AUGUST 11, 2011

Finally, Phoenix-area foreclosure rate falls below 30 percent

TEMPE — For the first time since the spring of 2009, the Phoenix-area foreclosure rate has dropped below 30 percent of the existing-home transactions in the market. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University confirms five months in a row of foreclosure-rate declines.

The Phoenix area has been hit especially hard by the impact of foreclosures. In January and February, foreclosures represented 43 percent of the existing-home transactions in the market. Then, the rate fell to 38 percent in March, 36 percent in April, 35 percent in May, 31 percent in June, and finally, to 29 percent in July. Still, the report’s author says not to celebrate yet.

“While the local housing market is beginning to produce some positive movement, the main concern is the economic environment that surrounds the market,” says W. P. Carey School of Business Professor Emeritus Jay Butler. “Currently, there are mounting concerns about the anemic job and economic growth that are limiting consumer confidence.”

The market had a little more than 2,500 single-family home foreclosures in July. That’s an improvement from almost 3,300 foreclosures in June and more than 3,800 foreclosures last July. The median price for a single-family home resold in the market in July (not new foreclosures) was $124,900. That’s down from $126,500 in June and $137,500 last July. Butler says, “Until there is a more favorable economic and financing environment, investors will continue to be the leading buyers of local housing, instead of more permanent and stable homeowner/occupants.” In the townhouse/condominium market, fewer than 350 foreclosures happened in July. That’s down from more than 400 in June and almost 600 last July. The median price of a townhome/condo resold (not new foreclosures) in July was $76,900. That’s slightly up from $75,950 in June, but still significantly below $84,500 last July. Butler’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at More analysis is also available from Knowledge@W. P. Carey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at


Now open: Elwood Motor Sports for all your auto needs

elwood motorsCAVE CREEK – It's impressive when a business' reputation precedes it. That was the case with Elwood Motor Sports. "People were asking us before we opened when we were going to open! We actually opened a week earlier and the first day we had people lined up," said Scott Barsellotti.

Scott's father, Don Barsellotti, opened Elwood Body Works in Scottsdale in 1986. The two decided to expand with a sister company and opened the Cave Creek "Motor Sports" facility two months ago.

"We work on pretty much anything with an engine," Scott offered. They do collision repairs, closely working with insurance companies so customers don't have the hassle. They do professional detailing. And they do engine work, fix electrical issues, maintain vehicles through oil changes, brake jobs, tune-ups and the like. "We can get any part," Scott added, "and it's usually here same or next day."

Already they are receiving many referrals and repeat business. "I think we're so busy because we do our business fair. We're family run. It's a comfortable place with competitive pricing." 

As to their painting, they can mix any paint to match. "We use third generation PPG Envirobase paint. It's water-based and environmentally friendly," Scott explained.
The facility is still a work in progress, but Elwood Motor Sports is open for business. "We want to bring revenue to the town of Cave Creek," Don interjected. Given its close proximity to Cave Creek Town Hall, it's no surprise the town government, as well as the marshal and sheriff, take their automotive business to the Barsellottis.

Call for an appointment for your vehicle at 480-575-6964. Elwood Motor Sports is open Mon-Fri from 8-6 and is located at 37608 N. Cave Creek Rd. Check out their website at

Photo: Father and son partners, Scott (r) and Don Barsellotti, have expanded into Cave Creek with Elwood Motor Works adjacent to town hall.
Photo by Marielle D. Marne

AUGUST 3, 2011

IRS Advises - Don't be a tax scam victim

irs logoPHOENIX – The Internal Revenue Service today encouraged taxpayers to guard against being misled by unscrupulous individuals trying to persuade them to file false claims for tax credits or rebates.

The IRS has noted an increase in tax-return-related scams, frequently involving unsuspecting taxpayers who normally do not have a filing requirement in the first place. These taxpayers are led to believe they should file a return with the IRS for tax credits, refunds or rebates for which they are not really entitled. Many of these recent scams have been targeted in the South and Midwest.

Most paid tax return preparers provide honest and professional service, but there are some who engage in fraud and other illegal activities.   Unscrupulous promoters deceive people into paying for advice on how to file false claims. Some promoters may charge unreasonable amounts for preparing legitimate returns that could have been prepared for free by the IRS or IRS sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance partners. In other situations, identity theft is involved.

Taxpayers should be wary of any of the following:
• Fictitious claims for refunds or rebates based on excess or withheld Social Security benefits.
• Claims that Treasury Form 1080 can be used to transfer funds from the Social Security Administration to the IRS enabling a payout from the IRS.
• Unfamiliar for-profit tax services teaming up with local churches.
• Home-made flyers and brochures implying credits or refunds are available without proof of eligibility.
• Offers of free money with no documentation required.
• Promises of refunds for "Low Income - No Documents Tax Returns."
• Claims for the expired Economic Recovery Credit Program or Recovery Rebate Credit.
• Advice on claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit based on exaggerated reports of self-employment income.

In some cases non-existent Social Security refunds or rebates have been the bait used by the con artists.  In other situations, taxpayers deserve the tax credits they are promised but the preparer uses fictitious or inflated information on the return which results in a fraudulent return.

Flyers and advertisements for free money from the IRS, suggesting that the taxpayer can file with little or no documentation, have been appearing in community churches around the country. Promoters are targeting church congregations, exploiting their good intentions and credibility. These schemes also often spread by word of mouth among unsuspecting and well-intentioned people telling their friends and relatives.

Promoters of these scams often prey upon low income individuals and the elderly.
They build false hopes and charge people good money for bad advice.  In the end, the victims discover their claims are rejected or the refund barely exceeds what they paid the promoter.  Meanwhile, their money and the promoters are long gone.

Unsuspecting individuals are most likely to get caught up in scams and the IRS is warning all taxpayers, and those that help others prepare returns, to remain vigilant. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Anyone with questions about a tax credit or program should visit, call the IRS toll-free number at 800-829-1040 or visit a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center.

For questions about rebates, credit and benefits from other federal agencies contact the relevant agency directly for accurate information.