"For Sale" signs are still a common sight in many Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhoods and it's not likely to change any time soon, local real estate agents say.
"Compared to this time last year, sales have remained steady," said Gordon Baker with RE/MAX Alliance Group, "The good news is the number of homes for sale has decreased a little bit but homes are taking about six months to sell."
Baker said that more than 50 percent of the current home market is "distress sales" or foreclosures and short sales. That's common all over the state and it is throwing the market off balance.
"Right now we definitely have an over supply of houses," said Sean Bonini, associate broker and real estate agent for Realty One. "Right now we're out of balance. Balance is probably the main word I'd use to describe a good market."
The number of distress sales is dragging prices down. Brian Flatley of Kelly Williams Realty Sonoran Living believes the decline in prices has slowed but it's still happening.
"We'll notice improvement when we see the media report on the positive outlook and more sales," Flatley said. "We also need to see an increase in prices, that hasn't happened yet."
Local real estate agents like Baker, Bonini and Flatley are still waiting for the economy to improve before homes will begin to sell at prices that sellers want again. Baker believes only when more jobs come to the area will the housing market improve.
"What is going to have to happen depends on employment," he said. "When unemployment goes down less people will be losing their jobs and they'll be able to stay in their homes. We need to see a decrease in distress sales. When the economy turns around the housing market will turn around. From a buyers standpoint it's the best time to buy in 20 years."
Though "For Sale" signs seem prevalent every where, Ahwatukee may not have been hit as hard as other areas and Bonini hopes it will be one of the first areas to begin to see some improvement.
"Ahwatukee is a fantastic place to live," he said. "It's a nice area with lots of shopping and dining. There are a lot of nice people, it's a very community oriented area with a good school district. There are nice houses. You'll always have buyers, but right now there's just an over supply of homes."
Flatley said six months ago in Ahwatukee 99 listings were sold at an average price of $244,018. In the last 30 days there were 34 sales at an average price of $169,306. The significant decline may just be due to the time of year, he said.
Flatley noted that homes tend to sell better in the early summer months when kids are out of school and parents have time to begin moving.
Data released by realtor.com recently said Phoenix-Mesa was the fourth most searched market in the country in February of 2011 and the median list price was $159,794.