Courtesy of Mortgage Orb

A record-high portion of investor and all-cash purchases lifted Phoenix-area February home sales to a four-year high for that month, DataQuick Information Systems reports. At the same time, foreclosures rose sharply, increasing by 17.5% from January.

A total of 7,248 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow last month in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metropolitan area – up 5.5% from January and up 6.2% from February 2010.

Cash buyers accounted for a record 48% of all sales in February – up from 46% in January and 43.9% a year earlier. Sales below $100,000 represented 40.4% of all transactions in February. People paying cash bought just over two-thirds of the sub-$100,000 homes sold.

The unusually high level of cash buyers reflects a combination of factors, such as tighter lending standards and sellers’ prioritization of cash buyers, DataQuick says. In addition to the relatively tight lending environment, the relatively low level of homes bought with a mortgage reflects high unemployment, potential buyers’ concerns over job security and underwater borrowers’ inability to sell their homes and buy new properties, the data firm adds.

Servicers foreclosed on 5,932 house and condo units in the two-county Phoenix area in February – up 17.5% from January and up 28.3% from a year earlier. During the first two months of this year, foreclosures are up 14.8% from the same period last year.

SOURCE: DataQuick Information Systems