To put it simply, now is a great time to invest in Arizona! Having lived and developed properties in Sedona, Phoenix, Chandler and Scottsdale for six years, I know it well. For those that have visited Arizona, it is known for its great shopping and golf courses. For me, it was the desert that always drew me back. Living here was a triathlon oasis and anyone who knows me well, knows that for half my life I competed in dozens of triathlon.
It seems like every day, news reporters tell us how poorly the US economy is doing. What these news reporters fail to recognize is that the United States remains the wealthiest country on the planet. The fact that the country is in a recession presents an opportunity to Canadians.
Many homes in Arizona are selling for less than it would cost to buy the dirt to build on. Most homes are insured at double the cost that they are actually selling for.
Once you have made the decision to invest, the first priority is to determine your goals. Are you looking for a second home to use as a vacation property? This scenario is simple and straight forward. Make sure you have a property manager to look after your home in your absence and look for a home in a gated community. If you are looking to rent the property to earn some income you can either choose a property close to downtown or in the outlying areas. Alternatively, there are even opportunities to 'rent back' to the original owner who has been unable to continue their mortgage.
Unlike in Vancouver, where you choose is not as important as the quality of the home itself. Because of the way Phoenix has developed over the years, many of the areas have a similar feel with major shopping centers never more than a few blocks away. I would recommend North Scottsdale if you are looking for something newer and Central Scottsdale for something close to the old shops and restaurants. That being said, buy into an area with good job growth and infrastructure that is already in place. A single level home is a good choice because Arizona is still a retirement state and you want to be able to attract older tenants.
Following, are a few pitfalls or things to be cognisant of. Be careful when buying with friends or family. Remember that they may have different goals than you do and always have a partnership agreement in place to resolve issues that may arise down the road. Have the home thoroughly inspected, especially if it has been vacant. Watch out for condominiums with high condo fees (Home Owner Association fees or HOA fees). Do not buy on leased land. Don't try to pick the perfect time to buy. Trying to find the bottom of the market is nearly impossible. Lastly, use a Realtor with at least 2 years of market knowledge. I know many experienced Realtors in Arizona and would be happy to refer you to one.