November 2008 Archives

Sunday, November 30, 2008. National Interest: Nowadays, the bank says what a house is worth: Mortgage lenders determined to stave off additional losses are demanding more thorough home appraisals and carefully reviewing valuation figures. If an appraisal is deemed too thin on supporting data, lenders may reduce the loan amount for the property, or not make the loan at all.
And there is little room for arguing with banks about a valuation.

Sunday, November 30, 2008. New Mexico: 80 Year Old Couple Won't Lose Home Over $2: Order Dismisses Foreclosure Action: Dixie and Paul Williams have much to be thankful for -- to wit, not being thrown out of their South Valley home for $2 in late mortgage payments.

Sunday, November 30, 2008. Arizona: Loose Shingles Cause Concern: Centex Homeowner's in one Rio Rancho neighborhood say that numerous shingles are flying off of their roofs. The neighborhood plans on filing a class action lawsuit against Centex Home to recoup damages.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. Texas: EDITORIAL: Signs of Public Housing Neglect- Builder defects, shoddy workmanship: It might be a new face, but old problems are resurfacing. The second phase of the project, dubbed Frazier Wahoo, is not even a year old, and already there are signs of defects, shoddy workmanship and neglect by the Dallas Housing Authority and its on-site contractor, Alpha-Barnes Real Estate Management.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. California: Plea deal in Construction Fraud, dog abuse case: A Lockeford man accused of construction fraud and animal cruelty will serve three years in state prison after reaching a plea deal with the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. National Interest: Inside air quality is vital to homeowners’ health: There are some great publications available from the Environmental Protection Agency and many state environmental agencies, and I urge you to check into these and become more familiar with potential problems and ways to minimize or even totally avoid them. People spend a tremendous amount of time inside their homes, and factors ranging from limited fresh air entering the home to a growing use of synthetic building materials have made us more aware of problems with the quality of indoor air.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. National Interest: Identities stolen to tap into home equity: WASHINGTON - Federal authorities this week announced a series of arrests and convictions in connection with a global identity theft ring that stole millions of dollars by hijacking home-equity lines of credit issued to thousands of consumers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. Nevada: Their dreams shattered, investors left to wonder :Development company founder owes millions, some to retirees : Luis Rojas says monthly interest checks from developer Hans Seibt stopped arriving at least two months before Seibt wrote to his investors in August, saying he thought the real estate market would stabilize and they’d profit from property sales. Seibt filed for bankruptcy protection the next day.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. Florida: A case study in housing collapse : Thousands of miles from the trading floors of global stock markets, an abandoned house in one of Tampa's poorest neighborhoods is an improbable place to learn about why the world's financial system is collapsing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008. Washington: Investigators: Alleged foreclosure rescue scam goes to court: BELLEVUE, Wash.(Video) – Karen Handlin has been narrowly saved from eviction – for now.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Ohio: Mortgage officer guilty of fraud: A loan officer was convicted yesterday for his role in a scheme that defrauded more than 200 people and 20 banks, but an appraiser who worked with him was acquitted of all charges in the case. After about eight hours of deliberations, a federal jury convicted Jonathan L. Boyd for a mortgage-fraud scam that was fueled by greed and aided by a hot real-estate market, prosecutors said.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Texas: Law-enforcement officials say North Texas criminal's career is at an end after conviction : Authorities say Mr. Ross led a gang that carried out at least 70 home-invasion robberies and about 10 burglaries in North Texas since 2005. Their exploits, performed with SWAT-like precision, paid handsomely – at least $1 million, authorities estimate. Officials say the gang plowed some of the money back into other ventures, some of them criminal, including mortgage fraud.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Wisconsin: Alpharetta lawyer gets prison time for mortgage fraud: From mid-2004 through June 2006, Reagan was an attorney, doing business as The Reagan Law Group, closing millions of dollars of fraudulently inflated mortgage loans being provided to unqualified straw buyers. Reagan was the attorney responsible for representing the mortgage lenders at the closing table. When the loans closed, Reagan instead transferred millions of dollars of the inflated loan proceeds to her co-conspirators by falsifying closing documents, such as the HUD-1 settlement statements, and concealing from the lenders the true recipients and purposes of payments made in connection with the closing.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Maryland: Mortgage fraud unit targets lawyers, loan officers: UPPER MARLBORO — The Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office hopes to send a message to potential perpetrators of mortgage fraud: “Not in this county.”
Operating since September, the office’s new Mortgage and Foreclosure Division is hoping to bring 20 cases to indictment soon, said Assistant State’s Attorney April Richardson. Richardson said the division is moving forward against loan officers, title companies, lawyers and brokerages thought to have participated in mortgage scams.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Pennsylvania: Pa. builder accused of fraud: Phila. man charged in alleged home construction scheme: A Philadelphia builder was arrested Tuesday on 42 charges related to an alleged home construction fraud scheme that took place between 2003 and 2007, the Delaware Attorney General's Office said Wednesday. Prosecutors said Bavari and Jones stole more than $470,000 from customers and various sub-contractors who worked for them.

Friday, November 28, 2008. Florida: Mold Forces Family To Seal Off Part Of Home: ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A plastic sheet is all that protects one family from life-altering mold. Ryland Homes settled a class action lawsuit dealing with water intrusion after the 2004 hurricanes but the home of Amy and Michael Sica on Pheonix Drive in Avalon Park was built after the settlement. (Video)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Illinois: Legal armies at war over Tuscany funds: Road contractor resorts to suing the homeowners to recoup cash for streets:: HAMPSHIRE -- As the future of financially troubled Tuscany Woods subdivision remains in doubt, at least one contractor who has not been paid by developer Pasquinelli Homes is increasing its pressure to get its money from somewhere, by suing the development's individual homeowners.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. National Interest: Homeowners need a silver bullet in the war against home repair fraud: What we hoped to find on one of the 41 pages of "Avoiding Home Repair Fraud: Lessons From Hurricane Katrina" was a solution or a remedy. But as Rick Jurgens, the author of the report, states on page 35: "There is no silver bullet." Yes, more can be done by the Legislature, which has only "tweaked" regulations and requirements aimed at protecting consumers. And yes, more can be done by law enforcement, which has charged nearly 100 individuals with fraud but which has managed to "induce" only one contractor to pay restitution. (YES, more has to be done to hold contractors accountable and make homeowners whole-ed)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. National Interest: Loans are more difficult if you don’t speak language: Webster’s gives the definition of “predatory” as “relating to, or practicing plunder, pillage or rapine ... showing a disposition to injure or exploit others for one’s own gain ...” In the home mortgage business, predators historically have jockeyed to the most vulnerable rung of the housing ladder, seeking to “dine and dash,” with the least suspecting group of borrowers having to pay the bill.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. National Interest: FTC- Facts for Consumers- Foreclosure Rescue Scams: Another Potential Stress for Homeowners in Distress : If you think you may be facing foreclosure, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how to recognize a foreclosure rescue scam. And even if the foreclosure process has already begun, the FTC and its law enforcement partners want you to know that legitimate options are available to help you save your home. How the Scams Work....read more.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Florida: Man Pleads Guilty In $5M Mortgage Fraud: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A 51-year-old man will spend 30 years in federal prison and pay a $1 million fine after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. Juan Carlos Gonzalez pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Jacksonville, according to United States Attorney A. Brian Albritton. According to the plea agreement, Gonzalez, a licensed real estate appraiser, fraudulently inflated values on properties in 2004 and 2005.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Connecticut: Mortgage broker pleads guilty to bank fraud: BRIDGEPORT -- An Easton man faces 30 years in federal prison and a $2 million fine for scheming to defraud a mortgage lender and other federally insured financial institutions in connection with a loan application for a Westport home. (straw buyer)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. VA; Nat'l interest: Hilarious letter to the editor by builder: "Others aren't crying like the auto industry" "I have not heard any home-builders whining to Congress for money." (Where has this guy been while the builders lobbyists call for a $250 billion bailout just for their industry? --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. US: Regulatory authority issues reverse mortgage warning Older homeowners were urged to weigh all options carefully before tapping home equity values.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. TX: UPDATE: 6 Sentenced in Mortgage Scheme Exposed by FOX 4 Don Jones and Affordable Home Builders duped investors who thought they were investing in rental properties. But, the company hugely inflated the prices. Then, fraudulent loan applications were approved and Don Jones and Affordable Home Builders made hefty profits. Also sentenced: Jones son Matt Jones, and others including loan officer Bob Patterson, who laughed at investigative reporters when this began in 2005. Amazingly the scam involved using foster children to fill rental houses, then the loans went into default and the children were 'returned.'

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. National: ARBITRATION: America's access to justice at risk: This is an extraordinary moment in our nation's history. All eyes are focused on President-Elect Obama, who will bring change to America, and the economic crisis, where huge corporations let avarice overwhelm them. But few people are noticing that President Bush and some companies, trying to maximize profits, are implementing changes that, if not stopped, will put most Americans last -- and out of court.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. US: Builders: Bailout [the one congress already passed] backfires on us Home builders complained Monday that they have been labeled "toxic" by lenders, while funds the federal government intended to pump into banks to unfreeze credit markets aren't being passed along to the slumping construction industry.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. US: Homebuilder bailout: You can’t be serious Author says it's unethical and despicable for home builders to ask for free (tax payers') money in an economy builders helped destroy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. KS: UPDATE on trial of F. Jeffrey Miller Mortgage Fraud Blog, a lawyer's blog: daily coverage of teh trial is in the right side bar.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. US: MORE on the unsustainable housing bubble and bailout: Homebuilders Next In Line To Beg For Bailout Funds The homebuilders are trying to convince Congress that the rest of the financial system will continue to deteriorate until home prices stabilize. ... Housing simply became too expensive, and it will become too expensive again if we inflate it, and the next time it will cost us even more to fix the fallout. ... (Author hopes) that Congress and the next administration know better than to rely on biased research when looking to spend hundreds of billions in taxpayer money.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Michigan: CareTech, Pulte invest millions in Oakland County, state projects: LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Tax incentives from the state of Michigan will assist 11 more economic development projects, the biggest of which are in Oakland County.
(see comments posted under story)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008. Michigan: Feds investigate ex-union head: Former Detroit leader of carpenters union alleged to have received kickbacks in pension fund casino deal.
Walter Ralph Mabry, the former Detroit-area head of the carpenters union convicted of corruption charges in 2006, is under federal investigation in connection with an alleged kickback scheme involving investment of union pension funds in a Biloxi, Miss., casino, a lawyer said in a court filing.

Friday, November 14, 2008. US: Rental Housing Leaders Slam Homebuyer Tax Credits “Why would the government want to use taxpayer dollars to encourage people to buy an asset that is expected to lose up to 25 percent of its value in the next 12 to 24 months?” Bibby asked. He argued that such incentives do little to create jobs, and merely put borrowers in the situation of being upside down on their new home; instead, he argued that builders need to take their medicine and absorb those losses directly.

Friday, November 14, 2008. Wall Street Journal: Teardown Diary: Window Installation Creates Problems 'It cost $750,000 to build the house and $700,000 to fix the windows.' Our Teardown Diarist hears cautionary tales and discovers a few problems of her own. ... if windows leak around the edges because of improper installation, the window manufacturer won't pay for repairs. ... Sean Gores Construction has been in the construction defect repair business for 11 years. He says that about 40% of his business involves leaking windows because of improper installation. (Improperly installed, leaky windows, are a common complaint reported to HADD. Usually the missing material is "flashing." --Ed.)

Friday, November 14, 2008. NY: UPDATE: Marchand back in court Scott Marchand, the contractor who pled guilty to grand larceny after his bankrupt company left some customers out money and completed homes, is accused of not paying the restitution that was part of his sentence.

Friday, November 14, 2008. US: REMINDER: Give Me Back My Rights An anti-mandatory arbitation site with useful info for our readers. Arbitration clauses in house/warranty contracts can strip home buyers of important rights.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. FL: Contractor ripoffs a major complaint for many homeowners Abandoned jobs, shoddy workmanship, most common complaints at County Consumer Protection office.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Common Dreams: Will new president "Drive The Lobbyists Out of Washington?" The restrictions are viewed as pious hopes by many in Washington. Former president Bill Clinton tried to restrict lobbyists and failed. President Bush did little to stop their growth and they are now a multibillion-dollar business of influence. Even if Mr Obama succeeds in limiting their access to his administration, Congressmen and women are particularly soft targets. For many politicians, getting elected and serving a term or two is merely a rite of passage on the road to a lucrative Pennsylvania Avenue career.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. NV: Bank forecloses on Kyle Canyon development Wachovia, which has been taken over by Wells Fargo, filed a lawsuit naming Focus and eight builder partners for defaulting on payments for the northwest Las Vegas development...Focus owned 23 percent of Kyle Canyon. The other partners were Toll Brothers, Lennar, Pulte, KB Home, Kimball Hill Homes, Wooside Homes, Meritage Homes and Ryland Homes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. ADR Forum, an arbitration industry site: Vermont Supreme Court Reemphasizes Narrow Judicial Review of Arbitration Awards in Construction Case Summary/Editorial opinion: Vermont Built, Inc. v. Krolick: appeals court reversed trial court's decison; said trial court could not review arbitrator's decision. Another one where the builder lost and fought it, putting the homeowner through more expense and delay to attempt to recover their damages. Though the article didn't say if the arbitration was 'binding' or not, usually it is in builder and warranty contracts. Regardless, if a homeowner loses they're usually "done for," and when a builder loses, they often still fight even a binding decision, making the occasional homeowner-win a hollow victory. These cases never say if the homeowner who won ever collected, either.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. ADR Forum, an arbitration industry site: I Need More Time" Not Enough for Second Postponement of Arbitration Proceedings Summary: A BBB arbitration. Homeowner had dispute w/contractor over hurricane repairs. Contractor stalled on arbitration date not once but twice. Arbitrtion was held anyway. The homeowner actually won, but had to fight in court to enforce the award, lost, then had to appeal in court before finally winning again. Now to collect...!

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Motley Fool, investing news site: Throw This Stock Away Toll Brothers' plea this week for bailout help is self-serving and similar Lennar's plea from two months ago. Author believes builder has a long way to fall, and that by continuing to build, builders adding to the "recovery" time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Change.Gov: REMINDER: Tell Obama what you want Whether it's passage of the Arbitration Fairness Act, your views on the bailouts, or something else, here's your chance to tell the next pres. what you want.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. US: Stop the Bailout Conga Line No Business is 'Too Big to Fail'

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Market Watch: Homeownership Incentives Won't Stimulate Economy, But May Lay Seeds for Another Housing Crisis Builders should lower prices instead of ask for tax payer funded home buying incentives; attempts to artificially boost house prices misguided.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. US: Wachovia sues Tampa developer for $175-million Metro Development Group went on a Florida lot buying binge: "They're like a lot of homeowners. These properties are upside down," Heagney said of Metro. "What they're doing is going in and saying, 'We need to restructure. Work with us.'"

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Mortgage Fraud Blog: 11 States Reach Settlement Agreement With Countrywide UPDATE on predatory loan settlements.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. AZ--BUYER BEWARE: Indebted builders start new company As debt-ridden Scottsdale home builder Hacienda Builders faces one creditor lawsuit after another, the company's top executives continue to do business under a new name, Encanta Construction. ... The license had been suspended in July, when the company lost its bonding amid subcontractor claims of non-payment and foreclosure actions on several vacant properties that Hacienda had borrowed money to purchase.... However, public records show Hacienda principals David Cohen and Todd Stevens also founded a new company, Encanta Construction, and obtained a contractor's license in July to operate under that name.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. IL: UPDATE: What's happening one year after Neumann Homes bankruptcy Dirt mounds and partially built houses in Antioch's NeuHaven and Clublands subdivisions are among the reminders of a dubious anniversary. (Reader comments mention shoddy construction as part of the problem, too. --Ed.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008. MO; Nat'l interest: UPDATE: "Unwanted surprise" Greenleaf complaint More on the "contract deed" scheme that is often legal, but risky; buyers can make payments and still lose house due to risky financial arrangement in which their payments may not be applied to the loan.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. MO: Home builders say project not dead and they're trying to pay debts Home builder John Cavanagh, one of the founders of Highland Homes, says he and business partner Robert Shallenberger have lost their own homes as a result of their company's financial woes and are doing everything possible to repay debts that include down payments received for condominiums never built. ... John Fougere, spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon, said Wednesday the office has received 27 complaints about Highland Homes and is investigating them. He said it was policy not to disclose details.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Nat'l interest: Would-be homebuyers find themselves in ownership limbo A new scam emerging: 'religious' org's claiming soveriegn immunity use blank deed forms to take 'ownership' of vacant (e.g. foreclosed) houses and rent them out. Real buyers waiting in limbo to be able to take posession of house they legally purchased.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. MO: Newly formed mortgage fraud task force meets for first time Readers' comments show they get it: foxes guarding the hen house never works. But task force pannel made up of industry insiders, BBB, and govt agencies that turned a blind eye to fraud when consumer complaints were rolling in. Doesn't appear even one consumer is on the panel.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Nat'l interest: Homewreckers Cisneros & Martinez Anatomy of a real-estate debacle:

• Mel Martinez, secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2001-2003, rewrites federal regulations to allow mortgage brokers to gouge unsuspecting applicants, rake in kickbacks and inflate the housing bubble. ... For all his pandering, Cisneros wasn’t rewarded with a Senate seat, however, because he got caught up in a sex scandal involving payments to a former mistress. But he landed on his feet anyway: Upon exiting HUD, he was given seats on the boards of KB Homes and Countrywide, two of the biggest players in the decade-long housing boom.

Thursday, November 13, 2008. Seeking Alpha, investment site: Misguided Policies I think the biggest potential for policy error lies in maintaining the delusion that preventing housing, and by extension, consumer spending, from adjusting is central to fixing the nation’s economy. Policy would be best focused on supporting the inevitable transition away from debt-supported consumer dependent growth dynamic.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. CBS: Where Is The Bailout Money Really Going? BAIT & SWITCH: This one's about the $700 billion bailout. Money isn't being tracked. In other words a blank check courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. World: Bloomberg suing Federal Reserve to find out who’s getting the bailout cash Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson refused to disclose which co's received some of the trillion dollars so far dispersed in "The Other Bailout." Financial News source Bloomberg made Freedom of Information Act request, and is suing Federal Reserve to force disclosure.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: The Other Bailout Federal Reserve — the privately operated quasi-governmental central bank of the United States — has issued $2 trillion in emergency loans financed with taxpayer money and backed by “troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral” and has refused to identify who is receiving it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: Lobbyists Swarm Treasury for Piece of $700 billion Bailout Pie The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. NY Times: MORE reader comments building on Toll Brothers' plea for bailout Up to 3 pages now, some who are customers of Toll and say they have defective, shoddy houses. Overwhelmingly, readers are against bailing out Toll or builders, etc, in general.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. CO: UPDATE: Mortgage scheming refuted by Realtors According to a Rocky Mountain News report, Broker One was the architect in a scheme involving about 100 home sales from Castle Rock to Greeley totaling about $45 million. Homes would be sold with overinflated appraisals, the report noted. At closing, a large sum of money would be paid to a third-party management company, in this case, Broker One.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. NY: Rockland luxury-home developer files bankruptcy John Lynn, president of Pomona-based JWL Construction Co

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. IL: Lake in the Hills home lawsuit headed for trial Five families alleging consumer fraud; say Classic Homes Construction failed to diclose homes were built on high water table.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. CA: Downey Financial Corp bank faces seizure Founded in 1957 by mortgage banker Gerald McQuarrie and home builder Maurice McAlister, Downey offered quick loans to people and businesses with good credit.

The lender began offering adjustable-rate mortgages to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit in the late 1990s. Downey Savings and Loan offered low introductory payments to the borrowers. Many of those mortgages are now in default.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: Talk Back Author invites feedback from readers, on Toll Brothers CEO who asked for govt bailout.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. MO; possibly other states: Ozarks Homeowners Lose Homes They Never Really Owned Home buyers bought from builder, made payments on time in "contract for deed" deal with The Real Estate Company, and Greenleaf, its affliliated lender. But their payments were never applied, and the real owners are "investors" living sometimes in other states. Bank foreclosing, and the home buyers' money is gone.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: Government launches new mortgage aid effort But ForeclosureRadar's founder, Sean O'Toole, said the modification plans will do little to repair the region's housing market. "You haven't solved the underlying problem, which is housing prices were overinflated compared to income,"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. OR: Pollock's troubles; Paulson and a new plan Public records show Roger Pollock and affiliated Buena Vista Custom Homes face growing list of mortgage defaults, past-due construction bills and unpaid homeowners dues.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. CA: Bank sues over Monterra loans An Upland bank has sued Monterey County Bank and its president, Charles Chrietzberg Jr., for alleged fraud for failing to foreclose on a number of loans to Roger and Basil Mills and Monterra Ranch Properties LLC.
Golden State Bank, which bought portions of the multimillion-dollar loans, also alleges that Chrietzberg, as president of Northern California Bancorp Inc. and subsidiary Monterey County Bank, withheld information about the financial failings of the Mills brothers and Monterra, their exclusive subdivision in hills overlooking Monterey-Salinas Highway.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: Syracuse native Christine Varney named to Obama transition team See related article on arbitration below.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008. US: If Arbitration is so Great, People Will Choose it Willingly We are reposting this article from July because it talks about opposition to the Arbitration Fairness Act from former FTC commissioner Christine Varney. Varney has been named to president elect Obama's 'transition team.' This is of great concern to consumers; the Arbitration Fairness Act would help consumers, and Varney and her opposition to the bill will now have a position close to the president when this bill comes up in Congress again. See related article above.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Kiplinger, Book Review: Books for a Bear Market Economist Mark Zandi, "Financial Shock: A 360 Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis," delves deeply into history of mortgage market, bad loans, globalization of trashy subprime paper and how homebuilders ran amok.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Common Dreams: Government Rescue Spending: Clear or Cloudy? Critics Question Transparency of the Treasury Dept., Federal Reserve on Rescue Effort Spending

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. US: Center for Responsible Lending News and information about mortgage fraud, the bailout, pending legislation, etc.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Patrick.net: Housing Crash News Rising cost of the bailout, and more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. Rocky Mountain News; Nat'l inerest: Federal government can't bail out every homeowner, too It's not the role of the federal government to insulate the housing industry from marketplace realities.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008. NY Times: Toll’s Plea: Subsidize House Prices "This sounds like little more than a plea to bail out the homebuilders." Be sure to read the readers' comments, too, including short but sweet gems like these: "so toll wants the rest of us to keep overpaying for houses, just so he and his piratical outfit can survive? let them go pound sand." "Mr. Toll is a cry baby. He contributed to the mess but, now, he doesn’t want to clean up his share.

Monday, November 03, 2008. US: Crisis in Prime Mortgages on Horizon Most foreclosures are concentrated in regions where homebuilders like Centex (CTX), KB Homes (KBH) and Lennar (LEN) built huge developments, using cheap financing to help fuel speculation and massive over-valuation. These areas, especially those where homes were purchased by lower income buyers, are being decimated by delinquencies and repossessions.

This, however, is widely known. What's less well-understood is the storm that’s brewing on the horizon: Trouble in the prime mortgage market -- where borrowers with good credit are starting to miss payments with alarming frequency -- is looming on the horizon.

Monday, November 03, 2008. US: NAHB May Be On Its Way To Irrelevance For some time now, friction has been building between the major, public homebuilders and the National Association of Homebuilders. ... For one example, homebuilders were unhappy with the NAHB's decision last year to cut off contributions to legislators campaigns and initiatives until they do a better job of taking care of the housing industry. Looking somewhat extortionist, that move obviously didn't go over too well with the public.

Monday, November 03, 2008. MA: MORE: Homeowners ask: Where is justice? UNFINISHED BUSINESS: PART TWO OF TWO, (from earlier today) (Homeowners) waiting in vain for three years for local or state law enforcement authorities to act against Joseph T. Duggan III, the Shrewsbury contractor who they say turned their lives upside down and mangled their homes in 2004 and 2005.

Monday, November 03, 2008. TX; Nat'l interest: Foreclosures hit tenants, too (Rent to own proves risky in this development.) Summary: A problem many renters face now: landlord doesn’t or can’t pay mortgage, and the foreclosing bank immediately evicts tenants even though they're on time w/rent. In this case tenants paid $1,500 rent every month to JEMH, entity of Twinmark Homes of Fort Worth. They understood they could buy the houses they were living in or one built by associated group of builders, but house is slated for foreclosure. Unpaid subs/suppliers also putting liens on the properties.

Monday, November 03, 2008. US: Industry press release announcing big party to hook up builders, lenders 10th Anniversary "Joie de Vivre" Reception at the Strategies for Success in Construction Lending Seminar; Countrywide Builders' Division will be there.

Monday, November 03, 2008. MA: Homeowners build case for contractor’s failings; UNFINISHED BUSINESS: PART ONE OF TWO Ex-con contractor Joseph T. Duggan III of Shrewsbury cut a trail of financial wreckage and unfinished, slapdash home remodeling work across the Worcester area several years ago that’s still causing hardships today, according to state building regulators and local victims coming forward for the first time. (SEE ALSO Readers' comments including several that say the BBB was of little or no help in either researching builders beforehand or resolving complaints after.)

Monday, November 03, 2008. US: The Blame Game: Who Do We Blame For The Crisis? Bush Administration downgraded prosecution of white-collar crime: “Looking for someone to blame for the shambles in U.S. financial markets? As someone who owns both an investment bank and commercial banks, and also runs a hedge fund, I have sat front and center and watched as this mess unfolded. And in my view, there’s no need to look beyond Wall Street — and the halls of power in Washington. The former has created the nightmare by chasing obscene profits, and the latter have allowed it to spread by not practicing the oversight that is the federal government’s responsibility.” ... It became clear that if there was a crime going on, it was massive and institutional, not just individual. ... We need to look closely at the cabal of firms that profited, the regulators who enabled them and the media that was bought out and sold out. By Dissector Danny Schechter editor of Mediachannel.org and author of "PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity."

Monday, November 03, 2008. US: Other voices The single-minded pursuit of terrorism, to the neglect of financial crimes, has proved costly, posing, in its own way, a threat to the nation's security.

Monday, November 03, 2008. NY Times: Was There a Loan It Didn’t Like? Failed WaMu pressured underwriter to approve loans, no matter what; underwriters who didn't go along with it were punished.

Sunday, November 02, 2008. National Interest: Mary Sanchez: Fantasy: To be able to trust big banking: Sacramento BEE Opinion:Our nation's financial system has been corrupted for too long by moral hazard, and an economic recovery will not happen unless a sense of fairness is restored. In "It's a Wonderful Life," George Bailey calmed his worried depositors by assuring them that if they kept their faith in the institution, times would improve and all ships would rise. When the going got tough, Bailey didn't take his wad of loot and bolt for a sunnier locale. Oh, yeah, that was only a movie. We taxpayers are stuck with real-life characters.

Sunday, November 02, 2008. National Interest: Boston Globe: This old house policy-Our government's approach to housing has grown nonsensical: encourage borrowing to keep homes expensive. It's time to rebuild. Today, there is no more case for artificially boosting housing prices than there is for artificially inflating the price of tea or T-shirts. We need to start treating housing markets not as some sort of ephemeral part of the American dream, but with the same rigorous logic that is used to think about markets for oil or software or orange juice.

Sunday, November 02, 2008. California- National Interest: Economic authorities paint bleak picture at HSU -Humboldt University-economic forum Six leading authorities on Redwood Coast finance and economics offered observations, opinions and plenty of pessimism about the global credit crisis, housing crash and looming recession during a roundtable discussion Wednesday at Humboldt State University.

Saturday, November 01, 2008. Nat'l interest: The Reserve in limbo: The Rivington, billed as Danbury's 'New American Village,' remains far from finished UPDATE on WCI bankruptcy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008. Nat'l interest: Poor workmanship may be why roofs failed during Hurricane Ike Ike ripped off numerous roofs in one subdivision, yet the roofs in adjacent subdivision were fine. Roofing inspector points out mistakes (cutting corners) that caused failure. Ssame mistakes being done on new houses now. No one ensures roofers do it right in most areas.

Saturday, November 01, 2008. AZ: Bank of America agrees to halt 2,000 foreclosures in the valley Bank of America, which last summer bought the nation's largest subprime lender, Countrywide, has suspended foreclosure notices pending against nearly 2,000 homes ... Last month, BofA agreed to modify loans for struggling borrowers if attorneys general from Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Iowa and Washington halted legal action against Countrywide. That action is based on the lender's "alleged use of deceptive practices" in its mortgage-lending business

Saturday, November 01, 2008. Flipping Frenzy: Chase Moves to Freeze Foreclosures The same company that up until earlier this year encouraged it’s own loan officers to fudge facts and figures on loan applications — announced today a voluntary loan modification program it says will help up to 400,000 homeowners

Saturday, November 01, 2008. TX: UPDATE on problem plagued Mirasol development built by KB Home San Antonio Housing Authority, rent-to-own homes. Where has the renter/buyer's money gone? And can they get a loan to buy now or is their "investment" lost?

Saturday, November 01, 2008. NV: Upset condo buyers want cash returned A few Cosmopolitan condominium buyers who signed contracts as long as 31/2 years ago have been asking representatives of the Strip development to return their deposits after learning the project won't be completed until the second quarter of 2010.