While the beleaguered real estate market in Arizona began to show signs of stabilization in 2009, the state continued to exceed the national average in rates of decline both in total units and in median price
While the U.S as a whole experienced a marginal reduction in housing prices of .2% from December to January 2010, Arizona declined 1.1%. Similarly, the national market declined 5% for the full year comparison of 2008 to 2009 for a median sales price of $186,000. Arizona exceeded those averages declining 16% for the full year 2008 to 2009. These declines resulted in a median sales price of $151,000.
On a more positive note, in single family homes and condominiums, Arizona did surpass the national average in year over year unit sales increases. While U.S total home sales grew at a 27.2% rate from 2008 to 2009 to slightly over 5 million units, Arizona exceeded the national average with a 31% year over year increase that resulted in sales of just over 150,000 units.
The Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas continue to see significant price declines in housing that show only slight signs of moderating. In fact, homes in Phoenix saw a decline in the median sales price of 28% from 2008 to 2009, and a continued deterioration of 7.7% in the fourth of 2009. Tucson fared only slightly better, declining 16% for the full year and 10% in the fourth quarter..
Arizona continues to face significant headwinds related to the extreme speculative bubble that the state experienced from 2005 through 2007. Combined with extraordinarily lax mortgage qualification standards as well as exotic mortgage instruments such as interest only loans and unrealistic adjustable rate mortgages, Arizona continues to struggle to absorb a glut of foreclosures. In 2009, 163,000 properties in Arizona went into foreclosure. With a foreclosure rate of 6.12%, Arizona is second to only to Nevada as the nations most troubled real estate market.
Abundant sunshine 300 days a year, low humidity in the summer, incredible recreational choices and clean and modern cities are all reasons why Arizona will continue to see population growth despite the current economic conditions. In fact, Arizona’s 9.1% unemployment rate mirrors the national average and remains substantially below that of neighboring California and Nevada.
Naturally, no mention of popular places to live in Arizona would be complete without the Phoenix metropolitan area. Starting with the Phoenix area itself and its clean high tech industry including Intel, Honeywell and Raytheon, Phoenix is a growing center for well paying high tech jobs in engineering, research and manufacturing.
Surrounded by many suburban communities, the Phoenix metropolitan area has upscale cities such as Scottsdale and Paradise Valley as well as numerous master planned communities in both the East and West Valley.
As the nation’s fifth largest city, Phoenix has professional teams in every major sport, scenic desert hiking trails, impressive golf courses, world class museums and a variety of authentic ethic restaurants.
About a two hour trip down Interstate 10 from Phoenix is the city of Tucson. Located in the lush Sonoran desert, Tucson’s higher elevation and greater rainfall allows for a variety of unusual and exotic plants, shrubs and trees.
Tucson is surrounded by the Rincon, Santa Rita and Catalina mountains, and is truly an outdoor recreational oasis. The Saguaro National Park is within close proximity and offers numerous hiking trails, waterfalls and exposure to desert wildlife and vegetation.
The Sonoran Desert Museum is one of the highest rated exotic zoo’s in the country including everything from Gila Monsters to limestone caves.
Neighborhoods in metropolitan Tucson provide every style of living from the retirement communities in Green Valley, the family friendly suburb of Oro Valley, to the affluent neighborhoods of the Foothills community.
Other Great Arizona Cities
Other prominent cities in Arizona include Flagstaff, which is 2 hours north of Phoenix in the Ponderosa pines. Flagstaff is the home of Northern Arizona University and has homes for both year round residents as well as second homes for those desert dwellers looking for an escape from the summer heat.
Similarly, in the northeast quadrant of the state is the White Mountains, a collection of communities including Show Low, Pinetop, Lakeside and several other small towns nestled in the tall pines. This area enjoys moderate temperatures all year, skiing in the winter and boating in the summer. It is a popular inexpensive vacation spot for residents from all around the state.
In Arizona a “mortgage” is usually issued as a deed of trust although they remain separate legal instruments. Under a deed of trust methodology, a property remains in trust until full payment occurs for the underlying loan. The primary benefit to the lender is that the deed becomes a three party mechanism whereby the borrower conveys legal title to the third party trustee. The title is held on behalf of the lender. This conveyance provides the lender with a non judicial avenue for grievance resolution including trustee sales which is unavailable option with a conventional mortgage.
In practical terms, the foreclosure process can be expedited through a deed of trust much faster than a mortgage, usually 3 months rather than a full year. Additionally, because the foreclosure can be a non-judicial procedure, the cost of implementing the foreclosure can be substantially less.
In Arizona, the lender who operates under a deed of trust has essentially two options to foreclose. The lender may foreclose on the property by utilizing a judicial sale, or elect to pursue a trustee’s sale and seek legal equity against the original note. Unlike a mortgage where both remedies can not be pursued simultaneously, Arizona law does not prohibit initiating both procedures at the same time.
If a foreclosure sale results in proceeds that are inadequate to satisfy the remaining loan balance, the mortgagee or lender can seek judgment against the borrower which is known as ‘deficiency.” Under Arizona law, this amount is equal to the amount of the debt minus the amount secured through the foreclosure.
More recently, a new Arizona law was passed that was designed to protect community banks by amending foreclosure laws to make certain homeowners liable for the difference between the loan balance and what the lender can recoup from the sale of the home. However, SB 1271 was recently repealed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on September 4, 2009. Recently, the Arizona Bankers Association appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court challenging the validity of the Governors actions.