North Dakota oil boom fuels real estate sales in Arizona
Flush with cash from an oil boom and plentiful jobs, North Dakotans are snapping up homes 1,500 miles away in balmy Arizona, where prices have plunged since the real estate bubble burst.
“It boils down to the weather and taking advantage of the market,” says real estate agent Rocky Parra of HomeSmart Realty in Gilbert, Ariz., a Phoenix suburb.
He and wife Beverly, a native of Minot, N.D., have sold eight homes to North Dakotans in recent months. Parra is heading to North Dakota this month to meet with possible buyers.
“A lot of people have struck it rich,” he says. “Oil companies are coming in and buying businesses and land. They’re selling up there at the peak and buying down here at the bottom.”
Some want second homes. Others move outright.
Blaine Bjella, 41, still owns three auto body and truck accessories businesses in his native Williston, N.D., the epicenter of the state’s oil bonanza, which has pushed the state’s unemployment rate to the lowest level in the nation (3.4%).
When an oil company made him an offer for the 6 acres that his log home sat on, he couldn’t refuse. He moved his wife and three sons to a lake cabin he owns while they looked for a new house.
High demand is causing a shortage of real estate in western North Dakota. That inspired Bjella to look south, where his father-in-law lives.
“I saw what you could get for the dollar, and we bought a house here in Mesa,” Bjella says.