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1. Quality of Labor has never been better – During the boom in 2004, 2005 and 2006, many suppliers and subcontractors struggled to maintain enough labor to adequately staff and complete projects, which in turn had an adverse effect on construction schedules. With the recent economic downturn, most trades have been able to streamline their processes, improve internal controls, and retain the best and brightest of the labor pool. In turn they are able to keep labor costs in line, and in some cases, reduce costs through other efficiencies. All of this is a direct savings or benefit to the buyer in terms of lower prices, less delays, and increased quality.

2. When the market reverses it’s trend and starts its rebound, you’ll start to see dramatic labor increases. Arizona will face significant issues with the new employment sanction laws that went into effect at the beginning of 2008. These new laws require all employers to verify that Arizona employees are legal citizens or approved workers, or face the possibility of losing their business license. This is not to say that our subcontractors are, or were, illegal workers. In fact, the opposite is true. The custom home subcontractors tend to be the most experienced and highly trained group in the valley. Enforcement of this law will have a negative impact on the labor pool and there is no denying that even a return to permit levels in the 2002 – 2004 time period will produce a shortage of labor not experienced in years past.

3. Material prices have hit bottom – The vast majority of material pricing has reached record 3-year lows and appears to be on the rise. In today’s global marketplace materials are a precious commodity and are heavy, bulky and difficult to transport. This worldwide demand will create an erratic supply growth as the global economy starts to rebound and prices start to increase.

4. Cost of financing is at an all time low – It is a fantastic time to finance the construction of a new home. Construction loan rates are averaging between 5.0% and 6.0%, with a loan to cost of 70-80%, while permanent loans are now in the 5.5% to 6.5% range.

5. Scottsdale has been a great investment over the last 5 years – According to the attached charts, the North Scottsdale zip codes have experienced significantly higher increases in values during the boom times, and dramatically lower decreases in values during the downtimes, when compared to other cities in Arizona or other areas of the country.

To illustrate an example of this, say in 2004 you purchased a home in the 85262 zip code for $1,500,000. That home today, even with the latest decrease in home values, would be worth $1,768,500.

6. Where else are you going to invest your money? When comparing the North Scottsdale real estate market with the rest of the nation, or even the stock market for that matter, building a home in North Scottsdale would appear to be a very smart and prudent investment. With North Scottsdale being landlocked by State land, Indian Reservations and other cities and towns, the likelihood of land or property increasing is very likely.

Please contact me for information on this fine builder!  Debbie O.

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Foreclosure Update in AZ, November 2009

Foreclosures in Focus: Maricopa County
A Look at What 2009 Delivered and What 2010 May Hold
By Tom Ruff
AZR November 2009

AZ REALTOR® Magazine Publication Information

The last 12 months add another chapter to Arizona’s boom-or-bust real estate story, and this time the bust is on steroids. Over the past year, we’ve seen record foreclosures, falling prices, incredible depression, and lastly, renewed hope. Though many realized the heights to which our market soared in 2006 were unsustainable, few could have imagined the velocity at which our market fell and the depths to which we would tumble.

We began the fourth quarter of 2008 with foreclosure activity and bank-owned properties at historical highs and trending upwards. The market was searching for any type of positive support—or maybe just a hug—when Lehman Brothers failed and the stock market plunged. Everywhere you looked, the news was bad and getting worse.

With an emergency session of Congress and $700 billion later, Uncle Sam was in the banking business. Washington followed their capital infusion with close scrutiny, a foreclosure moratorium was mandated, and our upward trending foreclosure line leveled to 12,500 foreclosures per quarter, 95% of which reverted to the lender. With bank-owned inventories at all time highs, home shoppers with the ability to buy began to recognize unbelievable bargains with little or no competition.

Business as “unusual” continued through the holidays and into February, when the moratorium was lifted. As expected, foreclosures soared to 5,237 for the month. In March, new notices followed suit, climbing to 10,689, and the doomsayers came out in force predicting a summer housing collapse with massive foreclosures everywhere. National publications were labeling Arizona the worst place in America to buy real estate. On the ground, savvy real estate investors were snapping up bank-owned properties, and a bidding war emerged.

On April 6th, prices hit bottom, and investors searching for bargains turned to short sales and the courthouse steps. The summer came and went as the federal government continued orchestrating an orderly exit from the theatre. New notices had peaked in March, and trustee’s deeds hit their high in July. Regardless, quarterly foreclosure numbers had found their home: 12,500. The dire predictions of spring never materialized.

As fall arrives and winter approaches, it is not only possible but probable that the worst of the housing crisis is behind us. Record unemployment and 50,000 active notices will keep the champagne on ice through next year. Just the same, there are reasons to be optimistic. Active notices will quite likely peak this quarter, signaling another market bottom. Bank-owned inventories are manageable. Third-party buyers are purchasing 25% of the properties auctioned and gathering momentum. Short sales are becoming a familiar practice. And new notices are hinting at year-over-year declines.

The biggest positive? Arizona has its two best players back in the starting lineup, a combination which has been unbeatable for 50 years: affordable housing and climate. Today it’s 83 degrees with sunshine, and 83% of all household incomes can afford a median-priced home.

I even saw a national publication last week calling Arizona the best place to buy in America.

Tom Ruff, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, founded The Information Store in 1982 and quickly became known as “the source” for publicly recorded real estate data in Maricopa County. In August 2005, Ruff formed The Information Market, specializing in foreclosure data and housing studies. Ruff is an expert on publicly recorded data and is known for his monthly housing opinion, which shares an inside—and sometimes irreverent—look at the Phoenix housing market. He is often quoted in local and national publications.

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Home prices are expected to rise

80% of economists surveyed see housing recovery in 2010

We are already feeling it. The good homes in Carefree, Cave Creek, and Scottsdale that are priced right are selling quickly. Buyers are missing good options by waiting on the fence. Carefree estate homes and luxury homes in Cave Creek are in short supply. Be ready for the good ones! Ask me about auto-email updates.

From the experts….

Economic forecasters predict that 2010 will be the first year since 2005 for housing to contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy, according to a survey released by the National Association for Business Economics.

Home prices are expected to rise 2 percent next year, but forecasters don’t believe the increase in prices will discourage homebuyers.

More than 80 percent of economists surveyed by the NABE think the recession is over and recovery has begun, but they expect the expansion to be slow because unemployment persists.

Source: Associated Press, Mae Anderson (10/12/2009)

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Hiking Trails Near Scottsdale Arizona Gated Communities

Scottsdale is known for its hiking. In fact there are approximately 58 miles of bike paths and 40 miles of riding and hiking trails in Scottsdale! Many of the trails are in preserves and open spaces and require a short drive, making it a great activity for couples and families alike.
Located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale is the landmark known as Tom’s Thumb. Last weekend, I had the opportunity to hike Tom Thumb’s Trail, one of the more notable hikes which can be seen from Sereno Canyon. In fact, the trail head is less than a mile from the Arizona gated community.DSCN1163.1024

The trail makes for a fine day hike in the beautiful, lush Sonoran desert. It begins in an area known as the Catacombs where you can see breathtaking boulder formations. As you make your way to the top, the views are amazing. You can see the Superstition Mountains, Four Peaks and White Tank Mountains during the course of the hike. To the north of the Thumb, you can find a small alcove known as The Ogre’s Den. It has artwork painted on the walls from earlier local residents and is truly a unique sight. The trail continues to gain in altitude until reaching its final elevation of 3,925 feet! The highest peak in the McDowell’s is East End Peak, at 4,200 feet.

The wildlife that inhabits the area includes Coyotes, Gila Monsters, Javelinas, Desert Tortoises and Diamondback Rattlesnakes. While most of these critters like their privacy, keep a cautious eye out for sightings of any of these animals and keep your distance as much as possible. Smaller, less threatening, animals that can be seen on the trail include lizards, birds and cottontails. Plants that inhabit the area include Palo Verde, Mesquite, Acacia and Ironwood as well as Saguaro, Ocotillo and Barrel Cactus.

I made my descent to the end of the trail and stopped to check out some information about the rest of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Adjacent to Sereno Canyon, the McDowell Sonoran Preserve consists of 19,940 acres of open space. It was established in the 1990s and is currently home to 15 hiking trails. Plans are in place to gradually have a total of 36,000 acres of open space within the preserve.

In June 2008 construction began on the Gateway Access Center, an improved parking and picnic area located at Thompson Peak Parkway and Bell Road. The Gateway Access Center will also be home to the planned Desert Discover Center, a facility dedicated to preservation and education of desert wildlife and eco-systems.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve and all its offerings are just steps away from Sereno Canyon, one of Scottsdale Arizona’s last gated communities offering estate-sized custom homesites. With more than half of the community remaining open space, you’ll have the beautiful Scottsdale desert mountain landscape within the comfort of your backyard.

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Cave Creek Unified School District needs for you to Vote…Register this week online!!

Key Upcoming Dates:

October 5: Deadline to register to vote in the November election. Click Here to Register to Vote or Update your Registration. http://recorder.maricopa.gov/web/regform.aspx

October 23: Deadline to request an early ballot and vote by mail (these may also be dropped at your polling place on election day). With our busy lives, we highly recommend vote by mail requests. You must be registered to vote to request a mail ballot. Click Here to Request Mail Ballot. https://recorder.maricopa.gov/earlyvoteballotnet/

November 3: Election Day! See Polling Place Locations and Maps http://www.learnyes.org/pollingplaces.html

Please Note: The Maricopa County Recorder’s website is experiencing increased traffic at this time. Voter registration links may load slowly or not at all. Please keep trying!

Key Facts:

The district has lost $3.7 million in funding for the 2009/2010 school year due to state budget cuts (11% of it’s operating budget).
If the override fails, the district will lose about $325,000 in 2010/11, an additional $325,000 in 2011/12, and an additional $325,000 2012/13 for a total annual loss of around $1 million.
Overrides fund teaching positions and classroom materials. Unlike bonds, which are for buildings, override money goes straight into the classroom.
Passage of the K-3 override will not result in any tax increase. Although state law requires the ballot to say ‘budget increase’ we are actually voting to renew the override already in place.

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Carefree Town Anniversary Celebration

Saturday, October 3rdvisit

CAREFREE, Ariz., (August 26, 2009) — Celebrate Arizona history in Carefree when the town commemorates 25 years of incorporation with a full day of festivities throughout the community on Saturday, October 3rd,

Most of the day’s events are free, and all are open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring canned goods to benefit the Foothills Food Bank. Drop off stations will be at each of the day’s events. Visitors can get more information at www.Carefree.org.

From vintage aircraft at Sky Ranch airport, to the exotic car show featuring an extremely rare Bugatti Veyron at the Carefree Market Place, to the quiet contemplative labyrinth walks and pet adoptions at the Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, the celebration takes place at historic venues throughout the town.

“Carefree is celebrating 25 years of incorporation, but we are also commemorating 50 years of history,” said organizer and resident Jo Gemmill, owner of the English Rose Tea Room. Although we incorporated in 1985, the very first home among the boulders here was built in 1959,” she said.

October 3rd, Carefree Town Anniversary Events:

Vintage Aircraft Display – Free

Sky Ranch, 8am-3pm

Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast 8am-11am

8302 E. Cave Creek Road


Meet the pilots and see vintage bomber and historical planes as the private Sky Ranch opens its doors to the public for the day and plays host to a static air show. Planes include the Stearman, P-51, Bulldog, Spitfire, a P-38 and more. Kiwanis of Carefree will host a pancake breakfast throughout the morning.

Historical tie-in: Sky Ranch was the first airport in the country to offer fly-in houses and was used to court out-of-town investors by the town’s founders K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington.

Exotic Car Show – Free

Carefree Market Place, 10am-3pm

36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive


Get a close look at more than 100 exotic cars including a Bugatti Veyron valued at more than two million dollars! See Porches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, Jaguars, Corvettes, Cadillacs, street rods and more. This show is organized by Carefree business owner Sue Bickerdyke of Sue Bickerdyke Interiors.

Historical tie-in: Carefree Market Place was the first commercial center built outside of the original Easy Street commercial core.

Labyrinth Walks, Pet Adoptions and Non-Profit Activities – Free


in the Desert Retreat Center, 10am-3pm

7415 E. Elbow Bend Road


Soak in the serenity of the Sonoran Desert in the heart of downtown Carefree. Stroll the meditative labyrinth or take a short nature walk circling this special 28-room retreat and conference center with a resort like feel. Carefree area non-profits will be represented including the Foothills Animal Rescue who is offering pet adoptions, and the Foothills Foodbank who will be collecting canned goods.

Historic tie-in: The Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center building was one of the first commercial buildings in Carefree and was originally built as the home of the Carefree International Restaurant.

Fire Station Tours – Free

Carefree Fire Station, 10am-3pm

37401 N. Tom Darlington Drive


Stop by Carefree’s new award-winning fire station and enjoy a tour, visit with the firefighters and a look at the state-of-the-art emergency services are offered there. The structure was designed by LEA Architects led by Lawrence Enyard and won a Design Excellence Honor Award in 2008.

Historic tie-in: The Carefree Fire Station building was designed to emulate Carefree’s most historic landmark, the Sundial.

Town Hall Tours – Free

Carefree Town Hall, 10am-3pm

8 Sundial Circle


Get your first glimpse of Carefree’s new Town Hall and meet the town’s elected Councilmen and women and town staff. Enjoy a piece of birthday cake and view the town’s historical exhibit.

Historic tie-in: Town founders K.T. Palmer and Tom Darlington once housed their Carefree Development Corporation in this building.

The Sundial and Botanical Gardens Self-Guided Tours – Free

Every Day

Easy Street, Downtown Carefree

The Sundial that sits along Easy Street can still be used to mark time and the beautiful botanical gardens that surround it offer the peaceful beauty Carefree is known for. Learn how a sundial works, walk through the gardens and visit the cool fountain, or the take the kids down the larger than life Gila Monster slide. Enjoy native vegetation complemented by beautiful sculpture along the way.

Historic tie-in: The Kiwanis Club of Carefree donated the Sundial to the community. It is the third largest sundial in the world and is one of the most photographed landmarks in Carefree. The Sundial reflects the town’s original motto of “Carefree Where The Sun Tells Time.” Kiwanis Club of Carefree still exists today as one of the area’s most philanthropic non-profit service organizations.

Open House

Carefree Resort & Villas, noon-6pm

37220 N. Mule Train Road


Need a break

Event at the Town Center Amphitheatre for delicious food and or an iced cold drink? Choose from several resort restaurants. Or simply enjoy some time in the sun by the pool. The facility will feature an open house for anniversary visitors.

Historic tie-in: The Carefree Inn opened in January, 1964 and was developed to accommodate interested parties, mainly potential real estate investors, in the Carefree area. The resort once featured synchronized swimmers called Aqua Maids at the pool to entice the public to visit the facility.


The Town of Carefree is located just minutes north of Scottsdale and Phoenix in the foothills of the Sonoran Desert. With a population of nearly 3,000, the community is known for it’s slightly cooler temperatures, quirky street names such as Easy Street, Languid Lane and Ho and Hum Roads, and its extreme mountain home architecture.

For more information call the Town of Carefree, , write PO Box 740, Carefree, Arizona 85377 or visit www.Carefree.org.

Carefree 25th Anniversary Day at a Glance – All Events Take Place in Carefree

Vintage Aircraft Display – Free

Sky Ranch, 8am-3pm, 8302 E. Cave Creek Road

Exotic Car Show – Free

Carefree Market Place, 10am-3pm , 36889 N. Tom Darlington Drive

Labyrinth Walks, Pet Adoptions and Non-Profit Activities – Free

Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, 10am-3pm, 7415 E. Elbow Bend Road

Fire Station Tours – Free

Carefree Fire Station, 10am-3pm, 37401 N. Tom Darlington Drive

Town Hall Tours – Free

Carefree Town Hall, 10am-3pm, 8 Sundial Circle

The Sundial and Botanical Gardens Self-Guided Tours – Free

Easy Street, Downtown Carefree

Carefree Resort & Villas Open House – Free

Noon-6pm, 37220 N. Mule Train Road

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Carefree News…GP Properties, Developer Lawsuit Finally Settled

United States District Court Decision in Favor of Carefreegavel 

The United States District Court has rendered a decision in the case of GP PROPERTIES CAREFREE CAVE CREEK, L.L.C., an Arizona limited liability company, Plaintiff, vs. TOWN OF CAREFREE, and the Council Members and their wives, Defendants. This is case No. CV- 05-2613-PHX-EHC.

This is the final case concerning the proposal to build a resort on the northwest corner of Scottsdale Road and Carefree Highway.

The Court found in favor of Carefree, the Members of Town Council and their wives.

The decision said in part:

“All of the claims in Plaintiff’s Complaint are based upon the premise that Defendants’ review of Plaintiff’s SUP application was a non-discretionary, administrative act. All of Plaintiff’s claims fail as a matter of law because they rely upon a legal theory that the Court of Appeals rejected and Superior Court Orders that the Court of Appeals expressly vacated.

Therefore, there are no material issues of fact to be resolved and Defendants are entitled to judgment on the pleadings as a matter of law.


IT IS ORDERED that Defendants are granted judgment on the pleadings.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that judgment shall be entered in favor of Defendants.”

Construction Activity October

Southwest Gas through subcontractor Northern Pipeline will be replacing old gas main lines beginning September 29, 2009 in the area of Spanish Boot from Golden Spur North for 3,000 feet.  There will be flagmen and signage at construction site. 

Please drive carefully through the construction area.  If you have any questions or concerns, please call Town Rights-of-Way Coordinator Patrick Neal at (602)689-8534.


Upcoming Meetings

Carefree Water Company Meeting

The Carefree Water Company Board of Directors will hold a meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 2009 beginning at 4pm.

The agenda for the meeting will be posted on the Town’s website at www.carefree.org and outside Town Hall Council Chambers by Friday, October 1, 2009 at 4:30pm.


Properties for sale at:


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Mortgage rates in U.S. drop to 4.94% -

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed U.S. home loans fell to 4.94% this week, dipping below 5% for the first time since dollarMay. The average U.S. rate declined from 5.04% last week. Mortgage applications fell last week from a four-month high, led by a decline in purchases. The MBA index of applications to buy a home or refinance a loan fell 2.8% to 649.6 in the week ended Sept. 25 from 668.5 the prior week. The group’s gauge of refinancing decreased 0.8% and its measure of purchases dropped 6.2%. The central bank said last week it will slow its purchases of mortgage-backed securities as the U.S. economy strengthens.

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Carefree & Cave Creek Home prices are lowest since 2001

Carefree & Cave Creek Home prices are lowest since 2001, and interest rates are Copy of sale“artificially low.” What are you waiting for? This is the perfect year to buy your vacation home or dream home in the the sunny Southwest!
Shopping is easy: www.CarefreeProperty.com 


Long-Term Rates Down for Third Consecutive Week – The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.04% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 17, 2009, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.  Last week, it averaged 5.07%, and a year ago it was 5.78%.  “Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages eased for the third consecutive week and remained at 3-month lows,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.  ”Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have averaged just above 5 percent through mid-September, which is roughly a percentage point below last year’s average and suggests that 2009 may reach a record annual low since the survey began in 1971.”

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It’s scary to jump into the housing market

Saguaros 300 at 600dpiYes, many of the homes for sale are Lender owned Foreclosures or Short Sales. Keep in mind that there are also traditional Sellers who bought many years ago, have a low basis and can sell at low prices.

This is the best time in 8 years to buy a home in Carefree, Cave Creek, and North Scottsdale.
Sellers are ready to deal, and homes are selling!!

Debbie Omundson, www.CarefreeProperty.com

Sharing a published viewpoint:

By James B. Stewart, SmartMoney

Passing through the Fort Myers, Fla., airport a few weeks ago, I noticed people eagerly signing up for a free bus tour of foreclosed real estate — with all properties offering water views. During the ride to my hotel, the young driver volunteered that he’d just bought his first house, paying $65,000 for a foreclosed property in nearby Cape Coral that had last sold for more than $250,000. He said he’d never expected to be able to buy anything on a driver’s salary, let alone something that nice.

Late last month, Standard & Poor’s reported that its S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price index of real-estate values increased this past quarter over the first quarter of 2009, the first quarter-on-quarter increase in three years. Its index of 20 major cities also rose for the three months ended June 30 over the three months ended May 31, with only hard-hit Detroit and Las Vegas experiencing declines. The week before that, the National Association of Realtors reported that sales volume of existing homes was up 7.2% in July from June.

In short, the data suggest that real-estate prices hit a bottom some time during the second quarter and have now begun to rise. There’s no way to be certain that this marks the end of the long, painful correction that followed the real-estate bubble, but clearly prices are no longer in free fall.

That means if you’ve been sitting on the fence, it’s time to act.

Trying to buy at a bottom

Ordinarily I’d never try to time the real-estate market, but I can understand why buyers have been cautious. Few want to buy in down markets, just as stock buyers avoid bear markets. And for most people, of course, buying a house is a much bigger decision than buying a stock.

But with real-estate prices nationally now down about 30% from their 2006 peak and showing signs of turning up, the prices aren’t likely to go much lower. Every real-estate market is local, and so there may be a few exceptions. Overall, though, I can’t imagine a better time to buy than right now.

In addition to bargain prices, buyers should find plenty of homes to choose from. The inventory of unsold homes was 4.09 million units in July, up 7.3% from June, according to the National Association of Realtors. And mortgage rates this week were at a two-month low of close to 5%.

Even the stricter appraisal process is working to the advantage of buyers. Appraisals are coming in far lower than most sellers have been expecting, forcing them to face the new reality of sharply lower prices. And with stricter standards, lenders aren’t going to let buyers borrow more than they can afford, which protects buyers and helps to keep prices down.

The flipping days are over

Unless you’re really prepared to accept the demands (and headaches) of being a landlord, I don’t recommend direct ownership of real estate as an investment. The days of buyers lining up to buy and flip Miami Beach and Las Vegas condos are mercifully gone. There are much easier ways to make money in real estate, such as buying into real-estate investment trusts or buying shares in homebuilders and other housing-related businesses, such as Home Depot (HD, news, msgs).

Historically, the mean rate of return on real estate has been around 3%, according to research from Yale economist Robert Shiller, who co-developed the Case-Shiller index. Shares in REITs and other stocks have often done much better.

But there’s a good reason homeownership has been such a central part of the American dream. It delivers security, pride of ownership, a sense of community and decent investment returns as a bonus.

I felt glad for my driver in Florida. He represents the other side of the foreclosure crisis. For every hardship story, and no doubt there are many, others are realizing their dreams of homeownership and getting what may well turn out to be the deals of their lives.

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