Real Estate Blog

Rising Interest Rates

Rising interest rates are making homes less affordable for homebuyers in the Valley of the Sun in the areas of Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale. Mortgage payments are 15.2% higher this year. On average, mortgage payments are up an extra $136, which would result in an extra $1,638 per year.





Affordability of Housing Concerns Rise

Housing payments rose this year for homebuyers as mortgage rate increases and surging home prices increased the cost of homeownership. The current monthly payment on a home is $130 higher than at the beginning of the year, driven by a interest rate increase. Fixed-rate mortgages now average about 4.5 percent, their highest level since 2011, and this has increased the gap between the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home and the average monthly apartment rent to $320.

The shortage of entry-level homes for sale has been amplified by the rapid interest-rate increases. Move-up buyers have become more reluctant to sell their existing home because many homeowners locked in rates as low as 2 percent. With interest rates now as much as 250 basis points higher, purchasing power and affordability have been impacted. This is slowing activity for new home sales. Builders have been unable to construct homes at the entry-level price point because of rising construction and land costs. Home sales activity has flattened as a result.

Risk of a housing shortage could rise as residential building flattens. Multifamily developers have been setting a record pace over the past five years, but single-family home construction has remained less than half of levels prior to the Great Recession. With the strong economy and tight labor market boosting household formation, residential deliveries will likely fall short of demand.



June-September 2018 Sales Figures for Scottsdale Luxury Condos

I decided to do something a little different today. It was a little time consuming, but I thought it would be educational to know the current price per square footage and sales price figures for luxury condos that actually sold for the last 3 months, June to September 11, 2018



Where does Phoenix rank among Most Valuable Cities in America?

LendingTree, the nation’s leading online loan marketplace, today released its study on the most valuable cities in America. LendingTree researchers analyzed the total value of residential real estate in American cities. The real estate values are from the My LendingTree property value database, which is a collection of real estate data of more than 155 million U.S. properties. The total value of real estate in metropolitan areas in the database was $26.2 trillion, close to the Federal Reserve’s estimate of total residential real estate value of $28.4 trillion.

The study also compared the total value to the GDP of countries around the world, pairing cities with their equivalent country GDP values. Of course, the comparison is not apples to apples: GDP represents a single year’s output, while the value of homes persists year after year (mostly upward and a few times declining).

“American households own $28.4 trillion of residential real estate, a significant part of the $100 trillion in household net worth,” said Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist at LendingTree. “Financial assets add $81.7 trillion, consumer durable goods add $5.7 trillion, while debts, including mortgage, subtract $15.6 trillion. The real estate wealth is not evenly distributed across the country and is largely concentrated in metropolitan areas.” Currently, Phoenix is ranked №14, with a total value of $444 billion, making the city worth about the same as Iran.



Optima Kierland is breaking ground on Tower Two

Optima Kierland Center, the well-known high-rise luxury condominium and rental community in Scottsdale, announced today that they have broken ground on the second phase of condominium homes for sale at the award-winning development with an expected completion date of 2020.

Located at Scottsdale Road and Kierland Boulevard, the first condominium tower of Optima Kierland, 7120 E. Kierland, far exceeded sales expectations and is already 95 percent sold with more than 90% of the homes closed. Home prices for the first phase ranged from the $300s to more than $6.5 million.

“Optima buyers tell us that the ability to combine and customize floor plans is a huge selling point, so we have taken that to the next level in this second condominium tower,” said David Hovey Jr., president of Optima, the project architect and developer. “Customization is the primary focus – floor-to-floor, wall-to-wall – if you can dream it, we will make it happen. Living in a high-rise condominium does not limit the ability to create your custom dream home when you live at Optima Kierland Center.”



Brand-Named Condos

Real estate developers have recently started to put luxury brands on their buildings in big metropolitan areas. Developers are finding out that international buyers are more likely to buy from developments that are tied to brand names that they recognize.

The Association of Realtors reported that foreign nationals are increasing purchases in the United States by a greater percentage. So to sell to the large international segment of buyers for the condo market, developers are forming partnerships with luxury brands of automobiles and apparel. Branding is especially important to international buyers because they are more familiar with a condo project’s brand than its developer or its address.

The developer of a branded condominium usually pays the brand 2 to 5 percent of the proceeds when the sale of each condo unit is closed.

Porsche Design, Aston Martin, Fendi, Missoni Baia, and Armani are just some of the well-known brands being used to brand condos in the Metropolitan areas of the United States, as well as the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The buyers that we spoke to exuded confidence, just knowing that the brand name of their choice was behind the development.”



The Tiny House Movement

There is a trend going on in America called the "Tiny House Movement". It has become a social movement. People are choosing to downsize the space they live in, simplify, and live with less. People are embracing the tiny life philosophy and the freedom that accompanies the tiny house lifestyle. The tiny house movement is about more than simply living in a small space (although, a small house is certainly part of it).

While the typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, a tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Most tiny houses are independent structures—some are parked on land with other buildings or a larger home. Other tiny houses are parked on their own lot. Some tiny houses are designed and built by the owner themselves, while others are purchased, adapted from trailers, or built from a tiny house kit. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, but they all enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space.

Why join the Tiny House movement? 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and people are finding out that when they finally pay off their 30-year mortgage and add in interest, taxes and repairs over that time frame, they've paid approximately 3 times the actual amount of the original principle. Most Americans believe that bigger is better when it comes to houses, but a new trend has been appearing across the country. This trend towards the tiny house movement is based on people realizing they are overwhelmed by the cost of their homes. A tiny home can cost a fraction of what a new home would cost and can be paid for in a couple years. Once the house is paid for, all you need to pay for is the land where it is parked.

The tiny house movement is great for anyone who is concerned about life simplification, environmental consciousness, self-sufficiency and financial freedom. The tiny life allows for you to have more time and freedom to enjoy life adventures. The tiny life is about financial freedom and living a more engaged life with the luxury of time to do what YOU want.



How Concierge Services Target High-Net-Worth Buyers

Ultra-luxury concierge services target high-net-worth buyers at the Ritz-Carlton Residences Miami Beach, where homes are priced from $2 million to $40 million. Well-heeled buyers receive one-year of complementary medical concierge services valued at $12,000 from a top Miami medical practice. This is presented as a closing gift. We saw this as an added value that would grab the attention of even the most jaded buyers.

“There is a lot of luxury development going on in Miami. We were looking to add something unique to the high-end product we are delivering while complementing our buyer’s lifestyle. Residents (each household member) receive an annual executive physical examination, access to the practice’s physicians via cell, text, email, office, same day visits (including immunizations and checkups), house-calls, coordination and scheduling of all specialty physician appointments, diagnostic procedures, hospital services, inpatient consultation, and supervision for patients needing hospitalization.

“We are providing a total health care approach through private medicine. The personal attention we give appeals to these buyers,” explains Dr. Arthur Agatston. Agatston confides he is talking with other luxury condominium developers in Miami to add the program to their residential offerings.

This incentive appealed to Simon Mass, a Toronto real estate developer. “When we heard about this, it was a key factor in our deciding to buy there,” said Mass who purchased a 3,500-square-foot residence pre-construction. “It’s important to us as Canadian citizens to have access to the proper health care during the time we plan to spend there.”

The need to distinguish one ultra-luxury project from another is all about innovative amenities and truly personalized services. “I’m convinced the idea of the highest level of concierge service is here to stay as well as ultra-luxury amenities because there is a lot of competition in Miami’s luxury market, saving people time is exactly what appeals to these buyers.

These concierge services vary. A personal wellness assistant is offered at some locations for help on nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, sleep, and relaxation.

There’s an amenity and high-end services war in New York’s luxury market right now. Need a hair stylist who makes house calls? Consider it done. From securing great seats for a Broadway show to hard to get restaurant reservations. Look to concierge services to become more creative as competition in the luxury residential market increases.



“The McDowell” – A New 371-unit Complex going up in South Scottsdale

JLB Partners has submitted a rezoning approval request to the City of Scottsdale to build a new community that will include both residential units and office space on McDowell Road in southern Scottsdale.

The community, called “The McDowell,” will be built on the 12.3 gross acres (11.6 net acres) that are currently occupied by Chapman Scottsdale Autoplex. The dealership plans to relocate by this October. JLB Partners plan for approximately 371 residential units and 8KSF of flexible office space in the new mixed-use neighborhood, valued between $60M and $75M.

The project, which will feature two-, three- and four-story buildings, is bordered on the north by McDowell Road. Single-family residential housing runs immediately south of the property. The lot’s western boundary is the Crosscut Canal, while the eastern boundary includes Scottsdale RV.

According to the project proposal, The McDowell will help revitalize the McDowell Corridor and help fill an increasing demand for new housing in southern Scottsdale.

The current zoning of the location is Highway Commercial, consistent with the needs of Chapman Scottsdale Autoplex. JLB Partners propose that the zoning designation be changed to Planned Unit Development.

The McDowell proposal cites several reasons why the project will succeed. First, the plan boasts an attractive location. The spot is close to downtown Scottsdale, Phoenix and Tempe. The owners also suspect the residential units will benefit from the close proximity to the Crosscut Canal, Papago Park, Sky Harbor International Airport, the Phoenix Zoo and the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Not only will new residents benefit from the project, but the project will also benefit the surrounding areas. The proposal claims that “incorporating new residential units and office space is essential to the success of southern Scottsdale and the McDowell Road Regional Corridor.”

Plans for The McDowell were guided by Scottsdale’s 2001 General Plan, which includes six guiding principles designed to inform project design. The six guiding principles, which prioritize things like sustainability, lifestyle, economic vitality and preservation of open space, have been specifically incorporated into the proposal and addressed by the owner.

The proposal promises that the final product will “contribute to the live, work and play land use balance promoted by the General Plan” and the plan for southern Scottsdale.



Popular Reasons to Buy a Condo

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, a condo can be a smart choice. Often, they offer many conveniences that you wouldn't necessarily have with a house – such as swimming pools and fitness centers, etc. Here’s a rundown on some of the top reasons to buy a condo.

Condominiums often provide access to certain amenities that wouldn’t be practical or affordable for an individual house owner. Clubhouses, golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness facilities and even the actual location – such as restaurants, entertainment, shopping and grocery stores.

Many developments offer a strong sense of community, especially those that provide a variety of planned social events.

One of the biggest perks of owning a condo is that the individual owners are not directly responsible for maintenance on the building, common areas or grounds. For many people, this is desirable because it frees up time for other pursuits. For others, it is a well-earned break following many years of home maintenance. In general, your monthly condo fee covers all expenses related to the repair and maintenance of central services, parts of the building (aside from the individual units), grounds and community facilities.

A condo offers a great deal of flexibility – it requires less maintenance than other types of homes and it’s easier to leave vacant while you travel. Condos can also provide more flexibility in terms of finding renters while you’re away. Condos are typically much more flexible about this, which makes them attractive to snowbirds and other frequent travelers who might want to rent out their homes while they’re away. Just keep me in mind during your condo search

-Michael Black



Big projects being developed in downtown Phoenix

The city blocks between the sevens throughout downtown, midtown and uptown Phoenix are no longer day-time communities after more than a decade of investments into the area. The region between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street has become an urban epicenter, attracting jobs, restaurants, venues, events and residents as developers have refurbished and built new places for folks to live, work and play.

The midtown and uptown areas have grown exponentially in the past few years from commercial development, with more projects on the horizon. But downtown Phoenix is where the success story began, and it’s set to continue as developers work to change the skyline between the sevens with high-rise developments and mixed-use projects.

“There is a real economic transformation underway throughout the region, particularly the high density of projects in the urban center of Phoenix,” says Chris Camacho, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Between 2005 and 2014, downtown Phoenix’s 1.7-square-mile redevelopment area has received $4.7 billion worth of investment, according to the City of Phoenix. Phoenix defines this redevelopment area as the city blocks between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street and McDowell Road and Lincoln Street.

Developers are working on projects like Block 23, which will bring the first Fry’s Food Store into Phoenix’s downtown urban core. The project will also include offices and multifamily components and is located right across the street from CityScape and Talking Stick Resort Arena. “A simple glance across the skyline shows a number of construction cranes that are indicative of the maturing centerpiece to the Valley,” Camacho says. “The new development, much of which is anchored near light rail, is creating a modern sense of place in jobs, residences, art, culture and attractions for both residents and business alike.”



Central Phoenix Mercedes dealership property turned into new apartments

The longtime midtown Phoenix home of Arizona's first Mercedes dealership has sprouted new apartments. Parc Midtown, with 306 apartments, has opened to renters on the former site of the Phoenix Motor Company Mercedes Benz dealership at Third Avenue and Indian School Road. The Mercedes dealership, located on the site since 1964, moved to Scottsdale in 2016. Developer Evergreen Devco paid $8 million for the property. When businesses and residents began to move out of central Phoenix to Valley suburbs in the 1980s and 90s, the upscale car dealership remained an anchor in central Phoenix.



Phoenix suburb selected as top US destination for retirees

Move over, Florida: A Phoenix suburb was recently selected as one of the top destinations for retirees.

Tempe will be featured in the latest issue of Where To Retire, a nationwide magazine that aims to help people decide where they want to relocate after they retire.

“Retirees often look for locales that provide easy access to dining, shopping and entertainment, and downtown districts often afford these and more within a confined area,” Editor Annette Fuller said in a release. “Downtown Tempe has high-brow amenities like the Arizona Artisans Collective Grotto Gallery and the Marquee Theatre. Arizona State University enlivens the town, and Phoenix, 10 miles west, is easily accessible by light rail. One retiree told our writer, ‘We want to see the world when we walk out the door. That energy revitalizes us.’”

Tempe was one of the eight cities profiled for downtown living in the July/August 2018 issue. It is available nationwide on June 12. The other cities included Charlotte, North Carolina; El Paso, Texas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Madison, Wisconsin; Richmond, Virginia; St. Petersburg, Florida and Sarasota, Florida.

Another feature detailed in the profile for the Phoenix suburb was Mirabella at Arizona State University, an “on-site, 20-story housing facility for older adults.” Mary and David Patino, a couple from Los Gatos, California, said they chose Tempe because it offers a lot to do and allows residents to have easy access to the light rail. “Everything is all in one place. We’re on campus. We’re part of the college community,” Mary said. “That’s the exciting part of it.”

According to Where To Retire, 700,000 Americans relocate to new towns to retire each year. These moves bring “significant economic benefits” to their new states and hometowns. Two dozen states and hundreds of towns also seek to attract retirees as a source of economic development.



April: Housing Prices are Skyrocketing

U.S. reports have stated that home values for the month of April are now higher than they have ever been.  Check out the appreciation in Phoenix.

National median home values are rising at their fastest pace in 12 years, according to a Real Estate Market Report

Over the past year, home values across the country rose 8.7% to a median value of $215,600.

Home values have not appreciated this quickly since June 2006, right before the housing bubble bust, when they were appreciating 9% annually. U.S. home values are now higher than they have ever been, and home values in 21 of the 35 largest housing markets have surpassed peak value hit during the height of the housing boom over a decade ago.



Are Zillow estimates as accurate as you think they are?

The internet is a great tool to help homeowners to communicate the goings-on in the neighborhood. The internet can also let homeowners learn the value of their biggest asset, their home. Zillow has become a household name in the real estate community to let consumers know what is for sale in a particular area of interest or to provide an estimate on a home value. Zillow uses algorithms to come up with their estimates which they appropriately call "Zestimates".

Zillow provides Zestimates for over 100 million homes and their algorithms are based on both public data and user-submitted data. According to Zillow, “the vast majority of Zestimates are within 10 percent of the selling price of the home.” But Zestimates are only as accurate as the data behind them, so if the number of bedrooms or bathrooms in a home, its square footage or its lot size are inaccurate on Zillow, the Zestimate will be off. Users can correct these mistakes. However, Zillow cautions that updating a property’s details won’t result in an immediate change in the home’s Zestimate, and sometimes it won’t result in any change at all.

Along with accepting user-submitted data, Zillow deals with the inaccuracy problem by reporting estimated value ranges for individual properties. The smaller the range, the more reliable the Zestimate is because it means Zillow has more data available on that property. Looking at the high and low end of the range will give you a better sense of a home’s possible worth.

Zillow factors the date and price of the last sale into its estimate, and in some areas, these data make up a big part of the figure. If this information is inaccurate, it can throw off the Zestimate. And since comparable sales also affect a home’s Zestimate, a mistake in one home’s sales price record can affect the Zestimates of other homes in the area.

There are many other factors which are not recognized by Zillow such as home improvements,  extra room additions, etc., etc... All of these factors can add tremendous value which are not recognized.  For example, Zillow algorithms can't see that your home was completely renovated with a newly remodeled kitchen and bathrooms and your neighbor is still using a "Brady Bunch-era" kitchen, circa 1972.

Unfortunately, Zillow has created a huge hurdle for professional real estate agents to overcome since many consumers take Zillow Zestimates as gospel.  It can be quite a hassle talking clients off the ledge while explaining to clients a true calculated value of their home. This is about the time when homeowners pull their phones out and tell the agent, "Oh No! That can't be right, Zillow says it's worth this amount of money....."

Although information is power, the wrong information can be harmful. Most homeowner's are unaware that if a home is listed above it's actual true value, it could sit on the market for a long period of time, where it will eventually become stagnant. When a house becomes stagnant, it will have to have a drastic price drop to get the action it needs to sell, which is the opposite effect than what was desired by the seller.

Although Zillow has pretty good algorithms, the are too many factors which compromise the accuracy of their estimates. The only way to get a true and accurate price to sell a home is to hire a professional real estate agent or an appraiser.




















Exclusive Luxury Condos….Taking the World by Storm….

Scottsdale Az, It has become the place to be for luxury condos. The Ritz-Carlton, is making its entrance into Arizona’s most affluent and desirable area, the town of Paradise Valley. This long-awaited marriage will bring together a masterfully-crafted community of luxury Residences within the gates of what will soon become the pinnacle of sophisticated, full-service resort living.
Luxury has it’s privileges. The Ritz-Carlton will provide a knowledgeable and experienced concierge team is available to assist with personal arrangements. The residences will have additional luxury amenities and services, including a separate resort style swimming pool, lobby and underground valet parking.

The Enclave at the Borgata, is a luxury condo development that is redefining luxury living. It provides walkable amenities, exceptional floor plans, lush landscaping. Unrivaled. The locals like to say, “There’s a reason why it’s called Paradise.” One of the most exclusive and affluent addresses in the nation,
The Enclave at Borgata lies adjacent to The Town of Paradise Valley. Perhaps, more important, there are few places more breathtaking than this small slice of the world, where the City of Scottsdale meets The Town of Paradise Valley.
Positioned in the heart of it all, with iconic Camelback Mountain as a neighbor, your journey begins at The Enclave at Borgata. Furthermore, The Enclave is surrounded by world-class resorts including: The Phoenician, Sanctuary, The Camelback Inn, Montelucia and Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch.
At Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road, it all comes together, offering the finest restaurants, entertainment, shopping, culture and recreation. Together, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley create an exclusive, yet comfortable neighborhood, all within walking distance.

Artesia is a gated condominium community at the Southwest corner of the McCormick Ranch area in Scottsdale. This 480-unit community built in 2008 includes many spoils, including a private resort-style pool and hot tub, 10 acre private park, and excellent location just off of Scottsdale road.
The community is not short on entertainment options, within walking distance are many fine dining options, beautiful walking trails, and the famous McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park.

There are a plethora of Scottsdale condos being developed that it’s almost impossible to list them all in this article. If you want to be part of the growing trend and want to reside in one of the most beautiful cities in the country.

Michael Black - Realtor
602-989-3919
Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty
6900 E Camelback Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251