Toscana CC 2009 3rd Quarter Report

Dear Toscana Resident:

Each quarter when doing my research for this report,  I return to previous years to read what was happening in the market the same time a year ago and beyond. We remain in a financial dilemma and loans are still difficult to get as the lenders demand more documentation. The good news is that state and federal first time buyer programs had a positive effect on new home sales. This program should be extended and offered to all home buyers.

Existing home sales nationally jumped 7% during the month of July. This is the largest monthly sales increase in the past 10 years.  The rise in pending home sale contracts also show buyers are returning to the market place. Not all deals are closing as a result of banks taking a longer time to respond to short sales and with loans harder to obtain as a result of increased demand for more information and appraisals not always in line with the purchase price. This will change as more and more properties are sold and we establish stable comparables.

According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly 1/3 of housing sales were distress sales. These sales include bank owned foreclosures and short sales where homes sell for less than is owed to the bank. Whether the drop in foreclosure sales is temporary is yet to be seen as some of the public agencies and banks believe there is still a great deal of financial stress in the pipeline.

Short sales and foreclosures, when priced right for the market place, receive multiple offers and normally sell to the buyer who offers more than the asking price. The highest offer is not always the one the bank accepts. They look for the strongest buyer, cash remains king when purchasing distressed sales. While many buyers and agents have shied away from short sales and gone directly to buying homes from the bank, the buyer doesn't always get the better home at the best price. Many of the foreclosed homes require major repairs that when completed exceed the price they would have paid for a short sale home that is better maintained. My success with short sales both when representing sellers and buyers has been high. The only sales that have not gone through are those where the bank did not accept the offer only to sell it as a foreclosure for less money many months later. 

The California housing sales market rose 12% in July of this year. Add the increase of 3.9% in median price compared to June. This is good news. While the strongest segment in sales are homes under $500,000, once the jumbo loan market returns, home sales over $500,000 will begin to thrive as well. When home sales are broken down by price, days on market have dropped in every segment from 2008 to 2009 except for those homes over $1million. The months on market increased from 10.8 to 12.8. for homes over one million dollars.  The under $300,000 dropped from 6.4 months to 2.9 months. These are all healthy signs.

Sales for homes in the Coachella Valley under $500,000 currently represent 74% of the market share. In the third quarter report of last year that figure was 65% and during this past winter's peak season it reached as high as 88% of market share here in the desert.

In the 3rd quarter of 2008 California sales remained over 400,000 for existing homes. That was an increase of 43.4% over July of 2007. Sales have now exceeded 500,000 per month for 12 consecutive months and are 38% higher than a year ago.

The median price of homes and condos  in the Coachella Valley was $239,600 in July of 2008.  It dropped to  $177,250 in August, down 30% from a year ago. Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage posted sales that put their median price above $400,000. Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs posted sales that put the median at $84,000 and $70,500 respectively. The good news is that more costly neighborhoods have come down in value by about half as much as the newer, more affordable neighborhoods.

We sold 5 homes in Toscana  in the 3rd quarter of 2009 plus a custom estate lot. The interest in the community remains strong.    Buyers continue to demand prime locations at below market prices. The good news is a custom estate home closed for $4.2 million. One west facing Bellagio 721 closed for $2,175,000. Both keeping the price per square foot for prime location over the $500 per square foot mark. One Amalfi 621 closed for $900,000 and 2 for $1,350,000 each. On custom estate lot south/west facing sold for $1,275,000 in July which is excellent considering land sales are difficult to sell in today's market. We anticipate sales in the community to be better this coming season compared to the last several years as buyers have a better sense that we are at the bottom of the market. While I continue to receive calls about all the properties I represent in Toscana, the primary interest is for homes under $1.5 million.

I have included Toscana sales for 2007 and 2008 as a comparison to reflect prices for those floor plans that were and are on the market and those that have sold. While we have continued interest in the homes, the buyer expectations and willingness to pay remains lower than the asking prices of those homes currently on the market. 

Since the first of the year, 62 homes in golf course communities have sold for more than $1,000,000. Thirty nine of these homes were in La Quinta, nine were in Palm Desert, eight were in Indian Wells and six were in Rancho Mirage. Considering the number of high end homes for sale, days on market for higher priced country club homes can take up to a year or more to sell.

Several homes in various communities have had water damage this summer. The primary culprit are the water valves under the sinks and behind the toilets. Consider having a plumber check to see if the valves need to be replaced. It takes only a short time to actually flood a home once they burst. If your water must remain on in the home because of your pool or spa equipment, hire a plumber to set the system up so the water be turned off  inside your home when you leave. All these precautions can save you money and headaches down the road.

I am pleased to introduce our new website: or  We have been working diligently for the past 4 months designing, creating the data and entering it onto the site. Please take a look as I think you will find it very useful whether you are actively in the real estate market or not. It is  a one stop site full of information about the area, the communities and what to do and see while here. All quarterly reports since 2004 are available on the website. Click on the quarterly report or the year and quarter of interest to see the cover letter. Click on PDF document at the right to see the entire report including all stats.

With nearly 80% of home buyers searching the web for properties, it is extremely important to attract them to my website and the properties we represent. As a result, we are one of two featured agents on and one of eight on

The web connections combined with a comprehensive website that is easy to navigate, keeps buyers returning to our website and to those homes available.

Professional photography, video tours and quality brochures are key to attracting buyers to homes. Professional marketing done through the various media resources added to a real estate professional who takes the time to personally call agents and buyers for feedback can lead to greater opportunities to sell homes.  An active agent with high market share, when combined with the well rounded media use leads to more prospective buyers and agent inquiries. I represent 31% of all the homes sold in Indian Ridge this year, the highest number of homes sold by any agent. Add the new additions to my marketing program, results can only get better.

Thank you for your referrals and your continued confidence in my team. We continue to strive to meet our client's best interests with hard work, follow-through and keeping up with the ever changing market demands.



Diane Williams

Associate Broker/Executive Premier Director

Windermere Real Estate