Quarter 3 (July - Sept) 2005 Archive

Thursday, September 29, 2005. Texas: DeLay is likely to see a surge in contributions Texas homebuilder Bob Perry, and his wife, Doylene, each contributed $5,000 last quarter, as did Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005. Mississippi- Katrina Victims: http://www.sunherald.com/mld/thesunherald/news/local/politics/12753393.htm " target="x">Angry homeowners voice insurance frustrations at Capitol By GEOFF PENDER

SUN HERALD

ACKSON — Many South Mississippi homeowners devastated by Katrina put a human face on the "wind vs. water" insurance issue for a small group of lawmakers Monday, with sometimes tearful testimony.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005. New York: http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/350207p-298664c.html " target="x">The Mob at Work Exclusive Blood on their hands! BY GREG B. SMITH
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Part Three of an exclusive Daily News probe explores how the mob endangers workers and the general public by engaging in unsafe construction-site practices.
While gangsters are busy extracting their 2% "mob tax" on public projects, they make it clear they don't want to hear any complaints.

And they could care less if workers get hurt due to dangerous conditions or the use of substandard construction materials, a Daily News investigation shows.

Just ask the workers who were seriously injured at a job site on W. 96th St., where floors collapsed after a gangster threatened those who'd complained earlier about dangerous conditions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005. Hurricane Victims: How to get a quick response from your insurer By Jenny Clevstrom, USA TODAY
If you're a home or business owner affected by Hurricane Katrina, you want your insurance claim settled quickly and fairly.
Here's how to increase your chances:

Tuesday, September 27, 2005. Hurricane Victim Alert: http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/insurance/2005-09-20-katrina-in... " target="x">Wind or flood Fights with insurers loom Unhappy homeowners are calling a hotline with complaints. And officials are asking insurers to give policyholders the benefit of the doubt when it's unclear whether damage was caused by wind, rain or flood so people can rebuild their homes and lives again. (Tips: How to get a quick response from your insurer)

In addition, AIR developed a tip sheet for victims,
http://www.insurance-reform.org/issues/katrinatips.html and a fact sheet
supporting the legal arguments of victims who have been unfairly denied
claims. http://www.insurance-reform.org/issues/katrinalegal.htm

Monday, September 26, 2005. Missouri: http://www.nbcactionnews.com/kshb/cfa_solved_stories/article/0,1925,KSHB... " target="x">What You Need to Know About Home Repairs & Remodeling Each month, NBC Action News' Call for Action receives numerous complaints from homeowners who are victimized by shoddy work, outrageous prices, and outright fraud in the home repair industry.

While there are many reputable contractors, it's often hard to find them.

Monday, September 26, 2005. National: http://www.freep.com/realestate/renews/harney25e_20050925.htm " target="x">Guard against being steered to a title firm BY KENNETH HARNEY-
WASHINGTON -- A new financial settlement between the federal government and one of the country's best-known real estate brokerage firms offers home buyers insights into the under-the-table games that might be played with settlement fees.
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc. agreed to pay the federal government $250,000 to settle charges that some of its offices illegally paid higher commissions and provided gifts and other incentives to realty agents who steered purchasers to an affiliated title agency.

Monday, September 26, 2005. New York: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/349506p-298202c.html " target="x">Dreams end in contractor nightmares By JOSE MARTINEZ-
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER -

Fran Jablonski simply wanted more counter space in her kitchen. But instead of enjoying a dream kitchen in her Long Island home, she and her husband, Ed, are stuck in contracting hell — more than a year after the project began.
After soliciting tales of woe from New Yorkers who have endured home-improvement headaches, the Daily News was inundated with accounts of contractors botching jobs and bloating costs.

Monday, September 26, 2005. National: http://www.nvconstructionzone.com/Drug_AlcoholAbuse_Aug_2005.htm " target="x">Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hits Construction Companies Hard The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found in a recent analysis of workplace drug use that construction workers had a higher average level of on-the-job abuse – 15.6 percent of all employees, compared with a national average of 10.0 percent of all employees across all industries. Related to the construction industry, workers identified as handlers, helpers, and laborers made up 10.6 percent of all those abusing drugs or alcohol in the workplace.
According to Dr. Michael Levy, a Las Vegas physician specializing in the medical treatment of addiction, substance abuse is harmful not only to workers, but also to their employers, with serious repercussions in terms of both workplace productivity and liability.

Friday, September 23, 2005. Pennsylvania: Builder walks out during hearing on theft charges Builder walks out during hearing on theft charges
Former customer was giving testimony at time. District judge orders defendant for drug testing.

A Brodheadsville home builder charged with stealing customers' deposits was ordered to undergo drug testing after leaving a courtroom Wednesday during his preliminary hearing and disappearing into neighboring woods.

Dennis Slayton, 51, never returned to the Marshalls Creek courtroom, which caused Senior District Judge Joan Hausman to order Slayton to report to the Monroe County adult probation office and submit to drug screening by 2 p.m. today or face revocation of his $125,000 bail.

Friday, September 23, 2005. Nation: http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/local/12707956.htm " target="x">Mold a growing issue in nation's courts CRYSTAL BEACH - Doug Summers won't enter the triplex on Avery Avenue without a hazmat suit and a full-face respirator.

He's worried about mold. Not just any mold, but the kind that can make you sick, said Summers, a certified indoor environmentalist.

Friday, September 23, 2005. California: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/12710122.htm " target="x">Investigation ongoing into builder State board and Hertel are working together to resolve

By Leslie Griffy

The Tribune

The California State Contractors License Board this week opened an investigation into whether construction defects led to leaks at a fourth home in a San Luis Obispo neighborhood.

Friday, September 23, 2005. National: Housing Counsel: Buying a New Home, Caveat Emptor Great Advice on how to protect yourself before signing a contract.

Question: My wife and I are considering purchasing a new home in a new development. We would like to include several protective contingencies in the contract but are not sure of the wording. Can you assist?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005. Florida: http://www.cpnonline.com/cpn/regions/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=... " target="x">Will Florida Supreme Court Ruling Hammer Construction Liability? The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments this month in a case that could have sweeping effects on the state's construction industry—if the court rules with the plaintiff.
In Dadeland Depot Inc. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance, the court will address whether or not Florida law allows the obligee of a surety bond to file a bad-faith action against the bond, which is a contract among three parties: the principal, the obligee and the surety.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005. Nevada: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050913/dctu065.html?.v=15 " target="x">Don't Borrow Trouble: Public Education Campaign to Prevent Predatory Lending Launched in Northern Nevada Multi-media Campaign and Help Line Directed at Consumers
RENO -- At a press conference here today, a coalition of private and public organizations launched a major public education campaign aimed at preventing predatory lending throughout Northern Nevada.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005. OHIO: http://www.daytondailynews.com/localnews/content/localnews/daily/0920ohm... " target="x">Home owners with predatory mortgages get chance at new start Associated Press
CLEVELAND | The federal Fannie Mae housing finance organization and five banks offered fresh starts Monday to qualified city home buyers who have mortgages with predatory lending characteristics, including instant credit, high fees and repeated refinances at excessive rates.
The lenders will set aside up to $5 million to help Cleveland residents out of loans that have hurt their credit and pushed them toward foreclosure. If the refinancings average $50,000, about 100 would be available through the program.

Sunday, September 18, 2005. Hurricane Katrina: http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/2005-09-14-katrina-contracts_x.htm " target="x">Contracts for recovery work raise controversy USA Today- A division of Fluor, a California firm awarded a housing contract worth up to $100 million, has paid millions of dollars to settle federal government lawsuits — including one that accused it of overbilling for 1989 hurricane cleanup work.

Sunday, September 18, 2005. HURRICANE KATRINA : How to wade through that flood of eager contractors As the waters of Hurricane Katrina recede, in will rush a flood of contractors with offers to help rebuild and restore the Gulf Coast.

But let the buyer beware of fly-by-night contractors looking for easy pickings among homeowners desperate for assistance of any kind.

Sunday, September 18, 2005. National: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-badloans18sep18,0,7883865.story?co... " target="x">Cheap Loans Are Under Fire Mortgage companies are on the defensive for loosening credit standards amid the housing boom.
Mortgage lenders have reaped huge profits in the last few years financing Americans' voracious demand for home loans.

But as concerns rise that the housing boom has become a dangerous bubble, mortgage companies are facing a growing chorus of critics who say that the industry has been irresponsible in its lending practices and that it has set the scene for a potential financial crisis.

Sunday, September 18, 2005. National: Beware Shenanigans In Settlement Fees A financial settlement between the federal government and one of the country's best-known real estate brokerage firms offers home buyers insights into the under-the-table games that might be played with settlement fees.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. Gulf Coast ALERT: http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2005/09/12/the_next_menace_m... " target="x">The next menace: Mold What Katrina's wind and waters haven't claimed, fungi are now starting to devour
By Beth Daley, Globe Staff | September 12, 2005

When Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters poured into the Gulf Coast -- saturating walls, shoes, sofas, floors, and roofs -- billions of dormant mold spores woke up. Now, fueled by moisture and temperature, those spores are growing furiously. For the buildings left standing by the winds and waters; for the houses that escaped serious damage from the toxic soup of bacteria and chemicals still sloshing in Katrina's wake, the next plague coming, experts say, is mold

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. OHIO: Contractor leaves customers in dust Homeowners complain business took their cash but didn't complete job. Jerry Barker promises not to be so gullible next time. Not to let a contractor get the best of him. Not like two years ago.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. New Jersey: http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050914/NEW... " target="x">Contractor faces forgery, theft charges A Voorhees contractor facing up to five years in prison for defrauding customers has been arrested again, this time on charges of theft and forgery.
Christian Sparacio, 38, stole a blank check from a customer's home in Cherry Hill, then completed the check and presented it for payment at a bank in the township on Aug. 27, according to a warrant for his arrest.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. NEW YORK: Marshall Loeb's Daily Money Tip Choosing a contractor for disaster repairs NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- If your home is damaged by a natural disaster, avoid the impulse to rush into repair work. Con artists and unscrupulous contractors often prey on consumers anxious to get their lives and property back in order. The Federal Trade Commission and the American Red Cross offer this advice on choosing a contractor:...Read Article

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. New York: http://1010wins.com/topstories/local_story_256170257.html " target="x">17 Charged With Home Improvement Fraud When it comes to finding someone to do work on your home, let the buyer beware.

Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon today announced that 17 men were charged with home improvement fraud on Long Island. He said most of the homeowners who complained were victimized by contractors who took their money and failed to complete the home improvements after they were paid. Homeowners are urged to call Consumer Affairs at (516) 571-2600, before they pay any contract and check the legitimacy of a home improvement contractor.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005. Pennsylvania: http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/12637604.htm " target="x">Carpenter sentenced for repair frauds A Solebury Twp. contractor took money for jobs he didn't do. He will serve in a work-release program.
Michael E. Lieber, a Solebury Township home-repair contractor, was sentenced yesterday to 111/2 to 23 months in the work-release program at Bucks County prison.
Lieber, 41, had pleaded guilty on June 28 to 144 counts of five theft and fraud felonies committed from 2001 through 2004.

Monday, September 12, 2005. National- Katrina ALERT: AMERICANS FOR INSURANCE REFORM CREATES “KATRINA INSURANCE HOTLINE” 1 (888) 450-5545 (Staffed M-F, 10 am to 6 pm EST)
New York – Americans for Insurance Reform (“AIR”), a coalition of more than 100 public interest groups from around the country, announced today the creation of a toll-free KATRINA INSURANCE HOTLINE: 1 (888) 450-5545. The hotline, which will be staffed Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm EST, will be a clearinghouse for complaints by Hurricane Katrina victims who are being unfairly treated or denied claims by insurance companies on their hurricane-related insurance policies.

AIR is encouraging victims of Hurricane Katrina who feel they have being unfairly treated or denied a claim by their insurance company to call the hotline and relate their story.

AIR says that while it will not be able to directly solve victims’ insurance problems, it will monitor complaints, refer them to government officials where appropriate, such as insurance departments and Attorneys General, keep records and generally act as a clearinghouse for information.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. National: Business Week- Sharks in the Housing Pool Deed thieves, property flippers, equity strippers -- these con artists are duping banks and homeowners, and there are lots of them.

By most measures, Matthew B. Cox would appear to be a mortgage lender's dream customer. The 36-year-old former Tampa resident had once worked in the mortgage business, so he understood intimately what it took to qualify for a loan. And Cox threw plenty of business at mortgage lenders in Florida, and then Georgia: An aspiring real estate investor, Cox took out $3.7 million in mortgages to finance his apparently ever-growing stable of houses.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Mississippi: http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050908/NEWS011... " target="x">GULF COAST VICTIM ALERT-Crews make fast response Johnson said it is critical that homeowners ask to see the contractor's license and make sure they are insured.
If an uninsured contractor suffers an injury while working on private property, the property owner can be held liable, he said. "The existing laws can come back to haunt you if you hire an unlicensed or unbonded contractor," he said.

To prevent fraud, Bill Moak of the Mississippi Better Business Bureau recommends that homeowners not only check credentials and references, but also compare prices of out-of-town contractors with the price charged by local companies.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. North Carolina: Hurricane Victims Beware!- Complaints mount over builder problems Rep prods state to check outlaw builders
Hundreds of Charlotte County residents have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to out-of-town contractors for hurricane repairs that remain unfinished months later, and some homeowners are finding out there's little the county or state can do for them.
That's because most of the problem contractors are either operating under a state license or have no license at all, according to Erin Mullin-Travis, senior code compliance investigator for the Charlotte County Building and Construction Services.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. California: Builder under scrutiny after defect complaints SAN LUIS OBISPO (AP) -
The Contractors State License Board opened the investigation last week into R. W. Hertel and Sons concerning homes in the Rancho Obispo development.

A state board is investigating complaints that one of the area's largest homebuilders failed to meet construction standards in a housing development and threatened people who provided alleged evidence of shoddy workmanship

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Missouri: http://www.joplinglobe.com/story.php?story_id=205494&c=87 " target="x">History of problems dogs area builder Ronald Knox
Globe Staff Writer
Carl Junction revokes contractor’s business license after ‘complete disaster’
CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — The barren room attached to Mary Schillaci’s house looked as if it was being torn down. Ceiling beams sagged, and window frames were bent and loose. It looked ready to fall at any moment. But the room, Schillaci said, is supposed to be new.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. California: http://www.sacbee.com/content/business/story/13549524p-14390198c.html " target="x">Home sizes fall short, some area buyers say Home homeowners allege JTS Communities, one of Sacramento's largest locally based builders, sold them houses that are as much as 168 square feet smaller than sales brochures indicated.
They say the missing space is the equivalent of a good-size bedroom and demand compensation as well as punitive damages. Owners of about a dozen of the homes have sued, while others are threatening to do so.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Texas: http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/consumer_news/12617993.htm " target="x">In borrowing, some face a tougher climb Blacks, Hispanics more likely to receive higher interest rates

By JIM FUQUAY and JEFF CLAASSEN
STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITERS
African-Americans and Hispanics who bought homes in North Texas last year were much more likely than Anglos and Asians to get mortgages with high interest rates.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. National: Is an Ounce of Prevention Worth the Cost for Today's Homebuilders? The real question for homebuilders should be, “Is it worth it to know that I have done everything possible to prevent a future outbreak of mold in the homes that I build?”

“Is it worth it to potentially minimize my personal injury claims that might be brought against me because of an unforeseen water intrusion event?”

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Maryland: http://www.hometownannapolis.com/cgi-bin/read/2005/09_09-35/TOP " target="x">Schools battling mold after two weeks of high humidity By KATRINA ALTERSITZ, Capital News Service
When Beth Murphy moved back to Maryland, she thought she'd left behind her mold-fighting days in the elementary school at her old neighborhood in Weston, Fla. Then she walked into Oak Hill Elementary in Severna Park, and her nose, eyes and ears told her she was wrong.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Connecticut: http://www.connpost.com/news/ci_3019745 " target="x">State employees not happy with toxic mold cleanup at courthouse
BRIDGEPORT — Employees of the state courthouse on Golden Hill Street claim toxic mold in the 120-year-old building is making them ill, and blame state judicial officials with trying to cover up the problem.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Texas: http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/ts_more.php?id=66997_0_10_0_C " target="x">An ounce of mold prevention could save homes, money Remediation firm targeting fungus in the building stages

By Matt Whittaker
The Monitor
EDINBURG, September 11, 2005 — After a brief rain Tuesday, a small drip that seeped through the frame of a house under construction in the Spanish Oaks subdivi-sion on Monserat Drive fell quietly onto the concrete floor.

Some of the nearby studs had a blackish coloring, a sign of building mold that if left untreated and sealed behind a wall could fester and cause thousands of dollars in dam-age for the homeowner later on, and perhaps even endanger his or her family’s health.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. Illinois: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0509110292sep11,1,6... " target="x">Home repairer held in sex assault on girl Published September 11, 2005

A Chicago man was charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl more than a year ago in a South Side home he was repairing, prosecutors said Saturday.

Cook County Circuit Judge Maura Slattery Boyle ordered Michael Foster of the 7100 block of South Wolcott Avenue held in lieu of $250,000 bail Saturday. Foster, 33, was charged last week with predatory sexual assault.

Saturday, September 10, 2005. Texas: Hollywood star's court win a victory for homeowners Hollywood star's court win a victory for homeowners Case helps bolster consumer rights
Anyone who wants to build a custom home might learn something from the recent experience of Sandra Bullock, star of Miss Congeniality, who successfully sued her builder for $7 million (U.S.).

Saturday, September 10, 2005. GULF COAST ALERT: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/09/AR200509... " target="x">Gulf Coast Scammers Prey on Storm Victims By Caroline E. Mayer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 10, 2005; Page D01

SCAM ALERT-The three Louisiana visitors seemed official as they made the rounds, chatting with many of the hundreds of hurricane evacuees who sought shelter in Magnolia Center in Laurel, Miss.
Saying they were from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they took names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other information, promising to speed up the registration process and, more important, payment of disaster benefits.

Saturday, September 10, 2005. National: Strict Rules to Write Off Storm-Related Damage The cataclysmic losses Hurricane Katrina inflicted on Gulf Coast property owners shine fresh light on a murky corner of the federal tax code: tax write-offs for storm damages to houses.
(By Kenneth R. Harney, The Washington Post)

Saturday, September 10, 2005. National: Homeowners Win Broader Right to Deduct Points A point by any other name is still a point. But whether it can be deducted on your income tax return depends on the circumstances of how and when you pay those points and how you use the loan proceeds. A recent U.S. Tax Court decision has clarified the rules -- in favor of homeowners.
(By Benny L. Kass, The Washington Post)

Saturday, September 10, 2005. Texas: Heidi Wanken: Home buyers, beware We are currently in the middle of the State-Sponsored Inspection and Dispute Resolution process with the Texas Residential Construction Commission, the agency created during the 2003 legislative session to serve as a liaison between home builders and homeowners. But don't be fooled. The TRCC is made up of members of the building industry, and the laws were written by builders' representatives who serve on the commission. Indeed, the very senator who introduced the legislation that created the agency has expressed concern about the TRCC and stated that it needs to be revisited to ensure that homeowners' rights are protected and that the process is fair to all parties.

Saturday, September 10, 2005. Texas: The not-so-sweet smell of 'economic development' Does highly profitable homebuilding giant D.R. Horton really need multimillion-dollar tax breaks from the city of Fort Worth? In a word, no. Horton reported robust earnings of $371.7 million on revenues of $3.37 billion for the quarter that ended June 30. Those dollar totals "are record highs for the 28-year-old company, which has seen revenue and profit rise for every one of those years," the Star-Telegram reported July 22.

Friday, September 09, 2005. Washington: 7 Families File Suit Over Poor Air Quality by Ashley Bach, Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Over the first year of her life, Caroline Weaks frequently had a hacking cough, ear infections and breathing problems. But when the baby would leave her Snoqualmie Ridge home for a period of time, her sinuses would clear, said her mother, Laura.

Friday, September 09, 2005. California: Repairs Now Under Way On Homes YUCAIPA - After years of living in brand-new houses plagued with leaking windows and cracked stucco, 14 homeowners in Whisper Ranch have been awarded $1.3 million for construction defects.

Friday, September 09, 2005. California: School District Files Lawsuit Over Mold Problem WATSONVILLE, Calif. -- School district officials have filed a lawsuit against a contractor in connection with mold problems at Pajaro Valley High School.

Friday, September 09, 2005. National: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/living/home/12547433.htm " target="x">Buyer of new house should spring for an inspector Q: We are buying a brand-new house. Do you recommend we obtain a professional home inspection, which you suggest for buyers of resale houses?

Friday, September 09, 2005. National : Don’t make a million-dollar mistake Do your homework
The potential for serious defects in new or young homes makes it imperative for home buyers to be vigilant before they sign a contract or go to closing. If you’re building a new home, research your builder by consulting your local Better Business Bureau for a complaint history. Most importantly, talk to residents of other housing developments by the same builder. READ OUR HOME BUYING GUIDE AT HADD FOR MORE HOME BUYING INFORMATION!

Friday, September 09, 2005. National: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/opinion/sto... " target="x">Heidi Wanken: Home buyers, beware The last thing on your mind as you're buying a new house is the possibility that anything can go wrong. There are so many other considerations – selecting a lender, locking in an interest rate, calling moving companies, packing your worldly possessions and last, but certainly not least, time spent daydreaming about your slice of the American dream and how much you're going to love your new home.

Friday, September 09, 2005. National: http://www.ntxe-news.com/artman/publish/article_22703.shtml " target="x">New home inspectors identify common defects New homes are perfect, right? Not according to those who inspect them for a living. Knowing what problems are most common in new home construction might help would-be homebuyers sort out the best builders from among the throng.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the American Society of Home Inspectors conducted a construction quality survey. New home inspectors identified the most common new home problems as flashing, roofing, grading and site drainage and ventilation. There also were building code violations

Sunday, September 04, 2005. National: http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/business/12560787.htm " target="x">Just because a home is new, don’t neglect inspection GREAT ADVICE FOR HOME BUYERS
Q. You are always talking about inspecting older homes. Do new homes need to be inspected as well? Isn’t it the builder’s responsibility to make sure the home is OK before he sells it? –N.F., Newburgh

Saturday, September 03, 2005. Colorado: http://cbs4denver.com/topstories/local_story_244203956.html " target="x">Tile Sealant Makers Warned Builders, Not Consumers (CBS4) DENVER After a CBS4 Investigation, homebuilders and remodlers were advised by the maker of a spray-on tile sealant to use a breathing device, while consumers were not.

People across the country have been hospitalized with breathing problems after using the Stand 'n Seal product.

Saturday, September 03, 2005. Florida: http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/sep32005/city202417200592.asp " target="x">Deluge & after: BMP discovers improper planning by builders In most of the cases, builders in their greed have failed to provide basic drainage facilties.
Bangalore: “Excellent location. Ten kilometres from M G Road. Swimming pool, club house, car park, shopping complex....”
Warning to buyers: Do not fall for such outer trappings. Instead, look at what lies beneath. Like the drainage system

Saturday, September 03, 2005. Florida: http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050903/NEWS/50... " target="x">Punta Gorda may set fines for errant builders PUNTA GORDA -- Builders still on the city's hit list could face hefty fines under an ordinance the City Council will consider Wednesday.
The ordinance would allow the city's building board to fine scofflaw contractors up to $5,000 for each violation. It would also allow the board to order contractors to pay restitution to homeowners. A homeowner could then use that order as evidence in a civil lawsuit.

Saturday, September 03, 2005. California: Buyers Beware, Part One Donn Bleau rents an apartment in Treo, an upscale, high-rise condo development on India Street in Little Italy. He reckons the place is worth $700,000-plus and he pays $2,500 a month to live there. But when he showers, he often has to wait up to 15 minutes for hot water.

Saturday, September 03, 2005. Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama: Hurricane Katrina Restoration and Environmental Remediation Tips Homeowners and building owners affected by water damage from Hurricane Katrina should be dried within 48 hours to prevent mold contamination. However, as is the case with Katrina, due to the massive damage such rapid restoration and remediation is often impossible.

Friday, August 26, 2005. CA; National interest: Property rights revolt sweeps nation California legislators are considering two laws that relate to eminent domain seizure of private property, in the wake of the controversial 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. New London) in June that backed the authority of a municipality to buy up and tear down homes to make way for a redevelopment project.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. National: Mortgage Fraud Blog Numerous articles about mortgage fraud maintained by attorney Rachel M. Dollar.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. National: Professional inspection vital for new-home purchase buyers of brand-new houses should insist on a professional home inspection before taking title.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. Chicago, IL: Panel OKs cutting insurance levels for builders amid porch crackdown Two years ago, Chicago started licensing general contractors to guard against shoddy construction and prevent a repeat of the deadly Lincoln Park porch collapse.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. DC: Builder seen let off hook illegally A Montgomery County homeowners group said yesterday that the county unlawfully released a developer from building affordable housing in Bethesda, causing the county executive's office to denounce the assertion.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. FL: Homeowners Lost In Insurance Shuffle If there ever was a group "where consumer voices are underrepresented" -- to quote the Florida Consumer Action Network -- this appears to be it.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. Ongoing Title Co Kickback investigations, CA, National: Title company slapped with $1 million fine The investigation, based on employee interviews and an examination of the company's books and records, found that Investors Title Co. had used illegal rebate activities which included fabricating fraudulent receipts totaling over $108,000, according to a statement from the Insurance Commissioner's office.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. MI: REAL ESTATE INVESTIGATION: Detroit houses target of tax trick The county's lawsuit alleges violations of the state Consumer Protection Act and unlawful harassment and intimidation of property owners.

It also claims the companies and their officers engaged in perjury, civil conspiracy, and civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) violations with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion involving more than 200 properties.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. CA: Court upholds home buyers' waiver of jury trial Trend Homes Inc. v. Superior Court (Azperren).

Trend marks the third time California appellate courts have upheld a provision in which home buyers have waived their right to a jury trial in home builders' contracts; only one appellate court has found such a provision unenforceable.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. MO: 100 year old woman sues attacker, employer A 100-year-old woman has sued the man who assaulted her last year and the company that employed him to install windows in homes.

Mildred Cobb is suing Jason Ingrim, 31, who was convicted of attacking her. She is also suing Brandt's Fuel Savers, which employed Brandt, who was on parole for a burglary.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. CA: Buyers Beware, Take advice from the experts before you buy downtown [4 Part Series; links to all parts in this article] The experts say buyers should thoroughly investigate all elements of the home-buying process, everything from a background check of the developer to a proper inspection of the unit. Don't trust anyone, they said, don't believe what you read, and don't take anything for granted.

Thursday, August 25, 2005. USA: Mortgage Bankers fret about "creative" loans The worrisome mortgages include interest-only loans with rates that follow prevailing interest rates. With these loans, borrowers pay only the interest during the first few years but then monthly payments rise sharply as the borrower begins paying off the principal.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005. WI: Sex offender on way to Waukesha Waukesha - A sex offender who was also convicted of soliciting to commit arson because he wanted to burn down the houses belonging to two victims and a judge is moving into a Waukesha neighborhood, according to police. Gary L. Klotz, 60, was accused of molesting more than a half-dozen girls, ages 7 to 13, from 1988 to 1993. The former Waukesha builder pleaded no contest in Waukesha County Circuit Court in 1994 to four counts of first-degree sexual assault and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005. TX: 22 local homebuilders fined for permit violation AUSTIN — The state agency charged with overseeing homebuilders is trying to "send a message" to builders by fining those who were at least two months late in renewing their annual permits.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005. FL: Consumers left out of storm panel Task force members appointed this week include some of the loudest voices in Florida for higher premiums, exemptions to wind-resistant building codes, and increased reliance on policyholders to cover insurers' claims after catastrophic storms.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005. MA: Letter: Protection needed for home building This is typical of the homeowner stories (Page 1, Aug. 17 edition of the Sun) I have been hearing for 13 years.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005. National interest: Not So Quick Fix A Baltimore Couple Says a HUD Program Designed to Help New Homeowners Renovate May Cause Them to Lose Their Shirts

Monday, August 22, 2005. National: How much is your home really worth? "More than half of appraisers say they have been pressured to inflate the value of a home." Mostly they have been pressured by mortgage brokers and lending institutions, according to Demos' study.

Monday, August 22, 2005. FL: Law fails to save Florida farmland Most of the biggest financial beneficiaries of farm subsidies in South Florida are developers and speculators, a Herald investigation found.

Monday, August 22, 2005. National interest: Disputes are example of tenuous builder, contractor relationships McNabb is one of several contractors who say Nordyke owes them money on the project. Nordyke faces six mechanics' liens and is involved in three lawsuits on the same development -- one against him and two that he filed against contractors.

Sunday, August 21, 2005. TX: American dream now homeowners' nightmare Built atop a landfill after a controversial bidding process, Mirasol has had problems almost from the outset. Cost-cutting measures during construction and poor management have undermined the development's noble objectives, prompting community activists and elected officials to question how developers profited and what taxpayers got for their investment.

Sunday, August 21, 2005. TX; KB home: More than 150 bombs are found ARLINGTON - More than 150 unexploded practice bombs -- about 45 with potentially live gunpowder charges -- have been dug up from a south Arlington neighborhood during four months of cleanup, federal officials said.

Sunday, August 21, 2005. NH: Legislators take a fast-track on contractors They have no time to listen, but legislators will accept written testimony from victims of contractors as they study whether to regulate the home repair industry and strengthen fraud laws in a state where failing to do the work paid for doesn't necessarily constitute theft.

Sunday, August 21, 2005. GA: Neighbors unearth fraud ...there were signs that something was amiss in the neighborhood. The new $250,000 home occupied by someone on government assistance. The lawn signs offering thousands of dollars of cash back at closing. The cycle of foreclosures in the subdivision.

Saturday, August 20, 2005. National: What to Do When the Contractor Vanishes From the Washington Post

Saturday, August 20, 2005. National: Courts Disagree Over Mortgage Fee Limits A new federal court ruling focuses attention on a question that potentially touches millions of American consumers: When you get a home mortgage, should your lender be free to mark up your fees without limit?

Saturday, August 20, 2005. NC: Federal judge opts out of Charlotte FBI agent's case The charge against Blowers, 39, stems from a pair of trips to Las Vegas he took in 2000 with homebuilder David Simonini, a former informant who was by then under FBI investigation. At the time of one of the trips, Blowers was head of the FBI squad investigating Simonini.

Saturday, August 20, 2005. NJ: Developer sues vulnerable Bloomingdale "The constraints on the site are what they are, and all the lawsuits in the world won't change that," said Ross Kushner, executive director of the Pequannock River Coalition. "It's steep, it's wet and it has flood hazards."

Saturday, August 20, 2005. NJ: Builder starts making fixes Residents of the development have complained that Kara Homes has not completed interior and exterior work on their residences, including leaky basements, missing doorknobs, window screens, gas and power hookups, driveways and walkways, grading and landscaping. The work was supposed to be completed by April 1.
The Township Council gave the East Brunswick-based developer one month, which was up Monday, to fix the exterior problems or at least a significant portion of them, or it would call in the developer's $439,000 performance bond.

Saturday, August 20, 2005. TX; National: Homeowners challenge the legality of adjustable-rate home equity loans in Texas TEXAS HOMEOWNERS TAKE ON MORTGAGE INDUSTRY GIANTS

Friday, August 19, 2005. National: County's Building Inspectors Oppose Freelancers Clark County building inspectors are drowning in work. But a plan to ease the burden is being attacked by the county's building inspectors.

Friday, August 19, 2005. National: Construction theft a growing problem Detectives say many of the past thefts were committed by people actually working in the homes.

Friday, August 19, 2005. National: 12 country building surprises and how to avoid them Green Acres is the place for me. Farm livin' is the life for me. ...

Friday, August 19, 2005. MA: Builder still at work after license is suspended Carol McNally says her Hanford Road house is not fit to live in. In fact, she fears the entire structure is in danger of collapsing.

Several selectmen agree, and on Aug. 23, board members will formally hear McNally's story at their Town Hall meeting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005. National interest: Colorado regulator made title insurance sexy Erin Toll, deputy insurance commissioner of Colorado and former title insurance researcher, launched a national title insurance scandal, won a payment of about $24 million for consumers and did something no one was ever able to do before: she made title insurance sexy.

Toll's investigation of nine Colorado title insurers eventually led to the refunding of about $24 million to consumers by First American Title Insurance Co., and sparked dozens of similar investigations nationwide in states including Florida, Washington, California, Oklahoma, Minnesota and Washington.

Even now, real estate-related companies are shaking in their boots waiting for the next shoe to drop, as the New York Department of Insurance begins a similar probe and California's insurance commissioner asks the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pursue the home builders and banks he says were involved in insurance kickbacks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005. OH; National interest: Home loan appraisal fraud hits Tristate If you think the value of you're (sic) home has gone up an inordinate amount in the past few years, you could be a victim of this fraud.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005. National interest: Developer threatens: Rezone or face suit He said the council historically has caved to developers when they threaten lawsuits, legally justified or not. Connolly said the council has the right to discuss pending litigation in closed session.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005. CA; National interest: Developer's lawyers fined for frivolous Big Bear lawsuit U.S. District Judge Manuel Real on Monday sanctioned Foley & Lardner and two attorneys in its San Diego office, S. Wayne Rosenbaum and Suzanne Washington. The attorneys represented the condominium developer, Irving Okovita.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005. National: KB Home Customers Find FTC Penalties Inadequate Giant LA Builder Has Long History of Ignoring FTC Settlements

Monday, August 15, 2005. National: Brokers challenge builders' lender ties "This is the largest consumer fraud, in my opinion, ever perpetrated," said Savitt, who owns The Mortgage Center. "We're not engaged in any campaign against homebuilders. We're just against illegal practices by some builders across the country, mostly the large ones."

Monday, August 15, 2005. MO: Homebuilder sent to prison for 14 years for fraud The U.S. attorney said Thomas owned and operated businesses for the purported construction and sale of homes, or subdivisions, including Thomas Home Building Co., Thomas Homes Inc., Jeff Thomas Contracting, Times Square LLC, Dream Homes LLC, Chesterfield Landing LLC and Majestic Development Co. LLC.

Monday, August 15, 2005. CA; National: Ameriquest gave more than $7M to politicians, reports say Ameriquest Mortgage Company, already contending with a flurry of lawsuits and investigations, has contributed more than $7 million to California politicians since 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

Monday, August 15, 2005. National: Legal Urban Legends Hold Sway His jackpot would seem to erase any doubt that the legal system has lost its mind. Indeed, the Grazinski case has been cited often as evidence of the need to limit lawsuits and jury awards.

There's just one problem: The story is a complete fabrication.

Monday, August 15, 2005. CA; National: Gravity hits home values Even as many South Bay homeowners bask in huge annual increases in their property values, many neighboring homes and condos are still worth less than what their owners dished out for them.

Sunday, August 14, 2005. NH: Panel to consider taking testimony from victims of contractor ripoffs A legislative committee set up to determine whether the state needs to regulate contractors who specialize in home repair and remodeling will hold its first meeting on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 14, 2005. National interest: Ecology prof right at home in straw bale house Coming from a source that renews itself annually, straw is cheap, and it's not an attractive food source for insects. And its proponents note that once the tightly packed straw is covered with stucco, it catches fire at a higher temperature than wood.

Sunday, August 14, 2005. FL: Fight over fill bogs down buyer, builder Eddus said he no longer wants RJM Builders to complete construction on his $270,000 home because, he said, the company used several feet of free mulch from the Solid Waste Authority as a fill on his mucky lot instead of the clean, rich, dry dirt he said he paid good money for.

Saturday, August 13, 2005. National: Scammers Try To Capitalize On Real Estate Boom The FBI says mortgage fraud is widely underreported. The agency also says 80 percent of the fraud involves collaboration among industry insiders such as brokers and lenders.

Saturday, August 13, 2005. FL: McCarty devalues ethics in trying to beat the rap When confronted a year ago, County Commissioner Mary McCarty acknowledged her mistake in taking $22,500 in gifts of more than $100 from developers with business before the commission. She argued that she didn't know she was breaking state law, and vowed to repay the money.

At the end of a yearlong ethics probe, Commissioner McCarty has subverted her stated good intentions with technicalities. The developers and lobbyists who gave her the money weren't technically developers and lobbyists, her lawyer argued — successfully.

Saturday, August 13, 2005. CA: Navy steals Hunter Point Shipyard RAB election As the notorious homebuilder Lennar and its cheerleaders Mayor Gavin Newsom and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi itch to get their hands on gold shovels to break ground for the construction of 1,600 or more new homes on one of the deadliest Superfund sites in the country, Navy overseers of Hunters Point Shipyard cleanup are moving to retake control of the Restoration Advisory Board, a resident-Navy collaboration that has been expertly led by the community for the past several years.

Saturday, August 13, 2005. MI: Subdivision residents hold Rizzo's feet to the fire Before developer Blake Rizzo's name even surfaced in a bribery case involving alleged public corruption, Carol Cummings knew him well.

Saturday, August 13, 2005. MO: County home developer gets 14 years in prison for fraud [U.S. District Judge] Jackson called Thomas a pathological con artist who filled his pockets with money from families saving to buy their dream houses.

Thursday, August 11, 2005. TX; National: Wolves in Small Print Predatory lenders are putting more Americans in homes — and into the poor house.

Thursday, August 11, 2005. PA: Court quarrel turns to assault case A Poconos home builder was charged Wednesday with assaulting a Monroe County assistant district attorney and a detective in a fracas that started when a prominent Allentown-area lawyer challenged a prosecutor to a fight at a preliminary hearing.
... Slayton had been at District Judge Debby York's court in Brodheadsville for a hearing on charges he may have taken as much as $500,000 in customers' deposits since 2003 to pay for a crack cocaine habit.

Thursday, August 11, 2005. TN: Blount contractor gets 33 months for Thailand sex trip, child porn U.S. District Court Senior Judge Leon Jordan meted out that punishment for Kevin Bruce Cooper, 40, a well-known home builder who pleaded guilty last year to charges he traveled to Thailand to have sex with a 15-year-old boy and kept a stash of thousands of images of child pornography in his home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005. National: IEQ Review Mold news

Wednesday, August 10, 2005. AZ; National interest, as this is about the same in all states: Housing inspectors hustle to keep pace In that sense, inspectors have nothing to lose by not catching every code issue. That's because the code states that inspectors aren't liable for missed violations if they don't act with malice.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005. NC: FBI agent on trial contends he is victim of 'vindictive prosecution' The charge against Blowers, 39, stems from two trips that he took in 2000 with homebuilder David Simonini, a former informant who was under FBI investigation. At the time of one of the trips, Blowers was the head of the FBI squad investigating Simonini.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005. TX: Builder falls afoul of city, residents over tree rules City inspectors have issued 13 citations and seven warnings since December, when they began watching the David Weekley Homes job site in the Silver Lake Estates addition. Inspectors say the company was repeatedly warned that the crews were violating the local tree ordinance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005. PA: State attorney general files suit against home builder The suit alleges James A. Medei of 218 Cherry Court, Stroudsburg, through his company Jim Medei Custom Homes, contracted to build two homes in 2000, but never finished them.

Instead, the suit says, Medei used thousands from the owners' bank construction loans to finance construction on other projects, leaving the buyers with unfinished homes.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005. AZ: Building boom tests inspectors A few builders won't allow private inspectors on construction sites or make it difficult for them to look at new homes before buyers close escrow, she said. Thompson declined to name them, but said consumers should be suspicious if a builder resists private inspections.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005. MO: Complaints draw county review The building code sets minimum standards for construction, such as proper and safe electrical features, Elkin said. They do not address problems that some residents of the Haystack Acres subdivision have reported, such as sloppy drywall and poorly installed windowsills

Tuesday, August 09, 2005. AZ: Code inspection failures 40 percent of work in new construction fails first time, and most failures are for improper framing

Monday, August 08, 2005. TN: Structural problems make woman's house worthless 6 On Your Side called the contractor. We're choosing not to name him because he's not liable after four years. He told us, "I feel horrible for Mrs. Phillips." Then he suggested that she sue his company and the developer, saying, "That's why we have insurance."

Monday, August 08, 2005. National: Builder Stalls; Buyer Must Take Action If the builder has had problem-solvers there several times and they have not found anything, I think they are trying to stall you out so that the time on the warranty will run out and they’ll be gone. [HADD advises keeping a good paper trail for this reason.]

Monday, August 08, 2005. FL: Roof job lapses raise concern Cresthaven homeowners are victims of a perfect storm: a statewide shingle shortage spawned by last year's hurricanes, an out-of-state roofing company supervised by a contractor across the state, shortcuts in county inspection procedures and rookie county inspectors sent out on their own.

Monday, August 08, 2005. NV: HOMEBUILDING: Flaws and effect "The problem is overstated by builders," he said. "There are some amongst the building community who would like immunity -- we can't sue them under any sort of circumstance. The standard isn't perfection, but we can't be Chicken Little and say the sky is falling when some builders get taken to task for building bad houses. When a builder is given the opportunity to fix houses and doesn't step up to do it, there's going to be a lawsuit."

Monday, August 08, 2005. NV: Columnist Jeff German: Inspectors don't feel at home with plan for builders Call it A hunch, but I don't think you're going to find too many future homeowners who would like the idea of letting developers do their own inspections during construction.

Monday, August 08, 2005. Oregon: No Recovery if Owner Rejects Contractor’s Offer to Repair SB 2525 would amend Oregon’s still relatively new notice of defect law for residential homes. Under the amendment, an owner that rejects an offer of a contractor (or a subcontractor or supplier) to repair a home would be prohibited from recovering against the contractor in an arbitration or court action. The limitation would only apply with respect to the defects the contractor offered to repair. This would be a very important benefit to homebuilders. Remember, however, that Oregon’s notice of defect law contains some very strict deadlines for responding to owner notices. For example, you have 14 days to respond to the first notice. If you do not respond in time to a notice of alleged defects, you can lose your rights!

Monday, August 08, 2005. National interest: Mike Holmes does a Martha He starts punching drywall, ripping down walls and yelling about the injustice of a world where ne'er-do-well contractors can make off with thousands of dollars, leaving dangerously shoddy work as their only calling card.

Then he sets about the task of, as he so often says, "making sure it's done right."

Monday, August 08, 2005. National interest: Top toxicologist in high demand One of the everyday problems Lipsey sees on a weekly basis regarding mold is faulty construction.

Monday, August 08, 2005. OK: Certification's the key The partially built home of two years ago highlights a greater issue for today's homebuyers: Extensively research your homebuilder because Oklahoma does not require them to be licensed. [Article fails to mention that Oklahoma keeps consumer complaints private, except for court records, which reflect only a tiny portion of complaints due to arbitration clauses and cost of suing.]

Sunday, August 07, 2005. GA: Eagle's Ridge home judged 'unsanitary, unsafe and unlivable' Colorado-based National Home Insurance Co. [NHIC backs 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty Co.] has two weeks to appeal the decision. Company officials did not respond to multiple interview requests last week. However, National Home Insurance Co. attorney Joan Riordan said the company "will comply with the arbitrator's decision."

Experts say it's fairly routine for a homeowner to be upset about an insurance claim that's denied. But to take it to arbitration — which can cost thousands for expert witness testimony, engineering reports and time off work for a hearing — is rare, said Shannon Cory, president of the Georgia Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

For the arbitrator to rule in favor of the homeowner "is even more unusual," he said.

Sunday, August 07, 2005. TX: TRCC Seeks Volunteers for Warranty and Standards Advisory Committee The Texas Residential Construction Commission is in the process of establishing an advisory committee to review proposed changes to the adopted warranties and building and performance standards. During the June 2005 meeting, the commission proposed the rules and guidelines for the committee, and is now accepting applications from individuals who wish to serve on the advisory panel.

Sunday, August 07, 2005. MO: Neighbors lodge contractor complaints When Mariom Jackman appeared before the Boone County Commission Thursday to voice complaints about contractor Robert Berendzen, the commissioners weren’t surprised.

Sunday, August 07, 2005. National: Shopping around for title insurance is wise decision The cost of title insurance coverage is emerging as a major problem in the closing of home sale transactions. And the growing debate regarding abuses in the title industry (illegal kickbacks, etc.) is fueling consumer complaints.

Sunday, August 07, 2005. FL: When final isn't final Casano, of Port Charlotte, is in a standoff with Premier Homes because she won't consent to a final walk-through inspection before she closes on her $216,000 house because, she says, it is riddled with shoddy workmanship and does not include amenities she paid for.

Sunday, August 07, 2005. OK: Homebuilders aim to stop sad buyer experiences "Oklahoma does not require homebuyers to be licensed," said Mark Dale, past president of the Oklahoma State Homebuilders Association. "Plumbers are licensed. Even the guy who cuts my hair has to have a license."

Thursday, August 04, 2005. National: Federal Trade Commission: KB Home to Pay $2 Million Penalty for Alleged Violations of FTC Order Under the terms of a stipulation and modified consent decree approved by the Federal Trade Commission and submitted in federal court by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), KB Home, a California-based homebuilder formerly known as Kaufman and Broad, Inc., will pay a $2 million civil penalty to settle charges that it violated the terms of a 1979 consent order with the Commission. The modified consent decree also bars KB Home from violating the terms of the original order in the future, and requires the company to modify existing home repair warranties to comply with the consent order and extend for one year certain homeowners’ two-year warranty coverage for major home components. The FTC also has issued a new publication for consumers to help them understand the issue of home warranties.

Thursday, August 04, 2005. National : KB Home to Pay $2 Million Penalty for Alleged Violations of FTC Order - New Home Warranties Repair Problems Case Background

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. Large PDF; Newsletter: Policy Holders of America Numerous articles on insurance, mold, builders, etc.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. Federal Trade Commission: Warranties for Newly Built Homes: Know Your Options If your loan is financed through the FHA or VA and you file a claim against the third-party warranty company, you can choose between arbitration or going to court.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. National: KB Home to Pay $2 Million for Violating Home Warranty Agreement KB Home, a California homebuilder formerly known as Kaufman and Broad, Inc., will pay a $2 million civil penalty and will be required to extend home warranty coverage for an additional year for some homeowners.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. National interest: Mold Turns Couple's Dream Home Into Nightmare According to the Werdermans, the VA coded the property as "WD" for water damage, but Heist said this information was not available to the public when his clients purchased the house.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. CA; National interest: Code enforcement is a nationwide problem: State slams code enforcement debacle
Two Canyon Lake families have been forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to correct structural problems that city building inspectors failed to discover while the homes were being remodeled.

Their predicament has prompted state housing officials to order the city to improve its inspection of buildings or risk having the state take over code enforcement.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. Southwestern U.S.: Pygmy owl may lose federal protected status The public has two months to weigh in on whether the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl should be removed from the endangered species list.
Home builders yesterday applauded a federal agency's recommendation to remove protections for the 7-inch-high bird, while environmentalists called the move "anti-science."
... The lawsuit that resulted in yesterday's agency recommendation was filed by the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association and a national home building association.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005. SC: FBI agent accused of taking gifts says he did nothing wrong Erik Blowers was indicted in April on charges that he failed to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts and travel expenses he received from former Charlotte home builder David Simonini during two trips to Las Vegas in 2000. Simonini, a one-time FBI informant, later pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering and is in federal prison.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005. NC: NC Attorney General Sues to Stop Manufactured Home Seller The North Carolina Attorney General filed a civil lawsuit against CMR Properties, Home Town USA, managers Christopher P. Wollin, Jason Gonzales and Kendrick Jackson, former sales associate Wendell Lindo, Blaine Stowe, a mortgage broker and Jerry Honeycutt, a former appraiser.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005. IN: Many in Gary, M’ville unhappy with contractor Wayne Flaharty, the building contractor accused of not finishing work at a Merrillville home, has faced numerous complaints from homebuyers in the past.

Monday, August 01, 2005. CA: Residents still wait for repairs First-time developer Calvin Cree is almost finished with his last phase of the Vista Santa Rosa Country Homes project, and first phase homeowners say they are still waiting for him to fix items included in their walk-through when they first moved in.

Monday, August 01, 2005. AL: Family sues over deadly blast The aim of the suit is "to explain why a 3-month-old house with a 3-month-old water heater (built and maintained by) ostensibly qualified professionals could yield a ticking time bomb that killed an innocent man," according to Brown.

Monday, August 01, 2005. LA: Slidell couple arrested for construction fraud "Financial crimes are often complex and difficult to navigate," said Sheriff Jack Strain. "In the past, contractors would hide behind civil law to make penalties or restitution difficult, but no more. The law now allows us to pursue criminal charges on contractors who fail to deliver as promised."

Monday, August 01, 2005. VT: Vermont dream home more like a nightmare Along with at least 10 other Vermonters around the state, the Hibbards found themselves involved in time-consuming lawsuits and endless arguments with the homebuilder, a manufactured housing company on the Barre-Montpelier road that operated under a variety of names: JRE, Jean Real Estate, Today's Housing by Ray's Home Center and others.

Monday, August 01, 2005. CT: Developer defrauded banks for $20M, feds say Federal prosecutors have charged a Greenwich, Conn., real estate developer with bank fraud, saying he hid old mortgages to get new loans from banks, including a Hudson Valley Bank branch in Yonkers.

Sunday, July 31, 2005. National Interest: Kathryn Talbert: Contractors ought to welcome licensing By posing as a legitimate professional, the incompetent or fraud steals not only from the customer, but also from the legitimate builder.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. OR: Construction bill on Kulongoski's desk The legislation, which the governor is likely to sign, creates a task force to examine building problems

Saturday, July 30, 2005. CA: Sting Exposes Unlicensed Contractors California's huge underground economy is fueled in part by unlicensed contractors who prey upon consumers and hurt legitimate business people.

It is estimated that California loses between $60 billion and $140 billion a year in revenue due to this underground economy.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. TX: SUBSTANDARD HOMES She says a city building inspector signed off on the house last year, allowing her to move in, however, she says the same building inspector told her Wednesday the house is not up to code, and she may have to move out for at least three weeks while her home is fixed.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. GA: Discontent in residence For more than a year, residents in a Henry County subdivision in McDonough have complained to the developer about leaky roofs, drainage problems, faulty air-conditioning units and standing water in their back yards.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. NC: More People Claim To Be Victims Of Alleged Real Estate Pyramid Scheme A man the FBI said orchestrated an elaborate real estate scheme was back in federal court Monday.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. TN: Builder's past problems may land him in prison In a handful of years as a custom home builder in Nashville, David Khoury has left behind a string of disgruntled clients and more than a few legal squabbles.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. IL: Builder Found Guilty Of Unfinished Business In a trial that lasted just more than two hours, a jury found 44-year-old Fred Resnick guilty of home repair fraud.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. Poconos Real Estate Fraud Story ongoing: Attorney to look at claims of fraud SCRANTON | U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Marino said Friday he will investigate claims of real estate fraud in the Poconos as a result of an impromptu meeting with the head of a Monroe County homeowners group on the steps of the federal courthouse.

Saturday, July 30, 2005. National: Housing Boom Leads to Incompetence, Fraud Homeowners are finding their new homes shoddily constructed, and legal recourse and compensation next to impossible.

Thursday, July 28, 2005. MN: Sting targets unlicensed contractors The sting was a joint effort months in the making and a collaboration between St. Paul police and the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Thursday, July 28, 2005. VA: Court Battle Over Wheatland Farms Purchase Spurs Fraud Allegation The owners of Wheatland Farms have filed a counter lawsuit in the ongoing court battle over whether they can stop a developer from purchasing their land. In the latest filing, they allege Pacific Century Development and Realty has slandered their land title and committed fraud in filing three “frivolous” lawsuits over the soured real estate deal.

Thursday, July 28, 2005. CO: Builder OKs $39 million to end suit Texas-based homebuilder D.R. Horton has agreed to pay owners of a condominium complex in Superior $39.5 million, the largest settlement of a residential construction-defects lawsuit in Colorado history, said Scott Sullan, a Denver lawyer who represented the homeowners.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005. National: City's Lawsuit Claims Faults In Three Of Its Buildings Three government buildings in Lawrence -- including the main City Hall building -- were built incorrectly and require substantial repairs, according to a lawsuit filed by the city.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005. National: Federal Court Orders Fla. Insurer to Arbitrate Claims Against Contractor Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Companies sued Pulte Home Corp. for negligence, implied warranty and strict liability to recover $114,377 paid to remediate mold from the home owned by its insureds

Wednesday, July 27, 2005. Press Release:: Consumer Group Calls for Harsher Punishment for National Builder KB Home As President of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings I am requesting that the Department of Justice put into place a meaningful, substantial, fine against KB Home that will stop them once and for all from destroying the people they sell their homes to, and insist that mandatory binding arbitration be eliminated from all of their contracts and warranties in accordance with the FTC Consent Decree.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005. National: Letter to the Department of Justice concerning KB Home Recently it was reported in several newspapers that the FTC will again fine KB Home for violating a Consent Decree signed over a quarter of a century ago. Speculation is that the fine will be $2,000,000; however the final decision appears to be up to the Department of Justice. In the opinion of our national not for profit organization this is an inadequate fine for a company that has violated the Consent Decree over and over again harming tens of thousands of families in the 12 states they build in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005. IL: Lawsuit Hits Network With 'Cold Reality' They say they were promised a new home with improvements to help their recently-paralyzed son, but instead, the family says the experience left them in a dangerous house and a financial hole.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005. TX: Council tied up on drainage ordinance With the ordinance still in place, the city is facing a lawsuit from the Greater New Braunfels Homebuilder’s Association, who warned they would seek relief from the court system if the ordinance was not amended by today.

While acknowledging the threat, Krueger encouraged her fellow council members not to be swayed by it.

“I guess you can get many opinions from many lawyers,” she said. “My only desire is to protect the citizens from (flooding). Our job is to protect their interests.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2005. NC: More People Claim To Be Victims Of Alleged Real Estate Pyramid Scheme The FBI said Jim Davis faces fraud charges in connection with his real estate "investment" company, Easy Financial Services. He allegedly schemed with a builder to inflate home prices, and then would find someone to buy the house at the higher cost. The FBI says the builder got the home's original asking price, while Davis pocketed the rest.

Monday, July 25, 2005. National: Housing logic does not work He also noted that homebuilders are adding 2-million units annually, far outpacing household formation of 1.4 million. This imbalance could be the bogeyman that deflates the bubble despite the prevalence of low interest rates.

Monday, July 25, 2005. AZ: State questions deals for raw desert land Arizona has a notorious tradition of raw desert-land sales in areas where water, sewer and other utilities were unavailable. ... the department is still reviewing transactions to distinguish real buyers from straw buyers used to drive up land prices.

Monday, July 25, 2005. AZ; National interest: Affordable Housing WHY IS IT THAT BUILDERS CONTINUE to identify components of regulatory costs as the greatest threats to affordability? While I think it is extremely unfair for cities to charge impact fees in excess of the actual costs that the new-home impact will bring to the community, this is not the real issue in affordability. When there is a shortage of supply relative to demand, that is the greatest threat to affordability.

Monday, July 25, 2005. National: Quick Tip Consumer Reports is keeping a virtual handyman on call 24/7 at the magazine's Internet arm.

The free Home Improvement Guide has information about repairs, remodeling and projects both indoors and outdoors.

Of special interest to new homeowners is a section on how to detect shoddy construction.

It presents a problem and gives possible causes, such as a lack of flashing and drip edges for a leaky roof.

To find the guide, log on to www.consumerreports.org, and then type "home improvement guide" in the search area.

Monday, July 25, 2005. NH: Paying contractors up front puts many way behind The legitimate contractor has no need for a big advance, according to Frank Chiaramitaro a third-generation builder.

Monday, July 25, 2005. NH: AG welcomes calls from consumers concerning builders Some examples The Sunday News provided consumer protection paralegal Joanne L. Robbins with the names of certain contractors and construction firms and asked whether any complaints had been lodged against them. Listed alphabetically here is a sampling of what Robbins found in the bureau's database:

Monday, July 25, 2005. National: Air America Radio: An interview with a homeowner and HADD respresentative. [the audio can be downloaded, and the segment is the last 20 minutes of the hour show] Plus, we look how business took over Texas law so blatantly that it made a consumer activist out of a lifelong Republican. Jordan Fogal, a 59-year old grandmother, began picketing on the streets after her expensive new home turned out to be a lemon and officials refused to do anything about it. Consumer activist John Cobarruvias of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings tells us how you can avoid getting taken for a ride.

Saturday, July 23, 2005. IL; National interest: Family says TV show left an unhappy ending When the renovated home was "revealed" to the Rosiers on July 23, 2004, producers had to re-film the scene a few times because the family didn't look happy enough, Gary Rosier said.

"We were horrified at what we saw," he said.

Saturday, July 23, 2005. FL: Builder's license pulled At the July 12 hearing, the licensing and advisory board unanimously found DiNicolantonio "guilty of failing to make good on faulty workmanship, poorly supervising his contractors" on the addition to the Woods' home.

Saturday, July 23, 2005. Real Estate news: "Deadline News" Current Online Issue Title Insurance settlement, Foreclosures scams, more...

Thursday, July 21, 2005. MI, National interest: HUD to run Detroit housing The federal government took control of Detroit's public housing agency Thursday after decades of frustration with its money mismanagement, insubordinate employees and lax leadership that left thousands of Detroiters living in crumbling, rat-infested buildings.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. IL: Cold Reality Continues After TV-Show Home Makeover "I told them they built a set, that's all they did. It's a cosmetic illusion," Gary Rosier said.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. "Reality" (?) TV:: Lemont Family Featured In Reality Show Files Lawsuit CHICAGO -- A Lemont Township couple charged in a lawsuit Wednesday that they were misled by officials associated with a television reality program and that their home was remodeled in a shoddy fashion.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. MD: Md. homebuilder is penalized nearly $1.3 million for fraud Jeffrey Bryant, owner of Advanced Building Solutions Inc. and the Precision Group Inc., neglected to protect consumer deposits he received, did not register the Precision Group and failed to build homes in Montgomery and Prince George's counties as promised for at least 32 residents, the attorney general's office said.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. From Inman.com; requires subscription to read full article: Fidelity to refund $7.7 million to title insurance consumers Other companies subpoenaed in the overall investigation include William Lyon Homes, KB Home, RE/MAX, United Home Mortgage Corp., Shea Financial Services and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, according to the California Insurance Dept.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. CA, National interest: Calif. Title Insurers to Pay Fines Some dozen other states are making similar inquiries. In February, Colorado officials wrested a $24 million settlement from First American in a similar case.

Thursday, July 21, 2005. CA, National interest: Title firms to pay $38M SAN FRANCISCO — Three of California's largest title insurers agreed to halt what officials called a kickback scheme that cost home buyers $25.4 million and will pay more than $38 million in refunds and fines, state insurance commissioner John Garamendi said Wednesday.
He said the three companies — Land-America Financial Corp., First American Title Insurance Co. and Fidelity National Financial Inc. — and their subsidiaries paid kickbacks to lenders, builders and real estate agents to steer homeowner title insurance business their way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. MA: Fugitive Contractor Jailed BOSTON -- A contractor accused of stealing nearly $1 million from homeowners is in a Massachusetts jail Friday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. FL: Trial date set for dispute between Disney, homeowners The 368 homeowners in Lakes of the Meadow Village have been in litigation for nine years over what they argue is shoddy workmanship by building partnership Disney/Arvida.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. National: Wired Homes still a far off dream for many According to Cowie, a revised minimum standard for residential communications wiring was enacted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2000, but many builders remain poorly informed about the ruling or have little understanding of what it means.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. FL: Broward Commissioner Eggelletion accepted $10,000 fee from builder While pushing colleagues last year to do more to promote the construction of affordable housing in Broward, County Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion was being paid by one of the area's largest homebuilders.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. National interest: Fort Lauderdale to let builder set home prices on discounted land FORT LAUDERDALE · A developer will be allowed to sell homes at unlimited prices on land it bought from the city at a deep discount.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005. National interest: Wake Couple Find Themselves Victims Of Real Estate Pyramid Scheme RALEIGH, N.C. -- Late Tuesday afternoon, FBI agents arrested Jim Davis on fraud charges. They said he schemed with a builder to inflate home prices. They said, then he would find someone to buy the house at the inflated price. The FBI said the builder got the original asking price of the house, Davis pocketed the rest, but a Five On Your Side investigation shows there is even more to the story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. UT: Contractor Accused of Creating a Neighborhood Nightmare Accusations are flying, homes are flooding, and a neighborhood is fed up.

They're taking on their contractor, who also serves as a Salt Lake County Councilman.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. OH, KY: With sentence done, Lori Erpenbeck out Erpenbeck pleaded guilty to bank fraud for helping her brother, Bill Erpenbeck, steal $34 million from the home builder's customers.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. AZ: Contractor fund pays $5 mil for poor work Payouts for poor or incomplete construction work by licensed contractors hit a record $5.14 million in fiscal year 2005.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. National building industry trade organization gives pat on back to builder who was just fined by both HUD and FTC: KB Home Coastal Achieves Quality Certification From NAHB Research Center The NAHB Research Center today announced the latest addition to the National Housing Quality (NHQ) family of home builders. KB Home

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. Texas: Home Buyer Beware How a new state agency of the builders, by the builders, and for the builders makes it harder for you to sue, yes, your builder.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005. Texas: Press Release: Take Back Your Rights PAC "We are excited the Becka Family with Take Back Your Rights PAC will continue to advocate for homebuyers in Texas. Their first hand knowledge of how arbitration can devastate a family financial, physically and mentally will help reign in this uncontrolled, abusive, private justice system," said Nancy Seats, National President of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (HADD).

Monday, July 18, 2005. FL, National interest: Work-site thefts rising Police say thieves might sell the stolen goods to other builders or on the black market, take it home or -- as in one case -- trade it for drugs. [pg.1] ... "Sometimes it's workers coming in at night and stealing [appliances] after they installed them during the day," said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff's Office. [pg. 2]

Monday, July 18, 2005. CA, National interest: Stay smart if you want to go solar DON'T GET BURNED: Thinking of going solar? Here are some things to remember:

Monday, July 18, 2005. NY, National interest: Getting fix on homework The agency regulates 55 different types of businesses and enforces the city's consumer protection law. But year after year, home improvements are the top cause for complaints, acting commissioner Jonathan Mintz told Your Money.

Monday, July 18, 2005. CO, National interest: State expands title insurance probe The state's scrutiny of AfBAs comes on the heels of another title industry investigation involving illegal kickbacks allegedly paid by title companies to so-called "captive" reinsurance companies owned by home builders.

Sunday, July 17, 2005. National interest: Home Buyer Beware [Risky Loans] Just as consumers have overspent their credit cards, many homeowners are now taking on more mortgage than they can handle.

Sunday, July 17, 2005. MD: Judge blocks move by troubled builder to sell property Saying he believed the owners of a troubled Annapolis home building firm were trying to skip out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts, a judge yesterday blocked them from selling property without court supervision or taking any assets out of the state. [Golden Builders]

Saturday, July 16, 2005. Texas: Just a Bag Man Perry is the unquestioned king of campaign finance in our state, giving $6.9 million to Republican candidates over a four-year period. (He also bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry.) In return? Well, in 2003, Perry got something he wanted: a new commission to avert civil suits against builders. It was posed as pro-consumer. The extent to which it is pro-industry was made clear when Perry Homes' in-house attorney was made a commissioner.

Friday, July 15, 2005. National: Homebuyer Beware. Mother Jones Commentary. Homebuyers incorrectly assume the biggest investment of a lifetime comes with adequate consumer protection. In Texas homebuyers like Jordan Fogal have learned that the laws have been so skewed in favor of the builders that a major defect can ruin a family financially, physically, and mentally. Yet state legislators across the country trust the homebuilders to advocate for consumer protection.

Friday, July 15, 2005. NJ: Do crooks' towns deserve extra aid? Some say no Kleinberg has argued that bribes from builders to officials in the previous administration will result in increased taxes and jam-packed schools brought on by overdevelopment.

Thursday, July 14, 2005. NC, National interest: Concord's Southern Chase neighborhood has seen more than its share of foreclosures Mack says buyers took out most of the foreclosed loans through the mortgage division of Beazer Homes, the Atlanta-based builder that developed Southern Chase.

Thursday, July 14, 2005. MD: City staff passes buck on ceiling problems In March, Winifred and Donteray Pettigrew heard a creaking noise above their heads and rolled out of bed just before the ceiling caved in onto the bed, according to a complaint filed with Frederick's code enforcement office on March 29. After a lengthy investigation, city staff deduced that the cause of the collapse was defective construction.

Thursday, July 14, 2005. NJ: Councilman has new legal problem A grand jury subpoena served on Rosado's business, Smart Construction, is the latest in a widening investigation by the prosecutor into the city's Community Development Department, and the relationships of city officials to local developers.

Thursday, July 14, 2005. National: Press Release: Consumer Group Applauds FTC Sanctions Against KB Home for Arbitration Abuse Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, a non-profit consumer organization applauds the action by the Federal Trade Commission against top homebuilder KB Home for their continued abuse of arbitration.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. U.S.: HUD SETTLES CASE AGAINST TENNESSEE TITLE COMPANY OVER VIOLATIONS OF MORTGAGE RULES HUD concluded that the companies were sham businesses used to make referral payments back to the builders, real estate agents and mortgage brokers in violation of RESPA.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. MA; National interest: Pepperell mold house once again on the open market PEPPERELL -- True to her pledge to help others avoid what has happened to her, mold house victim-turned-activist Nancy Davis may once again appear before the Board of Health in an attempt to have 20A and B Shawnee Road condemned.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. National: KB Home expecting settlement After making a $3.2 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week, KB Home expects to reach a separate multimillion-dollar settlement soon in a case before the Federal Trade Commission.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. CO: Homeowners' ability to sue subcontractors stirs debate In the decision, handed down on June 26, the court ruled that subcontractors, as well as builders, "owe homeowners a duty of care, independent of any contractual obligations, to act without negligence in the construction of homes."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. MO; Kansas City Star, may require free registration to view article: Law makes suing builders tough Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill into law on Tuesday that makes it harder for homeowners to sue builders over construction defects. [Another state allows Builder-sponsored "Right to Repair" law to pass.]

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. MO: Details emerge in city official's bribe case Carothers gave the man a copy of the test with the answers already filled in and sat him in the back so no one could look over his shoulder.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005. National: KB Home to Settle FTC Arbitration Complaints KB Home said Tuesday that it had agreed to pay $2 million to settle complaints that it had again violated terms of a 26-year-old federal order prohibiting it from restricting customers' rights to sue over alleged construction defects.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. National: KB Home says reaches $2 mln FTC settlement (for arbitration violations by the FTC) BOSTON (MarketWatch) -- KB Home has reached a $2 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission pending approval by the Department of Justice over mandatory arbitration clauses in home warranties, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. CA: Buyers voice complaints against builder A number of neighbors in Calderas' housing tract in Amethyst Hills and neighboring Hyatt Pointe, both by Frontier Homes, have said they have become frustrated with the inconsistency of repairs done to their homes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. IL: Judge fines unlicensed home improvement firm $200,300 A 2002 lawsuit filed by the city accused New Look and Sullivan of 14 counts of fraud, misrepresentation and other misconduct.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. NJ: Towns hurt by corruption could get aid Since February, a half-dozen arrests of public officials and developer Anthony Spalliero have shed light on how the development approval process may have been tainted by bribery.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. National: KB Home says reaches $2 mln FTC settlement KB Home has reached a $2 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission pending approval by the Department of Justice over mandatory arbitration clauses in home warranties, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. MO: Realtors’ lobbyist has close ties to governor’s father The group has given a one-month, $50,000 contract to Washington lobbyist Gregg Hartley, a former Missouri official and longtime chief of staff to the governor's father, U.S. House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Strafford.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. National: U.S. FTC set to cite KB Home over arbitration -WSJ NEW YORK, July 12 (Reuters) - Federal regulators plan to cite KB Home , one of the largest U.S. homebuilders, for limiting the ability of home buyers to sue the company over alleged defects, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday. The newspaper, attributing its report to people familiar with the situation, said a citation by the Federal Trade Commission is expected to carry a multimillion dollar fine and allege that KB Home violated a decades-old consent decree that prevents the company from including mandatory arbitration clauses in the warranties of home-purchase agreements. KB Home said it was unaware of the FTC's planned citation, the Journal said. A company spokeswoman told the paper that KB Home was working to resolve a longstanding disagreement with the FTC.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005. National: KB Home and the Federal Trade Commission KB Home (KBH: news, chart, profile) may be sued by the Federal Trade Commission and get a "multimillion dollar" fine for violating a decades-old consent decree that prevents the company from including mandatory arbitration clauses in the warranties of home-purchase agreements, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation.

Monday, July 11, 2005. IN: Contractor denies fraud charges Local contractor Anthony Flaherty denies any wrongdoing in connection with home improvement work that wound up having him arrested for fraud Thursday.

Monday, July 11, 2005. NC: Magistrate orders documents unsealed in N.C. FBI agent case Blowers, 39, was indicted in April, charged with failing to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts and travel expenses he received from former Charlotte home builder David Simonini during two trips to Las Vegas in 2000. Simonini, a one-time FBI informant, later pleaded guilty to bank fraud and money laundering and is in federal prison.

Sunday, July 10, 2005. National: Mold can be main cause of illness People's reaction to mold varies, but allergy and flu-like symptoms are common with long exposure, she said. People with asthma or pulmonary problems, or those allergic to mold, are most vulnerable to severe illness, she said.

Sunday, July 10, 2005. National: The Biggest Bubble Ever A Merrill Lynch economist, David Rosenberg, identifies six characteristics of any kind of asset bubble: overheated prices, over-ownership, too much debt, speculation, complacency and denial.

Saturday, July 09, 2005. National: KB Home subsidiary to pay $3.2 million to federal regulators KB Home has agreed to pay $3.2 million as part of a settlement with federal regulators who found the homebuilder's mortgage financing arm approved home loans for borrowers who were not qualified.

Saturday, July 09, 2005. NJ: Town may penalize developer Township officials may threaten to call in a performance guarantee bond against a developer who residents say has not lived up to a promise to finish work on their houses.

Saturday, July 09, 2005. IL: Builder accused of bribes A well-known builder in Berwyn was arrested Thursday on charges that he paid $10,000 to an alderman to win backing in a bid to buy the city's former Police Department building.

Saturday, July 09, 2005. National: Financially pressed home buyers face tough trade-offs In an article published on the HSH Associates Web site (www.hsh.com), Gumbinger seeks to document why the benefits of an interest-only mortgage are "way overblown."

Saturday, July 09, 2005. National: KB Home settles lending claims The settlement, announced Wednesday, comes days after KB Home said it has agreed to sell its mortgage financing business to a subsidiary of Countrywide Financial Corp.

Friday, July 08, 2005. Texas: HADD Texas Newsletter July 2005. A newsletter for HADD Texas, July 2005.

Friday, July 08, 2005. MI; National interest: It's easy to get a builder's license; new legislation would make it tougher Organizations representing reputable builders think it's too easy to get a license in Michigan, allowing too many bad apples to enter the profession and damaging the trade's reputation.

Friday, July 08, 2005. National: Homeowners group works to uncover real estate scams Victims can also sign a petition, which Seats said is being circulated in order to force Congress to investigate predatory behavior by many home builders.

Friday, July 08, 2005. NJ: Contractor facing more fraud charges A self-employed concrete contractor already free on bail on charges of bilking customers of nearly $500,000 for starting and not finishing work, has been arrested again on similar charges.

Friday, July 08, 2005. WI: Contractor Accused of Fraud Asks County to Pay for His Lawyer An Appleton contractor accused of stealing more than $100,000 from people who hired him for general contracting jobs is asking Outagamie County to hire an attorney for him.

Friday, July 08, 2005. FL: Construction cops slam door on bad builders Mitcham and his fellow construction investigator Bill Darrow don't carry guns. They can't arrest anybody. But from their office on the ninth floor of downtown Tampa police headquarters, the two men investigate questionable contractors, shoddy home renovations and construction projects that cross the line between bad work and criminal rip-off.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. National interest: As home prices soar, so does mortgage fraud Home mortgage fraud and inflated appraisals are becoming a national epidemic, fueled by low interest rates and the hot housing market, federal law enforcement authorities say.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. ReformCounterpunch article dealing with arbitration and tort reform which is relevent to builders' "right to repair" laws, arbitration clauses, etc: Killing Off the Jury with Tort What the tort reformers really want to eliminate the risk of being held liable and punished by a civil jury.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. AZ--National interest: Insurance paybacks criticized In Colorado this year, business deals in which a title insurance company paid kickbacks to home builders in return for referrals of customers led to a state crackdown and a $24 million settlement.

In Arizona, a similar payback is taking place involving major real estate brokers, and it is prompting complaints in the industry.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. National interest: HUD announces $3.2 million settlement against KB Home Mortgage Company WASHINGTON -- The Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced it has reached a $3.2 million settlement with KB Home Mortgage Company in connection with a series of alleged violations of HUD requirements. The $3.2 million is the largest amount ever collected in the 30-year history of HUD's Mortgagee Review Board (MRB), which takes administrative actions against FHA-approved lenders.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. NC--National interest: Building Tips: Make smart choices before breaking ground A quick check of the public records by your attorney or his paralegal may tell you a lot

Thursday, July 07, 2005. FL: Man Says Builder Cancelled House Contract To Make More Money The red-hot housing market has some homeowners facing an incredible nightmare. Several families who contacted Action 9 claimed the builder tried to cancel their contacts so it could sell the same homes for a lot more money to somebody else.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. MD: State fines 15 homebuilders $23,000 total Fifteen homebuilders have paid $23,000 in fines for allegedly failing to provide protection for customer deposits or register with the state, the Maryland attorney general's office said yesterday.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. National Interest: KB Home Settles U.S. Allegations KB Home agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle federal allegations that its mortgage unit engaged in poor lending practices, including approving loans to ineligible borrowers, the government said Wednesday.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. PA--SCROLL DOWN TO "STROUDSBURG...": state attorney general's office has rejected an offer to settle a civil suit alleging that home sales in the Poconos violated consumer law Barbara Petito, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Tom Corbett, said the offer made by Ernie Preate, who represents Monroe County home builder Gene Percudani, had not "adequately addressed the harm suffered by the consumers in this case."

Thursday, July 07, 2005. MI: Family left with shell of a house, $164,400 loan Inside, it's just a shell -- "no plumbing, no wiring, no nothing," said Shane Brown, the Muskegon County Sheriff's detective who helped send the Hansons' contractor to prison in April.

Thursday, July 07, 2005. National: Builders Received Kickbacks, Say Regulators Homeowners refunded $24 million in settlement with title insurer
Without admitting any wrongdoing, First American Title Insurance Co. of Santa Ana, Calif., agreed in February to refund $24 million to homeowners in Colorado, Arizona, California, and other states in response to allegations that the company had in essence paid 16 large production-home builders to steer business its way.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005. Texas: Fireworks that fizzled And they might seek laws that would prevent such excesses as Houston real estate developer Bob Perry's contribution of $6.7 million in campaign contributions to state politicians in the past two election cycles. (It is no accident that real estate developers would be among the biggest winners with this tax scheme.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005. Texas: Are you and your neighbor sharing a water bill? If you're in the market for a townhome, there's something you should know before you buy. Your utilities could be shared with your neighbors.

Friday, July 01, 2005. Kansas City Star: Mortgage lender files real estate fraud lawsuit A group of appraisers, speculators, front men and “mortgage hustlers” perpetrated a “massive scheme of fraudulent real estate transactions,” a major lender charged in a racketeering lawsuit Tuesday.

Friday, July 01, 2005. MI: My Judge Took Away My Home My judge took away my property and gave it to a builder. Then I found out that both my judge and attorney paid off mortgages and purchased new real estate within days after I was bullied out of a contract.

Friday, July 01, 2005. CA: Construction defects lawsuit filed The complaint, filed Friday, alleges multiple defects but only specifically states that the homes are built on contaminated soil, and that Folsom-based developer Woodside Homes of California knew of the alleged problems but sold the homes anyway.

Friday, July 01, 2005. Oklahoma: Okla. Commissioner Suspends Home Warranty Company's License The Oklahoma Insurance Department reported that Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland has suspended the license of Covenant Home Warranty Corporation.

The action will stop the Tulsa company from soliciting, acquiring or issuing new service warranties or accepting premiums until further examination of their records. Holland is also ordering the company to pay all claims received before the suspension order.

Friday, July 01, 2005. National: Sandra Day O'Connor leaving Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and a key swing vote on issues such as abortion and the death penalty, said Friday she is retiring.

Friday, July 01, 2005. National: High Court's ruling on property leaves wake of confusion The image of a specter now looming above every American's home is the description used by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for this new ruling.

Friday, July 01, 2005. Texas: Not quite lemonade, but at least some conciliation In its May 30 issue, People magazine cites protests against Tremont Homes and Structure Construction in a story concerning contractor problems, and Mother Jones magazine promises more in-depth coverage in an article titled “Home Sour Home” that hits newsstands July 5. The Better Business Bureau also alerted its members to the firms’ tactics in its July newsletter and pulled the firms’ membership in that organization.

Friday, July 01, 2005. National interest: Undetected Leak Could Cost Couple $50K An Oceanside couple who bought their "dream house" on a hilltop near College Boulevard and Highway 76 in 1991 has found that life there is anything but dreamy after a leaky pipe caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage that their homeowners insurance company says is not covered by their policy.