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Monday, October 19, 2009

Is the Phoenix, Arizona Real Estate Market Recovering?

Here's a snapshot of the current Phoenix metro area real estate market, as I see it:

At the end of last year, the real estate market in the Phoenix metropolitan area started to pick up...  not because of any government program, but because the free market works.  When prices came down to a certain level, the investors came out to play.  Some of those who were sitting on the sidelines waiting decided it was time.  And people started buying again... not in huge droves like a few years back when people were fighting each other for houses.  But then again, who wants that, really?  (I was taught that slow and steady wins the race!).

Since then, I've seen a steady flow of buyers into the market, and many banks/real estate agents are even creating bidding wars again.  Of course, these bidding wars are driven by totally fabricated demand.  The bank has a real estate agent list the house for a super low price to attract multiple offers.  Then instead of rejecting any of the offers, they entice all of the propsective buyers into a bidding war and tell them to make their "highest and best offer".  None of the buyers know what the other bids are, so they often times end up bidding higher than they should because they get sucked into the emotion of 'wanting to win the bid' rather than rationally determining what the house is worth without that emotion present.  I always tell buyers to avoid bidding situations, even in a sellers market.  But especially in the current buyer's market... there are still way too many houses available for sale right now to get into a bidding war.  Go find a seller who appreciates your offer more and is willing to negotiate under your terms.  In a buyer's market, the buyer should feel like they're driving the terms of the deal, not the seller.

But realize that Arizona's residential real estate market still faces significant foreclosures, and this will continue for some time.  Supply is good for buyers and you shouldn't let uncertainty scare you away from the market if you're buying an owner-occupied home that you plan to keep for at least 3-5 years.  However, I would advise inexperienced investors to be very careful buying Arizona real estate right now, especially if you plan to do a short-term flip.  There's money to be made, but you can also lose a bunch so just know what you're doing.

In my opinion, Arizona's real estate market is recovering, but is not out of the woods yet.  The biggest danger to this recovery (other than government interference) is the commercial real estate market.  I'm not sure why nobody is talking about it, but the commercial market could create huge problems in the coming years, especially if banking problems are not addressed.  Commercial real estate market trends lag the residential market, and I don't think we've even started to see the real impact of the commercial market yet.  Here's why: Many commerical real estate mortgages are 5-year or 10-year interest-only loans with balloon payments due at the end of the term.  So as those commercial loans made at the height of the real estate bubble start to come due (as they currently are), the property owner (probably a small business owner) will have only a few choices.  They either have to pay off the entire balance, which is unlikely for most businesses since they're probably already struggling to make ends meet.  Or they'll have to re-finance the loan, which is also unlikely because 1) property values are much lower now and the property is probably not worth the loan amount anymore, and 2) lending standards are tighter and commercial loans are very hard to get.  So if these loans can't be re-financed or paid off, the only other option is to sell the property before the loan is due.  Many property owners will wait too long, not realizing how long it takes to sell a commercial property in today's market and will consequently face foreclosure.  For this reason, I believe the commercial market could be the next big real estate crisis.

Of course, I don't have a crystal ball, and nobody really knows for sure what tomorrow will bring.  Everybody with an opinion on the future of the real estate market is really just guessing :)  So my advice is guess carefully, and as always, buyer beware!

Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
Realtor®-Investor

Great American Realty, Inc.

Cell: (480) 695-6672
Email me

Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on October 19, 2009 | Permalink

Comments

I think this is the same question that we have to ask ourselves in each of our markets.

Posted by: Leesburg VA Homes for Sale | Oct 31, 2009 6:11:29 PM

I think this is a question we are asking in all our markets.

Posted by: Manassas VA Homes | Nov 19, 2009 11:54:12 AM

Interesting article. Its a good question. Is the Phoenix market recovering? I think that it is but we'll have awhile to go. I actually just wrote a report on the Phoenix new housing market on our New Home Listings site. New Housing sales will take a bit longer to recover since the tax credit has expired.

Posted by: newhomelistings | Dec 9, 2009 4:41:14 PM

Unfortunately I think we're still not at the "bottom". Another 3-7% depreciation is expected depending on area...but it's for a different reason now. People with money are walking away from their homes because if consumer confidence. A Harsh realty.

Posted by: David Thompson | Apr 23, 2010 1:10:26 PM

David Thompson is correct. I have been hearing the market is getting better from Realtors only. Investors have a different point of view. So you can take advice from a salesman or a investor. I'll go the investor route. Salesman will tell you anything to make a commission..

Posted by: Mike Stan | Nov 1, 2011 11:59:21 AM

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