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The Homebuyer Shutdown: Will cooler heads prevail?

As the domestic political dialogue continues on its stalwart, polarizing trajectory, it seems as if the national effort to entrench has become a transcendent one.

In real estate, for example, the impasse continues between potential homebuyers and their increasingly well-positioned selling counterparts.

Recent reports have confirmed a 3-month national decline in home sales, with the steepest drop coming among current homeowners. This has many speculating about the reason (or reasons) for this general weakening of home sales.

Are current homeowners simply waiting for the cresting of their consistently-rising home values? Or is this a continuation of the wave of disgruntled homebuyers, recently described by Phoenix real estate expert Michael Orr as a “buyers’ strike”?

“I think it’s a continuation of the ‘buyers’ strike,'” said Orr, who is the director of real estate at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “Obviously, prices have reached a point where buyers are thinking twice rather than just jumping (into the market),” Orr said on his weekly appearance on That Real Estate Show.

In Arizona, those who are jumping into the market are not only finding a rise in home prices but a significant drop in “distressed” listings, such as short sales and bank-owned properties.

According to the recent figures published by the Arizona Multiple Listing Service, (ARMLS), distressed sales in September were down 43% from last year, and there are 4,201 less distressed home listings this October as compared to one year ago. Overall, home sales in Maricopa County were down nearly 1,500 from last September, mirroring the national trend and augmenting Orr’s “buyers’ strike” theory.

These figures may begin to turn around, however, as the cooler months of October and November lure out-of-state buyers and can spur more buying activity than the hotter, and historically dormant, summer months in Phoenix.

“As the temperature goes down, the real estate market starts warming up,” Orr explained. “In October, you get the Snowbirds coming back, and you get a little more interest from everybody, so [Phoenix has] like a mini-boom in the fall.”

Such a change in market conditions would be as welcome to Phoenix homebuyers as a change in the weather. Perhaps then we can anticipate a fall season where cooler heads will prevail – in Phoenix real estate, at least.

Listen for more Phoenix real estate news with realtors Diane Brennan and Rod Lakin on That Real Estate Show Saturdays at 3 p.m. on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR.