10 Ways To Make Your New Home More Eco-Friendly

10 Ways To Make Your New Home More Eco-Friendly

Moving into a new home is an exciting time. For many, it can mean moving into a bigger place, or moving somewhere with a greener neighborhood. No matter where you move to, making the new place fit your lifestyle is one of the biggest concerns new residents have.

 

Residents in Arizona have recently began to shift their lifestyles to clean, environmentally friendlier ways. This can have huge benefits for homeowners, particularly those looking to lower their utility costs during the hot summer months. For those looking to make a change in their new home, here are ten simple ways to make your house a little greener (while also saving on energy bills).

Interior Decorating

One way to go green can be how your dress up your home. Start by installing LED bulbs in the light fixtures. Not only will they save energy, but they will lower your electric bill and last as long as ten years. Most brands now offer yellow-based lighting options for those worried about atmosphere.

 

House plants are an easy and attractive way to improve your home’s air quality. Selecting native desert plants inside can make your home feel more connected to the landscape, and add a bit of color to your indoor areas.

Go All-Natural

Part of living in the desert should involve embracing the natural landscape. Xeriscaping is an excellent landscaping style that requires little irrigation, which will cut back your water usage. Filling your front yard with cacti and yucca will really make your home fit it’s desert background.

 

Switching to natural household cleaners is another eco-friendly step to take. Most cleaners use unhealthy and harmful chemicals that can find their way into the water supply. Vinegar, citric acids from fruits, and bicarbonate of soda are all-natural alternatives that do the job just as well (and smell a lot better).

Cut Back On Water

Xeriscaping is a great water saving technique, but there are many more to implement around your home. Take the extra step to upgrade your old shower head with a low-flow, efficient one. Look for packaging with a WaterSense label, which use no more than two gallons per minute (as opposed to old shower heads, which can use up to 5 gallons per minute).

 

Another option is to upgrade your appliances for more efficient ones. Low flow toilets use less water than traditional counterparts. And the latest Whirlpool washer and dryers use sensors to determine the exact amount of water needed to do a load of laundry, making sure no water is wasted.

Get An Eco-Friendly Car

Investing in an environmentally-friendly car will help diminish your carbon footprint in a big way, and also offer other benefits such as tax breaks and lower fuel costs. The most common type of car is called a hybrid, which is a vehicle that runs on fuel and hydrogen. However, there are more and more cars implementing fuel-efficient technologies in an ever-growing eco friendly movement. Make sure you find the right vehicle to fit your needs.

Install Energy Efficient Windows

Energy Efficient Windows

A sure way to save economically while decreasing your carbon footprint is to replace your old windows with new energy efficient ones. Although it may seem like a big expense at once, this will actually help save on future heating and air conditioning bills.

 

New windows are designed to maximize insulation based on your climate. Olders homes have windows and doors tend to have gaps that let hot and cool escape, costing more money and wasting energy at the same time. In between window installation, weather strips can be used around all doors and windows, and can save up to 10 percent on bills.

 

Invest in Insulation

Since most rooftops are a dark color and heat rises, attics can be up to 50 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. When an attic is properly insulated, it serves as a tight seal to keep the cool air from escaping in the summer, and the warm air in the winter. Hire a contractor to figure out exactly what and how much insulation needed to be efficient. While this process can be expensive, many cities and states offer tax rebates to install this.

 

AZ Republic – The Valley’s priciest home sales in December 2015

The founder of a night-vision equipment company, an executive of a Minneapolis corporation, a neurosurgeon and a retired Boeing engineer are among the buyers and sellers in this week’s priciest home sales.

$4,100,000.

Byron R. Harding and Roswitha G. Harding, as trustees of the Harding Family Trust, purchased a six- bedroom, 6½ bath, 8,756-square-foot home on the southern side of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. This Santorini home features a flowing floor plan, a five-car garage with gated auto court, circular driveway, privately gated front courtyard with fireplace, 600-bottle wine room and guest house with bedroom, bath, kitchen, living and dining rooms. The resort-style grounds include pool with water features, therapy spa and barbecue. Byron Harding founded Nivisys Industries, a night-vision equipment maker, in 2003. Relativity Capital of Arlington, Va., purchased a majority interest in April, and Byron Harding remains as chairman. The new home was sold by 15 CME LLC, an Arizona limited-liability company whose sole member is Douglas C. Sandahl, the owner of the Greer Lodge Resort.

$1,850,000.

William Browning paid cash for a 6,306square-foot Paradise Valley home with pool originally built in 1957. The home was sold by Bank of America, as trustee of the Consuela Cuneo McAlister Revocable Trust.

$1,760,000.

Robert A. Ditta, as trustee of the Robert A. Ditta Trust, paid cash for a four-bedroom, 4½- bath, 5,691-square-foot home with pool built in 2006 on the southeastern edge of the Firerock Country Club in Fountain Hills. The two-acre Tuscan estate features an L-shaped wall of glass that opens to sheltered patio with city lights, golf and mountain views. A formal dining room opens to a courtyard with fountain. The home has a media room with tier seating. Robert Ditta is executive vice president of Dental Holding Corp. in Minneapolis. The home was sold by Jeffrey A. Cook and his wife, Jeanette.

$1,756,250.

Paul W. LaPrade and his wife, Debra, bought a three-bedroom, 3½ bath, 5,093 square-foot Paradise Valley home originally built in 1972 and updated and expanded in 2000. The Dave Hansen-built home features Camelback Mountain as the backdrop through walls of uninterrupted glass. The large upstairs bonus room is set up as an office and workout area with views of the Valley below. Dr. Paul LaPrade is a neurosurgeon practicing in Phoenix. The home was sold by Lawrence H. Feldman and his wife, Elizabeth.

$1,525,000.

Allen C. Haggerty and his wife, Iris, bought a three-bedroom, 2½ bath, 3,500-square-foot home in Scottsdale originally built in 1989 and updated in 2008. It features Viking appliances, a custom fireplace with intricate wood detail, granite slab counters and closet organizers. Allen Haggerty is a retired vice president and general manger of engineering for Boeing Military Aircraft and Missile Systems. The home was sold by Grant R. Mastre.

Researched by John McLean and the Information Market.

www.theolmgroupaz.com

AZ Central – CityNorth legal fight has fallout for business

by Max Jarman – Apr. 12, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

A legal battle over parking garages for upscale shopping center CityNorth could trigger major changes in how cities work with private developers and in the longtime practice of awarding sales-tax subsidies to them.

A high court decision against a $97.4 million subsidy offered to CityNorth by Phoenix potentially could scuttle other deals, create liability for cities and change the equation on developers’ decisions on whether to build high- profile projects.

Billions of dollars in sales-tax rebates have been handed out by Valley cities to car dealers, mall developers and retailers.

Projects such as Tempe Marketplace, Mesa Riverview and the Nordstrom at Scottsdale Fashion Square were subsidized by such rebates. Several major new developments, including the Prasada master-planned community in Surprise, include sales-tax rebates as well.

Over time, both developers and cities came to expect some incentives to be in play. Cities offered the deals, saying they would spur development and boost sales-tax revenue and jobs. Developers came to rely on the subsidies to help them recoup costs sooner.

Now, the future of such deals is uncertain as a result of an Arizona Court of Appeals decision that found the subsidy offered by Phoenix to CityNorth to be unconstitutional. The CityNorth case, brought by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative public-policy organization, against the city and developers of the northeast Phoenix shopping center, has been appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

As the sides wait for the court to decide whether to hear the case or let the Appeals Court decision stand, cities and developers are scrutinizing their existing deals, and other development discussions have been put on hold.

Supporters contend that tax breaks and other incentives will bring in far more sales-tax revenue than is lost by the incentives given to get the project under way.

The Goldwater Institute and others say the deals give these projects unfair advantages, placing higher tax burdens on citizens and on other businesses as a result. With cities facing huge budget shortfalls, public sentiment is running more strongly against the practice.

“People are very leery of these arrangements,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “They can’t see the incremental benefit.” Smith was elected last year after campaigning against sales-tax subsidies.

Test case

The Arizona Legislature moved to rein in sales-tax rebates in 2007, requiring that they be used only to reimburse developers that make infrastructure improvements that benefit communities.

That year, the Klutznick Co. of Chicago, developer of the $1.8 billion retail-residential CityNorth project near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard, said the subsidy was needed to get the project off the ground.

The parking garages were to accommodate customers for Arizona’s first Bloomingdale’s department store, among other retail outlets at CityCenter at CityNorth. A small number of spaces were to be reserved for park-and-ride bus patrons.

The CityNorth agreement calls for a 50-50 split of sales-tax revenue for 11 years and three months, or until the $97.4 million cost of the garages is recouped.

The Goldwater Institute sued Phoenix in 2007, contending the agreement violated the longstanding “gift clause” in the Arizona Constitution, which in most cases prohibits governments from granting money or credit to private entities.

Clint Bollick, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, said the group chose to challenge the CityNorth agreement because it was “the most egregious case of abuse we could find.”

The rebate to the Klutznick Co. of Chicago initially was upheld by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Miles, who rejected the Goldwater Institute’s claim.

The institute appealed. Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with its claim, ruling that the agreement violated the state’s Constitution. The court acknowledged that the 200 parking spaces that would be reserved for park-and-ride bus patrons indeed would benefit the community. But it found the remainder would be used primarily by customers of the center’s projected retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy’s department stores.

“We think these payments are exactly what the gift clause was intended to prohibit,” the Appeals Court ruling said.

The court also rejected increased sales-tax revenue and more jobs as justifying such agreements.

Phoenix attorney Grady Gammage, who represents CityNorth, said, “They (the Appeals Court judges) completely ignored the Legislature.”

Gammage said the Phoenix-CityNorth deal was crafted to meet lawmakers’ requirements that such payments be tied to infrastructure improvements. The garages, he said, should have been considered municipal infrastructure.

Paul Katsenes, Phoenix deputy director of community and economic development, said, “The agreements make development occur sooner, in new ways and in specific areas. If the ruling stands, they potentially go away as an economic development tool.”

Far-reaching implications

City North says its second phase could be delayed without the rebate and that the ruling could endanger deals with department stores, including a possible Neiman Marcus, because they are based on the developer providing parking, CityNorth spokeswoman Najla Kayyem said.

Developers of numerous other projects that have been completed or are under construction or are still in the planning phase are reviewing their status.

A ruling against the rebate could affect some high-profile projects in downtown Phoenix, such as CityScape, a mixed-use project that has $96 million in city subsidies, including $26 million in tax breaks.

Mall developer Westcor has been given a $240 million sales-tax rebate by Surprise to develop Prasada, a proposed 13,000-home community and retail center near the planned Loop 303 freeway.

Garrett Newland, Westcor’s vice president of development, said the company is confident that its deals would hold up because they are primarily reimbursements for infrastructure improvements.

Westcor also has sales-tax rebate deals for planned malls in Goodyear, Surprise and Casa Grande. Projects could be more difficult to finance without the agreements, he said.

Communities that used tax breaks to attract retail developments have temporarily halted the process pending the outcome of the case.

Oro Valley near Tucson already has stopped making subsidy payments directly to developers and is instead putting the money into an escrow account. The town has deals with Vestar Development Co. of Phoenix, Bourn Partners of Tucson and the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort.

Queen Creek Town Manager John Kross is confident its approximately $27 million in deals with Vestar, Westcor and Sunbelt Holdings meet the test.

The sales-tax rebates covered the costs of installing and widening roads and a new railroad underpass.

Surprise Deputy City Manager Sintra Hoffman, also is confident that their deals with Vestar, Westcor and others are safe because they are tied to infrastructure improvements that benefit the community as a whole.

Other subsidies

Some economic development experts and developers also expressed concern that instead of striking down the ruling, the Supreme Court could broaden the decision to include development subsidies besides sales-tax rebates.

That could affect employee-training grants, bed-tax rebates and billions of dollars in government property lease excise tax, or GPLET, deals. In GPLET transactions, the property is transferred to a government entity, such as a city or town, which results in substantially reduced property taxes for the developer.

GPLET projects in Phoenix include the planned CityScape development, Arizona Center and the Collier Center and Renaissance office towers.

Jay Butler, director of real estate studies at Arizona State University, believes Phoenix took a risk by appealing the decision.

He said that a broad ruling by the Supreme Court disarming the state’s economic developers of their weapons to attract new business could be a disaster.

“They’re part of the arsenal we need to compete with other cities,” he said, adding that the recession has made California cities much more aggressive in competing for new jobs and businesses.

History of incentives

Valley cities and towns fiercely compete with one another and out-of-state counterparts to attract businesses that generate sales. For cities and towns, sales taxes are the main source of revenue.

The deals often have been struck to spur retail development on the Valley’s fringes.

In 2007 two major auto malls opened within two miles of each other in Gilbert and Chandler. Gilbert offered $60 million in rebates to attract dealers to its mall in an effort to combat $40 million offered by Chandler.

Mesa granted $80 million in incentives for the Riverview shopping center and Bass Pro Shop.

Peoria has used tax rebates to attract car dealers, help build the Park West retail center and attract projects around the Peoria Sports Complex.

In addition, Mesa voters recently approved a $51 million bed-tax rebate for an upscale 1,200-room hotel and convention center to be developed near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport by Gaylord Entertainment Co. of Nashville.

Changing landscape

Proponents say such deals are seed money that eventually generates many times the amount in increased sales-tax revenue. Queen Creek’s Kross estimated the agreements made between the town and developers have brought in an additional $5 million in sales taxes.

Opponents say such incentives favor developers more than the communities and amount to lost revenue and giveaways of taxpayer money.

The political landscape is changing on the issue. Three of the four Phoenix City Council candidates who won seats in the November election oppose the CityNorth deal. Mayors of cities that once supported the deals, such as Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe, now ardently oppose sales-tax rebates as an economic development tool. New Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane favors expedited city approvals over tax rebates.

Mesa’s Smith is taking a hard look at such incentives, which he believes do not provide the promised economic gains.

“I’m very, very leery of using sales-tax rebates to generate incremental growth,” Smith said. “I don’t think they work.”

www.theholmgroupaz.com

 

AZ Central – CityNorth legal fight has

by Max Jarman – Apr. 12, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

A legal battle over parking garages for upscale shopping center CityNorth could trigger major changes in how cities work with private developers and in the longtime practice of awarding sales-tax subsidies to them.

A high court decision against a $97.4 million subsidy offered to CityNorth by Phoenix potentially could scuttle other deals, create liability for cities and change the equation on developers’ decisions on whether to build high- profile projects.

Billions of dollars in sales-tax rebates have been handed out by Valley cities to car dealers, mall developers and retailers.

Projects such as Tempe Marketplace, Mesa Riverview and the Nordstrom at Scottsdale Fashion Square were subsidized by such rebates. Several major new developments, including the Prasada master-planned community in Surprise, include sales-tax rebates as well.

Over time, both developers and cities came to expect some incentives to be in play. Cities offered the deals, saying they would spur development and boost sales-tax revenue and jobs. Developers came to rely on the subsidies to help them recoup costs sooner.

Now, the future of such deals is uncertain as a result of an Arizona Court of Appeals decision that found the subsidy offered by Phoenix to CityNorth to be unconstitutional. The CityNorth case, brought by the Goldwater Institute, a conservative public-policy organization, against the city and developers of the northeast Phoenix shopping center, has been appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

As the sides wait for the court to decide whether to hear the case or let the Appeals Court decision stand, cities and developers are scrutinizing their existing deals, and other development discussions have been put on hold.

Supporters contend that tax breaks and other incentives will bring in far more sales-tax revenue than is lost by the incentives given to get the project under way.

The Goldwater Institute and others say the deals give these projects unfair advantages, placing higher tax burdens on citizens and on other businesses as a result. With cities facing huge budget shortfalls, public sentiment is running more strongly against the practice.

“People are very leery of these arrangements,” Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said. “They can’t see the incremental benefit.” Smith was elected last year after campaigning against sales-tax subsidies.

Test case

The Arizona Legislature moved to rein in sales-tax rebates in 2007, requiring that they be used only to reimburse developers that make infrastructure improvements that benefit communities.

That year, the Klutznick Co. of Chicago, developer of the $1.8 billion retail-residential CityNorth project near Loop 101 and Tatum Boulevard, said the subsidy was needed to get the project off the ground.

The parking garages were to accommodate customers for Arizona’s first Bloomingdale’s department store, among other retail outlets at CityCenter at CityNorth. A small number of spaces were to be reserved for park-and-ride bus patrons.

The CityNorth agreement calls for a 50-50 split of sales-tax revenue for 11 years and three months, or until the $97.4 million cost of the garages is recouped.

The Goldwater Institute sued Phoenix in 2007, contending the agreement violated the longstanding “gift clause” in the Arizona Constitution, which in most cases prohibits governments from granting money or credit to private entities.

Clint Bollick, director of the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, said the group chose to challenge the CityNorth agreement because it was “the most egregious case of abuse we could find.”

The rebate to the Klutznick Co. of Chicago initially was upheld by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Miles, who rejected the Goldwater Institute’s claim.

The institute appealed. Last year, the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with its claim, ruling that the agreement violated the state’s Constitution. The court acknowledged that the 200 parking spaces that would be reserved for park-and-ride bus patrons indeed would benefit the community. But it found the remainder would be used primarily by customers of the center’s projected retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Macy’s department stores.

“We think these payments are exactly what the gift clause was intended to prohibit,” the Appeals Court ruling said.

The court also rejected increased sales-tax revenue and more jobs as justifying such agreements.

Phoenix attorney Grady Gammage, who represents CityNorth, said, “They (the Appeals Court judges) completely ignored the Legislature.”

Gammage said the Phoenix-CityNorth deal was crafted to meet lawmakers’ requirements that such payments be tied to infrastructure improvements. The garages, he said, should have been considered municipal infrastructure.

Paul Katsenes, Phoenix deputy director of community and economic development, said, “The agreements make development occur sooner, in new ways and in specific areas. If the ruling stands, they potentially go away as an economic development tool.”

Far-reaching implications

City North says its second phase could be delayed without the rebate and that the ruling could endanger deals with department stores, including a possible Neiman Marcus, because they are based on the developer providing parking, CityNorth spokeswoman Najla Kayyem said.

Developers of numerous other projects that have been completed or are under construction or are still in the planning phase are reviewing their status.

A ruling against the rebate could affect some high-profile projects in downtown Phoenix, such as CityScape, a mixed-use project that has $96 million in city subsidies, including $26 million in tax breaks.

Mall developer Westcor has been given a $240 million sales-tax rebate by Surprise to develop Prasada, a proposed 13,000-home community and retail center near the planned Loop 303 freeway.

Garrett Newland, Westcor’s vice president of development, said the company is confident that its deals would hold up because they are primarily reimbursements for infrastructure improvements.

Westcor also has sales-tax rebate deals for planned malls in Goodyear, Surprise and Casa Grande. Projects could be more difficult to finance without the agreements, he said.

Communities that used tax breaks to attract retail developments have temporarily halted the process pending the outcome of the case.

Oro Valley near Tucson already has stopped making subsidy payments directly to developers and is instead putting the money into an escrow account. The town has deals with Vestar Development Co. of Phoenix, Bourn Partners of Tucson and the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort.

Queen Creek Town Manager John Kross is confident its approximately $27 million in deals with Vestar, Westcor and Sunbelt Holdings meet the test.

The sales-tax rebates covered the costs of installing and widening roads and a new railroad underpass.

Surprise Deputy City Manager Sintra Hoffman, also is confident that their deals with Vestar, Westcor and others are safe because they are tied to infrastructure improvements that benefit the community as a whole.

Other subsidies

Some economic development experts and developers also expressed concern that instead of striking down the ruling, the Supreme Court could broaden the decision to include development subsidies besides sales-tax rebates.

That could affect employee-training grants, bed-tax rebates and billions of dollars in government property lease excise tax, or GPLET, deals. In GPLET transactions, the property is transferred to a government entity, such as a city or town, which results in substantially reduced property taxes for the developer.

GPLET projects in Phoenix include the planned CityScape development, Arizona Center and the Collier Center and Renaissance office towers.

Jay Butler, director of real estate studies at Arizona State University, believes Phoenix took a risk by appealing the decision.

He said that a broad ruling by the Supreme Court disarming the state’s economic developers of their weapons to attract new business could be a disaster.

“They’re part of the arsenal we need to compete with other cities,” he said, adding that the recession has made California cities much more aggressive in competing for new jobs and businesses.

History of incentives

Valley cities and towns fiercely compete with one another and out-of-state counterparts to attract businesses that generate sales. For cities and towns, sales taxes are the main source of revenue.

The deals often have been struck to spur retail development on the Valley’s fringes.

In 2007 two major auto malls opened within two miles of each other in Gilbert and Chandler. Gilbert offered $60 million in rebates to attract dealers to its mall in an effort to combat $40 million offered by Chandler.

Mesa granted $80 million in incentives for the Riverview shopping center and Bass Pro Shop.

Peoria has used tax rebates to attract car dealers, help build the Park West retail center and attract projects around the Peoria Sports Complex.

In addition, Mesa voters recently approved a $51 million bed-tax rebate for an upscale 1,200-room hotel and convention center to be developed near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport by Gaylord Entertainment Co. of Nashville.

Changing landscape

Proponents say such deals are seed money that eventually generates many times the amount in increased sales-tax revenue. Queen Creek’s Kross estimated the agreements made between the town and developers have brought in an additional $5 million in sales taxes.

Opponents say such incentives favor developers more than the communities and amount to lost revenue and giveaways of taxpayer money.

The political landscape is changing on the issue. Three of the four Phoenix City Council candidates who won seats in the November election oppose the CityNorth deal. Mayors of cities that once supported the deals, such as Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe, now ardently oppose sales-tax rebates as an economic development tool. New Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane favors expedited city approvals over tax rebates.

Mesa’s Smith is taking a hard look at such incentives, which he believes do not provide the promised economic gains.

“I’m very, very leery of using sales-tax rebates to generate incremental growth,” Smith said. “I don’t think they work.”

www.theholmgroupaz.com

 

AZ Central – PV panel OK’s office/apartments

by Michael Clancy – Jun. 4, 2009 12:18 PM
The Arizona Republic

The Paradise Valley Village Planning Committee heard plans this week to build a two-story office-apartment combination at 37th Street and Greenway Road.

This would be a two-story mixed-use project with approximately 3,300 square feet of ground-level medical and administrative offices and three residential units on the second floor.

The site is near the Piestewa Freeway, on the northern side of Greenway, and currently has a house on it. If ultimately approved by the Phoenix City Council, it may become the first “planned unit development” approved in the city.

Planned unit development is a relatively new zoning category that allows a developer to set his own standards, in conjunction with city planners.

WHAT THEY DID

The committee heard from city staff and the developer, as well as Scott Witte, a resident of the neighborhood to the north, who expressed concerns about loss of privacy because of the building’s height, insufficient open space and other issues.

WHAT IT MEANS

The plan moves forward to the Phoenix Planning Commission and the City Council. The developer agreed to abide by a so-called development narrative with guidelines for landscaping, parking and setbacks from property lines. The plan also includes solar power and water heating.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Planning Commission is scheduled to take up the matter at its meeting on Wednesday. Commission meetings start at 6 p.m. at City Council chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St.

AZ Central – Luxury high-rise faces threat of foreclosure

by Jahna Berry – Jul. 14, 2009 03:27 PM
The Arizona Republic

The lender for the Summit at Copper Square has taken the first step toward foreclosing on 74 unsold units in the downtown Phoenix luxury high-rise.

Scottsdale’s Stearns Bank issued a notice of trustee sale on Friday. According to the notice, the units will be sold to the highest bidder on Oct. 14.

The 165-unit multi-colored condominium complex near Chase Field opened in 2007, but hit hard times after the Valley real-estate market tanked.

The developer has struggled to make debt payments because it has only been able to sell 91 units. Plus, the credit crisis has made it difficult for W Developments to restructure its debt.

Developer David Wallach said that his firm is working to seek solutions and to avoid foreclosure.

An expert says that the notice of trustee sale doesn’t necessarily mean that the bank will auction off the units.

The developer and lender may seek a variety of options instead of foreclosure, including bankruptcy or negotiating another resolution, said Diane Drain a Phoenix attorney, who is a foreclosure and bankruptcy expert.

www.theholmgroupaz.com

CNBC – America’s top turnaournd towns

By Daniel Bukszpan, CNBC.com

February 13, 2012

Provided by:

 

Just a few years ago, when foreclosures were coming fast and furious, some cities experienced more than their fair share of the pain. It stood to reason that the harder hit a city was, the less likely it was to make a hasty recovery.

However, according to Realtor.com, the official site of the National Association of Realtors, some of the cities whose housing markets bore the brunt of the foreclosures are now leading the way toward recovery.

See full story: Top 10 Turnaround Towns

Using data from Realtor.com, CNBC.com ranks the cities with the most dramatically recovered housing sectors. The list weighs year-over-year data from the fourth quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2010, such as median price appreciation, median age of inventory, inventory reduction rates and unemployment rates, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in November 2011. Realtor.com also sought the perspective of real estate agents, who work on the front lines of the markets that are experiencing turnarounds. Their insights are included here.

See which American cities made this year’s list of the top 5 turnaround towns:

5. SarasotaBradenton, FL
Year-over-year Median List Price Appreciation: 10.78%
Year-over-year Median Age of Inventory: -26.57%
Year-over-year Inventory: -31.01%
Unemployment Rate (November): 10.1%
Search/Listing Ratio Rank: 31

       
Photo:   Ruth Tomlinson | Getty Images

The Sarasota-Bradenton area takes the number five spot on Realtor.com’s list. Median list prices have increased by 10.78 percent since last year, while inventory has dropped by 31.01 percent. According to Carol Marra of Keller Williams Realty, current trends are putting Sarasota-Bradenton within striking distance of becoming a seller’s market.

“We have less inventory available for sale and I do see prices inching up,” she says. “Another indicator of our market turnaround is that local home builders have less existing inventory and are generally standing firm on their prices.”

 

4. Fort MyersCape Coral, FL
Year-over-year Median List Price Appreciation: 31.27%
Year-over-year Median Age of Inventory: -17.60%
Year-over-year Inventory: -35.31%
Unemployment Rate (November): 10.5%
Search/Listing Ratio Rank: 26

       
Photo:   Walter Bibikow | Getty Images

The Fort Myers-Cape Coral area has slipped one notch to fourth place on Realtor.com’s list of turnaround towns. It held the third-place slot last year, but sales have decreased 13 percent since then, hence the downgrade. Still, it’s bouncing back, with a 20 percent increase in median sale price over last year, better than any other market in Florida.

Denny Grimes, a real estate agent from Fort Myers, describes the housing market as split. “Right now what we are seeing is a market of the haves and have nots,” he says. “Inventory of homes priced under $250,000 is very low. If it were a gas gauge I would say it was blinking on empty. At the higher end of the market — the ‘move-up’ market, priced over $500,000 — we are not seeing as many buyers and inventory is still high.”

 

3. Orlando, FL
Year-over-year Median List Price Appreciation: 8.22%
Year-over-year Median Age of Inventory: -36.52%
Year-over-year Inventory: -44.02%
Unemployment Rate (November): 9.7%
Search/Listing Ratio Rank: 1

       
Photo:   Don Klumpp | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Orlando, Fla., has experienced a 36 percent drop in the median age of its housing inventory, down to an impressive 73 days, according to Realtor.com. The city has also experienced a decrease in the number of foreclosure filings over the previous year, with one in every 323 households posting a filing. This constitutes a drop of 24 percent from November 2010.

According to real estate agent David W. Welch, homes are going fast. “We actually have a shortage of homes — less than six months of inventory — on everything under $300,000,” he says. “Two of my buyers made offers last week. One made an offer on a $90,000 home as an investment. The other made an offer on a rather large $250,000 home as his primary residence. Both homes were short sales, and both homes had five other offers on them.”

 

2. PhoenixMesa, AZ
Year-over-year Median List Price Appreciation: 15.38%
Year-over-year Median Age of Inventory: -27.47%
Year-over-year Inventory: -48.10%
Unemployment Rate (November): 7.7%
Search/Listing Ratio Rank: 7

       
Photo:   Panoramic Images | Getty Images

The other area on this list that’s not in Florida is the Phoenix-Mesa area in Arizona. It used to reside at the number four spot, but jumped ahead two notches between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. This area experienced more than its fair share of foreclosures, and one in every 317 homes still goes into foreclosure. However, the foreclosed homes on the market are being sold at bargain prices, which has caused a 27.47 percent decrease in the median age of inventory.

The city’s unemployment rate in November was 7.7 percent, better than the national average, which can only help boost the local economy. Real estate broker Christy Walker has an optimistic forecast. “The Phoenix market has experienced a positive change in the past year and is poised to continue rebounding throughout 2012,” she says. “Employment is up, foreclosures have dropped significantly, investor sales are substantial and our inventory is hovering around a three-month supply with increasing demand.”

 

1. Miami, FL
Year-over-year Median List Price Appreciation: 28.57%
Year-over-year Median Age of Inventory: -30.89%
Year-over-year Inventory: -51.44%
Unemployment Rate (November): 9.4%
Search/Listing Ratio Rank: 9

       
Photo:   Lester Lefkowitz | Getty Images

Of all the U.S. markets, Miami was among those that were hit hardest by foreclosures. Today, however, it’s bouncing back, and in a big way. According to Realtor.com, Miami is the leading turnaround town in the U.S. Sales of single-family homes increased by 51 percent in the past year, according to the Miami Association of Realtors, and the median age of the inventory has decreased by 30 percent.

“They say the first to hit bottom are the first to get up, and that’s exactly what we have been seeing in Miami,” says Ines Hegedus-Garcia of Majestic Properties. “Although mainstream media seems to be a little behind with the good news, we have been seeing desirable areas in Miami already showing price increases, almost a nonexistent distressed inventory and even a seller’s market in some instances.”

AZ Central – Apartment complex slated for Plaze 777 in Scottsdale

by Peter Corbett – Feb. 2, 2012 02:35 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

A four-story, 274-unit apartment complex would replace Plaza 777 on the southern edge of downtown Scottsdale under plans recently submitted.

The proposed Bauhaus Flats & Studios would be built on 4.4 acres northeast of Scottsdale and Thomas roads and an adjacent three-quarter-acre parcel on 73rd Street. It would include about 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

The shopping plaza, built in 1960, includes a florist, locksmith, rental-car agency, restaurant, hobby shop and Plato’s Closet clothing store. More than half of the 40,251-square-foot plaza is vacant.

Architect Kristjan Sigurdsson of K&I Homes LLC said there is high demand for apartments in the area since virtually no units have been built downtown in the last decade.

“This would be a nice addition to that whole housing market,” he said, adding that the Bauhuas apartments would be within walking distance of neighborhood commercial services.

The area has a diverse mix that includes a supermarket, hardware store, coffee shop, bowling alley, adult bookstore, car wash, bail bondsman and pawnshops.

The Sphinx Ranch Gourmet Gift Market that has operated in the Northeast Valley for 61 years is two doors to the north.

Area needs revival

Jason Heetland, Sphinx Ranch owner, said it’s time for something to be done to update the area.

“I would hope that the current tenants would have a first right of refusal to lease space” in the Bauhaus’ shops, Heetland said.

Area business owners have struggled for nearly a year with Scottsdale Road streetscape improvements, he said.

The developers are seeking a rezoning for the Plaza 777 site from commercial to planned-unit development.

The development team includes architect Sigurdsson, Tom Frankel and Keith Nygren. KT777 LLC bought the plaza in October for $2.58 million.

This latest proposal is among a dozen Scottsdale apartment projects that would add a combined 5,000 units to the city. That includes Gray Development’s 749-unit project northeast of Scottsdale and Camelback roads and Optima Sonora Village’s latest plan to build 781 units southeast of 68th Street and Camelback Road.

No date has been set for the rezoning hearings.

AZ Central – Scottsdale based developer DMB works on BIG projects

by Catherine Reagor – Feb. 18, 2012 04:44 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com

Scottsdale-based DMB Associates is spending a lot of time focusing on properties in a state next door to Arizona: California.

The developer has several master-planned projects in various stages across the state: in the Lake Tahoe area, the San Francisco Bay Area, central California and in Southern California’s Orange County.

In a state known for its regulations and attention to the environment, DMB is proving it can modify plans to work with neighbors, community groups and environmental interests to develop prime sites.

In January, DMB opened a Pacific division headquartered in San Francisco to be closer to its California projects, particularly the redevelopment of Cargill’s historic salt plant in Redwood City, near Silicon Valley. Eneas Kane is president of the new operation.

Although DMB is developing 150,000 acres of communities in the West and building communities on some of the highest-profile pieces of land in California, including the redevelopment of the Saltworks site in the Bay Area, it has maintained its low-key style.

“It feels like though the housing market hasn’t recovered yet, it has hit an inflection point,” Kane said. “We believe our greatest opportunities are in California right now.”

California’s housing market is much larger and more diverse. And some parts of the state, including the Bay Area and the Lake Tahoe area, haven’t suffered as much during this housing crash.

Evolving focus

“DMB” stands for the first names of its prominent Arizona founders. The D is for the company’s chairman and real-estate attorney, Drew Brown. The M is for Mark Sklar, whose family owned Mundus Travel. The B is for Campbell Soup heir Bennett Dorrance.

In 2010, the developer attracted some prominent investors, including Madrone Capital Partners, which includes Walmart heirs, and Argonaut Private Equity of Oklahoma.

Best known for its DC Ranch community in north Scottsdale, DMB formed after metro Phoenix’s last real-estate crash in the late 1980s investing in bargain commercial properties. But after DC Ranch, DMB’s business plan evolved to partnering with landowners and investors on large residential projects that can be built slowly and with plans constantly updated for changes in the economy and in homebuyers’ preferences.

The partnerships, such as the one it has with Caterpillar on Buckeye’s Verrado, allow for private agreements that don’t require fast shareholder profits and but do allow for a long-term planning and development.

“We build for people,” Brown said. “We are trying to create neighborhoods that will last and evolve.”

The developer has garnered a reputation as a meticulous planner, an amiable neighbor to other projects and a company that won’t sacrifice quality growth for short-term projects, said national housing analyst Tim Sullivan.

In Arizona, DMB continues to develop or plan the communities DC Ranch and Silverleaf and mixed-used project One Scottsdale in the north Valley, Verrado in Buckeye, Marley Park in Surprise and its latest project, Eastmark in Mesa, while considering another residential project on state-owned land in the northwest Valley.

Outside Arizona, it is partnering with other companies on high-profile projects that could be under development for the next few decades.

In 2006, the developer saw the housing crash coming but no one knew how bad it would be for the home-building market.

In 2009, DMB had to restructure and downsize its staff by at least one-third. Then, the developer’s chairman said the company had no plans to sell off any of its current assets and would continue looking for special land for developments in the West.

“We are finally bringing some money in this year instead of just spending,” Brown said. “Of course, we are in development to make money, but what’s as important is the footprint we leave on this country with our projects. If our projects thrive and evolve for decades, we know we will have succeeded.”

DMB’s projects outside Arizona include:

Redwood City Saltworks

On 1,436 acres between San Francisco and San Jose, DMB is working with Cargill to redevelop an industrial salt mine into a community that would provide workforce-priced housing. The two groups started a partnership in 2006. Cargill, an international agriculture and food company, owns the former salt-mining site.

The Redworks site is prime for redevelopment because there’s little other developable land left in the infill community along the waterfront.

Exact plans for the development are still being worked out, but the current goal is to set aside half of the land for conservation and public access to the bay, 200 acres of parks and privately funded restoration of industrial land into tidal marshes.

Originally, 12,000 homes and apartment had been planned on the historic site. But after many meetings with neighbors of the land and community and conservation groups, the plan is being scaled back.

DMB’s research found that 40,000 people commute to Redwood City for work so it’s trying to develop high-density, affordable housing on the site while still conserving much of the land.

Martis Camp

Halfway between Truckee, Calif., and the northern shore of Lake Tahoe, DMB is building a community on 2,177 acres. One side of the project overlooks the lake, while the other side faces the Sierra Nevada. This community has a golf course and a ski lodge. The clubhouse is a large red barn called the Family Barn.

Kane said many of the buyers so far are from San Francisco, particularly Silicon Valley. A few executives from Apple have been spotted at Martis Camp.

About half of the 653 lots at Martis Camp have sold for a total of $280 million. In 2011, 43 home sites sold for a total of $33 million, making it one of fastest-selling resort communities in the country, according to housing analysts.

The DMB Martis partnership managed negotiations that led to an agreement with Sierra Watch, the League To Save Lake Tahoe, the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, Sierra Club, and the Planning & Conservation League in 2008, which let the project be built.

Tejon Mountain Village

In the middle of central California’s 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch, the largest privately owned piece of land in California, DMB is developing 8,000 acres of a 28,000-acre site.

Plans call for about 80 percent of the site to be left undeveloped. The deal, worked out with the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and Audubon California, also means 240,000 acres of 90 percent of the Tejon Ranch property will be preserved.

Ladera Ranch

Through a partnership the the Moiso and O’Neill families, DMB is developing 4,000 acres in central Orange County. About 8,000 homes have been developed in the project so far, and only 8,100 are planned for it.

Ladera Ranch is similar to DMB’s Verrado community in Buckeye, with a variety of midpriced to high-end homes surrounding a town center.

When DMB partners with landowners, the developer usually pays for the communities infrastructure and then works out a deal to split profits from land sales. DMB is private and very private about its finances. Most of its partners are also private firms.

Kukui`ula

Located on the southern shore of the Hawaiian island Kauai, the 1,045-acre high-end resort is a project DMB is developing with Hawaiian firm Alexander & Baldwin.

DMB signed onto the project in the midst of the housing crash, but Kane said the site and opportunity were too good to let go by. So DMB has spent the past few years developing the resort while selling very few of its expensive home lots.

The development has a golf course, spa and collection of swimming pools. It also has a 50-acre farm for residents to pick their own fruits and vegetables. About 1,500 high-end homes, most priced above $1 million, are planned for the community. So far, about 100 houses and lots have sold there.

Planning for the development started in 2001, long before the housing crash, but the project’s development has been slower than expected, Brown said.

AZ Central – Lenders embrace more short sales

Julie Schmit – Feb. 20, 2012 10:42 AM
USA TODAY

Lenders are allowing more short sales by financially strapped homeowners and a few people are even getting cash to complete the sale.

Short sales are when lenders allow borrowers to sell homes for less than their unpaid mortgages. They are an alternative to foreclosures.

Short sales have been increasing for months, but the financial incentives — which Realtors say are random and infrequent — are a newer wrinkle.

Examples:

– JPMorgan Chase went national with short-sale incentive offers last year, paying up to $35,000 in some cases.

Bank of America is testing incentives from $5,000 to $25,000 in Florida to see if they should be expanded to more states. The Florida program began last fall, spokesman Richard Simon says.

– Wells Fargo’s incentive offers range from less than $3,000 to $20,000, spokesman James Hines says.

Short sales, even with incentive payments to borrowers, can save lenders money compared with the expenses involved in completing foreclosures.

In states such as Florida where foreclosures go through the courts, 50% of loans in foreclosure are more than two years past due, says a January report by mortgage tracker LPS Applied Analytics.

“It’s a lot cheaper to shell out $10,000 or $20,000 to someone than it is to go through a long foreclosure,” says Jim Gillespie, chief executive of Coldwell Banker.

Banks are more willing to do short sales now than in the past, Gillespie says. Cash incentives appear to be “limited but increasing” in number, he adds.

“When a loan modification isn’t possible, a short sale may be a better and faster solution” than foreclosure, says JPMorgan Chase spokesman Thomas Kelly.

The lenders won’t say how often they extend such incentives.

“If you have two similar sellers, one might get it and another may not,” says Colleen Badagliacco of Altera Real Estate in San Jose. “It’s very random.”

Typically, short sale incentives are more common for loans in states where foreclosures take more time, Hines says.

In November, short sales accounted for more than 9% of single family home sales and were up 32% from the year before, according to CoreLogic.

Market researcher Dataquick also shows short sales increasing from January 2011 through last month throughout California and in Phoenix, Miami and Seattle.

The federal government-run foreclosure prevention program also offers short sale incentives, at least $3,000 for sellers, but far more short sales are being done outside the government program.

“The trend is up,” says Moody’s Investors Service analyst William Fricke.