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Housing: A Long Way From Normal

Even as it heals, the housing market is ruled by extremes
Photographer Kirk Crippens captured scenes of homes being reconditioned and readied for sale in Riverside County, Calif.
Photographer Kirk Crippens captured scenes of homes being reconditioned and readied for sale in Riverside County, Calif. Photograph by Kirk Crippens for Bloomberg Businessweek

Remember suburban Phoenix, home of empty subdivisions with green swimming pools and roving coyotes? It’s booming again. A house in Glendale got 95 offers and eventually sold for 17 percent above the asking price. “This is not something we would see in a normal market,” says Michael Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

After falling 57 percent from 2006 through last October, Phoenix metro housing prices rose 12 percent through April and have continued upward since, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price indexes. In Atlanta, meanwhile, the housing recession is far from over: Home prices fell 17 percent in the year through April to their lowest point since 1997, according to Case-Shiller.