by Edythe Jensen – Mar. 13, 2012 10:00 AM
Courtesy of The Republic |

Central Chandler continues to have more distressed properties on the market than other parts of the Southeast Valley while Mesa and Chandler have the largest citywide numbers of foreclosures and short sales. Real-estate experts say that’s not cause for concern since the market is improving, prices are going up and fewer houses are for sale.

The news may surprise visitors who see an increasingly vibrant downtown Chandler with its busy nightlife, City Hall and low commercial vacancy rates. But the city center’s high housing density and proliferation of condos are likely factors in the higher numbers of foreclosures and short sales, the experts say.

According to the latest Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service distressed-properties report that tracks distressed property listings, the 85225 ZIP code that includes downtown had 176 foreclosure and short-sale listings in February. That represented 71 percent of all real-estate activity and was more than any other ZIP code in Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert and Queen Creek.

When taking entire cities into account, Mesa tops Chandler in its number of distressed properties. Gilbert is among the top five on the list and Tempe has some of the Valley’s lowest numbers.

Central Chandler’s distressed property figures aren’t as high as they were two months ago when the 85225 ZIP code had 199 foreclosures and short sales on the market.

Chris Heagerty, spokeswoman for the multiple listing service, said what’s happening in Chandler is typical of Valley-wide trends and a slowly recovering real-estate market that hit bottom in late 2009. She said areas with high density, lower home prices and a proliferation of condominiums continue to show the largest numbers of distressed properties. “Condo units are always a bit harder to sell when the market goes down,” she said.

More than 75 percent of home sales last month were for less than $200,000 and one-third were less than $100,000, according to figures compiled by the listing service.

Chandler real-estate agent Pam Bernard said newer areas of the city are recovering faster and in recent months she has had multiple offers for homes in desirable subdivisions like Carino Estates and Clemente Ranch in south Chandler.

“Sales have picked up for properties under $350,000 and buyers are competing,” she said, pointing out that construction is increasing and more buyers are looking for new homes.

Mike Salyer, managing broker for Keller-Williams Realty in Ahwatukee Foothills, said home prices in Chandler and across the Valley have been steadily increasing since August and listings have plummeted. While short sales account for a large portion of the market, there are considerably fewer foreclosure sales. He agreed that the high numbers of distressed sales in downtown Chandler are likely related to the area’s high density.

“We’re not quite back to 2005 levels, but we’re approaching it,” he said, referring to the time of low housing inventory and multiple buyers bidding on properties. Heagerty said real-estate agents across the Valley are seeing fewer foreclosures and more short sales.

“There may be increased lender appetite for working things out, and they may be getting better at it,” she said.