Welcome To Maricopa City, AZ, Where People Are Flipping Houses Like It's 2005

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Photo: Arizona State University

According to Case-Shiller, home prices are going crazy in Phoenix — +20.4 per cent YOY.We wanted to take a look at what exactly is going on down there.

But on our (virtual) way southwest, we ran into Maricopa, AZ, population 45,000.

According to Zillow, Maricopa’s home value index leads all Phoenix-area towns (it’s a 40-minute drive from the city).

Now, Zillow’s data is not entirely scientific — they rely on a propietary calculation to determine home values.

Still, looking closely at what’s going on in Maricopa reveals a home market that is practically indistinguishable from your average bubble town of six or seven years ago.

Maricopa has seen a 38-per cent year-over-year increase in its Zillow Home Value Index — Zillow's proprietary market value calculation

From this bird's eye view map of 2012 sales in the city, you can already tell something strange is going on

Zoom in closer and you see an explosion of sales

That's 1,500 sales recorded in the past 12 months

That's a lot of sales! But what is actually happening on the ground? To start, let's look at 43506 W Cydnee Drive

But it's selling history indicates something odd is going on here: two sales within a span of six months, the second one nearly 40 per cent more than the other

Let's look at another listing, 43376 W Wallner Drive

This is a 1,900 square-foot, four bedroom unit. Looks great

But again, the sales history indicates there's probably no one home. We have a sale in 2010, another earlier this year, and a re-listing just a month later

And it's not just the big guys seeing this frenzied activity. Here's 20809 N Ancon Ave, a 980 sq ft 2-bedroom unit

Price history: sold at auction in June of this year. Instantly re-listed. Resold a little over a month later

One more: 42839 W Sunland Drive: 3 beds, 1,400 sq. ft.

This is pretty much the housing crash in one chart: bonanza value in '06 (red), market tanks and home gets repo'd (red), bank feverishly tries to get it off its books by cutting prices (blue). Buyer finally found, flipped for a 60 per cent premium two years later (red)

Yes flipped. Greg Swann, a broker-realtor in Phoenix, emailed us to say the area has relapsed into an investor-fuelled bubble

Indeed, it's safe to say those flippers who survived the crash merely went into hibernation. Marty Boardman started a blog called Flipping Phoenix Houses in 2011

In his first-ever post, he lamented the market competition he was again facing from fellow flippers

To be sure, flipping is not the only story. Maricopa's seen a 140% year-over-year increase in new housing permits, one of the largest increases in all of Arizona

And businesses are opening

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