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Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 44

La Quinta-Giving a boost to Old Town La Quinta

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

Cars parked all around Old Town La Quinta suggest the presence of people, but barely a soul walks along the sidewalks or eats at outdoor patios.

It is summer in the desert, though, a time when retail and restaurants slow to a crawl.

The closure of nearby La Quinta Cove staple, Teddy’s, a Mexican restaurant and the temporary summer shuttering of other popular places like Arnold Palmer’s, Cunard’s Sandbar and Lavender Bistro, have some residents calling the area a “ghost town” and raising concerns that the area will stay that way.

But shop owners who keep their “Open” signs turned on even during the summer say business is actually better than in years past and look forward to the planned expansion of Old Town.

The City Council on Tuesday showed support for expansion plans, which would include condos and more retail and agreed to work with Old Town developer Wells Marvin to help make it happen.

“I think this will be good for the area,” said Marcie Johnson, owner of the Old Town Coffee Company. “It will bring more people to the area.”

She said her shop has increased sales by about 10 percent to 15 percent during the past year — but did note that summer in Old Town is always slow — especially when the sun goes down.

“Summer in the evening is always quiet,” said Johnson.

Particularly this summer with The Wine Bar at Old Town closing after three years and moving across the street to the former Desert Sage location at 78-085 Avenida La Fonda. It closed on July 26 and hopes to reopen as the Wine Bar Bistro by Labor Day weekend.

“Teddy’s — that was surprising,” said La Quinta resident Sammie Freitag. “Too many places are going out because the rent is too high. I’m watching places close left and right.”

Freitag owns the La Quinta Salon & Day Spa, and is struggling herself to survive following the closure of Ralphs grocery store. “We hope they put something in soon,” she said.

Kevin Darcy used to like the look of Old Town when it first opened — not anymore.

“Old Town in La Quinta is more like dead town. Go there at 9 p.m. and all is closed. It has little diversity and originality. Food and entertainment is equal to a mall’s food court,” he said in a letter to The Desert Sun. “Once this was a great place in the early to mid-2000s but now the future looks old.”

Most retail shops and restaurants in Old Town do shorten their hours during the summer, but they remain open.

Bobby Loredo, manager of Gracie’s Emporium in Old Town, said the nearby resort hotels help bring people to the shopping area.

“During the summer, there is the issue that it’s slow, but it’s like that everywhere. We can’t just say it’s here,” said Loredo who has worked in the Old Town area for about four years.

Each year he’s noticed business actually gets better.

Across the way at The Grill on Main, owner Brett Maddock said he runs the restaurant “lean and mean” during the summer months so it can stay open. Happy hours and specials also help attract customers during the slow season.

He’s also closed on Mondays now, but only in July and August. Maddock said business is better on average than when he purchased the business almost two years ago.

“I’m better than last year,” he said.

Still, vacant storefronts continue to plague Old Town.

“We have an awful lot of empty buildings down there,” said Councilwoman Terry Henderson as the council discussed the Old Town expansion.

She hopes the city’s support of the project doesn’t lead to more empty storefronts.

The city, in January, entered into an agreement to sell Marvin, the developer of Old Town La Quinta and the expansion, 3.4 acres located between Old Town and the city’s library. That’s where he will build The Villas at Old Town consisting of five, three-story buildings for the condos and retail, with parking underground.

On Tuesday, the City Council showed support in providing Marvin with additional city property to help in fulfilling the project. Unofficially, they agreed to let Marvin use a turf area with several palm trees for a retention basin that could also accommodate storm water flow from the city’s library/wellness center parking lot.

Council also agreed Marvin should redesign the library/wellness center parking lot to an east-west alignment, which would provide a seamless relationship with the adjacent parking proposed for the new development.

Palm Springs Area homes sales- Getting Back on Track

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

Housing prices continue to climb steadily even as home sales slow

As seen in the Coachella Valley Median Price chart (pictured above), housing prices continued to inch up in May for the seventh consecutive month, even as sales continued on a year-over-year decline. Prices in May are now only 6 percent short of the long-term 3.5 percent growth curve (blue line). However, sales are 15 percent less than the highest sales rate of the recovery established exactly two years ago.

This pattern indicates that home buyers have been slowly but consistently pulling back from the market as prices approach past norms. This is the sign of a natural and normal housing market.

City Prices
Year-over-year price gains throughout the valley’s nine cities are also beginning to moderate — but at an uneven pace. A year ago, 12-month city gains varied from 40 percent to 20 percent, as we were in the powerful part of the price surge following the crisis lows of 2011. While gains are still strong, most are now clustered around year-over-year returns of 12 percent, as the table (above) shows.

The recent strong gains for two cities — Desert Hot Springs and the city of Coachella — need some explanation. The decline in distressed sales fueled a lot of last year’s gains in the major cities, which raised median prices as distressed sale prices began to exit the equation. This effect is still influencing these two cities since they are both experiencing the largest decline in distressed sales of the nine cities.

A Declining Riverside County Homeownership
While prices have recovered in the valley (and in fact throughout the entire county of Riverside), the internal structure of the market has not. The percentage of households in Riverside County who own their home has fallen from a high of 68 percent in 2008 to a low of 55 percent in the first quarter of this year (see the Riverside County Homeownership graph, below right). This is one of the biggest regional drops throughout the country. We hope to see this negative trend reverse.

The homeownership graph shows that ownership of existing homes in the valley — and the entire county — has been slowly changing from households to investors. At this time, it’s too early to assess the long-term impact of this transition on the stability of housing communities. There are both positive and negative aspects.

Cash Buyers
Over the last seven years, many investors purchased homes in the Coachella Valley outright, with 100 percent cash and no financing of any kind. Interestingly, this created a form of stability not typically found in most other markets.

Price risk in normal housing communities usually results from two factors: a cyclical recession that produces job layoffs and forced selling by homeowners unable to make mortgage payments, or variable rate mortgage resets with homeowners no longer able to make the higher payment. With so many homes now owned without mortgages, these two risks are very much reduced.

On the other hand, with so many homes owned for rental, there is a risk that new households will begin to “buy to own,” and, with fewer renters, investors will start having trouble locating renters. This could eventually start a wave of selling by investors eager to rid themselves of difficult-to-rent properties. We’ll have to watch these factors carefully.

Vic Cooper and Mike McDonald are partners in Market Watch LLC, a nationally recognized real estate advisory firm that publishes The Desert Housing Report.

Indian Wells-New Construction Taking Off at Toscana Country Club

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

Twenty homes are under construction with more coming


Construction activity at Toscana is matching the soaring temperatures in the desert with 20 homes under construction and more slated to start in the upcoming months.

In addition to the fun, active and social lifestyle that Toscana offers, buyers are also attracted to the beautiful homes and their ability to create a residence uniquely tailored to their own tastes.

Buyers start by selecting from one of 14 different floor plans to begin the process of customizing their home. Whether it is moving a wall, adding a room, changing the kitchen design or selecting the newest materials available, buyers have a myriad of ways to create their own home.

Through the on-site Design Center, buyers meet with designers to pick out the special touches to complete their home. From captivating mosaic patterns, luxurious hand-woven carpets, exotic woods, tumbled marble, finely detailed cabinetry, the Design Center offers countless choices to stir the imagination.

Along the way, owners can rely upon the support of an accomplished and experienced design team to help coordinate and source the materials for their home — an invaluable service for those who live at a distance.

If you love architecture and interior design, the show homes at Toscana are a true destination. Ten show homes overlooking the golf course are just steps from the Design Center and are open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To visit the virtual models any time, click here.

Prospective homeowners can choose from 18 unique floor plans with residences ranging in size from 2,400 to 5,400 square feet. Homes – all located on the golf courses – are offered from $995,000 to more than $4 million. Estate home sites for a limited number of custom homes start at $825,000.

The light fades fast as the sun dips below the western horizon, casting a pink glow on a landscape  alive with olive and cypress trees. As the bell in the clock tower tolls the evening hour, neighborhood residents spill into the main piazza en route to their favorite trattoria to socialize and savor the region’s renowned wine and cuisine.
Spread over 640 sun-drenched rolling acres, this community developed by the acclaimed Sunrise Company combines the idyllic charm of  Tuscany with the Coachella Valley’s distinctive ‘California casual’ vibe.

Toscana’s central location in upscale Indian Wells affords easy access to dining, shopping, cultural attractions, medical facilities, area airports, and much more. But it’s the myriad of world-class luxury amenities, wellness, and social activities that sets Toscana apart.

Perched on a hilltop, Toscana’s 90,000 square-foot Club Villa flawlessly resurrects the golden age of classic Tuscan architecture. Its stone façade and cool, cloistered passageways connect to richly appointed interiors that house the Golf Club, tennis boutique, an award-winning golf shop, dining facilities, an extensive sports and fitness club and Spa Bella Vita.

The Club offers many different membership opportunities including Equity Golf and Sports Club and Spa memberships.  In addition, an invitational preview membership offers an option to experience the Club for one year with payment of dues only. An invitational young professional membership is available for those under 50 and features a deferred initiation fee in addition to lower dues.

Rancho Mirage, CA - City Council votes to raise minimum age for vacation rentals

by Steve Enlow - BRE #01368794

Rancho Mirage city leaders on Thursday debated a plan to limit vacation rentals to people who are at least 30 years old.

The proposed ordinance would be a nine-year increase in the current minimum age of 21 years. And it would prohibit vacationers from hanging out on rooftops and ban all amplified outdoor music.

The limits would apply to all homes rented for less than 28 days at a time.

Rancho Mirage council members already gave initial approval to the plan.  The Thursday vote is said to be 5 to 0 in favor of the change.  The specific details on the ordinance shall be produced by the City in the coming months.


by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

Lower interest rates perk up California home sales in June; market more balanced

LOS ANGELES (July 16) – Lower interest rates and stabilizing home prices combined to boost home sales in June, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.  However, diminished home affordability remains a challenge for buyers, particularly in high cost areas of the state.

Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 394,930 units in June, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide.  June marked the eighth straight month that sales were below the 400,000 level and the eleventh straight decline on a year-over-year basis.  Sales in June increased 1.5 percent from a revised 389,060 in May but were down 4.8 percent from a revised 414,830 in June 2013.  The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2014 if sales maintained the June pace throughout the year.  It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

“While June home sales rose at the statewide level, the market is still constrained by tight supply and low housing affordability in areas of high demand, where job growth is robust and international buyers have a strong presence,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown.  “Overall, however, with inventory improving and home sales slowly moving back up, the market is more balanced, and we could see further market normalization in the upcoming months as interest rates remain at the lowest levels we’ve seen so far this year.”  
The statewide median price of an existing, single-family detached home slipped 2 percent from May’s median price of $466,320 to $457,160 but was up 6.6 percent from the revised $428,700 recorded in June 2013.  The statewide median home price has increased year over year for the previous 28 months, marking more than two full years of consecutive year-over-year price increases. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling as well as a general change in values.

“Home prices are finally increasing at a healthier pace, and the smallest year-over-year price gain in more than two years suggests that prices are stabilizing,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young.  “Last year’s frenzied market of multiple offers, which drove sales prices above listing prices, has tapered off as the sales-to-list price ratio has dropped to a more normal level at nearly 99 percent, which signals a return to a more balanced market.”

Palm Springs-Desert Water Agency raises rates starting July 1

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794


Thousands of people in the Coachella Valley will soon pay more to keep their water running.  Desert Water Agency, the second largest water provider in the valley, will raise rates by about 22%.  DWA said that equates to about $12.64 for an average single-family home.  The rate increase goes into effect on July 1. "Pretty tough, pretty tough on everybody," said Doug Kincaid.  "I don't know how they're going to do it, I don't know how, how you going to do it?"

DWA's general manager David Luker says this is the last phase of an incremental rate adjustment process.  The first took place in 2010, the next 2012, now this one.  The board approved the increase after an 11 year stretch in the 90s, without one.  "We were able to hold cost where they were, do things differently, use less people, but we've kind of run out of that ability," said Luker. 

By law, water agencies cannot charge people more than it costs to provide the service. Despite the increase, a graph on the agency's website shows DWA still carries one of the lowest rates in the region.

Luker says the jump in prices for customers means the agency's expenses are also rising. "There are costs that we can't avoid, cost increases, one this year is electricity," said Luker. 

DWA, like all Southern California Edison customers must deal with an increase of 5-10%.  On its website, Edison points to the growing cost of power as the main reason for the hike. No matter the reason for the utility increases, it could create some major issues for low-income families.  Martha's Village and Kitchen says it's preparing to give out food to more people who might struggle with the new prices.  "Based on the income they have coming in, a lot of times people will choose to stay fed," said Richard Guiss, the director of development. 

Luker says DWA is sensitive to those in need and already works with customers to make payment arrangements. "I may not like to hear some of those comments, but I think that's about my only response is we're as lenient as we can be," said Luker. 

Palm Springs Area-Real Estate: Coachella Valley home supply swells

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

The short supply of houses and condos for sale in the Coachella Valley, a squeeze that was typical over the past year, gained breathing room in January, two new housing reports show.

Inventory increased to 2,948 single-family homes and 1,289 condos for sale in January. The swell is an uptick from 2,690 homes and 1,269 condos in December, according to a report from the California Desert Association of Realtors, which tracks housing data through its Multiple Listing Service.

Last year, the supply across the desert had hit a low point of 1,950 homes and 866 condos in July.

Median prices and the number of sales, however, fell in January from December, according to DataQuick, a San Diego-based firm that compiles reports from public records.

The median price of total homes and condos dipped 4.6 percent to $260,000 in January. But that figure is still a 17.6 percent spike from a year ago in January 2013, according to DataQuick.

Total sales across the valley sank to 761 in January, down 12.8 percent from December and 4 percent from January 2013, according to DataQuick.

Some numbers from DataQuick differed from those reported by the California Desert Association of Realtors.

DataQuick reported that the median price of existing single-family homes dropped 5.6 percent month-over-month to $278,500. But the Realtors association reported that the median price actually increased from $325,000 in December to $375,800 in January.

Valleywide, the most expensive home sold for $3.5 million in La Quinta. The next highest sales were $2.4 million in Palm Desert and $2 million in the Indio and Bermuda Dunes areas.

New construction home sales continued to do well as more tract developments came online. The median price of 33 new home sales in January ballooned from the previous month to $455,500.

Distressed property sales made up 12 percent of single-family home sales in the valley in January, the same as December and a drop from 29 percent in January 2013. Distressed condo sales dipped 2 percentage points to 9 percent of all condo sales in January.


Business and real estate reporter Dominique Fong can be reached at (760) 778-4661, dominique.fong@ and on Twitter @dominiquefong.



Tours of Elvis Presley's Palm Springs estate are being offered today to commemorate the 35th anniversary of his death.

The estate at 845 W. Chino Canyon Road will offer tours every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $19.77 per person, "in honor of the year Elvis left the building," estate co-owner Laura Whittier said.

Presley died at age 42 on Aug. 16, 1977, at his Graceland home in Memphis, Tenn.

The 5,100-square-foot Palm Springs home, called "Graceland West" by The New York Times, was built in 1946 on about two acres and was owned by the Jergens cosmetics family and McDonald's founder Ray Kroc before Presley bought it in 1970.

Co-owner Reno Fontana said the house was vacant for 27 years before he bought it in 2004.

"There's a lot of history on the property," said Fontana, who bought the house for $1.25 million. He said Elvis celebrated his last birthday in the house, and the Palm Springs estate and Graceland were the only properties he owned when he died.

Fontana, an Elvis fan who lived in Palm Desert, had seen the estate listed in a real estate magazine. He called the agent the next morning and bought it from a man who lived in Japan.

"He hadn't been to America for eight years and thought it was time to sell it,  I was the first caller on the property, I bought it sight unseen," Fontana said. Because the house hadn't been used in 27 years, Reno had to landscape, paint and get rid of animals, bugs and dry rot.

The week after Elvis died, the house was broken into and clothes, guitars, a television set and furniture were stolen. Graceland took what was left, Fontana said. But, he said, the interior of the house, like the kitchen and walls, are original.

The History Channel will film work planned for the living room and dining room, Fontana said.

The house was opened for events in 2008, including celebrations on Elvis' Jan. 8 birthday, and a "Blue Christmas" party.

The estate is used mostly for private events like business and nonprofit functions, parties and weddings, Fontana said.

"The tours are for special occasions," he said.

He said Elvis recorded nine songs at the house, and a new generation seems to be rediscovering the singer.

He said Elvis's wife, Priscilla, wrote in a book that Elvis told her he would never sell the Palm Springs estate.

 For tour information, call the estate at (760) 322-3211.

Indian Wells-Baby Boomers Meet Desert Housing

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794

The Market Watch seminar on April 26th begins by explaining that the median price per sq. ft. of a Valley home rose 8% in the first three months of this year. It further mentions that these prices are just 6% below the $150 per sq. ft. price target predicted for the year.  It also shows that the three months results varied rather widely by city, with the city of La Quinta rising 16% in value while Palm Springs declined 8%. It further explains the reasons why the Valley’ housing market should return to a “normal market” by the end of the year.

But the key information, the real eye opener, was what this “normal market” would be for the Coachella Valley. The presentation shows that the baby boomers – those people born between 1947 and 1960 – started retiring in 2007, right as the housing crisis began. It shows that once the housing recovery is fully in place, there will be 38% more individuals retiring than the number before 2007.  It then shows the impact of this number, not only for Valley housing but also for Valley business, using studies that show how one, new retiree family migrating to an area tends to create one new job in that area.

The final part of the presentation is by Walter Neil of Franklin Loans. He explains that current lending restrictions or conditions should not impede the large retiree migration these birthrate numbers indicate. He describes three very different but common situations retirees face when trying to buy a retirement home and how new mortgage and lending methods allow more individuals to qualify. The final conclusion of the presentation is that the large, birthrate forecast for baby boomers coming to the Valley has a high probability of occurrence which would be tremendous not only for home construction but also for the economy.

Indian Wells stops short-term rentals

by Steve Enlow - DRE #01368794


The city of Indian Wells has issued an emergency ordinance to place a moratorium on short-term rentals in the city.  The city council voted 4-0 during a special session on Monday to stop rentals shorter than 30 days, unless already booked.  The decision came after several residents spoke on the issue.  The ordinance comes in response to what some call a growing problem in the resort community.  The council heard complaints from people who say large groups of young people rent homes on the weekend, line residential streets with cars, then throw huge parties. 

In addition to the moratorium, the council voted to increase fines for disturbance.  The first offense is now $2,000, second is $3,000 and $5,000 for the third.  Councilwoman Mary Roche says it's time to protect the reasons many people move to Indian Wells.  "Our main priority is to our residents and quality of life, we are a residential community," said Roche.

Some in the community even say these "party homes" are hurting the value of their properties.  Many complaints coming from neighbors around a rental on the 75-000 block of Mary Lane. "They turn up the music on their boom boom boxes to a high degree and man they're raising the roof around here," said Richard Pershing who lives in the neighborhood.  "You can't sleep or do anything." 

Not everyone spoke in support of the city.  A few who rent their homes out, said they should not be punished for a few who do not follow policies.  The house on Mary Lane is owned by Luxe Vacation Homes.  The group's lawyer Rob Bernheimer came to the defense of the short-term rental business at the meeting. "Short term rentals in the Coachella Valley create $272 million dollars in economic impact, over 2500 local jobs, 265,000 room nights," said Bernheimer. 

He also sent us this statement on behalf of his client: 

"LUXE does not oppose Indian Wells taking a step back, gathering all the facts and creating new ordinances to appropriately deal with short term rentals. Other cities have had to deal with this. In particular, the City of Palm Desert in 2007 originally banned rentals of less than 30 days. They realized it didn’t work and in 2012 changed their ordinances to allow short term rentals, but have strict regulations and fines for non-compliance. Importantly, cities like Palm Desert contact the renting agency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and require a response within 60 minutes if there is a problem at a rental. Indian Wells, on the other hand, has no process or staffing over the weekend or at night – so if a problem occurs on a Friday or Saturday night, the renting agency is not contacted until Monday, which is too late. We sympathize with neighbors who have endured problem rentals and welcome to the opportunity to work with the City on a better system for short term rentals."

While the council mulls a permanent ordinance, the focus remains on the standard of living their residents want. "We want something that is fair but maintains what we have prided ourselves in Indian Wells is being this prestigious neighborhood," said Roche. 

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 44




Contact Information

Photo of Steve Enlow - BRE #01368794 Real Estate
Steve Enlow - BRE #01368794
Desert Sands Realty
78000 Fred Waring Drive, Suite 202
Palm Desert CA 92211
Fax: (760)262-3232