Home prices in the Tucson market have significantly flattened since mounting a comeback in 2011.
And with the overall economy recovery still slogging along and foreclosed homes still working their way through the system, sales and prices are expected to improve only gradually in the foreseeable future, local real-estate industry experts say.
Home prices in the Tucson market rose slightly in September, but unit sales were down 1 percent from the same month in 2013, according to the Tucson Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.
The median price — a measure that lessens the skewing effect of the highest and lowest sales prices — was $163,000, up about 1 percent from August and about 5 percent above the median price in September 2013, according to figures compiled by Bright Future Real Estate Research.
Plummeting home values from mid-2007 to mid-2011 left many Tucson-area homeowners owing more than their homes are worth, triggering a flood of foreclosures and short sales — and making it difficult for many owners to sell.
Data from the real-estate website Zillow.com show that more than 20 percent of Tucson-area homeowners had negative equity in their homes as of August.
Median local home prices have rebounded from a low of $115,000 in mid-2011 but progress has slowed since mid-2013.
Ginger Kneup, owner of Sahuarita-based Bright Future, said the flood of foreclosures that followed the financial collapse of 2008 still dog the market.
Though foreclosures have dropped, many investors who snapped up them up have left the market, Kneup said.
Even with the lower foreclosure rate, foreclosed properties still make up nearly 21 percent of the resale market, she said.
“The foreclosures are still a drag,” Kneup said.
Slow sales levels aren’t helping.
“The problem right now is our sales volume is so low,” Kneup said.
A big reason is the economy overall, and slow job growth, she said.
Local real-estate leaders also don’t see home prices accelerating anytime soon.
“What I’m seeing is, we are in recovery but it’s a slow market,” said Kimberly Clifton, owner of Tierra Antigua Realty and president of the Multiple Listing Service.
But Clifton doesn’t see the recovery stalling completely, adding, “The dramatic ups and downs have changed to a series of small changes.”
Clifton noted that historically low mortgage rates make homebuying attractive now for those with cash or good credit.
Rosey Koberlein, CEO of Long Realty, said the local hosuing market, like other sectors, has been held back by uncertainty, noting that sequestration and federal budget cuts hit Tucson harder than some places less dependent on military and government jobs.
“Bottom line, we need jobs,” Koberlein said. “Whatever any business person can do to create a job, we need to be doing.”
Koberlein says she expects foreclosures to continue, though nothing like the pace after the crash.
“We flushed through an enormous amount of foreclosed properties very quickly,” she said.