Friday, June 24, 2011

metro Phoenix's rock-bottom home price

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by Catherine Reagor -
Jun. 15, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

Could $115,000 be metro Phoenix's rock-bottom home price during this crash?

The region's median home price has been hovering around that figure for the past six months. This steady price trend demonstrates the least volatility the Valley has seen in home values in almost a decade.

Data from the Information Market, a real-estate research firm, shows that the median price of all existing-home sales has been $115,000 for every month since December, except February, when it was $116,000.

Now, this median price isn't going to thrill longtime homeowners in the Phoenix area. The record for resale-home prices was set in September 2006, when it hit $267,000. And home prices haven't been this low since 1999. But at least the region's median hasn't dropped any lower so far this year.

Many metro areas in the U.S. experienced a double dip in home prices during March and April of this year. The Phoenix area did not. The region's double dip came late last year, when the median fell from $121,000 in November to $115,000 in December.

The area's previous rock-bottom price during this housing downturn was in April 2009, when the median fell to $119,000 from $122,500 in March. During the second half of 2009 and 2010, prices had been climbing steadily from that April low until December.

Recent key real-estate indicators, including data on foreclosures and listings of homes for sale, have been heading in the right direction. That may signal the housing market could start to recover this year, so home prices may begin slowly to increase again.

- Foreclosures dip: Pre-foreclosures, or notice of trustee sales, are one of the best forward-looking indicators for the housing market.

In May, there were 4,221 pre-foreclosure filings in Maricopa County, Information Market reports. That's basically flat from April's level, the lowest number of pre-foreclosure filings since December 2007.

Last month, there were 4,212 foreclosures, or trustee sales, completed. Phoenix-area foreclosures artificially fell below 3,000 in November due to short-term lender moratoriums that expired in December.

But the best sign for metro Phoenix's housing market is pending foreclosures. The number of residential-foreclosure filings being processed is down to about 27,400. Two years ago, there were 42,000 foreclosures pending.