There are some happy campers in northeast Mesa. A couple of dozen homebuyers are camping out at the Mountain Bridge development at McKellips and Hawes roads to be first in line to buy lots and homes that go on sale Saturday morning.
That's despite the fact there are an estimated 60,000 unsold houses in the Valley, many of them begging for buyers.
Blandford Homes, developer of the property, is offering one-time pricing to 75 to 100 buyers on a first-come, first-served basis Saturday morning, and the deal was attractive enough that some buyers are willing to camp out for up to four-and-a-half days - or pay surrogates to set up camp for them.
Nick Silbaugh, 24, a first-time homebuyer who staked his claim at number 21 on Wednesday morning, said he was thinking about getting in line today or Friday but decided to lock in his spot earlier to make sure he could get the home model he wanted.
"I'm getting married in November, and we had planned on this," he said.
Brent Grandel, 25, another first-time homebuyer, who is 15th in line, said he had been looking at homes for about a year, many of them foreclosures that had been damaged. He decided it was worthwhile to camp out to get a new house that he wanted.
He said he liked the scenery in the area, and the property was on a high enough elevation to be able to see the lights of the city at night.
"It was really the setting," he said.
About the only downside of camping out is that construction workers begin their noisy chores at 5 a.m. on the dot, he said.
Some of the buyers rented RVs for overnight sleeping. Others slept in their SUVs. The builder also contributed catered meals, portable toilets, and awnings and tents for shade.
To pass the time, the buyers became acquainted with their future neighbors, read newspapers and magazines and worked at their wireless computers.
F.J. Pfitzer, sitting in for his brother who is number 11 on the list, brought along an HDTV receptor that plugged into his laptop so he could watch television.
"I was watching Conan O'Brien last night. And I have movies, and beer in the cooler," he said.
Rosemary Ruiz checked in at number 3 and began waiting Tuesday morning. She said the camp-out is actually a nice break from her normal housework routine.
"This is relaxing," she said as a light breeze blew through an open tent where she was seated. "And we have met so many nice people. This is how you build neighborhoods."
R.L. Brown, a Valley housing analyst, said the camp-out is proof that new homes will sell even in a depressed market if other conditions are right.
"The whole thing is always about location," he said. "What the market is saying is, bring the right product at the right price and right location, and people will stand in line for it."
But he admitted that he was disbelieving when he first heard about the interest in the site.