Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cities Poised for a Surge in Sales

More baby boomers are planning a move, and they're targeting cities with a lower cost of living, greater job potential, and warmer weather, according to new research by the National Association of REALTORS®.
"A broadly improving economy and rebounding home prices are giving baby boomers the opportunity to sell and move to support their retirement lifestyle," says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Furthermore, our research identified cities movers are gravitating to while still remaining in the workforce as a business owner."
According to an NAR generational study earlier this year, baby boomers represent 30 percent of all buyers. They have a median income of $92,400, and their home purchases average about $210,000.
For its most recent research, NAR analyzed population trends, housing affordability, and local economic conditions, among other trends, in 100 metro areas to determine the housing markets baby boomers are most likely to gravitate toward.
NAR singled out Boise, Idaho, and Raleigh, N.C., as top standouts for baby boomers, mostly because of their solid job growth, share of self-employed workers, and affordable home prices. Yun also notes that Florida and Arizona cities are attracting many baby boomers.
NAR identified the following markets as the most likely to see an influx of baby boomers moving there in the coming years (listed alphabetically):
  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Denver
  • Fort Myers, Fla.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Phoenix
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Sarasota, Fla.
  • Tucson, Ariz.
Additional markets NAR identified as having "strong potential for attracting" baby boomers include:
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Dallas
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Riverside, Calif.
  • Tampa, Fla.
"These metro areas are attractive to baby boomers because of their housing affordability, lower tax rates, and welcoming business environment," Yun says. "With baby boomers working later in life, these factors will likely play as much of a deciding role of where boomers eventually retire as will areas with a warm climate or variety of outdoor activities."
Source: National Association of REALTORS®

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Home prices in Phoenix area up 20 percent in past 12 months

by Catherine Reagor - Apr. 26, 2012 11:36 PM
The Republic

Home prices are surging in metro Phoenix, climbing 8 percent in March alone and 20 percent in the past 12 months.

The median price of a house in the region climbed to $134,900, according to a new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

The trend is projected to continue throughout the year, although at a slower pace.

Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory at ASU, doesn't expect home prices to continue to climb as fast as they did in March over the next few months. But he projects metro Phoenix's housing appreciation for 2012 to reach 25 percent by September.

Orr credits the turnaround to steep drops in foreclosures and in the number of homes for sale, coupled with an increase in sales.

Fewer foreclosures means fewer inexpensive homes for buyers. The number of homes taken back by lenders in metro Phoenix is down 60 percent from March 2011.

Housing inventory has dropped steadily during the past year because of a record number of investors snapping up properties out of foreclosure.

Home sales are up 35 percent from a year ago as more regular buyers have joined investors in the mix.
"Prices have begun to rise at a fast pace, and bargains are no longer plentiful," Orr said. "Most homes that are priced well are attracting multiple offers within a couple of days, and many are exceeding the asking price."

March's price increase was the sixth in a row for Phoenix's housing market. Most real-estate analysts say the streak of rising home prices, along with slower foreclosures, is proof a housing recovery is under way.
A growing number of national real-estate analysts say metro Phoenix is leading the U.S.' housing market's recovery.

Metro Phoenix's median home price is still at least $130,000 lower than it was during the boom but almost $30,000 higher than it was in August 2011.

Foreclosures are down, and so are the sales of lender-owned homes. Since March 2012, the number of foreclosures resold by lenders has plummeted 61 percent. At the same time, regular sales, new-home sales, investor purchases and short sales have climbed. All those types of transactions have higher median prices.
The number of houses on the market across the Phoenix area is down 64 percent from March 2011.
Frustrated real-estate agents have buyers ready to sign contracts but can't find houses for them.
Don Paulsen of Peoria-based West USA Realty said the number of homes on the market is even lower when the number of homes that already have contracts written on them is subtracted.

An example would be a short sale in which the owner accepted an offer and the agent is showing the status as AWC -- active with contingencies -- until they get lender approval, he said.
"The reality is most agents will not show those homes because they know there is already an accepted contract on them," Paulsen said.

Orr also expects foreclosures to continue to fall, which means even fewer inexpensive homes will be for sale.
"The very low number of inexpensive homes available for resale means more buyers are considering purchasing new homes as an option," Orr said. "This signals the start of a distinct upward trend in new-home sales."

Pinal County home prices are up 21.3 percent in price per square foot from March 2011 to March 2012, with Maricopa County prices per square foot up 12.9 percent.

The areas showing the greatest increases are those that suffered the most price damage from the foreclosure wave from 2007 to 2011, Orr said. Examples include El Mirage, up 20 percent in average price per square foot; Maricopa, up 20 percent; San Tan Valley, up 31 percent; Tolleson, up 20 percent; Glendale, up 16 percent; Phoenix, up 17 percent; and Anthem, up 17 percent.

In contrast, some areas least affected by foreclosures are still showing price decreases. Examples are Paradise Valley, down 2 percent; Tempe and Fountain Hills, down 3 percent; Sun City West, down 12 percent; and Wickenburg, down 18 percent.

Owner-occupied home sales, which have been eclipsed by foreclosures and short sales in recent years, also increased 47 percent from March 2011 to March 2012.

Prices are still below March 2011, but Orr said the trend has reversed recently, with the price per square foot rising 8.1 percent from February to March. The median normal resale price is now $166,650, still 4.8 percent below the $175,000 in March 2011.

New-home sales are concentrated in the southeast Valley, with Gilbert and Chandler recording the most sales in March, Orr reported.

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Saturday, April 07, 2012

Phoenix-area home prices headed upward

Phoenix-area home prices headed upward
With fewer houses for sale, buyer competition mounts

by Catherine Reagor - Mar. 31, 2012 11:32 PM
The Republic |

Home prices are climbing in metro Phoenix faster than they have since the housing boom.

Some parts of the region experienced home-value increases of 5 to 10 percent a month this year because of a shortage of homes for sale that is sparking bidding wars between investors and regular buyers armed with pre-approvals for mortgages.

This emerging recovery of home prices in the Phoenix area started late last year and has been building each month.

Home values still have a long way to go to recover to pre-boom levels. MetroPhoenix's median existing-home price is currently $124,500, about $20,000 below the area's median in 2002 and well below the $267,000 from the height of the boom in summer 2006.

But many housing-market analysts see this as the beginning of a long-awaited recovery for the area's battered housing market. The uptick in prices is enticing more buyers who have been waiting for the market's bottom to purchase a home and now have likely missed it.

"Phoenix-area home prices are climbing so quickly in some areas now, due to such low inventory, it's hard to keep up," said Tom Ruff, real-estate analyst with online foreclosure service AZ Bidder and a founder of the Information Market, which supplies data for The Republic's Valley Home Values report.

He said the prices on sales closing now, which were started 90 days ago, are outdated. So to find comparable sales, buyers and real-estate agents need to look at sales negotiated last week.

Investors have driven the market, usually paying cash for low-priced homes and beating out other bidders. About 60 percent of homes sold in metro Phoenix this year have gone to cash buyers.

Now, both investors and regular buyers trying to purchase before prices climb higher are giving Phoenix's housing recovery momentum.

However, not all parts of the region are showing the same positive signs. Areas with lower-priced homes are drawing the most buyers, while the Valley's high-end housing market is still in a slump.

Communities in metro Phoenix with better schools, shopping and freeway access are also beating out other neighborhoods -- not far away -- for home-price increases.

"Metro Phoenix has always been a pocket market for home sales," said Jim Sexton of Realty One Group. "Chandler home prices may be steadily rising now, while a neighborhood in Mesa right next to its border are seeing declines."

Many of the metro Phoenix neighborhoods and communities seeing the most rapid increases in prices now experienced the biggest drop in values.

Some communities on the edge of the region, including Goodyear in the west and Queen Creek in the southeast, drew more speculators and homebuilding during the boom. Many of the buyers had subprime loans that resulted in the Valley's first wave of foreclosures.

Home prices in these new communities plummeted much lower than the region's median but are now rising the fastest.

For example, in Goodyear, the median home price has climbed 14 percent in the past year.

But while the increases are large, the prices are low: The growth translates to a median home price of $92,000 in the area, compared with $81,000 in 2010.

Some neighborhoods with bigger homes in the southeast Valley cities of Chandler and Gilbert are posting significant price increases, even though the areas didn't see huge previous declines. Chandler's median home price has climbed to $186,000 from $170,000 last year.

Bidding wars
Martin Dace has been shopping for a house in the southeast Valley for nine months. He has been outbid by both investors and regular buyers on foreclosures and short sales.

Now he's considering buying a new home in Gilbert, near his job. Though the new home will cost $25,000 more than a short-sale house of the same size, he won't have to worry about being outbid.

"I am ready to buy and move in," he said. "I am tired of losing out on bidding wars. And new homes' prices are bound to go up, too, at some point."

Housing analysts say higher-paying jobs and better schools in the East Valley draw buyers willing to pay more to live there.

Homes priced below $400,000 in established neighborhoods are selling the fastest, real-estate agents say. A home listed for $165,000 in the upscale Encanto neighborhood in central Phoenix drew 26 offers and sold for almost $225,000.

There are similar bidding-war stories across the Valley in neighborhoods where homes are priced below $400,000, even in high-end communities.

A Carefree home priced at $300,000 through a short sale received three offers on the first day.
"The lender actually accepted the offer right away, but I had agents calling me for weeks with clients who wanted to put in backup offers," she said. "So many buyers are losing out on bidding wars, they are getting desperate."

Struggles remain
The high-end housing market was the last to crash and is now the slowest to recover. Homes priced above $1 million in Paradise Valley and parts of northScottsdale are generally slow to sell.

Mike Orr, a real-estate analyst with Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business, said supply is a problem for the million-dollar-plus market.

He said so many homes are for sale with price tags and mortgages above $1 million, that this portion of the market could take a few years to post increases.

The median price of a home in exclusive Paradise Valley has fallen to $870,000 from $1 million a year ago.
Though, last week, a Paradise Valley home did sell for $10.5 million in cash, the highest price paid for a metro Phoenix home since the boom.

Joan Levinson of Realty One Group said that there are buyers looking for great deals in the Valley's high-end housing market but that some sellers are still reluctant to accept offers in the hope prices will climb.

Looking ahead
If the current trends continue, with fewer foreclosure homes for sale, home prices will also continue to rise, real-estate analysts say.

Foreclosures did climb slightly in February, but not enough to alarm housing-market watchers.

The number of metro Phoenix homes taken back by lenders during February is still less than half the number of foreclosures recorded during almost every month in 2009.

Also, the number of homeowners behind on their mortgages in Arizona continues to fall. So, many market watchers don't expect another big jump in foreclosures.

Post-foreclosure sales are another matter; banks decide when to put those homes back on the market. If they were to flood the market with a large supply of vacant homes, they could drive prices down again, as a similar move did in 2008-09.

Longer term, experts are gauging a housing recovery not by bank-owned homes but by homes for sale by owner-occupants.

Orr said the recovery will feel much more real when homeowners who bought before the boom feel optimistic enough to put their homes on the market.

"Many homeowners and buyers are still several months behind the reality of what's going on in metro Phoenix's housing market," said Orr, who also publishes the Cromford Report, an online daily real-estate analysis. "The housing market started recovering last year and hasn't stopped."

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Thursday, April 05, 2012

Now Apartment Rents are About to Soar (and what to do about it)

Now Apartment Rents are About to Soar (and what to do about it)

Ben Bernanke's money printing is starting to hit the apartment rental markets. This is real consumer level price inflation. Not a good sign. This means that the price inflation is already  moving beyond the capital goods sectors.

The apartment vacancy rate is expected to fall below 5% this year, crossing a benchmark into what it is commonly considered a “landlord’s market,” said Brad Doremus, senior analyst for Reis, a commercial real-estate research company. That means securing an apartment will become more difficult and rents are likely to be higher by the end of the year, reports MarketWatch.

Nationally, average advertised one bedroom rents have already gone up by 4.1% between March 2011 and March 2012, according to The cities showing the most aggressive hikes in rent include   Chicago where one bedrooms are, on average, priced at $1,451 in 2012, up 11% from $1,302 in 2011. In Denver, rents are $1,067 this year, up 12% from $950 last year and in Charlotte, rents are $876 this year, up 13% from $774 last year.

Bottom line: If you are in the market for a rental and the price looks reasonable, grab it immediately, before someone else does and you end up paying more for a place.

I can recall many years ago a landlord was showing office space to me and another potential tenant. The first space he showed was just what I was looking for and appeared priced under the market. I shouted out immediately, "I'll take it." The other prospect ended up taking other office space in the building, but I got the prime location.

When rents are rising and you see exactly what you want at what appears to be an under market price, don't mess around grab it. Some landlords are quicker than others to adjust to new market conditions. The under market apartments will go quickly, leaving apartments available that are at the new higher rent level.

Or, buy a home while mortgage rates are at an all time low. prices are rising and bidding wars are back on while Phoenix sits at a 1.9 month supply of homes on the market...less than 2005.

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Monday, April 02, 2012

Valley Home Prices on the Upswing

Valley home prices on the upswing
With fewer houses for sale, buyer competition mounts

By Catherine Reagor
The Republic

Home prices are climbing in metroPhoenix faster than they have since the housing boom.

Some parts of the region experienced home-value increases of 5 to 10 percent a month this year because of a shortage of homes for sale that is sparking bidding wars between investors and regular buyers armed with pre-approvals for mortgages.

This emerging recovery of homeprices in the Phoenix area started late last year and has been building each month.

Home values still have a long way to go to recover to pre-boom levels. MetroPhoenix’s median existing-home price is currently $124,500, about $20,000 below the area’s median in 2002 and well below the $267,000 from the height of the boom in summer 2006.

But many housing-market analysts see this as the beginning of a long-awaited recovery for the area’s battered housing market. The uptick in prices is enticing more buyers who have been waiting for the market’s bottom to purchase a home and now have likely missed it.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New FHA Rule to 'Kick Some Buyers Out'?

New FHA Rule to 'Kick Some Buyers Out'?

The Federal Housing Administration announced that starting April 1 it will not insure mortgages to borrowers who have an ongoing credit dispute of $1,000 or more on their file.

To be considered for an FHA-backed loan, borrowers will either have to pay the remaining balance on the credit dispute or enter into a payment plan, making at least three payments on it. Any payment plans will need to be documented and submitted to FHA, which will then figure it into the debt-to-income ratio for the new mortgage.

FHA’s new rule does not include disputed credit accounts from more than two years ago or any related to reported identity theft.

Still, the new rule has some in the housing industry worried that it’s going to keep more potential home buyers from securing a mortgage.

"We expect this revision will certainly kick some buyers out of the marketplace, and we’re in ongoing efforts to quantify how extreme the impact will be," Lisa Jackson, senior vice president of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, told HousingWire.

Jeremy Radack, a real estate attorney in Houston who assists with financing, estimated FHA originations may be reduced by 33 percent to 50 percent this year due to the new rule.

FHA says the rule is aimed at protecting the FHA’s emergency fund, which has fallen below the mandated amount Congress requires.

"We found that many borrowers with mortgage payment delinquencies had prior credit deficiencies including unpaid collections and unresolved disputed accounts prior to the approval of their loan," the spokesman said. "This change was made to eliminate this layer of risk to FHA-insured loans and help protect our insurance fund."

Also in reimbursing the emergency fund, FHA announced it would raise its insurance premiums starting April 1st.

To get per-qualified for an FHA loan in order to buy a Phoenix historic home or a home in Phoenix Metro, contact Laura today at 602.400.0008 and she'll fit you with the perfect lender.

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Willo Historic District in Phoenix, Arizona

Willo Historical District History Plus Light Rail Access
Nestled in the very heart of urban Phoenix, Willo was once the epitome of suburbia - a collection of subdivisions on the outskirts of the small, but thriving metropolis of Phoenix. The Willo neighborhood between 7th and Central Avenues can be divided into two sections. J. P. Holcomb used a Homestead Patent in 1878 to acquire and settle the southern portion of Willo between Encanto Blvd. and McDowell. Mr. Holcomb acquired the northern portion, between Thomas Rd. and Encanto Blvd. in 1886 through a Timber Culture Land Patent.

For the next 20 years or so, the land was primarily for agricultural purposes and lay on the outskirts of town. In the early 1900's, four subdivisions were platted, containing home sites with long narrow lots. In the early 1920's, Home Builders, a residential construction firm, built 41 homes in the Bungalow style. During the mid to late 1920's Phoenix, like the rest of the West, experienced tremendous growth and a building boom.

Standards were set for residential construction, and "exhibition houses" (now called model homes) were developed to market the new construction. Most of the building activity in Willo during this period occurred in the N. Kenilworth and Broadmoor subdivisions, and included a "Spanish Rancho Home" exhibition house.

During the 1930's the Period Revival movement brought tremendous variety in architectural styles, including Tudor Revival, Greek Revival, American Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival and Pueblo Revival. However, the Depression brought construction to a near standstill. The mid to late 1930s and the development of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) brought construction back to Willo. Construction from this period and later years often featured French Provincial and Monterey styles, with an architectural design that would eventually become what we know today as the Ranch Style house. Construction was also more standardized due to the influence of the FHA and other government-imposed standards. Most of these newer homes are found in the northern section of Willo.

In all, 22 separate subdivisions were platted and developed in Willo by various entrepreneurs from the turn of the century up to the beginning of WWII. Eventually, with the growth of Phoenix over the last century, the individual subdivisions platted by early developers were forgotten and the area blended into one cohesive whole. Unfortunately, the amazing growth of the city resulted in the encroachment of commercial development on what were once quiet suburbs. In the 1980's, residents of Willo successfully lobbied for status as a special conservation district, achieving historic status and assuring that this beautiful part of Phoenix history will be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

Development Influences
The historic development of Willo was the result of deliberate actions that shaped and controlled the neighborhood's visual and social characteristics. Many parties, including the local and national real estate trade, prominent civic leaders and the federal government, were responsible for these actions.
Over 700 homes were constructed in Willo, making it one of Phoenix largest historic neighborhoods. Seventeen subdivisions were platted in Willo, each indicative of the land development and architectural trends of their time. This brochure describes how the resources of public agencies, private firms and organizations were used to create the Willo community. 

Home Builders
In the early 1920’s, most of the Willo area was undeveloped agricultural land on the outskirts of the city. It was difficult to attract families to build their homes in Willo because of its somewhat isolated nature. Home Builders, a speculative residential construction firm, saw great opportunity in this new area.

Through the large-scale construction of homes, the company had the opportunity to create a new community, an atmosphere that encouraged people to purchase a house. Home Builders constructed 41 residences in Willo between 1920 and 1925, each in the same architectural style. The company was also responsible for the marketing of these residences, offering an affordable time payment plan, which appealed to middle class homebuyers. Home Builders thus set the standard for the appearance of the neighborhood, the quality of buildings to be located there and the economic and social characteristics of the area's residents.

Home Builders, like other builders of that time, constructed homes in the Bungalow style. Bungalows have large porches and broad roof overhangs and are usually one story. Wood clapboard, wood shingles, and stucco or brick masonry form exterior walls. The Bungalow style easily accepts simple plan variations and emphasizes the use of common building materials such as brick and wood, making the Bungalow simple and inexpensive to construct.

The Roaring 1920's
During the mid to late 1920’s, Phoenix witnessed phenomenal growth in its population and a great expansion of its city limits. Consequently, there was a growing concern over how the City should accommodate this growth without losing its unique qualities. Civic leaders and members of the local real estate trade agreed that haphazard development would be detrimental both to the current residential population and to property values. The residential building developers of Willo used four strategies to accomplish their goal of forging an economically and socially viable community: deed restrictions and protective covenants; platting large-scale subdivisions; constructing model homes and supporting the local zoning movement. Unlike Home Builders, these early developers only sold residential lots; they did not build speculative homes.

Subdividers controlled land values by placing building restriction clauses on the lots sold. For example, a building cost restriction of $2,500 would prevent those of modest means from building there and would dictate the quality of materials chosen for the structure. Other restrictions regulated specific building materials and types of building use, such as excluding an apartment house from a subdivision. As in many parts of the nation, racial restrictions were imposed as well. These restrictions gave Willo an upper middle class identity. Many store owners; professionals and upper echelon public service employees were the initial homebuyers in Willo.

Developers also set the tone of development in Willo subdivisions with the use of "model homes." The National Association of Real Estate Boards, local real estate firms and the American Construction Council sponsored a national program of model home construction during this period. This program emphasized the American Dream of home ownership as a marketing tool. New building technology was promoted in the model home campaign as well, offering added convenience and low building costs for homebuyers.
The "Spanish Rancho Home," the first building constructed in the Broadmoor Subdivision, was an "exhibition house." The house received wide publicity during its construction and opening. The interior was decorated, and the latest electrical, plumbing and heating systems installed and brought to the attention of the visiting public. After the house had successfully attracted prospective lot buyers to the subdivision and had set the architectural standard for the area, the building was sold to a private buyer.

Most of the building activity in the late 1920's occurred in the large North Kenilworth and Broadmoor subdivisions. Both were platted in 1928. By purchasing lots in large subdivisions, prospective homeowners were assured of neighbors who would meet the same deed requirements as they did, thereby guaranteeing social homogeneity in the area. The large size of the subdivisions offered the opportunity for a creative layout of lots and streets. The curvilinear street pattern of Broadmoor was touted for its design along 11 artistic lines" in keeping with the city beautification and planning movement of the period.

While deed restrictions assured Willo residents that nearby buildings would be of a character similar to their own, there was no means by which residents could control development immediately beyond the boundaries of their subdivision. However, by the 1910’s, large cities adopted zoning ordinances which granted municipalities the authority to regulate development within their city limits. Following suit, Phoenix civic leaders recognized that a zoning ordinance was an essential feature of a modern city.

Therefore, the city hired a prominent San Francisco consultant to draft a zoning code for Phoenix. The first zoning ordinance was passed in 1930. Zoning was supported by the local realtors for its ability to stabilize property values. William Hartranft, the first chairman of the Phoenix Planning Commission and a longtime resident of Willo galvanized their support. With the exception of a few lots zoned 11 neighborhood commercial" at major street intersections, all the Willo area was designated for single- family residential use. An exception was the provision for modest apartment buildings (such as the El Encanto Apartments) along Central Avenue, which was the historic edge of the Willo neighborhood.

Period Revival Architecture
The "Spanish Rancho Home's" design reflects the influence and popularity of the Spanish Colonial style through the mid and late 1920’s. By the early 1930’s, the Period Revival movement introduced a range of historical styles reflecting picturesque images of early American or European domestic architecture. Period Revival was the dominant style in California at the time, a factor that influenced design trends in Phoenix. The Spanish Colonial Revival style was first exhibited before the American public at the 1915 Pan-American Exposition in San Diego. Characteristics of these low, horizontal one or two story buildings include simple stucco or plaster walls and chimneys, low-pitched red tile gable roofs, arched window and door openings and modest detailing from several earlier eras of Spanish and Mexican architecture.

Tudor/Elizabethan Revival buildings have their origins in medieval England. The style, which was often described as picturesque and romantic, is characterized by its irregular shape; steep roof with sharp gables accented with half-timbering details; large chimney; cast concrete or stone-framed doors and various combinations of sheathing materials such as rough stone, stucco and brick. An interesting variation of the Tudor / Elizabethan Revival found in Willo is the Cotswold Cottage. The style's most distinguishing feature is its curved wood shingle roof, which suggests the appearance of a historic English thatched roof.

Also found in Willo are examples of the American Colonial Revival style. Although American Colonial is the nation's most popular revival style, it is not extensively represented in Phoenix. Characteristics of the style include Greek Revival door and window surrounds; shuttered, multi-paned windows; low-to-medium pitched gabled roofs, usually with the broadside facing the street and wood clapboard or brick outer walls.

The Impact of the FHA
The worst years of the local economic depression, 1931 through 1935, are illustrated by the virtual standstill of real estate development and construction activity in the Willo neighborhood. The National Housing Act of 1934 rejuvenated residential growth in Willo. The purpose of the Act was to "improve nationwide housing standards, provide employment and stimulate industry, improve conditions with respect to home mortgage financing, and to realize a greater degree of stability in residential construction." The Act created the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that stimulated new construction by insuring residential mortgages, thus making them easier to obtain. In return, the FHA required that housing built with insured loans meet certain design and construction standards.

The development of Willo during this period was a direct consequence of Phoenix' zoning regulations converging with the policies of the FHA. The City's zoning regulations established types of land uses in Phoenix. The FHA policies mandated a specific palette of building materials and designs, which could be used to qualify for financing programs. The program also encouraged speculative development in large subdivisions by limiting the risk of mortgage foreclosure and by increasing demand for houses based on the FHA's low interest rates. As a result of these influences, like no other time in Phoenix history, there was a uniform, coordinated and controlled vision for developing new residential areas of the city. 

The FHA's directives gave developers a blueprint for the most cost efficient and marketable designs. The FHA sought uniformity in their subdivisions in hopes of creating stable, secure and attractive communities. Building components and styles were mass-produced, thereby cutting costs. Developers were able to plat and subdivide property confidently, for they were assured of financial backing from the banks.

In an effort to boost the public's awareness of their mortgage financing and to show future homeowners the advantages of the program, the FHA, with local lending institutions and building contractors, sponsored the construction of two "demonstration houses" in the Willo neighborhood. The houses, built in the summer and fall of 1936, were constructed for private owners but were opened for public inspection to demonstrate the ultra modern dwellings achieved through FHA financing." The prominent and prolific Phoenix architectural firm of Lescher and Mahoney designed both of these homes. The P.W. Westerlund House, designated the "House of Romance," was the first of three houses to be built Economy of construction and convenience were billed as the main features of the house. The "Home of Happiness" was the second FHA sponsored demonstration home in Willo. The Arizona State Fireman's Association sponsored the "Miracle" demonstration home in Willo. This home, which was endorsed by the FHA, promoted the use of fireproof construction materials such as adobe, cement, steel and asbestos.

Unlike the architecturally diverse subdivisions developed during the 1920’s, the subdivisions developed in Willo during the New Deal years are more uniform in appearance. This uniformity was a response of local developers to federal housing initiatives.
FHA era houses were constructed in two basic styles: French Provincial and Monterey. The FHA borrowed the general shape of their homes from the Period Revival styles but stripped the houses of elaborate exterior details, ornamentation and finishes. Built when the private automobile had become the dominant mode of transportation, these buildings incorporate garages or carports into their design.

The most distinctive feature of the Phoenix-FHA interpretation of the French Provincial style is its steeply pitched, hipped roof. These one-story buildings are asymmetrical in plan and have interlocking wings, giving the appearance of a rambling farmhouse. The Phoenix version of the FHA Monterey style is a forerunner of the modern Ranch style house. These are one-story structures with a low, horizontal orientation and an asymmetrical front facade. Exterior walls are covered by stucco or plaster. They have low-pitched gabled roofs usually sheathed in Spanish tile, and have adjoining garages.

Preserving Neighborhood Character
The effort to maintain the Willo neighborhood's character still continues. In 1986, Willo residents and city officials prepared the Willo Neighborhood Conservation plan, addressing such quality-of life issues as the development of high-rise office buildings in the area. In 1990, a neighborhood coalition successfully promoted designation of Willo as a local historic district. With the continuing commitment of its residents, the Willo neighborhood will remain proud of its past and preserving the neighborhood's unique qualities for the future.

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Encanto-Palmcroft Phoenix Historical District Map, Information & Homes Search

Search Homes For Sale In Encanto-Palmcroft Historical District Phoenix

Also Search Homes For Sale In:

Encanto Manor Historic District
Encanto Vista Historic District

Contact Historic Phoenix Homes Specialist Laura B. at 602.400.0008 for more information or to buy or sell a Phoenix Historical Home

Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District ~ Period of Significance 1920-1939
Roughly bounded by N. 7th and 15th Aves., McDowell and Thomas Roads, Phoenix, Arizona

Homes For Sale

About Encanto-Palmcroft
The Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District was listed on February 16th, 1984 and is located in Maricopa County. It has many sites and buildings eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Significant in its architectural diversity and picturesque homes and landscapes, Encanto-Palmcroft in historic Phoenix showcases some of Phoenix’s first fine homes built in traditional styles while featuring true southwest influences. Its winding streets and proximity of the homes to the park represents an approach to suburban planning that had its roots in 18th Century England.

Today the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District is significant for its excellent representation of an early design philosophy, which successfully integrated landscape and building. Architecturally, the district is one of the most important because it is an intact collection of the finest historic
Phoenix homes in the city. Well appointed, designed by prominent early architects, built of high quality materials and distinguished by detailing and craftsmanship of a bygone era, the harmonious mix of diverse architectural styles in Encanto-Palmcroft create one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Phoenix.

Encanto-Palmcroft is an elegant, beautiful historic neighborhood near downtown Phoenix and is surrounded by other classy, historic Phoenix neighborhoods.

The "City Beautiful" Movement and Other Influences
Like the rest of the country, Phoenix was "booming" in the Twenties, its population soaring from a few thousand at the turn-of-the-century to over 29,000 in 1920. By this time, Phoenix had become the largest city between El Paso and Los Angeles, and was transformed from an agricultural area into a thriving retail, professional and governmental center. Suburban areas built during this period were inhabited by a population newly made mobile by the automobile, the desired mode of transportation for the average American family by the mid-1920's. The Palmcroft and Encanto Subdivisions not only reflect this trend toward suburbs planned for an automobile oriented population, but they also incorporate a number of design influences which distinguish American communities developed between the two world wars.

More than simply mass-planned subdivisions, Palmcroft and Encanto are illustrative of the City Beautiful or Garden City designs, a fully realized comprehensive approach to suburban planning which includes a unification of architecture, community planning and landscape design. This approach has its roots in the 19th century's picturesque, romantic suburbs. These movements called for innovative street plans, street landscaping, ornamental light fixtures and parks integrated into the housing areas.

There had been earlier attempts to develop attractive suburbs in Phoenix, but it was only when the Dwight B. Heard Investment Company undertook the planning and construction of Palmcroft that a sophisticated garden suburb was successfully realized. Encanto surpassed Palmcroft in its ambitions, successfully integrating Encanto Park into the neighborhood designed
Palmcroft Subdivision
Dwight B. Heard, a New Englander who had moved to Chicago and then to Phoenix in the late 1890s, was a central force in the development of Phoenix in the early 20th century. A publisher, developer, and political activist, Heard was a friend of Theodore Roosevelt and was instrumental in the creation of the Roosevelt Dam. The Dwight B. Heard Investment Company purchased 80 acres, north of McDowell bounded by 7th and 15th Avenues on the east and west, from the half-section estate of James W. Dorris in 1926. This parcel was split into two equal plats and the 40 acres east of 11th Avenue were developed first. Heard's associate in the Palmcroft development was William G. Hartranft, developer of the Kenilworth subdivision, pioneer advocate of city planning in Phoenix, and father of the city's park system. Together with surveyor Harry E. Jones, they devised a plan for a highly ordered scheme of curving streets contained in I/ I 6-section grids. A plat was filed on April 27, 1927 and by the end of the summer, streets had been graded and the first two model homes completed.

The brochure for the subdivision asked, "Why is Palmcroft the ideal?" and answered with descriptions of "contemplated palm bordered winding drives," and its "quiet and clean" location 11 only five minutes by auto from downtown." Sewer, gas, water, sidewalks, ornamental lights and palm trees were included with the price of a lot, which ran from $850 to $2000. Deed restrictions ran from $5000 for houses built on North 11th Avenue and West Palm Lane, to $6500 on all other streets except West McDowell, which was zoned for apartments and duplexes. Palmcroft proved to be an immediate success and a year later Heard set out to repeat it. A second Palmcroft, identical in planning and building restrictions, was laid out west of the original Palmcroft on the second parcel of 40 acres between North 11th Avenue and North 15th Avenue. The new Palmcroft formally opened early in 1929.

Three of the most significant homes in Palmcroft should be noted for their influence over the entire area. The one-story brick structure at 1609 Palmcroft Drive SE was the first model home in Palmcroft. Built in 1927 on speculation by Heard and Hartranft, the Arizona Republic said "...considerable time and study has been spent on the planning of the first two houses which will be built by the Heard Company as it is its intention to set a high standard for the homes to be erected in the new subdivision."

The second model home, also built in 1927, at 1808 Palmcroft Drive NW was designed by Phoenix
architect H.H. Green. The thick walls, entry porch and its arched window evoke the aura of Old Spain. Its imagery proved persuasive, for most of the houses subsequently built in the two Palmcrofts' were designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. The oldest house in the second Palmcroft, 1615 Palmcroft Way SW, is a Spanish Colonial Revival completed in 1928. It was built on speculation by the Dwight B. Heard Investment Company to promote sales in the second Palmcroft.

Encanto Subdivision
Encanto was the first major undertaking of Phoenix businessmen Lloyd C. Lakin and George T. Peter, who had sold their interest in the Arizona Grocery Company and the Pay, N Takit grocery chain to enter into real estate development. They developed a plot plan, recorded on October 2, 1928, with the same civil engineer, Harry E. Jones, who had surveyed the Palmcroft subdivision. Located north of Palm Lane, Encanto developed simultaneously with the new Palmcroft.

By the time of the formal opening on January 27, 1929, all public utilities had been installed; streets
graded, and most curbs, gutters and sidewalks installed along with a unique underground irrigation system. Palms were planted along Palm Lane to match those on the Palmcroft side of the street.

Although the Encanto Subdivision originally was intended to cover 80 acres bounded by 7th Avenue to 15th Avenue, Palm Lane to Encanto Boulevard, only the 40 acres west of 7th Avenue were developed initially. The Great Depression delayed the West Encanto Circle, originally designed to be identical to the East Circle. Except for a few significant homes along Palm Lane west of 11th Avenue and two on 11th Avenue, built in 1932-33, these subdivisions experienced severe slow-downs in development. Housing starts ground to a halt.

As in the rest of the country, the federal government played a central role in reviving Phoenix' economy. Programs of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) were first introduced to Phoenix in October 1934.
In that same significant year, West Encanto was replatted and a number of acres were sold to the City of Phoenix for parkland-hence the designation West Encanto Amended for the area north of Palm Lane and west of 11th Avenue.

Many of the houses in the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District were built in the years following using FHA-insured loans. The architectural style of Encanto's model homes was distinctly 11 Southwestern," in contrast to the Period Revival styles being built in Palmcroft. The building restrictions of Encanto went far beyond those of Palmcroft. The minimum cost restrictions for residences ran from $10,000 to 12,000 and only single-family dwellings were permitted throughout the subdivision. Detailed instructions for building lines were also enforced in order to maintain consistent angled setbacks, which followed the line of the streets. The house at 745 West Monte Vista is notable because George T. Peter, one of the two developers of Encanto, lived in this home, on site, for several years. Built in 1928 as one of the model homes, the unusual entry tower and its prominent location distinguish this Monterey style dwelling. At 1102 and 1106 West Palm Lane are the first two homes constructed in that section of Encanto while it was still part of the overall scheme to fill the second Encanto Circle with houses.

The West Encanto Circle was originally conceived to be the mirror image of Encanto Drive, as Palmcroft Way is the mirror image of Palmcroft Drive. The Great Depression hit Phoenix with full force in 1932, the year these two homes were completed, and all building stopped.

For the most part, the residents of Encanto and Palmcroft were well to-do rather than wealthy. The very rich were still living in older mansions closer to downtown, in established subdivisions like Los Olivos, and on "Millionaires Row" along Central Avenue. Among the prominent Phoenicians living in Encanto-Palmcroft were Nathan Diamond, co-founder of Diamond's department store; O.D. Miller, produce magnate, State Senator, and gubernatorial candidate; Lynn M. Laney, Attorney and Board of Regents member; and automobile dealers Shadwell H. Bowyer and W. Claude Quebedeaux.
Encanto Park
Inspired by Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Balboa Park in San Diego, Encanto Park was modeled after the English Garden Parks, which were fashionable during the Twenties and Thirties in urban planning and landscape architecture. Winding roads, serpentine lakes and picturesque tree groves all contribute to the expression of a naturalistic romantic park. Encanto Park utilizes these elements in its lagoon system and plantings of exotic trees. Land acquisition for the park began in 1934 following the creation of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board in 1933.

Aided by a grant from the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a total of 222 acres were purchased from the adjacent Dorris and Norton properties and Lakin & Peter Investments. The WPA supervised the planning and construction of the park, which proceeded over three years and was completed in 1938. The overall design of the park is probably attributable to William G. Hartranft, the first Parks & Recreation Board President, but the WPA very likely had a hand in it as well.

Another popular feature of Encanto Park was "Kiddieland," an outgrowth of the children's play- ground in the original park. Believed to be the oldest carousel in Arizona, the carousel in Kiddieland was moved to the park from California in 1934.

Significance of Encanto-Palmcroft
Today the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District is significant for its excellent representation of an early design philosophy, which successfully integrated landscape and building. Architecturally, the district is one of the most important because it is an intact collection of the finest historic homes in the city. Well appointed, designed by prominent early architects, built of high quality materials and distinguished by detailing and craftsmanship of a bygone era, the harmonious mix of diverse architectural styles in Encanto-Palmcroft create one of the most distinctive neighborhoods in Phoenix.

Architectural Styles
The houses in the Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District share a common theme, tending toward the picturesque. Mass, materials, texture and color were manipulated in a conscious attempt to emulate the asymmetry and sensuousness of nature. The result is both dramatic and understated. Many of the houses here were constructed in traditional styles. Others were designed to invoke the romantic notions of past architectural periods. A number of Phoenix based architects contributed to the district.

Orville Bell and H.H. Green were among the most prolific. Additionally, the prominent firm of Lescher and Mahoney designed the original buildings for Encanto Park. Regional expression was also in vogue at this time. Not surprisingly, a wide range of styles is found in the district.

The styles of particular note are those influenced by southwestern traditions. Spanish Colonial Revival and Mediterranean are the most predominant, although excellent examples of Pueblo Revival and Monterey Revival styles can also be found. Spanish Colonial Revival stylistic elements include low-pitched roofs with little or no overhang, red tile roofs prominent arches over doors and windows and porches, and an asymmetrical facade covered with stucco. A large, formal example of this style is the Nathan Diamond house, located at 2220 North 9th Avenue. Very similar are the Mediterranean or Neo Mediterranean homes, which usually have stucco walls, round arched windows and doorways and tile roofs. Pueblo style dwellings were normally built of adobe or of brick stuccoed to resemble adobe. Like the Native American building traditions from which they are named, these homes featured flat roofs with the characteristic timber vigas and rainspouts. The vigas, protruding timber ends that originally were part of the structural support of buildings of this style, were often only ornamental by this period. Low-pitched roofs with red tile also were used in conjunction with this style as it developed. Two fine examples of the Pueblo Revival Style in the district are located at 2040 Encanto Drive Southeast and 702 West Monte Vista Road. Monterey Revival is essentially a fusion of Spanish Colonial and American building styles, which developed in Monterrey, California. A generally symmetrical, two-story, rectangular building and full projecting porches at the second story, characterizes it. The Pafford house, located at 1021 West Encanto Boulevard, is a good example of this style.

Encanto-Palmcroft Historic District Homes For Sale Phoenix, AZ

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