The Carefree Times blog      

Today's Forecast Sunny. Hi 75 Never Windy

Volume 1, May, 2008 Edition






Commentary and Perspective from one of America's most unique small town areas, edited by Preston Westmoreland of Russ Lyon Realty.
Zillow surveys optimistic on Phoenix home values

Catherine Reagor
The Arizona Republic
May. 8, 2008 12:00 AM

Zillow's surveys of home prices in metro Phoenix are a bit more upbeat than other indexes and reports.

Zillow reports home prices are down almost 16 percent in metro Phoenix during the past year. The Case-Shiller index reports the price decline in metro Phoenix for that period is closer to 21 percent.

Many Valley homeowners might find the online property-valuation firm's estimates of their house's value a little optimistic, too.

Zillow reports the median home price for metro Phoenix is $220,000. The Realty Studies Center at Arizona State University has reported the same figure for the past two months.

The article, Where home prices are headed next, from Money Magazine, reports that The housing implosion is nowhere near over. In 75 of the 100 top U.S. cities, prices are expected to fall in the next 12 months according to Fiserv Lending Solutions. The S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index, which tracks 20 of the largest housing markets, showed prices plummeting by 12.7% in the 12 months ending February. That's the biggest fall since the index began tracking prices in 2000. Meanwhile, foreclosure filings more than doubled in the first three months of 2008, spiking 112%. So far this year 156,463 families have lost their homes to repossessions. Many markets won't hit bottom till late 2009 or even 2010. The article shows Phoenix with prices dropping 18.3% by May 09 from the peak.

Wildflower Season Winding Down-100s expected soon

Carefree/Cave Creek-With hotter and drier weather upon us, many of the seasonal wildflowers, from lupine to  brittlebush have dried and been blown away by the strong winds we've had this spring. Even now, the brilliant Palo Verde blooms are failing like rain (above), and the last of our desert wildflowers are shooting out of the tops of  majestic saguaros.  I climbed on top of our roof the other day to give you a close up look at these flowers, which are protected by law, from twenty feet up.

   By the way, did you know that one of the biggest problems landscapers have, with transplanting saguaros, is to mark the side of the cactus that faces the sun?  When transplanted into a yard (which requires a permit to prove it's legal) the plant must be aligned the same way or it will get sunburned! These amazing plants develop thicker skin toward the sun for protection. How much do you know about the southwest deserts?  Be sure to take  one of the desert survival quizzes at:

Today's Quiz?????

What's with all the Styrofoam cups on cactus all over the place? (scroll down for answer)

















































Those Amazing Carefree Street Names!

New Carefree residents wouldn't be the first to have the credit bureau snicker when they said they worked on Easy Street or lived on Dream Street in Carefree!  The names attracted worldwide attention when the town was started in the 1960's. With a business district on Wampum Way, dead-end roads like No More Road and tributes to Long Rifles and Six Guns, many have suggested that the naming session took place over a pitcher of martinis in a local watering hole.  The founding fathers insisted it took place in a regular business meeting.  What do you think?

Give us your comment: Email us your thoughts on the area and real estate trends to:
Soft Existing-Home Sales Expected Near-Term But to Rise Midsummer
WASHINGTON, May 07, 2008

National Association of Realtors
A flat pattern in home sales activity should continue for the next couple months before improving over the summer, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors®.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the extent of an expected recovery hinges on better access to affordable loans. "Things are beginning to improve, but the availability of affordable mortgages is uneven around the country and sometimes within metropolitan areas," he said. "As anticipated, we continue to look for a soft first half of the year, for both housing and the economy, before notable improvements in the second half. Some time is needed for FHA and new conforming jumbo loans to become widely available."

NAR President Richard F. Gaylord, a broker with RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., said additional costs in many markets are hindering a recovery. “Our members are telling us that more buyers are looking at homes but are slow in signing contracts, and that’s contributing to the weakness in pending home sales,” he said. “In many cases buyers are waiting for greater access to affordable credit, especially in higher cost areas, but some are disappointed with what appears to be unnecessarily restrictive lending requirements. The good news this week is there is some discussion toward relaxing some of the burdensome lending practices.”
The PHSI in the Northeast jumped 12.5 percent in March to 80.8 but remains 15.4 percent below a year ago. In the South, the index slipped 0.1 percent to 84.9 and is 26.7 percent lower than March 2007. The index in the West declined 1.4 percent in March to 91.2 and is 9.5 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 10.4 percent in March to 74.1 and is 22.3 percent below March 2007.
Existing-home sales are projected to rise from an annual pace of 4.95 million in the first quarter to 5.82 million in the fourth quarter. For all of 2008, existing-home sales are likely to total 5.39 million, and then rise 6.1 percent to 5.72 million next year. “Although more than half of local markets are expected to see price growth this year, the aggregate existing-home price will decline 2.4 percent in 2008, driven by a relatively few markets that are very oversupplied,” Yun said. The median price is forecast at $213,700 this year before rising 4.1 percent to $222,600 in 2009.
Some areas already are seeing sales increases, underscoring that all real estate is local. In March, unpublished snapshot data shows sales in Bakersfield, Calif., and Jackson, Miss., were higher than a year ago. At the same time, price gains were noted in markets such as Buffalo-Niagara Falls, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On May 13, NAR will report first-quarter data on metropolitan area home prices, covering about 150 metro areas, and state home sales.




















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Who is this guy writing the blog?


Quiz Answer: What's with all the Styrofoam cups on cactii during the winter?


Answer:  To protect the heart of the cactus from freezing.  Sometimes winter temperatures can get down into the 20's in the high desert, and the tender center of the cactus is subject to  frost damage.

The Wall Street Journal
The Housing Crisis Is Over?

Is it time to start house hunting? Cyril Moulle-Bertaux opined that April 2008 marked the bottom of the U.S. housing market.
And in his  column WSJ’s Brett Arends makes a similar argument. He looks at the data on housing starts since 1972, which shows that new housing starts slumped below the one million mark in March. Every time that has happened in the last 50 years, Mr. Arends writes, it proved to be the bottom of a recession.
“It’s bottom-fishing time, I think,” says Wellesley College Prof. Karl E. Case in the column. Mr. Arends says that he is one of the leading experts on the housing market in the country. “There’s got to be bargains in Florida, Arizona and Nevada.”
Mr. Arends points out that Bill Wheaton, a legendary real-estate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has also suggested that fears about the real-estate crash were overdone. And he points to a private portfolio manager in London, who said the homebuilding stocks on Wall Street were at last a “buy.”
Map courtesy of IMAPP
Real Estate Stat Box
Maricopa County Active Listings: 54,470
Maricopa County Actives Last wk 54,691
Carefree Active Homes                    150
Carefree Homes Under Contract          9  
Cave Creek Active Homes                585
Cave Creek Homes Under Contract     36
Scottsdale Zip Code 85262 Actives     1003
Scottsdale Zip 85262 Under Contract    54
Paradise Valley Active Listings          470
Paradise Valley  Under Contract          30
Paradise Valley Homes over $ 10 mil    15
Most Expensive P.V. Home listed  $20 mil
Homes sold in the last 30 days/1 year ago: Carefree-6/11, Cave Creek 36/40, Scottsdale zip 85262- 39/60
Current Carefree foreclosure/short sales  3

Cave Creek foreclosures/short sales       16




Real Estate Hot Tips

by Preston Westmoreland

State Trust Land Auctions Stalled

When Arizona was granted statehood on February 14, 1912, the Federal government gave Arizona huge sections of land to put into a trust with the provision that it be sold off through the years, to benefit education and schools. This enormous land gift constituted about 13% of all land ownership in the state. In better economic times, Arizona reaped unbelievable fortunes selling off the land to developers. One auction in 2007 attained a price 40% over the appraised value of the land. Other auctions got $ 1 million an acre as in a $33 million-dollar-deal at Desert Ridge in North Phoenix. Even in Carefree, the last forty acre state parcel that existed within the town's boundary, was auctioned off  in August of 2006 for close to $10 million dollars. A luxury home community is in the planning stages there right now. 

Lately, however, the State Land Department must feel like the person who threw a party and nobody showed up. A number of auctions have been cancelled or postponed because there is just no demand for the property at this time.  Many of the largest homebuilders are stuck with too much land to maintain, and one homebuilder was forced to sell 1,000 lots for twenty-five cents on the dollar, an extraordinary bargain.  (No, this land was not located in the Carefree-Cave Creek area) The buyer plans to actually start building homes that will sell for just over $ 100,000 a piece-a number not heard in a while in Arizona land.  I think of how all this will benefit our friends in nearby Legend Trails, a well-done fully-built-out community of 800 homes.  At Legend Trails, they are surrounded by huge sections of State Trust Land that someday will be auctioned off and filled with homes.  For the time being, the economic slowdown in real estate means they can continue to enjoy that beautiful desert view next to their property. (below is an aerial photo of Legend Trails, surrounded on ALL sides by acres of beautiful state trust land)                            

Moving to the area?  Check out our website for more information at:

Click on the "Moving Here" button

















Paulson says worst of credit crisis may be over

The Associated Press
updated 1:19 p.m. MT, Wed., May. 7, 2008
WASHINGTON - The worst of the credit crisis may have passed, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Wednesday, while acknowledging that rising gas prices will blunt the effect of 130 million economic stimulus checks. He ruled out a second stimulus package for now.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Paulson said that the turmoil that has gripped Wall Street and took a turn for the worse again in March has eased somewhat. "There's progress," he said. "I think we're closer to the end of this than the beginning."
A prolonged housing slump, a severe credit crisis and soaring energy costs have pushed the economy to the edge of a recession. To help cushion the blow, the Bush administration and Congress speedily enacted a $168 billion stimulus package of tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses.