The Carefree Times blog      

Today's Forecast Sunny. Hi 75 Never Windy

Volume 2, July 2009 Edition






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 Rocks! Have you ever seen a place that uses so much natural rock as building materials? 

The Birthday Cake house (above left) with a huge boulder lodged on the home's side One of the best examples (right) of using boulder walls as the ultimate "Green" wall


It's a road every visitor should drive on in Carefree, Stagecoach Pass, for the ancient granite boulders are among the most spectacular in the area. This Eastern flank of Black Mountain is part of the same uplifting of rock that created The Boulder Resort rockpile, Lone Mountain, and Pinnacle Peak. Looking at Black Mountain from the south, from the Carefree Highway, one can actually see how these rocks were forced up through the mountain, and then weathered in spectacular form.  Homebuilders for years have been very creative in how they use these monoliths, as in Tom Darlington's wine cellar buried deep below, for patios and supporting stairways on the property, for dining room walls, for a complete house (The Boulder House in N. Scottsdale), and even for walls in the shower! When visiting the area, see what you can find in the way of unusual boulder use!.

Foothills Fireworks:   Third time is the charm

In what has to be one the only times this has occurred in the area, this year, the Carefree-Cave Creek area got three fireworks displays on three days! On July 2, The Carefree Inn launched a huge pyrotechnic display to celebrate 25 years since the town of Carefree was incorporated.  Because of the close proximity to homes, the new Carefree Fire Department stationed trucks in front of the homes and even firefighters with shovels in the surrounding desert.  The spectacular display went off without a hitch.  Further down the valley, next evening, on July 3rd, Harold's hosted a fireworks display and finally on the Fourth, the Silver Spur, formerly the Satisfied Frog, capped the years celebration off.  Residents remember years ago, when the state's largest fire raged in the mountains above town, all fireworks were cancelled because of the fire danger. Nice to get an extra treat!









































Moving to the Desert?  Take the desert survival quiz and see highlights of the program Stay Alive-A Guide to Survival in the Desert Southwest. Taped in the Carefree area









Carefree Home to be featured by the Wall Street Journal  Carefree, AZ (PW)-On July 9th, writers for the Wall Street Journal  prepared a piece on an astonishing Carefree home that took an engineering feat of 5 1/2 years to build into the mountain slopes of Black Mountain.  Using real rock for some of the walls and structure, it's the ultimate in "Green" construction.  The residence, with nearly 7,000 sq.ft, has dazzled onlookers for years and is reportedly the highest available home for sale on Black Mountain.  Since the home uses some of the mountain's boulders for walls, the rocks had to be carefully mapped to integrate into the architect's blueprints.  Well-known designer Lee Hutchinson, from Urban Design,  did the master design for the home built by Phil Smith Custom Homes, an area veteran known for building in challenging locales.

Give us your comment: Email us your thoughts on the area and real estate trends to:




















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Who is this guy writing the blog?


Quiz Answer: The President of Schuff Steel, builders of the baseball park in Phoenix and one of the largest steel fabricators in the world, reportedly joined together many different mining claims and assembled a road to the top of the peak, for his personal house. For years, residents saw headlights "creeping" up the mountain!

It takes an airplane to see what's going on--apparent excavations for a pool and footings for what some day, what should be an astonishing residence!

Real Estate Stat Box
Maricopa County Active Listings: 31,999
Maricopa County Actives, in April 47,449
Carefree Active Homes (April 154)    117
Carefree Homes Under Contract         19  
Cave Creek Active Homes(April 497)  360
Cave Creek Homes Under Contract     124 
Scottsdale Zip Code 85262 Actives      644
Scottsdale Zip 85262 Under Contract  122
Paradise Valley Active Listings          499
Paradise Valley  Under Contract          48
Paradise Valley short sale/fore prop     58
Most Expensive P.V. Home listed$18.9mil
Homes sold in the last 30 days/1 year ago: Carefree-3/7, Cave Creek 46/37 Scottsdale zip 85262- 57/28, Paradise Valley  19/16
Current Carefree foreclosure/short sales 14,  (15 in April) , Cave Creek short sale and foreclosure  84 (April 132)




Today's Quiz: Why have people looked at the top of this mountain for years and wondered "what's going on?" (see below for quiz answer)

Real Estate Hot Tips

Hot Real Estate Summer!   Carefree/CaveCreek     Commentary from Preston Westmoreland

What a difference the last year has made in Phoenix-area real estate. All last year, there were over 57,000 properties on the market in our county. Dead in the water. Now, there are less than 32,000.  Yes, a lot of people have taken their homes off the market, but during the spring and early summer, we were seeing up to 1,000 homes disappear.  Most of them bank-owned (REO) properties, and under $ 600,000.   My wife and I went down to the Superior Court steps last week just to watch the home auctions, and it was something to behold.  Not one person auctioning, but at times, there were 5, surrounded by an odd assortment of characters, with cell phones to their ears, getting instructions from buyers, while tubs of drinking water in ice, were circulated around in the 108 degree heat.  Homes in the area under $ 400,000 can have multiple offers and are increasing in value.  In prime areas, those homes sell right when they hit the market.  True, we hear the local banks are holding onto 43,000 more foreclosures and releasing them gradually so they don't destroy the market and plummet the value of the homes they are selling right now, but indeed, encouraging news for the home buyers and sellers, and realtors, in our area.












Wall St. Journal story


Was this house REALLY blown up?

It's the house everybody sees when they come into Carefree, Rusty Lyon's former home, used in the movie Zabriskie Point. I was recently contacted by a California writer, working on a story on the home and it's roll in the movie.  You may remember that at the end of the picture, the home is blown up in a catastrophic explosion.  Now, it seems the story going around, is that the house was REALLY  blown up for the movie, then rebuilt, rather than a model of the home being destroyed. I think someone has never been told that "you can't believe everything you see in the movies!!










Valley's home sales up in June

Here are some more positive signs from metropolitan Phoenix's housing market, which may not be recovering but doesn't appear to be deteriorating any more.

Home sales climbed again in June to reach 9,614, according to the Information Market/Cromford Report survey. That's an 11 percent increase from May's home sales. June is the sixth straight month home sales have climbed in the Valley.

The median Valley resale-home price also climbed in June, the first monthly price increase since late 2007. Last month, the median ticked up to $125,000 from $122,000 in May.

Foreclosures also climbed in June after dropping off for a few months. There were 5,149 trustee sales or foreclosures in the Valley, compared with 3,809 in May.

Pre-foreclosures, or notice of trustee sales, continue to hover around 8,700.

But, so far, the additional foreclosures aren't creating an oversupply problem for the housing market.

Mike Orr, publisher of the Cromford Report, said the number of lender-owned properties listed for sale in the Arizona Regional multiple listing service  fell to 5,150 in June from 5,475 in May.

"So, the supply was huge, but the demand was even greater," Orr said about Valley .

Also, the average price per square foot of foreclosures sold by lenders during June climbed to $65.64 in June from $63.77 in May.

HUD-fund changes

First-time home buyers trying to purchase Valley foreclosure houses through a federal program should now find it easier.

In April, Arizona received $121 million in Neighborhood Stabilization funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. But for people to receive the funds to help them buy foreclosures, the federal agency was requiring lenders to discount their foreclosure properties 15 percent off the appraised value.

That was a major sticking point for many lenders, particularly in the Valley where investors are willing to pay cash and the full-appraisal price.

So, HUD recently changed to 1 percent the discount required by lenders.

The Arizona Housing Department recently launched its Neighborhood Stabilization program for home buyers to purchase foreclosure properties in Maricopa and Pima counties.

Qualifying buyers can receive up to 22 percent of the purchase price on certain foreclosure homes.

The state agency reports more than 20 families are in the process of purchasing a foreclosure home through its Neighborhood Stabilization program.