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VOL. 124 | NO. 164 | Friday, August 21, 2009

Daily Digest

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Enclave Files Loan For Remaining 19 Lots

The Enclave Partnership has filed a $1.5 million loan through Merchants & Planters Bank on its remaining 19 lots in The Enclave at Sparkle Creek Planned Development, a 33-lot, 106-acre development on Pisgah Road in unincorporated Shelby County near Cordova.

Fourteen lots have been sold in the development; of those, five homes are completed and five homes are under construction, two having just been completed and three more slated for completion in the next 90 days.

Keith Novick and his wife, Louise, are the partners in The Enclave Partnership. Novick, who developed the Estates at Sparkle Creek across the street in the mid-1990s, said the current housing situation hasn’t sparked a need to pursue any new developments at this time, and his focus is on selling what remains in the Enclave at Sparkle Creek.

“I’m real pleased in this economy with the way the things have been coming along,” he said. “We’re just navigating the current economy, and we’re pleased with the sales activity that we’ve had.”

The 14 remaining lots range in size from 2.2 acres to 4.3 acres and in price from $265,000 to $325,000. Novick said the Enclave at Spark Creek has stringent architectural restrictions, and though no homes in the development will likely be less than 7,000 square feet, the size of homes isn’t as critical as their aesthetics.

“We’re more concerned about the quality of the exterior appearance of the community and the homes than the square footage,” Novick said. “The overall appearance of the homes is more important than the size.”

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

Regions Financial Downgraded to ‘Hold’

Regions Financial Corp. has been downgraded by an analyst because a recent surge in its share price brought it in line with expectations, and the regional bank still could face steep losses from commercial real estate exposure.

Deutsche Bank analyst Matt O’Connor downgraded Regions to “Hold” from “Buy.”

In a research note, O’Connor said Regions shares have surged 44 percent since he upgraded shares in May, significantly outperforming the broader banking sector. That rise brought Regions’ share price in line with O’Connor’s trough tangible book estimate of $5.50 and just above his price target of $5.

Aside from the recent share price gains, O’Connor said Regions Financial still could face large losses from its exposure to commercial real estate loans.

It is widely expected defaults on those types of loans will increase sharply in the coming quarters, putting pressure on banks’ earnings.

“We continue to believe commercial real estate-related losses will be much higher than the market expects for banks overall,” including at Regions Financial, O’Connor wrote in the note.

Despite concerns about potential loan losses, O’Connor said Regions Financial is in a strong enough capital position to handle any losses, so there is little chance the bank would need to raise additional money.

TVA Hikes Rate 8 Percent, Cuts Fuel Charge

The Tennessee Valley Authority board has voted to raise the basic power rate 8 percent on Oct. 1.

The increase in the basic rate will add $5.52 monthly to the average household’s bill.

Officials, however, expect to cut the fuel adjustment charge for October, resulting in a savings of nearly $2 for the average residential bill – a reduction from $66.61 to $64.77.

The nation’s largest public utility said the rate hike was necessary to fund a $3 billion liability that includes bolstering the pension plan, paying for the cleanup of a massive coal ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant in East Tennessee and funding capital projects.

Under a new policy, TVA is adjusting the fuel surcharge monthly instead of quarterly.

Mortgage Delinquencies Hit Record High in Q2

More than 13 percent of American homeowners with a mortgage are either behind on their payments or in foreclosure as the recession throws more people out of work, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Thursday.

The record-high numbers in the report are being driven by borrowers with traditional fixed-rate mortgages, rather than the shady subprime loans with adjustable rates that kicked off the mortgage crisis. As of June, more than 4 percent of all borrowers were in foreclosure and about 9 percent had missed at least one payment.

One in three new foreclosures between April and June was from a prime, fixed-rate loan, up from one in five a year earlier. Last year, subprime adjustable-rate loans caused the largest share of foreclosures.

The worst of the trouble is still concentrated in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida, which accounted for 44 percent of new foreclosures in the country. Nearly 12 percent of all loans in Florida were in foreclosure, the highest in the U.S., followed by Nevada at 9 percent.

Indictments Made For Mortgage Fraud

Five people have been indicted by a federal grand jury for an alleged mortgage flipping scheme in Memphis.

Michael Lusk, Mykisha Williams, Gloria Buntyn, Keith Threatt and Melanie Wilkes have been arrested on charges of conspiracy, mail, wire and bank fraud.

Between February 2003 and March 2008, Lusk, who owned and operated several companies, recruited Williams (his wife) and others to purchase homes in Shelby County, according to the indictment. They would then allegedly flip the properties to straw buyers for substantially more than they had paid. Lusk and others allegedly would submit false, fraudulent and fictitious loan and closing documents.

The indictment also alleges Rex McCasland, an appraiser who previously entered a guilty plea to conspiracy, prepared appraisals with false value for the properties.

Lusk was also charged with two counts of money laundering. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $12 million, two residential properties purchased by Lusk, several vehicles and two Rolex watches.

The indictments are the result of a joint investigation by the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

U of M College of Education Receives Accreditation

The University of Memphis College of Education has received accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Specialized Professional Associations.

The two organizations recognized 17 of the college’s programs that have met their standards. The College of Education received its initial accreditation in 1954, the first year the NCATE began its accreditation process.

In addition to the new accreditations, students in two programs in the College of Education, the master’s degree in teaching and the master’s degree in education, are eligible for a new federal grant that will provide each recipient up to $4,000 per year. The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education grant is available for students who intend to teach full-time for at least four years in high-need subject areas in schools that serve students in low-income families.

A new graduate certification program designed to prepare teachers to be effective in urban schools also is being offered by the College of Education. The certificate will be awarded after completion of a 12-hour program, which can be combined with a master’s or doctoral degree program.

Cobblestones Focus Of Memphis Heritage Meeting

Memphis Heritage Inc. is hosting a meeting from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Howard Hall, 2282 Madison Ave., to discuss the history of Cobblestone Landing.

The organization is urging Memphians to take part in a public comment period for a restoration project of the area on the bank of the Mississippi River Downtown. Comments can be sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at James.M.Elcan@usace.army.mil. The deadline for comments is Sept. 1.

City Schools to Host Clinic Grand Openings

Memphis City Schools on Tuesday will host grand openings and tours of its three new clinics that it has opened in partnership with Memphis Health Center.

The clinics will provide diagnostic, preventive and treatment services for students during school hours. The grand opening ceremony is set for 11 a.m. at East High School. Other clinic tours will be from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Sheffield Career & Technology Center and from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Westwood High School.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751