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by Debra Gelbart on Jun 2, 2017

It’s no longer mostly Baby Boomers and retirees purchasing second homes in Northern Arizona, according to real estate professionals.

“We’ve seen a measurable shift in recent years as more young families purchase in Pine Canyon (a luxury home community in Flagstaff),” said Deanna Keck, executive vice president for community development with Pine Canyon. Younger buyer demographic

 “Our family-centric activities extend to adventure camps, arts and crafts, and plenty of pool time, which is reserved for families on Saturdays,” Keck said. “We actually see about a 50-50 split among our owners between those who are over age 50 and those who fall between the ages of 35 and 50.”

“A number of our owners are younger and closer to preretirement age,” said Jim Jones, designated broker at Talking Rock Ranch Realty in Prescott, which sells homes at Talking Rock Ranch, a 24-hour guard-gated golf course community in Prescott.

Buyers in these communities can choose either a two-step process (purchasing a home-site first and then building a custom home on the lot over the course of about a year) or a single step — buying a newly constructed home just like you would in a production-home community.

Home-sites in Pine Canyon start at $150,000 for a resale lot where a buyer can build a new home. Home-sites not previously sold tend to cost more. Home-sites at Talking Rock Ranch start at around $80,000. A 2,000-square-foot townhome in Pine Canyon starts in about the mid-$800,000s.

Pine Canyon also offers cabins and pre-designed luxury homes, as well as help with finding custom-home builders. At Talking Rock Ranch, the Ranch Cottages series of home designs starts in the high $400,000s.

Second-home advantages

Owning a second home has its benefits, Keck said, “especially when it comes to convenience and having a place that feels like your own. It’s really easy to pack up the car and travel two hours north. And it’s easy to relax in a place that’s your own since it feels like home and has been decorated and furnished by you.”

What’s great about communities like Pine Canyon and Talking Rock Ranch, she added, “is that the luxury amenities and services reflect those found at high-end resorts, so these getaways, while comfortable and relaxing, also feel upscale and lavish.”

While owning a second home is a significant investment, “it will very likely involve a good return on that investment from both a financial and experience perspective,” Keck said.

A strengthening economy

Real estate pros are definitely seeing more interest from prospective buyers at communities in Northern Arizona.

“We’ve seen a notable increase in home-buying activity and construction which is encouraging and reflective of the strength of the market,” Keck said. A strong economy allows community developers, including Symmetry Companies at Pine Canyon, to offer new products such  as pre-designed luxury homes and other custom spec homes, Keck said. And, even with an uptick in activity, “Pine Canyon is still working to keep up with the demand which certainly says something about the strength of the second-home market. The increase in demand is a direct reflection of consumer confidence which in part fuels rising home values.”

At Talking Rock, “we have witnessed an increased velocity this calendar year as compared to the same period of time last year … a measurable increase that denotes the strength of the market and reflects the economy’s positive momentum,” Jones noted.

Considerations before you buy

The two most important issues to consider when deciding on a purchase is whether the property is within budget and whether that property is located in a community that fits your lifestyle, Keck said. It’s also important to consider how often the property will be used, she said, and what type of home would be the best fit.

“There are so many options for second homes, from townhomes to cabins to custom estates, that it’s important for the buyer to understand the spectrum of needs and wants. Many of the residents who purchase at Pine Canyon enter our community with a smaller product and then decide they want a larger custom home,” Keck said. “Others begin with a larger custom home and then downsize.

But they all enjoy the lifestyle, which is key, so most stay within the community.”

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