The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage. LA JOLLA, Calif. ( DQNews) -- Phoenix-area January home sales rose to the highest level for that month in five years as several price measures trended higher again on a year-over-year basis, a real estate information service reported. A total of 7,123 new and resale houses and condos closed escrow during January in the combined Maricopa-Pinal counties metro area. That was down 17.9% from the month before but up 3.2% from a year earlier, according to San Diego-based DataQuick, which tracks real estate trends nationally via public property records.
Total January home sales fell 3.1% short of the average number sold in January since 1994, but that was only because new-home sales remained very low. Resale volume in January was 17.5% higher than the January average, and it was the highest for that month since January 2006. January sales of newly built homes rose 31.3% year over year, to the highest level for a January since 2009. But this January's new-home sales were still 66% below average for the month. January home sales rose year over year in most price segments above $100,000. The number of new and resale homes that sold for less than $100,000 fell 7.3% from a year earlier, while sales between $100,000 and $200,000 increased 3.3%. Deals in the $200,000 to $600,000 range rose 9% from a year earlier, while above $800,000 sales increased 3.6 %. The median price paid in January for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the Phoenix region was $127,500. That was down 1.2% from the month before but up 7.1% from a year earlier. January marked the second month in a row in which the overall median sale price rose year over year. (In December 2011 the Phoenix area's median posted a 7.5 annual gain.) The median price paid for resale single-family detached houses in January rose to $125,900, up 0.7% from the prior month and up 5% from a year earlier, marking the second consecutive month to post a year-over-year gain (the December 2011 resale house median rose 4.2% from a year earlier). The $78,500 median resale price for condos in January dipped slightly month to month but rose 9% from a year earlier -- the third consecutive month with a year-over-year gain.