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Valley home prices up; Investor interest wanes

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TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

The median single-family home price in Maricopa and Pinal counties shot up more than 4 percent in just one month, from January to February, a new report said. 

And it went up 36.5 percent, $124,500 to $170,000, from February 2013 to February 2013, the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University said on Thursday.

The market is still dealing with a chronic shortage of homes available for sale, the report noted. The number of active single-family-home listings, without an existing contract, in the greater Phoenix area fell about 5 percent just from February 1 to March 1. Also, 79 percent of the available supply is priced above $150,000, creating a real problem in the lower range, the report said.

"First-time home buyers face tough competition from investors and other bidders for the relatively small number of properties available in their target price range," said the report's author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

New-home sales have almost doubled their market share from 6 percent to 11 percent over the last 12 months. Still, Orr said new-home sales have a long way to go to recover their normal percentage of the market.

The percentage of homes bought by investors from 2011 to mid-2012 was way up, but it declined in Maricopa County from 37 percent last February to 29.7 percent this February. Many investors are looking at other areas of the nation where prices haven't recovered as much and more bargains are available. Orr labels it a "significant down trend" here.

Completed foreclosures on single-family homes and town home/condos fell 25 percent from January to February alone. They were down 52 percent from last February. Foreclosure starts were down 61 percent from last February.

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