Housing business improving---but not in Tucson
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The housing market was a huge part of dragging the U.S. economy to the worst slump short of the Great Depression. Now there are signs housing is on its way to a modest bounce-back.
But will Southern Arizona get a lift, or stay stalled?
Analysts who look at everything from the employment rate, to the price of homes, to the price of stock for home building companies see signs of a mixed, but generally better year for the housing industry---though consumers will still feel falling house prices. But here in southern Arizona the picture is less mixed---because it's more consisently discouraging.
Foreclosures continue to drag down the housing market in Southern Arizona.
John Strobeck of Bright Future Business Consultants has been analyzing property sales, foreclosures and construction permits. He says foreclosures account for 30 percent of the market here. That seems like good news for bargain hunters until they look for a loan.
Strobeck says, "Financial institutions are being very, very, very tight with their money and consequently we cannot go out and buy and consumer confidence is at an all time low in buying homes because we have literally thousands and thousands of people out there that have a bad taste in their mouth about buying a home because they have been thrown out through foreclosures."
Strobeck thinks when prices do finally rise, they'll fall again after sellers who held off for better prices put homes on the market and investors who bought foreclosed homes try to sell them off.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked Strobeck: "Is part of the lesson here, if you want to buy a house thinking it's an investment, you'd better be content to watch it go up and down for quite awhile before it goes up again, if for sure it ever does?"
Strobeck: "That is a key question. We don't know, really, if housing as an investment in my lifetime is going to be back to where it will be an investment."
Southern Arizona Home Builders Association President David Godlewski says only a few new homes are going up. Builders who can, are buying land with streets, water and sewer lines already prepared so they can move fast when it's the right time to build.
Godlewski says, "I think we're going to see the numbers of foreclosures filings fall in 2012 and beyond so that will be an indicator but I do think that job creation and economic growth will be the key to getting the housing market back."
Southern Arizona Home Builders says builders are diversifying through the slack time. They may find work remodeling an existing home, while they wait for the time to be right to build new ones.