Cooler temps, a slower pace and greater community character make Globe-Miami a desirable place to live. And, the secret is getting out. Total real estate sales for the region topped $20 million in 2016, with local homebuyers leading the surge, followed by investors, retirees, and rotational professionals.“About 40 to 50 percent of home sales are going to first-time homebuyers,” says Eric DuFriend, an associate broker with Oak Realty in Globe. “[They’re] often taking advantage of the USDA loans for rural housing,” A number of those individuals are people who grew up here, some as young as 19 or 20, who are just starting careers in the mines, he adds.
These loans are underwritten by the US Department of Agriculture. They are not restricted to first-time buyers, but they are specifically for rural communities.
“You couldn’t get this kind of loan for a home in Apache Junction, Mesa, or Queen Creek,” DuFriend says. “It’s a zero-down loan, no out-of-pocket.”
To be eligible, the property must be a primary residence, and homebuyers cannot own other real estate.
“The interest rates are competitive, a little better than conventional,” adds Dallin Law, a loan officer at Sun American Mortgage, based in Mesa.
“There are income limits,“ he points out, “but they are very generous, about $76K for a family of four.”
Homebuyers apply for the USDA loan through traditional or online lenders.
“It’s really important to have a lender that knows our community,” explains DuFriend, “That’s the key to a good transaction, is having an appraiser that knows the market and can give you a good appraisal.”
A resident of Gila County for over 35 years, Janice Kennedy purchased her first home, in downtown Globe, early this year.
“I was living in a trailer, and I wanted out,” she says. Referring to the USDA loan for rural homebuyers, Kennedy affirms, “It made it possible.”
Kennedy learned about the USDA loans through a Quicken Loans advisor. She processed it completely online.
“They made everything quick and easy,” she says. “I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Stacey Herrera Murry, principal broker at Kachina Properties, agrees that access to USDA loans is a boon for Globe-Miami homebuyers. However, she doesn’t see it moving people to the area.
“People come here because they want to be here,” Herrera Murry says. “If you’re a younger person, you’re moving here for a job. If you’re older, it’s because you want a slower pace, and better weather.”
Another uptick in the real estate market has come from short-term investors, commonly referred to as flippers. Their goal is to add value to the property and sell it quickly. As deals dry up in the valley, investors come to Globe-Miami where they can still buy properties for less than $100,000.
DuFriend sees this as a positive trend for the town.
“They are putting money into it, and I think they are helping the town because they are saving these houses that are neglected,” he says. “Usually, when it’s a foreclosure, they are in pretty rough shape. When they come in, they end up gutting the houses and making them nice again and saving the house.”
DuFriend estimates that investors account for 15 to 20 percent of total sales.
Investors take care of the cosmetic side of things, such as painting and putting in new floors, he explains. For larger renovations, plumbing and electrical is done, often by local plumbers and electricians.
“It does help the economy,” he adds.
“It’s few and far between that want to buy historic and put a lot of money into it,” Herrera Murry says, adding that many homebuyers want a solid house that’s ready to move in.
“They work, they have a full-time job,” she explains. “They don’t have the time or money to do it. Renovation is a cash endeavor. You can’t finance it. “
For those with the cash and time to invest in older properties, Herrera Murry sees strong demand for historic homes once they’ve been renovated.
“A lot of people love the character of an older home,” she says, “but they don’t have the time or money to do it themselves.“
DuFriend sees the demand for nice historic homes in town, as well as view properties on Skyline and Crestline, on Verde Lane and in Six-Shooter Canyon, but acknowledges there is not a lot of turnover in that market.
“Higher-end properties often sell before they even hit the market,” he says.
One aspect of real estate in Globe-Miami that brokers lament is that it doesn’t always have what clients want.
“It’s frustrating when people come in, and you know they would be a great asset to the community, but what they are looking for doesn’t exist,” DuFriend says. “They say, ‘Globe is great. We love the mountains and we love the views. I need ten flat acres.’ We just don’t have it.”
The greatest demand, according to Herrera-Murry, is for houses in the $120 to $170 range.
“People want something nice. They want sidewalks, neighborhood parks, rounded corners and granite countertops,” she says.
The steady influx of professionals to the mines, the hospital and the reservation keep the demand for houses constant.
“The reason why so many people commute from the Valley to work at the mines is because we don’t have the housing or the things to do,” she adds.
Given the topography of the region, opportunities for new development are scarce. As DuFriend points out, there is land in Copper Canyon or near the old drive-in that could be developed, but it would require extending city services.
Although Herrera Murry sees a need for new construction, she acknowledges the challenges.
“It’s tough to get developers here,” she says. “They have to move a lot of dirt.”
“Only three percent of the land in Gila County is privately held,” DuFriend says, “and that creates a stable market for Globe.”
Another group of homebuyers vying for the three percent are the retirees, typically people who grew up in Globe-Miami, like the Ramos-DuFriends, and are moving back to be closer to aging parents or growing grandchildren.
DuFriend finds this a consistent phenomena in his business.
“I can’t tell you how many people I’ve sold houses to that couldn’t wait to get out of here when they were kids, and then they always want to come back,” he says.
According to Law, people from the Valley who are tired of cookie-cutter developments look to Globe-Miami for a second home. From his office in Mesa, Law praises the virtues of Globe,
“The weather is nicer. It’s less crowded, less crazy,” Law says. “It’s a really well-kept secret. A lot of people don’t know how cool Globe is.”
“My wife would love to move to Globe,” he adds. “I would love to live in Globe.”
DuFriend doesn’t see the same demand for second homes; instead his clients sell their houses in the Valley to retire in Globe.