Phoenix Metro High-End Luxury-Home Report

By David M. Brown

Good deal, bad deal?

What makes a luxury home sale a solid transaction for the seller or the buyer in Maricopa County, Arizona? When isn’t a sale good for one or the other? Did the buyer pay too much; could the seller have gotten more money? Here’s our perspective on what went right, what went wrong.

In 2019, 16 homes recorded above $7 million, almost four times greater than 2018 numbers in booming Maricopa County, an acceptable estate-luxury starting point for area closings. Frank Aazami, Global Advisor, and principal of the Private Client Group, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty in Scottsdale, recently evaluated these sales based on location, size, acreage, age condition, future salability, amenities plus other circumstances such as orientation, access and floor plan.

Of the approximately 98,000 Multiple Listing Service Sold properties in 2019, these single-family homes represent an ethereal territory where only the wealthy venture. With about 70 percent of the sales, in fact, were “all cash”, and just more than 50 percent were out-of-state buyers. 

“The first thing you notice from the concentration of sales is that they are in Paradise Valley, specifically east of Tatum Boulevard, and Silverleaf in north Scottsdale, with the remainder at Desert Mountain in far north Scottsdale east of Carefree/Cave Creek,” Aazami explains. “These continue to be the premium areas in the Valley of the Sun, including other luxury communities such as Estancia and DC Ranch. The key zip-codes are 85253, 85255 and 85262.”

Aazami adds: “We believe all buyers and sellers should have seasoned representation. In particular, those outside these popular areas looking to sell or buy at this level should interview, then select an expert who will best promote, track and convert buyers from viewing into buying.”

  • North Yucca Road, Paradise Valley –– $19,250,000 ($25,000,000 as a private listing); Price/Square Foot: $686.45; Year Built: 2009: “This wasn’t a publicized sale, but it was a very good buy. This area represents the most blue chip dirt in the Valley, with many ‘significant SIR clients’ residing here. It would cost you well over a $1,000 a foot to build this quality of home.

“I would have introduced it on the market for $28 million through Sotheby’s Internal Realty’s ‘Confidential’ program as an exclusive offering only for our existing 15,000 high-end worldwide Art, Wine and fine Jewelry Auction House clients, who have an exclusive privilege to decide for priority period of three months before a general release.”

  • North 108th Place, Scottsdale (Silverleaf), –– $17,500,000 (listed, $17,995,000); $875 per square foot; 2012: “It was shop worn, with 2,261 cumulative days on the market. A nice buy, although my original client was going to purchase it at higher price when it first came on the market but was denied access to show it.

“An identical quality home, designed by the same architect and built by the same builder on 29 acres sold off-market, about the same time, with a smaller footprint at $1,000 a square foot, for $19 million furnished. A good buy all in all.”

  • East Starlight Way, Paradise Valley –– $15,680,000 ($18,000,000); $508; 2005: “Another large home on a signature street with an enormous guest house on seven acres, gated, with views of the McDowell Mountains and Four Peaks. Quality builder, Kitchell, and well-known architect, Vernon Swaback.

“But, it’s an older home required updating and renovation work, say, $1 or $2 million. Not a bad buy, but the owner had to drop the list price to accommodate the renewing money the home required.”

  • North Wilkinson Road, Paradise Valley –– $12,600,000 ($13,800,000); $819.19; 2009: “Buyer overpaid by as much as $4 million. The kitchen, baths, door heights and flooring was dated; yet the home offered a lazy river, volleyball court, a separate guest home and caretaker cottage. Fine homes on this street trade within $5 to $8 million. An exceptional neighboring home is listed at $15 million from 24, but it offers five-star resort-level finishes.”
  • North 68th Street, Paradise Valley –– $12,000,000 ($18,000,000); $669.94; 2016: “Great buy. It took 10 years to build it, with premier Venetian plaster over triple thick masonry walls, book-matched granite slabs throughout the estate and furniture grade wood and ironwork by artisans on site. A palatial masterpiece.

“You’d have to spend $20 million to build it, and it can’t be reproduced on this acreage, because the town of PV changed the set-back and lot-coverage requirements since. It was perfect for them; privacy and being close to the country club mattered.”

  • East Wingspan Way, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $10,300,000 ($10,500,000); $824; 2015: “John Schultz, one of the best in the business, built the home. A good deal; it still has today’s look. It was a walk-in home for the new owners, with lots of light and bright light earth tones and sweeping views.”
  • Silvercrest, Clearwater Hills –– $9,500,000 ($9,800,000); $1,045; 2006: “A great buy for both the seller and buyer. Super views of Camelback and Mummy mountains and the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. This classic European-design home, with just shy of 9,100 square feet, offered a detached casita. The seller purchased it at $8 million, renovated it to greater perfection.

“One downside is that the internal asset manager for the owner would not take our calls; he refused to revisit our offer, which might have put the seller in a better position at close.”

  • East  Valley Vista Lane, Paradise Valley –– $9,500,000 ($10,750,000); $772.67; 2007: “About 13,000 square feet on two and one-third acres on the north side of Camelback Mountain, with very nice homes up and down the neighborhood. A fair price; the seller did very well, and the buyer got a walk-in home with a ton of privacy and views.”
  • North 102nd Street Scottsdale (Desert Mountain) –– $9,300,000 ($9,950,000), $1,232.11; 2016: “This gorgeous home is in the community’s private upper reserve, the ‘Canyon,’ with great views of the Valley. This is a ‘want buy,’ not a steal. The buyer bought what he wanted. Gorgeous home. Exceptionally well designed and finished; *Sold furnished* brought it to the 9’s.”
  • East Joshua Tree Lane, Paradise Valley –– $8,500,000 ($7,750,000); $808.83; 2011: “Nicely situated between Mummy Mountain and Camelback Mountain, this deal included furniture because it sold higher than list. A little dated, but it offered lots of upgrades, the right floorplan and location for the buyer. Seller did extremely well for a street that hasn’t gotten the numbers of some other luxury neighborhoods.”
  • North 102nd Street, Scottsdale (Desert Mountain) –– $8,500,000 ($9,495.000); $956.35; 2015: “In high-elevation Saguaro Forrest Village. Built by Manship, one of the Valley’s top-three custom home builders, with some great features. Good for the buyer, who saved time and money not building it. Seller did extremely well on this five-year-old resell.”
  • Wilkinson Road (Paradise Valley) –– $8,500,000 ($9,500,000), $964.05; 2017: “Included a large guest house; five-car garage and great views of Camelback Mountain and its signature landmark, The Praying Monk. Good for the seller, at $964 per square foot for a two-plus-year-old home, but for the buyer it’s high, unless it was sold turn-key to include items such as the contemporary furniture and those cars.”
  • North 112th Street, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $7,800,000 ($8,495,000); $782.03; 2015: “Recently built in the Upper Canyon of Silverleaf, this is a home the buyers didn’t have to do anything with: great views, guard gated and golf. A very good buy, and the sellers got their money out of the home, too.”
  • North Ironwood Drive, Paradise Valley –– $7,400,000 ($7,995,000); $603.44; 2005: “Originally an REO, it was completely rebuilt in 2012, designed by Scottsdale architect Brent Kendall, who reimagined it to perfection. Quiet street, views to both directions, and the adjacent mountain blocks that western sun. Seller had invested several million into the home before selling it. A great buy and sale.”
  • North 66th Street Paradise Valley –– $7,350,000 ($7,350,000); $470.58; 2010: “Great home and good buy with nice-size guest house. Was for sale for some time; the home was becoming dated, unsold. A fantastic buy at one-half off of its original list price in 2011.”
  • East Feathersong Lane, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $7,315,000, ($7,650,000); $751.72; 2013: “Again, in the Upper Canyon just at the base of the McDowells. A beautifully designed home by Valley architect Gary Wyant, with every room centered on unparalleled Valley and mountain views. Move-in-ready home to tag as a very good buy. And, the seller got their money out of it, getting very close to asking in a premier area.”
  • North Mummy Mountain Road, Paradise Valley –– $7,300,000, ($25,000,000); $287.22; 2006: “This is a beautifully designed home with a large guest house by Erik Peterson, right at the base of the Mummy Mountain surrounded by other five-plus-acre parcels in town on five acres.

“With close to one-half of a decade on the market, if left vacant, the carrying cost alone must have been a significant loss. Best practice is to consult, remodel, paint, stage and clean up the home inside and out for it to appeal to a wider range of buyers in order to avoid selling your investment at one-third of its original asking price.” 

  • East Wingspan Way, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $7,300,000 ($7,499.500); $672.01; 2009: “Again, the highly desirable Upper Canyon; heavy Tuscan, a style very much in favor when it was built. The seller patiently waited in order to do well. Should this style and floor plan not become popular again, the sell period can become lengthy. The home was listed under various addresses.” 
  • East Canyon Cross Way, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $7,100,000 ($7,395,000); $815.34; 2019: “Upper Canyon, once again a new home on almost four acres. Never-lived-in homes are selling at premium. New, never lived-in homes are trading 35–40 percent more than lived-in/re-sell homes, so a very good buy. Seller did well too, getting close to asking.”
  • North Wilkinson Road, Paradise Valley –– $7,000,000 ($8,950,000); $466.48; 2015: “Almost three years on the market, with poor choice of design and finishings, unfashionable dark plank floorings, wide niches, elevation changes, and the contrasting casings around windows stop the eye from enjoying inside/outside sight lines.

“Buyer did well but should consider updating or pricing it accordingly. It’s so important to pay attention to trends and competing homes for sale. Always keep in mind your exit strategy as a buyer to avoid huge expenses when you decide to move.”

Active listing perspective:

  • Wingspan, Scottsdale (Silverleaf) –– $32,000,000; $2,060; 2005: “When asking $2,000 a foot, you need to justify how you arrived at that offering price, as that’s more than twice what the market is selling for. It’s 17 acres, Bing Hu design, Silverleaf, huge 7,500-square-foot guest house. But, how favorable are the finishings? Can one split the acreage for more lots?”
  • Heritage, Scottsdale  (Silverleaf) –– $26,000,000; $1,811.85; 2018: “Originally built by Linthicum, this large home has gone through a  number of significant renovations, the most recent by Salcito Custom Homes here in Scottsdale, with about $10 million invested. I’d offer it for $22 million and be willing to deliver it turnkey for the full asking price in order to expedite a sell.”
  • Saguaro, Paradise Valley –– $21,000,000; $1,322.83; 2010: “This five-acre lot is worth as much as $7 million, stunning views of Camelback and Mummy mountains. Built by the very best, Hunt Construction. This estate also offers a long driveway approach and from the back-yard you see no rooftops. This offering price makes sense.”
  • Red Ledge, Paradise Valley –– $20,000,000; $1,111.11; unbuilt: “It’s a 16.4-acre mountaintop estate lot with two building pads and a design by CP Drewett. But there’s no home built, and I don’t think they can deliver this one at offering price. It will require extensive excavation, you’ll burn a clutch arriving up the hill to this homesite; plus, it will take years to build. This is a ‘buyer beware.’ Look into all facts and details.”
  • Invergordon Road, Paradise Valley –– $14,990,000; $579.86; 2013: “For me, this is the buy of the current estate-level listings. At 25,000 square feet with lots of curves on two acres, it’s built to commercial standards with features like a 25-person elevator, shooting range and a beautiful staircase. They thought this one through. Would require $30 million to build. Flawless.”
  • 59th Place, Paradise Valley –– $13,988,648; $699.43; 2014: “French-inspired Bella Paradiso is on the Mummy Mountain with a spectacular view of Camelback Mountain and interior design by noted Jamie Herzlinger. The lower level ballroom will take your breath away. Priced about $8 million less than a year ago. That’s more realistic.”
  • Invergordon, Paradise Valley –– $13,950,000; $930; 2012: “This has been on the market forever. It’s very dated, very heavy. That used to be the style. It isn’t anymore.”

“Trust a luxury-property specialist.  A seasoned market specialist can service your real estate needs at the highest level,” Aazami says.

“An experienced professional will help both the luxury seller and buyer obtain more. At this level, savvy buyers are going to want to examine a property in depth, and sellers should know what the market will bear and how to present their properties at the best posture.”

Aazami explains that Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty has 12 local offices, with nearly 1,000 associates and more than 70 years of experience in Arizona. “Our seasoned Private Client Group professionals can sit down with you and make informed recommendations. We know the local and global markets, down to the streets, we know the architects, the builders; we know quality and less than quality. It’s like a diamond. You can look at a home from many perspectives, but are you seeing just the shimmer and not the imperfections?”

What’s more, your local Private Client Group advisor networks with professionals in 69 countries 950 offices and territories. “So, if you have multiple holdings in many areas, we can supervise your portfolio through the Sotheby’s PCG worldwide network. We’re a one-stop shop delivery. Our partners report directly to us.

“You’ve worked hard for your money, your home, your security. And, you don’t want your home for sale for months and months or even years and years. You want to get on with the next chapter in life. After all, all we have in life is time. Trust that to a specialist.”

For more information, visit WhyPrivateClientGroup.com and pcgagents.com, email Frank Aazami, frank@pcgagents.com, or phone/text, 480.266.0240.

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