Buying – Info For Canadian Buyers
Todd Hewlin and Lo-Ping Yeh, new owners and members at The Reserve Club in Indian Wells look perfectly at ease seated on their broad patio as the breeze ripples the water in the infinity pool situated between the house and the 12th hole, framed by the dramatic Santa Rosa Mountains. The couple, who moved here from the Bay Area and run a tech consulting firm, reflects a growing demographic of desert residents that are more youthful and working from wherever they want.
Before the pandemic, country clubs were trying to appeal to younger buyers by renovating clubhouses, retooling tennis courts for pickleball, and introducing an extensive variety of programming to keep members engaged on and off the golf course. Now, it appears those investments are paying off.
Although Hewlin and Yeh first experienced the desert in earnest during the winter rainstorms of 2019, a return visit a year later gave them a different impression. “We found it incredible,” Yeh says. “So, we went back to Los Gatos and signed a contract to put our house on the market a week later. Then, the pandemic hit.”
When the Bay Area shelter-in-place order lifted in the summer, she and Hewlin hunted for their ideal concept in indoor-outdoor living. Another visit led them to a spec home still in construction.
Lo-Ping Yeh and Todd Hewlin
“When we saw the view, it was, ‘Oh my God,’” says Yeh, who was also thinking about how the residence might accommodate their home office. “A lot of people are feeling this way now — that they can live in a place like this and still work in an effective and efficient manner.”
As they moved into The Reserve in fall 2020, their new neighbors changed the couple’s idea of who exactly lives in the desert. “When we first came here, to be honest, Todd said he thought the area might be too old for us,” she says, smiling toward her husband. (Hewlin and Yeh are 55 and 57, respectively, and active in couples golf.)
The Vintage Club in Indian Wells
“I was completely wrong,” Hewlin replies. “Maybe I had that perception from movies or how the area has been written about by people who don’t live here. But after getting to know people at The Reserve, I started feeling like this is the valley of Benjamin Button: People get all that Vitamin D, are active, physically fit, they eat better. People come here and get younger.”
THE PANDEMIC HAS seen golf’s natural social distancing turn days of lemon into lemonade. As city dwellers look for elbow room in the Coachella Valley, the spike in the number of golf rounds being played reflects the surge in new club memberships. Americans played approximately 60 million more rounds in 2020 than they did in 2019, a 14 percent increase, according to the National Golf Foundation and Golf Datatech. Meanwhile, the nation’s private clubs reported a 19.9 percent rise in play compared to 2019.
Andalusia Country Club in La Quinta
Desert residents only need to swivel their collared shirts to see new golf members flocking largely from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, and the Pacific Northwest.
As Palm Springs Life reported last fall, the first seven months of the pandemic saw single-family home sales in the Coachella Valley rise 56 percent over the same period a year earlier. Subsequently, end-of-year statistics from the California Desert Association of Realtors showed all of the valley’s nine cities with year-over-year increases in home sales.
“The Coachella Valley has become a haven to those who want to escape the cities and have a place where they can enjoy an outdoor lifestyle,” says Julie Bloom, senior vice president of operations for the Sunrise Company, which operates Toscanaand Andalusia country clubs. “In addition, since travel is not as easy, people want to have a place to go that feels like a resort and where they can gather their families together.” With the spike in sales and memberships comes a rush of new residents and golfers. A Palm Springs Life survey of 13 luxury country clubs conducted early this year revealed uniform growth when comparing March 2019–January 2020 with the period a year later.
Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert
In La Quinta, the 36 holes at The Hideaway Golf Club experienced a 103 percent rise in new members, with a spike from June to December 2020, fueling a record-breaking year in terms of home and membership sales. At the Tradition Golf Club, a 150 percent rise in club tours resulted in a record number of new members, and golf membership sales doubled. “Approximately 80 percent of our new member spouses are beginner golfers,” says Tesha Vann, membership director at Tradition. “Our short course is getting more use than ever, as it’s the perfect venue to learn the game.”
At nearby Rancho La Quinta, the two-course spread saw a 30 percent increase in golf memberships, with home sales jumping 60 percent, and Andalusia Country Clubhad an 87 percent increase in golf memberships with a jaw-dropping 300 percent increase in home sales.
In Indian Wells, The VintageClub experienced a 145 percent increase in home sales and a 100 percent gain in new golf memberships. Toscana Country Club gained 34 percent in home sales and its 36 holes drew a 77 percent rise in golf memberships. At The Reserve, Todd Hewlin and Lo-Ping Yeh were among 24 new golf members representing a 120 percent increase in home sales.
Mike Kirby and Sandi Marino
“The trend is more couples,” says Denise Adams, membership director at The Reserve Club. “Both the member and spouse, or significant other, play golf, as do their high school- and college-age children.”
Likewise, at Bighorn Golf Club, “We’re seeing quite a few of our current golf members’ spouses taking up the game through lessons, afternoon play as a couple, and our 9-holer group,” says Kirstin Fossey of Bighorn Properties.
In Palm Desert, the two-course Bighorn Golf Club had a 44 percent increase in new golf memberships and a 28 percent increase in home sales, while Stone Eagle Golf Club reported a 62 percent increase in memberships.
Tradition Golf Club in La Quinta
In Rancho Mirage, the three-course spread of Mission Hills Country Clubhas seen an 8 percent uptick in new golf memberships and a 60 percent increase in home sales. And at Tamarisk Country Club, a 9 percent boost in golf members has contributed to a 12 percent rise in overall memberships.
“In many ways, our club has become more important in our members’ lives,” Brett Draper says of Thunderbird Country Club, where he’s general manager. During the pandemic, “activity around the club, namely golf, is up to levels we have not seen in the past 15 years.”
FOR MIKE KIRBY, the desert has always been a home away from home. Long familiar with the valley’s east end by virtue of visiting his parents at La Quinta Country Club and his siblings now in the area, Kirby always figured that, someday, he too would have a desert home.
Someday came a bit sooner than Kirby and his fiancé Sandi Marino expected.
“In the last three or four years, we’ve been thinking we should land someplace out here,” he says. “Now, working from home during COVID [has] been a catalyst for us to make the move.”
Last September, the prime-of-life couple purchased a spec house at Tradition Golf Club, the longtime West Coast base for Arnold Palmer. Kirby is an avid player, and Marino is a beginner who’s refining her game on the club’s nine-hole short course. Their home overlooks the top-handicapped hole 3 on the Palmer-designed course, carved in the bosom of the Santa Rosas. The view also includes the scene-setting stone wall and iron gate, Tradition’s original entrance, marking the end of what is now Washington Street.
Splitting time between La Quinta and Newport Beach, Kirby seamlessly runs his real estate research and analysis firm. “I can work just as well here as I can from Newport,” Kirby says. “I’m not so sure we would’ve pulled the trigger on the purchase this early, but once we had this epiphany that I could still be very effective in my job in the home office I have in our new home, we went for it.”
Marino, who mixes charity and interior design work, believes the club’s on-site marketplace for groceries and take-out and home delivery services offer comfort during the pandemic. “Tradition is low-key and genuine,” she says. “And the amenities are amazing; the club makes it easy to stay.”
Therein lies the prevailing appeal of the Coachella Valley. The weather and lifestyle sell the location, and the ability to work from anywhere seals the deal.
PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHS BY TRACY NGUYEN
Bitcoin Basics for Real Estate Agents in 2021 ( + Expert Predictions)
At Sheri Dettman & Associates, we have always prided ourselves on being ahead of the curve. Bitcoin, and blockchain, although they have been around for a few years, are still something that is not yet widely understood in the Real Estate world. This article makes it easy to understand! We look forward to using blockchain tech and being your go-to agents with, as always, the latest, and best technology along with the best personal service.
February 4, 2021/Courtesy of Emile L'Eplattenier
One of the most common questions we get from real estate agents these days is when, or even if, bitcoin will finally make its way into real estate transactions.
Of course, if agents are asking us that, it means their buyers and sellers are probably asking them. So it’s only a matter of time before understanding how this technology works will be necessary for any agent who doesn’t want to get left in the dust of yet another disruptive technology for real estate.
The only problem is that bitcoin is—and there’s no other way to say it—confusing. Don’t worry, though. Even people who are so-called experts in the field can have a hard time explaining it.
That’s why we put together this quick explainer on bitcoin for real estate agents and also talked to a few agents and brokers who have already taken the leap to get their take on how they think bitcoin will transform the real estate industry in 2021 and beyond.
Can My Buyers Purchase a Home With Bitcoin Yet?
Kind of. However, almost all real estate transactions using bitcoin have used a service called BitPay to convert bitcoin to U.S. dollars (USD) to transfer funds to the seller.
As far as “bitcoin-to-bitcoin” transactions go, where title changes hands and the bitcoin is never converted into USD—they still remain very rare. The sticking point is generally title companies and lawyers, both of whom are still somewhat reluctant to use the digital currency.
Douglas Elliman’s Stephan Burke and Carol Cassis sold the first property using bitcoin wallets in 2017, as well as a $6 million transaction after that, the largest fully bitcoin translation to date. Since then, they have closed more than $34 million in volume using cryptocurrency converted to cash.
However, while it has been slow going here, where bitcoin and blockchain show the most promise is for overseas transactions.
Over at the always-excellent Mansion Global, EminGun Sirer, associate professor of computer science and co-director of the Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts at Cornell University, weighed in on why cryptocurrencies are ideal for foreign buyers:
“Cryptocurrencies enable the quick, frictionless transfer of value across the globe. This enables someone in Russia to be able to easily send bitcoins to purchase land in Belize.”
Should I Advise My Sellers to Accept Bitcoin?
In today’s market, bitcoin may not be ready for prime time, but there is one thing that is undeniable. Offering your listing for sale in bitcoin will get you instant free press. Remember the first listings that had drone videos? Imagine that times 10. Here’s Seattle Realtor, Sam Debord:
“I’ll sell my house for bitcoin” is the latest marketing tactic, and it’s working … at least for publicity.”
In order to accept bitcoin, you can either have the seller transfer into USD, work with a title company that will accept bitcoin, or have a lawyer write up a contract that covers all risks from bitcoin. At this point, most people will avoid actually paying in bitcoin, but the free press might be a good trade-off.
Can My Buyers Get a Loan With Bitcoin?
Yes. Startups like Unchained Capital allow people who hold bitcoin to borrow up to $1 million with no credit check and interest rates between 10% and 14%. However, these are not long-term loans; Unchained offers loan lengths ranging from three months to three years.
While not for everyone, hardcore bitcoin owners use services like this to get quick liquidity without cashing in their bitcoin portfolios. Think down payments, or maybe even bridge loans.
There Must Be a Catch … Is There Capital Gains Tax for Transferring Bitcoin to USD?
Yes. As of January 1, 2018, the federal government considers cryptocurrency as property and anyone selling (or trading bitcoin for U.S. dollars) will be hit with capital gains tax on the amount their bitcoins appreciated since they purchased or mined them.
Are Bitcoin & Blockchain the Same Thing?
No. While bitcoin is a digital currency that you can exchange for goods and services, blockchain is the underlying technology that stores bitcoin or other cryptocurrency transactions in a digital ledger.
Okay, Then What Is Bitcoin Exactly?
Bitcoin is a fully digital currency created in 2009 by an anonymous person who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto online.
Like any other currency, bitcoin can be used to pay for goods and services, transfer funds, or as an investment. Currently, over 15,000 vendors accept bitcoin, from Microsoft to small businesses.
The main difference between bitcoin and say, an ACH transfer through a traditional bank is that there is no middleman in the transaction. The entire transaction from buyer to seller takes place on the Bitcoin network. Since a bitcoin transaction bypasses the different bank policies, or different regional banking laws that are part of any other transaction, transfers are much faster.
Since there is no bank or government to get in the way, bitcoin can be a great way to transfer money or make purchases overseas. Foreign buyers may find bitcoin’s speed and simplicity ideal for buying property in the United States.
Bitcoin is an example of a fiat currency; its value is not backed up by gold or other tangible assets. Instead, bitcoin relies on something called blockchain to verify transactions.
Got It. So What’s Blockchain?
Although blockchain is very complex, the best way to describe it to your clients is to compare it to ACH, the technology that lets you “wire” money from one bank to another. The main difference is that blockchain does not rely on banks to verify transactions have been completed. Instead, once a transaction is completed, it is stored in an encrypted digital ledger that is distributed among everyone on the blockchain.
This means that instead of relying on trusted institutions like banks to verify transactions, the verification is done very quickly by algorithms that check the stored transaction data on the millions of users on the blockchain.
What makes blockchain so powerful is that the ledger is stored on every single computer (node) in the system. This makes faking a transaction virtually impossible. Since the blockchain is extremely secure, it has many applications beyond verifying and storing bitcoin transactions. Everything from contracts to voting records can theoretically be stored on blockchain.
Which Technology Will Have a Bigger Impact in the Real Estate Market, Bitcoin or Blockchain?
According to most experts, blockchain will have a bigger impact on real estate than bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Here’s why: Transaction speed is not a very pressing problem for real estate transactions, but record-keeping and middlemen are. Here’s Jason Shepherd, co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group, on why he thinks blockchain technology, particularly smart contracts and other applications built on Ethereum, an alternative to bitcoin, will change the real estate market:
“It is important to separate the cryptocurrency from the underlying blockchain technology when discussing real estate disruption. The disruption in real estate will come from the blockchain technology (distributed ledger) and smart contracts like those found on the Ethereum platform.”
So What Are Smart Contracts?
Smart contracts are contracts between two parties that are verified and stored on the blockchain. Today, most smart contracts are built with the blockchain protocol behind Ethereum, another cryptocurrency.
The main benefit behind smart contracts is that there is no need for a middleman in the transaction. Everything is verified and stored on the blockchain.
In the future, blockchain can be used to store records of a transaction all the way from a blockchain-enabled MLS, to escrow, inspections, title, and sales contracts. Leases and other commercial real estate contracts could also be on the blockchain.
To learn more about smart contracts, check out this excellent guide over on Block Geeks.
What Is This ‘Mining’ for Bitcoins I Keep Hearing About?
OK, from here on in, the process gets a bit more technical, and therefore much harder to explain. While it’s unlikely your buyers or sellers will grill you about this, having a basic understanding can help.
Remember how we talked about how transactions on the blockchain are verified by other users? Well, bitcoin mining is the process that verifies transactions and adds them to the public ledger.
Bitcoin “miners” are rewarded with bitcoin for using their computer’s processing power to verify transactions. Before you get too excited and start mining bitcoin out of your broker’s office, understand that in most places, the payment for mining bitcoin will probably be less than the electricity costs to run computers long enough to verify transactions.
What Advantages Do Other Cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin & Ripple Have Over Bitcoin?
OK, now we’re getting a little too far into the weeds. Worse, the crypto industry changes so fast that by the time you read this, something will have inevitably changed. If you’re feeling brave, check out this cool infographic from Visual Capitalist:
How 10 Real Estate Experts Think Bitcoin Will Disrupt the Industry
So now that you have a basic understanding of bitcoin, here’s how 10 real estate industry experts see bitcoin transforming the real estate market in the coming years.
“A brief way that I explain bitcoin is, it’s as if technology and finance had a baby. Humans survived for hundreds of thousands of years (if not longer) without money. Money is a relatively new concept to humans, and to think that the current financial system is the peak evolution of money and the storage of value is nothing short of naive. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies represent that next step in the evolution of storing and exchanging value.”
2. Jim Merrion, Coldwell Banker Realty, Colorado
“The real estate industry’s appetite for using bitcoin to purchase real estate seems to be coming back in a big way in 2021! Being a Realtor who has helped a buyer purchase developable land using bitcoin converted to cash and marketed several listings willing to accept bitcoin as payment, bitcoin investors are finding me online and reaching out with plans to purchase property using these funds in 2021.
“Currently, I have one bitcoin investor looking to buy a 35+ acre ranch property and have spoken to several others over the past few months about how the process could successfully work for them.
“And Smart Contracts are starting to be seriously considered by at least one title company in Colorado now. With their inherent security and ability to prevent wire fraud, there is a lot of motivation by the transaction processing entities to find new technology solutions that reduce their risk and enhance the efficiency of the closing process.”
3. Tristan Ahumada, Realtor, Speaker & Co-founder of LabCoatAgents
“So far, most of the bitcoin transactions in the real estate world have had only one party dealing in cryptocurrency and the other one doing it the traditional way. The deal can still take place, but the cryptocurrency has to be turned into cash. I do envision cryptocurrency catching on more, but our society has to start using the bitcoin/blockchain technology more. I do see it becoming normalized—it’s just a matter of people getting used to it. It is just as easy as people using credit cards and Apple pay.
“For now, there are companies like BitPay and some other international banks that allow people to convert their bitcoin into cash.”
4. Jason Shepherd, Co-founder of Atlas Real Estate Group
“The disruption in real estate will come from the blockchain technology (distributed ledger) and smart contracts like those found on the Ethereum platform. The escrow process will be replaced by a smart contract, using code as the intermediary to distribute earnest money. Imagine a real estate transaction where all of our inspection and due diligence information can be found in one public ledger on the blockchain—ownership, encumbrances, repair receipts, improvements, liens—all viewable and indisputable on the distributed ledger.
“This transparency reduces the need for title insurance and truncates the purchase timeline for a home from 30 days to a few days. Title and escrow will be the first layer of disruption, but increasing transparency will allow the public to access more information and be less reliant on real estate brokers. This won’t replace brokers, but it will warrant a repricing for what brokers can charge their clients.”
5. John Gilbert, Co-founder/Director Prime-EX
“The acceptance of cryptocurrencies into mainstream investment portfolios equals more buyers this year for major ticket items, such as houses. Many purchases are coming from people who have never purchased real estate before. This equals more sales for real estate agents who are willing to learn about cryptocurrencies, more sales for real estate agents who are willing to market to people who are invested in cryptocurrencies, and more sales for real estate agents who are willing to specialize in educating their home sellers on how to accept cryptocurrencies as payment in kind for their real estate.
“The cryptocurrency genie will not be put back into the bottle.”
6. Avani Desai, CEO & Co-founder of MyCryptoAlert
“Crypto will allow a homebuyer to gather funds quickly, sometimes in less than 60 seconds, and into the hands of the seller, instantaneously. All of this is done on the blockchain, so the transaction is recorded in an open distributed ledger using encryption techniques that ensure that a transaction was complete and accurate and can never be retroactively changed. I believe what brokers and agents are going to see aside from transactions being done with crypto are technology platforms that are built on the blockchain. Therefore, understanding the two most known and built on blockchains that are out there—the bitcoin blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain—is crucial. Agents will see everything from smart contracts executed, to title storage, to international money exchanges.”
7. Alan Lewis, Chief Investment Officer at DiversyFund
“We are already seeing real estate sellers finding creative ways to accept crypto from a buyer in order to expand the pool of potential purchasers. As a real estate investment platform, our online customers have prompted us to look into accepting crypto and also launch an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that is backed by real estate assets, which creates a perfect marriage of old and new asset classes.”
8. Sheryl Lowe, Broker Associate, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty
“In all of my 33 years of closing transactions, I honestly couldn’t have expected something so unique to go so smoothly. In a matter of 10 minutes, the bitcoin was changed to U.S. dollars and the deal was done!
“Of course, it helped to have the right team behind this—Laura Pagnozzi of Independence Title was a key player in keeping everything together.”
9. Hyun Lee, Communications & Marketing Director, Mothership Foundation
“With Ethereum, there are companies that wish to build smart contracts around existing services, including real estate. This allows for a fully digital real estate transaction. In fact, the first real estate transaction using only the Ethereum blockchain already happened. Michael Arrington, co-founder of TechCrunch, recently purchased a Kiev studio apartment for $60,000 via smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
“In this case, the smart contract allowed the sale of the property. If this template was to be copied and applied to all future sales, I would imagine real estate agents would need to pick up on using smart contracts.”
10. Dr. Lucas Lu, Founder/CEO, 5miles
“Fractional ownership. The high cost of home ownership in more and more markets has priced out many potential homebuyers, leaving them on the sidelines.
“Just as USD can be bought and sold in fractions, in a similar way the number of whole bitcoins (BTCs), for example, has a limit and can be used fractionally. This means that cryptocurrency holders can see the value of their currency rise, but also can pool their crypto resources with owners to purchase properties collectively, as investments.”
No matter how much you fight it, bitcoin and the blockchain technology it runs on will revolutionize the real estate industry. Since your buyers and sellers will be curious about the potential of bitcoin for their transactions, agents need to have a basic understanding of how this technology works. This will not only allow them to represent their clients better, but also help attract and retain tech-savvy buyers and sellers, and create a buzz with marketing.
SilverRock Resort in La Quinta
Owned by the City of La Quinta and Managed by Landmark Golf Management, SilverRock Resort's Arnold Palmer Classic Course is a challenging 7,239 yards sprawling over 200 acres with massive native bunkers and stunning water features. Set against the backdrop and natural beauty of the Santa Rosa Mountains, SilverRock is a former home course of the PGA Tour’s Bob Hope Classic from 2008-2011.
The City, in conjunction with SilverRock Development Company, LLC, has created a development program for SilverRock Resort. The program includes a luxury hotel with branded luxury residential, a lifestyle hotel with branded lifestyle residential, a conference and shared services facility, a mixed-use village, resort residential village, renovation of the existing Ahmanson Ranch House, construction of a permanent golf clubhouse, and associated road and utility infrastructure. This $420 million dollar project specifically encompasses:
A 140-room, 5-star quality luxury hotel and spa and a 200-room, 4-star quality lifestyle hotel;
A 71,000 square foot conference center and shared services facility shared by the luxury and lifestyle hotels;
A resort village with 150,000 square feet of resort residential units and up to 40,000 square feet of retail space with recreation areas;
35 luxury and 60 lifestyle branded residential homes that are associated with their respective hotels;
160 resort style homes for private ownership with the option for owners to offer as short-term rentals;
Renovation of the Ahmanson Ranch House facility as a public event center and to serve as an amenity to the resort; and
5,000 square feet of temperature controlled space with large outdoor patios and event lawn.
Courtesy of Haley Kieser
The scenic city of Palm Springs is located in the Sonoran Desert of southern California. This gorgeous little city is known for glamorous hotels, resorts, spas and natural hot springs thereby making Palm Springs the perfect destination for tourists and potential residents alike. The city is noted for examples of mid-century modern architecture giving the town a feeling of old-world glamour.
- Outdoor Recreation
One of the many perks of settling down in Palm Springs is the vast opportunities for outdoor recreation. If you or someone you love is an avid golfer, Palm Springs will without a doubt become near and dear to their heart. If you have not tried the sport, it would be wise to give it a shot after relocating. Golfing would be an excellent hobby to learn given that Palm Springs has been given the high praise of being colloquially known as the “Golf Capital of the World,” and it truly does live up to its nickname. Palm Springs and the surrounding area is home to over 20 lush golf courses, most notably the world-renowned Arnold Palmer Classic Course at SilverRock Resort and the PGA WEST Golf Club & Resort to name a few.
The Palm Springs area offers majestic views of the Santa Rosa Mountains that are downright breathtaking. The mountains can be viewed from the golf course and enjoyed both up close and afar. Hiking trails are found throughout the mountains. It should be heeded that visitors to the mountains should strictly follow their map, and be sure to head back when half of your water is depleted as the mountains are situated in the middle of a dessert. The good news is that due to the climate of the southern Californian Sonoran Desert, both the hiking trails and the golf courses can be enjoyed year-round.
- Beautiful Weather
Palm Springs is a desert city - the weather gets hot. The best time of the year to enjoy the southern Californian weather would be between January and April when the weather is most hospitable. During the summer months, temperatures will regularly reach triple digits.
Palm Springs is the perfect location for those who like the heat. Moving to Palm Springs not only means embracing the heat, but embracing the wind farms. Wind farms are a fact of life in the desert and are churned all year long. The windy season in Palm Springs is generally the end of the summer leading into fall. On top of clean energy sources, the added breeze will be a nice touch as the summer heat ratchets up.
- Rich History
Many notable American figures have visited Palm Springs, including Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire, and Ronald Reagan. In its early years, Palm Springs attracted more visitors than potential property owners. Following World War II, there was a boom of development. At first, visitors flocked to Palm Springs to enjoy the natural bathhouses and hotels cropping up within the quiet desert town. Soon the quaint town would attract the attention of philanthropists, moguls, and starlets who would eventually settle in the area. It is likely they settled after watching the glittering town be advertised on the silver screen.
The desert was routinely selected as a choice spot for filming silent films and would grow to become an oasis for Hollywood stars outside of film sets. Today, Palm Springs still maintains a sense of old-world glamour wrapped in plenty of modern entertainment options. In fact, one of Palm Springs quintessential historical landmarks, including Walter and Leonore Annenberg’s Sunnylands Estate. Since 2012, the 200-acre estate and historic residence operates as a place of hospitality for international leaders to convene to “promote world peace and facilitate international agreement.” Tours are available for small groups but require a ticket booked in advance.
- Minimal Traffic
An added bonus that will be felt at every turn, is that there is virtually no traffic in Palm Springs. No more days of sitting in traffic for 2-hours for a commute that should, in theory, should take only 20 minutes. City dwellers throughout the country understand the plague of heavy, bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic. Moving to Palm Springs means making traffic a woe of the past. A drive to the grocery store will be just that, without the need for planning added time to consider for traffic and delays. Even during the busiest times of the year, traffic will always be minimal. The average commute time is about 22 minutes, which is lower than the national average.
- Affordable Living
Compared to huge metropolitan areas like San Francisco or New York, the smaller city of Palm Springs can offer a much cheaper alternative for housing prices without any void of things to do. Although California tends to be expensive as a whole, the Palm Springs area tends to be comparatively cheaper. The median price for a single-family home in Palm Springs is about $300,000, which is subject to change year over year. With the added pocket change, this allows for greater flexibility for leisure around the town and the ability to enjoy the city’s boutiques and fine dining nestled along Palm Canyon Drive.
For Homeowners, Buyers and Sellers
Watch this one minute video on how to keep your home healthy and maintained during the summer months in the desert.
A new hotel development that marries homes, condos and conventional hotel rooms is planned for Indian Wells.
Developers announced a proposal to build roughly 300 units – in the form of multi-bedroom villas as well as hotel rooms – in a project aimed at attracting multi-generational travelers who are looking for the space and privacy offered by a short-term rental with the careful standards seen in hotels.
The project, located near the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, is also planning the development of 60 to 80 condos, which can be managed by the hotel as vacation rentals.
“When we look at the way people are traveling, when we look at the evolution of the travel space, when we look at the rise of multi-generational travel, we think we’re on the cusp of another change in hospitality,” Phil Bates, a partner with TMC Group, a real estate development firm from Irvine, told residents in Indian Wells on Tuesday.
RELATED HOTEL DEVELOPMENT COVERAGE: Montage breaks ground on luxury resort in La Quinta
An architect's rendering of a new development planned for the corner of Highway 111 and Miles Avenue in Indian Wells. The project would build roughly 300 hotel rooms, along with condos and villas. (Photo: Submitted photo: TMC Group)
TMC Group officials, along with representatives from Fogelson Group, a Chicago-based real estate development firm, held a community meeting Tuesday at the Indian Wells Golf Resort to unveil the plans for the development proposed for the corner of Highway 111 and Miles Avenue near the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. The project would occupy about 10 acres.
The development team anticipates construction beginning early next year, with completion in 2019 or 2020.
The hotel building with its 300 rooms could be up to 85 feet tall, and is proposed for the back of the site away from Highway 111. Its height was of a concern to some of the roughly 100 residents attending the forum Tuesday.
“I have a problem with 85 feet,” remarked Andy Elchuck, who lives nearby.
When asked about views of Eisenhower Mountain and other areas, Bates said, “some will be compromised.”
Development plans for the site go back more than a decade when the Fogelson Group proposed building 129 residences and villas. The Fogelson Group is headed by Jerry Fogelson, well-known for his local philanthropy and generous contributions to the Palm Springs Art Museum. He also serves on the board for the Desert Town Hall speaker series.
The property's future was put into question again in 2014 when Phoenix developer Denny Ryerson was unable to finalize an agreement with YAM Capital that would have provided the money he needed to buy out Fogelson and meet critical deadlines connected to his proposed condo development in Indian Wells.
The project announcement comes as officials in La Quinta broke ground Monday at SilverRock, marking the start of development on a luxury resort that brings the Montage brand to the Coachella Valley. The project includes two luxury hotels which are scheduled to open simultaneously in October 2019.
Skip Descant is The Desert Sun’s tourism reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com and @TDSskip
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Conserving Water In Our Desert Can Be A Good Thing!
California is working through a historical drought. The state has mandated water cuts of 25% statewide and asked for cutbacks of 35% here in the Coachella Valley. Personally I believe that could be a good thing. It’s time we realize that this is indeed the desert and that we need to start planting more desert landscape and less of the big, lush green lawns, which can help achieve our needed conservation of water.
State of California officials are focusing on meeting the new water goals by focusing on the replacement of 50 million square feet of green lawns with ‘drought tolerant landscaping.” Some cities and water districts are offering rebates for replacing turf.
A Little Less Grass, More Desertscape
Homes that combine smaller areas of grass with desertscape are great examples of just one way to save a lot of water. New homes being developed at Griffin Ranch in La Quinta (top photo) offer just that, and also include programmable irrigation systems with built-in rain sensors that automatically shut off sprinklers when it rains.
And yes, it does rain here in the desert! Several HOA's within PGA West are converting total grass areas to smaller areas of grass combined with desertscape.
New home communities have been required by local water agencies to plant more desertscape and fewer grass areas in common areas for over a decade. Many large country club communities including Rancho La Quinta Country Club started replacing large grass areas with desertscape several years ago, and these areas look great.
Desert Golf Courses Conserving Water
Palm Springs area golf courses have also been taking action with plans to replace turf areas outside of fairways and greens with desertscape. In past years, golf courses had been slow to conserve water because water has been cheap and plentiful here in the desert, but with mandated cuts many are now making the changes.
PGA West in La Quinta, the largest golf community in the desert already cut water usage this year by not over-seeding non-fairway and greens areas. Those areas of grass go dormant and for now require no watering. In addition, some of the HOA’s within PGA West have recently replaced common area grass with more desertscape. Others are in the works.
Inexpensive Desert Water
According to a recent article in the Los Angeles times, water in the LA area is about five times more expensive than here in the desert. And with this cheap water, golf courses and other large water users had little incentive to conserve water over the years. But now with state-mandated cuts, golf courses, and other large users are finally taking action.
The Coachella Valley Water Source
Most of the desert regions water supply comes from an underground aquifer. It’s so big “when the U.S. Geological Survey tried to measure its size, their scientists got to 12 trillion gallons, and they stopped counting,” said Coachella Valley Water District Spokesperson Heather Engel.
In recent years though, the valley had been drawing more water from this giant aquifer than it had been replacing. That's now being reversed by importing water via the 120 mile All American Canal from the Colorado River and letting it percolate into the giant aquifer. Long term though it’s up to all of us enjoying the desert lifestyle to plant more desertscape, less grass and not to waste our water resources.
Year-Round Sunshine Still Popular Here
People love the desert because of our almost year-round sunshine and warm temps. We have cheap water compared to the rest of Southern California, but that’s no excuse to not be smarter how we use our water.