AZ Central – Luxury home sales up 34% in metro Phoenix

A rebound in the jumbo mortgage market is helping sales of luxury houses while sales of lower-priced houses have been falling in metro Phoenix during the past few months.

Sales of single-family homes priced above $500,000 grew 34 percent from October 2012 to this October, according to Arizona State University. At the same time, the number of sales for houses priced below $150,000 have fell by 49 percent. But that drop is also due to fewer houses in that price range for sale.

The luxury home market continues to gain ground with the stock market booming and the growing availability of jumbo loans, said housing analyst Mike Orr of ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

Jumbo loans were very difficult to obtain after the crash because they can’t be backed by federally owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Lenders are liable for all losses on loans not backed by one of those insurers.

But during the past few months, banks flush with cash have jumped back into the jumbo loan business. Now the interest rate on mortgages for $500,000 and more is slightly lower than rates for conventional mortgages.The average rate for a jumbo loan is currently 4.59percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. That compares with an average 4.62percent rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for a mortgage below $400,000.

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