There is one listing appointment I'll always remember...

As a new agent, I had the chance to win a big listing - the biggest I ever had. It was a beautiful home with great views. I studied and prepared every price comparison and data point. I even brought a more experienced agent with me. At the listing presentation, the homeowner asked me one simple question. Turning around in his expansive living room, he pointed at the mountain behind him and asked, "what's the name of that mountain?" I didn't know, and neither did my more experienced backup. Needless to say, I didn't win the listing.

That moment is when I learned a very important lesson:

mountains matter.

To some people mountains are just piles of rocks. But to a homeowner or potential home owner they are a distinct geographic treasure that gives our Valley visual character and amazing views. Being mountainside can also mean a huge premium in home value.

But how much value does proximity to a mountain add? That is a question that has vexed buyers and sellers forever. For landmarks that define our Valley, one might assume that there is a trove of research and data on how these amazing geographical features influence real estate pricing. As it turns out, there is a surprising lack of information out there on the subject. Of course, being the curious types, my team and I decided to change that.

Months later, after comparing maps and topology by hand and pouring over reams of listing data helpfully provided by the folks at Fidelity National Title, we have answered two important questions that have never truly been resolved:

1. What's the "value" of some of the Valley of the Sun's most notable mountains?

2. What's the price difference between homes that are "on" a mountain versus "off" a mountain?

Let's take a look...
First, our methodology. You can always skip down to the good stuff to see where a favorite mountain ranks, but here’s a bit about how we reached our final numbers.

Using a keen understanding of each area gleaned from having lived and sold real estate in the Valley for decades, we created two custom polygon maps of each area. For example, on Camelback Mountain, we drew a careful polygon around the more “elevated” areas of homes on the mountain, and a second polygon surrounding that with less elevation. We followed this procedure for each of the nine mountains, and our trusted partners at Fidelity pulled home sales in each area.

From there, we took the average price of sales for the homes on and off each mountain, and reached our numbers. How did the mountains fare? Keep reading to find out.

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$1,701,971

Perhaps the Valley of the Sun’s most famous mountain landmark, Camelback Mountain is centrally located on the border of Phoenix and Paradise Valley. With two well-known hiking trails, Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon, it is a magnet for tourists and locals alike to find the best panoramic views in the city.

There are a number of breathtaking custom homes on both the north side of the mountain, facing Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, and the south side, facing Downtown Phoenix and South Mountain. So how well do these homes hold their value?

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Camelback Mountain at $1,701,971.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Camelback Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $1,160,758.

Why do homes on and off this particular mountain hold such high value?

The answer lies almost entirely in location. There is no doubt that the features in the remarkable custom homes increase their value, but as we noted, Camelback Mountain is a highly desirable central location. With three resorts on either side of it (The Phoenician, Royal Palms, and The Sanctuary), as well as the hustle and bustle of Arcadia, the Biltmore, Gainey Ranch, and McCormick Ranch within an easy 10-15 minute drive, there is plenty to do in the area. Additionally, some residents might even find they can see the Valley’s premier mall, Scottsdale Fashion Square, from their home’s patio!

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$1,881,901

Located in the heart of Paradise Valley, Mummy Mountain is home to the highest prices on this list and to the most exclusive communities in the town. Famous Paradise Valley landmarks like El Chorro, the Paradise Valley Country Club, and the JW Marriott Camelback Inn and Spa all surround the mountain. Additionally, the location offers prime access to the hottest destinations in North and Central Scottsdale, while still being close enough to the city to reach games at Chase Field or Talking Stick Arena.

Paradise Valley is home to a number of professional athletes and other celebrities, and the luxurious lifestyle shows in the prices of the homes both “on” and “off” of Mummy Mountain.

There are a number of breathtaking custom homes on both the north side of the mountain, facing Paradise Valley and Scottsdale, and the south side, facing Downtown Phoenix and South Mountain. So how well do these homes hold their value?

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Mummy Mountain at $1,881,901.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Mummy Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $1,670,106. This figure is still significantly higher than homes “off” nearby Camelback Mountain, and almost as much as the homes “on” Camelback Mountain!

Why do homes on and off this particular mountain hold such high value?

In the case of Mummy Mountain, certainly location is a key factor, given the aforementioned easy access to luxury nightlife, shopping, and dining. With location, in the case of Paradise Valley, also comes the type of caché Valley residents can only find by saying, “I live in Paradise Valley.” It is an established luxury community, and its housing market is made up of some of the most unique, highly custom, elaborate mansions in the entire state. Lot and home sizes tend to be significantly larger than those in surrounding cities, and some of the features found in estates in the town include lazy rivers, 20-car garages, swim-up bars, and wine cellars. Homes in this area today are priced anywhere from $1M to $18M and up.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$945,457

Not far from Camelback and Mummy Mountains lies Piestewa Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak before being renamed after Lori Piestewa, an Arizona native who was killed in combat in 2003. Other than Camelback Mountain, it is one of the best known landmarks in Central Phoenix and can easily be seen from most of the Uptown Phoenix area. Piestewa Peak Park borders the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and boasts several challenging hiking trails, as well as homes all the way up the side of the peak.

This is one of the most easily accessible areas on this list, located right off the State Route 51 at the Glendale Rd/Lincoln Dr exit and at the northern ends of 24th Street and 32nd Street. The Biltmore neighborhood is located due south about five minutes, as well as the Biltmore Fashion Park, Camelback Colonnade, and a number of shopping and dining options. Additionally, the inventory is remarkably diverse for the area, with everything from Biltmore Estates to condos and townhomes dotting the landscape.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Piestewa Peak at $945,457.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Piestewa Peak proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $885,838.

Why are homes on and off this mountain calculated at those prices?

Easily the most central of all the mountains on this list, Piestewa Peak is a sort of scenic gateway between North Central Phoenix and Paradise Valley. Notable nearby amenities include the famous Wrigley Mansion, Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, and the Biltmore Fashion Park. Homes range from more modest, but spacious single-story, single-family homes at the base of the mountain to higher-up multi-level estates. Even a three-bed, three-bathroom home at the base of the mountain can be over 3,000 square feet, and most neighborhoods can only be accessed via a few major streets. Despite its central city location, the neighborhoods around Piestewa Peak maintain an exclusive, private feel and many homes in the area have amazing views of Downtown Phoenix.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$316,684

South Mountain is a beacon for travelers coming to Phoenix from Tucson, and the blinking lights on top of the TV/radio towers at its peak are a defining feature of the city. This may be the most challenging mountain range on the list to quantify because it hosts by far the most diverse array of housing inventory. Directly south of the mountain range is Ahwatukee, home to the Foothills Golf Club and where, as of writing, the highest listed home is on the market for $4.9M. On the north side of the mountain is the Baseline Corridor, one of the most affordable areas in all of Phoenix.

Notable nearby amenities include Rustler's Rooste, Arizona Mills Mall, and South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the United States. It is a hiking hotspot for Valley residents, with a variety of trails for all levels of fitness.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on South Mountain at $316,684.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of South Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in Ahwatukee and along the Baseline Corridor at $252,188.

Why are homes in this area priced this way?

As previously mentioned, the inventory and pricing in the area skew widely on both the higher and lower ends. While a house in Ahwatukee may be listed for $4M, another north of the mountain may be listed for $180,000. The averages no doubt include a number of outliers, but accurately represent the area’s housing options. Some areas surrounding the mountain are easily accessible, like Ahwatukee and other parts of South Phoenix directly off the I-10, State Route 60, and even the San Tan 202 freeway. However, others are longer drives off the I-10 to Los Angeles, off exits such as 16th Street and 7th Avenue all the way west to 27th Avenue. An exciting feature to note in this area is the 202 extension currently under construction, which will make going from the south side of the mountain to the north side much easier in the next few years.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$376,676

This instantly recognizable East Valley landmark is nestled on the Salt River between Mesa and Fountain Hills. It brings a little glimpse of Sedona’s red rocks to the Valley, and is the gateway to a number of hiking trails and campgrounds in the Usery Mountain Regional Park area of East Mesa. Not many restaurant or shopping destinations are in the immediate vicinity, though there are several options for both via a quick drive on the 202 Freeway. This area is known more for its serene, natural surroundings and the Las Sendas Golf Club, with incredible views of downtown Tempe and Camelback Mountain in the distance.

For the purposes of this report, the homes “on” and “off” Red Mountain fall primarily in and around the Las Sendas community.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Red Mountain at $376,676.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Red Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $322,708.

Why are homes in the Red Mountain area priced this way?

In the case of this area, it’s all about the lifestyle. While Las Sendas has a growing number of younger families, it has become a prime retirement destination in East Mesa. Living in Las Sendas provides easy access to the golf club and two restaurants, The Patio and The Grille. Additionally, residents both in and around Las Sendas are not far from kayaking/tubing on the Salt River, a large number of hiking trails, and plenty of walking paths, all of which allow residents to maintain a local active lifestyle. Las Sendas boasts plenty of luxury inventory, but both inside and around the community there are also a fair number of more modestly sized and priced single-family homes.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

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$736,605

A defining feature of the Cave Creek landscape, Black Mountain is the furthest north mountain community on this list. Homes on and around it enjoy easy access to the main road in Cave Creek, including legendary Arizona restaurant/rodeo ground Buffalo Chip, a number of local art galleries, and Frontier Town. Besides Red Mountain, Cave Creek and the surrounding area is one of the best Valley towns in which residents can really feel they live in the desert. Horseback riding and hiking opportunities abound in Cave Creek and Carefree, but luxury is just down the road at the Boulders Resort and Spa, too.

While getting to Black Mountain and Cave Creek is not the easiest or fastest journey, it is always worth it to experience true Sonoran Desert beauty.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Black Mountain at $736,605.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Black Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $493,415.

Why are homes in the Black Mountain area priced this way?

With one of the widest swings between "on" and "off" pricing on this list, it is mostly about the homes themselves. The location and natural beauty factor in here, too – of course, homes higher on the mountain area will have the best views – but the features and size of each home are also a key consideration, even more than in other areas. However, perhaps the most important factor in this swing and the pricing itself is that this area still has an abundance of land available for sale. As of writing, there is a 20-acre lot priced at $2M in the area, not far from a 2,000+ sq ft home priced around $500k and another home with 4,000+ sq ft priced at about $925K.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$754,209

This scenic corridor, running down Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd from Bell Rd and across Via Linda to the Sunrise hiking trail remains a bit of a hidden Valley gem. Since Frank Lloyd Wright and Shea Blvds are the only major thoroughfares running through this area, it has retained a remarkable amount of privacy for being so close to amenities in both North Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.

Several grocery stores, including Sprouts and AJ’s, dot the area and the 101 is only a 5-10 minute drive away to access Scottsdale Fashion Square, Kierland Commons, and more. More local restaurants are also popping up often, including a Hill Group favorite, CM2 Pizzeria & Bakeshop.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Scottsdale Mountain at $754,209.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Scottsdale Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $492,374.

Why are homes in the Scottsdale Mountain area priced this way?

Much like Black Mountain, the wide swing in on/off pricing has a lot to do with the premium features and sizing of the homes in the area. The location offers spectacular views from nearly every home looking down into Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and as far as Tempe. Homes and lots also tend to be larger, and buyers are hard pressed to find homes smaller than 2,500 sq ft. Infinity pools with a mix of desert and city views, walk-in wine rooms, expansive kitchens, and 4+ car garages are all common features in homes on and off Scottsdale Mountain. Additionally, most homes and gated communities, including Ancala and Scottsdale Mountain, are much newer than those in some of this report’s other mountain communities.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$1,368,790

The McDowell Mountain Range in North Scottsdale is home to some of, if not the most, expensive real estate in the entire Valley of the Sun. The Silverleaf community alone accounts for most of the estates that skew prices in this area higher. Meanwhile, prestigious communities like DC Ranch, McDowell Mountain Ranch, and Windgate Ranch dot the neighborhood with a variety of inventory on both ends of the spectrum.

Golfing is one of the primary drivers of residents to the area, as most communities boast their own championship golf courses and exclusive membership to residents. There is no shortage of scenery in the area either, with the McDowell Sonoran Preserve Gateway Trailhead located off Thompson Peak Pkwy. Additionally, there are an abundance of amenities nearby including several AJ’s Fine Foods, prime steak houses, Kierland Commons, the Scottsdale Quarter, and Desert Ridge all within a short drive. The area is still growing, with both renovations and new builds popping up all over the neighborhood.

For the purposes of this report, McDowell Mountain is considered the area north of Bell Road and Thompson Peak Pkwy encompassing Windgate Ranch, DC Ranch, Silverleaf, McDowell Mountain Ranch, and other nearby communities.

“On” the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on McDowell Mountain at $1,368,790.

“Off” the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of McDowell Mountain proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $747,203.

Why are homes in the McDowell Mountain area priced this way?

Pricing is a true marriage of location and features in this neighborhood. As mentioned above, the area offers stunning natural scenery and many home options with golf course access and views. Considered a sort of second Paradise Valley by residents, the McDowell Mountain area is removed from the city but still offers easy access to the 101 Pima Freeway for those looking to head downtown or to Old Town Scottsdale. Make no mistake either, this area is all about luxury. Even apartments and townhomes in the area are branded that way and truly match the “luxury” standard.

The wide variety of luxury inventory makes this an ideal place for both growing families and retirees to enjoy the best of North Scottsdale in their own tranquil estates. Additionally, the burgeoning of new builds in the area means most homes are move-in ready, and even those that aren’t quite up to more “light and bright” modern design standards are still fairly new. Pricing is skewed slightly higher “on” the mountain in this area because of Silverleaf’s custom estates and high sales prices.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

$1,591,693

Besides Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak may be one of the most recognizable topographic features in the Valley. It may also be the second most popular hike in the city, offering spectacular views of the Four Peaks Mountain Range, downtown Scottsdale, and North Scottsdale looking towards Cave Creek. Like Red Mountain, homes are not built directly “on” Pinnacle Peak, but neatly around it in communities including Troon North and Desert Highlands.

Pinnacle Peak is also home to the Valley’s only Four Seasons Resort, and the area offers the kind of seclusion found only at the farthest edges of the Sonoran Desert. This is an area made for the golf course lifestyle, and a popular area for winter visitors. It is a bit of trek from the 101 up Pima Rd to reach Pinnacle Peak, but anyone willing to make the drive is greeted with unrivaled natural beauty the entire way.

"On" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes on Pinnacle Peak at $1,591,693.

"Off" the mountain: Our team calculated the average sales price for homes off of Pinnacle Peak proper, but still surrounding it in the immediate area at $1,152,191.

Why are homes in the Pinnacle Peak area priced higher and with not a lot of range between the “on” and "off" mountain homes?

The entire area is one of extreme luxury and made up of several custom homes with premium features. The lower priced listings tend to still be larger single-family homes, made more for lock and leave lifestyles and buyers looking to downsize from huge estates to 3,000 square feet or less. Custom estates can be as large as 10,000 sq ft in the case of one current listing, and typically sit on large lots offering plenty of privacy. Still, because of the relatively remote location, even the higher-end homes with wine cellars, movie theaters, and 10+ car garages will often not see the kind of pricing in similar sized homes in Paradise Valley or the Silverleaf community.

The Hill Group recommends... click here.

Conclusion

After two and a half decades and over a thousand homes sold later, the memory of not being able to name a mountain still sticks with me. To this day, I make sure our team knows the name of every mountain or hill around any listing we take on. We do the research not only to make sure we are knowledgeable about the area, but because I know that it affects the price of the home (also our name is Hill, so that would be a little embarrassing if we didn't).

As I said before - mountains matter. If you are selling your home, your proximity and elevation can add significantly to the value of your home. For buyers, knowing what kind of premium is fair based on which mountain you are near or on means making a better offer.

In short, we hope this report has not only been interesting but that our research has added to your personal toolbox of knowledge to help you in your next real estate transaction. If you'd ever like to discuss what your property's location or elevation means in terms of price, or have a question about this report, don't hesitate to reach out to our team. Until then, enjoy those mountain views.

Reach out with any questions or for a FREE home valuation!

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The Hill Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is committed to providing buyers and sellers with the best possible service during their real estate transactions from start to finish. We understand that your home is one of the most valuable assets you own, and that is why it’s vital to have confidence in the team you choose. Our dedication to outstanding service, over six decades of combined team experience in the Arizona real estate market, and an aggressive marketing plan for sellers are three of the reasons clients choose us time and again.

We also rank among the top Realtors in the state and country.

Here are only a few of our recent accolades - even more reason to trust us with your real estate needs:

Named one of the 2016 100 Most Influential Real Estate Agents (Doug Hill) in Arizona by Real Estate Executive Magazine

Ranked #1 in 2016 among all Coldwell Banker sales teams in Arizona based on number of homes sold

Ranked among top 1% of all real estate agents in Maricopa County

Whether you're looking to learn more about that mountain in your backyard, find out your home's value, or get recommendations on the best dining and entertainment in Scottsdale and the East Valley, we're here to serve you.

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