Recently a client and I exchanged emails about her housing options that reminded me of one of most enduring metro Phoenix’s real estate truisms: fabulous is often also too far out (geographically speaking).
Since metro Phoenix has always had room to grow, geographically, it generally follows that the newer, fancier, nicer houses that many 20-something, 30-something and 40-something buyers want are miles out of town.
We had a saying during the boom years of 2004-2006 that buyers "drive until they qualify" meaning they drive out from center city until they hit a pocket where the builders have put up houses that those buyers can afford.
But really it's also true that buyers drive until they find the finishes & fixtures they desire at a price they can pay.
So what we often find is this . . . .
5 miles (7-12 minutes) from downtown Phoenix your budget of $150,000 buys this:
- about 1,200 to 1,400 square foot
- 2 or 3 bedrooms ; 2 bathrooms
- 1/4 acre lot, with no pool
- built in 1950s
- No HOA; you could add on another bedroom fairly easily
- linoleum floors & laminate counters
- overall, looks like it was remodeled on the cheap in late 1980s
10 to 12 miles (20-25 minutes) from downtown Phoenix that same $150,000 buys this:
- 1,500 to 1,800 square feet
- often with a pool ; usually about the same 1/4 acre lot as above
- Built in the 1970s or 1980s
- Probably no HOA
You can choose between an older kitchen in a fairly nice neighborhood. . .
. . . or you can choose a completely remodeled kitchen in a neighborhood most buyers would consider a step down from the neighborhood above.
20-25 miles (45-60 minutes!) from downtown Phoenix $150,000 buys this. . .
- 1700-1900 square feet
- rarely with a pool ; usually a small 1/10th of an acre (5,550 square feet)
- Brand new build house or about 3-5 years old
- HOA controls much of what you can do to the outside of the house
What’s more important to you - ?
Granite countertops and new cabinets or a quick 5 minute commute to downtown Phoenix?
5-year old house with generally poor insulation or a well-insulated 40 to 60 year old house that probably needs a new roof in the coming 5 years?
A little elbow room in your backyard or trying to plant a hedge to hide the 2-story house looming over your tiny backyard?
Long time readers know or will guess that I’d choose the teensy 1950s house over the new build in Surprise or Avondale every time. And that’s not just because I don’t have children. I’d raise kids in that teensy house in a heartbeat. They'll have more quality time with Mommy & Daddy because my commute to work is only about 8 minutes.
What about you?