Your Guide to Arizona Real Estate
Making the decision to purchasing Arizona real estate is a big one. To get you started, here’s a roadmap to help you think through the major aspects of the journey you’re about to undertake.
Let’s begin with the most important questions you need to ask yourself before starting down the path to purchasing a property in Arizona – what, where & why:
- Many Canadians enter the Arizona marketplace looking for investment properties i.e. long term rentals that generate a positive cash flow OR that provide the greatest appreciation over time.
- Although price dictates location, there is a fine line between price paid and positive cash flow. We’ll point you in the right direction.
- Homes on the outskirts are among the most affordable.
- To be closer to major amenities, be prepared to spend more
- Consider school districts and school locations for future re-sale purposes and to attract tenants with school-age children.
- Hire a property manager to help you secure and manage tenants.
- Many tenants sign two year leases.
- If you’re only interested in long-term appreciation, pick a popular area that is closer into the city and with lots of surrounding amenities including quick freeway access.
SHORT TERM VACATION RENTAL:
- To be successful, you’ve got to think like a tourist.
- Pick an area that is close to an airport, shopping, golfing and restaurants etc.
- Canadians are coming to enjoy the outdoors so look for a nice yard.
- There’s lots of competition out there so choose nice furnishings.
- Discuss rate setting with a property management company OR compare your home to other similar properties on the VRBO website.
- Peak vacation rental season is January – mid April.
- Because this home is strictly for your personal use, think about the things you love to do then search around in those areas.
- Many love to live in communities near other Canadians so make sure to discuss with your realtor. There is a home and a neighbourhood to meet every budget so happy shopping!
- Too often, Canadians house hunting in Phoenix believe the ‘fishing stories’ that abound these days. Yes, it is still possible to purchase a home at 40-50% off market highs but, too often, people set their budget too low and have to adjust it upward once they see a home in its neighbourhood setting.
- That’s why you need to consider more than just price or what the pictures look like on the internet. Make sure to do your homework because, someday, you’ll have to sell your property so make sure to consider crime rates, school district, access to freeways and other important amenities.
- Do you know where you want to live? Have you looked at online listings to familiarize yourself with price points in different areas.
- It’s worth spending a few hours online looking at price points in the neighbourhoods you’re interested in. For instance, if you can’t afford at least $400k for a home in Scottsdale, there are plenty of other areas that are beautiful, too. If you’re set on Scottsdale, consider a condo which tends to sell in the $200k range.
- Keep in mind that there is an abundance of great communities in both the East and West Valley with a price point to fit every budget.
Now that you’ve considered the 3W’s, it’s time to get on with your action plan. Here are a few of Diane’s top tips to help you map out your next steps:
Being able to access this kind of expertise is critical when purchasing property in another country. For starters, she has one of the best teams in the business – Arizona seasoned yet well versed and able to speak ‘Canadian’! She also offers a wide and trusted network of suppliers and professional services on both sides of the border.
This step is all about money matters and the kind of common sense advice you’ll need to fully understand all the financials and cost ramifications of purchasing a home in Arizona.
By law, Arizona realtors are not able to provide advice on the specialized areas of taxation and title issues. This is homework you’ll have to do yourself so make sure to contact a cross-border accountant you trust.
For instance, you’ll want to explore the pros and cons of foreign vs. domestic borrowing, interest rate differences between the countries and the impact of fluctuations in the dollar. The bottom line is this – everyone’s financial circumstances are different so we’re sorry to say that there are no short-cuts on this one!
Just like in Canada, property taxes are based on the assessor’s valuation of your home. As a rule of thumb in Arizona, expect to pay somewhere between .8 and 1.5% of your purchase price. Unlike Florida, which charges foreign buyers extra, Arizona treats all property owners the same.
Another perk is that there are no sales taxes on the purchase of a home in Arizona.
Finally, the vast majority of communities in Arizona are locally governed by a Home Owners Association (HOA). In return for providing municipal services, homeowners are ‘taxed’ HOA fees on a monthly, quarterly basis or semi-annual basis. These vary greatly and can range from $300 per YEAR to $300 per MONTH. Make sure to do your homework!
The question we get asked most often is about the cost of running a household in Phoenix. While we can’t estimate pricing because of the wide fluctuation in sizes of homes purchased, we can offer the following outline of services you’ll want/need:
- Power – both natural gas and electricity are available in most communities, except in mountainous areas where only electricity is offered
- Water – city services are available just like in Canada
- Cable/satellite/phone – a number of companies provide all options
- Property Management – to care for all your needs including yard and home care
- Pest Control – most homeowners spray every three months
- Insurance & security – as discussed above
- HOA fees – payments vary so check before purchasing. Usually, they are paid monthly, quarterly or semi-annually.
- Taxes – as a rule of thumb, they run between .8 and 1.5% of the value of the property
- Most Canadians hire a property management company to care for their home(s) while they are away. Generally, you are able to pick and choose from their list of services. A basic package includes interior/exterior checks on your home for a flat monthly fee.
- Additional services offered include pool care, housekeeping and minor maintenance including pest control.
- You will want to keep your air conditioning on during Arizona’s hot summer months. When you leave for the season, set it between 85 – 90 degrees farenheit. Costs will depend on the size and energy efficiency of your home.
- A weekly pool service is a must during summer. Again, we’re happy to provide you with trusted contacts used by many other Canadians.
Finally, home security companies offer ‘home automation’ services which allow you to control the temperature of your home (as well as lights etc.) from the comfort of your home in Canada.