Monday, March 25, 2013

February Phoenix Home Sales Press Release

Phoenix Area February Home Sales

Home sales in the Phoenix region fell on a year-over-year basis for the third month in a row during February as the foreclosure resale level dipped and the overall supply of homes on the market remained tight. The median sale price rose to its highest level in nearly four and a half years, the result of demand outstripping supply combined with the ongoing shift in the sales mix toward fewer low-cost transactions and more mid- to high-end deals, a real estate information service reported.

Buyers paid a median $175,000 for all new and resale houses and condos sold during February in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metro area. That was up 2.9 percent from January and up 35.7 percent from February 2012. It was the median's 15th consecutive month with a year-over-year gain, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

The February median was the highest for any month since the median was also $175,000 in October 2008, but it was still 33.7 percent below the Phoenix area's all-time peak of $264,100 in June 2006.

The big year-over-year gains in the region's median sale price since last March – ranging from 13.8 percent to 35.7 percent – reflect several trends. Prices have risen as greater demand has met a relatively low supply of homes for sale. But the median has also risen because of a large shift in the types of homes selling: More selling today are higher-cost move-up homes and fewer are lower-cost foreclosed properties.

If demand remains high and prices continue to rise, the market will eventually respond with a larger supply of homes for sale, which would tame price appreciation. More would-be sellers who've been holding out for higher prices will put their homes on the market. Fewer people will owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, enabling them to sell. Lenders could clear their backlogs of distressed properties faster. And there will be more sales of newly built homes, which in February rose 24.4 percent from a year earlier, to the highest level for a February since 2008.

The continuing decline in the number of lender-repossessed properties on the market helps explain the smaller inventory of homes for sale. Foreclosure resales, defined as homes that were foreclosed on in the prior 12 months, fell to 15.8 percent of all the homes that resold in February. That was the lowest level for any month since December 2007, when foreclosure resales were 15.3 percent of the resale market. February’s foreclosure resale level was down from 18.5 percent the month before and 34.3 percent a year earlier. At their peak in March 2009, foreclosure resales represented 66.2 percent of all the homes sold in the Phoenix area.

Last month a total of 7,710 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow in the two-county Phoenix region, up 16.2 percent from the month before and down 6.3 percent from a year earlier.

In the Phoenix area it's normal for sales to rise between January and February. On average since 1994, when DataQuick’s complete Phoenix region statistics begin, the number of homes sold in February has been 9.8 percent higher than in January.

Total sales have fallen year-over-year the past three months, as have the number of houses and condos (excludes new homes) that have resold. However, February resales were 11.7 percent higher than average for a February. Last month's new-home sales were 52.1 percent below the February average.

Sales continued to fall hard in the Phoenix-area’s lowest price ranges last month, while the middle and upper-price categories posted big gains again. The number of new and resale homes sold in February for less than $100,000 dropped 55.0 percent from a year earlier, while sub-$150,000 sales fell 41.1 percent. Deals between $200,000 and $400,000 rose 42.8 percent year-over-year, while $300,000-plus transactions shot up 51.5 percent year-over-year. The number of homes selling for $800,000 or more rose 71.4 percent from the same month last year.

Other Phoenix region February highlights:

•A key price gauge analysts watch, the median price paid per square foot for existing single-family detached houses, rose to $99 in February, up from $96 in January and up 37.5 percent from a year earlier. The February figure was the highest since it was also $99 in September 2008. The median paid per square foot has risen year-over-year for 15 consecutive months, but in February it remained 42.1 percent below the $171 peak in May and June of 2006.
•Lenders foreclosed on 1,232 Phoenix-area houses and condo units last month, up 103.6 percent from the month before and down 52.1 percent from a year earlier. The number of homes lost to foreclosure during the first two months of this year totaled 5,522, down 66.7 percent from the same period last year.
•Absentee buyers, who are mainly investors and vacation-home buyers, bought 38.2 percent of all Phoenix-area homes sold last month, up from 37.3 percent the month before and down from 43.4 percent a year earlier. The peak was 47.1 percent in March 2011. February’s absentee buyers paid a median $138,000, up 34.6 percent from a year earlier.
•In February, 333 Phoenix-area buyers purchased two or more homes on the open market (excludes foreclosure auctions). That was up about 31 percent from the same month last year, based on an analysis of buyer names in the public record. (Note: In some cases individuals and partnerships buy under different names). This February these multi-home buyers purchased 1,003 homes, which amounts to about 13 percent of all homes sold and represents a 38.3 percent increase from the number of properties that multi-home buyers purchased in February last year. The largest buyer identified in February, appearing in public records as "THR Phoenix LP" and "THR Phoenix LLC," purchased 159 homes, or about 16 percent of all homes purchased by multi-home buyers in February. There were 18 buyers in February that each purchased five or more homes, but only seven of them bought 10 or more. Combined, the buyers who purchased 10 or more homes in February acquired 260 homes, or about 26 percent of all homes bought by multi-home buyers.
•Buyers paying cash bought 40.2 percent of all Phoenix-area homes sold last month. That was up from 37.2 percent the prior month and down from 45.5 percent a year earlier. The record for cash buying was 48.0 percent in February 2011. This February’s cash buyers paid a median $145,000, up 43.6 percent from a year earlier.
•Home flipping has trended higher the past year. The number of homes sold in February that had previously sold within the prior six months represented 6.7 percent of all open-market sales (excludes homes previously purchased at public foreclosure auctions). Last month's flipping rate was down from 7.1 percent the month before and up from 5.7 percent a year earlier.
•The market share for government-insured FHA home loans, a popular low-down-payment choice among first-time buyers, was 26.9 percent of all purchase loans in February. That was down from an FHA share of 28.5 percent the month before and down from 31.6 percent a year earlier. In the current housing cycle the FHA share peaked at 55.3 percent of the purchase loan market in September 2008.

To view the home sale chart, visit

Media calls: Andrew LePage (916)456-7157 or

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