For the rich and famous, there is no slump in the real estate market. According to Multiple Listing Services numbers supplied by Scottsdale luxury homebuilder Calvis Wyant, sales of homes of more than $3 million are up so far in 2006 compared with the last two years.
The numbers show from January though May, 65 ultraluxury homes were sold, a dozen more than during the same time last year and 41 more than between January and May 2004.
“There’s a recognition probably nationally that this is really great place to live,” said Tony Calvis, one of the founders of Calvis Wyant. “We don’t have any natural disasters and the climate is great for 10 months out of the year.”
Those like Calvis who make a living on the high end of the market have another advantage.
“We’ve got the demographics working in our favor,” he said. “The oldest baby boomer is 60 so that means we’ve got all the rest of them that are coming into those peak earning years. There’s just going to be a lot of people that have the wealth for second homes and that’s going to drive a lot of market here for years to come.”
Calvis has been building luxury and spec homes in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley for two decades. This year the business won two National Association of Home Builders awards for the best custom home for more than $2.5 million and less than $2.5 million.
Calvis credits the area’s transportation and health care systems for his success.
“Unlike Southern California, we’re not real crowded,” he said. “We’re certainly not as expensive. And everything is new in Scottsdale. I hear that a lot from my customers. They travel everywhere and if you go to other urban areas, they’re just older and they’ve got more deteriorating infrastructure.”
Forbes magazine recently ranked Paradise Valley’s 85253 ZIP code 122nd on the list of the most expensive ZIPs in the United States. Scottsdale’s 85262 ZIP was at 390. The ranking was based on median home prices.“It surprised me,” Calvis said. “It kind of drives home how expensive the really nice areas of the country are and we’re not there yet.”
In the first quarter of 2006, homes that sold for more than $1 million made up only 3 percent of the market, said Jay Butler, director of Arizona Real Estate center at Arizona State University Polytechnic.
“The luxury market is truly a different market,” he said. “Typically, these home buyers aren’t worrying about interest rates and other things along these lines. You have a couple different types in the luxury market. You have sort of the money people who have a lot of money and others who are just working their way into the system and they could be fragile in this particular real estate slowdown.”
Calvis said one reason for the growing sales of ultraluxury homes is the fact there are more of them thanks to DC Ranch and, even more particularly, Silverleaf in north Scottsdale. Silverleaf opened in 2002.
“We’ve finally got a place where you can build a very expensive home and have it be in a neighborhood of other expensive homes,” he said. “Until Silverleaf, there was maybe only one sale in Arizona over $3 million.”
Unlike the rest of the market, luxury homes for sale aren’t sitting longer than they were months ago, Calvis said. “We’ve only been building houses like that for a few years now so there’s just not that much supply,” he said. “They don’t have a lot to pick from.”