Buying into Arizona

Purchasing a piece of Arizona, can lead you into experiencing a real horseman's paradise.

Purchasing a piece of Arizona, can lead you into experiencing a real horseman’s paradise.

Canadians love buying Arizona real estate. You’d know this to be true if you have a friend or family member who disappears to their “other” home south of the border when the weather begins to turn cold. This winter, instead of going through your Facebook privacy settings to prevent their vacationing photos from coming up into your newsfeed, ask yourself, “Why am I not in Arizona?”

Kathy McNiven

Arizona Home: Maricopa AKA “Little Canada”

For many snowbirds, purchasing a home in Arizona has given them their “happy” back. Since purchasing property in Arizona, Kathy NcNiven and her husband say their whole world dramatically began spinning in a better direction, and put the “smile” back into their lives.

“Coming down to Arizona totally changes your relationship,” says Kathy. “You get to be who you are.”

After buying their piece of land in the desert sunshine, McNiven said she learned how to smile again. It wasn’t just the warm sun and random afternoon happy hours that made the biggest difference. Living closely with your neighbors is normal here and it’s unusual to find someone in their house by themselves during the day.

“It seems like this community sucks you out of your house and puts you into activities, whether you want to be or not,” says McNiven.

Wine with dinner on their patio at the McNiven’s casa in Maricopa is a whole world away from an often hectic and frozen life in Alberta. After falling in love with this carefree lifestyle this area offers, the McNivens decided to purchase more properties and take advantage of other real estate options around the Thunderbird area.

“The first purchase was very impulsive. We came down to Arizona and we really didn’t like what we saw until we came to Maricopa.”

After reselling several properties, NcNiven explained they have no vision of ever selling their prized home in Maricopa.

“I am not sure of what the value would be right now, as we have no intention of selling. I don’t know what other parts of Arizona are like, but the sense of community in Thunderbird County and Papigo is absolutely incredible.”

Purchasing a home in the United States may seem like a stretch for some, but for the McNivens, the lifestyle and contentment they found in the state was well beyond what they had originally bargained for.

Kathy McNiven says the Arizona lifestyle, has put the word "happy" back into her life.

Kathy McNiven says the Arizona lifestyle, has put the word “happy” back into her life.

Val Nelson

Arizona Home: Wickenburg, AKA “The team roping capital of the world”

After several winters spent in Arizona ‘rv’ing’ it from her horse trailer, Val Nelson of Cochrane, Alberta, decided it was time to buy into the dream. Being competitive in the barrel racing world and having the ability to be away from Canada’s climate for months at a time gave Nelson the option of making this vision a reality.

With a bit of a background in various equestrian areas in the state, Nelson felt drawn to the town of Wickenburg. Besides the vast picturesque desert scene surrounding Wickenburg, the area is a bustle of horse activity, adorning restaurants and trendy shopping, which Nelson was aiming to take in.

“The people are so welcoming and the downtown is busy and safe – even at night when they have goat roping and dances off Main Street,” explains Nelson. “It’s very festive!”

When the opportunity arose in the spring of 2013 for Nelson to purchase a quaint piece of horse property, it did not take long for Nelson seal a deal. Being a realtor herself in Alberta, she knew that this chunk of paradise was the deal for her and now was the right time to buy.

“The dollar was at par, I just transferred cash. It was that easy.”

The deal could not have gone any better for Nelson. She did her homework before buying and found exactly what she was looking for in Arizona.

“Shop out the comparables or get a realtor who will find you a deal. I am a Canadian realtor, however I found an American realtor – Penny Arthur, who enjoys deal shopping too!”

As the cold blows into Canada this winter, Nelson will be nestling into her southern hideaway. By having this new home, she hopes to save money on renting and also gain a return on her initial investment.

“It saves me paying RV and horse board fees of $1,200 per month. When I sell it, hopefully it will retain its value or increase if the economy picks up.”

Although Nelson doesn’t swing a rope, she is an avid barrel racer. Wickenburg ‘s new Rancho Rio arena is scheduled to run Women’s Professional Rodeo Association co-approved jackpots throughout the winter and Nelson undoubtedly will be there. Having her horse in shape all winter will give her the extra edge on the competitions this spring in Alberta. This of course is just an extra bonus to finding a “vacation” home in Arizona.

Val Nelson purchased a horse property in Wickenburg in part to be close enough to participate in regular barrel racing jackpots all winter.

Val Nelson purchased a horse property in Wickenburg in part to be close enough to participate in regular barrel racing jackpots all winter.

Tim Bishko

Arizona Home: North Scottsdale AKA “The West’s most western town.”

In the Salt River Valley, known as the “Valley of the Sun,” Tim Bushko found his piece of horseman’s paradise. Within just a few square miles of where he purchased his property, resides a hot bed of the industry’s premier cutting, reining and cow horse trainers. For Bushko, this is awesome as his second home fits perfectly with his equestrian obsessions.

With all the abundance of arenas and horse activity (right at his fingertips), the Alberta native describes the north Scottsdale area as, “Fantastic, for whatever equine fix you need.”

Dunning, Fappani, Cushing, Wood, you name it – they all train right out of Bushko’s backyard. Being a part of this elite equine community while on vacation is exactly what most people only dream about. But for this part-time Albertan, it is a reality.

Aside from being a mecca of performance horse activities, the Scottsdale area also presents a variety of trendy, upscale amenities, with a sense of traditional southwestern character.

“North Scottsdale is a little less urban (than downtown Scottsdale),” explains Bushko. “It’s quiet, large lots, close to the things I like.”

In the winter, Bushko travels from his Priddis, Alberta home to his Arizona escape quite frequently. Unlike some snowbirds, once or twice a year is not enough for him. He likes to get the most of his southern property throughout the year. With a handful of top trainers and the best western amenities at your doorstep, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the pristine qualities within the Scottsdale area.

Brenda and Stuart Derochie

Arizona Home: Chandler AKA

Leave the livestock behind. Home away from home for ranchers Brenda and Stuart Derochie is within a suburban gated community called Solera. Besides having convenient access to Arizona’s horse world knocking at their door, the Derochies didn’t purchase this property to share with their horses. Instead, this piece of paradise is meant to enjoy with their expanding family.

“We first bought in 2007,” says Brenda Derochie. “Our first home was a two bedroom home just off the second hole of the golf course. But as our family grew with grandkids, we decided to buy the house across the street that had three bedrooms, a den and a swimming pool.”

This piece of heaven is a large crossover from their world in Alberta. The Derochie’s life in Canada includes a small cow/calf operation, five miles west of Claresholm, Alberta. After 28 years of owning Frontier Western Store in downtown Claresholm, the Derochies sold the business and are enjoying semi-retirement on their piece of sunshine paradise. Despite being deeply rooted in the western lifestyle, the Derochies opted for a true vacation style home, without the burden of upkeep of animals.

“We had originally thought of buying a horse property, but with us not being there all winter the gated community was a better choice for us. There are many places you can board your horses and rope at without owning the property.”

In order for Stuart to rope during the winter, the Derochies were hauling their horses to Arizona. But the Derochies now stick to Arizona’s other extracurricular activities.

“Stuart has had two back operations and he is unable to rope anymore. So mainly right now we golf, hike and he is an avid hunter and shooter also. He eventually would like to do more riding in the desert.”

Without animals to tend to, life here is much more like a vacation. The Derochies’ home is conveniently located on the number three hole of the Lone Tree Golf Course. With no horses in their backyard, they can step right out their door and go golfing. For the Derochies, this is how to vacation in the winter.

Before You Buy

Four key tips for Canucks thinking of an Arizona location from Wickenburg horse property realtor, Penny Arthur.

1) See it in person: Distance sometimes makes it a necessity, especially on a property new on the market that fulfills all of our criteria and is priced well enough that it’s not likely to stay on the market for long. However, it’s best not to make offers on property you have not viewed in person.

2) Be ready: Have your financing planned out and approved in advance so when you see that good deal you are ready to move. Good deals don’t last long.

3) Think for yourself: Just because you have friends in a certain area doesn’t mean it is a good investment. Do some investigating on your own.

4) Utilize the fine print: After writing a contract you have a 10-day period to inspect your home and area- use it!

– Find out more about Wickenburg horse properties at Arthur’s website, www.wildwestwickenburg.com

Other Helpful Tips

What about them varmints?

A monthly must of desert living, spraying for pests in your living quarters can cost around $45 a visit and targets scorpions, spiders and termites.

Taxes when selling

Any income you earn in the United States has to be reported to both the U.S. and Canadian governments, including selling your Arizona property. At that time you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is a nine digit numbered issued by the Internal Revenue Service, to those who do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. Unfair, we know, but expect to be taxed by a percentage on profits made by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

How to Escape to Little Canada

Arizona Horse Country

Wintering in Arizona is a horse lover’s dream.

Snowbirds have many good reasons for wanting to purchase property in Arizona, to escape North America’s cold northern climate in the winter. So much so, that a small area of Maricopa has self described itself as “Little Canada.” However purchasing a foreign-property can still seem pretty intimidating to Canadians. Finding the answers to all your questions may seem overwhelming, but it can be done.

A very valuable Canadian resource in the Pinal County, Maricopa, Casa Grande, Province, Rancho El Dorado, Thunder Bird Farms and Hidden Valley areas is Mary Ann Toohey, of Maricopa Real Estate. She is not only a real estate agent, but a former Canadian, avid horse person and past Canadian Finals Rodeo Qualifier. For many of today’s top rodeo contestants and performance horse enthusiasts, Toohey has helped them to make their Arizona dream a reality. On her website you will find homes for sale, information for sellers and community links and info, for the Maricopa and Casa Grande areas. If you are in the market for a winter escape, Toohey has a wide variety of listings to suit almost any price bracket.

Canadians have unique questions for realtors. After several decades working within the Arizona real estate business, Toohey’s most common concerns from Canadians include:

How do I get financed? Both American and Canadian lenders do have financing packages for Canadians looking to buy homes in the U.S. Your down payment and lending terms vary according to which institution you choose, income levels and the purpose of your purchase. There are lots of options available, you just need to chose what you can afford.

How am I taxed as a Canadian, if I decide to sell my property? Any income you earn in the United States has to be reported to both the U.S. and Canadian governments, including selling your Arizona property. At that time you will need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). This is a nine digit numbered issued by the Internal Revenue Service, to those who do not qualify for a U.S. Social Security Number. Expect to be taxed by a percentage on profits made by both the U.S. and Canadian governments.

If you are seeking more important tips on purchasing property in the United States, check out the Jan./Feb. edition of the Western Horse Review and check out Toohey’s website for affordable horse properties for sale.

Maricopa Real Estate

This horse property located in Maricopa, is listed at $184,900.

Cowboy Town, Arizona

STORY & PHOTOS BY DEANNA KRISTENSEN

West USA Real Estate

Because of the year-round mild temperatures, Arizona horse properties often need little more than a tack shed and shade from the sun.

Whether you are a roper or an avid horse person, Wickenburg, Arizona, is a horse lover’s paradise. Penny Arthur at West USA Realty is not only an avid horse person, but has found buyers for some of the most beautiful horse properties in the area. We spent some time with Penny and asked her for advice on buying property in the area.

Wickenburg, Arizona

Try to imagine not shovelling snow next winter. Instead, envision yourself relaxing by the pool at your Arizona hideaway.

Four key tips for Canucks thinking of an Arizona location from realtor, Penny Arthur.

1. See it in person: distance sometimes makes it a necessity, especially on a property new on the market that fulfills all of our criteria and is priced well enough that it’s not likely to stay on the market for long. However, it’s best not to make offers on property you have not viewed in person.

2. Be ready: have your financing planned out and approved in advance so when you see that good deal you are ready to move. Good deals don’t last long.

3. Think for yourself: just because you have friends in a certain area doesn’t mean it is a good investment. Do some investigating on your own.

4. Utilize the fine print: after writing a contract you have a 10-day period to inspect your home and the area – use it!

Wickenburg Horse Properties, Arizona Horse Ranch

Arizona style is eclectic and modern.  

For horse lovin’ snowbirds, Wickenburg is a winter paradise. With several major arenas within a three mile radius and endless horse trails – everyday is a good day to ride in Wickenburg. See more Wickenburg horse properties at Arthur’s website, www.wildwestwickenburg.com

Arizona Real Estate

POSTED BY INGRID SCHULZ

You might have guessed by now that a bit of my family’s winters have been spent in Arizona over the past few years. We purchased a house northeast of Scottsdale three years ago, in the center of a landscape brimming with bank-owned properties.

Real estate deals then, and certainly still today – as there remain many bank-owned properties on the market – abounded, and Canadian horse owners of all ages gained snowbird status – perhaps much earlier than many of us might have dreamed possible.

One of Phoenix's equine highlights of the year is the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, held every February.

In the Phoenix area it all began with a housing swell, which propelled the economy through the creation of a builder’s boom, construction jobs and the resulting real estate market. But, even as an estimated one-third of the population were supported by this economy, it proved to be false; when the buying stopped, the jobs dried up, real estate plummeted and the Valley of the Sun ground to a halt.

In December, 2008, there were less than 2,000 real estate sales in the Phoenix area, and over 58,000 homes on the market. The glut was overwhelming and the deals were plentiful, particularly as many properties turned over to banks, their owners unable (or unwilling) to carry mortgages three times the current market value of their home.

Dean and I first visited the Cave Creek and Rio Verde areas in the winter of 2008-09, on the advice of a friend who suggested it was a horsetopia of a kind. It was.

Trails to walk and ride are easy to find in this part of the country.

We fell in love with the desert, the architecture and the beautiful horse ranches and facilities in the area east of Cave Creek, along Rio Verde Drive.

It's just so tough to ride in these conditions.

Here, we were surrounded by parkland on three sides, there were arenas in every direction, no wind, no relentless dust blowing up in your face, and no insects. If you ride anywhere in an outdoor arena in Canada, you are privy to what I speak of. Itwas utopia.

The desert blooms.

The hunt began. It wasn’t a problem finding horse acreages to view. It seemed like every other one had a “for sale” sign propped up in front of it.

One of the many distressed homes we viewed back in '09.

With the help of Claudia Jordan, a Rio Verde/Cave Creek real estate agent, we began searching in earnest. Claudia’s expertise in the area helped educate us in details like flood plains and building styles.

This property was a possibility, until we found a good portion of the property was flood plain designated, making any plans to build a barn or other structure difficult.

She negotiated short sale and bank-owned situations for us. She set up a handy online portal for us, where we could log in and view homes in our area, as soon as they came on the market. The portal allowed us to view details and photos of the home, map it and view important details such as previous sales of the home and it’s progression through the market. This was invaluable, as of course we were often shopping from our Canadian base. (As it transpired, the property we purchased was on the portal, and therefore the market, for less than 24 hours. Back then, timing was everything!)

We love the southwestern style.

Claudia has an excellent website, Rio Verde Lifestyle, which she maintains regularly with monthly reviews of real estate activity in the Rio Verde area, as well as horse news, and her latest listings.

Claudia traipsed with us through so many properties. I’m not sure how we can ever repay her patience with us.

Claudia (on left), patiently humoring us with another viewing.

By the summer of 2009, Dean had found his dream home, and an offer was made and accepted.

The view from our rooftop in the Rio Verde and Cave Creek area: desert vegetation, mountains and arena rooftops.

Since then, and prior to, some of our friends have bought in the area. Maricopa, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe and Queen Creek are other areas we know of Canadian horsepeople residing. As this column evolves, I hope to bring you information from each of these areas in terms of their pros and cons – specifically for horsepeople.

A cutting at the Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center at Queen Creek.

While there aren’t as many properties for sale any longer in the area, a Phoenix area home still appears to be a sound investment. Some real estate pundits are forecasting Phoenix real estate prices to jump up to 60% over today’s prices by the year 2014. While this may seem a far-fetched prediction, take a gander at these new business and investment initiatives currently in the works in the Phoenix area:

• Amazon.com is building their largest U.S. distribution centre in West Phoenix.

• Intel is creating thousands of new jobs in the Chandler area.

• The Cancer Treatment Centres of America have built a facility in Goodyear, and are expanding yet with additional facilities, restaurant and hotel.

• The world’s largest solar company, Suntech, built in Goodyear in 2010, and is poised to expand with an even larger project.

• Rioglass, the Spanish solar company is building their U.S. headquarters in Surprise.

• A 1.2 million square foot open-air mall is now scheduled to open in 2014.

• Plans are apparently in the works for a China-based company to relocate an existing business with an employee base of 10,000-20,000 to the Phoenix area.

Ponder the amount of jobs these projects alone will create, and the homes these employees will need.

Interesting times.