January Hits Record Level of Pending Home Sales in ARMLS, Signifying Home Sales Prices Are Likely To Increase

Fidelity National Title and Cromford Report Releases Trends & Predictions Discussed At Recent Sold-Out Industry Event

Tempe, AZ – January 26, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Fidelity National Title, one of Arizona’s largest title insurance and escrow service companies, in partnership with Cromford Report, a subscription-based online statistical resource on the Metropolitan Phoenix residential resale market, today confirmed that the top of the Arizona real estate market was in June of 2006, with the bottom hitting in April of 2009. Maximum inventory of homes on the market was in late April of 2008.

According to Michael Orr, Analyst and Author of The Cromford Report, this month’s pending sales in ARMLS (the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service) are at a record level for January, signifying an increase in demand – a critical indication of recovery for Arizona’s real estate market and a positive sign of market activity. Market recovery is likely to be shallow and slow. Steady price stability is important to prove Arizona is past the bottom and inspire market confidence in a recovery.

A keynote speaker for the recent sold-out Fidelity 2010 Real Estate Crystal Ball event, Orr stated “”…like a supertanker, once the real estate market gathers momentum, it is very slow to turn around. 2010 won’t see a dramatic shift, but we can expect to see a shallow upward trend across the market. The number of homes under contract is more than double what it was last January, and sale price increases are likely to follow.”

He continued on to state that while the buying frenzy has cooled at the bottom of the market, activity is warming for homes in the $250,000 – $400,000 range. While many markets are showing an upward trend, it is important to note that some areas and neighborhoods are flat or continue to decline.  There may be another dip in sale prices as short sales continue to dominate the market, but the recent trend of sales price increases are a positive indication.

“The last three months of 2009 saw a 60% increase in short sale closings,” stated Fidelity Senior Vice President Steve de Laveaga.”In 2010, you will see a number of lenders move to aggressive short sale programs and cash for keys for sellers.”

December and January data for 2010 shows a 25 percent drop in REOs compared to last year, short sales increased by 16 percent, and normal sales increased by nine percent.

Short sales are expected to dominate the market this year, with REOs declining in importance as banks/lenders are discovering that they lose less money on short sale transactions. According to de Laveaga, trustee sales by bank-owned properties result in an average of $38,000 lost per transaction compared to a short sale.

Fidelity partner Mark Parris of RE/MAX Renaissance Realty, who was a panelist at the January 2010 Fidelity Real Estate Crystal Ball event, said, “banks are now implementing a better short sale process, so we are seeing more agents dealing directly with sellers before the banks get involved. This is a good step in the right direction for everyone.”

This information is released in partnership with Cromford Report, a daily subscription-based online report tracking residential real estate trends of the Metropolitan Phoenix area.

About Fidelity National Title Insurance Company of Maricopa County
Fidelity National Title of Maricopa County was established in 1981 and has maintained a steady physical and financial base in Arizona for almost thirty years, remaining rock solid through decades of market swings. It is protected under the umbrella of Fidelity National Title Group, which holds over $2.8 billion in reserves.

Fidelity is one of Arizona’s largest providers of title insurance and escrow services, with 13 offices Valley-wide and a staff with almost 100 years of combined experience servicing a portfolio of more than 6,000 mortgage accounts. Additionally, it is one of Arizona’s leading resources for real estate agent continued training. Fidelity recently launched  Fidelity Big Mouth – a blog aimed at helping real estate agents and lenders digest the Arizona real estate market.

Fidelity National Title Group
Founded in 1848, Fidelity National Title is the world’s largest title insurance company, issuing insurance policies and escrow services throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and 50 countries. It is one of the nation’s largest providers of title insurance and escrow services, and is ranked at #264 on the Fortune 500, an annual list compiled and published by Fortune magazine that ranks the top 500 U.S. closely held and public corporations. The respected title insurance underwriters that comprise Fidelity National Title Group issue approximately HALF of the residential and commercial title insurance policies in the United States. It is one of the foremost experts in the area of HUD, short sale, REO and foreclosed properties.

Fidelity National Title Group is a subsidiary of holding company Fidelity National Financial, Inc. (NYSE:FNF), a leading provider of title insurance, specialty insurance, claims management services and information services. For more information, visit www.fnf.com.

About The Cromford Report
The Cromford Report is owned and produced by Cromford Associates LLC, an Arizona limited liability company managed by Michael Orr and based in Mesa, Ariz.

Orr holds a masters degree in mathematics from the University of Oxford and spent 31 years in the computer industry, working for companies like IBM and Fujitsu. He relocated from England to California in 1992. In his most recent positions he was President of Tarantella and CEO of Mobilearia, both Silicon Valley technology start-ups now acquired by larger companies.

He first started investing in real estate in 1976 and left the computer industry in 2002, moving to Arizona to focus on real estate investment. He obtained a real estate license in 2005 and has been working on real estate market analysis since 2006. The results are published each day in The Cromford Report – an online resource for professionals focused on the Greater Phoenix residential resale market. He has been working closely with ARMLS and the Information Market LLC since July 2008.

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Carrie Morgan
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