Challenges of Going Local

avatar.jpgOver the past few weeks, the overwhelming theme on many real estate blogs has been the need to focus on local content – neighborhood overviews, real estate trends, the best place to get a pizza and wings (Pullano’s at 51st Avenue/Thunderbird gets my vote.) And there are many blogs that excel in this genre:

At times I’ve tried to switch the focus of this blog (and its predecessor) toward local real estate and local information. Results have been mixed, which at first seemed surprising given the wide tableau that is the Phoenix metropolitan area.

And then it struck me last night, a bolt of clarity in the midst of yet another night riddled and mind muddled by insomnia:

Phoenix’s most unique characteristic may be the utter lack of unique characteristics.

For the longest time, the phrase “Phoenix native” was an oxymoron. That has started to change with my children’s generation. But in general, most of us in their 30s moved to the Valley from somewhere else. In my case, it was a busing-forced exodus from the San Fernando Valley north of Los Angeles thirty years ago this May.

Teresa Boardman recently completed a series on unique architectural styles in the St. Paul area. With rare exceptions (most notably some of the historic districts such as Willo in downtown Phoenix), there is little unique residential architecture. Rather than Tudor or Victorian, most homes in Phoenix fall into the broader bands of tan stucco or light tan stucco.

Even two of our four major sports franchises, the types of entities around which allegiance and civic pride often are built, are transplants. The Phoenix Coyotes are here via Winnipeg, the Arizona Cardinals from Chicago once upon a time and then St. Louis. By contrast, the Phoenix Suns are local and boast the most loyal following – and not just because they’ve won 30 of their last 32 games.

This isn’t to say Phoenix is a vast cultural wasteland devoid completely of anything that makes life worth living.

Far from it.

Copper Square downtown boasts multiple theaters and museums. The Gammage Center on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe has had a succession of Broadway’s best over the past nearly two decades – Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Lion King, Miss Saigon, Wicked (and if someone can get us a touring company of Avenue Q … okay, not likely.)

The Phoenix Open is here. The Fiesta Bowl. The Barrett-Jackson classic car auction. And even my wife’s favorite, the Arizona Sting of the National Lacrosse League. We boast an array of dining options, though a coat and tie is required for a select few. Casual is the way of life here.

At the end of the day, perhaps it’s less about the blogger’s local area and more about the blogger. My passion is for real estate – market trends, technology, news (even from other areas.) Sad as it may be, discovering that Georgia has a new contract was just the sort of item to hold my attention for a while.

I live for this. But I don’t expect my readers to do the same. Rather, I’d like to think there will be enough here to satisfy more than one constituency – some come here for the real estate talk, others for the local information.

At the end of the day, local content is great in that it provides a sense of an area’s flavor. But from a business standpoint, am I better off attempting to prove my expertise about an area in which I’ve lived for 30 years (an expertise almost anyone can gain via Google) or my expertise in the career I have chosen, an expertise which takes a fair sight more work to gain?

Maybe I just need to spend more time at the dig site at the Papago Museum near Sky Harbor International.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Teresa Boardman 11 years ago

    Thanks for the mention. If you ever want to talk local send me e

  • Athol Kay 11 years ago

    Local is in the eye of the beholder it seems. I’d been agonzing over my lack of local content, when I read on Kris Berg’s blog that she had me down as a “very local” blog. Makes my head hurt.

  • Jonathan Dalton 11 years ago

    I’ll probably take you up on that at some point, Teresa … you’ve mastered it. For me, I’d have to mentally commit first and that’s been the trick.

  • Brad Nix 11 years ago

    I try to keep local “real”. I was born and raised in Cherokee County, GA and now I own a real estate company in the area. I love this area and I love real estate, almost as much as I love to blog about them both!

    Thanks for the mention.

  • Bonnie Erickson 11 years ago

    Jonathan, I’m still sorting out what “local” means. For Teresa, it comes naturally because she’s only lived in one place all of her life. For the rest of us who have been uprooted and moved from state to state, it’s harder to focus. I’ve done my focusing on learning about the place I live in now. It’s totally amazing what you see when you become a “tourist”! I love your analysis that “the Valley” is filled with a conglomerate of “immigrants”! What a great discovery. You can be the Columbuses of your area!