Within a month, two spec homes — one at a record-setting $30 million-plus and one at $20 million — sold in what promises to be one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The estimated value of the completed top-selling home would set a record for the state. In a highly desirable luxury area with skyrocketing prices and a few resident billionaires, what does it take to close the biggest deal? Hint: “Location, location, location” is a spectacular given, and “exposure, exposure, exposure” becomes the new selling mantra.
The Who: Rich Brock, president and founder of BedBrock Developers, has been a star player in Arizona’s ultra-luxury home-building market for almost two decades. Projects, such as Cameldale and Kachina in Paradise Valley, embraced modern designs inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright that perfectly fit the tones and shades of the rugged desert landscape.
Now Crown Canyon Estates, the company’s most iconic and exclusive project, would up the ante by creating custom homes in a private and pristine canyon setting starting at $11 million. To get the project moving, builder Brock reached out to veteran sales agents Chris Morrison and Kirk Linehan at Scottsdale-based RETSY, one of the fastest-growing tech-based brokerages in the area. Both started their careers early in the real estate market (Morrison, who bought his first home at 18, is ranked consistently in the top 1% of real estate agents nationally), both had more than two decades of experience and both were successful at finessing ultraluxury property deals.
“Ultimately it comes down to having salespeople who have been very knowledgeable in the luxury space,” Morrison says. He points to Linehan’s track record of exclusively dealing in the luxury price range, serving a clientele of CEOs and top athletes. “Having that person showing up to the property is part of the equation.” The two joined Silje Garner at BedBrock to create a team that would push out targeted marketing and widen exposure—a strategy that paid off.
The What: The spec home on five acres estimated to be worth $30.6 million is considered the “crown jewel” because it’s located at the highest point in the canyon, offering sweeping views of landmark Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak, and it’s the costliest. Known as Amethyst (all the lots are named for precious gems), it will be one of a dozen homes to be carved into an unspoiled canyon surrounded by a mountain preserve. Stratton Architects of Paradise Valley designed the home. A second lot, Quartz, also sold around the same time for $20 million. (Prices reflect what the built home would sell for on the market.) A third lot named Onyx will be the site of Brock’s home.
The Where: Crown Canyon takes its name from a crown-shaped rock outcropping in the canyon. The organic modern homes designed by Drewett Works, Swaback (founder Vernon Swaback was a young apprentice of Wright’s) will blend in with the natural setting and optimize views of the mountainous terrain. “This is a historic project in Arizona, and I am working to make the architecture historic as well,” architect C.P. Drewett told Iconic Life magazine last year. The Sonoran Contemporary style emphasizes an indoor-outdoor lifestyle that honors the surroundings.
The homes under construction are located on private land within the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, a 7,000-acre group of parks designed to protect the natural environment around the city’s mountains. Tall saguaro cactus and shrubby palo verde and mesquite dominate the sparse landscape. Residents will have access to a private trail that leads into the preserve but otherwise lead a life with privacy created by natural boundaries.
The How: Morrison and Linehan are used to selling top properties with hefty price tags. With Garner, they focused on increasing exposure and reach for the property. The buyer of the $30-plus million spec home had seen the property a year earlier but RETSY’s advertising made an impact. “Our back-end marketing campaigns are directly responsible for why he came back and opened up the conversation,” Kirk said.
One of the most successful moves was hosting an upscale event at the remote site. Golf carts whizzed invitees — more than 200 of them — up the hill and into the canyon to see the unique property and stop by a specialty taco truck and bar. The event was a hit. Buyers of both lots had turned out to take a look.
“It was really a team effort,” says Kirk. “It’s about getting a person engaged, but really finding out what their desires and needs are and being able to put a package together that meets those needs. It’s one thing to have an incredible property but it’s another thing to get that incredible property married up with that incredible buyer.”
That’s what happened. Morrison and Linehan understood that this would be a legacy home for the CEO interested in the property. Over time, the buyer went from visiting the site, looking at a lot that was almost half the price, then moving up to a custom home on a good lot, to landing on the top spot. “When you’re spending $30 million, buyers want what they want,” Linehan says. “In the infancy stages, we were able to take what was thought of by the architect along with what this buyer wanted to do.”
The Moment: Reach meant everything, Morrison and Linehan say. RETSY was able to leverage its business partnerships to bring exposure on a large scale. Both buyers were local, but the trickle-down buzz around the event and the sales have generated more interest in the property. They don’t discount the importance of having a reputation in the industry. “That buyer had an agent, but they were interested in hearing what Kirk had to say about the community,” Morrison says.