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Greenery is at a premium here in Scottsdale. In the age of xeriscape, desertscape … moonscape, sometimes a front lawn is just what the house doctor ordered. In addition to the well known communities of Arcadia, McCormick Ranch and the Central corridor, there are a few scattered pockets that harken back to the mature, non-desert landscaping that many Scottsdale immigrants thought they left behind upon relocating to the Valley of the Sun. Aside from those name brand communities, however, they often lie just out of sight of the casual eye.
Vista Bonita in South Scottsdale is one such hidden gem. Secreted away in the 85250 zip code just East of the Scottsdale Road and Vista (just North of Chaparral Rd) intersection, few buyers I have encountered are aware of its existence. Originally comprised of 1960s era ranch style homes on larger than typical lots, some have been knocked down in favor of newer construction. Sitting at the gateway to downtown Scottsdale, it is easy to see why. The allure of modern architecture atop the prime central Scottsdale Real Estate makes for a “bucolic chic” neighborhood that few readily forget upon first encounter.
Though identifiable as one homogeneous neighborhood, Vista Bonita is actually made up of three legal subdivisions: VISTA BONITA LOT 9-19,VISTA BONITA 2 LOT 33-44 and VISTA BONITA 3A. For the purposes of this post, I will simply refer to these phases as Vista Bonita 1, Vista Bonita 2 and Vista Bonita 3, respectively.
Vista Bonita 1:
- 24 total properties, all single-level
- There are several commercial properties included in this subdivision in addition to the single-family homes
- 19 homes feature private swimming pools
- Average property size of 2555 square feet (includes both commercial and residential structures)
- Properties range in age from 1956-2004
- Mix of block / frame – wood construction & architectural styles
- Primarily zoned R1-10 for single-family residential on 10,000 sq ft lot minimums, many homes sit on approx. 1/2 acre lots. There is commercial zoning for several properties which sit on Vista Road at the entrance to the subdivision.
Vista Bonita 2:
- 22 total homes, all single-level
- 17 homes feature private swimming pools
- Average home size of 2295 sq ft
- Homes range in age from 1957-1992
- Mix of construction types & architectural styles
- Zoned R1-10 for residential lots of 10,000 square foot minimums, most homes sit on 1/3 – 1/2 acres.
Vista Bonita 3:
- 32 total homes, all single-level.
- 24 homes feature private swimming pools
- The average home size is 2360 square feet
- Homes range in age from 1961 – 2007
- Mix of construction types and architectural styles
- Zoned R1-10 for residential lots with 10,000 square foot minimums, most feature
All three phases of Vista Bonita fall in the Kiva Elementary / Mohave Middle / Saguaro High School districts
*Read More About the Scottsdale Unified School District
Homes on the extreme East of the Vista Bonita neighborhood back up to the canal / open area. Included in the few commercial structures in the neighborhood is the Lamar Day Spa. Nearby is the renowned Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall and the shops /restaraunts / art galleries / nightlife / etc of downtown Scottsdale. The Town of Paradise Valley lies just on the other side (West) of Scottsdale Road.
For those looking for the mature-landscaping and inviting feel of Arcadia and Paradise Valley Farms, but perhaps on a lesser budget, and with even more immediate access to Old Town Scottsdale, Vista Bonita bears a look.
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It is an inevitable starting point for many buyers right now. Before I can finish saying hello, I am bombarded with requests to see bank-owned and short sale housing. Frankly, were we to change places, I would most likely do the very same. I am aware enough of the opportunities this market has created in the foreclosure arena to dedicate a more or less weekly post to bank-owned property spotlights, after all.
However, there are values everywhere right now. Resale homes have been dragged inexorably closer to the shallow end of the pool by the bank properties, and builders have been forced to sell off their inventory homes at even deeper discounts than usual. There is no part of the market that isn’t coughing up a bit of water.
Ah, brand new construction at foreclosure pricing … can it be?
In some cases, yes, it can.
Builder spec homes just might provide the alternative to bank-owned property that Phoenix area value hunters seek. A spec home is either one which the builder constructed without a waiting buyer in the wings or one in which the original buyer bailed out on the transaction after construction commenced. These homes make great options for buyers who prefer brand new construction, but don’t want the lengthy wait involved in having their new home built from scratch. A buyer can typically move into a completed spec home within 30 days. Of course, if construction is complete, the new buyer will not be able to make any cosmetic choices in regards to flooring, cabinetry, etc. The big discounts, however, are often very persuasive arguments for that sacrifice.
Eager to dump existing inventory in the best of times, builders are even more anxious to get their specs off the books in this market. As evidenced by the near standstill in new permits being pulled by builders for new projects, it is cut and run time for many. I am seeing completed spec homes with significant levels of upgrading being advertised for sale well below base price. In other words, if you signed a contract to build from scratch, you would pay more for a home with absolutely no upgrades than you would for the completed home with cherry cabinets, slab granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, premium culdesac lot, etc.
Another advantage that a builder can offer a prospective buyer right now is tough to beat in-house financing. Not usually a fan of running my loan through the same guy who is selling me something, any conflict of interest concern tends to melt away when they disclose the cheap rate blocks they have purchased for their customers. In addition to the low sales prices, I have isolated several builders who are paying up to the maximum allowable buyer closing costs. A recent client is getting a fixed rate in the 4’s with an additional buydown for the first two years. At no out of pocket cost. All he has to show up to closing with is a downpayment. Not too shabby. *
You have to be careful, however. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many struggling builders throughout Maricopa County. While a little financial pinch works in the buyer’s favor, too much can lead to unfinished subdivisions, mechanic’s liens and other fun stuff. You want to do your research (or better yet, work with a knowledgeable Realtor 😉 to ensure you are not walking into a doomed project. I recommend national builders with ample working capital and developments that are nearing close-out.
You don’t want to get stuck in a ghost town.
Bear in mind that you may have to venture a bit further from your desired location if brand new construction is your bent. Scottsdale is largely landlocked, with only the valuable land in the North remaining open to development. There is infill construction in central Phoenix, but the majority of new home projects are located in South Phoenix (Baseline corridor), North Phoenix (I-17 corridor) and pushing ever Westward towards LA. For those in the Southeast Valley (Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Queen Creek), there are still plenty of options.
I spent the last week looking at a fair amount of them, as a matter of fact.
I had one of those purported foreclosure buyers who ended up buying a brand new spec home from a quality home builder instead of any of the bank-owned homes in the same price range that needed work, had no available warranty and disclosure information and no special financing incentives.
The moral of the story is not to rule anything out. Look less at the property label (bank-owned, resale, new) and more at the property itself. You just might be surprised at the unexpected bargains that are available to be had across the full color spectrum of the 2009 Real Estate market.
Give me a call if you want to find just the right shade of perfect.
* I always advise speaking with a reputable outside lender to compare programs/costs