Phoenix By Area

AMC Esplanade 14 movie theater will re-open as posh Fork & Screen

fork and screen logoBiltmore-area movie-goers have undoubtedly noticed that the  AMC Esplanade 14 movie theater at 2512 E Camelback Road has been closed down this summer.  In August, the Esplanade will reopen as the latest site of AMC’s newest concept, the upscale Fork & Screen.

With this renovation, AMC is trying to attract the posh “dinner and a movie” crowd to the Biltmore location. The new movie venue will offer luxe décor, top-shelf cocktails, wait staff and bartender service and even private suites in which to watch the movies.

Oh, and for all you jobseekers out there, AMC is currently hiring wait staff, bartenders, back-of-house people (dishwashers, cooks, etc), and even a theater manager. Search available openings on, using the employer name “TD-AMC Dine-In Theatre”.

Sources & Links for this story:

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.

Chateaux on Central has new owner

Depending on your viewpoint, the red brick McMansions on Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix known as the Chateaux on Central are either an eyesore or a diamond in the rough.

Back in the boom years, the Chateaux was built at an estimated cost of about $40 million with an additional $47 million provided by Mortgages Limited when the building went into foreclosure.

Wisconsin based MSI West Investments thought they were a bargain at $7million and snapped them up last March. They hired Rowland Luxury Homes to finish the build-out and punchlist items, and are putting out word they’re nearly ready to sell the luxury mid-rise condos.

The building includes 21 condo residences varying from 5,100 to 8,200 square feet. That means MSI West got the building for about $330,000 per condo.

Before the market fell apart, asking prices ranged from $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 per condo. MSI West Investments say the condos will now start at about $1,300,000.

The local Fox affiliate, KSAZ Fox 10, did a short piece on the Chateaux; see below.

Insider’s Note: I love how the Realtor in the video describes these condos as “a lifestyle never before offered in the Valley.”

<sarcasm> Yeah, because over-the-top luxury is *never* offered in North Scottsdale or Paradise Valley. <sarcasm>

Frankly, I think $1,300,000 for a smaller condo here seems a little high. They are downtown Phoenix condos after all, and your typical buyer with a cool million or two to spend doesn’t think of looking in downtown Phoenix first. People with two million smackers go look at mansions in Paradise Valley.

I’m betting the prices will settle out to more like $925,000 up to $1,700,000.  Check back in about a year to see how I did predicting future sales prices for the Chateaux on Central.

Find the original Fox 10 news video on the KSAZ MyFox 10 website ; or view the Arizona Republic's coverage of the Chateaux on Central sale.

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?

Don’t leave your house naked

Just me popping in with a little tip for home sellers.


We’ve all heard of “curb appeal”. The home above has none of it. The home below, on the other hand. . . .


. . .  now that’s curb appeal!

These two homes are approximately the same floor plan in the same neighborhood. Neither is my listing. In fact, neither is for sale as far as I know. I just took pictures of homes in a Central Phoenix neighborhood I happen to like, so I could make a point about dressing up the front of your house when you’re trying to sell.

Obviously there’s a lot of difference between the two. Sellers, you wouldn’t have to do everything the homeowners in picture number 2 did to give this sort of home more curb appeal.

Adding shutters might be enough. Or get the grass lush & green. Full grown shrubs planted against the house might be expensive, but you could add some eye-catching color with small flowering plants like lantana or verbena. See Moon Valley Nursery’s website for more flowering ideas.

A fresh coat of paint goes miles towards snazzing up any home, exterior or interior. Those crisp white shutters really dress up the front of what’s essentially a plain red brick house.

Just some food for thought for the day.

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.

The Highs and the Lows 2

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)

$20,00 Fire Damaged Tear Down

Fancy yourself a handy person? You’ll need to be. This 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house in Maryvale Terrace was torched.

The Low 09 06 09 damage

The exterior might be salvageable though and it seems like a nice big yard.

The Low 09 06 09 EF

The Low 09 06 09 BACK

Recently, same-sized homes in the area that are move-in ready and remodeled have topped out at $80,000 to $90,000. I’m no contractor but it seems like you could rebuild this poor fire damaged little casa for $60,000. Again, I’m not a contractor but I’m not sure there’s room here to rehab it and sell at a profit.

Paradise Valley Acre Plus, Rebuilt in 2007 - $4,085,000

The High 09 06 09 EF

Check out that view of Camelback Mountain in the upper left of this picture! That’s worth a million right there. The lot is 1.14 acres, so there’s another $900,000 or million in value.

The house itself is 8,422 square feet, 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, with a 4 car garage. It was completely rebuilt in 2007. Pictures seem to show it was 100% torn down and rebuilt, not just remodeled.

The High 09 06 09 POOL

The High 09 06 09 PAT

The high 09 06 09 KIT

Based on this picture, the home has everything you’d expect in a home in this price range: built in island and cabinetry that can pass for being hand carved in the mythical Old Country, miles of slab granite and travertine, stainless steel double stoves (probably Viking), high ceilings and crown molding … just enough to make your neighbors jealous.

The High 09 06 09 DIN

Personally, I say “so much for the idea that bank-owned homes are screaming great bargains.”  I think this house is probably worth about what they’re asking for it, maybe even less.

What do you think?

View other Highs and Lows posts.

Technorati tags:  Phoenix real estate

Head West, LAD Follow Up

A few days back, Chris wrote a great post called Head West, LAD. He explained the local meme that helps us all remember that Lanes, Avenues and Drives are always on the West side of Phoenix. But he admitted there's no localalism for remembering where Circle, Court and Terrace are located.

Off the top of my head, the only Terrace and Circle I can think are on the East side.

Being addicted to my SnagIt screen capture software, I decided to make a map of where in the Valley homes on either Circles, Terraces, or Courts.


Circle, homes sold on in 2001

Courts, homes sold on in 2001

Terrace, homes sold on in 2001

Looks like Circles and Courts are largely on the East side of town, and the far Northwest. Terraces are mostly up north in Carefree & Cave Creek.  Hmmm.

Don’t mind me, I’m just addicted to my SnagIt.

for a humorous take on driving around Greater Phoenix, click here.

Confused about Phoenix area freeway names?

Navigating Phoenix – Head West, LAD.

We all know Phoenix is a big grid, with Named streets running east-west and Numbered streets running north-south.  And we know that street numbers start at Central Avenue, and run progressively larger to the east (streets) and west (avenues).

Click here for a humorous look at driving in Greater Phoenix

But things are never as easy as they seem, right?  What about all those Lanes, Places, Drives, and other street suffixes?

Head West, LAD.

Lanes, Avenues, and Drives are on the west side of Central.

That leaves Ways, Streets, and Places on the east side of Central.  Unfortunately, the only good acronym might be considered controversial these days – can I say “WaSP” without getting in trouble?

I can hear some of you crying now – What about Circle or Terrace or Court?  Well…

Knowing the basics of East-West, the hundred block of North-South, and LAD-WaSP will get you where you need to be just about every time.  If you still get lost, trust your Garmin or your Google Map; they do a pretty good job ‘round these parts.

Your gettin’ there from here Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Confused about the freeway names in Greater Phoenix?


Last week I came across a home – listed for sale in MLS – that might take the cake as the worst listing ever.  Fortunately I had my camera with me.  :-)

I’m not going to count things outside the sellers’ control against them, such as the run-down neighborhood, the functional obsolescence, or the busy street nearby.  Pictured below are the things the seller had control over..

(and I saved the best for last, so scroll all the way through.)


Yes, that’s the carpet which greeted us at the front door.  If you don’t recognize it, that’s because they stopped making carpet like this in 1982!


I didn’t think I liked the carpet, until I saw the linoleum in the kitchen.  Then I got dizzy & wished for more carpet!  So I thought I’d stop looking at the floors…


Faux brick AND wood paneling.  Wow, what a bold design statement.  But what’s around the corner to the right?


yikes, I’m speechless.  and I didn’t have the courage to actually touch it, otherwise I’d tell you what kind of material that was.  OK, enough of this train wreck, let’s go out back.


Hey, not bad.  Good sized lot, well-built storage shed in the corner, block wall.  But it looks like there’s something on the gate – I’d better get a closer look…



Geez, if only the gate wasn’t damaged so I could read the whole message…

The problem with this house is that it would cost more to make the house somewhat habitable than the house would be worth, even after the renovations.  So nobody is going to buy it – it basically has zero value.

Maybe the best thing to do is to show a little charity – maybe leave the gate open and give the crack heads someplace to stay?  I’m just brainstorming here...

Your still in shock Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Getting Smart About Short Sales

Are home buyers getting smart about short sales in metro Phoenix? The tale of this particular home seems to indicate yes. Read on….

smart about shorts, EF

Cute home, no? Three bedroom, two bath, 1500 square feet. Nice neighborhood, good schools, newer homes. In winter 2005 it sold for $242,000.

This house was listed as a short sale for just over 7 months. In August 2008 the asking price started at $173,000. By February 2009 the price dropped to $119,000. It sat there for about 6 weeks, until the bank finally took the home back at foreclosure auction in mid-April 2009.

For 6 weeks nobody wanted the home for $119,000 if it was a short sale.

May 4, 2009: the home is listed as a bank-owned property. Asking price, $101,500.  The bank got so many offers they took it off the market on May 5. On May 8, the bank picked a winning bid. The winning bidder took possession on May 23, 2009.

Final sold price: $133,200. That’s 12% higher than the short sale asking price.

At least in this case, a buyer was willing to pay a 12% premium to take possession of a bank owned home right away rather than sit out the frustrating months-long wait for a short sale.

If you’re reading this and smugly thinking “That’s stupid! Pay 12% more? They shoulda bought it as a short sale,” then chances are you’ve never tried to buy a short sale. Read some of the posts in our Short Sale category and you’ll see why they’re rarely short and rarely sales.

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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Several Valley Schools Named Among Nation's Best

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that fifteen of the Valley’s high schools were recently named among the nation’s best by Newsweek magazine.

Newsweek ranked schools by calculating the number of students per school who take either an Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests, divided by the total number of students at the school.

It’s an enduring urban legend that metro Phoenix’s school systems stink. Some years ago the state department of education insituted a grading system and now grades schools as "excelling" (the best), "performing", "underperforming" and so on.

Personally, I don't have kids so I can’t comment on the myth and I'm unfamiliar with the criterion used at the state level to determine who's Excelling. I'd bet that if you ask people "Are Arizona's schools sub-par?" you'd get a lot of Yes answers. But if you ask parents "Do you have confidence in YOUR child's school?" you'd also get a lot of Yes's. In other words, people are prone to think "the system" stinks but "my kids' schools are OK."  That's just human nature.

Regardless, it is nice to have a national newsmagazine name a handful of Arizona’s high schools “best”. Arizona schools on the list were:

Want to search for homes for sale in these school districts? Email us and we’ll hook you up.
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Fannie Makes It Harder to Buy Condos?

I'm a little late getting out the 'press release' type post on this data, but I've been too busy selling condos. Actually that's not meant to be a joke. I've been selling condos lately, but the buyers have been paying cash.

I have heard from my lenders that condo financing is scarce, so I take that as anecdotal, local evidence in support of the March 18 story run by the Wall Street Journal about Fannie's new stricter condo financing rules. (the article link is just a stub, most of which is reprinted below)

Just as a flood of new condominiums are scheduled to hit the housing market this year, Fannie Mae has added restrictions making it more difficult for developers to sell their units.

The government-backed mortgage-finance company stopped guaranteeing mortgages in condo buildings where fewer than 70% of the units have been sold, up from 51%. In addition, the company won't back loans for sales in buildings where 15% of current owners are delinquent on association fees or where more than 10% of units are owned by a single-entity.

It's a shame that it's getting harder to buy condos using a mortgage. Public opinion is already out on this rule change. One side says "lending on a condo where 15%+ of the owners are late in their HOA fees is a crappy idea and this rule change is correct." The other side says "Fannie's rule change makes it harder to buy condos just when the market needs looser lending standards in order to recover." Call me Obama, but I see the sense in both sides of the argument.

What do I know for sure? I've seen some absurdly low pricing lately for metro Phoenix condos. The most silly-ridiculous low I've personally seen is about $40,000 for a giant sized (837 sf) 1 bedroom condo located a few hundred feet north of the intersection of 16th Street and Lincoln Drive/Glendale Avenue, at the Greenview Condos.

Locals will recognize this is a seriously decent neighborhood on the border of the Biltmore district, close to downtown Phoenix's shopping, dining and sports complexes, and at the foot of the Piestewa Peak mountain preserve.  Plus the condos are located in the Madison Elementary School District. These schools consistently rank "excelling" which is as good as it gets.

Greenview are old apartments converted to condos sometime in 2006 or so. Countertops and cabinets were painted, and each unit seems to have received new flooring and paint, new fixtures and hardware. No, it's not slab granite, but it's very very nice. Plus, slab granite would be overkill in this price range.

If you're interested, and you've got cash to spend, email me for a list of under $75,000 condos in metro Phoenix. Investors, take note: rents are about $750/mo but the $300/mo Homeowners Association fee that covers electric to the unit will kill your profit margin.

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

Local Fave Vendor, Scramble

The North Phoenix area has a new breakfast joint and it’s in a neighborhood that sorely needed more & better breakfast food. I’m so excited! Partly over the food, partly over the wi-fi, and partly because I know someone who knows someone who’s a co-owner of the spot, so I got to go to a pre-opening tasting.

Free Wi-Fi

IMG_1644Yep, that’s my mobile gear. I’m sitting in Scramble as I type this Local Fave Vendor review. In addition to the free wi-fi signal, there’s a long breakfast bar with comfy stools and power outlets aplenty.

The food

The dishes I’ve tried so far are so good that I wanted to lay down and roll around in some of them.

Brizzas are the house specialty. A personal sized, deep dish style pizza with scrambled eggs baked into the dough. Four toppings choices: smoked gouda & cherrywood bacon, country ham & cheddar, chorizo & peppers, or garlic spinach, thyme & mushroom. I tried the chorizo & peppers version at a pre-opening  tasting event. The chorizo was just the right amount of spicy and in addition to the pizza cheese there was another house specialty, jalepeno cream cheese. Ohh! After a while I gave up on the brizza and just kept eating that spicy cream cheese! It’s addictive.

IMG_1622 IMG_1623 Don’t miss the homemade cinnamon rolls. I actually licked the takeout container to get all the icing when I was done with the roll. (I waited until I was home alone to do it, natch.)

IMG_1617 For the health-conscious, try the steel cut oatmeal or multigrain pancakes (pictured). Ask for the “Scramble butter” with your pancakes. It’s butter blended with secret spices. I taste cinnamon, nutmeg and another spice (or two) I couldn’t identify. It’s yummy!

The breakfast meats are all from local legend Schreiner’s. These include cherrywood smoked bacon, sausage patties and even a turkey sausage (pictured, behind the pancakes). The turkey sausage looks a little odd – orange tinted and thicker than you expect – but it tastes amazing.

I also tried some of the lunch options, including the Tomato Florentine soup and the Ultimate BLT. I’m not even a BLT fan but Scramble’s version is so good I could have eaten 2.

Decor, Hours, Location and Service

The decor is casual, hip and fresh. Dark wood, brushed silver and a shade of lime green that’s somehow energizing and soothing at the same time. Five flat panel big screens are scattered throughout the small space, keeping you hooked in to the news, sports and even cartoons for the kiddies in the mornings.

The service is friendly and helpful. It’s casual dining setup like Sauce or Pei Wei – menus on boards at the door, order at the counter and take your plastic order number to your table. The waitstaff brings it to you when it’s done.

Scramble is open daily from 6am to 2pm, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch. Located at the NW corner of 7th Street & Mountain View in the Sunnyslope neighborhood of North Phoenix. Call them at 602-374-2294 or visit them online to check out the full menu. Come on by and support another Local Fave Vendor.

They're a wee bit pricey but the food is truly fabulous and it's huge. I rarely leave without a doggie bag.

To read another review (written by someone who did her homework on the joint, as opposed to just gorging herself on the food like me) check out ChowBella, a Phoenix New Times blog, talking about Scramble.

ThePhoenixAgents doesn’t receive anything in return for our reviews. No kickbacks, no payment, no in-kind services. Nothing. We call ‘em as we see ‘em.

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.

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.

Moon Valley Adding Bike Lanes to Roadway

My favorite neighborhood of Moon Valley is adding bike lanes to Coral Gables Drive. The neighbors who live along this pretty drive have worked with the HOA and the City of Phoenix to cut down traffic on the roadway and slow down the remaining traffic.

The City's press release says the work begins "in the next four to six weeks."

You can see a draft of the new lanes here. The new striping extends from Coral Gables and about Central Avenue around the bend to Coral Gables and Thunderbird Road.

Essentially the City's new lane striping will add a designated parking lane and a designated bike lane to both sides of the road. This will have the effect of narrowing the driving lane from the current 16 feet wide on either side to just 12 feet wide on either side.

(The way I understand the process is this: narrower lanes cause drivers to slow down, automatically. It's one of those subconscious things.)

If you live in or drive through the area, check out the link for maps and pictures of the proposed striping.