Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Update from Arizona

It's 37 degrees here in Scottsdale as I write this, so it doesn't seem all that much warmer than at home, but it will get up to 60 by the time I finish my run. My daily path takes me past lots of For Sale signs, and the morning paper gives me news about the real estate market in Arizona.

The good news here is that the number of pre-foreclosures is down from what it used to be last year. That's sort of the silver lining on the cloud, since the total sales went down from 2009 to 2010 in Scottsdale, and the average price declined as well. The experts who were surveyed in the year-end wrap-up in the newspaper expressed a consensus that the big news was their surprise at a lack of improvement in the real estate market. Our driver when we landed said that there are still several thousand bankruptcies a month in the county. Commercial vacancies are sky high, and there are no new buildings planned or under construction.

The surprise at the anemic sales and loss of gains made during the tax credit months is true across the country. None of us expected that the second half of 2010 would be as bad as it turned out to be. The good news, however, for those of us in the snowy Northeast is that we never saw the boom that Arizona did in building. That means that we never got the spike that is now causing the abrupt fall out here. We had steady gains, and some inflated prices, but it was small potatoes compared to sun country.

Even here, there are signs of hope. On my daily running route, I see half as many For Sale signs as I did last year. And it's heartening for me to note that they are almost all local independent companies--another harbinger for us in Connecticut, I hope!