July 2008 News Archive

Thursday, July 31, 2008. US: UPDATE on Public Citizen's report on abuses of binding mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts: Keeping Sham Research from Distorting the Policy Debate Public Citizen's report debunks the Chamber of Commerce's claim that consumers fare better in arbitrations than in court. In a devastating critique, Public Citizen points to intellectual dishonesty pervading the Chamber's studies. For example, the Chamber cites a study as concluding that arbitration agreements "put the consumer on equal terms with the businesses that drafted them . . ." but omits the sentences immediately following that cautioned that "the appearance of a level playing field may be deceptive" and detailed criticisms of the process. In another incredible example, the Chamber claims that only one study has found that consumers prevail less than half the time in arbitrations--but in fact cites four other studies that found the same thing. It cites surveys ostensibly showing that consumers were satisfied with arbitration, but fails to mention that these surveys were about voluntary arbitration, not pre-dispute agreements buried in adhesion contracts. At one point, the Chamber falsely touts one study as not sponsored by the arbitration industry.

Thursday, July 31, 2008. Mortgage Fraud Blog: Daily news of mortgage fraud Realtors, builders, appraisers, lenders, many industry insiders indicted and convicted in mortgage fraud cases. News posted on this lawyer's blog almost daily on latest cases.

Thursday, July 31, 2008. Patrick.net: Housing Crash Today's news of the housing market, bailout, etc.

Thursday, July 31, 2008. Construction Web Links: Materials in New Home Constitute Interstate Commerce, So Federal Arbitration Act Controls, California Court Holds Calif. case. Shepard v. Edward Mackay Enterprises, 148 Cal.App.4th 1092, 56 Cal.Rptr.3d 326 (2007). (This particular argument causes many cases to fall under federal laws which can be less friendly to the consumer than state laws, so we're told by some attorneys. --Ed.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US; Public Citizen: The Arbitration Debate Trap: How Opponents of Corporate Accountability Distort the Debate on Arbitration This report examines two recent papers on binding mandatory arbitration that were published or financially supported by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Public Citizen analyzes the empirical evidence that these "Chamber Papers" cite, finding that they paint a grossly inaccurate picture of the evidence on binding mandatory arbitration. Significantly, not a single study cited in the Chamber papers showed individuals receiving higher average awards in arbitration than court. Individuals also fared worse in most other measures comparing the two forums. Finally, even the author of the papers, Catholic University law professor Peter Rutledge, has contradicted many of the papers' claims in his past writings. (Links to full report at end of article.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US; NAHB's Nation's Building News: Ask the Lawyer: Enforcing Personal Guaranties How builders might get out of "personal guarantees" required of them by their banks if they default on loans.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US: The real reason builders lobbied for the housing "bailout" bill... "Builders Can Use New Tax Credit to Help Spur Home Sales" -- National Association of Home Builders' "Nation's Building News" website.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. AZ; Nat'l interest: Experts warn home buyers about foreclosures "The builder filed for bankruptcy last week, and left quite the mess for home owners in the area."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. FL: Another Tampa luxury builder bankrupt Smith Family Homes files for ch. 7 bankruptcy, (liquidation). Leaves creditors holding the bag; banks, suppliers, subcontractors. Article doesn't say what effect it has on home buyers if any were under contract at the time. "Levitt & Sons filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November. Tousa, formerly known as Transeastern Homes, entered Chapter 11 in January. In June, SimDag LLC, developer of Trump Tower Tampa, threw itself on the mercy of bankruptcy court."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US: National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) spent $1.6M lobbying for bailout alone (also spent many more millions lobbying various govt agencies and our elected officials for other laws that benefit building industry.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US: WCI Communities says in default on bank loans luxury home builder, said Tuesday that it has defaulted on its bank loan agreements, after failing to meet minimum liquidity levels required by bank lenders.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008. US Senate: UPDATE: Courting Big Business: The Supreme Court’s Recent Decisions on Corporate Misconduct and Laws Regulating Corporations Statement of Sen. Dick Durbin, Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Mandatory Pre-Dispute Arbitration

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act—in Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams (2001) and Gilmer v. Interstate Johnson Lane Corp. (1991)—similarly stacks the deck against workers and consumers. Too often, Americans have no choice but to sign away their rights when applying for a job, signing up for a credit card, or engaging in other consumer transactions. This means that disputes between employers and employees and between businesses and consumers are resolved by a for-profit arbitration firm—not the traditional courts. It is estimated that 30 million American employees—25% of the non-union workforce—have lost the right to go to court to pursue discrimination claims due to mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses.

A high-level manager of one of these firms has called mandatory arbitration a “field of dreams.” But as Harvard Law Professor and arbitration judge Elizabeth Bartholet has testified before this Committee, mandatory pre-dispute arbitration can be a nightmare for employees and consumers. Because companies are repeat players in the often unfair game of arbitration, they call the shots. As a result, it is exceedingly rare for an employee or a consumer to prevail in one of these arbitration hearings. Arbitration firms and their clients routinely reject arbitrators like Professor Bartholet, who are independent and on occasion rule for a consumer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US: Solving the Fannie and Freddie problem Housing bill is dangerous...would bailout big banks and mortgage lenders that made risky bets in the housing bubble – putting up to $300 billion worth of taxpayer dollars at risk.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. IN: UPDATE: Davis Homes chief to start again Davis Homes CEO Brad Davis said today he plans to begin building custom and semi-custom houses before the end of the year.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. CT: Attorney General Blumenthal suit alleges homebuilder cut corners Shoddy work cost consumrs half a million in repairs. Bowden Development and owner Lloyd Bowden did not bolt roofs to walls or install vital column supports. ... "These mistakes could have been fatal, collapsing roofs or walls, injuring or even killing families," Blumenthal said. "The developer left these homes unfinished, uninhabitable and unsafe because he was unqualified and unscrupulous." ... Also, Bowden's work resulted in cracked walls, unsecure foundations, water damage and missed deadlines, Blumenthal said. The company also would not make repairs when consumers complained, the suit adds.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. Consumer Reports: Child's drowning leads to manslaughter charges against pool builder State Attorney David Cohen told the Greenwich Time that Lionetti's company failed to install a legally required safety vacuum-release system on the Cohn family's pool, and a mandated dual-drain system, Cohen said.

Under Connecticut law, municipal building inspectors are responsible for ensuring that pool plans are up to code and for inspecting the finished pool before issuing a certificate of occupancy. The Cohn's lawsuit contends that the town issued the permits without inspecting the plans and did not conduct a final inspection before issuing the certificate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US: FEMA seeks immunity from suits over trailer fumes Federal Emergency Management Agency asked federal judge Wednesday for immunity from lawsuits over potentially dangerous fumes in government-issued trailers that have housed tens of thousands of Gulf Coast hurricane victims. Related video: Mold found in trailers for Iowa flood victims.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. FL: Builder Laurent Gillot's Plane crashes into Ocean Ridge City Hall A home developer who said in court documents that he kept a plane secret from creditors during his bankruptcy crashed a twin-engine Cessna on Tuesday afternoon at the site of the town's nearly completed $4 million municipal complex. (Builder may have been doing biz under "L.G.P.M.")

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US: Housing Bill Adds Second Lien Amendment; DAPs (DPA's = Down Payment Assistance programs) to Be Eliminated Seller-funded downpayment assistance allows property sellers, including largely home builders, to donate funds to a non-profit agency, which then “gifts” the funds to a borrower as a down payment on a new home. The non-profits make a tidy processing fee, while critics — and even government agencies such as the IRS — have for years blasted the practice as a legalized scam.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. AZ: MORE: Homebuilders fighting home warranty proposition (This article does not require registration to view) Officials from the organizations that represent homebuilders in Arizona are asking a judge to prevent a vote on a measure that would require their members to provide 10-year warranties on what they sell.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. CA: Santa Clara County housing defaults set record, thousands nearing foreclosure Going bust: Homeowners aren't only ones getting battered. Lafferty Homes joins builders Tousa, Levitt & Sons, Kimball Hill, in bankruptcy

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. AZ: Comments on "Builders protest warranty bill" Comments appear to be free to read, while article requires registration.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. IN: Davis Homes shuts down One of the state’s largest local homebuilders ceased operations

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US; corporate press release: HOMEBUILDER GETS UNEXPECTED FUNDING FROM IRA INVESTORS When the banks say "No," some smart investors say "Yes" to these frustrated borrowers, using their retirement funds. (Wouldn't you just love to have yours or your company's retirement account used to fund homebuilders right now? NOT! --Ed.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US: Builders Sue Banks That Pull Financing The love affair between banks and builders during the housing boom has deteriorated into a series of divorces now spilling into the courts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. US: Builders Dislike Taste Of Own Medicine Turnabout, apparently, isn’t fair play.

After years of graft, deceptive lending and millions in profits on shoddily built houses, homebuilders are getting their just desserts.

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks, under pressure from regulators and shareholders to reduce their exposure to the housing market, are backing out of construction loans en masse. Builders, for their part, are crying foul.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008. FL: Demand Is Intensifying For Mortgage Chief To Resign A second group called for Florida's top mortgage regulator to step down Tuesday, a day after the state's chief financial officer asked for his resignation.

Their demands followed a newspaper investigation that revealed his office approved licenses for thousands of mortgage brokers with criminal backgrounds. Some went on to commit nearly $85 million in mortgage fraud.

Sunday, July 20, 2008. US: Confessions of a Subprime Lender The lack of professionalism, the crazy loans, the finagle factor and the open fraud finally drove Bitner from the business. Although he escaped the worst of the mortgage meltdown, the company he founded did not; it folded in early 2007.

Saturday, July 19, 2008. US: Housing Starts and Permits Were Actually Down -- Not Up -- In June Sside from aberrational rush to beat new building codes, we saw 4% decrease.

Saturday, July 19, 2008. US: Freddie Mac brass cash in as company tumbles: Freddie CEO brings in $10.6 million for himself If Freddie decides to seek public funds, it will look laughably hypocritical. When it comes to CEO pay, this is a company that wants to operate like a private business but, when the going gets rough, it pulls the federal trump card. That's crap.

Think about it: any bailout will be indirectly supporting that eight-figure compensation.

Friday, July 18, 2008. US: Calif. Attorney General Amends Countrywide Complaint On June 20, 2008 California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. sued Countrywide for engaging in deceptive advertising and unfair competition by pushing homeowners into risky loans for the sole purpose of reselling the mortgages on the secondary market. ... “These shocking new details provide further evidence of Countrywide’s dangerous lending practices, which included ignoring borrowers’ low credit scores and rewarding employees for selling risky loans,” Attorney General Brown said. “In one case the company approved an adjustable rate mortgage to an 85-year-old disabled veteran with such a low credit score and high debt that he defaulted in less than six months.” (Countrywide is the preferred lender of KB Home and Beazer, both of which quickly shed their in-house mortgage firms after federal fines and investigations into their lending practices. --Ed.)

Friday, July 18, 2008. Mother Jones: Diddling While America Burns The subprime crisis isn't simple. It isn't about wanna be Donald Trumps buying McMansions. Rather, it wasn't just about that...there was a clear pattern of deception, hard sell, and outright fraud in these loans. And that they were specifically targeted at poor, elderly blacks, and black neighborhoods.

Friday, July 18, 2008. US: The fine print: 10 secrets your bank keeps SmartMoney reveals the top things that your bank may not be telling you including arbitration clauses.

Friday, July 18, 2008. TX; Nat'l interest: BBB Q&A: What do you think of new BBB ratings? By Dan Parsons, president of Better Business Bureau, Houston. dparsons@bbbhou.org. Parsons asks readers to answer questions and comment about the BBB's rating system. See also HADD's Message Board under Everything Else, where we've started a BBB thread for the whole country not just TX.

Friday, July 18, 2008. TX: UPDATE: Judge: Kids in homes near wall must leave Wall originally built by Meca Homes crumbling for years, recent rains have caused large boulders to fall. Has also led to flooding. Meca is bankrupt.

Friday, July 18, 2008. Counter Punch: Eulogy for the Ownership Society: Swan Song for Fanny Mae It makes no sense to provide trillions of dollars of taxpayer money to shore up a system that is essentially dysfunctional. It's just throwing money down a rat-hole.

Friday, July 18, 2008. US: Corporate Fraud + Government Intervention = Bailout Nation More on how bailout bills in congress mostly reward the industries/people who caused a bubble and bust.

Friday, July 18, 2008. NV: Lake Las Vegas Developer, Affiliates File Ch. 11 Lake at Las Vegas Joint Venture LLC, the master developer of the 3,600-acre Lake Las Vegas and its independent subsidiaries on Thursday filed for protection from creditors under Ch. 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code.

Friday, July 18, 2008. US: Windward Homes changes name to K. Hovnanian Homes FL company will now be known as K. Hovnanian Homes after Hovnanian Enterprises, headquartered in Red Bank, N.J.

Thursday, July 17, 2008. US: Builders Protection Group; (finally a home warranty company whose name says it all!) (Click on "Limited Warranty Document" to read that there will be an arbitration clause the homeowner is 'tied' to. Also, on the About Us page on this site, pictures scrolled by of construction sites including a house with windows installed without one lick of window flashing. That omission can be a code violation and many GOOD builders know it means the windows will leak, rotting the walls from the inside out. We'll keep an eye on this company and would appreciate feedback from homeowners who have this co's policy. --Ed.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008. Building Online, a building industry site: Louisiana-Pacific Reaches Settlements in OSB Litigation OSB antitrust litigation. Appears industry people are the "class" in this lawsuit, not consumers.

Thursday, July 17, 2008. FL; CNN: Yahoo news VIDEO: Bombs found in Orlando suburb UPDATE on Lennar development.

Thursday, July 17, 2008. Nat'l interest: Florida's economy: 'a human pyramid scheme' A construction-based economy that depends on a thousand newcomers today, whose jobs in turn depend on drawing another thousand the next day...Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation, and leads the nation in mortgage fraud.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008. US: Homebuilders Still Building Plenty Many new developments still building; D.R. Horton mold lawsuits, etc.

Monday, July 14, 2008. US: Other voices: Fannie mayhem, Freddie doubt finally come into public focus We haven't suddenly become socialists. What taxpayers need to understand is that Fannie and Freddie already practice socialism, albeit of the dishonest kind. Their profit is privatized but their risk is socialized...The Washington political class has nurtured and subsidized these financial beasts for decades in return for their campaign cash and lobbying support. Wall Street and the homebuilders also cashed in on the subsidized business, and also paid back Congress in cash and carry.

The losers have been the taxpayers, who will now have to pay the price for this collusion.

Monday, July 14, 2008. NV: Lobbyists flout disclosure rules Lobbyists who failed to disclose include Jennifer Lazovich of Kummer, Kaempfer, Bonner, Renshaw & Ferrario, who represents check-cashing stores, homebuilders and billboard companies.

Monday, July 14, 2008. US: Let the Lawsuits Begin; Banks Brace for a Storm of Litigation The ticking time bomb in the U.S. banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.

Monday, July 14, 2008. NPR: Fannie, Freddie Critics Say Warnings Were Ignored Political clout and donations of Fannie, Freddie, builders, realtors.

Monday, July 14, 2008. AZ: UPDATE: Queen Creek community upset about flooding Pulte development

Monday, July 14, 2008. Yahoo News: Downsize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Fannie and Freddie) are socialist instruments holding great sway over private finance from Wall Street to Main Street, having built up powerful allies among home builders and real estate agents to keep it that way.

Monday, July 14, 2008. NC: Portrait Homes firewalls unfinished Update on inadequate firewall construction in new townhomes that failed to meet state law.

Monday, July 14, 2008. IA: Central State Bank sues Regency executives Regency Homes owes nearly $400,000

Monday, July 14, 2008. UT: Dared to dream, and lost it all: Sour investors say firm misled them with inflated land appraisals Although Moss named a dozen defendants in the lawsuit -- including appraisers, loan officers and builders -- he lays most of the blame in the lap of Kimberly Schneider, of South Jordan, who ran Transform America Mortgage and Dare to Dream.

Monday, July 14, 2008. The Oregonian: Real estate is shaky ground for Northwest banks Construction and development loans come back to haunt Oregon lenders as their stocks plunge amid the national credit crisisConstruction and development loans come back to haunt Oregon lenders as their stocks plunge amid the national credit crisis

Saturday, July 12, 2008. CA: UPDATE: Financing approved for Diablo Grande Diablo Grande’s new owner also would acquire the developing community’s debts, which so far total about $59 million — a sticky selling point.

Saturday, July 12, 2008. FL: Holiday Builders lays off workers Holiday, the second largest locally-based homebuilder, also has pulled out of markets in Ohio and Mississippi.

Saturday, July 12, 2008. Wall St. Journal: Fannie Mae Ugly If there's any other good news in all this, it is that the scandal of Fannie and Freddie is at last coming into public focus. The Washington political class has nurtured and subsidized these financial beasts for decades in return for their campaign cash and lobbying support. Wall Street and the homebuilders also cashed in on the subsidized business, and also paid back Congress in cash and carry.

The losers have been the taxpayers, who will now have to pay the price for this collusion. Maybe the press corps will even start reporting how this vast confidence game could happen.

Saturday, July 12, 2008. CO: Foreclosures go high-end Million-dollar homes, offices, show up on rolls

Saturday, July 12, 2008. Nat'l interest: $1 million is lost in deal backed by risky loans What the city thought was a highly rated short-term investment known as commercial paper turned out to be a risky security backed in part by subprime mortgages, city officials said. The name of the paper is Golden Key, which at the time of the investment was a $5 billion program.

St. Paul is joining a growing list of municipalities, institutions and agencies trying to recoup losses as the subprime mortgage meltdown continues to rock financial markets. Cities in Iowa and Indiana have sued brokers for selling them investments not allowed by governments because they are too risky.

Friday, July 11, 2008. OK: Legislators Seek Regier's Ouster State Senators Debbe Leftwich and Harry Coates called on the Construction Industries Board (CIB) today to remove Jerry Regier as the agency's Interim Director. Regier was hired last week - a move the two legislators believe to be pointless...good 'ole boy system

Friday, July 11, 2008. OK: State construction board hires interim leader Jerry Regier, who resigned a state post in Florida after he was accused of ethical lapses, has been hired as interim administrator of a state agency in Oklahoma. Regier was chosen to head up the Board of Construction Industries of Oklahoma until a permanent director is named

Friday, July 11, 2008. SC: UPDATE on DR Horton cases: Homeowners file suit; mold tests planned Poor workmanship and lack of appropriate window flashings are factors in the water intrusion...Two Daniel Island families already have said they moved from their D.R. Horton homes because their kids' doctors recommended it after seeing the results of mold tests.

Friday, July 11, 2008. SC: UPDATE: D.R. Horton faces mold lawsuits Several other families recently talked about having mold problems with their D.R. Horton-built homes

Thursday, July 10, 2008. MO: County adopts builders contract assuring promised amenities are delivered DeSoto County developers will be required to sign contracts providing that amenities promised in subdivision applications are either built or bonded before final plans are approved, beginning Aug. 1.

Thursday, July 10, 2008. US: UPDATE: FEMA trailers debated on Hill “What happened is a disgrace on the part of government,” he said. “But it is not an exoneration of the manufacturers.”

Thursday, July 10, 2008. CO; Nat'l interest: Fewer than 2,000 move to Fort Collins in year "(Builders) got overaggressive on housing ... they overbuilt, provided mortgage money to people who they knew couldn't afford it," Neenan said. "Now the call is for more governance."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008. SC: Another Family Forced from Mold Infested Home Mold is taking over some Daniel Island homes and forcing families to move out. The families say shoddy construction is to blame. They are prepared to fight mega home builder D.R. Horton. ... Contractor David Geesaman thinks the problems are a direct result of the builder cutting corners.

"There is no flashing. The contractor just skipped that phase and didn't add any flashing at all," Geesaman explained.

Flashing is the protective border between the siding of a house and the house itself.

"It’s very important. You'll just end up with this problem we have in these houses, mold and mildew and always being wet around the windows."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008. US: Mortgage crisis worse than advertised The latest shoe to drop is the role of hundreds of regional banks, previously thought impervious, that are now being exposed as having been complicit. This means that involvement with faulty mortgages ensnared in the overvalued assets is more widespread than first believed.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008. PA: Effort contractor took money, didn't perform the work A jury Tuesday convicted J&R Contracting owner Richard Coad of Effort on theft charges.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008. US: Why This Housing Bust Is Worst Ever: The American Dream Ends Reader comments at end, too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008. FL: Homeowner's two-year battle with contractor yields charges (Homeowner's 2 yr battle with "Jack B. Quick:") Getting prosecutors to charge Quick was a battle for Rowe. The disputes, which the St. Petersburg Times first profiled in 2006, were the kind that authorities often dismiss as matters for the civil courts. Other victims — fearing costly legal fees and emotional trauma — might have abandoned the cases long ago. Quick's state and county contractor's licenses remain active and in good standing...Even with Quick's bankruptcy case, a judgment against him would allow Rowe and Myers to seek money from a recovery fund for victims of construction fraud. But there are hurdles to getting access to that money, which suggests all the more to Rowe that the system favors contractors more than homeowners. "That's why most people give up," Rowe said. "But as they say, it only takes one person to start something and others will follow."...Rowe sought out other Quick customers, including Myers, to see if they had experiences like hers. Several said they did and filed complaints with various local and state agencies.

After their investigation, prosecutors found cause to pursue Rowe's and Myers' cases. ... Rowe said someone needs to protect the homeowner, so she's looking into starting a service to provide background checks on contractors.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2332.

Still, Rowe's struggle for restitution is far from over.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008. US: Beazer Homes: Old Name Reaches New Low Stock trader says, "Beazer Homes Worthless."

Monday, July 07, 2008. Mother Jones: Why the Economy Went South A reformed Wall Streeter explains where Congress went wrong on lending. Plus, a timeline of the mortgage crisis.

Monday, July 07, 2008. Big Builder Online: Lobbyist Says Tax Carry-Back Not Dead Even though the Net-Operating-Loss Carry Back (NOL) provision has been stripped from the housing relief bill now before the U.S. Senate, an independent lobbyist who has been working with 16 large public and private home builders on the issue said there is considerable support among lawmakers for such a provision and that NOL is not dead. (MORE on the Builder Bailout effort in congress, to bail out industries that some say created the housing bubble. Article is update to one previously posted, Big Builders at odds wtih NAHB. Link to it is in this article in sentence beginning with, "The National Association of Home Builders has withdrawn its...")

Monday, July 07, 2008. NJ: No one's home: Newark and builder at odds over housing project Nearly a third of the units have been vandalized. Copper pipes have been ripped from the walls, leaving several units flooded and moldy.

Still, developer Tony Gomes insists the project is complete and, with a few repairs, ready for occupancy.

Monday, July 07, 2008. US: Foreclosures to rise, whoever wins White House Which candidate would do a better job of handling housing prices? In the poll, 25 percent said Obama and 17 percent thought McCain. Nearly 30 percent said neither. Although most voters think the next president will have a "great deal" or "some" influence over housing prices, the reality is there is no quick fix.

Monday, July 07, 2008. US: Obama's and McCain's Housing Plans Comparison.

Monday, July 07, 2008. US: The Hazards of Flooding – Parts I and II Floodwater may cause toxic mold

Monday, July 07, 2008. US: We Act or Market will Do So For Us Congress was warned...(but) sits on its hands and does nothing about rampant, blatant, admitted fraud in the banking system....The "solution" from Congress? Spend more money we don't have. Create more "programs" for "economic stimulus" and handouts to lenders and builders. Shift even more burden onto the backs of taxpayers, even though the money is not there to fund these programs, leading to nearly five hundred billion dollars in new deficit spending proposed or passed in the first six months of this year alone.

Monday, July 07, 2008. SC: Buyers seek builder's answers Unfinished projects, defects: Homeowners wonder if developer Martin Henry Investments and affiliated construction company A & J Builders have run out of money.

Saturday, July 05, 2008. NV; Nat'l interest: Home, but for how long? 79-year-old put her trust in man accused of mortgage fraud, only to find she no longer owns her house: Steven Grimm is scheduled to answer additional federal charges in connection with alleged mortgage fraud. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Friday, July 04, 2008. Big Builder Online: Big Builders At Odds with NAHB A rift between the nation's largest home building companies and the National Association of Home Builders regarding lobbying strategy is threatening to grow into a schism that could greatly weaken the organization...Among the issues cited by big builders is the NAHB's failure to get Congress to agree to include a tax carry-back provision in either the original housing stimulus bill passed last year or the housing relief legislation now making its way through Congress.

Friday, July 04, 2008. FL: UPDATE: Live bombs haunt Orlando neighborhood Lennar development

Friday, July 04, 2008. DC: Jordan Court ‘mold monster’ renders local family homeless More than a month has passed since doctors ordered a young Daniel Island family to abandon their home. It happened after inspectors told Ben and Joy Allen that their eight-year-old-house at 100 Jordan Court appeared to have major construction defects and contained hazardous levels of toxic mold. Improperly flashed windows and water infiltration.

Friday, July 04, 2008. CO: Title company’s files subpoenaed Possible kickback scheme investigated: The subpoena ordered Legacy Title Group to turn over all documents related to the sale of houses at 5134, 5144, 5164, 5174 and 5184 Balsam Street.

The letter asks Morning Star Real Estate on Lehman Drive to voluntarily surrender its files as the broker representing builder Contour Homes in the transactions.

Friday, July 04, 2008. IL, multi state: Alleged mortgage fraud schemer remains on house arrest Brown, 44, was allegedly the ringleader of a mortgage scheme involving more than 30 defendants that fraudulently obtained roughly $111 million in loans on about 183 homes in locations ranging from the Chicago suburbs to Nevada and California, according to a federal indictment.

It says the defendants included "straw purchasers" recruited to buy homes, loan originators who prepared false loan applications, home builders and a lawyer who oversaw home closings.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. US Dept of Housing and Urban Development: Comment on proposed rule change that might affect housing Some "Down Payment Assistance Programs" (DPA's) have been called a scam by the IRS, and HUD tried to shut some of them down. They increase foreclosures, artificially inflate the price of houses, and mostly just help builders,(their biggest user), to sell houses. Some articles have compared such seller assisted financing "money laundering." HADD has posted many articles on this issue on our news page and message board. Please read the related material on HADD and consider a comment.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. WA: SPEAK UP ABOUT YOUR WASHINGTON STATE BUILDER EXPERIENCE WA State Dept. of Licensing site: Residential Contractor Customer Survey: Take a survey to tell us how satisfied you are with your experiences with residential contractors in Washington State.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. Blog Talk Radio: Mark your Calendars for JULY 3rd: Find Out What's Really Behind Those "You Can't Sue Me" Clauses! Ira Rheingold, Executive Director and General Counsel of the National Association of Consumer Advocates (Naca.net) and Janet Ahmad, President of HomeOwners for Better Building (hobb.org) discuss the costly, unfair and harmful effects of binding mandatory arbitration. Call-in Number: (718) 664-6583

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. US: MORE on Lenders must prove they own the loan before they can foreclose Foreclosures are on the rise, and lenders and loan servicers are making a lot of mistakes in the process. In many cases, the servicers don't have the right to foreclose on homes because they don't own the loans. But unless borrowers challenge their foreclosures in court, the servicers prevail. A Harvard graduate, and law professor at the University of Iowa, Katherine Porter talks about a dirty little secret of the lending industry."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. WI: Wisconsin court bars fraud lawsuits in home sales Home buyers who believe a seller has lied to them cannot sue for fraud to recover damages, a divided Wisconsin Supreme Court said Tuesday. The decision is bad news for home owners and sellers and makes Wisconsin the only state in the country barring civil fraud cases in real estate transactions, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley said. She was one of three justices who broke with the four-member majority. The opinion opens the door for a home seller to "look the buyer in the eye, lie about the condition of the home, and escape legal consequences," Bradley said.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008. US: Pulte begs for a govt bailout Be sure to read the readers' comments at the end!