The past 2 years have provided Phoenix area homeowners with double digit gains, and the market has been in the sellers’ favor. But with higher prices and more sellers looking to take advantage, the balance between buyers and sellers is shifting. Distressed sales (short sales and foreclosures) which were a favorite of investors continue to see significant decreases. Are foreclosures coming back? Will more houses sell in 2014? How long will it take to sell a home in 2014? Are inventory levels still low? Continue to read for answers to these questions.
2012 was a good year for real estate in Phoenix, and the question going into 2013 is “Can prices continue to go up like they did in 2012?” Price appreciation in 2012 in many cities resulted in appreciation over 20%, and sellers eagerly want prices to climb back to 2005 – 2006 levels after enduring 4 brutal years leading up to the market bottom in 2011. Buyers are also asking what has happened to distressed properties in 2013? Are foreclosures/short sales coming back? Is the end to the recent price increase right around the corner? Now that we’re more than half way into 2013, the answer to these questions is becoming evident.
The Phoenix area real estate market was good to home owners in 2012. It was the first year of appreciation since 2005. Buyers frequently found themselves frustrated by the competion for homes especially those under $200K where there is an abundance of first time home buyers and investor demand. After a robust year in 2012, how is 2013 shaping up?
When you see a short sale or foreclosure, do you think a bargain is coming your way? My advice: slow down and see who owns the note on the property. If the foreclosure is a Fannie Mae owned property, be patient. If it is a short sale and Fannie Mae holds the lien, you should seriously question submitting an offer. You could wait months and then be asked to pay market value or higher. Don’t expect logic or common sense to found anywhere in the transaction.
The year in review of 2012 for homeowners was an encouraging one to be sure. 2011 was essentially a flat line, and there has not been any appreciation in home prices since 2005. Therefore, the 12 – 29% increase experienced in nearly all Phoenix metropolitan cities in 2012 was the perfect present indeed! If you’re interested in why prices finally made a U-turn and the chances of a repeat performance, feel free to read on.
Reflecting on 2012 and what’s ahead for 2013
There is no doubt, 2012 has rewarded home owners, to which they say it is about time! Some reports are indicating a 15% – 25% increase in home values over the last 12 months. The graph to the left shows the average $/sq.ft. for homes sold in Gilbert, which has rebounded to pre-2009 levels. Can we expect this favorable trend to continue in 2013, or is this another bubble that will burst in 2013? They tell me I’m an analytic which probably explains why I’ve included charts and graphs to explain my reasoning, so read on.
Last year buyers enjoyed a real estate buffet that served a combination of foreclosures/REO’s, short sales, or normal/traditional sales at historically low prices. The inital buyer consultation included an explanation of the in’s and out’s of each. Frustrated sellers knew they were competing with distressed sale pricing as they tried to obtain the highest price for their traditional sale that had seen years of declining value. It was common for most valley cities to have a majority of the sales to be distressed foreclosure or short sale transactions. Distressed sales as a percentage of total sales were above 80% for a couple of Phoenix valley cities! It was the exeception for a city to have less than 50% of total as distressed sales. The chart on the left shows the percentage of sales by each category for May 2011 for each valley city. As you know things change in real estate, so read on to see what has happened since last year.
Headlines quick to report foreclosure activity rises in 21 states
News of this activity seemed to cast doubt on a housing recovery, and gives hope to buyers who have been watching the market for great deals that have seemed to evaporate in the last 12 months. One article even said it was the 2012 tidal wave of foreclosures. The trap that many fall into is not understanding the underlying cause as why this is happening in these specific states. Some states have been impacted harder than others; Florida, California, Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada, to name a few. However, the increase in foreclosure activity in this case can be better traced to the foreclosure process employed by a state. The above graph shows the pending foreclosures for Maricopa county. No tsunami or tidal wave on the horizon for Arizona. Read on to find out why.
Is the real estate market changing?
For 6 years the Phoenix market has been a declining market with some property values declining by more than 50 – 60% from their peak. At last, many of the fundamentals strongly indicate that home prices bottomed out in 2011, and 2012 will reward homeowners with long awaited appreciation, a word that hasn’t been spoken since 2005. The graph to the right shows sales price/square foot for homes sold in Gilbert. Instead of the typical year end slump, 2011 finished with a positive upward trend that has continued in 2012. In fact, the average price per square foot for Gilbert homes for 2012 is higher than in 2011. The following fundamentals show that 2012 will be a transition year with significant changes compared to previous years.
Congratulations Miami, the 2011 NBA champions! – NOT. Here it is in print from a Florida newspaper. I guess they never got the memo or checked the score board. Just because it gets printed or makes its way onto the internet, does that make it true? That’s the same way I feel about Phoenix area shadow inventory. Some of the confusion lies in the definition of shadow inventory. Obviously, shadow inventory includes properties that have gone back to the lender but are not on the market. Some also consider homes that have received a Notice of Trustee Sale with a scheduled auction date. Some add to those numbers loans that are seriously delinquent which is 90+ days behind. As you can see, the definition will affect the level of shadow inventory cited by the various experts. There’s also the issue that real estate is local and national commentaries cannot be relevant to individual markets? Many have stated that shadow inventory is out of control and will contribute to a foreclosure Tsunami. Now let’s get the facts for the Phoenix area.