The market turndown has caught many in the glare of the economic realities of poor financial planning. For some the decision was thrust upon them by disruptions caused by a job dislocation or a medical emergency. For others, the cookie jar was slammed hard on their "I can't lose philosophy" of real estate investing. Either way, hard choices have to be made and the answer tastes as sweet as a large dose of cod liver oil. MSNBC, Which is worse: foreclosure or bankruptcy?:
Neither option is going to be easy. Generally, a foreclosure will remain on your credit report for 7 years, while a bankruptcy remains for 10 years. But that doesn’t mean foreclosure is necessarily the better option, according to Ray Hooper, Education and Housing Director for the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas, a non-profit agency that tries to help people facing foreclosure keep their homes.
“A foreclosure is very serious to mortgage lenders,” said Hooper. “They’re going look at a foreclosure more seriously than they will a bankruptcy that doesn’t include the house.”
Before you accept that foreclosure is a foregone conclusion, consider trying to avoid it. If you’re having trouble making payments, or even behind by a month or two, contact your lender before the process goes any further. Even if you’ve gotten an official “notice of default,” saying you’re several months behind, you still have time before the formal foreclosure process begins.
The first question you need to decide is whether you want to keep your house or give it up. If you want to keep it, you need to try to work out a plan to get back on track. This involves either making up for the missed payments – which you can do all at once or try to spread out – or coming up with a new plan. One option is to have the loan modified – at a lower interest rate, for example. Or you can ask for “forbearance,” which basically means the lender suspends payments until you can get back on your feet. If you’re in over your head and bought too much house, though, these options probably aren’t going to help.
So you may have to consider moving. Even if you do lose your house, you don’t want a foreclosure on your record when you go looking for a smaller house or a place to rent. One option is to ask the lender to hold off on foreclosing until you sell. If your mortgage is bigger than your house is worth, your looking at what’s called a “short sale” and you’ll owe money to the lender even after the house is sold. In some cases, lenders will let you off the hook for that amount rather than go through the expense of foreclosing. (But you may not be completely off the hook: you may owe taxes on that amount.)
You can also try something called a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” – which basically means you turn over your house to the lender and walk away without owing anything. But you’ll need to work this out with the lender: you can’t just leave the keys in the mailbox.
While it’s possible to work out one of these solutions with your lender on your own, you may have better luck with the help of someone who specializes in the process. A good attorney who knows real estate law can help, but you may not be able to afford that. A credit counselor (from an accredited, non-profit agency, not the slime balls who spam you with bogus promises of making your debts “go away”) is another option. Lenders are more likely to go along if a competent third party is there to help smooth the process.
If all else fails, you may have to consider allowing foreclosure to proceed – or filing for bankruptcy. But like most aspect of personal finance, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” guidelines for which is the least bad alternative. There are different ways to file for bankruptcy, and not all of your debts have to be included (for more, see the next page.) So even if faced with bankruptcy, you’ll need advice from someone - either a good credit counselor or a bankruptcy attorney - who can walk you through the choices you’ll face.
From USA Today, this is an interactive chart (click the link for the interactive map) showing the population trends in the U.S. over the past six years ending 2006. No surprises here with Maricopa County one of the top growth centers in the nation, but like all things in life a picture is worth a thousand dry statistical words.
Phoenix Business Journal, Cathy Luebke, New York magazine lists Phoenix among top second-home choices:
Phoenix is one of 11 cities touted as "Best Places to Live" in the current issue of Resident magazine.
"Phoenix residents enjoy low housing prices and fine weather," the New York publication said in its review of top second-home locations.
The magazine also lists Santa Fe, N.M.; Boston; Atlanta; Louisville; Palm Beach, Fla.; Denver; San Juan, Puerto Rico; San Jose, Costa Rica; Minneapolis/St. Paul; and San Diego.
The magazine notes the ups and downs Phoenix area's housing market, but says winter visitors continue to drive demand for luxury properties in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale and that bargains abound despite the rise in housing prices.
A glimpse into a astonishing transformation in the desert.
Check out this video tour.
From the Arizona Republic, a summary of the build-out of the Phoenix's Downtown Biotech Campus:
At build-out, the concept calls for nearly 6 million square feet of space, including mid- and high-rise research and education buildings. It even envisions possible changes to Arizona State University's Mercado complex south of Van Buren Street. That area falls under city ownership in 2024.
A. University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
B. ABC1, a medical-research building used by ASU and UA.
C. Translational Genomics Research Institute.
D. Medical-education building.
E. Research building.
F. Parking and mixed-use building.
Down the road:
G. Multiple research buildings.
I. Proposed changes to Mercado complex.
Here's a trailer from the new movie, Closing Escrow, a mockumentary about home buyers and their agents.
The Arizona Republic, Michael Clancy, $6 bil needed to build, maintain Phoenix roads:
PHOENIX - The city is at a balancing point where road and bridge maintenance has caught up to new construction, demanding its fair share of investment.
Those items alone take up the lion's share of the $6 billion that Phoenix's Street Transportation Department estimates will be needed for roads and associated needs over the next 20 years.
"Some of our infrastructure is nearing 50 years old," said Ross Blakley, director of the Street Transportation Department. "The inner city has growing maintenance needs."
At the same time, city growth continues to drive the demand for new roads.
On top of it all, increases in the cost of concrete, asphalt and labor have combined with stagnant funding sources to leave street construction and repair in a tight spot.
"We're either going to have to get more revenues or build and maintain fewer roads," Blakley said.
The department's 20-year plan, released last week, details the problem. With $6 billion in projected needs, it finds only $2.4 billion in likely funding. more
The Arizona Republic, Jahna Berry, Biomedical Breakdown:
Banner Health and the University of Arizona may have hit a rough spot.
For months, the pair have tried to hammer out a plan that would bring a hospital to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus downtown. They missed a self-imposed summer deadline.
The teaching hospital is a critical component in plans to grow Phoenix's 28-acre biomedical campus.
Phoenix and the U of A want a large teaching hospital, larger than the 200 beds that Banner wants to build.
If the U of A was thinking of taking the hospital proposal to Banner's old competitor, Maricopa Integrated Health System, Maricopa CEO Betsy Bayless hints to the Arizona Republic that may not be an option:
"The county hospital system still plans to build a new acute-care hospital with 400 to 450 beds. The system has embarked on a six- to nine-month plan that seeks to answer important questions, including financing and location, for a new hospital.
'We were talking about going to downtown Phoenix. That is not necessarily our plan right now,' Bayless said.
So what happens next? Stay tuned.
Beginning at 11am, the 2nd Annual Downtown Phoenix Loft @ Home Tour profiles the most recent projects to hit the ground downtown including:
Developers and representatives from each of the projects will be on hand to answer your questions or to help you check out some of the remaining units. Check in is required and the ball gets rolling promptly at 11am so jump on the available DASH shuttles and taste the new housing flavors cooked up in our morphing downtown. Oh, the linked project above, Roosevelt 11, is where I'll be so I expect all of you to grab your checkbook and buy one of the remaining units in one of the best located projects near the dynamic Biotech campus, ASU, and right off the 7th St/!-10 connection. These are great lofts and offer some of the best pricing anywhere downtown. I'm waiting!
The "What's Happening Street Expo" on culture, entertainment, and education in Copper Square. Between 4-7PM, check out the products, sample menu items, and preview upcoming seasons in a street fare setting. Participants will include retailers, restaurants, arts & cultural groups, sports and entertainment groups, and educational and science institutions. There will also be live entertainment on the PAPA stage and a range of street performers.
The Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts is known as "The World's Only Parading Arts Fair" and gives all members of our community the opportunity to express themselves through costumes, art, and performance while marching together through the streets of Copper Square.
Everyone is invited to walk, ride, dance, or crawl along in the parade. Attendees not interested in parading are welcome to line the streets and cheer the procession. PAPA will be located at 2nd Street, between Washington and Jefferson.
A little deeper into the night look up and witness the Copper Square Fireworks Show. Starting at 10PM the fireworks will be launched from multiple garage-top locations and will cap off a wonderful day exploring Phoenix's Copper Square events-.
Finally, for those that can't get enough. begins the Copper Square Pub Crawl where 10 Copper Square Bars (oh, yes, every other restaurant and bar downtown will also be swinging their doors open for some consumer love!) will treat you to entertainment, food samples, and drink specials available only for Pub Crawl registrants. Make it a contest, collect beads, and collect a prize at the end of the night. Check out the link to register.
So stop whining that nothing ever happens compared to the other big cities. Show your support, help build this uniquely Phoenix event, and have a great time in the process.
And remember, don't drink and drive!
The Arizona Republic, Jahna Berry, Children's Museum slowly taking shape:
Construction crews are working hard to meet the June opening date for the Children's Museum of Phoenix.
So are fundraisers.
The next round of donations will fund the final phase of construction and some of the exhibits, said Tom Ambrose, chairman of the museum board.
...In early November, museum supporters plan to have another fundraising push: "Night of 100 Parties." There will be parties around the Valley during a 24-hour period from Nov. 9 to Nov. 10 to raise money for the children's museum.
The Monroe School will soon go through a dramatic transformation.
While the historic parts of the building near Van Buren and Seventh streets will be preserved, a 1980s addition will be overhauled for massive exhibits, including a three-story cable and platform "Tower Climber" that children - and adults - can climb.
When it's complete, the museum will feature hands-on exhibits designed for infants and children up to 10 years old.
The focus of the museum will be features that will help children "learn though play," museum supporters say. In addition to the "Tower Climber," the museum will include an art studio, book loft, a "construction zone" for large-scale building and an area with 10,000 blocks. more
Phoenix Business Journal, Adam Kress, Continued job growth keeping office market stable:
A new report indicates the Phoenix office sector will remain stable as the single-family housing market continues to struggle.
A growing population and high levels of business activity will continue to fuel job creation and heighten demand for office space, according to the Prudential CRES Commercial Real Estate report for the third quarter.
Prudential estimates more than 50,000 jobs will be added in the Phoenix area by year-end, and 22,000 of those will be office-using positions. In response to the anticipated demand, 2.8 million square feet of office space were added in the first three quarters of 2007.
According to the report, office sales activity (including office condos) in Phoenix picked up in the first half of 2007, with 399 properties exchanging hands compared with 263 during the same period last year. In a year-to-date evaluation, Prudential tracked approximately 256 transactions, exceeding last year's 212.
Office condos have proved to be a sound investment based on price appreciation. Prices rose 9.4 percent during the past 12 months, to about $221 per square foot. Scottsdale Airpark office condos are the most expensive in the Valley, at $268 per square foot -- a 25 percent increase from 2006.