Total sales for April ended up at 8,435, which represents a 4.9% decline compared to March.  At the present time, there are only 10,184 homes that are currently active on the market in Maricopa County, which has approximately 1.4 million homes.  Just 30 days ago, we had over 11,000 homes that were actively listed for sale. The bottom line is that we still have a SERIOUS supply problem in today's market.  This lack of supply is hurting the overall number of sales metric, but is helping the market in many other ways, which I will go over in this months report.

ARMLS recently released the numbers for April/2012 in their monthly STAT Report, and the results are very positive.  Here is a breakdown of what happened in March in the Metro Phoenix Real Estate Market:

Sales (Month over Month)- As stated above, sales were down 4.9% (compared to March), with a total of 8,435 closed listings.  Advantage:  Seller

Sales (Year over Year)- April/2012 sales of 8,435 were down 9.6% below the April/2011 numbers.  Anything over 7,000 represents a robust market.  To put this in perspective, our "low-point" for sales was January/2008, coming in at 2,912 total sales.  Advantage:  Seller

New Inventory- We saw an downturn in new listings hitting the market, decreasing by 3.3% compared to March (9,176 new listings hit the market in April).  That being said, remember that as of today, there are only 10,184 active listings on the market, and 9,176 were listed in April/2012.  Supply continues to be a major problem for buyers in today's market.  More on this later.  Advantage:  Seller

Total Inventory-   Total inventory continued it's downward trend, dropping to 20,676.  While this metric represents a very healthy correction in the market, it is playing hell for our buyers looking for a home.  We now have approximately 50% of the homes we had in April/2011 to choose from.   Advantage:  Seller

Months Supply Of Inventory (MSI)- This metric remained relatively stable, coming in at 2.5 months.  This number varies greatly by price range.  For example, homes priced between $30,000-$100,000 currently have an MSI of 1.93 months, while homes over $3 Million are coming in at 52.5 months.  Generally, an MSI below 4 indicates a seller's market, between 4 and 6 represents a balanced market, and above 6 represents a buyer's market.  It's no wonder that buyers are finding it hard to find anything to buy these days.  Advantage:  Seller

New List Prices- New list prices remained relatively flat in April, with the median list price of $150,000 and the average list price declining slightly (1.8%) to $228,600.  Advantage: Seller

Sales Prices- Again, this metric continues to show improvement.  The median price increased  6.2% to $138,000 in April.  This also represents an increase of 27% vs the decade low of $108,300 in May/2011!   The average sales price also increased 4.8% in April to $189,000. This represents 6 straight months of upward sales price momentum, proving that the Phoenix real estate market is on it's way to recovery.   Advantage: Sellers

Foreclosures Pending- Foreclosures pending ticked up ever so slightly (27 units) to 18,056 in April, the fourth straight month that this metric has remained relatively flat.  Phoenix foreclosures hit a monthly high of 50,568 in October/2009, to give you an idea of how much this metric has changed in the past 2-3 years.  This is a very important metric, as we all know that coming out of this mess will depend heavily on the amount of foreclosures on the market.  Advantage: Buyers

Distressed Sales-Distressed sales, which is comprised of the total number of bank-owned and short sales, are the main source of the problem in our market (depressed pricing).  Distressed sales as a percentage of actual sales reached a market high of 74.1% in September/2010.  In April/2012, distressed properties (3,711) represented just 44% of total sales. For the fifth month in a row, short sales outpaced foreclosure/bank-owned sales.  In April, there were 1,583 lender-owned sales, and 2,128 short sales.  This is fantastic news!  More and more homeowners are understanding the short sale process, and the many benefits that come with a short sale versus a foreclosure.  There is no doubt that if this trend continues, we will continue to see a steady increase in both the average and median sales prices in the months ahead.  Advantage: Sellers

Lender-Owned Sales- Decreased in April to 1,583 from 1,872 in March, and it's percent of total sales dropped to just 18.8% of total sales..  This number has hovered between 40.8% and 46.2% since March/2011.  This is great news, and it's a trend that we hope continues!  Advantage:  Sellers

Short Sales- The number of short sales in March increased by almost 5% to 2,128, representing 25% of total sales. As stated above, I expect this number to continue to trend upward, as more Phoenix short sale agents are getting better at understanding the short sale process.  Our team of Phoenix short sale agents are ready to help, if you or someone you know is considering a short sale.  Advantage:  Buyers & Sellers (short sales are better for the overall health of the market when compared to REO sales!).

Avg Days On Market- Dropped by almost 7% in April to 86 days.  As traditional sales increase, we expect the days on market to continue to decrease in 2012.  Advantage:  Neither Seller or Buyer

So, what do you think?  Is it a seller's market or a buyer's market?  I still think we are faced with a seller's market.  Overall inventory decreased by 3.3% in April (only 9,176 new listings hit the market), and the telling statistic is that there are only 10,184 homes on the market today in Maricopa County, listed as active.  This, in a market with approximately 1.4 million homes.  This statistic alone explains why it is so difficult for buyers to find homes in today's market.

There are tons of great things to point out from this report.  Sales were up 4.9% over March and total inventory dropped yet again.  Months of Supply remained relatively flat at 2.5 months.  Both the average and median sales price metrics continue to go up (six straight months), and the average sales price is now 27% higher than it was in May/2011.  Foreclosures are down, and the percentage of distressed properties compared to total sales fell to 44%, a 2.8% drop from March.  Also, the ratio of short sales to bank-owned in the distressed property mix increased for the 5th month in a row, proving that lenders are now working with homeowners on short sales, which is a HUGE PLUS!

If you are a buyer, hang in there!  While there are some incredible deals in this market, you have probably realized (or will soon realize) that trying to purchase a home in this market is a daunting task, especially without the assistance of an experienced Phoenix buyer's agent.  We are working hard to find homes for our buyer clients, but with inventory being so low, its been difficult, at best.  For our clients reading this, keep checking your email inbox, and call us immediately when you see something you like.  Just remember, THERE IS HOPE!  Year-to-date, we have helped 22 families find their dream homes, and we currently have approximately 30 homes under contract for our buyer clients.

When it comes to finding a home, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.  If it's a good deal, expect multiple offers in the first 24-48 hours, and be ready to "go in strong".  One more piece of advice for our buyer clients...If you are trying to obtain financing, STAY AWAY FROM THE INSTITUTIONAL LENDERS (i.e. Wells Fargo, BofA, CitiMortgage, GMAC, etc.) and Mortgage Brokers, and work with a MORTGAGE BANKER.  The "big-banks" have literally screwed up every deal we've worked on in the past several months.  This is not an anomaly, it is a trend.  They have tightened their purse-strings, and are creating major headaches for our buyer clients.  Work with a mortgage bank that can close your loan in-house, and has in-house underwriting.  We have a list of qualified mortgage banks in the Metro Phoenix market that can close your loan in 15-20 days.  The average institutional lender is having a difficult time closing a loan in 60-75 days, if they can close them at all.  PLEASE do everything you can to work with a qualified Mortgage Bank.  There is nothing more frustrating than waiting 3-4 months for a short sale to be approved, only to lose it because your lender couldn't get it done in time.

Now more than ever, you need a seasoned professional to walk you through these tumultuous times, not a part-timer.

Call me today and allow us to set up a plan to help you buy/sell your next home.  You'll be glad you called.

Until next month....