October 2008 Archives

Sunday, October 26, 2008. Wisconsin: MOLD:Wisconsin Family Watches Dream Home Burn To The Ground : It was supposed to be the dream home of Barry and Adrienne Stromberg, but it turned into a nightmare before the couple and their two kids even had a chance to move in.
Weeks before the family was to move, it was discovered that two types of toxic mold had infected the house, making it unlivable. The news broke the Stromberg's heart.
"You know when the tell you you're never going to be fully complete you know it's true you never get back what you put into it and we're far from that. "

Sunday, October 26, 2008. National Interest: There's plenty of blame for the housing meltdown: Bank failures. Tighter credit. A roller-coaster ride on the stock market. And a federal bailout. How did we get into this mess?

Sunday, October 26, 2008. Nevada: Partial deal in defect case: $90 million : A construction-defect lawsuit involving 34,000 Clark County homeowners could be nearing a partial settlement.
Clark County District Court Judge Timothy Williams will hold a preliminary hearing on Thursday to consider a $90 million settlement that plumbing-fitting maker IPEX has offered to plaintiffs who say the company's Kitec pipe connections failed and damaged their homes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008. New Hampshire : NH task force targets those behind mortgage meltdown: This is not a victimless crime, Mulvaney said. He points to the folks who have lost huge portions of their 401ks, the seniors who have had to postpone retirement, the families who have lost their homes to foreclosure. "What's coming now are layoffs and it's going to just add to this bad situation," he said. "So I think the average American homeowner, the tax-paying citizen, is the real loser in all this." "There are a lot of people out there who are very, very angry, and they've got every right to be angry," Mulvaney said. "And they deserve to learn what happened. And they're looking to the FBI and everybody else to figure this out and to investigate and to prosecute the people who are responsible for this."

Sunday, October 26, 2008. West Virginia: Lawsuit filed over radon systems-Jefferson homeowners: Builder, Richmond American Homes, did not provide removal equipment CHARLES TOWN - More than 100 homeowners in the Locust Hill subdivision in Charles Town filed a lawsuit Friday against Richmond American Homes, alleging that the company failed to properly equip their homes with passive radon removal systems. "We determined they tried to fool the building inspector," said Skinner, who lives in Locust Hill. "We inspected 45 homes and none of them meet building codes. The builder either put in fake systems or they installed them incorrectly."

Sunday, October 26, 2008. Pennsylvania: Poconos mortgage suit set for February: Lawsuit alleges 100 buyers defrauded by bank and builder.- A federal lawsuit filed six years ago alleging that more than 100 home buyers were defrauded by JP Morgan Chase Bank and a Poconos builder will finally go to trial in February. The suit claims that Chase took part in the alleged scam by ignoring its usual underwriting guidelines in approving mortgages for Percudani's customers, many of whom were people with poor credit from the New York area. They were drawn to the Poconos by an advertising campaign that asked, ''Why Rent?'' and which offered new homes for $1,000 down and mortgage payments of $685 per month.

Sunday, October 26, 2008. National Interest: Washington Post::Upside Down on Their Homes but on Top of Their Debts: There are reports of buyers simply walking away from homes that are worth less than the mortgage, but little evidence that it's a sizeable number. The threat of walk-aways prompted the Federal Housing Administration to tighten rules about loans to buyers who say that rent from their old home will help them buy a new one.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Nation's Building News: Builders Receive Aid for Litigation on Housing Issues Six legal cases on a wide range of issues with significant implications for the nation’s home building industry received support from NAHB...

Friday, October 24, 2008. TX; Public Citizen: Business Group’s Guilty Plea for Campaign Violations Is Victory for Texas Voters, Shows Need for Elections Reform (But only have to pay a $10,000 fine.)

Friday, October 24, 2008. The Pitch; KS/MO: Follow Up: Don Bell believed that God smiled on his bank – but now God’s frowning Follow up on case of Don Bell, Olathe homebuilder. From last week but still fresh.

Friday, October 24, 2008. US: Unkind line-of-credit cut: How to handle a home-equity hang-up in mid-project By Lew Sichelman. Banks certainly have the right to reduce, suspend or even terminate revolving lines of credit in which the borrower's home serves as collateral, they can't do so willy-nilly. There are several consumer-protection laws that must be followed. And even when the law is on their side, banks are required to reinstate credit lines when the reasons for the reduction or suspension no longer exist.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Nat'l interest: Man had close call with former mortgage banker, still on the run Among other things, Garrett Gililland allegedly falsified appraisal documents to artificially inflate value of properties. Anyone with information concerning his whereabouts should call the District Attorney's Office 538-7411, or FBI office in Sacramento.

Friday, October 24, 2008. US: Senior Rights and Wrongs By including arbitration clauses in contracts before a dispute arises, companies get an arbitration system that lets them handpick the arbitrators and the rules to be applied, is tilted against consumers, forces families to travel hundreds of miles, hides abuses from the public eye and strictly limits damages. There is no public record, and no appeal. (The article focuses on nursing home arbitration where much abuse takes place; however, arbitration as discussed in the article is the same across many industries including real estate contracts, warranties, etc. --Ed.)

Friday, October 24, 2008. MI: Michigan Residents Win Long-Fought Energy Savings Battle Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan Community Action Agency Association successfully intervene on behalf of the public interest to win court fight against Michigan Association of Home Builders

Friday, October 24, 2008. TX and National: Ad Fact Check: Connie Scott-Bob Perry link (TX homebuilder) Bob Perry is the biggest campaign contributor in the country. And he's used to getting his way. Perry spend over $15 million to elect Republicans and millions more on lobbyists to protect his financial interests. ... The fact is, Connie Scott and her husband, Mike, have been scratching Bob Perry's back for years. Mike serves on the Statewide Committee of TLR, Perry's organization that gave money to his wife in the first place.9 Mike, working with TLR, and Connie, working with Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, helped pass a law that stripped homebuyers of their rights -- allowing Perry to save millions by freeing him from fixing foundation, drywall and plumbing probes in the thousands of homes he sells.

Friday, October 24, 2008. TX; Nat'l interest: Bob Perry and other builders lobby to kill immigration bills Businesses lobby to kill legislation that would retrict them from hiring hiring cheap, illegal workers.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Texans for Public Justice; National interest: Houston Homebuilder Bob Perry Continues Reign as King of Dirty Politics Perry Pays for Racist Mailing In Key Texas House Contest

Friday, October 24, 2008. KY: Couple wrangles with builder over problems with home Homeowners say house new house built by Capital Homes' Barry G. Williams is dangerous due to mold, leaks, code violations, and structural defects.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Utah: HUD employee charged with fraud: A federal grand jury has indicted a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development employee on suspicion of bank fraud and for allegedly making false statements to federal employees. Viau made an initial appearance and was arraigned in federal court Thursday in Salt Lake City. He was released pending trial set for Dec. 29. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, or both, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Michigan: William Harshman sentenced to 3 years in prison for Grand Blanc Township stabbing of Lisa Heintz, whose husband was charged with bank fraud: William L. Harshman, a psychologist, stabbed Lisa Heintz and her friend Edward Lapine Dec. 24 at the Heintzes home. His attorney, Michael B. Haley, said Harshman began behaving bizarrely when he lost $90,000 in mortgage dealings and blamed Lisa Heintz and her husband Kurt.
Kurt Heintz has since been charged federally with bank fraud in an alleged $20-million scam using inflated property appraisal values on properties throughout the area.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Missouri: Buyers should do homework before hiring home inspector: SPRINGFIELD -- Home inspectors check for defects that could affect the safety and value of a home. Yet, the state requires no certification to be a home inspector. It's a lack of oversight that some say could put your biggest investment at risk. Norm Cochran thought a home in Springfield would be perfect for him, his wife and elderly mother. He changed his mind when he was ready to move in. He found at least four leaks in his roof, with dangerous black mold growing in the wall underneath.

Friday, October 24, 2008. National Interest: Adding insult to ACORN's injury: Last Wednesday night, somebody stole a bunch of computers from the ACORN office in Dorchester, Mass. Now the Boston branch of the 30-year-old national organization looks even more run-down than usual, with long white wires hanging forlornly from a hole in the wall where the thieves pulled out a burglar alarm. But the robbery wasn't the worst thing to happen to ACORN that night.

Friday, October 24, 2008. National Interest: NEW YORK TIMES: Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation : “You had the authority to prevent irresponsible lending practices that led to the subprime mortgage crisis. You were advised to do so by many others,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, chairman of the committee. “Do you feel that your ideology pushed you to make decisions that you wish you had not made?”

Friday, October 24, 2008. Florida: When going got rough, real estate entrepreneurs went shopping : How many tainted home loans does it take to buy "black Tahitian South Sea pearls?" Or to splurge on $10,000 worth of baubles at "Diamond Creations" on the island of St. Maarten?

Friday, October 24, 2008. Florida: Port St. Lucie grow house suspect on trial for mortgage fraud : FORT PIERCE — A Port St. Lucie man, who authorities say is part of an extensive pot-growing operation that used a homebuilder as a front, is on trial on one charge of mortgage fraud. Authorities claim the house was part of a pot-growing network operated by owners of Global Home Builders.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Florida: Mortgage fraud scheme investigation widens: JENSEN BEACH, FL -- Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink has widened her office's investigation of a mortgage investment scheme involving a pastor and his wife.

Friday, October 24, 2008. Idaho: Free manual has advice on avoiding mortgage foreclosure “Mortgage Fraud and Foreclosure” includes information about foreclosure rescue schemes and foreclosure prevention, and has contact information for mortgage-related resources for consumers. It also has information about consumer rights and related laws.Read Mortgage Fraud and Foreclosure at www.ag.idaho.gov, pick up a copy from the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division at 954 W. Jefferson in Boise, or request a copy by mail by calling 334-2424 or, outside the Boise toll-free calling area, (800) 432-3545.

Thursday, October 23, 2008. National Interest: ARBITRATION-Senior Rights and Wrongs: The Nation According to the General Accounting Office, one in five nursing homes was cited last year for putting residents' safety at risk. Yet in a series of decisions, the Supreme Court has rendered seniors more vulnerable by turning the eighty-year-old Federal Arbitration Act, meant for voluntarily resolving disputes between businesses, into a tool for nursing homes and other businesses to force seniors, consumers, workers and others to sign away their right to go to court. By including arbitration clauses in contracts before a dispute arises, companies get an arbitration system that lets them handpick the arbitrators and the rules to be applied, is tilted against consumers, forces families to travel hundreds of miles, hides abuses from the public eye and strictly limits damages. There is no public record, and no appeal.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. AZ: UPDATE: Homeowner 'rights bill' foes predict lawsuit surge MORE from earlier today. Reader comments are be posted on this one but it requires registration to post.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. NC: Contractors File Liens Against Realtor-Builder Contractors face financial hardship because they're not getting paid by Jack Kasey. (Depending on state law, the lien is actually filed against the owner of the house that the work or materials are in, so if the house was sold to a home buyer, the home buyer could be stuck paying twice for sub's work or supplies. --Ed.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Nat'l interest: Builder 'sale' prices More builders running bait & switch schemes; slim chance of forcing them to honor advertised prices. Author says, "the largely self-regulated real estate industry is in dire need of ethics reform."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. US: Builder Implode-O-Meter Site counts 92 builders (50 larger co's and 42 sm. co's), who have declared bankruptcy since the housing bubble popped. List, plus news and message board.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. WA: PDF: Carlile v. Harbour Homes (Geonerco Inc) Consumer Protection Act claims, etc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. US: Mortgage Fraud Blog Current news, arrests, etc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Patrick.Net: Housing Crash Current articles about the housing crash, bailout, etc.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Arizona: UPDATE: PROP. 201: Backers seek help for buyers; industry fears more lawsuits Not surprisingly, homebuilders’ associations and contractors have teamed up to oppose the initiative.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Georgia: Hedgewood defaults on $54M in loans-The developer’s Woodstock West in detrimental state-Cherokee Ledger News: The developer that the city of Woodstock has relied on to spearhead its downtown revitalization project is in critical financial condition. During the past two months, Hedgewood Properties Inc. saw foreclosures on $54.3 million in loans that the company took out to finance the construction of a large mixed-use development project called Woodstock Downtown. In the month of October alone, Hedgewood had an additional $31.3 million in foreclosure notices published in the legal organs of Forsyth, Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett Counties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. National Interest: Congress looks at re-regulation of banks-House could assign special committee to rewrite the rules, Frank says: WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. financial system certainly faces increased regulation and government supervision, but what form that enhanced oversight will take is not clear. Former government officials and leaders of financial-services industry groups debated the issue in front of the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, as one top leader suggested that the House might create a special select committee to rewrite the rules of the road for the financial-services industry as it emerges from its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Nevada: Update: Infinity Investment Service's CEO arrested: It's unclear exactly how many people were victimized across the country by Infinity. The Attorney General's Office says before you go into business with someone, do your homework. Make sure the company has an active business license. Don't take their word for, however. Check with the city our county in which they operate.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Texas: Houston lawyer found guilty in mortgage fraud case: A case including celebrities such as Tiger Woods and Chuck Norris, plus a $29,000 Rolex watch and the complexity of consolidated subprime mortgage investments ended in Houston on Tuesday with a 22-count guilty verdict against a Houston lawyer. Ted Russell Schwartz Murray, owner of Premiere Holdings real estate investments, was found guilty by a jury in U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore's court of conspiracy, fraud and filing false tax returns.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Florida: Disbarred Attorney Gets 10 Years For Mortgage Scheme: TAMPA, FLA— A federal judge has sentenced a disbarred Clearwater lawyer to 10 years in prison for his guilty plea to a mortgage scheme in which he stole millions from more than 50 homeowners.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. National Interest: RICO, Baby, RICO! Letter to the Editor: Washington Post-Post reporters and editors provided an excellent history of the financial crisis with the Oct. 15 front-page article "What Went Wrong," but they missed a critical point: Those who packaged and peddled mortgage-backed derivatives should be regarded as criminals.
The crime is fraud. Securities fraud can be prosecuted under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It requires only two acts of racketeering activity to establish a pattern as a RICO offense.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Nat'l interest: UPDATE: Aho Construction loses BBB accreditation A move the company says is a misuse of power.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. NJ: Warranty program miserable failure New Jersey requires builders to offer what's called a New Home Warranty, a program run by the Department of Community Affairs. This warranty makes you feel good, but it's only false hope. ... Should municipal code enforcement inspectors have caught these mistakes during one of their inspections and halted construction? Allowing construction to continue made the problem worse and put the burden on the homeowner. Is this right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. The Hill: Business & Lobbying: Bottom Line Mercedes Homes, a homebuilder based in Florida, hired Arent Fox to lobby on housing issues relating to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. Dan Renberg, a former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), and Joe Keeley, a former Republican counsel on the House Judiciary Committee, are lobbying on behalf of Mercedes Homes. Chesapeake Enterprises is lobbying for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage on issues relating to the Housing and Urban Development Department. Scott Reed, a Republican strategist and lobbyist, is lobbying for the home mortgage company.

Home Buyers Warranty hired DLA Piper to lobby on “matters relating to federal requirements for insurance-backed warranties on newly constructed and existing homes,” according to federal lobbying records.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Crain's Chicago Business: UPDATE: Regulators scold Heritage Bank over loan losses State and federal banking regulators have slapped Heritage Community Bank in the south suburbs with an order requiring the troubled lender to beef up its lending standards and raise capital. ...Stung by losses on loans to local homebuilders, Heritage lost $11 million over the first six months of the year...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. FL: Angry Homeowners Having Trouble Filing Class Action Suit Against Maronda Homes 300 new leaking homes with thousands of dollars each in repairs. Homeowners having a hard time finding a lawyer to take the case; the defects are not similar enough to be a class action in the eyes of the law. Suing individially will be harder, and though the article doesn't mention it, if there are arbitration clauses they most likely cannot sue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. MI: Some banks halt construction loans Fifth Third Bank, area's largest residential lender, even chose not to renew membership in Home & Building Association of Greater Grand Rapids

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. National interest: Wachovia Sues Builders,Developer Over Nevada Project Lawsuit seeks guaranteed payments by members of home building consortium as result of defaults. John Ritter, Focus Property Group, is a defendant. Lawsuit also names KB Home, Lennar, Meritage, Pulte, Ryland, Toll Brothers, and Las Vegas developer Focus Kyle Group.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Connecticut Post: Webster Financial Corp.'s loss mainly on construction loans Bulk of the bad news didn't come from the quality of its mortgages.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Idaho Statesman: Mortgage defaults rise again in Valley "Lenders are beginning to foreclose on spec homes," said Lance Churchill, president of Frontline Cos., which specialize in buying homes in foreclosure. "It looks like the banks are finally losing their patience with the builders."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Trading Markets: EDITORIAL: The blame game Many conservative pundits blame the federal government, through Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp.). They say the government was forced to lend mortgage money to poor and minority Americans.

And of course, it's also the fault of the liberal Democrats in Congress because they forced banks to lend money to these people.

However, the federal government's own data shows that this is a lie. ... But what if Fannie and Freddie, at the peak of the bubble, warned that house prices around the country were dangerously overvalued and tightened their mortgage rules to protect against the inevitable fall of the market? Certainly, the builders, real estate agents and lenders would have howled in protest, but it might have saved the nation from much of the pain of the current crisis.

Unfortunately, something like this would have required the kind of courage and leadership that has been lacking on Wall Street as well as in Washington. It's a lot easier for Republicans to blame the people who didn't create the mess than to take responsibility for their role in it all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. US: Ratings agencies left their seal on meltdown Dallas News-- You can blame the borrowers who didn't pay attention to prudence. You can blame the lenders for being blind to credit risk. You can blame the financial engineers who blended these mortgages into exotic securities and sold them all over the world.

Blame the credit rating agencies as well. They are the ones that put a seal of approval on most of these securities. ... But the raters still get paid by the financial engineers who craft these securities rather than by the investors who buy them. That's like having your home appraised by the builder instead of you hiring someone to look into the risk that the home is overpriced. (Ironic that the author should use this analogy when appraisers were quoted in the news during the bubble saying lenders and builders did tell them to meet the desired price.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. FL: UPDATE: From wanting more money to losing it all "The extra income. Pure and simple," said James E. Felman, Coon's attorney, explaining the former Coast Bank executive's motive for an illegal lending scheme that will send him to prison. (Update on builder Construction Compliance Inc. case.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. AZ: Site titled "Vote Yes on Prop. 201" UPDATE on Proposition 201, a bill in AZ that would restore some consumer protection to home buying according to this site.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Donklephant: Good Intentions Gone Bad in the Housing Market New Commentary of NY Times article from Sunday 19 Oct. about Bruce Karatz, KB Home, Countrywide loan, and their part in the housing bust. Comments can be posted, appears not to require registration.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. National Interest: Test-Drive Your New Home- Waking up to six-foot-long cracks in your new home’s ceilings, walls and floors is a frustrating experience. But construction defects are a fact of life in today’s real estate market, and many of these problems stem from shoddy workmanship that was overlooked in the recent U.S. housebuilding boom. Most states require homeowners to work with their developers on defect issues before filing lawsuits. This arbitration period can take up to six months. “I don’t know a homeowner who has ever recovered an adequate amount of money to do repairs on their homes through these mandatory arbitration services,” says NANCY SEATS, president of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Arizona: Arizona Prop 201 and construction litigation Arizona voters will decide this November whether to require builders to provide a 10-year warranty on each new home. Proposition 201, dubbed the Homeowners' Bill of Rights by proponents, would allow homeowners to choose who repairs defects on their homes and guarantee fair compensation for repairs not completed. (ED- note opposition website in article wants to "keep California attorneys out of Arizona" -How about -"if Builders-Oh let's just call them mega NYSE Real Estate Developers- want the lawyers to go away build it right the first time"- regardless why would anyone desire repairs from a homebuilder who didnt get it right the first time!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. National Interest: In mortgage fraud, watch out for scams -- and your own greed- How to protect yourself (article from Bankrate.com informing homebuyers of multiple types of mortgage fraud)
With all of these pitfalls lying in wait, what can unsuspecting mortgage hunters do to protect themselves? First, experts say, people need to remember an old piece of advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. New Jersey: NJ attorney general files foreclosure scam suits: TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey's attorney general on Monday announced lawsuits against 37 mortgage loan providers and employees who allegedly used bogus "foreclosure rescue" schemes to convince cash-strapped homeowners to sign over their homes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008. National Interest: Denver Post- Prosecutors look for crime on Wall Street- "Lying, cheating, stealing" often follow a market collapse.: NEW YORK — Investigators are hunting through the remains of the stock-market collapse and housing bust of 2008 for fresh signs of white-collar crime, targeting many of the same types of misdeeds that precipitated past market downturns. U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell of the Eastern District of New York said that companies and their products might have grown increasingly complex, but crimes following every market collapse are always simple: "the classic lying, cheating, stealing type things."

Monday, October 20, 2008. New York: Act of greed should be suitably punished-Great blog entry from Don Hughes of White Plains New York: We saved diligently. We took few vacations. We lived modestly. We invested conservatively. Yet now, just before our planned retirements, much of our hard-earned savings have been erased. So after a lifetime of work, we not only do not have the memories of the forgone vacations, we do not have a houseful of luxury items, and we also no longer have the money we sacrificed to save. (We have all been victimized- write to your legislators and tell them you demand real accountability, jail time and restitution!)jail time!)

Monday, October 20, 2008. OR; WA: Pacific Lifestyle Homes files for bankruptcy Other local home builders that filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy this year include Portland firms Renaissance Homes, Marnella Homes and Legend Homes.

Monday, October 20, 2008. National interest: Retiring banker had big impact "We stayed away from home builders and land developers, which can be very cyclical and high-risk businesses. ... "We've been lucky, but you didn't have to be smart to stay away from subprime mortgages. That was mortgage broker and investment banker greed."

Monday, October 20, 2008. FL: UPDATE: Fraud plea by Coast Bank's top lender Add a nail top the coffin of the ill-fated venture between Coast Bank of Bradenton and St. Petersburg builder Construction Compliance Inc. (CCI). The tale of these two is best told in St. Petersburg Times reporter James Thorner's story last year in which a willing Coast Bank helped bankroll CCI in a screwy "no-pain, all-gain" home-flipping gig that backfired big time when housing prices stopped soaring.

Monday, October 20, 2008. FL: UPDATE: Feds file criminal charges in Coast Bank implosion Philip Coon, a former executive vice president at the former Coast Bank, has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.

Coon and John Miller, the president of American Mortgage Link, were involved in a scheme that netted Coon $1.1 million

Monday, October 20, 2008. WA; National interest: Facing foreclosure, Puget Sound families rush to hang on to their homes While neither housing counselors nor lenders can help everyone, counselors stress that this message needs to get out: Some mortgages are being modified. Some homes are being saved. And there may even be money available to help Washington state homeowners who've fallen behind in their payments.

But homeowners need to be aggressive to get help before it's too late.

Monday, October 20, 2008. MI; You Tube: Video of bad brick workmanship Titled: Canyon Construction, Judge John J McDonald, Paul Nicoletti, Defective Brick and Mortar, John Makris, John Mitchell of Secrest Wardle, Frankenmuth Mutual

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: F.B.I. Struggles to Handle Financial Fraud Cases : Since 2004, F.B.I. officials have warned that mortgage fraud posed a looming threat, and the bureau has repeatedly asked the Bush administration for more money to replenish the ranks of agents handling nonterrorism investigations, according to records and interviews. But each year, the requests have been denied, with no new agents approved for financial crimes, as policy makers focused on counterterrorism. (Another Problem, The DOJ not prosecuting corporate wrongdoers-they simply imposed modest fines-ED) In the last four years, the Justice Department has scored fewer of the big-name prosecutions that marked President Bush’s first term in office. Even when investigations have pointed to corporate wrongdoing, the Justice Department has agreed, in dozens of cases in the last four years, to “deferred prosecutions" that allowed companies to pay fines in order to avoid criminal prosecution.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: AP IMPACT: Mortgage firm arranged stealth campaign WASHINGTON – Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. Michigan: Foreclosure help is available, but 'upside down' homeowners can't get into it: Mlive.com: KENTWOOD — Jim and Pat Seeber have full-time jobs and an impressive credit score. But they are struggling to fend off foreclosure after failing to refinance their modest Kentwood home, now worth less than what they owe.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: Pain at the Grass Roots: As financial sector gets help, those losing homes wait for relief: Defaults by mortgage borrowers “is what’s causing the distress at the institution level. So why not tackle the borrower problem?” Bair told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. Foreclosures and mortgage defaults are the heart of the issue, she and others argue, because they will continue to drive down home prices and the value of securities linked to mortgages. That can further destabilize financial markets and the economy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: The minority mortgage libel:Pittsburgh Tribune: In other words, there is no basis for the libel against minority borrowers. So let's go back to the facts. As bad as the losses may be on the defaulted mortgages themselves, the losses on the securities made up of these mortgages are frighteningly catastrophic. That's because the securities were structured with irrationally high levels of leverage.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: The Blight Next Door- As the mortgage crisis deepens, neighborhoods feel the pain as some homeowners just walk away: Boston Globe: There's a house down the street from Michael Donovan's in Lynn that gets special attention from the neighbors: They take turns taking care of the outside, as if it were their own.

Sunday, October 19, 2008. National Interest: The Reckoning-Building Flawed American Dreams-The New York Times : As the Clinton administration’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, Mr. Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before. Then, capitalizing on a housing expansion he helped unleash, he joined the boards of a major builder, KB Home, and the largest mortgage lender in the nation, Countrywide Financial — two companies that rode the housing boom, drawing criticism along the way for abusive business practices.

Saturday, October 18, 2008. Michigan: Finally for Michigan, a Multi-Agency Mortgage Fraud Task Force: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan has finally created a multiagency task force to deal with real estate and mortgage fraud in eastern Michigan. As mortgage fraud continues to have significant consequences that affect the housing market, law enforcement in Michigan has decided now is the time to formally step up its commitment to fighting what for the last three years has been the fastest-growing white collar crime in America. (FlippingFrenzy.com)

Saturday, October 18, 2008. California: Housing projects downturn in the Valley: In the Central Valley these days, the bankruptcies and foreclosures don't just affect individual homeowners. They swallow entire developments -- and the people who conceive them. Three massive high-end projects in the San Joaquin Valley symbolize the California housing bubble at its most extreme. Combined, they have cost lenders and investors tens of millions of dollars -- and offer clues about the roots of the financial crisis that has gripped Wall Street and the world's economies. (Why the FBI hasnt been investigating the hardest hit area in the country, Central California, is perplexing- ED)

Saturday, October 18, 2008. National Interest: Before Meltdown- Where was Risk Management? {Good Commentary-ED)That's neither 20-20 hindsight nor an overstatement. We've looked squarely into the eyes of economic disaster because so many people in the financial services sector made so many blatantly bad, stupid and criminal decisions. And no one was there with the ethical fortitude to say, ``Forget the quick money. A business model based on knowingly approving bad loans is insane.''
Dumping this business model before it hit mortgage loan departments should have been a no-brainer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008. Texas: Houston :Five Indicted in $17 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme: The indictment alleges that Anthony Wayne Hawkins, 48, Brandon Alonzo Crenshaw, 27, Nehemiah Jamal Douglas, 28, Babette Jammer, 47, and David Vasser, 59, engaged in a mail and wire fraud conspiracy which resulted in the defendants and their co-conspirators fraudulently obtaining more than $17 million in loan proceeds.

Saturday, October 18, 2008. Oregon: Apartment owners file $13.4M lawsuit-R&H Residential allegedly used faulty materials and violated building codes on Wilsonville Summit project: Portland general contractor R&H Residential has been named as the defendant in a $13.4 million negligent construction lawsuit filed by Wilsonville Summit LLC. Filed within the Washington County Circuit Court, the lawsuit alleges that R&H Residential used defective materials, failed to comply with industry standards and violated applicable building codes in constructing the apartment complex. These deficiencies have resulted in leaks and water intrusion, which have caused property damage.

Saturday, October 18, 2008. Indiana: Mortgage scheme unravels -Lenders foreclose on at least 20 Charter Homes properties: Charter Homes recruited and paid buyers to take out inflated mortgages on dozens of central Indiana homes it built, promising to manage the properties as rentals and make payments for the owners, current and former Charter business partners say. Mortgage fraud is one of the toughest, most time-consuming crimes to investigate, said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Morrison, who oversees a staff of about 30 lawyers for the Southern District of Indiana.
“No two mortgage frauds are the same,” Morrison said. “They’re like snowflakes. We’ve had so many of them, and so many different kinds. Each time, we have to decode what the scam is.” (Has chart exposing scheme via foreclosures ED)

Saturday, October 18, 2008. National Interest: Clean up mold and stop it from coming back: If you think you have a hidden mold problem, I don't recommend do-it-yourself mold testing. There hasn't been a universal standard established regarding what is and isn't an acceptable amount of mold in a home. And because mold spores are everywhere, tests can be very inaccurate.
If you have a hidden mold problem, I recommend you hire a professional company that deals in mold detection and remediation,{the posting of this article, nor those companies recommended by the story's author should be viewed as an endorsement by HADD-ED)

Friday, October 17, 2008. Washington : Aho Construction Speaks Out Against BBB: Tuesday, KNDU got the chance to talk to the owner of Aho construction. This after a report last week that the company had been revoked from the Better Business Bureau.
"They are potentially abusing their members by taking and forcing them to act on something that has no merit."--(really ten complaints, no merit?-ED)
The owner didn't want to enter arbitration with the 10 homeowners because the results would have been binding. (NOTE: In almost all states BUILDERS have legislated, and often successfully to FORCE HOMEOWNERS into BINDING ARBITRATION with arbitrators they use time and again {creates bias} along with building industry created "guidelines". I agree with this AHO- binding arbitration is a violation of one's constitutional rights. -Ed)

Friday, October 17, 2008. Florida: Buyers Sue Florida Law Firm Over Failed Condo Project: ABA Journal: About 25 would-be buyers in a failed Florida condominium development are suing the law firm that held their deposit money, arguing it didn't do enough to safeguard $2.5 million of their funds.

Friday, October 17, 2008. US: American Arbitration Association and homebuilding industry connection? Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP is strengthening its construction practice with the addition of noted home builder industry veteran Steve Lane as a Senior Attorney. ... He is a founding member of the General Counsel Group of the High Production Home Builders Council and a member of the Governmental Affairs Sub-Council. In this role, he helped develop the Supplementary Procedures for Residential Construction, which were the first rules adopted by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) to address the specific needs of the home building industry. He also worked with AAA to develop the group’s Home Construction Arbitration Rules and Mediation Procedures, which were adopted in 2007.

Friday, October 17, 2008. California: Banks, Subprime Lenders To Face Charges-U.S. Attorney Predicts "Dramatic Results" From Sweeping Investigation Into Mortgage Crisis: (AP) The top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles indicated Thursday that charges will be filed in the coming months in a sweeping investigation of banks and subprime lenders for their role in the nation's mortgage crisis. "I think we are going to see some fairly dramatic results in the near future," U.S. Attorney Thomas O'Brien told The Associated Press. "There are people who have made many millions of dollars preying on unsuspecting people. That's wrong. That's fraud in a tremendous amount."

Friday, October 17, 2008. National Interest: INDOOR MOLD REPORT-Better Coordination of Research on Health Effects and More Consistent Guidance Would Improve Federal Efforts: The 65 ongoing federal research activities on the health effects of exposure to indoor mold conducted or sponsored by EPA, HHS, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) address to varying extents 15 gaps in scientific data reported by the Institute of Medicine. For example, many of the research activities address data gaps related to asthma and measurement methods, while other data gaps, such as those related to toxins produced by some molds, are being minimally addressed. Further, less than half of the ongoing mold-related research activities are coordinated either within or across agencies. This limited coordination is important in light of, among other things, the wide range of data gaps identified by the Institute of Medicine and limited federal resources. The Federal Interagency Committee on Indoor Air Quality could provide a structured mechanism for coordinating research activities on mold and other indoor air issues by, for example, serving as a forum for reviewing and prioritizing agencies’ ongoing and planned research. However, it currently does not do so. Read Report.

Friday, October 17, 2008. Michigan: Renters caught in foreclosure meltdown-Genesee sheriff halts evictions of tenants whose landlords default on mortgages; others may follow suit.: With Michigan's home foreclosure rates among the highest in the nation, at least one county sheriff in Michigan is halting the eviction of renters who didn't know their landlords had fallen into foreclosure and other sheriffs are investigating eviction practices. In Genesee County, Sheriff Robert J. Pickell imposed a two-week moratorium on the evictions at foreclosed rental properties by deputized court process servers, a practice he says is "cruel."

Friday, October 17, 2008. New York: Queens Woman Loses Son in Iraq, Now Her Home to Foreclosure Scam: Where's the Bailout for Americans? JAMAICA, QUEENS, N.Y. - October 16 - Jocelyne Voltaire lost her son earlier this year in Iraq and is about to lose her Queens Village home. Voltaire, who immigrated here 21 years ago, bought her white, two-story house and raised a family there, is one of thousands of Americans whose home is being foreclosed after being caught in a mortgage scam. "I still have two children, ages 6 and 10, who need a roof over their heads," Voltaire said. "I worked all my life, my son died for this country, and now the bank wants to take my home away? That's just wrong. Washington needs to help us, the homeowners, not the banks and Wall Street."

Thursday, October 16, 2008. National Interest: Cuomo calls for end to AIG's 'party': New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is investigating "unwarranted and outrageous expenditures" at American International Group, which received an $85 billion federal bailout last month. "The party is over," Cuomo said yesterday. "No more hunting trips. No more luxury resorts. They are not going to have the party and leave the hangover for the taxpayers."

Thursday, October 16, 2008. California: Crisp fails to file appeal, loses license In a 25-page complaint filed by the state last fall, Crisp and Cole were accused of misleading lenders in obtaining loans totaling more than $12 million.Department spokesman Tom Pool said Crisp may reapply for his real estate license, but not for another three years.(Our regulatory agencies are sad- ED)

Thursday, October 16, 2008. National Interest: Experts Say: Limits on Corporate Liability Led to the Subprime Mortgage Crisis PDF Flier from Center For Justice and Democracy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008. Arizona: Douglas Zuber indicted on charges of defrauding Harvard Investments: A Scottsdale real estate executive was indicted Wednesday for money laundering, theft and fraud that allegedly cost his employer $11 million. Douglas Ross Zuber, 40, of Phoenix, was indicted on one count of money laundering, one count of theft and one count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, according to Attorney General Terry Goddard.

Thursday, October 16, 2008. National Interest: Feds have filed 151 criminal mortgage fraud cases so far this year: There were 69 mortgage-fraud investigations in Florida, made up 46 percent of the total. There were 19 in California, identified as involving cases in central and southern California.

Thursday, October 16, 2008. National Interest: Feds investigate failure of Washington Mutual: Last fall, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said he issued subpoenas to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in his investigation into potential conflicts of interest in the mortgage industry. He said he wanted to know about billions of dollars of home loans they bought from banks, including WaMu, and how appraisals were handled.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. Colorado: Fugitive developer back in Colorado: In March, Strodtman was indicted by a Weld County grand jury on 23 felonies including racketeering, theft and forgery. Strodtman, facing 48 years in prison, had agreed to turn himself in but instead ran. Strodtman and his associates with JS Real Estate allegedly deceived more than 20 homeowners in a Greeley subdivision to buy homes out of their price range by falsifying documents to approve their loans.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. Ohio: Indictments pending for mortgage fraud in Slavic Village netting nearly $6 million: CLEVELAND -- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason and the Cuyahoga County Mortgage Fraud Task Force plan to announce the indictment of three defendants who are responsible for over $5.8 million in fraudulent loans for 78 houses in the Slavic Village area.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. AK: I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore: Does anyone remember the movie "Network?" The protagonist, Howard Beale, is a TV newscaster whose career is falling apart. So during one of his last newscasts, he suddenly blurts out, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then he urges viewers to raise their window sills and scream out the same thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. California: 2 South Bay Brokers Found Guilty Of Mortgage Fraud: SAN JOSE (BCN) ― After a three-month trial, two mortgage brokers have been convicted of multiple counts of grand theft and forgery in connection with subprime mortgages loaned out of their Milpitas business, Summit Mortgage One.
Esperanza Valverde, 41, and Herman Covarrubias, 40 were convicted Friday in a case that involves over $10 million in fraudulent sub-prime loans with 23 different borrowers, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008. California: Real Estate Agents Conned Banks Out Of Millions: ROSEVILLE (CBS13) ― More than a dozen potential homeowners were allegedly conned out of millions by their own real estate agents. One of those agents, 39-year-old Dino Rosetti of Roseville, is accused of fraudulently obtaining loans on 16 homes in the Central Valley worth more than $11 million. Rosetti, a loan broker and president of Option One Mortgage in Roseville, was not only engaged in mortgage fraud but money laundering and mail fraud, according to federal investigators.