One of north Scottsdale's newest upscale golf communities is faring far better than par. Many real estate experts say Silverleaf is among the hottest luxury places to live, even without a sales office, which won't open until October.
There is only one golf course, and most people aren't moving there to improve their game. "Silverleaf is probably the strongest product in north Scottsdale," said Marv Leff, an agent with Realty Executives in Phoenix. "The level of appreciation will be some of the strongest in that community."
"The allure is large lots, good views, privacy, a gated community and a challenging golf course," he said. The people who have looked at Silverleaf lots can afford to live anywhere, he said. Silverleaf, an exclusive, separately gated community of 600 lots on 2,000 acres in the DC Ranch master-planned community, sold 102 custom home lots from April 2002 to June 2003, totaling more than $80 million in real estate sales in the community's first year.
Bea Barnhart and her husband, Dick, will be the first residents to live in the Upper Canyon area of Silverleaf. Upper Canyon will feature 250 custom home sites that will go for $675,000 to $3.5 million. Each home will sit on 1 to 30 acres and will offer privacy, exclusivity, serenity and views.
The Barnharts are building a 6,700-square-foot home, but part of that is a guest house. They have lived in DC Ranch for five years and wouldn't have considered moving, but they like the views of the McDowell Mountains, the golf course and the desert. "I love DC Ranch. I love the town, the upscale restaurants," Bea Barnhart said. "I wouldn't live anywhere else."
Silverleaf enables them to stay in DC Ranch and have the views they want.
"We've always dreamed of having a spectacular view, and that's what you get here," she said. "We never would have done this, except that the lots were so spectacular, and we said this is what we always wanted."
DC Ranch seems to keep improving, Dick Barnhart said.
"It seems like Silverleaf is about as nice as an area gets in the Phoenix area," he said. The other area of Silverleaf, The Parks, is designed for high-end homeowners who want to interact with like-minded people. Nearly 200 lots are available in the neighborhood. Each home will be clustered around one of 11 parks and tree-lined streets. The home designs will differ, too: They will focus on porches and be more inviting to neighbors.
Don Matheson, a golf community real estate specialist, said Silverleaf's location is a huge attraction to luxury home buyers.
"The lots have sold real well," he said. A key selling point, he said, is the community’s proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment.
"It's because it's so much closer in than your other prestigious golf communities," he said.
"It's going to be the next Paradise Valley, really," Matheson said. Mark Hancock, owner of Camelot Homes, likes Silverleaf so much that he's moving into one of the neighborhoods he's building, The Parks. "It's a really exclusive, incredibly well-done community," he said. "It's the finest place in the Valley to live."
One downside to Silverleaf is that it offers only one golf course, designed by Tom Weiskopf. Memberships sell for $135,000.
Desert Mountain, which is close to Carefree, has five Jack Nicklaus golf courses and a sixth will open this fall. Its lots sell between $450,000 and $4 million. Golf memberships sell for $225,000, and members must own property to have a golf membership. Desert Highlands struggled to sell some of its homes this year because it requires a $75,000 golf membership fee when homes are purchased in the community, whether the buyer plays golf or not.
Superstition Mountain, between Gold Canyon and Apache Junction, sells lots from $225,000 to $1.15 million. Golf memberships don't require property ownership in the community and sell for $85,000 for its two courses designed by Nicklaus and his sons, Jack II and Gary.