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Commentary and Perspective from one of America's most unique small town areas, edited by Preston Westmoreland of Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty.

     Carefree times name            Preston photo
Volume 3, August 2010 Edition
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Carefree Highway signs

What's in a Name? The real story behind Gordon Lightfoot's song, Carefree Highway


Carefree (PW)-Could there possibly be another Carefree Highway somewhere, that Gordon Lightfoot noticed and wrote a song about?  "No, it's this Carefree Highway in Arizona," he explained to us backstage after a performance one night.  The story goes that he was on the band's bus, traveling for an engagement at the Gammage Auditorium, when he saw the large marquee freeway sign along Interstate 17.  He actually had the bus driver pull over so he could get out and snap a close-up photo of the huge off-ramp sign.  When he arrived home, he had the picture blown up and placed on his living room wall.  He wrote the song while on the bus, and it became one of his biggest hits, exposing millions around the world to the Carefree Highway. "Good to see my old friend. . ."

Russ Lyon Sotheby's Realtor Nancy Westmoreland meets Gordon Lightfoot backstage

Maricopa County Active Listings-     36,503
County Listings in Jan, 2010-              34,835
Carefree Active Homes Listed-                 85
Carefree Bank-owned homes-                  16
Carefree Homes Under Contract-            13
Carefree Homes sold last 30 days-             5
Cave Creek Active Homes Listed-         306
Cave Creek Homes Under Contract-    125
Cave Creek Bank-owned Homes-         102
Cave Creek homes sold last 30 days-     49
Scottsdale Active Homes-                    2,587
Scottsdale Homes Under Contract-      802
Scottsdale Bank-Owned Homes-          681
Scottsdale Homes sold last 30 days-     357
Paradise Valley Active Listings-            357
PV Homes Under Contract-                   61     
Paradise Valley Bank-owned Homes-  45
PV Homes sold last 30 days-                   34
Top Home Sale in the Valley
last month-6742 N 48th ST Paradise   Valley,                                                                $ 5.9 million

Real-estate advice for Valley: Hang on until 2012

Metro Phoenix's real-estate recovery is further off than expected.

Top analysts and economists at Urban Land Arizona's annual conference Thursday said that the Valley's real-estate market will continue to slow this year and in 2010. A significant increase in home prices and sales likely won't happen until 2012.

Here's why a recovery will take longer than a year or two: The foreclosure problem won't go away this year and will continue to push down home values. And the Valley's dependence on the three industries that led the nation into recession - construction, housing and financial services - will make any recovery more difficult.

"Growth locally (in Phoenix) really was related to the housing boom. When the rug was pulled out from under housing, the rug was pulled out from under Phoenix's economy," said economist Arthur Margon of New York-based Rosen Consulting.

He predicts Valley home prices will climb 1 percent in 2011 and perhaps 2 percent in 2012.

"If you can slug it out for a few years, all those frowns out there will go away," Margon told the crowd.

The event has become a must-attend for people involved in Arizona real estate because of the expert speakers and their startling projections. Last year, attendees were stunned when analysts predicted that home prices would fall 30 to 35 percent from their late 2005 to early 2006 peak and that any recovery was years away. So far, home prices are more than 40 percent off the peak.

Here are other projections from Thursday's conference on key Valley real-estate indicators:


As long as foreclosure rates climb, recovery of the Valley's housing market will be delayed.

"Another tsunami of foreclosures is expected," said Wall Street housing analyst Ivy Zelman, one of the few analysts who early on warned of a dangerous housing bubble in the U.S.

Home sales

Valley home sales have slowed to almost one-third of the levels of the boom of 2005 and are bound to slow more.

Valley home building has fallen to 1992 levels, a fraction of what it was during the boom. But all the analysts agreed this is a good thing.

"The last thing Phoenix needs now is more new homes," said Gadi Kaufmann, a national analyst with Washington, D.C.-based real-estate consulting firm Robert Charles Lesser and Co. Zelman said only 2,000 new homes should go up in metro Phoenix this year. Fewer than 18,000 new    homes were built in metro Phoenix last year.

"Banks are telling builders to stop construction for a while," said Tim Sullivan, a national housing analyst with Sullivan Group Real Estate Advisors of San Diego.

Jobs, population

One of the more startling statistics was how much Phoenix's job growth had slowed.

Phoenix ranked above only Detroit for job creation on a list of the nation's top 25 metro areas, Rosen Consulting said.

"Phoenix has been in the top five for job growth from before there was even a list," Margon said. "This is strange."

He said the low ranking is due to Phoenix's dependence on industries that are "ground zero" for the recession.

"But the outlook for Phoenix job growth is phenomenal," Margon said. "We don't think Phoenix will crawl back up the list. It will leap back up."

Read more:
Real estate hot tips
Insider Commentary by Preston Westmoreland

Carefree (PW)-Sure, summers are slow in the Arizona desert, but consumer confidence is taking a hit because of uncertainty in the markets, trillion-dollar budget deficits and a sputtering recovery.  However, January and February in the Cave Creek and Carefree areas were looking like things were taking off again. The Russ Lyon Sotheby's office here reported sales rocketing up in January to $18 million, then $22 million in February. The combined total was more than then entire year of 2009!  But then things began to unwind. Buyers started thinking things out and over-analyzing home purchases.  I had one client in town who saw 23 homes and left without buying anything.  Then he flew back last month to see 13 more, and still never made an offer. And this was a professional man, ready to buy, with lots of cash!  Don't get me wrong, things are still selling.  As you drive around town, all the good buys are snatched up by cash buyers. 
    The mega-millions author of the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer purchased a nearly $5 million home in the golf community of Desert Mountain.  A recent study indicated the number of million dollar homes facing foreclosure is now climbing as the wealthier clients give up their homes.  Fox10 News asked me to do an interview on the topic recently and I recounted the amazing story of trying to get in a home recently.  Nobody was there and I called the owner who was vacationing in Cabot San Lucas. "We're not interested in having anybody else see the house," she exclaimed.  "It's being auctioned off 2 pm. today." I thought how nonchalant an attitude, while wining and dining in one of Mexico's most expensive seaside resorts.  You can watch the Fox story right here:  Click to watch the Fox10 story.

Today's Quiz:  Is the Javelina really part of the rodent family? (see below for quiz answer)
Javalina and babies

Was there Really a UFO Crash in Cave Creek? Carefree Times gets a taste of the X-Files

Upper reaches of the Go John Mine (grey area) were supposedly the place that locals watched the U.S Government recover the crashed saucer along Carefree Highway

A exclusive       by Preston Westmoreland


Don't think that we're losing it here at the Carefree Times and watching too many X-Files, but this story has been kicking around since October of 1947 and always makes a good Halloween tale. . . .  Several years ago, a grizzled miner came up to me one night in Cave Creek, after I  emceed a "Meet the Candidates" forum, and what he said shocked me. .I only knew this man as "Pete the Miner" who worked the famous Mistress Mine near Seven Springs.  "You're not going to believe this," he said, "but a friend of mine watched some government agents back in the late 1940's, recover and truck away wreckage of what looked like a flying saucer.   He told me to look it up in the book by Timothy Good "Above Top Secret."  Sure enough, on page 394, there it was, a description of a UFO crash just south of the present-day Carefree Highway. So the story goes, the Cave Creek landfill was placed there to cover the site. The landfill is closed now.

  Debris along with dirt were trucked down to be placed in the Dreamy Draw Dam along Northern Avenue, a dam that many experts say was never necessary, and finally, Cave Creek Road was "bent" or aligned further to the east.  I was equally astonished when I told then Phoenix city-councilwoman Francis Barwood about this and she decided to investigate.  She called me soon afterwards to tell me that many of the records involving  whatever had happened were no longer available or had been destroyed!  There were markings on the old quadrangle map that showed the alignment for Cave Creek Road moved, an alignment that would have taken it toward the crash site. Decide for yourself, here's  a link to a rare interview done by Mufon,  with the  last surviving witness, Paradise Valley businessman and pilot Selmon Graves, who has since passed away. As a young man, he was the one sitting by the Go John Mine, watching what must have been an incredible sight. Click on the box below to launch the video on


Find out more:
Who Is This Guy Writing this Blog?

Incredible properties:

Scottsdale's  Historic Gold Hill gold mine offered for sale. . .$43 million dollars!
Scottsdale (PW) In what has become the largest real estate listing in Maricopa County, the centuries-old Gold Hill property, in the mountains North of Scottsdale, has been listed for sale by Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realtors Preston and Nancy Westmoreland. The gold discovery at Gold Hill was heralded in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1880's,  and set off a mini-boom of miners for the Cave Creek mining district. 
    Coverage of the listing and mine was featured in the Arizona Republic and also on ABC15, who ventured into the mine for a TV story.  According to the book, "Life in the Sonoran Sun," it was the early prospector William Rowe who first discovered gold on the site. Rowe and his fellow diggers worked their rock by an old, time-honored method, the arrastra. A mule provided the power as it plodded in a circle to turn a long pole that dragged a heavy boulder over the gold-bearing ore. A circular basin made of rocks held the ore and the crude crusher.  As the particles grew finer, water was added to create a sort of slurry. The final step was to pan the residue to separate the flakes of gold.  All the locations in Cave Creek were worked in this method until mining companies moved in with investment capital for real machinery.  In 1892, a mining company bought the Gold Hill claims and geared up for a full-scale operation, but a disastrous downturn in the national economy doomed the venture to failure.” At one time, an English company who operated the mine, took the gold ore by burro down Mexican Hat Wash to Cave Creek, then on a wagon to Prescott, railroad to San Francisco, and finally on a ship to England for smelting!  One Canadian mining company, Sage Gold, spent years drilling almost 2 miles of core samples and concluded that there is about 380,000 tons of proven, possible, and probable gold ore in the mountain, at an average amount of .27 ounces of gold per ton.  At today's prices, that's over 100 million in gold, not to mention the value of the land. At 117 acres, it's the largest land offering in the city of Scottsdale. 
Gold Hill mine entrance
Preston Westmoreland poses in front of one of Gold Hill's many tunnels. For more photos and info on this remarkable property, log into: and click on the "Best Listings" button, or see the story below.

More Million Dollar Homes Going to Auction

Incredible deals if you have a million cash

Published by Fox10: Friday, 09 Jul 2010, 7:33 PM MDT

PARADISE VALLEY - Even the valley's wealthiest people are having trouble paying their mortgages. There are a record number of mansions that are going to the auction block.

It appears as if the rich are looking at their homes as an investment -- if you aren't going to make money or get any money back -- get out before it gets worse.

A sprawling estate in Paradise Valley, six acres in a prime location, is on the market for $4.7 million. Down the street is another foreclosure, 10,000 square feet for $3.7 million.

The bank owns those properties and more may be on the way.

In May, the valley saw 15 million-dollar homes foreclose. In June, that number doubled to 30. And a recent study showed that the rich are foreclosing more and more often.

"If you really need to sell a house, you have to be the best deal on the block. You have to be the one that people stop at and it has to be too good to be true," says luxury realtor Preston Westmoreland.

Westmoreland says there are so many amazing deals in the high-end market, sellers can't compete and it appears many of them are just giving up.

These huge properties usually require a cash buyer or a huge down payment. In this economy, the buyers are scarce, so homes tend to sit on the market a long time.

According to the study, published in the New York Times, 1 in 7 million-dollar homeowners are approaching foreclosure.

It's 1 in 12 for middle-class homes.  

Today's Quiz: ANSWER:  Is the Javelina really part of the rodent family?
NO. But this myth continues that the javelinas are really nothing more than "a big rat." Actually, a javelina is called a collared peccary is the only wild, native, pig-like animal found in the United States. According to "Desert USA",  while peccaries look similar to pigs, they are classified in a family of their own because of anatomical differences.  With excellent hearing, but poor eyesight, you can sometimes small them before you can see them!

Thanks for reading our blog!  In the Fall issue, we take you back to the Carefree Studios with some rare "ghost town" photos of the Western film setting no longer there! 
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