The cooling trend that started in August has started to fizzle out and the market looks close to stability. Supply is no longer growing but demand is not showing any real strength either.
It remains very much a seller’s market in the price ranges under $250,000 while the market from there up to $500,000 is close to balance with a slight edge for sellers in a few areas. Over $500,000 the advantage is slightly in favor of buyers in a number of areas, especially those that are remote from major shopping and employment centers. Some of the outlying areas, such as Casa Grande, are also weak for sellers despite their lower pricing. The strongest markets are those closest to the center of the valley with the most affordable pricing. This includes much of the inner West Valley, less expensive parts of Phoenix such as the South Valley and areas like West Mesa and the older parts of Chandler and Gilbert.
The Cromford® Market Index moved from around the 134 mark at the beginning of November to around 130 at the beginning of December. This is back to a relatively slow rate of change, particularly in the last week and with supply likely to fall during December we expect to see the CMI stay close to the 130 level or perhaps even rise a little.
The current 130 level is largely thanks to areas like El Mirage, Glendale and Avondale, where supply is very low and sellers remain firmly in control. Without these areas the CMI would be significantly lower.
Here are the basic ARMLS numbers for December 1, 2015 relative to December 1, 2014 for all areas & types:
- Active Listings (excluding UCB): 21,493 versus 24,593 last year – down 12.6% – but up 0.3% from 21,439 last month
- Active Listings (including UCB): 24,898 versus 27,427 last year – down 9.2% – but up 1.0% compared with 24,644 last month
- Pending Listings: 6,147 versus 5,497 last year – up 11.8% – and up 5.6% from 5,821 last month
- Under Contract Listings (including Pending & UCB): 9,552 versus 8,331 last year – up 14.7% – and up 5.8% from 9,026 last month
- Monthly Sales: 5,241 versus 4,971 last year – up 5.4% – and down 18.7% from 6,450 last month
- Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $136.26 versus $128.92 last year – up 6.0% – and up 2.0% from $133.93 last month
- Monthly Median Sales Price: $208,900 versus $193,300 last year – up 8.1% – but down 1.9% from $213,000 last month
The above numbers demonstrate significant weakness in closed sales compared with the number of under contract listings. This is further evidence that the TRID procedures are extending escrow durations for financed transactions. Listings under contract counts are higher and closed sales count are lower than we would have expected without TRID. The effect is larger than we saw at the beginning of November, probably of the order of 500 listings carried over into December instead of being closed at the end of November. Since cash transactions are unaffected by TRID, these are closing more quickly and this tends to pulled the median sales price lower.
The average price per sq. ft. has moved up a healthy 2% in the last month and 6% since last year, both of which look encouraging for the market as a whole.
Sales were up more than 5% from November last year, but there were 6% more working days in November this year (18 versus 17 last year), so this is not impressive,
In summary we would say that there are no strong positive or negative trends right now. Supply remains far too low at the lower end of the market and demand is unusually weak at the very top end. However this is compensated by stronger demand between $500,000 and $1,500,000.
We would expect the next 31 days to see a drop in supply, an increase in closings and further strength in pricing. However the next real test of demand will be in early February.
This commentary was provided by Michael Orr of the Cromford Report. Michael Orr is the Director of the Real Estate Center at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.