Why the Phoenix housing market has swung in favor of buyers
A year ago, the Phoenix-area housing market was facing a chronic shortage of homes for sale and surging prices exasperated would-be buyers.
Today, however, nearly the opposite is true.
Supply has now stabilized, with buyers having 64 percent more listings to choose from on April 1 than they did a year ago, according to Arizona State University’smonthly housing report released today.
Prices have also been cooling recently. The Valley’s median home price even slipped by a combined 5 percent in January and February, only to nearly fully recover in March when it climbed back up to $204,520.
Despite the market now having swung in buyers’ favor, demand remains weak — except for luxury homes.
Sales of homes priced above $500,000 were up 11 percent year-over-year in March, the report said. But the gain in luxury sales was overshadowed by huge declines at the lower end, resulting in a 20 percent drop in sales overall.
“The underlying key problem for entry-level and mid-range housing demand is a lack of household formation. This has been dropping for a long time due to a number of factors including unemployment, falling birth rates, lower net migration and greater home sharing especially among millennials,” said Michael Orr, the report’s author and the director of ASU’s Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice. “If household creation were at the normal long-term average, we would quickly have a housing shortage here in Greater Phoenix.”
With persistent weak demand and the slow summer season approaching, Orr said the price recovery that took place in March could eventually be erased.
“The period from March to May is almost always the strongest part of the year for demand, and it is highly probable we will see pricing fade again during the summer months, when the luxury, snowbird and active-adult markets go relatively quiet,” Orr said. “We may still be looking at little to no annual price appreciation by the end of the year.”
But lenders and so-called boomerang buyers could be key in helping solve the demand problem, Orr said.
Lenders, also feeling the brunt of weak demand, have been hurting for business in recent months. Late last month, new mortgage applications fell to a 14-year low, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Orr suggested this may finally push lenders into easing their ultra-tight lending restrictions, which have been exacerbating the demand problem.
Between 2015 and 2019, Orr said the Valley may also see an uptick in demand from boomerang buyers, meaning those who lost their homes to foreclosure or short sale and have finished waiting the required four to seven years to be able to qualify for a mortgage again.