Everything is Big When You’re in the Anthill

In this instance, a picture truly is worth a thousand words. I’m still going to write them, but still.

Those ants, courtesy of Carl Feldman via Flickr Creative Commons, are going to work on a yucca plant. Consider this is one stem of the plant. To these ants, though, it must seem like a large portion of their world, a continent of green as it were.

From where we stand, though, it’s just a yucca plant – another part of a larger landscape, no more, no less.

I pulled this comment off of yesterday’s post just in case you didn’t see it:

I know a “Realtor” (currently not actively selling) that works for one of the big foreclosure attorneys in town, she said that they have a very large backlog of homes that have not been foreclosed on as of yet. Just don’t know what she considers “large”.

To her, the proverbial ant sitting at her desk inside the office of a foreclosure attorney, large easily could be measured in hundreds. It’s possible the number’s higher but that ignores the larger point of whether one man’s large is the same as another’s.

(Okay, you’re smirking now. I can tell. Get it out of your system. I’ll wait.)

As of this morning, we’re now down to 9,070 single family detached homes for sale in Maricopa County. With more than 5,800 closed sales in the past 30 days, there now is about six weeks of inventory on the market.

Argue for manipulation or other hijinks to keep bank-owned homes off the market; you’re missing the bigger picture here.

Of those 9,070 homes – 856 are bank owned. 941 are some sort of short sale fiasco in the making.

Pick a multiple by which bank owned homes could increase when the same second wave we’ve waited for since 2008 finally hits … Double? Triple? An order of 10?

Let’s go with the latter. Let’s say that tomorrow, the flood hits and 8,500 bank owned homes are dropped onto the market out of the blue. We’d then have 17,500 homes for sale in Maricopa County.

And at the current sales pace, we’d be looking at an absorption rate of a whopping three months of inventory.

Does anyone realistically expect demand to disappear overnight?

Sure, there will be a little blip in some of the areas where price per square foot slowly has been creeping up. But honestly, three months of inventory still is nil when you consider four to five months of inventory is a balanced market.

Yesterday, I showed you that what two lenders РFreddie Mac and Fannie Mae Рown for the most part is on the market. Looking at random, Wells Fargo  owns 815 total properties in Maricopa County (and more than 100 of those are in the same foreclosed condo complex.) US Bank owns 546. Bank of America 505.

Unlike Fannie, some of these banks are sitting on some homes according to the tax records. (A-ha! says the ant on the end of the yucca stem.) In total, though, they just don’t own all those many homes on which to sit. Put another way, even if they are sitting on homes, so what?

Several years ago, there was a once-in-a-generation thunderstorm that squatted atop Chase Field and dumped more than an inch of rain in less than an hour. (This may be normal for some places but not in a city where less than 8 inches for the year is the norm.) The water on Jefferson Street was more than two feet high and an intrepid reporter who left the safety of a parking garage for the street (with the help of a policeman who never thought to say “hey, stop, the road’s a canal) all but killed his Nissan Sentra trying to get across the street to the safety of another parking garage.

When said intrepid reporter, who may or may not own multiple beagles, returned the next morning to try and start his dead car an amazing sight was waiting. Aside from a puddle here and there, and the general darker hue of the still-damp asphalt, there was no evidence at all that portions of downtown Phoenix had been flooded the night before. Against all logic, the sewer and drainage systems in downtown were able to whisk away two-plus feet of standing water in a few hours once the rain had stopped.

Everything I’m seeing right now tells me the Phoenix real estate market would be just as resilient if … and it’s a gigantic if at this point … this long-awaited wave ever hits.

Look at that … only 750 words. I owe you some.



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.