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Home Value: Up or Down? Depends on ZIP Code

Home Value: Up or Down? Depends on ZIP Code

6/30/2006

Worried about declining home values in the Valley?

If you live in central Phoenix, north Scottsdale and patches of the East or West Valley, you don’t need to fret. Average home prices in those areas are still climbing – and climbing rapidly, in some cases.

In other pockets around metropolitan Phoenix, the average price of an existing home dropped 6, 7, even 12 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005 to the first quarter of this year.

An analysis of sales by ZIP code shows most areas saw average home values climb, if only by a little bit, during the first part of this year. About a third of all metropolitan Phoenix neighborhoods experienced drops in price, according to figures from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.

The Valley’s overall median home price has remained flat this year at about $265,000.

Resales, meanwhile, are down 34 percent for the year.

“The Valley’s housing market is going to be dicey for a while, and it’s best to track it by neighborhood,” said Terry Turk, president of Sun American Mortgage of Mesa. “I don’t think we are at the bottom of the market, but it shouldn’t be a dramatic drop from here.”

The ZIP code data show that some of the price fluctuations are random, but they also show some trends: Many neighborhoods close to downtown Phoenix saw price increases, and many on the farthest edges of the Valley showed little improvement or posted decreases.

Realty Executives President John Foltz said home prices in established Valley neighborhoods should be stable, but newer areas on the perimeter, such as Queen Creek and the far West Valley, are likely to struggle as new homes continue to go up.

Part of Glendale in the West Valley saw a 7 percent dip. The average price of a home on the southeastern edge of Mesa dropped 12 percent. Some parts of the Valley are still seeing big increases in value. Republican Sen. John McCain’s north central Phoenix neighborhood saw home prices jump 21 percent during the first part of the year. The average home prices in the established West Valley community of Litchfield Park climbed 11 percent. The north Scottsdale area that is home to McDowell Mountain Ranch saw prices rise 14 percent.

Declines should be pretty painless to most homeowners, unless they bought last year during the peak, have tapped all the equity in their homes or are trying to sell. Home prices in most of those neighborhoods shot up more than 100 percent in the past five years.

The data from ARMLS show that homes in neighborhoods closer to downtown Phoenix sold more quickly during the first quarter than those in outlying regions, even if prices in some of the areas were down.

Homeowners, buyers and housing analysts are all watching carefully to see what happens to Valley housing prices this summer, the traditional home-buying season.

“It’s possible that home prices will drop 5 to 10 percent overall,” said Jay Butler, director of the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State University Polytechnic.

By Catherine Reagor, The Arizona Republic, June 30, 2006

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