The Power is Now

Phyllis Kern celebrates 40 years in real estate | Business | fhtimes.com – Fountain Hills Times

Phyllis Kern of Kern Realty remembers a time when there were only a few miles of paved roads in Fountain Hills. Access to North Palisades Boulevard was accessible by horse and dirt was hauled up Golden Eagle Boulevard to fill in the canyons for development. With nearly 40 years of selling real estate, Kern still sees Fountain Hills as a small community akin to the farm town of Owatonna, Minn., that she grew up in.

“Fountain Hills sells itself. You don’t really have to promote it, it just happens,” Kern said, who in 1977 began visiting Fountain Hills with her family every winter.

Deciding they couldn’t get enough of this desert paradise, Kern and her family moved to Fountain Hills in 1983, where she began selling travel agencies and beauty salons with her sister-in-law.

“I was going broke in a hurry,” Kern recalled. “It just wasn’t my bag.”

Kern decided to focus her efforts on selling real estate in Fountain Hills which, at the time, comprised of roughly 2,000 residents.

“When I first started out, it was a one-page contract,” Kern said, explaining the process of purchasing a lot of land in the ‘80s. “Now it’s upwards of 20-24 pages all saying the same thing, just in different variations.”

Kern says being around for 40 years has its downsides, the main one is being a witness to a number of businesses coming and going. However, living and working in a community for 40 years also has its upsides, namely having enough time to see one’s achievements come to fruition and leaving an impression on the community that anyone would be proud of.

“I just love to give back,” Kern said. “It’s fun to achieve things and get things to happen.”

Kern described the burgeoning decade of the ‘80s where bare land was being sold for $8,000 to $14,000 per lot. In the ‘90s, Kern was “quite a heavy hitter,” at one point holding 64 lots in escrow from 18 different builders.

“Talk about playing a juggling act,” Kern said, amused.

Despite the sterling growth through the town’s nascent years, nothing quite compares to last year when Valley housing prices were a national discussion. According to Zillow’s home value index (ZHVI), typical property values in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale Metro grew by 30% from April 2021 to April 2022, leading the nation in home price increases for nearly three years until falling to Tampa in March of this year.

“I was like an order taker,” Kern recalled.

She added that she is uncertain Arizona will see a market quite like it any time soon. After a banner year for Arizona real estate, Kern says the market has cooled off due to interest rate hikes to tame rampant inflation.

As one of the early residents of Fountain Hills, Kern has become a well-known community leader, being named the Chamber’s 1995 Business Person of the Year and earning a spot in the Lower Verde Valley Hall of Fame for her numerous contributions to Fountain Hills and the surrounding areas. She is the current vice president of the Noon Kiwanis Club and will serve as the president of the club next year.

“It’s something I’ve never done,” Kern said. “But nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Other projects Kern had a leading or major role in include the Chamber of Commerce building, the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Fountain Hills Skate Park, the Circle of Peace Sculpture for the RMS Realtor Group, and Kern Entertainment LLC, a local business that creates events and rents out a state-of-the-art mobile stage that has been utilized by countless events in town.

“There’s been a lot of people we’ve helped along the way, and they’ve helped us along the way, too,” she added.

Kern attributes her success to her community and to her family. Her daughter, Lisa Kern, will take over the family business along with Meredith Spring, who runs the rental side of Kern Realty. When she retires in the next few months, Kern looks forward to traveling and spending time with family.

“I have oodles of nieces and nephews back in Minnesota,” Kern said excitedly, who is planning a family reunion later this year.

Despite 40 years of seeing her town grow around her, in Kern’s eyes, Fountain Hills is still the same small community she laid eyes on in 1977. For Kern, the best part of working in Fountain Hills is the small-town atmosphere; And growing up in Minnesota farm country, she said she feels right at home.

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