ASU report: Stronger spring this year in Phoenix housing market

March 20, 2015

Expect to see a stronger spring this year in the Phoenix housing market than we saw last year. January was the “lull before the storm,” according to the latest monthly report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Here are the highlights of that report on Maricopa and Pinal counties for January:

• The median single-family-home sales price went up 5.6 percent from January 2014 to January 2015 – $197,000 to $208,000. Mike Orr Download Full Image

• Condos and townhomes continue to gain a larger share of the market.

• Preliminary February figures show demand about to boom, with the number of homes under contract dramatically rising.

After the housing crash, Phoenix-area home prices quickly rose from September 2011 to summer 2013. Then, the median single-family home price went up about another 5.6 percent from last January to this January – from $197,000 to $208,000. Realtors will note the average price per square foot gained 5.1 percent.

Condos and townhomes picked up even more momentum, with their median price up 11.6 percent – from $121,000 to $135,000. While single-family home sales activity dropped 7 percent from last January to this January, townhome and condo sales activity rose 6 percent. In fact, the amount of money spent on mid-range townhomes and condos was up an incredible 54 percent. Orr credits interest in easy-to-maintain homes.

Despite the attached-home phenomenon, though, the Phoenix market experienced relatively weak home-sales activity both last year and in January. However, things finally appear ready to change.

“January is always a quiet month, but we believe this was a lull before the storm,” explains the new report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “We have already seen early signs of much stronger activity from buyers in February and March. Looking at the number of homes going under contract, there was significantly increased demand in the lower and middle price ranges.”

Orr notes that listings for non-distressed homes under contract in the Phoenix area were up 26 percent from last year on a typical day in February. Listings from $150,000 to $600,000 were up more than 30 percent. He attributes this largely to lenders starting to relax their tight loan-underwriting guidelines and “boomerang buyers” who went through foreclosure or short sale being able to come back into the market.

Rental homes are also doing well.

“With relatively fast turnover and low vacancy rates, rents have been increasing in the most popular locations,” Orr said. “We are currently seeing a 5.8-percent rise over the last 12 months across the Greater Phoenix area.”

However, supply is an issue when it comes to all types of homes, including affordably priced rentals, which Orr said are at the lowest level he has seen in 14 years. Single-family home listings (excluding those under contract) were down 7 percent on Feb. 1 from the already depressed level at the same time last year.

“Supply remains relatively low except at the high end of the market,” Orr said. “At the moment, we are seeing early signs that demand is likely to recover quite a bit faster than supply. It would only take a modest increase in first-time home buyer demand to overwhelm the current weak level of supply, making it tougher to find affordable homes for sale.”

Don’t expect more supply to come from foreclosures. Completed foreclosures were down 43 percent from last January to this January.

One last note: Orr said home builders aren’t enjoying 2015 much yet. In January, newly built single-family homes hit their lowest monthly sales total in three years. However, he expects that trend to reverse, too.

Those wanting more Valley housing data can subscribe to Orr’s monthly reports at The premium site includes statistics, charts, graphs and the ability to focus in on specific aspects of the market. More analysis is also available at the W. P. Carey School of Business “Research and Ideas” website, at

Training unit prepares ASU students, educators, professionals for an economy without borders

March 23, 2015

Arizona State University is creating a language and cultural unit that will gear up American and international students, educators and professionals to advance in an economy that knows no borders.

Global Launch, with instruction in all languages, builds on the success of ASU’s program in English as a second language. It also will absorb what was previously called the American English and Culture Program and seeks to build participants’ academic and professional skill sets. The immersion program plans to have trained 10,000 participants from the U.S. and abroad by 2020. Download Full Image

Here are the types of ASU projects that are shaped and operated by Global Launch:

• A Global Leadership Program for students and professionals sponsored by the Federal District Government of Brazil.

• An intensive English course sponsored by the Mexican Secretary for External Relations for 650 students and professors held at ASU’s West campus.

• Training for 235 Peruvian high school teachers of English last month.

• Intensive English programs on the Tempe campus for international students. Typically, 45% of those students transfer to ASU as degree-seeking students.

“As ASU’s global reach continues to grow, now is the time to create a new entrepreneurial services platform,” said University Provost Robert E. Page Jr., “It will engage participants from the US and around the world who seek to work, visit or study abroad.”   

Global Launch builds on the mission chartered by ASU President Michael Crow to produce “master learners” – those who leave, not just with a certificate or degree, but with the skills to continue learning throughout life. It also helps fuel ASU’s partnerships and growth internationally.

Global Launch grew out of the university’s pioneering EdPlus program and will carry the same entrepreneurial values of speed and scale as well as a focus on utilizing digital technologies to enhance learning outcomes.

Global Launch currently has 150 full-time employees and will be headed by Julia Rosen, who has overseen and led the unit’s vision and growth for the past two years. Rosen, as managing director of Global Launch, will report to Page. The unit opens with four major divisions: Language Training, Academic Preparation Services, Capacity Building Programs, and Digital Products and Services.

“We are looking forward to working with our ASU colleagues and partners around the world,” Rosen said, “to help people achieve new levels of competency to thrive in the global marketplace.”  

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Lisa Robbins

editor/publisher, Media Relations and Strategic Communications