Most expensive bank-owned home in Phoenix

It's located at the Biltmore Estates golf course. Got a cool $7 million? All 18,000 square feet of this mansion can be yours. It's only the market for 6 months, too, which in the land of luxury real estate is about 1/10th of a second.

Last December (was that a mere 10months ago?) it was listed for $12,500,000. Talk about market decline! That's a drop of nearly 1/2 in 10months.

Here's some pictures of the compound...

Her closet

His closet. And, his library ... Clearly, the man who owns this home is A Very Serious Man who makes a lot of Very Serious Money.

The wine cellar (frankly, the way the photographer shot it, it looks more like an M.C. Escher drawing to me)

2 washers and 2 dryers. Because everyone knows the Very Wealthy have Very Dirty Clothes.

Apparently, the sheer weight of the former owners' wealth bent the space-time continuum in the ceiling of the master bedroom.... I'm a little dizzy looking at it.

Enjoyed these photos? See more foreclosed homes of the formerly Super Wealthy, elsewhere on our blog. And if you're actually shopping for a home in this exclusive price range, don't hesitate to call me. I actually do have regular experience helping buyers in the luxury markets in metro Phoenix, Arizona. I promise to keep my mild snarking to myself when we're home shopping.

Condo financing near-impossible to get

A while back, I wrote a piece called Condo Re-Financing: Tricky to Impossible. Nowadays, that lending dilemma has grown -- it's next to impossible to get a new mortgage to purchase a condo, according to my favorite lenders Kevin Reiser and Jeannie Bolger. (need an ace loan officer? call me or text me and I'll forward their info. 602-999-8831). The exception may be luxury condos, think million dollar plus, but I'm not sure that mortgage market is healthy either.

The reason one can't get a mortgage to buy a condo these days has almost nothing whatsoever to do with the buyer and his/her credit profile. It has to do with the condo community and it's overall financial health/outlook. Many, many condo (and patio home and townhome) communities have experienced so many foreclosures that their Homeowners Associations are in severe financial distress. Other times, the owner-occupant to investor ratio is so out of whack - with investors owning 75% or more of the units in the community - that lenders won't lend to anyone who wants to buy there.

If you're really digging the idea of a condo right now.... check with several lenders first. Getting a mortgage for your new, hip pad might be tricky to impossible.

Want more in-depth explanation of the metro Phoenix condo market outlook? Try this article we wrote waaaay back in Spring 2010.

Maricopa County Sales Charts – August 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.

Looking at the numbers, homes are still selling at a very brisk pace – near record levels.  And it’s a very good thing they are, because even with that heavy demand, prices are still trending downward.  It sort of defies the laws of economics right now.  We’ll have to see what happens to bank activity, and the market as a whole, in the coming months.  (especially if the economy slows down even further..)

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 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



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 eyes wide open trends Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

a Tale of Two Markets

Viewpoint 09/13/2011

a Tale of Two Markets

I haven't written many Viewpoints this year.  Not because I'm not following the market, and not because I don't enjoy writing, but because there haven't been many changes to write about.  We're already in September, and I haven't seen anything this year which is different from what I've written about over the last couple of years - how depressing...

Today I thought I'd share some thoughts on the current state of the market, as well as a few other interesting links.  Please read on.

Maricopa County Real Estate - A Tale of Two Markets

Links worth Reading

Evernote power tip

On a Personal Note

Maricopa County Real Estate - A Tale of Two Markets

It's definitely a seller's market out there.  Take a look at the current inventory level:

(all photos may be enlarged by clicking on them)


12,491 Single Family homes for sale in Maricopa County.

Seems like a lot, until you compare that with the number of homes that have sold in the last 30 days (or are currently Pending Sale):


15,264 Homes!  Holy Moly!

So, in 30 days, we'll put 15,265 homes into escrow, and there are currently 12,491 homes available for sale.  That means there's less than 1 month's inventory of homes available for sale!  Wow - that's a true seller's market.

And I'm not the only one seeing it.

Check out Dru Bloomfield, my friend & colleague, who wrote a post about a potential buyer trying to spread the word to would-be sellers out there that there aren't enough homes to buy.

Also see my broker & ultra blogger Jay Thompson, asking the mainstream media to mention some of the record sales numbers and other positives about the market, along with their usual doom & gloom stories.

Bottom Line - homes are flying off the shelves right now, often times with multiple offers and a bidding war among buyers (actual results for any given home &/or neighborhood may vary).  These are the sure signs of a seller's market.

It's definitely a buyer's market out there.  Take a look at the distressed activity and the sales prices from the charts below:

From my Distressed Activity post last month:

Occupancy of homes sold:


There are almost 3 times as many vacant homes selling as those which are occupied.  History, and common sense, tell us a seller with a vacant home will be more motivated to sell, and will most likely accept a lower sales price.  A 3 to 1 vacant home ratio is keeping prices low, which favors a buyer's market.

Type of Seller:


There are, and have been for the last couple of years, twice as many homes sold with some sort of bank-involvement than with traditional sellers who have equity in their home.  Again, we know banks are going to discount their homes more than traditional sellers want to.  So, the 2 to 1 bank-involved ratio works to keep prices low and favors the buyers.

From my Maricopa County Sales Charts post last month:

Average Price per Square Foot:

The average price per square foot is down 10% from last year, which was already much lower than the previous years.  It's lower than the previous bottom seen in January of this year, and it's trending downward over the last few months.  If this isn't a sure sign of a buyer's market, I don't know what is!

Next let's look at the foreclosure activity:

July 2011 Foreclosure Rate Heat Map:

Look at the foreclosure rate in these cities:

  • Laveen:  1 in every 22 homes is in some state of foreclosure
  • Queen Creek:  1 in every 37
  • Buckeye:  1 in every 50
  • Surprise:  1 in every 74
  • Gilbert:  1 in every 119
  • Peoria:  1 in every 173

There's no way the sellers can put upward pressure on prices when there are this many foreclosures.  And if there are this many foreclosures, with depressed pricing, in our suburbs, there's no way prices are going to trend significantly higher in the closer-in cities.  Score another point for a buyer's market.

The Tale of Two Markets

Ask any buyer out there, and it's a seller's market.  Not enough homes to choose from, homes are selling very quickly, the competition is fierce - it's just flat out difficult to buy a home right now.

Ask any seller out there, and it's a buyer's market.  Homes only get showing activity if they're priced very aggressively.  Even when competing against homes which aren't in as good shape - price higher to account for the higher quality, and risk sitting on the market while the other homes sell.  It's very difficult to sell your home right now, unless you're willing to compete heavily on price.

Personally, I've never seen such a two-headed market before.  And to be honest, I'm thankful for the number of investor-buyers out there who are absorbing the distressed activity as fast as they are.  If prices were higher, or interest rates were higher, or rents were lower..  If something changes and inventory starts to accumulate, we could be in for a world of hurt.  Fingers crossed we can keep moving forward until the eventual end of the bank-involved market, however long that takes.

Links Worth Reading

Inside and outside the industry, I found these links interesting.

Dru Bloomfield (mentioned twice in the same newsletter? – she had a great month of writing..!) found an inspection service which uses a special camera (infrared maybe?) to detect potential problems behind the walls.  Very cool.  Very useful.  Very James Bond. 


. published 30 Spectacular Infinity pools.  Summer's drawing to an end, but every one of these makes me want to jump in, relax, and find a cold beverage.  (while I eat my heart out!) 


. wrote The Amazing Power of Being Present.  A nice reminder of the need to, and some helpful hints for how to, slow down during a stressful, busy day.


Economist Mish Shedlock wrote some Good news Bad news about foreclosures.  The news is better for states without judicial foreclosures, but bad news anywhere in the country is still an overall drag.



Dilbert - we've all been there before!



Evernote Power Tip - Linking to other notes

I’m an avid (evangelical?) user of Evernote.  One day soon I’ll write more about it, but for now I’ll just describe it like this:  Evernote is a place to remember and store EVERYTHING, and it’s always at your fingertips.  (and it’s FREE!)  I have it installed on my laptop, my desktop, my android phone, and an ipod touch, and all my notes are instantly available on every device.  Client notes, scanned pdf files, notes about the kids’ school and doctors, hotel confirmation numbers – everything – everywhere – easy.

If you haven’t used Evernote before, I suggest you check it out.  If you have, I thought you might like the following idea:

The newest version of Evernote’s Windows Desktop app (Version 4.5) allows you to link one note to another, and it’s really easy.  In the notes list, right-click on the note you want to link to (the destination note), and select Copy Note Link from the mouse menu that appears.  Then, in the note where you want the link, place your curser wherever you want the link, and hit paste.  (Edit => Paste, right click => paste, or ctrl + v  - they will all work).   You’ll see the title of the destination note in a hyperlink.  Easy peasy.

Here’s an example of where this would be useful.

Say you’re going on vacation, and you’ve done lots of research about where you’re going.  Maps, restaurants, entertainment and theme parks, hotel confirmation, whatever.

You can have one note called Vacation, which could serve as a table of contents, linking out to all your other research.  You might have one long note with lots of pictures & web clippings about things to do while you’re away.  You’ll have another note with hotel information.  You’ll have a third note with maps – screen clips, links to google maps, and directions.  Rental car confirmation.  A list of restaurants, with locations and menus clipped from the web.

Rather than trying to find the right note from your cell phone while you’re on the move, you can have one note easily accessible, with links to everything else you need.

Pretty cool feature.  I used to use this feature for my client files in OneNote; now that Evernote has it available I’ll probably start doing that as well.

On a Personal Note

I’ll call it a successful summer, all things considered.  (mostly considering the tough economic environment!)  The kids saw the beach (Santa Monica), the mountains (Pine, AZ), and the lake (Pleasant), and got to see plenty of family in between.  Plus a trip to the MLB All Star Weekend festivities.

Now we’re back in the school routine and heading full speed into fall.





Your looking forward Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Mortgage rates lowest since 1971

Mortgage rates set new record lows this week, per a report by mortgage giant Freddie Mac (the Primary Mortgage Market Survey), hitting rates not seen since 1971.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.12 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 8th, 2011.

Despite the fact that it’s been 40 years since we saw mortgage interest rates this low, the Mortgage Bankers Association simultaneously reports that buyer demand for mortgages remains at record lows, close to the low demand levels last seen in 1996.

(some content above based on original reporting published on; chart below originally published by the New York Fed)

30yr mortgage rates from 1970 to 2010

Desert Ridge Market Update

The Desert Ridge area is located in the far North Central section of Phoenix, and covers several new-ish neighborhoods just north of the Loop 101 freeway, between Scottsdale Road and Cave Creek Road.

Most housing in the Desert Ridge area was built between the mid 1990s and the early 2000s.  Almost all housing is wood frame covered by painted stucco, with concrete tile roofs. This is standard for construction in this age range. While most homes built were single-family detached, there were a few condos and townhomes built as well.

There are several factors that make the area desirable to many buyers:

  • Beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, with nearby hiking  recreation areas;

  • A gigantic shopping mall at the intersection of Tatum Road and the Loop 101; and

  • The area lies within the Paradise Valley school district, widely believed to be the best in the metro region and possibly the best in the state

Homes for Sale in Desert Ridge

  • Active Listings: 29 homes (view these homes)

  • AWC Listings: 8 homes (what is AWC?)

  • Pending Listings: 18 homes

  • Sold Listings, past 90 days: 35 sales

Desert Ridge Price Information

  • Average List Price: $152.23 per square foot (last update: $150.90/sf)

  • Average AWC Price: $128.81 per square foot (last update: $125.29/sf

  • Average Pending Price: $136.31 per square foot (last update: $135.74/sf)

  • Average Sold Price: $130.60 per square foot (last update: $134.33/sf)

  • List Price to Sold Price Ratio: 107.21% (last update: 96.82%)

Average Days on Market for Desert Ridge homes = 64 days (last update: 121 days)

Popular Desert Ridge area Home Searches:

July 2011 Foreclosure Stats with maps

Let me first get something off my chest – I HATE being the bearish guy.  I’d much rather be the optimistic, glass is half full, light at the end of the tunnel guy.  But I’ve been reading some local blogs, and even a national article or two, telling me Arizona is at the bottom and the market is ready to rebound.  Unfortunately, I just can’t buy into that.  (Well, we may be at or near the bottom from a pricing standpoint, but I don’t see a rebound anytime in our near future.)

Here are some graphs worth considering:

(all graphs courtesy of

National July 2011 Foreclosure Rate Heat Map, by state


Nationally, 1 in every 611 houses is in foreclosure.  Here are some top states:

  • Nevada:  1 in every 115
  • California:  1 in every 239
  • Arizona:  1 in every 273
  • Florida:  1 in every 396
  • Michigan:  1 in every 417
  • Colorado:  1 in every 665


Arizona July 2011 Foreclosure Rate Heat Map, by county


  • Pinal: 1 in every 200
  • Maricopa: 1 in every 239
  • Yavapai: 1 in every 298
  • Pima: 1 in every 314
  • Coconino: 1 in every 635


Maricopa County July 2011 Foreclosure Rate Heat Map, by city


  • Laveen:  1 in every 22
  • Queen Creek: 1 in every 37
  • Buckeye: 1 in every 50
  • Surprise: 1 in every 74
  • Gilbert: 1 in every 119
  • Peoria: 1 in every 173
  • Phoenix: 1 in every 257
  • Glendale: 1 in every 262
  • Scottsdale: 1 in every 375

I think these charts are another useful tool for gauging the state of the market.  We’ll see the market begin to heal, in earnest, when we see the foreclosure rates drop, and then when the banks eventually put fewer homes on the market as REO properties.  But we’re not there yet.  In fact, these charts tell us we aren’t anywhere close to being there yet..

Your sad but honest Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

How many REOs are selling in metro Phoenix?

From our own local God of Statistics, Mike Orr of, a breakdown of the market share of each type of home, as of August 16, 2011.

REO sales across Greater Phoenix (all types) averaged $59.26 per sq. ft. (down 0.9% from July 16). They gained market share, moving from 43.9% to 44.2%.

Pre-foreclosures and short sales averaged $73.78 (up 3.1%). Short sales and pre-foreclosures were the losers this month, moving from 24.1% to 23.2% after a strong spike at the end of June.

Normal sales averaged $105.32 (down 3.6%) and they gained a little market share, moving from 32.0% to 32.6% of sales.


REO = (other) Real Estate Owned -- these are foreclosure homes where bank has already repossessed the house from the former owner. In Arizona, there is no "redemption period" after the foreclosure wherein the former owner can reclaim the house.

Short sale = owner still owns the house, is probably facing foreclosure, and is trying to sell at today's market prices which will not pay off the entire mortgage balance(s). This seller must get his/her lender's approval on the sale or the sale will not happen.

Equity sale = this is a "regular" sale where the owner owns the house free and clear, or at least has equity in the home. This homeowner - if he has a mortgage - can sell at today's market values and still pay off the mortgage in full.

Need more information?

Need more info? Want to talk to a  professional about your housing options? Contact us by phone, email or text. We're licensed, professional Realtors in metro Phoenix and are happy to help you with no sales pitch and no high pressure sales tactics.

Heather Barr - 602-999-8831 or
Chris Butterworth -

Distressed Activity by Month – July 2011

It looks like a downward trend is starting to appear.  It requires looking at the big picture – the last couple of years – and the descent is not nearly as steep as we’d like to see, but at least it’s heading in the right direction.  More thoughts after the charts…

(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?

I like seeing the downward trend.  (after all, isn’t a downward trend a lot better than an upward trend?!)  However, I’m far from ready to get out the champagne and call an end to the terrible market.

Yes, distressed listings are trending downwards.  But there were still well over 4,000 New Distressed Listings last month alone.  And while the sales pace has been white-hot for most of the year, the number of sales was down considerably in July (traditionally a good sales month.)  Maybe the low sales number was just a product of the low listing number, since investors can only buy what’s actually for sale.  Or maybe it’s a sign of things to come.  We’ll have to wait & see on that one.

Finally, when you add in the downward trend in pricing (Maricopa County Sales Charts), it’s difficult to argue in favor of a recovering market.

On the plus side, reported foreclosure filings have been steadily decreasing, so a month like this brings us closer to the point where the banks have fewer homes available to sell.  One month at a time, and another year will pass…

Your wishing the year(s) would pass faster Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Moon Valley market update, August 2011

Moon Valley is located in North Central Phoenix, and covers the mature neighborhoods between Thunderbird Road and Bell Road, and between 7th Street and about 15th Avenue.

Market-Update-moon-valley-mapHomes for Sale/Sold in Moon Valley

  • Active Listings: 11 homes (view these homes)
  • AWC Listings: no homes (what is AWC?)
  • Pending Listings: 3 homes
  • Sold Listings, past 90 days: 8 sales

Moon Valley Price Information

  • Average List Price: $330,820
  • Average AWC Price: $N/A
  • Average Pending Price: $234,970
  • Average Sold Price: $199,875

List Price to Sold Price Ratio: 90.13%
Average Days on Market for Moon Valley homes = 76 days

Popular Moon Valley area Home Searches:

“Information in this article is based on single family home sale information from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (”ARMLS”), for the period up to August 21, 2011. ARMLS does not guarantee information accuracy.  Data maintained by ARMLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.”

Maricopa County Sales Charts – July 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.

My comments below chars.

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 click here to sign up, and you’ll receive your zip code report via email each month.

(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



What do you want the charts to say?

Look at the Number of Homes Sold and the Avg Days on Market charts, and you’ll no doubt get excited about the pace of the sales activity.  Lots of homes selling, and in fewer days.  Sounds pretty good, no?

But the Avg Sales Price and the Avg Price per Square Foot show a completely opposite picture, as both measures are sloping downward without an end in sight.

Bottom line – the banks are unloading lots of REO property, and investors are buying in bulk.  These two groups will agree with the fast-paced market approach.  But for the rest of us…  charts 2 & 3 are looking ominous.

** 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 still waiting to report a change in the trends Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Short Sell your Phoenix home

If you're underwater, you're in a very crowded, very unhappy club. Possibly tens of thousands of Phoenix homeowners are underwater. Whether you bought too much house, or carefully avoided over-extending yourself; whether you borrowed equity for vacations or for home improvements... sometimes through no fault of your own, you're underwater on your home mortgage.

If you're thinking about walking away, or about trying a short sale, you almost certainly need a lawyer's help through the process. You're going to need a Realtor too, because you're in a double whammy situation:

  1. You have a real estate problem AND

  2. You have a legal problem

The real estate problem is obvious: you need to pay somebody something in order to get your home listed in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) so buyers can find it online. Moreover, the paperwork involved in a short sale is so bloody complex you're going to want to tear your hair out before it's all over. Hire a professional Realtor who handles short sales regularly, and let them do some of the hair pulling. The Realtor's fees are going to come out of the proceeds of the sale anyway, so it'll end up costing you nothing (or next to nothing, depending on your situation) to have an experienced professional Realtor handling your listing, marketing and sale. Lucky you! We're Realtors and we have people at our brokerage who do nothing but short sale listings and closings. Contact us for more information.

The legal problem is a little harder to grasp. Think of it this way; your mortgage is a contract. When you walk away or attempt a short sale, you're breaching a contract. And your mortgage was probably the single most valuable contract you'll ever sign in your entire life. Breaching that contract shouldn't be undertaken without professional advice.

You know that the banks have scores of lawyers on staff, protecting them when their mortgage contract is breached. You should have at least 1 attorney in your corner. Best of all, the attorney's fees are generally going to be paid for out of the proceeds of the sale of the house, not out of your pocket.

So, to boil it all down: you can hire 2 professionals - a Realtor and an attorney - to guide you through the short sale process, and in almost every case, it won't cost you a dime out of your pocket. It's a win-win.

Contact us for advice about listing, marketing and selling your home. We'll also hook you up with 1 or 2 of our trusted, tested local attorneys who specializes in short sales.

Disclaimer: this article was written about metro Phoenix, Arizona homes sales in the Summer of 2011. If you're reading this article from far away, or long after the fact, consult a professional in your area!

Scottsdale home values, 2006 to 2011

We're busy here at The Phoenix Agents, so today's post is short and sweet. This is a chart that shows annual median home sales prices in Scottsdale in 2006 (red line) and to date in 2011 (pink line).

  • In 2006, Scottsdale homes started the year at $575,000 (far left of red line) and finished the year at $638,000 (right side).

  • In 2011, Scottsdale homes started the year at $385,000 and fluttered down to $365,000 by the end of July.

Keep in mind these are annual median prices, so they're a lot "flatter" than monthly median or weekly median prices, which show lots of volatility. There's also a somewhat false downward pressure on the median price, because the bulk of homes that do sell are bank owned or short sales and those sell for lower prices than equity sales. Finally, even in relatively wealthy Scottsdale, investors are finding bargains, and they tend to buy at the lower ends of the price range.

Still, this chart is a pretty good visual of the rollercoaster ride we've all been on in the past 5 years.

Underwater in Scottsdale. Do you need a lawyer for a short sale?

For a number of years, many homeowners in tony Scottsdale thought they would be insulated from the real estate crisis. For years, they were right. Not any longer. In general, Scottsdale median home prices are down about 43% from their peak in late 2006. Many Scottsdale homeowners are "underwater", owing more on their home than it's currently worth.

Are you underwater on your home? If you plan to stay in your home for another decade or so, and you can still afford the fixed-rate mortgage payment, this might be no big deal. It depends on your financial situation. You might be able to ignore the dismal media headlines, love your house, raise your family, pay your mortgage and live your life.

But if you have other financial issues compounding your housing value issue, you might need to think about your options. We here at The Phoenix Agents strongly recommend you retain an attorney. As Kevin Hardin of  Thomson Conant law firm says, "you don't have a real estate problem, you have a debt problem."

Your mortgage is a contract and if you're thinking about walking away or trying a short sale, you're actually contemplating breaching a legal contract. You're going to want a lawyer to help you do that.

Don't be fooled by people who casually toss around the phrase, "Arizona is a non-recourse state."  What they mean is that in general, a mortgage lender can't sue a homeowner after a foreclosure. But there are serious loopholes in that law, and the biggest loophole applies to short sales. Arizona's law covers foreclosures, not short sales. There's also a giant loophole on the topic of second mortgages and equity lines/loans.

If you short sale your home without getting precise language in the Short Sale Agreement from your lender, you might be leaving yourself wide open to a gigantic lawsuit for many years to come.

We happen to know several great short sale and foreclosure attorneys and accountants. Give me a call and I'll give you their names and numbers. Once you've spoken to an attorney, if you're ready to try a short sale, we'll help. Our broker has several agents on staff who focus on short sales and have remarkable track records of success.

Heather Barr, Realtor
The Phoenix Agents at Thompson's Realty
602-999-8831   or


Mortgage interest rates plunge on debt deal news

From one of my favorite loan officers, Gary Ogami at Pinnacle Peak Lending, Inc. comes the news that mortgage interest rates just hit year-long lows:

…rates are now at the year’s lows, and are only slightly above the all-time lows we saw almost one year ago.

The passage of a debt ceiling and deficit reduction agreement, along with weaker than expected manufacturing and GDP figures, bonds have rallied as investors have sought safety.  This has lead to higher bond, and more importantly, mortgage-backed securities (MBS) prices, which have brought yields and rates lower.  The last time we approached this price level for MBS’s was late summer/early fall of last year!

Mortgage Term Rate APR
30 Yr Fixed 360 months 4.250% 4.297%
15 Yr Fixed 180 months 3.625% 3.736%


Are you looking for a mortgage loan officer? Try Gary, I highly recommend him.

Gary Ogami
Pinnacle Peak Lending, Inc.

He’ll get your pre-qualification on the fast track and meanwhile you can start searching for homes on our MLS SearchContact us with any questions and when you’re ready to hire a Realtor!

Are the ‘assessed value’ and market value related?

In short, the answer to this question is “no”.

Disclaimer: this answer applies to metro Phoenix, Arizona in the year 2011, where I work as a full-time Realtor. If you’re reading this long after publication or from another location, please consult a professional in your area. In other words, I am a Realtor but I am not your Realtor… yet. Wanna hire me to be YOUR Realtor? Click here.

Lots of buyers want to use the Maricopa County Tax Assessor’s “Assessed Value” to justify why they should be able to buy a particular house for less than the listing price.  This is especially common among folks who are engineers, attorneys or other Type-A’s.

Listen up, Type-A’s! I feel your pain. I understand your need to get your hands on hard data, statistics, charts, graphs, etc.  Thing is, the market value of houses has to do with 1 thing, and only 1 thing: what are other buyers currently paying for other, similar homes?

Here’s a very brief comps analysis on a particular HUD home currently listed for sale in North Phoenix. To begin, this is the tax assessor’s notice of valuation on the home. For tax year 2011 the assessed value is $147,500:

Capture, tax assessor valuation on 1727 E Blackhawk (click to enlarge image)

This home has 2,425 square feet built in 1995 with a pool in the backyard, and the lot backs up to mountain preserve. The home is currently listed for sale at $240,000.

Whoa, tax assessor says only $147,500. What gives?!?  Here’s the comps on 4 sales within the past 60 days of the same size and similar condition homes in the subdivision:

Capture, CMA on 1727 E blackhawk (click to enlarge image)

Notice that all 4 of these homes were on the market for less than 40 days before finding a buyer – the market’s moving pretty fast. One home has yet to close, and it’s included as a possible indication of where prices are headed. Look at the column titled “SP” for “selling price”. Comps on this home range from $235,000 to $276,500.

In other words, other buyers have very recently paid between $235,000 and $276,500 for very similar homes in similar condition, located very close by. Therefore, the market value on this home is somewhere in the mid-$200,000s. If you make an offer of $147,500 you will be wasting your time.

Don’t fall into the trap of looking at the assessed tax valuation when trying to judge how much a house is “worth”. It’s worth what buyers are willing to pay for it. Get yourself a competent Realtor (hey, I know what of those… wait, I am one of those; hire me!)

Thanks for reading; come back soon!

Most expensive REO

Here it is, folks, the most expensive REO bank owned foreclosure home currently for sale in the metro Phoenix, Arizona MLS database. For a mere $18 million, this estate can be yours.

18mil EF

Seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, and over 17,000 square feet of living space. The home boasts two swimming pools, a billiard room, 3 family rooms, a theater room with actual movie-house projection system and seats that move with the movie action. Garage space for 21 cars. Home has an exercise room and a piano room, 2 libraries, and it’s own solar electric generating station.

The closets in this place will suit turn anyone into a clothes horse…

18mil closet218mil closet1

The house sits on 5 acres in Paradise Valley, on prestigious Mockingbird Lane.  Want to see it in person? Shown by appointment only; bank references required prior to showing. That’s Realtor-speak for “show me the money before I show you the house.”

18mil HALL18mil ENTRY

18mil POOL218mil POOL1

18mil LIBR

And, proving that even the excessively wealthy have sense of humor, at the entrance to this home’s theater room, Zoltar from the movie Big.


AMC Esplanade 14 movie theater will re-open as posh Fork & Screen

fork and screen logoBiltmore-area movie-goers have undoubtedly noticed that the  AMC Esplanade 14 movie theater at 2512 E Camelback Road has been closed down this summer.  In August, the Esplanade will reopen as the latest site of AMC’s newest concept, the upscale Fork & Screen.

With this renovation, AMC is trying to attract the posh “dinner and a movie” crowd to the Biltmore location. The new movie venue will offer luxe décor, top-shelf cocktails, wait staff and bartender service and even private suites in which to watch the movies.

Oh, and for all you jobseekers out there, AMC is currently hiring wait staff, bartenders, back-of-house people (dishwashers, cooks, etc), and even a theater manager. Search available openings on, using the employer name “TD-AMC Dine-In Theatre”.

Sources & Links for this story:

Desert Ridge Area – Market Snapshot

Today I thought I’d pull some numbers, charts & graphs for the Desert Ridge area, to see where the activity really is.

Overall Activity

  • # of Sales, 1/1/11 – 6/30/11:  404
  • # of Current Listings:  253
  • Months’ Inventory:  3.75

Overall it looks like homes are selling at a brisk pace; 3.75 months’ inventory is generally considered a seller’s market.

Activity by Price Range

Sales are heaviest in the $100,000 - $300,000 range, accounting for 276 of the 404 total sales (68%).



Listings are spread out a little more, although the $100,000 - $300,000 range still accounts for the largest share (62%).



Seller’s Market?

Combining the Sold and Active data to look at Months’ Inventory by Price Range, I was surprised to see a fairly consistent inventory, at least for the prices < $600,000.


The market is just as hot between $400k - $600k as it is for homes < $200k, while it’s a little softer in the middle range of $200k - $400k.  And forget about it once you get above $600k; the market deteriorates quickly.

My guess is that the sub-$200k market is being driven by investors & distressed activity, and the $400k - $600k market is made up of owner-occupied and second-home buyers snapping up formerly million-dollar homes, while the traditional mid-range move-up market is the soft spot in the middle.

Next time I’ll dig even deeper to see if my hunch is right.  In the meantime, please give us a call if you want to see a particular neighborhood or have any other questions.

Your turning data into information Realtor,

Chris Butterworth