There is a great deal of very grave discussion about the real estate market in Arizona, but it's more about laws of physics and "what goes up." For a couple of decades, Arizona has been a shining star of growth. According to three U.S. government agencies that keep these types of records, in the period 2000-2008, Arizona was 2nd in population growth, 4th in employment growth, and 3rd in growth of personal income. The majority of that growth was decidedly concentrated in the period pre-2006, as the real estate crash began that year in earnest.
There aren't any bright spots in charts of various economic and construction activities:
• Construction employment is down 28% from a year ago.
• A chart of delinquency rates is still showing a vertical line rising to 10% of homes for all loan types.
• Foreclosures started are 50% more than the U.S. as a whole.
• The FHFA Home Price Index lists all of the states ranked by performance of home prices, and:
• Arizona is one up from the bottom, with only Nevada faring worse.
• Home prices are down 17.13% in the last year, and 2.11% in the last quarter.
The question of whether we've reached a "darkest before dawn" point is open to debate. The Greater Phoenix Blue Chip Panel expects the bottom is here, with a very modest upturn in 2010. Though permits for new homes are expected to rise by 50% in 2010 over 2009, it will still be 85% below the 2005 peak. In one report, Elliott D. Pollack & Company, at ArizonaEconomy.com states that the long term dynamics for Arizona are "as good as they've ever been." Also, if the state's tax structure were to be changed to be more friendly to exports, there could be excellent growth for commerce in the future.
Any improvement in the commercial real estate sector would be welcome, as one out of every four feet of office space is expected to be vacant by year end in Phoenix. With a really low absorption rate, commercial construction is not expected to recover for several years with this much inventory sitting empty.
With all of this bad news, there could be some excellent opportunity in Arizona. As the rest of the country seems to be turning the corner much sooner, there may be investors doing well elsewhere who want to gamble on improvement in the next five years in Arizona.
By www.holprop.com (December 15, 2009)
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