Robert Clarfield

Robert Clarfield discovered a lifelong passion for flying as a child attending New York air shows. He will have his instrument rating and commercial rating by the end of the year. (Dennis Murphy/Contributor)

As a child, Robert Clarfield watched planes soar at New York air shows with his father, and he found his lifelong passion. 

Now, the former tech project manager is known as “The Flying Realtor,” with the ARRT of Real Estate, embarking from Scottsdale Airport. 

“I’m not looking to move on to the airlines like younger pilots,” said Clarfield, a former volunteer search-and-rescue pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. 

“I’m 53 years old. It’s about building it into my business. Having the ability to scan Arizona with an eagle’s perspective is a huge advantage for home searchers — particularly those not as familiar with the areas. With all the migration into the Grand Canyon State from the West Coast and elsewhere, that’s an incredible plus.”

Clarfield is a partner in the ARRT of Real Estate, which has nine agents. The boutique firm hopes to graduate to 20. 

“We really want to stay boutique because we want to concentrate on helping all of our agents succeed,” he said. “We don’t advertise a lot. We go by referrals.” 

Clarfield specializes in finding homes in Sedona or in Prescott, especially for clients who would like a second home in the cool pines, away from the hot weather. He’s laser focused on Payson, which is an hour and a half by car, and less than 60 minutes by air. It’s not as pricey as Prescott or Flagstaff.

Nestled just under the Mogollon Rim, Payson is a short hop to mountain lakes, the Tonto Natural Bridge, and scores of hiking trails. Payson is an outdoor playground for those who like nature, cooler temperatures, cabin retreats, or small-town comfort.

“But to find — and then acquire — the perfect home or retreat in this tree-lined paradise requires not only knowing where and how to look but an understanding of the details of the acquisition and the deal,” he said. 

That comes from his project manager years, during which time he worked in real estate part time. Two years ago, his real estate career took off, when he put his heart into it.

“One of my dreams was always to fly,” he adds. “I wanted to be a pilot, but it was obviously a very expensive hobby to get into. My wife and I talked about it, and she said to go for it; just get my pilot’s license. So, I got it, and I was able to take my dad flying. It was awesome.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could combine my love and passion for flying with my love and passion for real estate?’ In Phoenix, most Realtors concentrate on the properties in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, the Valley. I was thinking I could expand that and include Payson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Sedona.”

By the end of the year, he’ll have his instrument rating, which allows him to fly through clouds, and then his commercial rating. Right now, he can fly clients, but he cannot charge them. 

“I’m perfectly fine with that,” he said. “I can’t charge them until I get a commercial license. Then, I can look at the parameters for charging people, but I wanted to get my instrument rating first. If you just go from private pilot to a commercial pilot, you can only fly passengers within a 50-nautical-mile radius. That’s not going to be enough. So, I’ll get my instrument rating and then I can fly them wherever they want to go.

“If they’re looking in Sedona, for example, we’ll take off from Scottsdale and fly out to Sedona. I’ll have a car service waiting for them — a nice Town Car or something — and go to showings. Have some lunch, get back in the car that takes us back to Sedona airport and fly back to Scottsdale. Right now, I’ve been renting a plane, but I’m going to be purchasing my own plane. It’s going to be fun.”


ARRT of Real Estate / Robert Clarfield

5635 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 170, Scottsdale