Category Archives: Our Real Estate Market

Fountain Hills 3rd Quarter Real Estate Report

Sonoran 2ndQtr2014 MarketReportThird quarter in Fountain Hills is often the great equalizer of what might otherwise be a record setting year.  And the 3rd Quarter of 2014 was no exception!  Just when we start to believe that prices are clearly in an upward trend, along comes the 3rd Quarter to keep us humble!

Not that this is a bad thing!  Those of us who participated as agents, buyers, sellers or property owners in the skyrocketing years of 2004-2007 know that a quickly rising market comes with many risks, not the least of which is a nasty decline as the bubble bursts.

As you will see on the following pages, Inventory of all market segments is higher than the same period in 2013, but still not terribly high historically.  To have only 4% of local homes available for sale is a sign of strength in any market…there were times in our history when it was not uncommon to have 10% of the community available for sale.  Total Residential Sales Volume of $61 million for the quarter is slightly higher than one year previously at $60.7 million, but it’s probably more important to acknoweldge that there are many towns the size of Fountain Hills around the country that would love to do $60 million volume in a YEAR…let alone in one quarter!  Prices of Homes declined somewhat throughout 3rd Quarter, and have started to increase again in the 4th Quarter;  the year-to-date average of $504,068 is still very respectable in the bigger picture of the past 6 years.  The Fountain Hills market always retreats during the 3rd quarter, and sometimes into the 4th Quarter, yet nothing in our local statistics indicates this should be a trend going into the 1st Quarter of 2015.  There are still many strong, financially capable buyers shopping for homes…either locals who are moving around, or out-of-state folks looking for their spot in the sun.  And savvy shoppers they are…it makes a great deal of sense to purchase when prices are modest!

We continue to be encouraged by the number of homes and condos available under $400,000.  Currently there are 171 homes under $400,000–46% of the inventory–and many of these present excellent investment value and opportunity for appreciation.  If you’ve ever  wondered whether a rental property investment is a good way to plan for your future, contact us to help you understand more about this great opportunity!

And, if you know a family that is looking to enjoy the quality of life in the community, encourage them to contact us at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate.  Historically, Fountain Hills has always treated it’s affordable housing owners very well in a reasonably decent market, and we see no signs on the horizon that indicate anything but.  There are opportunities for equity gain that will provide a nice future for those with vision!

Fountain Hills Real Estate Market Update

Sonoran 2ndQtr2014 MarketReportThe Fountain Hills market is simmering gently on the back burner, just short of a full boil.  Residential sales during the 2nd Quarter, while not as strong as the same period in 2013, still posted total volume that is the third highest quarter since 2007, during the height of the market.

Fluidity in the market appears to be tempered by some good, old-fashioned and conservative practices that keep the market–and values–from rocketing skyward, but still strong.  Lending, while easily available and very affordable, places strong requirements on the borrower to prove their ability to repay a loan.  Recently, we also began to feel the effects of the Dodd-Frank Act, in particular affecting Seller Carry-backs, a segment of our market that often provided a safety net for buyers and sellers who wanted to take advantage of the tax and income benefits(sellers) and lower lending costs and restrictions (for buyers) afforded by a Seller carrying a note against their real estate.

As you will see on the following pages, Prices of Homes remained somewhat consistent (and  on the rise, depending on the period of time you use to analyze the data), yet there are 29% more homes on the market than one year ago and less homebuyers–23% less for the 2nd quarter ending 2014 compared to 2013.  These trends follow first quarter, 2014.

There has been some media emphasis on affordability in the marketplace.  While it’s true that only 34% of our residential inventory is below $300,000, there are still 35 homes and 74 condos under that price point.  Many of them could use some updating, but they are often on large homesites (single family) or in solid condo communities that offer upward appreciation for those that would like to build sweat equity.  Many of them have already been nicely updated.  So, instead of feeling that affordability is a serious issue, we believe that consumer confidence and education is more the culprit.  We believe that many in the affordable housing market don’t believe there are programs for them or that they need more cash than they possess.  On the contrary, there are exceptional lending programs available that offer 5% downpayments;  Sellers will often provide closing cost assistance that reduces cash down payments, and we are even  seeing a new conventional lending program that allows for upgrades/updates to the home that can be allowed in the mortgage.

The great news is that Fountain Hills is still a very attractive destination for home buyers of all ages.  There is also a nice selection of larger homes with family-friendly floorplans and yards that are priced competitevely.

If you know a family that is looking to enjoy the quality of life in the community, encourage them to contact us at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate.  Historically, Fountain Hills has always treated it’s affordable housing owners very well in a reasonably decent market, and we see no signs on the horizon that indicate anything but.  There are opportunities for equity gain that will provide a nice future for those with vision.

Click Here to view the SUMMARY Fountain Hills 2nd Quarter Market Analysis 2014.  For a full Report that includes details on your SPECIFIC NEIGHBORHOOD…contact your Sonoran Lifestyle Agent at 480-816-5557.

Property Valuation Freeze for Owners 65 or Older

Seniors Get Assistance in Some Circumstances…

(The following is taken from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Website)

WHAT IS IT?

The Senior Valuation Protection Option freezes the property valuation of residential homeowners who are 65 years of age or older if they meet specific qualifications and make application to the County Assessor. The valuation freeze is for three years and may be renewed at the end of the third year. This does not freeze your property tax bill but it does freeze the property valuation.

WHO QUALIFIES?

To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Property owner must be 65 years of age or older.
  2. Property must be the primary residence and the owner(s) must have resided at the residence for at least 2 years.
  3. Property owner(s) annual income must be under $30,576 (one owner) or $38,220 (two or more owners).

HOW TO APPLY?

Make application to the County Assessor on a Form “DOR 82104” available from the Assessors Office. Filing deadline is Sept. 1.

The following documentation must be submitted with the application:

  1. Proof of age: birth certificate, driver’s license, passport.
  2. Proof of residency: driver’s license showing address for last two years, tax return for last two years showing physical address, utility bill dating service at address for last two years.
  3. Proof of income: must include documentation of income of all owners listed on property title for previous three years to include IRS tax returns, Social Security Benefit statements, AND ALL OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME (nothing is excluded).

APPLICATION PROCESSING RESULTS: Applications will be processed and property owners will be notified as to qualification status by December 1 of the application year. Applicants who qualify will have the property valuation frozen for the year of application and following two years. A renewal application will be sent to the property owner at the end of the third year to allow for reapplication.

STATUS CHANGE: The freeze applies only to the Full Cash Value. It does not apply to the Limited Property Value or the Tax Rate. The Freeze applies to a residence and land up to 10 acres with the residence. CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP, RESIDENCY STATUS, INCOME STATUS etc. may nullify the Senior Property Valuation Protection Option. NEW CONSTRUCTION will be added to the property valuation and will be subject to taxation.

Fountain Hills Year-End Market Report

2013 Year-End Fountain HIlls Market  Reports - Ask your Sonoran Lifestyle Agent for details!

2013 Year-End Fountain HIlls Market Reports – Ask your Sonoran Lifestyle Agent for details!

It’s always interesting to try to analyze (and prognosticate) our Fountain Hills market after the 4th quarter, which is historically the lowest quarter of sales and can often bring a drop in market prices.  The fourth quarter of 2013 has provided few surprises as prices remained high through the quarter but dipped a little in December (more on that later!).  Inventory of residential units (403 homes & condos for sale) is up (although not drastically) over year-end 2012 inventory of 348 units.

Unit count of sales is lower in 2013 than 2012 (834 residential units sold in 2012 vs 788 units in 2013), yet the total volume of 2013 sales (includes homes, condos and lots) at $312 million is the highest rate of sales since the boom year of 2007 with $366 million.  (The highest year on record was 2005 at $675 million.)

Anecdotally, we are seeing more prospective buyer interest in the last few weeks than at anytime during the past 5 years.  What will be interesting to watch is how the new, higher prices will be received and whether the pace of sales can be sustained as prices continue upward….indications are that won’t be the case, yet if sales pace does sustain, we may be in for another market boom. 

The dynamics of our market as prices rise is also worthy of study.  Interestingly, at the end of 2012, 66% of all residential inventory was priced under $500,000.  At the end of 2013, 63% is priced under $500,000, although condos make up a larger portion of that inventory today.

In this report, (specifically “Month-by-Month Analysis” on pages 8-9), we track single family homes by both price and price per square foot.  While average home prices during the year tended to spike and fluctuate then end somewhat flat over last year, the price per square foot has increased much stronger than 2012.  The dip in price per square foot in December is generally expected.  In fact, the price dip normally comes much sooner in the quarter, suggesting that our market will be very strong going into the selling season.

Home sites also finished strong at year-end with 74 sales at an average of $173,000, the strongest price since 2009.  And, the last time we saw more unit sales was in 2005, another indication that lot owners have something to look forward to! 

For a copy of the entire report, contact your Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate Associate.

FEMA Revises Flood Zone Maps–Are You “IN?”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has completed a multi-year project to update the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels for Maricopa County and on October 16, 2013 the new FIRM panels will become official.  Mortgage lenders, determination companies, and insurance companies will be required to use the updated FIRMs to determine the flood risk of a structure and if flood insurance is required.

Information on how to contact various communities in Maricopa County for floodplain and flood insurance rate map questions for a specific parcel or property may be found on the Information Sources page.  Information can also be found at http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/ 

Fannie Mae Increases Fees!

Maricopa County Property TaxThere has been a recent announcement from Fannie Mae that they will be increasing their fees. The upfront fee, which is known as the Loan Level Price Adjustment  (LLPA), will have a new structure which will increase by .25%

Couple this with the current fee structure and you could find yourself paying thousands of dollars more!

For example, a home buyer with a 720-739 credit score who borrows $200,000, will face a fee of 1.50% which equates to $3,000.  No indication yet, when this will take place, so stay tuned!

For  more information on this please visit:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-09/u-s-owned-mortgage-backers-guarantee-fees-increased-by-fhfa.html

End of Year Maricopa County Property Tax Check-up

Maricopa County Property TaxIt’s the end of another year, and we highly recommend you do a check-up on your Maricopa County Property Taxes…ESPECIALLY IF YOUR PROPERTY IS FREE AND CLEAR AND NO LENDER IS PAYING YOUR PROPERTY TAXES FROM AN IMPOUND ACCOUNT.  Why?  We have found many instances where our clients who have no debt and not getting their property tax notice because they have moved.  In fact we’ve found a couple where a lien has already been placed on the property and the owner had no idea! 

If you’d like to do a quick end of year check-up, just go to:  http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/  and type your address into the search bar.  You’ll then be able to click onto your property tax page, and research whether or not your are current.  You may pay your property taxes online at:  http://treasurer.maricopa.gov/ and click on “Pay Online.”  We also recommend you change your billing address by going to:   http://mcassessor.maricopa.gov/?s=address+change

Questions?  Call us one of the Associates at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate at 480-816-5557…we’d be happy to assist you!

 

Fountain Hills Mid-Year Real Estate Report–Lots of Good News!

Be sure to ask for your copy of the Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate 2013 Mid-Year Fountain Hills Market Report.  Contact your Sonoran agent!

Sonoran Midyear2013 MarketReportThe second quarter of sales activity is nearly always the strongest of the year, and 2013 was no exception.  Residential inventory (at 242 units available) has decreased to its lowest level in over 5 years.  In fact, most indicators–sales, inventory and prices–all could be taken off the page from the 2nd quarter of 2008.  Yet, remember when we were all licking our wounds and estimating that our values had rolled back to those of 2001-2002…amazing how a few quarters can wipe out all that pain. Of course, the second half of any year is really the telling tale:  Will sales velocity stagnate?  Will inventory rise?  Will prices decrease as eager Sellers feel they’ve missed their window of opportunity?  Will long-term interest rate increases or other national issues affect the sales velocity?  Stay tuned!

 Homes Prices:  Yes…a thousand times, yes.  Prices are going up.  However, we have no reliable indicators to tell us how high or how sustainable price increases will be.  At the street level, for those of us involved in the business, we continue to be blessed with out of state and international visitors who value our beautiful community with its high quality of living, casual southwestern lifestyle and stunning scenery.  Local folks are still making decisions to move up, move down or move on for personal reasons like job transfers or aging and health related issues.  There was a big price jump this quarter, however much of that was owing to a handful of very high end home sales that have been slower during the past few years and may appear to be picking up steam.  When comparing the 2nd Quarter 2012 (with 21 homes sold YTD above $800,000) to the 2nd Quarter 2013 (with 32 homes sold YTD above $800,000) one might begin to believe that the high wealth individuals are starting to gain their confidence again.

While PRICES are picking up steam, it’s the PRICE PER SQUARE FOOT that is significantly increasing…Refer to the Month-by-Month Analysis of Single Family Home Prices and you’ll see a significant jump from June to July…an increase of $26/ft to $197/ft.  HOWEVER, one month or even one quarter does not a trend make.  If large luxury home sales remain constant, this trend may continue!

Condominiums seem to have gained ground last quarter after being somewhat sluggish during 1st quarter.  What is most interesting is the amount of inventory of condos available on the market.  With only 81 units available, its no mystery why prices have now reached a four year high.

Custom Homesites also gained ground this quarter, with an impressive 30 sales..reducing inventory and giving hope to those who’ve continued to hold waiting for the custom home building market to return.  We are receiving more calls and questions about custom home building…an indication that reduced resale housing affordability and quality is causing potential homebuyers to consider the inconvenience of building in order to achieve what they desire

Distressed property sales (combined short sales and bank-owned inventory) have dwindled from a high of 50% in late 2010 to only 11% in the current market.  There are only 16 Bank-Owned properties currently for sale in Fountain Hills…compared to 70 properties for sale in late 2010!

Should you have any questions about the reports, please don’t hesitate to contact your sales associate for more information!  Call us at 480-816-5557.

Fountain Hills is a Soothing Summer Oasis

Base at the World Famous Fountain

Base at the World Famous Fountain

When the McColloch Corporation established the community of Fountain Hills and installed what was at the time “The World’s Tallest Fountain,” they also created the wonderful oasis that has evolved into the gem that  thousands of locals enjoy every day. 

Cool water is the natural counterpoint to the dry desert climate, and it is the focal point of thousands of “outdoor living rooms” in Fountain Hills. Many area pool builders create spaces that mirror the natural streams that flow into the nearby Verde River.  The soothing water-features in these magnificent pools transform a patio space into a shady dell.

poolside loungingThe personal oasis’ that many of our clients in Fountain Hills enjoy are doubly grand, as the refreshing coolness of the water frames a view of the foothills and mountain ranges that is like no other in the Valley.

Many of our homeowners have designed pools with a dual purpose— the spacious design is great for laps and exercise, but is also perfect for games and family play as well.  New easy-care surfaces and options, like mild salt water rather than chlorine, make pool maintenance a breeze.

woman in hot tub spaImagine walking out of your Master Bedroom in the gentle desert morning, and stepping into your own private spa. Slow down and take a deep breath.  Ahhhhhhh!  Your own private world of quiet relaxation waits at the end of a frenetic day.  And Fountain Hills has literally thousands of these amazing private havens.

The weather in southern Arizona is perfect for swimming from April through October, and heated pools, many using solar technology, are enjoyable year-round.  Whether your taste runs to an elegant outdoor spa, or a family-sized pool, the Team at Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate has a wide range of homes with tranquil water features to transform your lifestyle.

Come Try “Year-round Resort Living in Fountain Hills” with a Summer “Stay-cation”

Part II of a 2 part article originally posted June 19, 2013

CopperWynd Resort

CopperWynd Resort

If Spa indulgence and quiet spaces are more your style, the world-class Copperwynd Resort and Spa is the closest you can come to living in your own private resort retreat in Fountain Hills.  Often featured among world class boutique hotels by Conde Nast and Lonely Planet, its Scottsdale Resort Spa Club is affordable for area residents ($50 per month for one of many key services, and discounts on other spa services).  Club members have the use of the pool, gym, steam room and hot tubs on the day of service. Summer Spa and Stay packages start at $129, and change frequently throughout the summer.

Scottsdale Spa at CopperWynd-One of the Valley's Finest!

Scottsdale Spa at CopperWynd-One of the Valley’s Finest!

But sipping an excellent wine on the balcony at Alchemy or Barista can be addictive…You are lulled by the quiet of the hills, and soothed by the 100 mile view of range after range of mountains.  As you look across the hills toward Goldfield Ranch and the Verde River, you can see that just about everyone in Fountain Hills enjoys this kind of Resort serenity in their own back yard. 

Once you give the Sonoran Desert lifestyle a try for a few days, you’re likely to long for our peacefulness and convenience when you return to the hustle of your “other life.” The Fountain Hills  Post Office,  Grocery Stores (3), Hardware Stores, Target, Ross, Tire Stores (4), Gym (6), Coffee and Wine Shops, Restaurants, Boutiques, Salons and Restaurants…are all less than 15 minutes from your door, and parking is never a problem.

Impressive_ArchitectureFrom your Fountain Hills home or elegant condo, you can be at your Saguaro Lake boat slip in 25 minutes or at the cool pines of Payson before your coffee is cold. Sedona is less than 3 hours, unless you stop for a wine tour on the way!

Sky Harbor is a short 25 minutes down the Beeline Highway, and the Shea Corridor/101 Loop  puts Scottsdale, North Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Chandler within reach  in less time than most central Phoenix or North Scottsdale locations.

Sample the good life in Fountain Hills with a luxury summer getaway. Check www.expedia.com for great getaway rates, then call Sonoran Lifestyle Real Estate at 480-816-5557 to tour a fabulous selection of resort-style homes to dream about.