When Stephanie DiMaria
was in the midst of her 18-year career
in the semi-conductor industry 10 years
ago, she hardly expected that today
she’d be in the final stages of opening
a real estate office in the once
distant, dusty town of Maricopa.
But then again, she
hardly expected to be thrust into her
role as owner and broker of one of the
area’s largest real estate offices,
which happened when she took over for
her husband after he unexpectedly passed
away in 2002.
Now, she is expanding her
Century 21 All Star real estate
franchise which she and her husband
purchased in 1996 and which her husband
ran. Next week, DiMaria will open a
second branch of the firm in the rapidly
growing community of Maricopa, south of
the Valley in Pinal County.
There, she says, DiMaria
hopes to tap into a lucrative housing
market by providing a “brand name” real
estate agency to a community that is
largely devoid of corporate home
Buyers and sellers
benefit from big name Realtors because
of national advertising and the
well-trained, career real estate agents
that they employ, she said.
The city of Maricopa was
incorporated in 2003 and growth
immediately exploded as young families
and first-time homebuyers who had been
priced out of Tempe and Chandler and
began looking beyond the established
“You can get more house
for your money out there,” DiMaria said.
She also said the population is today
around 15,000 residents, with 3,500 new
home since incorporation.
“It literally just grew
up overnight,” she said, adding that she
expects it to grow as high as 400,000
over the next 20 years.
Rapid residential growth,
however, can often outpace
infrastructure development and retail
growth. Maricopa is noticing some of
that now, but is making strides to keep
up, DiMaria said.
Water, for example, is
provided by private companies.
“At this point, there’s
been no issue with water, but I think as
they grow with more people it would have
to be a topic that they’ll have to
eventually address,” she said, also
noting that Pinal County has higher
property taxes than Maricopa County.
With so many young
families making the move to Maricopa,
education is a key concern for many
buyers in the region. The Maricopa
schools are struggling to keep up with
the growth, DiMaria said, particularly
at the high school level.
The website for the
Maricopa Unified School District notes
three school construction projects
already in the works, including one new
elementary school and a junior high
school scheduled to open this fall.
The Kyrene School
District currently sends buses to
Maricopa to pick up elementary and
middle school students.
Karin Crider, Kyrene’s
director of federal and community
programs, said the district transports
about 250 students from Maricopa to
Lagos Elementary and Akimel A-al Middle
Crider also said that
most of those students moved to Maricopa
from within the Kyrene boundary areas
and did not want to change school
districts. Arizona’s open enrollment law
allows parents to enroll their children
in any public school, regardless of
boundaries, provided that school has the
capacity to accept the student.
“As the community has
grown we have seen more families who
move to Maricopa choose to enroll their
children in Kyrene schools,” Crider
“Many of these families
were previous Kyrene community members
who have moved to the community and
wanted their children to remain in KSD
One former East Valley
resident, recently married and pregnant
with her first child, looks forward to
raising that child in Maricopa.
“We were looking for a
house here in the Tempe, Chandler area
and it was significantly cheaper for us
to move farther away,” said Amy
Ahlstromer, a six-month Maricopa
She said she enjoys
living in Maricopa; that the area is
quieter than the Valley, but she doesn’t
feel isolated. New shops, restaurants
and entertainment venues are slowly
cropping up, with many more in the
works, she added.
Still, it is semi-rural
life. Not all the benefits of living in
the city are easily accessible.
“It makes you think
before you go anywhere,” Ahlstomer said.
“You can’t just run to target if you
need to. Going to Target is an
hour-long process minimum, because it’s
a half-hour to Target, a half hour back,
plus the time you spend there. So you
just have to be thoughtful about what
you do, make all your stops on your way
home from work.”
Getting to and from work
is itself an ordeal, Ahstromer added,
calling the traffic into the Valley
“horrible.” She spends at least an hour
commuting to work in Tempe each morning,
but most of the backup begins once she
hits the Valley, usually around the I-10
and Ray Road.
recommend a move to Maricopa if someone
is “looking for a different pace, a
“If they’re looking to
get away from the hustle and bustle,
then yes, I’d suggest moving out there,”
DiMaria’s Maricopa office
will open with 10 agents, a branch
manager and an office staff. She
eventually hopes the office will expand
to 25 or 30 agents who will serve Casa
Grande, Gila Bend, Stanfield and other
area communities as the growth radiates
Beyond that, she hopes to
eventually open an additional office or
two in locations yet to be determined.
She did, however, emphasize her
intention to keep the comparative size
of her franchise small, so she can
continue to provide a strong, supportive
atmosphere for the agents.
“I keep the office’s
population small, because we have a
closeness in our working relationship
with each other,” DiMaria said.
“And I think that when you’re in real
estate, when you’re in this business you
can kind of be just a number amongst a
lot of real estate agents, and its nice
to be a part of an office where we all
care about each other.”