Million-Dollar Homes Multiply In Rim Country

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Million-dollar mountain villas, scattered above and beyond the lowland homes of Payson, are cradled among the palisade vistas and kelly-green fairways of the Rim Country.

Harold Corbin is a a self-made yacht broker from Colorado, and lives in one of the area's top-dollar homes.

"There is nothing else that I've ever seen like it anywhere," Corbin said. "It's not gaudy. It's a totally unique floor plan. I've been extremely happy here."

His 5,000 square-foot arboretum manor -- part gothic, part Mediterranean -- sits on 2.5 acres under Monument Peak in The Knolls subdivision just east of Payson off Highway 260.

Corbin's home is one of 41 properties listed at $1 million or more in the Rim Country, according to the Multiple Listing Service.

These houses range from a four-bedroom, four-bath $1.069 million Chaparral Pines fairway home t#o a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom $7.9 million mansion with an estimated monthly mortgage of $36,854 -- $15,400 more than the 2003 per capita income of a Gila County resident.

"Chaparral Pines has about 280 homes -- 70 or 80 of those homes at least are a million dollars," said Clark Ransome, a broker for Windermere Majestic Rim Properties. "The Rim Club has 25, and the Knolls has around 15."

A home's value, added Ransome, is defined by the craftsmanship, the details, the materials, and the location.

"The land plays a huge part of it," Ransome said. "The architectural design, the granites, the specialized lighting systems, the cabinets ... the stonework can easily add $40,000 to $100,000 to the selling price. A large home will have 30 doors or so, and doors can be a $1,000 each, front doors can cost up to $10,000."

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Harold Corbin's self-circulating pond is filled with water lilies and surrounded by dense foliage and clover grass.

And Corbin's six-bedroom home is no different.

Arched double doors of hand-carved oak open to a foyer reminiscent of European cathedrals of the Renaissance era -- a brass chandelier, anchored in a vaulted ceiling and suspended above marble floors, is accented by molding brushed with 18 karat gold paint.

Corbin's rooms are filled with paradisio granite and marble countertops, hand-hewn cabinetry and large bay windows overlooking Monument Peak.

Mature plants, flowers and vegetables in full summer bloom cover the property's grounds; a fenced garden produces everything from blackberries to cucumbers, watered by his own personal well.

As money from the Valley and Southern California continues to pour into the Rim Country, the demand for and cost of expensive homes increase as available land dries up.

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Details and craftsmanship define a million-dollar home. Stonework, says real estate broker Clark Ransome, is a key selling point.

Terry Smith, Gila County zoning and planning commissioner, said Christopher Creek and Pine are the up and coming Rim Country hotspots.

"There's a private subdivision in Christopher Creek that's been in the works for a long time," said Smith. "They're going to h#ave 315 lots and they'll range from a quarter-acre to a half-acre. You wouldn't buy one of those properties just to build a cabin. In the portal (in Pine) some of those properties can still be developed. (Proposed homes) adjacent to Solitude Trails should be at least a million each."

Expensive properties, added County Assessor Dale Hom, supplement Gila County's budget. Hom estimated that the taxes on a million-dollar home bring in as much as $12,000 a year.

In spite of the expense, homeowners like Corbin, who's selling his house to build a palace, wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love the sheer beauty of the area, surrounded by large ponderosa pines," Corbin said. "I have a wonderful, delightful place to live within an hour's commute of the Valley. For my lifetime of effort, I feel rewarded."

And in case you're looking for more space, and have a few extra million to throw around, Corbin's house is listed for $1.85 million.

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