Phoenix-area December home sales rose more than usual as the market saw gains in investor activity, foreclosure resales and sub-$100,000 transactions, San Diego-based DataQuick reported. Standard & Poor’s also noted in a foreclosure activity report that Arizona remains second in the nation in foreclosures, with 5.73% of homes being liquidated. Nevada is number one, with nearly 10% of all homes in some stage of the foreclosure process. The rate of foreclosure is slowly slowing down, S&P noted, but still remains 33% higher than in 2008. DataQuick finds that the median sales price fell on a year-over-year basis for the sixth consecutive month, to the lowest level in just more than 12 years. “While December’s new-home sales remained extraordinarily low, the number of homes that resold rose year-over-year for the first time in eight months, to the highest level for a December since 2005,” said DataQuick, a real estate trends analytics firm. The company said 8,706 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during December in the Maricopa-Pinal counties metro area, up 22.1% from the month before but down 1.4% from a year earlier. On average, sales have risen 10.7% between November and December since 1994, when DataQuick began following the region. December’s gain in closed transactions over November reflects a jump in foreclosure resales and increased housing affordability. Sales of homes priced below $100,000 increased to 39.7% of all sales for the month, up from 36.5% in November and 31% a year earlier. December’s existing-home sales and condo sales, recorded together, rose 23% from November — up nearly 3% from a year earlier, to the highest level for a December in five years. Foreclosure resales — homes that had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months — represented 56.5% of the Phoenix-area resale market — the highest level since September 2009, when it was also 56.5%. Absentee buyers (often investors) purchased 44.6% of all Phoenix-area homes sold in December — the highest level in at least a decade. A 32% year-over-year drop in new-home sales tugged the region’s overall December home sales down 1.4% from a year earlier. Buyers paid a median $120,000 for all new and existing houses and condos in the Phoenix metro area, down 5.9% from November and down 12.1% from December 2009. Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.

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