Arizona market update. Relief coming for home buyers.

After experiencing 25% appreciation since a year ago in some parts of the valley in post covid, Arizona may be taking a breather, but it’s complex. Here are the top charts from our latest 2021 real estate market report that explains why Arizona is due for a slow down, why prices will continue upward for the next while, and why you should think of selling. We have such good data now that we can predict where home prices are heading if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home.

Buying: Well, yes you may be buying at the top of the market based on the previous 10 years in Arizona but there is still too little supply for prices to reverse. I’ll show you what cities are still peaking, what cities will reverse the soonest, and show you that we likely have 12 more months of appreciation left in most cities due to supply issues and a plethora of other problems we face. The Cromford Market index has been coming down since March 2021, but it’s still very high relative to past years, but this is a glimpse of hope for buyers and a warning for sellers that your power tripping won’t be lasting. The lower it goes, you can expect fewer multiple offer situations, more days on market for sellers, fewer appraisal waivers, fewer inspection waivers, and buyers will make more demands in their offers, but most of the valley prices should continue to rise in 2021.

Selling: I would think of selling if you’ve been planning on doing so in the past few years because the demand is still there and you have some time to prepare because the home selling process can take months. The stories of multiple offers, appraisal waivers, inspection waivers, and cash offers will slow down once the Cromford market index comes down from its peak in March 2021.

Why Do We Have a Housing Shortage?

From 2000 to 2009 we over-built for the population. From 2010-2020 we under-built for the population. In 2004-2006, speculation building on credit caused huge problems. When the lending dried up, we had huge price declines. This is not a gap that can be closed easily.

The true demand is based on population. With 290 people moving here a day, we have the population to support more building.

As housing units increase and reduce the gap between building and population growth the strong seller’s market will weaken and could even go flat. Check out the population growth versus housing unit growth. In 2008 we built 0.6 units for every added person. In 2012 it was 0.11 new units per person. In 2020 (through July) it was 0.30. 0.4 per person is ideal.

In 2000 there were 2.44 people per household, it then declined through 2009 and bottomed out at 2.32.  Through July 2020 it reached 2.53 people per household. Arizona is #13 for having the most people per household in the country. How many houses are only for tourists? There is not a lot of available data on short-term rentals. There are many properties that are short-term rentals that are not registered as short-term rentals.

The areas with the most new developments are also the areas with the most population growth. Queen Creek tops the charts at 16.2% population growth. Pinal County’s population growth outpaced Maricopa County’s.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) expects a 14% population increase by 2029. 11.2% of that growth in Phoenix, 13.8% on the east side, and 26.4% on the west side. This population growth is projected in conjunction with all of the job growth. GPEC has really focused on bringing in a lot of new jobs. In 2010 we were all real estate and tourism. Today our job market is much more diverse.

New Development: 

  • For interactive maps on land use and locations of new development, visit http://geo.azmag.gov/maps/landuse/
  • Single family permits are up 40% year to date. 25% fewer than in 2005 at this time.
  • Builder associations are reporting real material shortages. 90% of builders are saying that something is behind and slowing them down. 95% are saying it is a slowdown in appliances.
  • Lumber prices are dropping but are not expected to reach pre-pandemic prices.
  • Home renovations are starting to slow because people are going back to work.

Cromford Market Index (CMI):

Cromford Market Index™ is a value that provides a short-term forecast for the balance of the market. It is derived from the trends in pending, active, and sold listings compared with historical data over the previous four years. Values below 100 indicate a buyer’s market, while values above 100 indicate a seller’s market. A value of 100 indicates a balanced market.

Available on the main page of the Cromford Report: https://cromfordreport.com/ (without a subscription)

  • 100 is balanced and prices rise at the rate of inflation, below 100 is a buyer’s market, above 100 is a seller’s market, prices drop below 90, prices rise at 110. 2014 was a balanced market.
  • On 3/20/2020 we were at 241
  • On 5/15/2020 we were at 145.2
  • Yesterday we were at 422.6
  • We peaked on 3/14/2021 at 514.9
  • Prior to this run, the previous peak was 312.9 in the spring of 2005.
  • Cromford market index is the predictor, it moves first and then appreciation follows. Cannot predict the CMI.

How long can we expect to be in this market? Some people think we are on the cusp of a market crash. While it is not a crash, the market is softening. Inventory is increasing more quickly than demand is declining. Demand has declined by 0.7 points in the past 30 days, while inventory has increased by 1.6 points. More options for buyers. It is not about the demand right now, it is about supply.

More listings are coming to market and staying active. The CMI is dropping because inventory is increasing. As inventory increases sellers are getting fewer offers and people are noticing.

How long will be in a seller’s market? Do not predict the CMI. It is not predictable. It is the predictor.

If we are dropping 27 points a month it will take a year to go to balance. By the end of December we could be at 265, still a very strong seller’s market. This is a trendline, things can change quickly and each city has its own distinct market trendline.

As the seller’s market weakens, people will get very nervous about a market crash and declining property values and think may wait to buy. Remember demand needs to be lower than supply. With supply 75% below normal and demand nearly 7% above normal, it will take a long time for demand to be lower than supply. Before the 2008 crash there were 57,000 active listings. Today there are fewer than 6,000 active listings. We do not have lots of listings. Housing market isn’t like bitcoin. We are not overbuilding without the population growth. Prices are not going to drop.

Using 4-week averages and tons of past data, we can draw a trendline from the Cromford Market Index, illustrating when we might reach a balanced market. No reason to believe that this will stay in a basic trendline. It will adjust. It is only what we know today. Since each city is so different, it is best to check each one monthly. To show the variation between cities, these are the timelines in which they could reach balance: (Balance doesn’t mean prices will fall)

  • Phoenix 14.3 months
  • Chandler 13 months
  • Scottsdale 8 months
  • Mesa 5.5 months
  • Gilbert 4.8 months

Always look at demand. Today’s high CMI is mostly based on low supply. When demand drops below normal, there are fewer transactions, but prices still go up, just more slowly. Mortgage lenders loosened credit slightly in May. Demand increases when it is easier to get a loan. Low rates are still desirable.

For Sellers:

This means that as we come out of a strong seller’s market and into a weaker one they may have to pay seller concessions. In a strong seller’s market only about 3% of sellers pay concessions. In a weak one 25% of sellers pay concessions. They also have to make more repairs and the property will likely spend more time on the market. The market is still super-hot and it is a great time to sell.

For Buyers:

It is still a great time to buy. Interest rates are low. Home prices will only continue increasing. Buyers last year who opted to wait are now paying 30% more for the same house. In Q1 2021 62.8% of homes sold were affordable. In 2005 26.6% of homes were affordable. Wages have increased 26% in the last 5 years. Rents are up 23%. To buy the median house with 10% down the monthly payment is $1843 a month. To rent the same house, renters are spending $1975 a month. It is cheaper to buy.


Hit 5%. People are talking about housing prices dropping due to inflation. Low inflation is not necessarily good. Low inflation happens when people are not spending their money. Inflation increases because people are spending a lot of money. We had a stimulus which drove more spending. The spikes in spending doesn’t always last. We were told to stay home and then they gave us money so we spent it on stuff like boats, guns, cars, clothes, appliances, etc. We were not making any new stuff to replace what we bought so we ran out and prices went up. Supply and demand.

Inflation is the relationship of appreciation. Rate of inflation is the appreciation in a balanced market. Buyer’s market appreciates a lower rate than the rate of inflation. Seller’s markets appreciate at a rate higher than the rate of inflation.


Forbearance could speed up the rate in which we move to balance. There are about 2 million mortgages in forbearance. What will happen in July? Struggling borrowers have until June 30 to enter into a forbearance plan and will have the ability to stay for 12 months. Forbearance exits will be spread out across the next 12 months. Most homeowners are staying in their homes after exiting their plan. About 15% of borrowers are leaving forbearance without a loss mitigation plan in place. Divided up by state, we could have about 6,300 borrowers that need to sell.


Supply is up 28% since February but is still 40% below this time last year. If we got 6,300 new listings we would match where we were in 2018.

Certain price ranges have bigger increases than others:

  • $300K-$400K is up 31.4% since February.
  • $400K-$800K is up 79.5% since February.
  • $800K-$1M is up 67.6% since February.
  • Over $1M is up 10.1% since February.

More and more homeowners are comfortable with selling their home now. We are seeing the high side of seasonality and going into the summer slowdown, which is normal. We are following the 2019 trends, which is a good thing. A more balanced market is a healthier market.

Price Reductions:

Price reductions have increased by 70% from 2/14/21. We are seeing a lot of price reductions but not a lot compared to other years. This is a trend.


Listings under contract are down 16.9% from this time in 2020 and down only 5% from this time in 2019. Again, here price point matters:

  • $300K-$400K listings under contract are down 3.6% below 2020.
  • $400K-$800K listings under contract are up 24.3% above 2020.
  • $800K-$1M listings under contract are up 42.2% above 2020.
  • $1M+ listings under contract are up 56.4% above 2020.

So far in June, 61.5% listings sold over asking, reflecting contracts written 30-45 days ago, the market was different 30-45 days ago. June closings are closing 2% higher than their list prices. 97% is the normal range for closing. June is 102%. The median amount over asking is $20,000.

The median days on market is still only 6 days, the same as February. This number will start to go up due to the increases inventory.

2021 is now the new benchmark with the biggest sales count ever from January through May. There have been 1.1% more sales than in 2005.

Luxury had the biggest year ever in 2020 and so far in 2021 it is continuing. The first 5 months of 2021 saw an increase of 147% in closings for properties over $1M.

Final Thoughts:

The seller’s market is weakening but we do not have desperate sellers so we are not in a buyer’s market. Inventory is rising and demand remains solid. May had an appreciation rate of 39% and June, so far, is at 38% appreciation. The appreciation rates will slow as more inventory comes to market and slowing appreciation is a good thing. There is lots of job growth with more to come. If you’re a seller its time to think of selling, and if you’re a buyer, it is what it is, and its not fun but prices will continue to rise until we get more supply and we will let you know!

Jay Bru



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