(Source: EastValleyTribune): Wayne Schutsky – A combination of new housing offerings and an unexpected upturn in sales has made Eastmark the sixth best-selling master-planned community in the country and the top-selling community in Arizona for the third straight year.
DMB’s east Mesa development accounted for over 665 home sales by Sept. 1, according to RCLCO Real Estate Advisor’s Mid Year Report. That is more than the number of homes sold there in all of 2016.
“This is clearly a surprise,” Eastmark General Manager Dea McDonald said. “We saw trends that suggested we were going to see a better year than last year, but not in this capacity.”
In 2016, Eastmark ranked 11th nationally on the RCLCO Mid Year Report.
One major factor contributing to the 2017 sales boom is choice. The development currently has multiple builders and home models at different price points that buyers can choose from.
“It is the biggest abundance of choices we have had since we opened,” Eastmark Director of Marketing Garilyn Bourgeois said.
When the community opened, home prices hovered in the mid-$300,000 range and largely attracted first-time and second-time “move-up buyers,” McDonald said.
Now, homes in Eastmark start in the low-$200,000s and builders are seeing interest from more first-time home buyers. This year, Eastmark also features homes that qualify for FHA loans for the first time.
“There are (attractions for) different age groups and price ranges,” said Dee Schippel, Arizona Association of Realtors Region 4 vice president. “It is family oriented and has provisions for every generation.”
McDonald also points out that Eastmark continues to attract buyers because it is one of the last master-planned communities in the East Valley.
“It is like the jewel of Mesa,” Schippel said. “It is talked about very highly and is a highly respected master-planned community.”
Eastmark’s small-town feel – a rarity in a major metropolitan area – is also a draw for potential buyers, and residents have taken a leading role in developing that by establishing clubs and traditions such as the annual planting of American flags around community parks on Memorial Day.
“This is not an HOA,” McDonald said. “This is a team of individuals that came together to foster a lifestyle within the community. We have great leaders and residents in the community who bring their experience to shape things.”
Community events include pancake breakfasts, Fourth of July fireworks and a Friday night concert series that is open to the public.
Additionally, Eastmark’s design encourages interaction among residents through a collection of public and private gathering points, most notably the oft-referenced Great Park that serves as the center of the development.
The planned 90-acre park is currently built out to 14 acres.
In addition to recreational amenities, the community also is slowly attracting retail options, though plans for a more robust buildout of retail and entertainment are a few years away.
“As we gain more rooftops, we will get more traditional retail and entertainment,” McDonald said. “It is just a little early, but we are not too far off from those things happening.
Eastmark welcomed the Handlebar Diner this spring. The restaurant is adjacent to the park and is the first major food spot in the community.
DMB recently announced that Safeway has signed on to anchor Eastmark’s first major commercial development, a 15-acre project at Signal Butte Road and Point Twenty-Two Boulevard. The spot will feature the 65,000-square-foot grocery store along with an additional 135,000 square feet of retail.
DMB also is working to leverage the presence of Apple in the area to attract other employers to Eastmark, especially in technology fields.
“Jobs are a focus (for us),” McDonald said. “The more jobs we have, the more houses we can sell.”
Eastmark has sold nearly 2,000 homes since it opened five years ago and currently contains 16 nieghborhoods and homes from 11 builders.