Northwest Valley

Hiking tips for Phoenix, Scottsdale visitors

It's gonna be a hot one today, folks! The metro Phoenix area is slated to see 98 degrees Farenheit today.

If you're visiting the metro Phoenix-Scottsdale area and you're considering hiking some of our beautiful mountain trails today, take note...  it's hotter than you think, and the trails are steeper than you think.

Remember that our firefighters routinely pull tourists (and sometimes even locals) off the mountain trails on stretchers and take them to the E.R.

Here are some tips to keep you safe when you're hiking the desert mountain trails of the metro Phoenix-Scottsdale area. Tips courtesy of the Scottsdale Parks department and the Phoenix Parks Department, and you can see more tips on their websites.

  • Always tell someone where you're going, when you'll be back, and stick to your plan!

  • Hike with a friend; it's safer and more fun.

  • Bring lots of water, three or four times as much as you think you need. The Scottsdale Parks department recommends at least one gallon of water per person, per day. I personally think that a standard-sized 16 to 19 ounce bottle is enough for about 15 minutes when it's really hot outside.

  • Wear a hat! If you've forgotten a hat, cover your head with whatever's handy

  • Wear and carry sunscreen, SPF 15 at minimum. Reapply more often than you think you need to.

  • Wear closed toe hiking shoes, or at least wear sneakers.

  • Rest 10 to 30 minutes for each hour of walking, depending on your overall level of fitness.

Get some info on the trail before you go. The Phoenix Parks department has a wonderful online library of information about the trails, their length, their degree of difficulty, locations of Park Ranger ramadas, etc.  The City of Scottsdale also has a wonderful online resource about their hiking trail system.

Trail etiquette

  • ALWAYS stay on a designated trail. City ordinances prohibit trailblazing.

  • Learn to share the trails with all other users.

  • In general, bike riders yield to both hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders. However, for all trail users, downhill yields to uphill. Use common sense and courtesy while on the trails.

  • Announce your intentions and slow your pace when passing someone on the trails

Well dear reader, I hope you have an enjoyable experience hiking our desert southwest trails! I'll be out there on South Mountain, sweating it out with the rest of you today, April 1, 2011.

Just wondering... have you ever thought of buying a vacation property in the metro Phoenix region? I am a Realtor, after all, so I tend to talk about property values all the time. Can I ask what you paid for your seasonal rental? I know, it's a pretty personal question. But we're on the Internet, so nobody will hear your answer. Did you know that you can pick up a vacation condo in the metro Phoenix area for as little as $25,000 to $50,000? Really. And after 3 or 4 years of price declines in Phoenix, it is possible to pick up a small home in several metro-Phoenix communities for about $100,000, give or take $25,000.

Want to do a little online home browsing? Search Phoenix-area homes for sale, online. When you're ready for a Realtor's help, contact us, The Phoenix Agents at Thompson's Realty. Real people, making real estate, real simple.

How long do banks take to reply to an offer on an REO foreclosure home?

I wanted to use the title “when banks hold up their own closings”.  I also considered titling this “I hate banks.”

The short answer is “banks reply whenever they feel like it.” The longer answer is: usually, in Metro Phoenix, in Fall/Winter 2010, banks take about 2-3 business days to reply to an offer. Once you’re under contract and in escrow the bank’s reply time often slows down considerably. Try 2-3 weeks.

This is an email trail between myself and the Realtor representing a bank on an actual transaction currently in progress.

Me, on Nov 29 at 5:55pm:
The buyer's underwriter is ready to issue final approval but needs seller's signature on Amendment changing price. Still don't have that and it could hold us up. Otherwise, we're aiming to close on Mon, Dec 6 as planned.

Bank’s Realtor, on Nov 30 at 1:03am:
This addendum was submitted to seller on 11/17/10 when I received it. All we can do is wait for it to go through Fannie. It is reviewed by 4 people each of whom can take up to 3 days, not including weekends and holidays.

I will send the seller signed copy just as soon as I have it.

(note that Realtor was working at 1 o’clock in the morning! Being a Realtor is not all sweetness and light and easy money)

Me, on Nov 30 at 6:24am:
Ok, understood.  Just as long as seller knows that Buyer's lender is at a stand-still and Seller is holding up closing. I'm sure you know, but wanted to put it in black and white for seller's 4 people who have to review. thanks.

again, note the timestamp. Don’t go into real estate unless you consider yourself a workaholic. Tags: ,

Furniture and appliance stores in North Phoenix area

Image ID 1161184 by StockExchange user kirobuch.png (photo credit, kirobuch at StockExchange)

Clients of ours need to furnish an entire home – their new vacation home.  They asked for local recommendations on retail sources for appliances and furniture.

Thought I’d pass on the insider tips to our loyal readers. All four of them.

For appliances, I recommend either B&B Appliances in Sunnyslope or Spencer's Appliances or even Best Buy. If you tell them you're buying a combo pack of appliances of some kind, most stores will give you a discount or interest free financing or something like that. 

For furniture, I guess I'd recommend IKEA first. They're in Tempe and have all kinds of styles. It's not just Danish modern anymore. 

Also good (and local!) is Pruitt's down on Thomas or Indian School and about 20th Street.

Pruitt's "scratch and dent" section can be quite a good bargain, because their idea of a scratch or dent is usually VERY minimal and possibly un-noticeable.   Ashley Furnishings is also good.

The Room Store also gets very good press around town for discount pricing.

And if you just want to browse in person, you can visit what I call The West Bell Road "Furniture Row". This is a group of a half-dozen or so shops on West Bell Road in the Northwest Valley. They're mostly on the north side of Bell Road, out west at about 69th Avenue out to about 75th Avenue. They include Thomasville, Oasis Bedrooms, Creative Leather, Razmataz, Design Source Furniture, BBQs Galore, Paddy O’Furniture, the Ethan Allen Design Center, the Stool & Dinette Factory, etc. They're all in a row, just east of the Arrowhead Mall on Bell Road. Good shopping!

If you’re made of money, go to Robb & Stuckey in North Scottsdale. For the rest of us mere mortals on a budget, the retail shops above are a good bet.

Note: Blog authors post vendor reviews and retail recommendations from time to time. Blog authors are not compensated in any way for these reviews and/or recommendations.

Fabulous, but too far out. . .

Recently a client and I exchanged emails about her housing options that reminded me of one of most enduring metro Phoenix’s real estate truisms:  fabulous is often also too far out (geographically speaking).

Since metro Phoenix has always had room to grow, geographically, it generally follows that the newer, fancier, nicer houses that many 20-something, 30-something and 40-something buyers want are miles out of town.

We had a saying during the boom years of 2004-2006 that buyers "drive until they qualify" meaning they drive out from center city until they hit a pocket where the builders have put up houses that those buyers can afford.

But really it's also true that buyers drive until they find the finishes & fixtures they desire at a price they can pay.


So what we often find is this . . . .

5 miles (7-12 minutes) from downtown Phoenix your budget of $150,000 buys this:

160k buys this 5miles from Phx downtown

160k buys this 5miles from Phx downtown, KIT

  • about 1,200 to 1,400 square foot

  • 2 or 3 bedrooms ; 2 bathrooms

  • 1/4 acre lot, with no pool

  • built in 1950s

  • No HOA; you could add on another bedroom fairly easily

  • linoleum floors & laminate counters

  • overall, looks like it was remodeled on the cheap in late 1980s

10 to 12 miles (20-25 minutes) from downtown Phoenix that same $150,000 buys this:

150k buys this 12miles from Phx downtown, EF

  • 1,500 to 1,800 square feet

  • often with a pool ; usually about the same 1/4 acre lot as above

  • Built in the 1970s or 1980s

  • Probably no HOA

You can choose between an older kitchen in a fairly nice neighborhood. . .

150k buys this 12miles from Phx downtown, old KIT, nice NEIGH

. . . or you can choose a completely remodeled kitchen in a neighborhood most buyers would consider a step down from the neighborhood above.

150k buys this 12miles from Phx downtown, new KIT, lesser NEIGH

20-25 miles (45-60 minutes!) from downtown Phoenix $150,000 buys this. . .

150k buys this 20miles from Phx downtown, EF

150k buys this 20miles from Phx downtown, KIT

150k buys this 20miles from Phx downtown, BA

  • 1700-1900 square feet

  • rarely with a pool ; usually a small 1/10th of an acre (5,550 square feet)

  • Brand new build house or about 3-5 years old

  • HOA controls much of what you can do to the outside of the house

What’s more important to you - ?

Granite countertops and new cabinets or a quick 5 minute commute to downtown Phoenix?

5-year old house with generally poor insulation or a well-insulated 40 to 60 year old house that probably needs a new roof in the coming 5 years?

A little elbow room in your backyard or trying to plant a hedge to hide the 2-story house looming over your tiny backyard?

Long time readers know or will guess that I’d choose the teensy 1950s house over the new build in Surprise or Avondale every time. And that’s not just because I don’t have children. I’d raise kids in that teensy house in a heartbeat. They'll have more quality time with Mommy & Daddy because my commute to work is only about 8 minutes.

What about you?

Recommended blog and handyman

Psst...  I found a really outstanding blog and an excellent craftsman who does home remodeling projects in the Greater Phoenix area: The RemodGeek. I can't say enough good stuff about him, but his resume actually speaks for itself:
…spent years in construction, residential and commercial, and remodeling from foundation to punch list. I have been a Union  Carpenter, (both wood and steel stud), Remodeling Contractor, Crew Foreman, Superintendent, Project Manager, Cabinet Maker,  (both custom and production) Professional Drywaller, (from single family houses, and commercial drywall, including fire safety renovations, multi-hour drywall assemblies, elevator shafts, lead-lined radiation rooms, and fire rated partitions. If it can be covered in drywall, I have probably done it, multiple times.

I worked in the auto recycling (junkyards) and bodyshop business for 9 years. When I am not remodeling, I build websites, specialty computers, and networks for my internet clients.

Remodeling for Geeks masthead

That’s his blog masthead; it's him reflected in a shiny engine block. It's a good example of the creative level of photography the RemodGeek posts.  In the funny way of the Internet, RemodGeek and I haven’t met in person, yet. We've emailed, and his blog's in my feed reader.

No matter. The high level of quality craftsmanship he puts into his remodeling projects is crystal clear. If you need remodeling work done around the house, or just need advice on your next Do It Yourself project, check out his site.  <link :>

Note: Author was given nothing of value other than goodwill in consideration for writing & posting this piece. Whenever you're hiring people to do work on/in your home, do your homework: references, licenses, Better Business Bureau, Registrar of Contractors, etc. ThePhoenixAgents recommends vendors from time to time because we were impressed by them, not because we guarantee their work.

Housing Starts and screaming headlines

Chris often writes about how the media causes confusion among consumers by shouting over-generalized headlines. No surprise, it happened again this week.

On Tuesday The Atlantic reported “Housing Starts Rise as New Permits Fall”, sowing confusion and possibly fear in the minds of consumers. If housing starts are up, that’s good, right? But if new permits are down, that means another crash in home building is coming and that must be bad, right?

Amid that confusion, the reliably Eeyore-like Housing Doom printed an opinion piece that slammed home builders for meeting demand for new homes. They included this chart:

Housing Doom on April 2010 housing starts

Depending on where you focus on this chart, you’re feeling gloomy or possibly hopeful. Or possibly fearful that a slight uptick means a looming second crash.

But wait, what about the underlying housing report published by the government and quoted by The Atlantic? The Atlantic links to it, but inconspicuously, as if the actual data isn’t important. (I fancy myself a smart gal and gave the data a once-over, but frankly can’t understand the statistic-speak that it contains.)

Common sense tells me there’s a couple of things the news media aren’t talking about, that might be quite important here.

1. Home builders are for-profit entities. Surely they’re not building homes that no one buys.

In the Greater Phoenix area we’ve already been through the wave of home builder bankruptcies and I know from personal experience that the big builders left in town (Shea, Ryland, Beazer, Pulte comes to mind) aren’t building homes without a substantial cash down payment from the buyer. On a recent transaction I handled, Shea Homes required a $25,000 cash down payment for a $200,000 home. The way their contract is written, that chunka change was all but nonrefundable! And yes, the buyers I represented looked long and hard at resale homes in the same community before deciding they wanted to a brand new home.

2. It’s a big country. It seems likely that the new homes being built are located in growth cities, not spread out nationwide.

Surely Shea/Ryland/Pulte/Beazer are building where buyers live. They’re surely not building houses in the north suburbs of Chicago (think Skokie, Evanston, Park Ridge) or in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Why? Because there’s no more empty land there on which to build. But in the Greater Phoenix suburbs of Buckeye, Queen Creek and Surprise, there’s some cautious building going on. Because there’s land. And see item 1 above.

Once again media heavyweights, you’ve screamed a headline and sown confusion. Well done. Maybe you should stick to reporting on celebrity divorces and arrests. That requires no thought at all. Tags:

New Master Planned Community in North Peoria

North Peoria.

Mountains, desert, Lake Pleasant, rapid population growth, infrastructure development…  And a new master planned community? reported on Friday that developer Community Southwest is in talks with Peoria to work out the details of the costs involved with building out the infrastructure for a 695-acre development at the northeast corner of Deer Valley and Lake Pleasant Pkwy.

(click to enlarge map)

north peoria map 051410a

Is it too soon for a major project in our current economic environment?  Maybe; maybe not.  But it’s another example of somebody with a lot of experience and access to as much research as exists, who is willing to bet big on the Valley’s future (and more specifically the NW Valley’s future.)

Your head down & swinging hard for another year Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

The Highs and the Lows #4

Wherein I periodically post about the highest and lowest priced homes in the local MLS. Properties must be:

  • single family, detached homes

  • bank owned

  • currently Active in the ARMLS (AZ Regional Multiple Listing Service)

  • located in the general metro Phoenix region (Wickenburg, Florence, Coolidge, etc are excluded but Surprise, Buckeye, Queen Creek, etc are included)

$4,100 – No, that’s not a typo

4 bedroom, 2 bath, 1738 square feet built in 2002. Located in the West Valley near the intersection of Glendale & Dysart roads.

4100 EF

4100 map (click to enlarge any image here)

Listing Realtor’s notes state: “Please View property before making offer. Home has many cracks inside and out.” I’ll say. . . .

4100 BR

4100 ceiling

4100 EF crack

4100 fence

The seller’s Realtor’s notes go on to say “15+ offers received we will submit all offers Friday 7pm expect seller response mid-week.”

I’m no builder and I haven’t seen this house in person but it looks in pictures like the home is shifting right off it’s foundation. Or maybe it’s on top of expansive soil. Regardless, this has got to be a case of either major repairs or tear the whole thing down and rebuild it. It’s located in a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association (HOA) so you’d have to comply with their rules for either project. I’m astounded that anybody would want to pay anything for this home.

What do y’all think??

Buddy, can you spare $5 . . . .million?

Nearly 12,000 square feet under roof, on 4.7 acres near Pima & Happy Valley roads. Originally listed in November 2006 for $10,000,000!

5M EF click to enlarge any photo here


5M bath

5M shower

Venturing out on a limb here, my personal opinion: this is bad taste on an epic scale. That bathroom makes me feel like Las Vegas, and not in a good way. What do y’all say? Luxurious beauty? Or Liberace’s hideaway?

Oh by the way, last episode’s $6.5 million dollar luxury estate in Silverleaf is still for sale. View other posts in this series.

That’s it for today’s Highs and Lows. Thanks for reading! Call, email or text us if you’d like helping your bank-owned bargain.

Heather, 602.999.8831
Chris, 623.570.9940

New Listing, Golf Course Getaway

27617 N Makena Place
Peoria AZ 85382
Located in the Active Adult Community of
Trilogy at Vistancia

Offered At $449,000

Specification, Features and Finishes

  • 2 beds, 2 baths, plus den

  • 2,193 square feet on a golf course lot

  • Sits at the top of the 16th tee: beautiful course views, no golf balls in the yard

  • Great Room layout

  • Large open Kitchen with Solid Stone Counters, Breakfast Bar, Eat-In Dining

  • 18" Diagonal Tile in Light Beige throughout, except bedrooms

  • Upgraded Medium Beige Carpet in Bedrooms

  • Plantation Shutters on all Windows

  • Stainless Steel Appliances (electric)

  • Guest Bedroom has two doors for entry, allowing guests to use as an en-suite for maximum privacy

  • Master Bedroom and Guest Suite located on opposite sides of the home

  • Click here to view a Web Based Flyer for the Home

View a Virtual Tour of the Home

View a Virtual Tour of the Community

Additional Pictures

27617 KIT 2

27617 Mstr BA 2 27617 MBA1

Back Yard for Blog


A back patio closeup, smaller

If you’d like to view this home in person, please contact either or 602-999-8831

OR or cell 623-570-9940

REOs Rule, But Not Everywhere

Image ID 1150734 by svilen001 Image courtesy of Stock Exchange user svilen001

Just a little blurb from one of our favorite title/escrow officers, Maggie Clark of Equity Title. This gives a good picture of just how much the REO (“real estate owned”, i.e. bank owned foreclosure) properties are driving the market lately.

Southwest Valley - REO active listings represent 16% of the total listings, and 50% of the sales for the last month.

Peoria and Glendale - REO active listings represent 17% of the total listings, and 54% of the sales for the last month.

Scottsdale - REO active listing represent 6% of the total listings, 29% of the sales for the last month.

We still get calls on a regular basis from buyers seeking second homes and winter vacation homes. They often ask for Scottsdale, and expect prices to have nose-dived there just like everywhere else. Not the case! Scottsdale hasn’t been hit with the tsunami of foreclosure much of the rest of the Valley of Sun has. Not as many bank owned homes on the market at bargain bazaar pricing equals prices have not nose-dived. Not in Scottsdale anyway.

You want bargain basement, clearance sale pricing? Go to the older neighborhoods in Phoenix, and to the West side neighborhoods of Peoria, Goodyear, Avondale, Tolleson, Maryvale, Buckeye, Peoria, etc. The far Southeast has seen plummeting prices too: think Queen Creek, Florence and Apache Junction.

Builders Resurface

Builders are back!

New home builders in the metro Phoenix area can arguably be blamed for some of the mess we're all in. Many people do argue that, in fact: builders overbuilt, didn't stop building spec homes quickly enough when buyer demand flagged in 2006 and allowed investor owners whose tenants dragged down property values. Blame builders if you like but in today's New Normal, they're back.

We have been working with about a 1/2 dozen first time buyers lately. Two in the last 2 weeks have opted to buy from a new home builder. Our folks chose Pulte and Shea, two of the biggies with lots of gold stars on the national customer service satisfaction rankings. One buyer will be in Northwest Peoria, the other in Tartesso, waaaay out beyond the White Tank Mountains and beyond Verrado (about 12 miles east of the Palo Verde nucelar power plant).

Spoke recently with our broker, who's reporting the same is happening with her first time buyers in the far Southeast Valley, in Queen Creek and other SE bedroom communities like Florence and Casa Grande.

Builders are offering incentives of 3% to $8,000 or more to use lender and title people. They're throwing in upgrades for free, and some are eveing offering Rent-To-Own programs. Any readers heard of super enticing builder incentives? Anyone considering buying a new build? Or not? We'd love to hear your comments.

Real Estate Glossary, Starter Home

This isn’t an official definition. I’m not sure there is one. It’s just what I use as shorthand for a certain type of property.

  • 3-4 bedrooms

  • 2 bathrooms

  • about 1200 to 1600 square feet

  • small yard

  • usually located about 20-30 miles from anything you can reasonably call ‘downtown’

  • almost always in a master planned community, i.e. there is a Homeowners’ Association which charges fees and makes rules for the community

Like I said, not an official definition, and you’ll see there are a lot of qualifiers in my list (sometimes, usually, often). Take it for what it’s worth.

What about pricing? This isn't a scientific survey, but lately we at The Phoenix Agents have been helping folks buy these houses for between $60,000 and $150,000 in various parts of the Northwest, North and Southwest Valley. The lower the price, the harder it is to find a house that's inhabitable which the investor buyers haven't already made multiple cash offers on.

Homes that fit this description often make great purchases for first time buyers, and often fit the bill for investors too.

Phoenix is a Big Grid

Here’s a bit of handy introduction-to-the-Valley sort of info about Phoenix’s street system.

phx is a grid map (click to enlarge/”back” to return)

Thoughtfully, our Phoenician forebears laid out our fair city on a big grid. Nearly every street is straight and major streets are 1 mile apart. Numbered streets go north & south, named streets go east-west.

lost already?
try Chris' much more concise post about driving about Phoenix,
or a humorous take on driving in Greater Phoenix

Obviously the big yellow lines are freeways (check out our funky freeway names). The smaller yellow lines on the map above are the major streets crossing Phoenix. Where the major streets cross each other you can count on a huge intersection (4 to 10 lanes wide!) and probably strip mall shopping.

Check out a few of the bigger shopping areas by seeing the Google maps Street View of these intersections: Tatum and Shea, Camelback & 20th Street35th Avenue and Glendale.

North-South Streets Are Numbered

All the north-south streets start out on the grid counting from Central Avenue, which is “0”. Heading east from Central Avenue, you’ll cross 1st Street, 2nd Street, 3rd Street, and so on.

Heading west from Central, you’ll cross over 1st Avenue, 2nd Avenue (you get the picture by now). The I-17 freeway interrupts at about 27th Avenue, and then you’re off again, hitting major streets at 1-mile intervals.

“The Sevens” (7th Street and 7th Avenue) are major traffic arteries for mid-town Phoenicians. During rush hour, they become reversible travel lanes, lovingly called “suicide lanes” by long-time residents. Don’t want to risk the suicide lanes? Check out this post where I blogged about my bus ride up and down the 7th Street route.

East-West Streets Are Named

The major east-west streets are all 1 mile apart and have names instead of numbers. At first the city planners used President’s names for the E-W streets. After they ran out of Presidents, city planners used names of prominent Phoenicians and notable farms, ranches or landmarks.

Indian School Road is named for The Phoenix Indian School, an actual school for the city’s Indian children which opened in the 1890’s.  Thankfully, Phoenicians figured out segregation and forced Anglo-ization of Indian children was a pretty awful policy and the school was closed (but not until 1988).

Bethany Home Road is named for the the old Bethany Home, a mental institution. Etc. (I’m almost afraid to do any more research into Phoenix street names, for fear of finding more politically incorrect and/or shameful origins of street names.)

In high school Driver’s Ed class I remember being made to memorize the names of the streets from Baseline Road on the south end of town to Beardsley Road which was, at that point in time, the northernmost edge of metro Phoenix. We also had to memorize the north-south range number assigned to each street.

McDowell Road is 1600 North, Thomas is 2900 North, Indian School is 4100 North, Camelback is 5000 North, etc. At the time I thought it was the stupidest thing I’d ever done. Now? With 20+ years of driving around Phoenix under my belt, I realize that anybody can be their own GPS system if they memorize the East-West range markers. Check them out here, on local artist Brad Hall’s awesome website about historic Phoenix.

How to Work the Grid

Let’s say you have to get to 2917 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. It’s on the east side of town because of the E so you’ll be dealing with Streets, not Avenues. You know Camelback is 5000 North. And the 2917 tells you it’s at 29th Street. So it’s 2900 east and 5000 north. Essentially, if you know which are the major streets, you can vector your way from anywhere to 2917 E Camelback Road.

Every Rule Has Exceptions

Outside the boundaries of Phoenix proper, the rules for street names and number ranges change. Other Valley towns made their own street names, grids and rules. And sometimes within Phoenix boundaries, the street name changes mid-town just to keep you on your toes. Dunlap becomes Olive. Glendale Avenue becomes Lincoln Drive.

Cave Creek Road and Grand Avenue cut through Phoenix crosswise, on angles going northeast-southwest, or northwest-southeast. Again, I’m pretty certain someone thought this would just keep things interesting. Where Cave Creek and Grand cross ‘normal’ streets that go N-S or E-W you get a 5-point intersection. And more, bigger shopping strip malls.

Which leads me to the single most useful description I’ve ever devised for explaining metro Phoenix to folks from other towns: Phoenix is one immense suburb liberally studded with strip malls and numbered in a regular, predictable pattern.

We also have about 300 days of sunshine per year, no natural disasters, lots of outdoor recreational spots, and a generally pretty darn friendly population. Nearly everybody living here is from somewhere else. Personally I think that makes folks friendlier.

If you’re new to metro Phoenix, welcome! Hope this and other posts about getting around Phoenix are useful. If you’re ready to become a Phoenix area homeowner, contact us. If you’re thinking about moving here but not quite ready to call a Realtor, browse around. You might especially like our Moving page.
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Buyers having hard time getting accepted bid

I’m helping a first time buyer shop for a house on the near-Northwest side in the under-$70,000 price range. She wants at least 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and must have a backyard (big! dog!). We’re shopping from 19th Avenue to about 83rd Avenue, and from Peoria road north to the 101. We’re searching inside the blue rectangle on the map below.

google map of Lacie's search area for blog post (Map courtesy of GoogleMaps. Click to enlarge; use browser’s back button to return).

This past Saturday the buyer picked out a handful of homes to see, from the list of potential properties I’d emailed her. All of her picks were bank owned. Here’s the results of my calls to the listing agents on each home.

Home 1

Me: Hi. Calling to check status & availability on your REO listing at 123 Main Street. I see it’s only been on the market for 3 days. Any offers yet?

Listing Agent: Yep, we have 3 offers. Bank says they’ll accept one of them on Monday morning.

Home 2

Me: (same as above, home on the market 1 day this time)

Listing Agent: Yeah, sorry we got 8 offers already. All of them are at or above list price, and most of them are cash. We’re probably not going to be looking at offers from FHA buyers.

Home 3

Me: (more of the same, 6 days on market)

Listing Agent: We already have an accepted contract on that home, we’re just waiting on the bank’s signatures.

Me: Oh. You might want to know that it’s still showing “Active” in the MLS.

Listing Agent: Yeah, like I said, we’re waiting on the bank’s signatures.

Me: But you have an accepted offer. So it’s not really for sale anymore is it?

Listing Agent: (hung on on me)

Moral of the Story

Homes in good condition in the under $100,000 price range are moving like hotcakes. Multiple offers, bidding wars, and home selling in hours or days. If you’re shopping in this price range, be prepared. Bring water and a snack, a good pair of running shoes and an extra measure each of patience and perseverance.

Technorati Tags:  Phoenix Real Estate

Wall Street Journal Quotes The Phoenix Agents

To readers who found us via Realtor Heather Barr's quote in today's Wall Street Journal article "Bargain Hunters Descend, Cash in Hand", welcome! We're glad you're here and hope you enjoy our blog content.

Long-time readers who aren't Wall Street Journal subscribers might have missed our mention.  The story is behind the WSJ's subscription firewall and I don't want to tempt copyright lawyers by reprinting the entire article on this blog. You can read the article in its entirety here if you are an online subscriber or on page C10 if you get the print edition.

I talked with WSJ reporter Nick Timiraos about the growing number of cash buyers who see bargains amid the current housing price declines. Here's the quote:
"Cash investors have come right out and said, 'We can't make a return on our money in stocks or bonds,'" says Heather Barr, a Realtor based in Gilbert, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb. "They think Phoenix has had such sharp price declines that we've got to be near the bottom and real estate will be a safe place to put their money."


There are bargains to be had in the metro Phoenix real estate market. It’s increasingly easy to find properties in the suburbs that will cash flow immediately after installing a tenant. For those seeking a vacation home, houses are more affordable than they’ve been in years while mortgage rates are still near historic lows.

Looking for a bargain yourself?

We at The Phoenix Agents team have been working with bank owned properties and investors of all stripes lately so we're familiar with the banks' (often confusing) paperwork and requirements.

Click around and visit the various parts of our blog. We've got tons of great content, MLS searching with no registration required, and are ready to help you find the perfect property when you're ready to talk with an agent.

Browse properties listings.

When you feel like you've browsed enough and done the homework you wanted to, give us a call. We'll help you negotiate the best possible deal we always provide world-class customer service from start to finish, and beyond.

Let the bargain hunting begin!

Related Posts

  1. quotes Jay Thompson, "the Phoenix Real Estate Guy"

  2. USA Today quotes Heather Barr on recent changes in mortgage industry

  3. Chris Butterworth interviewed by Phoenix's own Channel 3 TV about foreclosures

Legalize Gambling Already. Glendale aims to build a casino in the stadium district

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed by congress in 1988, allowing casinos to be built on Indian Reservations.  During the first year about $100 million was generated nation-wide from casino operations.  By 2004, that number had ballooned to $19.4 Billion, spread across the 224 tribes operating casinos.  And with money comes greed.

Glendale aims to build a casino in the stadium district

Somewhere along the way, as will ALWAYS happen, the money got big enough to change the perspective.  States and cities have realized that more gambling revenue translates into more taxes collected.  In addition, luxurious resorts on (and near) reservation land can act as a tourism draw.  (think Las Vegas on this one.)

Over the last several years we've watched as the casinos have grown larger, offering more amenities and luxury.  We've watched cities grow closer to the casinos, building (or encouraging the development of) resorts and other amenities, while using the casinos as a draw.

Today the City of Glendale is in the process of crossing the line by using a legal loophole to create a casino within the city's limits, right in the middle of the stadium district.  Here's a watered down version of the basics:

  • The Tohono O'odham Nation has a reservation which falls mostly along the Mexico-Arizona border.

  • The City of Glendale wants to get 134 Acres at 91st & Northern classified as "land in trust," a requirement for a casino to be built upon non-reservation land.

  • The Tohono O'odham tribe would then be allowed to build a large spa resort and casino on this parcel of land, which also happens to be within a mile of the University of Phoenix stadium and all the other development already underway.

Now, I'm personally not against gambling.  I enjoy a weekend in Vegas as much as the next guy.  However, I'm against - to the point it drives me crazy - deceit, loopholes, and talking out of both sides of your mouth.

Glendale (and other cities), if you want everything gambling has to offer - revenue, jobs, and tourism (along with addiction and other vices), please just come out and say it.  Legalize gambling.  Stop hiding behind the Native Americans and the IGRA of 1988.

Your disgusted with Glendale on this one Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Sunday Stats

bar-graph-by-miamiamia-id-987804photo credit to MiamiAmia, courtesy of StockExchange. See the entire series for historical perspective.

Time for another edition of the Sunday Stats


Background and Color Coding: red is bad, green is good, inasmuch as it means the stats are moving towards a balanced market. Most local experts/forecasters and Realtors use 6 months' supply of inventory on the market as the benchmark for a balanced market. Months of inventory is a measurement of how long it would take to sell every house currently for sale, if no new houses were listed for sale and sales continued at the current monthly pace. In metro Phoenix, balance is usually reached at about 5,000 sales per month and about 30,000 to 35,000 homes for sale.

There's a whole lotta green going on, and that's good news. I find it interesting that the green in the sold columns is mostly in the ZIPs I consider outlying parts of metro Phoenix. ZIPs closer to downtown Phoenix, particularly 85012, 13, and 14 continue to suffer with too much inventory for sale and not nearly enough selling. That seems to make sense, at least as much as it follows the old real estate adage "drive until you qualify."  That's a saying that basically means that a buyer who's intent on getting exactly what he wants often has to drive outwards from the downtown core to get to a place in the suburban sprawl where what he wants is affordable. That seems to be holding true in our downturn just as much as it held true in the price run ups of 2005 and 2006.

Green in the Pending columns but red in the Sold columns (like you see in most of the ZIPs from 85012 to 85024) seems to indicate either (1) a coming 'bulge' of sold homes, or (2) more likely homes that go under contract and then the deals fall apart during the home inspection ("Due Diligence") period.

2 Phoenix Area ZIPs Where It's GOOD to be a Seller

The media is filled to bursting with the phrase "buyers' market" and almost every person I talk to thinks "nothing is selling", "nobody can get a mortgage" and "sellers are taking pennies on the dollar these days."  No so!At least not everywhere.

It's good to be a seller in ZIPs 85379 and 85053. There's just about 6 months' worth of inventory on the market, and properties are generally selling quickly (if they're right-priced). Some specs:

ZIP 85379

  • Average time on market is just 48 days

  • Average sales price is a mere 2.05% less than the final list price (7.89% less than the original list price)

  • Average sold price is $149,349 ; median sold price is $143,000

ZIP 85053

  • Average time on market is 54 days

  • Average sales price is only 3.51% less than the final list price (14.08% less than the original list price)

  • Average sold price is $100,178 ; median sold price is $97,000

But just who are those lucky sellers who are getting nearly full list price in just a few weeks?? Banks. The stats above are for bank owned homes in both ZIPs. And banks are just about the only ones selling anything in these ZIPs (bank owned homes account for 77% of sales in 85379 and a whopping 89% of sales in 85053).

Banks are selling in the 85022 ZIP too. They're taking just a few days longer on average (66 days on market) but are getting a wee bit closer to their original asking prices (homes sold, on average, for 12.89% of original list).

What's the difference between ZIPs 85379 / 85053 and ZIP 85022? In the former, 15% of homes for sale actually sold in the past 30 days.  Things aren't so rosy in 85022, where only 3% of homes for sale actually got sold in the past 30 days. If you're a buyer looking to be in the 85022 area, take this info with you and drive a hard bargain when you make offers on properties! That seller you're negotiating with has only a 3 in 100 chance of selling if she/he doesn't make your offer work.

Till next week, this is your stats lovin' Realtor signing off.

ASU West cuts MBA program

When the smoke from the budgetary cuts clears, The College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences will be the lone college remaining at ASU West.

reported on

All graduate degrees, including the W.P. Carey School of Business master's program and the School of Global Management, will cease to exist at the west campus.  The College of Education and Leadership and the nursing program are also being moved to other campuses.

I think it's a shame.  ASU West is special to me; I received my MBA there while attending classes in the evenings after work, and then studying like heck on the weekends.  The education was terrific, but that's only half the story.  I still keep in touch with many of my fellow students and professors - lots of good, smart, interesting, hard-working, diverse, well-connected people.

I also think it's a shame because ASU West had been growing nicely with the West Valley, and the dual degree with Thunderbird School of Global Management drew talent to the area from across the globe.

Hopefully things will change when the economy rebounds, and in 5 years we'll be talking once again about the great things ASU West is doing.

Your happy to have gone to school, happy to not be going to school, and sad to see it closed Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Not a Superbowl Watcher?

I'm sure that I'm not the only person who won't be watching tomorrow's big Superbowl game.  If you're looking for something else to do tomorow besides eat too much fattening food and consume too many alcoholic beverages while watching extremely well paid large men pummel each other (not that there's anything wrong with that)... 

try a hike at one of the Valley's many natural preserve mountain parks.

These are some pictures from my recent hike of Shaw Butte trail 306 in North Phoenix.  It's a 4 mile roundtrip hike that City Parks and Recreation labels moderate to difficult. There are some quite steep sections but the panoramic views from the peaks are worth it.





Trailhead parking for North Mountain (including the Shaw Butte trail where I snapped these pics) is located at 7th Street just north of Peoria (just south of Thunderbird) with a big visitors center on the west side of 7th Street. There's additional, limited trailhead parking at 7th Avenue and 15th Avenue just north of Peoria, and at Central Avenue just south of Thunderbird Road.

The day I was there a bunch of groups were hiking. One group looked like a Father-Son hike, another was clearly a dog lover's group hike. There was also a park ranger leading a nature hike through the park, and I overheard him pointing out local bushes and trees, and explaining how anything can manage to prosper and grow green in the Sonoran Desert. 

If you do take advantage of the Valley hiking opportunities, bring water. Most parks don't provide more than a few drinking fountains at the trailhead. Especially for out of town visitors, it's hard to guage how the extremely dry air in Phoenix will affect you. Firefighters are routinely called out to rescue hikers who overestimated their abilities or underestimated their water intake needs. Better safe than sorry. Click here for a list of the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation hiking spots.



The photo above is a good illustration of what locals call The Brown Cloud. Unfortunately as metro Phoenix has grown in the past 10+ years, we've developed a pollution problem. We're not Beijing by any means but we've got a growing problem.  The City of Phoenix is tackling the air quality problems through various initiatives including increased spending on mass transit, using cleaner fuels in city buses, dust control measures on construction sites, and incentives for home builders who build "infill" projects. has a brief and informative article about what causes Phoenix's Brown Cloud problem. I'm particularly sensitive to the air quality in Phoenix and days that look like the photo above cause sinus headaches and congestion. But I know of many, many people who never give the Valley's air quality a second thought.

Aside from showing our Brown Cloud, the two photos above show how vast the Valley of the Sun is. The first looks over the southern section of the city; the second photo is of the Northwest Phoenix/Peoria/Glendale area. It's easy to spend 2 hours in a car driving from one corner of town to it's diagonal opposite. I've helped a lot of families relocate here from other parts of the country, and they universally tell me they were glad they heeded advice and found jobs before finding housing. Two hours in the car every day commuting to/from work is no fun!

Hope our readers enjoyed these shots of the beautiful, sunny and warm Valley of the Sun.

Location. Location. Location.

the 3 most famous words in real estate.  Last week I was driving through a shopping center's parking lot when something caught my eye.


Who has the BEST BURRITO - the coffee shop or the ice cream parlor?

Then I saw it, a Taco Del Mar tucked into a little nook/cranny within the shopping center..


No wonder they need to fly a hot air balloon.

Buyers - location matters, and you know it!  That's why you won't get the home on the large lot with the perfect views for the same price as the home squished between 2 other homes in the middle of a block with 30 other homes on it.  Make an appropriate offer when you buy your home, because you're going to have to take it into consideration again when you sell it.

Your probably not up for the burrito-coffee-sundae combo Realtor,

Chris Butterworth