Housing Market Shows First Signs Of Recovery

Sales active, above national average as prices rise -- especially for homes priced below $200,000

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After being thrown from the bucking bronco of a recession for several years, the Rim Country real estate market finally found traction in 2012.

While the local economy is nowhere near achieving a perfect score, economic and real estate experts are optimistic, especially after a noticeable boost in second home sales in Pine-Strawberry.

And if the Rim Country market continues its trend of trailing the Phoenix real estate market by a year, which has seen a noteworthy uptick in sales, 2013 should bring more good news.

Ray Pugel, a designated broker with Coldwell Banker Bishop Realty, said 2012-year end statistics from the Central Arizona Board of Realtors indicate the market may have bottomed out and he is hopeful things are turning around.

Cliff Potts, designed broker with Prudential Arizona Realty, agreed, saying the areas is rebounding.

“The market has been very active last year,” he said. “We actually feel like we have turned the corner. Prices have stabilized and in fact, I think they have gone up a bit. We are hoping we get back to some reasonable appreciation in the near future.”

And even with economic downturn, Payson home values remain above the national average, the average home selling for $169,400, a 2.8 percent increase year over year.

The one areas that still cocerns many experts is the commercial front. While a number of big box realtros recently moved in, smaller storefronts remain empty.

Potts expects a much slower turnaround in the commercial area compared with residential.

“It (commercial sales) took such a hit that it has quite a ways to recover,” he said. “There is a little hope on the horizon, but I think that will be a little longer recovery.”

Data from the Central Ariozna Board of Realtors shows that home prices in 2012 were about the same as the year before, indicating the market is stabilizing.

Roughly 420 homes sold in both 2012 and 2011, the average selling price $188,000. Average days on the market for a home sale went from 182 in 2011 to 196 days in 2012.

The Pine-Strawberry area north of Payson showed a considerable improvement. The number of home sales increased by almost 19 percent from 2011 and the average selling price increased 17 percent to $182,500 in 2012 even though homes sat on the market slightly longer.

Real estate agents say anything that is priced appropriately is selling the best.

“People are still searching for bargains,” Potts said.

That means homes priced under $100,000 are selling the quickly with homes up to $200,000 selling the second fastest, often between 30-45 days.

Homes priced up to $300,000 take 60-90 days to sell and those over $300,000 are sitting stagnant the longest.

Potts said there is a tremendous amount of competition for the higher end homes.

Rental homes remain in demand, with many new residents opting to rent until they solidfy their employment situation and find the right home.

The bread and butter of the residential real estate community remains the retiree, Potts said.

Many are concerned when they see their neighbor lives in an older style home and they are looking at buying a new construction home. But like the rest of the state, neighborhoods in Payson vary dramatically from one block to the next with a mobile home often sitting next to a top-of-the-hill fine home.

Potts said many new residents worry if these older areas are crime ridden and if they will bring their property values down.

On the first concern, Potts said while they may live in modest housing, “these are really good people that live in these neighborhoods and they aren’t crime ridden ghettos.”

The town developed from the center out, therefore, at the junction of Highways 87 and 260 there are more modest homes. Retirement and second homes surround that with new development usually up on the hills.

For the second concern, Potts said they could demonstrate that home values have gone up regardless of what was surrounding it.

Land sales

Land sales in Payson-Star Valley remained flat in 2012; however, there was a significant uptick in price. The average selling price in 2012 was 54 percent higher than 2011, at $74,080. Average days on the market in 2012 increased to 313 vs. 272 in 2011.

Pine-Strawberry again showed improvement with nine more land transactions in 2012. However, the average sales price remained flat and land took much longer to sell.

The Payson-Star Valley area has roughly 300 homes on the market. At the same time last year, there were 250 homes for sale. The market is P-S shrunk from 88 homes for sale at the end of 2011 to 67 in 2012.

Pugel said experts predict home prices will continue to increase in Arizona this year and interest rates remain at all time lows.

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