Ahwatukee may be on the verge of a 21st century kind of gold rush.
Suddenly, high-end luxury homes – at least a half dozen with multimillion-dollar price tags – are hitting the market as the spring buying season peaks.
Within the last five weeks or so, “For sale” signs have sprouted up at two homes priced at $6.5 million; at least four houses carrying $2 million price tags have gone on the market; five homes closed for prices between $1.2 million and $1.8 million. Four of those deals occurred last month.
“It’s very interesting,” said Ahwatukee Realtor Bonny Holland, who specializes in luxury homes and was the agent who sold two of the million-plus homes last month.
“It’s good to see and exciting to see those numbers,” she added.
Realtor Pam Eagan, who represents the seller of the latest $6.5 million Ahwatukee house to hit the market, thinks several factors are at play.
“The older the subdivision, the more valuable it gets as years go on,” said Eagan, who has been selling homes in the community for 33 of the 36 years she has lived in Ahwatukee.
Couple that with extensive remodeling undertaken at some of these luxury homes, sellers think now is the time to act before rising mortgage interest rates get too high for buyers looking to move up.
“So now these homes look like new and they’re in an old prime location like Ahwatukee,” she said.
Since 2000, only 17 homes in Ahwatukee have sold for more than $2 million – and most of those sales were before 2010. Only three deals worth more than $2 million have closed since 2011, according to Holland and Mike Orr, a former Arizona State University housing market analyst whose Cromford Report newsletter regularly examines market trends in the Valley.
Market not as strong as in 2015
Although Orr admitted “homes priced at more than $6 million are extremely unusual for Ahwatukee,” he isn’t ready to declare a seismic shift in the local luxury market.
“I would say that home sales over $1 million in Ahwatukee are very strong but not exceptional,” Orr said. “The 2016 market was unusually weak and the first half of 2015 was similar to what we are currently experiencing. However, I would say that pricing for the luxury market is not very strong and has gone slightly backwards since summer of 2015.
“I am not convinced there is anything unusual going on in the Ahwatukee high-end market, when you look at closed sales, rather than owner aspirations,” he added. “It is fair to say there has been a big improvement since the spring of 2016 back to the levels of the spring of 2015.”
Valley-wide, while luxury homes are selling better than they have in 10 years, “pricing is rather weak and has not regained its peak of summer 2015,” Orr said.
“The only exception would be Arcadia, which has remained extremely popular,” he added. “However, even there, pricing has stabilized since last summer. The market below $500,000 is much stronger than the luxury home market and is appreciating much faster.”
Nevertheless, local real estate agents are bracing for a parade of sports celebrities and newly minted tech millionaires coming into Ahwatukee to check out some of the modern-day palaces that are for sale.
Dream on, Harry Potter
Realtor Jennifer Parks of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty thinks her client’s 9,100-square-foot home on South Canyon Drive might catch the eye of a hoops star because the house includes a basketball half-court with a floor installed by the same company that installed the floor at the Phoenix Suns’ court at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix.
Located right off the court is an exercise room stocked with the latest and some of the most expensive exercise and body-building machines on the market.
Situated on a hill with part of the South Mountain Preserve as its backyard, the Canyon Reserve home’s Tuscan design gives it a look of what Parks called “a Harry Potter castle.”
But then, a visitor sees accoutrements that the young wizard never dreamed of – including an extra-wide, commercial-grade Sub Zero refrigerator/freezer, two fully equipped laundry rooms, three dishwashers, Wolf stainless steel kitchen appliances, app-driven floor-to-ceiling glass patio doors and gravity-edge swimming pool near a huge stone spa.
The home also sports some unusual decorative accents: Bricks from an old Paris street were used to make the massive range hood; two-inch thick doors to many rooms are from the 17th century; rough-hewn massive ceiling beams also date back hundreds of years.
Parks said the owner, who is downsizing now that his children have grown up and moved on, spent three years building the home before it was finished in 2006.
While there, his children enjoyed small hiding places linked by a concealed tunnelway running beneath the main floor of the home.
Parks says the house offers “luxurious living ideal for a Valley executive or sports star.”
And an economy-minded one at that, since the house recently dropped in price from $2.5 million to a mere $2.25 million.
It will ‘blow your mind’
Its original sales price represents just the cost of the addition that was put two years ago onto the home Eagan is selling for $6.5 million on South Equestrian Trail.
At 10,400 square feet, the contemporary home was designed by architect Ian Baldinger and built in 1995, but completely remodeled with a $2.5 million addition two years ago.
That addition includes an 18-foot-by-36-foot “celebration room” with retractable walls and a full bar that Eagan said “will blow your mind.”
Eagan describes the home as a “beautiful artistic creation,” partly because of its extensive use of copper, glass, Jerusalem stone, imported custom artwork and custom wall coverings.
Its 30-by-25-foot master bedroom is next to a woman’s walk-in closet that is 18 feet long and 23 feet wide – and enough room to store 360 pairs of shoes.
One room measuring 20 feet by 15 feet is reserved just for crystal and china that can be stored in 30 built-in cabinets.
Attached to a 68-cabinet prep room, the gourmet kitchen offers 18 feet of counter space.
And for anyone who can tear themselves away from the wine cellar with tasting room, there’s always outside, where they can find a children’s playground, beach-entry pool, a basketball court, multiple patios and even a domed-roof gardener’s retreat.
The house’s direct competitor in Ahwatukee is a 14,124-square-foot home on South Honah Lee Court.
“These are the first listings I have ever seen over $5 million in Ahwatukee,” Orr said. “Quite odd they should come close together, which is a problem for the sellers since they will compete with each other for the extremely scarce buyers with this kind of budget.
“Very high-end luxury homes are extremely individual and unusual and are often worth a lot more to the current owner than to any prospective buyer, who probably has very specific and different tastes,” he added.
Nevertheless, Eagan is optimistic, saying the tech millionaires in their 40s are itching to settle down and hoping they’ll be attracted to “Ahwatukee’s work of art in the desert.”