Perspective After 35 Years in the Desert

Before I became a real estate professional, I was a human being. This could come as a shock to some, but there it is.

When I was growing up on the Dobson Ranch in Mesa, there were apartments about a half-mile away – the Haystacks, so named because they greatly resembled barns. Don’t bother looking for them anymore; like most everything else in my old neighborhood, the names changed long ago. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember thinking that there couldn’t be any kids living there because how could kids live in an apartment and not have a yard? It didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

That’s one of the reasons why I shake my head sadly when I read that it’s the government or the National Association of REALTORS who are selling the American people on the concept of home ownership, as if it’s a totally foreign concept that wouldn’t be considered if not for the suggestions of others. Granted, I’ve always been more than a little off, but I’m reasonably certain I wasn’t thinking much about federal housing policy or NAR advertising when I was nine years old and looking at these apartments.

I also have stood by and watched with some confusion as people walked away from their homes, not because they couldn’t afford them, but because they lost value. By this thinking, anyone who buys a new car should leave it running in the intersection outside the dealership because they’ve already lost 10 percent of the value.

It’s not just me that thinks this way. I’m incredibly happy that my parents also thought the same way when they purchased their house in Mesa. (Actually, they rented it briefly beginning on May 17, 1977 – 35 years ago today, before purchasing it from a real estate agent back in the days when disclosure wasn’t what it is now.)

Whether the home was going to appreciate in value was less important then than providing a place to raise me and my alleged sister (I’m told I have one, though the five-year difference in age easily could be five decades much of the time.)

It was in that backyard that we celebrated following my bar mitzvah and following my three graduations, from Dobson High School, Mesa Community College and Arizona State University. It was there that I wrestled with Max, the best dog in the history of the world. I swam with friends, a developed a crush on my neighbor, I poked countless staple and thumb-tack holes in the walls, I listened to KOPA-FM and nightly Top 8 at 8.

Is it was at that house where I pulled “weeds” (read: Bermuda grass growing through the river rock), moved far too much dirt to then cover the rocks, mowed the front lawn and cleaned up after Max, the best dog in the history of the world. I also helped my father with home projects for about 35 seconds at a time, just enough for him to realize it was more productive to leave me in front of my Texas Instruments computer than to put a hammer in my hands.

My daughter rode her bike there, flew her kite there, and now, with step-brother in tow, ignores my presence and heads straight to the pool when we are there.

Back when we moved here, the Superstition Freeway (that’s the 60, kids) ended at Price Road. Guadalupe was a dirt road past Alma School. Fiesta Mall wasn’t there. Dobson High School wasn’t there. The Goodwill on Guadalupe was a Lucky’s; the Albertsons on Dobson and Baseline was an ABCO and the B of A was an Arizona Bank.

For that matter, Glendale wasn’t what Glendale was when I moved to the West Valley in 1991. No Arrowhead Towne Center, no Peoria Sports Complex, no Westwing or Sonoran Mountain Ranch or Fletcher Heights or Ventana Lakes or anything in Surprise except for the original townsite and Kingswood Parke.

A lot changes in the span of 35 years.

About the only thing that remains consistent is the heat. And the notion that sometimes buying a house has to do with a lot more than just the dollars and cents.



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