Who can own Arizona real estate?

The possible entities who can own Arizona real estate are:

  • general and limited partnership
  • corporation … all types
  • a trust
  • an individual … sole and separate
  • tenants in common … unequal interests with rights to respective heirs
  • joint tenancy with survivorship … equal shares with rights to survivor
  • community property … married couples with rights to respective heirs
  • community property with survivorship … married couples with rights to surviving spouse

Community Property

Arizona is a “community property” state. Property acquired by husband and wife is presumed to be “community property” unless legally specified otherwise, in which case both spouses must sign the title documents. Also, if a married person is to acquire title as his/her “sole and separate” property, the other spouse must execute a disclaimer deed to avoid the presumption of community property.

Community Property with Survivorship was new in Arizona’s as of January 1, 1995, and is presently available in relatively few states. It applies only for married couples.  With this form of ownership, a surviving spouse inherits property rights without probate, and benefits from the tax advantages associated with community property. Title documents must specifically state this form of ownership, else it does NOT apply.

Forms of real estate ownership

Consistent with other states, the possible forms of Arizona real estate ownership are:

  • Fee Simple … absolute ownership of the land and all structures thereon, possibly subject to a variety of easements such as for utilities, and restrictions the most common of which are the CC&Rs of the Homeowner Association … see discussion below.
  • Condominium – condo … the interior space of each unit is individually owned, with the balance of the property, land and structure, being owned commonly and proportionally by the “unit” owners.
    Please note … condominium ownership can exist for any type of structure 
  • Planned (Unit) Development – PUD … individually owned lots and the improvements thereon, with common ownership of development parcels without residences. Lots are generally small and the exact size of the improvements.
  • Cooperative … owners own “stock” in a corporation that owns the property. Very rare. Forerunner to condominium.
  • Leasehold … is ownership to “rights” regarding the real estate. Although not commonly thought of as ownership, but the rights are largely the same.

Types of dwellings

Consistent with other states, the types of dwellings are :

  • Single Family Detached (SFD) … the stand-alone home
  • Patio Home … a one-story unit that has one or more common walls with other living units and direct ground-level entry.
  • Townhouse … a multi-level unit that has one or more common walls with other living units and direct ground-level entry.
  • Apartment Style … units have common walls as well as a unit above and/or below. This is the only type of property that is inherently a condo.
  • Manufactured/Mobile … built on a towable structure, which is commonly buried as a foundation
  • Modular/Prefabricated … never a towable and most components are NOT assembled offsite
  • Loft Style … a direct ground-level entry unit with two or more interior levels where the upper levels are not entirely walled in.

Please note … Patio Home and Townhouse are very sloppily used terms within the real estate industry. Take great care in using these as search criteria.

ARMLS also has a “Gemini/Twin” dwelling type, also referred to as a “duplex”, but these are just a form of Patio Home or Townhouse.

Condo structures

In metro-Phoenix historically, condos most commonly involved townhouses, patio homes, detached homes, or a mix of two or more of these structures. There were relatively few high-rise (“apartment style”) condos in this metro area. More recently the opposite is true. Condos are more commonly high-rise type structures, either new construction or  apartment conversions to unit ownership.

Patio homes and townhouses can also be owned “fee simple”, rather than as a condo. These are PUD units as defined above, as referred to as “zero lot line” structures.

Homeowner Associations

A Home Owners Association (HOA) will exist anytime there are living units with common walls because where there are common walls there will also be common property elements.


HOA Conditions, Covenants, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) are created by the developer, recorded, and provided to buyer prospects prior to the initial purchase.  These are “the rules of the road” for the initial and any subsequent owners.

While CC&Rs are most commonly an element of a HOA, CC&R’s can exist and apply for a property even though there is no HOA.


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Other Arizona Homeowner Issues

* Fun and Entertainment
* Renting in Arizona
* Homeowner Associations - HOAs
* Owning - Non-USA Citizens
* Arizona Loan Default