Top 5 Tips for Buying a Vacation Home in Flagstaff

Looking to buy a vacation home in Flagstaff, AZ?  As a Real Estate Professional since 2002 and a vacation home owner and investor, I specialize in vacation home ownership and investment property.  I hear from many people just beginning the process.  Here’s the top 5 tips I share with anyone looking to purchase a vacation home:


1. Know your goals:  Not all houses are created the same, and when you are considering what type of home to purchase for your vacation home in Flagstaff, the first order of business is know how you plan on using it.  Are you looking for a summer escape?  A winter retreat?  A place to getaway year round?

When I begin working with clients who are buying a vacation home in Flagstaff, I’m not going to start by asking about price range, size, or number of bedrooms (those questions come second).  The first thing I want to discover is the “why” behind your intended purchase.  If you’re looking for a summer home, how will you use it when you’re here?  A dedicated outdoor sportsperson who enjoys hiking and biking during the day and peaceful nights on the deck is going to require a different type of property than the avid golfer who wants to spend their nights at the clubhouse.

Your goals will determine the best area and type of home to look for as you begin your search.

2. Research Restrictions:  Depending on your goals, there are things you’ll want to look out for that could restrict the enjoyment of your vacation home.  Many of the different communities in Flagstaff have their own set of CC&Rs that may or may not fit with your goals.  For example, if you intend to offer your home as a vacation rental when you’re not using it yourself, you’ll want to make sure that the CC&Rs allow it.

While we’re on the topic of vacation rentals, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with city and county rules and regulations.  Currently, the City of Flagstaff requires you to obtain a tourist tax license and pay tourist tax on any leases fewer than 29 days.  30 days or more are considered long-term leases and not subject to any rental tax.  These laws are always subject to change, so make sure you do your homework.

3. Ask the Pros:  Be sure to work with professionals who are knowledgeable about second homes.  As a REALTOR, I stay up to date on the latest laws and trends surrounding second homes.  I’m also a vacation home owner myself with experience in leasing my second home as a vacation rental.  Your insurance agent, lender, accountant, and other professionals should be knowledgeable about the topic as well.  It’s up to you to do your due diligence and to research any material facts around the purchase and maintenance of your vacation home.  That’s why it’s so important to work with professionals who have answers and/or know how to point you in the right direction for further information.

4. Set Your Budget:  There’s more to owning another home than the purchase price.  Be sure to budget for the cost of utilities, yard maintenance if necessary, and any extras that go along with your lifestyle that directly effects the enjoyment of the time spent in your vacation home (Annual ski passes, golf memberships, etc.).

Furthermore, if you intend to lease your home out as a vacation rental, there are fees that need to be considered.  Marketing fees for promotional websites, house manager/cleaning crew for turning the house between tenants, additional insurance, etc.  These all need to be added into your operating budget in order for you to properly keep track of your net income.

5. Have an Exit Strategy:  No matter how long you intend to enjoy the property, you’ll want to know before you purchase what you will do when it’s time to exit.  If you’ll want to sell it for a profit, pay attention to key resale factors that will affect the property’s appreciation.  Will you turn it into a full-time rental? Know what restrictions exist within the community.  If you have a loan on the property, you may have to refinance to turn it into a rental with no penalties.  I also find a number of clients who want to purchase something small at first to test the experience with the intention of buying something larger down the road to allow more family to join them at the home.  If that’s your situation, look into the details of doing a 1031 exchange when the time comes.

Whatever experience you are hoping for with your vacation property, Flagstaff is an excellent location.  A small town with a large tourist draw, there’s always something fun to experience.  And with our medical, research, industrial and transportation industries on the rise, demand for housing continues to rise as well.  In addition, Northern Arizona University’s enrollment continues to increase.  This brings an influx of rental demand as well as new potential buyers for second homes or investment properties.

If you’re considering Flagstaff for your vacation home, I’m available to help you with the process. I also lead a team of agents who can help you in other markets as well.  Contact me at the information provided below, and let’s get started.

Jacki Tait, REALTOR, GRN
Lead Agent, Team Three 23
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert
Cell: 602-904-3454 or 928-714-7244


Want to see homes currently for sale and begin your search for buying a vacation home in Flagstaff? Click here to begin.

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