Housing prices across the Valley exploded last year even as the area lost tens of thousands of jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That trend shows no sign of slowing, but there are a variety of neighborhoods across the Valley that offer prospective buyers diverse living experiences. And one of the hot spots for housing is the East Valley, which is home to some of the hottest neighborhoods for housing in Arizona.
Mark Stapp, the Executive Director of the W.P. Carey Master of Real Estate Development program at Arizona State University said the East Valley, for example, has historically been the dominant area for housing in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. Stapp said this is due to the quality of schools and infrastructure, and he believes that the area will continue to develop and remain in high demand with some of the region’s hottest neighborhoods.
East Valley realtor Michael D’Elena of North&Co real estate said that Downtown Gilbert, South Chandler, South Scottsdale, East Mesa, and Casa Grande are among the hottest neighborhoods and the top areas for housing in the East Valley right now.
With numerous restaurants, shops and cultural experiences, Downtown Gilbert offers residents an abundance of activities. According to D’Elena, this has contributed to the high demand for housing in this area.
“In Downtown Gilbert there are restaurants and bars and a pretty good nightlife. It’s really crowded but in a good way. It’s kind of the place to be in the East Valley if you don’t want to go all the way up to Phoenix or Scottsdale,” D’Elena said.
Stapp says that this area gives residents the opportunity to combine suburban and urban lifestyles with varied amenities.
“Amenities would be, for example, access to restaurants, entertainment, schools and other support services. The Heritage District provides that. If you can live in relative close proximity to it, you can have the best of both worlds: a single family home, a yard, good schools and a downtown urban experience if you want it,” Stapp said.
As for who the area is best suited for, D’Elena recommends young families or young professionals.
“Gilbert is probably for people in their 20s or 30s. Maybe a little older too, but if you’re closer to downtown you’re probably going to be a little younger,” D’Elena said.
For those looking for more space and a family oriented area, D’Elena recommends South Chandler.
“The 85249 zipcode is very attractive right now,” D’Elena said.
With spacious backyards, sizable houses and numerous parks, South Chandler is ideal for larger families.
“South Chandler is definitely for more established families just because of the price point. The price point is going to be between $600,000 and $1 million basically,” D’Elena said.
Stapp said that much of South Chandler’s growth can be attributed to a growing market for jobs in technology within the Silicon Desert.
“You see very strong employment growth along that corridor. That’s one of the drivers for that submarket, that proximity to those jobs,” Stapp said.
In South Scottsdale, the newly redeveloped Papago Plaza is drawing residents to the border of Scottsdale and Tempe and making it one of the hottest neighborhoods in Arizona.
“The thing that’s really going to change the whole neighborhood and the prices is Papago Plaza. They’re rebuilding that whole plaza. That’s supposed to be done next year and that will really change the landscape of the whole area,” D’Elena said.
The former shopping center is being redesigned into an updated plaza with space for hotels, restaurants, shops and luxury apartments.
According to Stapp, South Scottsdale is redeveloping due to the strong housing market in the area.
“The redevelopment of Papago Plaza, the proximity to Tempe and proximity to Papago Park and other amenities has made that very attractive for redevelopment,” Stapp said.
“South Scottsdale is definitely for young professionals, too. Probably one kid, maybe about to have kids, people who just got married. It’s central to town,” D’Elena said.
According to D’Elena, sales in East Mesa are on the rise.
“Right by the Mesa Gateway Airport is really up and coming; probably five years from now it’s really going to get expensive,” D’Elena said.
Near where Apache Junction and Queen Creek meet, 250 acres of land are being developed into new homes and infrastructure such as shopping centers.
“When you talk about East Mesa, there are really two parts of East Mesa. One is the part around Falcon Field; that has a lot of employment-driven interest. On the other side of the freeway, you get more of this high-desert suburban living. It’s a different environment that’s very attractive because there isn’t a lot of that in the East Valley,” Stapp said.
This area appeals to a wider demographic.
“East Mesa is definitely more family oriented, but it’s a combination of younger families and retirees as well because you have communities like Eastmark out there that cater to the 55+ community,” D’Elena said.
D’Elena and Stapp agree that the biggest draw to Casa Grande is the growth in employment opportunities.
“The whole city is going to blow up in the next few years,” D’Elena said.
“With Intel announcing $2 million to build new facilities down there, then you have Lucid, you have others that are developing facilities in the area; it has become a very strong employment center,” Stapp said.
Lucid Motors recently built a factory in Casa Grande. According to D’Elena, this will bring thousands of jobs to the area.
“Just under a year after breaking ground in Casa Grande, Arizona, we’ve finished construction on our first electric vehicle factory and have entered the commissioning process,” Lucid Motors’ website says.
D’Elena said that as a major competitor for Tesla, the influx of job opportunities will bring considerable growth to the area as Lucid Motors begins production.
“Right now Casa Grande is more of a rural community. You see a lot of people who are looking for land, or some people from Canada who only come for half the year, but it’s going to quickly change to a younger demographic with all of the jobs that are going in there,” D’Elena said.
“One of the reasons that Casa Grande is becoming a very active marketplace is because that employment corridor is growing in that direction. That’s where the available land for new development is,” Stapp said.