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Jean's April 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: March 29th, 2020 4:21PM

 
 
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    APRIL 2020 - a new world! Read about
    • COVID19,
    • Real Estate Market/ Mortgage Lending,
    • Personal Air Purifiers,
    • Our recipe of the month,
    • Kudos to two small businesses and
    • Happy Birthday wishes to our 106 year old friend, a WWII  American war hero.
     
    April 1 – April Fools ‘Day - hopefully not an "event" but watch out anyway!

    April 8 – Jewish Passover begins – ending April 16

    April 10 – Good Friday

    April 12 – Easter Sunday

    APRIL 15 – the IRS is ready for YOU.  Filing for 2019 has been extend to July 15, 2020 due to COVID19.

    We’re all feeling a little "funky" with everything that is going on.  As Americans, we’re accustomed to coming and going at-will.  Our brains can’t quite grasp this loss of control we suddenly have about being separated from everyone; or being able to jump in the car to go to a restaurant or movie.  I was thinking this morning as I unloaded the dishwasher with clean dishes (we have electricity and hot water), we had dishes to wash because we have gas to cook our meals and food in the refrigerator.  We have heating and cooling in our home, if we need either.  We can communicate with friends and family because we have our computers and phones. 

    People are pulling together - farmers are farming, cows are milking, volunteers are making masks for our medical personnel, truckers are hard at work delivering food to our stores, volunteers are gathering food for those without, breweries and distilleries are using their facilities to make hand-sanitizing lotion, restaurants are finding a way to do take-out, churches are doing on-line services. The goodness in people is overwhelming in a time of need.

    Not long ago we were talking about devastating hurricanes that hit recently where people have lost everything - homes, power…nothing left.  So, we're OK with staying at home to hopefully stop the spread of this horrific virus.  We're grateful to have a roof over our heads - not everyone does. This kind of situation gives us an opportunity to be grateful for what we do have.

    And plenty of time to do the tasks we don’t like to do without an excuse.  Oh well, every silver lining has another side to it!  Hang in there!


    Our message today is to be patient, kind, cautious, safe - and help each other through these unusual times. We're all in this together.

    Al and Jean
    _________________________________________________________________

     

     

    If you’d like to be inspired by young college students, go to the bottom of this newsletter where there is a link. This touching virtual version of "What the World Needs Now" was put together by Shelbee Rassler, a student pursuing her Bachelor of Music in Composition degree at the Boston Conservatory of Music at Berklee. It is a beautiful tribute to humanity during this COVID19 situation.  It was sent to us by a friend – who forgot to mention a tissue would be needed.  Thank you, Sharon.  We all need to see this.

    ________________________________________________________________

     

    How will COVID19 affect Real Estate and Loans?

     

    First of all,  let us say that Governor Ducey has deemed real estate as an "essential business" for our economy so we're available with limitations per CDC rules.  So far, statistics don't show a slowdown because of business in the "pipeline" but realistically, there will be some effect over the next month or two on sales statistics. We can’t honestly predict market turns because nothing like this has ever happened in the USA…but we’ve been through other major tragic events (i.e. The Subprime Mortgage Crisis of 2008) …and survived. It took time - but the economy came back. People will always need to buy and sell.  The past few weeks have been slower due to the "social distancing" but once this clears up, we hope and anticipate the market will pick up quickly because of pent up need. 

    The NAR (National Association of Realtors) tells us we can, and should, do business but to avoid holding Open Houses during this crisis; not only for the 6’ of social distancing but we shouldn’t have people walking through our listings, touching surfaces, handles etc.  Showing property for the short-term will be via virtual tours until a desirable property is selected by the Buyer. We can show property, but it is recommended that we drive in separate cars. First, of course, we will be sure the clients don't have a fever or coughing. We added to that list that if we’re showing a home, all of us going into the homes will be wearing plastic gloves and practicing social distancing. Of course, plenty of sanitizers will be implemented.


    The Cromford Report tells us that new home construction could slow down for a while due to potential shortages in labor and materials. Rentals: Some tenants will have been out-of-work due to COVID19 which will cause hardships on landlords and tenants alike for a period of time. Housing markets are based on supply and demand - and the demand here has been major. Phoenix is one of the top areas for migration from other states for multiple reasons [the weather, job market, low taxes and reasonable housing prices as compared to other states].  Central Arizona's housing market should remain very healthy so there is no cause for panic; if you need to purchase, it's fine to look now.     The Cromford Report provides daily market insight into the Phoenix metropolitan area residential re-sale real estate market. [NOTE: anything mentioned about the market,COVID19 etc. can change in a heartbeat]

    Escrows may, or may not, need to be a little longer if other affiliated businesses are back-logged but it's too soon to predict that.

    Loans:

    We keep in touch with our trusted mortgage lenders who send us updates regularly.  This one explains the current market succinctly. What he is saying is that if you hear that interest rates are cut, there is more to it.  You’re not going to get a 0% interest rate – that would play havoc on the banking system and economy.  Please read this from Brad Slager of Homeowners Financial Group: BradSlager@homeownersfg.com 480-254-3300.

     

    "The Federal Reserve has taken emergency action to cut rates to zero. While 0% interest rates sound great to anyone who owns a home or is planning to buy, it’s important to slow down and talk through a couple of things

    • First, the Fed does not control mortgage rates. Their cuts apply to rates for loans between the Fed and banks or from one bank to another. 
    • Second, the Fed’s actions most quickly impact the rates on U.S. Treasury Securities. These markets can influence Mortgage Backed Securities, which will then influence mortgage rates. 

    However, in times of uncertainty, other factors can overrule the norm. This happened in 2008. Despite aggressive cuts by the Fed, mortgage rates hit a floor and never fell further. The same is happening now.

    The Bottom Line - A 0% Fed funds rate will not lead to a 0% mortgage loan rate. Mortgage bonds will always have a level under which investors simply will not purchase them, and mortgage rates reflect that.


    The Good News - Mortgage rates are at or near their lowest levels ever. That spells opportunity to save significantly by refinancing or locking in a great rate on a purchase
    ."

    _______________________________________________________________

    And reporting from the FHA side....

       
     

    FHA updates from Danny Lopezlira of Fairway Independent Mortgage (danny.lopezlira@fairwaymc.com or 602-617-2463).  Danny just sent us this update from a resource that lenders often use for updates.  www.housingwire.com  This puts a very new spin on lending regarding FICO scores, LTD (loan to debt values) and required down payments coming up. Everything is our world is changing daily so - hold onto your hats.

    https://www.housingwire.com/articles/is-the-coronavirus-about-to-wipe-out-fha-lending/
    _
    _______________________________________________________

       
     

    Air-Tamer A302 - Personal Air Purifier

       
     

    NOTE: This device will NOT protect you from the COVID19 virus because, according to current CDC as of today, it is not known to be an airborne disease (direct contact or surfaces) but it can be effective from people in the grocery, crowded places, airplanes, trains etc. where you’re exposed to colds or influenza.

    For many years, we’ve traveled with air-purifier necklaces which are very effective. With the COVID19 situation, we decided it was time to replace them for more current technology; we noticed in our Magellan’s catalog (travel items), a much smaller and improved item called the AirTamer A-302 Personal Ionic Air Purifier (it uses 2 CR2025 coin batteries for about 180 hours/7 days of continuous use). We purchased two new units last week for $79.00 each 

    Once everyone is allowed to travel again, you’ll want to take this device with you. And the good thing is that it is now very small (1" x 3" and weighs practically nothing). That's a Quarter next to it so you can see how small is really is. "Certified to remove dangerous pollutants from the air you breathe, the AirTamer A302 effectively protects you from airborne pollutants such as bacteria and viruses; The A302 is the perfect accessory to protect yourself during flu season"  
    _________________________________________________________

       
     

    Our new world with COVID19

       
     

    Who could have imagined going from the booming economy with the lowest jobless rate in years to...THIS? But we did. We’ve even got new vocabulary words like "social distancing." It’s very disconcerting but despite the bad behavior of a few, the goodness in people comes out too – neighbors, family and friends are touching base and/or sharing. Younger generations are helping their parents or grandparents to keep them out of the stores. We’re supposed to stay "a glass pane away" from our young family members. Caring for each other and remembering how much we treasure each other is the end game.

    Going through this is difficult, no matter where you live, but here in Arizona you can get out in the sunshine to take a walk, wave at your neighbors while exercising "social distancing."

    According to the CDC, "during the 2018–2019 season, estimates of hospitalizations and mortality associated with the 2018–2019 influenza season continue to demonstrate how serious influenza virus infection can be. We estimate, overall, there were 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths during the 2018–2019 season."   We were certainly not aware of those numbers until  the news frenzy with the COVID19 began.  How will they compare in the end to last year’s influenza season? Nobody knows yet.

    Pandemics have been tracked since 167 AD…the worst being the Bubonic Plague (1347-1351) where 200 million people died. Since 1900, the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 (40-50 million), the Asian Flu of 1957-58 (1.1 million), the Hong Kong Flu of 1968-70 (1 million) but the worst in our lifetime was the loss from HIV/AIDS starting back in 1981 (25-35 million).  Today, treatments and cures are so far advanced from years gone by and while there have been other outbreaks (SARS, SWINE, MERS and EBOLA), those numbers were significantly less.

    If you’re curious about world history and events of this sort, you might find this interesting.

    https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-of-pandemics-deadliest/?fbclid=IwAR2GrnVFUz--QhrMfmRdcYaYh-yyT1FhJzkOilPLHlCgq34X-n1rRLq3r4o

    The good news is that most people recuperate and survive COVID19.  The biggest concern is the spread.  Of course, those most vulnerable are our Seniors; especially those with underlying health issues. Statistic and information seem to change hourly.

    For current and accurate information, go to this link by the CDC (Center for Disease Control):

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html 

    The food/supplies situation has been a challenge. As our Moms used to say,  "Waste not; want not," or "Clean your plate because there are starving children in China" [I still don’t grasp  how my having to choke down lima beans would solve hunger anywhere], "This too shall pass," and it will…maybe not overnight but we’re a strong country. 

    Quick tips:

    • If you don’t have hand-wipes to take with you, take either a damp cloth or one sheet of a Lysol cleaning wipe in a zip-lock bag to wipe down surfaces if you have to leave the house.
    • If you need to do a grocery run, wear plastic gloves.
    • One of the worst germ-catchers are kitchen sponges and brushes. We toss those into the dishwasher or laundry every time we run a load. Or, replace them regularly.

    Our philosophy in trying to find something positive in this tragic situation is…

    • Nearly bare grocery shelves – this is Mother Nature’s way of clearing the shelves of older product so everything will now be new and fresh.
    • God help the husband who has put off the wife’s HONEY-DO list because now he’s got plenty of time to do them all
    • And about those drawers, cabinets and closets – it’s great to delve into that project out of shear boredom.  Our pantry is now a work of art, as is our closet!  The hall closet and file drawers are calling…but we’ve ignored the wailing, so far.
    ___________________________________________________________________________
       
     

    AND NOW...FOR THAT INSPIRING YOU TUBE:

       
     

    Presented by music students from the Boston Conservatory of Music: 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QagzdvzzHBQ&feature=youtu.be

       
       
     

    Happy 106th Birthday to Captain Richard S. Roberts (USN Ret) Born April 17, 1914

       
     

    I met Robbie in 1984 on a trip to Egypt/Israel/Jordon/Greece – he’s been a precious friend to both of us for all of these years.  Robbie is a highly decorated combat aviator who flew in WWII and beyond. He’s been awarded the Bronze Star (plus over 20 commendations) and is the eldest member of the Navy League of the United States.

    Last year, Robbie was honored by the US Navy by naming a jet after him in recognition of his service (from 1938-1963) to his country.  He’s one of the few remaining WWII/Pacific Theater and Korean War Veterans still with us.  Forgive us for going on and on but he’s such an amazement to us.  He’s so humble and proud to have served,

     

    Here’s a brief YouTube from 2018 at one of many honorary events that have been bestowed upon Robbie.  He’s something!  Always charming and bright on the phone. 

    https://www.facebook.com/SeminoleCounty/videos/1855937097783124/?v=1855937097783124

    Our love and best wishes to you, Robbie, for a Happy Birthday.  We wish we could hop on a plane to Florida to honor you in person…obviously that can’t happen.  We’ll have to catch you next year.

     

       

     
     
    The Batson Team HomeSmart
    Jean Batson
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Home Smart
     

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    Kudos to Two Small
    Business
     

    A couple of weeks ago, just before everything was shut down due to the COVID19 situation, we had a client whose home we’d sold; they were returning to Canada after 23 years here as "seasonal visitors." The only way to sell everything from the furniture to the kitchen spices was an estate sale.  Enter, Mary Beth Ellenberger of SOS Estate & Renovation Sales who came in with her crew, went through every item in the house, setting it up like a store, which took a lot of time and skill.  She ran the sale for three days – almost everything was sold but the few things remaining were picked up by a charity the next day.   They did a fantastic job; the sellers didn’t have to lift a finger after they removed the personal items going home with them.  At the end, they got a nice check. And talk about timing – the day after it was done, estates sales were temporarily banned due to the COVID virus.  Thanks Mary Beth!
    mbellenberger@yahoo.com 
    602-361-5981 http://www.soshouseholdsales.com
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    _______________________________

    And - All-Pro Carpet Cleaning


    And…after hundreds of people go through a home for an estate sale on a slightly rainy weekend, the light carpet was a wreck…enter All-Pro Carpet Cleaning, our go-to service for the past several years.  They’re beyond amazing.  Al sent Thomas Uhlenberg, the owner, a photo of the carpet so he knew the challenge ahead – and they delivered.  The light beige carpet was as good as new when they were done.  So, if you need to have your carpets (or tile, oriental rugs) cleaned, we highly recommend this service. 

    480-239-1759 https://allprocarpetandtilecleaning.com/ 
     tuhlenberg@aol.com  

     

     
    _______________________

     

    Jean's Cooking Corner

    In times like this when you may not always be able to get the meat you had on your list…or you need meals that will stretch …. yet still be EASY (my mantra), I like to think of ground beef as my good friend. It's so flexible - this is just the tip of the iceburg for ideas:

    • Hamburgers/Cheeseburgers – let your imagination soar (stuff it/top it?) – have fun with it.
    • Meatballs (so many versions of that and ways to add an interesting sauce.(See below for a quickie idea)*
    • Spaghetti and Meatballs – does that sound better?
    • Bolognese sauce
    • Sloppy Joe's – our generation grew up with them…just like a burger, all you need is a bun. That’s what we’re sharing this month. Very tasty.
    • Meat loaf – yum
    • Tacos
    • Ground beef Enchiladas
    • Lasagna
    • Pasta dishes of all sorts
    • Stroganoff
    • Shepherd’s Pie
    • Chili
    • You get the idea……do something different – be creative
     
    Mom MacLeod's Sloppy Joes:
      1 lb.ground beef
      1/2 chopped onion
      1 can Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup
      2-3 TBS. Ketchup
      2 tsp. Mustard
      Garlic salt to taste
      Salt & Pepper to taste
     
    Directions
     

    Brown the beef and onions, separating meat.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve on a bun
    1 recipe serves 3-4.

     

    *Meatball Sauce Varieties (for an Appetizer or Entree  

     

    These two are almost the same – both start out with a jar of Chili Sauce.

    First:  To the Chili sauce, add a medium jar of grape jelly.  Mix together, heat and pour over your warm meatballs. Serve

     or

    Second:  To the Chili sauce, add a can of Whole Cranberry Sauce (don’t use the "jellied" version).  Mix together, heat and pour over your warm meatballs. Serve

    Either one is suitable for an entrée served with vegetables and…whatever you want…or whenever you need an appetizer for a group…yes, that day will come again!   Great served in a chafing dish or crock pot.

     
     
    The family that cooks together, laughs together - now is the time to eat together as a unit.  Nobody is going anywhere now so - make the best of it.
     
     
    ONE QUESTION: In this time of 
    staying at home with completely
    different routines...
     

    DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS?
     
 
 
 
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
 
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Jean's March 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: March 1st, 2020 5:50PM

 
 
  •  
     
    March Doings:

    SPRING TRAINING CONTINUES TO March 22nd.   Here’s the website to check out those games: https://cactusleague.com/schedule.php

    T
    he 32nd Annual AZ Renaissance Festival is on Saturdays/Sundays from 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. in Apache Junction to March 29th. https://arizona.renfestinfo.com/

    March 7-8 The 56th Annual Scottish Festival (dear to my heart) at Steele Indian School Park. For details, go to: http://phoenixscottishgames.com/

    (
    As a side note - if you visit the patio bar at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, a bagpiper performs at sunset.  Delightful. And I had to picture a piper in my family tartan/MacLeod.  I just couldn't stop myself!). We recently went with friends.  The food was great too!


    March 8th/Sunday - this is the day (12:01 a.m.) when most of the country 

    springs forward an hour (except Arizona and Hawaii) so be aware when calling your friends and family about the change in time.



    See below*
     about the MAINE LOBSTER LADY's food truck (unbelievable!) who will be at the Scottsdale Art Festival March 13-15.  Check it out:  http://www.mainelobsterlady.com 

    March 17th - the luck of the Irish to you - Happy St. Patrick's Day

    March 27-29 – The Tempe Festival of Arts held from 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For details, check out: https://www.tempefestivalofthearts.com/

    March 30th – National Doctor’s Day – say thank you to the doctor (s) that keep you going.


     
     *Maine Lobster Lady

    Last month when our friends were in town from Heber-Overgaard, we took our own advice (we’d listed it on the THINGS TO DO list in our February newsletter) and went to the Street Food Truck Festival.  None of us had done that before so it was fun wandering around and tasting this ‘n that.  When we realized the MAINE LOBSTER LADY was there, we ran at top speed to get in line. OK - I ran like the wind - they graciously followed.

    We love lobster any way you can prepare it; nothing we’ve run across has come close to her lobster. I’m never short of words, as everyone knows, but describing the "Butter Lobster Roll" properly is beyond my pay-grade.  You can get all the details from her website (listed above).

     ...and Sandy…she’ll be at Gainey Ranch on March 4th and the Scottsdale Art Festival March 13-15!    Oh, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.....we've never seen such huge chunks of fresh lobster before.
    ________________________________________________________________________. 
     
    CORONAVIRUS... and its impact in the USA

    Other than the normal election-year political race with commercials, debates and so forth as a distraction, our country is at the lowest joblessness rate in years, the highest stock market with good interest rates on home loans.  Housing in many of areas is in short supply so a well-priced and maintained home should sell quickly.  Building and growth is booming as evidenced all around us.  But all of that can change overnight - temporarily.

    The only "hitch" to our booming economy is this horrific Coronavirus situation.  With travel to/from China slowed down and many Chinese factories closed, the economy world-wide is taking a hit. From toys to electronics to wedding /prom gowns to cars, shortages will be felt at the retail level everywhere. That hits jobs, retail sales and our economy.

    Tourism is a major source of revenue world-wide. Many tourists, are not traveling and/or are canceling their plans due to the Coronavirus.  A commentator on the news this morning indicated that travelers should not cancel prematurely due to the hefty cancellation fees.  They indicated that airlines, tour and cruise line companies, will automatically cancel if danger is perceived. Wait until the last possible minute.  At least for the short-term.  This too will dramatically hit the economy.

    Everyone in the world is worried about the spread of the disease, which is only natural.  It is an issue that world leaders are working hard to identify and cure.  Who knows how long this will go on or what will happen but the advice we were given is DON’T PANIC – do your due diligence to make wise decisions on everything.  

    _________________________________________________________________

    March means the 2020 U.S. Census will begin
     

    The next census (2020) is right around the corner, and it will serve as a guiding tool as we plan for the next decade. You can expect to hear from the US CENSUS beginning this month.  When you respond to the census, your answers are kept anonymous. They are used only to produce statistics.  The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. The law ensures that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

    Nearly $3,000 per person, per year, can be tied to the census count; that’s more than $20.5 billion annually. Those are funds needed to build things like our transit systems, community centers and housing. In addition, funds are used to provide medical support, our foster system, and so much more.  For more information, go tohttps://2020census.gov/en/what-is-2020-census.html

     

    March - the month to start Spring Cleaning
    The first spring cleaning of the year is a golden opportunity to refresh, renew, and rejuvenate our homes...and it feels so good when you check off each job completed. Don't know where to start? Take note of these handy hints to help tackle your big 2020 spruce-up.

    Create a plan of action for each room/area in your house. Start by getting rid of things you don't need or want.  From there, hone in on specific jobs. It'll be incredibly satisfying as you check off each job!  Don't look at it as an overall task; break it down into small increments.  Otherwise, it'll be too overwhelming.

    In your kitchen, pay extra attention to overlooked areas, like the microwave, oven, sink, fridge, pots and pans, and that often-forgotten junk drawer. Empty and clean cabinets one-by-one. Check your canned goods (and refrigerator items) to see if they're still within the suggested date. If you like to keep things eco-friendly, citrus can go a long way: rub a slice of lemon on your cutting boards to help get rid of tough stains.

    In the bathroom, delegate your time between machine-washing shower curtains (just be sure to use the gentle cycle), decluttering and getting rid of make-up, ointments, and medicines, freshening shower drains and grouting. Apply a paste made of baking soda and water to grout and scrub with an old toothbrush. Afterwards, spray the grout with white vinegar and water, and let the mixture bubble for 30 minutes before rinsing.

    Don't forget to refresh your bedding. Pillows should be replaced every one or two years (depending on their quality), while comforters need a deep clean at least twice a year. Some pillows can be freshened in the dryer.  Blankets that are washable should be washed periodically.  Same with bedspreads.

    When you finish your spring clean, remember to clean your tools and stock up on cleaning supplies so your next cleaning job is efficient and easy. Vacuums, brooms, dryers, and dishwashers deserve your attention too!

    When Buying a Home, what is the EMD? (Earnest Money Deposit)
     
    Now that you have found a house that you want to call home, it's time to sit down to write an offer that will get a positive response from the seller. The stronger your offer, the better your chances are for it to be accepted by the Seller. Currently we have a shortage of homes in certain price ranges so if you want that home; make the best offer you can.  

    One of the first items that we will discuss with you will be the earnest money deposit (EMD) that should accompany the purchase offer upon presentation to the seller. This is the money that shows your good faith and demonstrates that you are serious about going through with the sale. Usually the earnest money deposit is offered in the form of a cashier's or personal check. Or it may be electronically transferred into a designated escrow account upon acceptance of the offer. 

    Approximately 1-2% of the purchase price is the customary amount of the EMD. It is deposited by the Buyer into escrow immediately upon acceptance of the contract. A contract is binding on both sides.  There are three reasons the buyer can get the EMD back and cancel.  1) The inspection shows repairs that the buyer thinks should be covered so can refuse to the property if the seller won't do them. Of course, this is only for items that affect the safety of the home; not cosmetic items.  2) The property does not appraise at value (sales price or more) and a compromise cannot be reached and 3) if it turns out the buyer can't qualify for the loan.  This is rare because the buyer has to enter the contract pre-qualified.

    Aging with Purpose
     

    No matter your age, there are certain facts that can lead to a happier, healthier life. Be PROACTIVE on taking care of business.  It's just wise.

    We’ve all read articles about staying healthy and happy – one of the primary indicators for both is maintaining an active life where you interact with others regularly not only socially but in ways that stimulate your brain…reading, playing games with friends/family, volunteering, working and regular exercise.  Exercise can be anything from walking daily, doing at-home exercise or going to a gym. All of these activities help to keep us active longer.

     
    1. Be sure all of your utilities are in both names if you’re married.  If something happens to one of you, it’s much easier on the surviving spouse to change the service. Go check – right now please.
    2. If your vehicles are in one spouse’s name, change it so that both spouses are on the title – we do ours as "or" (example Jane L Doe and/or John H. Doe.)  Again, if something happens to one spouse, the remaining one can handle the sale of any vehicle (this includes toys like ATV’s, motorcyles, boats, RV’s) without issue.
    3. Be sure your family knows your wishes if something were to happen to you – provide a signed document regarding a DNR (do not resuscitate), and your end-of-life wishes if you were to pass on. This has happened in so many cases where a young person passes and nobody has the information to make the decision you’d want. 
    4. If you’re married, do you both know your financial status (your assets/investments, how to manage them – are bills on auto-pay – are your property taxes paid automatically?)  We’ve seen a number of cases where property taxes were forgotten.  Unpaid HOA fees and property taxes can lead to foreclosure. Both parties should have a full understanding of the finances. 
    5. Make a list of people who should be contacted in case of an emergency.  Your family may not have any idea.

    If you’re unmarried but have a roommate, make sure everything is in writing and/or the roommate knows how to get in touch with your family in an emergency. If you go your separate ways, who keeps what? Keep your finances totally separate – just in case things go sideways one day. Nobody knows what changes life will bring.

     
    Next month, we'll talk about downsizing for Seniors and the plethora of services to help you.  We get it - it can be  overwhelming to think about sorting, packing and moving.
    We've got a resource for you.
     
     
    The Batson Team HomeSmart
    Jean Batson
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Home Smart
     
     
     
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    Each month I'll give you a new question.

    Just reply to this email for the answer.

    Which woman founded modern nursing and was nicknamed "Lady with the Lamp"?
     

    Cinnamon-Raisin Bread Pudding
     

    I cut this recipe out of a newspaper in 2003 but it wasn’t until last year that I made it. I modified it a little.  And so can you – add whatever you want (chocolate chips, grated orange peel???)

    It is so quick and easy to make… and a real crowd pleaser.  Even Al, who says he doesn’t like bread pudding, loves it. 

    You'll need a 9" x 13" baking dish.

    Serves 12+
     
      1 16-ounce loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread; cut into 1" pieces
      1+ cup raisins
      6 cups milk (I use 3 cups whipping cream and 3 cups 2% milk)
      2 3-oz, boxes of vanilla pudding mix (cook-and-serve: NOT INSTANT)
      1/4 tsp. ginger
      1/2 tsp. cinnamon
      1 tsp. vanilla extract
     
    Directions
     
    Preheat oven to 350F.
    • Toss the bread, raisins and 2 cups of the milk mixture into an ungreased baking dish until all of the bread pieces are moist.  SET ASIDE FOR 10 MINUTES.
    • In a bowl, combine pudding mix, vanilla, ginger and cinnamon in remaining milk mixture; whip until smooth; then pour evenly over the bread.
    • Bake 1 hour or until the top is browned and the center is set (soft is OK).
    • Cool on a rack.
    • Serve warm or chilled.   I ALWAYS SERVE WARM WITH A BIG BLOB OF WHIPPED CREAM.  Some people prefer it chilled with ice cream. 

     
    Fresh Whipped Cream

    Whipped Cream – We’ve all used the Redi-Whip type but freshly whipped is so good and takes seconds.  We usually keep a carton of whipping cream in the fridge…just in case.  I rarely make dessert for the two of us, but occasionally we’ll have company.  Here’s a very quick version of WHIPPED CREAM:

    To  ONE CUP WHIPPING CREAM…add

    • 2 TBS Powdered Sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    If you chill your glass bowl and whipping cream for about ten minutes, it whips up in a matter of minutes.  It keeps for a day or two.   If I’m preparing for 6-8 or more), I’ll make 2 cups. DELICIOUS!

     
 
 
 
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
 
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Jean's February 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: January 31st, 2020 5:53PM

 
 
 

February in Arizona – sunshine, hot air balloons floating over the desert…cool evenings and tourists. It is magnificent.

 
FEBRUARY  – the month of love – all kinds…from romantic to loving our friends and family (and showing it)…and showing kindness and respect for people we meet in life…and while your heart is leaping – remember its LEAP YEAR* so we have an extra day in February this year.

February 14      Valentine’s Day

February 17      Presidents’ Day

February 29 – last day of February this year so celebrate because we won’t get another on until 2024. It's a gift of one free day!

What is this phenomenon called Leap Year?  February 29 is a date that usually occurs every four years and is called leap day. This day is added to the calendar in leap years as a corrective measure, because the Earth does not orbit the sun in precisely 365 days. ... This is what we would call a period of eight days

EVENTS::

The Barrett Jackson Car Auction has wrapped and the famous Phoenix Open (since 1932) finishes up on February 2nd (known as the Waste-Management TPC). We’ve always got something going on here so we can't show it all but here are a few:

  • February 1 (10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.) Our friend Jack Comiskey will be showing his art at the AZ SAGE ART MARKET, Holland Community Center, 34250 N. 60th Street, Building B, Scottsdale.  He's won many awards in his career.
  •  February 8th – the 67th annual Parada del Sol parade and Festival in Old Town Scottsdale
  • February 8th & 9th – WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HOOPS CONTEST – at Heard Museum on Central Avenue. A gathering of native tribes from all over the USA competing in Hoop Dancing on the lawns at Heard.  Absolutely fascinating to watch. We took Al’s Mom there a few years ago – loved it!
  • February 8th & 9th – Street Eats Food Truck Festival – taste local food either by getting samples or buying full portions.  Held at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
  • February 13th  -23rd – 65th Annual Arabian Horse Show at West World/Scottsdale.  Shows, competitions and all sorts of activities around this equestrian event
5 Financial Benefits of Owning a Home
 
You want to make smart financial choices for your future. Do those include buying a home? Here are five financial benefits that point to yes.

1. Tax breaks: As a homeowner, you may qualify for tax benefits. These deductions can help offset other costs of homeownership. Potential deductions include the interest on your mortgage, property taxes, and home equity lines of credit.

2. Stability: If you take out a fixed-rate mortgage, you'll know what payments to expect for the life of the loan. Rent, on the other hand, often increases annually. When you own a home, you also typically have more control over expenses such as utilities, so you can make choices that encourage efficiency and save money each month.

3. Forced savings: Each month, as you pay down your mortgage, you are adding equity. This can be an excellent way to build wealth. In the future, you can sell the home for a profit or borrow against the equity to obtain needed funds. Medical emergencies, college tuition, and home repairs or renovations are common uses for these funds. If you pay more than the monthly payment each month, you'll reach your goal faster.  All extra paid goes directly to building your equity. Wouldn't it be a gift to yourself to have a paid-for home when you retire?

4. Good health: A mortgage looks good on a credit report and can help you establish a healthy score. As you faithfully pay off the loan, your score can increase. This can prove helpful in obtaining lower insurance rates and qualifying for lower rates on future purchases.

5. Final payment: When you buy a home, there will come a day when you no longer have to make your mortgage payment. It will eventually be your property, free and clear. (Time to celebrate!) This scenario is much different than paying rent, which will continue for a lifetime.


 
 
Getting Your Legal Life Organized
 

In January we talked about property maintenance and doing it on schedule.  This month the topic is the  maintenance of your personal records. 

Everyone who has assets (that’s just about every adult) would be wise to have their legal documents in order.  An attorney who specializes in Wills/Trusts would be the best way to go. 

Death is something most people are uncomfortable talking about.  We know it can make your adult children squirm when you try to discuss the reality that you will eventually pass. Since none of us will get out of here alive,  being prepared equals wise planning. And a very kind gift to your survivors.  

Obviously if you’re 65 or over, it is even more important to have everything done.  We’ve known of situations where death was sudden with no final arrangements in place; thus, putting additional stress on the family. We’ve unfortunately known this to happen to friends who are very young as well.  Reviewing your documents every few years is wise.  Situations change.  Laws change.

 Here’s are forms/issues to discuss with your family and/or attorney::

  • A Will or Trust (or both)
  • If you have personal items, you wish to go to specific people – write them down and keep with your legal documents.  Label if possible. Ask your loved ones if they will want something specific.  
  • Have your documents in one place (ours are in the Cloud with access available to our Trustee) and/or safety deposit box.  Tell your family where everything is.
  • A major issue families discover in a sudden death is that nobody knows where the information is and particularly, how to access your computer, accounts etc. 
  • Discuss with your family [and have in writing] your specific wishes regarding burial/cremation, funeral or memorial services.
  • Make those arrangements ahead of time (have your burial plot or pre-paid cremation plan in order) so your survivors don’t have to figure this out in their grief.
  • A designated person to be able to act on your behalf if you are unable or uncomfortable doing so.  Generally, if you’re married, the surviving spouse makes those decisions (medical and financial).  A secondary person should also be designated if the spouse cannot or there is no spouse.  This could be in the form of POA’s (Power of Attorney) for general decisions and/or specifically to make your medical decisions.
  • Your physician and/or family member should have your Living Will (directive as to your wishes in a medical emergency) available in case of emergency

Both of our parents were very specific, in writing, as to their wishes and their documentation was all in order which made a difficult situation easier for us when the time came.

Note: We have a wealth of resources available.  If you have proven resources (attorney, CPA, elder care, etc., please share for our list.


 
LOAN LIMIT CHANGES BY THE FEDERAL GOVENMENT

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)  announced the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2020. In most of the U.S., the 2020 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $510,400, an increase from $484,350 in 2019.

These loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls "high-cost areas," where 115% of the local median home value exceeds the baseline loan limit. Those limits will increase from $726,525 to $765,600.

The conforming loan limits for Fannie and Freddie are determined by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, which establishes baseline loan limits. Earlier today, FHFA published its third quarter 2019 FHFA House Price Index (HPI) report, which includes estimates for the increase in the average U.S. home value over the last four quarters. According to FHFA’s seasonally adjusted, expanded data HPI, house prices increased 5.38 percent, on average, between the third quarters of 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the baseline maximum conforming loan limit in 2020 will increase by the same percentage.

Those limits above are for one-unit properties. Two- to four-unit properties have also increased. For more details on that, a mortgage lender can fill you in.

This is great news for homeowners and homebuyers as it’s a true economic indicator that the housing market continues to be robust. Additionally, conforming loans are ideal for many buyers as it allows for low down payments. (information from Brad Slager/Homeowners Financial)


Phoenx and Scottsdale areas - New Construction
 

DESERT RIDGE: As posted by our local Realtor’s Association (SAAR): Shea Homes has purchased approximately 25.06 acres of land located at 56th Street and Deer Valley Road in Phoenix, closing escrow on December 11, 2019. Construction of model homes is slated to begin in the second half of 2020. The new community name will be Talinn at Desert Ridge.

The homebuilder plans to build approximately 83 single-family homes during Phase 1. The homes will range in size from approximately 2,318-3,738 square feet. Floorplans are expected to be like those currently available at Emblem/Aloravita in Peoria. The community is slated to have amenities such as a large community park and recreation center.

"Our team is working hard to meet the increasing demand for new homes in the Valley," said Shea Homes Arizona Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ken Peterson. "But we don’t close on a land deal until we are certain we’ve found the right spot. Talinn at Desert Ridge will bring some of our most popular Shea floorplans to the highly coveted Desert Ridge area. We think homebuyers are going to be pretty excited about this new Phoenix community."

Shea Homes is planning to close on an additional 54 lots for Phase 2 of Talinn at Desert Ridge in late 2020.

SCOTTSDALE (Tatum/Bell to Grovers):  In 2019, D.R. Horton bought the land surrounding Bell Road and Tatum Boulevard, for about $80 million, according to public real estate records. The deal breaks down to more than $670,000 an acre, the highest price ever paid for vacant land in the city of Phoenix.

To better describe the location – from Grovers/Tatum (east side) going south to Bell Road surrounding the Fry’s shopping center at Bell/Tatum is the location where this major project will be built. The land is over 121 acres and will have a massive clubhouse in addition to other amenities. The neighborhoods will be connected by sidewalks inside this gated community.  There will be both single family homes as well as condominiums.

The plan for this development [to be called ARABELLA]  is to be built in three phases – the first of which will hopefully be opening around the end of this year.  Information on home prices isn’t yet available. Based on what Horton paid for the land, luxury condos and houses will be built there.  As this project progresses over the months, we’ll keep you posted.


 
How to Get the Most from a Home Inspection
 
Buying a home is probably the single most significant investment you'll make in your lifetime. When you're making such a significant purchase, you want to know exactly what you’re getting.

This is the goal of a home inspection. A professional inspector will review the home and point out any potential concerns. Here’s how it works.

1. Arrange for the inspection: Typically, you will include an inspection contingency as part of your offer to purchase the home. This contingency will allow you to order an inspection (at your expense), then determine if you would like to proceed with the purchase, based on the results.

2. Complete the inspection: You should be present so the inspector can review any items of concern with you in person after it is complete.

He or she will inspect all the home’s systems, structural components, and general condition and provide a report that notes any areas of concern.

3. Request repairs: You’ll review the inspection report with your real estate agent and decide if there are any items you would like the seller to address. You can request that the seller make the repairs or provide a credit to cover their cost.

Typical things to address are safety concerns and essential functions (doors, windows, locks). If the sellers refuse to negotiate, you can decide whether you want to move forward with the purchase or move on to another home.

We always schedule a home inspection for our Buyers - with Nau Inspections
bob@nauinspections.com  https://nauinspections.com .
 
 
 
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Home Smart
 
 
Kudo's to a Local Business
 

While parked in a restaurant parking lot last week, someone hit our front passenger side (and RAN) leaving a long, ugly scrape.   We took it to SERVICE KING, 3756 E. Bell Road, Phoenix to see what it would cost to repair. They took a look, asked to take the vehicle to the back.  In 10 minutes or so, John returned saying he’d been able to buff and treat the scrape so we could barely see it. We were in and out in a jiffy. Now THAT is CUSTOMER SERVICE.  And note that SERVICE KING goes out of their way to help Vets with jobs and discounts. We’d gone there years ago when a car had damage; their work is superb…which brought us back this time.


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Quick Quiz
 
Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just reply to this email for the answer.

Which US state produces the most roses for Valentine’s Day?
 

Puff Pastry Hearts

Yields 16 hearts
 
  1/3 cup sugar
  3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
  1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (follow directions on package if frozen)
  5 tablespoons butter, melted
 
Directions
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small bowl, combine sugar and spices. Roll dough out slightly with a rolling pin, keeping a rectangular shape. Then brush 3 tablespoons butter on one side and sprinkle the spiced sugar evenly over the dough.

Starting with each of the short ends of the dough, roll them toward each other (like you would with a jelly roll) until they meet in the center of the rectangle. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 40 minutes.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll crosswise into 16 slices and place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Gently and evenly press them down to 1/4-inch thick, then pinch and shape the bottom of each slice to create a heart shape. Brush with remaining butter and bake until golden brown (about 10 minutes).
 

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
 
 
What is a contingency?

When a contract to purchase a home includes a contingency, this means the deal is contingent on (conditional, subject to, depends on) something for it to move forward. In other words, it is contingent on something the buyer must do.

If a contingency clause is written into the contract, and the condition is not met, the buyer can break the contract without penalty.

Several types of contingencies are shared in real estate contracts. The buyer may include a home inspection contingency (to complete an inspection of the property), a financing contingency (to obtain a mortgage for the purchase), or a home sale contingency (to sell their current home before purchasing the new one).

Contingency clauses usually specify a date by which these conditions must be met. If they are not met by the deadline, the buyer can request an extension, or the contract may be canceled.
_________________________________________
SENIOR SCAM RUNNING RAMPANT

The scam usually begins with an unsolicited robocall that sometimes appears on the caller ID as Social Security Administration. Scammers attempt to scare the victim by claiming that his or her Social Security number has been suspended because of suspicious activity. The objective is to fraudulently take money or obtain personal information from the victim. Scammers attempt to isolate the victim and claim that the only way to resolve the issue is to transfer money or provide sensitive information..

Many seniors who have been affected … are either too embarrassed to report their loss or don’t know where to turn.  The scam resulted in the theft of $38 million from Americans in 2019, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

PLEASE BE AWARE - PHONE SCAMS ARE RUNNING RAMPANT - the IRS or SSA are NOT going to call for a chat.  Anything involving your personal information situations will be mailed. And even then - be cautious.  Call the agency involved to be sure it is from them.

 
Scams are scary but for the most part, people 
are good.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
 
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Jean's January 2020 Newsletter

Posted On: January 4th, 2020 6:55PM

 

 

I wish I could tell you that I came up with this genius idea but alas, no.  We got this from good friends who served it to our WINOS (wine club).  It’s a delicious and easy way to make sliders without the hassle of cooking each burger individually.

 

 
 
 
 
HAPPY NEW YEAR  2020
 
 

Happy New Year – a new year with plenty going on in the Phoenix area!

  • January 11-19 Barrett Jackson Auction/West World in Scottsdale. For details go to: https://barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Home/Scottsdale-2020/d114c99a-0e71-46b2-8cde-20a53c127270 to find information on tickets, the collection (including the PAUL WALKER COLLECTION/21 vehicles) and new safety standards (i.e. only see-through bags allowed in)
  • January 1-19 ZOO LIGHTS continues until January 19th at the Phoenix Zoo. 
  • January 27-February 2nd – one of the major sporting events of the year will be the WM (Waste Management) Phoenix Open Golf Tournament.  This event brings thousands of visitors to our area.  For detailed information go to: https://wmphoenixopen.com/tickets/  (NOTE: if you’re a First Responder or Active/Reserve or Retired Military, go to the website to order your FREE admission with one paid ticket. 

As we begin this year with a fresh slate, we wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year - a time to reach out, give a smile and a helping hand to those around you.  For us, there is no place else we'd rather be than right here in this glorious state of Arizona. 
Al and Jean


 
Brrr...we're starting 2020 on the brisk side but soon the 70's will be back.
 
Home Maintenance for the New Year!
 

The new year is a good time to check your home out to be sure everything is in tip-top shape.  If the first of each year is set for these items, they aren’t as likely to be forgotten.

  • Change HVAC filters
  • Clean out Dryer ducts
  • Check the water filter in your refrigerator
  • Have your ducts cleaned.  This doesn’t need to be done often.  However, if you have pets that shed, it might be wise to have them cleaned every few years.
  • Check your water softener salt (check monthly)
  • Make sure you’ve had your HVAC system checked to be sure everything is working properly. This should be done bi-annually.

On the latter item, we just had our bi-annual check.  We had a very surprising conversation with our Tech. Al told him we had issues wherein the air flow from room-to-room was sporadic.  Upon investigating, he determined that the builder had installed a unit that was too large for our square footage.  We have just under 1900 sq. ft and a 4 TON A/C UNIT. Bigger is not always better.  In this situation, he said the builder probably bought all 365 A/C units in our community at once rather than considering the size of the individual home.  Every home should have a unit that is designed for the uniqueness of the home – square footage, exposure to sun, arrangement of windows, walls and flow.  Ours, he said is so powerful that it doesn’t run long enough to push out (circulate) the air properly. He recommended setting the temperature and leaving it alone rather than constantly adjusting it.  And when the time comes to replace the HVAC system,  go with a much smaller unit.

For the Air Duct cleaning (we’d had demolition of our bathroom so thought it wise to get that "dust" out) and had the same service do the dryer vents.  We’d asked our remodeling company (LEADER BY DESIGN/SCOTTSDALE) if they had anyone to recommend for these services.  They suggested JOE FILTER (https://joefilter.com/ or call them at 480-813-9494).  That was a goldmine of service recommendations, so we used JOE FILTER for the duct and dryer cleaning. They were very professional and reasonable. We were impressed with how they made sure no vent dust got on anything. Their equipment was perfect for the jobs.  Note that if you do multiple services in one call, you save money.  They’ll do a quarterly service or one-time.  They do:

  • Air filters
  • Refrigerator filters
  • Water Softener salt
  • Reverse Osmosis Filters
  • Replace smoke detector batteries
  • Light Bulb replacement
  • Dryer Vent cleaning
  • Duct cleaning

This may be more than you need but what a nice service to know about for someone who doesn’t want to do any of these tasks.  Or can’t.


Facebook Hack notification from LifeLock

 

What Happened?

 

Data security researchers discovered an online database containing the names, phone numbers, and Facebook IDs of 267 million Facebook users available for download on a hacker forum. The database was not password protected and had been posted on December 12, 2019. On December 14th, the researchers contacted the internet service provider that was hosting the database and the database was removed on December 19th.

Although it is unclear why or how the database was created, researchers warn that such information can be used for phishing or spam, especially via SMS.

Facebook users can maintain better control over what profile information is displayed by adjusting their account privacy settings. For example, users can:

  1. Go to Settings & Privacy in Facebook
  2. Click Privacy Shortcuts
  3. Click See more privacy settings
  4. Set all relevant fields to **Friends** or **Only me**
  5. Set **" Do you want search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile** to **No**
 

2020 - Do you know what's coming back?
 
Every 10 years, the US CENSUS is taken.   This is the year.  More information will follow but suffice it to say, it creates jobs. And you need to know who could be at your front door so we will forward more on that later.   Much of it will be done by mail!  Stay tuned.

What's important to think about when buying?
 

Buying a home is more than determining what you need or want in a home or where it is located.  Of course, the location to work, family or medical services are all important.  And everyone has a type of home that works best for their lifestyle. Those items are probably already in the Buyer's mind.  Most people need a loan to purchase their home. So what do you need to think about?

The biggest key is the loan amount you qualify for. In most cases, where a loan is needed, a professional mortgage lender is the key, along with your Realtor (which we hope is us).

Improve your debt-to-income ratio: This ratio is key to qualifying for a mortgage. Lenders want to make sure you can handle the additional house debt with your current income. To improve your ratio, pay down (or pay off) any debts you can, and increase your income if possible. 

Saving and building your assets is very important to your future financial health. Retirement age can sneak up on you so BE PREPARED. See the next point regarding spending.

Avoid debt as much as possible but if you have it, methodically pay it off before buying anything else.There is a difference between necessities (food, gasoline) and wants.  Stop shopping as retail therapy  or having ADD TO CART as a regular routine. When you get the urge to splurge, put that amount of money into savings instead.

Improve your credit score: Your credit score is another critical number that lenders consider. To increase your score, pay all your bills on time, avoid opening new lines of credit, and lower your use of credit. It's also a good rule of thumb to check your credit report at least once each year to ensure it is accurate. If there are any errors, report them to the credit bureau immediately.

If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about your options to purchase a home, we can recommend choices of mortgage professionals who can help you make owning a home a reality. Of course, we can do the rest

 
Coming soon. A single-story in Tatum Ranch
$415,000

This beauty is located north of Hwy 101/Tatum Boulevard above Desert Ridge in Tatum Ranch in a lovely community with a community center and an optional golf membership.  The address is Cave Creek, but it is only minutes to everything you’d need…shopping, restaurants…medical offices…freeways.

It is almost 2,000 square feet with a lovely back yard with covered patio – great for entertaining.  The kitchen (with room for a table) has an island (bar seating) and features granite and Stainless-Steel appliances; the window over the sink looks out to the back yard with an arroyo on the other side of the view-fence.

The family room features a lovely fireplace and niches for those decorative items.  The original owners are returning to Canada so this fully furnished home can be purchased furnished (furnishings outside of escrow on a separate Bill of Sale) or vacant.  Perfect for anyone but a gem for snowbirds!  The large master features one of the largest walk-in closets we’ve seen…and access directly to the patio area.  We could go on and on…but we’ve got our professional photographer coming in a couple of weeks, so we’ll have more to share.  Let us know if you know anyone who is looking for a new castle.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What's "growing" on in North Phoenix
 

As posted by our local Realtor’s Association (SAAR): Shea Homes has purchased approximately 25.06 acres of land located at 56th Street and Deer Valley Road in Phoenix, closing escrow on December 11, 2019. Construction of model homes is slated to begin in the second half of 2020. The new community name will be Talinn at Desert Ridge.

The homebuilder plans to build approximately 83 single-family homes during Phase 1. The homes will range in size from approximately 2,318-3,738 square feet. Floorplans are expected to be similar to those currently available at Emblem at Aloravita in Peoria. The community is slated to have amenities such as a large community park and recreation center.

"Our team is working hard to meet the increasing demand for new homes in the Valley," said Shea Homes Arizona Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ken Peterson. "But we don’t close on a land deal until we are certain we’ve found the right spot. Talinn at Desert Ridge will bring some of our most popular Shea floorplans to the highly coveted Desert Ridge area. We think homebuyers are going to be pretty excited about this new Phoenix community."

Shea Homes is planning to close on an additional 54 lots for Phase 2 of Talinn at Desert Ridge in late 2020. Also, you might be

interested to know that DR HORTON will be building new homes around Tatum/Grovers
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________
To the many friends and family members dealing with health issues currently, we hope and pray that your journey will lead you
on a path to good health and happiness in the new year.   HAPPY NEW YEAR
 


 
 
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
 
 
 
 
 
 
Home Smart
 
Costo Car Buying Service

Jacqui, our granddaughter, raved about her experience in purchasing her vehicle some months back.  She went online to COSTCO AUTO BUYING:  www.costcoauto.com  

They have over 3,000 dealerships with an on-site assigned person to help you.  The prices are set thus no haggling needed – the price is discounted to 10% below Dealer’s Invoice and incentives or rebates. In the past five years, over 2.3 million Costco Members have purchased this way.

Once you have a vehicle in mind, you go on the website, select the vehicle and get your AUTHORIZATION NUMBER.  You will be contacted by a local dealer.  You can make an appointment to visit.  They’ll tell you what they’ve got (or have access to) that matches your criteria (year, make, model, color and accessories); then give you the price. No pressure to buy but they will give you their price and terms…and if you purchase with a trade-in, they’ll handle all the paperwork too.  Basically, you show up and buy or not.   A shout out to Jeff Zillinski (jeff.zillinski@earnhardt.com) who is a perfect example on how this system should work

 
 

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Quick Quiz
 
Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just reply to this email for the answer.

What insect migrates to a warmer climate 2,500 miles away each winter?
 

Beef Sliders for a
Crowd

 I wish I could tell you that I came up with this genius idea but alas, no.  We got this from good friends who served it to our WINOS (wine club).  It’s a delicious and easy way to make sliders without the hassle of cooking each burger individually.

 

You'll need a rimmed baking sheet (10 x 15)
 
PREHEAT OVEN TO 425
  1-1/2+ Ground Beef
  1 med.Onion/chopped
  1 large egg
  Salt & Pepper to taste
    6 Slices Cheese (quartered)
  Lettuce/cut in 24 pieces
  24 thin slices Tomato
Pickle slices (optional)

24 SLIDER BUNS
Have Catsup & Mustard on hand as condiments.
 
Directions:

  1. Chop up onion – spread over the bottom of your pan.
  2. Blend meat, egg, salt and pepper together – carefully drop mixture over onions and spread in pan.
  3. When it is evenly spread, score into 24 squares.
  4. Bake about 8 minutes – then add the square of cheese on each section; put in oven for another 30 seconds or so to melt.
  5. Take the pan out to rest a few minutes; then cut along the score lines to separate
  6. Place each "burger" on a bun with a slice of tomato and pickle (if desired)

You can change this recipe up to add your own special touch.Serve and enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 


 
 
 
 
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
 
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Jean's December 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: December 1st, 2019 1:35AM

Check out our featured listings for December:

https://homesmart.com/real-estate-agent/arizona/scottsdale/1586-allen-batson/properties


 
 
 
 
December - the last month of the year.  Welcome to the holidays!
 

Merry Christmas – Happy Hanukkah to All

December is a season of great joy, family holidays, gatherings with friends so let us be the first to wish you a wonderful celebration. 

December 25 – the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem.  [But where did the concept of Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas come from?  See below].

December 22-30 Hanukkah (a/k/a Chanukah) is a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights. In Hebrew, the word " hanukkah" means "dedication." The name reminds us that this holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.


We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have asked us to handle your transactions, who have referred your friends and family to us and for the positive responses to our e-newsletter.  We have fun putting it together - it's not "canned" - and we're always looking for ideas so if there is something you'd like us to write about, please let us know.

And as the holidays come...and go and the year comes to an end,  we want to wish you the happiest of seasons with joy, health and prosperity in the new year.  Be kind to each other.  And SMILE...it gives you "face value."                                Al and Jean


 
The Year in Review: A Look at the Top Headlines of 2019
 
It's nearly the start of a new year and a new decade. As 2019 comes to an end, here's a look at some of the most newsworthy stories of the year.

Diabetes research makes huge strides: Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco announced in February that they had successfully turned human cells into insulin-producing cells. The news brought hope that a cure for type 1 diabetes could be within reach.

Fire at the Notre Dame: The famous Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral went up in flames on April 15. More than 400 firefighters battled the blaze, which severely damaged the structure's spire, roof, and upper walls.

Prince Harry's heir arrives: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, on May 6. Baby Archie is currently seventh in line for the British throne.

Women astronauts make history: On October 18, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch entered the history books when they made the first-ever all-women spacewalk. The pair visited the International Space Station to replace a faulty battery charger.

Regulatory Scrutiny Of Internet Giants On The Rise: Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that the social media giant mishandled user privacy practices and lost control over huge amounts of user data.
***********************************************************************************************

Have you ever needed a Notary but can’t find one quickly? Here is your answer.

Let us introduce you to BEST PHX MOBILE NOTARY LLC – owned by Kellie Lyle Hartstein. What a great idea - a knowledgeable MOBILE notary.

Kellie has taken an interesting path to this business and life in Arizona.  When she was a young mother of five, her husband was a staff writer on a 90’s TV show – FULL HOUSE and she was a Realtor.  Her background has been related to real estate for years – as she says, "it’s in my blood." [I can relate to that!] She was a successful Realtor in the Hollywood Hills [CA] area until she and her husband decided to move to Arizona for a more relaxed lifestyle.  Moving to Scottsdale, she joined the Toll Brothers lending team; specializing in the Aviano community in Desert Ridge.  Then, for ten years they converted a portion of their home into a high-end boutique Elder Care Home (Harts Home Exceptional Care) proving she has the heart to help people.

Her criteria for the next phase of her career venture was to be of service to her community…and have less stress.  And that’s how The BEST PHX MOBILE NOTARY came to be.  In gratitude to her clients, a portion of all proceeds are donated to charity.  She loves what she does. That’s heart!  She's also a delightful person!

In her capacity as a Notary Public,  Kellie handles general Notary jobs such as notarizing Power of Attorney forms, Estate documents, car titles, Loan docs, financial documents...and anything a person might need stamped by a Notary.  She says she is honored to be a trusted member of the Batson Team brand – as are we to have found her. "Have Stamp, Will Travel."  Whenever you need a Notary-call KELLIE at 480-282-2561 or email her at: Kellie@BestPhxMobileNotary.com


Great News for Homeowners and Home Buyers!
 
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) today announced the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages to be acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2020. In most of the U.S., the 2020 maximum conforming loan limit for one-unit properties will be $510,400, an increase from $484,350 in 2019.

These loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls "high-cost areas," where 115% of the local median home value exceeds the baseline loan limit. Those limits will increase from $726,525 to $765,600.

The conforming loan limits for Fannie and Freddie are determined by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, which establishes baseline loan limits. Earlier today, FHFA published its third quarter 2019 FHFA House Price Index (HPI) report, which includes estimates for the increase in the average U.S. home value over the last four quarters. According to FHFA’s seasonally adjusted, expanded-data HPI, house prices increased 5.38 percent, on average, between the third quarters of 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the baseline maximum conforming loan limit in 2020 will increase by the same percentage.

Those limits above are for one-unit properties. Two- to four-unit properties have also increased. 

This is great news for homeowners and homebuyers as it’s a true economic indicator that the housing market continues to be robust. Additionally, conforming loans are ideal for many buyers as it allows for lower down payments. [based on a notification from Brad Slager/Homeowners Financial Group)

The Legend of Santa Claus/Saint Nicholas
 

Behind the jolly, red-suited, shopping mall Santa of today lies a real person-St. Nicholas of Myra, a Christian monk who lived in the third century A.D., in what is now Turkey. We know very few historical details of St. Nicholas’ life. Even the year of his death is uncertain, although both the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have celebrated December 6-the date of his passing- for more than 1,000 years. Within a century of his death, the much-admired Nicholas had become the center of a series of folk legends. Today, Nicholas is considered the patron saint of sailors, children, wolves and pawnbrokers, among others.

By the Middle Ages, Nicholas’ fame had spread to much of Europe. St. Nicholas’ popularity eventually spread to northern Europe, where stories of the monk mingled with Teutonic folktales of elves and sky-chariots. In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas took on the Dutch-friendly spelling Sinterklaas. He was depicted as a tall, white-bearded man in red clerical robes who arrived every December 6 on a boat to leave gifts or coal-lumps at children’s homes. Stories of Sinterklaas were likely brought to the New World by Dutch settlers in the Hudson River valley. In his satirical 1809 "History of New-York," Washington Irving portrayed St. Nicholas as a portly Dutchman who flew the skies in a wagon, dropping gifts down chimneys. In 1823 another New Yorker, Clement Clarke Moore, penned the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", which traded the wagon for a sleigh drawn by "eight tiny reindeer." Beginning during the Civil War, cartoonist Thomas Nast published the first of a series of popular depictions of a rotund and jolly St. Nicholas. In 1879 Nast was the first to suggest that St. Nicholas lived not in Turkey, Spain or Holland but at the North Pole. [based on an article by Nathan Barksdale/History Channel]

 
Two great properties - take a peek.  The condo is a great "lock & leave" and the other a single-story, easy care with a caterer's kitchen.

2150 W. Alameda Road, #2235, Phoenix, AZ 85085- this 2015 condo at Villagio at Happy Valley is located close to the I-17 near The Anthem Outlets, The Happy Valley Towne Center and Norterra - just about anything you’d need is within ten minutes.  This unit has a 1-car garage with direct access to the home up the stairs.  2 Bedrooms/2 Bathrooms at 1088 sq. feet. It has barely been lived in.  Note:  all furnishings are available for purchase outside of escrow.  For details: https://homesmart.com/real-estate-for-sale/hsaz001/homes/az/phoenix/85085/azrmls-h/6000666/2150-w-alameda-rd-unit-2235,phoenix,az-85085/index.html?referrer_aid=16692

5001 E. Wethersfield Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85254 is conveniently located within minutes of Mayo Clinic, Paradise Valley Mall, Kierland, Desert Ridge Marketplace and Scottsdale 101.  This well-maintained single-story home has 3 Bedrooms/1-3/4 Baths. The kitchen was designed for the owner who does catering. Plantation shutters throughout. Wood laminate floors except for 1 bedroom with new carpet. New A/C in 2011 and roof in 2006 so the "big stuff" is DONE. 1823 sq. ft. 2-car garage. Mailbox in front (no cluster box to go to). For details: https://homesmart.com/real-estate-for-sale/hsaz001/homes/az/scottsdale/85254/azrmls-h/5991122/5001-e-wethersfield-rd,scottsdale,az-85254/index.html?referrer_aid=16692

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
 
 
 
 
 
 
Home Smart
 
 
Give to Charity But Know the Facts:
 

At this time of year, our email and mail boxes are filled with two things – catalogs from places we’ve never heard of, much less ordered from, AND…dozens of charities each week sending you address labels and calendars to encourage donations.  This is the time of year for charity - and clarity.  Be very, very careful – there are some that sound like legitimate charities and others we've known about for decades – but do we really know what percentage of your donation goes to do the work vs. administration costs? Names can look familiar but be sure it is exactly what you want. Sometimes adding a word in the name can be totally misleading.

Carefully research charities to assess which do the most good for the lowest cost.  What % goes to administration and fundraising vs. helping the cause.  We have been shocked at some of the results we've found. Go forth and give…with knowledge.
http://give.org/for-charities/How-We-Accredit-Charities/

 

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Quick Quiz
 
Each month I'll give you a new question.

Just reply to this email for the answer.

What insect migrates to a warmer climate 2,500 miles away each winter?
 

Our favorite cookie-Pecan Balls (a/k/a Mexican Wedding Cakes)
(Cookies really)

I’ve been making these cookies since the 60’s.  They’re easy and delicious. This recipe is straight out of the OLD Betty Crocker Cookbook I bought in my 20’s.

 
They melt in your mouth! Easy - light and delicious.
 
  1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  1 cup powdered sugar
  1 tsp. Vanilla
  2-1/4 cups All-Purpose flour
    Note: or... I use Krusteaz Gluten Free Flour when making them for our daughter.
  1/4 tsp. salt
  3/4 cup finely chopped Pecans
 
Directions
  1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 degrees
  2. Mix thoroughly:  butter, sugar and vanilla
  3. Work in flour, salt and nuts until dough holds together.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes until set but not brown.
  6. While warm, roll in powdered sugar. I usually put the powdered sugar in a gallon-sized ziplock bag and gently shake – a few at a time.
  7.  Cool on a rack

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


Ask Al & Jean: This Month's Question
 
Is it better to buy new construction or an existing home?

Whichever works for you; remember that having a Realtor represent you in the purchase of new construction is to your advantage and costs you nothing.  We just need to go with you to register with you.

This boils down to a matter of preference. Both new construction and existing homes offer unique advantages.

New construction gives the buyer the chance to select flooring and upgrades but will generally require a considerable amount of money to landscape, do window covers, upgrade for more electrical outlets and fixtures...but it is brand new with full warranties.

By contrast, you may find an existing home that has all of the features you want - ready to move in.  Or, an opportunity to remodel so it may be more cost effective.

Check them both out and then decide.
 
 
 
   
 
 
  This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.  
 
Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign

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