8 Steps to Buying a House in Arizona

Lindsay Stefan

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Lindsay Stefan

November 1st, 2022
Updated November 1st, 2022

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8 Steps to Buying a House in Arizona

✍️ Editor's note: We strive to provide objective, independent advice. When you decide to use a product or service we link to, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Now that the housing market is finally calming down after the pandemic[1], buyers are facing a new challenge: Soaring mortgage rates.[2]

In Arizona, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 5.52% — up from 2021's historic lows. This raises the average monthly mortgage payment to $1,970 (assuming a 20% down payment at the median home value).

But buying a home in Arizona is still possible, even for first-time home buyers. Many markets are seeing frequent price drops and fewer offers, giving motivated buyers the upper hand in negotiating for the best price.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to buy a house in Arizona with confidence no matter what the market brings. Learn why you can trust our advice.

Whether you're actively house hunting or just starting to browse homes on Zillow, it's never too early to find a great local realtor to guide you on your search. An experienced agent can help you navigate a tricky housing market, explore your financial options, and negotiate the best deal possible.

Best of all, hiring a real estate agent comes at no extra cost to you — since the seller typically pays both their listing agent and your buyer's agent.

Ready to find a great local realtor, but not sure where to start? The best (and easiest!) option is to try a free agent matching service like Clever Real Estate. Answer a few simple questions about your home buying goals, and Clever will match you with hand-picked agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and other top brokerages in your area. Find a top local agent and make your home buying dreams a reality today!

Step 1: Save for a down payment

🔑 Key takeaway:

Your down payment can be less than 20% of the purchase price — $86,570 for the typical home in Arizona — but you'll have to purchase mortgage insurance and pay more interest over the life of your loan.

Your down payment is the first part of your home's purchase price that you pay at closing. Your mortgage lender will pay the remaining balance.

Typically, mortgage lenders in Arizona want you to contribute 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be $86,570 for a $432,850 home — the typical home value in Arizona.

However, you have options to lower your down payment amount.

Government backed loans, like VA and FHA loans, allow you to contribute 0% and 3.5% of your home's purchase price respectively. Even conventional loans allow for down payments as low as 3-5% (though the minimum varies by lender).

Mortgage type
Minimum down payment (%)
Down payment ($)
VA Loan
0%
$0
FHA Loan
3.5%
$15,150
Conventional
3%
$12,986
Based on typical home values from Zillow (August 2022)

But making a down payment of less than 20% comes with some risks.

First, because you're borrowing more money, you'll have a higher monthly payment and pay more in interest over the life of your loan.

Down payment
Monthly payment
Total interest
Total Cost
5%
$2,340
$431,176
$864,026
20%
$1,970
$363,095
$795,945
Based on home values from Zillow (August 2022) and a 5.52% interest rate for a 30-year loan.

Second, you may have to purchase mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) until your loan balance reaches 80% of the purchase price. FHA loans, on the other hand, require a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for the life of your loans.

Mortgage insurance costs around 1% of your mortgage balance annually. However, rates vary based on your down payment and credit score. Typically, your mortgage insurance payment is added to your mortgage payment each month.

VA loans don't charge mortgage insurance. Instead, you'll pay a VA loan funding fee at closing, which can range from 1.4% to 3.6% of the purchase price.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about low-income home loans

Arizona down payment assistance programs

There are many down payment assistance programs available for first-time and low-income buyers across the country. In Arizona, resources for homebuyers can include government grants or second mortgages with deferred or forgiven payments.

Each program has unique eligibility requirements, and some may only be available in certain cities or regions. To help you find one that's right for you, here are a few down payment assistance programs available in Arizona:

Home Plus Down Payment Assistance Program

The Home Plus program is the only state-run down payment assistance option that's available in all Arizona cities. Eligible participants must have a credit score of 640 or more and not exceed the maximum income limit. Income limits depend on your county and what kind of mortgage you have.

Although the exact percentage varies based on your mortgage type, the Home Plus program can cover anywhere from 1-5% of the initial mortgage balance. Active military service members and veterans can also receive an additional 1% in assistance.

Home in Five Advantage Program

The Home in Five Advantage Program is specifically for low- and moderate-income homebuyers in Maricopa County. New and existing single-family homes, 2-4 unit homes, condos, and townhomes are eligible for the down payment assistance program.

The Home in Five program may provide between 3-5% in assistance, offering an additional 1% for eligible military service members, veterans, K-12 teachers, and first responders. Participants must have a minimum credit score of 640, complete a homebuyer education course, and not exceed the annual income limit.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD’s list of alternative programs and city-specific options in Arizona can be found here.

Step 2: Find a great real estate agent in Arizona

🔑 Key takeaway:

Interview multiple agents to find one who knows your target neighborhoods, has experience in your price range, and communicates well.

Your real estate agent will be your main ally during the home buying process. Besides finding and showing you properties, your agent will help you make offers, negotiate contracts, and navigate the closing process. Plus, they can recommend other service providers like title companies and inspectors to help you buy your home in Arizona.

Don't rush into choosing an agent. Instead, take the time to research and interview multiple real estate agents who have experience in the neighborhoods you're interested in. You should pay attention to a realtor's:

  • Years of experience
  • Number of transactions in the last year (the more the better!)
  • Experience in your price range
  • Overall review score
  • Individual reviews and complaints

👋 Find the best realtors near you!

Finding a great real estate agent shouldn't be complicated. Let Clever Real Estate do the hard part and match you with experienced local realtors who are experts in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare top agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free, and there's no obligation.

Step 3: Get preapproved for a mortgage

🔑 Key takeaway:

Once you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's imperative that your financial situation doesn't change. If your credit drops, it can derail the process and keep you from closing on your house.

Here are some easy ways to ensure your credit doesn't change after you receive your preapproval letter:

  • Avoid opening new credit accounts
  • Don't close any accounts that have been open for a long time
  • Make all of your credit card payments on time

» LEARN MORE: What factors do mortgage lenders consider?

A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer to lend you up to a certain amount of money to purchase a home. It shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially qualified to make an offer on a home.

Most sellers in Arizona will require preapproval before showing you their home.

You don't have to decide on one lender right now. In fact, you should compare interest rates and preapproval amounts from several lenders to make sure you're getting the absolute best terms when you buy your Arizona home.

Step 4: Choose the right location

🔑 Key takeaway:

Search for neighborhoods where:

  • Home prices are within your price range
  • Home values are on the rise
  • The local amenities support your lifestyle

Currently, the typical home value in Arizona is $432,850, but don't worry if that doesn't perfectly match your budget. Home prices vary dramatically from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood!

Also, look at past home value trends. This will give you an idea of how much your home's value could go up over the next few years.

To give you an idea of how appreciation could impact what your house is worth in the future, consider these examples from three neighborhoods in Phoenix:

Home value appreciation in Phoenix

Neighborhood
2015
Current
Appreciation
Maryvale
$110,640
$298,598
62.9%
Paradise Valley
$259,750
$552,663
53.0%
Deer Valley
$187,610
$417,902
55.1%

Step 5: Start house hunting in Arizona

🔑 Key takeaway:

Listing prices have shot up over the past year in Arizona, and the market continues to be highly competitive. While that may be the case, the sudden influx of inventory is tempering the demand, giving you more than enough options to find a decent home in the state. Your realtor can help you filter through all the available homes and find the ones that ticks your boxes. They may also be able to negotiate a good price for you — but given the heightened activity, you may have to decide on a house quickly and shell out more than you expect.

Searching for homes in Arizona is the fun part of the home buying process! You'll get to look at a variety of homes and discover what you really want in a home.

Make a list of everything you want in a home and prioritize them. At the top of the list should be the items that are most important to you. This will help you separate your "must-haves" from your "nice-to-haves."

Your agent can help you understand if your wants are realistic for your budget and favorite neighborhoods or if you need to rethink what you're looking for.

Look at current housing inventory

The timing of your house hunt in Arizona can have a big impact on your number of options. For example, in Arizona, March has historically seen the most homes for sale. Searching in this season could give you more options and a greater likelihood of finding your dream home.

On the other hand, December gives you the fewest choices in Arizona. Historically, there are 33.1% fewer homes for sale than during Arizona's peak season.

Housing inventory in Arizona by season

Season
New listings per month
Spring
14,155
Summer
14,155
Fall
14,155
Winter
14,155
Based on data from Realtor.com (September 2022)

Step 6: Make an offer

🔑 Key takeaway:

Homes in Arizona are flying off the market, leaving only a few homes in the market each month. Given the strong market activity, you will need to act quickly when putting in an offer for a home you’re interested in. You may even have to put in an offer on the same day of viewing to up your chances. To ensure the best result, work with your real estate agent to come up with a very strong offer to lead the bids—but note that you may have to overshoot your budget to seal the deal.

Once you find a Arizona house you love, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write a compelling offer that gives you the best shot of convincing the homeowner to sell to you.

Currently, in Arizona, homes stay on the market for 55 days before going under contract. However, every market goes through seasonal changes. During busier months, homes get snatched up more quickly than others.

Historically, Arizona homes sell fastest in October, where the average property is only on the market for 47 days. If your home search falls around this time, you should be prepared to move quickly and potentially make offers on several homes before yours is accepted.

On the other hand, if you buy in December, you have a bit more time to search. Homes typically stay on the market 11 days longer than Arizona's annual average.

Average time homes spend on market in Arizona

Annual average
55 days
January
62 days
February
53 days
March
46 days
April
43 days
May
45 days
June
48 days
July
49 days
August
51 days
September
51 days
October
49 days
November
51 days
December
58 days
Based on data from Realtor.com (September 2022)

» LEARN MORE: What should an offer include?

Step 7: Inspections and appraisals

Inspections and appraisals are an opportunity for you to better evaluate the home's condition and value before officially purchasing it. You may have an opportunity after this step to renegotiate the terms of your contract with the seller if something unexpected pops up.

🔑 Key takeaway:

  • Inspections: A licensed professional checks the house for any unseen, unexpected, or potential issues.
  • Appraisals: An appraiser hired by your lender examines the house to determine how much it's worth.

Home inspections in Arizona

Having your Arizona home inspected by a licensed inspector gives you peace of mind about the condition of the property before you commit thousands of dollars to purchase it.

Your inspector should check out the following parts of the property:

  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing

If the home has a septic system, you should also pay for a septic inspection to make sure it doesn't have any problems that wouldn't be covered in a typical home inspection.

Arizona-specific inspections

Arizona state laws require sellers to disclose major issues of a property to prospective buyers. A general home inspection will typically reveal most problems, but buyers may want to do additional tests for greater peace of mind. Homebuyers in Arizona are recommended to complete the following inspections:

  • Radon testing: Sellers are required to disclose known radon hazards, but some may not test their home for the chemical. If a seller is unsure about their property's radon hazards, it's best to complete a test prior to closing. Arizona Radon Professionals makes it easy for Arizona residents to order free radon testing kits. You can order your own kit here.
  • Pest inspection: A pest inspection is a standard procedure that should be completed before buying a house. Waiving a pest inspection may lead to unexpected extermination fees and potential health concerns in the future.

Appraisals

Appraisals determine the value of the property. If you're using a mortgage to buy your new home, your lender will order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the money that it's loaning you.

» LEARN: 3 options for buyers after a low appraisal

Step 8: Close on your new home!

🔑 Key takeaway:

Before you close on your new home, you and your agent will do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that it's still in the expected condition.

Closing on your home in Arizona requires you to review lots of paperwork and pay the closing costs you owe. After these two steps, you'll be an official homeowner!

On closing day, you’ll meet at the title company to sign a series of documents that will finalize the property transfer and iron out your mortgage details. Some important pages to pay attention to will include:

  • The mortgage promissory note
  • The security instrument
  • The deed transfer
  • Disclosures

After the paperwork is finished, you'll move on to settling closing costs. The title company will collect the total amount you owe and distribute it amongst the various parties involved in your home purchase.

If you're curious about where your money will end up, closing costs can typically be divided into four general categories:

  • Lender fees: Costs required for a mortgage company to prepare your loan. Other loan-related expenses may apply, such as appraisal fees or survey fees.
  • Title and escrow charges: Charges that the title company requires for its services. These are sometimes split between the buyer and seller.
  • Prepaid costs: Ongoing homeownership costs, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance. Most lenders require homeowners to pay these fees up front. The money will then be placed in an escrow account and used to pay the monthly fees.
  • Other costs: Miscellaneous costs that can vary depending on each buyer's unique situation. Other costs may cover pest and termite inspections, processing fees, or real estate attorney fees.

Buyers in Arizona typically pay 3–5% of the purchase price in closing costs. For a $432,900 home — the typical home value in Arizona — that's between $12,987 and $21,645!

⚡Make your home-buying dreams a reality!

Ready to make your home-buying dreams a reality? The first step is to find a top local realtor who's an expert negotiator with proven experience in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare the best agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free and there's no obligation.

Frequently asked questions

Arizona does not require you to hire a real estate attorney to buy a home. However, depending on your circumstances, you might consider hiring one anyways. If you do, treat the process similarly to hiring an agent. Interview multiple attorneys and proceed with the one that best meets your needs.

  1. Save for down payment
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Choose your preferred Arizona neighborhoods
  4. Partner with the right real estate agent in Arizona
  5. Go house hunting
  6. Make a strong offer
  7. Inspections and appraisals
  8. Do a final walkthrough and close

Yes, but it isn't limited to first-time buyers. Arizona's Home Plus Program can offer a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage of up to $396,680. Buyers in certain counties may also be eligible to receive a down payment assistance grant of up to 3% of the loan amount.

The Home Plus Program is available to borrowers who earn an annual income of $92,984 or less. Participants also need to have a minimum credit score of 680 and a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 45%. Maximum home purchase prices apply, but differ by county.

» READ: What are the top first-time homebuyer programs?

Why trust us?

Clever Real Estate is a free agent-matching service that has helped more than 82,000 people buy and sell homes. We partner with over 2,700 top-performing agents nationwide at national brokers including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21, and more. We also help buyers save thousands with cash back after closing — no strings attached.

We’ve earned buyers’ trust with a rating of 4.9 out of 5 starts on Trustpilot and over 1,800 customer reviews.

Our team of industry-leading researchers are committed to making homeownership more accessible by educating buyers through guides like this one. We've spent thousands of hours analyzing publicly available data, surveying consumers, and interviewing industry experts. Our research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.

Learn more about Clever.

ARTICLE SOURCES
[1]

Federal Reserve. "Housing Market Tightness During COVID-19: Increased Demand or Reduced Supply?." Accessed October 11, 2022. Updated July 08, 2021.

[2]

Consumer Protection Financial Bureau. "The Fed is raising interest rates. What does that mean for borrowers and savers?." Accessed October 11, 2022. Updated March 17, 2022.

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