Award-winning top producers celebrated a successful 2015
An invitation-only celebration on April 5 honored Ventura County agents who earned top awards for sales and production in 2015.
The breakfast event at the Tower Club in Oxnard included agents who received a number of prestigious honors at REv’d Up, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices annual sales convention held March 6-8 in Dallas.
Among those honored were Ventura County agents who:
- Ranked within the 100 top producers of 2015 among more than 40,000 sales associates in 1,200 offices throughout 47 states in the entire Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices affiliate network
- Ranked among the top 10 highest-producing agents and the top 10 highest-producing teams in the network
- Received Legend awards for performing at a high level for 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 consecutive years; these awards are based off the Chairman’s Circle award, given to agents with exceptional annual sales volume and residential units sold
In addition, Ventura County agents who achieved the following award levels were honored at the celebration:
- Chairman’s Circle – Diamond
- Chairman’s Circle – Platinum
- Chairman’s Circle – Gold
- President’s Circle
- Leading Edge
- Honor Society
6. Channel Islands National Park – California
As Ventura’s number one beach Realtors, Grace and I would like to invite everyone to come join us at this company wide event. Our office will be cleaning up the beach at the end of Seaward Ave. Hope to see you there!
Agents, employees, and friends of Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices California Properties (Ventura/Santa Barbara Counties):
Come help clean up our local beaches!
Participants of all ages are welcome.
This is a zero-waste event, we ask that all participants bring
• Gloves (preferably reusable rubber or gardening gloves)
• Bucket or reusable plastic bag (a grocery bag will suffice)
• Water bottle (preferably reusable)
Register now to support this local cause:
Every county in America, ranked by scenery and climate.
I know this because in the late 1990s the federal government devised a measure of the best and worst places to live in America, from the standpoint of scenery and climate. The “natural amenities index” is intended as “a measure of the physical characteristics of a county area that enhance the location as a place to live.”
The index combines “six measures of climate, topography, and water area that reflect environmental qualities most people prefer.” Those qualities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, include mild, sunny winters, temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation, and access to a body of water.
These “natural aspects of attractiveness,” as the USDA describes them, are intended to be constant and relatively immutable. They’re not expected to change much over time, so the USDA hasn’t updated its data beyond the initial 1999 scoring. “Natural amenities pertain to the physical rather than the social or economic environment,” the USDA writes. Things like plants, animals or the human environment are excluded by definition. “We can measure the basic ingredients, not how these ingredients have been shaped by nature and man.” I stumbled on these numbers after reading about a recent study linking natural amenities to religiosity. (U.S. counties with nicer weather and surroundings tend to have less religious residents.)
I’ve mapped all the counties above according to where they rank on the natural amenities index — mouse over to check out how desirable (or not) your own county is. You’ll see that Sun Belt counties fare pretty well — especially ones in California and Colorado. In fact, every single one of the 10 highest-ranked counties is located in California. After Ventura County, Humboldt, Santa Barbara, Mendocino and Del Norte counties round out the top five.
By contrast, the Great Lakes region fares poorly, with most of the lowest rankings clustered around the Minnesota/North Dakota border region — hey there, Fargo! The absolute worst place to live in America is (drumroll please) … Red Lake County, Minn. (claim to fame: “It is the only landlocked county in the United States that is surrounded by just two neighboring counties,” according to the county Web site).
And sorry, Alaska and Hawaii residents — the USDA didn’t have some of the data for your states (a common problem), so you’re left out of the rankings. It’s probably for the best, since Hawaii would probably have swept the top of the rankings, what with it being an island paradise and all.
For a sense of what contributes to these rankings, check out the maps below of the individual measures comprising the index — darker counties rate as less desirable on these measures, while lighter ones rate higher.
Now, if you spend even a few minutes with the map above you can probably find a few things to quibble with in the methodology. If you hate summer, like me, it may seem that there’s an inordinate emphasis on warm weather and ample sunshine. How else to explain that Inyo County, Calif. — home to Death Valley, a place so inhospitable to human life that it literally has death in its name — ranks so much higher than, say, the bucolic rolling hillsides of New England?
Or that Maricopa County, Ariz. — home to Phoenix, a place that feels like the inside of a hot car for half the year — ranks higher than Iowa’s stunningly beautiful and criminally under appreciated Loess Hills region? Or that Washington D.C. — home of sweltering summers, miserable winters, swampy humidity and little natural beauty to speak of — ranks higher than any place at all?
On the other hand, it turns out that this index correlates well with a lot of human behaviors that researchers and politicians are constantly trying to understand better. For instance, the USDA’s original report on the natural amenities index found that these measures “drive rural population change.” The USDA found that rural areas with a lot of natural amenities saw the greatest population change between 1970 and 1996.
“The relationship is quite strong,” the study found. “Counties with extremely low scores on the scale tended to lose population over the 1970-96 period, while counties with extremely high scores tended to double their populations over the period.”
More recent research has found a relationship between natural beauty and religious attendance — places with more natural amenities tend to have lower rates of religious adherence, according to a 2015 Baylor University study. Why go to church if you can hit the beach or the trailhead?
Of course, correlation isn’t necessarily causation, and it would be easy to overemphasize the importance of natural amenities in the decisions Americans make about their lives. Still, the rankings provide plenty of food for thought. And the natural landscape is certainly one piece in the giant puzzle that explains why Americans do the things they do in their lives.
It looks like a giant Apple device and has a secret cave
Ever wonder how Apple’s signature aesthetic might look when applied to a house?
Look no further than Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak’s former home in Los Gatos, Calif., which just sold for $3.9 million. The design is simple and futuristic, with plenty of shiny silver, white, and glass surfaces. Essentially, it looks like a giant Apple device.
That’s no coincidence, says listing agent Arthur Sharif. The home was originally built in 1986 for Wozniak with the help of the same contractors who built Apple’s offices.
“That’s why it looks slightly more like a commercial rather than residential space,” Sharif says. “I actually had to ‘de-Apple’ it by adding a walnut finish to the floors.”
The 7,500-square-foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom home has been listed and delisted several times since 2013 and was finally snatched up by pharmaceutical entrepreneur Mehdi Paborji, according to Sharif. (The Wozniak family sold it for $3.1 million to patent lawyer Randy Tung in 2009.)
Wozniak, who still lives just a few hills over in Los Gatos, built the home with his kids in mind.
In addition to a playroom, pool, and koi pond, the house includes a $40,000 scientifically accurate replica of a prehistoric limestone cave, complete with fossils, dinosaur footprints, stalactites, stalagmites, and semi-precious stones embedded in the walls.