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Sales of existing single-family houses in the Phoenix area rose on a year-over-year basis for the eighth consecutive month in February as buyers opted mainly for deeply discounted distressed properties. With post-foreclosure homes accounting for nearly two-thirds of all resale activity, the region's overall median sale price fell to an 8-year low of $135,000 a real estate information service reported.

About 65% of the Phoenix-area houses and condos that resold in February had been foreclosed on in the prior 12 months, according to MDA DataQuick. The San Diego firm tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.

A total of 6,040 new and resale homes closed escrow in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metropolitan area in February, up 11.4% from January and up 9% from a year ago.

Last month's 55.1% annual increase in resales of single-family detached houses offset year-over-year sales declines for resale condos and newly constructed homes, which posted decreases of 6.5% and 61.2%, respectively. New home sales in February 2009 were the lowest for any month in more than a decade.

The median price paid for all new and resale homes sold in the Phoenix area in February was $135,000 - the lowest since it was $134,500 in January 2001. Last month's median fell 4.6% from January and fell 38.4% from a year earlier. February's median was 48.9% lower than the peak $264,100 median in June 2006.

Another price gauge analysts watch has fallen more sharply: The median paid per square foot for resale houses fell to $69 in February, down 47.6% from a year ago and down 59.6% from a peak $171 in June 2006.

Across the West, year-over-year declines in the median sale price - the point where half of the homes sold for more and half for less - have generally overstated the extent to which the value of the typical home has fallen. It's because the median is also being tugged lower by shifts in the types of homes selling, and where they're selling best. For example, more of today's sales involve foreclosures, which tend to sell at a discount and be concentrated in more affordable areas. Also, the August 2007 credit crunch made larger "jumbo" mortgages more expensive and harder to obtain, which has led to sluggish sales - in some cases the lowest in many years - in higher-priced communities. (A dropoff in high-end sales can pull down the median.)

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