Phoenix Real Estate: Were September 2014 sales results a market quip or trend?

The September Surprise

September 2014 was best month year-over-year for existing single family sales, sales volume, and mortgage purchases

September brought some good news for sales, sales volume, and mortgage purchases. The existing single family housing market gained a little momentum. The information in this report analyzes existing single family home sales in Phoenix. The use of the term Phoenix is a general term for those cities located in Maricopa County. The information was compiled from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (ARMLS).

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In this report we compare performance for sales, sales volume, cash purchases, mortgage purchases, total active listings, new monthly listings and estimated months of supply. Most of the comparisons are year-over-year, comparing a time period in 2014 to the same time period in 2013. Year-over-year comparisons are an effective way to measure performance, highlight differences, and negates the effect of seasonality.  Are you ready?

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Sales of Existing Single Family Homes. September 2014, was the first month this year in which there were more sales compared to the same month of last year. Well, the number of sales was small. There were 20 more sales. While 20 may not be much, it is a lot better than May 2014, when there were 1,360 less sales than the previous May. See Table One, page six.

Sales Volume. Better than the slight increase in September sales was a much larger increase in sales volume. Home appreciation over the last year, and the slight increase in sales made September the first month this year that the total dollar volume of sales was higher than for the same month of the previous year. Total sales volume in September 2014 was up 4% or $48,000,000 more than September 2014. In May 2014, the 1,360 less sales resulted in $310,000,000 less in sales volume. See Table Two, page six. Total sales volume is determined by adding up the number sales and their sale prices. The average (mean) sales price in September 2014 was $274,019 or $9,316 higher than September 2013. The median sales price this September was $216,900 or $5,000 higher than last September.  See Table Three, page seven.

Cash Purchases and Mortgage Purchases. Purchases with cash continues to decline. They are down every month year-over-year. There were 968 in August and 959 in September. The last month that there were less than 1,000 monthly cash purchases was almost six years ago, in November 2008, when there were 894 cash purchases.

Less cash purchases should be no surprise. Investors make up the majority of cash purchases. Investors want to buy cheap. Most cheap sales are distressed sales. The number of distressed properties for sale is down considerable from the flood a few years ago. In the month of September 2010, 14,301 properties fit into one of these four distressed categories: foreclosure start, auctioned property, lender owned sale or short sale. In September 2014, only 1,535 or 12,766 less properties than September 2010 were in one of these four categories.

In the first quarter of 2014, sales were not only down because of less cash purchases, but also because there were less mortgage purchases. There were 2,207 less cash purchases, 354 less conventional loan purchases, 197 less FHA loan purchases, but 119 more VA loan purchases in the first quarter of 2014. See Table Seven, page ten.

Thus, the media reports of a flamed out Phoenix real estate recovery. But something changed. The mortgage purchase market gained vigor. September 2014, was the fourth consecutive month year-over-year there were more mortgage purchases. For the months June through September, there were 719 more FHA purchases, 303 more VA purchases, 56 more conventional loan purchases, while there were 2,807 less cash purchases. See Table Eight, page 10.

Conclusion and Prediction

When segmenting the single family market into cash versus mortgage purchases, it should be no surprise that cash purchases are decreasing and mortgage purchases increasing. As the residential market recovers, there will be less foreclosures and short sales available for cash investors to buy. And as the number of jobs, population and eligible boomerang buyers continues to increase, mortgage purchases should increase. While job growth and population growth are slower than hoped for, they are still positive. As to boomerang buyers, their numbers increase every day. Every day more of them have met the FHA three year wait period to buy again after a foreclosure or short sale.

So, were this September’s year-over-year increase in sales, total sales volume and mortgage purchases a quip or trend?

Table Seven year-over-year results for June through May shows that the number of conventional loans purchases about even, but FHA loan purchases up 16% and VA purchases up 4%. Early October 2014 numbers support sales at the same pace as October 2013. The numbers mirror September results in that they show a year-over-year decrease in cash purchases and an increase in mortgage purchases. The momentum of the mortgage purchase market should make the last quarter of 2014 the best quarter year-over-year in 2014 for home sales and total sales volume. Excluding of course some unforeseen economic event or other crisis.

I go with September 2014 results as part of a positive housing trend and not a quip or blip.

An interview with National Fox Business News Host Gerri Willis on Phoenix real estate.

Gerri Willis of the Willis Report In May 2014, said things may be cooling off in the Phoenix real estate market because cash deals were down. My response to this cooling off and less cash deals is because our market is normalizing. Normalizing in that the market is becoming more of a mortgage purchase market, and less of a cash purchase market because the foreclosure crisis is over.

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