Phoenix Housing Market Finally Feels Uptick

Home purchases in Phoenix neighborhoods lifted in May, raising the month-to-month median sales price for the first time since 2007. According to a report from MDA DataQuick, a San Diego-based firm that tracks real estate data across the nation, 9,562 homes sold in the two counties incorporating the Phoenix metropolitan area, Maricopa and Pinal. It’s a 6.1% increase from April and a 26% growth from last year. May was the fifth consecutive month for year-to-year growth, an increase in sales for the same month a year ago. For the 11th consecutive month, sales of existing homes increased. In May, 8,587 homes resold in the Phoenix area. However, buyers moved into only 957 newly constructed homes, down 51% from last year. It’s the lowest May total in over a decade. But the median sales price for May in the two counties rose to $129,435, up 3.5% from April. Even though it dropped 38.4% from last year, the month-to-month uptick was the first since early 2007, when the median sales price grew from $253,500 in February to $256,000 in March. An injection of more traditional home-buyers caused the increase, researchers said in the DataQuick report. Deeply discounted post-foreclosure homes accounted for a smaller slice of the overall sales pie, and May is the peak of the home-buying season, when spring turns into summer. Bargain hunters have given way to those looking for the right neighborhood or wanting to move in before buses arrive for the first day of school. “It’s unclear whether this spring’s halting of steep month-to-month drops in the median sales price in Phoenix and other Western markets foretells a price plateau,” researchers said in the DataQuick report. “Depending on their severity, ongoing job losses and foreclosures could undermine any trend toward near-term price stability.” But there are signs of prices at least scraping the bottom. Phoenix’s median paid price per square foot equaled April’s at $64. That number is down 46.3% from last year and has dropped 62.6% from its peak in June 2006 at $171, but according to the DataQuick report, May’s median prices represent a flattening trend. Arizona, with California, Florida and Nevada make up the so-called ‘sand states,’ the four states hit particularly hard after disproportionately high expansion during the housing boom, when compared to the rest of America. Write to Jon Prior.

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