Real Estate Information Archive


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Happy Thanksgiving From Flagstaff!

by Gary Nelson

Happy Thanksgiving!

As we near the end of the year, I need to stop and thank my family, friends and clients who have made this year, and every other year I have been a Realtor, so memorable.  As you know, I am very passionate about my work as a Realtor and all of you have allowed me to continue that passion.


For me, I will be smoking two turkeys which will probably require me getting up long before dawn and firing up my smoker.  For those of you that know me, back yard smoking is something I very much enjoy and my smoker will be chugging away all day!  Smoked turkey is the way to go, in my opinion and if done well will win a taste test against anything your aunt or grandma can bring to the table.

BUT, how about a little history of Thanksgiving here in the good ol' US of A? And what better place to look than the History Channel that has this page dedicated to Thanksgiving:

And, of course for many of us, FOOTBALL rules at least some of the day on Thanksgiving.  Traditionally, the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions will take on apponents.  This year you can watch 3 games that look like they will be perfect!  The Cowboys will hand the Carolina Panthers their first loss, the  Philly Eagles will be at the Detroit Lions and a great matchup this year will be The Bears vs Green Bay Packers.  Should be great games!  Here is a bit of football Thanksgiving history: 

Hope you have a great day and enjoy it with the best people on earth!


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Toys For Tots Is Hard At Work!

by Gary Nelson

Flagstaff Community Toys For Tots is hard at it and working to make sure all children in the Northland get a little bit of Christmas each year.  Want to help but not sure how?  Here is a link to Flagstaff Toys For Tots Facebook page: Flagstaff Toys For Tots

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to help.  But what Toys For Tots needs more than anything is toys, cash or your time.  It is that simple.  To donate a new, unwrapped toy or a whole bunch of new, unwrapped toys, you can drop them by my office:

 Realty Executives of Flagstaff

15 E. Cherry Ave.

Flagstaff, AZ 86001


To donate money of any sort, contact me directly and I will put you in the right direction.

To donate time as a volunteer, take a look at this:

How To Winterize A Home

by Gary Nelson

This is how to winterize, or completely shut down, a vacant home.

So why would someone want to completely shut down a home, turning off all utilities and assuring that the property is not damaged?  Some people have a summer cabin or home that they do not use at all in the winter.  Others are going away for an extended stay and equally will not be using a property for a long time.  But most importantly, “winterizing” is what SHOULD have been done to all those Bank Owned properties, those foreclosures that are in colder parts of the country.  They should have been winterized properly, thereby avoiding huge repair bills to plumbing, appliances, drywall, flooring and more. Or they should have had the utilities, specifically the heating, maintained during the winter months.

For advice on how to prepare for short absences from a property and prepare for winter, take a look at my previous article, here:

The biggest advice that I can give you to a total winterization:  Hire a professional.  Particularly a plumber.  The rest you can do, but a plumber that knows how to winterize a house is invaluable.  Regardless of whether you do most or all of it yourself or if you hire well, here is what needs to happen:

  • Start outside and get that garden or outdoor area ready for winter.  Put away furnishings and make sure hoses are unhooked and drained.  Lock doors, chain items up and prepare for your absence.
  • Plug holes or areas from animal intrusion.  Make sure that air vents have “vermin screen” installed or plug the opening completely.  Don’t forget dryer vents and chimney openings.  Chipmunks love dryer vents and birds love chimney openings.
  • Drain all water from the house and landscaping lines.  Turn off the water main, drain the system and use pressurized air to “blow out” the lines.  Using pressurized air will get water out of those low spots that you don’t even know exist. This is the function that a good plumber can do for you.
  • Turn off all heat sources.  Remember that if you are not heating the property at all, there may be consequences with damage to materials.  This is especially important with older homes.  Plaster, siding, flooring and other materials can be damaged by extremely cold temperatures.
  • Turn off the remaining utilities.  AFTER, the plumber blows out the water pipes, then turn off electricity.  Hint:  The plumber needs electricity to run his compressor.
  • Unplug appliances and shut off valves to systems.  You never know if someone will turn a breaker back on or switch a valve on and gas is running into your vacant property.  Consider locking valves and access doors shut.
  • Use RV antifreeze in toilets (both the bowl and the tank), drains and sumps.  This is important!  Any water that is left should have a quantity of antifreeze poured in.  Don’t use an automobile antifreeze.  RV antifreeze is biodegradable and won’t harm a septic system.  BUT, more importantly, the drains in your sinks, tubs and showers rely on an amount of liquid to seal out sewer smells in the “p trap” that is below that drain.  RV antifreeze is the perfect liquid for that.
  • Remove perishable foods.  Not only the refrigerator, but also dry goods or bottles that can explode in sub-freezing temperatures. Prop the refrigerator door open to prevent those strange smells.
  • Open cabinet doors and bedroom doors.  Proper air flow keeps things dryer and warmer.
  • Cover interior furnishings to protect them from dust and light damage.  Window light in high elevations can be very damaging to furniture.
  • Consider using a neighbor or friends to check on things during your absence.
  • Consider using a house check service to make sure things are alright during that long winter you are gone.
  • Lock everything up.  As I said before, consider locking more than just doors and windows.
  • Pay the bills.  Think long and hard about how long you will be gone.  What about home owners association fees, taxes, utilities or other recurring costs.
  • Make sure you have insurance coverage.  Does that policy allow for an extended absence on your part?
  • Keep a key with your trusted REALTOR.  You know that really good REALTOR that sold you that perfect escape?  He is a trusted individual that will lock that key away in a cabinet, making sure it is not coded to your address.  In an emergency, he can drop by the house or give the key to anyone you choose.  He is a phone call away!

These are some basic, general ideas on how to completely shut that property down.  These ideas are certainly not all that you should do and I urge you to do further research.  I also urge you to hire reliable professionals to take care of the intricate details!  I hope you have fun while you are away! 


Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Preparing A Home For Winter

by Gary Nelson

With winter fast approaching, I think it is timely that we talk about what needs to get done to your home in order to prepare for freezing temperatures.  For those of us that live in cold climates, it is imperative that you get things done prior to the first deep freeze.  Over the years, I have made a few mistakes and have lost some nice ceramic pots and blown out a few sprinkler system pipes.  So, here are some things to keep in mind before Old Man Winter comes calling:

Clean out the gardens and prepare plants for winter.  You will appreciate this in the spring.  Extra mulch where needed and cutting back dead plants will help ensure that they come back next year.  A very interesting mulch I have found is called Cocoa Mulch.  It is the husks from cocoa plants and in the sun and with a bit of water, your yard has the faint smell of chocolate!  It looks great in large pots, also.

Store the outdoor furniture properly.  This will help you save some money!  All those great pads for your chairs and loungers?  They need to be properly stored.  Even without snow, that sun can be brutal and those pads are expensive. Same thing for umbrellas.   Also, is that a glass table top that you have?  I had one shatter under a snow load and started storing mine on its side.  If you lose a glass table top, good luck replacing the glass. It is so expensive that you will wind up buying a whole new set. That doesn’t have glass!

Ceramic needs to be stored away properly.  If you like those ceramic pots and that chiminea (outdoor ceramic fireplace), they need proper storage.  Make sure they stay dry all winter.  They can be cold, but have to be dry.  So, cover them completely or store in a shed, just making sure that they are completely dry beforehand. It is the water within the clay of the ceramics that causes cracks and then they degrade over time.  For cold climates, fiberglass works great for outdoor flower pots and cast iron chimineas last for years and years.

Drain the landscaping water system.  Remember to open valves up and allow that water to completely drain from the system.  A “stop and dump” valve with a back-flow preventer at the water supply is the best thing for this.  Do it early but not too early.  With fall typically being dry, your yard needs the moisture before the snow falls.  Consider draining the sprinkler system and hand watering for a few weeks.  But make sure those hoses get put away.  Speaking of which…

Unhook that hose!  Quick before any hard freezes come along. Even with “frost free” water spigots, you will wind up with leaks if you let that hose stay hooked up all winter.  There is a small amount of water that is stored inside the valve and unhooking the hose allows it to drain. The expansion and contraction of that water is what causes that valve to eventually fail.

Drain those hoses.  About 5 years ago, I noticed smoke in my backyard early one cold winter morning. Looking over the fence, I found the side of my neighbor’s house fully engulfed in flames!  We called 911 and I hopped the fence, but could not put water on the fire because both my hose and his were completely frozen solid.  I learned my lesson.  If you ever really NEED a hose…make sure you can use it.

Don’t forget to clean out the gutters.  Ugh.  I hate cleaning out the gutters. But what would you rather have, a few hours less time on that Sunday afternoon, or replace gutters that got damaged from the ice dam in the worst part of winter?  Leaves and pine needles add extra weight and cause ice dams that will eventually damage those gutters.

Add insulation to problem areas. Sometimes it’s a particular window or door. Other times it is attic access doors.  Hardware stores have some amazing products for the do-it-yourselfer.  From expanding -foam insulation and pipe insulation kits to whole window sheeting, take a look and ask for a recommendation at a hardware store.  And go local if you can!

Test your heating system.  Before hard winter hits, change the filters and run the furnace.  Do it while you can air out the house afterward.  Don’t forget that dusty, burning smell that comes with running your furnace the first time each winter.  Also, don’t forget to make sure the chimney flue is where it should be and that furniture is away from floor registers or heating elements.

I don’t know about you, but these are the things that I have learned living in an area that has all 4 seasons. And season 4 can hit pretty hard at times!

San Francisco Peaks After A Heavy Snow Fall


How to leave a home unattended for awhile (not all winter, but for “awhile”):  

  • Turn off the main water supply to the house.  Just in case you have a power failure and the pipes freeze.
  • Turn the thermostat to 58 degrees or higher.  This prevents drywall damage and allows heat to penetrate the walls to keep pipes from freezing. 
  • Open all cabinets that have sinks or plumbing underneath. This allows the warmer air to keep those pipes warmer. This is especially important for sinks located on an outside wall.
  • Open all bedroom doors and closet.  Again, this allows warmer air to circulate.
  • Use a house check service to make sure everything is OK. Contact me for a recommendation.

That’s it!  Stay warm all winter!  Next up:  How to “Winterize” a home and leave it all winter!  Perfect for those that have second homes or are thinking about getting a second home. 

Gary Nelson is a lifelong resident of Flagstaff, Arizona and is the Delegated Associate Broker at Realty Executives of Flagstaff.  Find your own part of Flagstaff at

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

Contact Information

The Gary Nelson Group
Realty Executives of Flagsaff
15 E. Cherry Ave. Suite 101
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Direct: 928-225-3510
Office: 928-773-9300
Fax: 928-774-1102