I'm guessing there's a reason you can pick up McMansions for next to nothing, lack of jobs?
Not really, the developers and land investors (which is what I do/did.....stuck with!) always follow the baby boomers due to the size of the market. Short version, older people retire in warmer/dryer climates for health and lifestyle benefits. Arizona (and to a lesser extent Las Vegas) have experienced massive growth/sprawl over the past several decades. A positive appreciation value on homes/land was not only virtually guarranteed, but in the last decade could be extremely lucrative.
The gravy train was so bloated that here in Arizona with the previous lending laws (or lack thereof) it was literally an I.Q test if you *didn't* buy an investment home. It didn't really matter if you could afford it because even if you couldn't make the payments....(which you could since the rental market was very strong, still is), the home would be worth more....usually MUCH more than what you paid for it so you would just sell and make money. Lots of it.
It was not uncommon to purchase acreage just outside the currently developed areas, sit on it for 3-5 years and make stupid money when you sold it. You could buy a nice house in Scottsdale in the early 2000's for $300k-400k and sold it 3-5 years later near 1 million!. Not too shabby, especially when many times you had to put little or no money down (i.e no accountability) so there was no risk really. Just buy (sign the note) a home/land, wait some time and cash in. Only problem is EVERYBODY and I mean EVERBODY did this because it was legal and the money to be made was REAL.
Sooner or later of course all good things must come to an end but nobody wanted to jump off this bloated gravy wagon until it crashed. Which it did; head on!
So now we have something like 100 homes available for every ten people. Based on past annual state population expansion records (which are not the same anymore), we have a 10 year backlog of surplus inventory. Why?, re-read above!
There is no problem here, the area is beautiful, the weather is as good as it gets (if you like warm weather with no humidity, no bugs), we just have WAY too many homes available. Homes at all levels. You can buy million and multi-million dollar mansions for .35-.40 cents on the dollar. Even gorgeous 3000-4000 sf mini mansions that sold for $500k in 2005 are now priced around $180k. I'm not kidding!
If you have the ability to take advantage of this opportunity you should as I don't know if you will ever see such an imbalance is housing supply/demand = price again in your life time.
I would NOT suggest trying to use this situation as a get rich quick scheme by purchasing a bunch of homes and *hoping* for the best as it may or may not come but if you want a brand new-ish home at any level, the deals are simply irresistable.
Note: before anyone passes judgement on me, we paid cash for everything and while we did sell some property in the peak, we also got stuck with a bunch of stuff and will most likely lose our arse on them. Oh well,