The Rim Country housing industry is enjoying an upswing.
There are new developments going up in both Payson and Pine.
One of the newest developments is Sanctuary at the Rim from Haven Construction and Wendy Larchick — At The Rim Team/Keller Williams Arizona Realty.
It includes 43 lots, with 10 available now. There are four floor plans and seven elevations offered. The homes range in size from 1,276 to 1,967 square feet. The development is next to The Rim Club, just off Rim Club Parkway.
Woodshire at Elk Rim
Up in Pine, there are 18 lots for sale at the Woodshire at Elk Rim. From Woodshire Realty and Brookshire Communities, 10 floor plans are offered, ranging in size from 1,020 square feet for a single story home to 2,063 square feet for a home with a loft. The lots are about 6,000 square feet and the development is on approximately four acres. It is located in The Portals area of Pine.
Elk Rim was the first to break a 10-year development drought in the unincorporated areas of Gila County when it was approved in 2018.
It took about a year for the project to get through the county’s planning and zoning process and win approval from the Board of Supervisors.
As of April 2019, seven of the 18 lots are sold and construction has started on three of them, with permits approved for work on the others, according to Rick Vesci, broker for Woodshire Realty and one of the principals in the development.
Sanctuary at the Rim
Gilbert-based Haven Construction has a long history in the construction and development industry. It is family owned and operated. The Jobe brothers are fifth generation Arizonans.
Larchick said she met Justin Jobe, one of the principals of Haven Construction, when he was interviewing agents to represent him in Payson.
“He and I just clicked — we had a lot of the same core values, such as customers first, a sense of urgency in response time to clients and providing the highest level of service and product,” Larchick said.
Haven Construction is building all the homes and is the seller. Larchick and her At the Rim Team represent the developer and many times the buyer.
“We will work with both parties to do our best to ensure that home selections are made early and the construction process goes smoothly,” she said.
Larchick explained the reason they are releasing the 43 lots in phases, with 10 lots initially.
“This allows them to build 10, then move forward in a mindful manner of what floor plans and features buyers are looking for and also to build value,” she said.
She expects the home to go up fast.
“The timeframe is 90 to 120 days. I think the first homes being built is going to be done right around 90 days. That is fast,” she said. “Haven Construction is such a professional organization. They manage the time of the crews and make sure that the construction of each home is moving forward while at the same time overseeing and making sure that everything is being done properly and the quality they are known for is there.”
Ray Pugel has worked in the Rim Country real estate industry for more than 20 years. He has seen the market go through quite a few cycles.
He said the industry has matured to where builders are starting to shoehorn construction into wherever it will fit because there are fewer easily buildable lots available in Rim Country.
While things seem to be picking up on the residential side, Pugel said the commercial side is stagnant.
“There are a lot of commercial vacancies and rents have not appreciated as they should have.”
With rents stable, landlords can’t reinvest in their property to maintain or modernize it, he said.
There are no new commercial projects proposed and he points to the demographics.
“We’re not big enough to attract large new businesses.”
On affordable housing, Pugel said there needs to be a firm definition of what is affordable and a way to make new construction affordable. He said impact fees make it difficult to keep new builds affordable — both residential and commercial.
“The formula the sanitary district uses to determine impact fees has killed many ventures,” he said.
Pugel thinks multi-family housing projects would help address the need for affordable housing — keeping construction costs low enough to allow occupancy at a lower price point. He said the Pine Creek Cabins in Pine provide affordable housing for some.
“There are some older, single women there who like it because it makes them feel safe and there isn’t so much house to take care of.”
The park models are also popular with seasonal residents who don’t want to spend the going rate for homes on a second residence.
“They can sit outside and enjoy the weather and visit the community’s restaurants.”
Pugel said he has no plans to move forward with Rimside Village, another park model development in Pine. The Roundup incorrectly reported several weeks ago that it appeared steps had been taken earlier this year to move the project forward.
“The project was rejected by the Gila County Board of Supervisors and there are no plans to proceed with further rezoning. The land is currently zoned R-3, which will not allow park models,” he said.
However, there will always be a need for second homes in the area, Pugel said.
“The market will always have ups and downs,” he said. “Buying used to be more seasonal than it is now. Now it’s year-round.”
Pugel shared some real estate statistics that show this trend.
The average list price of homes in Payson and Star Valley in 2013 was $203,879. By 2018, it had jumped to $498,307.
The average sales price was $193,242 in 2013 and $296,354 in 2018. The number of residential sales has steadily increased — 481 homes sold in 2013 to 782 sold in 2018. The time on the market in 2013 was an average of 152 days; last year, it was 118 days.
Pine and Strawberry were essentially even with Payson and Star Valley. In 2013 the average list price was $202,782, average sales price was $193,103 and the average time on market was 137 days. In 2018 the average list price was $347,882, the average sales price was $268,403 and time on the market was 99 days.
Housing sales in Pine and Strawberry are substantially less than in the Payson and Star Valley areas — 173 were sold in 2013 and 176 were sold in 2018.