Real Estate Reality: Boomerang buyers

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- After years of declining sales and depreciating values, the real estate industry here in the Valley is making a comeback.

All this week, 3 0n Your Side is focusing on the housing market and how the experts say the industry is on the move again.

We kick off our series "Real Estate: The New Reality" by introducing you to the "Boomerang Buyer."

Jennifer Bookout is starting a new chapter in her life.

“It is exciting, so now I'm out back looking at other properties,” said Bookout.

She is what's known as "Boomerang Buyer" -- easing her way back into the real estate market only because the slumping housing industry seems to be off of life support.

Just a few years ago, like many homeowners, Bookout was forced to short sale her house because she was under water and she was unable to refinance.

"It was a big ego blow. I felt like I let my family down, I felt like I let myself down," said Bookout.

Like many people who go through a short sale Jennifer stayed on the sidelines and has rented the past few years.

But now, not only is she eligible to buy again she wants to buy and give home ownership another shot.

"So now, I'm saving more to put down on a down payment, bringing my mortgage payment down and living very realistic," explained Bookout.

Jennifer's comeback is a common one and realtors say it's a strong factor contributing to the current real estate market.

"It's definitely bounced back,” said realtor Nate Martinez.

Martinez said the housing market is returning because people who lost their home to foreclosure or maybe went through a short sale like Jennifer did, qualify to buy now. That wave of qualified buyers are starting to test the market again.

“This is very exciting for their lives but it's also great for the entire economy because with those added buyers in the market place it just helps values continue to go up," explained Martinez.

Martinez said he's surprised at how much home values have increased with the surge of buyers.

He said he recently had a home under contract which is a prime example of the turning market.

"We sold it to them in 2009 for $258,000 we're currently pending at $330,000,” said Martinez.

The biggest turn in real estate, Martinez said, has been in the past 6 months.

Homes are not only going for the asking price but in many instances, above the asking price.

"Today we probably have one of the lowest inventories I've seen in my 28 year career."

Bookout said she's optimistic about getting back into the game.

"Now it feels really good because I know I have what it takes I'm much smarter, I guess learning the hard way I made the mistake that I made," said Bookout. "But overall it's an exciting feeling getting back into the homeowner game."

Low home prices and low interest rates are also enticing consumers to test the housing market again which is another factor driving the market.