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Mike Headrick gets cozy with a cactus in his front yard in Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

“He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the

About the Saguaro
Size: Average 30 feet (largest cactus species in the United States)
Longevity: 150-200 years
Habitat: Sonoran Desert
Blooming period: May and June
–Desert Botanical Garden
The rules regarding saguaro and other protected native plants can be found at Agriculture.AZ.gov.
Permits can be obtained at the Phoenix Office of the Agricultural Department, 1688 W. Adams St., 602-542-3578.
Scott Schade can be reached at 520-628-6317 or sschade@azda.gov.

picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.” – Dorothy B. Hughes


When Michael Headrick purchased saguaro skeletons two years ago, he created a notarized note indicating where and from whom he had acquired them, “just to be sure.”

Arizona loves its cactus, especially its saguaro. So much so, there are protections built into state law.

Headrick, who has lived in Rancho El Dorado nine years, loves cactus, too, and has made them an integral part of his landscaping – and his interior decorating. People just passing by his property have called it “the cactus house” because of the forest of 15-foot cacti out front. They haven’t seen the inside.

Life after Death

Saguaro skeletons and pieces of skeletons are installed in his living room, lighted from within for dramatic effect.

“I like saguaro,” Headrick said. “It’s extremely hard wood, and it’s a big job to clean them up. They’ve got old dry stuff inside, and you’ve got to get that stuff out, drill a hole in the bottom so you can run your lights through. I put them in the driveway and I bleach them with Clorox. Then I leave them outside all day long and they turn real white. They look a lot better than they did before.”

An aficionado of stained glass, he then had an epiphany.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I try to put a stained-glass window in one of these?’” he said. “It came out very nice.”

Cactus-as-art started with acquiring the skeletons in the first place. That happened when Headrick met a Mesa rancher willing to part ways with his saguaro wood.

“Wherever I live, I try to bring that into my house,” he said. “When I lived in Hawaii, I decorated with surfboards and things that had to do with the ocean. I couldn’t see living in Phoenix and decorating my house with Chicago stuff.”

Saguaro skeletons do not come with the legal requirements attached to live cactus. As long as permission is given by the landowner to access the property, whether private or federal, anyone can remove cactus wood. The state’s caution is that doing so could disturb habitat and interfere with soil fertility.

Laws of the Living

However, take a live cactus without proper authority and you may meet Scott Schade of the Office of Special Investigations.

It’s illegal to harm a saguaro, and moving one requires special paperwork. Schade said when people get in trouble acquiring a saguaro, it’s usually something basic. “Transporting it without a permit,” he said, is the top infraction.

A tag for a saguaro is $8. Tags for other protected plants cost $6. Investigators get called in for suspicious activity like trespassing, when movement tags are not obvious on protected plants being moved or when someone is trying to sell a wild saguaro without documentation. Legal ramifications depend on the “violation gravity factor,” according to the Arizona Administrative Code.

“It can be a fine, it can be jail time, it can be a civil penalty,” Schade said. “It depends on what’s going on.”

Landowners hauling a rotted saguaro to the landfill do not need a moving permit, he said.

If you want to raise your own, saguaros grow from seeds, not cuttings, and they grow slowly. A 10-year-old cactus may be less than two inches high, meaning they can be grown indoors for a very long time before needing a transfer.

Desert Décor

Headrick educated himself on the such laws before adding saguaro remains to his décor, which is a collection of western and Native American art, handmade furnishings, antiques and do-dads. He has given old radios the same treatment as the cactus skeletons, replacing audio panels with stained glass. He even has charred wood from old Maricopa buildings.

“You could sit in here for an hour and not see everything,” he said.

Headrick, 65, came to Maricopa in a roundabout way. He grew up in Chicago and first discovered Arizona when he was 28. He said he lived off dividends from trading options as a silent partner for years. He was living the high life in Arizona, California and Hawaii until his partner was indicted in a Ponzi scheme, wiping out his income.

His whole life downsized. He went back to work and moved.

“Maricopa was the only place I could afford to have a pool,” he said. “I sold my house two weeks before the crash for very top dollar, and I bought this house for very bottom dollar.”

He eventually took a job working the ramps at Southwest Airlines, and then worked almost 30 years as a credit card fraud analyst for Bank of America, from which he retired four years ago. He has kept up his own art, which informs his style of exterior and interior design.

“It’s very western out back,” Headrick said of a backyard that includes an OK Corral and cholla skeletons.

He estimates he has 20 cacti in the front yard comprised of claret cup, apple cactus, Mexican fence pole and San Pedro cactus, making landscaping and propagation very low maintenance.

“When an arm starts protruding toward the driveway and it’s time to cut it off,” he said, “you just cut it off, lay it on the ground, let it sit for 24 hours, dig a hole about a foot deep, drop it in there, give it a little bit of water and leave it alone.”

He also has a front “hedge” made of 25 elephant ear plants he nurtured for four years before cutting into a hedge shape.

This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Jim Headley


The least expensive home sold Jan. 16-Feb. 15 sold in an online auction by the owner/agent in January. A two-story, four-bedroom, no-frills house, it is nearly 12 years old with basic desert landscaping front and back.

  1. 21808 N. Liles Lane, The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado

Sold: Jan. 28
Purchase price: $154,000
Square footage: 2,195
Price per square foot: $70.16
Days on market: 7
Builder: Meritage
Year built: 2007
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.5
Community: The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado
Features: Master bedroom downstairs, walk-in closets, large kitchen, water softener, tile flooring throughout lower level
Listing Agent: Don Juvan, Gentry Real Estate
Selling Agent: Don Juvan, Gentry Real Estate

  1. 40215 W. Green Court, Desert Passage ……….. $159,900
  2. 35978 W. Costa Blanca Drive, Tortosa ………… $160,000
  3. 42515 W. Hillman Drive, Rancho El Dorado … $164,000
  4. 42359 W. Sunland Drive, Rancho El Dorado … $168,000


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Photo by Jim Headley

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa from Jan. 16 to Feb. 15 was a brand-new spec home by Fulton Homes in the Sycamore section of Glennwilde. Sporting tons of upgrades, from faucets to hardware, it has four bedrooms on one level and was on the market less than two weeks. Though having no landscaping yet in the backyard, the home is 2,500 square feet and comes with a three-car garage.

  1. 41840 W. Granada Drive, Glennwilde

Sold: Jan. 30
Purchase price: $340,598
Square footage: 2,517
Price per square foot: $135.31
Days on market: 13
Builder: Fulton Homes
Year built: 2018
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Community: Glennwilde
Features: All-new features with upgrades, dimmable task lighting, multiple ovens, energy efficient, huge great room, covered patio
Listing Agent: Linn Adair, Fulton Home Sales
Selling Agent: Jennifer Schumacher, Century 21 Arizona Foothills

  1. 16944 N. Palo Verde St., Palo Brea………………………………………..$335,000
  2. 41858 W. Almira Drive, Glennwilde………………………………………$307,500
  3. 40936 W. Hopper Drive, Homestead North………………………….$300,000
  4. 40810 W. Parkhill Drive, The Lakes at Rancho El Dorado………$300,000

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Photo by Kyle Norby


The least expensive home sold in Maricopa Sept. 16-Oct. 15 was on the market less than a month in the Smith Farms subdivision. Its selling price of $147,500 was less than a percentage point higher than the last time it sold in 2007. The one-story house overlooks a greenbelt and includes an eat-in kitchen.

1.       18374 N. Celis St., Smith Farms

Sold: Sept. 27
Purchase price: $147,500
Square footage: 1,321
Price per square foot: $111.66
Days on market: 27
Builder: KB Home
Year built: 2007
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Community: Smith Farms
Features: Extended covered patio in back, two bedrooms plus an office/den, two-car garage
Listing Agent: Jo Ann A. LaRussa, Keller Williams Legacy One
Selling Agent: Manuel M. Zambrano, Go Sold Realty

2.       21362 N. Reinbold Drive, Rancho El Dorado………………………….$162,000
3.       17316 N. Rosa Drive, Santa Rosa…………………………………………..$170,000
4.       45047 W. Alamendras St., Acacia Crossings…………………………..$171,000
5.       44993 W. Miraflores St., Acacia Crossings……………………………..$172,500

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa April 16 through May 15 was a lakeside house in Province that went for $375,000. That is a 2.8 percent increase in value since the last time the house was on the market in 2016 and just under $9,000 below the asking price. With a spacious floor plan and two master suites, the house included a back patio overlooking the water.

  1. 42419 W. Blue Suede Shoes Lane

Sold: May 15
Purchase price: $375,000
Square footage: 2,352
Price per square foot: $159.43
Days on market: 102
Builder: Engle
Year built: 2005
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Community: Province
Features: Large kitchen, slate tile, great views, beautiful entrance courtyard and back patio, water softener, surround sound
Listing agent: Kim Gillespie, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Selling agent: Danielle M. Nichols, The Maricopa Real Estate Company

  1. 42403 W. Jailhouse Rock Court, Province, $362,500
  2. 20204 N. Snowflake Drive, Province, $362,000
  3. 44558 W. Venture Lane, Cobblestone Farms, $359,000
  4. 22076 N. Balboa Drive, Rancho El Dorado, $358,500

    This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa April 16 through May 15 was a 20-year-old mobile home on a large lot in the Heritage District. It sold for $79,500. The property was last on the market in 2005, when it was priced at $120,000. This time, it sold in a little more than a month for its asking price.

  1. 19992 N. Condrey Ave., Maricopa Manor, $79,500

Sold: April 21
Purchase price: $79,500
Square footage: 1,216
Price per square foot: $65.37
Days on market: 36
Builder: Unknown
Year built: 1998
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Community: Maricopa Manor
Features: Remodeled with new cabinets and counter tops, new fixtures, new paint, four parking spaces
Listing agent: Daniel Tate, Presidential Realty
Selling agent: Mark A. Roberts, HomeSmart Success

  1. 44980 W. Fred Cole Lane, Estrella Park, $132,000
  2. 36900 W. Mondragone Lane, Sorrento, $145,000
  3. 18600 N. Lariat Road, Glennwilde, $148,000
  4. 19285 N. Ibiza Lane, Tortosa, $151,000

    This item appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

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By Dayv Morgan

Dayv Morgan

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, the thought of having a backyard pool becomes more desirable.

But many people are hesitant to add one, thinking the cost is too great, and the return on investment will be too small when it’s time to sell.

In Maricopa, however, neither seems to be accurate. Most appraisers will say a pool adds $10,000 of value to a home.

In some parts of the Valley, pools are very common. Over the last month in Chandler, for example, almost 50 percent of the homes sold had a pool.

But in Maricopa, the number of properties with pools is quite low. Over the same 30-day period, only 22 of the 178 closed homes had pools (12.3 percent). Therefore, the added value is much higher than $10,000, often $25,000 or more in retail value.

So, what does it cost to keep cool?

A basic 80-foot perimeter pebble tec pool, with a maximum depth of 5 feet, should cost about $22,000, depending on the access to the yard. This means in most cases you will get at least a 100 percent return on investment.

If you add other pool features such as a waterfall, spa, in-floor cleaning system or heater, the price will jump quickly and the overall return for the pool investment will decline.

Another factor to consider is the “days on market” when you list your home for sale. Properties with pools tend to sell much faster than those without.

In the last month listings, Maricopa homes without pools took an average of 73 days to sell, while homes with pools sold almost twice as fast, in only 37 days.

Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success.



This column appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

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Dayv Morgan

By Dayv Morgan

While there is often a lot of focus on getting a home ready to sell by improving and cleaning the interior, what a buyer sees on the exterior is equally as important. When I take potential buyers to look at a home, they begin making their decision on whether they like the property from the moment they get out of the car. Here are some focus areas and simple things you can do to improve the first impression of your home:

Over time, the exterior paint will fade and make the house look older than it is. Instead of repainting a whole house, you can give it a fresh look by repainting the trim or “pop outs” around the windows. This shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars but will vary depending on the size of the house.

As buyers are standing on the porch waiting for the front door to be unlocked, they are examining the area around them. Make sure the ground is swept, cobwebs are removed from the ceiling, and lights are dusted and cleaned of any bugs. Also invest $10 to $20 in a new welcome mat and give the front door a fresh coat of paint, if needed.

The majority of homes have desert landscape, so if you have grass in the front yard it can really be a nice feature. However, this time of year, most lawns have grass that is still dormant from the winter and filled with weeds. If the grass does not look lush and green, then the buyer will assume it is too much work to maintain and view it as a negative. Replacing the existing grass with new sod is not that expensive — a professional landscaper can purchase and install it in a 10-by-20-foot area for about $300.

A burst of color from some flowers can provide a nice accent amid all the shades of tan paint and rocks. Try adding two or three small pots with some flowers on the front porch. The majority of yards already have an automatic landscape watering system, and you could easily connect it so that they are watered and maintained without any extra effort.

The surrounding houses and yards can also impact the value of a home. If a buyer hears barking dogs or sees streets crowded with cars and unkempt yards, they won’t want to buy in that area despite how much they love the home itself. Unfortunately, you can’t pick your neighbors, but you have nothing to lose by politely asking them to keep their dog inside during the day or requesting they move the cars farther down the street until the home sells. And, even if you had to pay $100 for a landscaper to clean up someone else’s yard, it sure beats making a price reduction of $5,000 or more because the house isn’t selling.

Dayv Morgan is a Maricopa Realtor and owner of HomeSmart Success.

This column appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

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Sponsored Content

White: Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

By Dayv Morgan

As construction returns to Maricopa neighborhoods, new model homes give us a sneak peek into upcoming design trends in our region.

Last year, five builders opened model homes in six subdivisions and another three are scheduled to build new models in 2018.

White and espresso seem to be the dominant cabinet colors displayed in the model homes for builders locally, with granite or quartz countertops in almost every home; a few with just Formica laminate.

That design combination is also popular with many of the investors I work with.

Province Sales Associate Amy Jo Schoeberl said in her community most homes sold have white cabinets, with fewer buyers choosing espresso compared to two years ago.

Flooring choices inside the models were predominantly tile, in imitation “wood plank” style or in 12-by-24-inch size. A few of the homes had wood floors, and there were also some with vinyl floors that looked like wood.

Almost every new model I toured had gray- or beige-toned paint on the walls. The exception was Starlight Homes in Sorrento. They painted the walls white. Starlight is also somewhat unique in that the drywall corners featured in the model are straight corners instead of rounded. I was told that look is becoming popular. In fact, straight corners with this builder are actually an upgrade with an additional cost.

Meritage Homes at Homestead also has a model with white walls and straight corners, leaving out a design option for rounded corners.

Fulton Homes in Glennwilde, Costa Verde Homes in Santa Rosa Springs and Scott Communities in Sorrento are opening new models this year. It will be interesting to see what design aspects they pick.

One thing to keep in mind is that design trends are cyclical, so don’t stress if you feel your home is out of style. Give it enough time and it will be trendy again.

Espresso: Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

2017 Models:

Homestead (Meritage Homes): One model with cherry cabinets

Homestead (DR Horton): Two models. One with white cabinets and the other with espresso

Santa Rosa Springs (DR Horton): Two models. One with white cabinets and the other with espresso

Glennwilde (DR Horton): One model with white cabinets

Glennwilde (KB Homes): Two models. One with white cabinets and the other with espresso

Sorrento (Starlight Homes): One model with espresso cabinets

Rancho Mirage (LGI Homes): One model with espresso cabinets

Province (Meritage): 9 models. Three with cherry cabinets, three with white, two with gray, and one with espresso

Gray: Mark Boisclair Photography, Inc.

Dayv Morgan, HomeSmart Success



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Photo by Mason Callejas

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa from June 16 through July 15 was a two-story, five-bedroom house in Rancho El Dorado that went for $380,000. With one owner since it was built in 2002, it was on the market just over a month. It sold for $1,000 over its list price. The 4,000-square-foot home is on a 12,000-square-foot lot that overlooks the golf course and has a private pool.

1. 43304 W. Little Drive

Sold: June 24
Purchase price: $380,000
Square feet: 3,958
Price per square foot: $96.05
Days on market: 42
Builder: Hacienda
Year built: 2002
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: Three fireplaces, pebble tech pool with waterfall, patio, bedrooms on both floors, RV gate, three-car garage, surround sound, entertainment bar, granite countertops, water softener
Seller’s agent: Tamra K. Yelavich, Re/Max
Buyer’s agent: Brian French, The Maricopa Real Estate Company

2. 18359 N. Falcon Lane, Glennwilde, $335,000
3. 21841 N. Celtic Ave., Cobblestone Farms, $310,000
4. 44557 W. Garden Lane, Cobblestone Farms, $299,900
5. 20226 N. Madison Drive, The Villages at Rancho El Dorado, $299,000

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

The least expensive home sold in Maricopa from June 16 through July 15 was a short sale in Senita that sold for $110,000 in two days. Considered to be in fairly good condition but needing a little work, it has four bedrooms in its 2,275 square feet. The 5,000-square-foot lot has desert landscaping in front and dirt in back.

1.       43299 W. Elizabeth Ave. 

Sold: June 29

Purchase price: $110,000

Square feet: 2,275

Price per square foot: $48.35

Days on market: 2

Builder: Pulte

Year built: 2006

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 2.5

Community: Senita

Features: Patio area, laminate flooring, eat-in kitchen, two-car garage, basic amenities

Seller’s agent: Mario Beltran Espinoza, neXGen Real Estate

Buyer’s agent: Mario Beltran Espinoza, neXGen Real Estate


2. 40740 W. Sanders Way, Homestead, $125,000

3. 41158 W. Granada Drive, Glennwilde, $126,000

4. 41322 W. Lucera Lane, Glennwilde, $130,000

5. 36029 W. Velazquez Drive, Tortosa, $130,000

This item appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Mason Callejas


1. 21868 N. Balboa Drive

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa from Feb. 16 to March 15 was on the market for nearly a year but finally sold after dropping its asking price by more than $20,000. The two-story house sits next to The Duke at Rancho El Dorado and has views of three holes. It also sports nearly all of the amenities expected in Maricopa’s high-end homes, including a private swimming pool in an oasis of a back yard.

Sold: Feb. 24
Purchase price: $372,500
Square feet: 4,066
Price per square foot: $91.61
Days on market: 311
Builder: Hacienda
Year built: 2004
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 2.5
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: Two stories on golf course with private pool, custom paint, granite counter tops, landscaped yard, built-in BBQ, swim-up bar, patio, RV gate
Seller’s agent: James Leonard, Tru Realty, LLC
Buyer’s agent: Robert H. Rowe, The Maricopa Real Estate Company

2. 22049 N. Balboa Drive, Rancho El Dorado, $315,000
3. 20931 N. Get Around Drive, Province, $312,000
4. 42604 W. Mallard Lane, Province, $293,000
5. 44022 W. Palo Abeto Drive, Palo Brea, $274,500

This article appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

Submitted photo

By Betty Beeman

Betty Beeman
Betty Beeman

According to the National Gardening Association, tomatoes are the most popular vegetable among backyard gardeners.

According to a 2014 survey, one in three American households has a vegetable garden and nearly 9 in 10 of those gardens include tomatoes. Nothing tastes as good as a ripe, home-grown tomato.

There are thousands of tomato varieties, but all fall into a few broad categories:

1. Cherry tomatoes, such as Sun Gold, or Sweet Millions, have a sweet-tart tomato flavor and are great for salads and snacking on whole. Because the fruit is small, these are the first to mature.

2. Sauce tomatoes, such as Opalka, San Marzano or Grandma Mary’s Paste, have a rich flavor and much lower water content than other varieties. They are the best ones for spaghetti sauce.

3. Beefsteak tomatoes, such as Cherokee Chocolate, Brandywine or Homestead, have the biggest fruit and the greatest range of flavor and form. They are commonly sliced for sandwiches or cut up and added to salads, though the best varieties can be eaten like an apple.

MARCH TIPS: Plant seeds now for beets, carrots, sweet corn, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, green onions, spinach and sunflowers.

There are also many all-purpose tomato varieties that have traits from each category. Most of the round tennis ball-size tomatoes at the supermarket would be classed as all-purpose. These are usually modern hybrids that rarely match the complex flavor – and diverse appearances – of heirloom tomatoes.

Tomatoes grow best in moist soil and when the temperatures remain steadily in the 70 to 80 degree range. Our spring season is short, 60 to70 days for the optimal temperatures between 50 to 90 degrees.

Consider mixing peat moss into the soil to improve drainage. Prepare soil by digging down two feet. The hole needs to be deep enough that you can plant your transplant where only the top quarter of the plant will be sticking out of the ground.

Carefully take transplants out of pots and try not to disturb the roots during the transplanting process.

Mix native soil with equal amounts of peat or potting soil. Place a scoop of compost in the bottom of the hole. This will give your plant an extra boost and keep the plant from going into shock from transplanting. Fill in with garden mix and native soil, pat soil gently around tomato to firm. Water thoroughly.

To avoid the dreaded blossom end rot, be sure to keep the soil consistently moist and avoid letting the soil dry out. As the temperatures heat you should consider using a shade cloth over tomatoes.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders. Use Starter solution for transplants. Side dress 1-2 weeks before the first tomatoes ripen with 1½ ounces 33-0-0 per 10 foot row. Side dress again two weeks after the first ripe tomato with a balanced fertilizer such as 5-10-5. Repeat one month later.

Check out YouTube “Growing a Tomato Plant in the Desert” also “Desert Gardening with Carol Stuttard” (Master Gardener from Scottsdale) for more information.

Contact a Master Gardener volunteer

This column appears in the March issue of InMaricopa.

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Photo by Mason Callejas

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa Sept. 16-Oct. 15 is a luxury house in Province. Its selling price of $480,000 was $100,000 higher than the last time it sold four years ago but $19,900 under its asking price. The seller updated the kitchen, baths and flooring. The lot also came with a casita, pool, patio and three-car garage.

Sold: Oct. 8
Purchase price: $480,000
Square feet: 3,174
Price per square foot: $151.22
Days on market: 56
Builder: Engel Homes
Year built: 2006
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3.5
Community: Province
Features: Lakefront property with casita and private pool, master bedroom with bay windows, professionally decorated, upgraded appliances and flooring
Seller’s agent: Loretta Milkey, The Maricopa Real Estate Company
Buyer’s agent: Kerry Jackson, United Brokers Group

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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The least expensive home sold in Maricopa Sept. 16-Oct. 15 is a HUD-owned home in Alterra South. Its selling price of $119,700 was more than $10,000 short of what owners were seeking from the property. The 1,366-square foot home is on a 5,175-square-foot lot.

Sold: Oct. 5
Purchase price: $119,700
Square feet: 1,366
Price per square foot: $87.63
Days on market: 28
Builder: Unknown
Year built: 2006
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2
Community: Alterra South
Features: Basic home with open floor plan, kitchen island, covered patio and fire pit
Seller’s agent: Bernardino Ramos, RE/MAX-Preferred Choice
Buyer’s agent: Neil D. Rutt, Revelation Real Estate

This item appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

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A five-bedroom home in Rancho El Dorado was the most expensive home sold in Maricopa from mid-July to mid-August.

The most expensive home sold in Maricopa between July 16 and Aug. 14 is a two-story house that went for $360,000, about $25,000 under its asking price. A lot of work went into a luxury backyard that includes a private swimming pool, swim-up bar, playground, sport court and a ramada with an outdoor kitchen.

43204 W. Oakland Court

Date sold: Aug. 3
Purchase price: $360,000
Square feet: 3,274
Price per square foot: $109.95
Days on market: 69
Builder: Engle
Year built: 2002
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Community: Rancho El Dorado
Features: Swimming pool, playground, outdoor kitchen, lots of upgrades inside, front patio, spiral staircase.
Seller’s agent: Pam J. Rives, HomeSmart
Buyer’s agent: Timothy A. Moe, West USA Realty

This article appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.

Smaller, more affordable homes the new trend

LGI Homes is among residential developers who saw it was time to build again in Maricopa.

By Ethan McSweeney

Meritage is building quickly again in the adults-only gated community of Province while also putting in new homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Meritage is building quickly again in the adults-only gated community of Province while also putting in new homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Home-building is booming yet again in Maricopa as companies build out neighborhoods and look to buy land for new communities elsewhere in the city.

From May 1 through July 15, the city of Maricopa issued 155 housing permits, with the total value for those homes around $37 million. Fifty-seven of those permits were issued in May, and the city issued another 84 in June.

For comparison, during 2015, 34 permits were in issued in May and 27 were issued in June, marking increases of 68 percent and 211 percent this year, respectively.

“I guess the secret’s out,” said Chris Kelly, division president for LGI Homes, which started building in Maricopa in 2012.

LGI made a 10-year commitment to building in Maricopa. The community has been such a “runway of opportunity,” he said, the company could restart the clock and have no problem building in Maricopa into 2026.

The recent mini-boom came as builders simultaneously returned this year to build out neighborhoods where construction had stopped since the recession.

“We’re getting back to a sense of normalcy to what we had before [with the housing market],” said Joel Huston, vice president of sales and marketing for the Phoenix division of KB Home.

Improvements in the housing market mean homebuilders are looking for places to expand, and Maricopa is a desirable place to do so with affordable land and growing customer demand.

“The things that made Maricopa attractive in the first place are still here,” said Martin Scribner, director of development services for the city of Maricopa.

Some of the new growth in homes is already being felt in other parts of the community.

Loraine Conley, principal at Santa Cruz Elementary School in Tortosa, said she tries to meet with new families when they enroll. This year, she’s seen a notable increase in students enrolling at Santa Cruz, relocating from Scottsdale and as far away as Omaha, Nebraska.

“They like the hometown feel Maricopa has,” Conley said.

Amy Zinger (left) and Teri Cifalia on the back patio of new model of KB Home, which is one of the homebuilders that recently renewed focus on Maricopa. Photo by Glynn Thrower
Amy Zinger (left) and Teri Cifalia on the back patio of new model of KB Home, which is one of the homebuilders that recently renewed focus on Maricopa. Photo by Glynn Thrower

Kelly said that is the positive feedback LGI has received about Maricopa, as well. He said unlike other growing areas of the Valley, many Maricopa communities are very well laid out and family oriented.

Local leaders following through on past promises is one of Maricopa’s “best-kept secrets,” Kelly said. Years ago, the council and business leaders had hyped a new city hall complex, an entertainment complex planned by the Ak-Chin and a regional park south of the railroad tracks.

“All of those things happened,” Kelly said. “They showed they weren’t just a bunch of dreamers.”

That got developers and people to come down and look and become aware of what Maricopa had to offer, Kelly said.

Huston said customers’ desire for more affordable housing is largely driving the growth on the peripheries of the Phoenix metro area. Cities like Buckeye, Peoria, Goodyear and Maricopa are places homebuilders are looking.

KB Home surveys housing purchases to gauge what customers are looking for in a home, Huston said.

Many jobs still remain concentrated in the center of the Phoenix area, but consumers are willing to foot the extra gas it costs to commute for a more affordable home, he said.

Kelly credits more governance of home loans for the more controlled way homebuyers calculate their income to buy a house.

“People are going for smaller homes even if they can afford bigger,” Kelly said. “Three bedrooms, two baths is right in our wheelhouse.”

Fred Hermann, Phoenix division president for Meritage Homes, said builders are responding to the desires they’re seeing from customers. “For us, we’re seeing more and more of the market move to affordability,” he said.

As a result, the city of Maricopa’s Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a request to expand the number of lots in a Homestead North development from 290 to 400. That will allow smaller, more affordable homes to be built on the land to be sold quicker, according to Scribner.

When it comes to buying land, Hermann said Maricopa still has much of it available for a relatively low cost.

“In Maricopa, you get more home for the dollars per square foot than you can in most other parts of the Valley,” Hermann said.

Other suburbs that also saw explosive growth during the housing boom of the last decade, such as Chandler, don’t have the space Maricopa has, Scribner said.

“It’s quite possible that the communities that were attractive to developers are running out of space,” Scribner said. “We still have that room for growth.”

Kelly agreed. He said LGI has found a good supply of lots in Maricopa. Even as the company closes out its phase of Homestead it is, he said another Maricopa community is in its sights.

In addition to the availability of affordable land, Maricopa is also seen as an attractive city for the amenities it offers, Huston said.

“Maricopa has been real bright point for builders in general,” he said. “There’s a quality of life in Maricopa that’s greater than it is in most other areas.”

Sales are moving so fast some builders are experiencing a shortage of labor available for construction. Hermann said the time it takes to build his homes in Maricopa is increasing, but they’re still being delivered on time.

Meritage is building homes in the Lakes at Rancho El Dorado and Province. Hermann said the company is also looking to acquire new land to build new communities, including one in Homestead.

The sharp increases in housing permits issued to homebuilders this summer are likely the beginning of a trend toward even more building, Hermann said.

“We’ve got extreme confidence that the increase is going to get even higher,” he said.

Home building permits in Maricopa May 1-July 15
A & J Companies     11
DR Horton                 74
KB Home                   21
LGI                                9
Meritage                    33

Home building permits 2015 v. 2016
May 2015    34
May 2016    57
June 2015    27
June 2016    84
July 2015    40
July 2016    40

This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.