Architects are taking rammed-earth home design far beyond the dirt-plain adobe look—creating walls that are almost sculptural in their complexity and scale.
It took 300 tons of decomposed granite to build the 72-foot-long rammed-earth wall that forms the spine of Linda Low’s 7,800-square-foot home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Light from a narrow, 110-foot-long skylight—diffused by reflective silver-leaf panels—plays on the wall, which sparkles with bits of mica. “At any time of the day, I can look at it and see something different—and it’s never the same any day,” said Ms. Low, 72, who built the house on 10 acres with her husband, Mickey. “It gives me a sense of tranquility.”
Ms. Low estimates that they spent close to $2 million on the 1997 compound—designed by architect Eddie Jones and rammed-earth builder Quentin Branch.
She recently put the house on the market, but then took it off—after turning down an offer that was more than double the cost to build, she said. “I just decided I’m not selling—I love this house too much,” she said.
For anyone wanting to know if the U.S. housing market is turning into a new, speculative bubble, a good and overlooked way to tell is the price of land. A real estate professor at the University of Wisconsin has done just that—and concluded that there is no evidence of a bubble on a national level. Not yet, anyway.
“Housing might be undervalued today,” says Morris Davis, a professor in the Department of Real Estate and Urban Land Economics at the Wisconsin School of Business in Madison.Wisc.
Twice a year, Davis looks at prices that houses are selling for and then strips out the cost of the structures, leaving the value of the land they are built on as “residual.” Land prices fluctuate much more than overall sales prices because the cost of structures doesn’t change much from year to year.
“Land is telling you what’s going on with demand,” Davis says.
Phoenix is one metro area whose prices have rebounded sharply, and bidding wars are back in the headlines.
Phoenix doesn’t look so scary by Davis’s metric. Land’s share of house value was 65 percent in 2006 and then plummeted to 5 percent in 2011. It has climbed steeply since, but it was still just 26 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to Davis’s calculations. He won’t have his figures for the third quarter of 2013 until next February or so.
A complete set of data for 46 metro areas and all 50 states is posted on the website of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, which helps cover the cost of updating the data.
John Burns Real Estate Consulting of Irvine, Calif., sees rapid increases in land prices in many markets. It tracks empty lots in subdivisions that are ready for building. Its Finished Lot Value Index, an average for 27 markets, fell 46 percent from its peak to its 2009 low but has rising briskly since and needs only a 22 percent further increase to match its all-time high.
Bakersfield, Calif., and Phoenix lots are up roughly 200 percent from their troughs, the firm says. At the other extreme, prepared lots in Chicago are up only 7 percent from their bottom.
Will Frank, a senior finance manager at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, said today that by John Burns’ measure, Phoenix is starting to look a little pricey, along with Dallas and Orlando. The land in those metro areas isn’t a bubble, but prices should start to “plateau” in the next year or so, Frank says. “We still have Las Vegas going up a while,’ he says.
Land is the right thing to pay attention to when sniffing for speculation. “There’s only one difference between a car and a house, and that’s the land,” says Wisconsin’s Davis. “We all know how cars work. Eventually they depreciate and they’re worthless. Housing is the same way. It depreciates, and eventually it’s worthless and it needs to be torn down. Only hope is that the land appreciates in value. It’s really the only piece of a house that can appreciates.”
If you’re counting on home prices to rise, then—consciously or not—you’re betting on land.
A brief tour through the end of Del Mar Mesa Rd., where 13 lots are selling next to the future Alta Del Mar. The ADM semi-custom tract home prices will range from $1.5 to $2.4 million, and their estate lots will range from $700,000 to $2 million.
It is incredible to think that there will be about 150 homes sell in this immediate vicinity for $1,500,000+ (and most over $2,000,000), during the next few years:
An active, income-producing ranch now, bringing in around $100,000 per year, with huge potential.
Subdivide the lower half into 19 homesites (developers are offering to pay $5 million over time to do it for you), harvest the 10,000 palm trees that are worth approximately $1,000,000 wholesale, and then keep the upper portion of 19+ acres for yourself.
The sellers want to cash out now, for tax reasons.
The remains of the former Barratt American tract in Carlsbad has closed escrow. Bank of America had foreclosed on their $7,812,000 mortgage in December, 2008, and they put the whole package of six houses and five lots on the market in May, 2009.
Click here for our first and second youtube tours from last year.
Although the salespeople said in May that the bank was adamant about a quick close, it took until now to wrap things up.
Here is our next, but probably not last, segment in the Saga of Magnolia Estates:
Mortgage rates moved up significantly last week. Will rates continue to rise? Expect mortgage rates to go up this week closer to 3.1%. Freddie Mac will release the 30-year fixed mortgage rate tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.
Jim the Realtor is legit - I interviewed three brokers; he said list price should be $100,000 higher than the other two brokers; listed it with him and had all cash (no financing) offer in two days, five day contingency period, closing in two weeks - and it closed at his recommended list price. I could not recommend anyone more than I recommend Jim the Realtor.
When we moved to San Diego in 2005 we rented a big house on Mt. Soledad (La Jolla) with 180 degree ocean views for the same payment as a mortgage on a dump in Chula Vista. Clearly something was wrong. Yet, the media was full of the usual happy-talk nonsense, so I was glad to find Jim's blog. I've followed his honest assessments and data since.
We decided to sell and move to AZ at Thanksgiving. Dec. 1st we met with Jim to sell our home. We closed today (29 days later). Jim orchestrated a feeding frenzy -- we had 25 showings in 2-1/2 days, multiple offers, and sold for well over asking price. I'd say he earned his commission! We have owned and sold homes in 5 different States always using experienced, productive, full-time realtors. Jim outshines them all.
You don't decide to sell and close 29 days later over Christmas (with COVID lockdown) without some miracles. Donna was amazing at performing lots of those miracles and ensuring that everything was done right and on time. They are a terrific team with a very responsive and professional network.
Where do we begin..2020 has been a year for everyone. When COVID hit and shut down both my husband and my businesses, we were left with a mortgage and very little income coming in. We were stressed, scared and felt stuck. We made the hard decision to sell our home and move out of state. We contacted the Klinges' and spent a good hour going over what we hoped we could accomplish. Jim and Donna came over with comps in hand and suggestions on improvements to get our house ready for the market. It was overwhelming to think about, but Donna was there and one step ahead in every scenario. Basically we just approved what they suggested and Donna handled literally everything. We placed our house on the market and within the first day we had multiple offers well above asking price! We couldn't believe it. We were overjoyed! Jim countered the offers to weed through them, and everyone came back with way more. It was amazing, and we are ?? sure it was because of the staging and repairs the Klinges suggested we do.
Due to unforeseen dishonesty from the buyers lender, we hit a big hurdle when trying to close. We had already moved out of state and were shocked when three days before closing the lender dropped a bombshell on the buyers and us. However, Jim and Donna handled it like veterans, not afraid to play hard ball and represent their clients. After a few phone calls with us, and several between Donna and the lender, they had a plan B-Z to make sure we were taken care of. In the end we closed with even more money than we ever thought possible and with very little work from us. The Klinges handled this entire "2020" worthy event with the utmost professionalism and did everything in their power to not only make this as smooth as possible for us, but we also walked away with more money from the sale of the house than we ever hoped for. After working with Jim and Donna, you don't ever use anyone else. They are hands down the best team to represent you in any scenario.
Working with Klinge Realty Group was a great experience! They are very responsive, professional and knowledgable about the real estate market! I would definitely recommend Klinge Realty Group.
Jim and Donna Klinge made the sale of our condo extraordinarily easy. They know the market and gave us sound advice backed by details and very considerable experience, reflected both in the initial pricing and subsequent negotiations. They work together as a team and are always available to talk. We had a few challenges with our property and they were able to coordinate the resolution to everything, including items that I would not think would ordinarily be their responsibility to handle. They made the whole process effortless on our part. They are folks with high integrity and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
Review for Member: Donna Klinge
I cannot believe there are no reviews of Donna yet, ugh!! She is the secret sauce of the Jim Klinge/Donna Klinge combo! I will touch on Jim here, but Donna is why I'm so totally loyal to these two (no offense to Jim :)).
I consider myself a rather savvy buyer/seller. I've bought/sold 7 times in about 15 years. On the buy side, Jim is the PERFECT combo of: completely digitally savvy (he will pull data all day long until you feel comfortable with your chosen house, area, school district, anticipated appreciation rate...anything!), he's super well respected and known in the area by other agents, an amazingly cool but strategic negotiator, is totally devoid of desperation for a sale/commission, and more.
Then once you get into contract phase, Donna literally handles every last and final detail in a concierge-like manner -- totally shielding you from the daily back and forth, noodling and annoyances of the buyer's requests. She solves it ALL; it's miraculous what that woman accomplishes over and above what is even expected in a buy/sell transaction.
On the sell side, Jim and Donna do the same, but even moreso. Donna in particular truly takes everything off your plate: she'll manage getting the house painted, the carpets replaced, she'll go on site (as she Jim both did for me when selling our rental properties) to work with the renters and make sure the house is ready to show -- freeing me to have to take time off of work to do so. They work with A+ integrity, too, so you know you are serving all parties fairly and lawfully throughout.
A home purchase/sale is the most considered you'll ever make. HIRE A SAVVY AGENT, not a friend!, and get what you need out of the transaction. Jim and Donna are our agents for life.
Jim and Donna Klinge are by far the most professional, personable and responsive realtors I have ever worked with. They provide VIP concierge level service in every area of the process of selling your home. My home was marketed so successfully that we received an offer the day after our first and only open house. Thanks to Jim's pricing and negotiating, our house is now the highest sold in our community. Jim's vast experience means he has worked with several realtors and knows the market all over north county. Donna is AMAZING in processing everything in the transaction. She scheduled trades people to work on the house in preparation for the sale as well as the repairs needed before closing. She communicated clearly every step of the way about what would be happening. She took the weight off my shoulders for the whole process. I will always use Jim and Donna for my future real estate needs and I whole heartedly recommend them to anyone buying or selling a home.
Jim and the team at Klinge Reality are without a doubt the best in the business! Not only was Jim helpful and extremely knowledgeable, he was patient and determined to help me find my first home. Jim and his team have been in the business for many years, and it shows. Jim is a wealth of knowledge and was my biggest proponent despite the temperature of the competitive market. I ended up getting the perfect property in my dream neighborhood all thanks to Jim. From the day my offer was accepted, Donna was a real lifesaver. She was extremely helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable when it came to every minute detail, and held my hand through the process. As a first time home buyer I had no idea what the process would entail, but Donna curtailed every concern I came across and made the escrow process feel seamless. Jim and Donna provided me the best home buying experience, and I am very grateful for all they did for me. It was truly a pleasure to work with Jim and Donna and I am already looking forward to the next time we work together!
Review for Member: Richard Morgan
Richard is an amazing realtor! He has high integrity and genuinely cares about his clients and their needs. Richard paid close attention to what I was seeking in a home and was very patient in our search to find it. I would highly recommend Richard and will use him for future transactions. Truly a different kind of realtor experience!
Could not be happier with my experience with Jim and his team. He helped me sell a very unique and challenging property. Throughout the entire process he was always available, honest, transparent, trustworthy, and always put my interests as a seller first. A (rare) true professional! During close of escrow Jim went above and beyond to complete the deal. It would not have been possible without his experience, fantastic team, and pure dedication. Highly recommended!
Thanks Jim and Donna Klinge!