Higher prices have many buyers searching for a house they can afford.
Deals still can be found on some new properties in metro Phoenix, but buyers probably will need to gas up before checking out the neighborhoods.
New homes starting at less than $185,000 are for sale in the Valley's southeastern edge suburbs, about an hour to 90 minutes from central Phoenix. That's much lower than the Phoenix-area median new-home price of $320,000 and below the resale median of about $265,000.
New-home developments in Pinal County — in Coolidge, Casa Grande, Florence and the city of Maricopa — are offering most of the least-expensive new homes for sale in the region, according to Belfiore Real Estate Consulting.
Those suburbs were many of the hardest hit by the housing crash and posted the highest foreclosure rates.
Only one community closer in, the Copper Leaf Villas in south Phoenix, made the top 10 list for lowest-priced new Valley homes.
Surprisingly, no new communities in the West Valley, long considered metro Phoenix's most affordable area, made the list. But the West Valley does have some of the most popular new-home neighborhoods based on sales.
McClellan Meadows in Coolidge features the lowest-priced new homes in the region now.
Prices at Wade Jurney Homes in the community near Coolidge Avenue and Highway 87 start at $145,000. A home for that price comes with 1,200 square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a monthly payment just under $700, according to the builder.
"In Maricopa and Casa Grande, sales volumes have generally been lower, and some new builders are trying to get a foothold in the markets (with lower prices)," housing analyst Jim Belfiore said.
Others on the Top 10 list, with the lowest-priced properties:
Seven of the 10 top-selling new-home communities in metro Phoenix now are in the West Valley. Three of those neighborhoods — Tartesso, Terravista and Tenova — are in Buckeye.
Buckeye is one of the Valley's affordable suburbs, with a median home price below $200,000.
New homes in Tartesso at 300th Avenue and I-10, about 40 miles from central Phoenix, also start below $200,000.
Tartesso and Buckeye prices have risen more rapidly recently because of a "healthy" increase in sales, Belfiore said.
All of metro Phoenix's most affordable communities and those in the top 10 for sales are a not-so-healthy commute from the central Valley.
Not all of the buyers will face the commutes, with some working remotely or near their homes. But most of the Valley's jobs are closer in.
Long commutes add $3,000 to $6,000 per car to a homeowner's costs every year, something that should be calculated into an area’s affordability.
Phoenix has long been the West's most affordable big city for housing, but that’s changing.
Home prices have jumped 130 percent in 10 years, and the region is leading the nation for apartment rent increases.
The gap between what Phoenix-area residents earn and what they pay for housing also is growing, which is putting the squeeze on many.
So a growing number of people who want to buy now are trading rising rents for long commutes.
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