Can You Really Buy a House With Only $1000 in Your Pocket?

By , October 2, 2015 2:43 pm


Have you been thinking about buying a house but figure you won’t live long enough to save up that huge down payment? Never fear! Hope is here!

Arizona has several down payment assistance programs that provide a grant to homeowners who qualify that shaves 3% off the minimum down payment. That’s a huge chunk of the low down payments required for FHA and some conventional loan programs.

And it gets better…

If the seller agrees to contribute towards your closing costs – effectively financing those closing costs – you might be surprised at the small amount of cash you need to get those house keys. I have seen folks buy for as little as $1000 in cash!

There are some qualifications, such as minimum credit score, maximum home price, a salary cap and you will have to a take a class. But for a lot of folks, it’s an amazing way to get into a home and out of the rental game.

For more information, check out these links or give me a call for even more resources!

Arizona Down Payment Assistance Resources:

Home Plus

Home in Five

Or contact me at:

Kristin LaVanway

“Acid Jazz”
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Motorcycles on Main – A First Friday Tradition in Downtown Mesa

By , September 10, 2015 10:28 pm
Motocycles on Main

Bikers come from all over the valley to check out each other’s rides and catch up on the latest scoop.

On the first Friday of (almost) every month, Downtown Mesa, is transformed into a mini-Sturgess. Bikers from across the Valley descend upon Main Street for a street party that gets better every time.  Maybe you have heard of it…maybe you have thought about checking it out, but you aren’t quite sure how it works. You don’t need a bike – although bring it if you have it – to join this jamboree.  No, this is a fest with no rules! (Well, OK, you need to follow the traffic laws and basic municipal guidelines…)

Main Street, in Downtown Mesa AZ

Main Street closes down for the ultimate street party

Here’s a couple of tips:

  1. If you don’t have a bike, don’t come down Main – use 1st Street or 1st Ave. And, yes, Here in Mesa, the parking is FREE! Even better, ride in on The Rail!
  2. You don’t need an actual motorcycle to attend. You can come in a car, bicycle, unicycle, skateboard, or just basic footwear. You are still welcome to come
  3. You don’t even need leather or chains or other biker garb.Bright colors will stand out, I am not going to lie. There is a lot of black-centric attire. But fly your freak flag and show in yellow. It’s all good.
  4. Queen’s Pizzeria has it down. They have pizza slices to go! So if there are huge crowds and you are starving, go there. And try to get some cheesy garlic bread while you are it. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.
  5. Watch for motorcycles! Maybe you already figured that out, but they do have the run of the road, so, you know, look both ways and all that jazz.
The Famous Nile Theatre

The Famous Nile Theatre and Volstead Public House

Local businesses, like Desert Eagle Brewery,, Queen’s Pizzeria and Volstead Public House pull out all the stops to welcome bike fans fans to the streets of Mesa.

Motorcycles on Main

Shops and restaurants do it up for the bikers!

Phoenix Real Estate Market Update – September 2015 – Live from Downtown Mesa

By , September 7, 2015 9:18 am

A LONG overdue update of the Phoenix Real Estate Market – live from Volstead Public House at 105 W Main St in Mesa! Things are VIBRANT in the Phoenix real estate market right now, with an edge to sellers in most cases. Sales volume has started to lighten up as we approach the end of the year, but some of areas of the Valley are still seeing brisk sales. HOT areas are Avondale, Glendale, Surprise, Tempe and Mesa (yeah!).

For more information, you can reach me at

Kristin LaVanway

Check out Volstead Public House at

More in Downtown Mesa at

Shy Guys Guide to Meeting Girls – LoFi Coffee

By , July 22, 2015 9:10 am

Fun at LoFi Coffee with April Walterscheid and Sean Ryan McBride doing a little improv scene. This one offers some atypical advice for the socially awkward. Perhaps you can glean some worthy knowledge about meeting girls in coffee houses…Perhaps not.

April Walterscheid & Seam Ryan McBride
Camera attempted by Kristin LaVanway who accidentally disconnected the shotgun mic so we went silent on the one.
Music by Kevin MacLeod over at Incompetech:
“Opportunity Walks”
Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Need a Shot (of Espresso?) – Head to LoFi!

By , June 30, 2015 12:14 pm

LoFiLike most Realtors, I have a home office. It’s great, right? No commute…I can work in my PJs…throw in a load of laundry while I negotiate some big deal…NOT! After a while, it occurs to me that I haven’t had any human contact in DAYS and I start to go slightly mad. Soon, I start thinking about the episodes of Walking Dead I haven’t seen yet and figure, what the heck? Why not just eat that cookie dough instead of actually making the cookies for the Open House.

In other words, working from home is a mixed blessing, K?

So, today, my primary mission was to take my laptop out into the world and work SOME PLACE ELSE…like LoFi Coffee.

This place is like a shot (of espresso) in the arm!

For starters, it’s got a great vibe. Not that Starbucks-noisy-cliche-coffeehouse vibe, but a genuine-glad-to-see-you-and-by-the-way-we-have-Super-Nintendo kind of vibe. In other words, it’s a great place to get some work done while plugging into the friendly Downtown Mesa atmosphere.

YeLofi2ah – they have Wifi. Who doesn’t? But they also have one tasty iced mocha that makes me glad I got out of my PJs and packed up my laptop. Seriously. Just for the mocha, it’s worth it.  They also have SCONES! And vegan stuff if you are into that sort of thing.

And guess what? I am actually getting some work done (miracle!). So, it’s a Win-Win-Win!IMG_1886

So I will be calling this my little home(office)-away-from-home(office) from now on. Why don’t you join me?


Here are few reasons why LoFi Coffee is awesome:


That Solar Thing – Energy Savings in Downtown Mesa

By , April 1, 2015 7:40 pm

2015-03-25 16.29.28Yes, it gets hot here. Really hot. And even when it’s not blazing hot, it’s more than likely sunny. Really sunny. It only rains about 30 days a year here. So, if you are a weather forecaster, your job is pretty easy.

Because we have SO MUCH SUN in Phoenix, it makes sense to consider solar power. A lot of sense. Solar is catching on and companies that supply solar panels to homeowners are popping up faster than weeds in March. More and more new home builders are offering solar as an option. It’s a big deal in the Valley of the Sun, so much so that in 2012, Governor Janet Napolitano observed that solar power in Arizona has the potential to make Arizona “the Persian Gulf of solar energy”.

But is solar really all that and more? It sounds great – living “off-the-grid” producing your own glorious, earth-friendly energy, selling the extra to the poor saps that are tethered to SRP and APS. Just plant a garden, start composting and get some chickens, and you are at one with Mother Earth, right?



Just like everything, it’s not always as great as the ads make it out to be. Yes, solar energy is clean. Yes, generating your own power with solar panels can save you money. But there’s a couple of catches. Big ones.

Solar panels are not cheap. A typical set-up can run $30-$40K easy. There are tax incentives to offset some of the cost or you can lease your system. But in the end, you have to factor the cost of the system into the equation.

Leases can often be a liability when selling a home. Buyers have to qualify for the lease in order to transfer the contract at COE and some buyers would rather pass the extra cost on to the seller in the form of a lease buy-out. Furthermore, banks have a hard time quantifying the value of solar panels, so the expense may not translate into the appraised value.  And let’s just skip the part for now about doing maintenance on your roof, because, well, you will have MOVE the solar panels first!

Very few people can completely de-couple their home from “the grid” – that mostly happens in the movies, not in real life. More likely you become partners with SRP or APS in the power business. Which means you are going to share their costs for maintaining a solar energy infrastructure through fees. Both APS and SRP have been giving customers with rooftop solar systems a break when it comes the the infrastructure costs as a way to stimulate the adoption of solar power generation among households. As more homes add solar panels, the costs m will be restructuring their fee schedule to ensure that solar customers who purchase less energy as a portion of the household energy is generated from solar panels, will still share a fair and equal portion of the infrastructure fees with their non-solar neighbors. A contract must be signed with the utility company and a grid charge will be added to be added to ensure that the costs for maintaining the SRP grid are fairly distributed. So between the possible lease and a contract with the utility company, there are some obligations that make this less than a spontaneous concept.

At the end of the day, when you add up all the factors, solar can still look very appealing. Very appealing, indeed.  But before you pull the trigger on this big commitment, take your time and do it right.  The trick is to maximize your savings and realize the biggest ROI you can.
Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 5.24.25 PM

How? Here’s a few ideas…

1. Do an energy audit on your home before you call the solar company. A good audit runs about $99 and can help you make your house more efficient overall so you use less power. Leaky ductwork, gaps in windows and doors, inadequate insulation, poorly vented attic space and other easy fixes can add up to a bigger bill especially when you crank up the AC. SRP and APS work with auditors to give you the information you need about your home to reduce the amount of energy you use. Using less energy is a good idea no matter what and some of these changes are a more cost-effective way to reduce your power bill. Here’s a list of auditors with SRP and APS . Here are a a few tips about energy audits from the BBB

2. Consider solar-powered components such as water heaters and HVAC systems as less expensive ways to reduce your power consumption without trading power with utilities.

3. Determine whether leasing or buying your system is going to produce the best return on your money. Here’s a handy-dandy calculator to help you out. In a nutshell, it seemed to me that bigger solar systems a more expensive to lease than to buy but it’s best to apply all the factors and crunch the numbers for your particular case.

As solar technology increases, costs for solar will decrease. Utility companies and solar panel providers will become better versed on how to provide solar energy options to thier customers. Arizona is poised to be a leader in residential solar energy. It’s a great trend – just be careful before jumping on the bandwagon.

Want to learn more? Check out:

SRP – Residential solar programs

APS – Overview of their renewable energy program

Solar City – One of the biggest suppliers of solar panels in Arizona


Spring Training 2015 – Cubs New Home in Mesa AZ

By , February 18, 2015 8:34 am

The 2015 Cactus League season is almost here! Soon 15 Major League Baseball teams will head to the Valley of the Sun for Spring Training, a tradition that began in 1947.

My hometown, Mesa, hosts two teams – the Oakland A’s and the Chicago Cubs. The A’s are taking over the Cubs old home field, Hohokam Stadium as that Cubs move into their new facility at Sloan Park at Riverview. And what a home it is!  Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.38.51 AM

The beautiful Mesa Sheraton Hotel opening this year will be a home-away-from-home for baseball fans taking a break from the frozen tundra to enjoy our unbeatable desert weather while watching their favorite baseball players hit the field. The 15,000-seat park includes 3 party decks including the Budweiser party deck with rooftop seating, a state-of-the-art workout facility and 7 practice fields, a 28ft x 88ft video board to catch all the highlights, a Kid Zone and plenty of tasty dining options including an army of food trucks that will appear during games behind Center field.

Riverview Park also features a multi-field soccer facility, an urban fishing lake and a spectacular playground with a splash park, a 50-foot climbing tower, a 75-foot zip line and plenty of room for a picnic!

Even though I am still a little bitter about the AZ Diamondbacks casting aside the desert colors of yore and becoming just another boring red baseball team, I will still try to catch a game…maybe. Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 8.39.28 AM

Here’s wishing the Cubs and the A’s a great season!

Cactus League Teams
Arizona Diamondbacks – Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
Chicago Cubs – Sloan Park at Riverview, Mesa
Chicago White Sox – Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Cincinnati Reds – Goodyear Park, Goodyear
Cleveland Indians – Goodyear Park, Goodyear
Colorado Rockies – Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
Kansas City Royals – Surprise Recreation Campus, Surprise
Los Angeles Angels – Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Los Angeles Dodgers – Camelback Ranch, Glendale
Milwaukee Brewers – Maryville Park, Phoenix
Oakland A’s – Hohokam Park, Mesa
San Diego Padres – Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
San Francisco Giants – Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
Seattle Mariners – Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
Texas Rangers – Surprise Recreation Campus. Surprise

For more information and schedules for all the Cactus League teams, visit And here is a handy dandy schedule! Play Ball!

Music Life of Riley by Kevin MacLeod,

Kristin LaVanway

The Light Rail Is Coming to Mesa, Baby!

By , December 16, 2014 10:04 am
Mesa Light Rail Extension

The Light Rail is Coming to Downtown Mesa

The Station at Mesa Drive

The Station at Mesa Drive

LDS Tempe

LDS Tempe

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park

The Station at Mesa Drive

Light Rail Station at Mesa Drive in Historic Downtown Mesa – under construction and set to open in 2016.Mesa Drive

I don’t know about you, but I find this very exciting. The light rail – THE LIGHT RAIL – is coming to Downtown Mesa, practically at my doorstep!

Construction is well underway, so I can now see how far I have to stroll to get a ride to Tempe or Downtown Phoenix – you know, those downtowns that charge an arm and a leg for parking?

Have you been to downtown Phoenix lately? It’s crazy! $20 bucks so I can park my car…right! And the meters run ALL THE TIME now! I digress…

This current extension project adds stations at Alma School Road, Country Club Drive, Center Street and Mesa Drive allowing passengers access to the many shops, restaurants, museums and other cultural attractions in the corridor. What a great way to see events at the Mesa Arts Center and the Mesa Amphitheater?

Roads are restricted to one lane all through downtown but guess what? There is plenty of free parking and easy access along 1st Ave and 1st Street. So there’s n reason to miss out on all the fun on Main Street.

When completed, it is projected the Central Mesa extension will average 9,742 weekday riders who can ride the rail and enjoy the wonderful historic downtown Mesa shops and restaurants.

This current extension project is scheduled for completion towards the end of 2015 and should be up and running in early 2016. You can follow the progress and check for updates on this and future projects at the Valley Metro website…and of course I will keep you posted!

Can’t wait!

In Search of a Rosewood Guitar with an Ipe Neck…

By , October 25, 2014 11:30 am
Brazilian Wood co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill Wetherill.
Brazilian Wood co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill Wetherill.

I like to keep busy. That’s why I am dominating barely surviving a month-long “move to my new house/sell real estate/hire a new assistant/make my first feature film” marathon. It’s been…busy.

Given my packed schedule, I haven’t had much time to explore my new stomping ground – Downtown Mesa. It’s awesome with lots of cool shops, the new light rail, and many friendly folks. Seriously, I know approximately 5 times the number of neighbors I knew after 4 years in my old ‘hood.

Because that's what Owen Bryant plays in Brazilian Wood! And what better place to look that Mesa music mecca. Milano Music...

But today, I successfully multi-layered my schedule so I could check out some of the downtown hangouts. I had coffee at Lo-Fi with Alyssa, my new assistant, then scored lunch with co-Director/co-Producer/Leading Man, Bill. Not just lunch, but a Brazilian Wood movie-planning, photo-touring adventure so we could plan for our some upcoming shoot days while I get a little practice on my Canon.

And speaking of 5th grade, can you say saxophone?

So it makes perfect sense the we ended up at Mesa music mecca, Milano Music, in search of Owen Bryant’s Rosewood guitar with an Ipe neck. Because that’s what Owen Bryant plays in Brazilian Wood!

And speaking of 5th grade, can you say saxophone?

If you haven’t been to Milano’s, you don’t know what you are missing. Pretty much anyone with a kid in 5th-6th grade who lives within 10 miles (or more!) of Milano’s has probably had the pleasure of renting a sax and picking up the years issue of music sheets for band class. Seriously…they have been in business since 1946! Come on! That’s a long time.

Lots of guitars...
Lots of guitars…
Now, where are the left-handed guitars, because Owen is, of course, a lefty... Now, where are the left-handed guitars, because Owen is, of course, a lefty…

We all know that the cool kids played sax in the grade school band, right? So maybe Owen should be a sax player…well, that might work if we can find a wooden saxophone.

Brazilian Wood is the strongest wood on the planet. The guitar represents that inner strength that can only be destroyed by intense heat, as in deep-rooted anger. Somehow that sax suggests a different analogy, bong hits and black shades perhaps. That is so not Owen.

So we headed over the guitar section…which is massive! And started looking for the left-handed guitars because Owen is naturally a lefty. Milano’s has every kind of guitar you can imagine…even a special room for the fancy guitars – Owen is a beginner so we were looking for a budget-friendly instrument. Banjo? No…Ukelele? Uh uh…



Lots and lots of bongos!
Lots and lots of bongos!
And more Bongos!
And more Bongos!

Then suddenly, there they were…the Bongos! Lots and lots of bongos…Big ones, small ones, plain ones, fancy ones.






Makes sense doesn’t it? A bongo is the perfect instrument for Owen…a beautiful polished wood bongo combines the symbolic strength and beauty of the guitar, with the hip, counter-culture sex appeal of the sax.





Come on, that’s probably why Matthew McConaughey is a bongo-player.

And if it’s good enough to Matthew McConaughey, it’s gotta be good enough for Owen Bryant

Next stop...Open Mic night! Next stop…Open Mic night!






Script change! Next stop…Open Mic Night!

Phoenix Real Estate – Myth Busters Edition 2014

By , October 22, 2014 3:02 pm

Are the rumors true? Find out now!

With the end of 2014 fast approaching, I thought it might be fun to look at some of the myths associated with the Phoenix real estate market!

Are Interest Rates Soaring?
Is the Market at a Standstill?
Are Home Prices Dropping Like a Rock?
Is it Impossible to Get a Home Loan?

You know you want to know!

If you have questions or comments, you can reach me at:
Kristin LaVanway

Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod,

Panorama theme by Themocracy