The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Which one are we missing?

Via Calculated Risk, the story of Maricopa, Ariz., in which we find Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Pride, but surprisingly little Wrath (and only a brief cameo by Lust):

In the early 1990s, Maricopa was a small farming community with a population of about 600, mostly longtime farmers and Hispanic laborers, along with a few American Indians. Local businesses included a low-profile Nissan testing site and the state’s largest beef-cattle feed lots — industries that chose Maricopa because it was out of the way. But as Phoenix grew, far-thinking developers began buying up tracts of land in and around Maricopa. By 1996, one developer, Mike Ingram, had amassed with his business partners 18,000 acres — an area larger than the island of Manhattan — most of it purchased for $500 an acre or less.

The first subdivision was completed in 2003 and quickly sold out. The median price for a new home in the city was $147,000, about $80,000 less than a new home in Chandler. Other builders rushed to get in on Maricopa. ... Builders literally couldn’t put up houses fast enough, which drove up demand, which drove up prices and buzz. The median house price rose to $160,290 in 2004, then to $212,051 in 2005 and $281,798 in 2006. Subprime financing supercharged the town’s growth; according to First American CoreLogic, a housing-analysis firm based in Santa Ana, Calif., more than a third of buyers in Maricopa in 2004 and 2005 were subprime....

They happily left space in subdivisions for playgrounds and five new elementary schools, which they thought would help bring in the young families they were targeting, but they did not leave space for parks for older kids or for a high school. Each builder worked independently, so there were no paths connecting any of the subdivisions.

I called Daryl Fox in March, when I was back in New York. He told me his house was still on the market — now for $135,000 — and he still had not received a single offer. He said Weiss had told him that a foreclosed house on his block was on the market for $99,000. Meanwhile, the bank had informed him that unless he made payments, his house would go into foreclosure in May.

The story covers just about every reason why trying to get something for nothing, urban sprawl, borrowing beyond one's means, and people trying to make a quick buck make life very difficult for just about everyone.

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