estate Agent representing them is familiar with current sales, uses local, accurate sales comps to determine the value of the home one proposes to buy or sell.

As agents, we use Monsoon and RPR frequently but remove inappropriate comps they sometimes pull and we apply those numbers in view of comparable properties that have sold recently as well as the demand for specific property types and locations.

I believe that staying on top of market changes is one of the most significant values I bring to my clients.

Find a good agent and forget Zillow! Zillow exists to sell leads to agents, not to provide the consumer with accurate data!

Real Estate Market, Dec. 2015: El Mirage, Glendale, Peoria, Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, Waddell, Wittmann, AZ

According to the Cromford Report: December 5 – Another effect of TRID is to increase the percentage of closed transactions that are all-cash. Most of the new regulations only apply to financed transactions so it is these that are taking longer than normal to close escrow. All-cash transactions typically close escrow faster than financed transactions even in normal times, and particularly so at the moment.

Look at the percentage of all-cash transactions over the last 3 months:

  • September – 20.1% by unit – 18.4% by dollars

  • October – 22.2% by unit – 21.2% by dollars

  • November – 24.8% by unit – 24.2% by dollars

Until September we were seeing a declining trend in the percentage all-cash transactions. It is not that all-cash transactions have increased, it is that financed transactions are coming through more slowly than normal.


El Mirage Glendale Peoria Sun City SunCityWest Surprise Waddell Wittmann

Real Estate Market, Dec. 2015: Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear, Litchfield Park, Tolleson, Tonopah, AZ

More awesome information from The Cromford Report!  As of December 4 – Measuring appreciation based on monthly prices can be a hazardous affair, especially if you are dealing with a small subset of the market. The key to getting a reasonable appreciation number is to have a large sample of sales to measure. If your geographic area is small, a good option to increase the sample size is to use sales over a longer period than one month.

One of our favorite charts is the Annual Appreciation Based on Annual $/SF for the Last Two Years. Here we are using a whole year of sales for each of the 17 cities and comparing the average price per sq. ft. with sales from the previous 12 month period. This may be a little slow to react to new market conditions but has the distinct advantage of changing steadily instead of jumping all over the place like the Annual Appreciation Based on Monthly $/SF for the Last Two Years, which we show merely for interest as it is not a chart we recommend. In fact we don’t include more than 12 cities on this one. The smaller cities’ numbers are just too volatile.

Right now our favorite annual $/SF appreciation chart shows clearly the ascendancy of the West Valley and relatively weak performance of the luxury market. The ranking of the top 17 cities is as follows:

  1. Glendale 8.5%

  2. Avondale 7.4%

  3. Buckeye 6.8%

  4. Phoenix 6.4%

  5. Tempe 6.3%

  6. Mesa 5.4%

  7. Peoria 5.0%

  8. Queen Creek 5.0%

  9. Surprise 4.9%

  10. Maricopa 4.0%

  11. Goodyear 3.2%

  12. Gilbert 3.2%

  13. Chandler 3.1%

  14. Paradise Valley 2.4%

  15. Scottsdale 1.3%

  16. Cave Creek 1.2%

  17. Fountain Hills 0.4%

As recently as August, Paradise Valley was at the top of the table at 9.3% but the recent plunge in high end luxury sales activity has dropped it 13 places in the table. Back in March, Fountain Hills was number one with 9.5% but it now languishes at the bottom of the table.

Avondale Buckeye Goodyear Litchfield Park Tolleson Tonopah


Review: Dr. Thomas Watson, Animal Hospital of Laveen

Two weeks ago, a stray pit bull puppy (6-7 mos old) was dumped from a car near our home.  My better half spent the next fifteen minutes catching him as the frightened, bewildered pup was otherwise doomed to become coyote food, road kill or suffer starvation.  Nothing good happens to dumped dogs.  Ever.

I notified the local animal lovers group as they have an amazing, dedicated group who rescue as many lost critters as they can.  One of them came and scanned the pup for a microchip, he (of course) didn’t have one.  He seemed depressed, he did become excited when he saw the neighborhood children, was visibly disappointed that they weren’t “his” kids.  He drank water, didn’t eat.  No fever, his muzzle seemed very swollen.  We were unable to find evidence of injury, no puncture wounds to indicate a bite or sting.  No fever, he occasionally ate grass and vomited a bit of frothy bile.  The water he drank he kept down.  One partially formed stool, no other clues to his condition.

The following morning, he still seemed depressed, later in the day he was exploring the yard, we hoped he was improving.  By afternoon, it was clear he wasn’t drinking enough and was becoming dehydrated.  He still wasn’t eating, was keeping down the water he did drink and appeared depressed.

Our favorite veterinarian in Phoenix, was ready to close when we decided he needed to see a vet.  We had been told that Dr. Watson did free exams for Laveen strays but would need payment for treatment.  We had been unimpressed with a previous veterinarian at the Laveen Animal Hospital, but decided to see Dr. Watson.  I completed the online records and requested an appointment, when I got no response, I called and got an appointment for after 6PM.

Dr. Watson examined the dog and stated he believed the diagnosis was parvo.  He offered a parvo test, we declined.  I asked what his proposed treatment would be, he wanted to keep the stray overnight and treat him with intravenous fluids, morphine for pain, antiemetic drugs to prevent vomiting and antibiotics.  He estimated the cost at $1400-$1500.00.  I inquired about taking the dog home, administering fluids and re-evaluating him tomorrow.  Dr. Watson agreed, but when a staff member came to have me sign the treatment plan and agree to b e financially responsible, the bill was $497.00, including the exam, fluids, administration sets AND morphine, antiemetic and antibiotic medications to be administered before we left.  I objected to the medications, I didn’t feel a need for morphine at that time, the only pain the dog evidenced was when his abdomen was palpated.  He wasn’t vomiting, I didn’t see that he needed an anti-emetic.  Parvo is a virus, an antibiotic wasn’t going to help that and while I understand that full blown parvo can lead to secondary bacterial disease, we were not at that point.

I marked those items off the treatment plan, went to the front office where I mentioned I was told the exam was free for Laveen strays (not so for me, my bill for the exam was $47.00; perhaps for some in-crowd members this is true?).  I paid for the exam, and the fluids and administration supplies, a total of $247.00.  $200.00 seemed a bit of an excessive markup, as a lay person I can purchase fluids and IV sets for around $40.00.  I couldn’t have purchased then that night and paid the bill because I wanted to give the pup the best chance of survival.

Back to the exam room where soon, Dr. Watson stormed in.  He was livid that I had elected to decline part of his recommended treatment.  Said what I was doing wasn’t enough to save the dog and I had to accept everything he recommended or he would report me to the sheriff for animal abuse/neglect.  His staff members chimed in about the necessity of following the Dr’s wishes and that Dr. Watson would be REQUIRED to report us if we didn’t.   He assured us that the moment we caught the dumped pup, we became legally responsible for his care, presumably including whatever the good Dr. thought he could charge for.

We tried to point out that the muzzle edema had diminished enough to see a ligature mark, the swelling was  because someone had tied his mouth very tightly for a long time.  Dr. Watson wasn’t interested.  He had earlier determined that the swelling was “normal for this dog”.

We took the pup home, started the fluids and he quietly stopped breathing less than an hour later.  He never developed Parvo symptoms.  The sheriff never came.  Dr. Watson did not follow through on his bluff, …..the laws concerning abuse and neglect are not there to punish people who disagree with a veterinarian regarding treatment.

A veterinarian who threatens his clients with the sheriff in the event of a disagreement regarding  treatment is not someone I would trust my animals to in the first place.  Any veterinarian who offers overnight care at a cost of $1000.00 or more when the dog is left in a cage alone overnight, when no 24 hour staff is available……  think long on that one before you agree to a “convenient” payment plan.

If you find yourself in need of a superb small animal veterinarian, I cannot recommend Dr Alicia Ruiz highly enough!  Her clinic is at 25 W Thomas Rd, Phoenix.  602-277-5155.   Well worth the few minutes it takes to drive there.  She will never overcharge, never rip-off a client and never threaten you with charges of abuse should you question a treatment.

There is a huge difference between professionals in any field.  Be sure the veterinarian you choose is the right one for you.





Scottsdale AZ Real Estate Values, 2013


Scottsdale Arizona has experienced only one market this year… a steady increase in values.  From “Old Town” to

the more rural properties of North and East Scottsdale, the real estate values have improved. 


Real Estate Values, Scottsdale, AZ


There are properties available from condos to single family homes in the city but it will always be the horse

properties that interest me most!


Awesome Equestrian Facility

An Equestrian Facility for Sale offered as only the West’s Most Western Town can do! 

Rio Verde, AZ Real Estate Values


Lovely Rio Verde lies along the Verde River east of Scottsdale.  An active adult community forms one part of the

broad spectrum, Horse property and active outdoor sports prevail in the rest.  Avid mountain bikers and ATVs

compete with hikers and trail riders for the greatest pleasures of the vast outdoors.



Although for the last month we seem to have returned to last year levels of property values, builders are once

again working on new homes in the area.  This is a lot available for a custom home. 



How would you like to wake up to this view?  What a perfect home site!


Desert Hills Arizona Real Estate Market Trends

Desert Hills is an unincorporated area north of the city of Phoenix.  Characterized by magnificent mountain views and an abundance of State and Federal Park Preserve lands for recreation, it is a desirable destination for home buyers who enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. 


Desert Hills AZ Market Trends

What appears to be an anomalous third quarter actually represents the near-simultaneous sales of several upscale custom homes.  Prices there appear to have been somewhat uneven over the past year, partially due to the fairly small number of homes sold in Desert Hills. 

Sold in Desert Hills

This is one of the homes that prompted the high third quarter sales prices.  Magnificent!

Laveen, AZ Real Estate Market Trends

Laveen has demonstrated a pretty steady market this year.  A steady increase in price has been the rule. 


Laveen Chart


Our listings range in price from $94,900.00 to $1,400.000.  Certainly something for everyone in our eclectic corner of the Valley!


Laveen 1.4M Listing


We look forward to continuing gains!

Phoenix, AZ Market Analysis!

Rosie, Phoenix



As of yesterday, we had 4,197 active single family residence listings in the City of Phoenix. Those pending sale numbered 1,347 and we have averaged 1,065 sales per month this year.

Phoenix homes averaged 57 days on the market last month, up from 49 days the month before. Price per square foot has continued to gain, last quarter averaged $120.84, last month $127.14. This time last year, that number was at 101.53. Inventory is up and sales have slowed a bit but we continue in an appreciating market for the moment.

Our magnificent fall weather has arrived and all is well with the world, in the view from here!

Fair Housing for You!

Phoenix Az Horse Property