According to the most recent census estimates for Phoenix compiled from 2006 to 2008, the number of vacant houses in the city has more than doubled, from 29,998 to 69,672, since the 2000 census.
“I would definitely say that foreclosures are a big factor in why there are so many vacancies,” said Kim Dorney, housing director of the Phoenix Housing Department.
According to information compiled by Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, a marketing database for real estate agents, in 2000 a total of eight bank-owned foreclosed properties were sold in Ahwatukee Foothills. In contrast, 187 bank-owned foreclosed properties were sold in 2008 and 257 have been sold so far in 2009, said Paul Welden, an exclusive buyer’s agent Realtor in Ahwatukee Foothills.
The number of vacant houses in Ahwatukee has increased since he started here in 2004, Welden said, and he believes that foreclosures are the one and only cause for the trend due to the delay in time between when banks get ownership of the properties and when they are put on the market.
“The result of what’s happening with these foreclosures is that they are not being put on the market as fast as the banks are getting them, so there’s a lot of vacancies, a lot of them,” Welden explained.
Every month 6,000 to 8,000 properties are being foreclosed on in Maricopa County, Welden said, and he has seen it take as long as six months for a property to be put on the market again.
“The increase in vacancy is a sign of things to come because the foreclosures aren’t over yet, and the banks, by them not putting the properties on the market as efficiently and as quickly as possible, they’re delaying the foreclosure stage of the real estate market,” Welden said. “It’s going to take forever to deplete the supply of foreclosures in our current market.”
Ann Morgan, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and independent licensed agent who has worked under the supervision of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage for more than 28 years, said that vacant homes in Ahwatukee have increased, and according to information on MLS, about 549 homes are on the market currently and roughly 230 of those are vacant, she said.
The increase in vacant houses can be attributed to the inability of banks to make timely decisions regarding short sale properties, Morgan said. Also, many houses have been vandalized and stripped due to foreclosures, which are making buyers disinterested, she added.
“It may not be cost effective for the buyer to make livable,” Morgan said. “I have seen many that a buyer will have to put so much money into them to bring them back up, that in their eyes a home that does not need the work is a better buy.”
Kate Krietor, deputy director of the Neighborhood Services Department, said that while it’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the future with foreclosures and home vacancies, she is concerned with the resetting of adjustable rate mortgages and the faith of buyers, but hopes that new programs and extended tax credits will help.
“Over the next year or two another big wave of over 128,000 adjustable rate mortgages begin to reset, so we’re concerned about how many of those will result in foreclosures,” Krietor said. “Another unknown is whether or not homebuyers will remain confident and continue to buy homes.”
“I don’t think foreclosures are over yet,” Welden said. “I think it’s going to take years and years and years to get out of this mess.”
Cassidy Olson is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.