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Canadian Home Owners in AZ questions
Old 07-06-2014, 02:15 PM   #1
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Canadian Home Owners in AZ questions


I'm looking at buying a small house/Condo/Townhouse/PatioHome in Arizona. One of the main reason to buy is our dog (Retriever size). It seems that when you have more than a lap dog, the rental market shrinks to nothing (even if you dog is extremely well behaved).

We are Canadians and my DW and I are looking to spend our winters there.

I've been a fair bit of research and understand the market and most legal aspects of Canadians owning property in AZ. We have visited and checked out areas, but still a on the fence between the Phoenix area and Tucson. We like the Oro Valley towards Sabino canyon and in Phoenix, we like Anthem, northern part of Glendale towards the east. Haven't looked at Mesa/Gilbert or Goodyear and the south west side. We will spend a month there this fall to really investigate and hopefully find something in the $200-$250k range with mountain views and low maintenance.

We are interested in your personal experiences doing this.

Thanks for all info in advance.

I'm only an animal with too many tools.
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Old 07-06-2014, 02:21 PM   #2
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For starters, here is a list of expense I foresee with owning a home in AZ. Property Taxes, HOA fees, Alarm system, Internet\TV, Home Insurance, Electricity\Water\Sewer\Gas, Trash, Termite spray. Am I missing anything? I have some 'ball park figures' based on some ready but would in interested in any of your costs.

Also, can anyone suggest a good Realtor? I see some 'Canadian specialists' on the web. Long Reality also seems to be the biggest down there.

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Old 07-06-2014, 02:56 PM   #3
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Even with an HOA you may still have landscaping costs and obligations. You need to equip and furnish the place, although you may be considering that as part of your initial outlay. Unless it's a condo you will have external painting, even if it is an HOA you may have outside obligations, such as roof and driveway cleaning. Ongoing maintenance and repair seems (at least to me) to be a bigger issue when you are away for long periods.

If you are a one car family and plan to drive back and forth you will have no car issues.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:29 PM   #4
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We have a Scottsdale Az condo and your anticipated expenses are accurate. I have RE taxes, Elect, Gas, TV (no internet), Home insurance*.

And like MichaelB posted, I have a vehicle there, and furnished the place.

Water, sewer, trash, termite spray, building insurance and all building/grounds/pool maintenance are included in my HOA fees, but different developments have different amenities included in the HOA fees.

* I have a Home insurance policy for contents only

I can't recommend a realtor - mine retired.

Anthem is a great choice - so is Tucson. I needed something closer to the airport because I take several short trips to Az a year. Travel to/from the airport to anthem/Tucson isn't a big deal if you only have to do it a few times a year.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:08 PM   #5
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I own rentals in the Phoenix area. Property taxes are generally 0.8 to 1.3 percent of the "market" value set by the assessor. The City of Mesa and the unincorporated areas don't have City property taxes, so they tend to be a little lower. Some newer areas, especially Buckeye, have started "community facilities districts" where you pay the cost of construction and maintenance of some of the infrastructure as part of your tax bill.

Insurance is a second home policy, make sure you are covered when the property is vacant for more than 30 days. My properties are rentals, so I don't know the cost. Maintenance varies widely with the age of the house. The HOA's are generally strict on keeping up with the landscaping, so plan on quarterly clean-ups and trims at $100-$150. At least once more in weed season. Stay away from grass yards.

When I left cars down there, the weather was hard on the batteries. Garaging them in 120 degree heat does that. I was down there every couple of months, so the gas didn't sit too long and the tires were run.

HOA's are variable. Older subdivisions are lower, in the $40's monthly. Newer ones are generally in the $60-$80 range. Some subdivisions are much higher, so ask before you bother to look at a property. There is one subdivision in Litchfield Park that's in the $150 range. The excuse is that the fire protection is included.

Most cities base the sewer rate off the water consumption and don't care that nine months out of the year the only water used is for landscaping. Some folks turn the water off if there is no landscaping that requires water. I don't do that because of evaporation. It's common to fill large buckets and leave them in tubs, showers and kitchen sinks to minimize the risk of drying out a trap and getting sewer gas in the house. Garbage service is another sore point with the cities.

Electric is needed to run any alarm plus it's advisable to run minimal A/C in the summer. I can't tell you how many foreclosures I saw in the downturn with patio doors shattered by the heat. It's less than $50 a month in the winter and will depend on A/C use in the summer. Again, some people are ok with shutting it off. The cities and utility companies charge turn on fees, generally $30 to $50. Most folks shut the gas off when they leave for safety reasons.

I had a 2,100 sf newer house that was vacant for a number of months while it was renovated and sold about a year ago. All in, it averaged a little over $400 a month (taxes, insurance, HOA, utilities, and landscaping maintenance).

Outlying areas are less expensive because they lack proximity to employment and amenities. Think about how you will spend your time before you decide on a location. The Canadians loaded up on houses in Maricopa in 2009-2012 because they were dirt cheap. Maricopa is fine if you don't need to go into the Phoenix area for anything. However, there is little to do in Maricopa, unless you like the casino. Houses in outlying areas are more difficult to sell and lose value the quickest when the market falters.

During the downturn, Canadians and investors were the only buyers for awhile. Suddenly every agent advertised themselves as an expert in working with Canadian buyers and/or investors. I would ask around your Canadian friends to find an agent that really is well versed in the complicated rules for Canadian buyers and sellers.

These numbers are for houses, not condos.
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Old 07-06-2014, 04:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by e86s54 View Post
Also, can anyone suggest a good Realtor? I see some 'Canadian specialists' on the web. Long Reality also seems to be the biggest down there.
I've used Long Realty in a couple property purchases/sales in SE Arizona and have had no problems but don't know any agents to recommend in the areas you're looking at. Even if you don't use them they do have a very good web site that I would recommend using for researching the properties for sale in the areas you're looking at. When you're visiting Tucson another area to look into is the Dove Mountain area in Marana. It is more of a higher end development but there should be some homes available in your price range. Most of the neighborhoods there are gated which may ease some of your security concerns.
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Old 07-08-2014, 06:34 AM   #7
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Thanks all! Some good info!

Interesting how many of us canucks go down there and how little forum like discussion there is (on this board or others). Was hoping to hear from some on their experiences. Will need more research.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:22 AM   #8
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To the OP: how are you planning to get your large dog down to AZ? It seems driving it is the only real option unless I'm missing something.
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:48 AM   #9
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We investigated buying in Scottsdale in 2007 before buying in Mexico. So my experience is old (7 years) and stunted.

Having said that, we have many acquaintances who happily own in AZ and Palm Springs.
For the fun of it...Keith
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Old 07-08-2014, 03:58 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by someguy View Post
To the OP: how are you planning to get your large dog down to AZ? It seems driving it is the only real option unless I'm missing something.
Not really on topic, but he can be either flown or driven.
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Old 07-08-2014, 11:04 PM   #11
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Welcome eh... Anthem is a nice community but a bit of a bubble, scottsdale has more options in my opinion. We just sold a townhome direct to buyer today using Zillow - have you looked there? I can recommend a home/car insurance agent who is knowledgable and multi "sourced" so she seems to recomend a good value solution to me and a few friends so far - her small office is listed under a few carriers in a google search - here is one internet presence - Weaver Insurance Agency Inc. - Phoenix, AZ 85029 | Mercury Insurance

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