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VOL. 123 | NO. 155 | Friday, August 8, 2008

Daily Digest

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Covington Pike Dealership Sells for $1.2 Million

Belle Properties LLC has bought a car dealership at 2001 Covington Pike in Raleigh for $1.2 million from Nick Belisomo. The sale closed Aug. 1. Belle Properties financed the purchase with two loans, one from BancorpSouth for $936,000 and one from the seller for $234,000.

The dealership, formerly a World Rental Car Sales, has become a 1st Choice Auto Sales, the company’s third Memphis location.

Belle Properties formerly was known as David Andrews Wholesale LLC. Attempts to reach the company’s chief manager, David Andrews, were unsuccessful.

The 2,931-square-foot auto dealership was built in 1981 and sits on 2.1 acres on the west side of Covington Pike. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2008 appraisal of the dealership is $738,700.

County Mortgage Activity Falters in July

Residential mortgages declined 37.5 percent in July compared to the same month a year ago, according to the latest Lender Analysis by real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Just 1,020 residential mortgages were made in Shelby County last month, down from the 1,633 made in July 2007 and down 9.2 percent from the 1,123 made in June.

The average mortgage amount in July was $160,268, down 2.6 percent from $164,545 in July 2007 but up 4.6 percent from $153,186 in June. The total dollar volume for the month was $163.5 million, down 39.2 percent from $268.7 million in July 2007 and down 5 percent from $172 million in June.

The top residential lenders in Shelby County in terms of total dollar volume were First Tennessee Bank NA with 75 mortgages totaling $13.6 million; Wells Fargo Ltd. (67, $12.3 million); Magna Bank formerly known as 1st Trust Bank for Savings (59, $11.5 million); SunTrust Mortgage Inc. (43, 9.4 million); and Bank of America NA (54, $7.8 million).

Year to date (January through July), Shelby County has seen 6,735 residential mortgages, down 33.8 percent from the 10,176 in the same period of 2007 and down 43.6 percent from the 11,947 in the same period of 2006.

The average mortgage amount for 2008 is $150,359, a 3.4 percent decline from $155,603 in 2007 and a 1.7 percent decline from $152,882 in 2006.

Hyde Family Foundation Gives $20M to Shelby Farms

Three days after winning approval from the Shelby County Board of Commissioners for a Shelby Farms master plan, the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy has a pledge for 20 percent of the money to move ahead with the first phase.

The Hyde Family Foundation is putting up $20 million for the first phase of park redevelopment, which includes an expansion of Patriot Lake to 150 acres, three times its current size, and a new playground in Plough Park.

The Hyde grant is matching and depends on the conservancy raising another $20 million from private donors by the end of the year.

The first phase is expected to take five years, after two years of planning and design work, and cost between $80 million and $100 million, according to Conservancy executive director Rick Masson.

You can read more about the transition of Shelby Farms Park in the July 30-Aug. 6 edition of The Memphis News (www.thememphisnews.com).

Pending Home Sales Rise 5.3 Percent

A measurement of pending home sales rose in June in a rare piece of positive news for the beleaguered market.

The National Association of Realtors’ seasonally adjusted index of pending sales for existing homes rose 5.3 percent to 89 from May’s reading, which was revised downward to 84.5 from an earlier reading of 84.7.

The June index was 12 percent below year-ago levels.

Home sales are considered pending when the seller has accepted an offer, but the deal has not yet closed. Typically, there is a one- to two-month lag before a sale is completed.

Last month, the Realtor group said completed sales of existing homes fell more sharply than expected in June, pushing activity down to the lowest level in more than a decade. Many analysts predict home prices will keep falling until at least next spring as tighter credit, a weaker job market and rising foreclosures scare potential buyers away.

Still, the NAR predicts a package of housing legislation signed by President Bush last week – particularly a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers – will aid a recovery.

Others are less optimistic about a market embroiled in its worst downturn in decades. Richard Syron, chief executive of mortgage finance company Freddie Mac, said Wednesday he expects home prices nationwide to fall 18 percent from peak to trough, according to their measure, and that the market is only halfway through the descent.

July Sales Mixed For Retailers

The outlook for the back-to-school shopping season seemed grim Thursday, as retailers’ July sales reports showed an increasing shift toward buying necessities

like food and household supplies at discounters and away from discretionary spending on clothing.

With the benefits of the government

stimulus checks fading and jobless claims

at a six-year high, the big worry is how much shoppers – squeezed by high gas and food

prices – will retrench in the critical months ahead.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, and Costco Wholesale Corp. posted solid gains. But July results for Wal-Mart fell slightly short of Wall Street forecasts.

Meanwhile, many mall-based apparel stores including Limited Brands Inc. and Gap Inc. suffered even deeper declines. Luxury stores such as Saks Inc., which operates Saks Fifth Avenue, also struggled with weaker sales as even affluent shoppers pull back.

“Consumers are in a fair amount of pain,” said Ken Perkins, president of research company RetailMetrics LLC. He worries that without the government stimulus money, shoppers won’t have any incentive to splurge on back-to-school merchandise.

“This is going to be a very promotional, challenging back-to-school season,” he added.

Farris Appointed To Board of Regents

Memphis attorney John M. Farris of Farris Bobango Branan PLC has been appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Gov. Phil Bredesen.

The Board of Regents manages the state university system, including the University of Memphis.

The 18-member board governs state universities, community colleges and technical centers. The board sets policies, selects the leadership and approves budgets.

Farris was appointed to the at-large seat for West Tennessee. His father, well-known attorney and political adviser William Farris, served that position for 18 years.

At Farris Bobango, John Farris concentrates his practice in the areas of governmental relations, tax law and telecommunications law. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Memphis, and his Masters of Law in taxation from Frederic G. Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.

Voter Registration Drive To Honor Health Center Week

Christ Community Health Services will host a voter registration drive Sunday through Aug. 16 in honor of National Health Center Week.

The drive will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3124 N. Thomas St., 2569 Douglass Ave., 2861 Broad Ave. and 3362 S. Third St.

Staff will be available to help with the registration process and those interested in general information about voter registration can visit www.shelbyvote.com.

National Health Center Week is an annual campaign that recognizes the services of community health centers across the United States.

Bredesen Warns Workers On Buyout Fence

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen warned this week in comments to reporters that any state employees still on the fence about whether or not to accept the state’s buyout offer are pursuing a risky course of action.

The state is attempting to shave its employee headcount in an attempt to close a budget shortfall, and Bredesen this week addressed rumors he’d heard that some people might be waiting to see if the state makes a better buyout offer in the future.

“Just as a matter of principle for me, I wouldn’t treat someone better in the future who didn’t take part in the first (round of buyouts),” Bredesen told reporters. “I think anything that comes from here is going to be less attractive than this buyout is. The most likely alternative at this point would be some sort of set of layoff notices in January.”

PROPERTY SALES 97 418 8,253
MORTGAGES 112 508 9,293
BUILDING PERMITS 194 1,059 18,126
BANKRUPTCIES 46 208 5,367