Saturday, August 24, 2013

Developer’s Western vision is rising in Cave Creek

Colin “T.C.” Thorstenson has plans for Cave Creek.

Ever since he moved to the town 10 years ago, visions of Cave Creek as a mecca for Western entertainment have danced in his head.

He has worked in the niche industry much of his life, making a name for himself training and performing with buffaloes for crowds throughout the country.

But over the years, the Wild West entertainer has turned some of his focus to developing two prime pieces of real estate in the heart of the town’s commercial core — with mixed results.

Read more...Developer’s Western vision is rising in Cave Creek

Calculated Risk: MBA: Mortgage Delinquency Rates declined in Q2

The delinquency rate for mortgage loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties decreased to a seasonally adjusted rate of 6.96 percent of all loans outstanding at the end of the second quarter of 2013, the lowest level since mid-2008. The delinquency rate dropped 29 basis points from the previous quarter, and 62 basis points from one year ago, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) National Delinquency Survey.

The delinquency rate includes loans that are at least one payment past due but does not include loans in the process of foreclosure. The percentage of loans on which foreclosure actions were started during the second quarter decreased to 0.64 percent from 0.70 percent, a decrease of six basis points and reached the lowest level since the first quarter of 2007 and less than half of the all-time high of 1.42 percent reached in September 2009. The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the second quarter was 3.33 percent down 22 basis points from the first quarter and 94 basis points lower than one year ago.

Read more...Calculated Risk: MBA: Mortgage Delinquency Rates declined in Q2

Ariz. home delinquencies dive -

Arizonans are again putting up the nation's best numbers in terms of cleaning up mortgage problems.

The proportion of homeowners with past-due home loans from April through June fell more sharply in Arizona than in any other state, reported credit-bureau TransUnion in a new study.

Arizona's mortgage-deliquency rate plunged from 6.14percent in the second quarter of 2012 to a current reading of 3.58percent. It was the fourth straight quarter that Arizona had the nation's biggest decline in the proportion of loans 60 days or more past due, measured over a 12-month period.

Read more...Ariz. home delinquencies dive -

What's Driving Treasury Yields? | Zero Hedge News

The 10Y Treasury yield has jumped nearly 130bp from its low point in early May. Given the tight ranges and low volatility of yields during the most of QE era, this kind of move in just over 3 months seemed stunning to some investors. Consequently, the question that has come up often recently is: what has been driving Treasury yields?

As UBS' Boris Rjavinski notes, several years ago a rate strategist would give you a straightforward and predictable answer: inflationary expectations, economic growth projections, and current and future monetary policy. The “monetary policy” part of the answer would likely simple deal with the path of the key short-term policy rate. Terms such as “quantitative easing”, “communication policy”, “thresholds and triggers” were foreign to bond investors during the era of pre-credit crisis innocence.

Read more...What's Driving Treasury Yields? | Zero Hedge News

California man gets prison in Arizona housing scheme

A California man was sentenced this week to five years in prison for his involvement in a scam in which many Arizona Latinos lost their homes.

Frank Becerra Campos, 66, of San Diego, and two other men ran advance-fee mortgage-rescue companies that collected at least $669,743 in up-front fees from more than 260 homeowners “in exchange for loan modification services they utterly failed to provide,” according to court documents.

More than half of those homeowners were in Arizona, said Cosme Lopez, public-affairs officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix.

Campos, who speaks Spanish, and Miguel Carrera and Oswaldo Esqueda, both Mexican citizens who lived in Arizona, targeted mostly “distressed” Latino homeowners, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Read more...California man gets prison in Arizona housing scheme

US gov't sues BofA over mortgage bond sale - Yahoo! Finance

(AP) — The U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America is based. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Bank of America there, too.

Bank of America disputed the allegations.

Read more...US gov't sues BofA over mortgage bond sale - Yahoo! Finance

Builders try to keep pace with demand

Metro Phoenix’s homebuilding industry is trying to keep up with demand from homebuyers.

New-home construction in metro Phoenix is climbing this year more slowly than originally expected. A shortage of construction workers is one reason for the slow growth. Look for stories in Sunday’s and Monday’s Arizona Republic exploring those issues.

Meanwhile, here is some interesting data from an RL Brown Report.

Metro Phoenix’s top five builders based on new-home sales through late July.

Read more...Builders try to keep pace with demand

Phoenix housing: New homes on rise, but construction slowed

Homebuyers looking to purchase a house before prices and interest rates climb higher are filling builders’ sales offices on weekends.

New houses are springing up around the Valley, and builders are buying more land for new subdivisions.

They are all welcome signs that the slowly recovering housing market is picking up as metro Phoenix continues to pull out of the recession.

More homes are being built than last year, but the pace of the recovery is not accelerating as fast as had been anticipated. According to industry experts, new-home construction will climb at less than half the rate expected earlier this year.

Read more...Phoenix housing: New homes on rise, but construction slowed

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Student loan debt relief industry draws scrutiny

Nearly 7 million Americans have fallen behind on their student loans, and millions more are barely able to make their payments each month. A new industry has sprung up that offers to help deal with such debt, and that has consumer advocates concerned.

"Are you struggling with student loan debt?" the commercials ask. "Call right now for immediate relief."

A myriad of companies now offer to help reduce or even eliminate debt from government-backed student loans (for a price, of course). They make it sound fast and easy. Relief, they promise, is guaranteed.

Read more...Student loan debt relief industry draws scrutiny

$600 million Tempe Town Lake project begins

The massive Marina Heights development in downtown Tempe, to be anchored by a State Farm insurance regional headquarters, is expected to become a job hub that will draw hundreds of Valley-based prospects, dignitaries said during ceremonies Wednesday.

Ground was broken on the 2 million-square-foot, 20-acre, $600 million mixed-use development that is expected to take some of the sting out of the anticipated loss of the US Airways corporate headquarters in the downtown area. The airline has said its headquarters will move to Fort Worth, Texas, when its merger with American Airlines is complete.

The bulk of the Marina Heights complex, on a site owned by ASU just east of the commercial and condo high-rises on the southern edge of Tempe Town Lake and just north of Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Stadium, will be occupied by State Farm, which Gov. Jan Brewer said reflects the state’s fast-growing economy.

Read more...$600 million Tempe Town Lake project begins

W. Valley homebuyers seeing housing prices skyrocket

Tricia Williams is painfully aware of the housing market rebound that began in 2012.

She and her husband began looking for a home along Happy Valley Road near Interstate 17 in early 2012, just before prices began increasing dramatically. Their wish list included 2,500 square feet and four to five bedrooms for less than $200,000 within the Deer Valley Unified School District.

They put in two other offers in the north Phoenix and Peoria area, but were outbid within a week for one and within a day for the other. They didn’t place counteroffers.

“I wasn’t going to get into the bidding game,” Williams said. “It’s not worth it. There’s been no house that I’d want to do that with.”

Instead, they opted for fewer bedrooms and a mortgage payment that was higher than hoped.

Read more...W. Valley homebuyers seeing housing prices skyrocket

U.S. Apartment Rents Rise, But at Slower Pace -

Apartment landlords are continuing to raise rents, but there are signs that the pace is slowing.

Nationwide, landlords increased rents an average of 0.7% to $1,062 in the second quarter, according to a report to be released Tuesday by Reis Inc., REIS +0.06% a real-estate research firm. While that is a hair above the 0.6% increase notched in the first quarter, it is well below the 1.3% rise achieved a year earlier.

"The weak labor market and income growth continue to hold rent growth in check," Reis wrote in its report.

Read more...U.S. Apartment Rents Rise, But at Slower Pace -

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Value of Cavalliere estate in north Scottsdale disputed by family members

Efforts to settle the estate of George “Doc” Cavalliere, owner of Reata Pass Steakhouse and Greasewood Flat, stalled in court last week as representatives of his trust and family members disputed the value of the 43-acre property in north Scottsdale.

A court hearing Wednesday was scheduled in hopes of resolving the estate, created upon Cavalliere’s death in 2009. The estate owes more than $1 million in taxes and an estimated $1.5 million to pay off a 2011 loan, as well as other obligations.

Read more...Value of Cavalliere estate in north Scottsdale disputed by family members

Downtown Phoenix apartment project targets young professionals

New apartments will replace a vacant city-owned lot in downtown Phoenix by summer 2015.

The City Council approved the sale of the 23,000-square-foot lot, on First Avenue north of McDowell Road, by the Arizona Opera for $350,000 to developer artHAUS at its July 3 meeting.

Jeremy Legg, economic-development program manager for the Community and Economic Development Department, said the city bought the land in 2011 for the Arizona Opera but later realized the project wouldn’t need the west third of the lot.

In February, the department issued a call for proposals to develop the lot with a transit-oriented project, which tends to be densely populated and pedestrian-friendly. A review panel unanimously selected the artHAUS plan for a three-story, 30- unit, $5.5 million development in March.

Read more...Downtown Phoenix apartment project targets young professionals

Mark-Taylor planning luxury apartments in northeast Phoenix

Developer Mark-Taylor plans to break ground by the end of the year on a property in northeast Phoenix where it plans to build 388 luxury apartment units.

Chris Brozina, vice president for development, said developers are seeking site-plan approval, but he anticipates the first units will be available for leasing in October 2014. The units, which will be housed in 19 or 20 buildings, should all be finished by October 2015.

“This will be as advanced as any apartment that Mark-Taylor has built to date,” Brozina said.

Read more...Mark-Taylor planning luxury apartments in northeast Phoenix

Meritage Homes' 2Q Earnings & Revs Beat - July 25, 2013 -

Meritage Homes Corporation’s (MTH - Snapshot Report) second-quarter 2013 earnings per share of 74 cents beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 46 cents by 60.9%. The company achieved earnings beat on the back of better-than-expected increase in the top line.

Earnings per share also jumped 208.3% year over year, buoyed by robust rise in home closing revenues and gross margin expansion.

Total revenue in the second quarter of 2013 amounted to $450 million, up 59.5% year over year. The top-line growth rate exceeded management’s expectation of 40% to 45% growth for the quarter. Reported revenues beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $410 million by 9.8%. Meritage’s home closing revenues were $436.04 million, increasing 55% from the prior-year quarter and marking the seventh consecutive quarter of increase. Year-over-year growth in home closing revenues was attributable to a 27% increase in the number of homes closed and a 22% hike in average closing prices.

Read more...Meritage Homes' 2Q Earnings & Revs Beat - July 25, 2013 -

Last condo at Kierland Commons in northeast Phoenix is sold

The condominiums at Kierland Commons are sold out.

The final sale of the Plaza Lofts building took place last month. With the sale, Woodbine Southwest is no longer involved in the project.

Woodbine has been involved in the development of the Kierland area since it was conceived in the early 1990s.

“It has really worked out well,” said Buzz Gosnell, president of Woodbine Southwest.

Kierland Commons, best known for its retail space, has been open since 2000. The condos, the final piece of the 38-acre project, went on sale in 2005 with 30 available units.

Read more...Last condo at Kierland Commons in northeast Phoenix is sold

Feds might retake prime Phoenix parcel

The owner of a 15-acre parcel at one of Phoenix’s most-trafficked intersections has stopped making payments on the property, leaving its fate up in the air.

The federal government could regain ownership of the parcel — on the northeastern corner of Central Avenue and Indian School Road — and that concerns some city officials.

“It’s an incredibly important parcel,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “We probably have more traffic north, south, east and west going at Central and Indian School than any other intersection in the entire city.”

Barron Collier Cos., a Florida-based developer, began paying the federal government for the land after a complicated land swap involving the company, Phoenix and the federal government. The swap took several years during the 1990s to finalize and helped establish Steele Indian School Park, adjacent to the Barron Collier property.

Read more...Feds might retake prime Phoenix parcel

2 new car dealerships could help Scottdale’s bottom line

Scottsdale has lost millions of dollars in sales taxes from car sales since 2006, but two new dealerships for luxury vehicles are under construction and will make up at least some of the difference.

The new dealerships will sell Lexus and Mercedes-Benz.

The Lexus property is near Loop 101 on Scottsdale Road, across from the numerous dealerships on the Phoenix side of the street. Bell Lexus will move from Bell Road in Phoenix to the new location.

The Mercedes dealership is going up near Scottsdale Fashion Square. It will be the first new car outlet in the downtown Scottsdale area.

Read more...2 new car dealerships could help Scottdale’s bottom line

Mesa Approves Revised Site Plan for 145 Single-Family Homes near Las Sendas | Arizona Builders Exchange

The Mesa City Council on July 8 approved a revised site plan for 145 single-family homes next to east Mesa community Las Sendas, after several residents who’d lambasted the initial proposal came out in support of the modified version.

The residential development will occupy 23 acres, or about one-third, of a larger swath of land near McDowell and Power roads known as Parcel 51.

The full property for years had been set aside for a business park, until the city in the late 2000s approved a plan reserving the northern piece for 180 condominium units. Ryland Homes later decided to swap the proposed condos for 145 single-family homes, believing the updated plan would attract young families, young professionals and empty-nesters.

Read more...Mesa Approves Revised Site Plan for 145 Single-Family Homes near Las Sendas | Arizona Builders Exchange

Problematic Gilbert parcels may be rezoned

Two vacant commercial parcels near prominent Gilbert street corners could be rezoned to allow for residential development if officials approve corresponding amendments to the town’s General Plan.

Gilbert planners have tried for about two years to find a suitable use for an 11-acre site directly west of Roosevelt Water Conservation District offices on the northwestern corner of Higley and Williams Field roads. So far, they’ve come up empty.

The land was previously used as a farm headquarters, but those buildings now sit vacant, officials say. The site borders the Crossroads subdivision to the north and west and is surrounded by commercial shops in every other direction.

Read more...Problematic Gilbert parcels may be rezoned

Leader winds down Mortgages Ltd. asset sell-off

Mark Winkleman is the chief operating officer of ML Manager LLC, which took over the assets of Mortgages Ltd. after the Phoenix-based hard-money lender crashed with the real-estate market. His job for the past three years has been to sell the lender’s assets and try to recover the most money for the more than 1,500 investors. No easy feat.

Mortgages Ltd. had almost $1 billion in outstanding loans at the time of its bankruptcy in 2008. CEO Scott Coles committed suicide as the company went under.

Winkleman, an attorney and former Arizona state land commissioner, has sold most of Mortgages Ltd.’s assets. His latest deal is to sell the well-known Hotel Monroe project in downtown Phoenix. California company Grasshopper Development has signed a contract to pay $7.85 million for the property.

Read more...Leader winds down Mortgages Ltd. asset sell-off

G-20 Backs Plan to Curb Tax Avoidance by Large Corporations -

MOSCOW — The world’s richest economies for the first time endorsed a blueprint on Friday to curb widely used tax avoidance strategies that allow some multinational corporations to pay only a pittance in income taxes.

It could be years before any changes take place in national tax laws and big corporations and other interest groups are sure to lobby heavily to preserve their tax breaks. But the proposal was the most concrete response yet to the intensifying pressure on governments around the world to address the issue.

The governments have strong motivation for change. They are starved for revenue and face citizenry who see inequity in a system that enables some highly profitable corporations to pay far lower tax rates than workers.

Read more...G-20 Backs Plan to Curb Tax Avoidance by Large Corporations -

Spirit, Cole REITS complete $7.4 billion merger

Spirit Realty Capital and Cole Credit Property Trust II have completed their $7.4 billion merger.

The combination of the Phoenix firms will create one of the largest publicly traded real-estate investment trusts operating in the net-lease sector.

Net-lease REITs own free-standing buildings occupied by single tenants, including retailers, restaurants and office tenants.

Together, Spirit Realty and Cole Credit will own 1,900 properties in 48 states, making it one of the largest net-lease REITs in the country. The two companies’ merger was approved at a shareholder meeting on June 12.

The combined entity will go by Spirit Realty Capital and will list its common shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the existing ticker symbol “SRC” beginning today.

Read more...Spirit, Cole REITS complete $7.4 billion merger

Banks gird for battle against cyberattackers

It's a war game, Wall Street style.

Banks large and small are girding for an elaborate drill this week that will test how they would fare if hackers unleashed a powerful and coordinated attack against them.

The exercise is being called "Quantum Dawn 2," and if the name sounds like a video game, it's also meant to convey the seriousness of the threat.

Cyberattacks on the banking industry are growing more frequent and sophisticated and the list of assailants is ever-changing: crime bosses who want money, "hacktivists" who want to make political statements, foreign governments that want to spy on U.S. companies. A successful, widespread attack on the industry would shake confidence in the banking system, and the possibility has banks and regulators on edge.

Read more...Banks gird for battle against cyberattackers

Investing attitudes help rich get richer

After five tough years, the nation’s wealth has finally pushed above the former pre-recession peak. Household net worth in 2013 has topped $70 trillion for the first time, exceeding the old 2007 mark by more than $2 trillion, the Federal Reserve reported last month.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the gains haven’t been shared by everyone, with the rich-poor divide widening. One study, by the Pew Research Center, estimates that the 7 percent of most-affluent households saw a 28 percent jump in wealth from 2009 to 2011, while everyone else got 4 percent poorer.

Why are affluent households doing better than the nation overall? Many factors are at play. In part, it’s a result of higher salaries and income generally. But there might also be attitudinal differences, including the ways wealthy people deal with risk and how they approach investing.

Read more...Investing attitudes help rich get richer

For many homeowners facing foreclosure, aid came too late -

Arizona has failed to pass alongtens of millions of dollars in federal aid to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure, despite being one of the states hit hardest by the housing bust.

Arizona had the nation's second-highest foreclosure rate during much of the housing crisis. Yet from mid-2011 through the end of 2012, it spent only 6 percent of $268 million allocatedto help Arizona homeowners through the worst housing crash in the country's history. And a large portion of Arizona's money was spent setting up the program -- at one point making the state's administrative costs the highest in the country.

Through 2012, Arizona had the poorest performance of any of the 18 states, plus Washington, D.C., that received federal "Hardest Hit" funds to help homeowners. The most successful states had spent more than 45 percent of their federal government allocation by the end of last year.

Read more...For many homeowners facing foreclosure, aid came too late -

Third effort to develop former Rawhide land in Scottsdale is in the works

A third effort to develop a portion of the old Rawhide property in Scottsdale is in the works.

A proposal submitted to the city shows plans for a 218-townhome community called Via Bello at Silverstone. Silverstone is the name given by the developer to the entire 160-acre site formerly occupied by Rawhide.

Via Bello would take up almost 17 acres in the southwestern quadrant of the property, surrounding the Scottsdale Appaloosa Library.

According to documents accompanying the proposal, D.R. Horton, a homebuilder, owns the property. The previous owner, Villa Volterra Investments, defaulted on a loan and lost the property.

Larry Gabriele, a developer who put together Villa Volterra, tried with two separate projects to get something going on the site. He purchased the property in 2006 for $22.3 million. It was sold in a trustee’s sale last year.

If approved, the new project would be the fourth element approved on the site. Already open are the library and Vi at Silverstone, a senior living complex.

Read more...Third effort to develop former Rawhide land in Scottsdale is in the works

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Beazer Homes buys 177 lots in Phoenix for $9.5 million - Phoenix Business Journal

Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA Inc. (NYSE: BZH) has scooped up 177 partially-finished lots in south Phoenix for $9.5 million with plans to lay the groundwork for a new subdivision over the next several months, according to a statement Tuesday from Cassidy Turley.

The lots are situated within the Artesa subdivision, which is located just south of Baseline Road on 43rd Avenue in the Laveen area.

The seller was an entity controlled by Crown West Realty LLC, the same Washington state-based company that is facing foreclosure on the Phoenix Corporate Center office tower, Fennemore Craig PC’s former home, near Thomas Road and Central Avenue.

Read more...Beazer Homes buys 177 lots in Phoenix for $9.5 million - Phoenix Business Journal

HARP has been a boon for borrowers

Although some of the early federal mortgage-relief programs struggled to gain traction, one effort continues to help Arizona homeowners lower their mortgage interest rates and monthly payments.

Approximately 40 percent of all refinancings in Arizona during the first four months of this year were done through the Housing Affordable Refinance Program, known as HARP. And 63 percent of those HARP loans went to homeowners, mainly in metro Phoenix, who are still underwater on their mortgage.

In April, the most recent month tracked, 1,120 Arizona homeowners who owed more than 125 percent of what their house was worth were able to refinance to a lower interest rate through the federal program.

Arizona, Nevada and Florida are the top three states for HARP refinancing. And it makes sense: The three states led the nation in home price run-ups during the boom and then in home-value declines and foreclosures during the crash.

Read more...HARP has been a boon for borrowers

Mountain Shadows resort’s renovation likely to increase property values

As the Mountain Shadows resort in Paradise Valley has inched closer to redevelopment in recent months, experts say nearby property values will increase with the revitalization.

Real-estate agent Walt Danley, who specializes in luxury homes in Paradise Valley, said there has always been a strong belief that something positive would happen with the resort, so the consensus has been that the property wouldn’t remain an eyesore forever.

And as a result of recent developments, he said, interest in the nearby residences has been percolating.

The two adjacent developments, Mountain Shadow East and West, saw three transactions close in the first six months of 2012. By comparison, Danley said, eight closed in the same time this year. Four properties are in escrow.

“The redevelopment of the resort will certainly boost the property values in the neighborhood and those who bought when the resort was shuttered will reap the benefit of their investment,” he said.

Read more....Mountain Shadows resort’s renovation likely to increase property values

Scottsdale City Council OKs apartments next to Valley Ho

A vacant lot once eyed for an expansion of downtown Scottsdale’s historic Hotel Valley Ho now is slated for 135 apartments.

The City Council last week approved modified zoning stipulations, amended development standards and a new development plan for the Standard at Valley Ho. It will be built on a little more than three acres at the southwestern corner of 69th and Main streets.

The complex will include a single three-story building that will wrap around a center courtyard with pool. It will be built by Scottsdale-based P.B. Bell, which also developed the Desert Parks Vista multifamily complex at D.C. Ranch.

The estimated cost of the projects is $25 million to $30 million.

Read more...Scottsdale City Council OKs apartments next to Valley Ho

Increased use of temporary workers is trend here to stay - Business

Temporary employees (temps) are a large and growing segment of the American workforce. While temp arrangements have been around a long time, they are now more common than ever. Also, temporary employees are used in a variety of industries, whereas they were once primarily office workers. There is some debate as to whether this rise in the temporary workforce is good, bad or indifferent. However, there is reason to believe that the pattern is here to stay.

The number of temporary workers now exceeds the level before the national downturn, and these job gains comprise a significant portion of all jobs added by the U.S. economy over the recovery period. The largest percentage of spending on temps in 2012 was within the manufacturing and warehousing industry group, followed by information technology and office/clerical. There are pros and cons to temporary workers, both from an individual and a corporate perspective.

Read more...Increased use of temporary workers is trend here to stay - Business

Metro Phoenix bankruptcies dip in July

Arizona’s long-term bankruptcy trend continued to improve in July — the latest indication that more consumers seem to be getting a handle on their debts.

The 1,510 filings in the Phoenix metro area were up 9 percent from June but down 18 percent from July 2012. It was the 30th consecutive month in which bankruptcies fell on a year-over-year basis. Bankruptcy numbers for all of Arizona were slightly better — down 20 percent over the past year and up 4 percentfrom June.

Filings also bumped up between June and July in 2012, then proceeded to drift lower through the rest of the year.

Bankruptcies also have been in a long-term declining trend nationally. July filings decreased 10 percent from the same month in 2012, although they were up 5 percent compared with June, reported the American Bankruptcy Institute and Epiq Systems Inc.

Read more...Metro Phoenix bankruptcies dip in July

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