Timing really can be everything. For Sherman and Euphemia Weekes, the owners of Crest Premier Properties, it certainly was.
The couple immigrated from their Caribbean homes – she from Grenada, he from Monserrat – to Arizona for Sherman’s job in 1999.
“We had come here for an agriculture job Sherman had, and eventually he joined me in real estate,” Euphemia said. “In 2006, we started the property management business as an offshoot of the real estate business because at that time there were a lot of investors from California buying in the Valley, and they were having a hard time finding reliable property management services.”
While they still buy and sell homes, virtually all that work is for former clients or referrals from them as the Weekeses focus on managing properties versus buying and selling them.
They moved to Maricopa from Ahwatukee in 2006, then went back and forth for a few years before settling permanently in Rancho El Dorado in 2010.
The Weekes’ have three grown daughters and four granddaughters.
Sherman said the couple chose Maricopa because it fit their agricultural roots. Both were agriculture majors at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.
“We really liked the openness of Maricopa,” Sherman said. “We chose it because we liked quasi-rural feel. It’s a small city, and in 2006 it was still pretty rural. We like it because it’s open, spacious and we like digging in the sod. Agriculture is in both our DNA – we love digging in the sod.”
Just as they liked digging in their back yard, the Weekeses dug into the property management business. Their initial portfolio included, as Euphemia put it, “some trash.” That grew to as many as 450 units, but the Weekeses realized it was going to be a better business model to emphasize quality over quantity.
Through the years, they have churned the bad properties – and more importantly, the bad owners – and now manage about 150 properties, most of which are single-family homes. About a quarter of their portfolio is in Maricopa.
“The demand in Maricopa is for single-family,” Sherman said. “We just don’t have much in muti-family inventory yet. As the city grows and people move here for the first time, there will be demand for multi-family. Single-family also will also continue to grow, and the apartments coming online should also do well.”
He added that much of that demand could come from seniors.
“A lot of older folks want condos and apartments, so they don’t have to deal with the daily maintenance issues,” he said. “I have friends who would never buy a home again because they don’t want that. If something goes wrong, they just make a phone call, it gets taken care of.”
The apartments coming to town also will fill a gap in the market.
“Rents have doubled in the last two years simply because of greater demand,” Euphemia said. “When COVID hit, people who were living in apartments at the time didn’t want to be in proximity to people. They also needed more room because they were working from home, and many needed a dedicated home office. On top of that, people were coming to Maricopa from the Valley and California seeking better pricing, and that also drove up demand.”
At one point, Maricopa was the least expensive option in metro Phoenix, but Euphemia said it is catching up to the rest of the Valley.
“It is growing the fastest of any city around,” Sherman said. “We are putting our efforts and resources into growing that market for our business. It also makes sense because we live here. The city is growing, and we want to grow with it.”
Crest Premier’s Tempe office is centrally located to the target markets they defined when they started the company of Tempe, Phoenix, Laveen and west Mesa. But all their advertising is done in Maricopa, Sherman said.
Much of their success has come from having good relationships with the owners of the properties they manage.
“We evaluate our potential clients as thoroughly as I’m sure they evaluate us, because we have a great group of owners we’re working with and we don’t want to get away from that,” Euphemia said. “We offer quality single-family homes for quality owners. We don’t have a lot of issues because we choose our clients carefully. We have a less than 1% eviction rate.”
Even as the COVID pandemic created massive problems with many renters not paying their rent, Crest Premier Properties did more than weather the storm; it thrived.
“We collected every single dollar of rent all the way through COVID,” Sherman said. “We didn’t have a single tenant who did not pay. We worked with them and got them back on track if they had issues. That happened because we paid attention to the business and put quality tenants in the units.”
It’s also why their strategy of choosing quality owners over quantity paid off.
“If we have a landlord who won’t replace things or do the needed maintenance, then we cut him,” Sherman said. “We don’t take every landlord that asks us to manage his property. It has to be a fit. There’s enough out there for all of us.”