Letter from our Hearts 2020

2020 proved to be a year like nothing any of us could have ever imagined. The uncertainty that it’s brought to everyone’s lives between Covid and now politics has caused chaos to so many but also a very new appreciation for what truly matters most. We learned the value of toilet paper and “pivoting” for sure, but more than that- how important our homes really are and the people we share them with. A mandated quarantine kept many of us with longer hair, bigger waistlines, and a new appreciation for teachers (for those that were now basically homeschooling their “littles”). There has been a lot of loss for many that we’ve all had to cope with as well. Loss of jobs, loss of events, loss of housing, but most sad of all loss- the loss of loved ones.
I know 3 of our dear clients that lost spouses this past year and our hearts broke for each of them and their loved ones with the news. During the pandemic, having to say goodbye virtually or not being able to at all has made that loss so much harder on each and every one of them. I’d like to dedicate this letter to the remembrance of Joan Hajda, Joanne Pavlin, and Paulette Campell’s husband Dan (who passed before we were able to meet). God Bless their families and friends for the heartaches each of them has felt during this very difficult time. We are praying for them.
2020 proved to be pretty heavy BUT there have been some notably good things as well that have happened and I know each person I’ve spoken with has great hopes of a much better 2021 coming very soon.
The Real Estate Market broke records never thought possible to break from 2005. We have seen as of today, a year over year appreciation of 19% on average with interest rates now starting in the 2’s. The frenzied market did actually start in February before Covid quarantine hit in March and as one analyst put it, put a “kink in the hose” that only lasted until May once consumers got used to the new “norm”. A lot of people went through life changes with work and family dynamics which also drove demand up for the need of a new home. Bidding wars have now become the thing that Buyers have to deal with while Sellers reap the rewards. We’ve gotten very good at navigating those waters for our clients because we are not expecting this to change anytime soon.
In March, when quarantine first hit, and a great deal of businesses temporarily closed their doors, we did what we could to give back.  We started a “Spread the Love” campaign to give gift cards for groceries to those that found themselves jobless in the area. Thank you to those that donated to the cause. We are always looking for ways to give back when we can. This year we were able to sponsor two different Chandler on profits that help children and families in the area, ICAN and the Scott Detherage Foundation. If you’re not familiar with either, we encourage you to check them out on the web. Both are wonderful charities!!! If you know of any others that could use our support in 2021, we are always on the lookout- so please message us and let us know who they are as we will be happy to see what we can do to help them.
During quarantine, we were very lucky to have had our escape up north at our cabin. Turns out, it was a very popular destination for many others with  flights cancelled and vacations put on hold. So much so, that we found ourselves even busier helping people purchase cabins up north. With a quick drive and no need to take a Covid test, all of our pine filled Arizona regions found themselves full of “flatlanders”. Because of this, we decided to purchase a new side by side so we could take people out to tour our area a little easier. Check out our website for more info if it’s something you’ve been thinking about yourself. http://www.rimcountrycabintours.com/ We do have wonderful colleagues to refer you to as well in the Flagstaff or Pinetop Areas as our little slice of Heaven covers the Payson, Pine, & Strawberry region where we have our place.
Another cool thing that happened this year, I finally made my debut on national television! The HGTV House Hunters show we shot in September of 2019 finally aired on June 25th! Took a little longer than expected (again thanks to Covid), Letter from our Hearts but we have the episode on our website now for your viewing pleasure. Last time I had mentioned that in an enewsletter, our clients crashed our website trying to watch it (which was kinda cool) but should not happen again as our web developer has added some more bandwidth (whatever that is) to our website to support the video being played. Just go to www.IntegrityAllStars.com and the link is right there next to “selling a home”. Hope you enjoy the show, if you haven’t already!
In the beginning of March (week before the quarantine really hit) we had traveled to Nashville, Tennessee for the Berkshire Hathaway National Convention. It was a very exciting time for us! Seemed so surreal at the time looking back as it was the last convention held there before everything was shut down. We were bumping elbows with people instead of shaking hands, but clearly had no idea how important hand sanitizer was going to be in the coming months… That said, what was exciting is that we were recognized for some great achievements. Locally in Arizona, we hit #1 for sales within the state against other Berkshire Agents out of about 1300; but at the National level we were ranked 55 out of about 55,000 agents worldwide. This was the photo we took afterwards and something we won’t forget, that is for sure. Not to mention, Nashville is a GREAT town, so if you’ve never been; we certainly recommend it for great music, food and southern charm!
One new talent we’ve had to master this past year is hosting Zoom meetings with clients and other agents alike! It gave us the idea for a recent client appreciation event that we held VIRTUALLY right before Halloween. Hopefully, you were one of the many that joined in on the fun? In case you weren’t, but wish you had, we did record the Comedy Show with headliner Kira Soltanovich and that video is also easily found on our website under “video blog”. She, along with her other 3 comics, were hysterical and it’s something we will most likely do again in the springtime as the feedback we received from those of you that did watch seemed really good! I think we’ve all had to get good at doing new things… One thing we can count on in life is constant change, that is for sure!
However, that said, as far as our team goes; this past year, not too much has changed at all. Cherie, Ashley, and Ayriel are all still working hard for James and I. (Thank God!) Cherie did have the pleasure of having another grandchild added to her family. Ashley’s daughter that we featured in last year’s newsletter is now 1 year old and expecting to have a little brother later this spring. Ayriel continues to be instrumental in what we do, most specifically with helping me get through my first year of my weekly talk show, www.Grateful Heart.tv. I’ve gotten to explore so many wonderful different topics, interviewed many guests and had so much fun doing it! Veteran’s day hit my anniversary from the first show we did last year on 1100am KNFX. I have decided to take a little hiatus for the remainder of the year, but do plan to start back up in the beginning of 2021. Partially because I’m finally able to go visit my daughter that lives in Hawai’i, now that they’ve lifted the 14 day quarantine for people flying in from the mainland! (I was supposed to go in April but my flight was canceled)
It’s been a long year for so many of us (for so many reasons) and it definitely seems like most of us are looking forward to putting 2020 in our rear view mirror. As 2021 fast approaches, we do want to thank each of you for your support of our business and kindness you’ve shown us. We would not be able to do what we do without our wonderful clients we’ve grown to love over the years. We have a ton to be grateful for and we know no matter what- This is a Wonderful Life each of us gets to experience while we are here on this earth. If you haven’t caught the movie before, it’s one of our favorites and why we like to remember it throughout the year when clients purchase homes from us (not just during the holidays). A lot of you have received the gift of salt, bread, and wine from us before… whether you have yet or not, we wish this for each and every one of you that may be reading this letter to the following: The bread, so that your home may never know hunger; the salt, so that life may always have flavor; and wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever!  With Love In Our Hearts, James & Rebecca Hidalgo Rains