Eldorado Skate Park in South Scottsdale

Time for some Friday fun. 

I started listing bank-owned properties again, after a short lay0ff, and have been working with several clients getting offers negotiated and agreed to by today, to qualify the 2010 Home Buyer Tax Credit.  As a result, my writing has fallen behind, so I thought I’d share a few of the photos I took at the 11th Annual Eldorado Skate  Park Competition, held March 27, 2009. 

A beautiful day to watch some amazing boarders.

boarder4 (Custom)

A lot of concentration and athletic ability.

boarder3 (Custom)

He did land this one!

boarder-rail (Custom)

Lots of rail riding.

i-can-fly (Custom)

I can fly!

Eldorado Park  is a 60-acre park with 3 ramadas, 5 picnic areas, 3 softball fields, a soccer field, a full basketball court, a sand volleyball court, an outdoor amphitheater, swimming pool, 2 lakes, 2 playgrounds, a 5K course, horseshoes, restroom and home of the Wedge Skate Park. 

A map of Eldorado Park:

View Larger Map

Learn more about other Scottsdale Parks

What’s up with Scottsdale home prices? How long is it taking to sell a house?

Last week, I shared that  Scottsdale condo listing prices have been decreasing over the past year.  This week, I’ll show you the same is true for single family homes in the city, with median list price decreasing by $100,000 since May 1st, 2009.

Scottsdale Home Prices - Median List

The statistics for the properties in this following report are divided as follows:

  • First Median Range (Blue): Most expensive 25% of properties

  • Second (Green): Next 25%

  • Third (Orange): Next 25%

  • Fourth (Black): Least expensive 25% of properties

Scottsdale Home Prices - By Price Range

By appearance, it looks as if the upper end of the market has taken the brunt of this depreciation, which it has, when looking at it from a purely dollar perspective.  However, percentagewise, the lower end of the market truly has seen the greatest median listing price reduction, approaching -25% since May 1 of last year, and the Upper/Second Median listing price has demonstrated the least reduction in listing price, only in the range -12.5%.  Interestingly, this second tier is where the overall median listing price of Scottsdale sits.

However, the time to sell appears much more like a roller coaster, than in the Scottsdale condo market. Overall, the days on market for active listings has increased in the past year, with a dip occurring in the fall season before a steady continued increase.  Days on market has been on a downward trend over the past month or so. 

Scottsdale Real Estate Update - Median Days on Market

The time to sell as well as the market trend definitely varies by price range.  High-end homes are on the market for a much long period of time.  The time to sell Scottsdale’s lowest priced homes has plateaued over the past six months at around 125 days.  However, the mid-range home have been fairly consistent over the past 10 months, but are now tracking downward. 

Scottsdale Real Estate Update - Median Days on Market by Price Range

I think it will be interesting to see how the next couple of months play out.

Data Source: Altos Research

Scottsdale Schools Consolidate Start Times To Save Money

lots of school buses 
Photo Credit:  lars hammar

Historically, Scottsdale schools have started at different times, requiring bus drivers to complete three runs, morning and afternoon, one each for elementary, middle, and high schools.  Effective next fall, that will change.  Middle and high schools will start earlier and at the same time. Elementary schools will start later and all at the same time.  District officials project that this change will save the district half a million dollars annually.

The announcement letter reads:

Governing Board Approves a 2-Bell Schedule – Update
Saves SUSD $500,000

At the April 13th Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Governing Board meeting, the Board voted to approve a 2-Bell Schedule which will save SUSD $500,000 annually. “We assembled a task force to study the use of time. They examined research, realities and the factors of teaching and learning. Tonight we recommend to you what we believe is best for students in our school district,” said Superintendent Dr. Gary T. Catalani.

The start times for the 2010-11 school year are 7:45 a.m. for high school, 7:45 a.m. for middle school and 8:45 a.m. for elementary school. The start time for the three K-8 schools is still being determined; the time will either be 7:45 a.m. or 8:45 a.m. Desert Mountain High School and Mountainside Middle School will start at slightly different times to accommodate the shared parking lot at the schools. The exact times will be announced shortly.The only school not affected by the 2-Bell Schedule is Sierra Vista Academy because students attend school four days a week, and SUSD does not provide transportation for these students.

“While this recommendation is driven by the impact it will have on teaching and learning, it will also save the District $500,000. During these very hard financial times, we cannot ignore this savings,” said Superintendent Dr. Gary T. Catalani. The $500,000 savings is from the elimination of 16 buses and the costs associated to operate and maintain these buses. In addition, there will be more bus routes. Middle school and high school students will ride separate buses.

A 2-Bell Schedule will help streamline and increase the ability for collaboration District-wide among all staffing levels. With all elementary and all secondary schools on similar schedules, there is an increased ability for staff members from various locations to work together to improve all aspects of education in SUSD. The 2-Bell Schedule change will also help reduce attendance concerns for high school students who are involved in school-based activities, including athletics and performing and fine arts.

The 2-Bell Schedule change will take effect on August 9.  In addition, SUSD’s Community Schools department will continue to offer before and after school programs at its current sites and will incorporate morning and afterschool program at the remaining elementary sites and all middle schools. The before school programs will run from 6:30-8:45 a.m., and the afterschool programs will run until 6 p.m. The fee for the before school program will be $60 a month. The after school fee will vary by number of days and dismissal time. Nobody will be turned away for financial reasons. For more information about before and after school programs, please contact Karen Hearn, director of Community Schools, at 480-484-8614.

Foreclosure and Short Sale Classes for Home Owners Offered in Goodyear, Scottsdale, Peoria, and Mesa

Last week, I took yet another class on Short Sales and Foreclosures.  It’s a critical part of my on-going education in our ever-changing real estate market. Tonight, I received an email from the instructor, Chris Combs of the Combs Law Group,  letting me know he’s now offering classes for the general public, not just Realtors.

Combs Law Group, P.C will present classes in four valley locations open to the general public on Foreclosures and Short Sales.  These classes will include informational materials and will answer such questions as:

If a homeowner can’t make payments, should they do a short sale or a foreclosure?


Can a homeowner still have liability to a lender after a short sale? After a foreclosure?


What are a tenant’s rights before and after a foreclosure sale?

Upcoming classes:

  • Thursday April 29th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    Quality  Inn and Suites, 950 N. Dysart Road, Goodyear AZ
  • Tuesday, May 4th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    DC Ranch Community Center, 18600 N. 98th Street, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Thursday, May 6th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    Rio Vista Recreation Center, 8866 -A West Thunderbird Road, Peoria, AZ
  • Tuesday, May 11th, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
    Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors, 1363 S. Vineyard, Mesa AZ

Cost is $50 per person; go to our website:  http://www.combslawgroup.com to register for one of these classes.

My first response was that the cost of the course was high considering the audience would most likely be homeowners who were having financial challenges.  In thinking about it a bit more, I realized that I have clients who spent $275 for an hour of legal counsel from another local real estate attorney, so that they could decide if they should proceed with the short sale of their house.

Chris Combs staffs the Arizona Association of REALTOR Legal Hot Line, providing legal opinion to brokers from around the state.  Getting the latest up-to-date information was critical to me, and you may find it helpful too.

Recent posts from Combs Law Group blog include:

Scottsdale Condo Prices Continue to Fall

Yes, it’s true, listing prices for Scottsdale condos continue to decline….



….in all price ranges.


The statistics for the properties in this following report are divided as follows:

  • First Median Range (Blue): Most expensive 25% of properties

  • Second (Green): Next 25%

  • Third (Orange): Next 25%

  • Fourth (Black): Least expensive 25% of properties


However, the time to sell appears to have stabilized, with active listings currently hovering just under 150 days to sell, since January 2010.


Interestingly, the time to sell lower priced condos is increasing, while those on the upper end are selling more quickly.  This could have a lot to do with the challenges of getting financing, particularly FHA financing, for condos.


Data Source: Altos Research

10 Things to Know about Home Buyer Tax Credit

Last Saturday, the Arizona Republic ran a article, “10 Things to Know about Homebuyer Tax Credit“, that lead off with “First Thing: Time is Running Out“!

Some of the most critical points covered are:

  1. Buyer must either purchase or be under contract to purchase a home by April 30, 2010.  The property purchase must be completed by June 30, 2010.  One important clarification that I learned in a Short Sale class taught by attorney Chris Combs earlier this week, is that if the seller has accepted a contract with a Short Sale contingency by April 30 that the sale is still considered under contract.  The pending bank agreement is a contingency, similar to getting a loan approval or property appraising at purchase price.  Very important for buyers and sellers to understand this, and at the same time, understand the property must still close by June 30th.
  2. Both first-time and long-term resident buyers qualify for up to 10% of the homes purchase price, up to limits of $8,000 for the first-time home buyer and $6,500 for the move-up buyer.
  3. To be considered a first-time home buyer, the buyer cannot have owned another personal home anytime in the past three years.
  4. Long-term resident buyers must have lived in the same primary residence for five consecutive years out of the past eight.
  5. If the home purchased using the tax credit, is sold in the first three years, the credit must be repaid.

There are a number of other requirements related to income, home price, and more, so you will want to read the entire article and review the following resources:

Any questions?  Please comment or call.

Phoenix Real Estate Trends: Home Listings, Sales, and Inventory

One of my clients mentioned today that he visited a web site where it showed there were over 60,000 homes on the market in Phoenix.  We talked about how some web sites are slow to update their data, and many of those homes were probably under contract or already sold.

I decided to get the most recent update, so here it is, straight from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service –  two years of Phoenix area residential home sales data.


When you view this data in a graphic format, you can see where Phoenix real estate market has been and where the more recent changes are.  (If you click on the graph, you’ll can see it in a larger format.)

ARMLS Home Sales Trends

To me the important points are:

  • Months of available inventory (the number of properties listed for sale divided by the sales rate)for March  was just under 5 months.  Creeping up a bit, but still a pretty balanced market.
  • New listings are following a very similar pattern to that of 2009.  While they are increasing this spring, that is pretty typical for this time of year.
  • Active listings have been increasing, but in March you can see the tremendous number of home sales. Third highest month in the last two years.  And it’s only the second day of the month, it’s conceivable that when all the end of the month data gets input, that March 2010 could actually be the second high sales volume month in this tracking period.
  • The number of active listings at the end of March was 43,471.  This number has been increasing steadily since Summer 2009, but is still significantly less than the 60,000 homes that were on the market exactly two years ago.

Definitely some progress and a bit of good news.