Phoenix real estate: Slower population growth may delay housing market recovery

January 14, 2011

Since 2008, 11 percent of the single-family homes in Maricopa County, Arizona, have been through foreclosure -- 4 percent in the last year alone. And with moratoriums on foreclosures ending, the new year is expected to start with an uptick in the number of property owners losing their homes. Associate Professor Jay Butler, author of the monthly Realty Studies Report, has looked at the preliminary census numbers. They show that actual population growth in the last decade was slower than projected. This raises questions about the amount of time that will be needed for the surplus housing in the Phoenix market to be absorbed. Arizona historically has relied on in-migration and construction to power economic growth. Looking ahead, Butler says that the state faces serious questions about this reliance on population. And he suggests that across the nation as well as in the West, the American Dream itself is up for review.