Phoenix Valley Real Estate and Community News

Feb. 8, 2017

Living Downtown Phoenix

Living Downtown Phoenix is different than other major metropolitan cities in the US.  Phoenix

Living Phoenix Arizona Park Central Mall 1960's

downtown is relatively small within 90 square blocks.  There was a streetcar but in October of 1947 there was a terrible fire that destroyed most of streetcars.  Since it cost so much to rebuild and city buses where all the rage, the city decided to abandon the street cars and buy city buses.  By the end of the 1960's, Park Central Mall at Osborn Ave and Central Ave took all the larger stores from downtown.  At the same time, cars were more popular than ever and many family's had 2 cars so they could move out of the downtown area.  Thus the beginning of the end of downtown Phoenix.

Downtown Phoenix is still one of the hottest markets in the metropolitan area.  Residents have been coming back for over 15 years.  With the Great Recession over more housing units are being built.

There are over 20 apartment and condominium complexes currently going up in downtown Phoenix. As reported on “According to Downtown Phoenix Inc., a non-profit organization that helps the city’s development efforts, about 9,000 people are living in downtown Phoenix with 6,465 housing units. While 1,584 apartments units are under construction, another 1,257 apartments are under pre-development status and approximately 1,200 housing units will be coming in the next six months.”

There is housing all over downtown and as you see, more is coming.  If you like the urban life you really have choices in downtown Phoenix.  I really enjoy a little bit of a neighborhood feel but with restaurants and shopping just outside my front door.  So I choose to live in the Roosevelt Row Arts District in the historic Evans-Churchill Neighborhood of downtown Phoenix.  This area has commercial and residential zoning mixed together.  In fact, my condo has both zoning's so I live above my office, pretty cool.

Living Phoenix ArizonaThe science and research area has the UofA medical school and T-Gen and Arizona Biomedical Collaborative is just south of the Arts District.  There were talks about a downtown hospital but the Great Recession stopped the talks and I haven’t heard anything new lately.

Of course there’s the sports and entertainment area which covers most of downtown on the east side of Central Ave.  There’s the Convention Center, Ball Park, Basketball Arena and all the sports bars around them.  There’s also Symphony Hall and Herberger Theater too.

Living Downtown Phoenix Executive Towers

If you like the high-rise life, we don’t have a lot of high rise condos but we have a wide selection.
From mid-century Executive Towers and Regency House, both impressive addresses in the early ‘60’s when they were built.  To humble but fun Embassy Condos that was originally a hotel.  The drive up front door had the pool above in and was very chic in its day.  There’s also the Summit at Copper Square and 44 Monroe for contemporary high rise living.

Feb. 8, 2017

Tempe Town Lake

Before there Tempe Town Lake was in the Valley, the Salt River flowed year around. We call the native people of this area Hohokam.   They lived in the Valley around 300 BC and here until after 1200 AD.  Nobody really knows where they went but what we do know is they dug out canals for watering crops.  The canals we have today throughout the valley are mostly in the same place the Hohokam dug over 2000 years ago.

When Phoenix started to grow it was obvious we needed to make sure we always had enough water.  Over the years dams were built along the Sale River to create Saguaro Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Canyon Lake and a few more.  The Valley has 3 rivers that store water for us, the Salt River, Agua Fria River and the Verde River.

Because we dam up the Salt River it's dry most of the time.  When I was growing up and until the drought we are currently in, Salt River Project (SRP) manages valley water and would let water out of the lakes each spring if needed.  This gave us a river for a few days until they turn the water off.

Maricopa County has been voting to do what's called the Rio Salado Project along the whole river as it goes through town for as far back as I can remember.  Since Tempe is landlocked with limited resources to increase income for the city, they decided to do Tempe Town Lake.  This is basically Tempe’s portion of the original idea, but good for them.

The lake runs along the south side of 202 freeway through Tempe.  In a way, the lake has breath more life into Tempe.  They were doing OK but Tempe is landlocked.  Without being able to build or annex land they can't grow or the taxes would be too high for their residents.  So they built a lake.  Great idea I think.

Tempe Town Lake 525 Town Lake

The communities along the lake and walking distance are very popular.  There are various sizes and price ranges to fit most budgets.  Remember this is ASU's main campus territory so there's a lot of competition for residential properties.   525 Town Lake is both affordable and facing the lake with nice views from the south shore.

Tempe Town Lake Bridgeview Bridgeview Condos on Tempe Town Lake

There are 3 mid-rise residential condos on the east side of Mill Ave that face Tempe Town Lake.  Bridgeview is a high-end condo with many amenities.  Most of the condos have nice to fantastic views of the lake.  The community also has a private pool, spa and workout room.

Don't forget all the fun you can have right outside your front door when you live on the Tempe Town lake.  From kayaks and canoes to walking along the short.  There are festivals on Mill Ave all the time and they have triathlons that use the lake.

Of course, downtown Tempe and ASU main campus is right there with all the entertainment, college sports and shopping they’ve always had.

Feb. 8, 2017

The Triangle

The Triangle has been getting a lot of press.  It's a new name for an old neighborhood. It's been The Triangle on Grand Avenueknown as the Grand Ave Arts District for awhile.  I found a New Times article about Grand Ave Arts District published in January 2016 and makes no mention of The Triangle so I think the idea is new, I know I only heard about it a month or two ago.

The Triangle is located south and east of 15th Ave / Grand Ave and Roosevelt Street.  It’s been known as the Grand Ave Arts District for a long time but I like this new name.

The Triangle on Grand AvenueI did some searches for the history of this area and didn’t find anything.  Of course, I’m not a Historian or Librarian so if you are or know anyone that has information about the history of this downtown area of Phoenix, please let me know.

In the meantime, the residents of the area are doing a fantastic job of making this former rundown area a great place to live, work and shop.  It’s been up-and-coming for more than 10 years but to really improve there’s got to be money.  In this case, the City of Phoenix has done some but it’s the developers, property owner, residence and yes Artist.  Artist are known nationwide for moving into these area because they are inexpensive and they can sell their creation, so let’s give them some credit.

The Containers on Grand are a new hit.  They start with empty shipping containers.  You know, the kind they put on ships.  Then they turned them into beautiful and unique apartments.   If you like unique living you should check out The Triangle, it's very unique.

The Triangle on Grand AvenueThe Triangle on Grand Avenue

Shops in The Triangle do open for First Friday Art Walk along with Roosevelt Row Arts District.


Van Norman is new to the area and own’s Van Norman Development Company.  He’s 24 years old and has four parcels in downtown and completed Grand Ave Lofts last year.  As Van and others like him bring more residents into the area it’s going to get better and better.

Feb. 8, 2017

Garfield Historic District

Garfield Historic DistrictThe Phoenix Garfield Historic District is very eclectic, at least the properties are.  There are large and small  and old and new single family homes and apartments.  The apartments are mostly 1 bedrooms.  The community has gone from a nice lower income working class neighborhood of the 1930's to gangs and such in the 80's and early 90's to the historic community that is it now.

How it Garfield get here?  Well, Garfield was developed from 1883 to 1955. The neighborhood was one of the first additions to the original Phoenix townsite. It is also an excellent example of a “streetcar subdivision,” where residential development was directly related to the establishment of a streetcar line through the neighborhood.

Phoenix Street CarsIn 1895, the Phoenix Street Railway extended their streetcar line through the Dennis Addition. Called the Brill Line, it ran along Pierce Street to 10th Street and then north to the Brill Addition, which was located just north of the Dennis Addition.  Brill is now located on the north side of I-10.  Most is Good Samaritan Hospital (where I was born).   It goes east to 16th Street and there are some very cute homes there, but I digress.

Rito's Mexican Food Garfield Historic District

One of the best kept secrets of Central Phoenix is Rito's Mexican Food.  They are celebrating their 41st anniversary in Oct, 2017.   The place is just south of Roosevelt on 14th Street.  Don't look for a sign, they don't have one.  Just look for a bunch of cars parked outside. It's cash only and take out only but nobody cares.  They are soooo good and they cater.  That's Rito's below.  You can see the building from Roosevelt.  I absolutely love their red chili and their tacos.

Ritos Mexican Food Garfield Historic District

The Garfield Historic District contains primarily modest bungalows and Period Revival style homes but it also includes a noteworthy concentration of older turnof-the-century structures, including the largest concentration of “Pyramid Cottages” in Phoenix.

Commercial establishments and small businesses also flourished at that time, particularly at the corner of 10th and Pierce streets where the streetcar line turned north.

American Way Market is on the corner of 10th Street and Pierce in the Garfield Historic District.  This is known as the Four Corners of Garfield.  The building is being renovated and will be Gallo Blanco restaurant.  Across the street at the Four Corners the Welcome Diner is coming down from Roosevelt.  Locals will drive a lone way for these two restaurants and the neighbors will love this.  These buildings have been there since the 1930's and the Phoenix Street car turned west on Pierce and north on 10th Street right here.


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Feb. 8, 2017

Sunnyslope Phoenix Arizona is a great place to live and invest.

Sunnyslope Phoenix Arizona is on North Mountain's southern hillside overlooking Central Phoenix andSunnyslope Phoenix Arizona West Phoenix.

Sunnyslope was always the “The Top of Central” to me.  There was a restaurant through the little tunnel at the north end of Central Ave where it stops at North Mountain with the name.  It's long since closed (I think in the late 1990's) and custom homes have replaced it, but that's where my memory goes back to.

Sunnslope History

The History of Sunnyslope is very interesting, at least to me. Founded around 1911, it was never incorporated after 4 attempts.  In 1959 it was annexed into Phoenix.  It’s well known that people with allergies, asthma and tuberculosis were told to move to the desert for their health.  And many did in Sunnyslope.  I remembering hearing it was originally a tuberculosis “camp”.  Considering how people profile others, I’m assuming that may have been a ‘label’ that was put on Sunnyslope because there were a lot of patients that lived north of the AZ Canal where there was no water that nature didn’t give them.

The Dreamy Draw

Dreamy Draw Park Phoenix Arizona The other item about Sunnyslope I remember was the restaurant that is now Aunt Chiladas.  In the 1960’s it was another Mexican food restaurant called George’s Olay.  George was a friend of my family’s in the 60’s and we use to have dinner there all the time.  My favorite was bean burro enchilada style. Yum yum….  This building was a saloon in early Phoenix when the mercury mine in the Piestewa Peak desert preserve was being mined.  The area between the mountains where the 51 freeway now goes was called the Dreamy Draw.  There are still some signs of it and a park at the 51 and Northern named after it.  But I digress, the miners use to come out of the mine and into the saloon with a dreamy look about them because they were probably high from mining mercury, hence the name Dreamy Draw.


Sunnyslope Phoenix Arizona Cave Creek RoadLocation

This really is a great location with great easy access to the whole valley.  I-17 is west and just down Dunlap Ave, the 51 is just east on Northern Ave.  Mid-town, downtown and I-10 and directly south on Central Ave.  And since I live downtown I often forget to look north.  Just north on 7th Street is the 101.  From Sunnyslope you really can get anywhere with the 101 loop down to I-10 in 20 mins-ish.

Residential Properties

The area is filled with great homes with great bones and structure.  Many are smaller homes because the miners or patients that mostly lived there in the early days didn’t have a lot of money.  In the 1950’s many track homes were built along 12th Street north from Northern Ave.

In the past 10 years, and helped by the Great Recession, many homes have been remodeled, updated, enlarged and so on.  Many investors have been buying homes, updating and flipping since the 1990’s and into 2000’s but when the market was at the bottom in 2010 and 2011 homes were selling for less than $60,000.  That was crazy.  Those homes in 2016 can sell from $150,000 to $250,000.

One great community that was hit by the Great Recession but have come out of it nicely is 10000 North Central.

This is a very nice community.  It’s gated and on the south slope of North Mountain, right in the (approximate) geographical center of the valley.  Just down the hill to mid-town and downtown Phoenix.

You’ll get more square footage in this community starting at over 1800 square feet and going to over 3300 square feet.

Since N Central is on the side of the hill you have excellent views.  Some of the homes have great views of the valley from their courtyard too.


Posted in Uncategorized
May 24, 2016

The Obvious Alternative Investment

Rental homes can be a natural alternative investment choice for homeowners because they are already familiar with houses. Maintenance on a rental is not that much different than on your personal home. The same plumbers, painters and other workmen can be used to make repairs. 20947848-250.jpg

Single family homes offer an investor high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for long terms on appreciating assets with defined tax advantages and more control than other investments.

  1. High loan-to-value mortgages – most investments require that you pay cash but rental properties can be purchased with 20% down payment.
  2. Fixed interest rates – most commercial loans are based on a floating rate such as prime interest plus one or two percent compared to real estate loans as fixed rates for the term.
  3. Long terms – commercial loans are generally short-term such as six months or a year with the possibility of being renewed for another six months or a year unlike real estate where a 30-year mortgage is commonplace.
  4. Appreciating assets – real estate has a long-term history of going up in value.
  5. Defined tax advantages – many investments are taxed as ordinary income but rental real estate enjoys a non-cash deduction called cost recovery, the profits from sale are taxed at lower long-term capital gains rates or may be eligible for a tax-deferred exchange.
  6. Control – rental homes don’t require partners and afford the investor more options than investing in mutual funds and other traditional investments.

The demand for good rentals is strong and the rents continue to go up in most markets. There are people who choose not to buy or cannot buy a home who would prefer to live in a single family home rather than an apartment.

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May 17, 2016

7 Out of 50 Could Save Money

It is estimated that seven million out of 50 million homeowners could save money by refinancing their existing mortgages. Obviously, if the replacement mortgage has a lower rate than your existing one, you will save money.

If you bought a home before 2011 and are paying mortgage insurance, you should investigate refinancing to eliminate that requirement. Even if you don’t get a lower interest rate, the savings could amount to hundreds of dollars a month.

If a home you purchased since 2011 has appreciated enough, it could easily justify refinancing to eliminate the required mortgage insurance. Most loans don’t require mortgage insurance if the loan-to-value is 80% or less. There are some programs for 90% mortgages that don’t require mortgage insurance. It is certainly worth investigating with a trusted mortgage professional.

Continuing to pay mortgage insurance that could be eliminated is like having a broken cell phone and continuing to make the monthly payments for something you can’t use and don’t need.

If your current mortgage is several years old, instead of getting a new 30 year mortgage, you might consider a 15-year term. The money you save with a lower interest rate could help you to retire your loan in a shorter time so that your home would be paid for.

30-year average FRM.png

Posted in Uncategorized
May 10, 2016

You may never stop paying for some improvements

14041766_s.jpgYou've saved the money and are ready to pay cash to build a new pool for your home. However, that's just the beginning of your soon to be increased expenses which will include maintenance, higher utilities and higher taxes.

Homeowners obviously benefit by a larger equity when their home increases in value due to appreciation. A not-so-obvious effect that will also more than likely take place is that their property taxes will increase. In most cases, a property's assessed value is generally tied to market value to calculate the property taxes based on the tax rate for that year.

Similarly, a homeowner can affect the value of their home by making capital improvements. Some small items may never be recognized by the taxing authority but items that require a permit, certainly are brought to their attention. Items such as a fence, roof, remodeling, windows, new rooms or swimming pools can easily increase the assessed value of a property.

Most states have an established time frame in which to challenge the current tax assessment for that year. The process is relatively simple and doesn't require professional representation. It generally involves showing that there is an error which has overstated the value or that current comparable sales indicate a lower value.

If you'd like more information or need the comparable sales data, please let us know. We would be happy to help you investigate the possibility of lowering your property taxes.

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April 19, 2016

Tips for Buying Rentals

Buying rental property can be an excellent decision and the better informed you are, the more likely you'll have favorable results. The following suggestions can help you with your decisions.

rising homes.jpgReal estate is a long term investment affected by supply, demand and the economy. It isn't an investment that is easily converted to cash. The costs to acquire and dispose of real estate are sizable and need to be spread over years to minimize their effects on the rate of return.

Invest in average price homes or slightly below average price to appeal to the broadest market not only when you are renting but later on when you sell it. The average price is relative to the market you are in and those specific prices.

Lower-priced homes will rent for more relative to higher-priced homes. There is an inverse relationship between rent as a percentage of the price. As the price increases, the rent as a percentage of the price decreases. For example, a $200,000 home might rent for $1,750 a month or 0.88% where a $400,000 home might only rent for $2,250 a month or 0.68%.

Choose predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods because when you sell the home, it will appeal to a homeowner who will most likely pay a higher price for the home. Homes in predominantly tenant-occupied neighborhoods tend to sell to investors who pay lower prices and will not be emotionally involved with the purchase.

Purchase a property with the idea of selling it in mind. You may be able to get a property for a bargain price today but if it is due to a functional obsolescence like a bad floorplan or not enough bathrooms, that problem will still be there when you're ready to sell the property. Identify what the problem is and what solutions are available. The property may rent fine in that condition but before you sell, it will need to be corrected.

Get the home inspected before you purchase it. Having the property checked out can save thousands in unanticipated expenses.

Consider getting a home warranty on your rental. The annual premium can limit the out of pocket expenses for repairs and maintenance.

Risk can be minimized by understanding the investment and what is involved in the acquisition, operation and disposition. For the typical homeowner, rental property is something that they can relate to because of the similar attributes of the home they live in.

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April 12, 2016

How Earnest Are You?

"If I tell you it's going to rain, you can put the buckets on the porch." If you grew up in the south, you may have heard this expression when a person is testifying to the veracity of his word. If you know a person and/or their reputation, you know whether you can trust their word or not.

7918959_s-250.jpgHowever, with a stranger such as a buyer, the seller doesn't know whether they'll live up to the terms of the contract or not. Buyers submit earnest money along with a contract to demonstrate their commitment to the terms of the offer.

The more earnest money that the buyer deposits indicates to the seller a higher level of commitment to the contract. Except for stated contingencies in the sales contract, if the buyer fails to close on the sale, the earnest money may be forfeited. Significant earnest money makes the seller feel more secure that the contract will close.

There certainly are a lot of things that can dictate how much earnest money is appropriate. Local customs, price of the home and type of mortgage can all help to determine the proper amount. In some areas, it may be common for it to be 1-5 percent of the purchase price. In other areas, it might be a specific amount like $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the sales price. It really comes down to whatever the buyer and seller agree is the proper amount.

Another strategy is to put up an adequate amount initially until you get through the inspections or contingency period and then, to put up an additional amount when the contingencies have been removed.

The earnest money demonstrates the buyers' sincerity in making the offer and proceeding according to the agreement so the seller can take their home off the market and start making plans to move and give possession of their home. Ultimately, both parties want to close as anticipated according to the contract and the earnest money helps facilitate that.

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