April 10 2008, Roberta Avery Special to the Toronto Star
SEDONA, Ariz.–They call it "Red Rock Fever" and Mario and Susan Napoleone of Thornhill caught it during a visit to the Sedona area three years ago. They immediately knew they wanted to own a home in an area that USA Today named the most beautiful place in America.
"We had no intention of buying here, but we were both so stunned by the beauty that we bought a home within two days," Mario says.
The couple decided on a property in the Verde Santa Fe, a subdivision of new homes in Cornville about a 20-minute drive from the resort community of Sedona for their winter home.
They paid about $205,000 (all figures U.S.) for a two-bedroom home and say house prices have remained steady in this price range in spite of the sub-prime mortgage crisis across the United States.
Home prices in the latest phase of Verde Santa Fe start at about $261,900 for a 1,400-square-foot detached home, about one-third to one-half the cost of a similar home in Sedona, says Sedona real estate agent Vickie Baumgarner.
Baumgarner and fellow sales agent Elisa Andreis say they have both seen an increase in the number of Canadians buying in the Sedona area in recent months.
"I've worked with at least three clients from Canada, including one from Toronto who bought a beautiful property in West Sedona," Andreis says.
At an elevation of 1,370 metres, Sedona has more than 300 days of sunshine a year and winter daytime high temperatures of 13-15C.
That might not be hot enough to lure sun worshippers, but it has allowed the area to become popular as a second-home destination for snowbirds who enjoy golfing or hiking.
The result was a very hot real estate market with home prices tripling since the late 1990s and average home prices reaching the $600,000 range.
Although the number of area home sales in 2007 were down 34 per cent from 2006, the average house price declined by only 4 per cent.
Baumgarner, however, says that at the higher end of the market there are some really good buys to be had.
Mario Napoleone, who owns a courier company in Thornhill, says he thinks there are a lot of great buys to be had for Canadians and is himself seeking "distress sales."
But he cautions that even for Canadians like himself with a good credit rating, it can be a challenge to get a mortgage from a U.S. bank.