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Phoenix, Arizona: July Existing-Home Sales Fell 30.5 Percent From 2009

After three months of improvement, the Phoenix-area housing market lost ground in July with a slowdown in home-resale transactions and a boost in foreclosure activity, according to an ASU report issued Wednesday. Sales of existing single-family, detached homes in Maricopa County fell to 5,080 in July, down from 7,300 in July 2009, according to the report by Jay Butler, Arizona State University associate professor of real estate. Butler attributed the backward slide to "anemic" improvements in the economy and job market, low consumer confidence and strict mortgage-lending standards. The median home-resale price in July was $137,500, an increase from the July 2009 median sale price of $135,500, but down compared with this June's median price of $143,000, the report said. One reason for the slow sales and stagnant prices is that so-called move-up buyers - existing-home owners who stimulate sales of higher-priced homes as they accrue equity, sell their homes and "move up" to more expensive properties - are staying put. "People who might normally be looking for a move-up home may be satisfied to stay in their current house, given the economy," Butler said. Foreclosure activity rose just slightly from June to July in terms of raw numbers, Butler said. There were 3,865 single-family-home foreclosures in July, up from 3,835 foreclosures in June, according to the report. Still, Butler said that, when taken as a percentage of all existing-home transactions, the jump in foreclosure activity was more drastic, going from 36 percent in June to 43 percent in July. "This is the second month in a row with a percentage increase in foreclosures," he said. "Before that, we were seeing declines."

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