Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maricopa County foreclosures improved in November

The foreclosure rate was down slightly in November compared with the same month of 2010, as Maricopa County entered the final month of a year that has brought mild recovery to the housing market but not as much bounce as analysts had hoped, according to a report issued Monday by Arizona State University.

Detached, single-family home foreclosures made up 29 percent of existing-home transactions in the Phoenix area in November, up from 26 percent in October but down from 31 percent in November 2010, the report said.

W.P. Carey School of Business Professor Emeritus Jay Butler, the report's author, said the increase in foreclosures from October to November was not surprising, because the same seasonal pattern occurred a year earlier.

"The foreclosure rate's movement is more of a cha-cha-cha, with a few steps forward and couple of steps back," Butler said. "Most people thought 2011 would be a better year for the housing market than it was, but it's a good transition year."

There were 5,030 existing, single-family home sales in November and 2,075 foreclosures for a total of 7,105 transactions, the report said.

October's activity was slightly better, with 5,315 existing-home sales and only 1,900 foreclosures, but in November 2010 things had been even worse, with 4,750 existing-home sales and 2,095 foreclosures, it said.

The median home-resale price in Maricopa County was $130,000 in November, up from $125,000 in October but down compared with the November 2010 median price of $134,000, the report said.

That's not a tremendous amount of progress, but Butler said the housing market's overall picture was just a shade rosier than it had been a year earlier.

"I think we're on our way out of this mess unless something major happens," he said. "We might see another surge in foreclosures in the spring after holiday foreclosure moratoriums by banks end and low consumer confidence possibly prompts more people to give up on their homes."

Butler said it's likely the housing market will experience a more significant recovery period in 2012.

One indicator to watch for, he said, is the loosening of foreclosure-home investors' iron grip on the market and a commensurate increase in sales to regular, primary-home buyers, often referred to as owner-occupants.

"The key issue in the coming year will be whether investors become less of a factor and the homeowner-occupant market begins to improve," Butler said.

The townhouse market also experienced mild recovery in November, according to the report.

There were 260 townhouse and condo foreclosures in November, nearly identical to the 265 foreclosures in October, and down slightly from 300 foreclosures in November 2010, the report said.

The median price for a townhouse or condo resold in November was $80,900, it said, up slightly from $79,125 in October and from $75,000 in November 2010.

by J. Craig Anderson The Arizona Republic Dec. 12, 2011 06:17 PM

Maricopa County foreclosures improved in November

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