Today’s Real Estate Report: The US Southwest

Southwest Real Estate - TucsonToday, in our ongoing series about local real estate markets, we’ll take a look at home sales and trends in the Southwest.

We’ll start with Arizona – AZ Central reports that wealthy buyers are snapping up Phoenix homes and turning them around as rentals:

Since 2009, investors have snapped up tens of thousands of houses in all-cash deals, helping to stanch the bleeding in metro Phoenix’s real-estate market. Their purchases have driven up the region’s median home price 35 percent in the past year and significantly cut the

supply of houses for sale. During the past year, hedge funds and real estate investment trusts have been buying metro Phoenix homes from other investors, who purchased them only two to three years ago. What investors ultimately plan to do with the more than 300,000 homes they own in metro Phoenix is the multibillion-dollar question. For now, the majority of investors are renovating and renting out the properties.

Virtual Strategy Magazine reports that Arizona home prices jumped 34% in 1 year:

Phoenix metro median resale home prices increased 34 percent in 2012, according to published reports. “We are absolutely seeing consumer confidence in Scottsdale home buyers and sellers. I caution my clients that quality listings are selling quickly and if you see a home that you really want, don’t wait to make an offer or it could be gone, “said Smith, a real estate and mortgage industry veteran who launched Firm Properties last year.

And the AZ Daily Star reports that NW Tucson home sales are hot hot hot:

A housing boom along the Tangerine Road corridor accounts for nearly 65 percent of new home construction in northwest Pima County. No longer “out in the boonies,” the area is likely five years away from being built out, land brokers say. “This corridor will dominate the market activity in 2013,” said Ginger Kneup, a Tucson residential market analyst and owner of Bright Future Real Estate Research LLC. “It’s a matter of lot availability and accessibility. With the Twin Peaks Interchange (on Interstate 10) being finished, it’s created a point of access to the area.”

Moving on to Colorado, 9 News reports that Denver home sales are hot:

In Nevada, KTVN reports that forclosures are down but home sales are up:

There is an interesting trend happening now in our housing market. The number of foreclosures was way down in 2012, but the number of short sales has skyrocketed. According to Ken Amundson, former president of the Reno/Sparks Association of Realtors, one big reason for this shift is a set of laws that is slowing down the foreclosure process. Many people are short-selling their homes instead. Real estate data website RealtyTrac released a report Thursday that short sales in Nevada went up by 86 percent in 2012. They accounted for about one third of all Nevada home sales last year. Meanwhile, foreclosures were down 36 percent from 2011.

In New Mexico, home prices were up year-over-year, the Albuquerque Journal reports:

In New Mexico, home prices increased 4.6 percent, less than half the average year-over-year increase nationwide. New Mexico had the 30th highest rate of price increase in the country in January.

The Journal also reports on strong sales in Albuquerque:

New-home sales jumped in the Albuquerque area and across the country in January from the previous month, a sign the housing recovery is picking up steam. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that new-home sales rose nearly 16 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 437,000. The percentage increase was the largest in nearly 20 years. And December’s sales were revised higher to 378,000 from 369,000.

The Santa Fe New Mexican says that the local real estate market has stabilized:

Santa Fe County logged 105 residential sales in January, according to Alan Ball of Keller Williams Santa Fe. That number is the highest since the pre-bust year of 2007, when the area saw 129 January sales. Indications are that prices in Santa Fe have stabilized as inventory remains low — at the end of January there were 1,288 residential properties on the market in Santa Fe, the lowest in several years.

And in Utah, Utah Business reports that 2012 home sales were up more than 20% in 2012 over 2011:

2012 saw big increases in home closures for both Davis and Weber counties, according to year-end data released by the Utah Association of Realtors. Sales in Davis County were up 21.6 percent from 2011 (3,042 to 3,699), while Weber County saw a 20.8 percent increase in home sales. “These numbers are very exciting, not just for those in the market for a new home, but also those looking to sell their existing homes,” said Christy Vail, president of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors.

So things are uneven across the Southwestern states, but overall there’s a lot of improvement.