Buying Land in Fountain Hills Arizona… What you need to know

 

Fountain Hills is well-described as an upscale desert community, with hometown character.  The richness and quality of life are evident the moment you crest Shea Boulevard leaving behind the congestion of Scottsdale.   Many of us want land in Fountain Hills for a future home.   There are numerous benefits to buying land for future building, but you have to make sure you don’t make a mistake by purchasing the wrong land. 

 

Let’s talk about some benefits of buying land now for the future.   The first benefit is price. They are low compared to market peak in early 2007.   Here is an example.. There is a lot currently for sale on Kingstree Blvd. for $257,000.   That might seem high priced but only 10 years ago this lot sold for $440,000.   It is selling for 60% of its high point.   There are many examples of the difference in price compared to the top of the market.   What is strange is that houses have come back in value much more quickly depending on the price point.   Land has prices similar to what they were in 2003.   This will not last.  Scottsdale is just over the hill and they are running out of land.   It is very difficult to find a nice residential lot under $200,000 in the core of Scottsdale that will have sewer, water connections on the property.   You can find land in North East Scottsdale out in the sticks off Dynamite, but you’ll need to drill a well, put in septic and most likely you’ll have a dirt or gravel road.    In Fountain Hills, residential land starts at $75,000 and increments quickly.

 

Supply and demand:  Soon the demand will far outstrip supply.   You can choose from very nice lots at good prices.   Many sites will support single level homes and there are hillside lots too.  The lots with the best views typically sell the quickest.   The most desirable views are of Four Peaks, Red Mountain, city lights and “the Fountain.”    Nearly every lot in Fountain Hills has some mountain views.  Some have awe inspiring views that will take your breath away! 

 

Over the last 18+ years I’ve sold lots of lots… sorry for the pun.   I’ve been very proud to say that my lot buyers have all been very happy with their purchases.   I strive to make sure my clients don’t buy something they’ll regret.   Pitfalls in buying land exist.   Unfortunately most agents know very little about land sales and the many items that affect your costs in future

building.   Here is an example of a lot buyer that didn’t know what he was doing and neither did the agent.   I’m not going to name the street but I got a call from a buyer that bought a pair of lots and was all excited about his purchase.   Unfortunately this buyer bought with an agent that either didn’t know or didn’t care and bought on emotion.  He didn’t consult with a builder or land excavator. The lots literally drop 30 feet straight down from the road and it is nearly impossible to put in a driveway without having a cost over $100,000 just for the driveway not counting the preparation of the home site.  Needless to say this gentleman was not happy and he has never built on those lots.   

 

The X-factor:  Land Preparation, how much will it cost to get the lot ready to build your home.  This varies from lot to lot,  you can have two lots right next to each other and one can cost you $50,000 more in prep than the other.    I know it is human nature to buy the lowest cost lot, but because of land prep the final cost of that lot can change.    Here is an example:      Jimmy, land buyer, decides to buy a lot that he found for $100,000 in a nice neighborhood.  He didn’t factor in land prep because he thought the lot price was too good to pass up.   This lot is a hillside lot and Jimmy didn’t realize that there is over $85,000 in land prep and retaining walls before he can even put one stick of his house down.    At a price of $185,000 now this lot is not a great deal.    There was another lot in the area that was priced at $130,000 but Jimmy didn’t think it was such a deal as the other.   What made this lot better was that the lot was also a hillside lot but not as severe a drop as the other.   The prep cost on this lot was only $40,000 making this total only $170,000.    That $15,000 could buy finer flooring and finishes that he couldn’t afford with the other lot.  

 

Here are some things to consider when buying a lot to make sure you are safe with your purchase and ultimately happy.  

1. Look at the home values in the neighborhood.  Make sure your home is not going to be the most expensive home.

2. Determine your land preparation costs.   These costs can vary but an experienced builder or excavator will typically give you a range that it will fall into.   Typically they can’t give a 100% accurate number until you have a topographical survey and house designs.   

3. Find out how much land your agent has sold in his/her career.   Knowledge is power!

4. Find a seasoned, reputable builder to work with you in finding your lot.   They will not search for you typically.  They will come and meet with you at a lot you are considering. They should give you information you need to make a sound purchase. 

5. Don’t ever buy real estate on emotion!  You’ll regret it later. 

6. In Fountain Hills, for most lots you’ll have to design a home to fit a lot.   Don’t be the buyer running around with a floorplan looking for a lot to fit it.   You’ll be looking a long time. 

7. Know what type of home you want to build..  ie. Single level, two story etc.  This will have an impact on what lots you need to look at.  Some will not support a single level home. 

8. Bring your walking shoes when looking… walk the lot to see all the pros and cons so you know what you are getting.  Don’t just stand on the street and look.

9. Look up the history of the lot.   You will be able to see what this lot once sold for and this will help determine current value.    Never pay full list price!

10.  Fountain Hills has many unique neighborhoods.  They have their own rules and regulations about building.   Determine with the HOA if you can build the size or style home you want.

11.  Utilities;  Nearly every lot in Fountain Hills has several utilities at the property line..  Electric, water and sewer.   Most of the older neighborhoods do not have natural gas.    If these are a concern of yours contact the utility companies. 

12.  If you are thinking about building something very different than what you typically see in town, check with the HOA, if in one, and/or the Town of Fountain Hills Planning and Zoning to make sure you can do what you want. 

 

There are a lot of factors when buying vacant land.   The best advise I can give you is to do your research, get an experienced agent and reputable builder.  Don’t buy on emotion.  Do your due diligence.  

I live and work in Fountain Hills.  I think land is still the best buy in Fountain Hills.   There is only so much land and the best lots are highly marketable.    If you would like more information about Fountain Hills land contact me at:   KellySmithAZ@hotmail.com

Happy buying!!  

Kelly Smith

Vacant Land Specialist

MCO Realty,   (602) 628-1032

Magazine Article about buying land in Fountain Hills