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BlogArizona Category: Phoenix, Arizona

This page contains all BlogArizona posts related to Phoenix, Arizona.   Read a specific post by clicking on a title below, or scroll further down the page to read through all posts in this category.
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  • Saturday, September 14, 2013

    Treasure Found in Phoenix by Scottsdale Student

    Tempe Town Lake Bridge in Tempe, AZFor those who were participating in the College Times Treasure Hunt, it's over!  The $1000 certificate was found yesterday, near Hunt's Pyramid at Papago Park in Phoenix, by a 20 year old Scottsdale Community College student.  Clues for the Treasure Hunt were printed in each edition of College Times, but you could sign up to receive clues early by text.  Before the treasure was found, seven clues were released by text, plus a bonus clue was available by visiting the College Times 'street team' at ASU.  I think you could also get bonus clues by following College Times on Twitter and Facebook, but I didn't do that.  Perhaps I should have.  My family was searching by Tempe Town Lake since the clues referred to 'water northwest of ASU'.  We weren't even close!

    Tempe Town Lake at night in Tempe, AZWhile the chance of finding the $1000 loot was slim to none, we had a great time looking.  It's fun the whole family can enjoy and good exercise too.  It's also a great excuse to get out of the house, go places you normally wouldn't go and see parts of the Valley you may not otherwise see.  While at Tempe Town Lake searching for the 'treasure', my family ended up pedal boating on Tempe Town Lake as the sun went down.  After that, we walked down Mill Avenue and found a great little Turkish grill where we ate dinner.  Our college-aged daughters probably wouldn't normally want to hang out on Mill Avenue with my husband and I.  But they made an exception in this case, and we all enjoyed ourselves!

    Times Media regularly has similar treasure hunts in the Valley.  Interestingly, I just found this old post on a 2007 Times Treasure Hunt where the treasure certificate was found in basically the same place - under a rock at Hunt's Pyramid.  Except back then, the prize was $3000 instead of $1000.

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on September 14, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Phoenix, Arizona Has Great Weather... and Snow?!

    It's snowing in the Valley!  This picture was taken in Mesa, but several cities in the Phoenix-metro area got snow today.  I hereby declare tomorrow a snow day :)

    Phoenix, AZ has great weather most of the time!

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on February 20, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Beware of Mortgage Modification & Foreclosure Assistance Scams

    If you or someone you know is trying to do a mortgage modification or seeking help for a foreclosure situation, be sure to read this announcement from Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne:

    AG Horne Files Two Lawsuits Against Mortgage Modification Assistance Companies Operating In Both Phoenix and Tucson

    PHOENIX (Wednesday, August 15, 2012) -- Attorney General Horne announced today two lawsuits have been filed against Arizona companies selling mortgage modification services to distressed homeowners.

    “There is still a significant amount of fallout from the mortgage crisis, and consumers need to remain vigilant when approached about mortgage modification services,” Horne said. “The legal actions that have been filed serve as a reminder that people need to be very careful about dealing only with reputable servicers.”

    The lawsuits are against Phoenix based Making All Homes Affordable, LLC (“MAHA”) and its owner Albert Figueroa and Tucson based La Paz Source, LLC, its owners, Defendant Maria Beltran and her husband, Defendant Francisco Ramos and their new operation La Placita Multi Services, LLC owned and operated by Beltran and an individual named Arturo Gomez Leon.

    The lawsuit against MAHA alleges that MAHA and Defendant Figueroa violated the Consumer Fraud Act by misrepresenting the nature and value of the MAHA program, which MAHA advertises exclusively in Spanish language media and sells in face-to-face meetings in MAHA’ office and at several “retail outlets” in Phoenix and Tucson, including at the office of La Placita. The lawsuit alleges that MAHA salespersons tell potential clients that MAHA can help them obtain specific, favorable mortgage modifications, including lower interest rates and principal reductions. After homeowners pay MAHA nearly $1,900, homeowners discover that the MAHA program is nothing more than a do-it-yourself program, allowing them access to various standardized forms and information on MAHA’s website; forms and information that are available for free on government websites, such as www.makinghomeaffordable.gov. The lawsuit also alleges that MAHA uses dozens of fake consumer testimonials on its website and that MAHA charges its clients a fake sales tax of 9.3%.

    The lawsuit against La Paz Source and La Placita alleges that La Paz Source, LLC was an Arizona LLC who advertised as providing foreclosure consultant services. Consumers have reported that La Paz Source, LLC promised to stop the foreclosure process, obtain loan modifications for its consumers and communicate with lenders/servicers on behalf of its clients. As La Paz Source, LLC, the Defendants allegedly claimed they were authorized to conduct such business in Arizona when they were not duly licensed to conduct their business here. Oftentimes, La Paz Source charged very large upfront fees, which were prohibited by state and federal law, and then failed to provide the mortgage loan modification services required to earn those fees. In some cases, the clients lost their homes in the process.

    In November of 2011, Defendants Beltran and Ramos dissolved La Paz Source, LLC. The same day that the Defendants dissolved La Paz, Beltran and Arturo Gomez Leon started La Placita which also held itself out as being a provider of mortgage loan modification services to Arizona consumers.

    The Defendants deceptively and willfully target the Spanish-speaking community in Arizona to obtain a benefit through the exploitation of the consumers’ Spanish/English language barrier. The Defendants provide contracts written only in English. Many times, the Defendants verbally explain terms of the agreement to consumers, in Spanish, that are in direct contradiction to the written provisions of the contract provided in English.

    The La Paz and La Placita Defendants now claim to have changed their business model to that of a retail outlet for MAHA. The complaint further alleges: the Defendants continue falsely to guarantee consumers that the Defendants’ services will result in foreclosure prevention and a favorable loan modification; the Defendants hold themselves out to the community as experts in mortgage loan modifications and use deceptive means to lure distressed homeowners into parting with hundreds or thousands of dollars, then the Defendants take their money without providing the efficacy, nature, or kind of services for which the consumer bargained; and that the Defendants charge consumers a fee they call a “sales tax,” but those monies are not remitted to the Arizona Department of Revenue. Furthermore, the Defendants represent that they are compliant with state and federal laws when they routinely violate the FTC M.A.R.S rule banning upfront fees for mortgage assistance relief services.

    These cases are being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Cherie Howe and Jeremy Shorbe. The cases are State of Arizona v. Making All Homes Affordable, et al., Maricopa County Superior Court case number CV2012-011000 and State of Arizona v. La Paz Source, LLC et al., Pima County Superior Court number C20124738.

    If you believe you’ve been a victim of any type of consumer fraud, please contact the Arizona Attorney General’s Office Consumer Information & Complaints Unit at (602) 542-5763 / (520) 628-6504 / (800) 352-8431.

    You can also file a consumer complaint online at: https://www.azag.gov/consumer/complaintform.html

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on August 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Media Incorrectly Quotes Arizona Real Estate Stats

    Yesterday, the Associated Press misquoted some Arizona real estate stats that were recently released by ARMLS.  I know, big shocker that the media got it wrong!  ARMLS just issued the following correction:

    "Yesterday, two writers from the  Associated Press put out a story that said that 70% of the homes in Phoenix are at risk of foreclosures. By the end of the day the story had gone viral on the Internet and was picked up by multiple large media, including the Wall Street Journal.  Of course, the information is flat out wrong, and unfortunately, it was attributed to ARMLS. We are reaching out to the original writers and others who re-circulated it to get the information corrected.

    The statement was a result of the writers’ misinterpretation of the correct information put out in the February issue of STAT.  In that issue we stated that distressed properties accounted for 70.2% of total sales. 

    ARMLS is reaching out to our Subscribers to make sure they understand the error, and do not inadvertently re-circulate the wrong information in their blogs and on their social media platforms.

    Click here to read the February issue of STAT."

    There's a HUUUUGE difference between 70% of total sales, and 70% of all homes in Phoenix.  There's also a difference between "foreclosures" and "distressed properties".  A distressed property may be a foreclosure, but it may also be a short sale, divorce situation, etc.

    Thanks AP for making people across the country and around the world think Arizona's real estate market is even worse than it really is.  I'm sure the AP will print a correction... eventually.  Unfortunately, the corrected story probably won't go viral the same way the incorrect story did.  I guess reality just isn't quite as interesting as mainstream media hype.

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on February 24, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    They're Back... Zip Codes Come Back to AZ MLS!

    The Zip Codes Are Back!  Thank you nice folks at Arizona Regional MLS (ARMLS®)!!

    Zip codes disappeared from AZ MLS sheets sometime in the past few weeks.  I don't know for sure when the zip codes returned, but I noticed it yesterday, (ironically) right after I finished talking on the phone with another real estate agent who mentioned the missing zip codes!  He was giving me an address and didn't have the zip code because it wasn't on his MLS printout!  But now I'm happy to say that MLS looks like this again...

    Zip Codes Back on AZ MLS! 

    Just to be sure, I looked up some of my old MLS printouts that had no zip codes, and MLS shows all their zip codes now.  So thank you again ARMLS®!!

    Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
    Realtor®-Investor

    Great American Realty, Inc.

    Cell: (480) 695-6672
    Email me

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on November 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Zip Codes Missing from Arizona MLS

    Dear nice folks at Arizona Regional MLS (ARMLS®),

    What happened to the zip code?  It used to be prominently displayed at the very top of the MLS printout (after the city & state where it belongs!).  It looked like this...

    Zip Code on AZ MLS 

    But the zip code is not there anymore, and I can't find it listed anywhere else on the MLS printout either.  Here's how it looks now...

    Zip Code missing from AZ MLS 

    Did you intentionally remove the zip code, and if so, why on earth would you do this?  If not, when will the zip code be returned to it's proper location?

    It just disappeared in the past couple of weeks, so hopefully it won't be too hard for you to find it.  I know you're usually very good about informing Realtors® when you make changes to MLS.  So perhaps you did send out an email informing Realtors® the zip code would be disappearing soon.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the memo.  So here I sit wondering, what the heck happened to the zip codes?

    Please help.  Thank you!

    Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
    Realtor®-Investor

    Great American Realty, Inc.

    Cell: (480) 695-6672
    Email me

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on October 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    Real Estate Scam Involving Foreclosures, Short Sales & Vacant Homes For Sale

    Here's a recent "Scam Alert"sent out by ARMLS®.  Realtors® and anybody who owns a vacant home should beware:

    SCAM ALERT: Check Your Vacant Listings
     
    A recent scam reported to ARMLS® involves tenants moving into a pending short sale listing. The surprised listing agent contacted the owner who had not rented the property to anyone. The tenants (two women with two children) were physically moving in and had turned on utilities in their name. The sign and the lock box were removed, and all locks were re-keyed. 

    The tenants responded to a For Rent sign in the yard. They gave someone $1,800 as rent and signed a lease. While the short sale was able to close, the unfortunate victims of this scam were out $1,800 with no place to live.
     
    This down economy encourages some people to take advantage of others.  Listing agents should check their vacant listings regularly and provide neighbors their contact information in case they observe any suspicious activity.

    So sellers - keep an eye on your vacant homes and/or ask your neighbors to watch for suspicious activity.  Realtors® - check your vacant listings.  And renters - verify the owner/history of the property you're renting, and check out your potential landlord!

    Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
    Realtor®-Investor

    Great American Realty, Inc.

    Cell: (480) 695-6672
    Email me

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on October 29, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Arizona Home Inspector Meets Big Swifty the Tortoise!

    As a Home Inspector, I come across all kinds of pets in the homes that I inspect.  Some pets love me, some pets hate me, some want to eat me, others just follow me around and supervise.  In recent months, I've been inspecting more occupied homes, but for awhile there it was mostly vacant houses with no animal friends.  Over the years, I've had all types of animals follow me around during inspections.  Afterall, I'm in their territory so I don't mind.  But I never expected to be followed by a tortoise!

    Big Swifty the Arizona Tortoise 

    I don't know his real name, but I called this guy, "Big Swifty".  He totally followed me around the backyard as I inspected this house.  He'd start walking towards me and as soon as I moved, he'd turn and follow me.  Sorry if the picture's a little blurry, he was really bookin' for a tortoise!

    Scott Hubbard of Homewerx Home Inspections in Phoenix, Arizona Written By: Scott Hubbard
    Certified Home Inspector, ASHI® Member
    Homewerx Home Inspections
    Office: (480) 503-2611
    Toll Free: 1-888-THE-WERX
    Email me or Schedule a Home Inspection Online!

    Posted by Scott Hubbard, Arizona Home Inspector on October 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Extending or Expanding Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyers: Good for the Real Estate Market?

    Knowing that I'm a Realtor® and that much of my income is dependant upon the real estate market, you might be surprised as you read my opinion on extending and/or expanding the Homebuyer Tax Credit.  For starters, I'll say that I believe the free market can almost always solve problems better without government involvement.  Unfortunately, the real estate market has not been allowed to operate without government interference for some time.  I'll even go one step further and say that government interference caused the real estate market bubble and resulting crash, and the same idiots who created the problem should not be trusted to fix it.

    Politicians, who wanted to buy votes by forcing banks to give loans to people who could not afford to pay them back, are the primary cause of the real estate bubble and ultimate crash (which I believe also caused the current recession).  This effort was driven by bleeding-heart liberal Democrats, but many of the so-called conservative Republicans shamefully went along with it for many years and many administrations.  We all know what happens when banks are forced to lend money to people who can't afford to pay it back... eventually they don't pay it back and the banks lose money.  The banks then have to make up these losses somewhere else: either by charging good customers more, or by (the new trend of) getting billions in bailout dollars from taxpayers.  So either way, hard-working taxpayers lose when government forces businesses to make bad bets.

    But instead of recognizing that government is the problem, our brilliant bureaucrats instantly (and without any real thought) decided that more government is the answer.  So they offered $8,000 refundable tax credits (aka govt handouts) aimed at first time homebuyers who otherwise could not afford to buy a house.  HELLO?  These are the people whose loans are currently foreclosing at astronomical rates.  Incentivizing people who can't really afford a house into buying one anyway isn't going to fix the real estate market or the banking situation.  This is what caused the problem!  Repeating the same mistake will only prolong the agony and further stress the financial institutions that finance these properties.  Not to mention the fact that it's inherently unfair to ask some taxpayers to pay higher taxes so the government can give their money to others for a down-payment on a new house they can't really afford.  And then add insult to injury by forcing those same taxpayers to bail out the banks when these loans foreclose, as if it were not foreseeable (right!).

    So like cash-for-clunkers, I believe the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit was a stupid idea, and therefore extending or expanding it will ultimately do more harm than good to the real estate market.  It may cause a short-lived spike in sales like cash-for-clunkers did (at the cost of future sales, by the way).  But do we really want manic ups and downs in the real estate market, or do we want a slower but sustainable growth?  I think anyone who owns real estate or works in the real estate industry would agree that a slow, sustained growth is better for all of us in the long run.  Some lawmakers and various Realtor® associations are pushing to increase the tax credit to $15,000 and extend it to more than just first time homebuyers, with a higher limit on the buyer's income.  To me, this is just the same dumb idea with longer lines of people taking the handout, and with a much higher price tag.

    So when will the real estate market start to recover if government stops interfering?  It's already started to recover, in Arizona at least.  Keep in mind that national statistics quoted in the news may not be applicable to Arizona's real estate market.  Real estate is local.  Arizona was one of the first and hardest hit areas of the country when the real estate bubble started to burst (for lack of a better term!).  And I think Arizona was also one of the first to start recovering, because Arizona real estate prices were driven down faster and lower than other areas.  And lower prices is what makes buyers start coming out.

    Don't get me wrong, the Arizona real estate market is not all sunshine and lolli-pops.  Not at all.  There are still tough times ahead, but people are buying despite the fact that banks aren't really lending like they should be (I guess it's more profitable for banks not to lend, and suck up taxpayer bailouts instead!).  But if the government just stays out of the way, the market will slowly recover on its own - without unnecessary, artificial government stimulation that really just wastes billions in taxpayer's money.

    Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
    Realtor®-Investor

    Great American Realty, Inc.

    Cell: (480) 695-6672
    Email me

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (8)

    Is the Phoenix, Arizona Real Estate Market Recovering?

    Here's a snapshot of the current Phoenix metro area real estate market, as I see it:

    At the end of last year, the real estate market in the Phoenix metropolitan area started to pick up...  not because of any government program, but because the free market works.  When prices came down to a certain level, the investors came out to play.  Some of those who were sitting on the sidelines waiting decided it was time.  And people started buying again... not in huge droves like a few years back when people were fighting each other for houses.  But then again, who wants that, really?  (I was taught that slow and steady wins the race!).

    Since then, I've seen a steady flow of buyers into the market, and many banks/real estate agents are even creating bidding wars again.  Of course, these bidding wars are driven by totally fabricated demand.  The bank has a real estate agent list the house for a super low price to attract multiple offers.  Then instead of rejecting any of the offers, they entice all of the propsective buyers into a bidding war and tell them to make their "highest and best offer".  None of the buyers know what the other bids are, so they often times end up bidding higher than they should because they get sucked into the emotion of 'wanting to win the bid' rather than rationally determining what the house is worth without that emotion present.  I always tell buyers to avoid bidding situations, even in a sellers market.  But especially in the current buyer's market... there are still way too many houses available for sale right now to get into a bidding war.  Go find a seller who appreciates your offer more and is willing to negotiate under your terms.  In a buyer's market, the buyer should feel like they're driving the terms of the deal, not the seller.

    But realize that Arizona's residential real estate market still faces significant foreclosures, and this will continue for some time.  Supply is good for buyers and you shouldn't let uncertainty scare you away from the market if you're buying an owner-occupied home that you plan to keep for at least 3-5 years.  However, I would advise inexperienced investors to be very careful buying Arizona real estate right now, especially if you plan to do a short-term flip.  There's money to be made, but you can also lose a bunch so just know what you're doing.

    In my opinion, Arizona's real estate market is recovering, but is not out of the woods yet.  The biggest danger to this recovery (other than government interference) is the commercial real estate market.  I'm not sure why nobody is talking about it, but the commercial market could create huge problems in the coming years, especially if banking problems are not addressed.  Commercial real estate market trends lag the residential market, and I don't think we've even started to see the real impact of the commercial market yet.  Here's why: Many commerical real estate mortgages are 5-year or 10-year interest-only loans with balloon payments due at the end of the term.  So as those commercial loans made at the height of the real estate bubble start to come due (as they currently are), the property owner (probably a small business owner) will have only a few choices.  They either have to pay off the entire balance, which is unlikely for most businesses since they're probably already struggling to make ends meet.  Or they'll have to re-finance the loan, which is also unlikely because 1) property values are much lower now and the property is probably not worth the loan amount anymore, and 2) lending standards are tighter and commercial loans are very hard to get.  So if these loans can't be re-financed or paid off, the only other option is to sell the property before the loan is due.  Many property owners will wait too long, not realizing how long it takes to sell a commercial property in today's market and will consequently face foreclosure.  For this reason, I believe the commercial market could be the next big real estate crisis.

    Of course, I don't have a crystal ball, and nobody really knows for sure what tomorrow will bring.  Everybody with an opinion on the future of the real estate market is really just guessing :)  So my advice is guess carefully, and as always, buyer beware!

    Visit Shannon Hubbard's Home Page     Written By: Shannon Hubbard
    Realtor®-Investor

    Great American Realty, Inc.

    Cell: (480) 695-6672
    Email me

    Posted by Shannon Hubbard, AZ Realtor & Computer Guru on October 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

           

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