Tag Archives: michael orr

Sandra Wilken Luxury Properties

Phoenix-area Housing Market Officially in Slowdown

Expect those big price increases we’ve seen for Phoenix-area homes to slow down, possibly even stop or reverse a little this year. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University predicts two-plus years of large gains to come to an end in 2014. The latest data for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of December, reveals:

The median single-family-home sale price was still up 25 percent from December 2012.

However, demand was already falling sharply, with home and condo sales activity down 16 percent from the previous December.
Investors are showing less interest in the market, and construction-permit numbers remain small by historic standards.

Phoenix-area home prices have been going up since they hit a low point in September 2011, but the increases have been slowing down in recent months. The median single-family-home sales price was up 25 percent – $164,000 to $205,000 – from December 2012 to December 2013. Realtors will note the average price per square foot went up about 20 percent. The median townhouse/condo price rose 20 percent, to $120,000. However, those annual gains don’t accurately reflect the cooling pattern that started in July.

“We are seeing a big drop in demand compared with the last two years, and there are ominous indications of a softening market when we dig deep into the numbers,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Sales of single-family homes were down 17 percent from December 2012 to this December. Townhome/condo sales were down 11 percent.”

The supply of homes available for sale also fell in a normal seasonal pattern in December. However, the number of active listings was still up 36 percent from Jan. 1, 2013 to Jan. 1, 2014.

Orr says one other bright spot is the luxury market – homes priced over $500,000. That end of the market is doing well, with activity up 21 percent from December 2012 to this December, as jumbo loans are readily available and the stock market is still near historic highs. At the low end of the spectrum, sales activity for homes priced under $150,000 is down an incredible 47 percent.

“Overall, buyers are enjoying less competition in bids for homes, but sellers should be prepared for possible cuts in asking price,” says Orr. “A larger portion of the population is simply choosing to rent, instead of buy. That includes much of the Millennial generation and those who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale. They either prefer the rental lifestyle, don’t feel that secure in their jobs, or don’t have the credit history or down payment needed for a purchase.”

Orr says there’s more competition to get rental homes than homes for sale. He also says this could lead to rent increases over the next two years, especially since more owners are now institutional investors who will have less hesitation in raising rents than traditional mom-and-pop landlords.

Investors continue to lose interest in buying more in the Phoenix area, as better bargains can be found in other areas of the country. The percentage of residential properties purchased by investors was just 19.3 percent in December, down from the peak of 39.7 in July 2012.

Foreclosed homes aren’t plentiful anymore. Orr says Maricopa county was 19 percent below its normal, historic foreclosure-notice level in December. Foreclosure starts – owners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – were down 43 percent from December 2012 to December 2013. Completed foreclosures dropped 53 percent.

New-home sales had an excellent month, increasing their market share to 16 percent this December from 13 percent in December 2012. However, Orr says this was a normal seasonal bump. Construction-permit numbers remain low by historic standards.

Orr adds, “We’re seeing growing evidence the housing slowdown is also being experienced in other parts of the country, including southern California. If current conditions persist in the Phoenix area for several months, downward pressure on pricing will become hard to resist.”

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed and downloaded at www.wpcarey.asu.edu/realtyreports. A podcast with more analysis from Orr is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.

home.prices

Rising Interest Rates Can’t Stop Phoenix Housing Recovery

Rising interest rates don’t appear to be stopping the big comeback in the Phoenix-area housing market. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals highlights for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of June:

* The median single-family-home price rose again to $190,000, up about 27 percent from June of last year.
* The luxury market is finally booming back, now that more banks are willing to finance jumbo loans.
* Rising interest rates have caused some people to accelerate their housing purchases, not significantly slowed things down.

Phoenix-area home prices have risen dramatically since they hit a low point in September 2011. The median price for a single-family home went up 26.7 percent – from $150,000 to $190,000 – between June 2012 and this June. Realtors will note the average price per square foot jumped 21.1 percent over the same time. The median price for condominiums/townhomes went up 38.9 percent to $125,000.

The tight supply of homes available for sale continues to drive the upward price movement in the market, with multiple bids being offered for most resale homes in the lower price ranges. However, the luxury market is also roaring back, with sales higher this summer than for any of the last six years.

“Access to finance at the high end of the market has improved recently with more lenders offering jumbo loans,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Along with good returns from the stock market, this has strengthened a recovery in the luxury market, where sales volumes were back to 2007 levels in June.”

Overall, the Phoenix-area market had 11,178 active single-family-home listings available without an existing contract as of July 1. However, about 84 percent of those were priced above $150,000, leaving just 26 days worth of inventory for buyers at the lower end of the market.

New-home builders aren’t completing houses fast enough to make a big dent in the supply problem. While analysts expected 17,000 construction permits to be issued this year, the area is only on track to have about 12,500.

“Current new-home sales rates are less than a third of what would normally be needed to keep up with the current population growth in the area,” says Orr. “Census estimates show that between 2010 and 2012, the combined population of Maricopa and Pinal counties grew by 2.9 percent, while the number of dwelling units – both owned and leased – grew by just 1 percent. Tight lending standards and a shortage of construction labor are two reasons for this.”

The Phoenix area is also seeing less cheap, “distressed” supply coming onto the market. Completed foreclosures on homes and condos in June were down 61 percent from last June. Foreclosure starts – owners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – were down 64 percent. Foreclosure starts finally just dipped back below “normal” historical levels for the area this June.

Institutional investors are showing less interest in the Valley as bargains are more readily available in other areas of the country. The percentage of Maricopa County homes and condos acquired by investors, including mostly “mom and pop” investors, was down from 34.9 percent last June to 26.7 percent this June. However, the area is still seeing a lot of all-cash home purchases. In fact, 44 percent of the Maricopa County property transactions under $150,000 were all-cash deals this June.

“For those who need mortgages, there has been much talk of rising interest rates and the effect this might have on demand,” adds Orr. “Rising rates have certainly reduced the motivation to refinance existing loans, but they have also sped up purchases by some buyers who want to lock in prices and rates. Still, other buyers will stop to reconsider their options, likely causing a pause in new contract signings in July and August, but I expect normal activity to resume in October.”

Rental activity remains strong, with relatively low vacancy rates and no surge in vacancies expected. Orr says the supply of rental homes in the Phoenix area represents just about two months of inventory, and there’s fast turnover.

“President Obama referred to his objective of making it easier for middle-class renters to qualify for home loans, when he visited Phoenix on Aug. 6,” says Orr. “The low-end market will depend to a considerable extent on whether he can make this happen through the actions of the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/finance/real-estate/upload/Full-Report-201307.pdf. A podcast with more analysis from Orr is also available fromknowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.