Some old timers still blame a December 1988 Barron's article ("Phoenix Descending") for the collapse of the city's real-estate boom. This is fantasy, of course: The market caved in on its own, pulled down by too many hustles, too much overbuilding and the savings and loan scandal driven by local steward Charles H Keating and his pet senators. Now Rupert Murdoch's Dow Jones has tried to make amends with a Wall Street Journal story about Phoenix's "nascent real-estate rebound." Indeed, it "holds lessons for the rest of the country." Another fantasy?
The Journal continues:
Phoenix has found a viable formula. Low prices are igniting demand from first-time buyers and investors who are converting the homes to rentals. The local economy is on the upswing with several big employers like Amazon.com Inc. and Intel Corp. hiring again, which is further increasing demand for housing. And the region is benefiting from a surge of buyers from Canada who are using their favorable exchange rate to scoop up bargains in the desert.
Could this be true? Has long-suffering Phoenix "found a bottom" and is beginning a rebound? As Zhou Enlai may have said when asked about the significance of the French Revolution: It is too soon to say. What it means about the metropolitan area's real competitiveness and future is murkier still.