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The Rim Country real estate market continued to have less inventory and higher prices as the rush to move to rural areas continues.

Two longtime local Realtors agree the Payson real estate market hasn’t slowed down with low inventory and high prices.

“In years gone by, we’d see about 800 to 900 homes available in the inventory,” said Steve Cantrill. “At the end of November there were 247. At this time last year there were 268.”

Cantrill has lived and worked as a Realtor in Rim Country for decades. Both he and Deborah Rose have seen the good times and the devastation of the 2008 crash.

Rose, this year’s president of the Central Arizona Association of Realtors and branch manager of Realty One, has a name for what’s going on.

“I dubbed the environment of real estate as the ‘Rural Rush,’” she said. “Instead of the pandemic slowing the market here, it instead created a frenzied buyers’ market from people who wanted to flee the cities or states that created too many restraints on them.”

Rose is also a longtime Rim Country resident who has worked as a Realtor through the recession.

Most of Rose’s clientele come from California and Phoenix. Cantrill reports the same.

“In my experience, most were from the West, including other parts of Arizona,” he said.

Rose appreciates this past year, younger buyers moved to Rim Country because their remote work gave them choice.

“They elected to move to an area like ours that has a more desirable environment,” she said.

Many grew up in a small town and want to give that same experience to their children.

The rush of buyers and lack of inventory helped those with jobs in education or medicine.

“Affordability has now reached unattainable levels for most of the working class,” said Rose. “So, what that means is either the working class stay away from Payson and/or the turnover rate on home sales slows way down. Typically, the Payson market has a 10-year turnover rate due to the high volume of retirees that purchase their last home. This is double the national average of a five-year turnover rate. Supply will continue to be an issue for our market because of this fact.”

Rose found the average sales price of homes in Rim Country increased by 19.8% in the last year.

“Which means the average sales price in 2020 was $240,000 compared to $287,500 in 2021,” she said.

But that makes sense because, “Lack of inventory and high demand will only increase prices,” she said.

The other challenge that affects both buyers and real estate agents, the online real estate market.

Rose has found the online market drives unscrupulous agents to buyers.

“The problem that occurs is the consumer is often trying to reach a specific agent and instead is hijacked by a third-party entity that redirects the lead to an agent that pays them to do so, which is not fair play,” said Rose.

A good Realtor will honor the purchase of a home as one of the most important and personal choices a person will ever make, she said.

“As Realtors we abide by a code of ethics in which we can be held accountable to, and it is each Realtor’s responsibility to practice real estate with integrity and professionalism,” said Rose.

Cantrill has seen relationships end and buyers crushed when the home isn’t what they thought it would be.

Cantrill has seen, “websites do not have all the information and it can be inaccurate or embellished quite extensively with creative photography,” he said. “In years gone by, elaborate verbiage was called “puffing.” Images that have been extensively Photoshopped have the same effect, and buyers have complained to me about getting to a property and seeing that it is nothing quite as nice as the photos would have you believe.”

But worse is buying a house without actually seeing it.

“The shortage of inventory has motivated many buyers to make offers sight-unseen, just to be sure to secure a property before someone else buys it,” he said. “That is an overwhelmingly bad idea.”

Both Rose and Cantrill strongly suggest buyers use a Realtor and see the property before buying.

“The main job of a Realtor is to represent, protect, negotiate, advocate and help the client navigate the complex elements of the home sale or purchase with fairness, honesty and a fiduciary responsibility that surpasses many other industries,” said Rose.

“A real estate purchase is just not the same,” said Cantrill. “It’s not an off-the-shelf item and shouldn’t be treated as such … so, while the online marketplace is so beneficial in so many ways, it has not yet become the end-all.”

Contact the reporter at mnelson@payson.com

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