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12/1 USA Today - Second homes: Being outdoors is big in Sedona

Second homes: Being outdoors is big in Sedona

By Larry Olmsted Special for, USA TODAY

If you visit Sedona– and some 3 million people do each year –make sure to send postcards home. After all, this city is named for Sedona Schnebly, the wife of its first postmaster, who arrived in the central Arizona town in 1902 – and there's plenty of natural beauty to write about.

Sedona is famous for its stunning formations of red rocks, and it sits on the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau, a geological formation that runs through five states. Here the limestone and sandstone are at their most vivid, and the city, just 19 square miles, is surrounded by protected lands, including the Coconino National Forest and two wilderness areas. Sedona sits at the entrance to Oak Creek Canyon, and dozens of smaller canyons surround it.

"Many of the homes back up to the National Forest and all that it entails, hiking, mountain biking. Being outdoors is a big deal here," says David Levin of Russ Lyon Sotheby's real estate. That's assisted by the 330 annual days of sun, and a climate milder than much hotter Phoenix and Tucson, as Sedona sits at 4,500 feet.

Between its natural beauty, outdoor opportunities and favorable climate, Sedona is hugely popular with visitors, attracting nearly 300 tourists for every one of its 10,500 residents, as well as retirees and second-home owners. "It's always been a second-home market," says Levine. "It's a sophisticated small town with a high quality of life. We don't have any Walmarts or big shopping centers, but there is a large arts community, musicians, sculptors, painters and a lot of galleries."

Most of the housing market consists of single family homes, averaging $550,000 to $600,000, Levine says, although there are some town homes and condos around $200,000. The housing downturn has reduced $2 million homes to $1 million and $1.5 million, and houses that once cost over $1 million are now $800,000 to $900,000, he says.

A look at three Sedona neighborhoods

West Sedona. This area has the bulk of the city's services, movie theaters and shopping, and is among the most expensive areas, says real estate agent David Levine. The gated Casa Contenta community is popular for second homes because of its turnkey maintenance, he says. At the northwest edge lies Boynton Canyon, home to Enchantment, a renowned luxury spa resort that includes a residential community of 40 exclusive homes. A new spa-focused phase, the Villas at Mii Amo, is being developed, with homes costing about $2 million to $3 million each (villasatmiiamo.com).

Uptown. With prices equal to West Sedona, this area is more residential. At the entrance to protected Oak Creek Canyon, Uptown is very close to the surrounding wilderness and red rock landscape. "There are so many trails you could hike every day for a year without repeating," says Levine. There are some two-bedroom condos available from the mid-$200,000s.

Village of Oak Creek. This village to the south of Sedona is more of a neighborhood than a suburb, except that prices are 10%-15% less and property taxes are slightly lower. It attracts more full-time residents because of its excellent school system. It is also the least-expensive area and has the city's top golf course community, Sedona Golf Resort, popular with vacation-home buyers.

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Russ Lyon Sotheby's International Realty
20 Roadrunner Drive Suite A • Sedona, AZ 86336
Elisa Andreis • Phone 928-274-1521