Sunday, September 11, 2011

Housing indicators hit reverse

It could be the heat or the economy, but August wasn't a great month for metro Phoenix's housing market.

After a few months of record sales, small price increases and drops in foreclosures, many of those key market indicators reversed their course last month.

Lenders started foreclosure proceedings on a thousand more homeowners in August than they did in July. There were 5,105 notices of trustee sales filed in Maricopa County last month, compared with 4,015 in July, according to the Information Market.

Foreclosures, or trustee sales, were up as well but not by as much. There were 3,400 trustee sales last month, compared with 3,176 in July.

The number of all pending foreclosures did dip slightly to 23,859 from 24,393.

Metro Phoenix's median home price appears to have dipped again with the rise in foreclosures. Tom Ruff, analyst with the Information Market, said an early tally put the region's median at $113,000, lower than the $115,000 it has hovered around for most of this year.

Home sales for August are still being counted, but they are expected to have fallen below 8,000, down from July and June's nearly record pace.

But the supply of homes for sale continues to fall, which is one good sign for a market recovery. The number of homes for sale in metro Phoenix fell nearly 1,000 in August to 27,000.

The region's homebuilding market isn't expected to recover until foreclosures slow significantly and resale prices climb. Through July, 3,554 new homes have sold in metro Phoenix, according to the "Phoenix Housing Market Letter," published by RL Brown and Greg Burger. That compares with 5,167 for the same period last year.

The median price of a new Phoenix house is $220,000, compared with the area's median $113,000 for an existing home.

Brown said the price gap between new and used homes varies by neighborhood, but it still can't be ignored as a factor for the new-home market's recovery.

Despite these negative trends in the housing market, there are some upbeat signs. Foreclosure homes are selling at auction.

Some homesellers are getting more than they expected for their homes, and buyers, especially investors, are still enticed by the deals.

September's numbers will tell if this was a fluke or the trend will be reversed.

by Catherine Reagor, The Arizona Republic - Sept. 7, 2011 12:00 AM

Housing indicators hit reverse

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