[Source: Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic] — Metropolitan Phoenix’s ailing housing market is getting a boost from the federal government. Early next year, Arizona will receive $121 million to combat the state’s growing foreclosure problem. Most of the money must be spent to buy and fix up foreclosure homes and then help people purchase them. Homes in the Valley communities hardest hit by the downturn will be targeted. Those areas include neighborhoods in Phoenix, Mesa, Avondale, Tolleson, and Surprise. The money, distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs, comes from the nation’s Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which Congress passed in July.
The funds are earmarked for “stabilizing” the neighborhoods hurt by too many foreclosures. The federal money will go toward the purchase of thousands of Valley foreclosure homes, which means more work for real-estate agents, appraisers, title agents and lenders. Many people who have struggled to get financing or down-payment money to buy a house will get help. The funds also will mean more jobs for contractors hired to fix up foreclosure homes. Homeowners in neighborhoods hurt by too many foreclosures should see their home values stabilize and even increase as the money is spent on houses nearby.
A record 35,000 homes have been foreclosed on Valley-wide so far this year. Many neighborhoods, particularly on the Valley’s fringes, are dotted with homes left vacant and vandalized because of foreclosures. “This money will a go a long ways to helping a lot of people and communities,” said Fred Karnas, director of the Arizona Housing Department, which will get more than $38 million of the federal money. Only Phoenix, which has been allotted $39 million, will get more of Arizona’s share. Several other communities will receive money, as well. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — Lenders’ pledges to be more aggressive about modifying delinquent mortgage loans did nothing to ease Maricopa County’s swelling foreclosure rate in October, according to the latest housing report from Arizona State University. Foreclosures on single-family homes increased from 3,655 in September to 3,745. Meanwhile, home resales followed a predictable pattern of seasonal decreases, dipping to 4,465 transactions in October from 4,625 sales the month before.
The city with the highest ratio of foreclosures to resales was Phoenix, where there were 65 more foreclosures than regular sales. The median resale price also fell slightly, to $175,000 in October from $180,000 in September. The median price is down 30% from $250,000 in October 2007.
|Home Resale||Median Price||
|2007 Population||Foreclosures Per Capita|
Color Key: East Valley (green), West Valley (yellow), Phoenix (orange)
From time to time, we’ll throw out an “Idea of the Day” culled from sources here in Arizona and elsewhere. The following idea, well actually several ideas, revolve around alternatives to driving in this new era of $4-plus gasoline. The Arizona Republic article, “Employers work to ease commuting costs to offset gas prices,” by Betty Beard tells what it’s all about:
“High gas prices have done more than suck away consumers’ cash. They also have led many bosses to approve four-day workweeks, telecommuting options, flexible schedules, and mass-transit subsidies.
Call it sticker shock. This year’s pump prices stunned employers and employees alike into realizing that commuting alone to work could become prohibitively expensive for many workers. Over time, consistently high gas prices could forever change how we work, experts believe. Avondale has followed the State of Utah’s lead and switched to a four-day work week, and the State of Arizona is considering doing the same. Other major employers, including Intel Corp., Salt River Project, APS, and the City of Phoenix, already offer public-transportation subsidies, flexible schedules, or telecommuting.
U-Haul also has about 500 employees working at home in sprawling metro Phoenix. After this year’s run-up in gasoline prices to $4 or more a gallon, more companies are expected to institute similar programs. If that happens, experts say, workplaces could change in ways unimaginable, with huge growth in home offices and telecommuting, fewer big-building headquarters, and less need for office parking garages, unless public transportation increases dramatically or vehicles become a lot more fuel-efficient.
Even though gasoline prices have come down somewhat, flexibility to help workers deal with gas prices, especially raising mileage reimbursement, has become the workplace perk of the year. “It definitely has become a huge concern… as it centers around general satisfaction and ability to recruit and retain workers,” said Steve Williams, director of research for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, VA. “They (employers) realize that long-distance driving to work is past becoming a hassle. It has now become an economic issue, and the companies are addressing it by giving employees options,” he said.
Alternatives, summarized below, are detailed in the full article here:
- ‘Green Fridays’
- Monthly stipends
- Company perks
- Transit options
[Source: J. Craig Anderson, Arizona Republic] — Valley home prices continued their year-over-year plunge in April, dropping a record 18% as the impact of foreclosures and other economic factors exerted even greater influence, according to an ASU report issued Tuesday. The Arizona State University Repeat Sales Index, which tracks repeat same-home sales, reported an “off-the-cliff drop” in home prices because, in large part, of foreclosures, which made up 20% to 30% of all April home sales. ASU real-estate Professor Karl Guntermann, who compiled the report, said the continued rise in foreclosures was significant, but that gas prices, interest rates, tougher lending standards, and buyer psychology also took their toll. “It’s not just one thing,” he said. “That’s what’s so depressing, in a way.”
For March, ASU reported a 13% drop in year-over-year home prices for the Phoenix metropolitan area, at that time the largest decline ever recorded:
- Northeast region, which includes north Phoenix, Paradise Valley, and Scottsdale, saw its first-ever double-digit drop in home prices, down 10.2% from the previous April. Its year-over-year decline in March was just 4.3%.
- Southwest region, which includes Avondale, Buckeye, and Goodyear, had the worst year-over-year slide, as home prices plummeted 30.6% from a year earlier, falling even further from March’s 12-month decline of 22.9%.
- Central region, which takes up most of Phoenix, saw an additional decline of 4% compared with the previous month, bringing the total year-over-year price dip in April to 18.4%.
- Southeast and Northwest Valley regions each fell another 4% from the 12-month drops they had seen in March, bringing their April price decreases to 17.8% and 23%, respectively. The only positive surprise was in Sun City and Sun City West communities, where home prices were down just 14.2% from April 2007, a slight recovery after six months of being among the hardest-hit areas.
[Source: Arizona Republic] — Click here to search and map crimes reported to Valley law enforcement agencies. You can search by city, zip code, or street name and by a specific crime type or all crimes. Incidents are listed by zip code and block number, not exact address. (Electronic reports are available for only the following cities: Avondale, Buckeye, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Surprise, Tempe, and Tolleson.) Updated every Thursday.