The time to buy in Phoenix is now: What neighborhoods should you be on the lookout for?

The improving economy is breaking the previous year’s downtrodden perspective. Consumer confidence is up to its highest level in four years, according to the latest Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index. In addition, employment levels are up, foreclosures are down and stocks are rising. All of this and more are contributing to make spring 2012 a good time to buy one of the homes for sale in Phoenix.

Regardless of what stage in life you are in, there is a neighborhood in Phoenix that offers something for you. Here are three communities to check out based on housing needs:

1. Young, first-time homebuyers. If you’re looking for a trendy location that caters to those in their 20s to young 30s, consider checking out Tempe. This local area is a tight community of hipsters who enjoy walking to the neighborhood bar, riding bikes, wearing scarves and attending the popular spring training exercises in March. The average listing price was $250,000 for the first week of April 2012, while the median sales price was approximately $130,000.

2. Middle-class families with children. Those looking for a safe neighborhood to raise children can look at the Ahwatukee Foothills in the southern half of Phoenix, which offers highly recommended schools and low crime rates. It also provides plentiful shopping and quick access to Interstate 10 to get to Central Phoenix within 10 minutes. The average listing price was just under $400,000 the first week of April 2012, and the median sales price was an estimated $220,000.

3. Empty nesters. After the children have moved out, you may want to downsize to remove the burden of maintaining a large home. The community of Mesa can provide those in their late 40s to age 65 and over a multitude of services. According to city demographics, 20.9 percent of the population was between the ages of 45 to 64, another 13.6 percent was over the age of 65.  To accommodate the majority, groups such as the East Valley Empty Nesters in Mesa have organized activities and gatherings to bring people together. Prices are affordable if you’re looking for a less expensive property and are living on a budget. The average listing price the first week of April 2012 was just under $200,000, and the median sales price hovered around $115,000.