Real estate rebounding too quickly cause for concern

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PHOENIX -- Not only were we hit the hardest but we were also hit first. Now, experts believe real estate in the Valley is rebounding. But could a rapid comeback be a bad sign?

"I would tell you we're the poster child in housing recovery," said Valley Realtor Mackey Martin.

Martin should know. She has decades of experience and has weathered many real estate cycles.

"It's probably in the last six months, we woke up, and we were just getting slammed all of a sudden," Martin said.

Now she's seeing activity that mirrors 2005 when inventory was scarce and prices were soaring. She says the number of single-family homes for sale recently dipped below 10,000.

"We're so short," she said. "I think the lowest we got in '05 was 6,500."

"Frankly, that's a little scary because that's not the kind of environment we want here," said Mark Stapp, the Fred E Taylor Professor in Real Estate and director of the Master of Real Estate Development program at the W.P. Carey School of Business.

"Right now we've had a lot of investors buying homes and we need to have a lot of homeowners buying homes in order to create sustainable neighborhoods," Stapp said.

"We have over 500,000 Canadians alone that are now titled in Arizona," Martin said. "So when you have that amount of people coming into the state, then you have a lot of investor involvement."

Both believe heavy investor involvement isn't good for the Valley, especially if we hope to avoid another crash.

"This is critical to create the kind of place that we talk about wanting as an overall community," Stapp said. "We need to have support for arts, culture, education, healthcare and all of those various systems require vested community participants."

Another reason for low inventory is the losses from the market crash in 2008 and 2009 still haunt homeowners.

"Even though the market is growing, they still can't get out in traffic," Martin said. "So I would think that's got to have some sort of bearing on why we're not seeing the homes because they're upside down."

If you're not upside down in your home, Stapp suggests now is the time to buy.

"I don't think you're going to see a better environment," he said. "If you can actually go sell your house, get a loan to buy a new house, now is probably the best time to be able to do it."

According to Stapp, the median home price is up 25 percent from this time last year and new home sales are already up 40 percent.