The Phoenix housing market provides an insightful, if not cautionary, tale.

If you enjoy roller-coaster rides, then Phoenix is your kind of housing market. Over the past 10 years, Phoenix has seen a bubble followed by a bust followed by a strong upswing. According to data from Case-Shiller, Phoenix house prices bottomed in August 2011, traded flat for the remainder of the year, and then increased 23% in 2012 and 15% in 2013.

Now it appears Phoenix has crested and could be headed down again. Overall housing sales dropped 17% year over year in July, according to the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service . Investors, who have driven Phoenix's market over the past couple years, appear to be loosing interest: Cash sales dropped to 25% of total sales in July compared to 43% a year ago.

We imagine most people don't like roller-coaster rides in real estate. The whipsawing is much more painful when your wallet is involved. Volatility also tends to repel both buyers and sellers on the margin. Volatility raises uncertainty, and people don't want to feel uncertain when contemplating a big purchase like a house.

Of course, we wish the best for Phoenix. But the key to Phoenix, and every other volatile housing market, is a return to single-digit annual price appreciation and a market driven by mortgage-financed owner-occupiers. Slow and steady always wins the race over the long haul, and always will in housing.

Information provided by Jessica Regan.

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