Burn, Baby, Burn? With Half of Arizona Homes Underwater, Some People May Hope Wildfires Solve Their Problem

Categories: Burning Arizona


wallow fire smoke.jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons
​With half of Arizona homes worth far less than the mortgages owed on them, some homeowners may be secretly wishing the wildfires would pay their property a visit.

We ran that idea past a couple of real estate agents today, and both agreed it makes sense.

"A fire could be a blessing in disguise if I'm upside down in my home and have insurance," says Carlos Jessup, who sells homes for people in northern Arizona.

Arizona was one of the hardest-hit states in the real estate meltdown. Property values plunged to half of what they were during the boom in the mid-2000s. A new report by research firm CoreLogic shows that a solid 50 percent of Arizona homes are still underwater. Only Nevada has fared worse.

Now, the wildfire disaster in the White Mountains is likely to be followed by an economic one. Homeowners will see their property values drop further if they're surrounded by a charred wasteland.

Levels of insurance coverage vary, but banks typically insist that mortgages are covered by insurance in case of a major problem. Often, says Tucson real estate agent Judy Smedes, "if the house burns down, the mortgage companies get the money."

People with underwater mortgages dwell on their options and might consider fire an escape hatch.

"The mortgage would be paid off through your insurance, and off you go," Smedes says.

Many of the mountain homes threatened by the wildfires are second homes, and so might have fewer sentimental possessions inside.

Firefighters have so far done a good job protecting structures even as the Wallow Fire and Horseshoe fire claim a total of more than a half-million acres.

Maybe too good -- considering that many homes in the area aren't likely to be worth what's owed on them until the pine trees grow back.


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My heart goes out to allthe wildfire victims. In times like these- a warm, safe place to stay can be abeacon of hope for people. Anyone can visit www.sparkrelief.org to find a home nearby that has been offered as atemporary home for victims. If anyone would like to offer an extra bedroom orguesthouse to a displaced victim, please visit www.sparkrelief.org in order to do so. Sparkrelief is a web applicationthat makes it easy for communities to band together in times of naturaldisasters and offer shelter to their fellow neighbors. Please visit the websiteto see how you can help!


I know of someone who bought a drug-seizure property a few years ago (the house was set up as a meth lab).  The property contained the worthless chemical-contaminated house plus a few acres of valuable fruit/nut trees.  He planned on "scraping" the house and building a new one.

Well, a wildfire swept through about a year after he bought the property -- the fire burned up all the valuable trees, but firefighters were able to save the house!

To folks who are underwater on their vacation-home mortgages, here's hoping that your fire insurance is up to date and that firefighters are too busy to save your house!

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Perhaps a home owner set these fires.    Wouldn't be the first time.

Johnny Skee Mask
Johnny Skee Mask

I wholeheardtly agree. It was probably planned out, in a conspiratural plot. While some of them are posting blame on the illegal aliens. This could be the inner workings of a few disgruntled homwowners trying to find an easy way out.

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