This is the twelfth and final installment of Inman’s “12 in ’21” hot neighborhoods series, which explores areas with both booming real estate markets and dense amenities. To read previous stories in the series, click here.
Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of those cities that tends to end up on lists of “top places.”
In both 2019 and 2020, the city was named the No. 1 place in America to find a job by WalletHub, and in 2021, it was knocked down a few places, but was still in the top 10 (it placed sixth).
The personal finance website also ranked Scottsdale as one of the top three U.S. cities in which to retire in 2021. That ranking was primarily based on affordability, activities, quality of life and health care. On quality of life, the city scored second overall.
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As the U.S. real estate market has been on fire the last year, so too has Scottsdale across a number of metrics. Institutional investors have been hot on homes in Arizona lately (especially in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area), with Arizona ranking as the state with the second highest share of institutional investor purchases as of the second quarter of 2021. Scottsdale also saw shocking rent growth over the last year, becoming the 10th most expensive rental market in the U.S. in September 2021, according to rental listings platform Zumper.
And now, one neighborhood in the city — McCormick Ranch — is starting to become even hotter than it has been in years past, due in part to new businesses that have popped up in the past five years and lush outdoor spaces that are perfect for pandemic socializing.
What is McCormick Ranch?
McCormick Ranch is about five miles northeast of the heart of downtown Scottsdale. Its northern limits are bound by East Shea Boulevard, its eastern border runs along Arizona State Route 101 and North Pima Road, its southern border along East Indian Bend Road, and its western border is more irregular, following the contours of McCormick Ranch Golf Club and a number of greenbelts, and ultimately meeting up with East Gainey Ranch Road.
The neighborhood was originally a 4,200-acre working ranch owned by Anne and Fowler McCormick starting in the 1940s, according to the McCormick Ranch Property Owner’s Association (MRPOA).
Anne McCormick, who was a horse-breeding enthusiast, sought to make Scottsdale into a premier destination for the breeding and showing of Arabian horses, and launched the first Scottsdale Show of the Arabian Horse Association of Arizona in 1957, according to the MRPOA.
In the 1970s, however, after The McCormicks had passed away, the area was developed into a planned community, which turned into one of the largest of its kind throughout the state of Arizona.
McCormick Ranch is a more upscale pocket of the city with robust shopping and dining options, two championship 18-hole golf courses, public tennis courts, and plenty of parks and walking and biking paths.
“There’s a really awesome outdoor pathway system,” Jonathan Budwig, an agent with Realty One Group, told Inman.
The 85258 ZIP code’s median household age is 54, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data, and the median household income is $86,148.
However, local agents told Inman that the neighborhood also has a lot of families with younger children. (The 85258 ZIP code extends a bit beyond McCormick Ranch to include parts of Andalusia and Mirador.) The ZIP code spans nearly 9 square miles and has about 25,800 residents.
About 98 percent of residents have a high school degree or higher, and 62 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
McCormick Ranch real estate
The area’s housing is a mix of styles and sizes today, including single-family homes, townhouses, condos and luxury estates. Many homes are classic ranches, Spanish, or southwestern adobe style, but there are also a few bungalows and other miscellaneous styles. Many were built during the late ’70s and ’80s as development of the community was ramping up.
Prices can vary widely throughout the neighborhood. In one Zillow search conducted at the end of November, there were a little less than 20 listings available. Those listings ranged from a $240,000 one-bedroom apartment built in 1980 to a $1.77 million four-bedroom, 3,800-square-foot, Spanish-style home built in 1984 that was recently updated.
McCormick Ranch went through a stretch of several months at the end of 2019 into early 2020 where the area saw negative home price growth, according to Zillow data sent to Inman.
However, since then, the 85258 ZIP code has seen some spectacular home price growth. Since April 2020, the area has tallied double-digit annual home price growth every month, except in May 2020 when annual home price growth was at 7.9 percent year over year (still, relatively strong).
As of September 2021, the median sale price was $670,496, up 26.8 percent year over year.
Over the last year, homes in the neighborhood have been spending fewer days on market. In September 2020, McCormick Ranch homes spent an average of 46 days on market, according to data obtained from Redfin. By September 2021, that was down to 29 days, compared to Scottsdale’s overall average of 34 days on market. Back in July 2021, homes spent just 25 days on market in the neighborhood, compared to Scottsdale’s overall average of 30 days.
“McCormick Ranch has become incredibly popular [in the last year],” Wendy Walker of Wendy Walker Fine Properties at The Agency told Inman in an email. “There is a lot of opportunity there to redo and/or update for affordable pricing.”
In addition to the ability to make a home into one’s own with modern renovations, Walker added that the neighborhood’s location, architecture and lifestyle have drawn residents to the area.
Budwig echoed the same appeal to Inman.
“People are really enjoying renovating [classic ranch homes], opening up walls and creating the open concept living,” he said. “They were all a little tired [and] needed a little love. Then you started getting these families that started putting some love back into these ranch houses and the trickle effect happened and now everyone loves the whole idea of it.”
The 85258 ZIP code currently has a wealth of active listings compared to many inventory starved areas around the country. However, compared to the area’s inventory in previous years, for-sale inventory has seen some sharp declines of late.
As far back as November 2019, the ZIP code started seeing double-digit negative inventory growth year over year for several months in a row. The area saw a slight boost in inventory at the end of 2020, but for at least the last several months, inventory has been down anywhere from 20 to 37 percent year over year. As of October 2021, according to Zillow, there were 188 listings for sale, which was down 25.5 percent year over year.
Local agents, however, painted a more dire picture of low inventory in the neighborhood.
“Inventory is bad,” Gene Montemore, an agent with Launch Real Estate, told Inman. “Last week, I think there were eight homes listed [in the northern half of the neighborhood] and I had two of them, out of several thousand houses in the area.”
McCormick Ranch rents
Rental units in McCormick Ranch are less abundant than for-sale options, but there’s still a fair amount rental stock from which to choose, from apartment complexes to condos to single-family homes.
As mentioned earlier, Scottsdale’s rental market has been rocking lately, rising the ranks to nearly be on par with high-roller rental markets like Oakland, California, and San Diego. As a result, many rents in McCormick Ranch, as an affluent neighborhood, tend to be on the higher end of the spectrum.
Rentals available on Zumper in McCormick Ranch at the end of November ranged from about $1,490 (for a studio apartment) to $12,500 (for a 2,600-square-foot house).
Data from Zillow for the 85258 ZIP code shows fairly consistent rent growth over the past year and a half. One year ago in November 2020, the typical rent was $1,749, and rent was up 7.5 percent from the year before. But as of October 2021, the typical rent surged to $2,154, up a massive 26.2 percent from October 2020.
Likewise, data for the entire city of Scottsdale provided by Zumper showed several consecutive months of double-digit rent growth across both one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. (The rental listings platform did not feel it had sufficient data to share on the McCormick Ranch neighborhood alone.)
Starting in May 2021, rent was up 12.7 percent year over year on one-bedroom units to a median price of $1,600. On two-bedrooms that same month, rent was up a whopping 23.8 percent year over year to a median price of $2,390. In September 2021, the median one-bedroom rent was up almost 26 percent from the year before to $1,850 and the median two-bedroom rent was up 22.2 percent from September 2020 to $2,420.
McCormick Ranch amenities
The McCormick Ranch neighborhood is lauded by residents as a family-friendly area — to both young families and retirees — with plenty of amenities nearby. It is home to a number of outdoor recreational opportunities, including the McCormick Ranch Golf Club, 25 miles of bike paths, several parks and a few lakes.
The center of the neighborhood is a hub of commerce, with a cluster of restaurants, coffee shops, spas and shopping options at the northwest corner of North Hayden Rd and East Vía de Ventura.
One highlight is the PHX Beer Co.’s Scottsdale outpost, which includes a restaurant with a menu that features fresh brews and pub eats like Bavarian pretzels, Southern fried chicken, burgers and more. The brewpub is just adjacent to Marguerite Lake, a small lake open to fishing with a walking path that runs along one side.
Another neighborhood highlight that was just developed in 2019 is The Grove at McCormick, a ranch mixed-use project that includes a number of restaurants and small businesses, accessible from the neighborhood’s pathways and sidewalks.
Although Scottsdale is not an incredibly walkable city in general, this small pocket around North Hayden and East Vía de Ventura is somewhat walkable for residents who live within about half a mile of the intersection. It’s also extremely bikable with its extensive pathways. Scottsdale as a whole has an average walk score of 31 out of 100, according to Walk Score, meaning the city is largely car-dependent.
The Phoenix/Scottsdale area is generally known as a golfing destination, with The Charles Schwab Cup Championship (the final event of the season for the PGA Tour Championships) taking place every year at the Phoenix Country Club. But, in the next year, Scottsdale is primed to gain attention for a different sport, since The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch will be host to the National Quarterback Club Hall of Fame induction ceremony in February 2022, at which former Philadelphia Eagles player Donovan McNabb will be inducted into the hall of fame, among other former quarterbacks.
At the neighborhood’s southwestern edge, a dramatic and impressive public art project completed in 2010 called “Water Mark” adorns the city’s flood basin on Indian Bend Road, as part of the city’s larger public art program. Five 14-foot tall aluminum horse gargoyles designed by Laura Haddad and Tom Drugan and fabricated by Charles Wiemeyer Design Company are standing guard in slightly different positions, and water rushes forth from the horses’ mouths during heavy rains. The horses light up in blue and yellow in the evening to represent water and sun, according to Scottsdale Public Art, and were made to evoke the McCormick’s original horse ranch.
The McCormick Ranch appeal
With its extensive greenways, quality schools and new businesses popping up in recent years, McCormick Ranch has become a place where people want to move, and rarely want to leave.
Budwig said the mix of wide open green spaces, pathways that connect residential parts of the community to restaurants and commerce, and old trees (a rarity for a desert) has helped foster a sense of community, especially over the course of the pandemic, as people have taken to the outdoors more to socialize.
“We’ve got trees that are 50, 60, 70 years old now,” Budwig said. “Great shade, great outdoor lifestyle living, and you’re just seeing so many more people out now and enjoying what it has to offer.”
“There’s a real, actual sense of community and neighborhood happening in McCormick. When you’re out walking in and around the parks, you know [people you see are] your neighbors, so there’s a great sense of community.”
Because people who move to the area tend to stay for the rest of their lives, Montemore said it’s often challenging for buyers to make inroads in the neighborhood.
“Historically, we’ve always had a low turnover rate,” he said. “During the recession we had an extremely low number of short sales or foreclosures, and even now we just have historically low inventory. That’s the story all over the United States, but that’s always been our problem for buyers.”
Budwig added that with its central location within Scottsdale, McCormick Ranch is extremely accessible to other attractions in the region. It’s easy to get to Salt River Fields, the spring training facility for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, as well as Talking Stick Resort and Casino, a four-diamond resort located on the Salt-River Pima Maricopa Indian Reservation.
In addition, The Ritz Carlton is in the process of completing a $2 billion resort in Paradise Valley, which will be just a 10-minute drive from McCormick Ranch, Budwig said. Adjacent to the luxury hotel will also be an outdoor shopping destination called The Palmeraie, which will be home to about 60 boutiques and 12 restaurants.
With new and interesting businesses adding to McCormick Ranch’s already existing charm, Montemore said that the neighborhood is finding a surge in popularity.
“I think it’s just a bubbling point of the fundamentals that it’s always had,” he said. “Coming out of the recession, I think people got really interested in lifestyle over what the home is or looks like. People said, ‘I want that walkability, I want to ride my bike on Saturday morning to the coffee shop, I want to push a stroller not on a street sidewalk but on a greenbelt,’ so I think a lot of that played into it.”
And those post-recession desires are very similar to what buyers seek today in a post-pandemic world — lots of outdoor spaces and accessibility so that they don’t have to go too far from home for their needs.
“Everyone I know around here, and we’ve lived here close to 20 years, nobody’s moving out of [the neighborhood,]” Montemore added. “Everyone’s plans are to stay.”