By Catherine Reagor and Ryan Konig | The Arizona Republic
The number of foreclosures has dropped dramatically in metro Phoenix since peaking in 2011. But during the housing crash, they dominated the market. Lenders have taken back more than 250,000 homes since 2008.
As the economy has improved, the number of foreclosures returned to precrash levels. In September, there were fewer than 700, compared with about 4,000 a month throughout 2011. The peak month for foreclosures in the Phoenix area was March 2010, when there were more than 5,000.
The housing market improved first because of bargain-hungry investors buying up large numbers of foreclosure properties from lenders. That investor buying spree sparked a 65 percent jump in the region’s median home-sales price over the past two years.
Now, investors are buying fewer properties, but traditional buyers are eager to purchase houses before prices and interest rates climb too high. And more homeowners are placing properties for sale because they think they can make a p