Monitoring the Phoenix Real Estate Market

avatarthumbnail.jpgIf nothing else, the addition of photo radar along the Phoenix area’s freeways has created this fun little ballet during which cars decelerate at the first warning sign that the cameras are near, about a 1/2 mile ahead of the cameras, only to accelerate again once the camera is passed. In the process our speedometers track beautiful arcs akin to the parabolas of the Air Force’s “vomit comet” and only the truly oblivious actually are photographed.

The trouble is the cameras don’t necessarily give an accurate picture of the speeds we’re all going on those stretches of freeway where there are no cameras; all you see are the snapshots (or lack thereof) proving compliance when it’s possible if not likely folks are driving 80 when the cameras aren’t watching. A simple snap shot isn’t sufficient.

And so it goes for Phoenix real estate, where a quick snapshot of the market is next to useless. For instance, we’re sitting at just over 20,000 single family detached homes on the market. This sounds great compared to last year’s 40,000-plus. But when you look at last week and realize we were under 19,000, you have to wonder if the end of summer increase in inventory is coming.

Similarly, sales over the past 30 days are somewhat lower than they were a week ago for the 30 days before that. Is this the beginning of a slow down or is this a one-time glitch in the system soon to be corrected as first time buyers scurry to purchase in advance of the end of the $8,000 credit? We’ll only know in a couple of weeks as we look back.

The real estate market is a living, vibrant being. It’s not easy to track as, say, the stock market with a simple ticker running across the bottom of the screen. But it’s constantly in flux and constantly changing, not just because of the foreclosures on the market but also as real sellers make hard decisions about what they want to do and buyers decide how much they are willing to spend for a home.

Here’s an example I saw today. I’ve told folks looking for homes in Westbrook Village that there’s a soft spot in the market between around $225,000 to up over $300,000 where the golf-course lots are listed. As long as owners held firm on price, eventually buyers either would have to elect not to buy or would have to adjust their aim to match the stringency of the sellers.

It couldn’t hold forever, though, and it isn’t. Today a Pinnacle Peak model (one of the rare 3-bedroom models) went on the market at under $250,000. It’s not on the golf course but it is one of the rare homes in the community with a private pool.

The simple act of listing this home has changed the market in Westbrook Village and the ripples are going to be felt for a while. Even more ripples will come when a buyer realizes the deal before them and makes the purchase.

Except, many people never will notice the moment of change because they’re relying more on snapshots than real-time information – listings via RSS feeds, for instance, or delivered in a personalized listings portal.

For some, the cause of the change is less important than the effect. Then again, for the person who makes the decision to purchase this home, they will be the cause and therefore won’t have to worry so much about the effect.

Absorption rate coming tomorrow …

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

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