Quarter 1 (Jan - March) 2005 Archive

Thursday, March 31, 2005. NJ: A tougher SCI still toothless But for all the good that comes out of the SCI, the impact of its reports about wrongdoing depends on how the Attorney General's Office proceeds with any information regarding possible prosecution. That would be unnecessary if it could file its own criminal charges for the attorney general to prosecute, much like a grand jury does.

Thursday, March 31, 2005. NATIONAL: The continued increase in homeownership drives up costs of houses but also lowers rental charges. Potential home buyers increasingly are facing a difficult economic and emotional quandary: Soaring housing prices in many parts of the country have made renting a bargain.

Thursday, March 31, 2005. MICHIGAN: Families say stench, noise have bothered them for months George and her husband, William, said their dream home has become a nightmare to live in. The basement floors have cracked, and nails have begun to pop out of walls in the house from the vibrations

Thursday, March 31, 2005. NJ: S.C.I. Issues Final Report: New-Home Construction and Inspection Abuses Latest Reports and Hearings

Thursday, March 31, 2005. NJ--PDF File: SCI FINDS ‘PANORAMA OF WASTE, FRAUD and ABUSE’ in NEW-HOME CONSTRUCTION The State Commission of Investigation (SCI) today issued the
final report of an unprecedented investigation into abuses in new-home construction and
inspections in New Jersey and recommended sweeping legislative and regulatory reforms
to boost government oversight and to safeguard the interests of the home-buying public.

Thursday, March 31, 2005. NATIONAL: The continued increase in homeownership drives up costs of houses but also lowers rental charges. Potential home buyers increasingly are facing a difficult economic and emotional quandary: Soaring housing prices in many parts of the country have made renting a bargain

Thursday, March 31, 2005. MICHIGAN: Families say stench, noise have bothered them for months George and her husband, William, said their dream home has become a nightmare to live in.The basement floors have cracked, and nails have begun to pop out of walls in the house from the vibrations

Thursday, March 31, 2005. FL: HOW WE LOST OUR DREAM HOME. BUYER BEWARE NOTICE. DR HORTON We thought long and hard about posting our story. We have been told by friends and family that we may risk physical harm with such a big company. But I have to tell you, you just get to a point where the Big Fat Cat Cooperations who do not behave need to be held accountable. If not us then who? If not now then when? It is time the little guy gets to exercise those all important 1st Amendment rights. For some one to say enough is enough.

Thursday, March 31, 2005. TX: Ex-councilmen, lawyers sentenced During the sentencing, lawyers for Pytel, Sanders and Peña dumped on politically connected homebuilder Peter Estevez, Pytel's friend and client. They said Estevez — whom one lawyer characterized as a "crook" — was coordinating the bribes and controlling how they took place.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Texas: City's suit grounds residential project The city says the suit was filed because Beazer didn't comply with several code requirements, including one that would protect the city from lawsuits by homeowners over noise or damage from nearby Hensley Field. Beazer's development site is immediately south and west of Hensley Field, owned by the city of Dallas and former home of the 732-acre Dallas Naval Air Station.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Idaho: Construction problems anger Sagle couple The Sagle couple facing a lien against their house and a lawsuit by the contractor they hired to build it could serve as poster children for a county lacking a building department and an International Building Code.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Texas: TEXAS SENATOR INTRODUCES BILL TO PROHIBIT HOME FORECLOSURE SALE IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES The following was received from Mary McGarr here in Houston. Mary has been very active in her Homeowners Association, Nottingham Country. Thought you might want to post it on AHRC. Beanie Adolph - HOAdata.org

Ms. McGarr:

I work in Sen. Jeff Wentworth's Austin office. I am pleased to inform you that, based upon your legislative suggestion, Sen. Wentworth has introduced Senate Bill 244 relating to property owners' association assessments.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. NJ, National interest:: Investigative agency given tougher tools The three-decade-old State Commission of Investigation, originally created to investigate the relationship between organized crime and public officials, is responsible for conducting factual investigations and creating policy recommendations to improve government management. [Editor's Note: The SCI also conducted/is conducting an investigation into corruption, waste, and fraud, in the home building industry.]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. National: Builders banking on bubble Maybe homebuilding executives have the stomach to overbuild because they know they'll have a fortune in the bank by the time the housing bubble bursts.

Why else would they be dumping their stocks? With homebuilding indexes at all-time highs, insiders are cashing in as if they know the game is up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. National: Law loses its way Today the skill and gamesmanship of lawyers, not the truth, often determine the outcome of a case

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Texas: The Consumer's Corner. Commentary by John Cobarruvias This weeks commentary on "front groups" representing the citizens of Texas. Starts at 19:30.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. NATIONAL: Americans undervalue trees to their environmental detriment The newsletter points to U.S. Department of Energy studies proving the energy savings mature trees afford homeowners. Tree shading and evapotranspiration (how leaves release water vapor) can reduce surrounding summer air temperatures by as much as 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Homes surrounded by mature trees can save between 15 percent to 50 percent on energy costs over those surrounded by small trees. In cool weather, mature trees cut down wind chill, which produces energy savings of between 25 percent and 40 percent. If all that doesn't convince you, the newsletter also cites studies showing mature trees can account for up to 15 percent of the value of a residential property.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. MICHIGAN: Canceled house purchase cost deposit, but another did buy The builder wound up selling the property to someone else for $60,000 more than we had agreed to pay because values in the area are rising fast, but he won't return our $20,000 deposit. What can we do now? The court ruled in Buyer John's favor, and ordered the seller to return his deposit. After all, the judge said, the seller actually benefited from John's decision to cancel. Your attorney should review the case. It's the 2003 U.S. District Court decision in Shulman v. Voyou LLC (251 Fed. Supp. 2d 166).

Wednesday, March 30, 2005. Texas: CAI - DON'T TREAD ON US!!

Proud Americans have historically vigorously defended against too much Government intrusion into their lives. It has often been said that Government "is breaking down the bedroom walls" when it tramples upon our privacy.

Well Texans, we have a new 'government'. It is the Homeowner Association housing industry, aka, the CAI.

The following article was recently published by the Texas Legislative Action Committee of the Community Associations Institute (CAI).

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. National: Judges Say Overhaul Would Weaken Bankruptcy System "The advocates aren't trying to fix the bankruptcy law; they're trying to mess it up so much that nobody can use it," Lundin charged.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. WA: Appraiser sentenced in real-estate fraud SPOKANE — A real-estate appraiser has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and must repay $287,796 to his victims of real-estate fraud.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. National: Report highlights dangers of real estate appraisal fraud Mortgage brokers, lenders, real estate agents and developers can exert pressure on appraisers to inflate home values in order to close a real estate transaction, the study notes, and consumers seeking to refinance their homes can also promote inflated appraisals, the study notes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. National: HUD supercharges RESPA enforcement HUD is currently pursuing 60 investigations into alleged violations of RESPA's Section 8, the principal anti-kickback section of the act, a HUD spokesman said.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. MO: GAMBLING CRIMES IN MISSOURI... "Nettie" saved for 30 years for her dream home. Her life savings are gone, gambled away by the builder, who stole her money.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. Colorado and National: Government widens residential real estate probes The investigation could result in civil or even criminal charges.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. National: Title Insurance and Homebuilders - An Unholy Alliance? At present ten states are investigating alleged title insurance fraud. These investigations involve not only a number of America's top title insurance companies but two super-size lenders, a national real estate company, and, most notable in this investigation, a large number of large homebuilding corporations.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. National--Barry Stone article: New-home defects catch buyers by surprise In today's real estate market, the majority of brand-new homes are purchased without the slightest consideration of a home inspection. "Common wisdom" dictates that a new home, having just passed municipal inspection, could not possibly warrant further evaluation. That ill-advised belief is a snare to otherwise prudent home buyers, and many have been sorely damaged by this strategic oversight. In short, the case for inspecting a newly completed home is sound and simple.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. New York: SUFFOLK CORRUPTION PROBE "They took records from the building department, as well as the Manorville home of Brookhaven's chief building inspector, Vincent Dragone.

The next bombshell came about two weeks later. Another target flipped. Brookhaven Zoning Board member Theodore Rickman, also the town Republican Party treasurer, admitted to taking $14,000 in cash bribes from one builder. Like Towle, he cooperated."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. Florida and National: Looks Like My Builder & The State Will Help When Pigs Fly! Builders go into any situation trying to make money and no one wants them to not be profitable however making money at the expense of homeowners health in a manner that fringes on fraud is becoming an epidemic in this country!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. New Jersey: Builder's wife pleads guilty to tax fraud The wife of a prominent North Jersey developer pleaded guilty yesterday to federal tax fraud, six weeks before her husband's scheduled trial on bank fraud and corruption charges.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005. FL and National: Bribed Builder Avoids Jail House arrest and probation without prison time is the government's reward to Seffner builder Dean Ryan for helping to break a Tampa housing corruption scheme that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Monday, March 28, 2005. MICHIGAN: Builder abstains from votes "Ferguson, appointed to the DDA board by Kilpatrick, has had to abstain from several votes in the past year because his company, Ferguson Enterprises Inc., was up for DDA contracts for demolition and construction work. As long as he does that, officials said, there's nothing wrong with his appointment." "If there is any hanky-panky, I'd have none of it," Jackson said.

Monday, March 28, 2005. MICHIGAN: Builder Accused Of Fraud Authorities have arrested a Macomb County developer for allegedly swindling several potential homeowners. "A county task force investigation led to the arrest of John Imbronone, 57, said Sheriff Mark Hackel. Imbronone was arraigned Thursday in 41st District Court in Shelby Township on five counts of felony contractor fraud. "

Monday, March 28, 2005. MICHIGAN: Learn How to Research a Builder or File a Complaint "Last Friday, the 7 Action News Investigators first told you about problems that some consumers have had with Bruno Building Company. Now, it’s time to make sure you’re protected. "

Monday, March 28, 2005. WI: Headaches of home building Owner closes in on moving day after slogging through disputes with builder

Sunday, March 27, 2005. National:: Julian Bond, Jesse Jackson and Other Civil Rights Leaders Join Consumer Groups Opposing a New Bill That Opens the Door to Predatory Lenders WASHINGTON, March 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Civil rights groups joined consumer
organizations in opposing a bill in Congress that would gut protections
against predatory lenders.

Saturday, March 26, 2005. National interest: Arbitration clauses become typical biz practice The family's Spokane, Wash.-based attorney, Kelly Vance, said he scuttled the arbitration clause after learning one of the owners of Construction Arbitration Services had falsified his qualifications in an affidavit filed in court.

Saturday, March 26, 2005. CA: SR homeowners win millions over leaks The homeowners are phasing repairs over several years and will invest the settlement money to increase the money available.

"The place was pretty badly put together. It's not a windfall by any means," said Johnson, a resident since 1996.

Saturday, March 26, 2005. From MSN Money:: What your bank hides in the fine print advertisement

Your bank, lender and credit card company have a vested interest in making disclosure statements tough to decipher. Here's what you might miss about your accounts.

Saturday, March 26, 2005. MICHIGAN: Condo protest swells "Detroit might be known as a tough union town, but the raucous labor protest at a Royal Oak condominium site Friday is a fairly rare event in southeast Michigan's construction industry." "One is that on the size projects that we're working on, the unions are better trained on safety and quality and issues like that."

Friday, March 25, 2005. MICHIGAN: Zittel won't face charge; Actions improper but not illegal -- prosecutor "The Genesee County Sheriff's Department and the prosecutor's office investigated allegations that Zittel used his elected position in 2001 to get a discount on land in the Woodfield subdivision and that he enlisted township employees to do personal jobs for him, including helping him deliver a hot tub to his new house in 2002." "It was alleged that Zittel obtained a 25 percent discount on the lot. Mansour typically gave builders such as Youmans who do business in the subdivision a 10 percent discount, Leyton said." "Zittel paid $55,000 for the lot, according to township records, which was slightly below the average price in the subdivision but $12,500 less than the price for a lot beside it and $16,250 less than the price for one on the other side."

Friday, March 25, 2005. New Jersey: Building Woes Said Pervasive Gary Baldino testifies at State hearing.

Friday, March 25, 2005. OH: Woman Calls Home A "Lemon" Buying a home is the single biggest purchase most people make, but an Obetz woman says her dream home has turned into a nightmare. Emily Berger says she can describe her home in one word: lemon.

Friday, March 25, 2005. National interest: Vermont’s niche insurance industry caught in growing scandal The title insurance industry, worth nearly $12 billion nationwide, was rocked in late February by a Colorado investigation that revealed a pervasive scheme in which U.S. consumers are forced to pay inflated premiums for title insurance.

Friday, March 25, 2005. FL: Mobile Home Owners in Florida May Have New Agency Making Sure Their Homes Are Safe RISMEDIA, March 24 – (KRT) – Mobile home owners in Florida could soon have a new agency making sure their homes are as safe and storm-worthy as possible.

Friday, March 25, 2005. LA: Local builder stripped of license, faces fine Several homeowners who say they were affected by Crump attended the hearing. Lillie Mae Fabre, who has been forced to live in a trailer because Crump never completed her dream home, is facing liens on her property because subcontractors have not been paid.

Friday, March 25, 2005. Michigan: Sludge buster The fight to clean Lake St. Clair sends a message to all Michigan. "I’m a builder," he said. "I would cut down every tree on a lot. I would bury and burn trash. If I changed motor oil I’d dump it on the gravel to keep the dust down. I’d put pesticides and fertilizers on the lawn, right up to the edge of the canal. If some went in the water, I never thought a thing about it."

Friday, March 25, 2005. Florida National: HURRICANE UPDATE: Repair scams flood Florida after storms Homeowners with damaged roofs lose thousands to cons "So far, hundreds of people have been arrested statewide for contracting without a license, stealing the license numbers of local contractors or taking deposits, but not doing the work. In addition, dozens of licensed contractors have been cited for using their credentials to win business and then handing the jobs to unlicensed, uninsured subcontractors, building officials said." "Almost every problem that we're seeing out here begins with the licensed contractor," said Nick Bowman, an investigator for the state workers compensation agency, whose territory covers Palm Beach to St. Lucie counties. "If you could stop them from hiring all the unlicensed subcontractors, then you could stop all these laborers working under the table with no workers comp."

Friday, March 25, 2005. Michigan: Links owners sue Chesterfield trustees "The golf course is used as a storm water retention area for nearby subdivisions; building homes there would wipe out the natural control benefits."

Thursday, March 24, 2005. U.S.: Ex-housing board chairman to plead guilty The former chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board who participated in a fundraising event for a Republican agreed to plead guilty to lying to a Senate committee and an inspector general, the Justice Department announced this week.

John Korsmo, 55, of Washington, D.C., is former head of the Federal Housing Finance Board, which oversees the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks that help supply funds to home mortgage lenders.

Thursday, March 24, 2005. National: 7 ways to spot a shady mortgage lender Signs of a bad loan

Thursday, March 24, 2005. NJ: It's sentencing day for fallen political boss and informant This morning, Janiszewski comes to federal court in Newark as the poster boy of the state's infamously corrupt ways.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005. Texas: Free Statewide Warranty and Performance Standards Seminars Schedule The Texas Residential Construction Commission will hold free warranty and performance standards seminars throughout Texas beginning April 20.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005. Michigan: Couple Says Black Mold Found In Dream Home "To build a mold-free home is not a possibility and I think that's where the problem lies with them is that they want 100 percent a mold-free home," said Sam Moraco, of Scott Quality Homes, the company that built the Michaels' home. ...The Michaels claim the builder offered them a deal to return their $22,000 down payment in exchange for their signature on an agreement not to discuss the mold issue with others, the station reported."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005. International/National: Chinese Banker Accused of Corruption ...according to a lawsuit, cut a deal that allegedly led to $1 million in kickbacks from a U.S. company.The suit, filed in Monterey County in December, has come to light in the wake of Zhang's abrupt resignation from the bank last week. The complaint claims that Zhang, 58, received bribes from Alltel Information Services of Florida in connection with contracts to provide software programs to Construction Bank.

Alltel is owned by Fidelity National Financial Inc., a large title insurer that was based in Orange County before moving to Florida last year. [Fidelity is one of the companies investigated for illegal title kickbacks to builders; see previous articles particularly from March 2005.]

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. Texas: The Consumers Corner with John Cobarruvias, President HADD Texas Audio begins at 15:29. A radio commentary on the lack of consumer protection for new homebuyers in Texas.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. Michigan: Macomb defends farmland Townships join forces and pay farmers to keep property out of developers' hands. Mark Falker welds a blade hitch on his Bruce Township farm. Falker believes Purchase of Development Rights provide a mechanism to diversify Macomb County's economy. "I don't want to see our food imported from other countries," he says.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. Michigan: Township acts to save trees from sprawl Brighton officials draft a plan to guide cutting in a way that protects woodlands. "A little less than a year after township officials' phones rang off the hook with residents complaining about the clear-cutting by Pulte Homes and Dominion Building & Development Co., township planners have drafted an ordinance that sets guidelines for developers land owners who want to clear large swaths of trees. "

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. Oregon, National Interest: BUILDER SLAMMED IN OREGON [PDF file]Doc Kelman works for GlobalTox
and is a known defense expert
who has never seen an injury he
can attribute to his client. Doc
Kelman gets paid a lot of dough
to claim his client is not responsible
for injuries sustained.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005. OKLA.: The Sharp Sword of Residential Property Disclosures In order to gain a clearer understanding of an action brought under the disclosure act, the following sets forth the duties of the parties involved in the real estate transaction.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005. National: Why RESPA should be abolished The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, a federal law that bans the payment of kickbacks in real estate settlement services, is badly broken, and it will take an act of Congress to fix it.

Monday, March 21, 2005. National: Speculators Could Be The Pin To Pop The Housing Bubble Speculators played a significant role in driving up home prices before California's housing market crash in the late 1980s.

Monday, March 21, 2005. National:: Predatory Lending Bill A Ruse, Consumer Groups Charge "The numerous loopholes in this bill show a lack of understanding of how predatory lending steals the home equity of thousands of American families every year," said Mark Pearce, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy and research grou.

Pearce said his organization regards the bill as an attempt by lenders to get around strong predatory lending laws.

Monday, March 21, 2005. National--Will new bankruptcy laws affect corpoations such as the bankruptcy mentioned in this article?: Building a fortune anew NVR had bought land--too much of it--and then found itself holding the bag when interest rates turned, land values sagged, and building slowed in the early 1990s. The company had also borrowed heavily to buy out a much bigger rival, Ryan Homes. After losing hundreds of millions of dollars, NVR threw in the towel with its 1992 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

Monday, March 21, 2005. PA: Homebuyer suffers after builder leaves Theirs wasn't the only home in Sunridge Estates affected by the abrupt departure of the builder, Grandview Custom Homes. Some residents said they consider themselves lucky to have lost only a few thousand dollars.

Monday, March 21, 2005. FL: Owners sue builder, alleging poor construction Last April, the homeowners sent a letter to the builder, Prime Home Builders of Boca Raton, demanding repairs. According to the homeowners' lawsuit, filed in Broward County Circuit Court this month, the problems were not fixed.

Monday, March 21, 2005. NJ: State report to detail home-building flaws The State Commission of Investigation, which has held hearings on defects and abuses in home construction and problems with warranties and inspections, has found that prevalence is particularly high in booming rural areas.

The commission plans to issue a report detailing its findings in the next month.

Monday, March 21, 2005. Oklahoma/National--from Inman: HUD busts real estate kickback schemes Oklahoma real estate agents, home builders, title insurers reach settlement

Monday, March 21, 2005. National--from Inman.com: Burning the home warranty I have to say that when I opened the envelope to see what the renewal fee was for the home warranty, I almost fainted at the cost, which is $741.

I took a quick inventory of all of the items that I spent money on this past year for things that I assumed would be covered and I'm still way ahead of the game if I don't renew.

Sunday, March 20, 2005. NJ: For some, new home brings new troubles And they are not alone, according to some, who say homeowners need strong laws to protect them in one of the most important and costly purchases of their lives. Tracey Kelly is one of those people. President of the state's Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, or HADD chapter, she first encountered a new home riddled with costly mistakes when she purchased a K. Hovnanian house in Howell nearly 10 years ago.

Sunday, March 20, 2005. Texas: Home-building law has more than a few cracks Before the law was enacted, buyers could sue builders under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Now consumer advocates say it's going to be much harder because of new requirements for resolving disputes. That's their other beef with the law.

Saturday, March 19, 2005. Natinal: How to avoid pitfalls of arbitration Some of the biggest consumer groups in the country have united behind a campaign called Give Me Back My Rights (www.givemebackmyrights.com). Its goal is to persuade state and federal lawmakers to protect consumers' rights in disputes.


Arbitration is one of those concepts that sounds good on paper: If you get in a squabble with your credit card company or your car dealer or your home builder, you can just whip into arbitration to get it resolved quickly.

In practice, arbitration can be ugly.

Saturday, March 19, 2005. Texas: Taylor-Made Election Law Taylor’s best-known new client is Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who bankrolled attacks by Swiftboat Veterans for Truth on John Kerry’s Vietnam record. During the 2002 campaign Perry contributed $396,000 to the 21 Republican House candidates backed by TRMPAC and emerged as the top donor to TAB’s PAC. Although Perry is in a league of his own as Texas’ No. 1 individual donor, all of Taylor’s clients enjoy ties to TRMPAC or Tom DeLay.

Saturday, March 19, 2005. OK: Legislation Aimed at Protecting Okla. Homeowners Clears State Senate Senate Bill 431 [Insurance Journal article--this legislation is NOT consumer protection, it is bad builder protection! --Ed]

Saturday, March 19, 2005. Ohio: Unrest on the home front New-house buyers uniting to fight builder 'errors'

Friday, March 18, 2005. National: Regulators investigating affiliated business arrangements Back in Colorado Thursday from the NAIC's national conference this week, Toll said of ABAs, "Some of those arrangements are just shams.

Friday, March 18, 2005. National Interest: Title firm's rate plan National scrutiny of title-insurance rates erupted last month after the Colorado Division of Insurance uncovered kickbacks that the country's Big 3 title companies, including First American Title, paid builders, lenders and real estate brokers for guarantees of business.

Friday, March 18, 2005. National, from Inman, usually only free on day of posting:: http://www.inman.com/hstory.aspx?ID=45335 Back in Colorado Thursday from the NAIC's national conference this week, Toll said of ABAs, "Some of those arrangements are just shams.

Friday, March 18, 2005. AR, National interest re Arbitration: Senate OK's ban on forced resolution [Could these principles apply to arbitration in the home building/warranty industries?] The Arkansas Senate approved House Bill 1570, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Contract Protection Act, in a 35-0 vote Thursday with no debate. The bill forbids agriculture companies like Tyson Foods Inc. and ConAgra Foods Inc. from forcing their contract farmers into arbitration when disputes arise.

Friday, March 18, 2005. CO, CA, National: First American Title Insurance lowers rate The company was among several investigated by the Colorado Division of Insurance for allegedly engaging in kickback arrangements with home builders.

Friday, March 18, 2005. AZ, National interest: Feds' antitrust inquiry targets Ariz. builders, telecom firms The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether exclusive agreements between Arizona developers and communications companies, such as Cox and Qwest, violate antitrust laws.

Friday, March 18, 2005. National: New Home Builders NewsBlog.com I'm a 100% disabled veteran who is married with three children and is advocating on behalf of the little guy against arrogant and greedy giants - new homebuilders. And no, that isn't my picture; it merely depicts the stance that must be taken with New Home Building Industry!

Friday, March 18, 2005. Florida: Class Action Filed Against National Home Builder, Ryland Homes, For Building Leaky Homes in Florida PRLEAP.COM) Over 100 homeowners in Florida have filed an action against nation-wide home builder Ryland Homes for building homes which leak. The suit, filed in the Florida State Circuit Court in Orlando, Case No. 2005-CA-1930-O, alleges the homes were built with an exterior coating called "texturized cement finish" or "TCF" which was misrepresented to the buyers as a traditional stucco exterior. The suit alleges the TCF is an inferior product as compared to traditional stucco and TCF allows water to intrude into the homes, but does not allow for the water to drain out, thus causing mold and structural damage.

Friday, March 18, 2005. Texas: EPA: Many Diversified Interests [Superfund site to be developed for new homes] The site occupies a 36-acre tract of land at 3617 Baer Street in Houston. The abandoned, former foundry site, is located two miles east of downtown Houston and one block south of Interstate Highway 10. This part of Houston is referred to as the Fifth Ward. The chemicals of concern that were being investigated during the remedial investigation and feasibility study for operable unit 1 include metals, such as lead, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, and asbestos. The chemical of concern for operable unit 2 is lead.

Friday, March 18, 2005. Texas: Top dollar for tainted land? Location gives Superfund site big potential An abandoned toxic waste site that sits in the heart of a forgotten neighborhood two miles east of downtown could soon become the target of a bidding war by developers.

Thursday, March 17, 2005. MI and National: Program offers incentive to not sell to developers "It scares me to know where our food is going to come from if we do away with our local farms," Falker said. "We have to be fussy about where we get our food. We don't want to get it from other countries in the future. Do we?"

Thursday, March 17, 2005. Texas: Insurers ordered to justify rates AUSTIN - The Texas Department of Insurance on Wednesday said it has ordered several homeowners insurance companies to justify their rates after data showed that 2004 was a good year for the industry. The department wants to ensure that homeowners are not being overcharged.

Thursday, March 17, 2005. MO: Sen. Ridgeway's bill would aid builders, hurt house owners To the editor:
"I am disappointed that Sen. Luann Ridgeway is sponsoring legislation that can make (house) ownership more difficult."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National: Contractors blamed for matchmaking role with lenders A contractor will offer to make repairs on a home in a depressed neighborhood and help the homeowner get home equity financing, often with high interest rates and unnecessary fees.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. PA, National interest: Home fraud charges sent to court State criminal charges filed against two Brodheadsville homebuilders and two of their employees alleging they conspired to defraud customers were sent to Monroe County court on Tuesday.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. Arbitration:: You May Be Unknowingly Signing Away Your Right To Sue If you are wronged in some way with a product or service, you may think you have the right to sue.


Brian Roche's Report

More and more, consumers are finding that just by buying into a service or product they've given up that right.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National interest: Ripped-off builder has suspicions His new-home sites repeatedly have been ripped off. He says others have, too. He thinks he knows who's to blame.

His colleagues.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. Ohio, National interest: Mine Net for housing records Sunshine laws or not, the view of some open records remains murky, costly or even inaccessible.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. MI: Man avoids prison in land feud.Judge rejects efforts to sentence Midland developer to 10 months for filling in wetlands. "The judge noted that defendants in Michigan convicted of environmental crimes rarely serve prison sentences. Two Macomb County developers were sentenced to $5,000 in fines and probation and ordered to fully restore wetlands after they clear-cut, plowed and destroyed 8 acres of forested wetlands in New Baltimore."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National & California: Real Estate Reliance May Hurt California "We need some other sectors to carry the ball," said Ross DeVol, director of regional economics at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica. "Real estate simply cannot push the economy forward any longer."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. MI: Homeowners file suit against Tadian A group of 40 homeowners in the Ashford of Clarkston subdivision sued Troy's Tadian Homes and its Illinois-based parent company Tuesday, alleging substandard construction practices in the 53-home community. The suit, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, names Tadian, Warrenville, Ill.,-based Neumann Homes, window supplier MW Manufacturers Inc., and two Neumann and Tadian subsidiaries. Neumann acquired Tadian, founded in metro Detroit 20-plus years ago, in January.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National: First, check out the builder " Investigate the builder's past. "You're better off buying from a developer with a history of satisfied customers," writes Smith. Ask for the location of the builder's last project, then knock on doors. Unhappy owners won't stay quiet."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. MI: Homeowners file suit against Tadian A group of 40 homeowners in the Ashford of Clarkston subdivision sued Troy's Tadian Homes and its Illinois-based parent company Tuesday, alleging substandard construction practices in the 53-home community. The suit, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, names Tadian, Warrenville, Ill.,-based Neumann Homes, window supplier MW Manufacturers Inc., and two Neumann and Tadian subsidiaries. Neumann acquired Tadian, founded in metro Detroit 20-plus years ago, in January.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National: Mortgage Fraud Numerous news stories of mortgage fraud around the nation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National: Real Estat: Avoid the Burn n a market this hot, home buyers and investors can easily get singed. Here's what could happen. Plus: Tips to get you through unscathed

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National:: China's Currency Policy Leading to Housing Bubble in U.S., Says JBGLOBAL LLC Featured in This Week's Barron's OnlineChina's Peg to the Dollar is Distorting Treasury Bond Yields and Keeping Mortgages Artificially Low, Says JBGLOBAL LLC

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. National Interest:: Will Real Estate Pop Like Tech? "People are going crazy investing in real estate," said Karl Graf, a fee-only financial planner in Wayne. "A lot of people are chasing gains that just happened. Real estate has historically had big ups and downs, and sometimes the downs take 10 years to work themselves out, as they did in the 1990s.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. AZ, National interest: Would-be buyers outbid The American Dream has become a nightmare for many Valley residents who are being priced out of their own housing market. High demand and low inventory is driving up home values to unprecedented levels, with deep-pocketed investors often snatching up homes when there are multiple bidders.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. INTER-National: World: Transparency Report Focuses On Corruption In Construction The latest report from the corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) singles out the global construction industry for special scrutiny. In a report released on 16 March, the group identifies the 3-trillion-dollar construction industry as the most corrupt segment of the world economy. And it says the cost of this corruption is more than just wasted money. Corruption can lead to shoddy workmanship, which in turn can damage the environment and even cost lives.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. MI: Homeowners file suit against Tadian The suit, filed in Oakland County Circuit Court, names Tadian, Warrenville, Ill.,-based Neumann Homes, window supplier MW Manufacturers Inc., and two Neumann and Tadian subsidiaries. Neumann acquired Tadian, founded in metro Detroit 20-plus years ago, in January.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005. Texas: Frisco’s future could hinge on vote On one side is Dr. David Becka, his wife, Carol, and daughter, Carolyn, and Take Back Your Rights a political action committee they formed. The other side has homebuilders, Realtors, city officials, the Chamber of Commerce and CUFFF (Citizens United for Frisco’s Future) a PAC formed to fight the amendments. [NOTE: This is three individuals against a well funded commerical PAC. The homebuilders are very very concerned about this.]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005. Texas: The Texas Insurance Scam of the 21st Century. (audio) A weekly commentary on KPFT in Houston Texas concerning consumer issues. This weeks commentary is on insurance rates in Texas. The commentary begins at 21:39.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005. MI: Owner protests Brandon assessment "The problems began almost immediately. Darlene Sawicki bought a $127,900 home with Bald Eagle Lake access in Brandon Township 13 years ago and quickly found several deficiencies in the home, including a partially finished roof, water damage on the front of the home and an improperly attached back deck, which also led to water damage in the back of the home. Sawicki has spent about $58,000 on the home in recent years to fix code violations she discovered soon after buying it."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005. Natinoal: The Fed sees bubbles -- and keeps them secret In public, the Federal Reserve says there's no housing bubble. But the Fed also said there was no stock market bubble in 1999. Behind closed doors, the governors knew there was.

Monday, March 14, 2005. MI: Even the kitchen sinks are swiped Metro construction-site thefts on the rise March 14, 2005 "Residential construction-site theft is widespread and perennial in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, costing regional builders millions and forcing home buyers to foot part of the bill."

Monday, March 14, 2005. MI: Program offers incentive to not sell to developers "It scares me to know where our food is going to come from if we do away with our local farms," Falker said. "We have to be fussy about where we get our food. We don't want to get it from other countries in the future. Do we? "

Monday, March 14, 2005. MI: Program offers incentive to not sell to developers "It scares me to know where our food is going to come from if we do away with our local farms," Falker said. "We have to be fussy about where we get our food. We don't want to get it from other countries in the future. Do we? "

Monday, March 14, 2005. MI: Program offers incentive to not sell to developers "It scares me to know where our food is going to come from if we do away with our local farms," Falker said. "We have to be fussy about where we get our food. We don't want to get it from other countries in the future. Do we?"

Monday, March 14, 2005. OH, KY: Erpenbeck Bankers Start Prison Terms Finnan, 51, and Menne, 48, former executives at the defunct Peoples Bank of Northern Kentucky, are scheduled to report to federal prison to begin serving time for their role in the $30 million Erpenbeck home building scandal.

Sunday, March 13, 2005. National: Senate Passes MBNA's Bankruptcy Bill Credit card issuers, banks and even home builders are applauding the Senate's passage of a bankruptcy bill that would make it much more difficult for Americans devastated by illness, divorce or job loss to wipe out their debts.

Sunday, March 13, 2005. CA: New homes are leaking, owners say Half of the homeowners in one of San Luis Obispo's newest neighborhoods complain that their homes leak rainwater from the roofs, fireplaces and windows.

Sunday, March 13, 2005. TX: How's the American Dream? Home buyers need to know about bad builders Perhaps naturally, the home builder lobby doesn't want the bill because its members would be held to yet another standard. But you'd think most builders would want this latest reform. The measure would further weed out bad builders, whom surely most home builders don't want spoiling their industry's reputation.

Sunday, March 13, 2005. National: Lenders Should Pay For Title Insurance "Insurers are not competing for the borrower, they're competing for the lender, homebuilder or realtor who is overseeing the sale, so there's no pressure on prices," says Jack Guttentag, professor of finance emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "A situation like that is ripe for abuse and almost never to the benefit of the consumer."

Saturday, March 12, 2005. WASHINGTON: Realty Q&A - Fishy appraisals, rental-property refinancing What if you find out after you closed that you had really overpaid for a home? You used a buyer's agent. You applied for the mortgage at the real estate office through the loan officer that had preapproved you for the loan and works this office for businesses. The loan officer has an appraiser through whom she places most of her work. The appraiser calls the loan officer and says the home will not appraise at the selling price and asks that the listing agent supply comparable home sales that would support a higher valuation. There is a similar home almost across the street that sold for about $15,000.00 less. The loan officer calls the agent, the agent goes to her broker, who tells the loan officer to use another appraiser. And guess what, the house appraised. This really happened. I know because I'm the first appraiser. There really must be something that can be done to protect the public from these types of brokers and buyer's agents

Saturday, March 12, 2005. OH, KY, National interest:: Erpenbeck I: What Ohio needs Ohio Rep. Michelle Schneider, R-Madeira, plans to reintroduce her bill in April to add some consumer protections at closings. The centerpiece of her legislation is a "settlement protection" letter that title insurance companies would be required to give buyers, lenders and sellers indemnifying them against loss from fraud, theft or other failures to distribute the checks.

Friday, March 11, 2005. Nat'l:: Fannie trying to tackle fraud: official The case involves the sale of fraudulent mortgages to the Government National Mortgage Association, or Ginnie Mae, by First Beneficial Mortgage Corp.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. National: Reward Offered for Missing Costumed Character LOS ANGELES, March 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Motivational Systems, Inc. (MSI) is offering a $500 reward to anyone finding and returning the costume for KB Home's beloved character, Happy Home. Happy Home was lost Saturday, February 26, while in transport to a KB Home (NYSE: KBH) event in Las Vegas.(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050308/LATU068 )

Thursday, March 10, 2005. Texas: Taylor's TRMPAC Thunder Taylor's seven wealthy clients include Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the state's largest individual political contributor, who shared $4.6 million of his personal wealth with candidates and causes in Texas' 2004 election cycle, according to Texans for Public Justice, a campaign watchdog group. Three of the seven – Perry, Dallas oil kingpin Louis Beecherl, and Dallas realtor Vance Miller – were also big contributors to TRMPAC in the 2002 election cycle at issue in both the civil trial and an ongoing criminal investigation. The other four are Houston real estate honchos Michael Stevens and Walter Mischer, Compass Bank CEO Charles McMahen, and Seitel Inc. president Fred Zeidman.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. National re: general tort reform news:: Texas Study Casts Doubt on Need for Tort Reform The study looked at Texas Department of Insurance records dating back to 1988 and found claims that medical costs were soaring because of too many malpractice lawsuits, the supposed reason for the reform, were not true.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. National Interest:: RE/MAX, KB Home respond to kickback investigation reports California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi, in his investigation of alleged title company kickbacks to other real estate groups, has so far issued subpoenas to two home builders, three title insurance companies, one real estate brokerage company, and three mortgage and finance companies, with more subpoenas planned, the commissioner's office announced this week.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. OH, National interest: Unrest on the home front In an extreme case, some Medina home buyers sued their builder, Brian Phillips' Provenance Construction, claiming fraud after he filed for U.S. Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in mid-2004. Phillips left $1 million in debts and left some buyers without homes.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. CA, National: Calif. insurance commissioner subpoenas homebuilders Garamendi said the practice violates the law and is designed to kick back a large share of the title-insurance premium in exchange for the referral of the customer to the title company. Garamendi said the violation causes title insurance rates to increase.

Thursday, March 10, 2005. WA, National interest: Builders' association undercover hokum ... The Seattle Times reports the association sent out what it claimed were market surveys on housing trends to more than 400 King County residents who signed post-election affidavits after their absentee ballots were questioned.

The builders' group included $10 checks in each "survey" as compensation for the time and trouble.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. National interest: A little homework can go a long way in preventing a landslide The question of the stability of the ground underneath homes has become even more relevant this year following a series of heavy rainstorms that have drenched North County in what is now the third wettest winter on record.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. From Inman.com: California issues 9 more subpoenas in title insurance probe RE/MAX, KB Home, Wells Fargo among list of companies: "There is growing evidence that title insurers and others have scammed consumers in the name of greed," Garamendi said in a statement. "Through these subpoenas and through my investigation, I intend to find out how widespread this problem is and put a stop to this illegal activity."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. Oregon, National interest:: Post details: Jury Finds Toxic Mold Harmed Oregon Family, Holds Construction Company Responsible You couldn’t have made the framing in that house more wet if you had sprayed it with a firehose.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. Oregon, National interest:: Jury Finds "Toxic Mold" Harmed Oregon Family, Builder's Arbitration Clause Not Binding Two separate medical evaluations substantiated that both Renee Haynes and her son, Michael, had mold antibodies in their blood, indicative of dangerous exposure levels to mold. Numerous experts, including a fungal immunologist, an occupational therapist and a neuropsychologist testified concerning the Haynes children's developmental and sensory integration disorders that began shortly after moving into the Adair built home.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. National: [Serious construction defect cases can cause a family to go into bankruptcy; some builders abuse bankruptcy protection to get out of paying judgments:: Going broke to get harder Critics also said the measure fails to do anything to curb abusive bankruptcy practices by wealthy families, who can create special trusts to shelter their assets, and by corrupt companies like Enron and WorldCom, which were able to find favorable bankruptcy courts and deprive many of their employees and retired employees of benefits.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005. MO, National interest re: SLAPP suits and free speech:: Free Speech: Slapping down Weber The decision is particularly significant because the court quashed the Weber
suit before Mr. Diehl had to face the time and expense of a trial. Lawyers said
the decision was the first case in memory where a court threw out a libel suit
this way at such an early stage. Judge Lawrence E. Mooney said he was taking
that step to avoid the "chilling impact" of the lawsuit on public discourse.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. Oregon, National interest: Builder Liable for Mold Problem PORTLAND, OR 2005-03-07 (OPB Radio) - A Clackamas County jury has held a Beaverton construction company liable for building a home that allowed a toxic mold to thrive inside.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. Oregon, National interest: Sandy family wins mold lawsuit Diane Dulken, communications director for the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, said Adair Homes tried to settle the issue through arbitration.

Instead, Dulken said, a judge ruled that the lawsuit could go forward when the Hayneses' attorney, Kelly Vance showed that an affidavit submitted from Marshall Lippman, the owner of Construction Arbitration Services in Dallas, Texas, was false and that Lippman had been disbarred for stealing funds from his clients.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. Texas: The Consumer's Corner. KPTF radio, Houston Texas hosted by HADD rep John Cobarruvias A weekley commentary by John Cobarruvias on Pacifica radio KPFT. This commentary focuses on the abuse of arbitration. [the segment begins a little over half way through the segment]

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. Oregon, National interest: Jury finds homebuilder responsible for toxic mold Adair Homes, Inc. is no small builder. The company typically builds about 800 houses a year in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

However, in the last seven years, dozens of homeowners have filed complaints about the company in Oregon alone.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. National: National Consumer Group Blasts U.S. Chamber's “Report” On Business/Litigation Climate The Center for Justice & Democracy today called the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s new annual state liability rankings, which criticizes certain state business climates based on nothing more than corporate lawyers’ views of a state’s legal system, “completely unwarranted, unfair, and contrary to the opinion of business leaders in the states.”

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. National: Homebuilders implicated in kickback scam Other large builders on the list include Beazer Homes USA Inc., MDC Holdings Inc., Engle Homes, John Laing Homes, Pulte Homes Inc. and Ryland Group Inc.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. National: 16 builders named in title probe Sixteen homebuilders across the nation guaranteed business to one of the nation's largest title insurance companies in exchange for kickbacks, Colorado insurance regulators revealed for the first time Wednesday. MDC Holdings, which builds under the name Richmond American Homes, was the only Colorado-based company on the list. But several of the builders named, including Beazer Homes, Engle Homes, John Laing Homes, KB Home, Pulte Homes, Ryland Homes and Shea Homes have a strong presence here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005. Florida: Homeowners File Lawsuit Against Ryland Homes Leaky homes led to a class-action lawsuit over the weekend. It's against Ryland Homes, one of Florida's biggest builders, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported. About 140 homeowners are in on the lawsuit. They said their homes by the North Shore Golf Club leaked during the hurricanes -- and even before.

Monday, March 07, 2005. MI, National interest:: Don't lien on me Homeowners can fight back when construction contractors don't pay bills

Monday, March 07, 2005. OH, KY: As bank executives enter prison, Kentucky lacks law against fraud The people involved in the Erpenbeck scandal "set up a system of defrauding people. They made up their mind they were not going to be honest, and they were going to steal," she said.

Monday, March 07, 2005. National:: Vermont a fertile field for title insurance industry The nation's top three title companies coordinated with homebuilders to split title-insurance premiums with otherwise legal "captive reinsurance" companies that were controlled by the builders or their affiliates. Such actions violate state and federal laws.

Monday, March 07, 2005. Calif., National interest:: Builders take precautions Valley home builders aim to be competitive and reduce the likelihood of being sued.

Sunday, March 06, 2005. TX; National interest re: arbitration: Contract bars county from taking Landmark to court Contract stipulations are barring Cameron County from taking its allegations of faulty work against Landmark Organization before a judge or jury.

Sunday, March 06, 2005. OH, KY: Erpenbeck reforms lag Ohio, Ky. slow to fix system that allowed mortgage scandal

Sunday, March 06, 2005. National: State Farm Posts $5.3B Profit in 2004 State Farm Insurance Co. posted a $5.3 billion profit in 2004, up nearly 90 percent from the year before despite four hurricanes that pounded Florida and other southern states last year.

Saturday, March 05, 2005. National: The Most Expensive States To Insure Your Home 2005 {SURPRISE Texas is #1!!] Texas is tops--at least when it comes to homeowners' insurance costs.

Saturday, March 05, 2005. GA, Natinal interest:: Weak link for home buyers House inspector Jim Russell criticizes a system and industry that does little to protect consumers. "In Georgia, you need a license to [cut] hair, but not one to inspect homes," he said.

Friday, March 04, 2005. National interest:: High court to weigh when claims belong in federal court WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said yesterday that it will use a renters' lawsuit claiming personal injury from toxic mold in apartments to clarify when plaintiffs can sue in federal or state court.

Friday, March 04, 2005. National Interest:: Hazards of Toxic Mold Poor says, "When you cut open that sheet rock and you have a release of the mold spores throughout the environment, then you have the level of airborne mold spores increase exponentially. Right after that happened, Neveah died as a result of respiratory failure."

Friday, March 04, 2005. From DeadlineNews.com: Fraud Hits Home -- Hard Growing underworld of mortgage fraud, realty tax evasion, title insurance kickbacks, spawns pandemic of insider collusion, conspiracy likened to organized crime, racketeering

Friday, March 04, 2005. NJ: Indictment says inspector took gifts from developers OLD BRIDGE -- A township engineering inspector has been indicted on charges he solicited and accepted replacement windows, high-end kitchen cabinets and counters and other goods from a Woodbridge developer in exchange for "favorable service."

Friday, March 04, 2005. AZ, National:: Kickback allegation probed "This wasn't a consumer-driven issue," Klug said. "These are competitors concerned that there's not a level playing field."

Friday, March 04, 2005. Texas: Builder measure on ballot Two proposed charter amendments aimed at giving homeowners protection against faulty construction will be on Frisco's May 7 ballot. The City Council made the unanimous decision late Wednesday after weeks of postponing the vote.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. MI: Fowlerville condo owners balk at deal "We are being told we own a defective sewer system; we can't wait five years to see if it works," said Darla Hargraves, a member of the homeowners association.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. General Arbitration News: North Carolina Court Strikes Down Mandatory Arbitration Provision North Carolina consumers have won an important victory with a January 20 ruling by a North Carolina Superior Court judge. Durham County Judge Ronald Stephens struck down a mandatory arbitration clause, which had been placed in consumer contracts

Thursday, March 03, 2005. National:: Division of Insurance names home builders involved in alleged kickbacks Home builders cited in the documents include MDC Holdings, based in Denver, which does business as Richmond American Homes.... Other home builders cited in the documents doing business in Colorado are Shea Homes, Engle Homes, KB Home, Beazer Homes, John Laing Homes, Ryland Homes, Pulte Homes and Meritage Homes....Artistic Homes, Warmington Homes, Fulton Homes, Maracay Homes, Orleans Homebuilders, William Lyon Homes and Citation Homes.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. Texas (Again): Attorney for Republican donors launches campaign for clarity in law Taylor says Texas campaign finance laws are unclear and put people on both sides of the political aisle in legal jeopardy. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry and Dallas investor Louis Beecherl are among those backing the lobbying initiative.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. TN: Hundreds of residents dissatisfied with home builders When you buy a brand new home you don't expect it to leak. And you expect that your local codes inspector checked for water problems before approving the construction. But if that's what you'd expect, in many cases you would be wrong.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. NJ: Eleven down, plenty more to go in sting FBI: ‘Dozens’ more arrests could come in weeks ahead

Thursday, March 03, 2005. CO, National:: Enforce title-insurance laws "There were only two of us looking into all of this," Toll said, "and we knew we had found a big, smelly onion that needed peeling, peeling and more peeling."

Thursday, March 03, 2005. National interest:: 16 builders named in title probe Sixteen homebuilders across the nation guaranteed business to one of the nation's largest title insurance companies in exchange for kickbacks, Colorado insurance regulators revealed for the first time Wednesday.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. FL: Dozens sue; claim Lennar misled them More than 35 Homestead homeowners have sued Lennar Corp., alleging that the Miami home builder hid their true tax burden.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. National:: HOVNANIAN BUYS TOWN & COUNTRY HOMES, CAMBRIDGE HOMES Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. announced this that it acquired Lombard, Illinois-based Town & Country Homes, and the assets of Orlando's Cambridge Homes.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. Texas: Bill to limit political donations to $100,000 A bill that seeks to limit the amount of influence one individual can have on the political process (think Houston home-builder Bob Perry) was filed this week by Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, with Austin Democratic Rep. Mark Strama signing on as co-author. HB 1104 would establish an aggregate limit of $100,000 on the amount a person can contribute, and how much a candidate can receive, during a single election cycle. In the 2002 cycle, for example, nearly half of all political contributions came from fewer than 400 donors, according to a study conducted by Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group that tracks money in politics. "Texas is one of only 10 states that places no restrictions on how much a person can give to political candidates," Villarreal said. "So we have created a system where a handful of wealthy special-interest donors … have a clear advantage in the political process." – A.S.

Thursday, March 03, 2005. Texas: Suburbatopia.Placid Frisco has its own version of a political uprising Then there was reality. Often finishing each other's sentences, the Beckas and their grown daughter recited for me a terrible litany of woes over the next several years--water leak after water leak, nail-gun punctures of pipes, a bedroom flood, a gas line left open, a toilet that drained between the walls for years producing an infestation of dangerous mold.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005. PA, National interest:: Ex-worker: Builder raised price to cover poor credit Pocono developers accused of defrauding homeowners.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005. National: Bankruptcy rules could KO some debtors [Editor's note: Bankruptcy law changes may affect some homeowners in severe construction defect and/or predatory lending situations.] Quote from article: "There are real concerns that the measure may leave some people in financial limbo -- never allowing them to get back on their feet."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005. CO: Building it Right the First Time Blackwell states "It is a myth perpetuated by some builders that a buyer must accept a new construction product with a list of 60 or 100 deficiencies and that call-backs are the norm rather than the exception! Buyers do not need to be educated on the "realities of construction" - that is, to have their expectations lowered and to expect disappointment. Buyers should not have to compromise on quality issues or to lower their expectations for quality.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005. NJ: Group hopes officials don't sour on 'lemon law' for homeowners Officials from Williamstown-based Green Action Alliance are proposing a lemon law that would allow the Department of Community Affairs to require developers correct any defects in homes they built, levying fines for each offense. A dispute hearing would also be held, between the homeowner and developer/builder, to address the offending issue. Homeowners would also receive protection with a longer, 10- to 15-year home warranty.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005. TX: Home builder dispute intensifies Despite the bombs underground, builder KB Home built hundreds of houses on top. KB officials said the site was long ago "remediated", and certified by the U.S. government. The Corps of Engineers, however, said the site is a potential safety hazard, and is spending more than $1 million to clean it up.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005. TX: Press Release: HADD calls on American Arbitration Association to stop home builder arbitrations Houston, TX (PRWEB) February 28, 2005 -- Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD) in a letter to the American Arbitration Association has asked the AAA to voluntarily refuse to honor any arbitration agreements as a result of a mandatory clause in new home contracts in Texas. The abuse of arbitration in the new home building industry has been well documented by four different studies by the Texas House and Senate. "Unfortunately even with the overwhelming evidence of abuse, it is unlikely any action to curb this abuse by the Texas Legislators will be passed in the near future", says John Cobarruvias President of HADD Texas.

Monday, February 28, 2005. Texas: Ryland Group Executive Settles Insider Trading Charges The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that John D. Hutchinson, president of Ryland’s Dallas division, avoided a paper loss of roughly $100,000 in the fourth quarter of 2003 by exercising stock options and selling shares after finding out that new home orders would fall from the year-earlier period.

Monday, February 28, 2005. National: Alleged kickback schemes center on captive insurance Controversy surrounds companies set up to serve home builders

Monday, February 28, 2005. SC: Legislators Kowtow In a state that has experienced more than its share of problems with shoddily built houses and condo buildings, such a concession to developers and insurors would not be smart or fair.

Monday, February 28, 2005. National, from Inman.com: $64 million real estate kickback question HUD's lax discipline of the rules combined with the pervasiveness of kickbacks and incentives would lead the guilty to believe they haven't doing anything wrong.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. CO: Senator's Builder Liability Measure Hanging in Limbo "The construction defects bill that we carried cut the liability of the homebuilder at least in half," Tapia said. "You cannot have class actions, the lawsuits are capped, all kinds of things that is going right to the bottom line of the insurance companies. It's doesn't help the homebuilder a whole lot, other than lower rates that still haven't lowered."

Sunday, February 27, 2005. MI; National interest:: Builder, buyer should agree on energy use More builders and architects consider themselves energy aware, and they do use energy-saving ideas in their designs and construction. Other professionals in the field say their clients don't care about saving energy; all they want is the cheapest house that gives them the glitzy amenities that make the house look nice.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. National interest:: Let homebuyer beware The title-insurance problem, which made nationwide news last week, is so complex that the states see no single way to address it

Sunday, February 27, 2005. TX: Purchase Orders Bob Perry writes a lot of checks to politicians, and wields a lot of influence as a result

Sunday, February 27, 2005. TX: The Dead Zone Houston buries its Inner Loop past under bright new shiny Perry Homes town houses

Sunday, February 27, 2005. Canada:: Homebuyers blame illness on building, launch lawsuit Whether or not she and her husband, Alan Greenberg, win the suit in the Superior Court of Justice, their distressing five years have prompted them to establish an advisory body of homebuilding and inspection experts, with a website called CanadiansForProperlyBuiltHomes.com to make other consumers aware of the pitfalls in buying a new home.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. FL: LaBrakes' total is more than 8 years The LaBrakes were convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud and more than two dozen counts of bribery as they built a luxury home in South Tampa. The conspiracy involved a trade of city contracts in exchange for favors from builder Dean R. Ryan, 66, and former Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan executive director Chester M. Luney, 60.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. PA: Ex-worker: Builder forged customer signatures Kleintop, a ''cooperating witness'' granted immunity by the state attorney general's office, testified during a preliminary hearing at the Monroe County Courthouse in Stroudsburg for Lauren Erb, 45, a former bookkeeper for Eagle Valley Homes charged with forgery and perjury.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. National:: Consumers Unwittingly Give Up Rights Through Binding Mandatory Arbitration (BMA) Clauses Tucked in Contracts WASHINGTON -- February 24 -- Most people don’t realize that when they get a new credit card, take out a mortgage, obtain health insurance, hire a broker to buy or sell stocks, or even arrange for their pets to be groomed [or buy a house from a builder--ed] that they are probably forfeiting their right to go to court if they are defrauded or have a dispute with the company.

Sunday, February 27, 2005. National: Arbitration Left ID Theft Victim With $27,000 Bill Beth Plowman, a Damascus international public health adviser, was shocked when she discovered that a $27,240 arbitration judgment had been levied against her for credit card charges incurred by an identity thief who bought sporting goods all across Europe.

Saturday, February 26, 2005. South Carolina: Do you have the right to sue? Binding mandatory arbitration is Corporate America’s dirty little secret that we're exposing. There’s something in the fine print in many consumer product contracts. When consumers enter into these contracts with companies, they forfeit their right to sue for fair redress should there be a problem


Friday, February 25, 2005. MI: New home energy law delayed Builders secure court injunction to block introduction of stricter state rules.

Friday, February 25, 2005. National: Consumer groups decry growing use of arbitration Consumer groups say nearly every adult in the United States is subject to at least one binding arbitration clause - and most are subject to many.

Friday, February 25, 2005. Federal Trade Commission:: Capitol City Mortgage Settles FTC Charges A mortgage lender and servicer has settled Federal Trade Commission charges that it deceptively induced consumers into taking loans secured by their homes, overcharged borrowers, and, in some instances, caused consumers to lose their homes. The settlement permanently bans the defendants from future lending fraud and requires them to pay consumer redress and other monetary relief totaling at least $750,000.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. NJ: Witness: Lender questioned Monroe appraisals James Guggenheim of Princeton Mortgage said his company broke off a brief business relationship with Eagle Valley Mortgage, the lending arm of Eagle Valley Homes, after another company raised concerns about Eagle Valley mortgages it purchased during the spring and summer of 1998.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. CT: Connecticut sues lenders for real estate loan fraud Litchfield County Realty, Heritage Builders and Approved Mortgages are being sued for alleged predatory lending practices in the sale of new homes at the Pine Meadow Farms development in New Hartford, Conn.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Banking Commissioner John Burke and Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Edwin Rodriguez filed the suit.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. National:: Hand over your real estate fraud suspects New rule would force Fannie, Freddie to report possible fraud to regulator--Mortgage fraud is rampant in the United States and can cost lenders and consumers millions of dollars. Perpetrators often use sophisticated rings of professionals to bilk lenders out of money. The crimes can take years to investigate.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. National: Title scheme far-flung [one of several states now investigating--editor]In Texas, kickbacks have been the insurance commissioner's main focus over the past 12 months. "It's a real problem here," said Rob Carter. "It's like reverse competition: It serves to drive the price up for consumers."

Thursday, February 24, 2005. CT: Principal In Colonial Scam Selling Real Estate Again RTFORD, Conn. -- A businessman convicted as part of the biggest real estate fraud in state history has been licensed again to sell real estate.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. AR: Local builder gets 15 years for theft, forgery According to Herzfeld, Robertson, who owned and operated a Benton business called PAR Homes, engaged in multiple fraudulent plots involving home loans and home construction.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. National: Title Insurance Sector Being Rocked By Kickback Claims DENVER (Dow Jones)--The title insurance industry is under the microscope for growing reports of alleged kickbacks that may have cost home buyers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Several lenders and home builders are also under investigation for allegedly being involved in the kickback scam with title insurers.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. IN: Avon developer indicted for check kiting scheme A prominent real estate developer was indicted by a federal grand jury late Wednesday on 10 counts of fraud, two counts of money laundering, and one count of conspiracy.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. PA, National interest: Alleged victims testify against local developer The preliminary hearing for two other defendants in the case — Eagle Valley employee Lauren Erb and Mountain Valley Abstract title agent Anita Peterson — is tentatively scheduled for Friday morning.

Thursday, February 24, 2005. National interest: State suing local lenders A lawsuit filed by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and two state department commissioners alleges that Torrington-based Approved Mortgages Inc., Heritage Builders LLC and Litchfield County Realty carried out "predatory lending practices" connected to the sale of homes at the Pine Meadow Farms development in New Hartford.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National: Read the Fine Print. (ABC News Special on Arbitration) Buy a Car, Bring a Lawyer

An Ohio state court initially found the arbitration clause legal, but in a landmark decision, an appeals court called the clause buried in the fine print unconscionable, internally inconsistent and ambiguous.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. MI: State agrees: Bad contractors must go The Department of Labor & Economic Growth agrees with Clinton Andrews' Jan. 24 opinion that more needs to be done to get rid of bad contractors

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National, re: Title Insurance kickback investigations: RE/MAX emerges in title insurer probe Home builders likely to be targeted in future investigations include KB Homes, Pulte Homes, Shea Homes and John Laing Homes, said sources close to the investigation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National interest: Alleged Kickback Scheme for Title Insurance But a seething Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi says an illegal kickback scheme is costing Californians millions -- if not billions -- of dollars.

"It involves the major title companies here in California," Garamendi said. "It involves the major builders in the state of California, and it involves the nation's biggest banks."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National Interest:: Garamendi investigates title insurance companies State Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said yesterday that he is investigating a possible kickback scheme in which title insurance companies may have paid home builders, lenders and real estate firms for referrals. .........."These contracts are nothing less than commercial bribes paid by title companies to Realtors, lenders and developers," Garamendi said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National: From Inman.com: Alleged title insurance kickback scheme explained The alleged title insurance kickback scheme under investigation by California and Colorado insurance officials isn't simple. In fact, it's extremely complicated – some might say devious, which isn't too surprising given that the so-called scheme is said to violate the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

But Erin Toll, deputy insurance director of the Colorado Department of Insurance and leader of that state's investigation, has a simple explanation:

Picture a triangle with the broadest part at the top, like a pyramid.

Now picture the homebuilder at the top left corner of the triangle. The title insurance company is across from the homebuilder, at the top right corner of the triangle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National: Chamber President Tom Donohue Has Vested Interest in Campaign to Limit Consumers’ Legal Rights as Steward of Two Scandal-Marred Companies WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tom Donohue has a vested interest in the national campaign to limit corporate accountability because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president sits on the boards of two scandal-ridden corporations, according to a Public Citizen report released today.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. Texas: The Dead Zone. Houston buries its Inner Loop past under bright new shiny Perry Homes town houses "Trusting the home-building industry to advocate for the homeowner is like trusting a terrorist to advocate for homeland security," he says. "Their interest is not for the homeowner or the consumer. It's to protect their industry. And they're doing a very good job of it." For example, the commission plans to set up rules for how private arbitrators resolve housing disputes. Ware Wendell, policy director for Texas Watch, was appointed to the task force five months after it had begun meeting. He's the only member from a consumer rights group. "Forced arbitration used to be the single worst thing about trying to hold a bad home builder accountable," he says. "Now, with the administrative maze you have to run at the TRCC, it's a question as to how many homeowners will actually have the time, patience and resources to persevere on to the arbitration stage, which hasn't gotten any easier."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. CO, National interest: Land values could be halved The measure could enable the Regional Transportation District to forcibly acquire land for half of its market value under certain circumstances.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. IN, National interest: House OKs higher price for eminent domain Supporters of House Bill 1063 complained that the wants of developers have trumped the rights of average citizens. They argued that eminent domain laws, which allow the government to buy property against the owners' wishes, have strayed far from their original purpose of making it possible for roads and other necessities to be built.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National: Will Leviathan Prevail? there is this little thing called the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment:

Nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Note that the Takings Clause has two independent requirements: (1) just compensation must be paid; (2) the property must be taken for a "public use." This second requirement means that the government may not take away your property to give it to some other private individual (or company) who will then devote it to their own personal or business use.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National;: Court Considers Property Owners' Rights The legal arguments concern the Fifth Amendment prohibition against taking private property for public use without just compensation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. MI: Gov. Granholm, can you please strengthen state's building codes? The first thing I'd like you to do is to bring the State of Michigan Residential Building Code up to national standards. We all want Michigan to move forward. When it comes to construction codes, Michigan is lagging far behind the rest of the country. One engineering professor called the present code "close to fraud" on my radio program.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National interest, abuse of "eminent domain": Justices Ponder Taking Homes for Development WASHINGTON (Feb. 22) - U.S. Supreme Court justices questioned on Tuesday whether a city can take a person's home for a private development project aimed at boosting tax revenues and revitalizing the local economy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National--Arbitration on ABC news:: Fine Print May Waive Legal Rights "It's a take-it-or-leave-it contract," said Claybrook. "You either sign it or you don't get the job or the credit card or the bank account."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. MO, re: builder sponsored "notice and opportunity to repair" legislation: Legislation fails homeowners The most important investment many people make is the purchase of a home. Yet occasionally, shoddy construction or repair work turns big dreams into nightmares, and some consumers get no response to their pleas to make things right unless they turn to the courts.

In Missouri, some lawmakers backed by the homebuilding industry want to make it far more difficult for homeowners to go to court. Senate Bill 168 by Sen. Jon Dolan, a St. Louis area Republican, is an attempt to limit such lawsuits. Last year Gov. Bob Holden vetoed a similar bill, calling it “anti-consumer.” Lawmakers failed to override his veto.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National interest:: DON’T BORROW TROUBLE(SM) EDUCATION CAMPAIGN TO PREVENT PREDATORY LENDING Counseling Service and Help Line is Directed At Consumers Who Are Likely to Fall Prey to Financial Abuse

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. National interest:: Buyers: Home sales hurt finances Preliminary hearing held in Monroe real estate fraud case.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. MD: Dream home became million-dollar nightmare When Robert and June Davis signed a $935,000 building contract in the spring of 2000, they had visions of a dream home in posh South River Colony.

Instead, they have been living a litigious nightmare, fighting their contractor - Mona Builders and Developers Inc. - and its insurance company over a house that was structurally unsound and infested with mold.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. CA: And just who will protect the consumer now? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to eliminate many state commissions, some in existence for decades, may seem to the casual observer to be a money-saver.
On the contrary, no savings will occur. Instead, his scheme -- advanced in a simple-minded, populist appeal to "streamline" government -- is a direct blow to California's consumers, who will be plagued with escalating costs and endless nightmares brought on by dealing with unqualified professionals.

One of the groups on the governor's hit list is the Contractors State License Board, which since 1929 has protected California homeowners from the depredations of sleazy contractors, often from out of state, who will be able to prey upon unsuspecting homeowners and seek to mulct them of millions of dollars each year if the board is eliminated.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005. MO: Woman awarded $100,000 in damages against Granite City The case involves Peach's allegations that the city failed to properly inspect a home that Peach had purchased in the city. She said the house had numerous defects covered up by A 2 Z Construction. Kevin and David Lambert of A 2 Z are also named as defendants in the suit.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005. NJ: BREAKING NEWS: 3 mayors among 11 Monmouth County public officials nabbed by FBI in bribery sting TINTON FALLS -- In early morning raids, the FBI arrested three mayors and eight other public officials from six different towns and county government in Monmouth County this morning in a bribery sting conducted as part of a seven-year investigation into public corruption, a bureau special agent said today.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005. National interest: First American to pay $24M to settle insurance investigation A title company under investigation by the Colorado Division of Insurance for allegedly offering kickbacks in exchange for business has settled for $24 million, which it will return to consumers nationwide, Gov. Bill Owens announced at a press conference Feb. 21.

Monday, February 21, 2005. CA: Call grows to deregulate home building Gov. Schwarzenegger pledged during his State of the State address last month to eliminate "regulatory and legal hurdles that delay construction and increase the costs of new housing." He said too many people have been forced to buy cheaper, faraway homes and spend too much time in cars commuting to work, away from their families.

Monday, February 21, 2005. National: Feb. 21 - Chamber president has vested interest in limiting consumer rights Under Donohue’s leadership, the Chamber has been one of the most outspoken supporters of pro-business tort law changes. It has supported anti-consumer class action legislation and spent millions of dollars in state races to defeat judicial and attorney general candidates sympathetic to consumer and investor rights. Donohue has called for a massive overhaul of the tort system and reduced regulatory oversight by government agencies – the same authorities that have held Qwest and Union Pacific accountable for a long string of corporate misdeeds.

Monday, February 21, 2005. National:: 10 Things Your Lawyer Won't Tell You 1. "You might win your lawsuit and wind up with nothing."
Expecting a bundle from a big lawsuit? Don't start spending it yet. You may be shocked to learn how little you'll get to keep. ....

4. "Okay, I've made some mistakes. Good luck finding them!"
Trying to learn whether a lawyer is a bad apple can be an exercise in futility. The ABA keeps a database of known ethics violators and makes the information available if you call 312-988-5321, but it relies on voluntary reports from state bar counsels. You could call the bar counsel in the appropriate state directly — listed at www.nobc.org — but that can also be a dead end unless the attorney has been suspended or disbarred. Many states just say he's "in good standing" even if he has had lots of complaints or worse.

Monday, February 21, 2005. TX: Letter to the Editor: "It is feasible! " During a recent Frisco City Council work session regarding two proposed charter amendments, the primary rhetoric from builders, their insurance representatives and the council was that bonding was neither available, nor affordable. I wonder if any of these experts have noticed a prominent section of HB 730 that describes the Texas Star Builder program? This voluntary program not only requires a builder to be knowledgeable, but also to show proof of financial responsibility in the form of liability insurance.

Monday, February 21, 2005. Texas: New Home Warranty Standards Coming (National Public Radio) Audio Link included Beginning the first of June new warranty standards for newly constructed homes go into effect in Texas. These standards are the work of the recently created Texas Residential Construction Commission. As Rod Rice reports, the commission was established by the last legislature and came into existence on September 1, 2003. The TRCC's Patrick Fortner says it took many months to come up with the new warranty standards.

That is not how John Cobarruvias with HADD or Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings sees it. He contends builders have so much money to spend they got the standards they wanted despite outside input.

Sunday, February 20, 2005. MO: "Contractor legislation is anti-consumer nightmare," by columnist Paul Wenske Contractors and conservative legislators say consumers file too many frivolous lawsuits. They don't have statistics to prove this, but they claim it anyway....Truth is, this is a garbage bill that shouldn't pass constitutional muster.

Check it out yourself at www.senate.mo.gov. But read the whole bill, not just the summary.

Saturday, February 19, 2005. National: Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Brings Relief to Thousands of Indiana Families
The problems became the subject of numerous lawsuits against Trinity, including a class action in the Hamilton County Court.  Trinity and its parent company Beazer Homes Investment Corp. ("Beazer") were the defendants in the class action.  Plews Shadley Racher & Braun together with the Indianapolis law firm of Cohen & Malad, LLP, represent the homeowners in the case. 

Saturday, February 19, 2005. AL: Ala. Caps Mold Damage Claims; Fla. Public Forum Discusses Mold Coverage The Alabama Insurance Commission has agreed to place a $10,000 cap on mold damage claims on homeowner's insurance policies; while in Florida, mold was the hot topic at a public forum sponsored by the Florida Insurance Commission in Pensacola.

Saturday, February 19, 2005. NC: Lawsuit over faulty construction to go to trial on May 30 It took two years, and an appeal to the State Court of Appeals, but a Wayne County woman who says she was not treated fairly by the company that built her home will soon get her day in court.

Friday, February 18, 2005. National: KB Home unveils new slogan ["It's all yours"] KB Home (NYSE: KBH) today announced the launch of its first tagline, "it's all yours."

Friday, February 18, 2005. Texas: Tremont Home Horror First night in our new Tremont Home built by Stature Construction Company, 100 gallons of water from the garden tub, on the 3rd floor, emptied into the dinning room and living room through the ceiling. Four months later the kitchen leaked badly, house smelled and stucco on outside began to crack.

Friday, February 18, 2005. Texas: Gentrification Horror - Inner Loop Townhomes and Condos May Not Seem Livable? Since November, a Montrose-area resident has been engaging in a sit-in outside the newly-completed Tremont Towers off Westheimer.

Friday, February 18, 2005. Texas: Tremont Home Horrors My Builder/Developer has a pattern of this type of behavior. After their police station fiasco (Houston Chronicle 2/14/02), Where Tom Thibodeau and Jorge Casimiro were fired by the city of Bunkerhill after the police station project was 7 month behind schedule and needed $120,000 worth of mold remediation. Knox Street, and Hyde Park Crescent continue to show signs of water penetration and mold and there are obvious problems with Tremont Towers. The following are developed by Tremont: Tremont Towers, Deerfield Park, Villas at Lakewood, Park at Fuqua, Northborough Village, Beechnut Landing, Mills Landing, and Clearwood Crossing. They are also operating under twenty three DBA company names under Tremont Homes some are not listed with the TRCC but are with the Secretary of State.

Friday, February 18, 2005. Texas: Disgruntled home owner turns to Better Business Bureau Fogal called AAA “a demented collection agency,” in which consumers should be prepared to pay $100,000 to take part in their arbitration process. “You have to pay dearly even to file, and in my case the filing fee is $6,000,” she said, adding that she also faces a fee of more than $2,000 per day for an arbitrator, plus hourly fees for prestudy and post-study of her property.

Thursday, February 17, 2005. Colorado; National interest:: Title industry taking notice of state probe Plans by the Colorado Division of Insurance to sanction title companies for allegedly paying a form of kickback to home builders in exchange for a steady stream of customers is reverberating through the title insurance industry.

Thursday, February 17, 2005. South Dakota: State to consider regulating contractors It’s taken two weeks for the House Commerce Committee to get to it, but on Tuesday the committee will take up a bill that would regulate contractors, much in the same way that the Pierre City Commission considered but decided against.

Thursday, February 17, 2005. Florida: Area builder charged with grand theft: An Ormond Beach builder was arrested this week after the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said he took money from a Palm Coast couple but never paid his suppliers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005. Texas: $750,000 Arbitration Award against Bob Perry homes. Yet, in Dec 2002 Perry Homes lost in arbitration and as of today has not paid the award. The homeowner in this matter received approximately $750,000, $240,000 for repurchase of the home, $200,000 for punitive damages, and $200,000 for pain and suffering.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005. Texas: The Residential Construction Liability Act and the New Residential Construction Commission by Cheryl Turne A great article on the first "Right to Repair" law in the United States and the newly created Residential Construction Commission in Texas.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005. CO, National interest:: From Inman News, Inman.com: National real estate title insurers under investigation The practice of kickbacks, or giving or accepting money in exchange for title insurance business, is a violation of Colorado statute and the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

The department says the schemes involved reinsurance companies that were used to funnel income back to home builders. In a three-legged arrangement, large home builders allegedly set up affiliated companies to provide reinsurance to title insurance companies.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005. Oldie but a Goodie from Smart Money:: Ten Things Your Home Builder Won't Tell You: [As true today as when it was originally published in 2000!]

Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Texas: Home dispute panel criticized But disillusioned homeowners criticized the commission Monday and urged lawmakers to make changes to the agency, which they say works against homeowners instead of helping them.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005. Texas: Homebuyers lobby for better protection Hayman and about two dozen dissatisfied home buyers from across the state patrolled the Capitol corridors complaining that the agency is little more than a tool of the building lobby. The commission sets a too-high burden of proof when a buyer complains about shoddy or incomplete construction, and it lacks the authority to force a builder to do the needed repairs, they said.

Monday, February 14, 2005. National Interest: How to Build a Mold-Safe Home or Commercial Building twenty mold prevention recommendations

Monday, February 14, 2005. NJ: Upon further inspection ... In a major victory for buyers of new homes, the state Supreme Court ruled this week that municipal construction officials can fine builders for code violations even after the houses have passed inspection.

Monday, February 14, 2005. NJ: Developer Dispute Still Unresolved All live in the Chestnut Green Housing Development in Monroe Township and all say that their builder, K. Hovnanian, has been unresponsive to their complaints.

Monday, February 14, 2005. National:: Home warranty is not a cure-all The idea that everything in the home is covered is a common home-warranty misconception.

Monday, February 14, 2005. TN:: Judge allows release of some records on NHC fire The lawsuits raised questions about problems with the bed in the area where the fire started, construction defects at the home that may have contributed to the spread of smoke and whether state and federal oversight of the home was adequate.

Monday, February 14, 2005. TN: Homeowner vs. contractor Starting this month, the Department of Commerce and Insurance is referring disputes to a consumer affairs officer who will mediate disputes between contractors and their customers.

Monday, February 14, 2005. Indiana: Trinity Homes/Beazer: Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Brings Relief to Thousands of Indiana Families The homes had a common construction defect. Trinity failed to include a moisture barrier within the exterior brick walls of these homes and failed to ensure the presence of a consistent one-inch air space between the brick veneer on the outsides of the houses and the exterior wall sheathing. Both steps are required by industry standards that are incorporated by the Indiana Building Code. This allowed water to collect within the exterior walls. Water damage to the exterior walls and in some cases to interior portions of the affected houses allowed mold and mildew to develop.

Monday, February 14, 2005. IL: (More on MoMax): $100,000 bail upheld for remodeler Resnick, 44, has been held in lieu of $100,000 bail since he was charged Jan. 28 with felony theft and home-repair fraud of a Skokie couple for allegedly not starting work on a second-floor addition to their home after taking $120,000 from them last year.

Monday, February 14, 2005. IL, National interest:: He recommended MoMax as a home remodeler How do people hire a home remodeler who ends up being named by the Illinois attorney general in a lawsuit for defrauding customers?

Several homeowners who used MoMax Builders told me they got the name of the company at a home show in the south suburbs.

Sunday, February 13, 2005. Texas: The Residential Construction Liability Act and the New Residential Construction Commission An excellect paper on the first "Right to Repair" law in the country and the first commission to regulate Texas builders. by Sheryl Turner

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Home buyers wary of agency Since its creation in September 2003, unhappy homeowners and consumer groups have criticized the agency for doing little to help buyers, because it can't force builders to make repairs. And they say the agency's passage this month of new building standards allows for shoddy construction, not a guarantee of quality work.

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Carlos Guerra: In Austin, just who is watching out for Texas homeowners? A study released Monday by a campaign finance reform group and three homeowner groups underscores why Texas' pay-to-play politics must be stopped. The damning report by Homeowners for Better Building, Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, Take Back Your Rights and Campaigns for People is appropriately titled: "Big Money and Shoddy Construction: Texas Homeowners Left Out In the Cold."

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Watchdog: Donor cash tilts state law Home-building interests donated just under $9 million over the last two election cycles, according to figures compiled by Campaigns for People, which seeks campaign finance reforms in Texas. A single home builder, Bob Perry of Houston-based Perry Homes, donated about 75 percent of that, or $6.9 million, the figures show.

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Texas' Home Construction Standards Drawing Criticism RISMEDIA, Jan. 27 – (KRT) – First it cracked. Then it buckled. Finally the kitchen tile in Debbie and Rick Gannaway's Katy home popped off the floor. But their builder, Houston-based Trendmaker Homes, won't fix it because their one-year warranty on workmanship and materials has expired.

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: A House Built of Money New homeowners don't always get what they pay for, but homebuilders do – thanks to the nearly $9 million they've contributed to Texas elections in the last four years. As it happened, state lawmakers, many of whom benefited from the large contributions, quietly passed legislation (House Bill 730) in the 2003 session that limits homeowners' rights to bring claims on shoddy construction jobs.

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Homeowners Left out in the Cold The report, “Big Money and Residential Construction: Texas Home Buyers Left Out in the Cold,” documents the homebuilders largess over the last 2 election cycles. The homebuilders contributed in total over the last 4 years to state executive and legislative candidates, parties, and PACs at least $8.9 million in identifiable contributions. Over this period, the homebuilders contributed at least $1,009,162 to the state’s leadership (the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker). They contributed at least $238,450 to the 16 members of the committees that approved the new law (House Regulated Industries and Senate Business & Commerce). The ever-generous Bob Perry of Perry Homes gave at least $ 6,897,250 since January 2001.

Saturday, February 12, 2005. Texas: Power tale: Mugging Dr. Welby Arecent study showing that homebuilders have contributed $9 million to state officials in the past four years raised a simple question. What are they getting for their money? The Austin-based reform organization that conducted the study, Campaigns for People, accused legislators of responding by setting up the Texas Residential Construction Commission.