Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phoenix tops list of 10 turnaround markets

Editor's note:'s "Top Turnaround Towns" list is compiled using an algorithm that considers year-over-year median price appreciation, drop in year-over-year age of inventory, reduction of inventory levels compared to a year ago and year-over-year changes in unemployment rate. All data, unless otherwise indicated, reflect analysis on a quarterly basis.

It's sunny and international in's "Top Turnaround Towns" for the first quarter of 2012. Seven of the top 10 metros on the list are found in Florida. Seven also made the cut in a recent Inman News analysis of public records that identified the top 10 U.S. hot spots for global buyers.

Miami, Orlando and Naples -- No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5, respectively, on the turnaround list -- all ranked in the top 10 on the Inman News list of hot markets for global investors. Orlando, despite having lower and fresher inventory than a year ago, might be in the most precarious position of the three, having experienced 9,330 foreclosure filings (one for every 101 homes) in the first quarter.

Regardless, the fact that Phoenix and parts of Florida hit especially hard by the downturn are beginning to perform well lends an optimistic tone to the springtime buying season.

"By all indications, the 2012 housing market is unfolding as we expected, and we're encouraged with the progress local markets are making," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of operator Move Inc.

The Miami area is especially hot, even though it lost its No. 1 ranking on the list this quarter to the Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., metro. In March 2012, according to the Miami Association of Realtors, 65 percent of all home sales in Miami-Dade County were all-cash, and for-sale inventory dropped 48 percent from last year's first quarter. Median list prices saw a year-over-year jump of 24 percent.

The fast-rising Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz., metro continues its remarkable turnaround as No. 1 on the list, up from No.4 in the third quarter of 2011 and No. 2 in the fourth quarter of 2011. Just two years ago, in 2010, it topped the nation's metros with 55,732 bank repossessions in that year.

A substantial reduction in year-over-year for-sale inventory (48 percent), a sharp year-over-year drop in median age of inventory (33 percent) and the largest year-over-year median list price increase (27 percent) of any of the 146 metros tracks for the report landed the Phoenix-Mesa metro in the No. 1 spot. It also has a very good relative unemployment rate at 7.8 percent (February 2012).

Oakland, Calif., makes a surprise appearance on the list at No. 6, thanks to brisk home sales compared to a year ago (46 percent faster) and a steep year-over-year drop (48 percent) in for-sale inventory. From March 2011 to March 2012, the feisty, restaurant-rich Bay Area city had the largest drop (52 percent) of for-sale inventory in any of the 146 metros tracks for its top turnaround markets report.

With a low foreclosure rate in its county (one in every 519 homes) and a relatively strong unemployment rate (8.7 percent), the Boise, Idaho, metro continued its steady climb on the top turnaround towns list to No. 4. The Potato State capital had a year-over-year 37 percent drop in for-sale inventory and a near chart-topping 17 percent year-over-year increase in median list price on for-sale homes.

See's full 25 metro "Top Turnaround Towns" report here.


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