We get it. Homeownership can be overwhelming, stressful, and confusing. Whether you’re searching for a new home, staying put, or somewhere in between, Realm is here to help. We use reliable, unbiased data to show you not only what a property is worth today, but what it could be worth in years to come. Our free tools give you accurate renovation cost estimates and tell you how much value a project will add. Plus, our insights are customized to each property, so you get trustworthy information you can actually use. Make smart choices for your home with Realm.
Our pricing estimates use local labor & material costs. With your free Realm account, you can customize pricing based on square footage and quality of materials.
Estimated Cost: $37k - $46k
Estimated Cost: $3200 - $3900
Estimated Cost: $15k - $19k
Estimated Cost: $21k - $26k
Estimated Cost: $29k - $36k
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Located on a flat plain in the Sonoran Desert and ringed by five distinct mountain ranges, Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and is located in the southern portion of the state. Often referred to as the “City of Sunshine,” Tucson largely experiences two main seasons: extremely hot summers and cool, dry winters. With over half a million residents, Tucson is a respectably sized city with a population similar to Albuquerque, Fresno, or Milwaukee.
Most lauded for its natural attractions, Tucson has many options for hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, and general outdoor exploration. The 20,000-acre Tucson Mountain Park has all of this in addition to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which has a zoo, natural history museum, and a botanical garden. It’s an excellent site to view some endangered desert wildlife like the margay (a small wild cat) and thick-billed parrot. Other notable outdoor attractions include the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, Saguaro National Park, and Catalina State Park. For a truly unique outdoor experience, venture thirty minutes southeast to the Colossal Cave Mountain Park, an underground network of dry caverns. The park is 2,400 acres and includes a museum, butterfly garden, horse trails, and wagon rides.
Educational opportunities abound in Tucson, thanks in no small part to the University of Arizona. The campus is home to the Arizona State Museum, the Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, the University of Arizona Museum of Art, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, and the Campus Arboretum. Aside from what the university supplies, the Pima Air and Space Museum, International Wildlife Museum, and the Children’s Museum Tucson all offer diverse and enriching educational experiences. Tucson also has a lovely zoo, where, for a small fee, visitors can hand-feed the zoo’s giraffes.
Tucson is well-placed for trade relations with Mexico, and the city is located at a strategic crossroads between Interstate 10, Interstate 19, and the Union Pacific rail line. The city is crucial for goods distribution, and large corporations like Target have distribution centers in the area. The city’s economy is driven by the optics, medical, astronomy, aerospace, and defense industries. The University of Arizona, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and Raytheon Missiles and Defense are major employers in the Tucson region. Aside from its many tourist attractions, Tucson is a highly functional and necessary component of the US economy.
Prior to becoming a part of the United States, Tucson was a part of the Spanish and later the Mexican Empire. Several older structures within Tucson exemplify the ornamental Mexican Baroque style that was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. Similar to Baroque architecture, Mexican Baroque relies heavily on ornamentation and gilding, with practically every surface covered in some form of decoration or sculptural relief. Both St. Augustine Cathedral in downtown Tucson and Mission San Xavier del Bac on the San Xavier Indian Reservation offer visitors a chance to admire the rich and theatrical style. Both are still active Roman Catholic sites of worship.
Aside from the Spanish and Mexican influences on the area, more recent history is also reflected in Tucson’s notable architecture. The Arizona Inn, built in the 1930s in the Pueblo Revival style, reflects the growing demand for a resort-type of atmosphere in the American west. This boutique family-operated hotel promises visitors a restful and rejuvenating desert retreat experience. The building features many common aspects of Pueblo Revival architecture, including thick, stucco walls and exposed wood beams.
An even more modern architectural treasure in Tucson is the Murphy-Wilmot Library, which is a stunning example of mid-century modern architecture with its boxy glass and steel-laden exterior. The building was designed in 1964 and has received an award for “Distinguished Accomplishment in Library Architecture” from the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association.
Private residences in Tucson seem to reflect the stark desert geography around them. Pueblo Revival and Sonoran are two frequently seen styles that both use warm earth tones in their exterior coloring. Pueblo Revival residences tend to be a little larger, mirroring old Spanish missions with their stucco walls, irregular parapets, and heavy doors. These homes are often organized around a central enclosed living space or an open-air courtyard. Sonoran-style homes tend to be a little older, drawing their inspiration from the adobe dwellings of the native populations. These are often row or townhomes with long central hallways, stone foundations, and round roof timbers. Pueblo Revival architecture is popular in the El Encanto Estates and El Montevideo Estates neighborhoods, while Sonoran-style can be seen in the Barrio Anita, Barrio Santa Rosa, and El Presidio neighborhoods.
Spanish influence extends beyond the inspiration for Pueblo Revival architecture. Both Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean Revival styles remain popular throughout the Tucson area in both old and new constructions. Both homes are often seen with distinctive orangey-red barrel-shaped roof tiles, known as Spanish tile. However, Spanish Colonial is often designed more symmetrically around a central courtyard, while Mediterranean Revival tends to have a more irregular floor plan. The Aldea Linda and Blenman neighborhoods have Spanish Colonial and modern Spanish Colonial homes.
Of course, as in every other American city, the inescapable ranch house can be found in Tucson. These were mostly constructed from the 1950s to the 1970s and feature a U or L-shaped floor plan with a low-pitched roof, large windows, and a built-in garage. Though ranch homes can be found with brick, wood, or stucco exteriors, stucco is a slightly more common material in Tucson than in other parts of the country. Tucson’s Winterhaven neighborhood has a plethora of ranch homes.
Finally, since Tucson is a growing city, it is becoming easier and easier to find options in the city’s housing market that reflect the more popular contemporary styles. These homes often have open floor plans, high ceilings, clean lines, and plenty of iron, glass, and steel. Tucson’s Sam Hughes, Park Modern, and Silverbell Commons neighborhoods tend to offer more modern home options.
Yet whether homeowners live in a sprawling Spanish Colonial mansion or prefer the more urban lifestyle provided with a modern home, Realm found some common features across the Tucson housing market. In a city with a warm climate like Tucson, it should come as no surprise that outdoor features are highly sought after in a home. Realm’s data analysis found that the two most popular amenities were pools, mentioned in 4,967 recent real estate listings, and patios, featured in 3,544 local listings. Painting, 2,384 mentions, and landscaping, 1,788 mentions, were also popular. From that data, it almost sounds like Tucson’s locals never head indoors! However, the summers can be oppressively hot, so it should come as no surprise that Realm’s data analysis found that HVAC systems also broke into the most popular features, with mentions in 2,431 listings. Air conditioning is certainly a necessity for desert dwellers.
Realm’s data analysis found that most homes in Arizona were constructed in 2006, which means they were built in the middle of the US housing boom in the early 2000s. While this is good news, because the building is likely to be fairly young in comparison to other homes in the nation, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when searching for a home in Tucson.
Homes built during a boom might suffer from a lack of quality. Poor or substandard materials and labor may have been used because of the excessively high demand, and construction on the property might have been rushed, leading to sloppy drywall or carpentry, poor foundational, plumbing, insulation, or electrical installation, and perhaps even an insufficient heating or cooling system. Now, just because a potential home dates from this era does not mean it has all of these problems, but knowing as much as possible about the history of the home — coupled with a thorough inspection — can keep you from making a costly mistake. It is one thing to buy a home knowing full well it has a problem, it is quite another to sign on the dotted line and find out a few months or years later that the maintenance needed is far more extensive than originally thought.
As a general note, homes from 2006 are inching towards their twenty-year mark. This means a major piece of upkeep will be coming due soon. Most roofs have a twenty-year lifespan, so homeowners should be aware that roof work will likely be necessary in the next four or five years. The house might also need a fresh coat of paint or a new HVAC system. It just depends on how well the previous owners have maintained the property.
Likely, major renovations won’t be necessary, but if the layout feels a bit dated, or if you have upgrades in mind, Realm’s free dashboard can provide you with an accurate renovation cost estimate and will show you how much value your project will add to your property.
Of course, aside from basic maintenance and renovations, one other issue can haunt homeowners: natural disasters. However, the data Realm has collected should help Tucson homeowners to take a sigh of relief. Realm found that 98% of Tucson homes lay outside of a flood zone while 100% of homes are not in a designated perimeter for a wildfire that has happened in the last five years.
Is Tucson a good place to live?
There is a lot to love about Tucson, from the warm, sunny climate to the endless outdoor adventures, and the size offers residents the amenities of a larger city with the appeal of a smaller town. However, Tucson does have a relatively slower-growing economy and a higher crime rate when compared to similarly-sized cities. The population is also cited as being relatively transient, making it hard to form a cohesive community. However, it all depends on personal perspectives. For some, Tucson may be the perfect fit, while others would prefer to settle elsewhere.
Is there a housing shortage in Tucson?
Like much of the US in 2021, demand for homes in Tucson is outpacing supply. This is driving real estate prices and home values upward and pushing a swath of would-be buyers out of the market. Currently, there is a housing shortage in Tucson, and only time will tell how long it takes for the market to cool down.
Is Tucson safe?
Although Tucson is listed as one of the most dangerous cities in Arizona, this is due to the high incidence of property crime in the area. Many residents in Tucson feel perfectly at ease, and it appears the crime rate is trending slowly downward.
What’s the cheapest place to buy a home in Arizona?
As of fall 2021, median home values in Tucson were about $287,000, while Oro Valley, a suburb of Tucson, showed the lowest real estate pricing. It is only six miles outside of the city, so if potential homeowners want to relocate to Tucson, this suburb is worthwhile to explore. Prices, of course, will fluctuate over time.
We currently cover most standalone, single-family homes