Snow in Phoenix

Although it’s rare, sometimes we Phoenicians have to protect our desert plants from freezing temperatures. Our Tucson branch manager, The HouseChick, a.k.a. Kelley Koehler wrote about prepping your cactus for the few freezing nights. Click on over to see  cups on cactus and the new trend, bags on cactus.

Thinking of visiting the Phoenix-Scottsdale area to get away from cold, snow and ice? Don’t despair. It’s rarely this cold in the Valley of the Sun. Weather.com predicts we’ll be back to our usual sunny and warm 75 degrees by about the first full week of January 2011.

Need a vacation rental? Thinking about buying a winter vacation home and want to look at a few Phoenix or Scottsdale homes while you’re here?

Contact us. We’re Realtors, we’ve been helping buyers and sellers in the metro Phoenix area for a combined 10 years. We routinely help buyers find vacation homes, and we help investors choose appropriate rental homes, as well as handling typical residential real estate sales. Check out client testimonials, then give us a call.

video courtesy of AZfamily.com (“Snow Falls on Phoenix Suburbs”, by Jennifer Thomas of AZ Family.com and originally published December 30, 2010 at 3:14pm)

US home prices hit new lows. Not Phoenix.

The mainstream media are at it again. Chris and I have written about mainstream media and their panicky screamy headlines more times than I can count. Today the media are at it again.

The Washington Post ran a screaming headline this morning: “U.S. Home Prices Drop 1.3% from September to October”. They were almost gleeful when they noted that 6 of Case-Shiller’s 20 major metro markets hit all-time price lows. Oh the humanity!

Case Shiller story, Dec 28, 2010


But wait, let’s look at local statistics, not national headlines designed to sell newspapers. Actually, in Metro Phoenix, home prices have been essentially flat since November 2009.

Case Shiller story REFUTED, Dec 28, 2010

Look at the far right hand side of this chart, taken from the local Statistics God Mike Orr at the Cromford Report. This chart shows the median sold price of all home types in the entire Metro Phoenix region.

The numbers are awfully small, even when you click to embiggen the chart. So, so here are the median sold home prices by month, in Metro Phoenix.
$125,000 – November 2009
$125,000 – December 2009
$125,000 – January 2010
$125,000 – February 2010
$125,000 – March 2010
$126,000 – April 2010
$127,500 – May 2010
$127,900 – June 2010
$127,000 – August 2010
$126,000 – September 2010
$125,000 – October 2010
$125,000 – November 2010

Again I say to you my readers: Oh the humanity! The median sold home price has been essentially flat in Metro Phoenix since November 2009. While critics still claim that the federal home buyer tax credit artificially inflated home prices, way back in September 20101 I said that was a silly argument.

Now, the statistics show prices rose by a a mere $2,900 over 12 months. (what the federal government’s tax credit actually did was create buyer demand, which is what this market has needed more of since late 2006)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: remember that the media screams sensational headlines because that’s their job. Rely on your local Realtors and other industry professionals to get you the truthful information without the hype.

Need a Realtor’s advice? Doesn’t matter if you’re ready to buy or sell this instant, or just thinking out loud about your options. Contact us at The Phoenix Agents. We’re here to help. Real Estate. Real People. Real Simple. The Phoenix Agents.

Fannie Mae: 2010 sucked, 2011 better

Image ID 1128001 by svilen001 at StockExchangePer Fannie Mae, the fourth quarter of 2010 will not wind up being a memorable time for housing sales.
Fannie projects that existing home sales will increase slightly, but that new home sales will drop significantly. Fannie’s number crunchers say we should expect 2010 housing sales to be down 7% from last year, and with slightly lower median prices across the nation. But it expects things to pick up in 2011.

Well “thank God!” is all I can say to that! Summer and Fall  2010 were some of the slowest times I’ve had in nearly 6 years of selling residential real estate in metro Phoenix Arizona. I’m ready for 2011 to be a happier & busier year than 2010.

image credit: Image ID 1128001 by svilen001 at StockExchange

Related Posts -

Local builder posts 4th quarter loss

Local home builder K. Hovnanian reported its 4th quarter income, which showed a smaller loss than 1 year ago, but came in lower than analysts expected.

K Hovnanians new home in Verrado, Buckeye, elev A

“K. Hov” is still building homes across the Valley. In the far West Valley K.Hov homes in the community of Verrado start at $149,900. They’re building substantially the same homes in Glendale, at the Loop 101 freeway and Bethany Home Road, starting at $164,900.

K Hovnanians new home in Chandler, elev A

K.Hov is also building in the East Valley: in Gold Canyon starting at $119,900 ; in the south Gilbert area starting at $199,999 ; and in the south Chandler area starting at $314,900.

Interested in seeing what K. Hovnanian’s new build home floor plans look like? Drop me a line and I’ll send you regular new listings from this or any other home builder.

You can also visit the K. Hovnanian website, but note that builder’s salespeople do not work for you, the buyer. They work for the buidler and their job is to craft a deal that’s best for the builder.

Sources consulted for this post:

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Disclaimer: Blog owners/author did not receive any compensation or consideration of any kind from K. Hovnanian, Market News Video, Forbes.com, Bloomberg or any other entity in exchange for writing & publishing the post.

67% of Phoenix-area sales are distressed

Image ID 1262615 by StockExchange user melissathr

Pulled some stats out of the Arizona Regional MLS database this morning, for a client who’s home shopping and wondering whether or not to bother looking at short sale homes.

According to MLS data as of today, December 17, 2010, 67% of all Metro Phoenix area homes sold in 2010 were in some state of financial distress.

Shortsales – 21% of all sales so far in 2010 in the Metro Phoenix region

Pre-foreclosures – 5%

REO – 41%

Are you a “regular” seller? You’ve got an uphill battle on your hands, fighting against the super-low prices of the bank owned and short sale homes. On the other hand, if your product property is in good shape and properly priced – and especially if it’s under about $200,000 – you might have buyers fighting to make offers on your home.

Are you a buyer? You should be prepared to see a lot of homes that need some “TLC” as the Realtors so charmingly put it in their MLS listing descriptions. Expect most of the homes you could potentially buy will need paint and carpet, at a minimum. Almost all of them will need a thorough professional cleaning. Many will need all new appliances. Lots of them will need a major landscaping cleanup.

Are you on the fence, wondering if you should get into the market, either to sell or to buy? Contact us. We practice low pressure real estate. Frankly Chris and Heather are not very good at giving sales pitches. We’re very good at listening, empathizing and giving advice that’s based on our clients’ needs, not on our own expectations of commissions.

Need some help finding your way? We’ve been selling Metro Phoenix real estate since before the boom & bust happened, and we plan to be here for a long time to come. Read what our clients say about us here, and then give us a call, text or email.

photo credit: Image ID 1262615 by StockExchange user melissathr

Our broker named to 100 Most Influential list

Big congratulations to our broker, Jay Thompson, for being named to the Inman News 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders list!

This is of course no surprise to any of the nearly 30 Realtor agents who work for Jay.*  He speaks locally and across the country at real estate conferences, is quoted in mainstream media,  runs a kick-butt real estate search site and blog, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, and he's an all around likable guy.

Jay's stature in the industry is one of the reasons we're working with him. Try Googling "Phoenix real estate" and his site is result number 4, on page 1. In a land where around 90% of home buyers start their shopping online, that's unbeatable. Because we're with Jay, our seller clients get their listing in front of more eyeballs. And our buyer clients can take advantage of his ability to help us mirror his best-in-business home searching capabilities.

But really when it comes down to brass tacks, the reason we're with Jay is that we just love him. He's just damn good people and he surrounds himself with damn good Realtor agents. We're proud to be part of the team of world-class Realtors he's building.

*What is a surprise is that Inman News doesn't have a category for 100 Most Influential People Behind the Scenes, because our broker's wife Francy would win that award hands-down. She's a full time Realtor agent herself, and she quietly and competently runs the office in the background. Since we're up to nearly 30 agents, this is no small accomplishment. The amount of emailed and uploaded PDF files flying back and forth between the agents in the field and Francy in the office has got to be staggering. And yet every time I speak with Francy she's pleasant and friendly and has time to answer my questions. My paperwork -- which I present to Francy in a sort of befuddled, hurried, hot mess -- is always neatly arranged by the time the deal closes. My commission checks arrive so fast I barely have time to anticipate them. Francy, you are a Queen among women, and a big part of the reason Jay became the Real Estate King that he is.

Chateaux on Central has new owner

Depending on your viewpoint, the red brick McMansions on Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix known as the Chateaux on Central are either an eyesore or a diamond in the rough.

Back in the boom years, the Chateaux was built at an estimated cost of about $40 million with an additional $47 million provided by Mortgages Limited when the building went into foreclosure.

Wisconsin based MSI West Investments thought they were a bargain at $7million and snapped them up last March. They hired Rowland Luxury Homes to finish the build-out and punchlist items, and are putting out word they’re nearly ready to sell the luxury mid-rise condos.

The building includes 21 condo residences varying from 5,100 to 8,200 square feet. That means MSI West got the building for about $330,000 per condo.

Before the market fell apart, asking prices ranged from $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 per condo. MSI West Investments say the condos will now start at about $1,300,000.

The local Fox affiliate, KSAZ Fox 10, did a short piece on the Chateaux; see below.

Insider’s Note: I love how the Realtor in the video describes these condos as “a lifestyle never before offered in the Valley.”

<sarcasm> Yeah, because over-the-top luxury is *never* offered in North Scottsdale or Paradise Valley. <sarcasm>

Frankly, I think $1,300,000 for a smaller condo here seems a little high. They are downtown Phoenix condos after all, and your typical buyer with a cool million or two to spend doesn’t think of looking in downtown Phoenix first. People with two million smackers go look at mansions in Paradise Valley.

I’m betting the prices will settle out to more like $925,000 up to $1,700,000.  Check back in about a year to see how I did predicting future sales prices for the Chateaux on Central.

Find the original Fox 10 news video on the KSAZ MyFox 10 website ; or view the Arizona Republic's coverage of the Chateaux on Central sale.

Condo refinancing: tricky to impossible

Way back in April of 2010, my partner Chris wrote a piece about how condos were doing in the Great Recession. This was after much discussion between the two of us. The piece was long, well reasoned and thoughtful. It was also long. We’re both sometimes guilty of over-writing. <smile>

Essentially, Chris’ piece reminded buyers that when you buy a condo you’re also buying the neighborhood and the HOA. If the HOA or your individual neighbors have financial troubles, you could too.

If more than 51% of your condo community isn’t owner-occupied housing – it’s a vacation home, or a rental – then you might have a very hard time refinancing your condo mortgage, even if your income and credit is great. Same thing with past-due HOA fees: if more than 15% of the condo owners in your community are late on their dues, you probably won’t be able to refinance your mortgage.

Couple days back, the gloomy bloggy giant Housing Doom published a much shorter piece about condos that essentially warns the same thing.

Condos make a great investment for many types of buyers – especially first time home buyers, retirees, vacationers and single professionals – but they’re not for everyone. Buyers should understand that when there’s a recession, condos have historically taken a bigger hit to values than detached housing. You need a Realtor, maybe even an attorney and financial advisor to help you make the decision to buy or not buy a condo.

Do you need a Realtor? A Realtor who knows a lot about the condos in the North and West regions of Metro Phoenix? You’re in luck! I’m that Realtor. If you’re thinking about buying a condo, give me a shout.

Buying a foreclosure is hard

Sometimes buying a bank owned REO foreclosure home is well… hard.  Sometimes it’s very hard.

It’s not that the homes are sketchy (sometimes they are).  It’s not that the homes come without any disclosures of condition (they do). It’s not that the seller won’t guarantee anything during or after the sale (they don’t). It's not even that there are always multiple offers (although under $150,000 in Metro Phoenix in Winter 2010 there are often *are* multiple offers).

Often, the problem is that you can't contact the darn agent who works for the bank. They’re either overwhelmed with too many REO homes from the bank, or they’re … otherwise… missing in action.

Video created using software available at Xtranormal.com

Distressed Activity by Month – November 2010

I’ve been following these charts for a couple years now, more convinced than ever we’ll see trends towards a recovery here before anywhere else.  So it’s no surprise I get a little excited when I see a downward blip in the graphs.  It’s probably just premature excitement, but still…

(Click on any chart to see a larger version.)

Listings First – Here are the new distressed listings hitting the market each month going back to January 2009, broken out by different types and views.

Chart 1 - New Bank Owned Listings  - (new listings actually owned by the bank – think foreclosures and REOs.)



Chart 2 - New Short Sale Listings (new listings, still owned by the ‘owner’, but needing the bank to take a short payoff because the home is worth less than the mortgage balance.  The bank will need to approve the sale.)



Chart 3 - New Bank Owned + Short Sale Listings  (a combined look at the above charts – these are the new listings where the bank is going to take a loss on the property, and the best reflection of my former Distressed Listings chart.)



Chart 4 - New Vacant Listings  (new listings which are vacant homes.  While not all vacant listings are distressed listings, I am including them because they represent a very large percentage of the overall market, and therefore provide some measurement of Distressed.)



Now the Sales - I’ve pulled all the homes sold since 1/1/2009 for Single Family Residences in Maricopa County, broken out by who owns them and who lives in them.

Chart 5 - Home Sales by Type of Owner



Chart 6 - Home Sales by Type of Occupant



I am including Single Family Detached Homes listed for sale (or sold) in Maricopa County via the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service.  These numbers are believed accurate but not guaranteed.

What does it all mean?

Notice the drop in bank and vacant listings this month, while distressed sales remained fairly consistent with last month?  Maybe that’s a good sign.  Maybe that’s just the delayed effects of the  robo-signing scandal which broke in October.  Time will tell…

Your hopeful while doubtful Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

$48 billion in debt reduction

Image ID 377234 by Stock Exchange user ede design

It seems like everyday we’re faced with mainstream media stories about how massive the foreclosure crisis has been. I don’t know about y’all, but I usually have a hard time getting a mental picture of how much money we’re actually talking about.

This morning I stumbled on an article with an easy-to-understand number and it’s ginormous.

CreditBloggers reports (via Northern Trust) that since the first quarter of 2008, Americans homeowners have shed $48 billion in mortgage debt, and $157 billion in credit card debt.

What’s unclear is whether Northern Trust tried to (or indeed if anyone is able to) drill down into their numbers to see how much debt was paid off versus how much was defaulted on.

Either way, that number is pretty staggering. Holy cow!

Image credit: StockExchange user ede design

Pets abandoned in foreclosure homes

A shocking number of dogs and cats have been rescued from local foreclosure and short sale homes where their owners have abandoned them, leaving them to starve to death.

Your donation of food and supplies will help to save the lives of these homeless pets who have been rescued by Lost Our Home Pet Foundation.

Can you even imagine the horror of this situation for the animals involved? I’m almost ashamed to be part of the human race when I think that some people can do this to their pets. You just close the door and walk away?! You can’t even be bothered to pay the small fee to surrender your pet at a shelter?  It’s sickening.

Contact Lost Our Home Pet Foundation

or call 602-230-HELP(4357)

This organization is supported by the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing System. And also by Chris Butterworth and Heather Barr, The Phoenix Agents at Thompson’s Realty. And our broker, Jay & Francy Thompson. And about a bajillion other cool peeps in town.

Pet Food Drive Locations

  • Wet or dry dog and cat food of any type

  • Pet toys

  • Cat Litter/litter pans

  • Water or food dishes

This is an ongoing project with no end date in sight.

ARMLS Support Center: Phoenix
5033 N. 19th Ave. Suite 113
Phoenix, AZ 85015
Mon – Friday 8:30 – 5:00

ARMLS Support Center: SE Valley
1363 S. Vineyard
Mesa, AZ 85210
Mon – Friday 8:30 – 5:00

Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS®
4221 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Phone: 480-945-2651
Mon – Friday 8:00 -5:00 EXCEPT Tuesday
which is 9:00 – 5:00

ARMLS Main Office : Tempe
130 S. Priest Dr. Suite 101
Tempe, AZ 85281
Mon – Friday 8:30 – 5:00

ARMLS Support Center: Glendale
17235 N. 75th Ave. Suite E-160
Glendale, AZ 85308
Mon – Friday 8:30 – 5:00

ARMLS Support Center: Scottsdale
7600 E. Redfield Rd. Suite 170
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Mon – Friday 8:30 – 5:00

Bank owned home for $11,000?!

Yep. You might remember my periodic series The Highs and The Lows? This is a definite low.

Within the past 30 days, some lucky buyer got a bank owned REO foreclosure house for $11,000. It was a 2 bed, 2 bath home built in 1947, located in Avondale.

11k EF

11k EB

11k KIT

So my Canadian friends and other out of town investor buyers…  when you call me and ask me about $10,000 and $20,000 houses in “nice” neighborhoods, know that this is what you’re buying.

Metro Phoenix is like every other town. It’s even like the town where you live Mr. or Mrs. Investor Buyer. The really, really cheap real estate is really cheap for good reason. In “nice” neighborhoods you pay nice prices.

Maricopa County Sales Charts – November 2010

November’s charts look a lot like October’s.  Good news is there’s not a big drop-off in sales activity to report.  Bad news is it’s more of the same, with another small incremental rise in days on market.

Here’s a look at the recent trends county-wide.  I’m pulling a rolling 13-month history so we can see the last year’s trends plus a comparison of this month to the same month last year.

Specific Zip Code reports are now available!  If you’d like to see how the sales activity in your zip code compares with the county as a whole, just send me an email with your name, email address, and zip code.  (to chrisb@thephoenixagents.com)  I’ll add you to our zip code mailing list, and you’ll receive your zip code report via email each month.

and now, on to the reports.  (click each chart to embiggen)

Number of Homes Sold by Month



Average Sold Price



Average Price per Square Foot



Average Number of Days on Market



** The data for all these charts represents Single Family Homes sold in Maricopa County via the MLS.  All data was pulled from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, and is thought to be accurate but is not guaranteed.  Please do not make any life-changing decisions based solely on the information contained herein.

Questions, comments, suggestions?  Please give us a call/email anytime – we’d love to hear from you!

Your keeping an eye on the trends Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

How do I tell if a house is a "meth home"?

Sadly, meth is always in the news. Here is a little helpful information and a few links to help potential home buyers and/or homeowners sort out the hype from the truth.

The U.S. Justice Department maintains a website of homes that are suspected to potentially be meth homes.

The Justice Department’s website contains a list of addresses – searchable by state – of some locations where law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals or other items that indicated the presence of either clandestine drug laboratories or dumpsites.

The Arizona State Board of Technical Registration also maintains a list of meth lab homes.

The Arizona Attorney General’s office posts this information about meth labs and meth homes on their website.
As of July 1, 2003, those who sell property are required by Arizona law to inform prospective buyers if a property has been used to manufacture methamphetamine, ecstasy or LSD. They are also required to hire a drug laboratory site remediation firm that is registered with the State Board of Technical Registration, pursuant to A.R.S. § 32-122.03, to remediate the property of residual contamination. Until the site is properly cleaned, it is unlawful for any person other than the owner, landlord or manager to enter the property (see A.R.S. § 12-1000). Clean-up requirements and an approved list of drug remediation firms can be found at the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration. The owner is liable for the costs incurred to remediate the property of residual contamination, even if the owner had no knowledge of the criminal activity at the property.

CNN.com reports on a Pennsylvania couple who bought a meth home without knowing it.
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How long do banks take to reply to an offer on an REO foreclosure home?

I wanted to use the title “when banks hold up their own closings”.  I also considered titling this “I hate banks.”

The short answer is “banks reply whenever they feel like it.” The longer answer is: usually, in Metro Phoenix, in Fall/Winter 2010, banks take about 2-3 business days to reply to an offer. Once you’re under contract and in escrow the bank’s reply time often slows down considerably. Try 2-3 weeks.

This is an email trail between myself and the Realtor representing a bank on an actual transaction currently in progress.

Me, on Nov 29 at 5:55pm:
The buyer's underwriter is ready to issue final approval but needs seller's signature on Amendment changing price. Still don't have that and it could hold us up. Otherwise, we're aiming to close on Mon, Dec 6 as planned.

Bank’s Realtor, on Nov 30 at 1:03am:
This addendum was submitted to seller on 11/17/10 when I received it. All we can do is wait for it to go through Fannie. It is reviewed by 4 people each of whom can take up to 3 days, not including weekends and holidays.

I will send the seller signed copy just as soon as I have it.

(note that Realtor was working at 1 o’clock in the morning! Being a Realtor is not all sweetness and light and easy money)

Me, on Nov 30 at 6:24am:
Ok, understood.  Just as long as seller knows that Buyer's lender is at a stand-still and Seller is holding up closing. I'm sure you know, but wanted to put it in black and white for seller's 4 people who have to review. thanks.

again, note the timestamp. Don’t go into real estate unless you consider yourself a workaholic.
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Happy Thanksgiving America!

turkey, cooked, by stock exchange user davidlat, image id 667872

picture credit stock exchange user davidlat, image id 667872


It’s been a darn hard year for lots of Americans, and people around the world. Find something to be thankful about and if it’s a person, tell them how you feel. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Chris & Heather, The Phoenix Agents at Thompson’s Realty, a.k.a. the Phoenix Real Estate Guy


PS – just because Heather’s former school teacher heart never quits, click on over to The American History Fun Facts site to find some interesting facts about Thanksgiving. Like, didya know…

...that Minnesota produces most of the country’s turkeys? In 2009 they planned to raise over 45 million birds.

....that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the 4th Thursday in November as the official federal Thanksgiving holiday, partly to appease retailers with a longer holiday shopping season during the Depression?

Fannie Mae is cost cutting

Just got a newsflash via my email subscription to Inman.com, a real estate industry news source.

Fannie Mae has launched a pilot program in three markets in which it's only accepting offers on properties in its real estate owned (REO) inventory when they are first submitted online by agents representing buyers.

Test markets are Orlando, Detroit and San Diego.

According to Fannie’s press release, their goal is to “provide increased transparency and efficiency in the REO bidding process by providing buyer's agents with offer confirmations and allowing them to track the status of submitted offers.”

Fannie also says the move is an attempt to stamp out "property flopping" -- a fraudulent practice in which listing agents receive multiple offers but withhold one or more of those offers in order to help an investor purchase the home at a lower price.

Frankly, I think Fannie’s stated goals are complete B.S.

When I place an offer on a Fannie Mae property for a buyer client, I already get an email or verbal confirmation the offer was received. It’s true that tracking the offer status isn’t transparent. But the buyer & I either get a “yes” or get no answer. That’s not ideal, but it is simple. I don’t know about flopping. I suppose it could be a problem.

I think Fannie Mae is trying to do one thing, and one thing only: cut their operating costs. By cutting out the listing Realtor they’re lowering their cost to sell by at least 2% or 3% per home. With Republicans marching into Washington in January to take control of the House, the clamor to dismantle Fannie and Freddie will get louder than ever. I think this is a preemptive move to help The Two F’s claim they’re not as fiscally troubled as conservatives think they are, and perhaps bolster the Obama administration’s call to replace Fannie/Freddie with another type of government backed mortgage entity.

Time will tell!

If you hate the idea of government-backed mortgage programs, it’s interesting to note this: now that Fannie & Freddie are essentially government-owned, they’re free of the profit motive. That means they don’t have to chase market share and profits, which is what got them into trouble in the first place. If they were operating in the black but not keeping up with the rest of the mortgage market, wouldn’t that be acceptable?

If you’re a conservative, answer me this:

Why shouldn’t low-income people have the chance to own a small home? Do some people not “deserve” a home? Are only the middle class and above worthy of owning a home?

For most Americans, their home is the most valuable thing they own and is the way they provide retirement income for themselves. If nobody helps low income families buy homes and build wealth, aren’t we just going to support them on the taxpayers’ dime when they’re old?

What if Fannie & Freddie morphed into a small government-owned program, that provided budgeting & home ownership classes to low-income folks and gave them a chance to become responsible homeowners someday? What if the entity providing these mortgages was a charity? Or a church? Would that change your mind? 

What if the entity providing these mortgages was a for-profit business? Would you buy stock in that business to make their business model viable? Low income folks are usually also less educated, and more easily taken advantage of. So who should decide how much profit this fictional future mortgage company can make off of the low-income housing sector? Should it be unlimited?

I’m not trying to start an argument. (altho that might be kinda cool since we never feel we have enough blog traffic)  I’m seriously trying to get conservatives to talk to me in something more detailed than talking points. I’m sick up to my eyeballs of conservative talking points.  Chime in!

Rental scams still alive and well

We’ve been looking for a small 1 bedroom condo in downtown Phoenix for a very longtime customer of ours. Something in the range of $600.

I found an ad on Craigslist that advertised a two-bedroom condo at the Copper Square condos for $588 per month. Copper Square is one of the premiere upscale hi-rise condo communities in Phoenix, and other 2 bedrooms there go for $1800-$2200 per month.

It sounded too good to be true.  I emailed the landlord through Craiglist with this:

$588/mo for a 2bedroom at Copper Square, seriously? What’s the catch? I’m seeking a studio or 1 bedroom for that price, need to move in Dec 15 to Jan 10. Must have parking for 1 car and must accept cats.  Please advise if you have anything that suits.

The reply…

I've moved to United Kingdom with my job and decided to rent it because the rent is very expensive here.The price is so low because I'm here and is very hard to find a tenant.I can rent you the condo for min. 1 month and max. 6 years(or more).I really want to find a good and responsible tenant for it, and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.The rent for the whole condo for 1 month is $600 including all utilities(water,electricity, internet, cable, parking , air conditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage) and the security deposit is $600(you'll get the deposit back at your departure-or you can use it to pay your last month of rent) and I want to receive the money monthly in my bank account. You can move in the condo in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys and I have nobody in United States that could show you the condo. In order to check it, see if you like it(I'm sure that you'll love it), you need to receive the keys and the contract.
If you want to rent the condo, please e-mail me back and I will explain you how the payment and shipping will take place!
Here are a few pictures:

Tips that this is a scam

  • spelling & punctuation errors
  • price not as advertised
  • landlord is out of the country and no one else can show it to me
  • tenant must sign a contract and send money before s/he can see the condo
  • condo unit number is not mentioned
  • emailer asks for personal information about tenant

Landlord gave me her name in the email, “Dawson”.  I checked the tax records. No Dawson owns anything at Summit at Copper Square.

Grrrr!  I hate scammers. They all should die. It’s not bad enough we’re all dealing with a terrible economy. Some people have to make it worse by trying to scam people out of the little money we have left. Die scammers, die!

It’s a jungle out there. Be wary, dear readers.

Price cuts on nearly half of homes for sale

Nearly half of homes on the market [took] a price reduction at least once in October, according to a monthly review of multiple listing service listings in 26 major markets conducted by national online brokerage ZipRealty.

The ratio of price-reduction amount to list price was 7.5 percent...

If you’re selling your home, read that again. Let it sink in. Half of your competition cut their price last month. And most did so by more than 7%.

Do the math with me – if you’re priced at $150,000 and you need to take a price cut, you probably need to cut the price by just over $11,00 – down to $138,000 or $139,000 – to remain competitive with your neighbors’ homes for sale.

The old real estate adage is true: if you have to take a price cut, don’t use a scalpel, use a hack-saw.

More pricing wisdom in the days to come…