Christie Ellis

Everardo Keeme

When I start talking about real estate in 2012 all I can say sometimes is, “WOW!” Do you realize that in 2012 the “Phoenix median home prices jumped 36 percent from $116,000 to $158,000 in one year, November to November” (

I can remember in the beginning of the year, seeing fewer and fewer houses available on the market and the competition between buyers started picking up. We watched the prices rise up and up and up. In Ahwatukee the appreciation reached close to 36 percent (pictured is a snap shot of the average monthly sales price for the Phoenix area).

We also started to see fewer homes on the market as foreclosures or short dales. The more traditional seller started reappearing with equity in their home.

In December of 2012 the 2008 Mortgage Forgiveness Act was set to expire. What this act allowed was if a homeowner had to short sell a primary home the difference between what was owed and the price the house sold for would not be counted as income for the seller. We did see that act get extended until Dec. 31, 2013.

This is important because some homeowners still underwater may have to sell due to job relocation, or various other life circumstances that may pop up, and short selling their house would not cause an undue burden.

Overall, 2012 was a great year for Ahwatukee home prices and the continuation of keeping our community strong and desirable.

The upcoming year has some very important things that we need to keep an eye on.

One of those things is the future of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. A new ballot will hopefully be presented to the Gila River Indian Community this month and we have a clearer idea about the future alignment of that freeway.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is set to increase their mortgage insurance rate, which would cause about an average of $13 extra per month, and not allow the mortgage insurance to be removed for the life of the loan.

Right now, if you have 20 percent equity in your home, and you have had the loan longer than five years, you can have the mortgage insurance removed.

Fannie Mae is stating that interest rates are set to drop again in 2013 due to the Federal Reserve buying up billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities insured by Fannie and Freddie: “They are predicting a drop from 3.7 percent to 3.4 percent” (Inman News).

Michael Orr of The Cromford Report is expecting to see the continuation of the housing shortage.

Typically, spring brings a large number of homes to the market, but this spring we may not see that and so the buyer demand will stay fairly high.

Lastly, is the enactment of the new Ability-to-Repay rule, “where lenders will have to determine the consumer’s ability to pay back both the principal and the interest over the long term — not just during an introductory period when the rate may be lower.

Lenders can no longer offer no-doc, low-doc loans, otherwise known as “Alt-A” loans, where some lenders made quick sales by not requiring documentation, then off-loaded these risky mortgages by selling them to investors” — Amy Swaney, Citywide Mortgage.

What this means to a borrower is that the debt to income rate will be lowered to about 43 percent and the underwriters will be responsible for reviewing every file more diligently than in the past.

There is our year in review and our look ahead. I know I am really excited about the real estate market in 2013.

Christie Ellis, owner of Sonoran Mountain Realty, is a real estate broker specializing in the Ahwatukee area. She is the author of “Real Estate Agent CEMETERY: How to Survive the Fears, Challenges, and Mistakes That Can Kill Your Real Estate Career.” Reach her at (480) 201-3575 or

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