Whispering Ranch Diary


This is a summary of the notes and information that I have been including for the past five years or so 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 are 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 is more space available here on this site than on the maps, I may go into more detail or more fully explain events. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me e-mail to me by clicking here.






Newsletters - 2011



September 2011

Business News . . .

Over the past month, the economic outlook has not improved. Problems of the economies overseas dampen any optimism and continue to challenge growth in our economy. Until there is employment stability, job growth and a return of consumer confidence things will remain sluggish. Our government cannot continue to borrow money it can't repay to keep the shaky economy propped up.

Sales and Listing Activity . . .

There were no reported sales through the local MLS this month. One of the new listings was for a 100-acre parcel in the north end of "The Ranch" for $5,000,000. That's $50,000 per acre - far above the current average price per acre. This will have an effect on the average listing price, but I don't expect to see a sale soon. The mobile home at 30240 W Patton Road came on he market at $50K - a HUD foreclosure missing some parts (A/C, etc.) - but still a bargain. Has a well and electric service.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

The Technical Advisory Committee meeting I attended at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation office on August 18th was informative. The preferred alignments for the Hidden Waters Parkway were presented, and plans for the meeting at Nadaburg School were outlined. The proposed alignment for this roadway now appears to be coming in at Jomax and 304th and heading northeast, hitting 299th Avenue south of Patton Road, then following the 299th Avenue alignment northward doing a few zigs and zags to avoid the large wash on the east of 299th Avenue, then heading north along 301st Avenue out through the north end of Whispering Ranch. MCDoT put together a large map (I'll have a blow up at this weekends "Open Lot") and made it available on their web site. It has all of the information on the study area boundaries, preferred alignments and parcel numbers of impacted parcels (depending on the alignments). If you want, you can go to http://www.mcdot.maricopa.gov/technical/studies/hidden-waters-north-CFS.htm and look for yourself.

Even with the positive news of this roadway, there is no projection of when they might start assembling land for the roadway right of way. Conversations lead me to believe that it probably will be a few years before we see any other forward movement. There's no sense to put in any roadways if there is no traffic demand to get to the area. And from what I've seen over the past three or four years, all the traffic is leaving . . . not coming in.

What's Next . .

I heard from one of the area residents last week that some of the property owners south of Patton Road are already getting letters from prospective Buyers asking if they are interested in selling. Be wary of these buyers - many are looking to take unfair advantage of the situation. Some are willing to take over your parcel for $1,200 to $1,500 and they will pay all closing costs. If they are reputable and serious, they will pay a fair price. If you have questions and want us to check these folks out for you, call either Steve or me and we will help you as best we can.

August 13, 2011

It was way too hot last month, and there were forecasts of high probability of monsoon activity rolling through the area, so after a brief consultation, Steve Moore and I agreed to cancel the July "Open Lot" day.

Business News . . .

The dramatic plunge, rise, then plunge again of the financial markets has really not done much to improve the market for investment land parcels in Whispering Ranch . . . or anywhere else in Arizona. The minor strengths we were seeing have pretty much been cancelled out and prices are not rising - and until there are some Buyers that come into the area, there is no way to determine where prices are heading. Most of the Buyers I am in touch with are simply sitting on their funds awaiting some form of reliable indication of which way this goofy market is going to move before they commit to making any significant investments.

I have been invited to the next MCDoT Hidden Waters Parkway meeting on August 18th, and will post any pertinent information that I gather at that meeting. There is no current projection of when they may start the process of acquiring parcels for the right of way for this roadway, and until there is a timeline, there won't be much investment activity in the area. I have also been invited to meet with interested parties who are looking to possibility of establishing a Cooperative to start implementing a power grid in the Eastern portion of Whispering Ranch - probably with stand alone solar homes and a grid for backup power. This process will probably take quite a bit of time, but at least someone is not waiting for Arizona Public Service to plan electrical service for the area.

I feel it is important to keep exploring every avenue toward improving Whispering Ranch and to start thinking of how the area should grow in the future. It doesn't make sense to just wait around until someone from outside the area decides to do something that may not be in the best interest of the current atmosphere and area lifestyle.

Sales Activity . . .

As of this writing there are 67 land parcels listed for sale in Whispering Ranch - and a few Home and Land combinations as well. The starting price for a five-acre parcel is $9,000 and prices go up from there. There are properties on the market for as little as $1,500 per acre (I have a 20 acre parcel that was just reduced to $30,000). But even with these bargain basement prices, there is very little activity in the area. There were no sales reported through the local MLS in the month of July, but I heard there were two private transactions. I'll get that information out once the sales prices are verified, but you can bet they were great deals for the Buyers.

If you're looking for a turn-key home with a pool on five acre in Whispering Ranch, I have one available for $150,000. Even if you were to find a bargain priced parcel, you would still need to bring in power, jump through all the bureaucratic hoops, find a way to put a home on the property, and invest all the time associated with the process. Most folks think they can do it themselves better, and cheaper, but they are surprised when things don't work out as planned. Whispering Ranch is littered with the remnants of great ideas and the best on intentions that didn't work out. This could be a sensible move if you're looking.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

There has been no movement toward reinstating the "1000 Foot Free Zone" that was eliminated by Arizona Public Service and the Arizona Corporation Commission a few years ago. Our Commissioners appear to be caught in the position of not wanting to do anything to irritate a large company that has a lot of political influence that could hamper any of their future political ambitions. So the property owner who wants to build a property out in Whispering Ranch still needs to plan to come up with an additional $15K to $20K just to bring power in to the parcel. And that's if the power is close. If it's very far away, start looking into solar power, a converter, batteries and a back up generator. The cost of electricity will continue to increase (projections are 7% per year) and there is no significant movement toward reaching the current mandates for renewable energy on the horizon. The power companies don't want to lose their grip on their business, so there probably won't be any news forthcoming on this issue any time soon.




July 9, 2011

Business News . . .

After the last newsletter, there was a brief flurry of activity of folks wanting to know if their parcel would be impacted by the alignment currently under study for the Hidden Waters Parkway. The public meeting didn't answer many specific questions, nor were any timeframes outlined for the acquisition of parcels that may be in the right of way for this future road. I hope they will start the acquisition process as soon as the final recommendation is approved - probably sometime early in 2012, but who knows.

The report last month of Owners receiving letters from folks looking to buy property in the area is the first sign of investor interest. These letters usually consist of the Buyers trying to convince you of the benefit of not having to pay property taxes in the future. These letters normally want you to call them to see what they will offer. They ask you to give them a price, then they counter offer you anywhere from $100 to $300 per acre - and as an added benefit, they will pay all of your closing costs. And, sadly, these letters will result in some low sale price transactions. (See Sales Activity section below) I think everyone who knows me realizes I am in favor of holding out until prices rise. On the other hand, I have been saying that since 2007 and things haven't turned the corner yet. So that should be empirical proof that my crystal ball ain't the best in town.

Sales Activity . . .

There was only one MLS transaction in June. A 15-acre parcel that was on the market for $30,000 sold for $23,600 after more than seven months on the market. That's $1,573 per acre. It's in a remote area at Galvin Street and 289th Avenue, partially flood impacted, but mostly high 'n dry. Further research revealed a few private transactions that came in at about $700 per acre. These were Sellers who wanted out, didn't want to risk the future tax expenses, didn't owe anything and just needed some cash. Buyers paid cash and will now sit and wait out the economy. Brace yourself - there are more of these on the horizon. Despite being great deals for the Buyers, these transactions just drive prices down for the area in general.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

Don't look for any small solar farms in the area for the foreseeable future. Even if you could get the County to allow you to put solar panels on your lot, there's no assurance that Arizona Public Service would allow you to hook up to their lines. And even if you did hook up to their grid, they are paying so little for the energy that there's no reasonable return on investment. The County appears to be of the opinion that anyone who walks in the door down at Planning and Zoning is a cash machine and they can possibly get you from Point A to Point B if you have enough money. There are folks who are looking into "creative use" ideas for parcels, but no one is making any headway.

What's Next . . .

Since there currently is little financing available and not many all cash investors, Seller carry back parcels are what make sense in today's market. I have a number of properties currently on the market that could be purchased with a down payment and the Seller acting as the Lender for the balance of the monies owed if you have a credit rating acceptable to the Seller. In this market, those who are capable of purchasing can do so at prices that have not been this low since 2004. By planning an energy efficient building, adding solar panels to create the energy you need and putting in your own well, you could be living "independently" off the grid. In these times of economic and political turmoil, there are quite a few folks who consider this to be the way to go. There are plenty of folks who are living quite comfortably off the grid at present in Whispering Ranch utilizing older technology, so this is something to think about.

There is also the possibility in the future of establishing and Electric Co-operative in the area that would serve the same purpose, but on a wider scale. Arizona Public Service is not going to invest any money into this area to bring in electric service, so we need to see what can be done to generate what is needed without relying on anyone else. If someone were to establish a Co-op (a self-contained power grid owned and governed by the participants) where everyone generated enough energy for their own use, and maybe added an additional 10% or 15% generating capacity, and then tied all these together with a storage battery and backup generator system of some sort, I think we might have something. There might even be interest in drilling shared wells for the area residents. Smaller is better in cases like this, and if the idea is successful it could grow in the area. I am going to nose around a little and see if this is even feasible in today's environment. Hey, there's nothing to lose at this point.


June 11, 2011

Business News . . .

Things are still pretty slow. I have been picking up a few listings on vacant land parcels here and there, and one property with a 3100 square foot manufactured home, pool, private well and power on a five-acre parcel for only $150K, but with very little consumer confidence in the current economy, there are very few buyers. It seems everyone is sitting on their hands (and investment dollars as well) waiting to see which way the economy is going. They want to have cash in reserve in case things get worse, though they are hoping things will get better. And until something happens to tilt the balance in one direction or the other, we are forced to just wait things out.

Sales Activity . . .

There were no reported sales through the local MLS this month, but one of the other active agents in the area made me aware of a parcel that sold on the EBay Auction web site for $12,950. It's up on Carefree Highway between 315th and 323rd Avenue. This five-acre parcel is about ˝ floodway and floodplain impacted, which won't make it easy to build anything on in the future. But it does support the notion of increasing value for area parcels.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

I noticed that the Hudson place is no longer on the market. This was the property that was under construction but had not bothered to get building permits. The County made an example of Ed Hudson so no one else would even think to do this again. I spoke with the Agent who had listed the property after it was foreclosed, and she indicated there was an interested buyer, but when he went down and talked to the County Officials, they stated they would only issue a "Demolition Permit" for this property. There's about $200,000 of real estate that could be generating tax revenue if they were willing to work with a Buyer who was willing to bring everything up to code and current permitting. But, oh no, they want to reduce this back to just land parcel . . . which with a grazing lease on it might generate $20 a year in taxes for the County. This is a perfect example of our tax dollars supporting bureaucrats that don't seem to have a grasp on fiscal reality.

On the other hand, there are plans in the works that should have a beneficial impact on the Whispering Ranch market. Available soon on the Whispering Ranch web site is the drainage study for the current proposed route of the Hidden Waters Parkway running north/south through Whispering Ranch. Though the route has not been finalized, you can get an idea of properties that lie in the path of, or closely adjacent to the alignment currently under study. This study has maps of the currently proposed roadway alignment. You should also be aware of the upcoming Public Open House meeting on Wednesday, June 15th, at the Tonopah Valley High School, 38201 W. Indian School Road, from 5 PM to 7 PM for public input on this proposed roadway. If you can't attend, the project information and exhibits will be made available after the meeting on the MCDoT web site a few days after the meeting for review.

The roadway will require a minimum of a 200-foot wide right-of-way. This allows for a median and two traffic lanes in each direction to start. The additional space is for more traffic lanes if needed, bike pathways and pedestrian walkways. I asked at an earlier meeting how the acquisition process would work, but wasn't given any specific answers or process that would be followed. I guess we'll see how that works later on.

Currently, there is no planned date for the process to acquire parcels to construct this roadway, nor are there any established dates or specific guidelines for the process of acquiring the property needed. The first order of business is to determine the path, which is mandated to be completed by the end of this year. The next issues to be addressed will be where to get the money in a depressed economy of major budget deficits to buy the land, and what the process will be to actually purchase the land. In the meantime, we should wait and try to develop a plan that will be in the best interest of all those involved as we work thought this process.

What's Next . .

As this roadway comes in, they will need to bring power into the area to support the roadway infrastructure, allowing adjacent parcels (and others within a reasonable distance) access to power. Once the information on this planned roadway gets into the investor market, there will be renewed interest in the area. We will have buyers coming in to purchase parcels as inexpensively as possible and hold them until this roadway causes a rise in value. I heard from one of the area residents last week that some of the property owners south of Patton Road are already getting letters from prospective Buyers asking if they are interested in selling. Be wary of these buyers - many are looking to take unfair advantage of the situation. If they are reputable and serious, they will pay a fair price. If you have questions and want us to check these folks out for you, call either of us and we will help you as best we can. Both of our phone numbers are on the opposite page.




May 14, 2011

Business News . . .

Despite some promising news about an increase in sales activity in March, once the numbers for everything came in for April, it appears that the market really isn't changing for the better. Our real estate market was part of the big boom in 2005 and now we are a part of the big bust. Sadly, there hasn't been any sustained improvement since everything started going downhill in 2007. The market will recover, though it will be quite a while before we see anything like pricing in the boom years. Arizona - like most of the Sunbelt area - enjoys a more tolerable climate, plenty of available land and relatively low labor and living costs. Arizona has one of the world's best water preservation/conservation/control systems in place, and unless the Colorado River Watershed dries up, we are well poised for growth in the future. When planners and developers look at any area, one of the first questions they ask is about the availability of water. What's interesting is that the hydrology study is complete and there's a large aquifer directly underneath Whispering Ranch. A lot of other areas of the State can't make that claim, so the growth will happen once we are out of this frustrating economic period.

Sales Activity . . .

In the past month, there was only one sale reported through the local MLS. The parcel was listed for $14,900 last September, was recently reduced to $9,900 and sold at $8,000. There were a few more Lender foreclosures and a few owners giving properties back to Sellers through a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure which don't show as sales in the local MLS. From the price levels of some of these transactions, it seems some owners are just dumping properties they don't want, and the buyers are getting some great deals. I have a few interested parties poking around in the area, but no significant developments. The five-acre properties just off a paved road with power and a well are just not priced in that lower range. I'll keep my eye on activity and report in as soon as I see anything of interest. For the moment, I feel the market is still bouncing along the bottom. I have no idea when it might start to move back upward, but I have always been the optimist that it would recover. This recovery is going to be slow, so don't get impatient and expect price rises like we saw in the "Boom of '05".

I did get a couple of calls from owners who I have stayed in touch with for the past few years. It seems there are a few buyers who are contacting owners and expressing an interest in buying the parcels. Basically, what they are offering is to take them off you hands for $1200 to $1500 - and in some cases, their offers are as low as a years taxes. I know they will find a few owners who just want to dump the property, but hope you are not one of them. Reduce your holding costs, get your taxes down, and wait it out.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

Last month's Transportation Advisory Committee meeting at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation was informative and well attended. Representatives from Belmont Ranch, Douglas Ranch, a few of the smaller impacted developments, attorneys representing Toyota, staff from the various power agencies (SRP, APS, WAPA, etc.), planners from Buckeye and Maricopa County, along with folks from the various State Agencies watched a short preliminary presentation and then asked questions and provided input from our various perspectives. The next day, I met with the project Senior Planner and two of the engineers involved in the roadway planning to take a look at the ideas for the proposed roadway and to see which paths would impact the fewest residents and at the same time cross the fewest obstacles (wash areas and arroyos). We drove from 305th and Jomax Road to the north, heading slightly east as we went, then north on 299th Avenue under the power lines, then east on Painted Wagon through the wash, then north again on 301st Avenue to the north end of the Ranch. This was the approximate route they had envisioned by looking at the aerial and flood maps, and I think this is the path they will settle on with some minor changes. For those of you interested in taking a look at the plans and progress so far, I have downloaded the reports and if you drop me an e-mail, I can e-mail an electronic copy to you. All you need is to have the Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file and see what's going on. I might make these reports available on the Whispering Ranch Information web site in the near future so everyone can take a look at them.

What's Next . .

Temperatures in the summer traditionally slow interest in the market since nobody wants to be hoofing around in the desert when it's 110 degrees!! Some of us desert rats will be out there showing property, though. All we need in an interested prospect and a chance to get out of the office for a few hours. The best part of my day is when I can give someone a tour of Whispering Ranch. It really is a beautiful pristine desert environment.


April 9, 2011

Business News . . .

There have been reports of some County vehicles roaming around Whispering Ranch, but I haven't heard of anyone seeing trucks from the engineering firm (EPS Group, Inc.) involved in the study for the Hidden Waters Parkway. I guess the County is doing some preliminary nosing around planning for this roadway. I did receive an e-mail asking me to participate in the Technical Advisory Committee Meeting on April 13th. Shortly after that, I got a call from my contact at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation that they were planning a field trip out to Whispering Ranch on April 14th and they wanted me to be there to give them my input. I'll post the meeting information and the results of the field trip on the Whispering Ranch web site after the meeting so you can get an idea of what the current plans and ideas are for this proposed roadway.
The most recent reports of sales activity in general for the Phoenix housing market are indicating a stronger market - larger numbers of sales, stable inventory numbers, and a slow down of Short Sale and Lender Owned properties coming on the market. Investor purchases of lower priced properties at Trustee Sales are driving most of this activity, though there are signs of "normal" transactions where homeowners are "trading up" since prices are so low. These indicators have appeared recently and have not yet continued for enough time to establish a market trend. This may be an indicator of an improving market or just a short-term anomaly. Once the housing market shows signs of recovery, consumer confidence will improve, and there should be more investment in land. Right now, from what I see, we are in a "Wait and See" period.

Sales Activity . . .

Land prices in Wshipering Ranch are currently almost as low as when I started working in the area in 2002, so I'm telling folks that in my opinion, it's time to be buying, not selling. But I also was of the same opinion two years ago, and prices have fallen since then. The batteries in my crystal ball went dead a few years ago, and all I can do is report on current conditions, with an eye toward some hopeful events on the horizon. The problem with events on the horizon is that it takes some time to determine if they are coming your way or heading the other direction. Time will tell.
In March and the first part of April, there were no sales of vacant parcels reported through the local MLS, but there were a few foreclosures and a few owners giving properties back to Sellers through a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. Calls from some of the property owners getting properties back may turn into a few more parcels going on the market, but I am trying to be cautious so the market doesn't get flooded with a lot of listings. I am getting more calls from folks asking for information on the area in general and the web site is getting more hits, but there is not and corresponding sales activity. As always, I am the perennial optimist, knowing the market will improve, just anxious for a positive change and not knowing when it may actually happen.
The property owned by Scott Cox went through foreclosure and came on the market in early March. As soon as I knew about it I contacted a number of local residents who had expressed an interest in the property. This package consisted of a vandalized doublewide mobile home, an unapproved (but operating) well, and a 'construction' electrical connection on a five-acre parcel just west of 306th Avenue on the south side of Dixileta. The property went on the market with the Seller (Freddie Mac) asking $8,900. The final sales price was $15,000 and the escrow closed on March 23rd. This was a great deal for the Buyer, but it took a lot of fast paced negotiations since at that price there were a number of purchase offers hitting the table all at once. One of the requirements was that the property had to be owner occupied, which took a lot of folks out of the running as they were looking to make an "investor" purchase.
There's still no word on the property at 30319 W. Peakview . . . HUD says that Bank of America has it but the folks at B of A told me that it's a HUD property. Oh well, we'll just have to wait until it works its way through the system. When it pops out on the other end, I'll let everyone know. This one could be another great bargain. Or maybe not. You never know what these Banks and/or Lenders are going to do.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

With the changes early this year at the Arizona Corporation Commission and the incoming members taking a little time to get their bearings, there hasn't been any news on the possibility of reinstating the "1000 Foot Free Zone" in the area. Everyone is being cautious not to ruffle the feathers of anyone down at Arizona Public Service Company offices despite this being a major stumbling block to adding small solar facilities to the power grid. Since the tariff rates are so low and the connection fees to the grid are so expensive, it is going to be a while before the idea of using this source of renewable energy becomes a reality. Solar power as an augment to the power grid can be done, but there are too many items being controlled by the larger power providers that are effectively blocking any smaller solar energy providers from entering the market. But I am continuing to ask questions and try to determine why so many people are resistant to this simple concept. I guess this is another case of bureaucracy, regulations and politics getting in the way of a common sense solution. One of the owners who has been working on this concept has been in touch recently, and despite all of the roadblocks being thrown in his way, it seems he is making some progress. I'm helping in every way I can, but staying out of the picture at the same time as not to cause any problems with the bureaucracy or power company. I'll keep you posted on how these efforts are progressing as he moves forward with the process.

What's Next . .

Planning is in the works for some good things to happen in the area, but nobody knows when we'll see the impact. So we'll just have to wait it out. Once the investors get the word about the roadways, we'll see more activity. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later.




February 12, 2011

Business News . . .

In mid-January, the Arizona Corporation Commission met and re-instated the “1000 Foot Free Zone” but only for Unisource Electric Company in the Lake Havasu area of the State. Unisource also is active in the Tucson area, but from what I understand this mandate only applies to the Lake Havasu area. One interested prospect that had been in touch with me about this issue got some information from another agent that this benefit was reinstated statewide. It was NOT. The Arizona Corporation Commission has not yet addressed the issue with Arizona Public Service (APS), and probably won’t do so for another year. The word is that they are going to get some of the other smaller utility companies to go along with this concept before they address the issue with APS. Providing this benefit goes a long way toward getting owners to construct energy efficient and/or energy producing buildings. I have been a proponent of reinstating this benefit, and actually adding another 1000 feet for owners who are willing to build a “grid tied” energy efficient house that could feed power back into the grid on sunny days, but our elected officials on the Arizona Corporation Commission have to be careful not to alienate the large business interests that can easily get them voted out of office. Think about this . . . we could create jobs constructing and maintaining these small solar farm entities, raise tax revenues for the County and the State by taking previously unused vacant land parcels that would now be income producing entities, and create a product (energy) that is needed and would be consumed locally. But since it is a threat to the power companies hold on the market, they will resist any movement in this direction. Hopefully, I can get someone in the bureaucracy to wake up and see the future. Then again, maybe not.
On another key issue, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved the funding for the Hidden Waters Parkway Study in their monthly meeting on January 26th. So in the next few weeks and months, we will probably start seeing the County vehicles and trucks from the EPS Group looking around for the best way to run the roadway through the Whispering Ranch area. Their goal is to find the path that requires the least cost from an engineering standpoint and the fewest owner relocation issues. They have requested a tour of the area, so if you see my truck loaded with folks, it’s probably me giving a tour of the area, not selling a property. Later this year you will be notified of any public meetings with the Department of Transportation and the EPS Group to answer any questions you might have. We might be having another “Tent Event” on the corner of 299th Avenue and Patton Road depending on what the weather is like and what kind of turnout is expected. Watch these newsletters or sign up on the Whispering Ranch web site for e-mail notifications.

Sales Activity . . .

One of my contacts sent me an e-mail that there were two parcels in Whispering Ranch that were being auctioned as part of a bankruptcy liquidation, so I got the word out to some of the Buyers interested in the area. These parcels are on the southwest corner of 315th Avenue and Lone Mountain Road, are in a relatively flat, and both ‘high and dry’. At the end of the auction, these parcels sold at $8,000 each. This is still less than what I see as a reasonable value for a seller, but considering these were auctioned for quick cash, this was a good deal for the Buyer.
In addition to the auction parcels, there were two other parcels on the south side of Galvin Road at about 304th Avenue that were sold for a total of $26,500 for both parcels. These were part of a bankruptcy liquidation as well, but handled as a sale through MLS as opposed to an auction. These prices are significantly higher than what we saw at the end of 2010, so hope springs eternal that this market might be starting to improve. Only time will tell.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

I also found out about another study involving roads that just became public information. Back in August, the Town of Wickenburg looked at the various proposals for roadways and came up with their preferred roadways. One of the items indicated was that Dove Valley Road would be a major arterial roadway running east to west through Whispering Ranch – continuing west about halfway to Aguila, then turning north and heading north to connect with Highway 71 at Highway 60 to the west of Wickenburg. These planning maps also include the Black Mountain Parkway and Eagle Mountain Parkway to the west of Whispering Ranch that run north and west around Wickenburg. These roadways were not part of any of the original MAG planning, but would definitely be a plus as this area of the County grows in the future. As soon as I have the chance there will be links to the maps and presentations on the Whispering Ranch web site if you want to take a look at this proposed plan.

What’s Next . . .

Even with all of these roadway plans in the works, I don’t expect to see any significant improvement in the market until there is good news about unemployment numbers. From the indicators I have read, the number of firings has decreased to a trickle, so if you haven’t been fired yet, the odds are pretty good that you won’t be. That should lead to more consumer confidence, and improving market conditions. The fact that most people believe that we’re no longer headed for apocalyptic collapse is, as they say, a good thing. If things look better today than they did last year, it is a good thing. Confidence in the present builds confidence in the future. Challenges remain, but we are a stubbornly resilient, optimistic bunch. All we have to do is be creative, watchful for opportunities to move forward and keep working.

January 8, 2011

Business News . . .

With the Holiday season, activity has been slow. I have been receiving few calls requesting information on the area, but none of these calls have developed into serious negotiation. Some of these buyers are interested in financing the parcels, but right now there are no lenders I know of making loans on undeveloped land parcels, and the Seller financed properties I have are not the ones being selected. I expect that Seller financing will be the only game in town for Whispering Ranch for the next year or two.
I am still trying to get information from Bank of America on the vacant property at 30319 West Peakview. It has been vacant now for about six months, and despite numerous calls to everyone I know, there is no information available. I made a call to the local HUD office about four weeks ago and they told me to just “sit and wait until it works its way through the system”. So I guess that until we see a sign pop up on the property, there won’t be any information available.
I am also continuing research on the possibility of establishing a small “Solar Farm” property in Whispering Ranch. There hasn’t been any word lately on the reinstatement of the “1000 Foot Free Zone” to help defray the cost of moving power lines closer to the location, nor have I heard back from the County as far as what it might take to get a zoning variance to allow this use in this situation. It seems that nobody thought this application would ever be a viable property use so they didn’t plan for it. But they might start thinking along these lines now. I hope that this concept starts to take hold and grow. Whispering Ranch could well be one of the first “green” communities if it does.

Sales Activity . . .

There were no reported sales through the local MLS in December. There were a couple of private transactions where lenders got property back in foreclosure actions and a couple of private sales where lenders sold off some of their foreclosed assets. This is an indication that there is some market activity – albeit slow – and these transactions are being done in price ranges below what I would consider median price range for the area. This is a situation where you have to do the research, know property values, understand Seller motivations and arrive ready with funding to put these deals together. This requires a lot of work.
When a property sold in November for $500 per acre, I received probably 20 calls from folks looking for parcels they could buy at that price. It seems like everyone thought that all parcels should sell for that amount. This is the same convoluted logic that everyone who buys a Lottery Ticket will win the $400 Million grand prize. An intelligent person realizes that ain’t gonna fly! Everybody wants to hit a home run. A good ball player just wants a clean hit.

Bureaucracy on the Move . . .

A few days ago, I met with a Senior Planner at Maricopa County Department of Transportation. They are starting the study to determine that path for the Hidden Waters Parkway that will run north/south through Whispering Ranch. Over the next few months, we will be seeing MCDOT vehicles in the area planning the alignment for this four lane divided roadway to be built over the next few years. Maps of the proposed routes and more detailed information will be available on the Whispering Ranch web site (http://www.AZLand4U.com) as soon as I can get everything in place. Or, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send the information out to you.

What’s Next . . .

Once the studies for these planned roadways become public knowledge and the word starts to spread, there will be renewed interest in the whole area. There will be investors and speculators who will probably be sending out letters trying to pick up parcels at “bargain basement” prices. These investors and speculators know that values will start an upward run and will want to get in when prices are low.
You need to be aware of this as well. If you are interested in selling your property, getting it on the market before the rush starts will get you in on the ground floor. Lots of folks waited a little too long to get their property on the market previously and their property didn’t sell. Or it might be in your best interest to hold on a while longer and let demand push parcel prices upward. Just don’t wait too long, or you might miss out again. The upward market movement hasn’t started yet, but it will once the word gets out that the ‘roadways are coming’! Keep in touch with me and watch the e-mail newsletters for breaking news.

Let's all do what we can to have a great 2011.







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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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