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Superior Custom Craftsmanship Luxury New Builds Remodels Renovations Family Owned & Operated Since 2003

Call Today for a Private Tour & Design Consultation 623-810-1290 www.GoodallLLC.com

15125 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 118 , Scottsdale, AZ 85260 2215 W. Parkside Lane, Phoenix, AZ 85027

Serving the Greater Valley, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York & Chicago

8340 E. Raintree Drive I Suite B-9 I Scottsdale, AZ 85260 Phone: 480.389.3039 I www.winecellardesigns.biz 3001 E. Skyline Drive I Suite 109 I Tucson, AZ 85718 Phone: 520.638.7821




Market Your “Off Market� Luxury Listings with Us for Free

We will advertise your properties in targeted luxury print publications through our select online & social media partners and to our network of the Top 1% Realtors and luxury home Buyers.

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The AmericAn WesT is A sTATe of mind & A WAy of Life


B u f f A l o

Come visit us Just west of the horse fountain in Downtown sCot tsDale

7044 E. 5th Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ • 480/ 946-3903

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New Pools & Pool Remodels | Award-Winning Landscape Designs | Custom Hardscapes Outdoor Lighting | Outdoor Kitchens | Certified Feng Shui Designers | Water Features Fire Pits & Fireplaces | Ramada & Pergola Structures | Xeriscape Professionals | Sports Courts

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Just north of Raintree, just south of Frank Lloyd Wright and south of Northsight Blvd.

Your Source for Luxury “Off-Market” Listings




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3 Bedroom | 3.5 Baths | 2,785 SF | 16,695 SF Lot Size

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Turn Key - Fully Furnished with Artwork | $730,000 | Luxury Private Listing 00SM001


We understand the dream of creating a space uniquely yours, and have been helping customers discover the possibilities for nearly twenty years. Add a single piece of equipment or outfit an entire media room. Whatever your lifestyle, taste and budget, we can help make your dream a reality. With our own award-winning installation crew and an experienced and knowledgeable sales team, everyone gets the star treatment!

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PARADISE VALLEY | New Construction to be completed August of 2014 5950 sq. ft. | Hillside Location | Unparalleled Views Pre Construction Price - $2,799,000 | Luxury Private Listing 00JM001

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DC RANCH | New Construction to be completed June of 2014 4800 sq. ft. | 4 Bed / 4 Bath | Half Acre Lot | DC Ranch CC Pre Construction Price - $1,799,000 | Luxury Private Listing 00JM002

We Offer the Finest Mortgage Financing Available!

 90% Jumbo Financing to a loan amount of $850,000  85% Jumbo Financing to a loan amount of $1,000,000  Jumbo Loans up to $3,000,000 True foreign national Canadian financing available

RECENT FORECLOSURE, SHORT SALE OR BANKRUPTCY? With our Clean Slate Program… we offer financing up to a loan amount of 625k! (two year seasoning from foreclosure, no seasoning for short sale or BK) NON-WARRANTABLE CONDOMINIUM FINANCING AVAILABLE

“It is with great pleasure we recommend the Williamson Team for all your mortgage needs. My husband and I had been struggling through a very difficult loan process with another bank when our Realtor said she could give Jeff Williamson a call on our behalf. We were shocked when the next day, a Sunday, we received a call from Mr. Williamson himself. From the first moment we spoke with the Williamson Team our experience changed for the better. The entire team was professional, quick to respond to our questions and offered an outstanding level of customer service. They are simply the best at what they do!” Jan M. Olsen Cave Creek, AZ

All other loan products available as well - Conventional • FHA • VA 100% financing available for primary homes Our Very Own Foundation

Jeff Williamson

Mortgage Professional

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We care for your home while you care for your family.

Our mission is to �inancially and resourcefully support Arizona families who endure �inancial hardship while experiencing extended illness or injury of their children. The Care Fund provides mortgage, rent and housing expense relief, as well as related lifestyle resources during a child’s extended health crisis. To �ind out more information or how to get involved please contact Cathy Sherwin at 480.305.8607 or Cathy@homeownersfg.com

Homeowners Financial Group USA, LLC | homeownersfg.com | NMLS# 93718 BK#0906222 This is not a pre-approval or an offer to enter into a loan agreement. All applicants and property are subject to qualification pursuant to agency and investor lending guidelines. Loan programs, rates and information are subject to change without prior notice. Other restrictions and limitations may apply.



My daughters Paris, Ashlyn and I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year!




Your Source for Luxury “Off-Market” Listings

Free to Buyers • Sellers • Realtors

Now Serving:

Hard to believe 2013 is already past. This time of year I like to take time to reflect on the previous year and give thanks to all the amazing people who I have been so fortunate to meet, work with, work for and learn from. I especially would like to thank our Editorial Director, Denise Meridith, who has done such an outstanding job writing and editing all our editorial AND Kathy Mocharski, our Designer & Production Manager, who designs most of the Ads and all our editorial layouts every issue. I would also like to extend a huge thank you to Ross Kamela who started out as my Assistant in July 2013 and was promoted to Customer Relations by October 2013 for providing such excellent service to all our Clients. I have to thank my daughters Paris and Ashlyn for being so understanding when I have to work straight through some weekends and late into the night during the week. To all our readers, customers and vendors I extend the warmest and most sincere thank you for believing in Me, our Team and our Vision. We are very excited to share many more pages of inspiration – tips – trends with you all while offering you the “Best of the Best” Luxury Home Professionals. Be sure to check out our new “Luxury PRIVATE Listings” featured in this issue and Cantabria Homes Magnificent $1.9 Million N. Scottsdale Makeover. Also visit our newly designed more robust website www.HomesandLifestylemedia.com which will be Live by January 31, 2014. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to having an Amazing 2014 together! Sincerely, Brett Benning Founder & Publisher

Scottsdale Paradise Valley Biltmore Arcadia Central Ave Corridor Cave Creek Carefree Desert Mountain Fountain Hills

Brett Benning, Founder & Publisher Direct 480.717.1310 Brett@HomesandLifestylemedia.com www.HomesandLifestylemedia.com 4400 N. Scottsdale Rd. Ste. 9-123 Scottsdale, AZ 85251 © 2014 HOMES & LIFESTYLE media LLC Cover photo provided by Bridgette Marie Photography

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HOMES & LIFESTYLE media is published 6x annually on recycled paper and reaches 60,000+ affluent homeowners, 5,000+ businesses, 500+ select builders, architects, interior designers and home improvement professionals and over 5,000 top producer Realtors in Paradise Valley, Arcadia, Biltmore, Central Ave corridor, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Cave Creek and Carefree. The publisher, editorial director, production manager, and contributors reserve their rights in regards to copyright of their work. No part of this work covered by the copyright may be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means without the written consent of the publisher. The publisher, contributors, editors and related parties are not liable for the actions or results taken any person, organization or any party on basis of reading information, stories or contributions in this publication, website or related products.

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Distinctively You!

ASID Designer of Distinction award, ASID Medalist and Best of Show ADEX Platinum Award by the Design Journal for Design Excellence Debra May Himes is one of the featured interior designers for the 2013 Street of Dreams homes in Gilbert, Arizona. Debra loves to enhance the architecture of her homes by echoing architectural elements. In this dining room, Debra designed a floor detail for under the dining table that echoes the oval shape of the brick dining room ceiling. The cobalt blue tile with the custom border was fabricated especially for this room.

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28 30

Wireless, Solar Powered, Interior Window Coverings Revolutionize Window Covering Industry Saltillo Tile is in High Demand with New Colors, Patterns and Durable Materials


24 Award Winning Designer, Debra May Himes,

Shares Her 2013 Street of Dreams Experience

26 Keep Your Winter Warm & Cozy with a Custom Belgard Outdoor Firepit

32 Q&A with Phoenix’s Leading Professional Home Staging Expert

34 Today’s Media Rooms The New, Interactive Shopping Experience For One And All



36 New Program Available for Underwater Homeowners

Phoenix’s TOP 9 Luxury Realtors



Why You Will Love Silverleaf, Too



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Award Winning Designer, Debra May Himes, Shares Her 2013 Street of Dreams Experience By Debra May Himes, Debra May Himes Interior Design & Associates, with Denise Meridith Denise: I have known people who like to spend weekends touring houses and showrooms in town. Can you tell us something about the Street of Dreams tour, which was held this fall? Debra: Street of Dreams events are the most popular single-site housing shows in North America. The producer of this event—SDI Home Shows—has produced 84 of its trademarked shows and attracted over 3.5 million visitors. The Street of Dreams is a luxury residential marketing event produced in major cities across North America. Each Street of Dreams event showcases up to eight luxury homes constructed by the area’s finest custom builders. Each home is totally landscaped, furnished and accessorized by local interior design firms, furniture retailers, and landscapers. This Street of Dreams 2013 in White Wing Properties had over 20,000 visitors. Denise: Please describe the properties you had in the event. Debra: The properties went from an 11,000 square foot “Castle” to a couple contemporary homes to a “Soft Santa Barbara” style Hacienda. Each property definitely had its own personality. Each person, I am sure, was able to pull something they liked from each of the properties. Denise: What does it take for a designer to be involved in something like this? What do you enjoy most about these opportunities? Debra: Projects such as this are always very time intensive. However, the benefits of having your work viewed by so many in the public and being able to work on such a beautiful home outweighs the obstacles and stress that we encounter trying to produce these beautiful homes in short periods of time. ABOUT DEBRA MAY HIMES Debra May Himes, has been a designer for over 30 years in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. She has designed her own collection of exceptional pieces, which now comprise her Jonathan David™ furniture line (named after her sons). She also created “Jewels”™ by Debra May Himes, a drapery hardware line, which received an ADEX Platinum award by the Design Journal for Design Excellence in 2006. Himes has won many other design excellence awards (e.g., “Best of Show” at the 2010 ASID Design Excellence Awards). Debra May Himes’ portfolio can be seen at www.dmhdesign.com and she can be contacted at 480-497-2699 or Debra.Himes@DMHDesign.com 24 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

Phoenix’s Crown Molding Experts

Crown Molding | Window Sills | Baseboards | Door Trim

Call Us Today (623) 329-8979 ICrownHomes.com Arizona Crown Molding Specialist M J Contracting LLC ROC#260122 is the Parent Company of I Crown Homes


Keep Your Winter Warm & Cozy with a Custom Belgard Outdoor Firepit by Kelly Oshaughnessy, Belgard Hardscapes with Denise Meridith Denise: This December was “chilly” by Phoenix standards. Is it my imagination or have I seen more people huddled around fire pits than ever before? Kelly: You’re right. In the realm of outdoor living design, fire features continue to grow in popularity, becoming a “must have” for the modern backyard. The most popular (and most cost effective) fire feature is the fire pit. Created with Belgard wall block, fire pits can be fashioned in custom shapes and sizes, and be outfitted for either wood or gas. Denise: Why do you think they have become so popular? Kelly: The backyard fire pit instantly becomes a welcoming multigenerational gathering spot, always ready for the sharing and making of family memories. Denise: Is it difficult to get one installed? Kelly: There are many types of fire features, including Fireplaces, Fire Pits and Fire Tables. They range in complexity from do-it-yourself ones to very elaborate structures. We can provide virtual design tools and information on how to install simple features or Belgard can design, engineer, test and manufacture custom features for homeowners.

ABOUT BELGARD HARDSCAPES The parent company—Oldcastle Architectural—is the leading North American manufacturer of concrete masonry, lawn, garden and paving products, and a regional leader in clay brick. The group also produces packaged cement mixes, lightweight aggregates, bagged decorative stone and lime and concrete roof tiles. Belgard Hardscapes is the local representative in Arizona. With Belgard’s assistance, the luxuries and comforts readers enjoy indoors can now be part of their families’ outdoor experience. For ideas on creating a family fire feature, readers can visit the websites www.oldcastleapg.com/about.htm and www.Pinterest.com/ Belgard. To “build your dreams from the ground up,” readers should contact Kelly O’Shaughnessy, who represents Belgard Hardscapes, by phone 480-352-1725 or email kelly.oshaughnessy@oldcastle.com 26 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media


The Valley’s Premier Choice for High End Lighting Design

Photography by Nick Johnson

Light Control is a full service lighting design firm with a focus on sustainable architectural and landscape lighting. As cutting-edge technologies come into the marketplace we put them to the test and sort through what actually will work for our clients. Our dedication to field testing and continuing education is a proven success.

residential l landscape l commercial Call Today for More Information (480) 448-5007 w w w.lightcontrolaz.com 15023 North 73rd Street, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Photography by Dino Tonn


Wireless, Solar Powered, Interior Window Coverings Revolutionize Window Covering Industry By Tom Peterson and Denise Meridith


rustrated when you go to operate the motorized shadings in your home to find out the batteries are dead?

Or worse, are you still pulling on cords, trying to get the shades up and down every day? Some homeowners may feel stymied by an old battery-powered system, which requires frequent and expensive maintenance, or feel their even older homes lack the electrical infrastructure to allow them to enjoy intelligently controlled, motorized window treatments. Mr. P’s Blind and Shade Company can solve these problems by installing wireless, solarpowered interior window shades, which not only create energy but save energy as well. Did you know that windows alone typically account for 50% of the workload placed on heating & cooling units in your home? By combining these wireless shading systems with energyefficient fabrics, a homeowner can reduce the use of energy and strain on those heating & cooling units. There is also the option of integrating these systems into an existing home automation/lighting control system, or installing one of Mr. P’s stand-alone energy management systems to reap additional sun harvesting and energy efficiency benefits. Some of the many other benefits of these state-of-the-art treatments include added security, glare and light control, enhanced privacy, UV protection, and increased home beauty and value. Information about the services and benefits can be found online at www.mrps.com. Mr. P’s has highly skilled design, customer service, electrical, and installation personnel on staff to assist homeowners. “Our most important component is service,” says Mr. P’s owner Tom Peterson. “We are especially proud of our commitment to exceed client’s expectations.” 28 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

ABOUT MR. P’S BLIND & SHADE COMPANY Mr. P’s has been a privately-owned, Arizona-based business since 1992. These motorized interior window treatments are manufactured right in the Airpark Business District of Scottsdale. All solar powered systems come standard with a full replacement seven-year warranty backed by Mr. P’s. Homeowners are encouraged to call (888) 779-4699 for a no cost in-home consultation, and to begin to enjoy all that today’s technology can provide for you, your home and your family.

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Call Us Today for a Private Appointment 602-814-0177 Scottsdale Showroom: 7030 E Indian School Rd Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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Saltillo Tile is in High Demand with New Colors, Patterns and Durable Materials By Denise Meridith


he most famous line in the hit movie The Graduate was spoken about what was thought to be the future: “Plastics.” Over forty years later, the hottest trends in foods, clothing and housing all involve natural products. Mexican tile and stone grace both one bedroom lofts and Beverly Hills mansions. Through his company Mexican Tile and Stone Co, and the Saltillotile.com website, Joe Fortuna promotes the versatility and desirability of handcrafted tile. Fortuna, a New Jersey native, who liked the idea of going to college in a warmer climate, graduated with a degree in Productions and Operation Management from Arizona State University. Putting his degree to work, he started as a contractor, and has had a 25-year career in the tile and stone industry. That knowledge and experience has served him well in the retail business he acquired in 2003. Traditionally Saltillo and other tiles from Mexico have been thought of as lowquality materials for flooring. “But Saltillo tile is not your grandmother’s 12 X 12 squares anymore,” says Fortuna. “Today, we can create a wide variety of patterns, textures and materials, and even produce a floor that looks like inlaid wood that can be used inside or outside of a home. And our modern, next-generation tile is stronger and longer lasting.” While homeowners may be wooed by the ads from the big box stores, there are many reasons to visit the Mexican Tile and Stone showrooms in Phoenix or Tucson. First of all, these showrooms are converted homes. Customers can see how tile can be used in any way, and in any part of a home. Mexican Tile and Stone Co. is a family-owned, Arizona-based company. It has direct ties with its manufacturing factories in Mexico; there are no middlemen. It is focused: its goals are to manufacture, distribute, design, renovate and sell tile projects…period. Fortuna has designers on staff to provide customized layouts and advice. In difficult situations, where a homeowner cannot find a qualified contractor, Mexican Tile and Stone Co. will also manage the install of the products and services. Fortuna believes in developing long-term relationships with his customers. He employs a service division, which maintains client files and follows up with customers that may need, in the future, a simple cleaning to a full restoration or addition. 30 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

Speaking of the future, Fortuna recognizes changing demographics of the workplace. He is retooling the factories to require less heavy, manual labor and better accommodating the growing percentage of women in the workplace. ABOUT MEXICAN TILE AND STONE COMPANY Mexican Tile and Stone Co. has two showrooms in Arizona—2036 W. Greenway Road in Phoenix (602) 954-6272, and 1148 E. Broadway in Tucson (520) 622-4352. Visitors are welcome to see the wide variety of styles and uses of the tile. There are solutions for all priced projects with tile ranging from $2-$100/SF. Homeowners, architects, builders, and designers can visit www.saltillotile.com and www. mexicantileandstone.com, or contact Joe at “Ask Saltillo Joe” on the Saltillotile.com website.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation provides funding for critical, life-enriching clinics, programs and community outreach efforts that enhance patient and family care and improve the well-being of children throughout the state.

(602) 933-4483 PCHFoundation.org


Q&A with Phoenix’s Leading Professional Home Staging Expert By Robin Leigh, Staged to Sell Design Services, with Denise Meridith Denise: Hi, Robin. Homeowners are usually anxious to get out the house they are selling and reluctant to spend any more than they have to. Why should they consider a staging service?


Robin: Most people do not have the training or objectivity to most effectively present their home for sale. The way a home looks is a reflection of the tastes and lifestyle of the owner as they live there… as it should be. However when it’s time to sell, personal tastes and lifestyles limit the homes appeal to the broadest segment of the market. Professional staging is proven to increase the number of buyers who are attracted to the home and increases the number of offers generated, additionally it shortens market time by 83% over non-staged homes. Denise: What is involved in staging a home for sale? Robin: It varies. Sometimes it involves removing and redesigning furnishings the homeowner already has. Often we add furnishings and accessories to make the property fresher and more appealing. Staging isn’t “interior decorating;” it is about maximizing the best features of the property to create excitement and a


connection to the home in the largest percentage of buyers who view it. Denise: But isn’t professional staging expensive? Robin: Studies prove that professional home staging returns a minimum of 5% and as much as 20% in increased sales price and shortens market time dramatically. You WILL net more money from your sale if your home is professionally staged. The investment in home staging fees actually are a fraction of the cost and increase in market value, and it is always less than a price reduction! Denise: Who, besides the homeowner is interested in professional

ABOUT STAGED TO SELL DESIGN SERVICES In February of 2013, Robin Leigh decided to take her 28 years of residential real estate experience, and her skills and experience in Home Staging to the next level. She and her daughter Gillian Cash, who is an ASID-certified Interior Designer, opened their company Staged To Sell Design Services. They are on track to stage over 500 homes in 2014. All of Robin’s stagers are ASP certified (the only training recognized by the

staging services?

National Association of Realtors) and/or ASID certified designers and are

Robin: Professional Staging greatly benefits Realtors, Investors and

additionally background checked and drug tested. Staged to Sell Design

Builders. Most of them recognize it helps sell properties much more

Services has their own warehouse of model home quality furnishings

quickly and enables their clients and businesses to maximize net

and they are licensed, bonded and insured. Their clients can rest assured

returns. Recommending Professional Staging demonstrates that

they are working with the best in the industry. Here are some examples

Realtors are knowledgeable about the best methods available to

of what a difference professional staging can make. Readers are invited

market homes and has a strong desire to benefit their client in every

visit their website www.stagedtoselldesign.com, and to contact Gillian

possible way. Everyone wins!

or Robin directly at (602) 652-222 or gillian@stagedtoselldesign.com.

32 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

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Today’s Media Rooms The New, Interactive Shopping Experience For One And All Interview by Denise Meridith, Featuring Kurt Schmidt, Regional Manager Denise: Hi, Kurt, most of us see the fantasy home theater set-ups in the cribs of celebrities on television. Can regular folks actually afford a home theater? Kurt: Absolutely! We can provide one piece of equipment or outfit an entire media room to fit any lifestyle and budget. A home theater can run the gamut from simple to elaborate. We have audio, video, custom leather and home automation. Starpower can even provide custom cabinetry and flooring. We carry those tried and true brands that most people know and trust like Sony, Samsung, Bose and Martin Logan, as well those that are rarely seen or used outside of Hollywood’s top studios. Denise: Why should people come to a showroom like yours instead of just going to a big box store?

Kurt: The experience and knowledge of a sales staff and installation crew is key to a good buying experience. Everyone understands the frustration of trying to get technical assistance or good advice from a big box store. We have our own installers— no subcontractors— and our “rookie” on the sales floor has eleven years of experience in the business. Most of the team members have over two decades of experience. In addition, many companies can’t provide the range of services that Starpower offers. We are not just a place to buy a new TV, but instead, we have the latest technology in video, audio, home automation, and security surveillance. You can JUST purchase a flat screen, or you can get much more. Regardless of what you are in the market to buy, Starpower prides itself on giving each and every customer “the star treatment!”

Kurt: First of all, we are an experience store. Starpower’s showroom is interactive, so you can try out equipment before you buy it. What better way to buy a projector than to see how clear the picture is in an actual theater setting, or to hear a surround sound system as it will actually sound in a media room environment? You can’t believe the advances in picture technology such as with 4K until you actually see it in-person. In addition, we are a part of the largest electronics-buying group in the entire country, so our prices are competitive with the big box stores, but the level of customer service is so much greater.

Kurt is the regional manager of the Scottsdale, Arizona, Starpower location and has lived in the Valley since 1997. Starpower has won numerous awards, including the Consumers’ Choice Award (4 consecutive years), #1 in Stereo and Home Theater by Ranking Arizona (Arizona Business), Best Audio/Video Company in America (3 Times) and has a 98.5% Customer Satisfaction Rating.

Denise: What other factors should consumers consider when thinking about purchasing home theater products?

Starpower is located at 7077 E. Mayo Blvd, off the 101. You can visit the showroom or go online and request a quote at star-power.com.

34 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media


Residential Feng Shui The Art of Balance and Harmony

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that promotes the flow of positive energy to help you be in harmony with your living space. — Jen Nicomedes is a licensed feng shui and destiny consultant who specializes in working with residential, commercial, land selection, and urban development. — Enjoy a hands-on introduction to feng shui and learn to apply Yin & Yang, the Five Elements, and “Flying Stars” feng shui in your home. — You will receive a written report with a list of observations and recommendations.

(480) 280-9911 jen@nicomedesrealestate.com fengshuibyjen.com Kevin Sutton Photography


New Program Available for Underwater Homeowners By John Conklin, Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation with Denise Meridith Denise: Hi, John. While the economy seems to be improving in Phoenix, there are still some homeowners, who are “underwater,” i.e., their homes appraised at less than they owe. Are there any new programs available to them? John: Yes, there is a new program available. Most people have heard of the “HARP” program. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is a Federal government program, which was updated in 2012 and was designed to let people living in homes that were less valuable than the outstanding mortgage at a lower rate. While many people took advantage of that program, there are still people who did not qualify to use HARP, but still owe more than their homes are worth. There is a new program—the Hardest Hit Fund—that utilizes a $280 million fund in Arizona to help people reduce the principle on their homes up to $100,000. Denise: What should homebuyers be looking for when selecting a mortgage company? John: A good reputation is most important. Homeowners should solicit and heed recommendations from CPAs and other finance and real estate professionals. Homeowners can also consider any special offers being made by companies. For example, people can relate to how inconvenient and costly it can be to plan on a particular closing date, only to have it delayed by some technicality at the last minute. My company—Fairway Independent Mortgage Corp. — has an on-time closing guarantee. We will pay up to $1500 in moving, temporary housing and other expenses that result from a closing not occurring on the guaranteed date. Denise: What is the outlook for mortgages in 2014? John: As Arizona emerged from the recession the end of last year and the beginning of 2013, there was a seller’s market with houses selling quickly for more than original listing prices. But, with many more houses now on the market, Phoenix is shifting to a purchase market. In 2014, buyers will become pickier and more conservative in their offers. The mortgage rates should remain in the mid 4% range according to the Financial Forecast Center. 36 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

ABOUT JOHN CONKLIN John Henry Conklin is a licensed mortgage banker employed with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation which has branches located throughout the United States. He is customerfocused and dedicated to finding the best rates for his customers. His goal is to act as your trusted advisor, providing highly personalized service and guiding you though every step of the loan process. It’s all designed to exceed your expectations, guarantee your satisfaction, and earn your trust. Contact Conklin (NMLS ID 275915) today at 602-753-1403 or johnc@fairwaymc.com to learn more about how he can assist you with your home financing. Or feel free to stop by his Scottsdale office at 13835 N Northsight Blvd, Suite 101.

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$2.9 Million North Scottsdale Remodel by Cantabria Homes By Denise Meridith

Bridgette Marie Photography

“Cantabria” is an old Gaelic term that means “dwelling in the mountains.” It is a very appropriate theme for Cantabria Homes, a company in Scottsdale that converts ordinary homes into spectacular, one-of-a-kind, state-of-theart dwellings, which blend in with the existing contours of the Arizona landscape and offer great views. Our January/February featured makeover is a Cantabria Homes project in Scottsdale, Arizona. “What we enjoy most,” says Cantabria Homes founder Brian Rives, “Is the opportunity to create something incredible for our clients. It is fun to look back and know that we did something well for someone, who appreciates the effort and results that were done on their behalf. There is nothing more rewarding than to have a client tell you, completely unsolicited, that they love their home.”

The featured property is an example of one of those rewarding creations. It took 2 ½ years and $2.9 million to gut the original house and remodel it into its current contemporary design to fit the client’s modern lifestyle. The new 10,000 square foot house (which included 2500 square feet of additions) is a testament to state-of-the-art design in water, stone, and fire. HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 41

Bridgette Marie Photography

Over 12,000 sf of travertine tiles were used to create the outside living areas. The cactus landscape includes saguaros, ocotillos and barrels as well as natural rock outcroppings. There is a ramada that sits over two negative edge pools as well as a ramada that overlooks the city lights of the valley below.

Photography by OnView360.com

Photography by OnView360.com

For example, water-wise, there are two negative edge pools, one overlooking the other. Even the master bathroom tub (6’ X 6’) is massive. The patios are comprised of 12,000 square feet of the finest travertine tile. For those “chilly” Phoenix evenings, there are six fire woks, two fireplaces, and a fire pit in the back yard.

“What we enjoy most is the opportunity to create something incredible for our clients.” Entertainment is a major activity for this homeowner. The objective was to be able to handle over 400 partygoers, if needed. Among other improvements, the existing sunken bar was increased in size to accommodate two bartenders. There are now 17 televisions and a projector screen, easily controlled by the automated house/ lighting control system. “What we enjoy most is the opportunity to create something incredible for our clients.”

The Kitchen Island measures 8' wide and 15’ long which includes the integrated stainless steel half circle table. The butted glass wine closet was designed and installed by Innovative Wine Cellars. Cabinets are marine grade and imported from Neff Cabinets. Upper cabinets and backsplash flanking wine closet are stainless steel. Black walls and espresso cabinets help illuminate the stainless steel accents. Cantabria Homes uses Heritage Interiors for flooring, tile work & countertops (www.heritageinteriors.com).

ABOUT CANTABRIA HOMES Brian Rives, Founder of Cantabria Homes, is a California native, who comes from a family of builders. His grandfather was a general contractor responsible for building many of the schools, municipal buildings and banks from the 1950s to 1970’s in Sacramento. Living in the Valley since 1989, Rives, himself, has a BS in Construction Engineering and Management from ASU, and has worked in construction, development and acquisition for many of the home builders here in the

Valley. In the early 2000’s, he started to build luxury homes. Throughout his career, Rives has over 300 homes to his credit. Cantabria Homes is a premier custom homebuilder. It employs top architects, engineers and designers, and focuses on quality rather than quantity of projects. Readers can see more of Cantabria’s makeovers on its website cantabriahomes.com, and contact the company at 877-797-7307 for consultation regarding their own dream luxury projects.

Two negative edge pools, with one flowing into the other. Upper pool is a lap pool with lower pool a play pool. Stainless steel scuppers coming out of the stone retaining wall. Ramada over the upper pool features a fireplace and TV.

Photography by OnView360.com

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Phoenix’s TOP 9 Luxury Realtors By Denise Meridith


ver 900 people filled the ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center on December 4, 2013 to listen to

experts during The 50th Annual Economic Forecast Luncheon try to predict how Phoenix would fare in 2014. There was consensus that the recovery will continue, but more slowly than it ever has in the past, and that while the real estate industry is doing much better than 2007, there are still many uncertainties. In this issue of Homes and Lifestyle Media Magazine, we want to assure our readers— homeowners, designers, builders, and suppliers—that one thing is certain: there is a new generation of talented realtors that can provide them with the guidance and expertise they need to address their individual requirements. Our top 9 realtors come from many different places and walks of life. There are varying levels of formal education in a wide variety of fields. But all of them share certain qualities.

Our top realtors are all great communicators. They are personable and approachable. They have provided their emails and numbers for HLM to publish here in the magazine, so readers can contact them directly. They have developed and/or used state-of-the-art software programs and other technology to show their properties to a universal audience in the best light. They have also mastered the Internet and use of social media to reach and stay in touch with their clients. This “high-touch” approach has attracted many new customers and forged long-term, loyal relationships, many of which last beyond the initial transaction. Readers can be assured that these realtors have amassed teams of other high-quality, honest, skilled professionals to help homeowners, designers, craftsmen, builders and others, get the information they need to make informed decisions.

They are all very bright, perceptive professionals, who recognized and took advantage of the luxury market opportunities in the Valley. Whether it was working with people going through bankruptcies and short sales or people, on the other end, looking for sound investments, they saw the recession as an opportunity to help others.

Finally, our realtors are great neighbors. Many have spent most or all of their lives in Arizona. More importantly, they love the neighborhoods they live in and the neighbors they serve. They are active in their communities, taking leadership roles in creating and support a diverse group of philanthropic activities.

All these realtors have had to work hard and make sacrifices to overcome the challenges of the past five years. Like a steel sword honed by fire, this experience has made them stronger and wiser. They have maintained this strong work ethic as the economy has recovered to the benefit of their clients.

We think you will be impressed with and educated by what you read about this issue’s top realtors. In 2014, you can be relieved that, regardless of the rate of Phoenix’ recovery, there are professionals here that can ensure that your real estate needs are addressed. HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 49

Bridgette Marie Photography

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Sarah Kirsch Richardson Is Just Getting Started with 148 Closed Transactions in the Past 24 Months By Denise Meridith


arah Richardson, the co-founder of Tru Realty, was raised

property yields a successful return, the investor continues to purchase

in a lake community outside of Waukesha, Wisconsin, and has been

through me, and usually refers a new client to me.”

in Arizona since 1996, when she came to ASU to study business and

This model has created a thriving residual income for Richardson.

communications. She started in real estate in 2005, and received excellent training at Retail Brokers, which laid the foundation for her current success in residential real estate.

Many of the homes she flipped are in the central corridor, which is redeveloping itself again. Central Phoenix is the perfect area of the Valley for people to focus on investing, as well as living.

Richardson is both an excellent representative of the population of,

Richardson, partner and team leader, Asher Cohen and co-founder

and a great ambassador for, the Central and Uptown Phoenix areas,

David Ventura — have 10 agents at Tru Realty, with more on the way.

which her agency services. She is married with a six-month-old son,

Tru Realty is unique in that Cohen has a white-glove, client-focused

named Vaughn, and loves to spend family time, take hikes and try

approach, and is teaching each team member the value of treating

new restaurants. One of the main attractions she enjoys is the historic

each client like gold. Cohen is also helping implement the most

Murphy Bridle Path (“The Murph”), on the East side of Central Avenue,

innovative training curriculums available in the industry.

which preserves a shady, rural feel with unpaved gravel paths and oldgrowth Elm and Olive trees. At any time of day, from Bethany Home Road to Northern Avenue, one can find joggers, walkers and baby strollers, appreciating this unique road. Richardson is also a customer and fan of all the new restaurants that are opening in the central corridor, with favorites including Timo, Windsor, and Spinatos Pizza.

...teaching each team member the value of treating each client like gold.

Prior to the recession, “flipping houses” was all the rage. But not many

Sarah Richardson makes it a priority to give back to the community she

did it correctly or well and it lead to bankruptcies among many amateurs.

loves so much. She is the Media Relations Chair of the Junior League of

Today, professionals like Richardson show how it should be done. In the

Phoenix, and Tru Realty contributes a portion of each real estate trans-

past two years, Richardson has executed 107 successful flips, where she

action to benefit the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

located/sourced the property, lined the property up with an investor, designed the remodel, and listed the property on the backend.

“I am very entrepreneurial,” says Richardson, “And lucky to be surrounded by an excellent team. We look forward to building the Tru

“What I love about this business model,” says Richardson, “Is that I get

Realty brand name through our Mission: Enriching the Lives of Families

to be creative by designing the homes and, more importantly, if the

and Investors One Home at a Time.”

HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 51

Bridgette Marie Photography

Sarah with husband, Chris and son Vaughn



The North Central Corridor is one of the pricier areas of Central Phoenix, and with good reason. With large custom-built homes, deep irrigated lots, North Central has a decidedly rural feel despite its proximity to downtown Phoenix just a few miles south. The neighborhoods encompassing this large residential area have not received historic designation; but they do have some great history and they have been in place for at least 50 years.

Active Listings


Pending Listings


Central Avenue itself, now becoming densely built with corporate offices and high-rise living in the downtown area, still retains its calm charm and neighborhood feel up in the North Central Corridor.


WHY CENTRAL PHOENIX OR UPTOWN? I feel there are a few reasons, but most importantly is convenience. If you are living in the Core of Central Phoenix, you are a short drive to all the amenities the City has to offer while a short distance for most commutes for Valley business locations. Starting along central and Camelback you can pick up the light rail and ride it through downtown Phoenix as well as coverage to Tempe and ASU areas; this is a fast and inexpensive way to get to ASU and Mill Avenue without having to deal with parking downtown Tempe. The public transit system has really helped Central Phoenix commerce and you are seeing much business pop up along the light rail areas. MARKET TRENDS The area is becoming more and more trendy as singles and couples are slowly relocating back into the city of Phoenix. Families are also filtering back into the area due to the Madison School district, which is getting very high performance ratings. Additionally, the lot sizes are larger than the newer communities and there is more individuality and diversity in the architecture in Central Phoenix; very different from the master planned cookie cutter communities of North Scottsdale and North Phoenix.

Sold within the Last 30 Days


Days on Market (DOM)


Average List Price


Average Sold Price


Active Listings


Pending Listings


Sold within the Last 30 Days


Days on Market (DOM)


Average List Price


Average Sold Price

$139,000 MLS 12/04/13

Windsor, pub style food with a great bar atmosphere; and Spinatos on 7th Street and Missouri, have been popping up all over the uptown area.

ABOUT TRU REALTY Tru Realty agents excel when it comes to prospecting, closing leads, contract negotiation and most importantly retaining clients and getting referrals. Tru Realty is also leveraging technology that helps augment the service approach, minimizes non-client time, and makes the real estate process simple and seamless. Readers can learn more on the website www.buytru.com or contact Sarah Richardson at sarah@buytru.com or 480-236-0396.

A home in North Central can be purchased for somewhere between $500,000 and $6 million. More modest homes and townhomes are also available as you travel farther outside the core areas.

One of the most exciting developments is the explosion of new restaurants in these areas. Many top new restaurants, such as Timo with a patio and fire pit;

315 East Missouri Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012

Bridgette Marie Photography


T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Brian North Leads His Team to Being One of Arcadia’s Most Sought After Realtor Groups


By Denise Meridith

ome people can attribute their success to fate and others can point to talent. Brian North used his talents to turn a fateful encounter into a golden opportunity. Brian North’s youth did not forecast a future of great success and stardom. He was born in Santa Ana, California to a single Mom who worked multiple jobs trying to care for her two young children. Sometimes that meant sleeping on couches of different relative’s homes. By the time he graduated from high school, he had moved from California to Colorado attending 13 different schools. He eventually attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and earned a degree in Sociology. This was a great and incredibly proud accomplishment, being that he was the only one to get a college degree within the family. After earning his college degree, he remained a Durango resident working at an upscale local restaurant. His fate changed one evening; while at the restaurant, a man by the name of Werner Schumacher came in and sat at one of his tables. Brian learned about Schumacher European, the family owned dealership in Scottsdale; one of MBUSA’s top 50 dealers in the nation. Because Mr. Schumacher was so impressed by Brian’s customer service skills, he asked him to come and work at his dealership in Scottsdale Arizona. That night Brian went home to his fiance (now his wife Pearl North) and discussed this amazing opportunity. So together they packed up their things and moved to Arizona. After moving to Phoenix, Werner Schumacher gave Brian an opportunity to prove that he had what it takes to be a top salesman for the company. He became a top producer within less then a year at 26 years old with absolutely no car sales experience. Serendipity soon struck again. While working at Schumacher MercedesBenz, Brian met an entrepreneur named Derek Jarr who worked for himself buying and selling houses in “the core” of Maricopa County. Brian was intrigued by the idea of creating something of his own through Real Estate. He asked Jarr if there was an opportunity to work together. At the time Jarr only worked for himself and did not know how to incorporate Brian into his business. The two remained friends while Brian continued with the luxury automobile industry for the next year.

Bridgette Marie Photography

54 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

Eventually Brian did start to work with Jarr in 2006. Brian started by knocking on homeowner’s doors acquiring residential real estate for investors. It wasn’t the most glamorous of opportunities, but

in hindsight, the path from luxury automobile sales to door knocking distressed real estate, created a growth curve that made anything possible in his mind.

North’s youth did not forecast future stardom. From 2008 through 2010, his investor and realtor group completed hundreds of short sale transactions of which almost 400 were completed in 2009 alone. During this time Brian was part of a group who educated struggling realtors and “newbie” investors on how to shift their businesses in order to succeed during the tough stretch in our market. His path eventually led him to brokering residential real estate with Green Street Realty. He possesses many personal qualities: knowledge, creativity, passion and certainly persistence that have helped him become successful and destined for stardom. These qualities have led to sales of $10 million in 2011, $22 million in 2012, and on track to almost double again at $40 million this year. There are several other factors that help make his team—North&Co.—unique and successful. Making up North&Co. is a group of outstanding agents: Cheri Reeves, Greg Corbett, Kris McLaughlin and Heather Wilson. These North&Co. agents, like himself, love and live in the same Arcadia neighborhood. Because he and his group take pride in their trade, their slogan is “Real Estate by Trade.” They all work hard, give everyone the same respect, are honest, and extremely professional. The team thrives on innovation, shares best practices and uses state-of- the-art technology — all in an effort to better serve their community. Brian is an expert when it comes to properties and schools close to home. He and his family, his wife Pearl and two sons, are the ultimate good neighbors in Arcadia. Both their boys attend great Arcadia schools within minutes of their home. “I love where I live and I truly enjoy helping others while assisting in making their dreams come true!” he says. ABOUT NORTH & CO. Brian North is a dedicated, professional with 15 years of sales experience ranging from hospitality to luxury automobiles, and now real estate with Green Street Realty. North’s team specializes in Central Phoenix luxury residential resale (buyers and sellers). Readers can learn more about North&Co. at www.NorthandCo.com and Facebook. To contact Brian C. North call (480) 250-6687 or via email at brian@northandco.com.

Bridgette Marie Photography

Bridgette Marie Photography

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Jason Mitchell, Phoenix’s Reality Star Agent


By Denise Meridith

ason Mitchell, the successful leader of The Mitchell Group, is

Below is a snapshot of his performance over the past 26 months:

not only one of the top 25 agents in all of Arizona; he is among

the top 1% of realtors in the United States. Most inspiring is his

Jason Mitchell is becoming a household name in the valley. His success

personal story. From a challenging childhood in south Detroit, he has

has brought him down the road of reality stardom. He was the popular

risen to the top of his field due to his ingenuity, hard work, integrity, an

co-host of Real Estate Roundup on Money Radio 1510 AM & 99.3 FM in

in-depth knowledge of technology, and charisma.

Phoenix, interviewing guests about mortgage trends, mortgages and other issues of interest to consumers in Phoenix. Most exciting is that

After graduating with a BS in business administration and a

Jason was chosen to be the host of the valley’s only Real Estate reality

double major in marketing and finance, he began his career in new

show “Selling Scottsdale,” which is set to premier this coming January.

construction sales for Pulte Homes. Jason was one of the number one sales consultants at the company. Because of his success he was offered a position to oversee the largest market in the country, Phoenix. After a year, Mitchell decided to go on his own and start his own real estate team in residential sales.

His success has brought him down the road of reality stardom.

Mitchell is only 32, but over the past decade, has closed over $300 million in real estate transactions, and his team recently topped the $500,000,000 mark. He is quick to share credit with his team of

With a brand new office, located at 8320 N Hayden Rd in the heart of

excellent agents, who specialize in the Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and

McCormick Ranch, Jason is redefining how real estate is done. With

Arcadia markets, and, who, in 2013, have closed over $70 million in

some of the most interactive systems and technology platforms,

transactions. The Mitchell Group is in the TOP 10 groups in the greater

Mitchell has declared that his goal is to have the most technologically

Phoenix area, and among the TOP 100 nationwide.

savvy real estate team in the country. After visiting his new office, it is apparent that he is on his way.

Mitchell’s experience and success extend to the real estate investments, as well. For example, he is the owner of Desert Bridge Capital LLC,

Jason and his team can be reached at 480-522-1030 or you can visit

which has completed and represented 42 “fix and flip” transactions in

them online at www.mitchellgroupaz.com or in person at 8320 N

Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Arcadia.

Hayden Rd, Scottsdale AZ 85258.

Number of properties sold


Average total costs basis

Average purchase price


Average profit margin

Average sales price


Average rehab time frame

Average rehab costs


Average project time

$129,440 17.7% 88 days 138 days

HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 57

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Working with Investors and Meticulously Managing Renovations is Kelly Spears Passion


By Denise Meridith

f one looks up “enthusiastic” in the dictionary, he/she is liable to see a headshot of Kelly Spears, from RE/MAX Fine Properties in Scottsdale. “In real estate, every day is a new day with new challenges and an ever-changing market… I love it,” she says.

Spears has been with RE/MAX Fine Properties for the past 10 months. Clients can depend on Spears to be very hands-on. She can be counted on to be involved in everything from helping select the granite for the kitchen counters to the landscaping in the backyard.

Spears was born in Burr Ridge, a suburb of Chicago. A marketing major from DePaul University, she moved to Phoenix and started as an office manager, worked as a buying agent and a property manager before she had her “aha” moment; she has been working with investors since getting her license in 2005.

Spears enjoys her job and life with her dog Wrigley. “I want it all!” she proclaims. She wants to help readers find their calling and fulfill their dreams as well.

Instead of looking at the recession as a negative influence, Spears credits the tough times with honing her persistence and work ethic. She is used to working hard. She is currently dealing with 21 houses under renovation. Spears is representative of the exciting, new group of young agents in Scottsdale. She is talented, confident, knowledgeable, creative, and skilled at assessing risks. She holds her own in a sector of the real estate market dominated by men, and can handle even the most difficult, demanding investors, who have aggressive goals and short timelines. “With millions riding on every decision, I go with my gut feelings, and am great at predicting market values of properties after necessary renovations leading to the highest possible return on investment,” she says.

“In real estate, every day is a new day with new challenges and an ever-changing market… I love it,” ABOUT THE SPEARS GROUP Kelly Spears treats all her clients as members of the family. Her group specializes in short and long term investment purchases and sales and services the entire Valley. Her office is located at 21000 N Pima Road in Scottsdale. Readers are invited to check out her new website at www.SpearsGroupAZ.com, and can reach her directly at 480-269-1218 or KSpears@SpearsGroupAZ


Bridgette Marie Photography

Bridgette Marie Photography

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

North Scottsdale Real Estate Listing & Negotiation Expert Stacey Mayes is An Easy First Choice for Serious Sellers


hen most hear the name Sotheby’s, they think of the worldfamous Auction House founded in 1744. It brought its rich heritage and reputation as a marketer of valuable and fine possessions and superior customer service to its clients to the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand it created in 1976. Since allying with Realogy, the world’s leading real estate brokerage, in 2004, Sotheby’s has expanded to almost 14,000 sales associates in 47 countries. Sotheby’s only employs the most reputable and exceptional agents. So Arizona is lucky to have Russ Lyon/Sotheby’s International Realty represented by one of Home & Lifestyle Medias’ top 9 realtors: Stacey Mayes. Stacey, who was born in Las Vegas and graduated from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, has lived in Scottsdale since 2002. For over the past six years, Stacey has served as a preferred Russ Lyon/Sotheby’s International Realty relocation specialist. Stacey specializes in listings in North Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Pinnacle Peak areas. She is critical in assuring that clients from world-class corporations, like General Mills, Wells Fargo, Henkel and Republic Services, find the luxury homes that suit their needs, sell their luxury homes, and have a hassle-free and enjoyable transition into and out of these beautiful communities. Stacey is an active volunteer in our community. Not only does she volunteer at her twins’ schools, she was the Pinnacle Peak Realtor Marketing Session Tour Director for several years, and was recommended for the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors Leadership Academy, of which she is now an alumnus. Like all of our Top Realtors, Stacey’s fortes are strong work ethic and outstanding customer service. Stacey is a hard-working, no-nonsense real estate agent and consultant. Her goal is to create “clients for life.” Her charming personality, and steadfast tenacity are a rare combination that stays with clients long after the sale or purchase of their new homes. Stacey treats each client as though they are a cherished family member, and ensures they get the best deal and value currently on the market. Whether a client is buying or selling, Stacey understands the importance of each and every facet of the real estate market to ensure his/her success and satisfaction. In the best interest of her client, Stacey has an uncanny ability to resuscitate negotiations, when the the deal on the table appears dead to the satisfaction and thrill of all involved parties. “I believe in rolling up my sleeves and jumping in to help clients get their homes ready for the market,” Stacey says. “Whether they are buy-

By Denise Meridith

ing, selling or relocating, I try to counsel clients on the pros and cons of homes in our market. Every market is different and I want to make sure my clients are making educated decisions (during an emotional decision-making process).”

Stacey was a superb realtor to deal with. I would certainly hire her again for her thorough knowledge of the market and her approach to selling our home that was, at once, pragmatic and creative. – Dean Davis Stacey has been married to Brett Mayes for 19 years, though she always says: “I like to count all 23 years we’ve been together.” Brett has a local business that helps people build their dream cars by supplying them with the “go-fast parts” his company manufactures. They have identical twin daughters, who play club and high school soccer and have their own band. Stacey’s hobbies include working out with the family, handson remodeling of her own home, and also teaching clients how to do their own handyman repairs. Sotheby’s continually wins honors as a leader in franchise satisfaction, and Stacey, who has been a multiple Sotheby’s International customer service award winner, is one of the reasons why.

ABOUT STACEY MAYES AND RUSS LYON SOTHEBY’S INTERNATIONAL REALTY® Stacey Mayes is a real estate professional with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty®. She is a specialist for listings in the North Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Pinnacle Peak areas. Stacey can provide a free, no-obligation real estate evaluation or an initial real estate search for your dream home. Read more about her services at www.staceymayes.com. Stacey’s office is conveniently located at Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, 8852 East Pinnacle Peak Rd, Ste J-3, Scottsdale, Arizona 85255. Interested readers can contact Stacey at 480.559.8346 or by email at staceymayes@cox.net.

HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 61

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Personal Attention and Outstanding Customer Service Have Helped Christopher Karas Stay in the Top 1% of Paradise Valley and Arizona Realtors


By Denise Meridith

ur 9 top realtors have taken many different paths to the

His team shares Karas’ focus on customer service. He has an excellent

top. For Christopher Karas it was the medical field. Karas earned a

group of agents with specific areas of expertise, who have great

degree in physiological sciences from the University of Arizona, and

synergy, and help each other promote all of their properties.

had originally planned to go to medical school. But after saving his money and buying his first house at 20 years old, he decided to follow

Karas has been married for five years and enjoys spending time with

his interests in business and real estate and forgo the medical school

his wife, Jennifer, and 2 ½ year-old son. As far as hobbies, he likes to

route. Karas says, “My first experience in real estate sparked a passion.

travel and play golf.

So I earned my real estate license and the rest is history!” What a history it is! Since pursuing his true interest, Karas has become one of the top 1% of realtors in Paradise Valley and the State of Arizona. He is regularly recognized as one of the top 50 residential real estate agents identified annually by the Phoenix Business Journal. Karas is also among

“The best thing about my profession, is that it is not a job… it is what I love to do.”

the top 1% of realtors for Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Reality. “The best thing about my profession,” he says, “Is that it is not a job… As with all of our Top 9 Realtors, innovation and outstanding cus-

it is what I love to do.” His many happy clients in the Valley are glad he

tomer service have contributed to Chris Karas’ success. He has been

decided to follow his passion and become a realtor instead of a doctor.

involved in over $350 million in sales. Karas challenges himself every day to keep up with the ever-changing real estate market and with the latest technological trends. For example, he produces a Monthly Market Report, which provides up-to-date, quality market information

ABOUT THE KARAS GROUP Christopher Karas, and The Karas Group - Russ Lyon Sotheby’s

to his clients.

International Realty which is located at 7135 E Camelback Rd, Ste 360 in

If a client hires Karas, they get Karas; he deals with each of his clients

Arcadia, Scottsdale, Biltmore and the surrounding Phoenix Areas. Buyers

directly. “Each of my clients is unique. I enjoy the ability to personally

and sellers benefit from sophisticated tactical marketing and an exclusive

consult with them to address their specific real estate needs. I want to

digital database of high net-worth prospects. Homeowners can count on

make sure they enjoy the real estate process

Karas’ extensive experience and personal attention. Readers are invited

as much as I do and at the end of the day, are

to visit his website www.TheKarasGroup.com and reach him directly at

happy with their decision.

602-919-6511 or chris@TheKarasGroup.com

Bridgette Marie Photography

Scottsdale, specialize in luxury property transactions in Paradise Valley,

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T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S


From Wall Street to One of Scottsdale’s Top Luxury Realtors

ne common theme that readers will find among these

industry leading realtors featured in our Annual Top 9 Best-of-the-Best

By Denise Meridith

the vast majority of the marketing budget towards this, that agent is not doing the most they can for the client”.

is their embrace of modern technology and by doing so, successfully selling more homes than other Valley agents. Few demonstrate how the Internet can be used to the benefit of their clients as well as James Wexler, Associate Broker at Realty Executives.

Wexler cites the Internet as “an unmatched tool to sell homes.”

Wexler, who was recently spotlighted on the cover of Top Agent Magazine, took a unique route to the top of his field. His early success

Although being a leader in the use of technology helps his clients,

came on Wall Street as an executive for Fortune 500 firms, like Morgan

Wexler would not be a success by only having his name listed just at

Stanley and Bear Stearns, before founding and selling a successful

the top of webpages. He delivers results for his clients. For the past

Internet company.

decade, James has sold over $100 million in real estate. Customer service is what keeps realtors like him successful, despite the economy.

For more than a decade, he has used his considerable skills in financial

Wexler is famous for his guarantee of $1,000 towards closing costs if he

management, technology and real estate (e.g., he has a GRI—Graduate

does not return a phone call within 15 minutes, and for being on call

of Realtor® Institute—and Masters of Real Estate) to become the most

24/7! He is personable and passionate, as well as attentive and efficient.

recommended real estate agent in Scottsdale on the Trulia website; a

“I love helping clients find their dream home. I ask them if they will ‘let

top realtor for Realty Executives in 2013; and Realty Home Store’s top

me do the worrying for them’. I will handle any challenges and make

agent as well as being top listed for advertising on Facebook.

what at times can be an emotional process feel like smooth sailing.”

The Internet has changed access to the real estate universe. For marketing properties, technology is the future, but it is here today!


Listing a home on sites, like Trulia, Zillow, Facebook, etc., showcases

James Wexler is one of the Top Agents in Scottsdale, an Associate Broker,

it to the world… instantly. Unlike more traditionally used methods by

and professional negotiator. He can help people looking to buy/sell a

most realtors, it is a pro-active form of advertising where agents can

home or an investment property. James says, ‘finding the right home

aggressively drive information to buyers.” Wexler cites the Internet as

or selling your house is only the beginning. I will guide you through the

“an unmatched tool to sell homes.” He says emphatically, “it may not be

process and assist every step of the way.’ Prospective homeowners or

the ‘only’ way, though, if your agent is not marketing your home using

sellers can contact James Wexler directly at James@JamesWexler.com

the most powerful tools and on the most prevalent sites and spending

or (480) 221-8080.

HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 67

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

H Group Realty Stays on Top as Arizona’s #1 Condo & Developer Sales & Marketing Team


By Denise Meridith

racy & Bruce Hoskins, along with partners Brent & Carolyn

H Group/Condo Co is recognized as the top in their field of new home/

Hewett from H Group Realty are among our top realtors for mastering

subdivision sales, which requires a completely different mindset.

a niche that most Phoenicians, a few years ago, thought was extinct:

The team’s in-depth expertise in the Metro-Phoenix market and

the condominium/multi-family/townhome market. The partners have

thorough understanding of the development process makes them

represented 26 communities over the past 16 years and have been

the ideal choice. H Group offers a full array of developer services,

responsible for sales in excess of $700 Million in home value.

including on-site sales, sales center development, & setup, target

H Group Realty was born out of a need in the market. Their partners had all worked with the top condo developers in the Valley for years; but when the recession hit Phoenix, many of the developers disappeared. Persistence, a great reputation and experience allowed the partners and newly formed company to take root and survive until now when returning developers are starting up the stalled projects and beginning new projects. Many developers do not have in-house sales teams and require a team like H Group, which is experienced in the Valley condo market and in new home sales. Also, because the

market demographics, marketing plans, media buy, lead tracking & capture, competitive market analysis, established & current database of prospects looking to buy, pricing strategies, etc.

The H Group Team has demonstrated its capability to satisfy the needs and desires of homeowners, builders, investors, and developers.

team knows the condo/townhome market so well, they have been able to retain the loyalty of their previous customers/homeowners, who need their condos sold and who are looking for other maintenancefree homes. Further, they have earned the recognition of new buyers and sellers entering the market, who need the expertise specific to marketing, selling and finding condominiums. An example of H Group’s successful ability to fill a need is the Veritas at McCormick Ranch townhomes. This unique village of 36 luxury two- and three-bedroom townhomes, within walking distance of fine

Getting to the top of one’s field is a challenge. Staying on top is even harder. It takes talent, perseverance, innovation, adaptability, professionalism, and, most of all, an ability to identify and fulfill a need. Through good times and bad, the H Group Team has demonstrated its capability to satisfy the needs and desires of homeowners, builders, investors, and developers. ABOUT H GROUP REALTY

dining, shopping and golf, boasts quaint architecture, cobblestone

H Group Realty is a full-service, boutique real estate company, offering

streets and a lush greenbelt with hiking/biking trails. Over 75% of

exceptional services and comprised of highly experienced professionals.

the homes have already been sold to those who desire an upscale,

The company can provide a full-range of services and expertise, including

stress-free, low-maintenance lifestyle. For more information, please

sales and marketing, for builders/developers, buyers and sellers. Readers

visit www.lifeatveritas.com, call Veritas Sales at 480-949-3000 or email

can learn more about H Group Realty at www.hgrouprealty.co and


contact the team at (480) 951-9800.

68 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

Bridgette Marie Photography

Bridgette Marie Photography


HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 69

T O P 9 L U X U R Y R E A LT O R S

Chey Castro, MSA, Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty


By Denise Meridith

ur top realtors all have very different backgrounds and education. But all of them share optimism, love of people and a strong work ethic. Chey Castro, an Arizona native and currently a realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, is no exception. Castro graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in finance from Arizona State University and an MS in accountancy from Notre Dame. This unique, in-depth knowledge and understanding of the financial side of any transaction enables him to ensure that his clients’ financial needs are very well-served.

awards; the Phoenix Business Journal’s Book of Lists for top-producing real estate agents; the Phoenix Business Journal’s esteemed “40 Under 40” Class of 2012; and as a Strategic Alliance Partner of the prestigious Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Arizona.

Castro’s first job in Arizona was as a Senior Auditor with Ernst & Young. But he developed his interest in high-end real estate when he became a Senior Financial Analyst for DMB Associates. DMB is famous nationwide for its sustainable planned communities in “great places;” in Phoenix, DMB is responsible for the luxury communities, such as DC Ranch, Silverleaf, Eastmark and Verrado. Castro’s passion for high-end real estate sales was spurred by his experience as part of the on-site sales team for Silverleaf in North Scottsdale. His route to becoming one of the Valley’s top agents began when he helped contribute to over $200 million in home and homesite sales in Silverleaf.

Castro is charasmatic, and his enthusiasm and sense of humor are infectious. He is known for being very responsive to his clients and very quick at closing sales.

“I’m an expert at understanding a client’s sales needs,” Castro was soon able to achieve his dream of working for the elite team of Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty, where his reputation continued to grow. Castro has been recognized by the media, Russ Lyon, and his fellow realtors with awards, such as many “Top Producer”

70 | HOMES & LIFESTYLE media

“I’m an expert at understanding a client’s sales needs,” Chey says, “And translating those needs into finding the right buyer for their home, at the right price and in the right timeframe, that will make both sides of the transaction personally happy, as well as financially satisfied.”

After concluding a transaction with him, Castro hopes that his clients think of him as positive, trustworthy, hardworking and ethical. Consistent achievement of that objective is why Chey Castro is one of our top 9 realtors. MORE ABOUT CHEY CASTRO Chey Castro is a Luxury Realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. He is a third generation Arizonan. Chey’s career experience in corporate America at Ernst & Young, as well as his experience in the corporate offices of DMB Associates, has given him, not just a wealth of professional experience, but also the knowledge and confidence needed to conduct a professional, successful negotiation on behalf of his clients. Readers looking to buy or sell a luxury home in the DC Ranch/ Silverleaf area can visit this Zillow 5-Star Premier Agent online at www.CheyCastro.com. Chey can be reached at directly at 602-570-2516 or CheyLuxuryHomes@gmail.com


Why You Will Love Silverleaf, Too By Chey Castro, MSA



Silverleaf, nestled near the McDowell Mountain Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a world-class, 44,000-acre community planned by DMB Associates. The Silverleaf area is one of the most desirable communities in Arizona. There is a spectacular, private golf course, called Silverleaf, designed by Tom Weiskopf. DC. Silverleaf residents can also enjoy nearby annual special events, such as the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction, and the Scottsdale Polo Championships. Residents enjoy spectacular views from vistas 1000 feet above Scottsdale.


WHY SILVERLEAF? Each property in Silverleaf is unique. Tree-lined streets, lakeside retreats, porch-front properties, and access to the Silverleaf Club and Spa enhance estate sites. Many of my clients are members at the Silverleaf Club and have become friends. It is always a first class experience when they invite me to play golf or have dinner with them at the Club. The staff is outstanding at making anyone who visits feel special. Whether it’s the golf course, the relaxing spa with every amenity, a wonderful lunch at the charming Stone House, dinner in the award-winning clubhouse or a hike with fabulous views of the McDowell Mountains, Silverleaf has it all, in the best possible location. As a proud Arizona native and an Arizona State and Notre Dame graduate, it has been an honor to see Silverleaf grow into one of our finest private communities. I started my relationship with Silverleaf working as a Senior Financial Analyst in the developer’s corporate offices. Starting from the planning stages, it was incredible to see the vision and attention to detail translate into what is now a world-class community. My experiences with Silverleaf inspired my passion for high-end real estate, culminating in a switch from finance and accounting to sales. Why do I love it? I was there at the start and it’s become a very large part of what I do as a Realtor. I feel blessed and very fortunate to sell in this community. MARKET TRENDS As shown on these charts, average price and price per square foot continue to rise, while time on the market is still dropping. Scottsdale is a seller’s market. But, with homes appreciating, buyers are still making a good investment by buying in the Silverleaf area.

Current Active Listings: Average List Price:

54 $5,116,804

Average List Price Per SF:


Average Days on Market:


Currently Pending:


Average Pending Price: $2,182,018

Average Pending Price Per SF: $434 Average Days on Market: Closed Listings in 2013: Average Sold Price:

252 33


Average Sold Price Per SF:


Average Days on Market:


Year-to-date statistics for Silverleaf per ARMLS as of 12/31/13

In 2013, Chey Castro has represented the following in Silverleaf: Represented the Buyer: 855 E Legacy Ln: Sold for $1,448,450 - 4 bd/4.5 ba/4,682 sf 10112 E Phantom Wy: Sold for $1,800,000 - 4 bd/4.5 ba/4,798 sf 18706 N 101ST: Sold for $2,875,000 - 3 bd/4 ba/4,277 sf Represented the Seller: 10919 E Mountain Spring Rd: Sold for $3,525,000 - 5 bd/8 ba/6,842 sf ABOUT CHEY CASTRO Chey Castro is a luxury realtor with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty. He is a third-generation Arizonan, with a MS in Accountancy from Notre Dame and a BS in Finance from ASU. This knowledge, experience and skill-set enables him to ensure that his clients’ financial needs are very well-served. Chey’s career experience in corporate America at Ernst & Young, and his experience in DMB Associates, have given him, not just a wealth of professional experience, but also the knowledge and confidence needed to satisfy his clients. Castro’s absolute product knowledge of Silverleaf sets him apart from other Realtors. Out-of-state clients, who need someone who literally knows the terrain, need Castro. You can reach Chey Castro at 602-570-2516, or by email at CheyLuxuryHomes@gmail.com or on his website at www.CheyCastro.com HOMES & LIFESTYLE media | 71

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Home and Lifestyle Media Issue 1, 2014  

Home and Lifestyle Media Issue 1, 2014