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Realtors discuss impact of South Mountain Freeway on Laveen property

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When the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway project links Laveen to the rest of the Valley, local Realtors predict an uptick in Laveen home prices, which were some of the state’s most devastated after the housing market collapse in 2007.

Sam Lawmaster

“The 202 South Mountain Freeway will offer new growth opportunities for Laveen and the surrounding areas,” predicts Sam Lawmaster, a Laveen Realtor for ReMax. “Having access to I-10 will make Laveen more connected to the rest of the Phoenix metro area and may potentially have a positive home value impact on many of the properties around the area.”

Doyle Perry
Doyle Perry

But just how much of a boost will it be? About 10 years ago, people were trying to outbid each other to purchase Valley homes, and Laveen was one of the areas riding high on those soaring prices. When the bubble burst in 2007, local homeowners were hit hard and suffered drastic declines in home prices.

“One can never be sure how any event will affect real estate,” says Doyle Perry, owner of Black Belt Realty. “There have been way too many surprises.  But, a general rule is that more traffic and convenience means more demand for housing.”

Last year the median price for a home in Laveen was $175,000. The median is the point where half the homes sell for more and half sell for less. Compared with 10 years ago at the height of the housing market, prices are still down 29 percent when adjusted for inflation. However, prices in 2014 were up about 8 percent from the previous year, and overall prices are up about 22 percent over the past five years, even adjusted for inflation.

Jeffrey Hale
Jeffrey Hale

Jeffrey Hale, co-owner at Turf Realty, is sure the freeway will be help prices, but he cautions that there are other factors to consider, such as the national housing market and interest rates to name two.

“I am certain it won’t hurt our values, and I believe that it will help,” Hale acknowledges, “but it will be too hard to measure the exact impact it has among all of the other factors influencing value.”

For example, Hale said that if property values were to see an immediate 10 percent rise once the freeway opened in 2020, then that would be an easy correlation.

“But that won’t happen,” Hale said. “Values rose when the freeway was approved. They will rise when construction begins. They will rise as we get closer to completion and the connecting arterial roadways are completed. They will rise as the freeway opens, and they will continue to rise as commercial businesses invest along the freeway corridor.”

There are some other points, too. Perry said that because the route is in the western area of Laveen, it won’t change downtown commute patterns for residents living east of 51st Avenue. “It won’t have the impact that it would have if it helped us get downtown,” he said, “But, it comes under the heading of every little bit helps.”

Hale added that while the roadway is being built over the next five years, there also will be an increase in the number of investors who sell their inventory and swap out renters for homeowners.

Census statistics show that about 75 percent of Laveen residents currently own their homes. Lawmaster said that neighborhoods with high percentages of owner-occupied homes tend to be more stable in value. “For owners, it means a tax deduction; it means pride of ownership. And usually homeowners want to retain the resale value of their home, so they have an incentive to keep up with maintenance and take care of their home.”

But as Hale said before, Laveen isn’t isolated from outside economic influences.

“There will be natural and historical market adjustments that influence values,” Hale said. “There will also be larger state and national economies at play, which will affect our local market.  With all of the other factors affecting home worth, it will be hard to calculate the exact impact the freeway itself has in raising our property values.”

So the consensus is that the freeway will definitely help but the significance of a longterm positive impact will be difficult to predict.

“Yes, it will increase demand for housing in Laveen,” Perry says.  “No, it will not be dramatic.  And to the disappointment of many, with a freeway interchange, Laveen is becoming less and less of a village.”

The print version of this article appears in the June edition of the South Mountain District News.

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