Tucson: real estate gem of the desert?

Despite 'emptiest city' label, locale posts impressive growth in jobs, home sales

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 27, 2012

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"On a monthly basis, the median sales price increased a little over 2 percent from $117,500 in September to $120,000 in October. The average sales price increased 0.74 percent from $150,699 in September to $151,812 in October."

"I don't buy the idea that Tucson is in worse shape than any other city in the nation -- it just doesn't compute for me," said Marshal Vest, director of the Economic and Business Research Center at the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.

Phoenix and Tucson, as far as the economies are concerned, are both on very similar paths, said Vest. "Both were hit very hard during the recession. Phoenix may have been hit a little harder than Tucson. Housing prices, for example, have fallen (more steeply) in Phoenix, down more than 50 percent, but declined just 35 percent in Tucson."

In regard to jobs, the state lost about 11 percent from peak of employment in 2007, but in Tucson it was more like 9 percent, Vest said. "Tucson didn't lose as much of its workforce as did Phoenix."

As for rental vacancies, Vest said, "the numbers I look at come from the 2010 census, and Pima County (home to Tucson) had the lowest vacancy rate of any of Arizona's counties at a little over 11 percent. Statewide it was 16.2 percent. I don't know where CNBC/Yahoo Real Estate numbers came from."

If you still like Tucson as a primary or secondary home market, then you better act quickly because the window of cheap housing may be closing.

"Total unit sales increased by 30 percent in October 2011 as compared to October 2010," said Hollman. "The number of active listings decreased by 28 percent over the same period. When you combine that with not a lot of new-home construction, at some point we are going to have a tight market."

Steve Bergsman is a freelance writer in Arizona and author of several books. His latest book, "Growing Up Levittown: In a Time of Conformity, Controversy and Cultural Crisis," is now available for sale on Amazon.com.

Contact Steve Bergsman:
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