November

pre-fab skyscrapers - including time-lapse video

pre-fab skyscrapers - including time-lapse video


This spring, a Chinese construction company will build the world's tallest building, using prefabricated modular technology, in 90 DAYS! (gizmodo.com)

It's name is Sky City. It'll be 2,749 feet tall and 220 floors, and built in ninety days..

Sky City to be built spring 2013


Let's look at some details:

Here is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, currently the world's tallest building at 2,719 feet (including the gigantic spire at the top.)

Burj Khalifa


Here's how much taller the Burj is than other skyscrapers from around the world.

World's Tallest Towers


Sky City will be taller than the Burj, and without a spire. Wow.

The Burj Khalifa cost $15,000 per square meter to build, which equates to $1,394 per square foot. That sounds about right - architects, engineers, planning, zoning, steel, glass, concrete.. I'd expect the tallest luxury skyscraper in the world to cost a lot more than building a house.

Sky City, on the other hand, will cost only $1,500 per square meter to build. ($139 per square foot.) What?! How?!

220,000 tons of steel. 104 high-speed elevators. 4-pane glass windows. Extreme energy efficiency. Housing for 31,400 people. Offices, schools, hospitals, shops, restaurants. Basically, they're building a small city for the same money it costs to build a house!

Enter prefabricated modular technology. Here's a time-lapse video showing the same company, using the same technology, constructing a 30-story building in 15 days.



The video loops through twice - you can stop it at the 2:45 mark. Also, here's the link - embeded videos don't always pass through feedreaders and emails..

I'm interested to see how this technology impacts the construction industry over the next decade. Faster build times, more precision, better insulation and efficiency, lower costs... All good things.

-Chris Butterworth

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DIY - closet organizing shoe rack

DIY - closet organizing shoe rack


Sometimes I stumble across an idea that's so simple, and so awesome, I have to share it. This is one of those times.

Originally posted by Jen on her Epbot blog, "How's it Hangin'? A Flop Tutorial" Click through for more pictures and detailed instructions.







Let's think about this idea for a minute. It's:

  • Inexpensive. I throw a few of these hangers into the recycle bin every week - you can't get much more inexpensive than that.
  • Easy. If I'm not overwhelmed by a project, it can't be that hard to do.
  • Functional. You couldn't fit that many pair of flip-flops in that small of an area without them being a complete mess. This gets them off the floor, paired up with each other, and easy to find the pair you're looking for.
  • Decorative. Jen prettied hers up with the little decorative bow-ribbon-thingy, but even without the decoration, it would still add a splash of color to your closet. (Most girls in phoenix have a pair in every color, right?)

I think it wins on all four counts. How about you - are you going to try this?

-Chris Butterworth

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election day - how will the results affect the Phoenix real estate market?

election day - how will the results affect the Phoenix real estate market?


I have smart friends voting red, and I have smart friends who vote blue. My question is, does the winner of today's election matter, in terms of the Phoenix real estate market?

In terms of social issues and the parties' overriding directions, of course it matters. Taxation, pro-life vs pro-choice, military, health care, size of government, business regulation... The winner of today's election will get to move the country in the direction of his (and his party's) beliefs.

But the local real estate market? Not so much, at least not directly.

It's all about the budget deficit

How dysfunctional does a family have to be for the kids, when asked about Mom and Dad, respond "They both break all their promises - all we really care about is that one of them remembers to pay the bills."

We've been through a Great Recession - the worst economic times most of us has ever seen in our lifetime. And while things aren't back to great yet, they're better than they were and seem to be getting better each quarter.

However, we still haven't dealt with our runaway deficits. This will be the most important job of our president over the next couple years - regardless of who that president is.

Plan, propose, compromise, discuss, be a leader, compromise some more, remove pride and party lines from the discussion.. Do these things, and show the rest of the world we have a very real plan in place for reducing our debt, and our recovery will continue unabated. Everybody wins, on both sides of the aisle.

Play party politics, blame the other guy, keep your pork barrels, kick the can down the road, and prepare good sound bites for the next election, and we're all in big trouble.

At some point in the future - maybe 2014 or 2015, we're going to issue Treasury Notes, and the bond market is going to say "We're not sure you'll be able to pay us back without renegotiating, so we want more return for our risk - we'll take these notes at 7%, rather than 0.5%."

Ask Greece what happens next. (or Ireland. or Portugal. or Spain, Italy, or France.) It isn't pretty. One day mortgages are 3.5%; the next they're at 8.5% and rising.

Yeah, that'll put a stop to our little recovery. The payment on a $200,000 house goes from $1,075 to $1,700, and suddenly people aren't willing (or able) to pay $200,000 anymore. Either the market stalls, or the market crashes. In the meantime, businesses feel the same cash crunch from lack of cheap credit, so we go back to hiring freezes and even more layoffs. Now unemployment rises, from our already too high levels. Throw in another round of foreclosures and fewer people who can afford to buy homes, and we've got another decade in front of us which will be worse than the last 5 years we just went through.

Who needs to Win?

So who's going to be the better president, given all of the above? I don't know.

Our incumbent hasn't shown me as much conviction and passion as I think it's going to take. On the other hand, he won't have to worry about re-election in his second term. This might give him the flexibility needed to make waves while doing important work.

The challenger talks a good game and looks good on television. But then again, so does every newly elected president. (Our incumbent looked great four years ago!)

I'm not telling you who to vote for, and I'm not telling you who I'm voting for. I'm just saying the winner better make a balanced budget his top priority.

Bottom Line

How dysfunctional does a family have to be for the kids, when asked about Mom and Dad, respond "They both break all their promises - all we really care about is that one of them remembers to pay the bills."

It doesn't matter to me who wins this election, as long as they're up to the task of balancing our budget. If either party gets stubborn and decides to play politics as usual, we're all going to lose, big-time.

* Editor's note - this is an op ed piece - my opinions are mine alone. You're welcome to agree or disagree in the comments below, but please don't turn this into a political flame-throwing match.

-Chris Butterworth

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Maricopa County Charts - October 2012

Maricopa County Charts - October 2012


I normally look at a rolling 13 months, so we can see what's happened over the last year. But today I wanted to see a little more history, to see if it can help us spot any emerging trends, so I'm pulling in the last 25 months' data.

Sold Price per Square Foot - You can argue any individual property as having unique qualities and not tying exactly to the price per square foot trend. And that can be very true for a given property. But for the market as a whole, no other statistic gives us a better feel for which direction the market is going..

Maricopa County - price per square foot


New Vacant Listings as a Percentage of the Total - a "normal" market will have some vacant listings; a "Great Recession" market will have lots of vacant listings. I'm expecting this chart to show a downward trend over the next year, as more traditional sellers get back into the market.

Maricopa County - new vacant listings


Number of Homes Sold - This is one of those basic charts. Forget all the fancy statistical analysis-type stuff - days on market, months inventory, etc., and let's just look at how many homes are selling. This will give us an indication of whether the market is hot or cold, heating up or cooling off...

Maricopa County - number of homes sold


New Bank-Owned and Short-Sale Listings - If the banks are involved, people are still hurting. This causes excess inventory over what would normally be available. It also puts a "homeowner" on the sidelines for a few years while he/she repairs their credit. A downward trend on this graph is a very good thing.

Maricopa County - new distressed listings


Summary

We've been moving in the right direction, slowly but surely, for a long time.

  • Last month was the first time in a long time with fewer than 2,000 new distressed listings.
  • Prices are still on the rise. (a little faster than I'd like to see, but better up than down.) This helps people who were borderline underwater regain positive equity. It also helps people who have been waiting for a better time to sell, to sell. All of these factors will help lead us back to a more normal market.
  • Homes are still selling at a brisk pace. Maybe not record numbers, but we have enough volume that the market isn't in danger of stagnating.
  • Overall, I don't see anything magical, but I do see a long-time trend of heading in the right direction. One day we'll finally get to where we've wanted to be. (since 2008 - what's a half decade, give or take?!)


Note - all data was pulled from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) and is considered accurate but not guaranteed.

-Chris Butterworth

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Distressed Activity by Month – October 2011

I like the look of these charts!  (Best trending we’ve seen in 3 years..)

This post will have a lot of easy to read charts, and then I’ll write up a couple thoughts at the end.  I hope you enjoy it…

(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.)

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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.)

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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.)

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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.)

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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

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Chart 6 - Home Sales by Type of Occupant

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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?

Although it’s painfully slow, the charts show we’re definitely moving in the right direction.  (especially the listing charts.)

Chart 1 shows the first time we’ve had less than 1,500 new bank-owned listings hit the market.

Chart 3 shows the 2nd time we’ve had less than 4,000 new bank-owned plus short-sale listings.

Chart 4 shows the first time we’ve had less than 4,000 new vacant listings.

And on the Sales side, Chart 5 shows the type of seller was more evenly distributed than we’ve had since I started tracking this stuff in early 2009.

So, we’re on the road to recovery.  How long the trip will take is still anyone’s guess…

Your happy to see we’re heading in the right direction Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Maricopa County Sales Charts – October 2011

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.

While the number of homes sold is following its seasonal trend downward in the fall, it’s still up 17% from the same month last year, indicating continued strong sales volume.  This is echoed by the Average Days on Market chart, which shows homes are selling 10 days faster than they were at this time last year.

Specific Zip Code reports are available!  If you’d like to see how the sales activity in your zip code compares with the county as a whole, just click here to sign up, 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

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Average Sold Price

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Average Price per Square Foot

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Average Number of Days on Market

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** 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

Market Update through the end of October 2011. Please note that the Valley Wide graph represents all of the MLS.

(you can click on the chart to see a bigger version)

This chart shows you the percentage of distressed properties that are being listed and sold.

  • Short Sales represent 29% of the Closings for October (compared to 26% in September)

  • Short Sales represent 37% of the active Listings currently on the market.

  • Distressed Sales (Short Sales and REOs combined) accounted for 64% of the total sales for October.

  • The listing success rate for Short Sales is 60.0%!

Phoenix area housing statistics

Here are a few charts from the Cromford Report website that show the most current statistics on the Phoenix-area housing market. All figures are for metro Phoenix Arizona through the first 10 days or so of November 2011, and all types of housing (condo, detached home, patio/town home) are included.

These are charts for Days on Market and total dollar Volume of home Sales.

 

[caption id="attachment_9649" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Days on Market, metro Phoenix AZ, Nov 2011"][/caption]

 

[caption id="attachment_9650" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Total Volume of Sales, metro Phoenix AZ, Nov 2011"][/caption]

On the top graphic, you can see that time on market -- an indicator of both sellers picking the right price and buyers wanting to buy -- is dropping. That's generally a good thing, and it's watched as an overall indicator of market health. Three to six months on the market is considered about "normal"; more is a buyer's market, less is a seller's market.

The red line chart on the bottom graphic shows the typical bump in sales activity in the summer. But the blue line chart to the right shows that sales volume is higher year-over-year than this time last year. In other words, our summer sales growth left us at a higher point that this time last year, selling more homes overall.

Our buyers are writing multiple offers before getting one accepted, but sellers are still generally willing to pay closing costs.  What have you been seeing when you're shopping for homes? How many offers are you writing on homes before you get one accepted? Are sellers still willing to pay buyer's closing costs? We'd like to hear your feedback, please leave a comment.

 

Email Question – How much fixing up is too much?

Question:

Is it worth putting in some work on the houses or should I just run away? How much fix up is too much?

Answer:

There isn't an exact science about how much is too much.  It's all very personal and very dependent on the ability (financial, emotional, and hammer-swinging) of the person doing the work.

The only obvious truth is that the cost of the home plus the cost to improve it should be less than the value of the home after it's improved.  In other words, if you can buy a different home in the neighborhood for less than the cost to buy & fix up this one, you should just buy the already fixed up one instead.  Unless (and there seems to always be a caveat), the home you want to fix up is perfect in some other way and can't be match by any other - lot size/location is the most common reason.

Another thing to consider is capital.  You can spend $50,000 more on a home and only have to come out of pocket with a couple thousand dollars for the additional down payment; the remainder can be financed (assuming you qualify for the increased mortgage).  However, your fix-up costs will most likely need to be paid for with cash.

Ideally you can find a home that looks a little run down, which keeps the home on the market longer and depresses its list price, but which only needs inexpensive, cosmetic fixing up.  Flooring, paint, and fixtures fall into this category, as well as giving the landscaping some TLC without having to entirely re-landscape the yard.

Countertops and cabinetry go a long way towards freshening up the kitchen and bathrooms.  But this can sometimes cause a domino effect - your vision for the right cabinets will be best complimented with new appliances, countertops, flooring, and an update to the ceiling - now we're talking real dollars!

That's a long answer.  The short answer to your short question is:  it depends.  You can get a great deal on a home if you're willing to do the work, and the harder the work the better the deal.  But you need to be able to do the work as inexpensively as possible (the goal after all was to save money), and you need to have the cash available to do it.

Does that help at all?

Sincerely,

Your looking for value Realtor

Chris Butterworth

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

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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

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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…

Jumbo mortgages

A jumbo mortgage is a home loan that’s too big (in dollars) to be sold to government backed agencies (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). The upper dollar limit for jumbos varies geographically but the general rule of thumb is a loan larger than $417,000 is a jumbo.

It seems to me that people who have money continue unaffected when there’s a deep recession in the American economy. I always joke: people with money are always economically safe, the truly poor can rely on welfare and charity, and the working & middle classes buckle down during recessions because they know they’re the ones who are really going to take a beating.

Be that as it may (or not)…   In an odd twist on normal, jumbo mortgages have suffered during the Great Recession. Usually they account for 18% of the real estate market, but according to a new Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report, jumbo mortgages were only 5% of the real estate mortgage market in 2009 and 2010.

Interest rates for jumbo mortgages have been high too, but are now back down to earth. The WSJ reports the average jumbo rate through the week ended Oct. 29 was 5.11%, down from about 6.14% on Jan. 1, 2010

It’s my experience that people who can afford to take out a jumbo mortgage expect to get a mortgage easily, with little trouble and few questions about their financial life. Beware, the New Normal is different, even if you’re wealthy. My favorite brokers and the WSJ story report that mortgage underwriting continues to be strict: Borrowers still need excellent credit profiles and must provide complete documentation and verification of income, unlike several years ago. Down payments of 20% to 40% typically are required.

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hat tip Relator John Wake for the inspiration and source article for this post

FHA tightens credit score minimums

By and large, FHA borrowers must now have a minimum FICO credit score of 640.  There are exceptions, especially for borrowers already in escrow with an executed contract and a scheduled closing date…

But the credit tightening that’s hampered the rest of the mortgage industry has now hit the FHA loan program too.

source: Andrew Schmidt and Stephen Rust, The Lending Company, 602-999-1912

First time homebuyer rates surge

First-time homebuyers accounted for 50% of all home sales from July 2009 through June 2010, according to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey of buyers and sellers.

That's the highest share of first-time-buyer purchases in the history of the survey, which dates back to 1981.

In July 2010 first timers bought 38% of the homes sold, down a bit from the 43% rate in June.

The survey also showed that investors accounted for 19% of sales in July 2010, up from 13 percent in June; the balance (43%) were to repeat buyers.

A quick check of our sales here at The Phoenix Agents shows that first time buyers were 30% of our client base over the period July 2009 to June 2010. Investors accounted for another 30% of our business, while repeat buyers were the remaining 40% of our clientele.

I think what’s being ignored in the mainstream media (and probably the blog world too) is that 4 of 10 home buyers were repeat buyers. They sold a home and bought another, even in this grim economy.   That’s interesting. I’m not sure yet what it means, but it’s interesting considering our collective mindset this year has been the image of an economy in Neutral and a government in gridlock.

Source Article: NAR Existing Home Sale Survey

Distressed Activity by Month - October 2010

Last month I combined my New Distressed Listings analysis with my Distressed Sales analysis, mostly because the two together show a much clearer picture than either one does by itself.  I got some positive feedback, so I’ll continue to write them up this way..

This post will have a lot of easy to read charts, and then I’ll write up a couple thoughts at the end.  I hope you enjoy it..

(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.)

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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.)

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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.)

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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.)

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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

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Chart 6 - Home Sales by Type of Occupant

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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?

The unnerving trend I pointed out last month has continued – bank and vacant listings are up, and sales are down.  So we’ll see downward pressure on pricing from the one-two punch of increased inventory and the increased bank activity.  They’ll follow that up with the traditionally slow holiday season, and I don’t think pricing is going to gain any strength until the new year..  yuck.

Your counting how many years he’s been waiting for a recovery (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010…) and running out of fingers Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Maricopa County Sales Charts – October 2010

It hasn’t been the fall autumn we were looking for; the temperatures outside have stayed warm, but the market has cooled off considerably.  Number of Sales, Price per Sqft, and Avg Sales Price have plummeted, while Days on Market has inched upwards.  Not what we’re hoping to see…

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

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Average Sold Price

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Average Price per Square Foot

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Average Number of Days on Market

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** 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 trend-watching Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Will my house ever sell?!?

Sometimes selling your home in Metro Phoenix in 2010 can feel like a lot of hurry up and wait.  There are some things you can do to make the process quicker and less stressful.  This is reprinted from December 6, 2008. Gives you a little idea how long sellers have been struggling to sell their homes.

A Few Ideas for Handling Seller’s Stress


  1. Paint everything: every wall, baseboard, door frame and window frame. Inside and out. Year after year, national studies reveal that a fresh coat of paint provides something like a 400% return on investment.


  2. Invest $20 or $30 in a brand new, thick and cushy welcome mat for the front door. First impressions count.


  3. Weed out your closets and bookcases. Pack up 1/3 of what’s in there. Donate it or store it for your upcoming move.


  4. Take everything off the kitchen fridge. Buyers aren’t considering buying your 5-year old’s macaroni craft project so they don’t need to see it. They also don’t need to know what time Johnny has soccer practice or which Doctor Susie sees.


  5. Enlist the entire family in keeping the house clean for showings.


  6. To present the appearance of a clean house in under 5 minutes: wipe down counters, kitchen appliances and mirrors with diluted Windex or plain diluted ammonia. (Windex costs more but smells better)


  7. Hide your personal papers, bills, and so forth from the office/desk area (it’s nobody else’s business).


  8. Take down family photos from every wall and dresser top.


  9. Remove the prescriptions from the medicine cabinet (yes, people WILL look. Potential buyers do not need to know that you’re mixing a custom cocktail of Prozac and Viagra.


  10. If possible, find temporary foster homes for your pets. Try family, friends and/or neighbors. This is challenging but important. I love my cat. But if my house smells like cat, it WILL NOT sell.


  11. Take up yoga, tai-chi or meditation.


  12. Ignore your neighbors’ asking prices; concentrate on nearby sold prices.


  13. While you’re at it, (mostly) ignore your friends’ and family’s advice. They are not Realtors. You hired a Realtor for a reason. Ask questions, request documentation of market trends, but trust him/her.

  14. If your Realtor isn’t giving you a weekly or every-other-week update, ask for one.


  15. Write a counteroffer for every offer you receive, even the ones that make you want to scream profanities at the buyer (and see below about Handling Low Ball Offers)



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