Whispering Ranch Diary

2005 Newsletters

This is a summary of the notes and information that I included for 2005 on the maps that I prepared and made available "for Public Use" in the information boxes at the two signs I have in Whispering Ranch. One is located by the mailboxes at 299th Avenue and Patton Road, and the other is at 347th Avenue and Carefree Highway, so depending on which way you come in, there were maps and current information near each entrance. Originally, I was just putting out maps with the listings of properties for sale, but I broadened the scope to give more people an idea of what was happening in the market, and how market changes were affecting Buyers and Sellers in the area.

Since there was more space available here on this site than on the maps, I may have gone into more detail or more fully explained events. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me e-mail to me by clicking here.

Newsletters - 2005

December 9, 2005 - Time marches on, and there are more properties coming on the market. Prices are still all over the chart starting in the high $50's and going all the way up to $160's for a 5 acre parcel. I'm noticing that quite a few of the lots that are on the market don't reflect any floodplain or floodway information and when I look some of them up they DO have floodway or floodplain. So make sure that you check this out if you're looking at property. There are links available on my web site www.joeliberty.com where you can link to the County Assessor's web site to look up parcels, check out the aerial photo's and see who owns what. And from the same site, you can get into the Maricopa County Flood Control District web site to check on Flood plain maps for anywhere in the County. These are great resources for information on the area.

November 17, 2005 - Recent articles in the newspaper referencing a highway running northeast from Douglas Ranch cutting through Whispering Ranch and going on to connect with Grand Avenue (Hwy. 60) up in the area near the Hwy 74 intersection caused a bit of a stir. This was an idea proposed for a study by El Dorado Holdings, the developer involved in Douglas Ranch. Since this is still in the "study" stage there's no way to judge any impact, nor any effect on current pricing in the market. On of the other hot rumors at present is that the Toyota Proving Ground is in escrow. There's little chance of verifying that one way or the other. I was told that this rumor was started by a Seller who is trying to sell their own parcels at the higher price range. Who knows. But with over 110 parcels on the market we are still seeing activity in the moderately priced range parcels. Higher priced lots are going through price reductions to make them more attractive. And with the overall slowdown in the Real Estate market from earlier this year, inventory is increasing, and the time to sell a property is increasing as well. Most economists are projecting a bright future, stating that the recent slowdown was merely a "correction" that the market had to go through because it was so frantic earlier this year. I expect we will see the market continue pretty much as it is now, growing at a reasonable pace. In the event there is a dramatic change in the area we could expect a spike in prices, but without a catalyst, the market should proceed slowly in the foreseeable future. This area will continue strong sustained growth, but at a more moderate rate than we experienced in early 2005.

There are also some interesting Home/Land packages that are not listed on the other page of this sheet. You might want to take a look at the 5 Acre w/Mobile Home that I have on the market at 29115 W. Montgomery Road. This is a nice set up with a Double Wide, workshop, approved septic, generator and solar panels and satellite for television and Internet. Priced at $149,900 it is a great bargain. There are other developed properties in the ranch for sale as well, with pricing varying depending on location, power, access, and whether permits were approved. With the land prices rising rapidly and pricing people out of the market, this could be an intelligent alternative to buying a lot and building.

October 14, 2005 - Last weekend's "Open Lot" was a success, despite the fact that I didn't have the time to do any advertising. Steve Moore and I had folks lined up two or three deep for most of the day - some wanting to find parcels to buy, some trying to find their lots (possibly to sell), and just a whole lot of people looking for information on "The Ranch". It looks like the end of summer and the cooling of the weather has renewed interest in the area - just as I had hoped it might. There are Buyers in the market, but with 100 parcels on the market, and higher prices than in the past, they are being more selective. Parcels are selling, but the higher priced parcels and those with deficiencies (floodplain or floodway, power lines overhead, difficult access) are moving more slowly than those priced in the middle of the price range.

October 7, 2005 - Well, here we are as the summer winds down. The auction had no surprises and no outrageously high parcel prices, they were in the range of the parcels that are currently listed for sale, so as the weather cools, there should be more activity in the area. With almost 100 parcels on the market at this time, you have a wide choice of types of parcels (with power, near power, flat parcels, hillside parcels, floodplain parcels, floodway parcels, easy access parcels, hard to get to parcels, and any combination of the above) and prices ranging from $55,000 for five acres up to $550,000 for a 20 acre parcel. So we are seeing a continuing trend toward higher prices, though they are not rising as fast with the amount of inventory on the market. I don't think we are going to see the frenetic price increases this fall like we did last year, but you never know.

The recent sale of the Chrysler Proving Ground (east of Highway 60 and south of Highway 74) has generated a lot of buzz and a lot of folks are hoping that this transaction will cause a rise in prices in the Whispering Ranch area. The Buyer is a group of Developers from California, and though everything is not fully settled, it looks like the sale price was around $75,000 per acre. Distance from "The Ranch" is a factor, but the biggest impact is going to be in the corridor along Highway 60 and Highway 74. There may be a ripple effect of these prices, but we already have pricing of $100,000 per acre along Patton Road, which is higher than that sale, and these parcels are closer to "The Ranch".

Other buzz was that someone had been saying that APS was planning to move power into Whispering Ranch. I have checked with sources that I know at APS, and there are no plans for any expansion the immediate future. If someone decided to get power brought in, the usual rules apply (Building permit from the County, then approval from APS on the size of the dwelling) and the first 1000' from an existing power pole is free, then $8.00 per foot after that. So if you're waiting for power to reach your parcel, you may be in for a long wait. If someone does decide to bring in electric to their property and it's near yours . . Hooray ! !

September 7, 2005 . . . After perusing some of the information on the various message areas on the internet, it appears that prices have currently reached a limit in the Whispering Ranch market. There are about 50 plus properties listed in the area, and the prices run from $55k up to $150K for 5 acre parcels (depending on location, distance to power, condition of roads, etc.) but the sales seem to be in the low end of the price range. Higher priced parcels are not moving well at all. I can't tell if this is a function of jitters in the economy or the "Summer Slump". I recently overheard a conversation from some of the land investors who are buying properties elsewhere in Maricopa County, and they are indicating that they are looking into other market areas where they can buy properties earlier in the 'appreciation curve', not late in the game when the property has already gone up in value. For them, they feel (about Whispering Ranch) that they are buying too late in the game - prices have already run up to a point where they won't increase significantly in the short term. So they are looking elsewhere.

We will see if this trend continues or if we see an increase in activity once the hot weather breaks and we see more moderate temperatures as we head into the fall months.

August 20, 2005 . . . Here we are in the dead of summer. Prices are still rising but what I'm seeing is a lot of higher priced parcels on the market and not a lot of sales taking place. I think we are seeing the market starting to soften, but I can't tell if it is the normal "Summer Doldrums" or if other economic factors are slowing everything down.

Last week, the Federal Reserve Board raised the interest rate by another point . . . Oil prices hit $67.00 per barrel . . and reports of increasing foreclosures have all caused economic jitters among investors. And we are currently in an investor driven market.

So, here's what the current market looks like . . . Parcels near power are going to cost you between $120,000 and $150,000 . . . Parcels with no power nearby that are not impacted by flood plain or flood way will run anywhere from $75,000 to $120,000 . . . If the parcels are prices below $65,000 there is a good possibility that there are power lines running overhead or there is a floodway running through it. That doesn't mean that a higher price guarantees a good lot. There are higher priced parcels that are mostly floodplain or floodway. There are also Sellers who are unrealistic in their views of the value of their parcel. They have their parcels priced at the top of the market and are willing to either wait until prices rise to that point or drop their prices when they realize that the market my not reach this point due to economic jitters and investors realizing they may be buying at the top of the market an putting their money elsewhere.

July 22, 2005 . . . Prices are continuing to increase on the 'average' lots, with prices less than $60K being the base prices for properties that have deficiencies, i.e., transmission power lines overhead, significant washes and arroyos, or difficult access due to poor road maintenance. The lots priced in the $65K range up into the $80K to $90K range are still selling - though slower that previously - and the lots with access to power are now anywhere from $120K and up, some reaching the $150K price levels. Even with the "Summer Slowdown" that we usually see with the heat, there is good activity with anywhere between 25 to 45 properties on the market at any one time. As usual, the lower priced properties are being bought up quickly, but we still have some Sellers who price the properties at the top of the market who are willing to wait until the market rises to their price level. And it looks like these lots will sell, though it is taking longer than it did earlier in the year.

June 30, 2005 . . . Well, there was another auction on June 19th. Properties sold between $88K and $100K for five acre parcels. So now we are seeing listings coming in at or above the $20,000 per acre range. And from what I see there is no end in sight. I had anticipated a slowdown of activity as we headed into summer - and we are seeing somewhat of a slowdown - but there is a continuous rise of prices. This is probably being driven by the Douglas Ranch announcement and all the hoopla that they are putting out about what a tremendous development this is going to be. And all this may come true (in time) but most of us are living in today's market and we need to make realistic decisions about purchases and sales. That's why I continue to produce this information - so YOU are aware of what's happening.

June 3, 2005 . . . now we have passed the end of May, and are heading into June. More parcels are coming on line as owners decide that it's time to sell their parcels. Prices are still rising, but not astronomically like the first few months of the year. We can't tell if it the onset of the summer season that's causing this slowdown or if we are reaching the top of the perceived value price point of the lots. We are seeing that there are lots that have been on the market for 30, 60 or even 90 days without selling - generally priced at the top of the market, or because there are access or flood plain issues. So keep your eyes open, we still have parcels coming on the market in the $50K to $60K price ranges that are good values. Those priced higher are generally in areas where there's power or spectacular views. We are also seeing 30 to 40 properties listed at one time instead of the 5 to 10 listings that were on the market at any one time in the Winter and Spring. This might indicate that we are at the market peak. Time will tell us where prices will stabilize . . . if they do !!

May 25, 2005 . . . now we are approaching the end of May. More parcels are coming on line as owners decide that it's time to sell their parcels. Prices are still rising, but not astronomically like the first few months of the year. We can't tell if it the onset of the summer season that's causing this slowdown or if we are reaching the top of the perceived value price point of the lots. We are seeing that there are lots that have been on the market for 30, 60 or even 90 days without selling - generally priced at the top of the market, or because there are access or flood plain issues. So keep your eyes open, we still have parcels coming on the market in the $50K to $60K price ranges that are good values. Those priced higher are generally in areas where there's power or spectacular views. Time will tell us where prices will stabilize . . . if they do !!

April 27, 2005 . . . Oh wow. The auction prices (Sunday, April 10, 2005) for the parcels in Whispering Ranch exceeded the price point I had expected. 5 acre parcels were selling anywhere from $53,000 to $75,200 depending on location, floodplain info, roadway access, etc. Proximity to power was not addressed as most of the parcels were far outside the power areas. I have noticed that there are parcels coming on line at prices in the bottom end of this range (and even lower, but they are being quickly snapped up - even if there is evidence of floodplain or floodway on the property), and there is price resistance as the prices climb above the $60,000 price for a five acre parcel. I expect that prices will continue to rise, but I'm seeing the escalation of prices slowing. I can't tell yet if this is a factor of the weather (land is slower to sell when temperatures rise) or if the frenzy of buying is slowing because the investors are beginning to realize that at $12,000 an acre the land ain't such a good bargain!! Anyway . . . I'll watch and keep you posted.

April 1, 2005 . . . I have been running behind the curve on getting current information out to the public by putting the Listed Properties and Recent Sales in this area on previous sheets. I have watched as prices for your average five acre parcel went from $2,000 per acre in October, $3,500 per acre in November, $4,500 per acre in December, $6,000 per acre in January, $7,000 per acre in February, and now, near the end of March we have properties going under contract at the $10,000 to $12,000 range. How long this land price run up will continue is anybody's guess. Whispering Ranch land prices still represent the greatest value for the dollar spent in this area of the west Valley. And with the market being Investor driven (people buying at higher prices on the bet that it will be worth much more in 5 to 7 years) there is only a realistic view that this trend will continue for the next two to three years. Many parcels are on the market at a dollar figure that is far more than an informed Buyer will pay. Properly priced property will sell in a reasonable period of time.

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Liberty Southwest Realty, LLC

Joseph D. (Joe) Liberty, Designated Broker
26742 West Ross Avenue
Buckeye, Arizona 85396
Phone: (602) 505-7675

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