Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM





Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

The housing market is confusing and difficult to navigate for most these days. One month prices are up, the next they are down. The same with foreclosures. In one metro Phoenix neighborhood, there are more short sales than regular sales. In another area less than a mile away, homes are selling for the asking price.

As a real-estate reporter for The Arizona Republic since 1996, I have been watching the market closely for a while. I have owned more than one home in the region. My stomach churns with other homeowners' when prices fall, and I am elated when I see even the slightest positive signs in the housing market. But it all has to be put into perspective.

Starting today, I'll be answering real-estate questions from you, often with the help of experts, at least once a month.

Question: When will the (expanded refinancing) program be available to homeowners? How do you know you are eligible? Also, are the banks being given any incentives to help homeowners who qualify for the program? Right now, it is next to impossible to get anyone from my bank on the phone to talk about my options. -- Carl S.

Answer: Since Monday's announcement by the Obama administration about the expansion of the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, I have heard from dozens of readers who want to know the same thing: Are they eligible?

Homeowners must have a mortgage backed by government-owned Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To determine if your mortgage is backed by Fannie or Freddie, call your mortgage servicer or go to makinghomeaffordable.gov, where you can look it up.

Homeowners must be underwater and not have missed more than one payment in the past year. Now, there aren't supposed to be any limits on how much more a homeowner owes on a house compared with what it's worth. This is known as the loan-to-value ratio. Previously, HARP capped the LTV at 125 percent, which is of little help to homeowners in metro Phoenix.

The federal government won't release all details of the program until December. But HUD and Treasury officials said this week that they would cut fees and work on other ways to get lenders to participate quickly. I will continue to follow the program and track its success or failure.

Q: How will I know when new-home prices have hit bottom? I have been looking for a new house in the Gilbert/Chandler area, and it looks like homes now cost half what they did a few years ago. -- Michelle in Tempe

A: Homebuilders are competing with foreclosure homes. They are trying to build and sell houses for the lowest prices they can and still eke out a profit. Housing analysts say it's a great time to buy a new home. In most cases, you don't have to compete with investors paying cash because they are buying foreclosure homes.

Also, the number of new foreclosures is slowing. That means fewer inexpensive homes on the market, which will stabilize prices. The number of homes listed for sale is down, so prices could climb again next year, even in the new-home market.

If you have the cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment, interest rates are still at new record lows, making it a great time to get a mortgage if you have decent credit. But don't buy unless you plan on holding onto the house for at least a few years, housing advocates warn. No one really knows when the housing market will recover.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Oct. 28, 2011 05:12 PM




Reagor: Revised program targets underwater homeowners

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM



Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

U.S. home prices were largely flat in August from a month earlier and down almost 4% from a year ago, with more declines ahead, economists say.

The Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller home price data, released Tuesday, showed non-seasonally adjusted prices dipping in 10 of 20 major metropolitan areas in August from July.

Yet there was a "modest glimmer of hope" in that year-over-year results in 16 of 20 cities were better than they had been in recent months, says David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

Case-Shiller's 20-city index showed prices down 3.8% in August from a year ago, while the 10-city index posted a 3.5% decline. August prices were flat with July in the 20-city index when adjusted for seasonal factors and down 0.2% when not adjusted.

The market is battling high unemployment, rampant foreclosures in some areas, weak consumer confidence and tight lending standards.

Prices will fall another 5% to 10%, says IHS Global Insight economist Patrick Newport. They'll fall even more if the U.S. economy falls into recession, he says.

Consumers clearly are distraught. Consumer confidence plunged in October to its lowest level since March 2009, the Conference Board, a private research group, said Tuesday.

The tremendous volatility in equity markets, and the European debt issue, are driving concerns, IHS says.

In addition, consumers are concerned about business conditions, the job market and income prospects, says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. That will be a drag on home prices, says Jed Kolko, economist for real estate website Trulia.

The latest housing price report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, also released Tuesday, points to a weaker housing market than previously thought, says Paul Ashworth, economist for Capital Economics.

The FHFA index -- which measures sales prices of homes owned or guaranteed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae-- shows prices slipping 0.1% in August, for their first monthly decline since March.

Some regions are performing better than others.

Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis all posted monthly home price increases going back to May, the Case-Shiller data show.

The markets were some of the weakest, particularly Detroit. But as of August, home prices in Detroit were up 2.7% from a year earlier -- the most of any city measured by Case-Shiller.

Detroit is rising faster than others because it fell so far, Kolko says. But home prices in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis and Boston were also up slightly in August from May -- even when adjusted for seasonal factors, Kolko says.

Those cities tend to have stronger economies, lower housing vacancy rates or both, he adds.

Year-over-year, only Washington, D.C., joined Detroit in posting higher prices. Prices were up 0.3% in Washington in August vs. a year ago, according to Case-Shiller.

by Julie Schmit USA Today Oct. 27, 2011 12:06 PM




Economists warn housing prices will lose more ground

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM


Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

WASHINGTON -- The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes fell for the third straight month in September after the spring-and-summer peak buying season failed to entice new buyers.

The National Association of Realtors says its index of sales agreements fell 4.6 percent last month to a reading of 84.5.

A reading of 100 is considered healthy. The last time the index reached that high was in April 2010, the final month that buyers could qualify for a federal tax credit that has since expired.

Contract signings are usually a reliable indicator of where the housing market is headed. There's typically a one- to two-month lag between a contract and a completed deal.

But the Realtors group said a growing number of buyers have canceled contracts.

by Derek Kravitz Associated Press Oct. 27, 2011 07:30 AM




Pending home sales fell 4.6% in Sept.

Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM



Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


Scottsdale condo prices up nearly 5% as foreclosures fall

Here's a look at home and condo prices for Scottsdale in 2011. Click "Next" to view previous months.



by Peter Corbett The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 07:51 AM


$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM




$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM



$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM



$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM



$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM



$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

Surprise has a number of goals when it comes to Prasada, a mammoth commercial and residential center that will straddle Loop 303 in the decades ahead.

City officials want to see thousands of new jobs, new homebuyers and a healthy new stream of sales-tax revenue. City Council members were eager to revise a development agreement with Prasada developer Westcor recently, largely because it would help them reach the most important goal of all.

"The goal of this development agreement is to get it built," said Surprise Community Development Director Jeff Mihelich, who laid out the deal in a City Council meeting in September.

The terms of the agreement extend some building deadlines for Westcor, reduces to $200 million from $240 million the amount Surprise must reimburse Westcor for infrastructure, cuts some interest rates and gives the city flexibility in making those payments.

City officials said the wait and the financial incentives will be worth it when the $1.6 billion project is complete.

"At the end of the day, it would be the largest commercial development in the state of Arizona," Mihelich said. "It would have a profound and positive impact on Surprise for years to come."

Once built, the regional mall and surrounding power centers, auto mall and new neighborhoods are expected to pour $40 million a year into city accounts, while boosting the Dysart Unified School District's income by $16 million a year. Surprise would be able to lay claim to 18,500 new jobs, with 14,600 employees working on construction alone.

The day when the entire project is complete could be two decades in the future, since the timeline for the regional mall depends on the economy and growth in Surprise and the West Valley.

Garrett Newland, vice president of development at Westcor, said that work on Prasada never stopped. Much of it took place at ground level, where $50 million worth of roads, water and wastewater systems have been built.

"For those of us spending tens of millions of dollars, we are very committed," Newland said of the project. "We're in it for the long term."

Prasada's grand vision

Westcor executives first unveiled plans for Prasada in 2005, when housing was booming and Surprise could hardly keep up with growth.

Prasada would transform a 3,400-acre swath of farmland into a regional mall, surrounded by power centers, restaurants, theaters, an auto mall, commercial offices and a community of 7,200 houses, townhouses and condominiums. The project would straddle Loop 303, filling in both sides of the freeway between Waddell and Cactus roads. The commercial core would fill 800 acres and attract shoppers from miles around.

Fulton Homes and other builders would construct suburban and urban landscapes, complete with grassy open space and trails.

Prasada was to play off of the new lifestyle trend found in developments such as Phoenix's Kierland Commons, where residents could live, work shop and play without having to get into a car. Harkins Theatres and Dillard's were to anchor the project.

It would, as Mihelich phrased it six years later, "put Surprise on the map."

Facing economic strain

The economy pushed the whole project back by a number of years. Under the original plans, Prasada would have opened 2 million square feet of commercial space by the end of 2012. The revised agreement with the city pushes that deadline to 2017.

But elements are falling in place, even with the downturn.

Two of the 10 planned auto dealers have opened at 303 AutoShow at Prasada - Sands Chevrolet and Sands Kia. City officials are reviewing a site plan for a Coulter Nissan dealership.

A Fry's Marketplace is complete and a Walmart, now under construction, will open next year. Building permits have been issued for Target.

Since announcing plans for Prasada in 2005, Westcor executives have been careful to not set a timeline for the project. That hasn't changed.

Newland described development as a numbers game; the population and the income have to be in place before anyone breaks ground on a regional mall.

Westcor will not start drafting site plans for the Prasada mall until the company's new regional mall in Goodyear, Estrella Falls, has been open for at least a couple of years. That project was delayed in 2009 and now may open in 2014 or 2015.

Assuming growth continues, that's when Westcor would start planning the Prasada mall, a project that would take about two years to build.

Prasada would follow the same development pattern of some other regional Westcor malls: First the power centers open with big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. The auto mall draws in more shoppers and, when the population and income level hit a certain point, the larger stores can project enough sales to start building.

Department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's, J.C. Penney and even higher-end brands such as Nordstrom are all watching the West Valley, Newland said.

In the meantime, Walmart and Target will open and two or three other power centers will appear at Prasada.

"Income levels in Surprise are already very good," Newland said. "The bottom line is there will be a lot of development at Prasada the next 15 to 20 years."

Homes before retail

People may be able to buy their own piece of Prasada before the first retailer opens at the mall.

Suburban Land Reserve, the company that owns the residential portion of Prasada, hopes to begin building by 2013.

Carl Duke, the company's vice president of portfolio management, said that the market remains soft.

Despite the slowed economy, the company's plans have not changed much, Duke said, although they may not build all of the 7,200 homes originally envisioned for many years, if at all.

Plans call to start with single-family houses before the mall is built, since that is a selling point for homebuyers. More urban-style homes likely would be built later in the life of the project.

Duke said that company executives are optimistic, since Phoenix should be well-situated compared with other Southwest cities when interest rates rise.

"We are seeing a number of signs that are encouraging," he said. "Overall, we are very bullish on the Phoenix market. We think there is a huge opportunity for job growth, and the affordability of the area is critical."

by Lesley Wright The Arizona Republic Oct. 24, 2011 10:26 AM



$1.6 billion Prasada project stays on track in Surprise

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