Over the past several months a number of my past clients have asked me about real estate opportunities in the U.S. The rising dollar, combined with reduced prices in some beautiful U.S. cities has many Canadians considering a purchase in their favorite vacation spot. A friend of mine from Phoenix recently asked if he could share some information about buying property south of the border, so I jumped at the opportunity to have him as my guest. I’d like you to meet Jonathan Dalton, and his partner, Toby. J
Greetings from Phoenix!
I’m Jonathan Dalton from RE/MAX Desert Showcase and Dalton’s Arizona Homes Blog. Norm was nice enough to let me drop in and talk directly to you folks and I’m quite appreciative. As I write we’re in the middle of a cold snap – it’s down to 53 degrees here, which translates to somewhere around 12 Celsius. But that sounds much colder than it should so I’m going to stick to 53.
One of the big stories of real estate down here in the Valley of the Sun is the surge in Canadians looking to purchase second homes here, usually for themselves and sometimes as seasonal rentals (even though the high season is the same time of year someone from the land of snow probably would rather be here.) I’ve spent most of the last six months acquainting folks from Alberta and Saskatchewan with the Phoenix area and some of the particulars of buying homes down here.
There seem to be a lot of seminars up there telling people what they need to know about buying in the United States, though it seems like the seminars really work out best for the hosts collecting the checks at the door. The basic information’s good but there’s a lot of small stuff you ought to know before you buy in the United States and the Phoenix area in particular.
With any luck (and possibly a bribe or two) Norm will let me write about these in a little more depth sometime. But here are some basic things you should know:
1) The Phoenix real estate market is big. It’s really big. From Surprise in the northwest to Queen Creek in the southeast is somewhere around 65 miles one way. It’s hard narrowing down the search so …
2) Know what you like to do. If you’re into golf (which we do year-round here), golf is everywhere. If you want to watch hockey, come to the West Valley. If you like off-Broadway productions stay closer to Arizona State University in Tempe. What you like to do will impact where you ought to look.
3) Speaking of such things, Queen Creek is in a different county than Phoenix. We’re in Maricopa. Queen Creek is in Pinal. Property taxes are far higher in Pinal County than in Maricopa. The local paper ran an article about Canadians buying in Florence which is even further south than Queen Creek. Not sure if the sales agent ever mentioned taxes.
4) And on that note, don’t go into a new build without representation. Agents at new builds will tell you what they have to tell you but not necessarily everything that you might need to know.
5) Lastly, financing isn’t nearly as complicated as it seems … if you find a lender who knows what they’re doing with Canadian buyers.
Timing is an interesting concept from what I’ve seen with my clients. Not only are you guessing the direction of the local market but you’re also gambling on the currency exchange. A small decline in the Phoenix real estate market actually could be less costly than a drop in the loony. With our dollars at parity, that seems to be the main reason folks are looking more than normal.
I’ve got a penchant for rambling as you’ll discover if you visit my blog so I’ll wrap this up here. Hopefully I didn’t wear out my welcome and I’ll be back again. Thanks much for allowing me to interrupt and I now return you to Saskatchewan real estate news already in progress.