Sunday, October 16, 2011

Report: Fewer foreclosures slowed Sept. resales in Maricopa County

Investors looking to snap up foreclosure homes in Maricopa County found fewer properties on the market in September, triggering a slowdown in sales for the month, according to a new report from Arizona State University.

Prices squeaked up a bit from August but have fallen significantly in the past year.

Many buyers since the start of the housing decline in 2007 have been investors, not owners who want to move up to a better property.

The general economy remains weak, so traditional homebuyers were unable to take up the slack and stabilize the market in September as foreclosures slowed, said Jay Butler, a professor emeritus at the ASU business school.

"The general idea was that, as foreclosures came down, the market would strengthen with traditional owner-occupant buyers using lower interest rates and the improving economy, and this would transition the market back to normal," he said. "That's not happening."

The September median price for traditional resales, which don't include foreclosures, was $125,000, up from $120,000 in August, but down from $135,000 in September 2010.

Butler said it's likely the median price moved up only because all the bargain-basement properties have sold already and not because values are rising.

"Prices are going up simply because we are running out of the really cheap stuff," he said.

September recorded 7,940 existing-home sales, including foreclosure sales, down from 9,250 in August and 9,005 in September 2010.

The number of foreclosures dropped to 2,295 in September from 2,860 in August. In September 2010, foreclosures in the county totaled 4,110.

"Most people thought we would be in much better shape now than we are," Butler said. "It's not necessarily the housing market. It is the surrounding economy not generating income, growth and the positive news that people want to make a long-term commitment to (buying) homes."

Foreclosures in the townhouse/condo market declined to 325 in September from 555 in September 2010. The median price was $76,700, up from $75,000 in September 2010.

by Ryan Randazzo The Arizona Republic Oct. 12, 2011 04:35 PM

Report: Fewer foreclosures slowed Sept. resales in Maricopa County

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