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Archive for October 20th, 2011

20th October
written by JHiggins

America’s Emptiest Cities, 2011
By Paul Toscano, CNBC.com
October 12, 2011


The problem is multi faceted.  Here’s a few culprits:

1. Pima County has been too reliant on growth related industries and hasn’t done a very good job at divesting into different job creating industries.

2.  There seems to be no ryme or reason as to what gets built where in Southern Arizona.  We fight sprawl at the same time block infill projects.

3.  Financing – Here’s a great peice from O’Dell and the AZ Star:

Financing hard to get

Housing prices have crashed to levels not seen in 10 years, and interest rates are at historic lows. But many vacant properties aren’t drawing buyers and aren’t being filled.

Even if they can afford the payments, fewer people can get financing for a home, Strobeck said.

“You need gold-plated financing in order to get yourself a mortgage,” no matter how large, Strobeck said. “There’s so much supply because people can’t qualify.”

Despite a report last week calling Tucson the emptiest city in America because it had the highest home-vacancy rate of large cities for the first two quarters of 2011, Strobeck and University of Arizona economist Marshall Vest said Tucson’s plight isn’t worse than other places.

And some Tucson real estate professionals said vacancies are not a big issue. Greg Hollman, regional vice president of Coldwell Banker, said the market is working through the inventory of vacant homes quickly and some investors are putting multiple cash offers on properties, an idea contradicted by the Star’s analysis.

“It hasn’t been a big problem in my opinion,” Hollman said.

But Elías said the only people benefiting from the current market are cash buyers who can sweep up properties at rock-bottom prices.

He said the only way to clear the number of vacant houses is for financial institutions to loosen up lending standards, which were too loose during the housing boom and became very strict after the bust.

Housing is the key to getting the economy moving, Vest said, and vacant homes need to be filled before the housing market can stop falling.

“We’re going to need to get people in the vacancies to get people building again,” Vest said. “Homebuilding has to come back before we see the kinds of growth rates we’ve grown accustomed to.”

ring of vacant houses

The areas with the most vacant homes run from Sahuarita north and west, skirting the O’odham Reservation and extending to Marana. These boom areas went bust with the housing market.

Star valley

The housing development west of Casino del Sol was an emblem of the housing boom and now is filled with vacant homes after the bust.

Center city rentals

Many of the areas in central Tucson with the most vacant units feature entire apartment complexes that have been boarded up and vacated.

Green Valley

Green Valley had many more vacant houses in 2000 than in 2010, but that’s because of how the census counted vacancies. More seasonal housing was counted as vacant in 2000 than in 2010.

By the numbers


vacancies in 2000


vacancies in 2010

52 percent

more vacancies in 2010 versus 2000

Nearly one in eight

units vacant in 2010

How we got the story

The Star analyzed U.S. census tract data from 2000 and 2010.

To determine the increase in vacant rentals, the Star added all census-tract data together for vacant, occupied and total units in Pima County.

To map the data, the Star took the total number of vacant properties for each census tract and stripped out the vacant units that were seasonal rentals, second homes, housing for migrant workers and vacant homes that had just been rented or sold. This left mostly vacant rentals, vacant homes for sale, foreclosures and investor-owned homes.

The Star then projected that data using mapping software and coded the census tracts based on the number of vacant properties.

Report problem vacant properties

If a vacant house is causing problems in your neighborhood, report it. Visit cms3.tucsonaz.gov/hcd/code-enforcement and click on “code enforcement.” Fill out the online form, or print a form to fax, mail or hand-deliver to the city.

Contact reporter Rob O’Dell at 573-4346 or rodell@azstarnet.com

Read more: http://azstarnet.com/news/our-home-vacancy-problem/article_606bfe27-3646-5d4b-a3d6-53f090583625.html#ixzz1cHfQdHOi

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