Here we discuss all matters Real Estate, with an emphasis on Tucson Arizona. We welcome your story ideas. Via Realty is a boutique real estate company founded on Jan 1 2000 by 2nd generation Arizonan Wayne D Anderson, a Realtor since 1989. 520) 327-1550. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Short Sales, Foreclosures and You

I attended a 2 day series of classes this week that outlined the pitfalls and advantages of short sales and forclosures to the homeowner, lender and real estate broker. There is a lot of misunderstanding in the marketplace regarding these issues and the time was well spent.

According to the media, there has been an "explosion" of foreclosures in our marketplace. This is not necessarily the case. The average percentage of defaulted loans in Arizona since the early nineties has been about 1.5% of the total mortgages, now it is about 3%. Of course, that is a 100% increase in defaults, but the media neglects to mention that 97% of the borrowers out there are still current with their loans. Of course, things may get worse, but let's save the bleak headlines for when (and if) it really gets bad.

Another misconception is that the main cause of all of the secondary loan market problems are non-performing loans (defaults) Not true. The primary problem that lenders have encountered is a lack of liquidity. Managers of retirement funds, insurance company portfolios and others who have traditionally invested in mortgages are now holding back and are reducing their exposure to mortgage backed securities.

The current solution to this crisis is to "freeze" adjustable rates for some sub-prime borrowers. My question to you is: Do you think that government tinkering with mortgage yields will help or harm the secondary mortgage market? Will an investor want to buy a mortgage if the yield can be arbitrarily changed by the government, in the name of rate relief for the consumer? I think not.

So what is a "Short Sale"? A short sale is a sale of a home for less than the mortgage that encumbers it. The Seller will net no money in the sale. The lender will not agree to a short sale if the seller has other assets (IRA, other property, etc) Properties that are listed in the MLS as a "short sale" may not necessarily sell for the price that it is listed for since the lender has to sign off on the deal. Response times can be long. It is not a sure thing. There is a lot of homework for the seller and listing broker to do, and you may not know how far along they are in the process when you make your offer.

So how many properties are involved in "short sales" here in Tucson? Let's look at central Tucson for now. According to the Tucson Association of Realtors MLS, since June 18th 2007, there are currently 19 single family homes listed as "short sales," 5 more with offers on them, 4 "Expired," 7 sold, and 23 withdrawn or released. These are not huge numbers, but bear watching. I will later post the numbers for all of the MLS.

Next Post: Foreclosures!

New Marana Flood Rate Maps Delayed

FEMA has announced that the agency will delay the issuance of new flood rate maps for the Marana area pending further study. Here is a link courtesy of the Town of Marana.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Future is Boomer!

Despite recent news reports, home prices are not "plunging" in Tucson. Although we have seen significant reductions in asking prices all over town and there is a big inventory of homes available on the market, especially newer homes, it is not time to give up.

New homeowners here who can hold on to their homes for the long term and those who buy now with the expectation of living in their home for the next 5 to 10 years should be OK, because frankly, Southern Arizona is a better place to live than the Rust belt, Snow belt, Florida or California. Freezing, retiring Boomers are coming, and they have their parents money as well as their own to spend. This will help our market.

Some people ask: “How can the Boomers move here if they cannot sell their existing homes?” People all over the United States, even in this slow market, are selling their houses, although sometimes at prices that are lower than they expected. We are not in a "no houses are selling" market, just a slow market after a big up tick. Interestingly, the National Association of Realtors once defined a "stable market" as having 180 day market time, something we have not seen here in years. Perhaps we are a little spoiled.

The Boomer generation is massive, not just what uninformed skeptics call "few old people.” Those future retirees who have not mortgaged themselves to their eyeballs have a lot of accumulated wealth. According to an ABC news story, median household wealth for boomers is estimated to be $600,000. Many of these Boomers will come here to live.

I am optimistic about Southern Arizona’s future for several other reasons. Our community has a great University, excellent hospitals, and a friendly population. Houses are still cheaper here than in in many west and east coast cities. Canada is another wild card: with a strong Loonie (Canadian Dollar) an aging population and a generally unpleasant climate many will choose to buy a winter home here. Until you have lived in the Snow belt (and I have) you will never value a Tucson winter as much as a snowbird.

A final observation:: Some of these "old people" will bring skills, expertise and abilities that will vitalize our community. The days of the geezer on the front porch are diminishing fast. Seniors are increasingly adept with technology and will bring a lot to the table, even in their last years on this planet. I welcome them here.

Opportunity Knocks for Canadians!

In a recent article in the Edmonton Journal, Brian Wruk, co-author of The Canadian Snowbird in America says that "all of the moons are aligned" for Albertans (and other Canadians as well!) to buy property in Arizona. The "moons" are 1) a strong Canadian Dollar (called the Loonie) 2) a soft housing market in Arizona, and 3) the frigid temperatures in Canada. Wruk thinks that the bottom may not yet be here, but I have not yet known of anyone who has been able to accurately forecast a market bottom, or a top, for that matter. The Canadian dollar is now above "par" vs the greenback when only a few years ago it was only worth 64 cents US. This strength in the Loonie is not a forever sure thing, as the current market numbers show, but it is still remarkable. Combine this with the recent drop in asking prices in most markets in Arizona, this does in fact look like a great opportunity for Canadians to purchase a home here. And the weather in Tucson is (usually) great.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mortgage Rates Decline to 2 year Low!

30-Year Mortgage Rates Fall to 2-Year Low Concerns that a severe housing downturn and prolonged credit crisis could rattle consumer confidence and hurt the broader economy contributed to a sharp drop in mortgage rates this week, according to Freddie Mac. Interest on 30-year fixed loans sank to 5.96 percent from 6.10 percent last week, landing at the lowest point seen since September 2005.Borrowing costs on 15-year fixed products fell to 5.65 percent from 5.73 percent over the week and five-year adjustable-rate mortgages were down to 5.75 percent from 5.86 percent, but one-year ARMs bucked the southward trend by bumping up to 5.46 percent from 5.43 percent. "With lower consumer spending and personal income gains in October, interest rates on U.S. Treasury securities fell lower this week and mortgage rates followed," said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. Source: Baltimore Sun (12/07/07)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Snowbirds: Is Florida Out?

A Canadian friend e-mailed this link to me today. It's a story from the Toronto Star outlining the apparent reluctance of Canadian Snowbirds to commit to the purchase of Florida real estate now despite the abundance of properties for sale, a big decline in prices and a historic upsurge in the Canadian dollar or "Loonie." Reasons cited were the general negativity of the local professionals and press regarding Florida's real estate market, excessive insurance rates for coastal properties due to the threat of future hurricanes, and an unfair tax structure for non-resident owners of Florida real estate.

This bodes well for Arizona. Unlike Florida, non resident owners of real estate here are not punished at tax time, we have no hurricanes, and hazard insurance rates in Southern Arizona, although climbing, are not anywhere near what Floridians are paying. We also have an abundance of real estate for sale, and prices have dropped to more reasonable levels since 2005. This is a great time to buy, and sellers are more motivated than ever.

And the Sun shines here a lot! (over 300 days a year!)

So to my Canadian friends I say: Take a look at Tucson. Your Loonie goes a long way here. Bring your golf clubs too. Find out what Tiger already knows: Tucson is a great golf city as well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Marana Buyers Beware!

There has been a lot of worry and confusion lately over FEMA's remapping the flood plain designations of a large area of Marana. The bottom line is this: If your home sits in a designated flood zone, your lender may require that you purchase flood insurance. The implications are huge, involving flood insurance fees that will be tacked on to homeowners (who have mortgages) monthly mortgage payments. Even if a homeowner paid cash for their home and has no mortgage that requires flood insurance, this new development will affect the resale of their home, since lender-required flood insurance may take potential buyers who require mortgages out of the running. The new monthly payment, which will include flood insurance, may make their payment higher than what they qualify for. Here is a link to Marana's floodplain page.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Opportunity Knocks or Another reason not to read the newspaper

The media helped inflate the "boom" in 2005 by urging buyers to pay whatever the Seller was asking or more, require no home inspections, and request no repairs in their offers. Now they are telling us that the market is going to Hell in a handbasket. Stories like this are why I no longer own a TV and rarely read the local papers.

Citing a nearly insignificant .29% drop in homes prices in Arizona last quarter and an even smaller .07% drop for Tucson, Capital Media services reporter Howard Fischer claims in an Aug 31 2007 Arizona Daily Star story that this drop of what would be about $580 in the price of a $200,000 home is “Good News for buyers” but signifies a “cold” Arizona real estate market. People spend more than this at Starbucks in 6 months.

Let’s put the market in perspective: In 1991, the average sales price for a home in the Tucson MLS was $97,352. That number steadily rose over the years to the current average price of $268,984. This is an increase in the average sales price of almost 180%. Those who have owned a home over the past five years have done just fine, seeing a 90.78% change in home values in Arizona and a smaller, although impressive 79.09% increase in Tucson.

New homeowners in Tucson who continue to live in their homes for the long term and those who buy now with the expectation of living in their home for the next 5 to 10 years should be OK, because frankly, Tucson is a better place to live than in the Rustbelt, Snowbelt or California.

I lived in Toronto for 5 years and will take a Tucson summer over another winter in the Great White North any day. There are a lot of retiring Snowbird Boomers who feel the same way. Like it or not, our city will continue to grow.

Opportunity knocks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Broadmoor is My Neighborhood

On one early morning walk a few weeks ago, I came upon this sight along the curb of Arroyo Chico. Walking a little further, another brick appeared, then another and another. "Someone went to a lot of time and effort to do this" I thought, and watching a family of quail scurry across the road and hop the brick on the way into the Arroyo, it was confirmed to me that it was time well spent. I later learned that this project was the brainchild of neighbor Cindy Elliott. What a labor of love and in fact, a great example of what is good about our neighborhood.
People make our neighborhood great. From those who drop in on our elderly neighbors to check on their welfare, to the ones who console us when we lose a family member or even a pet, the people in our neighborhood have a sense of community that values others and it is expressed in as many ways as there are households.
Some of our neighbors take on the often thankless job as an officer in the neighborhood association, organizing meetings, editing the newsletter, collecting the modest dues and in the course of duty, defend our neighborhood from unfeeling bureaucracy. Did you know that there once was a plan to turn the Arroyo Chico into a cement culvert? Well the tireless efforts of some of the members of the BBVNA brought a stop to that. The trees that shade us on the east end of the Arroyo are thanks to the vision and efforts of the association too, as are the stone gabions on the west end.
Some of our neighbors keep a close eye on the neighborhood while they are out and about, looking for graffiti and organizing paint-over details. Some keep a watch on the Arroyo Chico, notifying authorities of unusual activities. Don't get me wrong, this is not a neighborhood of snoops, but one with just the right mix of awareness, caring and community.
A great expression of that community is the annual Fourth of July parade. Probably one of the best attended neighborhood holiday parades in town, scores of people brave the Summer heat to express their love for our country by marching in full patriotic regalia around the neighborhood and at the end, share food, drink and stories. We probably have more flags per capita than any other neighborhood, thanks to a patriotic real estate guy who also lives in the neighborhood! (That's me!)
Halloween gives us an example of what the rest of the city thinks about our neighborhood. Apparently well known for its generosity on Oct. 31st, Broadmoor is visited with van loads of children from all over town. It is not unusual to give out hundreds of pieces of candy if you dare answer your door to the various ghosts, goblins and monsters who ring your doorbell.
What do you think makes our neighborhood great? E-mail me and I will include your comments. - Wayne To be continued....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HOA Sign Enforcement Relief

This just in from the Arizona Association of Realtors:

HOA; FOR SALE SIGNS: SB 1062 was signed into law by the Governor and will become law 90 days after the legislature adjourns. This legislation provides that notwithstanding any provision in planned community or condominium CC&Rs, an association can “not prohibit the indoor or outdoor display of a for sale sign and a sign rider by a unit owner on that owner's property, including a sign that indicates the unit owner is offering the property for sale by owner. The size of a sign offering a property for sale shall be in conformance with the industry standard size sign, which shall not exceed eighteen by twenty-four inches, and the industry standard size sign rider, which shall not exceed six by twenty-four inches.”

This is good news for property owners who have suffered the unreasonable enforcement of restrictive sign ordinances while trying to sell their home. The 48th session of the State Legislature adjourned on June 20 2007.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Buy my Straw Hats in the Fall

"I Buy My Straw Hats In The Fall" Wise words from world famous financier and advisor to Presidents, Bernard Baruch when asked about his investment philosophy. Since he was a multi-millionaire when a million dollars was truly a lot of money, it might be profitable to heed his advice, because what was true then is certainly true now.

Smart people buy their winter clothing in the spring when coats and jackets are often half price. Clever buyers pick up boxes of Christmas items after New Years Day, often at savings of 50% or more. Savvy car buyers purchase their new car near the end of the year when the dealers are awaiting new models. Carrying that a step further, those buyers may wait until the end of the month when they negotiate a purchase, since dealers are often more generous then, wanting to bolster their end-of-the-month performance figures.

Timing is also important in Real Estate, and the time to buy, in some parts of town, is now. There are areas in Pima County where there are scores of homes for sale, some priced tens of thousands less than they were selling for a year ago. Some sellers are quite motivated and are offering incentives to home buyers in addition to discount pricing: Down payment assistance, additional appliances and flexible closing terms are more common now.

The people who were not hurt in the real estate boom and “bust” in the Tucson area were those who purchased their home to live in for years to come, because time will take care of them. Those who are suffering now are the speculators and “investors” who came in, often from out of town, and were convinced by someone, with the help of our own manic local media, that there was no limit to the upward move in home prices. The lucky ones have found tenants to live in their houses, reducing the strain on their cash flow. Others however, own vacant homes that were never lived in and in many cases, these homeowners are strapped for cash flow and are highly motivated to sell.

Where are these areas where one can find a great value? There are several around Pima County, and I will highlight one today:

In one particular square mile area in the Southwest side of town, there are, as this is being written, 11 four bedroom homes for sale ranging in price from $215,000 to $375,000. They vary in size from about 2150 square feet to just over 2900 square feet. Many are vacant. All were built in 2004 or later. Some will say, "Who would want to live out there, so far from the center of town?" I used to say the same thing when I drove out to the Northwest Side near Ina and Thornydale and saw homes sprouting up North for as far as the eye could see, or Southeast where Rita Ranch for years was an island to itself, but no more. Now there are food stores, shopping plazas and schools in a place where “nobody would want to live”. I believe that this will be true for the Southwest side of Tucson, just as it was for these other areas which have seen explosive growth.

The questions you should ask yourself are: Will Tucson continue to grow? Is it a place where I would like to live for a while? Does it have advantages over other parts of the country (lifestyle, climate, economy, culture?) For me, the answer is yes to all. Having spent some time in the Northeast part of the country where ice forms on roads and shoveling snow is a duty, not an option, I know that many Boomers living in the Snowbelt are itching to move to the Sunbelt upon retirement. Like it or not, the chances for growth here are good. The Tucson lifestyle is casual and friendly, the economy is healthy, and our wide ranging culture offers something for everyone. And of course, the University of Arizona adds a vitality to our community that other cities without such an institution envy. These factors will, in the long run, assure a healthier real estate market here than in the cold, rustbelt areas. And after 5 recent devastating hurricanes in Florida, Arizona is looking like a pretty good Sunbelt alternative.

So should you speculate and buy as many homes in the Southwest side as you can? That might not be prudent, but if you are looking for a place to live and want to place a bet on future growth and development, in an almost brand new home at a price hugely discounted from last year, this might be an area to study.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, call or e-mail me and we can set an appointment to talk about this opportunity. As Bernard Baruch said so long ago, “I buy my straw hats in the Fall.” You should too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Mortgage Rates Inch Upward

According to CNN, mortgage rates inched upward from 6.14 to 6.16% for the week ending March 22 as new construction rebounded from a 9 year low. Big inventories of resale homes in Pima County are moving downward from December highs, spelling relief in sight for home sellers and giving notice to home buyers.

Friday, March 16, 2007

How's the Market?

Where do you get your real estate information? With so many opinions and voices, it can be pretty difficult to form your own idea of the current real estate market in Southern Arizona. Here are some thoughts and analysis of what we’ve read, seen, and heard in the past 3 months:

The population of Arizona will continue to grow and Tucson will continue to attract new home buyers, businesses, and investors. Job growth will also continue a pace of steady growth, contributing to the widespread demand for more housing. Despite worries about the market, Tucson’s housing market is strong and steady. Homes that are overpriced and the significant number of homes for sale will likely decline as the market softens through the remainder of 2007.

Buyers and sellers are well aware that the market is not the same as it was 2 years ago. In addition to changing market conditions, interest rates will also affect the number of qualified buyers who will be hesitant to consider non-traditional financing options. So what does all the research and market analysis mean? The simple answer is that housing conditions are returning to normal after an intense period of growth. Buyers are no longer willing to justify the purchase of a home that is overpriced and sellers are realizing that they cannot expect as high of a return on the sale of their home as they could have a couple years ago.

The high inventory of close to 9,000 homes on the market in Tucson indicates that sellers have expected high levels of return and that buyers are unwilling to pay these prices, instead many buyers are waiting for the inevitable—a return to a market where homes are fairly priced. So the rest of 2007 will likely see conditions where sellers will lower prices in order to sell or will take their homes off the market until a later date when supply is not so high. The competition with new home sales will also contribute to the pressure for sellers to lower prices, as new home builders attempt to profit from current market conditions.

As home prices accurately reflect their value, buyers will start making more and more offers. Growth will continue at a steady pace and there should be no worries, despite what the media says.

Via Realty prides itself on knowing the market and in properly assessing the value of your home so that it will sell and so that you will obtain the most value for your home. Our goal is to share our information and experience with you, so that you are confident in the sale of your home. We are also happy to meet with buyers to equip them with the proper knowledge of the market and to aid them as the select a home.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Townhouse Listing!

The Pros at Via Realty recently listed a great new affordable townhouse in the near north west side of Tucson. Situated near Romero and Wetmore road, this delightfully updated home is ready for you now! Complete with a beehive fireplace, it a perfect winter home as well as a great place for a first time homebuyer to start out. Here is a link to the listing.

Friday, March 9, 2007

New MLS Search Tools

You may have noticed some big changes in our web site.... The property search is a lot more user friendly and it is way better organized. Now you can search in categories, Golf properties, Town homes, School Districts and even neighborhoods. This gives the home buyer a bigger choice and also allow the home seller a broader exposure for their property. Check it out at and let us know how it works for you!


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Via Realty Knows Golf Too!

Two of our Agents here at Via Realty are avid golfers. On a typically sunny Tucson day, you may find Adrian Hall relaxing on one of southern Arizona's finest golf courses. Having been a member of three of the local country clubs and walking all of the areas links, Adrian sports a low handicap and a good knowledge of local golf properties. If you want to talk golf and real estate, Adrian is one you can call!

Another Arizona native who loves his clubs is Ed Zapata. Ed also knows his way in and around the local courses and can help you find a place in the sun near a tin cup. Ed is pretty modest about his game, it is as he says, "a work in progress". But heck, a day in Southern Arizona playing golf sure beats shoveling snow, even if you have to chase after an errant ball once and a while! Not only does Ed Z know where you can play golf in Tucson, he can help you find a place to live nearby as well!

Here at Via Realty, we believe we should have fun doing what we do. And if you love to play golf and want to buy real estate in the Tucson area, Adrian and Ed would love to talk to you! Call us at (520) 327-1550. We will get you started on fulfilling your dream, and have fun while you are doing it!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cold Enough For You?

This is one of the reasons why we believe that Tucson has a bright real estate future. Record snowfall in the Northeast combined with record cold temperatures will drive retiring Boomers to warmer climes. Florida, a first choice for retiring East Coasters for years, is becoming less desirable because of headline-grabbing violent weather. With property taxes and prices still relatively low in comparison to Metro New York, Boston and Chicago, Arizona is looking better than ever. Tucson is one of the best places to live in the the Grand Canyon State. WDA

Of Bubbles and Such

The Arizona Daily Star yesterday published an AP story about the current state of the real estate market. Flush with statistics, the story was, at first read, pretty scary. But lets look at the article again, with a more critical eye:

The AP story misleads readers by calling sales volume (the number of houses sold) the "sales pace". I've never heard of "sales pace" in terms of real estate sales. To the careless or casual reader, "sales pace" looks like "sales price" and it appears that prices have declined in double digit percentages nationwide, which is pretty scary, but untrue. Only until later do you learn that nationally, the median price of new homes has declined by less than 3%. (There was no national resale home median price statistic given) After the historic run-up in real estate values that we have had over the past few years, I will take declines like that. The real estate "bubble" that the media is so interested in is not like the stock market bubble where "securities" such as Nortel went from a split adjusted $890 in July 2000 to today's price of $31. A house will not lose 96% of its value in 6 years, like Nortel did, even if it burns down.(Because under it all, is the land!) As I watch the weather reports from the Northeast and Florida too, I am bullish for the long term prospects for Tucson real estate (if we don’t run out of water!) Read the news carefully, it's not as bad as it seems. If you are not a speculator, you should do just fine. WDA