Sunday, May 26, 2013

Scottsdale homebuilder offers new plans, developments


Scottsdale-based Maracay Homes will provide 46 new floor plans in 13 communities starting next month.

Maracay is calling it the Arizona Living Collection. Company officials said it invested more than $4 million and spent more than two years of research and market observation to come up with the designs. Maracay said the plans will address the needs of a post-recession Arizona homebuyer.

Several of the communities already are open.

Andy Warren, president and chief executive officer, said Maracay opened 12 developments last year, with eight that remained open at the end of the year. He said the company plans another dozen this year.

Warren said Maracay emerged from the recession with new homes starting in June 2012. The company sold land in 2007 and 2008, then became a buyer again from 2009.

“These are premium neighborhoods in the sweet spot of the market.” he said. Prices average in the $300,000s with plans of about 3,000 square feet, although the sizes and prices vary.

Read more: Scottsdale homebuilder offers new plans, developments

Mesa’s Broadway 101 Commercial Park sells for $77M


Mesa’s Broadway 101 Commerce Park has sold for $77 million, making it the priciest industrial property deal this year.

Lincoln Property Co. sold the 808,000-square-foot project, which was built on the site of a Motorola Inc. semiconductor plant built in 1969. Industrial Income Trust Inc., a Denver-based real estate investment trust, bought the property, located on 52 acres on the northwest corner of Broadway and Dobson roads.

“Broadway 101 has some history to it,” said David Krumwiede, executive vice president of Lincoln Property’s Desert West region. “More than 2,600 Motorola employees once worked there.”

Read more: Mesa’s Broadway 101 Commercial Park sells for $77M

APS, solar industry at odds on value of power from rooftop units


Arizona Public Service Co. and the solar industry have published conflicting studies estimating the value of rooftop solar panels, foreshadowing a debate that will determine the future of the budding solar industry in Arizona.

The APS report says that people with rooftop solar are being overpaid for the excess electricity they generate, which is directed to the power grid when they are not using it. The solar-industry report said those customers are being underpaid and that their solar panels provide value to the utility by helping APS avoid expenses like new power plants.

The two sides are making their arguments as APS prepares to ask regulators in July for a reduction in its credits. The five Arizona Corporation Commissioners will decide whether to keep or alter the payments.

Read more: APS, solar industry at odds on value of power from rooftop units

Phoenix-area man gets prison in housing scheme


A Valley man will spend more than a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in what prosecutors described as a Ponzi scheme that lured unwitting investors into the area’s booming housing market.

Jere Parkhurst’s clients will walk away with losses ranging from several thousand dollars to $1 million, with few holding out hope for restitution. He will spend the next 13 months in a federal penitentiary.

Parkhurst’s operation is familiar to anyone who lived in the Valley during and after the housing boom. But his attorney claims the details of the federal government’s case point to the fact that he was just another ignorant real-estate investor eager to cash in on the trend of flipping historic houses.

Read more: Phoenix-area man gets prison in housing scheme

Verrado homebuilding showing signs of life in Buckeye


Construction crews haven’t turned over much dirt during the past seven years in Verrado.

That has begun to change. Homebuilders are putting houses on long-dormant lots in the Buckeye master-planned community and the developer is readying a large chunk of land for hundreds of new homes.

Also, Verrado’s developer, DMB Associates Inc., has revived plans for a community for residents 55 and older, which could one day include thousands of homes.

Although the new-home market is showing signs of life, Verrado still struggles to attract new shops and businesses to the community.

Read more: Verrado homebuilding showing signs of life in Buckeye

Median home prices continue upward trend | HousingWire

Median home prices continued to increase in the first quarter, rising the most annually in more than seven years, the National Association of Realtors said.

In 133 out of 150 metropolitan statistical areas surveyed, the median existing single-family home price increased year-over-year when studying closings from the first quarter. Only 17 metros saw prices decline.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, a comparable 133 areas saw an annual increase, which was a great improvement from the first quarter of 2012, when prices were only higher in 74 metros.

Read more: Median home prices continue upward trend | HousingWire

New builder starts work in Surprise's Greer Ranch


Dallas-based homebuilder Gehan Homes is ready to start construction on scores of homes for its Hacienda at Greer Ranch community in Surprise.

Gehan Homes CEO Tim Gehan, who co-owns the company, said he wants to take advantage of a new growth cycle as Surprise’s master-planned communities begin building again, waking up from the recession’s dormant period. The Gehan Homes building plans extend beyond Surprise.

The builder is constructing homes in Bridges of Gilbert, Peoria’s Vistancia and Goodyear’s Palm Valley. Model homes should start going up in Vistancia in June or July, with building on all sites starting by the end of the year.

Read more: New builder starts work in Surprise's Greer Ranch

Rezoning OK’d to bring retail to Arcadia office building


The owner of an office building at a prime intersection in the Arcadia area has won approval from the Phoenix City Council to bring retail to the property.

The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved the rezoning Wednesday.

Stephen Anderson, a land-use attorney who represents 77 Group Investments, said the owner wants to make retail available to his existing office building on the northeastern corner of 44th Street and Camelback Road. Anderson said the parcel was originally zoned for an office building, and the rezoning will allow for a mix of office and retail.

He said there is no tenant for the space yet.

Read more: Rezoning OK’d to bring retail to Arcadia office building

Analyst offers his view of housing market


Tom Ruff has been tracking metro Phoenix’s housing market through daily analysis of property records and discussions — sometimes heated — with the real-estate industry’s top agents and executives since the 1980s.

Ruff, an analyst with the Information Market, a data provider owned by the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, answered three questions for The Arizona Republic.

Question: Where do you see home prices heading?

Answer: In today’s Phoenix housing market, there is an imbalance between supply and demand. During the past three years, much of the available housing supply has come from bank foreclosures. In April, only 500 homes were foreclosed on and reverted to the bank. The banks will no longer be able to bolster the supply necessary to meet current demand.

This leads us to question where the necessary supply is going to come from. The logical response would be the builders. However, April’s numbers show that there were only 750 newly constructed homes sold in Maricopa County, making it clear the builders will not be able to fill the gap anytime soon. A 10 percent increase in home prices during the next year would not be unreasonable; in fact, it would most likely be a conservative estimate.

Read more: Analyst offers his view of housing market

Phoenix Councilman Simplot: City needs more high-end housing


 If Phoenix is going to attract more professionals to the city’s center, it needs to shift direction from building so many affordable-housing projects and focus on higher-end development instead, according to Councilman Tom Simplot.

Simplot estimates that in the past few years, 90 percent of the city’s multihousing projects have been designated affordable housing.

And that’s too much, Simplot said. Phoenix should focus on making city-owned lots available for market-rate and high-end development projects.

He plans to introduce a proposal to offer up city land for this kind of development at a subcommittee meeting this month. But not so fast, some real-estate experts say. Not only are recent low-income residential projects a good thing, the country’s sixth-largest city needs even more.

Simplot, president of the Arizona Multi-housing Association, a trade organization for apartment communities, said new affordable-housing projects have been popular throughout the city.

Read more: Phoenix Councilman Simplot: City needs more high-end housing

Scottsdale Council takes no action on petition vs. Blue Sky development


The Scottsdale City Council on Tuesday voted to take no action on a citizen petition asking it to revisit the issue of whether Gray Development Group met a required deadline to start construction on its Blue Sky apartment complex.

However, questions remain as to whether the developer complied with city-imposed stipulations regarding construction of the complex east of Scottsdale Fashion Square. Acting City Manager Dan Worth said he will report back to the council after investigating whether the developer complied with all of the stipulations for council approval of the project.

Residents of Safari Drive, a condominium complex next to Blue Sky, petitioned the council to reconsider Worth’s determination that Blue Sky met the stipulation that it be under construction within 24 months of council approval, in April 2011.

John McLinden, a Safari Drive resident, said Worth usurped the council’s authority by making the determination that the project was under construction. He also said the project has a number of “fundamental flaws.”

 The city issued Gray Development a building permit for the underground parking garage, but the project hasn’t received any permits for the buildings. Brian Kearney, Gray Development’s chief operating officer, has said the firm does not have financing to complete the first phase. Gray Development is self-funding the project and construction until it can obtain a financial partner, Kearney said.

Read more: Scottsdale Council takes no action on petition vs. Blue Sky development

Phoenix-area bankruptcies hit six-month high


Phoenix-area bankruptcies in April touched a six-month high, but filings continued their long-term trend of year-over-year declines.

The 1,645 filings last month were the highest since October but were down 18 percent from April 2012, marking the 27th consecutive month of year-over-year declines, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix. Filings often follow a seasonal pattern, making year-over-year comparisons the most important.

For example, many people don’t initiate bankruptcy proceedings until after they receive income-tax refunds in the early part of the year, so they can retain that money and use it to pay for an attorney. For all of Arizona, the 2,234 filings in April also marked a 2013 high but were down 17 percent from April 2012.

One factor helping borrowers has been the continuing level of low interest rates engineered by Federal Reserve policies.

Read more: Phoenix-area bankruptcies hit six-month high

Arizona has biggest mortgage delinquencies dip


Arizonans are climbing out of mortgage hot water at a faster rate than anyone else in the nation.

A new study shows the state had the biggest improvement in mortgage delinquencies over the past year — a further sign that the housing market is recovering and consumers are making progress in paying off debts.

Credit-bureau TransUnion said the proportion of Arizona mortgages 60 or more days past due fell from 6.86 percent in the first quarter of 2012 to 4.26 percent in the first quarter of 2013.

That delinquency decline of 37.9 percent was the nation’s best, followed by neighboring California’s 36.6 percent drop and Colorado’s 28.5 percent improvement. All 50 states and the District of Columbia saw their mortgage-delinquency rates improve over the past year. Arizona’s current delinquency rate now puts in below the national average of 4.56 percent, which eased from 5.78 percent one year earlier.

Read more: Arizona has biggest mortgage delinquencies dip

Gilbert homeowners, builder reach compromise on development

A homebuilder’s plans for 114 luxury homes in south Gilbert won a 6-0 recommendation from the Gilbert Planning Commission on Wednesday after a hard-fought compromise between the developer and a group of neighbors who had protested the proposed increase in density.

Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers recently purchased about 59 acres of surplus property from the Flood Control District of Maricopa County and is seeking a zoning change to accommodate nearly twice as many homes on the land as currently allowed.

The parcel, near Riggs Road and Adora Boulevard, is next to two communities with much bigger lots, Greenfield Acres and Greenfield Glen.

 Several residents from those subdivisions complained the zoning change, as requested by Toll Brothers, would detract from the low-density, agrarian feel of the Santan Character Area, which encompasses about 16 square miles in south Gilbert.

Read more: Gilbert homeowners, builder reach compromise on development

Monday, May 13, 2013

Using Financial Assets to Qualify for a New Mortgage - Freddie Mac


A little-known change in Freddie Mac's rules could be a big help to qualifying retiring Baby Boomers and other savvy homebuyers who have limited incomes, but substantial financial assets, for a low-rate conforming, conventional mortgage.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Low mortgage rates may not be here for much longer - Yahoo! Homes

While you may have become used to seeing mortgage interest rates at or below 4 percent, the age of historically-low rates may be coming to an end.

In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the national association representing the real estate finance industry, predicts 30-year mortgage rates to rise to 4.4 percent by the end of 2013.  

Fannie Mae CEO: Profits don't recapitalize Fannie Mae | HousingWire

The rise in the guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae is taking more of a profit share for the government-sponsored enterprise. The extent to which investors contribute to the Fannie Mae bottom line, on the other hand, is shrinking.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Phoenix housing prices up 30% in past year - Phoenix Business Journal


Metro Phoenix kicked off the bustling home-buying season with another big price surge while the local supply problem worsened, according a report released Friday from Arizona State University.

Single-family homes across the Phoenix area saw prices climb by nearly 30 percent year-over-year in March to $175,000, the report said. That’s also a 3 percent increase from the previous month, although slightly less than the 4.3 percent price increase the Valley saw between January and February.

Read more: Phoenix housing prices up 30% in past year - Phoenix Business Journal

NY AG: 2 Banks Violated Mortgage Accord - ABC News

New York's attorney general on Monday accused Wells Fargo and Bank of America of violating the terms of last year's national mortgage settlement by failing to process hundreds of refinancing requests promptly.

Read more: NY AG: 2 Banks Violated Mortgage Accord - ABC News

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Mortgage Rates Jump Higher Following Employment Report

Mortgage rates shot higher at their fastest pace in two months after this morning's hotly anticipated Employment Situation Report showed that job creation in April was better than expected. Stronger economic data tends to cause longer term interest rates to move higher. In addition to April's relative strength, the report also revised March's abysmal job creation of 88k payrolls up to more palatable 138k. This likely exacerbated the resulting weakness in bond markets as the March numbers (released on April 5th) were a big factor in the past month of improvements in mortgage rates. The average conventional 30yr Fixed rate for an ideal scenario had been edging down to 3.375%, and while that remains viable today, the average once again centers on 3.5%.

Read more: Mortgage Rates Jump Higher Following Employment Report

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Home prices on rise again - USATODAY.com


Home prices in April.

A breakdown of prices by type of sale:

Home prices have climbed 30percent in the past year and are expected to keep climbing until at least June. January to June is considered the peak buying season in the Phoenix area.

Read more: Home prices on rise again - USATODAY.com

Land purchase may jump-start Buckeye development


A private foundation and a Scottsdale developer spent nearly $10 million to purchase 630 acres to expand a stalled master-planned community in Buckeye.

Jeff Garrett of Garrett Development said he expects the land to be developed in as soon as two years. It is on both sides of Arizona 85 south of Interstate 10. The highway bisects the second and third phases of Westpark, where building halted during the economic downtown.

Read more: Land purchase may jump-start Buckeye development

PV courthouse groundbreaking launches $2 mil project


For many involved with the municipal court in Paradise Valley, Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the new courthouse was a long time coming. Presiding Judge J. Tyrrell Taber said he has been asking the Town Council for a new courthouse for more than 12 years.

Read more: PV courthouse groundbreaking launches $2 mil project

Employers add jobs, U.S. economic outlook brightens


WASHINGTON — Employers added a surprising 165,000 jobs in April, helping to push down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent, the government said Friday in a report that included sharp improvements to prior months.

“The jobs report was a pleasant surprise. Job growth is slowing, but not as much as feared,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist for forecaster Moody’s Analytics. “The decline in unemployment is also encouraging, particularly because it was driven by an increase in jobs.”

Read more here: Employers add jobs, U.S. economic outlook brightens | Job News | Tri-CityHerald.com

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