Naranja Park Expansion Bond Vote

Oro Valley’s Town Council recently voted unanimously to place a special bond election on the Nov. 7th ballot. At that time it will be up to Oro Valley’s voters to decide whether a secondary property tax will be enacted to pay for the $17 million expansion of the Naranja Park. This secondary property tax will expire in 20 years and add approximately less than $5 to the average Oro Valley household’s property tax each month. There are already two additional multi-use fields that are currently being constructed for the site and this bond would fund three additional fields, four baseball/softball diamonds, a concession stand with restrooms, 4 ramadas, parking lots, a playground, maintenance facility, and infrastructure improvements. This issue has great appeal to many families in the region and some vocal opposition as well, particularly from those still upset about the purchase of the community center & golf courses. Click here for a closer look at the expansion map & make your voice heard this Fall.

The Truth About Interest Rates & Down Payments

There has been a lot of coverage in the news lately on interest rates, factors that cause an increase or decrease and how movement will affect the overall housing market. A more important topic that has gone unnoticed is the fact that mortgage credit policies have eased up a bit in the last few years, making it much easier to purchase a home.

There continues to be a myth that a person needs to have 20% of the purchase price saved as a down payment in order to purchase a home. This is just not true and in fact, has not been the case for a very long time. You can purchase a home for as little as 3% down on a conventional loan, or 3.5% down on an FHA loan. And if you are a Veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides a loan for 0% down! In the last six years, the percentage of buyers that paid less than 5% for their down payment has increased from 2% to 17%. These loans are available and ready to be utilized by all types of buyers.

The FHA or Federal Housing Authority loan is available to all borrowers and to those that may have some credit challenges in their credit history. While credit policies did tighten about ten years ago, this past year we have seen these credit policies come back to a more level playing field for most borrowers. The average credit score necessary to purchase a home in the last six months has decreased from 731 in September 2016 to 720 in February 2017.

I encourage you to ask – don’t assume that you would not qualify. Check it out. Contact us today and we will put you on the right path to homeownership.

6 Suggestions For Moving Day Success

Planning to move? Included below are six suggestions that are guaranteed to make your transition smoother and less stressful.

1. Start sorting and packing about two months before your planned move date. Use colored stickers to mark what will be moved, donated or thrown away.
2. If you have pets, ask your veterinarian, selected moving company, and your airline (if you’ll be flying) to provide you with information, tips, and any regulations related to getting your pet from point A to point B.
3. Give friends and family that have been using your house as a storage facility a firm deadline for collecting their belongings. If they don’t respond in a timely manner, put their possessions in a real storage facility and forward the bills.
4. Take careful measurements of your new bedrooms and living spaces, then use space-planning tools – such as Roomstyler 3D Home Planner, SmartDraw, or paper and pen – to determine where major furnishings will best fit.
5. Don’t use an open-bed pickup truck to transport your belongings. It’s difficult to properly secure the load, plus wind and weather can easily cause damage.
6. Allow at least one full day after everything is removed to properly clean your current home.

Experience peace of mind during your move with Suddath Relocation Systems, a Long Realty Home Advantage partner. To receive special offers from Suddath and other reliable services from endorsed, local businesses, contact me to get your free Advantage card!

Prepare Your Pool For Summer Fun

Architecture, Design, Homes, Residential

It’s that time of year again – time to get the pool in shape for the summer season! Below are some quick tips to help ensure that your swim season gets off to a great start.

Look around and check for signs of leaks in the plumbing, wetness around the pump motor or on the concrete pad. Also make sure you have good circulation of water in your pump basket – it should be filled with water. Then, test your water for the level of total dissolved solids (TDS), such as calcium, in the water to determine whether you need to drain and refill your pool. Arizona’s water is so “hard” (laden with calcium and minerals) that the buildup can prevent your pool chemicals from doing their job. In some cases, the TDS levels are so high that a pool needs draining and refilling with clean water that will respond to the chemicals in appropriate amounts. Pools usually need to be drained every three to five years, as TDS levels get high over time. If your pool is salt-chlorinated, check salt levels and clean the cells regularly, especially if the salt system stops producing when the weather cools off (most stop automatically at about 55 degrees). Raise the chlorine level above 5.0. The shock will oxidize “dead” material that the chlorine has killed, such as bacteria and algae.

Once you have checked your pool for leaks and have the chemicals in order, it’s just as important to maintain its upkeep. If you don’t have a pool service, devote time every week to a thorough cleaning of the pool, which involves netting out the debris, vacuuming, brushing the pool down, emptying the skimmer and pump baskets, and chemically treating the water. A great helper is an automatic pool cleaner. Most likely your pool pump runs all year, so maintenance on it should be ongoing. Inspect the strainer basket regularly for cracks, which can let debris pass through. It is also important to maintain the chemical balance in addition to cleaning filters every few months depending on the filter size and environmental surroundings. Finally, have the tile cleaned of the heavy calcium build up every few years. Algae sometimes grows underneath the scale and can cause problems in the pool.

The best thing to do to solve the majority of problems are:

– Keep fresh water in the pool
– Make sure filters are clean
– Make sure there is good water circulation in the pool
– Make sure chemicals are balanced
– Run the filter for a long period of time at higher speed if you have a variable or dual speed motor

Blue Apron: Is It Worth It?

“I don’t feel like much of anything. It all seems so repetitive. Not enough variety.”

That was Stephen’s response to my text about what I should get for dinner that night. Great. Cooking vegetarian dinners (my requirement) that two adults and two kids will eat just got harder, so when I heard an advertisement for Blue Apron on a Podcast the following week, including a code to get “three meals free on your first order,” I was sold.

Note: Blue Apron calls a serving a “meal,” so three free meals is really the equivalent of three servings, and there are 6-12 servings in a weekend package depending on how you order. Tricky. Basically I got $30 off of a $60 order.

How does it work?

Blue Apron sends you the recipes and all of the ingredients necessary to cook three meals per week. They have a 2-person plan and a 4-person plan, but the vegetarian option is only available for the 2-person plan, so I set up our first delivery for a weekend when we wouldn’t have the kids. You can have the meals delivered on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and they arrive on your doorstep in a large box with ice packs in the bottom to keep the ingredients cold.

The first round of recipes were very time intensive, and they called for a lot of ingredients I had never used before, so the recipes on paper did not look particularly appealing to us. I called up to Stephen after over an hour of prep including finely chopping what felt like an unending pile of vegetables, and announced, “I don’t care if you like it or not, you’re eating it! This is taking forever!”

In the end, all three of the recipes turned out to be very good. We were especially impressed with the taste of the fresh pizza dough, and the dumplings were amazing. Each recipe created closer to three servings rather than two, so we had leftovers. Seriously, the portions are huge, even for ultrarunners.

At this point, I cancelled all future deliveries (as far in the future as was possible at that time), not wanting to spend the full $60 anytime soon, but when I started getting the recipes emailed to me each week, as a teaser for the following weekend, I thought, why not just make them myself? Do I really need to pay $60 to have someone send me the ingredients? I mean, I have to spend over an hour in the kitchen to make it either way, so what am I paying for? Thus was born the following experiment.

DIY Blue Apron

First I took the three emailed recipes and manually entered them into my Pepperplate account online to make shopping for the ingredients easier. The Pepperplate app automatically creates a grocery list organized by department based on the recipes you would like to make from your library. This is just one of its many benefits. I also pull the recipe up on an iPad to follow while I’m cooking. Although entering the recipes into my account will save me time if I ever make them again, it cost me 15 minutes at this point.

I went to my neighborhood grocery store first, Safeway, and ended up finding everything on my list except for seven items. I spent $55. Okay, fine, there will be leftovers of a lot of the ingredients, so I’m sure it will work out.

Then I went to the nearest Sprouts and found two of the remaining seven ingredients: Roasted Cashews (just the right amount from the bulk bins) and Semi-Pearled Farro. It didn’t say “semi-pearled,” but here’s where my “stick to the recipe exactly for the sake of science” mentality started to fall apart. I just spent another $6.50, and it would have been $12.60 if I had bought Agave Nectar (which I had plenty of already), but there will be lots of this farro stuff leftover, so it’s okay, right?

Since Whole Foods was just down the street, I decided to attempt the last five ingredients there, even though I prefer to spend my money wisely. Nope. They didn’t have a single thing I was looking for. This further solidified my opinion that it’s unnecessary to shop at “Whole Paycheck.” I wasted five minutes there but at least was impressed by the great music. Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died in Your Arms” had me bopping and mumble-singing through the aisles while I shook my head in disappointment.

Blue Apron recipes

With all the ingredients necessary to make one of the three dishes that night, I called it a day and went home, determined to find the other five tomorrow. I had spent $62 and almost two hours of shopping/driving at this point.

When I got home, I got an email saying that Blue Apron had just shipped my next box! @#$%! Now I was about to have six recipes to make! Remember how I had cancelled future shipments as far in the future as was possible at that time? I’ve since set a reminder in my phone to prevent this from happening again.

The next day I tried AJ’s fine foods and still couldn’t find the last five ingredients. I could have travelled even further to an Asian foods market, but I decided to do the smart thing and look up substitutes. 

I ended up with the following from Safeway:

-Rabe Broccoli instead of Gai Lan

-regular Chives instead of Garlic Chives

-Teriyaki Sauce instead of Yakinuku Sauce

-Boxed Manicotti instead of Fresh Pasta Sheets

-Black Cerignola Olives were eliminated. This was to top a salad, and I knew my patrons would not appreciate them, especially since at this point, I was going to have to make two of the six recipes on nights with the kids. I also wished I had not purchased the Red Pepper Flakes or Pepperoncinis the day before, since those would definitely not be going in a kid meal anytime soon. The escapade to AJ’s and then Safeway cost me another hour and $8.50, so now we’re at 3 hours of shopping and $76 of ingredients.

Tips for following their recipes

The three recipes which included my substituted ingredients all turned out fine, and in the process I nearly halved the time it took to make a Blue Apron recipe by doing the following: Don’t follow the recipe. I mean DO follow the recipe, but just don’t do the steps in order necessarily. Blue Apron has you chop up EVERYTHING in the first step, so you find yourself drowning in tiny bowls filled with chopped vegetables, wishing you had six arms and a Xanax and THEN you start cooking.

Instead, start with Step 2, which is where things actually start to happen. Just prep the ingredients necessary for Step 2, get it going, and then check out Step 3. Basically, prep the ingredients as needed. You will have plenty of time to prep the next set of ingredients while the current set boils, bakes, simmers, etc. The way they lay out their recipes is highly inefficient, but if you can stay focused and maybe cross things off as you do them, you’ll save yourself a lot of time.

Another tip: Get your Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper (not provided) out and leave them out the whole time. You will be adding salt and pepper “to taste” after seemingly every step. 

How’s the food?

At this point we have had nine Blue Apron meals, and they have ranged from good to excellent. Who knew mixing Pistachios, Meyer Lemon juice, Pecorino Cheese, Castelvetrano Olives, and Sweet Piquante Peppers together could make such a delicious topping? (sounded gross to me) I’m impressed with the variety and quality of the ingredients and the tasty flavor combinations. Stephen seems to have been hoping for the next great thing that he could eat night after night, and that didn’t happen, but we have discovered quite a few new great dishes to break up the monotony of dinner.

The kids loved the salad made from Romaine Lettuce, Meyer Lemon, Parmesan Cheese, Mascarpone Cheese, and Olive Oil (the one I left the olives and pepperoncinis out of). I’ve never seen a 6-year old or an 8-year old so excited for salad before. We had a “tasting party” with small portions each of six different leftovers, and they approved of about half of them. That’s an incredible batting average for baseball as well as for feeding children.

Conclusion: Is Blue Apron Worth It?

In total I spent $76 buying the ingredients for three recipes and three hours looking for them. I could have cut that time way down though if I had skipped Whole Foods and AJ’s and gone straight to substitutes, but the unique ingredients are part of the appeal of Blue Apron. Another major drawback of buying my own ingredients is that there was a total of almost $48 of leftover ingredients, some of which is perishable and will end up in the compost. Of course, this experiment assumed I didn’t have anything that I needed so I had to buy it all up front, and next time I will already have things like Sesame Oil, Rice Vinegar, and Farro on hand (although I still don’t know if it’s “semi-pearled”).

So, is Blue Apron worth it? If you want more variety in your dinners without spending a ton of time looking for recipes and special ingredients, then yes, I think so. My plan is to have a weekend package sent to me every couple of months and then make the best of those recipes on my own in the future. Sure I could just search for recipes online, but the likelihood that I would have made any of these recipes on my own accord due to their “unique” ingredients is slim. Let Blue Apron push your taste buds to new limits!

You can see the breakdown of costs and leftover ingredients in spreadsheet form here.

New Rancho Vistoso Listing - 12930 N. Topanga Drive

Team Woodall is proud to announce our latest listing in the Torreno subdivision of Rancho Vistoso in Oro Valley. Click here for the full MLS information and pictures. This property located at 12930 N. Topanga Drive is a fabulous property which has been very meticulously maintained and gently used by these original owners. Built in 2009 it’s an exceptional 3 Bedroom & 2 Bathroom residence. The open, great room concept floor plan makes excellent use of the home’s 1,633 square feet, making it feel even larger than the square footage would indicate. Vaulted ceilings further add to this feeling of spaciousness. The split bedroom floor plan provides privacy for the master suite that includes a walk-in closet, dual sinks, and a separate tub & shower. Upgrades in the home include maple cabinets, stainless appliances, wood floors, and a cozy fireplace. A well situated covered patio provides a gorgeous view of the Catalina Mountains. Not only does this residence boast an incredible view, but it also backs to a wash for additional backyard privacy and a feeling of openness.

The property is conveniently located nearby The Golf Club at Vistoso for those who enjoy golfing. Plenty of shopping & recreation opportunities are also nearby with the Oro Valley Marketplace & Catalina State Park just down the road from this home’s easy access to the Oracle corridor. Right out the front door is a nice patch of grass, picnic table, and basketball hoop. An easy walk down the block takes you to the Hohokam Park with an tennis courts, a dog park, toddler lot with playground equipment, ramadas, and a lighted basketball court. Access to all of Rancho Vistoso’s community parks is also included with additional facilities such as volleyball courts, baseball fields, and large open grass fields. A short walk down Desert Fairways leads you to Amphitheater School Districts newest school, a STEM school set to open for the 2017-18 school year. This home you’ll find just has a very comfortable, relaxing quality to it that makes you feel right at home!

Home Maintenance – Cleaning Showerheads

Over time calcium deposits will build up on your showerheads and either completely restrict the flow of water through some of the spouts or reduce the volume to a drip. One simple way to get rid of these deposits is soaking your showerhead in vinegar. If you can easily remove the showerhead then simply unscrew the head from the stem and soak it in a bowl/bucket of vinegar for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours. *Note: vinegar typically won’t damage most finishes, but always test this first* After soaking the showerhead remove it from the vinegar and rinse with water. Then use an old toothbrush and scrub away any excess residue, before rinsing it once again. If your showerhead isn’t easily removable, simply use a large ziploc bag, fill it part way with vinegar & tie string or a rubber band to hold it in place. Then follow the same procedures.

Around Tucson Video Series

Looking to explore the outdoors around Tucson? We may have the ideal solution that will allow you to find trails and locations that you’ve never visited before with our latest Team Woodall addition, the “Around Tucson Videos.” Being runners ourselves most of these videos will highlight various trails that we’ve run, but most of them will also be quite suitable for hiking and mountain biking as well. Essentially anyone looking to get outdoors should benefit from these videos. To date we’ve filmed five different videos and our goal is to release at least one a month. Some of these videos may highlight a new listing in the area, but for the most part they’ll be focused on the trails themselves. Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see new releases immediately & we welcome your suggestions.

Mortgage Rate Update – November 2016

Mortgage rates have been very volatile over the last couple of weeks and now sit close to their peak levels for the year. This volatility has stemmed in large part from the presidential election, both leading up to the day itself and the forecasts for our economy since the results were decided. The two main factors leading to the rise in interest rates is the anticipation of inflation coupled with a larger federal budget deficit. Rising inflation is negative for mortgage rates and a larger deficit would likely trigger an increase in the number of bonds issued, thereby increasing supply & decreasing bond prices, causing higher interest rates which typically have an inverse relationship to bond prices. While mortgage rates are still at historically very low rates, a continued rise in rates could spur some buyers on the fence to take action and consider moving up timelines for purchases of homes. It’s worth keeping an eye on rates in the near future.

Stay Vigilant in Checking for Termites

It’s easy to get complacent in environments in which we feel very comfortable, including our home. We need to remember to keep our eyes open and stay vigilant in checking for abnormalities, including the presence of termites around our residence. Just this past month there were some termite tubes that popped up at our own home and thankfully this quick identification of the issue guaranteed that there existed no chance of damage being done. Termites do take a while to cause structural damage so the presence of them isn’t anything to be particularly alarmed by, just have them treated reasonably quickly. The saying around Tucson goes that it’s not a matter of if you’ll get termites, just when. Having a monthly pest service at your home can also be a great way to identify issues such as this and keep your home bug free!