Allen Batson

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Jean's September 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: September 1st, 2019 6:23PM

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 Ahhhhh - September

As desert dwellers, many of us look forward to the last full month of 100+ degree temperatures [usually our temperature drop to "magnificent"as we head towards October]….with 8 months or more of divine weather that follows.  August was supposed to be the big Monsoon month but we actually got very little rain all summer.  It was called the NONSOON! By now, kids are back in school and life is back to normal.   Here are a few holidays in September:

  • 9/2 LABOR DAY - Labor Day is an annual federal holiday on the first Monday of September to celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.  Thanks to all of us who pay our taxes to provide for this country.
  • 9/15 National Wife Appreciation Day (Jean’s new favorite - who knew?)
  • 9/22 National Ice Cream Cone Day (Al’s favorite)
  • 9/23 FALL BEGINS
  • 9/29 Rosh Hashanah for our Jewish friends
We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has so kindly referred friends and family to us.  We do our best to provide excellent service with regular communication as we work through the listing or sale. Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible; understanding that sometimes issues come up that can be challenging - we'll stick with the issue like glue until resolution.   Have a fantastic month.

Al and Jean

It's Time to Do It!!  Face Your Closet!  You Can Do it!

Did someone ever say something in casual conversation – and suddenly a light bulb went off in your head?  We were visiting our friends in the mountains last weekend when we got into a conversation about how so many of us hang onto things we no longer need. Closets, in particular. Here's how to start the process of clearing out your closet.  It feels so good to get it done and be able to give away what you no longer need. Get rid of:

  • Everything you haven’t worn in years – and are highly unlikely to ever wear again.
  • Anything that doesn’t fit – if your weight miraculously changes, reward yourself -buy something new.  You deserve it.
  • Anything you don’t like – and in my case, I asked myself why on earth I’d bought some of those things in the first place. Just because its on SALE doesn’t make it look good on me.

I came home completely inspired so I took EVERY article of clothing out of my closet and tossed it on the bed.  As further motivation, my friend asked me to send a BEFORE and AFTER picture of the closet. I digress, if we wanted to sleep that night, I had to complete the task (coats, shoes and purses are next on the list).Being completely honest and motivated with a goal in mind, I was ruthless. It took a few hours but I got rid of over two boxes of items that someone else will find useful. There is that realization that we’re all holding onto so many items from clothes to household items that are languishing in our closets and cabinet that are desperately needed by abused women. Next week we’re taking it all to the Sojourners Donation Center at 2330 E Fillmore St, Phoenix, AZ  85006.  Check their website for hours if you’re interested in helping. Most areas have facilities for battered women – we selected this one at the suggestion of a good friend who spent years and years on the Phoenix Police Department.  Officers see so many horrible family situations so they know. 

Here’s a challenge – are you up to tackling your closet?
   BE TENACIOUS! I guarantee you’ll feel so great when it’s over (not so much in the process!).

Oh, the best part is that everything left will be easy to see and grab…. AND maybe there's room for a couple of new things?

This is actually related to real estate because when you list your home, we always tell our clients to be sure the closets and cabinets don’t look crowded because it tells the potential buyers that there isn’t enough storage room.  We advise being very minimalistic when selling your home. So, WIN/WIN. Once it’s done – keep it up!  You'll be so glad you did.  Selling or staying - it's great to feel organized.

Consider A Home Inspection (Selling or Not)

If you’re on top of every repair in your home, perhaps you don’t need this information, but most people learn to live with the little things…and often those little things end up on a list your buyer will want you to repair.  Examples:  a little drip of a faucet, something that doesn’t quite work, but you don’t think of because it’s always been that way or signs of window issues (seals falling between panes, moisture).   You might want to consider hiring a home inspector to do a PRE-INSPECTION so you can be sure your home is in tip-top shape when your buyer comes along. Your Buyer will ask for repairs - do it for yourself. 

We can give you the names of several good ones.  Of course, our favorite is Bob Nau, Nau Inspections, because he’s very ethical, thorough and his report shows photos and/or notes on everything he can see. Also, he’s been a Licensed General Contractor for 30+ years. or 480-226-7915

Note:  whenever you have a home inspection, certainly not everything on the report needs immediate repair, but he’ll give you any detail, including anticipated life of roofs, A/C’s, water heaters, etc. Buyers want to be sure that nothing leaks, that the roof is in good repair or recently replaced (if it’s aging out)…that the A/C is fully functional. 

So many A/C units work but not at capacity. During a recent thorough investigation, Bob noted that the A/C system’s differential should be between 18-22 degrees; it was not. He noted that the seller should have his A/C system checked to be sure it was at the proper number. How would you know that without an inspection?  

Your probably wondering - WHAT IS THE DIFFERENTIAL?  It is the difference between the temperature going into the intake…and the temperature of the cooled air coming out through the vents. Example:  If the intake temperature is 100 degrees, the temperature coming into the house should be between 78-82 degrees. Anything less indicates the A/C is not performing at full efficiency and according to industry standards. 


In an effort to better protect the atmosphere, manufacturers have been prohibited from making Air Conditioning systems that use R-22 (sometimes referred to as Freon®) since 2015. All production will cease in 2020. Air conditioners using R-22 may still be serviced with recycled R-22 after 2020, however costs of R-22 may rise as supplies become limited.  Be aware –  the company you utilize for your annual A/C check-up will be able to give you more information and advice.

Sales Tax Rates Vary by City in Maricopa County

The total sales tax rate in any given location can be broken down into state, county, city, and special district rates. Arizona has a 5.60% sales tax and Maricopa County collects an additional 0.70%, so the minimum sales tax rate in Maricopa County is 6.3% (not including any city or special district taxes). This list shows the total sales tax rates for several cities and towns in Maricopa County, including all local taxes. These numbers may surprise you. It is something to think about the next time you’re buying a major item; like a vehicle.

On the low end are: Sun City and Sun City West at 6.30% [because they’re 55+ communities with no school taxes].

The highest are: Cave Creek/Carefree and Buckeye at 9.30% and Glendale at 9.20%; followed by Avondale, Goodyear and Paradise Valley at 8.80%.  Surprise is 8.50%, Phoenix is 8.60%, Tempe is 8.10% and Scottsdale is 8.05%.  

Timeshares - a Good Investment or Not?

To begin with we are not advising anyone one way or another about purchasing timeshares. Everyone has a different perspective and lifestyle.  Nor are we involved in that end of the real estate business but we do get asked about them.

What is a timeshare?  According to Wikipedia, it is: "A timeshare (sometimes called vacation ownership) is a property with a divided form of ownership or use rights. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and each owner of the same accommodation is allotted their period of time."  

Times have changed regarding access to access to vacation accommodations being at our fingertips. Timeshares were all the rage long ago before there was access to the Internet - which brought travelers AirBnB, HomeAway, VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and other resources for accommodations world-wide. With these venues, you don't need to worry about ownership, maintenance fees, availability or reselling.  You just select from numerous options, book, go and enjoy!

Years ago, most timeshares were assigned a specific week and resort with no flexibility other than trading your week with another owner.  As they developed over the years, they became more flexible using points rather than a specific time/place. From boutique resorts to big hotel chains, it was game-on to sell these bits of paradise. Buyers were/are enticed to attend an "informational meeting" with a sales rep – I’m sure the rumors about guarded exits, moats surrounding the sales office and high pressure are just that…rumors!

Many years ago, we were wide-eyed and loved to travel so we purchased a hotel timeshare with a low annual maintenance fee with so-called "flexibility" so you could use your points to go anywhere in the world at any time.  And, for a fee, you could transfer your yearly points to use at their hotels.  It was a point system.  What they didn’t explain in great detail was how difficult it was to reserve more than one week at a time due to availability in popular places (Hawaii, resorts, Paris).  Nor did they explain that each reservation and/or request to search, included separate fees. So, if you wanted two weeks in Kauai, you paid reservation fees for each week and you had to be flexible about moving to a second place for the last week. The annual fee for the one we had at a very well-known hotel chain, started at about $360 a year for maintenance plus the reservation fee each time. Twenty years later the annual maintenance fee was over $1,100.  The other fees had increased as well.

Because we bought ours when we were fairly young, it encouraged us to take annual trips to beautiful places that we might not have otherwise taken.  We probably got more value out of it because we were tenacious about figuring out the system to maximize our points. On the positive side, we used our timeshare every year (or gave it away) so we benefited from our ownership because we didn't leave any points on the table when others just gave us.  

As the years went on, our travel interests  moved on to tours and cruises in exotic places.  As the fees and difficulty of finding places grew, we decided to rid ourselves of the timeshare as our kids had no interest in taking on the expense (you can transfer or bequeath ownership).  There is very little investment value.  We sold ours back to the hotel chain at pennies-on-the dollar a few years ago but were glad to be done with it. Of course, the hotel re-sold it to someone else making a profit again.  The resorts/hotels make loads of money over the years from purchase cost-to-fees; especially since so many owners don't use theirs but still have to pay the annual fees.  Others, utilize their timeshares at varying frequency. On many programs, if you don't use your points, you lose them at the end of the year unless you pay a fee to transfer them forward. Selling your timeshare can be a difficult venture – there are so many unethical "resellers" who promise the moon but charge exhorbinant fees - sometimes never completing the transfer.

Dave Ramsey, renowned financial guru, says this: "There are over 9 million timeshare owners in the United States alone and 74% are locked into lifetime contracts with perpetuity commitments that can pass on to their next of kin. With an average annual maintenance fee of $970, and a difficult booking process, timeshare ownership can become frustrating. Timeshare Exit Team was founded on the principle that consumers should have an option when it comes to exercising their rights. We are here to eliminate your unwanted timeshare and help you move one step closer to financial peace of mind." 

We didn’t know about this service at the time so we don’t have experience with this program of exit, but if you have a timeshare to dispose of, here’s an option to explore:

If you’re interested in timeshares strictly as an investment, financial advisors strongly urge against it.  There are many ways to invest in real estate that can be profitable over the years – such as building equity in your personal home [by never pulling the equity out] or a rental under the right circumstances.  We’re happy to answer any questions about rental property.

The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
Sunbrella Fabric

Many of us have patio furniture with cushions made from Sunbrella fabric.  Being outside, it is exposed to all sorts of opportunities to get dirty.  We thought you might find this link helpful (it was to us) in maintaining it and keeping it clean:


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

Just reply to this email for the answer.

A European superstition states that a guest who leaves his/her napkin on the chair will what?

Roasted Apple Fall Salad
There is nothing like a good salad. As with any good recipe, you can serve it as  a side to your meal OR add grilled chicken and make it dinner.
Serves 8
  4 medium Fuji or Gala apples, quartered and seeded
  2 tablespoons olive oil
  1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  2 tablespoons olive oil
  1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  Salt and pepper to taste
  1 package baby spinach
  4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place apples, olive oil, nutmeg, pepper, and cinnamon on a baking sheet and toss to coat evenly. Roast 20-30 minutes or until tender. Remove and cool completely. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients until blended. Place spinach in a salad bowl and toss with the dressing, roasted apples, cheese, cranberries, and pecans. Serve immediately.

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
Should I price my home higher to leave room for negotiations?

This is a common strategy for sellers, and it doesn't always go as planned. The results of this tactic are generally the opposite of what the sellers hope, unfortunately. Let me explain.

A home must be priced in the "strike zone" for buyers to make an offer. If your home is priced outside of this zone, you may not receive offers, and your home could sit on the market longer.

Since time on the market is the number one enemy for sellers, this is not a good situation. The longer a home remains on the market, the more buyers will wonder "What is wrong with this listing?" 

To prevent your home from getting stale as it sits on the market, we need to price it just right. When you're ready to list your home, we will complete a comparative market analysis (CMA) to evaluate what similar homes are selling for in your market; then recommend a price that will get your home sold quickly, for as much as possible, based on current market demand.

Feel free to contact us with any questions about pricing or to schedule an appointment for a CMA of your home.
  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 August 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: August 1st, 2019 4:37PM

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Remodels: What's Good for Resale?
Are you thinking about remodeling/updating?  What's worth the effort? Here are projects worth considering. Even if you're not interested in selling now, consider these areas of improvement for your own enjoyment. 

The kitchen: Kitchens sell homes! Updating your kitchen is a good way to increase the value and appeal of your home. Counters, cabinetry, backsplash, pull-out drawers and updated matching appliances are an excellent investment - and great to enjoy yourself. There are so many great products.  One extremely popular one is the microwave that pulls out like a drawer.  Check model homes for ideas.

Bathrooms: These areas are also high on Buyers' priority lists! Update the counters, sinks, tub/showers and fixtures. Make good use of storage. 

Flooring: Flooring, especially tile or wood, can be very costly so a Buyer looks at that as a major item when considering a purchase.  Today’s Buyers are looking for the same flooring throughout so it flows from room to room.  When multiple types of flooring are used, it makes the home look "chopped up."  In Arizona, a home with all tile or wood is #1 in popularity but that doesn’t mean that some homes don’t have carpeting in the bedrooms.  Many homeowners who do, choose to have the same carpeting in every carpeted area.  If you’re going out to replace carpet, it is recommended that you purchase a Berber vs. plush.  Berber wears like iron and doesn’t show footprints so the care is much less time-consuming.  Spend a little more for good padding.  It’ll make a big difference to the feel of it. 

Wood is always a popular choice - you’d be amazed at the number of Buyers who notice when it is real wood. Wood wears well, is durable and timeless, expensive, and adds value.  There are so many types, colors and patterns. There are several products that give a wood-look such as engineered wood or waterproof vinyl at a savings; the quality of these products has improved over the past few years.

One of the best ways to get an easy-care wood-look floor is porcelain tile – but get one that looks like wood.  So many really don’t look authentic. Wood tiles come in various lengths and widths which can offer a more elegant looking appearance (these two sizes are staggered). The example shown is porcelain wood tile - ours to be accurate.

Smaller tiles (8 – 12") give a dated appearance.  So, select tiles that are at least 18" and have your installer use a different pattern to make it look special.

Particularly if you have a small space – lighter colored flooring makes your home look so much larger.  The same can be said for wall coverings [paint/wallpaper]. Be sure there isn’t too much furniture and it isn’t too large for your space.

Curb appeal: First impressions are important and the front of your home is the first thing buyers see. Boost curb appeal by repainting the exterior, adding plants, and sprucing up the entry with a new door. These projects can often be completed at low cost but offer high return.  The landscaping should be free of weeds and trimmed. First impressions really do matter.

Protect Your Credit.  It's Important.

It is said that 56% of US citizens have been hacked/exposed by the data breach two-years ago by Equifax which has now been court-ordered to make an enormous settlement.  This is a giant red flag reminding us all to be cognizant of our own credit.   Here are the 5 steps we all should take to protect our credit:

  1. Sign up with the three main credit companies for FRAUD ALERTS [EQUIFAX, EXPERIAN and TRANS UNION] and check your report at least annually (We're all entitled to one free report annually from each bureau).
  2. Pay for a credit monitoring service (we’ve been pleased with LifeLock as we’ve had identity theft issues in the past).
  3. Notify your bank/credit card companies if you’ll be traveling as to where and when.
  4. Freeze your credit so nobody else can access it – you can unfreeze it when you need to make a major purchase. KEEP THE CODE ASSIGNED SO YOU CAN FREEZE or UNFREEZE AS NEEDED.
  5. Place a Fraud Alert on your accounts if you can't freeze them immediately (if you're in the middle of a home purchase, for example). A Fraud Alert lasts for one year and is renewable. You only need to contact one of the 3 Bureaus to ask for an alert; it will notify the others.

For instructions on how to take care of these issues, go to (Federal Trade Commission


Following the massive Equifax data breach and resulting settlement just discussed, on July 30, 2019, news broke out about Capital One.  Fortunately, the perpetrator has been arrested.

According to MSN news, "a data breach of Capital One, the nation’s 7th largest bank by assets, compromised the personal information of approximately 100 million U.S. consumers and 6 million in Canada, the bank announced on July 29th.  The breach affected the information of two groups of people:

  • Those who applied for Capital One credit cards between 2005 and 2019. The compromised information included names, dates of birth, addresses, email addresses and phone numbers 
  • Existing credit card and secured credit card holders. Data stolen included 140,000 Social Security numbers, 80,000 bank account numbers and information about consumers’ credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history and transactions.

Capital One said it would provide free credit monitoring and identity protection services to those affected (who they will notify). They also recommended the same course of action (Freezing your credit, placing a Fraud Alert on your credit, checking with the 3 credit bureaus… plus keeping a close eye on your accounts for unfamiliar activities.

Barn Door Bathroom - Hoosier Style

We’ve all seen the Barn Doors utilized – generally in master suites separating bedrooms from bathrooms ...or any other parts of the home.  

New Castle, Indiana is close to where Al grew up.  The photo on the right was on a real estate listing in New Castle.  The owner wanted to turn their hall bath into a powder room for guests to use…so they used a barn door to hide the tub.  Genius!

On the left is a more typical version of the popular barn door.  There are so many ways to utilize this concept.  

Be creative. 

What Should We Believe About the Real Estate Industry?

In the past couple of years (and months), there has been such a preponderance of new companies who claim to be able to sell your home in 72 hours – or for 2%. Some claim to be highly discounted; others claim they can sell your house in 3-days.  They tell you they have an assigned agent to represent you and using an algorithm will bring dozens of buyers to your door. 

As Realtors, we have loads of competition. which we welcome.  It keeps us all on our toes. Many Realtors are absolutely fantastic at helping their clients; a few are not.  There are varying degrees of competency and experience with any professional. Clients don’t generally know how much time is spent by a Realtor making sure everything is done correctly and efficiently – putting out "fires" that could jeopardize your escrow.  It’s our job to focus on our clients.

Some discount companies claim they can have dozens of buyers who will swoop in to purchase your home at listing, or even better prices, within 3 days.  One claims they don’t need to put their homes on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) because the internet has all the information, so they don’t need to work with them. We wonder where they’re going for their comparable pricing information – the MLS.  If they’re working with Buyers – where are they going to go for properties to show – the MLS.  And advertising often refers to "agents on staff to help you."  

Are they Realtors?  To be called a Realtor, of course you have to be licensed by the State and your  ACTIVE license is to be held by a Broker (in our case, HomeSmart) but to be legally called a Realtor, you must be a dues-paying member of a local Board of Realtors (We belong to the Phoenix Association of Realtors and the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors). To maintain our license, we are required to take continuing education classes on Contract Law, Agency Law, Disclosures, Commissioner's Standards, Fair Housing, etc. We renew every two-years with our Continuing Education classes verified by the State of Arizona's Department of Real Estate.

If you're tempted into discount service - be sure you ask questions such as all costs associated with the listing, including any repairs or marketing fees that aren't mentioned. Would you be working with a Realtor?  What if your home doesn't sell in 72-hours? What aren't they saying?  

As our mothers always told us – "If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is NOT true." (This is just our musing.)

Property Appeal: What Makes a Home Safe?
Location. Layout. Landscaping. A host of home features affect a property's appeal. One quality that tops many "must-have" lists is safety. What should buyers look for if they want a home that offers the best safety possible for themselves and their families? 

Several features can improve the safety of a home to make it more desirable. As a bonus, these devices can also reduce the cost to insure a home. If you want to modernize your home with innovative safety measures or are looking for a new home with the latest safety features, consider these list toppers.

Smart Devices

The internet has taken home security and convenience to a new level. Homeowners are empowered with a host of tools and systems to keep their homes safe. In fact, technology has become so prevalent that few items aren't equipped with smart features. Appliances offer improved safety and efficiency. Garage doors offer additional security. High-tech lawn systems prevent overwatering and flooding. A few devices are particularly desirable for homeowners interested in boosting the safety of their surroundings. These include:

Water alerts: Did you know one of the most common homeowners insurance claims is water damage? Smart leak-detection sensors can now prevent these calamities. They alert homeowners of leaks so they can take immediate action to prevent damage. In some cases, the household water is turned off by these devices until you investigate.

Fire detection: What happens if no one is home to hear the smoke detector? A smart fire detector will alert a homeowner via a Wi-Fi-connected device anywhere in the world. This can improve emergency response times and minimize damage.

Burglar deterrents: Smart technology has enhanced security on many fronts. Homeowners can deter thieves with timed lighting, access smart door locks to maintain tighter security, and monitor video surveillance from anywhere.

Interesting thoughts to ponder.
ADOT - Arizona Department of Transportation:

With all of the current road repairs work going on all over the Valley - it's hard to remember which on/off ramps are open.  You can copy this link to check on a regular basis.
You don't want to find yourself heading to an event that you can't get to without detours and delays.
On a hot summer day - do you ever just feel liking crawling into a space to take a nap?  This pup has taken that goal to the maximum. Perfect fit!  Cozy!
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
What's Happening in your neighborhood:
We know the internet has all sorts of real estate information available to you...but if you need current/accurate information on your neighborhood or areas you're like to investigate, we can help.
Just call us and we'll send it right out to you.

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

Just call me for the answer.

What is didaskaleinophobia?

Ann's Chinese Cole Slaw/Entree Salad
We went to a delightful summer luncheon with my old Clear Channel Outdoor pals. Our hostess served this - delicious.  It may require some ingredients you don't always have but its well worth the trip to the grocery store.
Serves 8-10
  4 chicken breasts, cooked/cubed OR...use a COSTCO roast chicken.
+   1 large head of cabbage, shedded
  Sliced green onions (4)
  1 can sliced water chestnuts
  2 pkg.Ramen noodles {oriental flavor)
  4 TBS Sesame Seeds
  4 TBS chopped almonds
    For the Dressing:
    4 TBS Sugar
3 TBS Soy Sauce
3 TBS.Vinegar
1 cup oil
1 Tsp. pepper
2 pkg. Raman flavoring
  • Toast the noodles, sesame seeds and almonds briefly (5 minutes) in the oven at 375 degrees. Put aside until a couple of hours before serving.
  • Mix dressing – add to salad at least several hours ahead (overnight OK).
  • Add the noodles, seeds and almonds to the salad about 2-3 hours in advance.

It's great alone or add a couple of Chinese sides...Egg Rolls, Wontons?  We had some leftover the next day - it was still fresh - we added a little extra soy sauce as a boost.

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
How do I know if I've found the right house?

Buying a house is probably the most significant purchase you'll ever make. With so many options, it can be challenging to choose just one. To determine whether a home is right for you, ask yourself a couple of key questions about each property.

Does the home meet my must-haves? Write down a few deal breakers that a property must offer, and stick to these priorities to determine if a home is a good fit.

Does the home offer potential? Consider your future needs. If you're planning any life changes, keep these in mind. As you weigh its potential, also consider any "wants" that the home doesn't have. If it meets all your must-haves but is lacking a few wants, does it have potential? For example, paint colors and carpeting can be changed. The number of bedrooms is harder to adjust. 

What are YOUR most important needs.  It's hard to find everything on the list but your priority items should be met.
  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 July 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: July 3rd, 2019 7:23PM

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Happy Birthday America.  We're 243 Years Strong.

America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song; the lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. The two never met. Bates originally wrote the words as a poem, "Pikes Peak", first published in the Fourth of July edition of the church periodical The Congregationalist in 1895. At that time, the poem was titled "America" for publication. Ward had originally written the music for a hymn in 1882, though it was not first published until 1892.  Ward's music combined with the Bates poem was first published in 1910 and titled "America the Beautiful". The song is one of the most popular of the many U.S. patriotic songs and still gives goosebumps to American citizens. The "Pledge of Allegiance" to the flag of the United States of America...always gets to us...

Our country has been through so much turmoil in the past 10 years with terrorism, drug epidemics, crime, illegal immigration – but we’re proud to be Americans. We honor our military for keeping us free to pursue our lives, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. 

We love our country and certainly don’t know of anywhere else we’d want to live where we can have the freedom and opportunities to be a success at what you love to do the way you can here in the United States of America. Here we are, enjoying our post-corporate careers, working together to serve people who need to buy or sell.  We are so honored to do so and grateful that we can.

Have a safe and Happy 4th of July – wave that flag!

Al and Jean


Phoenix - Growing and Growing

Phoenix has come a long way from its beginning in 1881 as a farming community. Our fair city (which spreads out over about 536 square miles) is growing rapidly. The expectation is that Phoenix will move up from the nations 5th largest city to the 3rd over the next few years. Arizona is one of the fastest growing economies in the nation according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis State Data. 

We're in the top 5 states in terms of growth with a 4.3% increase in gross domestic product.  Our job market in greater Phoenix also continues to grow rapidly…this is the place to be. Corporations are bringing their businesses here because of favorable taxes for a more profitable way to do business. Not to mention that our state income taxes are low and the cost-of-living so much less than many other areas...and there is nothing to shovel in the winter.

Not only do we have a growing economy but also the advantages of living in this beautiful, sunny state with endless opportunities; with so much to do and see, fantastic restaurants, entertainment, shopping, medical, facilities, sports. We wouldn't live anywhere else.

What Happens in an Escrow if a Buyer or Seller fails to honor the contract?

Our goal as Realtors is to make every transaction as smooth as possible for everyone involved.  To do that, communication is the key.  Most of the time, when issues occur, they're resolved expeditiously due to our years of experience and eye for detail. But every once in a while, something comes up that we can't control - so we have to find the solution and move forward.

We recently experienced such a situation.  We had the listing on a condo – several buyers made offers in the first 24-hours.  The offer our Seller accepted was full-price, no concessions (buyer asking the seller to pay part of their closing costs), pre-approved (not just pre-qualified), with a large down payment, not contingent on selling another property and the Buyer was willing and able to close on the same date our Sellers needed in order to close concurrently with the home they’re purchasing.  Sounds perfect, right?  The agent was enthusiastic and told us that his Buyer was thrilled to buy this condo. But sometimes people will just be people!

I digress – the purchase contract says that the Buyer is required to bring their Earnest Money Deposit in "upon agreement – a signed contract."  Our documents were signed on a Sunday evening.  We prepared all the documents to send to our Title/Escrow officer and confirmed with the Buyer’s agent that the funds would arrive in the Escrow office on Monday.  When it wasn’t there by mid-afternoon, we contacted the Buyer’s agent who begged for our understanding since his client "has a new job and can’t get away."  We advised him that either he (agent) could pick up the check, have funds wired or a courier could go to the Buyer’s office to pick it up. By the end of Tuesday when it hadn’t arrived, we warned the agent that we would have to send a CURE NOTICE to him to notify his client he needed to adhere to the contract or face cancellation.

Side note:  WHAT IS A CURE NOTICE?  It’s a document giving the Buyer 72-hours to perform, or the escrow is cancelled for non-compliance with the contract.

We don’t fault the Agent in this case because his Buyer wasn’t being truthful or responsible for some reason. He was making up all sorts of stories as to why he couldn’t get his funds in.  The Agent was frantically trying to get his client to take one of those options previously mentioned so as not to break the contract.  We won’t bore you with a many crazy stories the Buyer gave his agent – with promises to get the money to escrow. There was ample time and opportunity for him to comply.  When the 72-hours was up, we sent the signed order to cancel to the Escrow Officer and the Agent.  The Agent still promised we’d have it that day if only we’d give him "just one more chance" but...based on our experience with this Buyer, we could not do that.  Our job is to protect our client. 

Fortunately when we listed the property,  we checked "Take Back-up Offers" on this listing form so during the 72-hours the clock was ticking on the Cure Notice, we noted on our listing that agents could show the property and give us back-up offers with full-disclosure as to the situation.  Within 15 minutes of the cancellation, we had another offer that is going very well.

CURE NOTICES can be used for any situation wherein one party or the other fails to perform on schedule.  Fortunately, until this situation, we’ve never had to use one and we hope we never do.

The point here is that things can happen during an escrow period, and they almost always do...but generally problems can be resolved with some effort, patience and experience.

Al's Question for You.


Your Spare.  Have your service Technician check the air pressure in your spare tire the next time you service your vehicle.


Police Blotter

We recently attended a local meeting where a Police Officer shared information on crime.  It doesn't matter where you live or what kind of neighborhood, there are people determined to take what belongs to YOU. 

What is the biggest crime in typical Phoenix neighborhoods?

  • Believe it or not – he said breaking into vehicles that have been left parked outside, UNLOCKED with valuable items inside. Of course, there are also experienced bad-guys who can open a locked car.
  • Along this same line of thought -  items stolen from garages when the garage door is left open is another huge crime statistic.   

There is information put out via every possible media warning people to be cautious about this.  The Police Department posed this question" Why is your garage full of things that you could get rid of while your $40,000 vehicle is left outside?  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get rid of the "stuff" by donating it, putting it in storage or selling it so your vehicle, worth thousands of dollars, can be protected?"  At the very least, if your vehicle must be parked outside, always, always lock it.  And never leave anything of value inside.  People leave electronics, purses, packages – all sorts of things in view.

Newer vehicles have buttons that can be programmed to open your gate or garage door.  If your vehicles don’t have that feature, please don’t leave your garage door opener where it can be spotted by a thief.  Take it with you or hide it from sight but don’t assist the thief. 

Today, with cameras everywhere, videos and photos are shown almost daily of 
criminals walking around neighborhoods at 2:00 a.m. checking to see if vehicles are unlocked.  If so, you’re an easy target.  If you didn’t leave enough "good stuff" and the car is valuable – you’ve also just made it easier for your car to also be stolen.

As the Officer said, the other part of this is leaving your garage door open – not only does it give thieves quick access to steal anything in sight but most of the time, the door into your home is unlocked. Minimally, they get a good view of your possessions for future reference. 

We had a neighbor, a few years ago, who had numerous extremely valuable racing bicycles in his garage. He’d often be seen working on the bikes in the garage so anyone passing by could see he had bikes worth thousands of dollars. With bikes and tools taking up garage space, his wife had to park in the driveway.  One night in the wee hours, someone came along, found her car door unlocked and the garage door opener on the Sun Visor;  They went into the garage, stole the bikes and other valuables but before fleeing, they checked his car,  parked inside the garage - unlocked.  His wallet was in view – so they took that too.  They were fortunate that nobody entered their home while they slept soundly - with their three small children.
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
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What hide was first used to cover baseballs in 1975?

"DUMP CAKE" (so named because you dump the 6 ingredients in all at once - and then top with creamed cheese frosting afterwards)
This recipe was given to me about 20 years ago by a childhood friend since 2nd grade [Hawthorne School in Elmhurst, Illinois], Karen, with whom I reconnected when we moved to AZ in 1995.  Sadly we lost her in 2016.  Every time I make this cake, I think of her.  It is SO EASY and delicious.  It almost tastes like carrot cake - but there isn't a carrot in sight.
(Sorrry Nancy, it has pineapple in it)
  2 cups flour
  2 cups sugar
  2 eggs
  1 teaspoon baking soda
  1 can (1 lb.4 oz.) crushed pineapple (don't drain)
  1 cup chopped walnuts and/or raisins (optional)
  1 pkg. cream cheese,
  1 stick softened butter
  2 teaspoons Vanilla
  2 cups powdered sugar
Mix the cake ingredients well with a spoon.  Bake in a 9" x 13" pan at 350 degrees for 35-50 minutes

Frost while warm by beating together frosting ingredients.

Put in refrigerator while warm.

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
How much is my home worth?

One of the best first steps in determining a home's worth is a comparative market analysis (CMA), which is best done by a licensed real estate agent. This process gives a much more accurate picture of the home's current market value than the prices provided by popular home-valuation websites. (According to Inman, an industry-leading real estate source, websites like Zillow and Redfin can be off by up to 40%.)

To complete the CMA, the agent typically walks through the home and gathers information from the homeowner about the property so he or she can research comparable properties in the area. The CMA often includes active listings (currently on the market), pending listings (under contract) and sold (closed in the past year). By examining listings that are similar to the property, the agent can provide an approximate price at which the homeowner can expect to sell the home. 

If you're curious about how much your home is worth, we'd be happy to complete a personalized CMA for you. Just give us a call!


  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 June 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: June 4th, 2019 5:46PM

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 June 2019  - a time to celebrate the Dads in our life!
  • June 16th Father’s Day – it didn’t officially become an observed holiday until 1972. – So, to all the Dad’s out there,have a wonderful Father’s Day.  Enjoy the weather. 

 Thanks for all of the wonderful referrals we've been busy working with.  That is the greatest compliment in the world! 
Al and Jean
Al's Tips As We Enter Summer

At this time of the year, there are two things you should do as preventative maintenance:

  • Have the A/C checked in the car.
  • Have the A/C checked in your home.  You don't want it to cause issues in the middle of the summer.

Don't forget your vehicles - from tires to coolant:

  • Check your tire pressure.
  • Check the tire pressure of your spare tire!  Unfortunately, the spare tire is seldom checked. You don't want to discover it's flat when you need it. While your at it - check all of your tires for pressure regularly.
  • Check your wiper blades.  Those of us in Arizona will likely see rain in July and August, so you need effective windshield wipers to be safe in the rain.
  • Check your coolant level. Give your vehicle every opportunity for it to perform up to your comfort and safety standards.

Jean's Tips - any time [probably not a news flash]

  • Do you use sponges?  Toss them into the dishwasher and/or the wash machine regularly.  They're a magnet for yukky stuff.  Dish brushes always go in the dishwasher when it runs.
  • Buying fruits or vegetables?  When you refrigerate them in a Ziplock bag or plastic container, also put a paper towel in the container.  It absorbs the extra moisture so everything from lettuce to berries stay fresher longer.

  Recently we attended our WINOS (wine tasting group) where we do a little tasting, a lot of eating and even more gabbing. Usually whomever hosts prepares light appetizers and sometimes a light meal, but this time the hosts hired their "CHEF FOR SENIORS" who prepared a host of delicious foods prepared in front of us. Not only was the food amazing but designed around the Spanish wines - the theme of the evening.

Who was this incredible chef?   His name is Derrik Balius, owner of the local franchise of CHEFS FOR SENIORS.   Usually he goes to his clients’ home on some sort of regular basis; giving them a wide choice of entrees to select from.  Based on the clients’ choices, he brings the groceries and his own equipment to prepare the meals in the client's kitchen.  Our friends utilize Derrik’s services bi-weekly to provide most of their meals.  They absolutely love him – oh, and the meals he prepares for them are portioned freezer-ready per their needs.  For the guests at WINOS – it was a treat to watch and taste…and to later chat with Chef Derrik.  He’s delightful.  And what an ingenious concept for those who don’t enjoy cooking but want good homemade meals.  Of course, he caters to many dietary restrictions.

Straight from his website: "Personal Chef and Owner, Derrik, has always had a passion for cooking for friends and family. He grew up learning the joys of cooking and meal planning from his mother and uncle, and to this day nothing brings him greater happiness than everyone sitting around the table enjoying a freshly prepared meal. He is a native of Scottsdale, Arizona but has spent several years living in both Chicago, IL and Boston, MA. Derrik studied Hotel & Restaurant Management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and began his career in the Logistics industry. After several years in the business he quickly realized it was time to pursue his passion of cooking. His wife, Kim, introduced him to CHEFS FOR SENIORS which was a match from the start."  Derrik Balius, Owner/Chef    480-225-9132  derrik.balius@chefsforseniors.com
 CHEFS FOR SENIORS is a franchise available in many states.
Is Your Family History Preserved for Posterity?
It used to be that family histories, stories, and traditions got passed down orally from the older generation to the younger generation, to be continually preserved and shared. 

In a world where life moves fast and almost everything happens online, that kind of oral storytelling happens less and less. But without it, the memories of our Seniors will disappear when they pass.

The solution: combine that storytelling with the power of technology to record those stories and make them permanent. We did this years ago with Mom - we sat her down and did a video of her telling her life! story.  To see the look on her face as she went down Memory Lane was phenomenal.   Priceless!!!  Here's how.

Get your family on board. This could be your parent, grandparent, or even a neighbor whose stories you enjoy. Explain to them that you love hearing their life's tales and want to record them so that you'll never forget.

Choose your equipment. If your storyteller agrees, set up a camera or smartphone on a tripod so that you can capture their voice and their physical presence. 

Use prompts. You'll want to provide some direction to help inspire your storyteller. This could take the form of a stack of family snapshots, heirlooms, or a list of interview-style questions. (Where did you grow up? Tell me about your wedding day.) 

We have made DVD's from this sort of information.  Trust us, years later when your loved ones are no longer here, you will treasure every memory you have of them.


Last week Jay Joseph, one of the most respected appraisers in the Phoenix area, was the speaker at our HomeSmart office meeting.  We’ve heard him speak many times over the years – at many different venues.

When working with a lender in a purchase situation, we know how important it is for the appraised value of the property  to come in at or above the sales price.  If it doesn’t, the buyer and seller must negotiate a solution. Generally, the buyer will come in with more cash and the seller will reduce the price.  They compromise. Once in a while you'll hear of a transaction falling apart because no compromise can be made.  Fortunately, it's never happened with any of our transactions.

Jay said one of the issues that can cause a low appraisal is when the assigned appraiser isn’t "geographically competent."  What he means is that the assigned Appraiser may not be familiar with the area where the property is thus while basic statistics are viable, familiarity with the neighborhood can make or break an appraisal.  With Jay Joseph’s company, he makes every effort to assign appraisals to an Appraiser who knows the area well.  Often when an appraiser is assigned by a lender, it’s the next person on a rotation list…who may know nothing about the specific area.

Most Realtors and Appraisers use a neighborhood’s "price per square foot" as a tool BUT that is just the beginning. There are many variables to know – the condition of the home, the upgrades, pool, location...for openers. 

Most appraisers will add value for a spectacular view (not  just a peek at a mountain peak) or on a golf course (unless the property is off a hole that gets hit by golf balls daily).  A pool adds value depending on the condition and uniqueness (waterfalls, lighting, decking). Owned solar will add value but leased generally does not.  

Here's where we as Realtors must do our due diligence by providing the Appraiser the comps we used in pricing the property. - giving details based on our familiarity of the neighborhood and property.  Jay prefers comps within the past 3-months only; but in areas with little turnover, they will utilize closings for the past 6-months. We always provide two similar listings in the area that are comparable and 4-6 CLOSED sales; truly the basis of value.  The comps should be similar in square footage to the subject home and preferably from the same community/neighborhood. Then the appraiser should be given those Listings/Closed sales with Realtor notes indicating differences in the properties as compared to the subject property (again, location, condition, upgrades etc).

It’s an advantage to know if the appraiser is familiar with that neighborhood – because if not "they don’t know what they don’t know."  Pricing can vary dramatically from neighborhood to neighborhood – even if they are adjacent…or on a different side of a main street.

If you have a unique property and want to hire an Appraiser yourself, ask the company or individual appraiser a few questions in a polite manner…start out with "Please don’t take this the wrong way but….:

  1. Have your worked in the area before – are you familiar with this neighborhood?
  2. What kind of license do you have?  The right answer is "Certified Residential" or Certified General"
  3. And be sure to hire one familiar with the area and/or any specific qualities such as horse properties, rural or high-end areas with all custom homes. 

In some areas there is a mixture of very old homes that have never been updated next to magnificent properties. But the value in the land can be very worthwhile.  You don't want to leave any money on the table in areas of custom lots and homes.

In those cases, call an expert like Jay Josephs –JOSEPHS APPRAISAL GROUP

602-955-4050 or

Have You Had Work Done on your Home?  Do you know what a Mechanics Lien is or how it can affect the title on your property?

The real estate market is HOT in Arizona right now and that brings plenty of opportunities for buyers, sellers, and investors alike.  In this section, we’ll discuss mechanics liens; what they are, what they mean, and why you should approach any extensively remodeled home with a healthy dose of lien knowledge.  

So, what *is* a mechanics lien?  A mechanics lien is filed when a vendor or contractor who furnishes materials, labor, or professional services to a property, but wasn't paid.  It could be that a general contractor OR a homeowner fails to pay a vendor.  Either way, the material-man [company or vendor who provided supplies or services] has the right to file a lien against the property that must be resolved before the home can be sold or refinanced.  The time frame that a vendor must file the lien is 120 days from the completion of the improvement.  Typically, the general contractor will obtain lien waivers from any and all vendors providing services and materials to the property. But what if they don't?

When considering the purchase of a newly remodeled or constructed home still within the lien period, be sure to ask the seller/investor if they have a complete indemnity packet, they can provide to the title company.  This packet typically consists of all receipts, lien waivers signed off on by the vendors, an appraisal, and even financials to prove the seller can cover any costs that may arise due to the work completed.  Once the title company and underwriter have reviewed the entire packet, clearance will be issued for closing, or further requirements of the seller will be requested.  The title company and your Realtor are there to ensure your purchase is protected from any issues negatively impacting your title so you can enjoy your beautiful new home for many years to come.(provided by Angela Kahan, Equity Title)

Note:  When a seller does repairs on a home for our buyers, we request copies of all final invoices/receipts so the buyer has them for their records. Not only does that give them proof of payment but it also gives the buyer the name of the person (s) doing the work in case they ever want them to come back to the property

5 Things You Need to Look into about Your Future Neighborhood
Are you currently on the home hunt? You probably have a list of needs and wants. Have you included anything about the neighborhood?

In addition to bedrooms, baths, and interior upgrades, it's a good rule of thumb to ask a few questions about the potential neighborhood you may want to call home. When you're thinking about buying, here are some questions you can ask to help determine if the neighborhood will be a good fit for you.

1. Is the area well-maintained? Take a walk around the block. Drive through the neighborhood. Are properties well-maintained? Are roads in good condition? The appearance of the lawns, homes, and public spaces can reveal a lot about the area.

2. Are there any rules and regulations you need to be aware of before you commit? Do you mind if your renovations and landscaping are restricted by homeowner association bylaws? Find out if the neighborhood has any rules and regulations, and what they are.

3. What is the reputation of the school district? Even if you don't have children, the school district's status can affect property values. Get the scoop on the district's rankings in academics and financial stability.

4. What's the crime rate? Oftentimes you can find maps provided by the city that show what crimes occur in the area and how often. The FBI may also have reports available for the area. Do a little research to make sure you'll feel safe in your new home.

5. What amenities are nearby? For some homebuyers, access to public transportation is important. Others want to live near parks, medical facilities, shops, or restaurants. Find out what amenities the area offers to ensure that you choose a neighborhood that suits your lifestyle.
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
Meet Our Dads
Stu MacLeod - who brought me love, encouragement and so many valuable life and business lessons...and was my ice skating buddy growing up - he was serious as a businessman but outside of that 3-piece suit, he had such a great sense of humor. I adored him. He became an angel WAY too young (1981)
Russell Batson taught Al the values of hard work, ethics and treating people well. He served in the Army before becoming a Farmer where he served his community  through teaching, hiring and working with the 4-H and local Farm Bureau. He too lost his life to Cancer way too young (1988)

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Just reply to this email for the answer.

How can you salvage a cake that is stuck to the bottom of the pan?

Nancy's chicken salad - EASY
Here's a new spin on an old favorite.
Nancy served it with warm corn bread and butter or you can put a big scoop on a lettuce leaf ... or as an appetizer on Endive
(Spoiler alert to the WINOS group - tonight you get this)
Serves 6
  2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (Nancy uses COSTCO roasted chicken)
  2 cups seedless grapes halved
  1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  1/3 cup mayonnaise
  2 TBS sour cream
  1 TBS fresh lime juice
  1. Combine chicken, grapes and pecans in a medium bowl.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream and lime juice,
  3. Mix into the chicken mixture.
It's perfect for summer!  Yum! Speaking of Yum..if you love Bear Claws, go to Chompies and try their Almond Stick. It was the best EVER!!! (I really shouldn't have!)

Ask the Agent: This Month's Question
What can make my offer stronger?

To get the best response from a seller, you want to put your best foot forward. 

  • First and foremost, in Arizona we must provide a Prequalification Form showing what the Buyer is qualified to buy.  NOTE: Don't confuse "pre-qualified" with "pre-approved."  Prequalified means the buyer has provided their information - and it looks good.  Lenders rarely pre-approve because it takes time to verify the buyer's information...and be sure it's the same at the close.  A transaction can fall apart at the last minute if the buyer has gone out to buy all new furniture or a car which can skew their credit report.
  • Of course, price is paramount for both buyer and seller.
  • We,as your Realtors, can advise where to offer depending on many variables.
  • Sellers don't like to be asked to pay buyer's closing costs.  Sometimes, if they can't get an offer otherwise, we can explore that possibility.
  • Flexibility and a willingness to close whenever is most convenient to the sellers are also nice perks that could put the cherry on top of the offer.
  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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Check out Jean's April 2019 Newsletter with interesting tips, Real Estate News and a delicious recipe. Click Link Below.


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Jean's May 2019 Newsletter

Posted On: May 1st, 2019 5:41PM

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Holidays in May

  • May 6 – Nurse’s Day – thank a nurse (Thank you Jacqui Nau Lewis, our granddaughter who has been an RN for one year)
  • May 7 – Teacher’s Day – an opportunity to thank a teacher who has made a difference - we all have at least one!
  • May 12 – Mother’s Day – dear to our hearts
  • May 27 – Memorial Day – a day to fly our flags in memory of those who died serving the USA in the armed services.

May – Celiac Disease Month:

     We mention this because our daughter suffers from it (amongst several other ailments) so it is close to our hearts. And we have friends with Celiac and/or issues with gluten.
     Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and at risk for long-term health complications. There are various levels of severity with Celiac. 
     In this current anti-gluten environment, many restaurants have jumped on the band wagon offering Gluten Free (GF) products.  To those who have Celiac Disease, even a bread crumb can make them sick.  Be aware that for foods to truly be GF, they must be prepared in a completely GF environment.  As an example, cutting up vegetables on a cutting board where bread has been sliced can cause serious side effects to a Celiac patient. Few restaurants really have a designated section of their kitchen to prepare gluten free meals, so be very careful.  Those with Celiac know how critical proper preparation in a safe environment is when a restaurant prepares meals advertised as GF.  To someone who chooses to eat GF, the ramifications may not be severe if a slice of GF bread is placed on a breadboard to prepare a sandwich, but to those with severe Celiac issues, it can trigger a very unpleasant situation. 

Gluten is primarily found in any wheat product but can also be found in processed meats, canned and refined foods, beer (barley), frozen foods and so much every label before consuming anything that might contain a wheat product or gluten.

How to pick a good watermelon
This information came from one of my dear high school pals.  Al loves watermelon so now we really know what to look for. Not the look I was expecting!

 Using a handheld cellphone while driving is now illegal in Arizona

Finally – as of April 22, 2019 the State of Arizona has passed a new law that prohibits operating a motor vehicle while holding or supporting (with any part of the person’s body) a smartphone or other portable wireless device, or writing, sending or reading any text-based communication on a wireless device unless it is voice-based and/or hands-free.

Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill making it illegal to talk or text on a handheld cellphone while driving in the state. As he signed the new law, behind Ducey stood the families of victims killed by distracted drivers, including the family of Salt River tribal police Officer Clayton Townsend, who was struck and killed by a distracted driver in January. Ducey credited the families' advocacy as the reason why the bill made it through the state Legislature this year.

The law, which took effect immediately, prohibits drivers from talking, texting, typing or browsing social-media sites on their phone, unless they are using the device in a hands-free mode.  There is a warning period until Jan. 1, 2021. After that, drivers will be ticketed and fined.



Is there a shortage of homes available to Buyers?

While it is true that millennials have achieved milestones like getting married, having kids, and buying homes later in life than their parents and grandparents did, they are not solely to blame for today’s housing market trends. Freddie Mac’s Insight Report explored the impact of the Silent and Baby Boomer Generations on the housing market.

Question: If millennials are unable to find a home to buy at a young age like their predecessors, then who is living in those homes?

The answer: In some cases, Seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer than previous generations, instead choosing to "age in place."

Freddie Mac discovered "this trend accounts for about 1.6 million houses held back from the market through 2018, representing about one year’s typical supply of new construction, or more than half of the current shortfall of 2.5 million housing units estimated in December’s Insight. Older Americans sometimes prefer to age in place because they are satisfied with their communities, their homes, and their quality of life."

According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.5-month supply, which means that nationally we are in a seller’s market. A ‘normal’ housing market requires 6-7 months inventory, a level we have not achieved since August 2012.

"The most important fundamental in today’s housing market is the lack of houses for sale. This shortage has been identified as an important barrier to young adults buying their first homes."

If you are one of the Seniors who desires to retire in the same area you’ve always lived, you’re not alone; but ask yourself the important questions. Will your current house fit your needs throughout retirement?  Is the climate conducive to enjoy your retirement? Are you living where you want to live (i.e. close to family or a community you prefer?)

After the kids have left the nest, many Seniors rethink where they want to live. Two-story homes that served well over the years may now be more difficult to navigate.  We moved into a single story in 2004 because it was too difficult for Al’s mother (our only surviving parent) to climb the stairs when she came for part of the winter.  A single-story is easy on us but also people visiting. Another huge factor in downsizing is that bigger homes are more costly to maintain, heat and cool.  For those who choose a condominium, they’re also free from caring for pools, yards and all exterior maintenance. 

We can attest to the fact that single story homes are in short demand; especially if the buyer does not want a pool. Here in Arizona, probably more homes have a pool than not. To narrow that availability even more, if they want something specific like a golf course view or 3-car garage, the challenge becomes even greater. The demand is higher and the availability lower for single-story homes.

Al and I moved to a condo (almost 1900 sq. ft) almost four years ago and love the lock & leave aspect of it.  We don’t have to worry about a breeze dropping flowers into our pool, clogging up the filter…weeds in our yard or a branch down if we have a (rare) wind or rain storm dropping branches in the driveway. It’s all taken care of by our HOA – for the same amount we used to spend for a pool service, landscaping, pest control and so forth. It's a personal choice.

Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
How has the price of your home changed in today's market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you're wondering what's happening to prices in your area, or you're thinking about selling your house, we'll be able to help. Just let us know what you need.

6 Must-Haves to Set the Stage for a Quick Sale
Is your home ready to welcome potential buyers? To create the best appeal (and fetch the best price), it is helpful to stage your home. Home staging refers to preparing your space to make it appealing to the highest number of buyers, with the goal of selling the home quickly and profitably. 

While each house offers unique appeal, a few staging tips are helpful for nearly any home. To roll out the red carpet for your potential buyers, include the following must-have items.

Plants: Greenery makes a room feel warm and inviting. Use floor plants, tabletop plants or shelf plants to bring life to the corners of the room. 

Candles: These provide a nice touch, but be sure to choose unscented or lightly scented. You don't want to overwhelm visitors - some people are allergic to strong scents.  There are lovely battery-operated candles. Use candles sparingly. 

Flowers: Add color and cheer to your yard and your interior with in-season blooms. 

Throw pillows: Adding these to your beds, chairs and/or couches can provide a nice finishing touch to your décor that makes the space more appealing.

Towels: Coordinated linens in the bathroom create a clean, crisp, and luxurious atmosphere. Make sure towels are hung neatly and are in good condition. A brand-new hand towel can provide a nice touch.

Artwork: Neutral artwork on the walls is preferable to family portraits. Remember, the goal is to make your space appealing to as many buyers as possible. This means depersonalizing so they can envision themselves in your space instead of you.
Thank you to Ruth Batson and Ruth MacLeod - for giving us life, love and support. 
Ruth Batson - loving mother to Al and Cliff Batson - a teacher who changed the lives of so many with her love and encouragement.  Joined the Angels 4/26/2011
Ruth MacLeod - loving mother to Dave & Jean (MacLeod) Batson -  she faced the challenge of a Down Syndrome child in an era where it was so misunderstood. She faced every challenge in life with love and compassion. Joined the Angels 7/19/1992
Both were wonderful mothers, wives, grandmothers...and both were terrific mothers-in-law. We miss you and will always treasure the memories we have of you and the examples you set for us.
The Batson Team HomeSmart
Jean Batson
Home Smart
Beware of New Scam

The latest scam (on top of all the scams saying they’re from Microsoft, or the IRS threatening you to pay due to back taxes) is one from a person claiming to be an officer of the Court saying you missed your Jury Duty and thus must pay a penalty fine or you will be arrested.  Don’t fall for it.  If you’re needed for Jury Duty, you’ll only receive communication by mail. 


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Quick Quiz
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Who is considered to be the "Father of Computers" for his creation of the first mechanical computer?

Almond Rice Pilaf
Al is a "rice guy" - ok and a nice guy.  He'll usually choose rice over potatoes in a restaurant.
Serves 6 as a side dish
  1 stick butter
  2 cups long grain rice
  1 cup sliced, fresh mushrooms
  1 tsp.Italian seasoning*
  *(or your choice using basil, thyme, oregano and whatever you like)
  3/4 cup chopped green onions
  2-2/3 cups chicken broth or stock
  3/4 cup sliced almonds

Lightly grease a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat.


Cook, stirring until onions/mushrooms are tender (about 5 minutes)

Spoon mixture into your baking dish; add broth and almonds (stir in)

Bake covered for an hour a 325 degrees.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Ask Al & Jean: This Month's Question
What if the seller doesn't accept my offer?

First, it's important to realize that this is common. In many cases, sellers don't accept the offer given to them by the potential buyer. Instead, they make a counter offer. 

This is likely what will happen when you make an offer on a home. If this occurs, your offer has not been rejected. It has simply been countered. The seller will typically ask for a higher price than you originally offered and may request an alteration of other terms on the contract as well. 

When a counter-offer is made, you will work with your real estate agent to review the offer and decide if you want to accept it or make another counter-offer. 

It is normal for negotiations to go back and forth several times before all parties come to a final agreement on terms. This could happen in a matter of minutes, but it often takes up to several hours or days.
  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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