Luxury Home Sales Soar – Tax Policy Stimulates Market?

Tax policy can have big effects. Like the recent stimulation of the national luxury home market by sellers looking to reduce their liability before the ‘fiscal cliff’ arrived.

According to this article in CNN Money,  “Sales of luxury homes spiked in the final months of 2012 as high-end homeowners rushed to take advantage of lower tax rates before January 1.”

Reading further we get some perspective:

“Looking ahead, all those rushed deals could mean a slight slump in high-end sales early in 2013, said White. Not only will buyers be in shorter supply but the inventory of luxury homes has dropped precipitously.”

In the prestigious local city of Paradise Valley, however, there was no major uptick in sales (see chart) although as of this month the annual appreciation has been 7.9% . (charts and data from the Cromford Report- Link here)

The overall Phoenix market (all price ranges) ranked an impressive 3rd in the nation for appreciation – per Trulia -
The 10 American Housing Markets That Made Tremendous Turnarounds In 2012

Read more:

Paradise Valley Appreciation 2012

Paradise Valley Data shows no uptick for December



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Arizona Commerce Authority – Arizona’s Resource for New Business

The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) is a unique group committed improving Arizona for business and quality jobs. I recent met their VP of Northern California Business Attraction, Christian Lorentzen. During our meeting I was impressed by the variety of business attraction tools that are available to encourage companies to move to Arizona.

While those of us in Arizona appreciate several clear benefits such as the climate and low tax rates, there are also special incentives available for companies to move to or expand in Arizona. The ACA has access to information on many of these incentives including tax credits, grants, money for training employees and more. The biggest benefit of the ACA is that has it has the information at its fingertips, saving a company hours of frustration and research.

In addition, the ACA has a powerful website full of links to information such at this Arizona Department of Environmental Quality site that maps the water, air and other enviromental conditions throughout the state.

No one knows what 2013 will bring. We do know, however, that success will be tied to our ability to work together with the best information possible. The ACA is an ally in that effort.

To find out more about the ACA visit them at:



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Open up the champagne bottle!

Here’s a market update from Toma Partners CEO Mihai Toma:

Open up the champagne bottle! 

OPINION SEGMENT:  It is finally time to be optimistic about real estate.  That stated, institutional investors are starting to pull out of the Phoenix market because prices have gotten too high.  These investors are largely responsible for the recent rapid recovery in home values.  Given this fact, do not let the high appreciation numbers deceive you.  Expect appreciation to normalize in coming months.  If I were a betting man, I would wager that in the next 6 months appreciation will slow and settle between 6% and 9% per year.  The good news is that I do not see depreciation in the near future.

I was on NPR discussing this very topic with Robert Shiller, economist, from Yale University.  Click on the link below to listen, I begin speaking in the 6th minute of the segment.

Click here to listen to Mihai and Robert Shiller on NPR (National Public Radio) discussing the Phoenix market.

MARKET DATA:  Only Toma Partners gives you unfiltered access to Arizona real estate raw data, directly from the source. Click here to view THE RAW DATA

Paradise Valley/Cave Creek/Fountain Hills 

  • Annual Appreciation: 17.8%, 15.4%, 12.0%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 11.1%, 9.0%, 2.0%
  • Caution, data from smaller cities varies greatly because of the limited number of transactions.


  • Annual Appreciation: 16.7%, 33.1%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 4.5%, 15.3%


  • Annual Appreciation: 27.1%, 34.1%, 24.7%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 7.5%, 15.3%, 10.2%

Overall Market Data (Data from Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai County)

  • Annual Appreciation: 28.0% (Compared to value of July 2011)
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 10.1% (Rate of Change)
  • Annual Sales: -9.6%
  • Active Listings: -17.5% (Change in Inventory Rate.)
  • Average Days On Market: 117 days
  • Months Of Supply: 3.3

Click here to SEE MORE RAW DATA on all cities (Provided by Cromford Report)

Considering Short Sale instead of Foreclosure:
Short sales are significantly better for your long term credit, allowing you to purchase another home in 2 years or in some cases right away.  This is not the case after a foreclosure.  The term, short sale, means you are selling your home for less than what you owe.  The process usually takes 3 months.  Click here to take a SHORT QUIZ and see if you are a good candidate for a short sale.

Please feel free to reach out with your real estate needs and questions,



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Selling a Luxury Home – Now

2012 Appreciation in Paradise Valley

Selling a true luxury home is a different experience. Agents that work in the luxury home world have to think creatively, respond very well under pressure, and know that there is no substitute for results. Mass-market appeals for buyers, bulk advertising and standard marketing techniques will not get the best price for the home, if they work at all. Now that the housing market is beginning to approach a more ‘normal’ state, proven luxury home marketing practices are back in vogue. And what are those practices?

Creative Marketing

Let’s define the luxury-home market as the top 10% of home listings by price, or homes listed above $500,000 in the Valley. What sets the sales of luxury homes apart is that each property requires its own marketing plan. Depending on the neighborhood the buyer may very likely be a neighbor looking to move up or down. Neighborhoods such as Arcadia and Paradise Valley fall into this category. On the other hand, for very high-end homes, the buyer may be from out of state, or out of country. Luxury homes typically have custom features that will require special staging to attract a new buyer – both in the marketing photography and for showing the home itself. Luxury homes are often advertised through private networks before they are listed in the MLS. Luxury home realtors meet and exchange listing information at organizations such at the Luxury Home Tour. Through these groups the homes may be visited by several dozens of realtors before being listed on the MLS. Further, the listing broker must be sure perspective buyers are qualified – this task is made easier if the buyer is represented by a known luxury realtor.

Staging is not optional

Staging a luxury home requires a professional with the assets to accent the best points of the home. Professional stagers have the furniture, wall coverings and other accent pieces that fit the home and make it easier for the buyer to imagine living there. Furthermore, a good stager knows how to make a home appeal to people with a number of different lifestyles.

A picture is worth…

The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words should be changed to a picture is worth $100,000 when marketing a luxury home. The staged home should be photographed to take advantage of the natural light and environment. Professional photographers are able to bring out the best in a home with quality cameras, various lenses  and certain tricks of the trade that make a tremendous difference in how the home is portrayed. Pictures are used in brochures and are often the first aspect of the home viewed by home shoppers.


Once the buyers are interested in a home, the negotiations required to bring the deal to a successful conclusion are often complex and intense. Added to the emotion of a normal home purchase, luxury home deals often include more complex appraisals, unorthodox financing, big egos and lawyers around every corner. Luxury home Realtors are experienced in thinking strategically, responding quickly, and having a network of professionals (lawyers, repairmen, mortgage brokers, etc.) that are also experienced in working in the ‘big leagues’.



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Phoenix home prices – looking in the rear view mirror

A recent Wall Street Journal article conveys “Here’s More Evidence That Home Prices

Is the worst finally over for the Phoenix Housing Market?

Have Hit Bottom.”

The indicators for the Phoenix market are clear that the bottom was reached in February of this year and that rapid appreciation is continuing. The implications or effects are myriad:

Traditional home purchasers, those with FHA or VA loans and a low down payment, have several obstacles in their paths.

  • First they sense an urgency to purchase before prices rise even more. Many parts of the Valley have experienced 20% appreciation this year.
  • Second, the rapid change in prices makes appraisals more difficult since appraisals are typically based on a lagging average of comparable home sales. This makes the home sellers wary of accepting financed offers, for fear that the financing will not be approved.

Cash investors have the upper hand with their ability to respond to price changes and close on their purchases without the requirement of an appraisal. Many of these investors are purchasing to rent, not to immediately resell the home. The net effect is to further reduce the inventory available for traditional home buyers.

Typical Valley Appreciation Since Jan 2012 (Zip 85302, Glendale, AZ)

New home construction can be expected to expand immediately to meet the demand. There are tales already of customers lining up at new home construction projects throughout the Valley.

For more information hear our recent interview on NPR  - The Housing Market: Have We Finally Hit Bottom? 



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Bad Data Means Bad Decisions

Just read the headline this evening - Phoenix among worst real estate markets – and had to scratch my head. How can a market with 20%+ appreciation in the last six months be listed as one of the worst markets? By using bad data, that’s how.

The article, posted August 20th, 2012, relies on data from Fiserv Case-Shiller Home Price Insights – dated January 30, 2012! This was the lowest point of the Phoenix market. Since then we’ve seen nothing but strong appreciation for the majority of the residential market.

I consulted with our friends at the Cromford report just to confirm. They are reporting 25% appreciation overall. (See graphic below)

So if you are planning to invest in the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Paradise Valley market, know that things are, for now, still improving.



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American Cities Where Homes Sell Fastest

from 24/7 Wall

Phoenix ranks in the top ten cities where homes sell fastest. See more data for yourself at the Cromford Report -

10. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.
> Average no. of days on market: 48
> Median home price: $185,000 (73rd highest)
> Population: 4,192,887 (20th highest)
> Unemployment: 7.72% (65th highest)

The entire metropolitan area of Phoenix-Mesa, which has a population of more than 4 million, had 13,912 homes listed on the market in June — the 20th highest of all the metropolitan areas surveyed. This is a drop of almost 40% since last year at the same time. Speedy home selling may be boosting the housing market in
the Phoenix area. The median home price has shot up about 32% since last year, more than double the increase of the next highest market, San Francisco. Nevertheless, the Phoenix-Mesa housing market still has its problems. About 2% of the homes in the area are in foreclosure, the highest rate on this list and the fourth highest of all the metro areas surveyed.


9. Detroit, Mich.
> Average no. of days on market: 47
> Median home price: $99,000 (the lowest)
> Population: 4,296,250 (18th highest)
> Unemployment: 11.21% (9th highest)

Unlike many of the metropolitan areas on the list with high home values, in Detroit there are many bargains to go around for homebuyers. Of the 146 regions surveyed by, only Detroit had a median home value below $100,000 last month. Housing prices in the area did not manage to crack through the six-figure ceiling despite increasing 10% from last year, a much higher rate than the national average of 2.68% increase. This has sparked much interest among buyers. Detroit was the second-most searched metropolitan area on, with only the far more populous Chicago area getting more search inquiries. Meanwhile, the area’s foreclosure rate is improving. While 1.33% of houses are in the foreclosure process, that is down nearly 27% from the year earlier period.

8. San Jose, Calif.
> Average no. of days on market: 45
> Median home price: $549,000 (3rd highest)
> Population: 1,836,911 (39th highest)
> Unemployment: 8.89% (34th highest)

California was hit hard during the housing downturn, and San Jose has been no exception. From the first quarter of 2007 to the fourth quarter of 2011, home prices plunged 32.9%. Nevertheless, the median price of one of the 3,621 houses listed is still an impressive $549,000, the second highest of all home prices on the list and the third highest of all metropolitan areas surveyed. Buyers should not dawdle either. It takes only 45 days on average to sell a home in San Jose. Possibly contributing to high home prices is high income. While San Jose has a higher-than-average unemployment rate of 8.89%, the median family income is $99,500, the highest of any area on this list.

7. San Francisco, Calif.
> Average no. of days on market: 45
> Median home price: $725,000 (the highest)
> Population: 4,335,391 (17th highest)
> Unemployment: 7.52% (68th lowest)

While Detroit’s median home listing price is less than $100,000, the median home price of $725,000 in the San Francisco area is the highest measured in the report. Yet, despite the high prices of homes, there is o’t too much idle time on the market as the average home is sold in 45 days. San Francisco’s housing market is backed by a relatively strong labor market. The 7.5% unemployment rate is below the 8.2% unemployment rate in the United States and the 10.8% rate in California. The area’s median family income of $98,500 as of the end of 2011 is also significantly higher than the national average of $63,000.

6. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.
> Average no. of days on market: 45
> Median home price: $350,000 (17th highest)
> Population: 3,439,809 (21st highest)
> Unemployment: 7.40% (56th lowest)

The Seattle metropolitan area has a population of more than 3.4 million people, yet only 6,486 homes available for sale. With such conditions, it is not surprising that homes will get snatched up pretty quickly. Houses on average sit just 45 days on the market, which is down nearly 34% since last year. Seattle has shown signs of a recovering housing market. The median home price of $350,000 is up almost 13% since last year, one of the 10 highest increases. Only 0.51% of homes in the area are in foreclosure, the second lowest on this list after Anchorage. The unemployment rate of 7.4%, well lower than the U.S. rate of 8.2%, helps give the housing market a boost.

5. Bakersfield, Calif.
> Average no. of days on market: 44
> Median home price: $149,500 (23rd lowest)
> Population: 839,631 (60th lowest)
> Unemployment: 14.14% (4th highest)

Bakersfield joins many other California cities in selling homes fast, but houses in the area are not likely to have San Francisco-like prices. The median home price of $149,500 is the lowest on this list, except for Detroit, and only a little more than a fifth of the median price of a San Francisco house. Only 1,815 houses were listed on the market, a decline of more than 47% from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the 44 days on the market is a drop of 22.8% from a year ago, compared to the national average of 9.67%. The labor market is far weaker in Bakersfield than it is in some of California’s healthier local economies, with an unemployment rate of more than 14% in June, compared to about 7.5% in San Francisco and 8.2% in the United States.


4. Fresno, Calif.
> Average no. of days on market: 43
> Median home price: $174,900 (58th lowest)
> Population: 930,450 (62nd highest)
> Unemployment: 15.54% (2nd highest)

Fresno has many similarities to Bakersfield. The median home price of $174,900 recorded in June is far lower than other California cities such as San Francisco and San Jose, but it is up 10% from a year earlier. Similar to Bakersfield, the 2,237 houses on the market are nearly half (49.1%) the number that were available last year. The 43 days on the market is a drop of 14% compared to a year ago. The economy in Fresno continues to be weak. About 1.8% of the houses in the area are in foreclosure, second only to Phoenix on this list. The unemployment rate of 15.54% is the highest on our list and the second highest of all metropolitan areas surveyed. Meanwhile, the median income is $52,900 as of the end of 2011, or $46,600 less than San Jose.

3. Anchorage, Alaska
> Average no. of days on market: 43
> Median home price: $289,500 (23rd highest)
> Population: 380,821 (20th lowest)
> Unemployment: 6.13% (22nd lowest)

Prospective home buyers in Anchorage really do not have the option of being choosy. There are only 1,120 houses on the market, a decline of about 29% from the previous year. This is the fourth-smallest number of home listings in all metropolitan areas surveyed. Meanwhile, the median home price listing, at $289,500, is up a mere 0.17% from the year earlier, far slower than the growth in places such as Phoenix. Still, the good news is that Anchorage’s median home price is well above the U.S. average of $195,000, signaling a stable housing market. Anchorage is faring better than many of its counterparts economically. The unemployment rate of 6.13% is the lowest of any metropolitan area on the list.

2. Denver, Colo.
> Average no. of days on market: 33
> Median home price: $269,000 (27th highest)
> Population: 2,543,482 (27th highest)
> Unemployment: 7.51% (67th lowest)

The 33 days to sell a house in the Denver area is actually up by 10%, one of the very few metro areas to see an increase in thetime it takes to sell a home. Denver was not as hard hit by the housing bust as many other metropolitan areas. Home prices from their peak in the first quarter of 2006 to the fourth quarter of 2011 dropped just 11.1%, well below the national average of 34.2%. A median family income of $75,000 and an unemployment rate of 7.5%, both well below national averages, are positive signals for a housing market likely to remain on stable footing. The only bad news is that housing prices are not expected to jump anytime soon. Home prices are projected to rise 0.6% in the Denver area from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to 4.2% in the U.S. in general.

1. Oakland, Calif.
> Average no. of days on market: 24
> Median home price: $379,000 (12th highest)
> Population: 4,335,391 (16th highest)
> Unemployment: 9.56% (20th highest)

If you want a house in Oakland, you had better grab it while it’s hot. The average house in Oakland is sold 24 days after its been on the market, the fastest of all metro areas by a sizable nine days. From the time housing prices peaked in the first quarter of 2006 to the fourth quarter of 2011, home prices plummeted 45.9%, significantly higher than the U.S. average of 34.2%. Still, that is better than its California counterparts of Bakersfield and Fresno, where housing prices plunged 58.3% and 54.7%, respectively. Only 3,547 houses were on the market for an area population of 4,335,391 (which includes the San Francisco area). The number of available homes declined 57.92% compared to the year earlier period.



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Phoenix Real Estate Market Update Summer 2012

Market Update from Toma Partners’ CEO Mihai Toma

Four months ago I predicted the market was on the way up when most other news outlets predicted otherwise.  I hope the fact that I was correct increases the level of trust you have in my analysis.

Opinion Segment:  As is my habit, I will break with the crowd of optimism to point something out.  One third of all recent homes have been purchased by investors.  Not only does this explain the insanity behind the market’s rapid trajectory towards recovery but this fact also has other implications.

  • Positive Implications: Investors are the gas behind the rapid appreciation in home value, not jobs or marcoeconomic recovery. Investors always have money to place, which means we can expect demand to remain high.
  • Negative Implications: Investors are pack animals.  Like a heard of wildebeest in the African Savanna they all move in one direction but if spooked, they turn and run in the opposite direction just as fast.

If you are considering selling a home, now is the time!  You could wait for prices to continue to rise but consider that the election, investor buying patterns and even troubles with the banking system in Europe could quickly turn appreciation into depreciation.  Remember in late 2010 prices began to rise because of low inventory (just like today) only to fall back down during the first half of 2011.

Market Data:  Quick reminder, we have added Paradise Valley, Cave Creek and Fountain Hills to our website. Click here to view THE RAW DATA on those cities.

Paradise Valley/Cave Creek/Fountain Hills 

  • Annual Appreciation: 7.9%, 3.1%, -3.7%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 6.8%, 7.1%, 8.1%
  • Caution, data from smaller cities varies greatly because of the limited number of transactions.


  • Annual Appreciation: 15.3%, 31.2%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 7.2%, 14.9%


  • Annual Appreciation: 22.9%, 22.4%, 18.0%
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 12.2%, 12.7%, 9.0%

Overall Market Data (Data from Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai County)

  • Annual Appreciation: 23.5% (Compared to value of July 2011)
  • Recent Appreciation Trend: 12.5% (Rate of Change)
  • Annual Sales: -0.9%
  • Active Listings: 28.9% (Change in Inventory Rate.)
  • Average Days On Market: 126 days
  • Months Of Supply: 2.6

Click here to SEE MORE RAW DATA on all cities (Provided by Cromford Report)

Considering Short Sale instead of Foreclosure:
Short sales are significantly better for your long term credit, allowing you to purchase another home in 2 years or in some cases right away.  This is not the case after a foreclosure.  The term, short sale, means you are selling your home for less than what you owe.  The process usually takes 3 months.  Click here to take a SHORT QUIZ and see if you are a good candidate for a short sale.

Please feel free to reach out with your real estate needs and questions,

Mihai Toma
Toma Partners, CEO



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Phoenix Magic Mountains

Few cities boast city parks with a mountain in them.  Phoenix is blessed with several downtown mountains that give the hiker a respite from the busy-ness and traffic and some magical views of the city. Several of these are centrally located. Avid hikers can log an hour or two hike on the way to or home from work.

View of the Summit, Squaw Peak

Dawn from Squaw Peak

My favorite in-town mountain hike is Piestewa Peak (a.k.a. Squaw Peak), 2,608-foot Piestewa Peak a 1,400 foot elevation climb up the Summit Trail that can be completed in an hour or hour and one half, depending on your shape. During the summer months the best time to climb is just before dawn. There is still a coolness from the evening on the slope and the air is clear. If you are in shape, you can climb to the top, chat with other climbers and return to your car at the bottom in less than 90 minutes. The ascent is intense with a fairly steep, stair-step character. The summit is rocky and clean with views of the city in all directions, including Paradise Valley, downtown Phoenix and even up to North Scottsdale. The descent is smooth and refreshing, clearing your mind for the day’s events.

For a less intense experience, the North Mountain trail brings you up a paved road to the 2,104 foot summit.  Still strenuous,  the paved  road makes this climb much tamer and  filled with more vegetation along the way. The view from the top is not as panoramic as that from Squaw Peak though still worth the climb. It borders the Moon Valley area on the north, and overlooks the Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs on the south.

More intense is the famous Camelback Mountain. This longer hike requires more stamina, though it is generally not as steep as the previous two hikes. On a more practical note, parking is more difficult to find, making prior planning important for this climb.

See this link for up-to-date information on these and other City of Phoenix hikes:



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Toma Partners on the Mark Winsor Show

Join Toma Partners team members Mike Garland and Angela Monty on the Mark Winsor Show, Tuesday May 29, 2012 at 5:00 PM AZ. We’ll be discussing Toma Partners’ unique approach to luxury real estate, short sales and life in general. You can listen and watch at Mark Winsor Show .

Every Tuesday Mark invites guests to talk about a variety of topics about Arizona business and law. He is distinguished for his knowledge in Arizona’s anti-deficiency laws and for compassionately and professionally helping people facing foreclosure or selling their house through a short sale.

See you Tuesday!

Mark Winsor Show





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