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Growth in the Phoenix real estate market

Phoenix area saw unexpected rise in December real estate sales.

Phoenix area saw unexpected rise in December real estate sales.

The Phoenix area saw an unexpected rise in home sales in December in virtually every housing category, indicating more people are moving to the West, according to a report released last month.

According to MDA DataQuick, more than 8,700 new or resold homes were purchased in December. That's a low number of new homes sold historically - the lowest December month sale since 2008 - but the number of homes that resold rose year-over-year for the first time in eight months. There was also an uptick in sales of foreclosed homes, as 56 percent of the resale market was represented by distressed property purchases.

Buyers took advantage of housing deals in December, as the report says homes selling for less than $100,000 increased to nearly 40 percent in December, a sharp rise from the 31 percent of all sales in December of 2009.

And in what appears to be something of a trend, MDA DataQuick found more people made payments on their houses in cash. A recent report from Freddie Mac indicated more people paid down their initial mortgage payments with cash in 2010 than in previous years.