Warm red sun radiating over the desert horizon. Night sky alight with scores of twinkling stars. “Arizona, in particular, is blessed with a panoramic beauty that almost defies description,” declared author Marshall Trimble. Whether teeing up to drive across a golf fairway or saddling up to ride along a horse trail, luxury buyers from California to Seattle to Chicago are traversing the country to turn up the heat in the Copper State.
Boasting over 300 days a year of sunshine, a serious culinary scene, major league professional sports teams, world-class fine and performing arts, and enough golf courses to play a new one every day of the month and still have plenty left over, luxury Arizona real estate is more highly sought after than ever. President and Co-Founder of Launch Powered by Compass Sean Zimmerman shares, “I remember being interviewed in 2019 and boasting about a dozen or so sales over $10 million in a year across the entire Arizona market. Now our Launch Powered by Compass agents are selling that in a single year. Our luxury market has transformed from a second tier vacation home market to become truly top tier and year-round.” Compass Luxury sat down with some of these elite Realtors to explore the surpassingly coveted enclaves of the most popular relocation state in America (1).
“A perfect balance of nature and luxury.”
Surrounded by Camelback Mountain to the south, Phoenix Mountain Preserve to the west, and McDowell Mountains to the east, magnificent Paradise Valley is Arizona's wealthiest municipality and home to legions of notable CEOs, physicians, athletes, entrepreneurs and celebrities, including Olympian Michael Phelps, rockstar Alice Cooper, and former vice president Dan Quayle. Launch Powered by Compass - Paradise Valley agent Marissa Kline explains, “Paradise Valley offers a perfect balance of nature and luxury for buyers in search of exclusivity, raw beauty and the finest resort-style living. Homes are massive, set on large lots ranging from one to five acres or more, and designed with the highest level of architecture, ranging in style from negative edge glass modern to earthen Arizona adobe to Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired mid-century. That said, in spite of the residents owning these prestigious properties and driving incredible vehicles, everyone is dressed in basic t-shirts and shorts. There is a lowkey humanity here. It’s wonderful.”
When the town was established in 1961, peace, preservation and privacy were paramount considerations. Launch Powered by Compass - Paradise Valley agent Laura Lee Cahal has been selling luxury Arizona real estate for decades, and has an insider’s understanding of the community’s rich history. “The founders believed it was essential to maintain the wild landscape and wide open space. There is no business district here, no streetlights and no noise. Everyone’s driveway and tree lighting must be angled downward so no light pollution can impact neighbors or night skies.” Paradise Valley has its own police and fire department, and local services are largely supported by the tax base of area 5-star resorts like The Sanctuary, Camelback Inn and Ritz-Carlton. “Residents can enjoy membership to these resorts, including spa services and members-only special events. It’s a full luxury lifestyle experience.” A decidedly “Old West” undercurrent remains in Paradise Valley, though. “It is not unusual for traffic to slow as a horse trots down the road to cut over to a mountain trail.”
Launch Powered by Compass - Paradise Valley agent Chris Karas has represented many of the community’s highest priced ultra-luxury properties, such as the home of Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver which sold for nearly $20 million (2). Chris shares insight on the rapidly growing popularity of Paradise Valley among ultra-high-net-worth buyers. “Even though Phoenix is the fifth largest metro area in the US, we still enjoy relative affordability. Our $10 million plus market has grown exponentially over recent years in part because in other similar markets, $10 million does not go far, while Paradise Valley buyers are able to secure and create properties which are truly extraordinary. Examples of features include a 4,000 square foot home spa with treatment rooms, infrared saunas, cold plunges and professional workout facilities, even underground bowling alleys, indoor tennis courts and full-sized basketball courts.” With at-home amenities as luxurious and coveted as these, it is no wonder the average annual sales price year over year has risen an average of 35.5% every year since 2004 (3). “Paradise Valley is landlocked, its borders cannot expand and inventory in the $10 to $30 million range is exceedingly tight, assuring high demand and escalating prices.”
“Camelback Mountain is our ocean.”
On the other side of Camelback Mountain, luxury Arizona real estate has an entirely different look and feel. The Arcadia neighborhood is lush and verdant, with grassy lawns and mature landscaping reminiscent of the Midwest. Launch Powered by Compass - Arcadia agent Robert Joffe details, “Arcadia was once a citrus grove, and the orange, lemon and grapefruit trees remained and flourished.” Centrally located close to the lively, artsy Old Town Scottsdale commercial district, Arcadia was largely developed in the late 1950’s on far smaller lots than Paradise Valley. Robert compares the two luxury enclaves, “The large lots of Paradise Valley create a sort of behind-the-gates lifestyle. Arcadia is all about front yard play and that neighborhoody front porch swing.” This midwestern charm extends to the activities and events most popular around the neighborhood, such as pickleball leagues, strolling to Fashion Square’s impressive retail and restaurant destination, and the beloved annual Arcadia July 4th parade.
With this tucked away, quaint suburban lifestyle right in the middle of Phoenix, Arcadia is highly desirable and priced accordingly. “Ultra-luxury homes are trading upwards of $10 million, and in-season winter rentals are leasing for $30,000 to $40,000 a month,” Robert reports. Many of these most prominent properties have stunning views of Camelback. “Camelback Mountain is our ocean. It’s the ultimate Arizona pastoral panorama.” Since much of the housing was built over a century ago, available houses on the market are often not built to today’ luxury standards. Launch Powered by Compass - Arcadia agent Larissa Hoss owns a luxury design-build firm, enabling her to guide clients throughout the entire new build process, from the initial home search to the final construction punch list. Larissa underscores, “Arcadia has very little inventory of move-in ready homes, most buyers must renovate or rebuild to create the living space and lifestyle that luxury Arizona real estate is all about.” As an older community, popular architectural styles lean toward the traditional, such as French country or farmhouse, and some new trends have grown high in demand. “In addition to standard basements, walkout basements are now all the rage,” Larissa shares. “It’s a fabulous way to increase a home’s square footage on a smaller lot.” Basement features include movie theaters, activity wings, guest suites, home bars, and even golf simulators. Another current outdoor must-have? “Pickleball courts, naturally! Everybody wants one.”
“It’s a lifestyle that sells itself. It’s the cost of enjoyment.”
A new luxury Arizona real estate market arrived in the 1980’s, and it is booming. North Scottsdale is a golf enthusiast’s paradise and a true luxury lifestyle destination. Just a short drive outside of Phoenix, North Scottsdale is removed from the urban density of Paradise Valley and Arcadia, and most residential development has been around its golf courses, many of which rank among the top public and private golf courses in the country.Launch Powered by Compass - North Scottsdale agent Julie Pelle explains, “When development began here, it was established as a ‘NAOS,’ or Natural Area of Open Space, to ensure the preservation of the natural desertscape and tranquility.” A magnificent phenomenon unique to North Scottsdale are its sunsets. “The setting sun reflects deeply saturated pink and purple hues off of the McDowell Mountains. It’s breathtaking.” When it comes to the specific features most especially desirable to luxury buyers, Julie smiles, “It’s all about “The Trifecta,” which is access to a top golf course, downvalley views to Phoenix’s city lights, and those amazing mountain sunset views.”
As a younger luxury community with ongoing development, there are many newly arrived high-net-worth residents looking to connect. “The golf clubs and luxury developments create fabulous forums to meet neighbors and create community within the lifestyle, and the assortment of activities is incredibly varied.” Julie continues, “In addition to golf, North Scottsdale has phenomenal hiking and cycling, fine dining and shopping. There are also local ranches, where residents can enjoy the equestrian arts and stable their horses during the winter months.” There are even nearby lakes, a quick 20-minute drive away. “Lake Bartlett is one example, where North Scottsdale residents go to boat, fish, jet ski, all the water sports.” Julie observes there has been a huge influx of high-net-worth individuals from Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Seattle buying second homes in North Scottsdale, and adds, “This luxury market has always withheld its status and value. It’s a lifestyle that sells itself. It’s the cost of enjoyment.”
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