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VOL. 127 | NO. 254 | Monday, December 31, 2012

Daily Digest

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Mt. Moriah Hotel Sells for $1.3 Million

The 196-room Governors Inn & Suites at 2490 Mt. Moriah Road in Hickory Hill North has sold for $1.3 million to GHG Properties LLC and Jianping Zhu.

The Cerritos, Calif., investors bought the motel at Mt. Moriah and Interstate 240 last month from Dutt Krupa LLC. They also filed a $900,000 deed of trust through the seller.

Built in 1974, the 107,130-square-foot hotel sits on 3.36 acres along the north side of Mt. Moriah near its intersection with American Way. The Shelby County Assessor of Property’s 2012 appraisal is $2.6 million.

Dutt Krupa received the property in a $1 million quitclaim last year from S.A. Challenger Inc. That company had bought the property in 2010 for $1.4 million at a foreclosure sale.

It previously has been branded as the Mt. Moriah Plaza, as well as a Ramada and a Holiday Inn.

Source: The Daily News Online & Chandler Reports

– Daily News staff

Consumers Lose Confidence as Fiscal Cliff Approaches

U.S. consumers peering over the “fiscal cliff” don’t like what they see.

Fears of sharp tax increases and government spending cuts set to take effect next week sent consumer confidence tumbling in December to its lowest level since August.

The Conference Board said Thursday that its consumer confidence index fell for the second straight month in December to 65.1, down from 71.5 in November.

The survey showed consumers’ outlook for the next six months deteriorated to its lowest level since 2011 — a signal to Lynn Franco, the board’s director of economic indicators, that consumers are worried about the tax hikes and spending cuts that take effect Jan. 1 if the White House and Congress can’t reach a budget deal.

Stocks plummeted after the report was released. Earlier this week a report showed consumers held back shopping this holiday season, another indication of their concerns about possible tax increases.

The December drop in confidence “is obvious confirmation that a sudden and serious deterioration in hopes for the future took place in December — presumably reflecting concern about imminent ‘fiscal cliff’ tax increases,” said Pierre Ellis, an economist with Decision Economics.

The decline in confidence comes at a critical time when the economy is showing signs of improvement elsewhere.

A recovery in housing market is looking more sustainable. On Thursday, the government said new-home sales increased in November at the fastest seasonally adjusted annual pace in 2½ years.

And the job market has made slow but steady gains in recent months. The average number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits over the past month fell to the lowest level since March 2008.

But the political wrangling in Washington threatens the economy’s slow, steady progress.

President Barack Obama and House returned to Washington Thursday to resume talks with just days to go before the deadline.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that the government appears to be headed over the “fiscal cliff” because talks had gone nowhere. The Nevada Democrat made the comments minutes after the consumer confidence report was released.

The combination of weaker consumer confidence and dimming hopes of a deal on the “fiscal cliff” hit financial markets hard Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 132 points in early-afternoon trading. Broader indexes also declined.

– The Associated Press

MAAR Members Honored at End-of-Year Luncheon

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors named the recipients of its 2012 awards at its year-end luncheon Dec. 19 at the Hilton Memphis.

Leon Dickson Sr. of BenchMark at Southwind LLC was named 2012 Realtor of the Year.

Lewis Marshall of Crye-Leike Inc. Realtors was named 2012 Realtor-Associate of the Year.

The 2012 Affiliate of the Year honor went to Tammie Ledford of SecureWorx Construction.

Irvin Skopp of Belz Enterprises received the Outstanding Service Award.

Carol Lott, MAAR’s 2012 president, gave a Presidential Award to Greg Glosson of Fast Track Realty.

– Sarah Baker

Pink Palace Prepares Exhibit on Crafts Fair

The Memphis Pink Palace museum is preparing an exhibit on the 40-year old crafts fair that is an annual fundraiser for the city-operated museum.

Between Feb. 4 and Feb. 28, the museum is accepting images and applications from any craftsmen who had booths or worked in booths at any of the annual crafts fairs for the museum.

Submissions from the February time period are the only ones that will be considered for the exhibit, which is scheduled to run from May 11 to Sept. 29.

The display will be a juried exhibit of craftwork.

The crafts fair was originally held on the front lawn of the Pink Palace Museum on Central Avenue but quickly outgrew that space and is currently held at Audubon Park.

Applications and rules for submissions can be found at the museum’s website, www.memphismuseums.org.

– Bill Dries

US Mortgage Rates Decline to Near-Record Lows

The average rate on the U.S. 30-year fixed mortgage last week dipped closer to the lowest on record, a trend that is making home buying more affordable and also enabling more Americans to refinance their loans.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year loan declined to 3.35 percent from 3.37 percent last week. That’s not far from the 3.31 percent rate of about a month ago, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 2.65 percent. The record low is 2.63 percent.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.66 percent this year, Freddie Mac said, the lowest annual average in 65 years.

Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac, said the average 30-year rate has fallen 0.6 percentage points this year.

That would save a homeowner about $98,000 in interest payments over the life of a $200,000 loan, he said.

The Federal Reserve is purchasing about $85 billion each month in Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities in an effort to push down long-term interest rates.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that sales of new homes jumped 4.4 percent in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 377,000. That is the fastest pace in more than two and a half years and the latest sign the housing recovery is sustainable.

Low mortgage rates and steady hiring gains have encouraged more people to buy homes. Homeowners may also put their homes up for sale if they feel confident they can sell at a good price.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average mortgage rate doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.7 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for 15-year loans was also unchanged at 0.7 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage ticked down to 2.70 percent from 2.71 percent last week.

The fee was also unchanged at 0.7 point.

– The Associated Press

PROPERTY SALES 57 57 1,266
MORTGAGES 48 48 964