Mortgage And Real Estate News

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Builder touts plan for downtown Scottsdale -

Love it or hate it, developer Shawn Yari is gradually reaching his goal of transforming downtown Scottsdale's entertainment district to match his long-term vision.

Triyar Cos. at a glance.

A private umbrella company with offices in Los Angeles and Scottsdale.

Triyar stands for the three Yari brothers -- Shawn, Steven and Bob.

Triyar owns and operates numerous properties in several states, including New York, Texas, California, Indiana and Arizona.

Triyar Entertainment manages the entertainment at the W Scottsdale and other venues.

Triyar Hospitality develops and manages hospitality, retail and office properties across the country.

That vision involves ridding the area of numerous older buildings and businesses to make way for a live-work-play destination for young professionals. The area, south of Camelback Road and east of Scottsdale Road, includes a high concentration of bars and attracts thousands of patrons every weekend.

Yari, owner of Triyar Cos., has met some resistance as he has unveiled his plans and gone through the city's planning-approval process, but nothing has stopped him so far.

"There's always differences in opinion of how a downtown or even a city should grow," Yari said. "I think that's why we've always had the public-input process of having community open houses. The feedback we've received is overwhelmingly positive, to not only redevelopment for entertainment use, but also redevelopment for residential and the mixed use."

His most outspoken critic remains Bill Crawford, president of the Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale's Quality of Life. He lives not far from the W Scottsdale Hotel, a Triyar development that includes a rooftop pool with an outdoor DJ on weekends.

Triyar also developed the Downtown Entertainment Plaza, a restaurant/bar complex on Saddlebag Trail south of Camelback.

"Mr. Yari has put money and influence into his vision of changing the character of downtown Scottsdale," Crawford said. "I see these changes as a departure from Scottsdale's brand and, in some cases, incompatible with Scottsdale's quality of life. Furthermore, myself and other Scottsdale residents and businesses have been adversely affected on a daily basis by the negative impact of Mr. Yari's ventures."

Crawford's criticism of Yari and his projects prompted a lawsuit by the developer alleging defamation and other claims. The suit hasn't progressed since Yari filed it in March in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Yari wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.

Mayor Jim Lane said Yari's vision appears to be striving to meet a demand for those who want to live in the downtown area and have entertainment options nearby.

"And it is to a new demographic that we're, to some degree, accommodating. And I think that's part of how the city transitions a little bit, while sensitive to the existing, but nonetheless while trying to meet demand," he said. "The marketplace does sort of give us a guide on this, and frankly, as time goes on, if you're not responsive to the marketplace, that's when areas die."

Sonnie Kirtley, chairwoman of the Coalition of Greater Scottsdale, a citizens and small-business owners advocacy group, said the city should have a plan in place to guide redevelopment in the entertainment district.

"Project approval on a case-by-case basis is the problem," she said. "The city has failed to plan a specific entertainment district with appropriate growth and impact guidelines. Hopefully, new council members will understand the urgency and establish a designated district."

Taking shape

Demolition is under way to clear most of the city block that housed Myst nightclub on Shoeman Lane and Suede restaurant/bar on Indian Plaza to make way for Triyar's Scottsdale Retail Plaza, an entertainment complex with an indoor-outdoor pool club in the center.

The Development Review Board gave its final approvals to the project last week. The complex is set to open in the first quarter of 2013.

Yari has two projects in the pipeline that would bring 320 apartment units to the district. Industry East (188 units plus retail) and Industry West (132 units plus retail) are in the early stages of the city's planning-approval process.

The complexes would be on the north side of Stetson Drive between Wells Fargo Avenue and 75th Street.

"Industry East and Industry West will serve as a medium-price-point rental product, and they're high-quality," Yari said. "People can live there and enjoy the different venues that are there now and will exist in the future. Also, they can work in the numerous businesses that are located in this area. It's a true live, work and play community."

The downtown infill-incentive proposals are requesting increased building height and density, and other amended development standards in exchange for public benefits, said senior planner Kim Chafin.

The current zoning allows a maximum building height of 50 feet and five levels, while Triyar is requesting an increase to 70 feet and six levels, she said.

Also, Triyar is seeking permission to provide slightly less parking than is required, four less spaces at Industry East and 13 less at Industry West, Chafin said.

"You are allowed to ask for variations from the regulations, and then to get those you have to propose some sort of public benefit, so we're waiting to see what that benefit will be," she said. "They haven't identified one yet."

Yari hopes to have Industry West under construction in eight to nine months and plans to build the complexes in phases. The proposals could be considered by the Development Review Board in September, followed by the Planning Commission and City Council.

Back on track

Yari's original vision included a 10-acre, $390million mixed-use complex southeast of Scottsdale and Camelback roads, with new clubs, restaurants, condominiums, offices, a hotel and a bowling center.

However, the downturn in the economy forced him to rethink his plans and instead focus on growing the same vision, but one project at a time. Triyar also owns other, smaller properties in the entertainment district that later could be pegged for redevelopment.

"We would like high-quality entertainment, high-quality restaurants, upscale residential condos and apartments, and then different ancillary uses of retail, such as breakfast and yoga, workouts and personal training," he said.

Although Yari won't divulge how much Triyar is investing in each project, he did say the investment for the pool-club complex alone is in the "substantial eight-figure range."

If managed well, Triyar's plans should be a "positive thing" for all of downtown, Lane said.

By Edward Gately, The Republic|azcentral.comPosted Jun 15, 2012

Builder touts plan for downtown Scottsdale -

Fed reports U.S. families lost 39% of worth in recession

Getty Images Stock

WASHINGTON - The recent recession wiped out nearly two decades of Americans' wealth, according to government data released Monday, with middle-class families bearing the brunt of the decline.

The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That puts Americans roughly on a par with where they were back in 1992.

The data represent one of the most detailed looks to date of how the economic downturn altered the landscape of family finance. Over a span of three years, Americans watched progress that took almost a generation to accumulate evaporate. The promise of retirement built on the inevitable rise of the stock market proved illusory for most. Homeownership, once heralded as a pathway to wealth, became an albatross.

Those findings underscore both the depth of the wounds of the financial crisis and how far many families remain from healing. If the recession set Americans back 20 years, economists say, the road forward is sure to be a long one. And, so far, the country has seen only a halting recovery.

"It's hard to overstate how serious the collapse in the economy was," said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics. "We were in free fall."

The recession caused the greatest upheaval among the middle class.

Only roughly half of middle-class Americans remained on the same economic rung during the downturn, the Fed found. Their median net worth -- the value of assets such as homes, cars and stocks minus any debt -- suffered the biggest drops. The wealthiest families, by contrast, actually saw their median net worth rise slightly.

Americans have tried to rebalance the family budget but have found it difficult to reverse the damage.

The survey indicated that fewer families are carrying credit-card balances and that those who do have less debt. The median balance dropped 16 percent, from $3,100 in 2007 to $2,600 in 2010. The Fed also found that the percentage of Americans who don't have any debt at all rose to a quarter of families.

But that progress was undermined by other factors, leaving the median level of family debt unchanged. The report said more families reported taking out education loans. Nearly 11 percent said they were at least 60 days late paying a bill, up from 7 percent in 2007. And the percentage of families saddled with debts greater than 40 percent of their income stayed the same.

Not only were Americans still facing significant debts, they were making less money. Median income fell nearly 8 percent, to $45,800, in 2010. The median value of stock-market-based retirement accounts declined 6 percent, to $44,000.

But it was the implosion of the housing market that inflicted much of the pain. The value of Americans' stake in their homes fell by 42 percent from 2007 to 2010 to just $55,000, according to the Fed.

The poorest families suffered the biggest loss of wealth from the drop in real-estate prices. But middle-class Americans rely on housing for a larger part of their net worth. For some, it accounts for just over half of their assets. That means every step downward is felt more acutely.

Rakesh Kochhar, an economist at the Pew Research Center, calls this phenomenon the "reverse-wealth effect." As consumers watched the value of their homes rise during the boom, they felt more confident spending money even if they did not actually cash in on the gains. Now, the moribund housing market has made many Americans wary of spending, even if their losses are just on paper.

According to the Fed survey, that paper wealth -- or what is officially called unrealized capital gains -- shrank 11 percent to about a quarter of American's assets.

The findings track research Kochhar released last year that showed a dramatic drop in household wealth during the recession, particularly among minorities. That study found record high disparities in wealth among Whites, Blacks and Hispanics. "It was turning the clock back quite a bit," Kochhar said.

Although there have been some signs that the recovery has picked up steam -- housing prices have begun to stabilize, and unemployment has fallen -- Fed economists said those improvements largely do not change the survey results.

by Washington Post Jun 11, 2012

Fed reports U.S. families lost 39% of worth in recession

RED buys, willupgrade Scottsdale retail site -

RED Development has added Hilton Village in Scottsdale to its growing portfolio of Arizona retail properties.

RED bought the 10.8-acre shopping center northeast of Scottsdale Road and McDonald Drive from Westcor for $24.8 million.

"It's hard to find good Scottsdale Road properties, ones that have a good past and an even better future," said Mike Ebert, RED managing partner.

The 97,000-square-foot Hilton Village shopping center is the latest of eight retail properties that RED has bought outright or a share of in the past year, including Town and Country, Chandler Festival, Aspen Place in Flagstaff and the Shops at Prescott Gateway.

RED bought the Borgata of Scottsdale from Westcor a month ago for $9.15 million. The faux Italian village is just west of Hilton Village.

RED, with headquarters in Phoenix and Kansas City, Mo., plans to renovate Hilton Village this fall and bring in some additional national and local tenants, Ebert said. Occupancy stands at 90 percent.

Existing tenants include Houston's, Humble Pie, Blue Wasabi and Starbucks.

RED, which is developing CityScape in downtown Phoenix, has turned to acquisitions since its development business has slowed down, Ebert said.

Hilton Village was one of Westcor's last non-mall assets in the Valley, he said. The deal closed last month.

Westcor is a division of Macerich, of Santa Monica, Calif.

By Peter Corbett, The Republic|azcentral.comPosted Jun 10, 2012

RED buys, will upgrade Scottsdale retail site -

Foreclosure help offered -

Maricopa County residents in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure may seek help from Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix.

In a partnership with grocery chain Bashas', the non-profit housing organization is setting up a home-aid stand today at a Southwest Valley Food City grocery store to help troubled homeowners take the first step to getting help. Help will be available from 4- 7 p.m. today at Food City, 6544 W. Thomas Ave., Phoenix.

A similar opportunity was offered Wednesday at a Food City in Avondale.

Patricia Garcia Duarte, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, said that counseling won't be conducted at the home-aid stand but that homeowners can go there to begin getting help to save their homes through mortgage modification or to find a reasonable alternative to foreclosure, such as a short sale.

The workers at the stand will set up appointments for homeowners to see counselors and tell them which documents they need to take to those appointments.

"We will advocate for a better (mortgage) payment overall," Garcia Duarte said. "I would say to homeowners: Take advantage that we are here. We're a trusted source. We know what we're doing, and if there is a way, we're going to make sure we explore every avenue. The worst thing is not to do anything."

The housing-services group has been operating in Maricopa County for 37 years, offering a wide range of homeownership programs and services, Garcia Duarte said.
Neighborhood Housing Services is a member of the national NeighborWorks network, which gives it access to financial support, technical assistance and training.

Since 2009, the Phoenix housing services program has helped more than 1,580 families stay in their homes.

"There are too many people who are still not seeking help," Garcia Duarte said.
More information is available on at

By David Madrid, The Republic| Jun 9, 2012

Foreclosure help offered -

Lender gets project title -

The Arizona Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its decision that awarded ownership of Elevation Chandler to the investors of Point Center Financial, the project's lender.

Now the title is clear and the property, on the southern edge of Chandler Fashion Center, can be sold.

The Supreme Court denied the request to reconsider from Phoenix foreclosure speculator Tom Peltier, a principal in BT Capital. The justices denied the request without comment less than a week after the request was filed.

Peltier's new lawyer, Isabel Humphrey, did not return phone calls from The Republic.
The court on May 4 ordered BT Capital to pay attorney's fees incurred by California-based Point Center, $247,555. Those costs were incurred in handling the case at the state Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

A three-year battle was waged over who owns the 10.5-acre abandoned construction site near Loops 101 and 202.

Peltier had claimed he won the property when he bid $1,000,001 in a botched trustee's sale June 15, 2009.

That sale and two other trustee's sales were held by TD Service Company.

In its May 4 opinion, the Supreme Court said deeds of trust are governed by state statute, not contract law, as Peltier had argued, said Roger Cohen, attorney for TD Service.

The court said one key was the third sale, on July 1, 2010.

Construction on the partially built hotel stopped in April 2006. The original developer, Jeff Cline of Scottsdale, filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2008. A judge later dismissed the case as a failed bankruptcy.

By Luci Scott, The Republic| Jun 9, 2012

Lender gets project title -

Mesa must downsize hopes for big resort -

What many Mesa residents had long feared now seems inevitable:

A world-class resort and conference center on the north end of the former General Motors Desert Proving Ground probably never will be built as originally planned.

As phone calls ricochet among Mesa officials, the Gaylord Entertainment Co. and DMB Associates, which owns the property, that is the clearest statement that can be made about fallout from last week's announcement that Gaylord is getting out of the resort-development business.

The Nashville-based company knocked Mesa's socks off in September 2008 when it announced it would build a hotel of at least 1,200 rooms and an adjoining convention center. Coupled with another resort, a championship golf course and high-end retail, Mesa officials estimated a total investment of about $1billion.

That was to have been the grand kickoff for DMB's development of 5 square miles of former GM land, a project now known as Eastmark.

Mesa voters endorsed the plan and its associated tax incentives by an 84-16 percent vote in March 2009.

The original deadline for breaking ground was Dec. 31, 2011. The Great Recession forced Mesa to extend that by three years as Gaylord struggled through the downturn.

Now, according to Mayor Scott Smith, even the extended deadline may be a moot point.

Gaylord said last week that it will sell its hotel brand and operating rights to Marriott International Inc. for $210million.

Gaylord will still own the four mega-resorts among which it rotates conventions and business shows. Operating as a real-estate investment trust, Gaylord will no longer develop properties on its own.

The plan takes effect Jan.1 if shareholders agree.

At the very least, Smith said, the sale might mean the Mesa resort being financed by a third party, but only time will answer the many questions raised by Gaylord's decision.
Among those questions: The degree of Marriott's willingness to back a large Mesa resort when it already operates the JW Marriott Desert Ridge, a 950-room hotel with 240,000 square feet of meeting space and 10 restaurants in Phoenix.

Even if there is an eventual green light, Smith said, Mesa's resort "may be physically different, and it certainly will be financially very different."

The package of incentives that Mesa voters approved may prove attractive to another company wanting to build a resort there, Smith said.

Gaylord was promised up to $44million in bed-tax rebates, and a second resort would be entitled to up to $7million, to be used to market their properties and Mesa tourism.
In addition, Mesa promised to buy both resorts and the convention center for $5,000 apiece, leasing them back to the companies for $5,000 a year per property.

That would trigger a tax break called a government-property lease excise tax.

Property-tax savings for Gaylord over 50 years were put at $72million and for the second resort, $13.5 million.

To what degree those arrangements could transfer to another company is uncertain, however.

Mesa executed a development agreement with DMB and Gaylord in 2008 that required Gaylord itself to build a hotel and conference center to certain minimum specifications, and assigning tax breaks specifically to that company.

Language regarding the second resort was not as precise.

Even if the business-travel economy and room rates don't recover to the point of making a Gaylord-scale resort feasible, Smith said the Gateway area will someday need high-end lodging.

Passenger counts at the nearby airport are soaring, other firms are building in the area and DMB already has broken ground for housing at Eastmark.

"We didn't sit back and wait for Gaylord to happen, thinking Gaylord was the only way we could kick-start Gateway," Smith said.

"We'll go on to Plan B, C and D. We believe there will be a major resort facility there. When? We don't know. Who? We don't know."

By Gary Nelson, The Republic| Jun 9 2012

Mesa must downsize hopes for big resort -

Scottsdale refinancing bonds to save $10M for McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Scottsdale is refinancing about $88 million of bonds starting next week to save an estimated $10 million over 13 years for the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Arizona residents will have the first chance on Monday to buy the tax-exempt investment bonds to refinance the bonds that were issued in 2004 for the preserve, said David Smith, Scottsdale city treasurer.

"It's a refinancing that has a significant benefit for all of the citizens of Scottsdale and the preserve acquisition program going forward," Smith said.

The McDowell Sonoran Preserve includes about 21,000 acres of desert and mountainous terrain.

Scottsdale residents voted in 1994 and 2005 to support a tax hike for preserve acquisition.

The city hopes to save money with lower-interest-rate bonds that will reduce payments on that debt from Scottsdale's dedicated sales tax for the preserve.

The minimum investment in the preserve bonds is $5,000 for a period of one to 13 years.

The yield on the bonds is expected to be low, maybe 2 to 3 percent, because the city's triple-A bond rating is a low-risk investment, Smith said.

Scottsdale has a AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies -- Moody's Investor Services, Standard & Poor's, and Fitch, he said.

Scottsdale has arranged a group of underwriters to sell the preserve bonds: J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Edward Jones, Stone & Youngberg and Wedbush Securities.

Information on the preserve bonds and underwriters is available at

Lee Guillory, city finance manager, said in most cases the city's bonds are purchased by large institutional investors and are available only to citizens on the secondary market.

Scottsdale residents can place orders through their brokers during Monday's exclusive retail period but the funding is not due until early July, Guillory said.

by Peter Corbett - Jun. 8, 2012 01:28 PM The Republic |

Scottsdale refinancing bonds to save $10M for McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Scottsdale renovation program gets own makeover

A Scottsdale program that teams volunteers and businesses to restore distressed properties is undergoing a makeover.

Since June 2009, the program, formerly known as Code Cares, has restored 135 houses in need of maintenance, city officials said.

Volunteers do everything from tidy up yards to trim trees, paint houses and mend fences. Businesses donate the materials so public funding is not needed.

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane said he wants to make the 3-year-old program, now called Operation Fix It, a larger community effort involving more local businesses.

The goal is to refurbish at least 130 homes in the next year, he said.

"It's been a good program," Lane said. "It's just one that needed new life."

Recipients are often referred to the city by social workers, neighbors or code-enforcement officers, said Michelle Bruce, a program coordinator who co-founded the program.

Eligibility is based on guidelines for low-income housing.

"I work together with volunteers to point them to the projects," Bruce said.

A tiered donation program is designed to encourage more businesses to participate. Annual sponsorships range from $250 to $2,500, which would bankroll community efforts.

Bruce said materials such as rock landscaping, plants and paint are needed.

In 2010, volunteers painted the house, replaced a door, trimmed trees and fixed the walkway for Scottsdale mother and daughter Beverly and Edna Deardoff.

The Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors, which works with the city, selected the Deardoffs for a community project.

Scottsdale code enforcement had issued a citation to the Deardoffs, who were on the city's wait list for assistance.

"I woke up to see tons of cars up and down the street in front of my house. People are coming up to my door, asking 'What do you want us to do?'" Edna Deardoff said. "I thought I was on the home makeover show."

Volunteers noticed the Deardoffs had scorpions and a faulty air-conditioner, said Realtor Lee McGhee.

McGhee, who owns 480-Termite LLC, provided pest-control services. Scottsdale-based Mountain AC repaired the air-conditioner.

"They did a lot of work for us out there," Edna Deardoff said. "It brought tears to my eyes."

J.P. Twist, Lane's chief of staff, said residents can apply without having a code violation.

To prevent misuse, Lane asked the city to develop "fair and appropriate" testing of applicants' means.

Future efforts could include roofing, air-conditioning and handyman assistance.

Nancy Cantor, a south Scottsdale resident and former member of Scottsdale's Housing Board, questioned why the program makeover was never discussed with board members, who make recommendations on housing programs in Scottsdale.

How to participate

Scottsdale's Operation Fix It program provides assistance to needy homeowners with distressed properties. It teams volunteers with businesses that donate materials.

Items needed most are rock landscaping, plants and paint. Information is available on the city's website at, by searching for "Operation Fix It."

Businesses can donate supplies and residents can apply for assistance on the website, which lists the program criteria for annual income.

The city has a goal to clean every blighted alley by June 30, 2014.

For more information, call program coordinator Michelle Bruce at 480-312-8703.

by Beth Duckett - Jun. 13, 2012 09:28 PM The Republic |

Scottsdale renovation program gets own makeover

Boutique Hotel Palomar Phoenix opens downtown

A patio at the Hotel Palomar Phoenix downtown stands ready for guests. The hotel's pool bar and its restaurant are expected to draw as many locals as they do guests.
Cheryl Evans/The Republic A patio at the Hotel Palomar Phoenix downtown stands ready for guests. The hotel's pool bar and its restaurant are expected to draw as many locals as they do guests.

Performances by EPIK Urban Dance and the Phoenix Suns drum line, music by Urban Quartet and a block party were part of the fanfare at Thursday's grand-opening celebration for the Hotel Palomar Phoenix.

Phoenix officials and executives with RED Development and hotel operator Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants thought the festivities fitting for the $90 million hotel, the capstone of the two-block CityScape retail and office development at Central Avenue and Jefferson Street.

Cowboy chic meets "Mad Men" at this 10-floor property, where mirrors are framed by leather belts, burnt-red Japanese lanterns dangle in a daisy-chain over a stairway and some end tables look like suitcases tipped on their sides.

Hotel Palomar Phoenix offers more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including a chandeliered ballroom. The pool bar, Luster, and the restaurant, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, are expected to draw about as many locals as guests.

"New construction is something relatively new for us in the last five years," said Michael Depatie, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants CEO and president.

Depatie said the company has renovated several existing buildings across the country for its Palomars, but that new construction such as the Palomar at CityScape is easier to complete. "You can just make what you want."

At its peak, the hotel will employ an estimated 250 workers, from check-in clerks to housekeeping staff. It has opened with 150. Depatie said he expects the hotel's sales will ramp up within the second or third year of opening.

The Palomar is on a gradually growing roster of downtown Phoenix hotels, including the Hotel San Carlos, Hyatt Regency Phoenix, Renaissance Phoenix Hotel, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel and the Westin Phoenix Downtown.

Six hotels may seem a lot for downtown, but John Chan, director of Phoenix's community and economic-development department, said it isn't.

The opening of the Palomar means the city now has less than 3,000 hotel rooms available for guests in downtown -- still short of the estimated 4,000 rooms city officials believe are necessary to draw the nation's biggest conventions to Phoenix.

More rooms will put Phoenix in a position to attract the biggest events and conventions in the country, such as the entertainment and fan activities to be held in downtown for the NFL's 2015 Super Bowl.

And those hotels could help put to full use the Phoenix Convention Center, a 2 million-square-foot facility that was expanded in 2008 through a $600 million voter-backed bond issue.

Chan said the Palomar will expand options for tourists and convention attendees.

"Palomar is a different type of hotel," he said, noting that it's "boutique." In hotel industry-speak, this means it's a high-end luxury hotel brand that may look much different from hotel to hotel -- some Palomars have been installed in older, existing buildings -- but offers similar guest services.

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau, which books big events and meetings for the convention center, said the Palomar has been long awaited.

"Over four years," Moore said. "It's pretty incredible."

Hotels have a broad set of stakeholders -- among them rental-car companies, restaurants, shops, the city, Maricopa County and the state -- that reap the sales taxes. Moore said a single hotel room in downtown Phoenix contributes an estimated $6,300 in tax revenue for the Phoenix area every year.

He added that the average room, which spans about 350 square feet, actually generates 10 percent more in tax revenue than a typical home in Phoenix.

Hotel Palomar Phoenix

By the numbers

2 bars.

10 floors.

12 deluxe studio suites.

16 suites.

242 rooms.

15,000 square feet of meeting space.

by Emily Gersema - Jun. 7, 2012 06:54 PM The Republic |

Boutique Hotel Palomar Phoenix opens downtown

Monday, June 11, 2012

FHA 203(k) Loans: The Fixer-Upper Home Loan

Buyers looking to buy a fixer-upper home should consider a FHA 203(k) loan. The FHA 203(k) loan program was created specifically for fixer-upper properties, and can provide homebuyers with additional funds to fix up the home - in addition to the purchase cost. FHA 203(k) loans are great options for buyers looking to purchase foreclosure properties, as foreclosures typically are not move in ready. For more on this, continue reading the following article from TheStreet.

Buying a piece of distressed real estate can be a great way to snag a dream home at a steep discount. But these homes are often in need of repair to bring them up to date. Since 1978, the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) 203(k) mortgage program has been available for homebuyers who want to purchase and immediately renovate a home.

FHA 203(k) loans are available for all owner-occupants, regardless of whether they are first-time homebuyers, move-up buyers or homeowners looking to refinance.

"FHA 203(k) loans are the best-kept secret in the mortgage industry," says Susan Barber, senior vice president for new construction and renovation programs for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Marlton, N.J. "Consumers really should know about this opportunity for renovation financing because the loans are not just for foreclosures. You can use them on all types of properties, even just an older home that needs updating, and they are available for both purchases and refinancing."

Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Carrington Mortgage Holdings in Santa Ana, Calif., says FHA 203(k) loans can help solve some of the current problems in the housing market.

"There are tens of thousands of properties in disrepair out there, a lot of which are not even on the market because they are in such bad shape," says Sharga. "An FHA 203(k) could allow an owner-occupant to buy a home and fix it up, which could slow down the depreciation in the market. Right now, only investors are buying these properties and they are buying with cash at the lowest possible price."

Sue Pullen, vice president and senior mortgage advisor for Fairway Independent Mortgage in Tucson, Ariz., says FHA 203(k) loans were less popular when home equity loans were readily available. But she adds that, they are a good option for today's market.

FHA 203(k) loans are available as standard or streamlined products.

The streamlined FHA 203(k) is limited to a maximum of $35,000 worth of repairs, with no minimum repair requirement, Pullen says. Repairs for both standard and streamline loans must start within 30 days of the closing and must be complete within six months.

"The streamline loan limits the types of repairs to nonstructural renovations and nonluxury items, so you can't add a pool or move walls," says Pullen. "This loan is great for replacing the HVAC or the carpet, replacing the appliances or the windows."

The standard FHA 203(k) allows for structural repairs, requires at least $5,000 of renovations and also requires a HUD consultant to supervise the renovations.

Both loan types must meet requirements for the FHA loan limit in your area.

As with all FHA loans, borrowers must make a down payment of 3.5 percent and pay mortgage insurance premiums. Borrowers must qualify for the full loan amount, including the purchase price and the renovation costs, with standards similar to those set by other FHA mortgage lenders. Such standards include a credit score of at least 620 and a debt-to-income ratio of 41 percent to 45 percent.

Pullen urges borrowers to work with a lender experienced with FHA 203(k) loans, because the rules about the repair work and appraisals must be followed.

"An FHA 203(k) loan requires the buyers to make an offer on a home and then to get at least one bid, but sometimes two or three bids, from a contractor for the repair costs," says Pullen. "The number of bids required is up to the lender. So, for example, if you put an offer on a home at $100,000 and the contractor bids for the repairs that you want are $20,000, you'll need to qualify for the loan and make a down payment based on a $120,000 loan."

Mortgage lenders experienced with FHA 203(k) loans can suggest several contractors who are have worked with the loan program before. Pullen says that most mortgage investors require the contractors to be licensed professionals to ensure quality renovations.

In addition, says Sharga, the lender will need an appraisal of the current home value and the as-repaired value, which is based on the estimated value of the home improvements. The mortgage amount will be based on the as-repaired value.

The fees for an FHA 203(k) loan are slightly higher than for a traditional FHA mortgage, says Pullen. Such fees include a supplemental fee of $350 or 1.5 percent of the cost of repairs, whichever is higher, which can be wrapped into the loan. Once repair work is complete, requirements call for an additional inspection and title policy update to make sure no liens have been filed. Pullen estimates that the extra fees average from $500 to $800.

Conventional renovation and financing loans are available for owner-occupants, buyers of second homes and investors, but these loans typically require a down payment of 25 percent or more and a higher credit score than what is required by most FHA lenders.

"Borrowers who think they want to use the FHA 203(k) loan program should ask their Realtor and their lender if they are familiar with it and to help them decide if it is a good option for them," says Sharga.

by Jun 8, 2012

FHA 203(k) Loans: The Fixer-Upper Home Loan

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Westcor turns back state land for Palisene

A regional-mall site intended for Westcor's Palisene project is going back to the Arizona State Land Department.

Westcor and the Land Department reached an agreement last week to end Westcor's 99-year lease of 112 acres of state trust land northwest of Scottsdale Road and Loop 101.

"We're getting the piece back intact," state Land Commissioner Maria Baier said. "It's ready for the next healthy market."

The property can be auctioned again as the commercial real-estate market recovers, Baier said.

The settlement puts a halt to Westcor's 20-year plan for a mall and mixed-use development on the state land just west of Scottsdale Road in Phoenix.

It stalls planning and development of roads, utilities and flood control for thousands of acres in the Paradise Ridge area.

Westcor was the sole bidder four years ago to lease the 112-acre Palisene site for $32 million, with the obligation to invest $67 million for development improvements that would have served the broader area of state land northwest of Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road.

Scott Nelson, Westcor vice president of development, said the property is some of the best-located land in the Valley but it lacks water, sewer, streets and flood control.

"There is not a comprehensive drainage solution to allow for development to occur," Nelson said. "That became the impetus for canceling this lease."

It was difficult for Westcor to walk away from the site after spending so many years planning for its development, he said.

It's still going to be great real estate," Nelson said. "The community and the cities (Scottsdale and Phoenix) need to look hard at how this area should be developed and how to get the public infrastructure funded."

Baier said Westcor had planned on recovering infrastructure costs from Phoenix but that was no longer possible after Arizona Supreme Court rulings on development agreements involving CityNorth at 56th Street and Loop 101. The court in 2010 put strict limits on municipal tax incentives to ensure there is clear public benefit.

Westcor, a division of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich, paid $1.26 million in lease payments to the Land Department through 2010 and deferred its $1 millionpayment for 2011.

The settlement, reached with the help of a mediator, divides $18 million in an escrow account with $10 million going to the Land Department and $8 million to Westcor, Baier said.

The Land Department keeps $1.26 million of Westcor's lease payments but reimburses Westcor $1.1 million for its $2.5 million in expenses in developing a master plan for the site, Baier said.

The Land Department plans to spend $8 million of the funds from Westcor to improve the area's infrastructure, which will make it more valuable for development, she said.

Westcor for at least two decades targeted Paradise Ridge northwest of Loop 101 and Scottsdale Road for a regional mall. In 2005, company officials unveiled conceptual plans for an ambitious mixed-use plan for the area in partnership with the Landmark Land Co.

The Palisene shopping center was to include 1 million square feet of high-end retail, restaurants and entertainment on 72 acres. Westcor envisioned a 2,100-acre mixed-use project at Paradise Ridge with offices, homes and condominiums, a hotel and buildings rising to 17 stories.

With the economy in high gear, developers were racing to build major mixed-use projects in the Northeast Valley including CityNorth, Scottsdale Quarter, One Scottsdale and Palisene.

CityNorth and Scottsdale Quarter got built and struggled out of the gate in 2009 as the economy faltered. Westcor went ahead with acquisition of the Palisene site in April 2008 and later that year announced plans for a retractable roof for the shopping center.

But retailers pulled back as the recession hit. In the past year, Westcor tried to land a luxury outlet mall for the site but was unsuccessful.

Nelson said it is hard to say if the company would once again pursue the Palisene site in a future state land auction.

by Peter Corbett - Jun. 7, 2012 11:43 AM The Republic |

Westcor turns back state land for Palisene

$350K sought to build Scottsdale Airport desert refuge

Courtesy of John Meyer "One With the Eagle" as it originally stood in the Scottsdale Airpark.

A Scottsdale foundation is seeking volunteers and sponsors to transform a vacant lot near the Scottsdale Airport into a garden sanctuary.

The Airpark Eagle Foundation needs $350,000 to develop and maintain a Sonoran desert refuge on about two acres northeast of Scottsdale and Thunderbird roads, said LaureenLeston, executive director.

The non-profit, still in its infancy, has reached out to the private sector and city officials. Its board of directors is comprised of business owners and advocates who want to enrich the Airpark, Scottsdale's largest employment center, "while capturing the sense of our Scottsdale community, art culture, nature and sustainability of the region," Leston said.

The botanical garden is their first undertaking.

Businesses and the public can donate by purchasing garden "areas" in the native Sonoran plant palette, she said.

Sponsorships range from $500 to $25,000. Sponsors will be memorialized on a plaque in the garden sanctuary, Leston said.

"Our goal is to raise the $350,000 before we even begin digging dirt," Leston said. She estimated that it would take about six months or longer to raise the full amount.
A huge bronze eagle statue was recently rededicated on the city-owned property.

The "One with the Eagle" statue sat at its previous location at the airport entrance near Scottsdale Road and Butherus Drive for about two decades until it was relocated in 2011 to the northeastern corner of Scottsdale and Thunderbird roads.

Kate O'Malley, an airport spokeswoman, said the foundation requested use of the land for the statue and a viewing area. The Scottsdale City Council agreed to the plan, "although the land still remains city land," she said.

There is no public funding dedicated to the project, O'Malley said.

Leston said the garden will mesh with the city's goals for the Airpark gateway. The Airpark generally is bounded by Thompson Peak Parkway to the north, Thunderbird Road to the south, Pima Road and 90th Street to the east and Scottsdale Road to the west.

The plan is to mirror the garden after landscaping of a future park-and-ride facility across the street.

by Beth Duckett - Jun. 5, 2012 10:59 AM The Republic |

$350K sought to build Scottsdale Airport desert refuge

Developer Rick Burton files $310 mil bankruptcy

A developer who helped build a corporate-jet center and tried to build a resort complex in Glendale has filed an enormous personal bankruptcy in Las Vegas.

Rick Burton owes more than $310 million to investors. He lists $6,500 in assets, mostly home furnishings, with little more than $50 in records and CDs and a $50 watch, according to court records. He lists $96 in two bank accounts.

He filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on May 30.

Reached Tuesday, Burton said he did not have time to discuss the bankruptcy because he was with business associates at an East Coast hotel. He said he had been injured in a vehicle accident in Africa a year ago, "and I've kind of been out of it."

Burton, along with business affiliates Danny Hendon and Bob Banovac, opened luxury-jet hubs in Glendale, Goodyear and Yuma in recent years and announced multimillion-dollar renovations at each.

Burton split from the group, known as Rightpath Limited Development Group, in 2009, and the company defaulted on loans and lease payments at the Glendale facility. The Glendale and Yuma facilities eventually closed.

Rightpath also tried and failed to develop an office, shopping and resort complex in Glendale called Main Street. The project didn't raise enough money, and portions of the land fell into foreclosure before ground was broken.

Hendon, the magnate of Danny's Family Companies car-wash chain, and business partner Banovac are listed as co-debtors on many of the debts in Burton's bankruptcy.

In Nevada, where the bankruptcy was filed, Burton tried to develop a private terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, which also failed.

Burton reported in his petition for bankruptcy that he is working as chief operating officer for a Las Vegas company that makes sandbags, earning $10,000 a month, and that his personal expenses are more than $9,300 a month, including a $3,400 mortgage.

Among his debts are $135 million owed to the Arizona State Land Department for purchased land, according to the bankruptcy petition.

Another debt is $109 million to Mortgages Ltd. in Arizona for a business loan.

Burton also owes the city of Glendale $20 million for the Main Street development's bond requirement, and more than $12 million is owed to a bank for the Glendale airport land.

He also owes $120,000 to Phoenix attorney Dennis Wilenchik for an Aston Martin car, as well as debts to Ford Motor Credit, GMAC and Mercedes-Benz Financial for vehicles.

by Ryan Randazzo - Jun. 5, 2012 07:30 PM The Republic |

Developer Rick Burton files $310 mil bankruptcy

Moorish fortress sells for $1.45 mil -

A Camelback Mountain castle that has been a financial nightmare for its owners has sold for $1.45 million.

Robert Pazderka bought the 7,900-square-foot Copenhaver Castle on the southwestern flank of the mountain and expects to spend $3million to $5 million renovating the unusual stone fortress with its secret passages, dungeon and a spa the size of a moat in the living room.

"I've lived on Camelback for 15 years, and this is a landmark property," he said.
"Unfortunately, it's been neglected. I hope to bring it back to the magnificent property that it is."

The faux Moorish castle is an oddity among the expensive hilltop homes on Camelback Mountain.

It was built by Dr. Mort Copenhaver, an orthodontist, over the course of a decade starting in 1967. The castle sits 1,200 feet above Camelback Road and includes turrets, a drawbridge fire escape and a fireplace that at one time included a 17-foot waterfall.

Pazderka is the president of the Armored Group LLC, which makes armored trucks and cars in Detroit. He said he expects to get some public-relations value out of the castle and its link to the company name.

The sale closed May 25, said agent Jan Atwater of Home-Smart Real Estate, who had the listing since January.

Copenhaver Castle has long been viewed as a landmark. Atwater said she was flooded with calls from people with stories about their connection to it or who wanted a weekend stay or to get married there.

The property has been a financial albatross for its three previous owners.

Copenhaver put his castle up for sale in 1985 for $7 million, a princely sum at the time, but two years later cut the price to $2.5 million. No buyer emerged, and Copenhaver lost the 1.1-acre property in a bankruptcy when his dental franchise business collapsed.

Jerry Mitchell, who helped develop the Rawhide theme park in Scottsdale, bought the bank-owned castle in 1989 for $985,000 through his Camelback Castle Corp. That entity filed for bankruptcy in 2004.

The Old Standard Life Insurance Co. picked up Copenhaver Castle for $2.6 million in 2005. It was foreclosed on again and sold as an asset of the stockholders when the insurance company was liquidated, Atwater said.

Pazderka said he would like to get the property designated as a historical landmark and plans to live in it after an extensive renovation.

"It's going to take a lot of money and a lot of time," he said.

by Peter Corbett Jun 3, 2012

Moorish fortress sells for $1.45 mil -

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Phoenix's Hotel Palomar prepares for debut

Years of construction at First and Jefferson streets in downtown Phoenix are about to end at the CityScape office-and-retail project as construction crews complete the Hotel Palomar Phoenix.

The $90 million, 242-room boutique hotel in the RED Development project officially opens June 5. It joins the Hotel San Carlos, Hyatt Regency Phoenix, Renaissance Phoenix Hotel, Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel and the Westin Phoenix Downtown in the lineup of downtown hotels.

Jim Hollister, general manager of the new hotel, said other hoteliers in the area have been welcoming to the Palomar, even though it will bring them new competition.

"We are fighting for the same business in summer," Hollister said.

CityScape general manager Jeff Moloznik said the Hotel Palomar will give Phoenix more leverage when courting large national conferences and events, such as the Super Bowl, which will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in 2015, with fan events at CityScape.

"But we're also competing together as a group nationally for conventions," Moloznik said.

Phoenix officials have said the city needs more hotels downtown to support the large-scale conventions they have been drawing to the Phoenix Convention Center, a few blocks from CityScape.

An estimated 195,750 people are expected to attend the center's conferences this year -- which amounts to nearly 276,000 room nights in local hotels, according to the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau and convention-center officials.

Those convention attendees are expected to spend more than $283 million during the year on food, drinks, rooms, souvenirs and entertainment.

The Palomar in Phoenix, a Kimpton hotel, would be an attractive option for conventioneers, and it could be a selling point for associations and other national groups that are deciding where to hold their next annual conventions, said Jennifer Franklin, a spokeswoman for the hotel.

Franklin also said Kimpton hotels have a loyal customer following, especially among women, which makes it an attractive brand for cities to acquire.

The Hotel Palomar Phoenix is the second hotel that Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has built from scratch, Hollister said. The other is the Hotel Palomar in Chicago. The company usually adds hotels through "adaptive reuse" -- renovating existing buildings.

Moloznik said the Hotel Palomar Phoenix boasts energy efficiency and recycled materials that may enable it -- and all of CityScape's two blocks of stores, restaurants and offices -- to qualify for the prestigious LEED certification, the international hallmark of green design and construction.

In addition, it already meets Kimpton's standards for green building under its 7-year-old green building program, EarthCare -- another selling point for the environmentally conscientious customer.

The hotel's 242 rooms are decked in chic neutral tones -- espresso brown; gray beaded wallpaper; beige-colored, croc-textured doors on the wardrobes; and stainless-steel fixtures. The furniture has crisp, straight edges, but pillows and other accessories soften the sharpness. Nightly room rates start at $149.

"It's like that show 'Mad Men,' " Hollister said, referring to the popular AMC television show set in the early 1960s, when interior design was markedly minimalist with stark, contrasting colors.

A one-bedroom unit features a separate sitting room. Each bathroom has a Fuji soak tub.

A 3,200-square-foot ballroom will play host to conferences, banquets and celebrations. Boardrooms also can be set up in the meeting spaces. Altogether, the hotel offers more than 15,000 square feet of meeting space.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on two bars. One, on the second floor of the hotel, is the Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails bar, where Palomar guests will be invited to a "Wines of the World" hour at 5 p.m. daily. Room service also is available 24 hours a day.

The outdoor pool is on the third floor, where guests can watch the crowds walking to and leaving concerts, Phoenix Suns, Mercury and Arizona Diamondbacks games. Another bar, Lustre, next to the pool will be open to the public.

Guests hoping to squeeze in a workout will get complimentary passes to Gold's Gym Elite at CityScape.

Hollister said the hotel has been hosting job fairs at the CityScape office tower to hire 250 workers, from cleaning crews to managers.

by Emily Gersema - Jun. 1, 2012 04:02 PM The Republic |

Phoenix's Hotel Palomar prepares for debut

Reagor: Housing questions remain for many

Home prices are rising in metro Phoenix, foreclosures are falling and a growing number of homeowners are able to refinance with the federal Housing Affordable Refinance Program, HARP 2.0.

Still, questions abound about the region's housing market. Home values have climbed 25 percent already in the past year. Will the price-recovery trend continue? Are the bidding wars, created because of the small number of homes for sale, healthy for the market? How effective have the federal programs been so far?

Here are some comments on the topic from metro Phoenix homeowners who contacted me after recent stories and during an online chat Friday over lunch. The entire chat can be read at

Question: Our daughter has an FHA loan with Wells Fargo, I don't believe the new HARP program works with FHA. Are you aware of any program that would modify her interest rate? -- Cal Christensen

Response: The FHA will begin a similar streamlined refinancing program like HARP on June 11.

Question: Should qualified buyers be jumping at the chance to invest? -- Jim T

Response: Investing in metro-Phoenix homes is very competitive now. Experienced investors with millions of dollars and property-management firms have been buying for the past few years. It's a business not for the weak of heart, to quote one of the buyers on the Maricopa County Courthouse steps bidding on foreclosure homes. Also, the number of foreclosures and short sales is dropping, so there are fewer bargain homes to purchase.

Observation: Prices are going to continue to climb until we get some influx of inventory. Once "normal" owners see and understand that prices are up 25 percent, they will jump on board, thus helping us return to a more normal market, or at least one step closer to one. -- Matthew Coates

Response: Many housing analysts agree. It will take regular homeowners selling to stabilize the market.

Question: Does your mortgage need to be financed through Fannie or Freddie in order to refinance through the HARP 2 program? -- Erik

Response: Yes, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must hold your loan. But the FHA is launching a streamlined refinancing program next week similar to HARP. The federal government and the Arizona Department of Housing also are trying to find a way to encourage/force investors who hold mortgages to approve streamlined refinancings for homeowners who are underwater but continue to pay their mortgages.

Question: We recently had our home on the market for a price we thought was at a good range for our location. We are two blocks south of ASU in an older, established neighborhood around campus. We did not receive any bids on our house -- lots of showings but no bids. The Realtor encouraged us to drop the price, but we weren't willing to compromise on what we wanted out of the house with regard to equity. When do you feel will be the rebound on housing prices? How many years before it comes back? I see the stories about the home prices rising in the Valley. Will it take a year before the market is stabilized and prices are up, or longer? I'm taking advantage of the HARP 2 program and am happy to stay for a while. -- Donna

Response: Home prices are up 25 percent from a year ago. You live in an area that has retained a lot of its value. The forecast is for prices to continue to climb, but the problem is metro Phoenix's housing market is running out of supply. Homeowners like you being able to sell for a profit will signal a true stabilization of the market.

Here's one final comment, from John Steiner, and it's one that might inspire many Phoenix-area homeowners:

"We have just signed closing documents on a Fannie Mae DU Refi Plus (under HARP 2). We had been with Ditech/GMAC, but their loan officer was not very forthcoming with information. A Wells Fargo mortgage specialist was quite helpful. Since our loan was current and had never been delinquent, we qualified for the (refi) program. We were 25 to 40 percent underwater. Our loan did not require an appraisal, saving money. Bottom line is we went from a 5.25 percent, 15-year loan to a 3.75 percent, 15-year loan. I am passing this on because it may help others with a Fannie Mae loan."

by Catherine Reagor - Jun. 1, 2012 03:25 PM The Republic |

Reagor: Housing questions remain for many

Mountain Shadows redevelopment plan might boost home values

When Mountain Shadows Resort closed in 2004, Vernon Parker joked that his son in elementary school would be in college before the Paradise Valley property was redeveloped.

His son graduated from Brophy College Preparatory last week and, coincidentally, the latest plan for redevelopment of the 68-acre site surfaced at the same time.

"We were clairvoyant," said Parker, a Paradise Valley town councilman. "It was a joke, but the joke turned into reality."

Property owner Robert Flaxman, Solage Hotels and Resorts and its sister brand Auberge Resorts have teamed up on a plan to build a hotel with 100 to 289 rooms, a small retail component and a mix of vacation units and single-family homes. The Mountain Shadows 18-hole executive course would be renovated and reconfigured with a new clubhouse.

The property was developed in the late 1950s at 56th Street and Lincoln Drive in the northern shadows of Camelback Mountain.

Councilman Parker, who lives in Mountain Shadows Estates East, said redevelopment would have a negative effect on property values if there is too much density.

"It really depends on the final product that the developer puts forward," he said.

The current plan calls for no more than 239 residential units on the property. That would include 50 homes east of 56th Street and duplexes and townhouses west of 56th Street.

Resort could boost home prices

Catherine Jacobson, a real-estate agent with Walt Danley Realty, said a definitive development plan that is ready to go would be a big boost for Mountain Shadows East and West residents and their home values.

There already has been an increase in price per square foot for Mountain Shadows homes as the overall real-estate market improves, said Jacobson, a resident of Mountain Shadows West.

"We moved in about a year before the resort shut down, just long enough to know how nice it would be to have a new resort come around," she said.

Shawn Shackelton of Ventana Fine Properties said the average sale price in Mountain Shadows the past year on six homes has been $793,000 for an average of 3,200 square feet.

There are two active listings. One is a 50-year-old three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath home of 2,577 square feet on under one-third of an acre for $750,000.

The other home of 3,183 square feet, built in 1958, is three bedrooms, three and a half baths on 0.27 acres for $985,000.

Shackelton said there is a pending sale at $985,000 for a three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath home of 2,939 square feet that was built in 1962. It was a short sale in 2010 and went for $635,000.

"It's a desirable place to be, but if you like land like most people do in Paradise Valley you just don't get it here," Shackelton said.

Jacobson said Mountain Shadows is ideal for people who want to stay in Paradise Valley but who want a smaller single-level home with less property to maintain.

Town plans public meetings

Local residents will have a chance to weigh in on proposed resort redevelopment at Town Council work-study sessions on Thursday and June 28.

A decision on the project could come by the fall, said Jason Rose, a spokesman for the development group. If approved, construction would likely start by the end of 2013 with the resort completed in 2015, he said.

Rose said there would be further refinements of the plan with input from residents and the Town Council.

by Peter Corbett - Jun. 1, 2012 06:42 AM The Republic |

Mountain Shadows redevelopment plan might boost home values

South Scottsdale has potential for revitalization

South Scottsdale should play a prominent role as the city's residential real-estate market continues to slowly recover from the crash of 2008.

That's according to RL Brown, a housing analyst with RL Brown Housing Reports. He also warned of the "danger" of overdevelopment of apartment units in Scottsdale in the coming years.

Brown was among a group of analysts who gave their economic forecasts for the region last week before the City Council's subcommittee on economic development.

Brown said there's "huge potential" for residential revitalization in south Scottsdale, which should be a big draw for homebuyers. South Scottsdale includes a large area of housing stock that is "superbly located, not only to mainstream Scottsdale, but also to the job growth that's going to occur in the East Valley," he said.

"The opportunity that Scottsdale has could be similar to that that Phoenix had on north Central Avenue or in the neighborhoods just north of the downtown (Phoenix) area," he said. "As the housing stock aged, instead of letting it generally deteriorate, as often happens, the city had policies and an interest in ensuring that there was a revitalization of those areas."

It's important for the city to have an active plan to enhance the south Scottsdale area with services, redevelopment parks and other amenities to maximize the neighborhoods' attractiveness long after they were built, Brown said.

The city is focusing on redevelopment of the McDowell Road corridor, and numerous commercial and residential projects are planned, such as two additional office buildings at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center, high-end apartment complexes and retail redevelopment.

"I hope the planning recognizes the value of those neighborhoods, that whole part of town, as a housing component for the region," Brown said.

Brown and Elliott Pollack, a Scottsdale-based economist, weighed in on the increasing number of projects that would bring more than 5,700 apartment units to the city. Pollack said development is finance-driven, so it's the city's job to determine whether there's real demand and what "you want the city to look like."

"The bottom line is ... if you want to have people living in Scottsdale who want to live in apartments, you need apartments," Pollack said.

Brown said multifamily development could leave the city with more units than tenants.

"The other factor that enters into that is, it takes a long time to complete a large multifamily project, and the market circumstances can change while that's going on," he said. "So it's very easy to find yourself in an overbuilt situation even though you didn't anticipate it when you were approving the zoning or issuing the permits. It needs to be carefully watched."

Brown said that because Scottsdale has a limited supply of land, and "assuming growth is what you want," there will have to be an increase in density to continue growing.

"The decision is largely in your hands," he said.

by Edward Gately - Jun. 1, 2012 08:39 AM The Republic |

South Scottsdale has potential for revitalization

Gaylord resort appears in limbo for Mesa

The company that was planning an $800 million resort and conference center in southeast Mesa appears to be getting out of the resort -development business.

Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Inc. said Thursday that it has agreed to sell the Gaylord Hotels brand, along with rights to manage its four existing hotels, to Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc. for $210 million.

Upon completion of the sale, Gaylord officials said, they will revamp the company's business model to cease being a developer of multimillion-dollar resorts and become a real-estate investment trust, or REIT.

A REIT pools investor money to buy or develop revenue-generating properties, with proceeds distributed to investors as dividends.

Gaylord officials did not say whether the restructuring, to be completed by Jan. 1 if shareholders approve, would put an end to the already-postponed Mesa resort plans for land owned by Scottsdale-based DMB Associates.

Still, a company news release issued Thursday did say the transition to a REIT would halt existing plans to develop a resort of similar size and cost in Colorado.

"The company will no longer view large-scale development as a means for growth and will not proceed with the Colorado project in the form previously anticipated," the release said. "The company will re-examine how the project could be completed with minimal financial commitment by Gaylord during the development phase."

DMB Associates spokeswoman Cassidy Campana said it's too early to tell how Gaylord's proposed restructuring might affect the Mesa plans.

"It appears that shareholders will still have to approve this proposed deal later this summer," Campana said. "It sounds like this will be a wait-and-see."

Last July, Gaylord executives reassured DMB and city officials including Mesa Mayor Scott Smith that the company still intended to build the resort despite postponing the project until economic conditions improved.

Smith and the other local officials had traveled to Gaylord's Nashville headquarters that month to address a growing concern that the resort never would be built.

by J. Craig Anderson - May. 31, 2012 06:20 PM The Republic |

Gaylord resort appears in limbo for Mesa

Phoenix-area housing prices on the rise

More metro Phoenix homeowners may soon be able to sell for a profit, albeit a small one, as home prices in the region continue to rise.

Arizona State University's latest real-estate report shows the median home price in the Phoenix area climbed again in April to $140,000 -- 25 percent higher than the year before.

Helping push up prices is a limited supply of homes for sale and a growing pool of buyers. If those trends hold, the outlook is for home prices to keep rising, which could be good news for many owners who for years have owed more than their houses have been worth.

The report highlights some significant movements in the market:

Fewer houses for sale: Supply has dwindled as a smaller number of foreclosure homes go up for sale, and the number of homes on the market is at its lowest since the pre-2007 boom. There are about 8,800 houses for sale without a pending contract from a buyer. In 2008, there were more than 50,000. The total number of sales was down, as well, about 12 percent lower than in April 2011.

Declining foreclosures: The number of foreclosures was down 62 percent from a year earlier, to approximately 1,600.

More new-home sales: After years of stagnation, closed deals on new-construction homes were up 43 percent, to about 900, which is still far from the boom years.

"If prices continue to climb, more homeowners will be enticed to sell," said Mike Orr, real-estate analyst with ASU and publisher of the "Cromford Report," a daily analysis of metro Phoenix home sales. "Some homeowners might be surprised how much their values have gone up since last year."

Regular home sales, between a homeowner and a buyer who plans to live in the house, are up 57 percent from last year, but still less than half of all sales.

Metro Phoenix's supply of homes is so low that bidding wars have become the norm. Orr started a survey among real-estate agents to track how competitive homebuying is in the region.

So far, the most competitive purchase he has documented was a home sale with 76 bids in Chandler. Of the offers, at least 65 came from regular buyers.

Regular buyers have been scarce in the Phoenix-area market in recent years, with few new residents buying and existing homeowners unable to sell their houses to move up.

But the winning buyer of the Chandler home was one of 11 investors. These buyers, who offer cash up front without contingencies, often still win the house.

"Regular buyers definitely outnumber investors trying to purchase houses now," Orr said. "But investors continue to win out in bidding wars because they can pay cash and take the home off the lender's hands without an appraisal."

The number of homes for sale in metro Phoenix is so low because the slowdown in foreclosures has left fewer lender-owned and short-sale houses on the market. Those types of sales have been among the most common for the past three years.

Many regular homebuyers and investors had been waiting for home prices to hit bottom before trying to buy. After several years of fluctuations, most market-watchers now agree Phoenix home prices hit that bottom in August.

Potential buyers seeing the rapid run-up in home prices during the past few months are now rushing to try to buy, Orr said.

But with supply at a low and little sign of a coming jump in new foreclosures, it's not clear there will be enough homes for sale to meet demand.

The only way supply can truly increase and slow the bidding frenzy for houses is if regular homeowners can start to sell again for a profit, even a small one. When they can, more will put their houses up for sale.

Rob Shaw, a Phoenix-area real-estate agent with HomeSmart, said that there are regular homeowners who can now sell for a profit but that appraisals aren't keeping up with rising values. That means traditional buyers, who must get an appraisal to secure a mortgage, may not be able to close the deal.

"We are encouraging sellers to consider marketing their homes to cash-only buyers to avoid having to get an appraisal," he said.

Metro Phoenix's median home price is back to the mid-2002 level, which means the values still are far from rebounding to boom prices. But many of the area's current homeowners who bought in 2002 or earlier may be able to sell for a profit now.

The big question for the market is where buyers and sellers will find a balance. As prices rise, more owners will sell. But if prices rise too much, buyers will lose interest or no longer be able to bid.

"Phoenix is a volatile housing market," Orr said. "I always tell people we are the dot-com of real estate. When the market is doing well, people jump in, and when it goes bad, panic sets in fast."

by Catherine Reagor - May. 31, 2012 11:12 PM The Republic |

Phoenix-area housing prices on the rise

Mortgage rates fall to record lows again

WASHINGTON - Average U.S. rates on 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages dropped to record lows again this week, with the 15-year loan dipping below 3% for the first time ever.

Low rates have helped brighten the outlook for home sales this year. They have made home-buying and refinancing more attractive to those who can qualify.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 3.75%. That's down from 3.78% last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The 15-year mortgage, a popular refinancing option, slipped to 2.97%. That's down from 3.04% last week.

Rates on the 30-year loan have been below 4% since early December. The low rates are a key reason the housing industry is showing modest signs of a recovery this year.

A drop in rates could also provide some help to the economy if more people refinance. When people refinance at lower rates, they pay less interest on their loans and have more money to spend.

In April, sales of both previously occupied homes and new homes rose near two-year highs. Builders are gaining more confidence in the market, breaking ground on more homes and requesting more permits to build single-family homes later this year.

A better job market also has made more people open to buying a home. Employers have added 1 million jobs in the past five months. The unemployment has dropped a full percentage point since August, from 9.1% to 8.1% in April.

Still, the pace of home sales remains well below healthy levels. Economists say it could be years before the market is fully healed.

Many people are having difficulty qualifying for home loans or can't afford larger down payments required by banks. Some would-be home buyers are holding off because they fear that home prices could keep falling.

Mortgage rates have been dropping because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has fallen this week to a 66-year low. Uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis has led investors to buy more Treasury securities, which are considered safe investments. As demand for Treasurys increase, the yield falls.

To calculate average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1% of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.8, unchanged from last week. The fee for 15-year loans also was steady, at 0.7.

The average rate on one-year adjustable rate mortgages was unchanged at 2.75%. The fee for one-year adjustable rate loans was 0.4, also unchanged from last week.

by Marcy Gordon - May. 31, 2012 08:44 AM Associated Press

Mortgage rates fall to record lows again

Chamber to promote high-income housing

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce is working with town officials and land developers to corral support and funding for an "executive housing initiative," which promotes Gilbert's high-end communities to national recruiting firms, relocation specialists and real-estate agents.

Chamber officials expect to spend about $30,000 to produce a promotional video, electronic document and marketing event geared toward luring high-income residents away from traditional destinations such as Paradise Valley and Scottsdale.

"Gilbert has the amenities that are conducive to such lifestyle, from strong and highly regarded educational institutions to a private country club," chamber marketing director Sarah Watts said. Gilbert residents also can access travel destinations through the convenience of nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Watts said.

There are several existing Gilbert neighborhoods that could be considered executive-housing opportunities, and more high-end subdivisions are on the way, developer Greg Bamford said. Communities like Whitewing and Circle G have dozens of lots available for high-end homes ranging from about $800,000 to $2 million.

One home for sale in Circle G, near Greenfield and Ocotillo roads, is listed for about $1.8 million and includes six bedrooms and nine bathrooms, according to Solutions Real Estate. Two homes in Whitewing at Higley, near Higley and Pecos roads, are listed at about $1.2 million.

While many of the lots in Circle G and Whitewing at Higley are sold, just five of 120 half-acre lots in Whitewing at Germann Estates have been purchased, Bamford said. Prices for the remaining lots range from $250,000 to $363,000 according to the developer's website.

Although the "town has done a lot of things right" in economic development, community leaders are tired of seeing business executives look to other communities when choosing a place to live, Bamford said.

"A doctor on-call at one of our hospitals, if he had a chance to live in a $1 million or $2 million home in a community in Gilbert, it would be easier for him to do his job than to be traipsing across town," Bamford said.

The chamber's executive-housing initiative includes a newly formed task force with representatives from development companies, real-estate agencies, hotels, a school and a hospital. Funding partners include Bamford Realty,Lesueur Investments, Morrison Ranch and the chamber.

The task force held its first meeting in September, followed by focus-group meetings with executives who live in and outside of Gilbert, real-estate agents and high-end developers. The focus groups provided insight on Gilbert's strengths and weaknesses and the top factors that draw executives into or away from Gilbert, Watts said.

Before the focus-group sessions, the task force planned to design a print publication but shifted to a video piece as a result of the feedback it received, Watts said.

Chamber officials plan to unveil the new video at a formal event in the fall, Watts said. The chamber will follow up by organizing "familiarization" tours, or FAM tours, for relocation firm executives and their clients.

The tours seek to familiarize professionals with a destination and its features.

The chamber's initiative has won formal approval from Mayor John Lewis, who penned a letter of support earlier this month.

"Being an executive has its perks and living in Gilbert should be one of them," Lewis wrote.

by Parker Leavitt - May. 30, 2012 04:23 PM The Republic |

Chamber to promote high-income housing

Sales of foreclosure homes rose in 1Q

LOS ANGELES - -- Homes in some stage of the foreclosure process saw their share of overall U.S. home sales grow in the first quarter even as sales of bank-owned homes fell.

The increase was driven by a spike in short sales, or homes that sell for less than what the owner owed on their mortgage, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday.

Short sales make up the vast majority of homes sold while still in the foreclosure process. Those that aren't sold or auctioned off typically end up being repossessed by banks, what most people commonly think of as foreclosures.

In the first quarter, short sales grew 25 percent from a year earlier, hitting a three-year high. In contrast, sales of bank-owned properties declined 15 percent versus the first three months of last year, the firm said.

The trend indicates a greater likelihood that home prices will continue to soften, as foreclosures and short sales typically sell at sharp discounts to other homes.

It also suggests a shift in the way lenders handle mortgages that have gone unpaid.

Lenders may be favoring short sales versus waiting for troubled loans to go through the foreclosure process to take back the homes securing the loan, said Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.

"A short sale is a safer alternative to avoid any potential problems that they face because of the way they're processing foreclosures," Blomquist said.

Last year, mortgage lenders grappled with allegations that they had been processing foreclosures without verifying documents. The pace of foreclosures slowed sharply as the nation's biggest mortgage lenders worked to hammer out a settlement with state and federal officials.

They reached a $25 billion settlement in February, clearing the way for banks to take action on unpaid mortgages.

All told, 233,299 bank-owned homes or those in some stage of foreclosure sold in the first quarter, making up 26 percent of all U.S. home sales in the period, the firm said.

That's the highest percentage of overall sales since the figure hit 28 percent in the third quarter of 2010, before the foreclosure abuse claims against mortgage lenders surfaced.

Foreclosure sales made up 22 percent of all sales in the last three months of 2011 and one-fourth in the first quarter a year ago.

As of end of April, there were 637,668 bank-owned homes yet to be sold, representing a 17-month supply, Blomquist said. Another 722,467 were in some stage of the foreclosure process.

Sales of all previously occupied homes jumped in January to the highest pace in nearly two years, but declined slightly the next two months. Sales rose 3.4 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. That nearly matched January's pace of 4.63 million, but was below the nearly 6 million that most economists equate with healthy markets.

While rising, the share of foreclosure sales remains well below its first-quarter 2009 peak of 45 percent of all sales. They comprised less than 1 percent of all sales in 2005, at the height of the housing boom.

More foreclosure sales also means potentially more pain for homeowners, who could see the value of their homes erode further as neighboring foreclosures sell.

Combined, bank-owned homes and those still in the foreclosure process sold for an average of $161,214 in the first quarter. That's down 1 percent from the fourth quarter of last year and down 2 percent from the first quarter of 2011.

Compared to non-foreclosure homes, the average price of a foreclosure sale was 27 percent below the average sales price of a home not in foreclosure or owned by a bank during the quarter. That discount is unchanged from the fourth quarter last year, but is down from a discount of 29 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

by ALEX VEIGA - May. 31, 2012 06:35 AM AP Real Estate Writer

Sales of foreclosure homes rose in 1Q

Real Estate News

Reuters: Business News

National Commercial Real Estate News From CoStar Group

Latest stock market news from Wall Street -


Recent Comments