For the first time since December 2008, more existing single-family homes were bought using conventional loans than with cash in March, marking the end of a 51-month trend, according to Fletcher Wilcox, real estate analyst at Grand Canyon Title Agency.

In March 2013, there were 2,188 conventional loan purchases and only 2,144 cash purchases. Prior to last month, the largest gap between cash and conventional purchases was 3,134 purchases and 1,904 conventional loan purchases in March 2011.

According to Wilcox, the majority of cash buyers are investors. In Greater Phoenix, investors have recently curtailed their investing activity in single-family properties. However, the percentage of cash sales is still high compared to historical standards.

In March 2013, 36% of purchases were made with cash, while March 2008 only saw 16.1% cash purchases and March 2004 reported only 14%.