Polo: The Sport of Kings

image002WHEN ANNE and her husband lived in England, they were only a 20 minute drive to Cowdray Park, the home of British polo.  Prince Philip began playing and competing there in the early 1950s, as did The Prince of Wales later on. These days, polo has moved on from being a sport principally played by wealthy  gentlemen into one where most teams hired talented overseas professional players. Interestingly, Polo is an inexpensive and fun spectator sport – and you can enjoy it during the cooler months right here in the Valley! We have two polo clubs in Indio: the Empire Polo Club and the Eldorado Polo Club. The season lasts for about three months—January thru March. Polo is a dynamic equestrian sport which has been played for centuries throughout Asia and the Middle East. The West was introduced to the sport when the British colonized India. A game with talented players can be an impressive sight. Although the horses used in the sport are called polo ponies, they are really full-sized horses, where thoroughbreds are the traditional mounts, although other breeds may be used as well. In all cases, horses are selected for speed, agility, and obedience. Put together a picnic, and rendezvous with friends for Sunday tailgating.  You are parked just at the edge of the pitch, and the play goes on right before you.  Bring your own chairs, sun umbrellas and picnic fare.  Dogs are welcome on a leash.  Admission is free, although there is a small charge for parking. If tailgating isn’t your thing, consider reserving a VIP seat or table for the day. Champagne and cucumber sandwiches, anyone?

The Mesa: Celebrity Enclave

image006WITHOUT A DOUBT, The Mesa is one of the most beautiful, eclectic and historic neighborhoods in Palm Springs.  Located on South Palm Canyon, this community is close to nature, while at the same time is close to town.  The community is located at the base of San Jacinto which offers protection from the desert winds and incredible views.  Its scenic streets and paths are ideal for dog walking, cycling and hiking. The Mesa is an ungated neighborhood of about 180 homes.  A mixture of several different architectural styles, such as Old Spanish Pueblo, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch style, Mediterranean from small to mansion, as well as ultra-modern contemporary. Overall, it’s a delightful mix of small homes all the way to large, walled estates. Mesa property prices range from about $600,000 to $12-million. Many of its earliest homes were built in the 1930s and 1940s.  Over the years many homes were built by notables such as King Gillette (shaving razors), George Jessel, George Montgomery and Jolie Gabor (mother to Zsa Zsa, Eva and Magda).  Modern day residents have included Sonny and Mary Bono, Barry Manilow, Joseph Cotton, Robert Wagner and Herman Wouk. Neighbors fairly well sum it all up when they tell you, “For all its history and celebrity, The Mesa’s best feature is its sense of community.”

Indian Water Rights Go Underground in Valley

water-rightsFor over 20 years, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has sought ownership interest in groundwater in the Coachella Valley and its interest in responsible management of the aquifer’s condition. Presently, groundwater in the Coachella Valley aquifer is managed by local water districts, including Desert Water Agency and Coachella Valley Water District. On March 7, 2017, the 9th Circuit Court rejected efforts to limit the tribe’s rights to the valley’s groundwater. The ruling represents a strong rebuke to the Desert Water Agency and the Coachella Valley Water District, whose leaders argued that the tribe was only entitled to surface water on the reservation. This case is important because it will help clarify what rights, if any, Indian tribes enjoy in groundwater as a matter of federal law. Other federal reservations, like national parks or national forests, also enjoy a similar form of water rights, but the Supreme Court has never explicitly addressed the question of whether any of those rights apply to groundwater. The court pointed out that surface water is “minimal or entirely lacking for most of the year” in the region and “a reservation without an adequate source of surface water must be able to access groundwater.” The water districts have argued that the tribe could do anything they pleased with the water, including operating a bottled water plant, say. However, Barton Thompson, an expert on water law and a professor of natural resources at Stanford Law School states, “Indian tribes around the USA have frequently managed their water quite well. And if that is a concern, then the answer is for the federal government to ensure they have the resources to manage the groundwater effectively.” Although the case could set a national precedent on Indian water rights, the decision is only the first step in a long process. Future stages will quantify the tribe’s water rights and will determine whether the tribe is entitled to water of a certain quality.

Deep Well

deep-wellIt all began in 1895, with some acreage purchased to grow apricots, near a native Cahuillla village. Severe droughts and no available water resulted in dead trees and lost investment for a number of owners, until Henry Pearson, who acquired the land in 1926, drilled a well and hit water at a relatively shallow 100 feet. Being surprised that so much water was available so near the surface, he continued to drill further until reaching 650 feet—becoming the deepest well in the valley. By 1928, the Pearsons wanted to be closer to the village and sold the ranch to Roger Doyle, who transformed the ranch house and apricot sheds into guest quarters—and the Deep Well Guest Ranch was born. In time, new owners and new buildings made the property a fine guest ranch. Frank and Melba Bennett of Beverly Hills were persuaded to operate the ranch in the winter of 1931, along with Philip Boyds (later Palm Springs first mayor). In 1932, the Boyds and Bennetts purchased the property together, and the latter operated the facility for the next 18 years—but by 1949, new subdivisions were starting to press upon the simple, rural, western ambience that was so dear to the Bennetts. So, Frank and Melba Bennett sold Deep Well Guest Ranch to Yoland Markson of Boston, and moved into the village on Valmonte Sur. In the late 1950s Deep Well Ranch was more valuable for its development potential than as a resort. Deep Well Guest Ranch would be rebranded as Deep Well Ranch Estates. In 1952 Bill Grant, builder of Thunderbird Golf Club, began development of the subdivision adjoining the guest ranch, and would “carry on the tradition” of having ranch-style houses and street names which would “tie in with the activities of ranch life.” Deep Well Guest Ranch is no longer. It was all razed when finally subdivided for homes. And what has become of Pearson’s deep well?

Meet Betty McNees

mcnees-1-2-aspectBetty is a 30-year real estate veteran who has served the greater Palm Springs region for nearly 24 years.  Anne and Betty have teamed up to combine their unique skills to take the stress out of buying or selling your home. Throughout her career, Betty has strived for excellence, and it shows:  she is an award winning real estate agent with an exceptionally loyal clientele, where referrals and repeat business have formed the foundation of her professional works. Betty says, “Real Estate for me is about creating relationships.  I have become friends with many of my clients over the years and have earned wholeheartedly their trust in me.  They refer their kids, friends, family and colleagues time and time again.” Betty’s real estate success is a good match to Anne’s business acumen.   Anne cofounded ASNA (Amalgamated Software of North America) in 1982 and served as its president and CEO until the company was sold to an Israeli investment group in 2008.  With offices in the USA and Europe, Anne directed the company’s product development and sales growth into all of the world’s continents, save for Antarctica. In addition to having been selected as a Soroptomist Business Woman of the Year, Anne is a member of the Women’s Council of Realtors, member of the Council of Residential Specialists, member of the Bentley Driver’s Club.  Anne has also built and remodeled several homes over the years.

Lake Mirage Racquet Club

Lake MirageSituated on Country Club Drive, just west of Monterey is a proud Rancho Mirage residential community where every home is on the shore of either one of the two lakes on the property. In addition to the beautiful lake views, residents can take in the spectacular mountain views. Among its many amenities, Lake Mirage Racquet Club provides a clubhouse with a billiard room, card room, exercise room and an indoor basketball court. Moreover, there are a large main pool plus ten neighborhood pools and spas, nine tennis courts, a couple of pickle ball courts, a three-hole pitch-and-putt, two racquetball courts, and a 24 hour attended entrance gate. Homes in the community range from 1615 to 3000 square feet on fee simple land. The lakes’ area covers over 20% of the development’s 80 acres, and many residents own electric boats which can be navigated on either of the lakes. Residents may wish to join the Lake Mirage Yacht Club, which has three large electric party boats. Lake Mirage is within a short drive, or even walking distance, from El Paseo Drive, the McCallum Theater, Eisenhower Medical Center, and over 100 golf courses. Food stores like Albertsons and Bristol Farms are only minutes away on foot.

Desert Winds Freedom Band

Desert Winds Freedom Band Shows a Lot of Class

dwfb-logo A couple of months ago we had the pleasure of attending a wonderfully uplifting presentation by members of the Desert Winds Freedom Band.  Our ears were witness to an oleo of concert band and jazz band music by familiar and notable composers including Leonard Bernstein, Dmitri Shostakovich, Stan Kenton and Rimsky-Korsakov. Founded in 2001, it is comprised of dedicated musicians whose goal is to make great music together and serves the greater Palm Springs and Coachella Valley areas.  Some are retired music professionals and others haven’t played since they graduated from high school or college.  In all, DWFB is a diverse group open to all gay and gay-friendly musicians who like to play concert band music. Besides the large concert band, DWFB has created numerous smaller ensembles to add to their community involvement, and to increase the playing opportunities for its members. The largest is the DWFB Jazz Band which is comprised of 21 musicians. Other ensembles include a Jazz Sextet, Saxophone Quartet and Brass Quintet that play numerous gigs around the area. Depending on scheduling, any of these groups are available to perform at your next function. DWFB also hosts a variety of guest artists, both local and national.  Performing at the event we attended was composer and guest composer, Rossano Galante, who conducted his composition, “San Andreas Landscapes”. The band is also a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bands Association (LGBA), which has member bands throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. The Desert Winds Freedom Band is proud to announce that they have been chosen to host the LGBA Annual Conference in Palm Springs on Pride Weekend (November 2-6) in 2016.  The theme will be California Gold—Palm Springs Style.  The weekend’s pinnacle event is the Saturday evening concert comprised of two 150—person concert bands.  And to wrap up the weekend, a 300-member marching band and color guard will be featured in the 2016 Greater Palm Springs Pride Parade on Sunday. For information about being a sponsor, and for tickets to upcoming performances, go to www.desertwindsfb.org.

Property Profile: The Millennials

The recent slowdown in household growth was quite intriguing given that it corresponded with the coming of age of the millennials (born 1985–2004), the largest generation in history. Over the past 10 years, the number of adults under age 30 increased by roughly 5 million but the number of households in that age group rose by just 200,000. Indeed, if young adults headed households at the same rates that they did in 2005, there would be 1.7 million more households in this age group today. Over the next decade, however, the aging of the millennial generation will be a boon to household growth. Household headship rates rise from about 25 percent for adults in their early 20s to about 50 percent for those in their 30s. As they move further into these age groups, millennials are expected to form well over 2 million new households each year on average, raising their numbers from 16 million in 2015 to a projected 40 million in 2025. But for many young adults, low wealth remains an obstacle to home buying. In 2013, renters aged 25–34 had median net wealth of $4,850 and cash savings of $1,030, well below the down payment needed for today’s median-priced home. Renters aged 35–44 were not much better off, with median net wealth of $7,900 and cash savings of $510. Given the large discrepancy in wealth between owners and renters, the inability to access homeownership may further divide the haves and the have-nots. Growth in the adult population will support significant household growth over the next decade and beyond. Demographic forces alone will drive the addition of more than 13 million households in 2015–2025. Much of this growth will occur among the retirement-aged population, with the number of households age 70 and over projected to soar by over 8 million, or more than 40 percent. These increases will lift the share of older households from 16 percent in 2015 to about 21 percent in 2025. * Excerpted from Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Palm Springs Market Report

To Sell or Not to Sell?  Now That is a Very Good Question!

This column has often been cleverly filled with statistics regarding home sales, inventories, median prices, average prices and so on.  These numbers are provided by our local MLS.  By the time you’ve received this newsletter, the statistics are out of date by a month or more.  So, if you are interested in the latest statistics, go to the website of California Desert Association of REALTORS® and click on the current month’s market statistics: www.cdaronlone.org. What I would rather report to you is how the market feels—and frequently the way it feels goes counter to the statistics.  Overall, in the Coachella Valley, home sales have been weakened in part by the strength of the US Dollar, which thwarted many foreign buyers from entering the market—especially our Canadian neighbors, who constitute the majority of foreign ownership in this region.  This trend will most likely continue as long as oil prices remain relatively low.  Brexit and November’s election are not helping, either – so it appears that there will be little change until the end of the year. Inventories are still quite high, which means it’s definitely a buyer’s market.  If you must sell your home, then be prepared to price it to sell.  Buyers are prepared to wait out the market, so with that attitude they can afford to be selective. On the other hand, if you don’t really need to sell right now, it may be prudent to stand back and wait until the market firms up.  You can use the time to tidy up your property, and to be prepared when the time comes.

Real Estate in the Digital Age

greg-bayles-civilization-in-the-digital-age-1-1038x576 The Internet, and the services that employ it, has added value to what persists as the traditional process of buying or selling of one’s home. In 1964, 40% of home buyers read newspaper ads to find a home and 7% drove around looking for an open house.  Today, only 1% depend upon  newspaper ads, and 44% used open houses as a valued information source in their home search.  The world we live in today is a digital one and searching for a home is no different. Buyers now have apps that let them search by location and neighborhoods. Online listings have virtual tours so viewers can look at a bunch of potential homes while narrowing down their search to a select few in the effort to save time. Online searching maximizes the ability to compare and contrast homes on the market by selected features. Most of this is done before a potential home buyer connects with a real estate agent. Also in 1964, 61% of home buyers contacted agents they knew.  In 2014, buyers worked with an agent 87% of the time to find their home.  Today, the initial process starts online, where home buyers are entering the process more educated about the market before they work with an agent.   In a complimentary process, REALTORS® are also utilizing software technology in their everyday business practices.  Multiple Listing Services have provided a myriad of search, and reporting tools, and is a major resource.  Additional and significant software products provide Comparative Market Analysis, Electronic Contracts and Forms, E-Signature, Document Preparation and Contact Management (CRM). Considering that 94% of people begin their home search online, Social Media is becoming increasingly relevant, particularly with younger buyers.  Stay tuned.

Property Profile: Linea

If, during the last several months, you’ve driven up Bogert Trail in the Andreas Hills neighborhood of Palm Springs (as we do daily), you surely would have noticed the works in progress in the tract adjacent to Monte Sereno.  The new development, called Linea, is a most unique collaboration between developer Andrew Adler, CEO of Alta Verde Group, and Los Angeles architect Anthony Poon of Poon Design Inc. Three different floor plans are offered, and each house comes with high-end amenities including a 6-KW solar power system.  Okay, what is so unique about Linea homes?  The answer is white.  The Linea development is one color only – white.  And the homes are architected to be grand horizontally, rather than being grand vertically, such that the surrounding mountains are an integral part of the homes’ design. linea02b The first three of the 14 homes planned for the eight-acre site are now under construction on 1/2 acre lots, and each are 5,000 square feet—prices will be from $2.5 to $3 million. linea09b For more information, contact Lisa Young, Sales Director:  lyoung@altaverdesales.com / 760.250.5340.