Is California Real Estate “Drying up”?

By Bruce Cathcart, Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty

Is California Real Estate “Drying up”?  Sadly, the answer is yes if we are talking about the landscaping and possibly inventory.   While some counties in California do indeed face serious droughts others do not.   In Coachella Valley, for example, thanks to the past Water District Executives and Directors we currently have an adequate water supply.  You see every year here in the desert there is a drought and these folks planned for that by securing rights to the Colorado River water to replenish our aquifer as necessary.

Unfortunately our state governor and the politicians in Sacramento who decided that taxpayer funds should be allocated to a “Bullet Train” instead of being spent on Desalinization and Water Reclamation plants have imposed upon Coachella Valley Residents a 35% reduction in water consumption to make up for their poor “choice”.  Since the average homeowner’s landscaping in the Coachella Valley accounts for approximately 70% of their water usage it seems like this is the most obvious place to start cutting back.  While we don’t really have a choice on whether or not we will reduce our water consumption, we do have choices on how best to do so and at the same time hopefully preserve or even improve our home’s value.

What are the choices that we the homeowners here in the Coachella Valley are being forced to make to reduce consumption by 35%?  I could fill a book on this subject, but for today I’ll just talk about grass.  You know, the green stuff you water, cut, and throw away each week.  To keep the lawn or not to keep, that is the question.  Some of our local water districts offer rebates to assist homeowners who want to reduce their outdoor water usage by converting their lawn to desert-friendly landscaping, installing smart irrigation controllers and replacing inefficient spray nozzles.  If you decide to keep your lawn you will need to reduce the number of days, the number of times and the amount that you water it. You will also want to fix any leaks, water only at night and utilize the smart controllers and efficient nozzles.  Reseeding with a more drought resistant grass like Bermuda and not reseeding with annual Rye this fall are also good ideas.  If you decide not to keep your lawn you can chose to replace it with artificial turf, “desert landscaping” (rocks or decomposed granite), or simply stop watering it and let it die.  Artificial turf is extremely costly but works quite well for small areas.

Desert landscaping makes the most sense since it can usually be done by yourself at a reasonable cost and frees up Saturday morning if you mow your own lawns!  Either of these options will help maintain the value of your home in the Coachella Valley now and beyond the drought years.  If you opt to just let your lawn die and if it is your front lawn, be aware that you may incur the wrath of your neighbors as it definitely will not improve your home’s appearance or maintain its value.  Choose wisely!

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, and can be reached by email at