ASU MainStage offers peek into moments from Ariz. history

January 18, 2012

Figures from Arizona’s history – including Lozen, a female Apache warrior who fought with Geronimo, and modern day warrior Lori Ann Piestewa, the first US military woman killed in Iraq – are among the Arizonans whose lives are retold in the ASU School of Theatre and Film's MainStage Season production of "Untold Stories/Unsung Heroes."

Under the direction of professor Pamela Sterling, the play tells the poetic, comedic and iconic stories unearthed over the past year by a team of ASU theatre students. The stories were culled from thousands of archival sources and from interviews with contemporary Arizonans including a group of centenarians from the Pioneer Village in Prescott and from the students' friends, neighbors and relatives. Download Full Image

"Untold Stories/Unsung Heroes," a part of the Arizona Centennial Project New Works Series, is an official selection of the Arizona Centennial Commemoration Project.

“The Call of the West was felt by many, and indeed still is,” Sterling says. “Arizona offered free land, open space, a chance to start anew; in a word: opportunity. In many ways, it still does those things. But we wanted to go beyond the legends, and learn about the lives of the real people who settled here, and who is living here now.”

People who will be pictured in "Untold/Unsung" include: Lozen, Apache warrior; Soto Vasquez, founder of Teatro Carmen in Tucson; Elizabeth Hudson Smith, an African American woman who independently owned and operated a hotel in Wickenburg; George W. Parsons, lawyer, banker, and citizen of Tombstone who had a bird's eye view of the gunfight at the OK Corral and Borislav Bogdanovich, artist and relative of film director Peter Bogdonavich.

In addition to the play, area residents are also invited to related Centennial events and activities including an exhibit, "Tell Your Story," which will be on display in the Lyceum Theatre lobby on the Tempe campus. Students have established a Facebook page where people can learn more about the state’s colorful figures, and a video clip series, "Arizona 100 Stories," where students recount the stories they have uncovered during their research. Pre-show activities include "Living Statues" that come to life to impart the stories of Arizonians.

Final Phoenix-area foreclosure numbers for 2011

January 18, 2012

The final numbers on Phoenix-area foreclosures and home prices are in, and they may surprise you. A new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University shows, despite some positive momentum, 2011’s overall totals failed to show a big improvement from the numbers in 2010.

Total transactions: In 2011, the Phoenix area had 106,850 transactions in the existing-home market. That’s slightly down from 106,975 transactions in 2010. Professor Emeritus Jay Butler Download Full Image

Total foreclosures: During 2011, the area had 35,855 foreclosures, not considered to be a huge decrease from 41,625 in 2010.

Rate of foreclosures: The amount of foreclosures as a percentage of overall transactions in 2011 was about 34 percent. That’s down from 39 percent in 2010. (To put this in perspective, in a typical year, foreclosures represent less than 5 percent of the total transactions.)

Median home price: The median price for a single-family home resold in the Phoenix area in 2011 was $125,000. That’s down from $138,000 in 2010.

Median townhome price: The median price for a townhouse/condominium resold in 2011 was $79,000, also down from $88,000 in 2010.

Throughout 2011, the market did experience a significant drop-off in the amount of monthly foreclosures as a percentage of transactions. In January of 2011, that rate was 43 percent, but it dropped all the way down to just under 29 percent in December.

“Although 2011 ended on a slightly more positive note than 2010, there are several issues, including a weak economic recovery and stricter mortgage underwriting guidelines playing a role here,” explains Jay Butler, professor emeritus and the report’s author. “The main question for 2012 is whether homeowner/occupants will play an expanding role. We’re starting to see investors getting very involved again, and many have shifted from buying foreclosed homes to actually attending foreclosure auctions. The number of non-institutional investors with successful bids has moved from about 20 percent all the way up to just over 40 percent.”

All told, about 3 percent of all single-family existing homes in Maricopa County underwent foreclosures in 2011. More than 14 percent of all single-family homes in Maricopa County have been foreclosed on since 2008. Still, Butler emphasizes that many households are simply riding through this.

“While much is focused on the negative aspects of the current market, many homeowners have no real issues or have simply resolved to stay in their current homes,” says Butler. “This does impact buying and selling activity, but it also greatly benefits the expanded remodeling activity in the area.”

For homes that have been resold over the last year, about 40 percent were foreclosed homes sold again with a median price markdown of 14 percent.

Here’s a breakdown of the median home prices for a resold home (not new foreclosures) in each of the past several years:

• 2007 = $260,000
• 2008 = $200,500
• 2009 = $135,000
• 2010 = $138,000
• 2011 = $125,000

Butler says will take years to fully reverse the drop from the peak. He is also quick to caution that it won’t be a straight upward trend, but rather, a back-and-forth dance over the next several years that he calls a “stretched recovery.”

This is expected to be the last report Butler will file as a real estate expert at the W. P. Carey School of Business, though he will remain a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. Butler has been at ASU for about 40 years and has been analyzing the Valley real estate market since 1978.

"Professor Butler actually retired last summer, but he has graciously continued his decades-long analysis of the Valley real estate market while we completed a transition of his work to others,” says Robert Mittelstaedt, W. P. Carey School of Business dean. “Over the years, Jay enriched learning opportunities for thousands of students through his teaching, and he enhanced the knowledge and understanding of real estate markets for all of us. We wish him the best in retirement."

Mike Orr, a well-known Phoenix-area housing analyst and founder of the popular real estate website called The Cromford Report, recently joined the W. P. Carey School of Business as director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice. He will continue to provide regular updates through the school about the Phoenix-area real estate market.

Butler’s final report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at More analysis is also available from KnowWPC, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at