Many local realtors disagreed with the results of a 24/7 Wall Street study that placed Tucson as number one, on a list of the “sickest” housing markets in the country.
The study looked at several factors, saying Tucson's homeowner vacancy rates, which stood at 6.8%, were the highest in the nation, and had doubled since last year.
It also considered rental vacancy rates, which stood at 16%, placing it 6th in the nation. The total number of housing units, and unemployment numbers also factored into the decision.
Many local realtors called the study “flawed”.
“Our vacancy rate is inaccurate,” said Vicky Puchi-Saavedra, an Executive Council Member with Long Realty.
“A huge percentage of our vacancy rates are from snow birds that come in. They only live here like 3 months of the year, yet they consider that a vacant home,” said Puchi-Saavedra.
Realtors said it was definitely a buyers market. Low interest rates combined with a lot of choices, was good news for those looking for a home, but bad news for those trying to sell.
“This house was appraised for $2.2 Million back in 2007. I tried to sell it then, now it is down to $1.2 Million,” said Ron Gollhofer, a commercial airline pilot, who was not so happy about selling his home at that price.
For those looking to invest, it was a great deal. The home sat on 7-acres of land, had a private runway and hangar, in-home movie theater, wine cellar, and stellar mountain views.
In other parts of Tucson, housing prices were also down significantly.
In the Continental Ranch area, Realtor Lori Engle had listed a 4-bedroom home that was once appraised at $275,000. Now it was on the market for about $174,000.
Both Engle and Puchi-Saavedra said things had improved significantly, so they found it hard to believe Tucson was the “sickest” housing market in the nation.
“We're seeing vacation property purchasers from baby boomers coming in, they want to move into the sunbelt. We're seeing first time home buyers, and we're seeing investors who want to put real estate in their portfolios,” said Engle.
Puchi-Saavedra also said they had sold 41% more homes since January of this year.
“We sold close to 800 homes in January. In June we sold close to 1400 homes. That's a 41% increase in sales in 6 months,” said Puchi-Saavedra.
Many realtors said, when it came to ranking the housing market, many factors had to be considered.
“Our time on the market is about five months now. We're actually seeing multiple offers on properties that are priced well. People want to snag them up,” said Engle.
It also depended on what study you chose to look at.
“We were rated as the 4th most desirable city in the nation to invest in real estate. So, they're calling us the “sickest” market, but we're also rated the fourth most desirable,” said Puchi-Saavedra.