The debate among housing market watchers over whether metro Phoenix has a looming shadow inventory goes on, even as foreclosures fall and home prices keep rising.
Some believe there are thousands of homes in the region on which mortgage payments haven't been made for years, but lenders haven't moved to foreclose.
The concern is those homes make up a "shadow inventory" that could be dumped on the market anytime or all at once, stalling the current recovery.
Other housing experts don't believe the area has a shadow inventory problem.
New numbers on mortgage delinquencies show the number of borrowers behind on their monthly loan payments in Arizona has fallen. Also, foreclosures starts in metro Phoenix have been slowing since January. Those who don't believe the region has a shadow inventory problem point to the declines in these key indicators as evidence.
Mike Orr, a real estate analyst at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey's School of Business, said there's no "shadow inventory" in sight.
"There is still no sign of any significant new supply of homes coming onto the market, and those who anticipate a flood of bank-owned 'shadow inventory' are likely to be very disappointed," said Orr in his latest real estate report.
Last week, the Mortgage Bankers Association released its latest data on late loan payments. Arizona's mortgage delinquency rate fell to 6.2 percent at the end of the second quarter. It was 6.5 percent at the beginning of the year.
According to the mortgage association, Arizona ranks 35th for mortgage delinquencies.
Mississippi ranks No. 1 with a delinquency rate of 11.8 percent. The national mortgage delinquency rate is 7.3 percent.
The number of new foreclosure filings, or notice of trustee sales, in Maricopa County dipped again in July. Last month, 3,219 new notices were filed, according to the Information Market and AZBidder.com. That's down from 3,711 in June and 4,328 in May.
Foreclosures, or trustee sales, have remained below 2,000 since March. A year ago, there were regularly 4,000 foreclosures or more a month in the region.
The ongoing recovery of metro Phoenix's housing market has enticed more developers and investors as well as than homebuyers.
New Jersey-based home builder Hovnanian Enterprises recently paid $31.5 million for 490 home lots in northwest Phoenix.
Builders are looking for land as new home sales climb. There were 332 actively selling new home subdivisions in the Phoenix area as of July 15, down from 400 in early January, according to Belfiore Real Estate Consulting. More than 60 percent of the current subdivisions under construction are expected to run out of lots within a year.
Courtland Homes sold the land. Scottsdale-based Nathan & Associates brokered the deal.
The industrial building housing Amazon's Arizona distribution business sold for $90 million earlier this month.
The 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse, near 75th Avenue and Interstate 10, was purchased by the Black Creek Group. Valley industrial developer Buzz Oates Cos. was the seller.
Phoenix-based commercial real estate research firm VIZZDA reports the property is Arizona's largest single warehouse.
Earlier this week, Westport Capital Partners paid $23.3 million for the 27-acre Agave Center in Tempe.
Dennis Desmond and Brian Ackerman of Jones Lang LaSalle negotiated the deal.
The property, near Warner Road and I-10, includes four office buildings, an industrial building and nearly five vacant acres for development.
by Catherine Reagor - Aug. 17, 2012 The Republic
Newest numbers don't cast 'shadow'
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