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By Curtis Johnson | Agent in Gilbert, AZ
  • Gilbert, Arizona--One of America’s Top 100 Cities

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Gilbert  |  August 2, 2010 8:48 PM  |  457 views  |  No comments

    Gilbert, ArizonaThe Phoenix area has no shortage of great places to live! Gilbert, Arizona was recently named one of the 100 Best Places to Live in the United States by MONEY Magazine! Those of us at Curtis Johnson Realty can only agree with them—Gilbert is a great city!

    According the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, most people who choose to make Gilbert their home do so because of its “small-town friendliness, great schools, pristine neighborhoods and a thriving business community.”

    Many people have been discovering all that and more about Gilbert. It is recognized as one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, with the population topping 200,000 in recent years. Don’t think that is very impressive? The population was only 5,000 a mere 30 years ago!
    Located within the greater Phoenix metro area and with easy access to all that Phoenix has to offer, Gilbert retains its small town roots and sense of community.

    MONEY Magazine’s editors noted that some of Gilbert’s best features include Joe’s Real BBQ restaurant, the Downtown Heritage District, Trilogy Golf Club and the three-day-long Gilbert Days festival.

    Like most of Arizona, Gilbert suffered when the real estate market crashed, but today Gilbert is rebounding with the rest of the Phoenix area. There are bargains to be had for sure in the foreclosure and short sale listings. But with the increasing popularity of Gilbert the time to buy is now.

    Let the Curtis Johnson team show you the best real estate in Gilbert today. From foreclosed single family homes to top of the line mansions, older homes or even horse ranches…somewhere in or near Gilbert is the home you have been dreaming of. We know Gilbert and the greater Phoenix area and can help you find the home or investment property you are looking for. Contact the Curtis Johnson team, go to www.CurtisJohnsonRealty.com or call 1-888-Curtis-J.

  • Underwater Arizona Slotted for HFA Hardest Hit Housing Funds

    Posted Under: Financing in Gilbert  |  March 22, 2010 6:47 PM  |  551 views  |  2 comments

    Arizona wil gain dollars from the Hardest Hit FundEver since the current administration tried to "fix housing first," critics have screamed that programs did not met the needs of Arizona and other states where underwater mortgage rates far exceed the national average of 20%.  Currently, 11 million U.S. homeowners in Phoenix and elsewhere are at greater risk of foreclosure when their loan-to-value (LTV) ratio gets much beyond 20%.  Most homeowners do not qualify for mortgage modification programs which usually stretch out the payments without reducing principle.  In Arizona, 51% of home loans are underwater.

    Recently, Arizona has been singled out for special help as one of the five hardest hit states in hopes of spurring recovery.  Working through Housing Finance Agencies (HFA's), the Obama Administration will direct $1.5 billion to Florida, Nevada, California, Arizona, and Michigan to try some creative approaches to overcome the problems of underwater mortgages, foreclosures, delinquency, and unemployment. The goal is to protect home values, while preserving home ownership and economic growth in a fiscally responsible way.  The HFA's will have proposals submitted by April 16 to address special concerns in each state and then be able to tap the resources of the ("HFA Hardest-Hit Fund").

    States like Arizona were singled out for help in the new program based on housing price decline from the peak price in the area, unemployment figures, and the number of delinquent loans.  Arizona showed a 36.8% decline, along with 9.1% unemployed, and an 8.8% delinquency rate on loans.  Arizona will receive $125.1 million in special help - along with California ($699.6 M), Florida (418 M) Michigan ($154.5 M), Nevada ($102.8 M.)

    It may seem odd that Arizona doesn't qualify for even more help, given its percentages of underwater loan.  Arizona is second behind Nevada (70%), followed by Florida (48%), Michigan (39%) and California (35%). With the lowest rate of loan delinquency and the lowest unemployment rate, loans for underwater homeowners are not as much of a risk as in the other states. 

    Banks these days fear that homeowners will fall into foreclosure due to unemployment, lost income, or hikes in the payment due to interest rate adjustments OR decide to strategically default - walk away from their homes if the LTV rate is too low.  Some mortgage experts like Martin Feldstein, Harvard professor and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, believe that once a person is more than 10-20% underwater, he is likely to consider bolting from the loan and renting or buying elsewhere. Below that, assuming he can make the payments, he is likely to ride out the crisis until housing values have recovered a bit.

    The Hardest Hit Fund approach will address these issues by going beyond tools such as mortgage modifications and short sales/ deed in lieu of foreclosure already in use to try creative new approaches.  These tactics might include:

    •    Mortgage modifications with principal forbearance

    •    Principle reduction for borrowers with sever negative equity

    •    Unemployment programs

    •    Second lien relief

    Given the amount of money available vs. the number of underwater mortgages in Arizona, the plan will not help everyone but the approaches might be tried elsewhere.  Already the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has crafted a program that would reward those who could have defaulted but didn't with principle reduction.  This program aims at preventing strategic default and is aimed a very small number of homeowners whose lending banks were seized by the FDIC. 

    I am a huge believer of hands off Government, letting the private sector work through the market swings. With that said, if the Government has decided they are seriously interested in being the answer, then hopefully, pilot programs like this will grow to address the needs of more homeowners.  If the Hardest Hit fund programs operate as planned, they will hatch a variety of new approaches to help those who cannot swim through the maze of their underwater mortgages, as well as those who are hijacking the lifeboats and abandoning their mortgages on principle.  As a matter of fact, the Treasury Department is hoping that programs developed in this program provide data that prove them workable on a broader scale.

    For more detail on the HFA Hardest Hit Fund, download the Proposal Guidelines or the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). 

    Are you underwater and at risk of losing your home?  Are you hoping to sell your home quickly?  Curtis Johnson Real Estate  can help you prevent foreclosure and help you examine alternatives. Curtis can also help you find the home of your dreams in the Phoenix area and other nearly Arizona cities and can tell you all about the home buyer's housing credit.

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