According to a recent article on CNN Money, the city of Phoenix has the 3rd highest rate of home foreclosures in the country. The abundance of cheap property is attracting a lot of first-time and investment home buyers. There are a lot of important things to consider when buying a home, but few people ever stop and consider the probability of geologic hazards.
No, I'm not kidding you. While it is true that Arizona is a remarkably safe place to live, that does not mean it is without risk. In fact, the geography and climate of Arizona make it an ideal location for a few very unique types of hazards. Fortunately, the Arizona Geological Survey has published a FREE handbook to alert home buyers of the potential geologic hazards that are common to Arizona.
The Home Buyer's Guide to Geologic Hazards in Arizona is a must-read for home buyers anywhere in Arizona. It alerts buyers to potential dangers such as flooding, soil problems, subsidence cracks, Radon gas, abandoned mines, karst, and earth fissures.
The guide is available as a free download from the Arizona Geological Survey website. Each chapter is split up into Adobe Acrobat (PDF) files for easy viewing and printing.
These geologic hazards are not widespread, but rather they are localized in a few key areas around the state. For example, above-normal levels of Radon are found mostly along the Mogollon Rim in cities such as Flagstaff. Subsidence cracks are largely a problem in Tucson and Southern Arizona, where excessive groundwater pumping causes the ground to gradually start sinking.
A special 3-page guide covers the hazards of the Phoenix metro area. The Phoenix guide covers issues such as pool decking cracks caused by soil expansion, as well as homes built on mountain sides directly in the path of rock slides and mud slides.
Geologic hazards only affect a small percentage of Arizona homeowners, but for those that live in high-risk areas, it is a very serious matter. If you are considering buying a home in Arizona, I would encourage you to be very thorough in your research before you close the deal.
There's more to a buying a home than a great location, good school district, and a low crime rate. You should check to make sure your home is not at risk for a geologic hazard. I don't want to frighten people about minor risks, but just the same these risks are not worth ignoring either. With that said, good luck and happy home buying!