Jerry Shea
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How can you tell it’s Fall in the Desert?

When the license plates start changing colors.

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Palm Springs, Palm Desert and the rest of the surrounding 9 Desert cities has a population of approximately 402,000 full time residents. In addition, about 100,000 seasonal visitors call the Desert home during the Winter months. These”snowbirds” start arriving every year in the October time frame. Every day we see more out of state and Canadian license plates throughout the Desert. A large portion of these sun chasers come from the Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon. The number of Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois plates have started arriving earlier this year, as well.

The number of Canadians that are buying Winter homes is growing every year. In fact, I have 2 fantastic homes in escrow right now that were purchased by Canadians in the last few weeks. I have seen a significant increase in the number of Canadians coming to the Desert early this year to get a jump on their fellow citizens and snapping up home bargains before other buyers.  Last week I sold a 3 bedroom condo in Palm Desert (listed for $130,000) to one of the nicest couples I have ever met. They never even saw the condo until they arrived in town this week, after we had already opened escrow. The day they sent me an email, briefly outlining what their criteria was, I scoured the MLS and found an unbelievable opportunity. The condo had just been lowered by $40,000 and the sellers were very motivated. We wrote an offer at 9 P.M. the same night and because we wrote such a clean offer, it was accepted the next day. Before they wrote the offer, I sent them a video that I shot that afternoon of the property and the development. The video had audio sound so they could hear the street traffic from the property. They arrived on Monday for the home inspection and said their expectations were far exceeded.  If they waited one more day this property would have been sold. I am delighted for them that they found such a wonderful property in one of the best neighborhoods in the Desert … and at such a FANTASTIC price.

Another Canadian couple opened escrow on one of my listings 2 weeks ago. Again, we had just lowered the price by $50,000 (list price $349,000) in order to sell it before the Season started. This beautiful 3 bedroom 3.5 bath home with a private pool and spa sits on a magnificent country club with incredible golf course views and Western views of our majestic San Jacinto Mountains. This winter, after a round of morning golf out their back door, they will be floating in their pool in 70 and 80 degree weather while looking straight up to the snow covered mountains. Life is good. Had they waited, they surely would have missed this bargain.

The Canadian Dollar (the Loonie) had been rising and is now back to about 94 cents to the American Dollar (http://bankofcanada.ca). In 2007, a record number of Canadians bought homes in the Desert because the Loonie was at an all time high of 1.103 to the American Dollar. Back on May 7, 2009, I wrote an article illustrating why NOW is even a much better time to buy a property in the Desert vs. 2007 because home prices have dropped about 40-70% in many areas and the Canadian dollar is at a very favorable position to the American Dollar. Take a look at subsequent “Market News” articles on www.Jerry Shea.com or visit the Stats pages to get a factual illustration of what the markets look like in each of the 9 major Desert Cities. I have broken the numbers out by single family homes and condos and included the number of homes sold and the median prices for each city. I think many people are going to be surprised to see that most of the market decline stopped in about March of 2009, has stabilized and in many cases the median prices are beginning to increase. Stay tuned for regular updates on the markets.

For all of you folks with different color license plates, please let me know how I can help you find a great buy and get you in your new home before all of the other snowbirds arrive. And for all of you folks with California license plates, I will be happy to assist you in finding a Desert home so you can escape the “May Gray” and “June Gloom” of the California Coastal cities.

Feel free to contact me at jerry[at]jerryshea.com (replace [at] with @) or call 760-567-9296 and don’t forget to visit my website for a wealth of real estate and Desert information, www.JerryShea.com. License plate photo courtesy of kelloggphotography, Flickr.