Home sales in Phoenix hit the highest level in four years for the month of December and total home sales increased on a year-over-year basis for 12 consecutive months, according to MDA DataQuick. A total of 8,826 new and resale houses and condos sold in the Phoenix area in December 2009, up 3.3% from November and up 30.5% from December 2008. It is normal for sales to increase between November and December, but 2009’s increase was less than the 15-year average of a 10% increase. December’s total is the highest for the month since 2006, 11,341 homes sold. December marks the 12th consecutive month that total home sales have increased year-over-year and the 18th month that existing home sales have increased on the same basis. Total resale transactions were 7,750, up 8.9% from November and up 42% from last year. New home sales dropped 25% from November’s rate and were also down 17.5% from December 2008. Builders are facing stiff competition from the foreclosure inventory on the Phoenix market and sold least number of homes for a December since 1997. New home sales accounted for 12.2% of all December sales, down from November’s share of 16.7% and the market’s 15-year average of 25%. Properties foreclosed on in the past 12 months accounted for 52.2% of all transactions in December. That’s even from November’s rate, which ended an eight-month-long run of declines, but better than December 2008’s 61.9% foreclosure share. Foreclosure resales peaked in March 2009, when foreclosure properties accounted for 66.2% of all resales. The median price paid in December for all new and resale houses and condos was $136,500, down 4.3% from $142,700 in November and down 11.4% from $154,000 last year. The median price peaked in June 2006 at $264,100. It’s the 35th consecutive month of declining annual median prices, but December’s year-over-year decline in median price was the smallest since December 2007, when the median fell 10.9 percent below the prior year to $230,000. The December median price for resale single-family detached houses declined to $132,750 from $135,000 in November. The median price for resale condos decreased to $94,750, down from $103,000 in November and down 28.7 percent from a year earlier. In December, 45.3% of all Phoenix-area home purchase loans were government-insured Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgages. Absentee buyers — primarily investors, but anyone who indicates at the time of sale the property tax bill will go to a different address — took a 38.5% share of all sales, up from 35.3% in November and 36.2% last year. Cash buyers, or sales with no indication of a purchase loan recorded at the time of sale, accounted for 37% of all December sales, DataQuick said. December foreclosure activity shot up 41.5% from November and 39.4% from last year. There were 6,072 single-family houses and condos that went into foreclosure in the month. DataQuick said in H209, lenders foreclosed on 30,300 Phoenix-area houses and condos, up nearly 10% from the first half of 2008. Write to Austin Kilgore.

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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