By Catherine Reagor | August 03rd, 2017

2017 is shaping up to be one of the best years for home sales in metro Phoenix.

Sales aren’t higher than the boom year of 2005 when speculators bought a record number of homes, or the bust year of 2011 when investors snapped up a record number of bargain Phoenix-area foreclosure homes.

But those years weren’t normal and definitely weren’t healthy for Phoenix’s housing market.

“2005 went down in the history books as the year our housing bubble rapidly inflated,” said housing expert Tom Ruff of Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service’s The Information Market. “2011 was the year housing prices bottomed out after the housing-market collapse.

“This leaves 2017 as the very best year for Valley resale homes in our history not influenced by some freakish market outlier,” said Ruff.

Home sales are up 9 percent from last year.

The Valley’s top half-years for existing home sales

  • 2005: 54,142
  • 2011: 53,896
  • 2017: 49,181

Regular buyers, including many first-timers, are driving more Phoenix-area home sales this year, and that’s a big reason why 2017 is such a better year than the others.

“As rent prices continue to climb, Millennials are feeling compelled to make the jump into homeownership,” Living Chandler founder and Revelation Real Estate agent Matthew Coates told me.

He also said many new residents coming to the Valley from the Midwest and Northeast for jobs are now buying homes after renting for a year or so.

A growing number of investors, including Canadians who bought houses for less than $100,000 during the crash, are now selling for hefty profits since home values have rebounded.

Those houses, now mostly priced below $500,000, are what most current buyers can afford.

Mary Campbell Gomez of RE/MAX AZ Mega Homes, told me the northwest Valley has a “serious shortage” of homes for sale.

Supply is so tight for houses priced right, she said some buyers are purchasing houses without seeing them in person because there’s so much competition.

That demand and competition for houses in the right price range is pushing up home values.

But Valley home prices still haven’t rebounded to boom levels.

Ruff said metro Phoenix’s median home price is up 6.5 percent for the year, a more-than-steady increase.

He said the current median home price of $245,000 is still about 7 percent off the peak price of $264,800 in 2006.

Phoenix-area home sales and prices do cool a bit during the summer when temperatures heat up.

So this probably won’t be the year Valley home values rebound back to boom levels.

But at the current pace of sales, 2018 could be that banner year.