From California to South Carolina and Back to California! For good! Yay!!!

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A gorgeous sunset on Mitchelville Beach on the north end of Hilton Head Island

LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE

Sometimes one feels the need for a new adventure! So last year in Feb. 2019, I drove cross country with my two cats and dog to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to buy a cute little condo not far from the beach! I figured, hey, check it out! The prices for real estate and gas are much less than here in California, and I thought that I’d love to live near the beach for a change. Yes, I had heard of the hurricanes and alligators there, but…well, I decided I’d check it out, just the same.

I had also planned on getting my real estate license there, as well as keep the one I have in California, and so I accomplished that goal with not a lot of hassle.

Boy, oh boy, what a culture shock I felt after immersing myself in life in Hilton Head Island!

I had thought I might possibly stay in South Carolina for maybe even the rest of my life, but as the months went by, I sorely missed home sweet home: California!! In spite of all its problems, like some of the high living expenses such as housing and gas, the wacky politics, the homelessness problems, the sanctuary cities, frequent devastating fires and occasional earthquakes!

REAL ESTATE PRACTICES IN SOUTH CAROLINA VS. IN CALIFORNIA REALLY DIFFER

First of all, the way they do real estate there is completely different than the way we do it here in California!

It’s very much a “Buyer Beware” kind of a state, where once an Offer is accepted, basically, you bought it! No easy way to back out, like here in California, where the contingency period is 17 days, and you don’t even have to give a reason for backing out, and you don’t lose any money whatsoever if you do.

Over in South Carolina, there are only a few pages of real estate documents you need to close a deal, whereas here in California, the stack often reaches 2 inches high or more! In South Carolina, buyers sometimes do not receive any disclosures other than one Seller Disclosure, IF they are lucky! Many times sellers do not bother to provide one, and a deal cannot be voided if none is provided. In California, buyers receive a Seller Property Questionnaire, a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure (with even more details and disclosures from the seller), and the Natural Hazards Disclosure. In South Carolina, home owners association documents are not current and you may not receive full documents until AFTER you close escrow. In California, HOA-related documents are provided usually within 10 days of acceptance of the offer.

While there are many more documents that California realtors must process in order to complete a real estate transaction, I think it’s worth it, because it truly protects the buyer, which is only right, since the buyer is often making the biggest financial decision of his/her life! In the end, I think it benefits everyone. It makes for fewer surprises, and let’s face it, when it comes to buying a home, no one wants surprises! Here in California, it’s best for sellers to “disclose, disclose, disclose” to avoid problems down the road.

In California, we use escrow companies that are very customer service oriented to handle the closing of the real estate transaction. The escrow company can be selected by the buyer or the seller, but both must agree on using the same one. Usually the seller is the one who selects the escrow company, however, occasionally it is the buyer who does. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they use attorneys. I found that to be very inefficient because it added an extra layer to the process. Having just one escrow company to deal with is far more efficient and saves time. The lawyers I encounter did not seem at all customer service oriented, and were often unaccessible. Generally, there is no need for a lawyer when it comes to closing a deal in California, and all the various disclosures that are mandatory help keep everything above board and on track.

As for real estate documents, in California, they are all standardized CAR (California Association of Realtors) forms. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they have a variety of options and ways to write up their contracts, which makes the process more confusing. They don’t typically include expiration dates which makes things seem so open-ended. In California, the documents are much more concise and detailed in the language. Again, I believe this takes out the guesswork and, even if there are more pages to a document, such as an offer to purchase, I believe it’s actually a much more efficient and clear, transparent way to practice real estate, that benefits all involved, especially the buyer.

I could continue on with this topic, but I think you get the idea! They really do things differently in South Carolina than in California with regards to real estate, and I am much more comfortable with the California way!

DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE CLARITY OF THE OCEAN WATER DETRACTED FROM THE ENJOYMENT OF THE BEACHES FOR ME

While I love the long, sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, I was very surprised that the water is very murky due to the sediment of nearby rivers and marshes. You can’t see your feet even in a few inches of water! This is particularly troublesome if you, like me, are afraid of being stung, either by stinging jellyfish or stingrays, or bitten by sharks! I found that very disappointing because one of my favorite things to do is to snorkel and look at fish underwater, which is not possible there. Oops! I guess I should’ve researched that! Also, during the summer months in particular, there are a lot of biting bugs, such as “no see ums” (gnats so little that you can’t see them). So you had better have your bug spray handy at all times!

On the bright side, sometimes I almost felt like I was in St. Bart’s on the beach, because of the airplanes flying low over the beach on Mitchelville Beach, an incredibly beautiful and natural beach. I spent many an idyllic afternoon reading and studying on that beach, with Cupcake in tow. Dogs area allowed to roam freely on the beaches except during peak hours during the summer. I never tired of the gorgeous sunsets from the beaches and restaurants such as my favorites Skull Creek Boathouse, on the north end of the island, and The Ocean Club, at Sea Pines at the south end of the island, and Poseidon, in the middle of them.

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS LACKING IN MANY PLACES IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I love to shop at Ralph’s Grocery Store in the desert, for example, but its counterpart Kroger’s is another story altogether! While the great selection and competitive prices are there, the customer service was completely lacking! The cashiers and “baggers” would rather chat and ignore you than bag your groceries. Many of them were very unfriendly and they definitely were not trained to provide good customer service and a pleasant customer service experience! So I am so happy to be back where excellent customer service is commonplace everywhere! California seems to be a happier place in general than South Carolina to me. Maybe it’s just me!

By the way, apparently South Carolina is a so-called “Right To Work” state, where there is no mandatory minimum wage, and so many people get much less wages than people in California for the same kind of job. I heard many of the restaurant workers only make $2.50/hr and must rely on tips to make any money!

HOME PRICES AND GAS PRICES ARE UNSURPRISINGLY LOW IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I do miss only paying about $2.24 a gallon at the gas pumps, that’s for sure! And home prices are much less in South Carolina (and most places!) than in California. I hope that somehow we Californians can find a way to pressure our politicians to not tax the gas so much. It seems like the gas prices are unnecessarily exorbitant! There’s not pollution in many states I drove through, in spite of their low gas prices!

Home values are great in South Carolina, and it is a fast-growing state. Towns like Bluffton, for instance, are rapidly expanding in population and amenities!

WHERE EVER THERE IS WATER, THERE ARE ALLIGATORS IN HILTON HEAD ISLAND!

I knew that there were alligators in Hilton Head Island, but I didn’t know they are everywhere there is water! And there is a lot of water in Hilton Head Island: a zillion lagoons, creeks, rivers, marshes… occasionally alligators can even be found in the surf at the beach! I almost ran over a 9-footer about to cross the street at night! Apparently alligators are mostly nocturnal and like to jump from lagoon to lagoon and socialize during the mating season! About 6 months before I moved there, a lady named Cassandra Klein was attacked while walking her dog near one of the ubiquitous lagoons, and sadly, she did not survive, while her dog, whom she valiantly tried to protect from the gator, did survive unharmed. While I was there, a woman was walking her dog at night and tripped on an alligator in her side yard, and was attacked by the creature on her wrist and calf, but she survived, fortunately!

I am so glad that me and my little doggie Cupcake (and my cats!) survived South Carolina’s alligators (and hurricanes) for sure!

HURRICANES ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORS

Everyone was forced to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Dorian. It was terrifying to have to constantly watch the news and see the way the hurricane devastated the Bahamas! Hoping it wouldn’t do the same to Hilton Head Island!

So I packed up the furry family and we spent the night at a Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel in the state capital Columbia, which was full of evacuees. It really wasn’t fun because I was too worried about what might happen. It was exhausting!

Fortunately, word came early the next day that Hilton Head Island was spared, and a neighbor told me by phone there wasn’t any damage. So we rolled home and were relieved to see just a lot of branches and pinecones littering the ground. Whew! That was a close one!

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! CALIFORNIA IS TRULY MY HOME!

It’s a well known fact, that sometimes you just don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. And, as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. This was certainly the case with me, and fortunately California is still here, and I am so glad to be here.

I will cherish the great times and beautiful vistas that I witnessed in and around low-key Hilton Head Island, glamorously charming Charleston and entirely enchanting Savannah, and learning about the rich history.  I love the historical buildings and architecture, especially the Greek Revival, surrounded by majestic live oak trees festooned with hanging Spanish Moss. I truly enjoyed Southern Cuisine, such as Shrimp and Grits, She Crab Soup, local fish cooked in a variety of ways, the myriad varieties of oysters, fried green tomatoes, and the libations were great too, such as the many local beers and the Dark And Stormy cocktail, so popular with sailors, made of Gosling Dark Rum and Gosling Ginger Beer. Of course, the local wines there don’t compare to California wines!

BOTTOM LINE IS…

I’m so grateful I had the very interesting experience of living in the Deep South, which has always fascinated me, and yet, to be able to come back to my beloved California! I rolled back into the desert on December, 22, 2019, just in time for Christmas and ready to begin a brand new year.

It’s so great to be back, reunited with friends and my favorite places here. And to see the mountains again! They don’t call South Carolina the Low Country for nothing!

I’m happy to be back at my favorite restaurants and discovering the new ones that opened while I was away, hiking the mountains, strolling the world-famous El Paseo of Palm Desert, and all the fun events we have here during our high season!

This truly is a great country, so full of beauty, variety and great people. Here’s hoping 2020 will be one of the best years ever for us all!

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A beautiful view of Mount Jacinto from Rancho Mirage, CA

Written Feb. 4, 2020 by Wendy Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perils of Pricing Your Property Too High

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If you really want to get your property sold in a timely manner and at the best price the market will bear, most Realtors©, including myself, will show you a CMA report (a Comparative Market Analysis) sometime during the Listing Presentation. It is important to look at the “comps” (comparable properties to your property) for a number of reasons. In fact, sometimes I will even drive my clients around to comps in the area, so they can that they see firsthand for themselves what the homes in their area are selling for, or at least, what their list price is. We can see how long they’ve been on the market, and track when they go into escrow and are sold.

Lenders Require Appraisals

The number one reason that sellers need to be aware of the comps is because Appraisers depend on sold comps (comps that have sold within the last 3 – 6 months for their appraisals). Many buyers need or want to use a loan in order to purchase a property. Lenders require an appraisal. The Appraiser looks at the subject house and does a detailed analysis using the comps, adjusting for various factors. Does the house have a pool or not? Has it been remodeled recently or not? What is the size of the house compared to the comps? What is the size of the lot compared to the comps? Does it have amazing views or not? Is it on a busy street or not? All these factors play into the appraisal.

It can be trickier for an appraiser in areas that are not “cookie-cutter”, where the homes are all very unique, many built in varying years, many original vs. remodeled vs. recently remodeled. Some may have 2 or 3 or 4 or even 5 bedrooms, and a varying number of bathrooms. The architectural styles vary. Views vary. The factors that can make a difference are many! One thing sellers and listing agents should request from lenders to help get a more accurate appraisal is for the appraiser to be a reputable local appraiser, who is more familiar with the market here in the desert.

What Happens When The Home Doesn’t Appraise?

Many people assume that appraisals “magically” come in at the purchase agreement price. This happened often in the heyday of booming real estate prices in the years 2000 to 2006 but then home prices started falling and they really fell after the financial crash in September, 2008. They didn’t start climbing back up until about 2012. Even since that crash, lending practices and regulations were changed dramatically. Appraisers were selected using different criteria, and gone were the days that sellers could count on their properties appraising.

Today, one still cannot assume that the appraisal will come in at the price in the Residential Purchase Agreement.

If you price your home according to sold comps, real comps, then the likelihood of the property appraising greatly increases, and there is less stress involved.

If you have priced your house with a pie-in-the-sky price, in spite of the comps the Realtor has dutifully showed you, then there is a high likelihood that your house will NOT appraise.

What happens when this unpleasant “surprise” rears its ugly head? There are a variety of possible outcomes.

In the Worse Case Scenario

The worst case scenario is that the deal will fall out of escrow if either party is unwilling to renegotiate the price. However, typically, when there is a serious seller and serious buyer involved, then the purchase price is re-negotiated.

The Best Case Scenario for Sellers

In a case where there are multiple offers, this situation can favor the seller, because the buyer may want the house so badly, that the buyer will fill the entire gap between the purchase price and the appraisal, even if it’s $100,000 or more! It can happen!

However, multiple offer situations are not often the case here in the desert, where secondary homes are common and there is a fair amount of inventory.

The Common Scenario: Try for a Win-Win

More often then not, the seller will have to come down in their price, and the buyer will have to come up in the price, in order to complete the sale. The split can be successfully negotiated in many cases with guidance from your experienced Realtors©. It is generally wise to ask for advice from your Realtor© to weigh your options carefully and successfully navigate the transaction.

The Best Case Scenario for Buyers

If the buyer is NOT in a position to come up on the price, because they have an FHA loan, and they do simply do not have the funds to cover any of the gap between the purchase agreement price and the appraisal, the seller sometimes will opt to cover the entire gap. Another reason for this, is that an FHA appraisal stays WITH the property for six months, so if another FHA buyer comes along to make an offer, if the original offer falls out of escrow, that FHA appraisal will still be in force. So if the seller is serious in selling, during that time frame, they have little choice but to come down in their price.

This is also true of a buyer who is only willing to pay the appraised price, and the seller just wants to sell quickly and agrees to sell their property at the appraised price.

Needless to say, this situation generally increases the stress level for all parties involved.

Ground Hog Day or Make That Price Adjustment?

If the seller fails to lower their price to “fair market value” after a deal falls out of escrow due to a low appraisal, they may find themselves facing a Ground Hog Day kind of experience… a deja vu experience. Why not just price it right for the market and cut the stress level for yourselves?

Yes, some people do get lucky, and get that out-of-town buyer with cash to burn, and is able to make an all cash offer, who falls in love with your house and simply impulsively makes an offer that is close to or matches your pie-in-the-sky list price! In that case, you had better seek to have a quick escrow, say close escrow in 10 days, before they change their minds!

Perhaps you yourself were that out-of-towner who made that impulse buy on the property years ago, and so you think that it will happen again. It very well could happen again, but I would not count on that. It does happen, but not very often. Say it’s been sitting on the market for almost six months now, and a buyer wants to buy it for “fair market value”. The worst case scenario, is that you have enjoyed the home for several years, and if you decide to sell it for the “fair market value” price that the buyer offers, you might even have to report a loss after all the closing costs. Look at the bright side! Then you won’t have any taxes to pay! In the meantime, if you paid all cash, you will get that cash back to invest in something else that you might want to. If you are Canadian, then there is the benefit of the better exchange rate from US dollars to Canadian dollars.

Bottom Line Is…

The bottom line is that it makes more sense to price your property according to the comps, and maybe a bit higher is the market prices are drifting higher. If you price it right, you may even get a bidding war going and get over the asking price! Realtors© want to list but even more than that sell your property. Realtors© are different from “real estate agents” because being a Realtor© requires that we take an Ethnics continuing education course every two years, and we are members of the California Association of Realtors© and the National Association of Realtors©, which has strict guidelines.

You will find that most Realtors© are very risk-adverse, and want to be as honest as possible with their clients. Therefore, when you pick someone to sell your property, choose a Realtor©, who belongs to the local board of real estate, and participates in the local MLS. When a local Realtor© gives you the comps for your property from the local MLS, you can generally trust them to be telling the truth. You can always trust me to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date information regarding your property’s value, from the comps on the local MLS and then from the feedback I receive at the open houses when you list with me.

When You List With Me…

When you list with me, I will hold open houses almost every weekend until sold, and I will be hearing feedback from people who are either lookyloos, interested neighbors, agents and even serious buyers, many of whom provide valuable feedback, on the appearance of the home and the price, which I then share with my sellers. If the list price needs to be adjusted, we should know after about a month’s time of having open houses and the home being listed on the MLS. Sellers are better off when they listen to the advice of their Realtor©, as we have the knowledge and we are more than willing to share it. This is one of the ways we earn our commission: to provide sage advise based on experience in order to help facilitate a successful transaction.

I hope this article is helpful to you, and I invite you to contact me on my cell at 760-587-6009 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a listing appointment.

Wendy Campbell All Rights Reserved © October 2018

Furniture: LEAVE IT or NOT TO LEAVE IT? That is The Question!

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In the desert, a popular resort area, many homes are secondary homes, and so sellers often do not need the furniture for their primary home or another secondary home.  That is why many sellers opt to include their furniture with the sale of their house. The furniture is worth more WITH the house, rather than if sold separately from the house.  It also helps to sell the house for best value and more quickly.

Many buyers of secondary homes will be more attracted to a home if it is tastefully furnished with lightly used furniture, and, better yet, if it is offered turn key furnished with all the kitchen utensils, etc. In other words, the motto “Just bring your toothbrush!” is very appealing idea to a buyer of a second home or even primary home. This will often give your property an advantage to sell more quickly.  So you might as well take advantage of it if this is an option for you!

If you try to sell your furniture in a yard sale, or using an on-line service like craigslist or OfferUp, even if it is very high end furniture or rare antiques, you will get likely get pennies on the dollar and it will be time-consuming as well.

If you sell your furniture using a consignment store, they will only select some items that they are interested in selling in their store, and they will take a consignment fee of at least 38% of whatever they sell it for. This can be a good option if you have a lot of high-end furniture in good condition. They can come and pick it up if there are enough items.

Items that you can’t sell easily or quickly or are of insignificant value, you can always donate to a local thrift store like the Angel View Thrift Stores for charity throughout the valley, who can pick up your items and give you a form to complete which you can use as a tax deduction.

Items that you want to keep, you obviously have the option to arrange that a reputable moving company pick them up and move them to wherever you want.

Some people think that a realtor just wants to make more commission by including the furniture with the sale of the home, however, considering the furniture is generally worth $5000 to $20,000, that is very negligible, and not the goal of the realtor. The goal of a realtor is not just to list your home, but to get it SOLD at the best price the market will bear in a timely manner.

Sometimes buyers don’t want any items or they want just a few items, and in that case it actually is an inconvenience for many sellers to arrange to remove the items.

Bottom line is, the goal is to sell the property at the best price that the market will bear and in a timely manner. If a buyer makes a good offer on the home and wants the furniture to be included with the sale of the home, then it is advisable to agree to that. If they are using a lending institution, then it will be stated on a separate Addendum that the furniture is sold at zero value with the sale of the home, because lenders do not lend on furniture.

Every situation is different however the above is a guideline for standard practice here in the desert. Unless you have a special attachment to your furniture and can use it elsewhere, it generally has more value if sold with the house. If you have any questions about this, please let me know! I can be reached at 1-760-587-6009 or you may e-mail me at wendysdesert@gmail.com.

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© All rights reserved by Wendy Campbell 2018

 

 

Dreams Do Come True, Including Meeting Sir Paul McCartney!

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Flying towards the airport of St. Barts was exhiliarating!

I’m 66 and I have a Bucket List, like many people do. One of my dreams was to go and experience St. Barts for myself. I had read about its glittering people, yachts and beaches for years in my Vanity Fair magazines and other magazines. I had even bought a book about it and had it on my nightstand for a few years. So I made the decision, in September, 2017, to arrange a trip during the very peak of the height of the season there, which is from late December until just after New Year’s Day. I told myself I was going to go there “come hell or high water”! Nothing could stop me! “YOLO” as the saying goes!

Then Hurricane Irma raged through the Caribbean Islands, and St. Barts was ravaged by it! “Come hell or high water” indeed! At that point, I told myself that following through with my plans to go to St. Barts would be a downright philanthropic endeavor! Because after all, the people of St. Barts would be losing a lot of tourists during their usual high season, so I vowed to go just the same. To help the people of St. Barts and their economy. Truly a noble cause, right?

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Looks like the Yellow Submarine is in Gustavia Harbor!

By the way, there are many ways to write St. Barts: St. Bart’s, St. Barths, or St. Barth’s. Without the “h” is the Anglicized spelling, and with the “h” is the French way to spell it. Just in case you were curious.

I had booked my lodging through VRBO.com, where there is a wide variety of options, including the most popular option for many who go there, which is renting an entire house, or as they call it in St. Barts, a “villa”. They sometimes even call a condo a “villa”! As a single traveler, I opted for a penthouse condo in the Anse de Cayes neighborhood. It offered great views of the bay, with views of crashing waves and islands in the distance. It was economical by St. Barts standards! Fortunately, it was going to be totally repaired, my host told me, by the time of my arrival. I was very happy about that, because many hotels, including all the 5 star hotels and 75% of the villas were closed for repairs due to the damages from the hurricane.

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The view from my balcony overlooking the bay at Anse Des Cayes

I kept a close eye on-line for any news about the Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, where I was going to be flying into, as it was totally devastated by Irma. Fortunately, around Thanksgiving, it was repaired enough to accommodate most flights. The airport was still obviously damaged when I arrived on Dec., 28, 2017, and the process of getting from the JetBlue jet to my connecting 9-seater plane operated by Saint Barth Commuter was a wee bit of mayhem under a series of tents, yet somehow it all worked out: no lost luggage, no missed flights!

Being on my own, I got to sit next to the pilot of the small plane, and had the opportunity took some great shots of the island. I eagerly looked forward to one of the world’s most dangerous landing strips in St. Barts, where the planes fly close to cars and people as it makes its steep descent over the hill and onto the airstrip! As it turned out, I had watched so many Youtube videos of it, it seemed like second-nature!

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My iconic shot of a plane about to land in St. Barts

After I landed and got my little white KIA hatchback, the most common car on St. Barts by far, I drove to my condo, following the owner’s directions. Please note, addresses are not used in most parts of St. Barts! I was advised by the owner that the driveway was “adjacent to a large cream-colored electrical box”. I had missed the blind driveway a couple times, due to the fact that the extremely steep and narrow driveway was hidden to the left of the electrical box! I had a sense of intense dread then and every single day I was in St. Barts, as I navigated the car down and up this driveway, praying I would make it in and out without getting hit or hitting anyone. I swear to God, having to go through this anxiety twice a day was the worst thing about my trip there, along with the super-cramped parking spots. Other than the precarious roads in St. Barts, and the crazy drivers, I totally enjoyed my trip to St. Barts!

No wonder there are no exotic luxury cars in St. Barts! Most of the cars in St. Barts have numerous dents and scrapes on them. Almost all the road and driveways are extremely dangerous: very narrow, sharp turns, blind turns, very steep, and no guardrails on cliffsides! Oh my!

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Scary roads and drivers aside, St. Barts fulfilled my dreams of what I envisioned it would be like, from my magazine and book readings, and my favorite reality TV shows like “Real Housewives of NYC” and “Below Deck”, and on-line research.

St. Barts is well-known for being a posh celebrity haunt, having some of the biggest and baddest mega yachts, luxury shopping, sixteen amazing beaches, people partying like there’s no tomorrow, great food, wine (especially rose!), rum (spelled “rhum” there!) and amazing views everywhere you look! I made sure to at least sample a little of almost everything I wanted to in this fantastic and fabulous smorgasbord of life on St. Barts!

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Almost all the people I met along the way, who are either visiting or living and working there, were friendly, out-going and relaxed, and the mood was contagious! Many people spoke French in a sing-songy cooing way.  Even the dogs are mellow in St. Barts!

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Perhaps the highlight of my trip was meeting Sir Paul McCartney and talking with him! He was with his wife Nancy Shevell. I ran into him inside a small juice bar/ restaurant called Kiki e MO’s. “And I Saw Him Standing There” and “he looked at me”, and… he actually said “Hi” to me first! After recognizing who he was, and my initial shock, I had a little conversation with him about how I saw him at the Wembley Stadium performing with Wings in 1979 and how I ran up to the front of the stage and waved at him, and told him that he had looked at me! He smiled at hearing my story, and joked, saying something like “Oh, I knew you looked familiar.” Very cute!

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The site of my encounter with Sir Paul McCartney!!! 

Then I took my serving of two scoops (“boules”) of gelato to the outside patio, and after I finished with gobbling those up, I went back inside to ask his wife if it would be “gauche” if I asked her to take a photo of me with Paul (I only had my camera, as I had left my cell phone in the safe in the condo, or I would have taken a selfie!). She shook her head negatively and said, “GAUCHE.” I really couldn’t blame her! I might be the same way if I was in her position! So, I sheepishly left and said out loud something like, “Well at least it’s in my mind now!”

To round it up, here are:

Wendy’s Top 8 Highlights, as in “8 Days A Week (I Looooove You!)”:

  1. Meeting Sir Paul McCartney, and talking with him!
  2. Seeing the fireworks blast off over the mega yachts as they honked their horns in Gustavia Harbor on New Year’s Eve!

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    New Year’s Eve in Gustavia Harbor!

  3. Eating a delicious Lobster Thermidor for lunch at La Langouste Restaurant, and enjoying incredibly scrumptious profiteroles for dessert, and then lounging on the beautiful Flammands Beach afterwards while reading a book.

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    A lobster is about to become lunch at La Langouste!

  4. Sitting on a lounge on the sand of St. Jean Beach at Tom’s Beach House, while being waited on by a super handsome and super nice young man named Teddy, as I watched the planes take off and land precariously close by. Glass of rose in hand and nibbling on a delicious pannini sandwich!

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    Loved lounging here at Tom’s Beach House on St. Jean Beach!

  5. Swimming at Shell Beach, and afterwards resting outside on a lounge at the Shellona Restaurant, while watching the sun set as yachts floated nearby, while enjoying a glass of rose and chatting with friendly people.

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    The view from my lounge on Shell Beach! Oo La La!

  6. Dancing the night away at the famous “Le Ti” restaurant and nightclub, which features burlesque acts and has a room full of costumes, many of them inspired by pirates, for partyers to don as they dance the night away! The food is delicious, too!
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    Le Ti is LE HOT SPOT in St. Barts!

    Dancing of tabletops is encouraged and actually expected! On the way to the restroom, I couldn’t resist buying a fun dress at the boutique strategically located next to it!

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    Me, making out like a pirate at Le Ti!

  7. Hiking down the steep path to the spectacular, secluded Colombier Beach, catching amazing views of the boats and yachts floating in the turqouoise bay on my way down to the perfect sandy beach. The best snorkeling around St. Barts is to be found here, too! Still, it doesn’t compare to places like Cozumel for snorkeling, but you don’t come to St. Barts for the snorkeling! That’s just a nice little extra bonus!
  8. Just driving around St. Barts is exhilarating (but not for the faint of heart!), seeing all the spectacular views all around and stopping for a picnic to take it all in! Just be careful on those roads!

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    Me, enjoying a picnic on Pointe Milou, watching seabirds fly!

On the last day that I was there, I was upstairs in the airport’s restaurant, finishing up my last lunch on St. Barts, and my waiter said to me, “Do you want to see Paul McCartney get on his plane?” Obviously, that was a rhetorical question since I had told him that one of the highlights of my trip was talking to Paul McCartney! So I jumped up and followed him to the side windows of the room, and  he pointed to a black Mercedes SUV (the ONLY Miercedes Benz I saw the whole time I was in St. Barts), which was parked near a small airplane. We both watches as Paul’s wife Nancy stepped out of the car first, wearing an elegant wide brimmed hat, and then Paul stepped out wearing a baseball cap. They walked over to the plane and boarded it. We watched as the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to Paul and Nancy, though I doubt if they saw me. I asked my waiter how he knew that Paul was in that car, and he smiled and said, “Oh, I have my connections!”

It was a magical way to end my “Magical Mystery Tour” of St. Barts where I spent “8 Days a Week”, and “I Saw Him Standing There”!  I look forward to my next trip to St. Barts some fine day! “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da! La La! How the Life Goes On!”

Some Tips About St. Barts:

Getting there: From LAX, I took a direct flight on JetBlue which stopped at JFK, then flew into St. Maarten. Then I took a small plane (no jets or big planes fly into St. Barts) on St. Barths Commuter to St. Barts.

Staying there: Of course, there are people who do stay on yachts, but most people rent villas via VRBO.com or SiBarth Real Estate (www.sibarthrealestate.com) is THE biggest local company where you can find villas and condos to rent, along with concierge service if you desire. You can even buy a property through them if you want to and have the big bucks (two million US dollars minimum is what I heard)! They are super nice! As a realtor, I checked in with them to inquire about what it’s like to be a realtor there! Just dreaming!

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Villa Grace overlooks Anse Des Cayes Beach

Tipping: Like in France, tips are already included in the pay of waitstaff in St. Barts. However, if you feel like giving something a little extra, for extra good service, that is obviously appreciated!

Water: Most people, even some locals, only drink bottled water, at restaurants and even at home. However many people do drink the tap water. I often did drink the tap water and had no problem with it!

Recommended Restaurants: For nightlife, Le Ti at least once is a MUST! For breakfast and lunch, and even dinner, La Cantina is a great choice, as it’s right on the harbor, and the prices are very reasonable!

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La Cantina is a great go-to place for breakfast, lunch or dinner by the harbor!

For the best lobster dinner, La Langouste is a must! 194Treat yourself to a dessert such as these totally delectable profiteroles! You’re on vacation, after all!195

For a Cheeseburger in Paradise, Le Select is a must! 030It’s what inspired Jimmy Buffet’s song of the same name! Best priced cheeseburger on the island!

For a delicious dinner on the beach, with great people-watching, Shellona Restaurant is divine!

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Make the scene at Shellona Restaurant on Shell Beach, the best place to watch the sunset!

For a casual lunch on the beach, along with great people-watching and watching the airplanes come and go close by, it’s Tom’s Beach House!

Shopping: The shopping is legendary in St. Barts! Most of the top designer brands are represented in St. Barts, along with other French brands not well known in the US, in Gustavia. There are also some great boutiques in the village of St. Jean, and some more boutiques in The La Savane Commercial Centre, which is across the street from the airport. Some good deals can be found! I got a beautiful pair of silver metallic sandals for only 20 Euros at one of the cute boutiques a few doors down from the Nikki Beach boutique near St. Jean! Amazing!

One night in Gustavia, I happened upon a fun night where there was a DJ and free exotic drinks being offered at the various shops on three levels of divine boutiques, for a lively party atmosphere. You will be delighted at the amazing array of shoes, caftans, dresses, tops and shorts (fancy pants!), cashmere shawls, lingerie, and even tee shirts and bathrobes you can choose from! As for jewelry, the most popular by far are South Sea Tahitian pearls that are strung on either leather or satin cords, in a variety of ways, for mostly necklaces.

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Gustavia shops stay open late! Music, drinks, shopping, Oh My!

Best Time To Go: The height of the season is between Christmas and New Year’s Day, with New Year’s Eve being the peak party night, of course! This is the best time to go, to run into celebrities, like Paul McCartney, for instance! I met alot of people who saw Paul and his wife, including a couple who sat next to them while eating dinner at Isola Restaurant! Paul and his family go there at least once a year or more! Apparently he was ubiquitous there, when I was there! Lucky for me!!! It’s less expensive and nice and warm in the springtime, so that’s also a very popular time to go.

My Favorite Beaches: For socializing, my favorites are Shell Beach, with its Shellona Restaurant, and StJean Beach, with its Tom’s Beach House, both great spots for prime people-watching and where you can have some delectable food and a glass of whatever with your toes in the sand. There’s also great yachts-watching at Shell Beach and planes-watching at Jean Beach. For drop dead gorgeous, quiet privacy, and calm waters as well as good snorkeling opportunities, it’s Colombier Beach. Saline Beach is so beautiful but it was a little too windy the day I was there, as was Flamands Beach. For hanging out and enjoying the quiet and calm waters, I really enjoyed Governeur Beach, with the extra added bonus of seeing Russian oligarch and playboy Roman Abramovich’s gates to his compound near the entrance of the beach. He also owns the mega yacht, the “Eclipse”. Just a fun fact!

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Governeur Beach is a delightful place to relax!

That about wraps it up for now, until my next fantabulous adventure! In the meantime, for me, I think my trip to St. Barts really tops the charts!!!

🙂

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All photos taken by Wendy Campbell.

Copyright 2018

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Entering Saline Beach…Ahhhh… 

 

 

 

 

PGA WEST in La Quinta offers a fabulous golfing lifestyle!

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Imagine living in a luxury home in a world class golfing community with views like these! You can at PGA WEST, located in La Quinta, CA, whether you choose to buy a condo or a detached single family residence! They all offer amazing views. The prices range from the low $200,000s for condos to over $3 mil for luxury estates.

Pictured above are the spectacular views from a single family detached home located in the PGA Weiskopf gated community (there are 7 communities to choose from inside PGA West!) and is currently listed for $1,695,000. This fabulous home offers 4817 sq ft of luxury living with all the finest finishes and appliances, and is being offered decorator furnished!

If you prefer a condo, please consider my latest listing at 79772 Olympia Fields in the Palmer Private community, which also has million dollar views. Offered turnkey furnished for only $257,000! It’s a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1492 sq ft townhouse with 2 master bedrooms upstairs with en suite bathrooms. One bedroom faces the lake views which you can enjoy from your private balcony, and offers a walk-in closet. The other bedroom is on the other side of the house. The lake views with the Santa Rosa Mountains to the right are stunning! Here is a photo of the million dollar views from the south-facing patio and balcony:

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These are the MILLION DOLLAR VIEWS from the townhouse at 79773 Olympia Fields listed at only $257,000!

This delightful townhouse is tastefully furnished and has many upgrades including slab granite counters in the kitchen and bar area in the living room, plantation shutters throughout, ceiling fans, and more. It offers a detached two car garage, off the courtyard next to the kitchen. It boasts a fireplace in the living room for cold winter nights. There is also a guest bathroom and a closet with a new washer and dryer on the first level. There are several pools with spas nearby to choose from to enjoy.  HOA dues include all landscaping, exterior paint, roof, cable, trash, insurance including earthquake insurance, 24-hour guarded gate.

This desirable property makes a great weekend getaway, or long-term second home during our season, or a year-round primary home, and/or an excellent rental income property.

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Desirable south-facing patio and balcony, faces the lake, gets plenty of sunshine.

Here are some photos of the nicely decorated interior, offered turnkey furnished:

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Living room area, with the kitchen in the background, tastefully furnished.

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Kitchen with gorgeous slab granite counters, and a sunny eating area, and a courtyard patio behind it.

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Master bedroom facing the lake views!

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Master bathroom, with dual sinks, soaking bathtub and shower, and a walk-in closet.

The entire Coachella Valley is a golf mecca, and here at PGA WEST, you are in a highly concentrated golf course area as there are 6 courses to choose from! Three are private (Palmer, Nicklaus, Weiskopf), however three are semi-private (Nicklaus Tournament, Stadium, Norman). There are 3 clubhouses, several restaurants in PGA West, and there is the affiliate connection to the La Quinta Resort and Spa, as well as The Citrus, with additional restaurants for members. Being a resident here is offering you a KEY TO THE DESERT LIFESTYLE and a KEY TO THE BEST OF LA QUINTA in particular! Whatever you are interested in whether social or golfing or fitness activities, it’s here for you to enjoy! The list is long: golf, swimming, tennis (your choice of grass, hardcore, or clay courts), pickleball, racquet ball, fitness, yoga… you get the picture! For more information on membership, please call 760-564-7111. Here is a link to discover more about the PGA West lifestyle: http://www.pgawest.com/custom/flipbook/PGAWESTBook/index.html

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Golfers enjoy the Weiskopf Private course on a sunny December afternoon.

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The PGA West Private Clubhouse beckons in the afternoon sun.

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There are amazing lake, fairway and mountain views throughout PGA WEST!

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A Spanish style home in PGA WEST Norman currently listed for $1,295,000.

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The infinity pool at this home overlooks the 2nd hole in the Weiskopf Private course, offered for $3,750,000. With 5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, office, it’s 7,927 sq ft on a 28,314 sq ft lot.

To summarize, there is so much to explore in PGA WEST that you need a guide to help you in your search for your perfect place in the sun, whether it’s your primary home, a secondary home, and/or an income property. There are no rental restrictions at this time at the residences of PGA WEST, and so many residents take advantage of this to rent their properties out for premium prices during special events or during the season when they are not using their properties. During our season, there are a myriad of world class events here in the desert which attracts national and international sun seekers! These events included golf and tennis tournaments, polo and other equestrian events such as HITS, music festivals such as Coachella, StageCoach, Desert Trip, fashion events, car-racing events and more! Even in the summer, people come in to brave the high temps!

If you would like more information, please contact me, Wendy Campbell, your desert realtor, at 760-587-6009. You may also be interested in checking out my website: www.WendysDesertRealEstate.com for more general information about desert real estate.

 

Laguna De La Paz: A stunning setting in La Quinta

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I’m very excited about my new listing in the highly desirable community of Laguna De La Paz, a gated community of condos and detached single family homes surrounding a 7 acre lake framed by gorgeous, rugged mountains of La Quinta. Centrally located in La Quinta, around the corner are many great stores, restaurants and a new state-of-the-art movie theatre! The prices range from the low $200,000s to the mid-$400,000s, with the HOA monthly dues of $550 (at this time, Feb. 7, 2016) covering basically everything, including common area landscaping, 24/7 24 hour guarded gate, the lake, the roof and exterior painting, 15 community pools and 16 community spas, 5 tennis courts, clubhouse, fitness center, sauna, bocce courts, catch and release fishing, walking trail and more!

There is never an excuse for “nothing to do”!

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It’s also very dog-friendly! You’ll see many people getting exercise on the walking trail along the lake with their canine buddies!

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My listing is located at 48121 Vista Cielo, and is a spacious 1980 sq. ft. sunny 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom detached single family residence on a large 6534 sq ft lot which offers enough space to build your own private pool, if you want to! There is a built-in BBQ in the wrap-around patio. It has plantation shutters throughout, a stacked stone fireplace, recessed lighting, a huge walk-in closet in the master bedroom and a split floor plan. It also has a laundryroom and an attached two-car garage. There is a privacy wall all around, and it offers a safe place to let your children and/or furry family play outside. The listing price is only $308,000! This is a great value for so much house and so much amenities!

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Also nearby is the popular Old Town La Quinta which hosts art festivals, farmers’ markets with live music, and there are many tempting restaurants and fashionable boutiques.

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If you are looking to place golf, with your La Quinta residence ID card, you can get special rates at the prestigious SilverRock Golf Course. There are over 120 golf courses throughout the Coachella Valley, and many of them are public. This is a golf mecca so you have many choices for where to play around here!

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If you want to watch polo matches, there are two polo clubs just down the road in Indio, the Empire Polo Club and the Eldorado Polo Club. The Empire Polo grounds are where the world famous Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals happen.

Laguna De La Paz, in La Quinta, offers the best of the desert lifestyle! It’s a very friendly community and is very conveniently located. Please contact me for more information at 760-587-6009 or you may e-mail me. Happy Trails!

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Behind the gates of Mira Vista in Rancho Mirage: Spectacular Views!

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Behind the gates of the prestigious golf community of Mira Vista in Rancho Mirage are spectacular views of mountains, lakes, streams, trees, the golf course and greenery. The luxury homes were built by the renowned Toll Brothers, around 2001 to 2003, and range in size from around 2331 square feet to around 4372 square feet. Contemporary Tuscan seem to describe the style of architecture. Elegance and tranquility describe the spacious, sun-filled interiors.

Featured Property:
21 Calle Del Norte, Rancho Mirage

In a word: Beautiful!

In a word: Beautiful!

This elegant 3 bedroom / 4 bathroom, 3422 square foot property offers great views of the lake behind it surrounded by mature trees and flowers, as well as some of the Westin Mission Hills golf course, which is far enough away to allow privacy. It boasts its own salt-water heated pool and spa with beautiful lake views.

A sparkling salt-water pool and spa with pebbletec finish

A sparkling salt-water pool and spa with pebbletec finish

Tranquil lake views

Tranquil lake views

There is ample sunlight streaming through the variety of windows, walls of glass and clerestory windows, allowing for the views of the beautiful surroundings to be fully enjoyed. The interior is classic European with crown molding, baseboards and wainscoting, painted in creams, whites and golds.  Each bedroom has en suite bathrooms and their own entries to a private patio. The master bedroom has two large walk-in closets, a spacious bathroom with doorless shower and a jet tub and plenty of counter space and dual sinks.

Spacious master with 2 walk-in closets

Spacious master with 2 walk-in closets

There is a large living room area, with a wet bar, and also a formal dining area that is adjacent to the kitchen which features a big opening so plates can be passed over the counter and the chef can converse with dinner guests while in the kitchen. Granite counter tops and a granite-topped island with a stovetop with a ventilator fan panel that rises up or down with a push of a button. A laundryroom is between the kitchen and the garage, which is two car and has an immaculate epoxy floor.

Great kitchen for cooking!

Great kitchen for cooking!

All stainless steel appliances are included. The two built-in convection overs are perfect for creating multiple dishes. There is a breakfast nook that has views of one of the courtyards. This home is an entertainer’s delight, with plenty of room for guests to relax and enjoy the views and a beverage from the wet bar.

Great for entertaining!

Great for entertaining!

Plenty of room for guests

Plenty of room for guests

This tasteful and refined home is not offered furnished, however many furnishings are negotiable outside of escrow. The list price for this home is an amazing deal: $699,900, which is the lowest price per square foot in Mira Vista at only $204 per sq. ft. The HOA dues are low: $305/month which includes all common area landscaping, a guarded gate, tennis courts, a community pool, spa and clubhouse and more.

Tennis courts at Mira Vista beckon!

Tennis courts at Mira Vista beckon!

The sellers have moved out and are ready to travel the world. This is an amazing opportunity for someone who wants a spacious home in the coveted community of Mira Vista in Rancho Mirage, a desert city with the nick name of “Home to Presidents” since so many presidents have lived here, including President Eisenhower, and Gerald Ford, who have streets named after them. President Obama has visited this city on numerous occasions to relax and play golf. Golfing is available at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Course and the Mission Hills Country Club.

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Course weaves its way around Mira Vista

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Course weaves its way around the Mira Vista community, yet there is plenty of privacy

Not far from this choice property is The River, which has a huge movie theatre, boutiques and stores such as Forever 21, and many popular restaurants including PF Chang’s, Fleming’s and The Cheesecake Factory.

Call me, Wendy Campbell, a realtor with Power Brokers International, for a private showing or to find out when an open house will be happening, at 760-587-6009. This is a must see!

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