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VOL. 122 | NO. 178 | Friday, September 21, 2007

Daily Digest

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Clark & Clark Partner To Sell Forestbrook Lots

     Ben Clark, partner in Clark & Clark real estate development firm, has bought property in Germantown's Forestbrook Subdivision. Clark's Kateland Inc. entity, of which he is president, bought seven lots in Forestbrook last week for $1.7 million, financing them with a $2.1 million loan through Magna Bank.
          The seller was William A. Ruleman Jr., doing business as Ruleman Realty.
          In addition to the seven-lot transaction, Kateland filed a $135,000 loan through Ruleman for 10 lots in Forestbrook. A separate entity, B&C Construction Co. Inc., simultaneously filed a $273,332 loan through Ruleman for the same 10 lots. Clark said the financings were different arrangements among the parties involved.
          The 29.8-acre Forestbrook is on the west side of Forest Hill-Irene Road just south of Poplar Pike. Its 24 lots are at least an acre each, which Clark said is a "rare find in Germantown."
          "We just came in and bought some lots and think that the subdivision has good promise to it," Clark said. "We're not planning on building the lots, but we believe that we'll sell them to people that will. It's a fine subdivision and it's got several large houses already started in it."
          Clark said the average size of the houses under construction is 8,000 square feet.

Despite Foreclosures, Elam Says Biz is Fine

     Foreclosures have increased lately - affecting both the local and national markets - as the housing market tightens and adjustable rate mortgages reset at higher rates, inflating monthly payments.
          And the trend isn't limited to individual homeowners.
          One local mortgage and realty company has been issued a large number of foreclosure notices in recent weeks. Fred Elam, president of Memphis-based Elam Mortgage and Realty and Fred Elam Enterprises LLC, received 16 foreclosure notices between Aug. 28 and Sept. 19, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com.
          But, Elam said there's nothing to the increase, adding he believes the number is incorrect.
          "There's not any foreclosures - there should be two on there," Elam said when reached by cell phone Wednesday afternoon. "But what's happened, those are not going to be foreclosures, they're going to be stopped. They are rental properties. ... With George Bush's new bill, they're going to do a short pay on those, and they got the foreclosures in there prior to the short payoff on those properties, so they're not going to be foreclosed on."
          A short payoff sale is a transaction in which an investor accepts less than the full amount of a mortgage in exchange for the borrower's quick sale of a property before a pending foreclosure occurs, according to information from Freddie Mac.
          Saying there's no problem with his company's financial standing, Elam added he borrowed a million dollars Wednesday morning to fund a residential project that he hopes to begin next week. Elam said the development will be a small one, with about nine homes ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet on Finch Road in Hickory Hill's 38141 ZIP code.

Suit Filed to Stop Tonight's Mayoral Debate

     Much of the chatter among political observers over absentees from this election season's round of public mayoral debates has to do with incumbent Willie Herenton, who has by and large been a no-show for most of them.
          The latest mayoral debate - a televised affair that will be broadcast tonight on WMC-TV Channel 5 - is the subject of a federal lawsuit, however, over other candidates who likely will not be on the stage for the debate.
          Thomas Burrell has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, according to The Daily News Online, www.memphisdailynews.com. The suit asks the court to either stop the debate or force the hosts to allow the smattering of other candidates to participate in the event.
          Invited candidates include Herenton, Carol Chumney, Herman Morris Jr. and John WIllingham.

MLGW's Campbell Testifies On Need for Transparency

     Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division assistant manager of energy resources Laura Campbell testified this week before the Federal Commodity Futures Trading Commission on the need for greater transparency in the natural gas futures market. She testified on behalf of the American Public Gas Association, which represents 700 public, nonprofit gas distribution systems in the U.S.
          In her testimony, Campbell told the committee additional transparency is critical because futures activities have a great influence on the cost of natural gas.
          MLGW uses the natural gas futures market to protect its customers from sharp increases in the price of natural gas.
          MLGW interim chief utility officer Jerry Collins said he is hopeful the testimony will help to keep natural gas costs as low as possible for MLGW customers.

Erosion Control Conference To Be Held in Memphis

     A conference about ways to prevent sediment from leaving construction sites and polluting natural waterways will be held next week at Agricenter International, 7777 Walnut Grove Road.
          The Tennessee Erosion Control's conference, Muddy Water Blues, will be Tuesday through Thursday.
          The Tuesday session is designed for developers, contractors, builders, inspection and enforcement officials, plan preparers and reviewers, designers and engineers. It will help participants learn about the many areas of erosion control, including the impact of erosion on Tennessee's natural resources. The overall objective is for participants to become a Tennessee-certified Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control inspector.
          Part of the focus on the second day is on construction industry professionals such as site operators, inspectors, designers and construction supervisors. Local and regional experts will inform participants about state and local requirements related to new initiatives, including how to pass construction-site inspections.
          The final day of the workshop will be outdoor demonstrations. Participants will experience different erosion and sediment control practices, including rolled erosion control products, sediment detention basins and silt fences.
          For more information about the workshop, visit www.tnepsc.org.

With Lower Prime Rate, Credit Card Rates Could Drop

     Credit card debt will soon get a bit easier to handle now that the Federal Reserve has lowered the benchmark interest rate by a half percentage point.
          In response to the Fed rate cut, commercial banks have been lowering their prime rate, which affects the approximately 85 percent of U.S. credit cards with variable rates, according to CardWeb.com Inc., an online publisher of payment card information. The prime rate, or what banks charge their best borrowers, has dropped to 7.75 percent from 8.25 percent, a level it's held at for 15 months until this week.
          Right now, the standard fixed rate for credit cards is 13.48 percent and the standard-variable rate is 14.57 percent, according to personal finance Web site Bankrate.com.
          The effect of the rate cut should trickle down to card holders starting in October or November, and if the lower rate holds over the next 12 months, that should translate to $30 per year in savings for people with the median card debt of $7,000, CardWeb said. That adds up to a total of $4 billion in interest rate savings for Americans with variable rate-based credit cards.
          The five Visa and MasterCard issuers with the largest card portfolios are Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Capital One Financial Corp. and HSBC Holdings PLC, according to Nilson Report data.

HUD Awards $18.5 Million For Low-Income Elderly

     U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson has announced nearly $18.5 million in Section 202 Demonstration Planning Grant (DPG) funds will be awarded to 75 sponsors who provide supportive housing for low-income elderly.
     The Douglas Cherokee Economic Authority Inc. will receive $148,800 for two projects planned for Tennessee communities in Nashville and Cleveland, Tenn.
     The grant, called predevelopment funds, will assist sponsors of the Section 202 Elderly Housing projects in 31 states. The Section 202 DPG Program will provide up-front funds for predevelopment activities such as architectural and engineering work, site control and other expenses related to the development of projects before the initial closing.
     To be eligible for the grants, the activities must be eligible also for funding under the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program. The maximum grant amount per single application is $400,000, and no more than $800,000 can go to a single sponsor or its organizations.
PROPERTY SALES 51 328 20,960
MORTGAGES 58 387 24,132
BUILDING PERMITS 170 842 43,435
BANKRUPTCIES 50 288 13,468