News archives must be bursting with stories examining real estate’s regional and national trends after one of the most dramatic events in U.S. real estate history. However, with the old adage in mind that all real estate is local, we wanted a clear retrospective of the market we serve without the sensationalism and consistently inconsistent “expert” predictions.
Real estate veterans and industry followers are no doubt aware of the outstanding work Mike Orr has done as founder of real estate research firm The Cromford Report, and his recent appointment to Director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU’s School of Business. We’ve asked him to analyze specifically our luxury market since 2001.
Though it’s no secret that residential real estate is often a purchase driven by passion, our clients are increasingly concerned about home-as-investment strategy. With this in mind, we analyzed the most helpful statistics for luxury home investors in Phoenix’s Northeast Valley from 2001 through 2012. The analysis covers single family homes $1,000,000 or more in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Rio Verde, Arcadia, Biltmore, Cave Creek, and Carefree. It is our hope that a better understanding of where we’ve been will help us know where we are going.
In 2001, there were 396 sales of single-family homes listed at $1,000,000 or more. At the time, Scottsdale (182) narrowly beat Paradise Valley (170) for units sold, but Paradise Valley had a slight edge in terms of dollars spent. Sales in these two areas made up 89 percent of the entire luxury market, with Phoenix trailing at 15 sales in the Biltmore area and 13 in Arcadia. Carefree (7), Cave Creek (4), Fountain Hills (4) and Rio Verde (1) were relatively small markets then, and while they have grown tremendously since 2001, 86 percent of sales are still in either Scottsdale or Paradise Valley.
Sales volume grew slowly in 2002 and 2003, before expanding dramatically in 2004 and 2005 when it peaked at 1,563, almost four times the sales volume a mere four years earlier. Scottsdale accounted for much of the luxury sales growth, thanks to its relatively undeveloped landscape with room for new projects in DC Ranch, Troon, Grayhawk, McDowell Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, the Shea Corridor and Desert Mountain.
Although sales began to decline after the frenzied peak of 2005, luxury home sales remained reasonably buoyant when compared to the market at large, until demand fizzled out in the second half of 2007. The broader real estate market collapse, as well as the stock market collapse in 2008, would destroy confidence in real estate for years to come. Foreclosures and short sales became part of the new vernacular, peaking in 2010 and representing 33 percent of transactions that year. Total annual sales have remained at a similar level for the past five years, but distressed sales have declined to 17 percent of transactions in 2012. Total sales in 2012 were at their highest level since 2007.
The Northeast Valley luxury market appears extremely volatile when measured on a shortterm basis, due to relatively low volume and a wide range of price points. Greater accuracy is obtained by measuring pricing over longer periods, and the best way to judge pricing is typically on a per square foot basis. The next chart shows the 12-month moving average sales price per square foot, meaning each month is the average of that specific month and the 11 months preceding it.
In 2001, the luxury market was already troubled by over-supply, and took another hit after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and resulting stock market weakness. However, by 2004 pricing improved and prices escalated quickly during 2005 and 2006.
Yet, while prices fell from mid 2006 onwards in less expensive markets, luxury market price per square foot continued climbing – despite a slowdown in sales – into the early part of 2008. However, the extreme economic recession and the failures of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers took their toll from May 2008 onwards; prices collapsed from the peak of $404 per square foot in December 2007 to reach $290 by May 2010, before drifting to their lowest point ($277) in February 2012. Although the decline from peak to trough was a significant 31%, this is far less than the 59% drop in average price per square foot experienced by the overall market in the Metro Phoenix area.
Pricing finally began to recover as distressed homes worked their way through the system and by the end of 2012, price per square foot had crawled back to $291 and continue to trend upward. “86 percent of sales are still in either Scottsdale or Paradise Valley” “prices collapsed from the peak of $404 per square foot in December 2007 to reach $290 by May 2010.
During 2004 and 2005, new listings grew at a slower rate than sales volume, but they continued growing in 2006 and 2007 as sales declined; projects began during what we now recognize as the peak took time to finish. This ominous imbalance led to the huge excess of inventory in 2008 when only 766 homes were sold across the entire Northeast Valley luxury market. The number of distressed listings peaked in 2009 at 21 percent of new listings before declining to 9 percent in 2012. The number of new listings in total was at its lowest in 2011; 2012 was the first year since 2007 to show an increase in inventory. By the end of 2012, supply was roughly in balance with demand.
The luxury market is most active during the spring, and most transactions close from March to June each year. Over the last 12 years, this period typically generates sales at a remarkable 39 percent higher rate than the rest of the year.
Summary and Outlook
Between 2001 and 2012 the luxury home market has experienced a period of great turbulence and volatility, though not quite the extremes suffered by the rest of the market. As 2012 came to a close, supply and demand are near balanced. Barring external economic shocks, the luxury market looks likely to be relatively calm and positive.
For a personal analysis of what these numbers mean for your home, please contact our office at 480-991-2050.