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Metro Phoenix housing market's turnaround creates new issues

Now, buyers and renters live in those places — in properties re-floored, repainted and relandscaped. The number of empty houses in the Phoenix area today stands at about 10,000, according to an Arizona Republic analysis of housing data

In 2009 and 2010, houses were vacant for months. Now, properties generally are vacant because they are in transition between owners. The turnaround is credited to investors, who streamed in to buy dirt-cheap properties for cash. In many cases, these houses were turned into rentals for those who had lost properties to foreclosure or otherwise couldn’t afford to own. Once some of the massive amount of housing inventory was absorbed, it helped win back the confidence of some traditional buyers.

In three years, Phoenix has gone from having too many inexpensive, vacant houses to not having enough. Although the lack of available houses is driving up prices and enticing more homeowners to sell, prospective buyers face a lot of competition for the relatively few properties on the market.

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