A Pre-Christmas Phoenix Real Estate Surprise

My children are in a lather this morning. Thanks to the vagaries of the weather – it’s easy to forget Christmas is approaching when it’s 85 degrees and the air conditioner is still running less than a month ahead of the winter solstice – the joy of a two-holiday house and a commission-based lifestyle, there were precious few gifts under the artificial 4-foot pine the past week or so.

All of that changed over the weekend when the first of just three shopping days began. It was a strategic strike in the finest sense – wait until the evening when the crowds at the local Walmart were thinned, get to the presents we wanted and get out without suffering any collateral damage. Nixon wasn’t that effective back in the day.

Yesterday the wife took the boy to the mall for a trip of doom (I won’t even drive down Bell Road past Arrowhead Towne Center right now, much less actually try to stop, park and shop) and I got to wrapping. Soon there were a collection of brightly papered gifts where before there had been none.

Who needs Santa?

All of this leads to the inevitable on Christmas morning, when the surprises begin for better or for worse. Nothing warms the cockles of my children’s hearts like the soft feel of the underwear and socks that always appear under the tree since we needed to buy new sets anyway.

Some surprises are better than others.

Such was the musing this morning while I waited the results of a quick search to see how many single-family detached homes had sold here in the Phoenix real estate market this month and in recent months past. Common wisdom is the demise of the $8,000 homebuyer tax credit killed off the market; we’re heading for an even deeper bottom, etc. Some statistics back this up – days on market for bank-owned homes, the bellweather marker these days, have been on the rise.

But a funny thing happens when you look at the sales data …

  • June 2010 – 6,699 SFD homes in Maricopa County
  • July 2010 – 5,071 homes (post credit)
  • August 2010 – 5,055 homes
  • September 2010 – 4,858 homes
  • October 2010 – 4,797 homes
  • November 2010 – 4,875 homes
  • December 2010 (to date) – 3,232 homes

… numbers which, while not setting any sales records since the end of the credit, certainly are better than you might expect given the consistent doom and gloom surrounding the market. If you want true doom and gloom, go back to 2007 …

  • October 2007 – 2,431 homes
  • November 2007 – 2,327 homes
  • December 2007 – 2,377 homes
  • January 2008 – 2,024 homes (THUD!)

You see, the economy may suck in general but it doesn’t suck for all. And because of this, there are some who are taking advantage of the lower prices to buy that vacation home they had been mulling. And there continue to be people moving to the Valley on a daily basis. That hasn’t changed in 35 years.

I was asked the other day how business was and I gave an honest answer – good market, bad market, it doesn’t matter as long as people are buying homes. People stopped buying homes three years ago. Now, though the pace is slower than it was during the tax credit period, people are buying. They have been for two-plus years without interruption, through the economic joy we’re all watching and/or feeling.

And that, is a pleasant pre-Christmas surprise.

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.

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