Quarter 4 (Oct - Dec) 2006 Archive

Monday, December 25, 2006. PA; National interest: Monroe foreclosures jump; first rise in 3 years Some have pointed to predatory lending practices and deceptive sales practices, including the use of inflated appraisals to sell homes for more than they are worth, as part of a pattern of home sale abuse. The state Attorney General's Office filed several civil suits seeking restitution and damages, and launched a criminal case that resulted in guilty pleas by the owners of a building company with an in-house brokerage firm. (Similar situation to the Denver Post article posted a day ago, on builders and foreclosure. Private civil suits against builders, lenders and appraisers are still pending in federal district court.

Monday, December 25, 2006. TX: TRCC now to offer data on builders www.texasrcc.com to offer info on registration, inspection, and action taken against the builder

Monday, December 25, 2006. AZ: Turner-Dunn Bankruptcy update: Calif. firm may buy half-done houses Scottsdale-based Charlevoix Homes LLC backed out the day before Thursday's scheduled courtroom auction of Turner-Dunn properties in Maricopa and Casa Grande, where unfinished homes and lots have sat withering in the sun and storms since early spring after about 150 buyers paid at least $650,000 in earnest money.

Charlevoix did not finish due-diligence reports or document its financial ability to pull off the deal.

But Ontario, Calif.-based Frontier Homes has offered to buy the properties for the same amount, said Dan Collins, an attorney in the bankruptcy trustee's office.

Sunday, December 24, 2006. MN; Nat'l interest: State can't keep up with mortgage fraud Homebuyers' complaints often languish with Commerce Department

Sunday, December 24, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Builders often key players in high-risk game foreclosing on the american dream | part of an occasional series: A computer-assisted geographic analysis of Weld and metro-area foreclosures by The Denver Post found many concentrated in new neighborhoods developed by local builders. Others clustered in new neighborhoods where national builders doubled as lenders. In one, more than 90 percent of foreclosures on the original buyers involved loans from the builder.

Sunday, December 24, 2006. US: Disclose campaign giving promptly The secrecy that shrouded Houston homebuilder Bob Perry's gift until last week was made possible by a defect in state campaign laws. The flaw needs correction by the 2007 Legislature.

Sunday, December 24, 2006. PA: Hearing set for Highland Village master plan Bushkill--Lehman Township will hold a public meeting Jan. 4 at 6:30 p.m. for comment on the 5,000-plus unit mixed-use development on the site of the former Tamiment Resort and Conference Center.

Sunday, December 24, 2006. US: Building paychecks: Ex-CEO of KB Home tops industry rivals Karatz, 61, retired under pressure last month after an internal investigation found that he picked stock option grant dates that inflated the value to himself and other executives.

Saturday, December 23, 2006. FL: Palm Coast homebuilder convicted (Jose Gutierrez, owner of Novas Homes) scammed a title company out of more than $4 million will face up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Saturday, December 23, 2006. OK: How to tell a housing tattletale from a fine, upstanding citizen Call the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission: 521-3387 in the Oklahoma City area; toll-free elsewhere, (866) 521-3389.

Suspicious of a mortgage broker? Call the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit, which licenses them: 521-3653. In-state consumer hotline: (800) 448-4904.

Smell a rat dressed like an appraiser? Call the Oklahoma Insurance Department, which includes the state Real Estate Appraiser Board: (800) 522-0071 anywhere in the state.

Friday, December 22, 2006. WA: Development rules overdue, direly needed Fire officials say the neighborhoods aren't safe for residents or firefighters.

Friday, December 22, 2006. MA; Nat'l interest: The Difference Between Mechanic's Liens and Real Estate Attachments A mechanic's lien is an automatic right that a contractor has that is afforded by statute. As long as a contractor who has worked at a property complies with the procedure, the lien can be filed on the property for the amount owed.

A real estate attachment is not automatic.

Friday, December 22, 2006. TX: Pair sought for defrauding Northeast woman Joseph Arroyos, and Claudia Gisela Ramirez, doing business as Dreams Come True Construction: court records show Arroyos has five other pending charges of deceptive business practices connected to the business name CJ Construction and "C and J Construction."

Friday, December 22, 2006. NJ: Developer admits Ocean Twp. graft Moshe "Michael" Gohar acknowledged in federal district court in Trenton that he gave Weldon $50,000 in cash after Weldon helped influence the 2001 vote on the zon ing change.

Friday, December 22, 2006. MA: Board pulls builder's permits Orchard Hill resident Carolyn Salvatore reported on hazards in the complex and difficulties in communicating with Venincasa. Salvatore said she fell when walking on sidewalks in her neighborhood, bruising her chin and hands. When her husband left a message for Venincasa on his answering machine, Venincasa came to their house and berated them, she said. ... “As long as you have public hearings, you’re going to have complaints,” Venincasa said.

Friday, December 22, 2006. NM: Lawsuit: Developer ruined our neighborhood In a lawsuit, the Brookses and a neighbor say the developer (RayLee Homes) promised to sell no more than 10 percent of their neighborhood's homes to investors.

The company broke its promise by selling upward of 50 percent of the homes to investors, primarily from out of state, the lawsuit states.

So far, the Brookses say, that broken promise has translated into empty houses, lots of rentals, sinking property values and a generally transient and crime-ridden community in their neighborhood near the intersection of 98th Street and Ladera Drive Northwest.

Friday, December 22, 2006. NJ: Kara seeks $40M to complete deals Kara Homes Inc. is seeking a $40 million loan from Bear Stearns to help it build or finish building at least some of the 300 homes that were not constructed or left unfinished when the home builder filed for bankruptcy more than two months ago.

Friday, December 22, 2006. US: Home builder profit Realty Q & A column on MarketWatch: I really have to disagree with you on your 5% figure [on home-builder profit]. As an architect here in Illinois, I don't know of any builder that I deal with that is making that small of a profit

Friday, December 22, 2006. US: Give me back my rights You are stripped of your rights every time you sign any type of contract that contains a Binding Mandatory Arbitration (BMA) clause.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. La Crescent, MN: City being sued for Stoney Point denial (More on article below, from Houston County News, about Developer Ted Thompson suing town for denial of his plan. This website contains older articles on previous denials to the developer. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006. MN: Stoney Point developer files lawsuit against city of La Crescent LA CRESCENT, Minn. — After having its plans for the controversial Stoney Point Housing Development denied by the La Crescent City Council three times, La Crescent T-1 LLC has filed suit against the five members of the city council. (Earlier articles were posted on the HADD news page about this matter, from the Houston County News, LaCrescent's paper. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: PDF: (The report referenced in the article below concerning the title insurance industry.) "Problems and Concerns Regarding the Marketing and Sales of Title Insurance and LandAmerica Financial Group Inc.'s Conduct Regarding Federal and State Examinations of Title Insurance"

Thursday, December 21, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: LandAmerica accused of campaign to discredit Colorado regulator A report by members of a congressional committee that held hearings on the title insurance industry earlier this year accuses LandAmerica Financial Group of attempting to impede its investigation and discredit the Colorado official credited with sparking enforcement actions against the industry nationwide.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Talk about pocket change Don A. White, Jr., of Sacramento, arrested at Kansas City airport after $70,000 is found in his cargo pants. The cash may be linked to mortgage fraud.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. NC: Ex-mayoral candidate wanted on fraud count Durham police are looking for a building contractor and one-time mayoral candidate accused of bilking a local man out of $29,800.

The wanted man, Vincent Cortez Brown, 46, of 3102 Hornbuckle Place in Durham, has eluded authorities since a magistrate issued a warrant for his arrest in late September. ... Brown is from Pennsylvania and is also known to have lived in Virginia.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. Firehouse.com; Nat'l interest: Noisy Opposition Won't Win there are groups that spend a lot of money to oppose local ordinances requiring the installation of fire sprinklers in new construction of single-family homes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. FL: Sierra: Resident's letter off base Builder Sierra Properties sends "veiled threat" letter to 72 yr old woman who wrote to the paper to oppose a development.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. AZ: Firefighting's growth pains Builders oppose fee

Thursday, December 21, 2006. WI; Nat'l interest: State report releases details about fatal fire Phillips said that over the course of the last 20 years, new building materials in homes have created a different set of realities for firefighters.

"The lightweight construction … shortens the amount of time the building is able to support itself when under fire conditions," he said Wednesday.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Residential Auctions More Popular (ARCHIVED ARTICLE FROM 1990, historically interesting and relevant today. Hope this archive link works for our readers. Thank you to our NC HADD representative for the article. --Ed.) NY Times, Oct 7, 1990: "Residential real-estate auctions, traditionally perceived as the last resort of desperate developers, are fast becoming an acceptable, sometimes preferable sales strategy, real-estate experts say."

Thursday, December 21, 2006. VA: Development a hot topic in Bedford County Homebuilders commissioned a study to combat the negative image that these developments are bringing to their profession and help prove their worth....The study does not take into account the shortfalls the county has in certain areas of its infrastructure, like fire and rescue services funding and the number of road projects that have been put on hold because of declining funding, he said.

“Who will pay for all that infrastructure?” Modzelewski said. “The bottom line is whatever the cost is, what do the citizens of Bedford County want? There were three surveys done and none of the surveys have ever said, ‘We want more growth.’ Regardless of money, that should be the overriding issue.”

Thursday, December 21, 2006. Kansas City: Developer Phobia repairmen found "a crumbling mess" when they peeled back the siding on her 11-year-old house...The subdivision is named Willowbrook. It's in Overland Park. The builder is Thomas French.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Rewards not worth risks of today's market The risk-reward is out of whack in housing

Thursday, December 21, 2006. WA: Lawsuit over orcas dismissed Builders, farmers have no legal right to challenge whale protections, ruling says

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Carpet in new home always inexplicably dirty along baseboards? Q & A column addresses the cause and fix for this problem which has to do with the HVAC system and air being pulled in from outside.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. FL: Temporary deal spares assets of accused homebuilder A North Naples home builder accused of stealing more than $300,000 of his customers’ money reached an agreement Wednesday with five sets of home buyers suing him that temporarily spares him from having his assets frozen and his company seized.

But the lawsuits by the customers remain active, as the agreement doesn’t prove the money they paid Carlos Pio and his company, Deco Homes of Southwest Florida, for construction hasn’t been stolen or otherwise misspent.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. NC; Nat'l interest: PDF file: NC Public Interest Research Group Report: Who Pays for Faulty Construction? This report examines five case studies in shoddy construction and makes recommendations for homeowners and policy makers to protect home investments. (Report is from August of this year but is worth repeating for those who may have missed it. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006. MI: Mortgage fraud gets Dearborn man up to 11 years "Providing abjectly false documents to get a mortgage loan is a serious federal crime that can cost lenders millions and undermine the credibility of the market to the detriment of all," said U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. Jack Mc Cabe of McCabe Research & Consulting: CORRECTION to posting below! CORRECTED EXCERPT: I'm of the opinion that much of the artificial real estate boom was due to hype, spin and phony positive propaganda spread by self-serving quasi analysts of vested-interest trade associations and many members, as well as ridiculous overdevelopment, suicidal lending, pumped up appraisals and minimal investigative title closing practices.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US; Inman.com real estate news may require subscription to read online: Jack McCabe of McCabe Research & Consulting writes to the Editor of Inman I used to work for one of the oldest and largest financial services companies in the world. But you wouldn't have known it from looking at the sign on the outside of the building. You see, the firm kept its name out of public view when it came to this business: the sub prime mortgage lending racket.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Inside a Wall Street Mortgage Chop Shop I used to work for one of the oldest and largest financial services companies in the world. But you wouldn't have known it from looking at the sign on the outside of the building. You see, the firm kept its name out of public view when it came to this business: the sub prime mortgage lending racket.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. International: British builder Wimpey Scales Back in U.S. as Land Prices, Sales Fall George Wimpey Plc, Britain's second- biggest homebuilder by revenue, plans to scale back its U.S. division to counter a drop in demand and tumbling land values.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: Liars' Loans Could Make Many Moan Article predicts explosive rise in foreclosures that could wreak havoc on the economy

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: The Mortgage Bust Goes On The nonpartisan Center for Responsible Lending predicts 2.2 million households in this mortgage segment, known as subprime borrowers, either have lost their homes or hold mortgages doomed for foreclosure in the next few years. ... The growing chorus of concern over mortgage costs and foreclosures could ensnare more than just the lenders like Countrywide Financial (nyse: CFC - news - people ), Wells Fargo (nyse: WFC - news - people ) and H&R Block (nyse: HRB - news - people ) who peddle adjustable-rate mortgages with low teaser rates and interest-only features. On Wall Street, risky mortgages get bundled into large pools of mortgage-backed securities, which now account for 23% of all bond market debt outstanding, making it the largest single segment of the U.S bond market.

Thursday, December 21, 2006. US: The "Foreclosure Factories" Vise These loans already are defaulting at unprecedented rates. Lenders are in large part responsible because they sold risky and unsuitable mortgages to unsophisticated borrowers. In some cases, of course, careless borrowers shoulder some of the blame. But some say there's another force at work: aggressive servicing tactics. "Predatory servicing has attracted little attention, yet in many respects it is more vicious and the adverse consequences are more far-ranging," says Jack M. Guttentag, professor of finance emeritus at the the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. AR: Women guilty of mortgage fraud Debby L. Cossitt, Debra Jean Price and Shannon Marie Hill dba various mobile home co's: Arkansas Housing Specialists, Inc; American Made Homes; Better Built Homes

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. US: Is KB Home heading to bankruptcy court? With the ouster of chief executive, Bruce Karatz, following a stock-option scandal, KB Home has created two problems for itself. (Blog Commentary)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. WA: CS Inc Homeowners Homeowners post their experiences with Craig Shepard homes in WA state.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. US; Business Week: Housing: Curb Your Enthusiasm About A Recovery Housing booms are short and exciting. Housing busts, on the other hand, are long and painful. So don't put much faith in those oft-heard assertions that the worst is already over. Prices are likely to fall further in many markets in 2007. In some others, prices may rise, but at less than the rate of inflation. A BusinessWeek analysis of the past three decades shows that if history repeats itself, it's likely to take 15 years or more for many parts of the country to get back to their inflation-adjusted peaks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Related to the article below about the JPG Enterprises, Inc. v. Evans case: PDF file We find the legal analysis set forth in Grosseibl v. J. Chris Howard Builders, Inc., 739 So. 2d 1255 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999), to be applicable to this case. In Grosseibl, the Fifth District held that a home purchaser’s claims against the builder were not covered by an arbitration provision in the warranty agreement where the provision addressed only claims “arising out of or relating to” the warranty and where the warranty expressly excluded coverage for the issues addressed by the plaintiff’s complaint. In this case, the warranty would not cover all of the failures in construction alleged in the plaintiff’s complaint.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Homebuyer's Warranty May Not Require Arbitration of Home Construction Dispute In JPG Enterprises, Inc. v. Evans, a homebuyer sued a builder for breach of the building contract and violation of FDUTPA. JPG moved to compel arbitration based upon an arbitration clause in the separate warrany agreement ("arising from or relating to" the warranty).

The Court held that "the warranty would not cover all of the failures in construction alleged in the plaintiff's complaint." The court held that the building contract and warranty were "independent" and that the arbitration provision only applies to disputes arising from or relating to the warranty.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. NJ: Company accused by state of fraud AZ Renovations LLC and its owner, Paul A. Miller, were sued for violating the Contractors Registration Act, which requires home-improvement contractors to register with the state and obtain a license.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. US: Corporate America: Get Behind Your Product! Businesses need to be held accountable for the goods and services they sell instead of blaming their customers, or forcing them to surrender access to the courts. (Homeowner's editorial starts with a Centex Homes problem. Builders, cell phone contracts, car dealers, credit cards, etc, commonly have an arbitration clause now. --Ed.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. VA: Flooded basements escalate to 'David and Goliath' situation (Homeowners) pump between 1 and 18 inches of water out of their home each time it rains heavily. (Builders are Toll Brothers, and Beazer. --Ed.)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. FL: DiVosta layoffs put housing rebound in doubt DiVosta, owned by Michigan-based Pulte Homes Inc., is the fourth largest builder on the Treasure Coast.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. US: Toll Bros. chief takes pay cut Current fiscal year bonus for home builder CEO Robert Toll trimmed by almost 19 percent to $17.5 million.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006. MI: Men Accused Of Being Phony Contractors In Custody Michael Gaber and Garrett Bayllog....The men use four separate businesses that are listed in the Yellow Pages. The businesses include, best Value Heating and Cooling, Detroit's Best Heating and Cooling, Budget Plumbing Heating and Cooling, and B-Comfort Heating and Cooling.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. Kansas City Star: Man sentenced to 2 years in prison for mortgage scam Prosecutors said Thomas provided inflated property appraisals, which co-conspirators in a number of different schemes used to defraud lending institutions and home buyers.

The largest involved Brent Barber, 42, of Belton, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced in October to 12 years and seven months in prison and ordered to pay more than $11 million in restitution. Authorities accused him of orchestrating a scheme involving nearly 300 loans worth almost $20 million.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. Kansas City: Mortgage fraud brings appraiser two-year sentence Thomas was a real estate appraiser doing business as Thomas Appraisal Service in Kansas City and Lee's Summit, Schlozman said. Thomas performed appraisals for Ameriquest Mortgage in Gladstone and Countrywide Home Loans, which also did business as America's Wholesale Lender, as well as other mortgage companies, lenders and brokers.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. OR: Ex-bank investigator admits to fraud David Shelofsky, a former U.S. Bank fraud investigator and Bend-area real estate developer, pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding the bank of $1.3 million over three years.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. US: Huge charges hit Hovnanian The Red Bank, N.J.-based homebuilder posted a loss of $115.3 million, or $1.88 a share, reversing a year-earlier profit of $168.1 million, or $2.53 a share. The results included charges of $141 million from walking away from land deposits and $174 million related to impairments.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. US: Builder/Developer fraud Mortgage fraud news site has special category for these fraud cases.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. CO: Subpoena targets records on mortgage advertisers A year ago, Attorney General John Suthers said that as part of his crackdown on mortgage fraud, he would investigate companies that advertised super-low mortgage rates in the newspapers, saying the ads could be bait-and-switch ploys.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. US: Numerous articles pertaining to housing Bubble blog with links to articles, new ones posted today.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. FL and other states: Tampa Tribune Mortgage Fraud series This and other series and news articles on mortgage fraud news site.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. FL: Lee rejects builder's bid for extras "The board is having a great amount of concern with the issue of allowing developers to buy their way out of proposed affordable housing," Janes said.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. NJ: Kara asks OK to auction 4 developments Kara's bankruptcy left uncertain the fate of about 300 homes that the company had contracts to build but didn't finish....buyers who have contracts to buy homes in those developments could lose their down payments.

"When these types of scenarios occur, homeowners are in a precarious position because they are often a class of unsecured creditors in the bankruptcy," Bogart said.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. FL: R-G Crown's chief will lead parent company Locally, R-G Crown is embroiled in a controversy involving its handling of home loans for several subdivisions planned by a builder who has been arrested on fraud charges.

Barrington Homes of Orlando, a now-defunct home-building company, used R-G Crown Bank as one of its lenders. John Barrington, a convicted felon formerly known as John Jakows, was an R-G customer who brought prospective home buyers to the bank for loans. R-G Bank loaned millions for land and for homes that were never built.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. FL: Avalon leaves homes unbuilt Another Southwest Florida home builder has exited, leaving dozens of customers with unfinished homes... (Joseph) Pufta (owner of Avalon Homes) also is a principal in The Signature Group of Sarasota LLC, the corporate owner of Avalon Homes. Signature's registered agent is Sarasota attorney John A. Moran of Dunlap & Moran P.A.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. FL: Home builder to cut jobs DiVosta to lay off 218

Tuesday, December 19, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes Seeks Court OK To Sell 4 NJ Housing Developments Kara Homes Inc. is seeking bankruptcy court approval to sell four housing developments in New Jersey to Magyar Bank, subject to higher offers at auction.

Monday, December 18, 2006. US: Doubt cast on stock options of directors A study suggests that hundreds of board members may have gained from backdating. (While this legal site article doesn't mention names of the companies recently investigated, see earlier articles about KB Home's CEO Bruce Karatz in relation to this. --Ed.)

Monday, December 18, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Meetings schedule and agendas. This has been an opportunity for the public to be involved in potential reform of the builder licensing agency in OR. HADD has two volunteers who've worked closely with this task force. Next meeting is Dec. 20. If you are in OR or if you're involved in similar efforts in your state check this out!

Monday, December 18, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently updated information/submissions.

Monday, December 18, 2006. US: Fannie Mae Regulator Sues Raines, Former Executives Fannie Mae's regulator today sued ousted Chief Executive Officer Franklin Raines and two other former senior officers for more than $215 million because of their roles in overstating profits by $6.3 billion.

Monday, December 18, 2006. US: Build on This Real estate law news blog on foreclosures, arbitration, and more. New entries posted recently.

Monday, December 18, 2006. US: The foreclosure capital of the U.S. Worsening matters, in some cases, is a wave of adjustable-rate mortgages resetting

Monday, December 18, 2006. US: No more bubbles to bail out the housing bubble The fact that the economic strength of the past few years was powered by a housing mania -- an unstable, unsustainable engine of growth -- is what one needs to understand to realize that the ramifications of the housing bubble's unwinding will be brutal.

Monday, December 18, 2006. TX: Real estate agent offering free gun with house purchase (Just when you think you've heard it all!)

Monday, December 18, 2006. FL: Builder misspent $3.2 million House of Lies/Audit Findings: While the building project stalled, developer Raul Masvidal used the county's money

Monday, December 18, 2006. PA: Nazareth Contractor Is Accused Of Defrauding Customers Robert Paul Westwood, 37, formerly of 716 Seipe Ave. in the borough, was arrested Thursday and charged with theft by deception and deceptive or fraudulent business practices. According to state police at Bethlehem, Westwood did business as Quality Construction or R&C Contracting, and is accused of defrauding customers from 2001 to 2006 of more than $175,000 in goods or payment for work never performed.

Monday, December 18, 2006. International: South Africa: Bill Aims to Control House Builders A new bill aims to close loopholes and ambiguities in an act that governs the work of home builders.

Monday, December 18, 2006. AL: Buyers, be aware of potential problems The homeowners, city officials and a professional engineer later attributed the problems to low-quality grinder pumps and poor installations by the homebuilder, Adams Homes.

Monday, December 18, 2006. National: The hidden cost of your hardwood floor The demand for Chinese goods is driving destructive logging around the globe. Part two of a Tribune special report.

Monday, December 18, 2006. MI: Developers may face fight in Oceola Twp. The owners of Chemung Hills are planning to turn the 152-arce site into a 286-home development. (Against public opposition, and despite a depressed housing market in MI. --Ed.)

Monday, December 18, 2006. MI: Considering giving your house back to the bank? The Detroit News would like to hear from readers who have faced this tough decision. To tell your story, e-mail Ron French at rfrench@detnews.com

Monday, December 18, 2006. TX, Bexar County: Court record search site This is just one county in one state. Find your local court site to do research on builders before you buy. Keep in mind that arbitration clauses prevent suing a builder so only a fraction of complaints will be public record, but this is still helpful. Use the Business Name search and type in a buiding company's name.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. FL: Family, friends in on real estate plot (Todd) Kolbe, a mortgage broker by trade, drew family and friends into the effort.

He created a series of home building companies that collapsed, one after another, destroying the reputations of those closest to him, distorting the local real estate market and frustrating dozens of home buyers who had trusted Kolbe and his associates.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. PA: State details inspector's charges After its investigation, the state concluded that Lee was incompetent and exhibited gross negligence in the performance of his duties as a building code official....The Daackes hired a private engineering firm to check the house.

The Daackes contacted the builder, who said he was willing to repair some issues, such as clamping a seal plate to an I-beam, but refused to address larger concerns, Michael Daacke said.

A seal plate should be bolted, rather than clamped, to a I-beam, he said.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. NJ: Holiday blues: Kara Homes bankruptcy turns lives of prospective buyers upside down To make matters worse, their prospective house has no shingles on the roof and no windows. Now, it is damaged by the elements

Sunday, December 17, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: Lawmakers, developers should step up efforts to stop wood rot Area inspector Dan Bowers says that once it’s wet, chipboard sheathing can become spongy and “crumble like a wet Saltine cracker.”

Sunday, December 17, 2006. US: How KB Home CEO's pay went through the roof With other corporate chiefs on his board, Bruce Karatz made $232.6 million in 3 years

Sunday, December 17, 2006. US: Check out houses, contractors, etc, before you buy Choice Trust, CLUE report, etc

Sunday, December 17, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Builders and homeowners offering a bevy of incentives New-home builders around the state and in other parts of the country have also fallen on hard times.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. MI: Condo developers scale back Luxury housing developers are feeling the pinch of the real estate slump.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. US: HALT pushes for small claims reform IL and other states have raised the small claims court limit. Pg. 7 of this PDF shows other states' actions.

Sunday, December 17, 2006. SC: Officer of the law a victim of builder fraud Homeowner's website: bad experience with builder, the builder's lender, and with arbitration service "CAS."

Saturday, December 16, 2006. MI: Judge says SonRise houses can be sold The financial troubles of Grand Blanc Township-based SonRise Homes are now in the courts, and the lawsuit took a small step forward Thursday.

Saturday, December 16, 2006. NJ: Local man accused of fraud Robert Paul Westwood, doing business as an individual and under the business names Quality Construction or R& C Contracting, used various schemes to bilk his victims of money, goods and services between 2001 and 2006, police said.

Saturday, December 16, 2006. CA: Real estate fraud trial under way in N. County Testimony began this week in a trial in which operators of a North County real estate venture are accused of defrauding investors out of more than $1 million and promising homes that were never built.

Prosecutors told a jury that First Latino Group promised low-cost homes and services to more than 100 investors, many of whom are members of Hispanic churches in the North County. The group is no longer in business.

Saturday, December 16, 2006. OK: However complex, mortgage fraud boils down to bald-face lying Last year, real estate agents, home builders and title and escrow executives settled with federal investigators in an alleged kickback and referral fee scheme in Tulsa.
Last week, one Realtor pleaded guilty and at least one more is under federal indictment — other players in the housing business, too — in a mortgage fraud scheme in Edmond.

Similar shenanigans surface sometimes in our smaller towns.

The Sooner State, often noticeably late to embrace some trends in business and culture, is right on time with this one: Fraud, mortgage and otherwise, in housing.

Saturday, December 16, 2006. MI; National interest: Mortgage Trap Info on new construction loans, scams, etc

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Home Buyer, Beware Desperate sellers are paying brokers supersized commissions, which get incorporated into the price ultimately paid by buyers: Homebuilder Pulte Homes (PHM) has recently run ads offering a three-day, two-night vacation for two at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, Fla., including airfare and rental car, to any real estate office that sells three Pulte Homes by the end of 2006. This, of course, is instead of simply cutting the price of the home, which would benefit the consumer, instead of his agent.

Friday, December 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: Home inspectors' forum discussing Pulte website below "They have built a house that will be deemed untenable less than a year after a CO was issued."

Friday, December 15, 2006. KS; National interest: My Pulte Experience A Kansas homeowner's bad experience with Pulte. Pictures show defects.

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Mortgage Gangsters You Tube video

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: KB Home amends loan pact for more time to file late 10Q KB Home (KBH) said Friday it amended its revolving- and term-loan pacts to give it more time to file its late third-quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Moody's to Review KB Home for Downgrade Moody's Investors Service on Friday placed its ratings on homebuilder KB Home under review for possible downgrade

Friday, December 15, 2006. NJ: Homebuilder's bankruptcy affects many The company owes banks, subcontractors and home buyers about $227 million, according to its filing. And nearly 300 homebuyers have signed contracts and made deposits for homes that haven't been built.

Friday, December 15, 2006. TX; Yahoo News, probably will expire shortly: Real estate agent gives guns to homebuyers Julie Upton, a Houston-area real estate agent, spurned traditional buyer incentives like free gasoline cards or home improvement store gift certificates.

Instead, she placed an advertisement offering a pistol with the purchase of any home worth at least $150,000
(Just plain weird! --Ed.)

Friday, December 15, 2006. CA: State Fund to Receive Over $3 Million in Restitution Court Judge William H. McAdam ordered Paul Frederick Mayer and David Gordon Archer, owners of Mayer Roofing, to pay full restitution to State Fund plus $81,649 in investigation costs after pleading no contest to felony charges of conspiracy and workers' compensation insurance fraud.

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Homebuilders taking big charges to revalue land, other assets In accounting circles, it is known as the "big bath" when companies try to wash away as much bad news as possible with the hope that charges taken all at once will make their finances look better in the quarters to come.

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Mortgage Ledger News about the mortgage industry, including quite a few articles about fraud, lenders closing their doors, etc.

Friday, December 15, 2006. MO: Florissant man sentenced to four years in prison for home repair scam on charges brought by Nixon Jason M. Leavy, dba Midwest Roofing & Contracting, CRS, CRSI and Merit Construction

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Housing still far from hitting bottom The entire mortgage industry ignored the guidance. Totally. Our firm has not received a single e-mail from any wholesaler even considering compliance with the interest-only and negative-am requirements.

Friday, December 15, 2006. US: Look out for prepayment fines People with ARMs might want to refinance to 30-year fixed rates, he said, but a prepayment penalty will cost thousands of dollars. They'll be trapped.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. CO: For Colorado readers: Posted from the NAACD message board "I am working to run new construction defects legislation during the 2007 session of Colorado's General Assembly. Would love to hear from any Colorado members of this forum who are interested in helping! home@cohomealliance.com "

Thursday, December 14, 2006. LA; MS: Contractors from Mandeville, Mississippi booked with fraud Two contractors, one from Mandeville and another from Mississippi, have been arrested in separate cases of scamming Hurricane Katrina victims, according to Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr.
(Ronald M. Rooney & Michael Bruce Perry) Anyone who suspects he or she is the victim of contractor fraud is asked to call the (LA) attorney general’s office at (800)351-4889.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. CT: Homeowner moves house, explores legal options [T]he problems began in 2003 when he first noticed a hairline crack in the foundation wall. Over time, the crack expanded to be 3 inches wide

Thursday, December 14, 2006. OH: Lawmakers tweak consumer protections With heavy lobbying from business groups, Republicans turned a noncontroversial civil-court bill into a businessprotection measure, critics lamented.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. OK: Prominent Realtor pleads guilty in real estate fraud (Realtor Ann) Campbell, representing the seller of the house, conspired with a Realtor representing the buyer to falsify a document that said the seller would pay certain closing costs that then were "kicked back” to the buyer through a title company account belonging to Campbell.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. NY: St. George-based group helps residents snagged by 'predatory' lenders On behalf of the Riveras, Ms. Becker prepared a lawsuit against Ameriquest Mortgage Co., which shut down its Staten Island office in 2005 and is at the center of a multi-state fraud investigation into alleged predatory lending practices.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. FL: Mortgage fraud is rampant in Florida A culture of indifference, a low risk of being caught, lots of foreign investment and old-fashioned greed have created a thriving market for fraud in Florida, experts said.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. CO: Metrolist balks at letting state see home-sale data Colorado Division of Real Estate Director Erin Toll wants Metrolist data on Denver-area home sales as part of her effort to tackle appraisal fraud, but Metrolist doesn't plan to just hand it over.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Five reasons why the US property bubble hasn’t burst yet US property economist, Gary Shilling is convinced that the housing bubble is “gigantic” and will burst before long with massive implications in the US and the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Higher Hurdles Set in Corporate Crime Cases The Justice Department announced new rules yesterday that will make it harder for prosecutors to bring criminal charges against companies, bending to intense pressure from business groups that claim the government has overreached in its pursuit of financial malfeasance.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. Kansas City Star; National interest: Insurance companies Service or shenanigans?

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Settlements Including Fines Are Reached in Election Finance Cases of Three Groups Swift Boat Veterans group became the best known, with Bob Perry, a Texas developer and Republican heavyweight, its biggest backer. “Going forward to 2008, 527 groups are on clear notice: organizations whose sole purpose is to influence the presidential election will have to register with the F.E.C. and follow hard-dollar limits,” said Michael E. Toner, the agency’s chairman.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. FL: Project manager accused of thefts As a project manager for Turner Construction, Dollar, 45, cashed checks that clients wrote to Turner and then told his boss the clients never paid, said company owner Scott Turner....It turned out that Dollar had done the work under the name of his failed former company, American Construction Experts.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. NC: Unlicensed Builder Jailed For Bad Checks Unlicensed builder, Branden Toth, is now in more trouble with the law. He's in jail on two counts of worthless checks.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. CA; National interest: Real estate returns to the real world Some O.C. homeowners who assumed prices would rise forever are learning otherwise

Thursday, December 14, 2006. AZ: Homeowner sues builder over cavernous fissures (Also being sued are the realty companies and former owner for failure to disclose. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006. VA: Toll Brothers Files Lawsuit On CPAM Denial Toll Brothers, one of the county's most active homebuilders, has filed a lawsuit in Loudoun Circuit Court seeking to overturn the Loudoun Board of Supervisors' vote to reject the development policy changes it sought in the Transition Area. (Reader Comments can be posted at the end of the article. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: 6 strategies to survive the real estate bust Two of them are: Consider renting, and Step away from exotic mortgages

Thursday, December 14, 2006. MI: PDF: Case to watch in MI courts (See under "Dec 12th" approx. pg 2 in this document) Does the MCPA (MI Consumer Protection Act) apply to residential builders or their corporate officers?

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Flipping Frenzy Flipping Frenzy's commentary on the Christian Science Monitor article on Real Estate Fraud posted earlier

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Political groups to pay campaign fines The FEC concluded that the three 527 organizations violated campaign finance laws because they expressly stated their desire to influence the presidential election in their fundraising, their public statements or their advertisements. Such activity, the FEC said, could only be conducted by political committee registered with the FEC that abide by contribution limits and public disclosure requirements. (One of the groups that had to pay fines was TX homebuilder Bob Perry, who was behind the Swift Boat group as well as various 527's that funded smear campaigns this year. This article came up in a search for a term that is no longer in the published article, re: Perry --Ed.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Class action targets TOUSA The suit alleges the company violated the Securities Exchange Act (TOUSA=Technical Olympic USA, a homebuilder. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Mortgage and real estate fraud Attorney Rachel Dollar's Mortgage Fraud Blog has posted several news articles today.

Thursday, December 14, 2006. US: Building is Risky Business From: Fine Homebuilding magazine (Watch for clauses, such as those discussed in this article, that only protect builders. --Ed.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Next public meeting Dec 20, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. KS; National interest: Today's Top Story: CONSUMER WATCHDOG REPORT: Newer Houses at risk for rot, mold Water damage repairs drain homeowners: Modern materials, a less-skilled work force and lax code enforcement are blamed. (See PDF below showing diagram, from front pg. of paper. --Ed.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. KS; National interest: Newer houses at risk for wood rot, mold Diagram: Keeping your house dry, and more. Front page of Kansas City Star, re: above WATCHDOG REPORT

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. AR: Owner of manufactured housing company convicted in mortgage fraud Cossitt, owner/manager-operator, of several manufactured home sales companies in Searcy, Batesville, Jonesboro, and Harrison, Arkansas, admitted to fraudulently submitting falsified mortgage loan applications and supporting documents to lenders in order to increase sales.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. US: Real estate fraud rises in US A cooling market exposes scams that cost the industry at least $606 million last year. (Apparently that figure doesn't count what it cost consumers. --Ed.) Real estate fraud has now firmly emerged on the FBI's radar as the country's fastest-growing white collar crime - all, in essence, polite forms of bank robbery.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. TN: Hixson Family With $225,000 Investment Cut Off From Big Ridge Home Complaint Filed Against Contractor David Sanders

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. NJ: Lawsuits pile up on Robert's Home Designs Randolph builder teeters on verge of bankruptcy

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. US: US Markets We know that builders have to plan a project 3 to 5 years ahead of construction; so many projects cannot be stopped in spite of the glut. Thus, you can expect overbuilding for another six months to a year....Many builders will again go bankrupt and just because they are listed on the NYSE doesn’t mean anything.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. IL: Developer sues over cost of wells Village officials have sued Neumann Homes for refusing to pay for installation of a filtration system for two new deep wells that serve their developments on the east side of the village.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. KS: CONSUMER WATCHDOG REPORT: Newer houses at risk for wood rot, mold Modern materials, a less-skilled work force and lax code enforcement are blamed. Kansas City Star article by Paul Wenske: "These houses built since the early 1990s are having more problems than ever before,” said private inspector Bob Babich.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. US: Coinciding buybacks, selling raises eyebrows When it comes to stock buybacks, corporate leaders have mastered the game of doublespeak....NVR Inc. was among 16 companies cited in the study as being at particular risk given that share repurchases and insider sales were well ahead of industry averages.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. CA: Falling prices trap new homebuyers Neighbors in a new Garden Grove tract say a developer's plan to slash prices by about $140,000 has left them owing more for their homes than they're now worth.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006. OK: Edmond realtor pleads guilty to fraud Ann Campbell entered the plea today in connection with mortgage fraud in connection with the sale of a home in the upscale Oak Tree addition in Edmond.

Prosecutors say the scheme involved artificially inflating the sales price of homes and falsifying loan documents.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. OK: Task Force Considering Regulation of Contractors As the director of building services for the city of Edmond, you'd think Ed Steiner wouldn't have any trouble hiring a capable contractor for his home remodeling project.

"I came in and tried to turn the light on and the fan in the kitchen came on - I'm not joking," Steiner told members of the Oklahoma Contractors Licensing Task Force.
(Oklahomans should be aware that the program proposed may contain a requirement for arbitration, and may be a "Fox Guarding the Henhouse" agency, like so many have become. More oversight is needed and consumers should not assume licensing is a cure-all. --Ed.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. GA; of National interest: "My Consumer Rights" Info on arbitration, predatory lending, and more.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. KS: Retraining order sought in F. Jeffrey Miller case Federal prosecutors have asked for a restraining order after being “put on notice” that indicted homebuilder F. Jeffrey Miller has been “liquidating substantial property interests.” (See articles posted earlier this year on this page about the MILLER case, aka Miller Enterprises, Star Land Development, etc. --Ed.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. NJ: Judge ok's closings on 12 Kara Homes Kara's bankruptcy left uncertain the fate of about 300 homes that the company had contracts to build but didn't finish

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Rocky Mountain Mortgage Fraud Fever Many of the frauds perpetrated by the Jefferson County ring were powered by an FHA lending assistance arrangement under the HUD category Downpayment Assistance through Secondary Financing Providers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. NJ: Class action status sought in NJ Affordable Homes case Investigators labeled the business a Ponzi scheme and fraud, with evidence of inflated appraisals, insider transactions and millions of dollars flowing to Puff and his associates. Two NJ Affordable employees have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. US: U.S. Stocks Fall After Fed Decision Fifteen of 16 members in the S&P benchmark homebuilder index dropped after the Fed cited a ``substantial cooling of the housing market.''

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. AK: Assembly to vote on ethics code revision at meeting Rep. Tom Anderson was arrested and charged with seven counts related to bribery and money laundering.
... "Mr. Anderson went before the Assembly and testified on behalf of the (Anchorage) Home Builders Association in direct opposition to what we as a committee and as a neighborhood had wanted," Pedlow said.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. NJ: Developers’ arrests leave local projects up in the air Federal indictment is latest blow against corruption in Marlboro: Brothers Steven Meiterman, 44, of Marlboro, and Bernard Meiterman, 42, of Manalapan, and their business partner Edward Kay, 38, of Marlboro, were arrested at their homes on the morning of Dec. 6 by special agents of the FBI.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. FL: Judge orders Deco to produce account records 4 couples lose bid to freeze assets of home builder (Carlos Pio, Deco Homes) who is accused of using customers’ money for his own interests, including 2 Harley-Davidsons, trips and a pool, for himself

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. US: Housing market's reality check 'Short sales' called an emerging trend: Critics say lenders helped set the stage for short sales and a recent rise in foreclosures....“There are two potential downsides to a short sale,” he said. “One is it will probably be a mark on their credit. The other is, in some cases the portion of the loan that the bank forgives is treated as taxable income” by the government.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. US: The Jungle: Subprime Credit Crunch, the Cult of Greed, and “Liquidity” If Upton Sinclair were alive today, this would be the 2006 version of his 1906 book, “The Jungle”. The method of these toxic loan purveyors was to hide under the guise of “helping with the American get rich quick homeowner dream”, and to exploit these markets to the max, to the bitter end, and mostly for upfront fees, and then completely pull the plug. It is my strong sense that we have finally reached the plug pull stage, and that the bogus dream has become a cult of greed nightmare.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. CA; National interest: A loan that'll get ugly fast "I made choices, and they happened to be the wrong choices," (3 pg. article from the Los Angeles Times)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006. US: Fallout from the End of the Housing Bubble Questionable lending practices during the boom hurts low income and minority families, says Senator.

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: U.S. home lenders brace for bad news, legislation "One way or another, the industry is going to get a black eye," said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which promotes equal access to credit. "There will be questions about tricks, fraud and whether these loans should have been made in the first place."

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: Title Companies, Affinity Fraud, Human Decency, and the Pursuit of Everything Else at All Costs Real estate fraud requires a great deal of planning and coordination among numerous insiders; it takes a team.

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: Masked mortgages With the housing boom over, its dark side is coming to light, including fraud. Government data show more criminals – and more consumers – lied to sell or buy expensive homes.

Monday, December 11, 2006. GA: Bankruptcy hearing ends after outburst A U.S. Bankruptcy court creditors hearing for In-Line Construction Owner Teresa Lynn Lewis was concluded abruptly Thursday afternoon after Lewis' sudden outburst toward an Avery Park creditor.

Monday, December 11, 2006. NJ: Work is halted on project in Marlboro The issue that must be determined, Lawson said, is whether the relationship between Grande developers Bernard and Steven Meiterman, their business partner Edward Kay, and Frank Abate, the former executive director of the Western Mon-mouth Utilities Authority, tainted the process through which the Grande won sewer extension approval from the WMUA.

Monday, December 11, 2006. NC: Development on the mountain's edge [U]nder pressure from home builders, county commissioners last month softened their new slope standards.

Monday, December 11, 2006. AK: Former opponent discusses Anderson arraignment Alaskans are still reeling after the news of state Rep. Tom Anderson's arrest and new details that continue to emerge....He had introduced himself, though, as a lobbyist for the Homebuilders Association

Monday, December 11, 2006. MS: Builder files suit to lift Madison's stop order Butler said the city will stand behind the stop-work order until the Gussio's correct the problems.

"Mr. Gussio will not write his own rules and he will not violate our ordinance. And he will not cut corners and this city stand by and ignore it," Butler said. "We've worked too hard to build this community and we will not allow him and others like him to dismantle it."

Monday, December 11, 2006. TX: Lobbyists lean toward funds limits (Homebuilder) Bob Perry and James Leininger aren't the only poster children for campaign finance reform in Texas, but they and other mega-donors are inspiring more talk about the need for contribution limits.

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: House Appreciation Slows Further From the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight; Long PDF file.

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: Housing bubble cartoon "I didn't mean to end up with two houses..."

Monday, December 11, 2006. IL; NATIONAL INTEREST: Homeowner's loss (Predatory lending and buyer's mistakes lead to foreclosure) Their first mortgage was with a company offered by the builder of their townhome.

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: US housing market is different this time - it's worse What’s sometimes overlooked is the other end of the equation: the huge amount of risky loans that have been issued to fuel this bubble and the question of who will be left holding the baby when it all blows up...

Monday, December 11, 2006. US: Home buyer closing costs could drop with fed's help Every consumer taking a home mortgage today pays a tax in unnecessary charges for the various third-party services required to deliver the mortgage. These include services provided by title insurance companies, mortgage insurance companies, appraisers, credit reporting agencies, flood insurance companies, and escrow companies.

The taxes don't go to government, and in most cases the service providers don't keep them. Rather, they are paid to those who are positioned to direct which service provider will receive the business; these referral agents are mainly lenders, Realtors and builders. The payments include referral fees, which are sometimes legal and sometimes illegal.

Monday, December 11, 2006. MI: Troy luxury condo plan falls apart A developer has pulled the plug on the city's first high-rise residential development after failing to line up enough tenants for the luxury condominiums.

Friday, December 08, 2006. NJ: Beazer Homes may face New Jersey fines Beazer may be fined more than $1.3 million by the State of New Jersey, which accused the company of violating wetland permits

Friday, December 08, 2006. MS: Three On Your Side Investigates: WLBT 3 The City of Madison is dealing with mortgage fraud, foreclosures, and homes abandoned by builders in upscale neighborhoods. Now code inspectors are scrutinizing details on new home construction. One city inspector preferred not to go on camera. He pointed out inconsistencies on the approved blueprints from the current stage of construction on one Woods Crossing home....The inspector says some builders often change plans...cutting corners putting in less expensive doors and windows than original blueprints specified....WLBT News made repeated attempts to contact builders Greg and John Gussio for their side of the story. They did not return our calls.

Friday, December 08, 2006. PA: Twp. official steps down Residents of Overpond Court have been complaining to the supervisors for 15 months that Lee ignored construction defects in their new homes.

Friday, December 08, 2006. NJ; National interest: Court: It's OK to stop developers The ruling Thursday affirms Mount Laurel Township's right to seize land from a developer for open space preservation.

Friday, December 08, 2006. FL: Sebastian homebuilder's license suspended 2nd time Eligha Lewis Pryor Jr., owner of Pryor Homes

Friday, December 08, 2006. US: Consumer Organization Will Announce Online Database Complaint File Concerning Pulte Homes, DiVosta Homes, Del Webb Homes, Says Executive Director Andy Martin: FightPulte.com to go online Monday Dec 11, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006. US: The Dangers of Frankenstein Financing A tsunami of bad loans is sweeping across the country....My guess is you’re going to see weaker lenders and home builders fold. Heck, it’s already happening

Friday, December 08, 2006. FL; National interest: Sheriff's economic crimes unit is needed now more than ever Judges don't treat white-collar criminals tough enough.

Take the Beacon Homes case in Pasco. After Beacon Homes builder Clyde B. Hoeldtke Jr. was convicted in 1996 of misusing construction funds, he was sentenced to two years' house arrest at his $1-million mansion in Colorado.

As victims of Sky Development Corp. and Coral Bay Construction can attest, that kind of punishment is more of an invitation than a deterrent for shady builders to steal home ownership dreams and empty retiree bank accounts.

But solving white-collar crimes isn't merely about catching and punishing crooks; it's about having empathy for the victims, the elderly men and women whose life savings and assets disappear in paper and ink.

Friday, December 08, 2006. Washington Post: Locked In, No Exit in Sight Many Rueful Buyers Try to Escape Builders' Ironclad Contracts (Never sign what you don't understand. --Ed.)

Friday, December 08, 2006. MI; National interest: Lawmaker seeks to shut door on mortgage fraud Marleau is sponsoring House Bill 6434 which would make several types of mortgage fraud a felony...Marleau estimates about 80 percent of all fraud losses involve some collaboration by industry insiders, the reason behind his legislation.

Friday, December 08, 2006. US: The Big Bad House McMansion fad will fade with time

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: Hovnanian, other home builders see share prices decline after downgrade U.S. home-builder shares fell, led by Ryland Group Inc. and Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the industry on concern the stocks have risen too far based on their business prospects.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: Journal of Light Construction Current issue on building techniques and more

Thursday, December 07, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Ownit a victim of sub-prime shakeout The mortgage lender closes suddenly amid a cooling housing market and funding troubles.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. MA: The Mystery of the Mechanic's Lien The Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education book describes a mechanic's lien

Thursday, December 07, 2006. CA: Couple sue over real estate nightmare She said someone had signed the couple's names on the forms without their knowledge. They also discovered that their new home was the subject of a lawsuit over construction flaws.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. PA: Flaws found in E. Hempfield department Third-party evaluation finds problems with building inspections; legal action possible....field inspections indicated serious building-code violations at several residences in the Village Grande at Millers Run development.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. NJ: 3 builders charged with bribing 2 in Marlboro Early Wednesday morning, federal agents arrested Steven Meiterman, 44, of Marlboro, his brother Bernard, 42, an attorney who lives in Manalapan, and their business partner, Edward Kay, 38, of Marlboro. They are charged with bribing two public officials in exchange for swift approvals on multimillion-dollar housing developments and commercial projects — including the Grande.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. MD: Builders/developers could be criminally prosecuted for violations "The current sanctions are viewed as the cost of doing business," Leopold said. "We want sanctions that bite."

Thursday, December 07, 2006. MI: Dream Home Nightmare (New Home Nightmare from back in Oct '06, thanks to the anonymous reader who provided this link. --Ed.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006. CA; National interest: Local home builders battle the big boys National firms with deep pockets now lead in region

Thursday, December 07, 2006. NJ: UPDATE on Kara Homes Bankruptcy Insurance company sues Kara for $4 million.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: A Dirty Little Secret of the Home Mortgage Industry Walnut Creek, CA (FV Newswire) - Did you know that any time you have your credit ran by a financial institution, such as a bank, savings and loan, finance company or mortgage broker, the big three credit bureaus sell your name and address for $25 over and over to the entire mortgage industry?

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: Kool-Aid at Toll Brothers Ignoring the current cancellation rate, ignoring the spec homes, and assuming the optimistic projection of 7,300 home sales comes in, Toll is still sitting on a 10 year's supply of land with 74,000 lots. That makes his comment to Ivy about buying more land seem more than a bit disingenuous.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: An Economic Pillar on the Verge of Collapse delinquency rates are suddenly soaring on all those loosey-goosey subprime mortgages.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. MD; National interest: Housing prices outpacing income statewide [T]he true price of a home isn’t necessarily seen in its selling price. The quiet secret in real estate, he said, is the incentive market — offering thousands of dollars in add-ons for new construction or bonuses for existing houses such as closing-cost assistance or upgrades in appliances and floor covering.

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: "Shoe" comic "Affordable Housing"

Thursday, December 07, 2006. US: Flipping Frenzy News, blog, and information, about mortgage fraud.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. Canada: Low-energy homes: Evaluating the economic need to build better now In addition to comfort considerations and the environmental imperatives, there are persuasive economic reasons why better-built homes should be built now.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: FEMA squandering Katrina aid $1 Billion dollars of wasted money an understatement

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: The housing crash recession of 2007 it no longer appears credible to present the rosy pictures that they had been trying to sell. The trouble began early in the year, when the housing boom that was supposed to continue forever turned into a housing bust."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: The Great Real Estate Bust One of a growing number of amusing videos on the real estate bubble on You Tube.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recent updates.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. National interest: Makeover madness The adage "they don't build 'em like they used to" is so true. New houses, unless they are custom built, are constructed of far inferior materials than those found in older homes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: Fannie Mae restates earnings by $6.3 billion, below earlier estimate The scandal erupted in the fall of that year when federal regulators accused Washington-based Fannie Mae - with its long-standing prestige, vaunted political clout and reputation for financial excellence - of serious accounting problems and earnings manipulation to meet Wall Street targets.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: Mortgage Professor Information on getting a home loan.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: Stop Mortgage Fraud Information on preventing mortgage fraud

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud Blog News articles posted almost daily. This is the blog of Rachel Dollar, see article below. --Ed.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. US: Rachel Dollar to Chair Lanahan & Reilley Mortgage Banking Group Ms. Dollar is a Certified Mortgage Banker and a recognized expert in mortgage banking. Her rapid rise to prominence in the mortgage industry is a result of her tireless advocacy for heightened fraud awareness.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. TX; National interest: Builder gave $16 million to candidates in 2005-06 Houston home builder Bob Perry poured $16 million into state and federal races during the recent election cycle, apparently making him the biggest individual political contributor in the country for 2005-06, a money-tracking group reported Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. FL: Pruitt testifies in Kreegel defamation suit The homebuilder association's organization, Floridians for Integrity, hired Public Concepts to produce the negative advertising against Kreegel.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. AR: Suddenly, the NW Ark. real estate market isn't so hot. Some developers didn’t get the message early enough, however. Betty’s Homes, based in Bella Vista, became the most prominent casualty of the recent market slowdown when it filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 20.

The homebuilding company got deep into upper-end real estate, putting up houses priced near $300,000. Now it owes almost $1 million dollars to a wide range of material suppliers and around $9 million to banks.

Then, in late November, First Federal Bank of Arkansas foreclosed on another home builder, Calloway Investments, which defaulted on $4.93 million worth of construction and mortgage loans.

Nearly everyone involved in the industry believes the banks deserve some of the blame.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006. MO; Nat'l interest: Missouri insurance regulators say title insurance agents have two price lists — one for sophisticated buyers and a second for everyone else.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. AZ: Auction hearing for homes, lots unfinished by bankrupt builder Scottsdale-based Charlevoix (CHARLA-voy) Homes L-L-C has offered 29 (m) million dollars in a bankruptcy court settlement to buy the properties in Casa Grande and Maricopa.

The builder also proposes finishing homes by bankrupt home builder Turner-Dunn at the original contract price for buyers who still want them.

However, buyers will still be locked into higher prices from two years ago.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. US; Forbes: Worst may not be over for Toll Brothers Luxury home builder Toll Brothers reported today that its fourth-quarter profit nose-dived more than 40%, due in part to cancellations and some analysts say the worse is yet to come...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. CA; National interest: Opponents of plastic pipes win battle in a long war Home builders favor plastic pipes because it is cheaper by a few thousand dollars per house, and it's easier to install than copper. Opponents say the chemicals in plastic pipes pose health and environmental risks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. FL: Developer's deal draws federal scrutiny Britons say Osceola builder (Michael "Mick" Leggett, dba Royal Development LLC) guaranteed visas for investments.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. AZ: Auction aims to restart idled homes project UPDATE ON TURNER-DUNN HOMEBUILDER BANKRUPTCY, From articles posted earlier in 2006: Hundreds of homes and lots left unfinished in Pinal County by bankrupt home builder Turner-Dunn may be auctioned to clear tens of millions of dollars in debt and finally complete some homes two years after buyers signed sales contracts.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. KS; National: Home builder pleads not guilty in fraud case UPDATE TODAY ON MILLER CASE: See latest indictment below as reminder of what this case is about. --Ed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. KS; National interest due to various states Miller does business in: NEW INDICTMENT CHARGES KANSAS CITY HOME BUILDER WITH TRYING TO DERAIL FEDERAL INVESTIGATION Grand jury returns indictments against F. Jeffrey Miller and others
for conspiracy, bank fraud, unlawful monetary transactions, destroying records, criminal contempt and interfering with a witness

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. US: Do new homes really need a home inspection? Reliance on the builder's warranty is the most common reason why buyers of new homes forego home inspections. In many cases, this has proved to be a costly error. (HADD ALWAYS RECOMMENDS NEW HOMES BE INSPECTED, PREFERABLY PERIODICALLY DURING CONSTRUCTION BEFORE SERIOUS MISTAKES CAN BE COVERED UP! --Ed.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. MN; National interest: Foreclosure threat reaches the burbs To get the Weisels into a $278,000 house, their mortgage broker steered them to a zero-down-payment, interest-only adjustable-rate home loan — a type of loan heavily marketed during the housing boom as a way to make expensive homes affordable. The Weisels avoided the extra cost of private mortgage insurance by getting a so-called 80/20 loan — two different loans that equal 100 percent financing.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006. US: "DOMM" and "DOMMER?" Wikipedia explanation of DOMM and DOMP, real estate terms having to do with "days on market" that the real estate industry tweaks to make it appear homes are not taking as long to sell as they really are.

Monday, December 04, 2006. MT; Nat'l interest: Letter: Don't take Realtors' word for housing market House prices are up 50 percent in five years, while wages are up about 15 percent. Irrational prices can be sustained only temporarily through risky loans and speculation.

Monday, December 04, 2006. FL: Condo-Hotel Developers brace for lawsuits Selling condominiums as investments violate federal security laws, which bar developers from promising financial returns from a piece of property.

Monday, December 04, 2006. MA: AG Fights Back Against Shoddy Roof Contractors The attorney general's office claims there are now 31 homeowners who've been defrauded by Myers, and its office is seeking restitution for those who've lost money.

Monday, December 04, 2006. MO: Man agrees to stop selling raffle tickets for 'dream home' Judge Larry Kendrick of the St. Louis County Circuit Court signed a preliminary consent order that bars Ballard from advertising or selling any more tickets or conducting the raffle. He also must provide an accounting of how much money he collected and the names of those he who bought tickets.

Monday, December 04, 2006. US: The 3 worst money moves you can make Borrowing on your home's equity, and stretching to buy more house than you can afford are two of them.

Monday, December 04, 2006. US: More mortgage fraud news Articles posted today

Monday, December 04, 2006. AZ: 25,000 Spec Homes For Sale In Phoenix As many as 40 percent of the contracts on all the new homes in the Valley during 2005 and early this year have fallen through.

Monday, December 04, 2006. US: Bait-and-switch loan charges gain industry attention One of the many unsavory features of the home loan market is that borrowers, when they close on their loans, sometimes find their settlement costs substantially higher than the earlier estimates given to them in the Good Faith Estimate of Settlement (GFE). Lenders are required by law to provide the GFE to borrowers within three days of receipt of a loan application, but the GFE is sometimes used in bad faith.

Monday, December 04, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News stories posted today

Monday, December 04, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Living the Good Life Selling Fake Ones Police investigating Natalia and Victor Wolf and their company, Sky Development Group, for unfinished homes and other real estate fraud.

Monday, December 04, 2006. Nat'l interest: Builder caught on tape hiring illegal immigrants Local media refuses to air it.

Monday, December 04, 2006. AZ: Maricopa to auction off slivers of property to recover taxes Some homeowners are shocked to learn they don't own all their property...It turns out that an 8- to 10-foot strip along their side yard still is titled to the home's previous owner, the builder and developer of the neighborhood.
The couple will bid in the auction just to protect themselves from predatory buyers

Monday, December 04, 2006. NY; Nat'l interest: CONDO LAW DEEMED UNFAIR Prospective association homeowners: beware!

Builders and their realtors like to sell the idea of 339-y tax reductions as a marketing tool. By getting a property tax reduction, sometimes as high as 35 percent, they tell us that we can now afford a higher mortgage and therefore buy more house for the difference. The day of reckoning is coming!

That’s not as slick as their new game.

Monday, December 04, 2006. NJ: Bankruptcy judge lets Kara receive $2.6 million loan The money will be used to fund administrative costs such as wages, rent, insurance premiums and security for Kara's uncompleted home developments. None of the money will be used to pay for construction of homes.

Monday, December 04, 2006. TX: Renovating home agency a tough job What the Legislature does or doesn't do about the agency, however, may be largely driven by wealthy Houston home builder Bob Perry, a major force behind its creation in 2003.

Monday, December 04, 2006. TX: Cash may stand in way of changing 'builder protection agency' They may be butting their heads against a mountain of cash, but consumer advocates will urge the Legislature next year to strengthen a state agency that has been widely criticized as a paper tiger designed primarily to protect home builders from unhappy customers.

Monday, December 04, 2006. US: Don't hand your house to a thief Mortgage scams are like Baskin-Robbins offerings -- they come in 31 flavors. Here are three top choices of con artists and how to avoid them.

Monday, December 04, 2006. National interest: Antitrust Suit Against Realtors Moves Forward [A] federal court in Chicago on Nov. 27 allowed the Department of Justice's antitrust suit against the Realtors to proceed. The DOJ argues that the Realtors' rules illegally limit competition from brokers who use the Internet.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. AZ: County may sell a slice of your home at auction Part of your backyard, your driveway or even your home could be going on the foreclosure auction block this week, and you might not even know it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. US: CEOs' job security dips The numbers reflect stock options scandals, a ramped-up mergers and acquisitions environment and closer scrutiny of executives by their corporate boards, according to John Challenger, chief executive of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which did the report.

Among the high-profile casualties this year was Bruce Karatz, fired last month as chief executive of Los Angeles-based KB Home amid a probe of inflated stock option grants.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. FL: Did sellers' smiles mask misdeeds? Sky Development Group, is at the center of a huge real estate fraud investigation that started in Citrus County - and could span the globe.

Detectives say they think Natalia and Victor Wolf slipped out of the country in October, leaving behind more than 100 victims and taking more than $20-million from fraudulent transactions.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. TX: "One wheel barrow, cash" The Texas Ethics Commission has just pronounced this state the most ethically challenged in the land.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. US: Robe Probe Now you can rate a judge, too.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. SC: South Carolina Board of Building Codes Council Prior to the Code Enforcement Officer Registration Program, employees of city and county Building Inspection Departments were not recognized as professionals in the construction industry. The program establishes certification in various disciplines as the base criteria for a person to be registered and a minimum of 12 hours of annual continuing education to maintain registration. The program also holds code enforcement officers accountable to the Building Codes Council for their professional actions.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. WA: The party's over at Kirkland mortgage company Former Washington Huskies football player Scott Greenlaw led the mortgage company he founded to dizzying heights — 400 employees, a sprawling new headquarters and kegs of beer at staff meetings. Now he's selling his house to avoid bankruptcy as creditors line up with lawsuits.

Merit Financial was barely shut this spring before founder Scott Greenlaw and his top executives opened new mortgage businesses.

Sunday, December 03, 2006. FL; National interest: Florida’s Approach to White Collar Crime: Coordinated or Chaotic? Bribery, Administrative violations, Environmental violations, Labor violations, Fraud,
Unfair trade practices... (People in the housing industries have been prosecuted for these types of crimes but it's rare in the grand scheme of things for any kind of law enforcement to occur when it's merely consumers who get hurt. --Ed.)

Sunday, December 03, 2006. National Interest: Renovation Trap (A homeowner's informative and well put together website.) "We are Mark and Carol DeCoursey, and we live in Redmond, Washington. We are making our renovation disaster known throughout the country because we've discovered grave public policy issues are at stake, not just for the people of Washington, but for homeowners everywhere."

Saturday, December 02, 2006. NJ: Judge approves Kara Homes loan Kara Homes, whose meteoric rise came to a stunning halt when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 5, got a reprieve yesterday when a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Trenton approved a $2.6 million loan that will keep it afloat for another three months.

Saturday, December 02, 2006. MA: Zoning Board and Regency's developer reach agreement on engineer There were "some serious allegations," replied ZBA member Brad Reed. He cited code violations such as missing roof trusses and inadequate attachment between a brick facade and a house, causing the brick wall to topple. He asked for documentation from Toll Brothers that either all the allegations were false or that Toll Brothers had rectified the situation in a responsive manner.

Friday, December 01, 2006. OH: Man sentenced to 30 years in plot to kill judge, con people Dudas, 50, of Mentor, pleaded guilty in October to scamming about 30 people out of their homes or life savings. He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of racketeering, theft and intimidation for threatening to hire a hit man to kill Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia.

Friday, December 01, 2006. US: Condo Market Slows Down Angry condo buyers from Boca Raton, Fla., to San Diego are taking them to court, alleging everything from breach of contract to fraud.
... Several states, including California, Colorado and Nevada, have tightened construction-defect laws to help stem the tide. The laws, a result of intense lobbying by the building industry, make it tougher for homeowners to sue or require mediators to settle disputes out of court.

Real estate professionals attribute this latest wave of legal actions to the surge in preconstruction purchases during the recent market surge.

Another new wrinkle is the number of high-end buildings currently involved in court actions — a rarity in the past, industry analysts say.

Friday, December 01, 2006. NJ: Marlboro builders get court go-ahead A state Superior Court judge Thursday ordered Marlboro Mayor Robert Kleinberg to sign paperwork needed to start construction on a senior citizen housing project by developers Steve and Bernard Meiterman, despite continued arguments from Marlboro officials that the brothers will soon be indicted for corrupt practices.

Friday, December 01, 2006. TX: Oh, come on, people! This week, the Texas Ethics Commission confirmed what has been thought about the agency in recent years: It's a joke.

Commission members, led by Chairman Cullen R. Looney, can't even pretend that they are performing watchdog and regulatory duties after their recent opinion regarding the disclosure of gifts to state officials. (Article is relevant to homebuilder Bob Perry's donations to a candidate that were not accurately reported. --Ed.)

Friday, December 01, 2006. US: Mortgage Bonds Hurt by Delinquencies, Housing Slump The data reflect ``common methods of allowing first-time homebuyers to borrow more than they can afford,''

Friday, December 01, 2006. NC: Builder Sues Village Over Controls Pinehurst's village attorney, Mike Newman, said that Jackson is the primary force behind the lawsuit and that Jackson has often challenged the village on such issues. He sued Pinehurst previously when the village enacted fire code regulations. ... "He doesn't want any requirements pertaining to him at all."

Friday, December 01, 2006. AR: Building code initiative gaining support in Christian County Morrow said that building codes provide a level of protection that isn't always obvious to the home buyer but necessary for general safety. But he warned that codes are only as strong as their enforcement.

Friday, December 01, 2006. NJ: Franklin: Major builder leaves Hovnanian's departure reflects an ongoing trend among home builders scaling back on their production in response to a slowing housing market. In Green Township, Toll Brothers recently dropped plans for a 45-unit development because the economics no longer made sense.

Friday, December 01, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: NEW INDICTMENT CHARGES KANSAS CITY HOME BUILDER WITH TRYING TO DERAIL FEDERAL INVESTIGATION U.S. Dept of Justice, District of KS website; official indictment

Friday, December 01, 2006. KS: F. Jeffrey Miller faces new indictment Charges allege home builder tried to destroy incriminating real estate documents: The previous indictment focused on Miller’s home building and finance companies, calling them a “fraudulent real estate machine” that carried out bank fraud and money laundering.

Friday, December 01, 2006. TX: Austin contractor charged in Driftwood wildfire Wayne Erickson was cited for reckless damage

Friday, December 01, 2006. FL: Debts piling up in Husani's wake Michael Tringali is having trouble making payments on the massive real estate-related debt he accumulated with help from his former partner, Neil Mohamed Husani.

Friday, December 01, 2006. AR: (Another new bankruptcy case) Bank Forecloses on Home Builder The oversupply in upper-end housing has prompted another bank foreclosure against a local home builder. This is the second multimillion-dollar move against builders by area bankers in recent weeks to protect their interests amid a sluggish market for upscale homes. (Companies are: Calloway Investments and its owners Charles and Pamela Calloway; business partners James and Janna Patton, Charles Carpenter and Gatorback Investments)

Friday, December 01, 2006. MI: Stalled subdivisions leave Metro homeowners on barren blocks home alone Stalled subdivisions are becoming an increasing part of the landscape across Metro Detroit amid a slumping housing market...

Friday, December 01, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: MILLER Case on Mortgage Fraud Blog Attorney Rachel Dollar's mortgage fraud news blog.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Why reform is needed in the building industry Although Coral Bay is the extreme, many of the area builders have taken on more work than they can handle and have not lived up to their contracts. There is no reason for this, other than pure greed.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. FL: KB Home unloads lots The sale follows cutbacks in staffing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. For those who may have missed this when it was new: LARGE PDF FILE from HUD's Office of the Inspector General We audited KB Home Mortgage Company (KB) insured loan originations in the
Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area because the KB default and claim rate under
the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Phoenix office
jurisdiction was almost triple the average for that office....The deficiencies included
false employment data, overstated income, understated liabilities, unacceptable
credit histories, improper treatment of downpayment gifts and/or interest rate
buydowns resulting in overinsured mortgages, inaccurate or excessive qualifying
ratios without compensating factors, and borrower overcharges for unsupported or
unallowable fees. (Report is dated Sep. 26th, 2005)

Thursday, November 30, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: KC home builder arrested after federal indictment (On MSN MoneyCentral) Same story, different source

Thursday, November 30, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: MORE RE: F. JEFFREY MILLER CASE: Another builder indicted in alleged fraud scheme Charged along with Miller in the new indictment are Stephen W. Vanatta, 43, Lenexa, Kan., Hallie Irvin, 26, Lenexa, and James Sparks, 35, Lawson, Mo.
Miller, a building contractor in Kansas, Missouri and other states, sold homes under the name of Miller Enterprises, Star Land Development, Somerset Homes, Dutch Custom Homes and other companies.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: KC home builder arrested after federal indictment A Kansas City home builder already under indictment for fraud was arrested Thursday in connection with a new federal grand jury indictment for allegedly continuing to operate illegally while his trial is pending.

F. Jeffrey Miller, 45, of Stanley, was indicted in May on charges including conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. Miller, a building contractor in Kansas, Missouri and other states, was allowed to continue doing business after agreeing that an outside court-approved consultant could monitor his activities, U.S. Attorney for Kansas Eric Melgren said in a release Thursday. (One of the companies operated by these people was Star Land Development which is also in AZ. --Ed.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006. NJ: 4 towns go after builder's bonds East Brunswick-based Kara Homes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization Oct. 5, leaving many housing developments in Monmouth and Ocean counties unfinished.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. MI: Almont Township building inspector under fire "If they would have done the inspections the right way (and) made the builder fix the code violations, we wouldn't be going through this mess as well as other homeowners."

Homeowners like Kathy Bock, who is also facing thousands of dollars in repairs and a list of violations never spotted by Wilcox.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. NY: More Problems At Bayside Huang Houses The saga of Thomas Huang’s building debacle continues in Bayside with land collapses and illegal work... No fan of Huang’s, Iannece nevertheless blames the Department of Buildings for letting the developer get away with so many infractions.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. KS: F. Jeffrey Miller case Dept of Justice page on Miller case; keep an eye on the "press release" link here also, as new info becomes available.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Next meeting is Dec. 8. The task force is investigating problems with construction in OR. Two HADD representatives are participating and there has been public comment allowed and posted on the OR state website.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. TX: Choice Homes is leaving San Antonio The privately held Choice Homes also has built in the Austin area, but pulled out about 18 months ago.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. TX: Cash and carry Ethics Commission invites corruption by allowing Texas officials to accept money without disclosing the amount: Clean government advocate Tom "Smitty" Smith of Public Citizen of Texas told the Chronicle the ruling effectively legalizes bribery of Texas officials.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. TX: Secret Money Ethical In Texas Politics The eight-member Texas Ethics Commission voted on the issue after a powerful board member of the state’s retirement system received a hefty check from a shady Houston homebuilder and renowned political donor.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Metro home sales plunge Aggressive building and lending practices also have contributed to a wave of mortgage foreclosures, which has helped fuel the downturn, experts say.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. MO: Home builders endorse proposed county codes While almost all the code changes would be technical in nature, there are a few significant new regulations. One would require a water-resistant house wrap, such as a layer of tar paper, on new homes.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. AR: Lien times A surplus of pricey new homes in Northwest Arkansas has left homebuilders unable to pay their debts to banks and construction suppliers.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. AZ: Doomed Chateaux on Central condo project in Phoenix headed to foreclosure. What a shock! The developer of the posh brownstones going up on Phoenix's Central Avenue has run into some financing problems.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. US: Interest spikes in revolutionary nail The HurriQuake nail, developed by Sutt in his work as a fastener engineer at Bostitch, could dramatically reduce hurricane and earthquake damage to homes and other structures. Clemson estimated the carbon-steel alloy nail would raise the price of a new home about $15.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. US: PBS article on bubble blogs Anyone who is considering such a big financial decision should research all the facts. Unfortunately, the "facts" that have been made available to the public are the ones that have been released by National Association of Realtors and the like. Because of this, we see tainted information that puts a positive spin on any and all data that is released.

The blogs were a natural consequence of ease of information transfer (internet) and lack of truthful information. Luckily, the blogs are catching on and are helping people avoid potentially bankrupting decisions.
(A reader's comment; story has links to many real estate blogs to read and form your own opinion. --Ed.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud, Title Insurance fraud, etc Several new articles posted today.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. OK: Plea date set in fraud inquiry on Oak Tree sales A prominent Edmond Realtor (Ann Campbell w/ReMax) could lose her state-issued real estate license if she pleads guilty in an alleged scheme to commit mortgage fraud in the sale of homes in Edmond's upscale Oak Tree addition.

Thursday, November 30, 2006. US: As housing goes, so goes the US economy? While prices for existing homes are down, new home prices are up.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. AZ; National interest: Within These Walls ABC Ch. 15 in Phoenix has a series of stories of home construction that is a must-see. Videos and articles. --Ed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. US: Mortgage fraud, builder bail out scams Mortgage Fraud Blog has new entries posted again today

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. NJ: Creditor: Owner plundered Robert's Home Designs Says contractor splurged on yacht, island property: Tri-Con, in court, alleged that Robert's has been operating as "a house of cards" for well longer than the blank-check episode. Using a certification he obtained from former Robert's bookkeeper Linda Loffredo to bolster his arguments, Tri-Con attorney Clark E. Alpert told the judge that Robert Frazier has been dipping into corporate funds while fending off creditors with phony promises of repayment and ignoring customers until they make legal threats.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes bankruptcy means end of condo plan Kara Homes has listed the Mystic at Keyport project on their list of assets for bankruptcy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. US: Builders advertise, offer deals to outdo resales Craigo said she has even heard of incentives ranging from free furniture packages to offering agents Rolex watches.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. NJ: Council nixes reduction in builder's bond The Township Council has passed a resolution denying the reduction of a performance bond for a residential development.

According to the resolution which was passed on Nov. 13, the township received requests from Toll Brothers for a second reduction in previously posted performance bonds and cash guarantees.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. US: Oct new home sales slip, but prices rise WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sales of new U.S. homes dipped in October and inventories rose, but builders boosted prices by over $30,000 per unit after a sharp decline in home prices a month earlier, a government report showed Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. LA: Judge gives Katrina flood victims hope NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge has ruled that thousands of homeowners flooded after Hurricane Katrina can move forward with their attempts to seek compensation from insurers, a ruling that runs counter to a previous federal court decision.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006. MI: Tower Mold Update Mold expert Dr. Michael Harbut says toxic mold can cause serious health troubles – including confusion and cognitive problems alarming symptoms for anyone directing airplanes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. MA; Nat'l interest: Security for Your Lawsuit Construction attorney explains ways to collect a judgment against a builder. Article illustrates why many attorneys won't take these cases--too hard to collect! --Ed.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. GA: Builder pleads guilty to scheme that defrauded mortgage banks “This case highlights the problems created by mortgage fraud where the builder is involved in the fraud and out-of-state ‘investors’ sign loans without inspecting the properties,” said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias. “Even the partially built houses in this case may be subject to condemnation as the portions completed were not built to code, thereby leaving mortgage lenders with little security for their loans and ‘investors’ with nothing to resell.” (Builder is Jeffrey Alan Teague, a/k/a Jeffrey Allen Bryant, dba Quantum Builders, Premium Property Management. Article lists many properties involved in Dawsonville, GA. --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. US: Bosses bypass worker status website In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004. ... But most employers decline to use the system.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. US: See if anyone's reported your builder for hiring illegal workers Or, report your builder if they are hiring illegal workers

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. TX: DOCUMENT: Changes to the TRCC From the Texas Legislature site, HB 326, "The commission may not charge a homeowner a fee..."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. TX: Document: CHANGES TO TEXAS RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION COMMISSION ACT From Texas Legislature website, HB 295

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. MD: Firm chief guilty in fraud case Contractor (W. David Stoffregen, the former president of Poole and Kent) admits bribing state senator for business (former state Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. FL: He hired illegal workers, avoided taxes A Jacksonville house framer pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding the Internal Revenue Service of $510,000 as part of a conspiracy with other area subcontractors to hire illegal immigrants and avoid payroll taxes and workers'-compensation insurance. Christopher Kemp, owner of Kemp Structural Framing...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. CA: Fake Soil Expert Tricks Broadmoor Home Owner Aldine-Globe Soil Engineers of Concord in fact had many cases of fraud and eventually got its license revoked by the state. (One wonders how a "fake" expert GOT a license in the first place! --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. TX: San Antonio Lawmaker Targets Builders Who Hired Undocumented Workers State Representative David Leibowitz (D-San Antonio) filed a bill that would allow homeowners to sue their builder if they can prove that undocumented workers helped build their home.

Currently, unhappy homeowners cannot file lawsuits unless they first go through a dispute resolution process sponsored by the state.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. GA: Atlanta homebuilder faces up to 40 years in jail for wire fraud Jeffery Alan Teague (also known as Jeffrey Allen Bryant), 49, pleaded guilty late Nov. 27 in federal district court to two counts of wire fraud for a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders by arranging loans to buy incomplete homes in the names of California, New York, and Florida "investors." Teague provided the lenders with false Certificates of Occupancy, stating the houses securing the loans were "completed to code" and "suitable for occupancy."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Colorado Subdivision OKs Christmas Wreath The homeowners' association demanded Jensen remove the wreath from her house, saying it doesn't allow flags or signs that are considered divisive.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. US: Top 5 Real Estate Issues for Homeowners for 2007 Identified Inflated Appraisals, Real Estate Flipping, Undocumented Workers, Predatory Lending, Lack of Transparency. (We'd add shoddy construction and breach of warranty to the list! --HADD)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. NJ: Developers Face a Chillier Montgomery Montgomery County Executive-elect Isiah "Ike" Leggett (D) is vowing to address what some critics describe as a culture of coziness between developers and government officials that has often favored the building industry and marginalized ordinary residents.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. NJ: Kara asks OK to sell homes that are ready It owes creditors, including banks, suppliers, employees and customers, $227 million. Nearly 300 home buyers have signed contracts and made deposits for homes that haven't been built.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. US; From Salon.com: Housing: The good, the bad and the funny So, if I may summarize the NAHB's message: Don't believe what you read, don't believe what you hear. The only sensible, prudent thing to do is call up a desperate real estate agent and let them fast-talk you into buying a home.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. MA: Owners recover for sewage spill "It's every homeowner's nightmare," Garber said. "She wakes up in the middle of the night and sees a four-foot geyser of raw sewage spewing out of her toilet. All through the first floor, living room, kitchen, it was everywhere, two feet (deep) in the basement."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. US: Key test of state power for Supreme Court Also watching the case are attorneys general from the nation's 49 other states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, who are urging the justices to uphold Michigan's power to regulate companies doing business within its own borders.

"If [the OCC rule] is allowed to stand, it would render states powerless to protect their residents from abusive and discriminatory consumer practices by state- created entities that are operating subsidiaries of national banks," writes Caitlin Halligan, New York solicitor general, in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the states.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006. NJ: Troubled Randolph-based contractor was jailed for fraud in 1995 The owner of a home remodeling company whose financial problems have caused a work stoppage on dozens of homes throughout northern New Jersey served almost two years in prison for running a mortgage company that defrauded other businesses out of $18 million in the late 1980s. (Article is about Robert Frazier, dba Robert's Home Designs. --Ed.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: Options probe takes toll on corporate lawyers Recent departures include leading in-house lawyers - or general counsels - at a wide range of companies, (including) builder KB Home

Monday, November 27, 2006. TX: Ethics panel seeks clearer rules for lawmakers Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco, who leads the House Democratic caucus, noted that Bob Perry is a large campaign donor to Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, who appointed the members of the Ethics Commission.

"It's a travesty that their appointees put the interests of their biggest sugar daddy over the best interest of the public," he said.

Monday, November 27, 2006. TX: Watchdogs fuming over ethics ruling A Texas official who receives any sum of cash as a gift can satisfy state disclosure laws by reporting the money simply as "currency" without specifying the amount, the Texas Ethics Commission reiterated Monday.
The 5-3 decision outraged watchdog groups and some officials who accused the commission of failing to enforce state campaign finance laws. (One of the biggest donors was TX builder Bob Perry, mentioned in the article. --Ed.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: A Mortgage Broker's Synopsis These Option Arm, Neg Am Pick a Pay Loan programs were one of the things keeping the home building bubble and mortgage lending bubbles going for the last 3 years. Without these products, the market (at least in California) would have collapsed 3 years ago. Instead the bubble just got bigger and bigger and we will see even a greater collapse when it comes. Ninety percent of those who take an interest only loan can only afford the interest only part and not only that, there entire lifestyles are planned around that payment.

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: Buy out targets With leveraged buyouts, in which one company buys another using largely borrowed money, buyers make large acquisitions without committing a lot of capital. Barron's said nearly every home builder, including KB Home (KBH.N: Quote, Profile, Research), D.R. Horton Inc. (DHI.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Lennar Corp. (LEN.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Toll Brothers Inc. (TOL.N: Quote, Profile, Research), MDC Holdings Inc. (MDC.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV.N: Quote, Profile, Research), has been named as a buyout candidate.

Monday, November 27, 2006. NJ: Beware of The Fix A company called The Quaker Group built the Springdale Crossing development and has offered to make repairs. But that offer comes with a BIG catch.

Brad Krupnick explains: "In the release, it says you must keep this confidential. (This version of the story has an accompanying video. --Ed.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. ME: Maine Attorney General Home Construction Warning (It's) Buyer Beware!

Monday, November 27, 2006. FL; LA; NC; SC & KS; of nat'l interest: Construction Defects Legal Network Useful info and links for informational purposes only; not an endorsement.

Monday, November 27, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently submitted information. Two of HADD's volunteers have worked hard for consumer protection on this task force.

Monday, November 27, 2006. MI: Mich. takes Wachovia to High Court Michigan's financial watchdogs have pursued more than three dozen cases this year against unscrupulous mortgage lenders, barring unlicensed brokers and stopping deceptive marketing.

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: "House Poor" A book review.

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: What the mail sorters are seeing The people are not just losing a house, they are losing everything.

Monday, November 27, 2006. NJ: Home repairs -- with a condition (A Gag Order) A company called The Quaker Group built the Springdale Crossing development and offered to make repairs. But that offer comes with a big catch -- no repairs unless homeowners sign a confidentiality agreement and face major consequences if it's broken.

Monday, November 27, 2006. AZ: Albrite abandons dozens of jobs (Shoddy work, incomplete jobs, by kitchen and bath company that had valid license and good BBB rating when customers checked them out before hiring. --Ed.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: Real Estate Bubble has Head-on with Culture of Corruption For the last six years homebuilders, real estate agents & mortgage lenders have forced real estate appraisers into coming up with inflated appraisals. (Article is a press release and is posted for information only, not as an endorsement. --Ed.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. MO: Supreme Court overturns law on local fire inspections The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a law eliminating fire district safety inspections in Jefferson County is unconstitutional.
... Pat Sullivan, spokesman for the Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis, said his organization was displeased with the ruling.

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: Beware of new homes selling at bargain prices What is distressing about your story is the willingness of the builder and broker to take advantage of your inexperience and naiveté. They rid themselves of what to them is a minor business problem by leading you into financial disaster. Don't fall for it.

Monday, November 27, 2006. AZ: Developers covet 1940s bombing ranges practice bombs from long ago are creating a problem for housing today. Some of them, loaded with flash-and-burn black powder charges, may still be waiting to explode. (Recall that KB Home built on a bombing range in TX that was not properly cleaned.)

Monday, November 27, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Mortgage troubles are rising "A lot of people with rising mortgage payments due to adjustable loans can't refinance now because their credit and debt situation has changed," said Margie O'Campo de Castillo of Arizona Dream Realty in Phoenix. "They are faced with finding a way to sell their home fast or lose it." ... Some Valley homeowners piled on debt by taking out second mortgages to buy investment houses. Some of those investment properties are now in foreclosure.

Monday, November 27, 2006. US: Everyone out there with real jobs can now puke: Corrupt and disgraced KB Homes crook to get $175,000,000 windfall $175 Million by the way would buy 875 homes at $200k

Saturday, November 25, 2006. US: PDF explaining what a Drainage Plane is Was your house done right? From Building Science.

Saturday, November 25, 2006. US: Sky's the limit in backdating probe Bruce Karatz, the chief executive officer of home builder KB Home, is the latest of dozens of executives to lose their jobs in the aftermath of the scandal....Critics of Sarbanes-Oxley, the controversial post-Enron accounting law, have complained that all this new disclosure imposes too high a cost on honest businesses, pushing public companies into the shadows of private equity takeovers. They can't be more wrong. Sarbanes-Oxley may well be the reason that companies have been so quick to investigate their backdating problems, and deal with perpetrators. The law requires directors and officers to personally validate financial reports.

Saturday, November 25, 2006. MI: Judge's dissenting opinion on the case in article below, "Curse of the Black Mold" COOPER, P.J. (dissenting): "I disagree with the majority’s determination that Farm Bureau did not create the peril that
the Kochs alleged caused them harm. The peril to the Kochs came from the extensive mold and
water damage caused to their home by the actions of Mr. Marsh and Mr. Caputo. These agents
severely mismanaged the Kochs’ claim so that repairs were not made in a timely manner. As a
result of the agents’ mismanagement, the Kochs’ roof was not repaired for four months. The
repairs, when finally made, were not completed in a competent manner. The inadequate and
untimely repairs have caused water to continue to damage the Kochs’ home and mold to
continue to form."

Saturday, November 25, 2006. NJ: UPDATE on Bankrupt Kara Homes: Utility threatens Kara with power loss THE REASON: $21,190 security deposit not paid....some accounts, for which the security deposit was demanded, are now the responsibility of homeowners

Saturday, November 25, 2006. MI: The Curse of Black Mold The mold was gone, but the legal battle had left the family bankrupt.

Saturday, November 25, 2006. MS: Judge drops charges in mortgage fraud case According to John Colette and Stanford Knott, attorneys for Castle and Lucas, Starrett dropped the bank fraud charges because Countrywide Financial and Alliance Funding Co., the two mortgage companies harmed by the scheme, were not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Saturday, November 25, 2006. US: Families Fight for Their Homes Spurred by more relaxed lending rules and creative financing such as interest-only and zero-down mortgages, overextended homeowners often are able to buy more house than they can afford later.

Saturday, November 25, 2006. NJ: Company took money for shoddy work left unfinished A day after it was disclosed that Robert's Home Design had closed because of confusion over a blank check, people across the county complained bitterly that the company had done shoddy and incomplete work on their homes.

Friday, November 24, 2006. CA: Developers leave empty-handed in San Jacinto “This city had several developments come in undone. It has cost the city money to make up for it,” she said. “Development is a risky business. We're not the risk-takers. Our job is to be the community protectors.”

Friday, November 24, 2006. MA: CBS4 Uncovers Shoddy Roofing Workmanship A CBS4 investigation uncovers important information every homeowner should know. It’s about roofing contractors who are victimizing their customers with shoddy workmanship and a state agency that’s failing to do its job

Friday, November 24, 2006. NY: Development Is Too Close For Comfort The construction at issue is a pair of two-family homes being constructed on a sliver of a lot by Lubin Housing LLC.

Friday, November 24, 2006. TX: Developer Violations Force Families From Homes "But this mess is not news to state inspectors. They've seen this trash, fined developer Darrell Hall and ordered him to clean it up. But that was four years ago," KPRC Local 2 investigative reporter Amy Davis said.

"They get a judgment against him and they just continue letting him operate as normal.

Friday, November 24, 2006. FL: Lee families bitter over builder Builder Richard Leli of Fort Myers-based RL Homes says he's broke and won't have the money to finish some 120 projects in various stages of completion or never started.

Friday, November 24, 2006. AZ: Family’s dream home becomes a nightmare Instead of living inside their dream home, the Kanes live behind it in an RV.

Friday, November 24, 2006. MI: State adds inspectors to boost wetlands protection Part of the problem is that financial penalties for violating wetland ordinances aren't enough to scare big-time developers, some say.

Friday, November 24, 2006. OH: Builders battle septic system rules Powerful lobbying groups like the Ohio Home Builders Association, as well as the Ohio Association of Realtors and the Ohio Manufactured Homes Association, remain strongly opposed to the rules.

Supporters include the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and most local health departments.

Friday, November 24, 2006. US: Homebuilding Double-Talk a tale of two sectors

Friday, November 24, 2006. US: Doublespeak found in stock buybacks When it comes to stock buybacks, corporate leaders have mastered the game of doublespeak. At the same time they are touting the advantages of repurchasing shares on their investors' dimes, some are cashing out of their own stock holdings....NVR Inc. was among 16 companies cited in the study as being at particular risk, given that share repurchases and insider sales were well ahead of industry averages. From 2003 to 2005, the Reston, Va., home builder bought back more than 3 million shares for more than $1.7 billion, according to securities filings.

Friday, November 24, 2006. US: PDF: A House of Cards homeowners are depleting their homes’ equity to pay off a
growing mountain of unsecured debt —a financial strategy fraught with serious

Friday, November 24, 2006. US: Indoor Air Quality articles Recent news articles on mold

Thursday, November 23, 2006. US: Affordable homes: Habitat for hustlers Freewheeling brokers and lenders are preying on the owners of Habitat for Humanity houses, bombarding them with offers to refinance out of their original interest-free loans.

Thursday, November 23, 2006. PA: Linfield homeowners sue builder, contractor Named as defendants in the lawsuit are the developer, Berks Homes of Mohnton, Berks County, and the contractor, VJ Concrete of Morgantown.

Thursday, November 23, 2006. IL: Timberhill builder, village officials spar "What we're doing is making sure the next home you build isn't going to flood," said David McArdle, village attorney.

Thursday, November 23, 2006. FL: (Having a house built by this guy? It might be a little delayed...) Tony (Dempsey)is 43, a home builder with a history of burglary and theft.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Denver area nears foreclosure record Experts blame no downpayment loans, "creative" financing, overbuilding, over-appraised homes and outright fraud as contributors to the growing foreclosure problem.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. SC: Area businesses oppose immigration ordinance proposal Seven local organizations representing homebuilders, restaurants, hotels and other businesses issued a statement today opposing an ordinance being considered by the Beaufort County Council that would require businesses to make certain that employees are legal residents of the United States.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. TN: Rutherford County seeing overbuilding, says market expert A market expert pleaded with Rutherford County homebuilders Tuesday night to stop building speculative homes until next spring.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. US: Arbitrating Away Our Lives & The American Dream One word is never mentioned as a cause of the rising foreclosure rates: arbitration.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. MA: Prison ordered in land-flipping (13 defendants so far) The buyers invariably were left with negative equity and enormous repairs, leading to scores of loan defaults....Only one more defendant, real estate broker and home builder Michael Bergdoll, has yet to be sentenced. That hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud in the News Attorney Rachel Dollar's "Mortgage Fraud Blog" has new articles from news and cases posted today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006. US: PDF on Predatory Lending White collar crime and mortgage fraud

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. US: Public Citizen Files Motion to Protect Identity of Anonymous Web Site Operator MassachusettsReal Estate Developer Should Not Be Allowed to Unmask Online Critic in ArizonaCourt: An Arizona court should not allow a target of online criticism to use a lawsuit to obtain the identity of his Internet critic when an almost identical lawsuit has already been dismissed by another court (website in controversy is www.paulmcmann.com --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. NJ: After 10 years, builder, homeowner settle suit After more than a decade of legal wrangling, Howell homeowner/activist Tracey Kelly has reached a monetary settlement in her lawsuit with builder K Hovnanian....it was Tracey Kelly's unrelenting battle to hold accountable all who were responsible for the problems inherent in the construction of the homes that resulted in four Howell construction and code officials having their licenses revoked by the state as a result of their work product related to the construction of Country Meadows One.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. MI: Bad Home Build Homeowner's site about Lakeland Homes, Jerome Galba, Republic Bank, and Title Co. Philip R. Seaver

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. MI: Frustrated homeowner creates Web site for aid Desperate and frustrated, Michael Froats created a Web site called "badhomebuild.com." He says he needs help and he hopes at the least his site may help someone else.

In August of 2005, everything was going according to plan for Froats, who hired Lakeland Homes (Jerome Galba) in Shelby Township to build his first home in Grand Blanc Township's Creek Side Village. "Everything was going fine until November and I received a certified letter of lien, a claim of lien on the house," he said.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. US: Stock buyback conflicts "Anyone who is a corporate stakeholder is very concerned that management is acting in their own self interest, and when this goes on, it seems to be a perfect example of that," said Jack Zwingli, CEO of the Los Angeles-based firm.

NVR Inc. was among 16 companies cited in the study as being at particular risk given that share repurchases and insider sales were well ahead of industry averages.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. US: Get a handle on CEO's exit pay Bruce Karatz, the chief executive of homebuilder KB Home, was bounced after profiting from stock options that were conveniently misdated (an "error" is how the company described it), unfairly benefiting him and others. Karatz agreed this month to retire and to return $13 million in excess profits made on the options. But he still stands to pocket $175 million in severance and other benefits.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. MN; US: Minnesota and HUD to crack down on affiliated title insurers Minnesota and federal housing officials have launched a crackdown on affiliated business arrangements in which real estate brokerages, lenders or builders own a share of companies that provide title insurance. (Inman.com articles are only free the first day of publication. --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006. US: More suspects arrested in mortgage fraud "This isn't just a raid on the U.S. Treasury," said Storey. "Real people have had their Social Security numbers stolen to make the false documents. When that happens, their credit and even their status with the I.R.S. can really be damaged. It can take years for innocent people to recover from this form of identity theft, which they often discover when they try to buy a house themselves."

Monday, November 20, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force meetings November 28, 2006, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., (Public comment is going to be allowed. Great opportunity for Oregon homeowenrs to speak up about shoddy construction. Can send email to the task force, etc, also. --Ed)

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Top 10 Mortgage Blunders (one is) Thinking that renting is always "just throwing money away." In the short run it can cost thousands less to rent.

Monday, November 20, 2006. Nat'l interest: EVP/CFO of CHL Home Loans flees from FBI - now wanted Anyone with information regarding Mr. Bateyah’s whereabouts should contact the FBI at 415-553-7400. Bateyah should be considered armed and dangerous. (Mortgage Fraud News Article shows picture of Ed Bateyah)

Monday, November 20, 2006. AZ: A “Grand Ponzi Scheme” Thousands of tract houses are being built within the 10-mile emergency zone of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station

Monday, November 20, 2006. MO; National interest: Firefighters Face New Hazard Firefighters falling through floors in happening in newly constructed homes across the country. The problem, they say, is the manufactured floor support, which thanks to technology, is much different than it used to be....In fact it's now found in more than half of all new home construction.

Monday, November 20, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Dream house sours Building officials across Florida say consumers can run into problems no matter how careful they are because several areas of the local and state construction system are broken. There is no statewide database with all contractor information. (This is rather typical, it's not only a FL problem. --Ed.)

Monday, November 20, 2006. MI: From bad to worse When they finally started building a home, designed to accommodate the special needs of their youngest son, a contractor pocketed nearly $73,000 of their money, touching off a series of events that led to foreclosure and an eviction action....Weeks into the project, Bonadurer discovered the contractor had drawn more than $70,000 on his credit line but hadn't paid his subcontractors or the company supplying lumber for the project.

He also discovered the builder, Jack Mauro, had a criminal case pending in Saginaw County and no longer held a builder's license.

Monday, November 20, 2006. FL: Hernando builder busted, bilked over 140 customers (Related to articles posted last week about surrender of Coral Bay's owner, Steven Bartlett.)

Monday, November 20, 2006. FL: Clerk Accused Of Contractor License Fraud The fraudulent licenses were sold to applicants who couldn't pass the contractor licensing test, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Monday, November 20, 2006. IL: State officials suing Bloomington contractor Gregory S. Jordan, who did business as Jordan Co.

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Former KB Home CEO could get $175 million in severance pay Bruce Karatz, who stepped down last week as chief executive of KB Home (KBH), could receive as much as $175 million in severance pay, pension benefits and stock options despite leaving the home builder amid a stock-option controversy, according to a report in Monday's editions of the Los Angeles Times.

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News from around the country posted almost daily

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Alternate credit scores could spur buying (More ways to trick gullible buyers into mortgages they can't afford? --Ed.)

Monday, November 20, 2006. NJ: More on the Kara Homes bankruptcy and other problems Smith said that a flooded basement in mid-September, which ruined her carpet, is attributable to an engineering problem, not to the heavy rains that fell. More recently, it took a cold spell for her to find out that gas for heating had not been turned on. In resolving that problem, Smith discovered that her clean-air filter was just an empty box.

Monday, November 20, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Complaints mount against Altus deceptive practices by some brokers are helping to push homeowners into foreclosure...It's buyer beware. Borrowers who fail to carefully read and understand their loan documents before signing have little legal recourse.

Monday, November 20, 2006. CA: Fury on the range Cone had served on the county grand jury, which faced numerous homeowner complaints about rapid construction so shoddy that walls bowed, mold grew and new stucco cracked....The Pinnacle even predicted that the sewer system, over capacity without upgrades, would fail -- which it did within two years.

Monday, November 20, 2006. NJ: Woes beset 3 Kara Homes developments in Marlboro The most serious construction code violations at Crine West were discovered by LaBruzza purely by chance. While performing a routine inspection of the building site, he noticed workers moving basement support columns that were not secured within concrete footings. A floor built on support columns driven into loose soil, rather than a standard concrete pad, has a high probability of eventually collapsing, LaBruzza said....LaBruzza said that, months later, he was not surprised when he learned Kara Homes had filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Monday, November 20, 2006. TN; Nat'l interest: Fire sprinklers gaining ground With rapid growth, several communities require them — and some buyers are happy to trade cost for safety

Monday, November 20, 2006. AR; National interest: Lien Times (Betty's Homes and other builder bankruptcies, liens, etc) Banks are paid first in bankruptcy proceedings. They get first dibs because they obtained collateral for their loans, Tulane Law School Dean Lawrence Ponoroff said. “It’s not that they’re banks,” Ponoroff said. “It’s that they’re secured creditors.” The construction supply companies are unsecured creditors, so they get paid after the banks. (And homeowners, often stuck with liens after closing, are last of all to get anything! --Ed.)

Monday, November 20, 2006. IL: Low-income housing charity at odds with contracting firm TSP-Hope fired Home Innovators in June after a housing project Home Innovators was supposed to build fell months behind schedule.

Monday, November 20, 2006. KS; Nat'l Interest: Building Code discussion about how well enforced (or not) codes are on new homes Discussion resulting from news report in KS about new homes that were never inspected and/or had code violations. This goes on all over the country. Interesting comments from a variety of readers, inspectors, etc.

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Avoiding Foreclosure A simple twist of fate can leave you facing a homeowner's worst nightmare: foreclosure. (Editor's note: Solutions such as short selling that allow you to escape foreclosure may still have tax consequences, so check that out before using those options.)

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Mortgage fraud suspect flees in BMW as FBI nears Edward Batayeh, 39, also known as Iyad Batayeh, quickly backed his BMW X3 out of his driveway on Chloe Drive and "fled down the street at a very high rate of speed" at about 8:30 a.m. as FBI agents were converging on the house, said Joe Schadler, FBI spokesman in San Francisco.

Batayeh should be considered armed and dangerous

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: Parody on "flipping" Amusing, satirical You Tube video

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: How to get yourself successfully into debt and other lessons from the new real estate experts Translation? Managing this investment means refinancing, reverse mortgages, extracting equity and buying more real estate -- all things that put homeowners more into debt but bring home the bacon for lenders like Countrywide.

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: 'RESPA police' keep builders aboveboard But with no public fanfare, the RESPA police have begun intervening in complaints brought by individual consumers who say builders are unfairly forcing them to use their affiliated mortgage companies. The affiliates' loan deals, say the complaints, typically are more costly than those available from independent mortgage brokers and lenders.

Monday, November 20, 2006. NJ: Their dream home a living nightmare Builder's bankruptcy leaves new residents in lurch: Briskin is now among 300 homeowners around the state who paid deposits for a house in a Kara Homes development that has not been built.

Monday, November 20, 2006. US: KB Home Executives Quit Over Stock Options Probe KB Home finds itself at the center of yet another scandal. Its CEO, Bruce Karatz, and several officers resigned or were fired over an investigation into whether the company falsified its accounting for stock options.

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: Stick a Fork in It, the Housing Boom is Done (And other interesting commentary)

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: Shoddy Construction And The Housing Bubble Readers suggested a topic surrounding construction problems arising from a housing bubble. “I think in the coming months and years we will see more stories like this. It was only a matter of time before builder cost-cutting began to cause problems for buyers.”

Friday, November 17, 2006. MN: City Council says no to Stoney Point….again (and apparently again and again! --Ed.) For the third time this year, the La Crescent City Council has gone along with the planning commission’s recommendation and given a thumbs down to the Stoney Point Addition....Developer Ted Thompson has revised his plans several times in an attempt to bring the proposed development into compliance with existing zoning ordinances, and to address the concerns of neighboring property owners. To this point, however, the modifications have not resolved the retention ponds and run-off issues.

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: Post details: L.A. Times Slams Arbitration as "Private Judging" The three points of the article are that (1) arbitration leads to cases resolved out of the public view, (2) judges are leaving $150k/year public service jobs for high paying arbitration salaries, and (3) large companies are using arbitration to diminish hard-won consumer rights.

Friday, November 17, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Tax debtors' pain, investors' gain The jump reflects several trends, including a sharp rise in mortgage foreclosures, and homebuilders unable to generate cash they need to cover taxes on their undeveloped lots.

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week KB Home's Bruce Karatz

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: Home builders slam on the brakes "Today's figures clearly reveal that a quick turnaround in this sector is not just around the corner," said Anthony Chan, chief economist for JPMorgan Chase Private Client Services.

Friday, November 17, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Warning Signs Here are several warning signs of possible mortgage fraud, (and where to report it, at least in MI)

Friday, November 17, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: FBI Agent says Mortgage Fraud Getting Worse All of today's house "flipping'' TV shows today belie the reality of what is actually occurring in the market, Brennan said.

Friday, November 17, 2006. KS; National interest: Discussion about "Inspecting the Inspectors" article posted Nov 16-'06 Inernational Code Council forum

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News blog: recent entries

Friday, November 17, 2006. US: It heats. It powers. Is it the future of home energy? Residential 'micro-combined-heat-and-power' units are efficient furnaces that create electricity.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. National interest: 'RESPA Police' Are There to Solve Problems With Builders In one case outlined by HUD officials in an interview, a builder canceled a sales contract and seized an $11,845 good-faith deposit when a buyer refused to use the builder's affiliated mortgage company.

Under RESPA, builders and others generally are prohibited from requiring the use of a specific lender or title company as a condition of a sale.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. TX: Homeowner Threatened By New Homeowners Association She watched our report last week with an aggressive HOA renting a chopper to fly over a Magnolia home and then sue a family with the photos snapped from above.

"I had the letter in my hand, and what I was seeing was actually the same thing that could possibly be happening to me," she said.

In Texas, some homebuilders organize HOA boards in new subdivisions. But, the law spells out that a certain percentage of all the people who live in a neighborhood have to be given the chance to vote.

Professor Shelby Moore teaches about the HOAs at South Texas College of Law.

"If the developer has put these people on the board, then you've got a whole sort of incestuous thing going on. That's not pretty," she said.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. International: OSB Reference Library (Oriented Strand Board, or OSB, is a common building material in today's new homes. Read what it is made of and how it's supposed to be handled and stored, etc. Is your builder doing it right? --Ed.)

Thursday, November 16, 2006. FL: Mold: Once it gets in your home, it's hard to remove She said her husband was healthy when they occupied the new home. Since then he has endured multiple surgeries, including eye and nose procedures to treat and remove mold, and temporarily lost his memory and ability to walk. Though they vacated the property in July 2005, she is in treatment for mold in her ears and is partially deaf in one ear. Eight pet birds and their dog died.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. ME: Residents Express Dismay Over Subdivision The houses are affordable. But are they inhabitable? Aaron and Jill Carter decided to leave their house in the subdivision this year after a rotted beam supporting the foundation collapsed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. TX: Contractor gets prison sentence Jon Mark Whitaker, dba Homes by Whittaker

Thursday, November 16, 2006. VA: Virginia Beach Family Shares Construction Horror Story (Christopher Probst, dba Fidelity Construction and Genesis Construction) has nearly 50 complaints of owing money and not finishing construction jobs around Hampton Roads. He was arrested in York County and in Virginia Beach on those charges, but is out on bond.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. FL: Slow progress on home renovation tiring city officials Rives argued that the Brown’s builder only made progress when the city appeared about to re-impose a fine.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. MA; FL: A house; a phony deal; a lawsuit Agent admits inventing sales

Thursday, November 16, 2006. MI: Auction to unload new condos, homes Neumann Homes, a Chicago-based builder with extensive operations in Michigan, is trying to recoup its investment in the area by conducting a one-day auction of 87 homes, lots and condos in nine communities.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. TX; US: Sitting ducks on the bench O'Connor might be rethinking judicial speech limits, but not her dislike of electing judges. "Dare I say it? I've not been a great admirer of the Texas scheme," she said Friday....Willett's war chest bulged thanks largely to lawyers, lobbyists, home builders and other business types, which might cause your average person to wonder what they want for their investment.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force More recently submitted info today. Public input is possible on this task force. See articles posted about the task force earlier this week. --Ed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. OH, KY: Witness in Fischer Homes case takes off Nelson Trejo has jumped bond and left the country.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. OH, KY: Fischer Homes charges dismissed McBride requested a continuance Wednesday of a trial scheduled for Nov. 27, citing the disappearance of a main witness, Nelson Trejo, a subcontractor who supplied workers to Fischer job sites. When the judge declined the continuance - just as he had declined a continuance for the defense on Monday - McBride then requested the case be dismissed without prejudice.

Attorneys said that means the prosecution can bring the same charges against the same people at some date in the future.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. MD: Home builder ordered to repay $2M JAE Developers and JAE Homes Inc. violated Maryland laws by collecting $1.1 million for new homes but failing to place the money in escrow, failing to build homes as promised, and operating as a home builder without registering with the state, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said Thursday.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. US: KB Home CEO Bruce Karatz and others in the corporate stock-option scandal a high-profile potential target for federal prosecutors, legal experts say.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. KS: Inspecting the Inspectors On the job site the builder is ultimately responsible for the quality of a home, but it's the City Code inspectors who are charged with catching mistakes. Our investigation exposes those inspectors aren't doing what you think and leaving homeowners to foot the bill.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. OH: Was new house wrapped? Part of a series by Jim McNair of the Cincinnati Enquirer. HADD urges readers to express their appreciation for in depth reporting and series on builder problems so that the editors will continue to allow these stories to run! We've been made aware that builder groups oppose this sort of thing when its published. Don't let builders squelch this kind of information! --Ed.

Thursday, November 16, 2006. MI: Service protects you from fraud Oakland County introduced a new online service Wednesday that allows homeowners to protect themselves from deed and mortgage fraud....The service is available anytime, except during limited computer updating periods, at www.landaccess.com

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Angelides seeks impact of KB Home options scandal on pensions State Treasurer Phil Angelides on Wednesday urged California's two giant public pension funds will consider suing KB Home executives over a stock options backdating scandal....Angelides, a trustee of CalPERS and CalSTRS, said the funds should seek to bar Karatz and other KB Home executives from cashing in on stock options yet to be exercised.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Whose failure is flipping's flop? Don't blame messenger A broker in our pages last week blamed the media for the residential real estate slide. And a developer wrote to us that press warnings of a condo bust had killed the market here and driven him out of it.
Folks, don't shoot the messenger.
The press didn't build tens of thousands of condos, then contract with speculators who now are stuck with units — or might never close.
Unlike our developer friend, we never wrote to another newspaper that Miami's condo bubble could never, ever burst, that prices would rise forever.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Lies, Deceit, Greed Interesting Blog article putting together recent promotional spin-ads from the housing industries with biting commentary. --Ed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. OR: PDF: Construction Claims Task Force PUBLIC Meeting Notice November 28, 2006, 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Room 260, 2nd Floor of the Labor and Industry Building, 350 Winter St NE, Salem, Oregon 97301: This meeting is the last
scheduled opportunity for the public to provide comments to the task force.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently Submitted Information

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. TX: Potential Home Buyers Kept In Dark About Toxic Dangers Our hidden camera teams went shopping for three different houses in this neighborhood, and none of the Realtors or property owners mentioned a toxic secret we found affecting all of the land.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Writer wants information on Homeowner Association Foreclosures and Ridiculous CCR's Rules Story deadline is Friday November 17, 2006

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Feds Investigating Home Builder Mortgage Programs for Consumer Abuses Federal regulators confirmed last week that they are aggressively investigating allegations that builders around the country are pressuring or requiring purchasers to use their mortgage financing affiliates illegally.

Under the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), builders and realty brokers are prohibited from requiring customers to use their own affiliates or subsidiaries for mortgage, title or other settlement-related services. They can recommend affiliates -- provided they also disclose the relationship -- but they cannot force consumers to use them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. ME: Fort Kent may penalize developer Dave Morin The Fort Kent Town Council gave its approval to seek some redress from a developer whose condominium project and subdivision has come under scrutiny for alleged code violations

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. WI; Multi State: Developer's bankruptcy leaves investors, tenants in the lurch (Professional Realty and Development Corp): In what appears the biggest Madison real estate scandal in years, a prominent development firm has collapsed amid a market downturn - leaving a trail of creditors, tax bills and disgruntled investors from Green Bay to Dallas....sources told The Capital Times that the meltdown affects dozens of investors who may have put money into real estate projects without realizing the risk.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. AL: Court orders sale of beach house linked to fraud case testimony during Russo's trial showed that the former mayor got a share of the big house in exchange for giving a developer preferential treatment.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. NY: Leaders respond to Dare plea Failed Albany real estate developer Aaron Dare has pleaded guilty to fraud after he illegally obtained millions of dollars in loans.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. FL: Cancelled condo deals: Opera Place, Merco, etc (Article contains stories about developers not completing condos. Buyers hoping to get money back. --Ed.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. TN: Developer sues county over Barfield rejection The commission is being sued for recently rejecting a proposed 69-acre Malibu Estates subdivision of 117 homes across from Harrison's property near Webb Road. Planners turned down the development because it could move excessive amounts of water onto neighboring land during heavy rains, the farmer said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. OR: Cement contractor held in murder-for-hire case (Jonathan Fred Andrews dba Merkin Concrete) also was wanted in Georgia on a probation violation warrant related to a conviction on a robbery by intimidation charge. OSP detectives will be in contact with Georgia authorities on the matter, McCool said.

The investigation is continuing, and McCool asked anyone with information about the case to contact him at 388-6213, ext. 207.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. MD: Construction company owner killed by subcontractor Harris said the man who punched his son had not completed the work on a job, but wanted to be paid anyway. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective John Gajda at 410-222-1960.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. NJ: Kara's loan doesn't assure more work Kara Homes Inc.'s short-term loan from Bear Stearns would give the company's newly appointed manager time to develop a reorganization plan, but it doesn't guarantee construction will resume, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. NJ: Unfinished Kara work on town's to-do list Kara Homes Inc., based in East Brunswick, is one of the largest builders in Monmouth and Ocean counties. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 5. It owes creditors — including banks, suppliers, employees and customers — $227 million.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. FL: Owner of Coral Bay Construction (Steve Bartlett) surrenders For many buyers, a criminal case against Bartlett isn't just a sentimental matter; it could also help their claims to get partially reimbursed by the recovery fund.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. MO: County resident urges building codes "There are no regulations, enforcement or a scintilla of investigation when a builder goes to P&Z to get a permit," he said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Market Overview: The Real Reason to Avoid Homebuilders We know as well as anyone what a bursting bubble can do to an industry, and it starts and ends with regulation and investigation. When big money is being made, corruption is bred. Real Estate markets are no different. You can analyze all the economics and fundamentals, but the real reason to steer clear of these companies is staring right in our faces. Corruption.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. CA: Condemned house to be demolished "These people are notorious for getting around rules," he said of the home's builders during a county hearing. "They've made our lives and our homes miserable for four years."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. US: Families At Financial Risk One of the most alarming findings in the report is the role that mortgage fraud, in particular appraisal fraud, plays in the refinancing process. There are growing numbers of third party brokers pressuring appraisers to inflate home values in order to "close the deal" and reap larger fees or bonuses. The consequence can be dire for homeowners who refinance and draw out more cash equity than their home is actually worth. Unfortunately, banks often spend little time investigating the appraisal process, because they normally hold the loans for a short period before they re-bundle and sell them to investment firms.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. OK: Seven Indicted in Oklahoma Cash Back at Closing Scheme they inflated the purchase price of homes to obtain cash back at closing in the guise of false remodeling or repair costs.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006. OR; GA; National interest: Bend contractor charged in plot to kill customer (Jonathan Fred)Andrews, who owns Merkin Concrete, claimed the customer owed $60,000, McCool said. The customer, meanwhile, said Andrews never completed the work and the dollar amount is less than $60,000. "They had civil litigation going on right now," McCool said. Asked if other Oregon customers have complained about Andrews' work, McCool said: "We've had numerous people coming forward who want to talk about their dealings with Merkin Concrete." Andrews is also wanted in Georgia on a probation violation warrant related to a robbery by intimidation conviction.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. NY: Homeowners Say Contractor Takes the Money and Runs A growing number of suburban homeowners are accusing a Clarence contractor of leaving them high and dry with unfinished homes. That's the focus of Tuesday night's Special Assignment on News 4 at 11.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. US: D.R. Horton's earnings fall 51% on weak housing The company joined Toll Brothers (Charts), Hovnanian Enterprises (Charts) and other rivals in reporting weaker earnings as deteriorating consumer confidence and falling home prices cast a pall over the once-thriving homebuilding sector.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. CA: Pulte pulls out of purchase The collapsed deal is the latest confirmation of the slowdown in national and regional home sales.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. TN: County planning commission sued by developer The Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission faces litigation for rejecting a proposed subdivision because neighbors were concerned about potential flooding near Barfield-Crescent and Webb roads. The developers, Glen Bolden and James Nave, filed their petition Monday asking Chancellor Robert “Bob” E. Corlew to overrule the commission’s decision Oct. 9.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. FL: Shea, Standard Pacific, nix condo plans It’s the first big example of homebuilders walking away from condo projects in the Irvine Business Complex, the 2,800-acre office and industrial area near John Wayne Airport, since the housing market began slowing earlier this year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. PA: Still fighting to rein in contractors A bill that would require home-improvement contractors to register with the state won't be considered by the full House until next year at the earliest, a legislative aide said Monday. (PA Consumers would be wise to read and review the bill itself from the state gov't site before deciding whether it's a good bill or a wolf in sheeps clothing. --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. KY: Illegals case goes to trial on Nov. 27 (Fischer Homes case update) It will be the first time a jury will hear details of the two-year investigation by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents into the home-building industry in Northern Kentucky.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. KY: Five home contractors facing trial in illegal immigrant case Fischer Homes case update

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. NJ: Embattled builder staves off liquidation Kara wins OK to hire crisis management firm: "Most of (the buyers) have their life savings at risk," Sirota said.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. AZ: Unfinished Dreams The couple are among more than 100 homeowners Valley-wide who were left with unfinished projects when Sunvek, one of the Valley's biggest names in residential remodeling and roofing, filed for reorganization Sept. 18 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. (Process for customers to recover some of their damages is lengthy with no guarantee of recovery. --Ed.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Homeowners now pay for years of low rates "We have the combination of (adjustable-rate mortgages) and the combination of a depressed real estate market. I'm seeing people all the time now that I just can't help," said Mark Chessman, a Roseville bankruptcy attorney. "It's just the kiss of death."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006. US: Rights often fly if you sign fine-print deal Matching a corporation against individual consumers in arbitration creates an unbalanced playing field that favors companies

Monday, November 13, 2006. AL; Nat'l interest: No bubble to pop? Builders get message out The Greater Birmingham Association of Home Builders has launched a new campaign in hopes of dispelling what they call "the myth" of a housing bubble in the area.

The campaign, which will incorporate print advertisements, commercials, billboards and a new Web site, www.homebuyerbasics.com, is designed to ease the fears of consumers who are hesitant to buy or build a new home in these presumably uncertain times.

Monday, November 13, 2006. KS; MO; National interest: Appraiser Dismissed; Two Plead Guilty in $25M Kansas Fraud Scheme The government has dismissed appraiser Paul E. Nicolace, without prejudice, from the indictment pending against F. Jeffrey Miller, developer, and his alleged co-conspirators in Kansas. Angela Parenza and Elizabeth L. Hessel, both formerly loan officers with one of Miller‘s companys, entered guilty pleas to count one of the indictment and agreed to tesify against the other defendants. (MILLER ENTERPRISES & STAR LAND DEVELOPMENT update. Star Land was/is in AZ too. --Ed)

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: Community Associations CommunityAssociations.net Site with info on home owners associations (HOAs).

Monday, November 13, 2006. National interest: Corporate and Government Looting of the Gulf Coast The generosity of those who contributed to help those harmed by Katrina will be snugly in the pockets of developers and corporations.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: KB HOME CEO OUSTED OVER STOCK OPTIONS One of California's highest-paid executives, KB Home chief Bruce Karatz, was ousted Sunday, becoming the latest casualty in a national scandal over the manipulation of lucrative stock option grants.

Monday, November 13, 2006. FL; CO; Nat'l interest: Direct Democracy Lost in Florida and Colorado Some $3.2 million was spent by corporate interests to deceive the public and put a major dent in direct democracy. The sole purpose of making it more difficult to pass ballot initiatives - that in the soggy state of Florida amend the constitution – was to maintain the influence of lobbyists on a largely corrupt state legislature. Big land development, agriculture and insurance companies wanted to retain the status quo when it comes to throwing money at legislators to get what they want.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: Drop-off taking its 'toll' The National Association of Realtors is not the only trade group running ads to encourage folks to buy homes.

The National Association of Home Builders in Washington, D.C., is making a package of ready-to-use ads available to its members for free. The package includes sample letters to the editor, op-ed pieces and newspaper columns.

Monday, November 13, 2006. SC; National interest: Immigration hearing today (Basic Pilot, the free Web based program for employers such as homebuilders to verify legal status of workers may expire in two years. --Ed.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: More trouble to come for KB Home as a result of the Stock Options Probe Gary Ray, head of human resources, was fired and Chief Legal Officer Richard Hirst resigned, the Los Angeles-based company said yesterday in a statement. Karatz and Ray picked the grant dates under the company's option plan and Karatz will repay $13 million to cover gains he shouldn't have received, the company said.

Karatz, who has been with the company for more than three decades, is leaving as KB Home is struggling amid a U.S. housing slump and its share price has tumbled 40 percent this year. At least 176 companies have disclosed internal or federal investigations into whether the value of options awarded to senior executives were inflated by backdating or timing the grants to coincide with days when the stock price was low.

``Unfortunately, the resignations are only the end of a chapter, not the book,'' said Stephen East, a Chesterfield, Missouri-based analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group LLP, in a report today. ``KB Home will still endure an investigation, as well as potential fines and lawsuits.'

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: KB Home CEO, two others, ousted over options The chief executive of KB Home resigned under pressure on Sunday in the wake of a stock option inquiry.

Bruce Karatz, who was also president and chairman of Los Angeles-based KB (NYSE:KBH), agreed to return about $13 million in profit from backdated stock options.
Other top KB executives forced out are Richard B. Hirst, executive vice president and chief legal officer, and Gary A. Ray, the head of human resources. (See earlier articles re: KB Home being selected by the powers-that-be in New Orleans to rebuild there, and the US NAVY selecting KB Home to build military housing. Given the millions KB has paid in federal fines and now this, apparently the govt does not "do its homework" before selecting builders any better than homeowners are expected to do. --Ed.)

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: KB forces out CEO over options backdating America's nine-month-old scandal over stock options backdating claimed another victim on Monday when KB Home, said its chief executive would leave the US homebuilder after an internal probe found he used the practice to improperly boost his pay.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: Investing in pre-construction home can be disastrous You didn't "invest" $25,000 in that out-of-town project. You speculated when you turned over your $25,000 to the developer. Some states, such as California, require pre-construction deposits be held in a trust or escrow account so the developer can't use those funds. Apparently, that didn't happen or the developer's bankruptcy trustee would have informed you.

What did you learn from this expensive lesson? (1) Don't invest out-of-town (2) with people you don't know and (3) who control your money.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: Build your own? Please share first-hand experiences and second-hand knowledge about building dream homes from scratch. Tips, tirades and dire predictions welcomed.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: “Death Spiral” Makes Home Builders Angry In a particularly revealing exchange, Ara Hovnanian, CEO of Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., squared off against a somewhat angry Robert Toll, CEO of Toll Brothers Inc., over the issue of tactics employed by “certain” home builders in their attempts to rid themselves of unwanted land parcels...Amazingly, this truly unprecedented event got almost NO press and could only be observed in a few short segments aired on CNBC.

Monday, November 13, 2006. TX: Surge in foreclosures threatens local housing market a quarter of the pre-owned houses up for sale in Dallas-Fort Worth area are foreclosed properties

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: SPECIAL: KB Home CEO leaves after errors found One of the nation's highest-paid executives has left his job after becoming ensnared in a stock options scandal that already has forced dozens of companies across the country to wipe out billions in combined profits.

Bruce Karatz, chairman and CEO of KB Homes, agreed to retire Sunday and repay the Los Angeles-based company $13 million after an internal report concluded the home construction company incorrectly reported stock option grants.

Monday, November 13, 2006. US: Billionaires set to fight over L.A Times Eli Broad and David Geffen haven't taken off the gloves but all signs point to them fighting for ownership of their troubled hometown newspaper, the Los Angeles Times. (Broad is a founder of KB Home.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006. US: Surreal Estate (National Associatin of Realtors) ad campaign seemed to come straight from the Mad Hatter's tea party.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. WA: Protect your interests when hiring a contractor Verify that the contractor is properly registered. Ask for identification and their Labor and Industries contractor-registration card. Then verify the contractor's registration by calling the contractor-registration line (800-647-0982) or the Everett service center (425-290-1300).

Sunday, November 12, 2006. AR; National interest: Bankers Face Rough Ride As Housing Market Falls The housing market has given local banks record earnings in recent quarters, but their lust for lending has contributed to the overbuilding...Last month, eight area banks along with Pulaski County Bank & Trust were named as secured creditors in the $10 million Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed by Bella Vista-based Betty's Homes Inc.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. US: Making the Quality Connection Parties seek to shift the risks of construction defects
to others without getting to underlying causes...There is no adequate monitoring mechanism to catch
quality deficiencies before they get out of control...(etc! PATH (Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing) Research paper on quality, or lack of, in housing. See related PATH studies posted earlier this month as well. --Ed.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006. US: More, RE: In danger of losing it all According to a year-old report by the Government Accountability Office, down-payment-assistance loans funded by home builders, a program pioneered by Nehemiah Corp., suffer foreclosure rates 81 percent higher than similar loans with no assistance.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. US: In danger of losing it all After examining its loan portfolio, DuBose said, Colonial discovered that of about 9,400 FHA loans it made over the past five years, loans that included down-payment assistance from not-for-profit groups went into default 20 percent of the time. That compared with 9 percent of FHA loans without down-payment assistance over the same five years.

"So they're more than twice as likely to be delinquent. That's why we stopped doing down-payment-assistance loans," DuBose said.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. Nat'l interest: Part of SPECIAL REPORT below: segment on house wrap “Brick veneer is more of a siding than an actual support for the house like it was in the ‘50s,” he said. “Once water gets inside that siding, it needs to be directed outside. That’s done now with house wrap and base flashing.

“Most building departments are requiring that now and are watching it closely,” Becker said. “A few years ago, they were not. I’ve seen the problem go on for about 15 years now, and it’s been very slow for the building industry to pick up on the need to address it. They say to just seal the brick. It can’t hurt, but it’s not a solution.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006. OH, KY, National interest: SPECIAL REPORT: Buyers lament flawed homes "If you go to McDonald's and buy a bad $3 burger, they replace it," says Kurt Lowe, who lives with his girlfriend, Sarah Wendel, in her 22-month-old house in Union. "You buy a $189,000 house, and you get a bad structure or poor craftsmanship, you get no resolution, just an endless battle." (Be sure to also click on sidebar articles in this series. --Ed.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006. OH, KY, National interest: One of several related articles: What to do when faced with issues Courtney Caparella, a West Chester lawyer who has filed about 200 lawsuits against homebuilders in Ohio, said people who sign home-purchase contracts with mandatory arbitration clauses are waiving their legal rights.

"You should be leery of anyone who wants to take away your right to go to court if anything goes wrong," Caparella said. "If you've really been wronged in a major consumer purchase, arbitration is not the place where you want to be."..."As a consumer that won in arbitration, I had to pay more to proceed with arbitration than what I was awarded," she said. "Some fair and equitable system we have for consumers, isn't it? I would have preferred to go into a courtroom and present the facts to a jury of my peers." (Be sure to see related articles on right-hand sidebar! --Ed.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006. AR: Housing Woes Ripple Through Small Business Sector The mechanic's lien is the only recourse a small-business owner has who has extended credit for material and labor to real estate developers, he said. If the developer doesn't pay his bills, the creditors can attach a lien to the property....Deck said rumors of financial trouble among home developers have circulated for several months. Deck and many of the owners of small businesses interviewed for this story said the recent $10 million bankruptcy filing by Bella Vista-based Betty's Homes won't be the last area home builder to file for bankruptcy.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. NJ: Shaky ground As lenders clamor to get paid, Kara Homes owner files for bankruptcy Lawyer Jonathan Bristol mentioned no fewer than 15 reasons that he believes led to Kara's demise.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. National interest: Weaker housing market creates fallout It's not that builders are losing money on many of those houses, Martin said. Even with higher construction costs, profits are still high by historical standards. Publicly traded national builders KB Home and Centex Corp. have continued to report quarterly profits of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sunday, November 12, 2006. National interest: Scroll down to "stick pad replies" I'm afraid this ship has sailed and taken your money with it. According to KB Home, the contract says your deposit will be refunded if you can't get a loan -- not if you can't get a loan that you like. And since KB was able to arrange a loan, albeit at an interest rate not to your liking, it gets to keep the $10,000.

Saturday, November 11, 2006. OK: Seven indicted in fraud, money laundering A federal indictment unsealed Thursday accuses home buyers, real estate sales people and a mortgage broker — seven people in all — of wire fraud, money laundering and other offenses in attempts to defraud lenders in buying homes in Edmond's upscale Oak Tree addition.

Saturday, November 11, 2006. MN: Suit filed in sale of riverfront apartments over water damage According to the suit, filed in late October in Hennepin County District Court, Crescent Heights Acquisition Inc. of Florida is suing Sentinel Real Estate Corp. of New York City and two of its companies for "concealing key engineering reports that detail the need for more than $4 million in repairs caused by defective window flashing."

Saturday, November 11, 2006. NJ: Creditor says to liquidate Kara Homes The company's 22 affiliates — subsidiaries set up for each of its developments — subsequently filed for bankruptcy as well.

Saturday, November 11, 2006. OK; National interest: Sharp Sword of Residential Property Disclosures By attorney Doug Shelton. (Be careful of selling a defective home without disclosure! Also, your builder/seller may not be off the hook for disclosure just because they didn't live in the house. How do your state's disclosure laws compare? --Ed.

Saturday, November 11, 2006. KS: Lenexa Woman: New House Is Falling Apart Sabin said her mortgage is from Pulte and she feels as if there is no way out.

Friday, November 10, 2006. Today's TOP Story: New Homes, Big Problems ABC News: be sure to view related story links accompanying article! --Ed.

Friday, November 10, 2006. VIDEO: ABC News: Complaints about home builders increased 50% Video accompanying ABC article

Friday, November 10, 2006. AZ: Registrar of Contractors cites downtown investor When investigator Shirley Rebillot discovered that Lingelbach did not have an Arizona general contractor's license, she issued a cease and desist order

Friday, November 10, 2006. US: Eli Broad: Bully in search of a pulpit Making sense of Eli Broad's ambition to own the Los Angeles Times: As Colacello writes, after plaguing Michigan with shoddy housing, he gave Arizona the treatment and then Los Angeles. He made his second fortune at SunAmerica, selling retirement-savings accounts to the same demographic he'd built homes for. If Broad weren't 73, I'd wager that his next investment would be funeral parlors, and he'd make a bundle embalming and burying his old clientele. (Broad is one of the founders of KB Home. --Ed.)

Friday, November 10, 2006. NY: Spitzer acts on consumer protection cases John Szymonek, HBC Construction

Friday, November 10, 2006. ABC News series: Buying a New Home? (Be sure to check out the related video links on the page!) "Consumer complaints about builders have gone up more than 50 percent in the past five years, according to the better business bureau."

Friday, November 10, 2006. US: High-Rise Lawsuits With once-hot condominium markets across the country in sharp decline and many real-estate professionals predicting a further weakening, some developers are facing more than a glut of unsold inventory. Angry condo buyers from Boca Raton, Fla., to San Diego are taking them to court, alleging everything from breach of contract to fraud.

Friday, November 10, 2006. US: KB Home Avoids Default on Senior Notes KB said in October it wouldn't meet the filing deadline for the quarter ended Aug. 31 because it needed more time to finish a review of its history of granting stock options, after a committee uncovered evidence of improper accounting. Later than month, KB Home received default notices for its 7.25 percent senior notes due 2018, as well as for its 6.25 percent senior notes due 2015.

Friday, November 10, 2006. WA: State leaves condo owners in lurch Law aimed to help suit against builders sinks case: David Merchant, a Hawaii lawyer who has represented condominium associations in Seattle, said builders have only recently started dissolving these companies quickly after a project...The Ballard Square Condominium Owners Association sued the building's developer, Dynasty Construction Co., in 2002, claiming that their recently built homes were riddled with leaks that had caused extensive building damage and asserting that Dynasty failed to meet construction standards..."The Legislature shouldn't allow artificial corporations to avoid responsibility that a real person wouldn't be able to avoid," he said.

"In the past, they would just kind of ignore them after the development was done," he said. "As the boom hit and they built so many of the darned things and there were so many defects that the lawsuits picked up, the developers started looking for a way out."

Friday, November 10, 2006. MI: Tyrone voters bar developer "We hope the township board has heard loud and clear that this type of housing and back room dealing with developers is not what the residents desire," said resident Joe Pellatt.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. US: William Lyon's earnings drop 70% its cancellation rate increased to 39 percent

Thursday, November 09, 2006. US: Down Payment Assistance Outfits Fight Back against IRS Ruling that they are not Charities The tax law requires tax-exempt entities to operate "exclusively" for charitable purposes. They say their purpose is to help people without down payments buy houses. The IRS says - I think reasonably - that their real purpose is to help sellers get their houses sold. The contract terms look more like a fee-based money-laundering service than a charity.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. OK; Nat'l interest: Common Defects, Confidential Complaints New letter added today regarding secrecy of consumer complaints.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. US: Healthy Building Network Recent new material added

Thursday, November 09, 2006. Alberta, Canada: Owner of new home battling 200 thousand dollar mold problem A Calgary man who has a serious mold problem in his three-year-old house is taking matters into his own hands.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. US: No Pass for Developers The purpose of the bill is to allow developers to bypass local land-use procedures and state courts so they can sue local governments in federal court far earlier in the planning process. The bill also would greatly expand the legal standards for liability to make it easier for developers to win.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. NC: ANOTHER BUILDER BANKRUPTCY: Ordnoff Construction In recent weeks, Orndorff has had nearly three dozen mechanics liens and two lawsuits filed against it by various subcontractors for failure to pay the subcontractors for their work.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. LA: Three More Charged in La. AG's Crackdown on Contractor Fraud If you suspect you have been the victim of contractor fraud, (in Louisiana) please contact the (Louisiana) Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 351-4889.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. TX: Widespread Allstate Abuse for Hundreds of San Antonio Area Policyholders "We believe that over the course of several years, Allstate's policyholders were systematically underpaid for the foundation and water damage to their homes," said Pearson. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over four hundred San Antonio households had claims handled by Bruton where fraudulent payments were made to Villarreal's company and the funds were kicked back to Bruton. As part of their sentencing, Bruton and Villarreal were ordered to pay back over one million dollars in restitution. "We believe this money ought to go to the policyholders that were victims of Allstate's systematic underpayment," says Pearson.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. MO: St. Louis contractor again faces consumer fraud charges Thomas Mark Hogan, All-Phase Construction

Thursday, November 09, 2006. GA; National interest: SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT: Steel House Investigation The office of Trans Atlantic Steel Company is now closed and the company president, Andrew Stallman is a fugitive. He’s on the run from charges of theft by deception. The alleged victims are not just in metro Atlanta. They are people whose lives have been devastated, including one woman who lost much of her life savings....In Gwinnett alone, Stallman has been sued 14 times. And investigators say his trail of victims stretches into at least 8 other states, the Bahamas and Madagascar, Africa....If you have any information about Andrew Stallman and Trans Atlantic Steel, Snellville Police would like to hear from you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. FL: County investigates unlicensed building "Folks need to understand they need to see a person's license," Touch said.

"The first thing we tell them is to go to myflorida.com and look under 'contractors' to see if they are licensed."

Thursday, November 09, 2006. NV: Soil disclosures a quagmire for area real estate agents "They're getting ready to pour concrete on property sitting right on a fissure,"

Thursday, November 09, 2006. IL: Banker's sentence vacated; he may face prison Repking, former president of Liberty Bank in Alton, admitted to government prosecutors that he took more than $617,000 of the bank's money to pay many personal expenses, including fixing up a vacation home in Florida. He also pleaded guilty to understating his income taxes and to allowing homebuilder Harold Hart to claim falsely that he had enough cash to back up a performance bond.

Thursday, November 09, 2006. NJ: Mt. Arlington developer suing mayor, borough A developer who lost his Republican primary election run for a seat on Mount Arlington's Council has sued Mayor Arthur Ondish and the borough, claiming he was thrown off the land use board in June as retaliation for running for office....But borough council members Maureen Cerasoli and Robert Sorge said Wednesday that Levitt's removal in June was appropriate because, as a local home builder, he frequently had to recuse himself from hearing applications from acquaintances and his own projects.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. National interest: Be wary when a builder offers a home mortgage Builders' mortgage offers "clearly are worse in all the cases I've seen," says Jack Guttentag, professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and founder of the mortgage-advice Web site www.mtgprofessor.com...Federal rules prohibit builders from requiring that home buyers use their mortgage affiliates. The rules also require that any discounts offered to buyers who use these affiliates must be true discounts and not made up through higher charges elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. CA: Subcontractor’s Duty Set by Industry Standard, Not Subcontract Stonegate Homeowners Association v. T.A. Staben

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. US: KB Home Debuts First of 12 Communities in $630 Million Military Housing Privatization Project KB Home's role in the Navy developments is not the norm, as the military most frequently contracts smaller builders or commercial contractors for such pursuits. (So, does this mean the Government "didn't do its homework" before choosing a builder, as individual homebuyers are often told? --Ed.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. US: KB Home Wins Consent For $1.19 Billion ln Aggregate Principal Amount Of Outstanding Senior Notes - Quick Facts Further, the company said it has extended the consent deadline with respect to the 5-7/8% Senior Notes due 2015 by one day until November 8, 2006. The consent solicitation would not be further amended or extended.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. TX: TX Elections Welch, who significantly outspent Bolton, also came under fire for his answer to a question at an October public forum about who his biggest donors were. He failed to name Bob Perry, a Houston home builder and major contributor to GOP causes, who with wife Doylene had given Welch $45,000, more than any other contributor.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006. US: Builder's stock dives as bank demands payment Technical Olympic USA Inc. shares fell as much as 39 percent after the U.S. home builder said it had received a demand for payment from a Deutsche Bank AG unit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Realtors(R) still promoting financial suicide "It's a great time to generate a commission"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. FL: Distress signal: State leads in foreclosures Florida led the nation in foreclosure activity for the third quarter of this year as adjustable-rate mortgages came home to roost, a RealtyTrac report shows.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. National interest: MORE: Why is (TX Homebuilder) Bob Perry Funding National Elections? When it comes to pocketbook issues, homebuilder Perry has strongly supported tort reform and legislation that is especially friendly to homebuilders in Texas. Through campaign donations and the funding of extensive lobbying efforts, the Houston homebuilder played a direct role in overhauling the Texas Civil Courts.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. LA: Contractor booked in storm-fix scam Richard Eric Williford, 42, from Conway, Ark., was booked by Arkansas authorities Oct. 23 as a fugitive from Louisiana on charges of felony theft by contractor fraud, according to a news release from Attorney General Charles Foti's office.

Williford, a contractor with Rock-N-Extreme...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. FL: Palladio condo builder sued Weary of waiting for condos to come out of the ground, 24 would-be buyers of Palladio Terrace have sued the project's Miami developers for the return of their deposits.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. AZ: Inspections, fines increase sharply as Maricopa cracks down on dust "It's the old adage," said Jeff Nadreau, executive vice president of Fulton Homes. "What gets watched gets managed."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. FL: WCI Communities 3Q Profit Falls The company also said it would cut an undisclosed number of jobs to save $60 million a year as it weathers the downturn.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: The most expensive midterm campaign in history it’s illegal for someone to contribute more than $101,400 in total to federal parties, PACs and candidates each campaign cycle—but the days of the $7 million check aren’t entirely over. Instead of giving that money to the national parties, donors are writing megachecks to 527s. Take Bob Perry. Best known for initially funding the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks against John Kerry in 2004, the Houston home builder has contributed more than $10 million to 527 groups in 2006

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Homebuilder Technical Olympic (TOUSA) shares plunge on bankruptcy fear Shares of Technical Olympic USA Inc. (TOA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) plunged to an almost five-year low on Tuesday on fear the home builder might be forced to bail out a floundering Florida joint venture and possibly face bankruptcy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: K. Hovnanian warns of losses The luxury home builder said it expects to incur $300 million in inventory impairment and land option deposit write-off charges.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. NJ: Monitor Wants Ch. 11 Trustee for Kara U.S. Trustee Kelly Beaudin Stapleton wants a bankruptcy judge to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee to run East Brunswick, N.J.-based Kara Homes because its lenders won't advance any more funds to the home builder as long as Karagjozi, who founded the company in the 1999, is in charge.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Orders Slump on Cancellations Homebuilders Toll Brothers Inc. and Beazer Homes USA Inc. said orders for new homes declined and customer cancellations rose as a U.S. housing slump deepened.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Derivatives and the Real Estate Bubble Small-town bankers still write mortgages and keep the "paper," meaning they actually own the mortgage and collect the principal and interest payments from the homeowner. But most of the hundreds of billions of sub-prime and option-ARM mortgages written in the past few years have been aggregated into vast pools of mortgages which are then sold much like bonds. These mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are often tranched (sliced and diced) into various levels of risk. The buyers then offset the risk by purchasing derivatives which will increase if the underlying mortgages go south (i.e. become non-performing loans as the homeowner defaults and stops paying the mortgage).

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: KB Home gets default notices KB Home has received notices of default from US Bank for seven sets of its senior and senior subordinated notes that US Bank is the successor trustee for, the company said Monday.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud Blog News article posted recently

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. NV; National interest: Las Vegas Lemonade Referal List Site's host is setting up a referal list of inspectors and attorneys who have helped people in mold or related cases.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. National interest: Crim Check: Contractor Fraud These warning signs indicate that a contractor may be running a scam.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. National interest: Modular Home Scams Consumer written site about bad experience with Glen Falls Modular Homes. Home never delivered.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. Barry Stone Column: New-home buyers seek compensation for faulty floors Some builders have an unfortunate habit of saying, "Oh, that's just normal," whenever construction defects are pointed out.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Realtors' new campaign prods a gloomy market Ads aimed at getting homeowners to buy and sell amid constant flow of poor real estate data: Independent economists are skeptical. Many predict that sales and prices, which fell in August and September from a year ago, may decline further because too many homes on the market and the rapid run-up in prices has put home ownership beyond the financial reach of many people.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Global Economic Trainwreck Role of Gov't: The government has no business setting prices for orange juice or mortgages. Nor should government be in the business of promoting housing. Some 300 government programs designed to make housing affordable did exactly the opposite.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. National interest: Home Depot Investigation It's America's biggest home improvement store and, now, the country's biggest home remodeling contractor. But after hearing horror stories from consumers about The Home Depot and its remodeling services, Investigator Joel Grover decided to go undercover.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Is This Really 'A Great Time to Buy or Sell a Home'? National Association of Realtors (NAR) Advertising Claims vs. Reality

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: Why's a Texas Home Builder Financing a Tennessee Campaign? In fact, Bob Perry is the largest single political donor in the United States according to Federal Election Records. Perry has spent around $9 million this election cycle to fund electioneering communication groups called 527s, named after a provision in the tax code...When it comes to pocketbook issues, homebuilder Perry has strongly supported tort reform and legislation that is especially friendly to homebuilders in Texas. Through campaign donations and the funding of extensive lobbying efforts, the Houston homebuilder played a direct role in overhauling the Texas Civil Courts.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. National interest: In Arizona, 'For Sale' Is a Sign of the Times The striking contrast tells the tale of a housing bonanza turned bust.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006. US: The Next Big Real Estate Boom: Cashing in on Delinquent Taxes As U.S. home prices free-fall, a new big boom for real estate investors has started taking place in delinquent property taxes.
The real estate triple play of shrinking home prices, negative equity and increasing foreclosures are all contributing to an epidemic in delinquent property taxes.

Monday, November 06, 2006. US: KB Home Bondholder to Withhold Consent Whitebox Advisors, which owns bonds issued by home builder KB Home, said Monday it is assembling a group to withhold consent to KB Home's proposal concerning its outstanding bonds.

Monday, November 06, 2006. US: Merrill Lynch sees housing woes, writedowns in 2007 Zener said there are similarities between today's market conditions and those that led to the late 1980s-early 1990s housing crash, which pushed a number of builders into bankruptcy. (E.g. Kara Homes in NJ and Turner-Dunn in AZ.)

Monday, November 06, 2006. GA: Lawyer pleads guilty to stealing more than $800,000 from clients Federal prosecutors said Peebles, 56, would settle the cases without telling his clients, then forge his clients' signatures on the settlement checks and use the money to pay his own expenses. The settlements were intended to pay for the clients' home repairs and for medical treatment related to inhaling mold fibers.

Monday, November 06, 2006. GA: Flowery Branch lawyer faces up to 22 years for fraud, ID theft Peebles was a plaintiff's lawyer who specialized in construction litigation and represented many who suffered physical injury and property damage due to mold infestations in their homes. Unbeknownst to his clients, Peebles would settle their cases, forge their signatures on the checks, and eventually convert the money to his own use. When the clients called and asked about the settlement money, Peebles would lie to them, and if necessary, pay the complaining client with settlement proceeds that belonged to his other clients...Peebles was disbarred by the Georgia Supreme Court on Feb. 13, 2006.

Monday, November 06, 2006. US; From HADD's archives: Table 1. Summary Results from New Home Quality Study Pg. 2 & 3 particularly, shows 95% of new homes have significant problems. From PATHnet.org

Monday, November 06, 2006. US: Demagoguery of Negative Ads On top of that $2 billion-plus, you’ve got the so-called “527s,” groups named for the provision in the tax code that allows independent political expenditures for causes of various sorts. Some of these are funded by business or professional interests; many are financed almost entirely by wealthy individuals. Nearly all of their money goes to negative advertising.

For example, according to the Federal Election Commission, this year’s single biggest individual political contributor is Bob Perry, the 74-year-old Houston homebuilder

Monday, November 06, 2006. FL: Another Builder to lay off workers Company officials said they are "adjusting the team to current market conditions," according to spokesperson Samantha Scott. First Home, a division of national homebuilder K. Hovnanian, has about 700 ermployees here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. OK Attorney General: OKC Man Charged with Home Repair Fraud Alfred W. Soulek, 56, allegedly took more than $16,000 from six Oklahoma consumers who paid Soulek to install windows and vinyl siding at their residences.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. US: Home Builder page A number of articles on home builders, choosing a builder, etc, from Ask The Builder

Sunday, November 05, 2006. TX: On Nov. 7, Let's Change Course Tort reform and medical malpractice reform, fought hard by our elected officials, has been a huge boom in profits for the insurance companies and homebuilders in the state, but has not reduce health insurance, the cost of goods, or new homes. And commissions such as the Texas Residential Construction Commission, created by the homebuilders, provides little if any protection for the largest investment of a family’s life, a new home.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. Nat'l interest: Mold Makes Woman Sick -- In More Ways Than One Polybutlyene is a plastic pipe used for water lines. The Chatham County Health Department tells us people across the United States have had problems with the fittings on the pipes -- they leak, causing mold to grow in the walls.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. TX: VIDEO: Houston Building Inspectors Caught Slacking On The Clock KPRC Local 2 investigative reporter Stephen Dean found inspectors at the gym, taking extended lunches and at home while they're supposed to be making sure structures are safe.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. TX: Builder sues foundation firm Fort Worth home builder D.R. Horton is suing a foundation company that the builder claims is responsible for “serious structural problems and structural failures” in seven homes in the Heritage subdivision of north Fort Worth.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. US: As bubble sags, market critics are busting out Killelea doesn't inveigh against a conspiracy of insiders so much as a system that is completely on the side of the seller. "Everyone has an economic interest in the deal -- no one is on the buyer's side." Even the lenders, who presumably are taking some risk, typically get rid of the loan as soon as they can. "They don't care, if they can pass risk off on some investor."

Sunday, November 05, 2006. Nat'l interest: Study condo contract before buying to avoid costly surprises Her bill from the building's homeowners association is $67,000 and climbing.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Archived article relevant to one below on Lehman: "Lehman Bros. Held Liable in Fraud Case" "Lehman, which will be responsible for $5.1 million of the $51 million settlement, is the first company to be held accountable for financing an unscrupulous lender. The company allegedly not only knew that First Alliance was engaging in predatory practices but actually kept the company in business by packaging and selling mortgage-backed securities and offering a $150 million credit line."

Sunday, November 05, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Lehman Bros. sues over potential mortgage fraud at Pasco condos Lenders are discovering overvalued loans now for two reasons, said Doug Pollock, a mortgage investigator in Sanford. For one thing, fraudulent loans were easily overlooked during the past five years' real estate boom. Second, industry professionals may be tempted to participate in fraudulent deals to attract business, Pollock said. (See related archived article above on Lehman. --Ed.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006. AZ: E.V. homeowners left adrift after flooding This archived story is relevant to those posted earlier today on AZKAN and Jeffrey Miller. --Ed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. WA: Investigating the Reality Homes story Blog entries from news station KING, channel 5 Seattle: "It began with many failed framing inspections and lengthy delays. However, the owners lost their case to Reality in arbitration."

Sunday, November 05, 2006. WA: Homeowner's dreams shattered by home building company Reality Homes problems

Sunday, November 05, 2006. OH: Big Deals Send up Red Flags Sales of 14 upscale homes at well-above-market prices raise suspicions of flipping

Sunday, November 05, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Suspicious Property Deals On The Rise Lenders rank Florida first in the country for mortgage fraud, and experts say rapid appreciation in home values has made the state even more ripe for fraud and questionable real estate deals. Now that the market is cooling, lenders fear they will be on the hook for a flood of bad mortgages.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. San Francisco Chronicle: Residential Construction and Defects NOV 9th: Sponsored by the American Society of Home Inspectors, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Hs. Lordship's Restaurant, 199 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, free, (925) 784-4845.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. NY: Construction zone nightmare 98 dead since '01 as builders shirk code

Sunday, November 05, 2006. LA; Nat'l interest: Green Building Hurricane Katrina may be the perfect opportunity to rebuild New Orleans as a model of energy efficiency

Sunday, November 05, 2006. NJ: Fallen Star; Kara Homes Bankruptcy update: "home buyers might lose hundreds of thousands of dollars" The company borrowed too much money at too high an interest rate, they said. And it couldn't generate enough cash to pay its mounting bills. When the real estate market softened — even a little — the business collapsed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. Nat'l interest: Avoid Mutuality Problems to Preserve Agreements to Arbitrate Nat'l Arbitration Forum article may help homeowners and their attorneys determine if an arbitration agreement is one-sided.

Sunday, November 05, 2006. KS; Nat'l interest: F. Jeffrey Miller Case; Dept of Justice All inquiries regarding this case should be directed to Special Agent Kris Kanakares, Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General at KKanakares@hudoig.gov

Sunday, November 05, 2006. AZ, KS, MO: AZ Corporation Commission AZKAN LAND, LLC, JEFF MILLER, KIM GOODPASTURE, RICHARD EVERHART (Company that appears to be associated with Jeffrey Miller, Star Land Development, Miller Enterprises)

Sunday, November 05, 2006. AZ, KS, MO: Head of Star Land Development under indictment That man, Jeffrey miller, and his company, Star Land Development, are now doing business right here in Arizona. (See Related link above from AZ Corporation Commission)

Friday, November 03, 2006. WA: Investigators: Homeowners dreams shattered by home building company (Reality Homes) An engineer's report called it "grossly defective" and said parts of the house could fail...contract borders on unconscionable

Friday, November 03, 2006. US: Buyers back out of home deals in record numbers A little over a year ago, buyers couldn't wait to sign contracts to purchase homes. Now, many can't wait to get out of them. (This is the Wall Street Journal article posted earlier, only from a source you can view without subscription. --Ed.)

Friday, November 03, 2006. FL: Unsafe Westside House Condemned The house was apparently purchased by an investor who is the process of renovating it for sale.

City inspectors say they received a tip and when they showed up there were no permits and a number of safety hazards.

"There’s no foundation," says Rees.

Rees says the contractors look to be trying to hide the defects behind the new construction.

Friday, November 03, 2006. TN: 'Unhappy people' may not be so after $41,250 judgment to fix home A Roane County chancellor this week awarded a $41,250 verdict to an Oak Ridge couple over a litany of structural woes and defects involving their new dream home on upscale Whippoorwill Drive.

Friday, November 03, 2006. US: Soros Bumped as Top Political Giver by Swift-Boat Group's Perry (Article says TX Homebuilder Bob Perry has given over 9 million dollars to various polical campaigns and ads, becoming the country's biggest doner. --Ed.)

Friday, November 03, 2006. AZ: Q.C. council approves fee for fire service plan The Queen Creek Town Council gave unanimous approval Wednesday for a new development fee to pay for fire service infrastructure...The only public opposition to the development fee came from Lauren Barnett of the Homebuilders Association of Central Arizona.

Friday, November 03, 2006. MA: 'MIA' developer to pay town $260K HOPKINTON -- The town finally will get reimbursed for major repairs to the Hearthstone neighborhood, after its developer bolted before the work was finished and left roadways prone to flooding.

Middlesex Superior Court on Wednesday handed down a verdict mandating that Sudbury-based Gilford Construction, Inc. pay Hopkinton $260,000 to cover those repairs.

Friday, November 03, 2006. NE: Two vie for District 6 County Board seat Finally there is the issue of the proposed lakes. Most people love the idea of having a lake nearby. However, we have to ask: are these proposed lakes really for the purpose of flood control, or are they simply abuse of eminent domain for the benefit of a few wealthy home-builders?

Friday, November 03, 2006. Wall Street Journal; may require subscription to read: The New Word in Home Sales: 'Canceled' A little over a year ago, buyers couldn't wait to sign contracts to purchase homes. Now, many can't wait to get out of them.

Friday, November 03, 2006. TN: New Code Requirements Ensure Safer Homes The Memphis metropolitan area is located less than 100 miles from the New Madrid fault system. According to the Unites States Geological Survey, this area has a 90% probability of experiencing a magnitude 6 to 7 earthquake within the next 50 years.

Friday, November 03, 2006. FL: Contractors With Illegally Obtained Licenses LIST!

Friday, November 03, 2006. US: States Try to Crack Down on Unlicensed Contractors Links in article provide more info on what various states that license contractors are doing. --Ed.

Friday, November 03, 2006. US: Mortgage Ledger Recent articles including some on mortgage fraud.

Thursday, November 02, 2006. US: How To Spot Red Flags On A Property Marston said that home inspections are important -- whether the house is newly built or an existing home --if the buyer isn't knowledgeable about the house or doesn't have $100,000 in the bank to spend on repairs...For new homes, Marston suggested more than one home inspection as the home gets built.

Thursday, November 02, 2006. US: CREW Files IRS Complaint Against Americans for Honesty on Issues; 527 Organization Fails to File Mandatory Reports With IRS Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) complaint against Americans for Honesty on Issues (AFHOI), a registered 527 organization, for failing to report contributions and expenditures as required by federal law...AFHOI filed as a 527 political organization in August 2006, and has subsequently raised over $3 million from its sole donor, (HOMEBUILDER)Bob Perry

Thursday, November 02, 2006. TN; Nat'l interest: Outsiders spend big on Senate race here the Free Enterprise Fund Committee, primarily funded by Bob Perry, a Houston homebuilder

Thursday, November 02, 2006. MT; National interest: (Homebuilder Bob Perry rides again!) Texan's donation buys last-minute anti-Tester ads In three days beginning last Friday, a Virginia group calling itself Americans for Honesty on Issues, took a $1 million donation from a single Texas donor and spent $369,778 of it to produce and run one television ad in Montana against Democratic candidate Jon Tester.

Thursday, November 02, 2006. The Warwick Advertiser: The CPA ‘will improve the value of our homes’ Let me first ask if Mr. Regier wrote a letter to all the home builders, urging them not to price their homes according to an exponentially escalating real estate market over the last five years. Did he plead with them to keep their new home prices in sync only with the rising costs of labor and materials not the escalating market value that has taken place in our town.

Thursday, November 02, 2006. FL: Masterpiece Homes pares staff by 30 Founder and President Bob Fitzsimmons also took an early retirement as part of the restructuring. The cuts were made by the company's parent, Orleans Homebuilders

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. Spokane, WA: Flavel may be forced to sell home over loan (Unknown or undisclosed mold in home.)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. TX: Man accused of remodeling sham used company names sounding similar to well known builders Using company names like "Pulte Building" and "Centex Building and Remodeling," and buying elaborate full-page ads in the SBC Yellow Pages, De La Fuente took money for remodeling work and in some cases never did any work, Assistant District Attorney Christina Playton said during opening statements Wednesday. In other cases his workers demolished kitchens or bathrooms and then disappeared.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. Nat'l interest: Mold problems can hit newer homes Local experts say mold in newer developments is a common problem because of faulty construction. In this case, a J-Channel to divert rain away from the siding was never installed so year after year, rain seeped into the walls.

The best advice for mold problems: Investigate your home prior to warranty deadlines and document everything. Make sure to find the full extent of the damage. And finally, don't rely on city inspectors alone. Like with Maria's home, they can and did miss a problem that will now cost thousands to fix.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. FL: Masilotti faces federal charges Their allegations, outlined in a 35-page charging document, depict a commissioner run amok, who threatened and badgered to get his way. Who used his public votes to boost the value of his secret land holdings. Who took free plane trips from a developer friend who benefited from his scheme. Who cheated on his taxes, and lied to investigators.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. LA: Jurors, contractor arraigned (Teddy) Dowden, a local land developer, has been charged with One Count: Illegal Possession of Stolen Things (over $500) (felony grade).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. MS: Builder accused of fraud escapes from Miss. work detail Santa Rosa Sheriff's deputies are keeping an eye out for James Claude Heckman, (Integrity Building Systems), a man accused of bilking area homeowners out of thousands of dollars...Anyone with additional information about this case is encouraged to contact the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office at (850) 983-1100, or Crime Stoppers at (850) 437-STOP.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. FL: New owners boot out building firm's founder Bob Fitzsimmons, who founded and helped grow Orange City-based Masterpiece Homes into a $100 million-a-year company, has parted ways with the company.

Also let go last week as part of a restructuring by Orleans Homebuilders of Bethlehem, Pa., which bought Masterpiece three years ago, were sales director Geri Davis and Mike DeAngelo, vice president of operations, both of who were with him "from Day One," said Fitzsimmons.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. FL: Tortoise protection to toughen Gopher tortoises face a gruesome death when they're in the way of new construction.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. AZ: Prop. 106 supporters take to streets with message "The trick of Prop. 106 is that developers get the candy while school kids are left holding the empty bag," said Spencer Kamps, chairman of Save Our Trust, an anti-Proposition 106 group.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. US: Sweeteners may sour home values Appraisers and other experts say that when the buyer of a $500,000 house agrees to the deal based on a throw-in like $15,000 in mortgage payments, the discounted true value of the home may not be apparent. So anyone who comes along later to the neighborhood and makes a bid on a comparable house based on the $500,000 figure--rather than the actual $485,000 value--may overpay.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. US: Can the economy survive the housing bust? Tucked away in the briefcase of Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co., is a chart so scary she's hesitant to show it to investors.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. US: Centex to Pay $17M Settlement Centex in July completed the sale of Centex Home Equity Co. LLC to Fortress Investment Group LLC...Centex, based in Dallas, also said in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that one of its units has settled a contamination lawsuit with Florida's Miami-Dade County during the three months ended Sept. 30.

Additionally, the filing said a purported class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Dallas in August against Centex's profit-sharing plan administrative committee.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force New material recently submitted. HADD and members of the public are participating in this task force. A great opportunity to try and shape the way the licensing agency handles complaints in OR.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. US: Mortgage applications drop even as rates fall Separately, a poll found that more than one-third — 36% — of those surveyed with adjustable-rate mortgages worry that they won't be able to afford their monthly mortgage payments if their interest rates increase.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006. NJ: Lawmakers Want More Evidence for Consumers in Arbitration Assistant Majority Leader Jeff Van Drew introduced a bill on Oct. 19 that would prohibit consumer arbitration contracts from requiring a waiver of the right to introduce evidence of repeated patterns of negligence and authorize courts to examine whether contracts comply with that bar. (The Bill is AB 3471. Site may require registration to read articles. --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. AZ: Guest Opinion: Victoria Marie Khalidi — No on Prop. 207 No one likes to be fooled. Many Arizona voters don't know that they may fall for a classic "bait and switch" ploy when they vote on Proposition 207.
Under the guise of protecting private-property rights, wealthy out-of-state interests have spent over a million dollars on Prop. 207. If it passes, taxpayers will be forced to compensate irresponsible developers if a regulation or zoning restricts their development or we will have to waive the protection.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. US: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Failed to Report Electioneering Spending and Grants Today, Public Citizen filed a complaint with the IRS asking for an investigation of political expenditures by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Institute for Legal Reform from 2000 to 2004. Since 2000, the Chamber and ILR spent millions of dollars in a stealth campaign to influence federal and state political and judicial campaigns without declaring this spending on tax returns as required by law. The Chamber focused on state attorney general and supreme court races, and federal congressional contests, seeking to stack the deck with business-friendly judges and public officials.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. International: Mold destroying Chinese Archeological Treasure (If mold can destroy terra cotta think what it can do to the materials most houses are made of. --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NY; National interest: The Man Who Wanted to Know Too Much Walter Mack is one of the best investigators of high-level wrongdoing in New York City. The lanky former federal prosecutor's trophies include mob bosses, corrupt cops, thieving contractors, and crooked union bigs.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NC: Fort Mill Homeowner Runs Into Problems Getting Crumbling Column Repaired Wheeler says the builder (Crown Homes) did replace a column on his house, but it was botched. The column was too short at the top.

"So they stuffed it with these wood scraps," he said. "To fill in the difference, therefore nothing was attached."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. CA: Trial ordered for La Jolla couple in Sept. 5 beating of TV reporter According to testimony, Mattes was working on a story about allegations of a real estate scam when he interviewed Brian Phillips on Sept. 5.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. US: Fitch Lowers R&G (RG Crown) Financial Corp.'s Ratings; Outlook Negative The rating action is driven by concerns which center on longer than expected delay in releasing audited financial statements for fiscal year-end 2005 and quarterly financials for 2006, regulatory restrictions on subsidiaries including recently received cease and desist at R-G Crown Bank

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. FL: Worth repeating from OCT 5th: Regulator imposes sanctions on lender In a sweeping criticism of the Central Florida savings bank, the Office of Thrift Supervision said R-G Crown was engaged in a series of unsafe and unsound banking practices largely related to its residential development lending business. (Article mentions connection to Barrington Homes scandal. --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. OH: Our Manor Home Homeowner's experience with new home in OH, $20,000 in liens, etc

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. PA; Nat'l interest: Pocono Record reporter wins award for investigative reporting Reporter David Pierce senior reporter for the The Pocono Record won a second place in the Investigative Reporting competition for his two-day series called "Land of Confusion," published in May, 2006. It detailed the messy deeds and land record situation in the Country Club of the Poconos. The Inland Press Awards was presented in Chicago on Oct. 16. (David Pierce covered the Poconos Real Estate Fraud cases over the last few years. --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. IN; MI: Originator Nabbed in $4 Million Loan Fraud Scheme Wagner set up a company called Family Connections LLC, which was used by him to participate in and perpetuate the scheme.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. US: Mortgage Servicing Fraud PDF Homeowner sent this link to HADD which is from the Mortgageing Service Fraud website, www.msfraud.org Posted for informational purposes only; homeowners fighting mortgage fraud will need to obtain legal advice in their state to know how to proceed. --Ed.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. MS: Trial begins in mortgage fraud case But John May, one of Lucas' two attorneys, said that Lucas wasn't the greedy party.

That, he claimed, was Countrywide Finance and Alliance Bonding, which was aware of what Lucas was trying to do, approved the mortgage applications and then sold the mortgages to secondary lenders for a profit.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. FL; MS: Crooked Contractor Escapes An inmate awaiting extradition back to Santa Rosa County has fled from the Mississippi facility he was being held in while doing work detail.

Jimmy Claude Heckman, 34, is wanted in Santa Rosa County for grand theft and contracting without a license.
...Heckman, whose last address was at 4771 Bayou Blvd. in Pensacola, is very familiar with the area and the sheriff’s office is asking for help in capturing this fugitive.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (850) 437-STOP.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. FL: UPDATE on Great Bay Homes Great Bay Homes shut down in January after leaving 55 homes incompletely built and taking contracts on 25 unstarted ones.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NJ: Additional cash woes for Kara Homes Kara Homes' financial problems have gotten worse.

A $5 million, high-interest loan that would have kept the company going for a month during Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings fell apart late last week. And now, creditors and lenders are demanding Kara founder Zuhdi Karagjozi relinquish control of his company and turn the day-to-day operations over to a chief restructuring officer.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. AR: Builder seeking shield of court Betty’s Homes Inc. and Abercrombie, listed in the bankruptcy filing as company president, have been the targets of multiple property liens and foreclosure filings in Benton County Circuit Court since Oct. 2. The foreclosure filings to date have totaled nearly $ 7 million pledged against properties in Bella Vista, Centerton and Pea Ridge.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. PA: Slayton's victims testify to money they say builder took from them Dennis Slayton, 53, will be sentenced Nov. 20 after pleading no contest last month to crack cocaine possession and taking more than $500,000 from 26 customers in Monroe and surrounding counties.

Slayton owned Clearview Builders in Brodheadsville, which went bankrupt in early 2005. Some of his properties reportedly have been sold to pay off creditors.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. US: Condos, water damage, and toxic mold When it comes to building high end expensive structures or the lesser priced buildings, leaks and toxic mold are non-discriminatory.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. CO: More special interest groups funded by builders running misleading campaign ads A mass mailing from an out-of-town special-interest group has again created controversy in the 59th District state House race, this time over immigration issues.

Earlier television advertising and mass mailings from the Committee for the American Dream, the political action committee of the state's Homebuilders Association, attacked Democrat Joe Colgan and earned the disavowal of both Republican Ellen Roberts and the Southwest Colorado branch of the Homebuilders. While advertising from this PAC continues, another out-of-town organization, Coloradans for Change, has put out a direct-mail flier describing what it calls "2 Candidates for House District 59; 2 Very Different Viewpoints on Illegal Immigration."

Interviewed Monday, Roberts and Colgan described positions on immigration that were in fact quite similar.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NJ: 'Mob' ad is linked to 'Swift' TV spots Bob Perry, a Houston home builder and generous campaign contributor to President Bush and other Republicans, is the primary source of cash behind the Free Enterprise Fund Committee, the political action committee airing the Sopranos ad. Perry contributed $1 million of the $1.2 million the group has raised to run television ads this fall attacking Menendez and his fellow Democrats in other states, federal campaign finance reports show. The ad buy against Menendez cost $200,015.

Italian-American leaders have said the 30-second television spot, run on cable in Central and North Jersey and posted on the Internet, is offensive and plays to the stereotype of Italian-Americans as mobsters.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. TX: Nonprofit sues home builder A Fort Worth nonprofit group that hoped to build high-quality, affordable homes in southeast Fort Worth is suing KB Home for failing to build the homes and for trying to sell lots to another home builder with plans to build smaller, less-expensive houses.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NC: Another housing-development-over-old-cemetary-story just in time for Halloween North Carolina has had laws on the books for decades making it a felony to encroach, desecrate or move a cemetery without permission from government officials, with or without family permission.

Even so, no central agency is tasked with enforcing the rules.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. OH: Builder Goes Under, Homeowners Worry about Eviction According to court documents, Image Homes defaulted on millions of dollars in loans from Fifth Third bank and others, and now, I've learned a receiver has been appointed by the court to operate Image Homes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. FL: A handy guide on how to vote, crazies and all Amendment 3: This amendment is pushed by special-interest groups that profit from paving over and polluting Florida. It says that future amendments would have to get 60 percent of the vote to pass.

This effectively would shut down the process by which citizens gather petitions to amend the constitution. Since developers, home builders and agricultural corporations have purchased the politicians, this would solidify their control over Florida.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. NJ: UPDATE ON BUILDER'S BANKRUPTCY: Woes keep mounting for Kara Homes The hiring of a chief restructuring officer reflects Kara Homes' dire situation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. AZ: Letter to the Editor In response to the Oct. 19 article "Tile roofs to be inspected."
This article on Marana's change in tile roof inspection policy is an example of a town that listens to its residents and cares about their concerns. They have been accommodating and supportive when the roofing issues first surfaced. This is unlike the response from the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006. PA; Nat'l interest: It's a great housing market! No, wait, it's not! Real-estate industry insiders often disagree over what's going on in the housing market, but this week that disagreement got a little ridiculous.

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: NAHB still promoting risky loans as foreclosures rise Debunking media reports warning of the dangers of non-traditional mortgages, Angelo Mozilo, chairman and CEO of Countrywide Financial Corp., told industry professionals attending the NAHB Fall Construction Forecast Conference in Washington on Oct. 25 that these instruments are playing a vital role in helping consumers take advantage of the financial benefits of homeownership.

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: Nat'l Association of Home Builders Launches 'It's a Great Time to Buy a Home' Campaign Resources in the buy-now package include:

Talking points, Q&As and a sample press release
Sample op-eds, letter to the editor and newspaper columns
An economic backgrounder
Print and radio advertisements
Public relationis advice on getting the message out through the media, events and Web sites
A home builders association guide on how to make the most of the package
Sample member communications, including a newsletter article and tips for engaging members in the campaign

Monday, October 30, 2006. NJ: Kara gets OK to sell nine homes, but financing falls through East Brunswick-based Kara, one of the largest home builders in central New Jersey, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy law Oct. 5. It owes creditors -- including banks, suppliers and employees -- hundreds of millions of dollars. Customers who have contracts for uncompleted homes are also listed as creditors.

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: The Bonnie and Clyde of mortgage fraud A master con artist and his partner went on a six-state crime spree, ripping off homeowners, stealing identities and defrauding lenders.

Monday, October 30, 2006. Washington Post: Jemal Jumps Right Back In It's Business as Usual for Developer After Bribery Trial: Jemal was found guilty of one of the charges against him, wire fraud. His son, Norman, was acquitted of all charges, and a top lieutenant, Blake Esherick, was found guilty on one count of wire fraud and two counts of tax evasion.

Monday, October 30, 2006. GA: Bush heads to Georgia again Macon TV stations broadcast into the 8th and 12th districts and have seen a steady flow of ads. Neither Democrat has hesitated to go on the offensive, but as targeted incumbents, they have drawn most of the fire. In addition to Burns and Collins' ads, voters are seeing dozens of independent ads paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Economic Freedom Fund. The latter is bankrolled by Robert J. Perry, the Texas homebuilder who helped finance the Swiftboat Veterans for Freedom ads against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.

Monday, October 30, 2006. OR: Ad Watch The California-based Economic Freedom Fund, which paid for the mailings, is financed by Texas millionaire homebuilder Bob Perry

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: Unregulated groups put millions in election Because they can accept unlimited donations from any source, the committees — known as 527s — have emerged as the favored vehicle for millionaires and interest groups seeking to set the political agenda. "It's become the new way to do business in politics," said Pete Maysmith, a national director of Common Cause, a nonprofit that lobbies for more transparency in campaign finance. (e.g. TX Homebuilder Bob Perry's donations to various 527's attacking candidates in several states. --Ed.)

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: SEC Inquiry Over Options KB Home is warned by debtholders of possible default due to delayed filings tied to options reviews.

Monday, October 30, 2006. Happy Halloween: "Despairing Homebuilder Hears Ghosts" ""Lonely at the Top" is a humorous (we hope) take on business news in the form of an advice column."

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: Homebuilder Receives Notice of Default KB Home

Monday, October 30, 2006. NJ: Amboy bank to cover loan losses Amboy officers said last week that their bank, listed as one of the most profitable in the country, will be able to cover any losses on loans made to embattled real-estate mogul Solomon Dwek and Kara Homes, a major developer that has filed for bankruptcy....Federal regulators prohibit banks from lending too much money to any one person or company. In Amboy's case, their "legal lending limit" is $40 million, Koreyva said.

But although Amboy lent more money overall to Dwek and Kara, the loans are split up among multiple corporate entities and partnerships formed by Dwek and Kara.

Monday, October 30, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Men of steel frame a new home-building discussion Ninety-nine percent of the steel used for framing is recycled

Monday, October 30, 2006. US: Foreclosures on the Rise It can be traced back to a number of factors from over-extended borrowers to an increase in lax lending practices

Sunday, October 29, 2006. US; Dr. Phil Show: New Orleans Scam? The damage done to their property by Hurricane Katrina was just the beginning. Julie and Robert, 78-year-old Marion, 74-year-old Lena and Lenny, 83, all say the contractors they paid to repair their homes left them high and dry.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. US: HOA news Recent articles

Sunday, October 29, 2006. US: It’s time for the public to join the mold-busters fight A common misconception is that a house has to be old to have mold. On the contrary, Mr. Goldman said, newer homes can be more susceptible to mold because there can be more moisture. Mr. Power said his company has had as many mold remediation jobs, if not more, in homes that are “brand-spanking new.”

Experts said the biggest misconception people have about mold is that you can just wipe it with some bleach and it goes away. In fact, it’s going to come back again, if you haven’t changed the environment or gotten to the root of the problem that hides underneath the surface.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Steal of a deal Denver Post Series: The cast of characters in this foreclosure tale includes drug dealers who went straight from prison to the home-acquisition business, a developer with ties to an international Christian group, a state-licensed real estate broker who saw nothing peculiar and an appraiser who has disappeared.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. Kansas City: K.C. man to spend 12 years in prison for fraud U.S. Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman said Brent Michael Barber, 42, of the Kansas City suburb of Belton, orchestrated the largest such fraud scheme ever prosecuted in Kansas City.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. US: Mortgage fraud -- the worst crime no one's heard of It's the convoluted world of mortgage fraud, a crime in which it's sometimes hard to disentangle victim from criminal, and crime from business as usual.

Why? In the years of booming appreciation and bargain-basement interest rates, real estate has become a national obsession. With it have come certain run-of-the-madness practices:

Sunday, October 29, 2006. MI: Schemes, scams, swindles Consumer unit fights fraud, gets back victims money

Sunday, October 29, 2006. FL: Customers are facing long waits to recover the money they paid to troubled Coral Bay More than five months have passed since Bartlett's business began to publicly disintegrate.

On May 11, sheriff's deputies seized several boxes of records from the company's offices in Spring Hill, and the next day the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. FL: Homebuilder performs unfavorably for some Here’s a suggestion for a new slogan for Wizard Custom Homes Inc. in Cape Coral:

Hocus-pocus. Abracadabra, Poof! Your money is gone.

Sunday, October 29, 2006. Another Halloween story!: The Phantom Developer of Collin County (Enjoy!) At the height of the '90s land boom, a greedy developer rushed a subdivision into development without checking maps to see that it was an ancient Indian burial site. On the day he was to close the sale on the first lot, the hastily built model home he was sitting in split in two and collapsed because of unstable soil. They say he still haunts the offices of homebuilders across the county, answering the phone when buyers call to complain...

Sunday, October 29, 2006. Nat'l interest: Homeowner's experience with Pulte Kansas

Sunday, October 29, 2006. US: TV show looking for construction nightmare stories Ellen Degeneres still has this link on her site so it appears she's still looking for material.

Saturday, October 28, 2006. PA; National: More on TX builder Bob Perry's campaign donations (TX homebuilder Bob Perry donating to PA governor's oponent in race. Governor Rendell vetoed the homebuilders' "right to repair law" earlier. --Ed.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006. National interest: Beware false choices on ballot For starters, use your brain's mute button. Stop listening to the exaggerated claims permeating the media. Go, instead, to the League of Women Voters' Web site at http://smartvoter.org/2006/11/07/ca/state/voters for unbiased information. There you'll find brief summaries of every state and local proposition, together with their pros and cons....Next, see who pays for the ads supporting and opposing each proposition. But don't be fooled by the names these groups have given themselves. A "Save Affordable Housing Coalition," for example, could be a collection of home builders seeking to increase profits by reducing the impact fees they have to pay to repair the collateral damage they inflict on the environment. Ask yourself if an advocacy group's self-interests match your own.

Saturday, October 28, 2006. Nat'l interest: Bidders said to be lukewarm on Tribune Three prominent Los Angeles businessmen — entertainment mogul David Geffen, former supermarket magnate Ron Burkle and onetime home builder Eli Broad — have stated their interest in buying The Times. (Corporate ownership of the media is a bad idea in our opinion. This is about Eli Broad, as in KB Home. Note that articles posted earlier this year showed the owner of Toll Brothers Homes had bought two papers in PA. --Ed.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006. TX: Builder finds grave on site Mosier Valley residents would like Lennar to continue searching for graves.

Saturday, October 28, 2006. Kansas City: $19.6 MILLION REAL ESTATE SCHEME Investor gets 12 years: Fraud involved 100 felonies, about 300 homes. Brent Barber “tore through low-income neighborhoods like a hurricane,” U.S. attorney says.

Friday, October 27, 2006. Kansas City: Belton man sentenced in mortgage fraud scheme U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan sentenced Brent Michael Barber, 42, on Friday and ordered Barber to pay $11.2 million in restitution to the victims of his mortgage fraud schemes.

Friday, October 27, 2006. OK; National: Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson Calls for New Political Advertising Rules (This appears to be prompted by recent TV smear-ads run in OK by a group calling itself "Just the Facts America," with a website of OklahomaSecrets.com. The group is from TX. HADD would like to know if this group is related to similar groups running smear ads in other states that were funded by TX homebuilder Bob Perry. --Ed.)

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: In a Slowing Market, Lavish Features Help Builders Make a Strong Impression Never mind that a room with a 22-foot ceiling would cost a lot of money to heat. Or that a bathroom with a faucet attached to the ceiling is perhaps not all that practical. And is a home theater with stadium seating really necessary when the family room and playroom each come with plasma screen TVs, too?

Many builders think such frills are crucial, especially now, because they act as "memory points" -- the factors that grab the attention of home buyers.

Friday, October 27, 2006. OH: Van Buren defends his business practices Mark Van Buren, a home builder and Democratic candidate for Licking County Commissioner, says lawsuits are unavoidable in his business and his legal history should not be a factor in the Nov. 7 election.

Van Buren, who operates South Forty Homes, is named as the defendant in 16 judgment dockets recorded in Licking County Common Pleas Court.
..."Mark gave us a 180-day contract, and over two years later, the work wasn't done," Duffie said. "We completed it after we had him leave the job. With my experience, I don't believe he has the honesty and integrity to be in public office."

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: Zillow home 'values' rile consumer group "Zillow is placing the American dream of homeownership at risk for countless working families," said NCRC president John Taylor. "For a company that represents to consumers that they are the 'Kelley Blue Book of Homes,' this is a very dangerous situation"

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: National Community Reinvestment Coalition Several articles re: mortgage fraud etc.

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: PDF from National Community Reinvestment Coalition Washington, DC- October 26, 2006 – Today, the National Community Reinvestment
Coalition (NCRC) filed a consumer protection complaint to the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) alleging Internet financial services and real estate provider Zillow.com is misleading
consumers, real estate professionals and financial service providers in on-line home

Friday, October 27, 2006. DE: Father, son charged in Sussex new-home construction fraud Donald L. Mattia, 69, and Michael D. Mattia, 37, who police said own RCS (Residential Construction Services) formerly known as Chapel Homes, are charged with felony theft and seven counts each of felony new home construction fraud

Friday, October 27, 2006. FL: Firm may have sold land it didn't own Sky Development Group has been buying and selling land in Citrus Springs since December 2004, according to property records.

But now investigators are combing through deeds recorded by the Citrus County Clerk to find out whether the company claimed - and sold - hundreds of lots it didn't own.

Friday, October 27, 2006. WI: Fix for fixing construction Wieckert calls the law a consumer-protection law. Rabbitt said he doesn't agree with that title, but he acknowledged the final version of the legislation is better than the initial proposal. The Bureau of Consumer Protection got involved because the original plan seemed to be a barrier for consumers, Rabbitt said...Before signing the contract for a building or repair project, builders must give the homeowner a pamphlet detailing the steps of the Right to Cure Act. (Also known as "right to repair law." --Ed.)

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: The Real Estate Bust Continues While cooking their books, they refinance old debt with new debt, Fannie having just sold $3.5 billion in new debt securities, the classic move in any ponzi scheme.

Friday, October 27, 2006. ABC News: Housing Dive Hits Builders & Sellers Hard homeowners aren't just having trouble selling their homes — some are simply trying to hold on to them. Many people bought homes while the housing market was hot, using adjustable rate mortgages to get more than they could afford.

"Adjustable rate mortgages in the wrong hands are a bit like handing someone a loaded gun without giving them any training," said Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac.

Friday, October 27, 2006. Happy Halloween from HADD: Ghosts don’t haunt property disclosures Spooky article about ghosts and real estate disclosure.

Friday, October 27, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Sellers sing the blues as price drop sets record Builders, with no emotional attachment to their homes, have become one of the biggest financial threats to individual sellers.

Friday, October 27, 2006. FL: Couple are ready for final act in floor show (Consumer Advice column addresses problems with builders Issa, Crestline Homes, Ainslie-Widener; would love to know if the builders' promises made to the columnist ever materialized! --Ed.)

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: A Closer Look at New Home Sales Any time I want some insight into any particular datapoint, I find it instructive to go to the actual government source's website, and simply click around. If you do this with a skeptical eye, you may learn some really interesting facts.

Friday, October 27, 2006. NJ: Man gets go-ahead to move into home (Getting Certificate of Occupancy, to close on home built by bankrupt builder Kara Homes proves difficult. --Ed.)

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: Realty Q & A From Market Watch

Friday, October 27, 2006. CO: Denver Post: Foreclosure continues to rock Denver Have you obtained a mortgage, through a broker, that subjected you to higher payments than you expected when you signed the papers? Has that forced you into foreclosure or put you at immediate risk of foreclosure? If so, please contact Greg Griffin at The Denver Post, 303-954-1241 or ggriffin@denverpost.com

Friday, October 27, 2006. FL: Home builder’s customers to discuss their grievances Some customers of Fort Myers-based American Pride Home Builders are holding a meeting today to discuss their grievances against the company — homes left unfinished despite long waits and money already paid.

Friday, October 27, 2006. US: Arbitration commentary From Tort Deform

Friday, October 27, 2006. International: GreenSpec Information on green building from the UK.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. Contractor Magazine: Immigration reform puts the burden on you (the employer) By Susan McGreevy, construction attorney: All companies are now required to check immigration status and keep detailed records for each employee.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. WY: Investors Save Bankrupt Parkside Home Development It was just months ago when home buyers almost lost everything in this Cheyenne development

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Foreclosure USA Despite a lot of talk about the mortgage issue and warnings, Americans are still diving in. Are they falling for the economic hype coming out of the White House? Incredibly, 39 percent of new mortgages in the first half of this year were non-traditional, high risk mortgages compared to an average 2 percent over the last decade.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Pulte lays off 800 amid slow housing market Pulte Homes Inc., the second-largest U.S. homebuilder, Thursday said it shed 800 workers in the third quarter, bringing the total number of employees laid off to 1,400, or more than 10 percent of its workforce since January.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Impact of Mold Illness PETITION ONLINE

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Foreclosures on the rise nationwide 39 percent of mortages this year still considered ‘high-risk’: They started with a “teaser rate,” just $1,700 a month. They thought it was fixed, but it wasn't. Rising rates and deferred interest have now ballooned that payment to $3,700 a month.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes' bankruptcy raises many questions The law states that if a home buyer's deposit is in an escrow account, the buyer is entitled to get his money back, but if the homeowner has already released the money from escrow to enable the builder to construct the home, the situation could become tricky.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. FL: Pulte lays off nearly a third of local workforce the same day the latest figures for home sales revealed a dramatic slowing of the local housing market.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. IL: Bathon accused of unethical business practices by Prenzler "What we see here is the treasurer running an active home-building business from his office, which is a gross ethical violation and inappropriate use of taxpayers' money," Prenzler said.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Carpets Pose a Variety of Indoor Pollution Concerns If you have dust allergies or asthma, this might be reason alone for eliminating carpets.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. AZ: A Matter of Trust Teachers and environmentalists square off against homebuilders and ranchers in the battle over state land

Thursday, October 26, 2006. OH: (On Trial) Noe used state money to pay builders of Florida, Catawba homes Tom Noe sent nearly $400,000 of the state’s coin fund money to builders and contractors working on his homes in the Florida Keys and Catawba Island along Lake Erie, a forensic accountant told jurors this morning.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. FL: Developer pulls out of plans for Vavrus Ranch Centex Corp. on Wednesday announced it's walking away from controversial plans to buy the 4,800-acre farm and build a mixed-use community of 10,000 homes, along with office space, shops and parks. (Article also states that Lennar backed out of the partnership in January.)

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Pulte profits cut in half Homebuilder reports 52 percent drop in quarterly earnings, citing high inventory levels and lack of buyer confidence.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: KB Home's unsecured debt may be downgraded The fifth-biggest builder postponed its third-quarter report, saying it had not concluded its review of stock option grants. The delay triggered a notice of default on some of KB's debt.

Thursday, October 26, 2006. US: Home price drop is largest in 35 years The declines in prices served to underscore the severity of the correction in the once-booming housing market

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: After the housing bubble bursts "...many homebuyers were urged into this inflated market, sometimes with a big push from the government, or even non-profits trying to promote wealth building. Tens of millions of families bought homes at bubble inflated prices and now face the prospect of seeing their life savings disappear in the housing crash."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. FL: Shady Dealings ONE BUILDER/DEVELOPER HAS BEEN arrested, and more arrests are likely, in an ongoing investigation of what appears to have been widespread corruption in the Miami-Dade Housing Agency (MDHA).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. GA; Nat'l interest: Shattered Dreams Driggers went online to check the newspaper back home and saw a front-page story announcing that seven people had been arrested in connection with fraudulent sales at Milford Hills. Included in the arrests were the developer, the sales agent, and two appraisers.

A total of 23 named and unnamed co-conspirators were charged under the state's racketeering laws. The arrest warrants claimed that those involved had colluded to commit mortgage fraud on a massive scale, allegedly stealing an estimated $7 million from lenders by dramatically inflating the appraisals on the houses, pocketing the difference, and walking away from the loans.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: Rise of mortgage backed securities Privatize profits, socialize risk: Even the most toxic option-ARM is profitable to the originating lender

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. WA: Port Orchard Man Arrested for Forgery, Fraud After it appeared no work was being done on the home for months, the homeowner became suspicious

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: Comstock Homebuilding gets purported default notice If Comstock Homebuilding is in default on its credit agreement with Bank of America, the bank will be entitled to accelerate the repayment of the company's approximate $200 million in outstanding indebtedness, as well as exercise other legal options, according to Comstock Homebuilding's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: Comstock receives notice of default, intends arbitration (Comstock said it) received a notice of default from Bank of America claiming failure to pay $2.7 million cash curtailments due on Sept. 30.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. AL: State Board To Fine Reverend For Roof Collapse Rev. John Carroll is a homebuilder and helped build the church. State investigators said state law required the church to use a licensed general contractor and architect.

The roof of the Cedar Grove Methodist Protestant Church collapsed in June and the Alabama Board of General Contractors has decided to fine the pastor’s company $5,000.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. VA: Centex abandons Arrington Homebuilder Centex has finally pulled the plug on the high-end subdivision proposal near Warrenton.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. VA: Group accused of targeting Democrats gives to their campaigns Some recipients of builder's contributions refuse the cash

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. FL: Homeowner's website about their experience with Levitt and Sons builders and mold Try to imagine the horror and disappointment I felt just after successfully completing my first round of Chemotherapy, when a nurse stepped into my room at MD Anderson Cancer Center and asked "I bet you are glad to be going home"!

Yet, just one month after being diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, I was not able to return home. I explained to the nurse that my infectious disease specialist had given me strict orders NOT to return to my house.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. FL: McCollum lobbied for controversial company Bill McCollum, the Republican candidate for attorney general, was a paid lobbyist in 2002-03 for a Maryland charity that is among a group of companies that run a controversial home-buyer assistance program the Internal Revenue Service recently labeled a ``scam.''

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. MS: Family is awarded $2M in toxic mold verdict A Ridgeland family whose home was destroyed by toxic mold has been awarded more than $2 million by a Hinds County jury to cover medical expenses and the cost of rebuilding, the family's attorney said. (Due to)defects, mostly in the design and construction of the foundation, led to moisture penetration in the home that allowed mold to grow....developer of the subdivision also was sued for failing to disclose an abandoned sewer when selling the lot to the builder..." (IMPORTANT NOTE: An AWARD is not the same as COLLECTED. Sometimes a family may get only part, or none, of the money a jury awards them, and legal fees may be coming out of that award. IF they get their money someday, it may be too late to prevent them from having severe financial and credit damage in the meantime. This is, in this editor's opinion, irresponsible journalism not to address this point. It's not over for the family yet! --Ed.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. NJ: Builder's bankruptcy raises many questions Are Kara Homes' difficulties isolated and the result of mismanagement and bad luck, or the beginning of a trend that will be repeated as the housing market bottoms out?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: KB Home Asks to Change Terms of Debt Last week, the company received a notice of default for its 6 1/4 percent senior notes due 2015 because of the tardy report...On Oct. 10, KB said it would not meet the filing deadline because it needed more time to finish a review of its history of granting stock options after a committee uncovered evidence of improper accounting for the options.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. MN: Insurance related article about Wooddale Builders, Inc. v. Maryland Casualty Wooddale began to receive claims from homeowners in late 2000. The homeowners claimed that Wooddale's defective construction resulted in water intrusion and mold growth due to leaky windows, inadequate flashing, and water penetration through building paper and vents through which wind-driven water entered the home. The condition existed since construction of the homes.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006. US: Victory or Trojan Horse for Insurers in Katrina Litigation? Leonard v. Nationwide Insurance Company

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. US: Brownfield Legislation from the Nat'l Assoc. of Home Builders site Article from NAHB showing how "liability protections" are built into brownfield legislation. See article below. --Ed.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. WA: Developer to take over clean up (Brownfield legislation urged by homebuilders gives developers protection from liability and disclosure. --Ed.) A federal judge has approved a deal that will allow developers to take over responsibility for cleaning up the site of the old Asarco copper smelter at Tacoma...The Point Ruston company plans to build homes and commercial buildings.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. NY; FL: Contractor ordered to jail without bail Jimmie Cartrette will stay behind bars.

The 38-year-old Annadale home improvement contractor, who went on the lam earlier this month after he was charged with bilking several Staten Island families of more than $1 million, was sent yesterday to Rikers Island without bail.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. TX: Candidates for governor sound off on key business issues On checkbook concerns of interest to individual taxpayers, Democrat Chris Bell and independents Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman agree. They want to raise the state minimum wage, compel homebuilders to repair shoddy work and push the Legislature to cut homeowners insurance rates.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. IN: Builder jailed for failing to appear in court Kenneth Matney, who has 25 years experience in residential construction and owns Pinnacle Building Group, was arrested on a bench warrant Monday afternoon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. US; AZ: Campaign to Support Prop 106 Releases New Radio Ad in Pima County Ad Highlights Broad, Bi-Partisan Support for Protecting Arizona Land and Water and Exposes Homebuilders’ Opposition about Protecting Profits

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. NJ: Developer suing Wantage...AGAIN CJS Investments will contest the township Land Use Board's recent denial of a 188-unit project along Lower Unionville Road, said John Caruso, co-owner of Farmingdale-based firm.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. NJ: KARA HOMES UPDATE Suppliers get judge's OK to seek liens

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. MO: Cape Girardeau tightens rules The Cape Girardeau City Council passed an ordinance Monday it hopes will hold builders responsible for erosion and stormwater problems in newly built subdivisions.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. CO: Man dies at his Riverview home Joel Pietrowski, 48, died at his home in Durango on Saturday. The cause of death was suicide by gunshot.

Pietrowski was vice president of the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado and had worked with several builders in the Durango area.

"He was a hard-working person and took a lot of pride in what he did," said Tom Gorton, president of the Home Builders.

Until February, Pietrowski worked as superintendent of construction for Tierra Custom Homes, a local homebuilder owned by the Southern Ute Growth Fund.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Boynton development sells out phase one in 5 hours (Article seems to be promoting the use of risky loans to buy homes the buyers really can't afford, which HADD cautions buyers not to fall for! --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. NJ: New rules for redevelopers? Saying political clout must be removed from the process that often gives government the power to take people's homes and businesses, six state lawmakers called Monday for new rules restricting campaign donations from builders working on redevelopment projects.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. NJ: Violation prompts talk with builder The developer building on the former American Standard site violated its agreement with the township when employees began removing dirt from the site early Saturday morning.

The developer, Edgewood Properties, had agreed to notify the township when work began again on the site after state and local officials stopped construction due to revelations that contaminated concrete fill was trucked to the site last spring.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. National interest: Small builders unite, gain clout Durham builder Dana Kelly is shutting his company, Kelly Construction, after 37 years because it's too difficult to find enough lots to keep building 15 to 20 homes a year.

"You just can't find a lot," Kelly said. "The big boys and real estate people have purchased it all."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. AZ; NV: Nevada builder wants Arizona town's water Wind River Resources, a Nevada corporation

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. LA: Crooked builders hit storm victims in New Orleans Phony contractors are collecting down payments for work and then disappearing, Marceaux says. One scam involves workmen who take down payments and even drop materials off at work sites, only to return in the night to retrieve the materials and sneak away.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. US: Homebuilder MDC earnings plunge almost 60% Potential customers have backed out of planned purchases on concern the value of the houses may drop and on difficulty they are having selling existing houses.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006. US: Home inspection Q & A's Barry Stone column

Monday, October 23, 2006. CA: Running Horse development has trouble staying on track More than $3.7 million in contractors' liens have been filed at the Fresno County Recorder's Office against Running Horse or companies contracted by Running Horse. These liens mean a business contends it hasn't been paid for work on the project.

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: Video about the "Mold Godess" How this woman became involved in the toxic mold issue. You Tube Video.

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: National Association of Home Builders Steps Up Involvement as Elections Enter Final Stretch [Benefitting the builders: A lot of money is being put into our elections, and laws, (as the article below addresses), by the homebuilding industry. --Ed.]

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: National Association of Home Builders legal defense fund article “Targeted, strategic litigation and strong ‘friend of the court’ or amicus briefs in selected cases have helped NAHB’s members overcome an increase in onerous governmental regulations,” says the introduction to the NAHB Litigation Update. When invited, NAHB assists state and local home builders associations in their litigation efforts as well, especially when the issues presented are likely to set a national precedent.

Monday, October 23, 2006. KS: TWO PLEAD GUILTY TO ROLE IN $25 MILLION BANK FRAUD SCHEME US Dept of Justice press release on the Miller Enterprises/Star Land Development case. Watch the DOJ site for future court hearings: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ks/press/Miller/main.html

Monday, October 23, 2006. NJ: Caught in housing undertow "It was get them up, throw them up," one contractor said. "I don't care if the punch list is 100" things wrong.

By late August, even the Porta Johns started disappearing from construction sites -- a sure sign, the contractor said, the company was about to hit the wall.

Monday, October 23, 2006. WA; National: Title insurance firms pay to win business, pass illegal costs to home buyers Washington title insurance companies are wining and dining real estate agents, lenders and builders at the expense of home buyers, according to a state report.

Monday, October 23, 2006. WA; National interest: Cases judges are hiding from you King County judges have improperly sealed hundreds of court files. These records hold secrets of potential dangers in our medicine cabinets; of unethical lawyers and negligent doctors; of missteps by public agencies. We're going to court to open up those cases.
(Is this happening in your state, too? Court records are valuable research tools for choosing a builder but only if they are kept truly public. --Ed.)

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: Incentives prop up home prices When sellers use incentives to reduce the actual price without cutting the reported price, "then the reported prices are an overstatement of the true net selling price," said Lawrence White, deputy chairman of the economics department at the Stern School of Business at New York University. "So that very likely means that the real drop in home prices is greater than what the standard sources, like the National Association of Realtors, have been reporting."

Monday, October 23, 2006. VA; National interest: Town falls victim to mortgage fraud ABC News Video, don't fall victim to scams

Monday, October 23, 2006. NV; US: Mortgage fraud blamed in more foreclosures She spent her $150,000 on upgrades to the house and couldn't afford the $3,500 mortgage, prompting foreclosure proceedings. "She got talked into it at the builder's tract and everyone along the way was helping themselves out with her money," Bice said. "She should have known she couldn't afford a house like that, but she got caught up in it."

Monday, October 23, 2006. LA: Scam contractors find easy pickings in New Orleans Between so much available work and a traumatized population struggling to recover, unscrupulous contractors are scurrying about like children in a candy store

Monday, October 23, 2006. UT; National interest: The religion of growth is just another pyramid scheme I learned that the Utah Legislature prevents municipalities from adding the cost of new school construction to impact fees. Why? Because it would "... hurt developers and others who make their living selling homes." So our legislators force us to subsidize the housing industry.

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: Hedge fund wants WCI board seat It's what WCI hasn't built that rankles Basswood Capital Management, the New York hedge fund with about $2 billion in assets and about 2 million WCI shares. The company's "extreme underperformance," the firm writes in a letter, is not acceptable, given its "large inventory of entitled land in coastal Florida purchased prior to 2000."

Monday, October 23, 2006. NY: Construction firms file lawsuit to repeal 'Scaffold Law' The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo by Businesses for a Better New York, a partnership composed of construction company owners and insurance brokers.

Monday, October 23, 2006. PA: Supers prepare questions for Toll Brothers sitdown This isn't the first time Toll Brothers has been called upon to explain its actions at Country Club of the Poconos, also known as Big Ridge.

Monday, October 23, 2006. PA: Township suspects Big Ridge not playing by rules Toll Brothers illegally formed a separate private community within the larger Big Ridge home development, without submitting the separate common homebuyer rules and obligations for township approval, Middle Smithfield Township officials contend. (Article by David Pierce who covered much of the Poconos Real Estate Fraud issue. --Ed.)

Monday, October 23, 2006. MI: House auction a loss for owners Risky from the start, a live auction of a house that started at $1 today ended in a sale of $332,000 -- more than $40,000 less than a couple paid for it last year.

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: Do research to find a contractor People often check with the Better Business Bureau, but this does not always provide reliable information.

Monday, October 23, 2006. PA: Woman seeks licensing for home builders "There is no requirement to be a remodeler or a home builder - period," he said. "To get a haircut, you need to go to someone with a license. And a haircut only costs about $14. But yet, you can go out and build a home for a couple (of hundred) thousand dollars without any credentials." (About half the states license builders. HADD gets complaints from those states, too, and often the problem is that builders end up running the licensing so it's ineffective. The public needs to be involved to help ensure that isn't the kind of licensing they get! --Ed.)

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: IMPORTANT NEW ARBITRATION LAW “I think the prohibition on arbitration is huge,” said Dale Irwin, a Kansas City consumer lawyer. “Congress has finally acknowledged the unfairness of these kinds of clauses in the consumer context.” He said the law gives strength to broader efforts by consumer groups to outlaw arbitration clauses all together.

Monday, October 23, 2006. US: 'Manufactured' foreclosures an emerging threat to consumers (NOT an article about manufactured homes) To cure what McDonnell terms a "servicer-manufactured default," the borrower must pay the full amount necessary to bring the account current. "For consumers who do not have sufficient savings and who are living from paycheck to paycheck, the likelihood of an extended delinquency and ultimate foreclosure is very high ... servicing abuse in escrow accounts ... is the leading cause of premature and wrongful foreclosure."

Friday, October 20, 2006. US: Blog Entry with some VERY interesting links to SEC and news articles Watch KB Homes, under SEC investigation now, either file for Chapter 11 or be acquired, along with a lot of other tier-2 and tier-3 builders quickly running out of cash and access to credit and sitting on massive inventories of overvalued properties just waiting for a balance sheet restatement.

Friday, October 20, 2006. NJ: Ruling stymies contractors owed by bankrupt builder A-1 Bracket demonstrates the plight facing many subcontractors who performed work for Kara, but weren't paid before the builder filed for bankruptcy. Without the liens, contractors are considered unsecured creditors, making it unlikely they can collect their debts in full....Kara's bankruptcy "could have a devastating effect" on subcontractors and suppliers, said James J. Tarnofsky, a lawyer representing Century Kitchens Inc., a Colmar, Pa.-based company that is owed nearly $460,000 by Kara. "It could lead to layoffs at the business and even end the business.

Friday, October 20, 2006. US: KB Home Disputes Purported Notice of Default Related to Its 6-1/4% Senior Notes Due 2015 KB Home (NYSE:KBH), announced today that on October 18, 2006, it received a letter purporting to be a notice of default under the indenture related to its 6-1/4% Senior Notes due 2015.

Friday, October 20, 2006. CA: Twain’s Frog Scores Victory Over Pombo Pombo once blamed the species for causing nearly $500 million in "regulatory costs" for homebuilders and held Twain’s frogs up as Exhibit A in his Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act, a deceptively-named bill that would eliminate mandatory habitat restrictions for any species.

Friday, October 20, 2006. US: PDF showing various construction defect laws by state This document isn't the most up-to-date but it is a good reference for states it covers.

Friday, October 20, 2006. MA: Toxic Mold Drives Family From Home Environmental investigators found the house overwhelmed with toxic mold -- in the attic, hidden above ceiling panels, behind walls and underneath floor boards.

Friday, October 20, 2006. NJ: Eminent domain An ordinance that could eventually allow the City of Trenton to implement eminent domain as a tool for property acquisition won support by a 5-2 vote for the one property blocking an 84-unit condominium by power developer K.Hovnanian.

Friday, October 20, 2006. FL: Builder faces felony charge of grand theft Samuel Glenn Williams, 60, S.W. 28th St., was arrested Wednesday, Oct. 18, by Detective Ted Van Deman of the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) on a felony charge of grand theft by a contractor.

Friday, October 20, 2006. NJ: Builder's bankruptcy raises questions in Old Bridge Locally, after years of difficulties with the two Old Bridge projects, the question being asked by observers, customers, residents and town officials alike is: Are Kara's difficulties isolated and the result of mismanagement and bad luck, or the beginning of a trend that will be repeated as the housing market bottoms out.

Friday, October 20, 2006. US: ABOVE BOARD? The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether directors who sit on more than one company board may have spread the practice of backdating stock-option grants...KB Home has said it may need to restate earnings because it failed to properly account for stock options given to Chief Executive Officer Bruce Karatz.

Friday, October 20, 2006. Gulf Coast: Army Corps Proposing Change To Wetlands Rules The Corps is reviewing the merits of letting developers fill-in ten times more wetlands area. Developers say the plan would make Katrina recovery move faster, but environmentalists worry filling wetlands will make South Mississippi more vulnerable.

Friday, October 20, 2006. NJ: Kara will get $1M to stay afloat The money can be used only to pay the company's remaining 70 employees, hire security guards and pay insurance premiums.

Friday, October 20, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes expected to get interim financing One of the largest home builders in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Kara Homes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 5. The filing has left many prospective homeowners who had contracts with Kara wondering if their homes will ever be completed or if they'll get their downpayments and deposits back. (Look at the picture with this article; home doesn't even have a complete roof deck and it is standing dormant. Great chance for major rain damage that may never get fixed. --ED.)

Friday, October 20, 2006. WI: Holmen OKs impact fees, over La Crosse area Builders objections “The home builders are not going to write our ordinances,” said Village President John Chapman after Thursday’s meeting.

Friday, October 20, 2006. FL; National: Homes may sit two years "Right now there are 15 to 16 homes per buyer" compared to about two buyers per home a year ago, D'Alessandro said.

The bottom line: even if builders stopped building in the county completely, it would take 22 months to absorb the excess housing.

Friday, October 20, 2006. OR; National: Hummers on the Homefront A 2005 report from the EIA comes to the same conclusions, showing that households with 3,000 or more square feet use 40 percent more energy than those with 2,000 to 2,400 square feet. In that context, it’s fair to wonder if a home like the Oregon Dream deserves the green halo of an environmental certification.

Friday, October 20, 2006. TX: Mowery says she will amend reports The Texas Election Code requires that contributions of $500 or more from individuals include the donor's occupation and the full name of the donor's employer. The complaint says Mowery, a Fort Worth Republican seeking a 10th term, did not provide that information for more than a dozen contributions, including a $10,000 donation from Houston home builder Bob Perry.

Friday, October 20, 2006. MD: Jessup homebuilder sued over alleged negligence Class-action lawsuit against Eastern Homes could affect 500 Maryland homeowners (Article mentions problems with other area builders, too. --Ed.)

Thursday, October 19, 2006. Nat'l interest: Homeowners caught in the middle (Beware of "Rent to Own" arrangements) Home buyers who purchase on a contract of sale do not receive title to their property and, when the original owner defaults on any loans for which the property is collateral, they lose all their equity. If they qualify, they could make financing arrangements with a bank and buy it back at the foreclosure sale, having a great deal of anxiety and red tape as their evidence of lessons learned.

Thursday, October 19, 2006. CA: Rent to Own Scam: Would-be tenants say they were defrauded of deposits Shania Montana, the woman they allege took their money, is wanted by police and those who had dealings with her fear she won't be brought to justice. (Ms. Montana is also known as Cynthia Pauline Steinman and Cynthia Pauline) Griffey

Thursday, October 19, 2006. US: Big Lies, Small Lies and Felony Lies: Welcome to Real Estate 2006 Let's start with a look at the wide-spread practise of offering buyers incentives, allowing the builder or seller to propagate a false selling price

Thursday, October 19, 2006. US: Watch What the Fed Watches - Home Builder Bankruptcy Straining Lenders, Worrying the Fed

Thursday, October 19, 2006. TX: Sale of golf ranch suddenly called off at last minute by DR Horton Last Friday, Mr. Haney said he was told to make sure everything was off the property or the Monday closing would be held up...But Monday came and went. On Tuesday, Mr. Haney learned that there would be no closing..."This is a mess," he said. "If they had let us know a week before, we would still have our business. Now we're stuck."

Thursday, October 19, 2006. CT: Developer In Stonington project Target Of 27 Suits Many of the cases also involve Voloshin's wife, Linda. The couple have repeatedly fought attempts to depose them and have refused to produce information about their assets. Many of the cases involve limited liability companies created by the Voloshins...A group that includes Tarragon and Voloshin has purchased 246 acres in Montville with plans to build luxury condominiums, a golf course, a marina, upscale shops and a hotel.

Thursday, October 19, 2006. NV: New 'Ghost Towns' Sprout Up in Las Vegas These investors that own all these vacant properties they can't sell are turning to rental markets.

Thursday, October 19, 2006. US: SEC Examines Links Between Company Directors in Options Probes (involves KB Home) The SEC is focusing on instances where directors and other advisers may have intentionally deceived investors and company officials

Thursday, October 19, 2006. US: Americas Watchdog Says Homebuilding Industry is a House of Cards Could Face Billions in Un-Paid Federal Taxes and Construction Defects

Thursday, October 19, 2006. FL: Democracy battle in Florida Here are a sampling of the businesses and special interests fighting direct democracy: the National Association of Home Builders...

Thursday, October 19, 2006. AZ: Tile roofs to be inspected Marana officials hope that a new tile-roof inspection policy will protect future homeowners from pricey repairs after dozens of residents complained that a builder (Richmond American) failed to install their roofs properly...In the first two weeks of the inspections, one out of two homes had a violation

Thursday, October 19, 2006. CO: Ballot nails building codes Voters will decide whether to use codes for residential construction in county

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. IL: Bankruptcy fraud charges highlight 'mortgage bailout' scams An attorney and self-styled financial adviser conned desperate homeowners into signing away the roofs over their heads

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Federal Trade Commission PDF about New Home Warranties 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. If you choose arbitration, be aware that
you are bound by the decision.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. Gulf Coast: Building Expert Raises Awareness About Wet Walls In FEMA Homes He blames a design defect that makes the vast majority of FEMA mobile homes unsuitable for the hot, humid South.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. TN: Pleasant View residents oppose Regal Several county residents, who purchased homes built by Regal Homes, came out to tell officials why a 211-acre rezoning along Highway 49 in Pleasant View shouldn’t happen. They complained about poor workmanship on their homes and the builder’s response, or lack of, in correcting the problems.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. Kansas City Biz Journal: More coverage of the Miller Enterprises case A former loan officer and a former office manager pleaded guilty to taking part in a $25 million bank fraud and money-laundering scheme to boost a Kansas City home builder's business, said Eric Melgren, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: National Building Museum Green building info.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Natural Selections Interesting "This Old House" article on construction materials that are easier on the environment & not necessarily more expensive.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force New material added today. Opportunity for Oregonians to speak up about shoddy construction to their state govt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. WA: Panel to scrutinize real-estate title industry In a report issued Monday, Kreidler's office said some title companies have openly flouted a state law that restricts the amount a title company can spend to influence people — builders, real-estate and escrow agents and others — to send them business.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. WA: PDF: An Investigation into the Use of Incentives and Inducements by Title Insurance Companies From the WA Insurance Commissioner's office: Washington law, RCW 48.30.140 and 48.30.150 (see Appendix A), and regulations
clearly prohibit title companies from providing anything of value in excess of $25 in
a 12-month period to any person as an inducement, payment or reward for placing
or causing title insurance business to be given to the company.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: PBS tonight: Save the Internet Moyers: Save the Most Democratic of Media

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. NJ: Senators won't aid homeowners If the developers, builders and code officials are not all bad, the senators should have no worry about passing new strong laws to target the real offenders. Only the offenders have to worry.

We need legislators to act. They should do what they promised to do as candidates.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Bill Moyers - Part III: "The Net@Risk" Now, large and powerful corporations are lobbying Washington to turn the World Wide Web into what critics call a "toll road," threatening the equitability that has come to define global democracy's newest forum.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Little House on the Drawing Board Creature features -- home theaters, formal laundry rooms and spa baths -- grow unabated, while little attention is paid by builders or homebuyers to the kind of energy-efficient, environmentally sound design that inspired the National Building Museum's "green" Glidehouse, a prefab model Jacobs doesn't mention, but which is in the aesthetic ballpark.

Homebuilders have their own rationale for the hodgepodge of styles. As Ken Gancarczyk, an executive of KB homes, retorts in the book: Buyers can't tell the difference between "Craftsman or Mediterranean."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: NVR cuts forecast as sales plunge New orders continue to decline and cancellation rates surge.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. FL: Special interests attack Florida voters' rights Those conspiring in this power grab are hiding behind a lofty-sounding front called "Protect Our Constitution," which more truthfully ought to be named "Protect Our Political Connections."

Among the industry lobby groups and big-name companies that don't trust Floridians to shape their own constitution: The National Association of Home Builders, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, The Florida Association of Realtors, U.S. Sugar, The St. Joe Co., Lykes Bros. Inc., the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Publix (where shopping might be a pleasure, but civic activism is apparently an annoyance).

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. NJ: Middletown ordered to let homeowner move in Middletown officials had previously said they withheld some certificates of occupancy for the 68 houses in the development, including one for Spaltro's home, because Kara had not completed work for the site as it had promised. (HADD cautions home buyers not to rush into a closing without a Cert. of Occupancy, and also not to assume a builder will finish items after closing!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. NJ: Kara creditor can't use lien to collect debt Under bankruptcy law, all actions to collect debts are generally frozen to give debtors time to reorganize their business.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: MDC changes its financials with no effect on bottom line The Denver-based parent of Richmond American Homes restated its financials last week after "certain disclosure comments" from SEC staff.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. KS/MO: More on the MILLER case In their pleas, Parenza and Hessel said Miller told them to do anything to complete a loan closing, including but not limited to forging potential buyers' signatures and providing homebuyers with down payments and closing costs. They also said Miller inflated appraisals by refusing to pay appraisers if his prices were not met and selling homes in subdivisions to employees at inflated prices, among other things.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. NJ: Lesson learned the hard way Consumers who trusted Kara Homes can share with others what they tried to do and what experts advise about major purchases such as a house:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Most Fraud Charges Not Investigated A lack of enforcement at the state level is a major reason appraisals remain at the root of mortgage fraud

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. KS: MILLER UPDATE: Two plead guilty in $25 million fraud case The indictment alleged that Miller and others targeted home buyers with poor credit or little money for a down payment and controlled their loan applications to defraud lenders of $25 million. The indictment said they manipulated appraisals, submitted false and fraudulent loan applications, forgave second mortgages and took other steps to lead banks to lend 100 percent or more of the value of Miller-built homes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. Kansas: Guilty Pleas In $25 Million Scheme Involving KC-Area Developer Parenza and Hessel were indicted in May along with F. Jeffrey Miller, owner of Miller Enterprises and Star Land Development. (See articles posted earlier this year on Miller and Star Land Development from KS, MO, and even AZ. --ed.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Builders Win Big in First Code Hearing Round Defeated proposals to increase the amount of wall insulation required by the IECC and IRC....Defeated proposals to boost the need to install roof truss/rafter hold-downs (hurricane clips)....(more)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006. US: Less Power to the People Ten innovations that will reduce the amount of energy we consume: #6 New Building codes...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. FL: Tips for hiring contractors Article gives some basic advice on hiring a contractor, with some useful links. Very good comment at end about the roofing codes, and inability to track complaint history of INDIVIDUALS who often operate under multiple names.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. LA: State, FBI getting preparedfor a flood of consumer complaints over contractors Bernazzani said that the disbursement of Road Home loans -- federal money -- gives the FBI jurisdiction, and any contractor stealing or fraudulently taking the money will be high on the FBI's radar.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. FL: Regulation of contractors a blueprint for problems While authorities said they are investigating the complaints against Pluto and All American, also under investigation is Lawrence D. Krezmien because he holds the contractor's license.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud Blog; news entries added today News about mortgage fraud cases in CA, IN, MO, PA, GA, OK and more

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Whose government is it? Most of us assume certain things about how government institutions work. When the government regulates a business, it's to protect consumers. When you have a dispute that can't be settled through other means, the courts are there as an avenue to seek resolution.

One of the interesting stories of the last few years is how some of this has been quietly dismantled. That's true here in Texas when it comes to buying a new home.
(Actually it's true in most states! --Ed.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. IL: Suit alleges poor construction work The Illinois attorney general's office filed suit Monday in Madison County Circuit Court against John Bierbaum. The suit alleges that his Alton-based construction company collected payments from consumers but did not complete the work or performed shoddy work.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. TX: Builder's $8 million tops GOP donor list Bob Perry is financing House races nationwide, but not in state

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Housing Correction Just Getting Started Don't get relaxed about the housing industry, because it's going to get much, much worse. That's the message from Gary Gordon at Annaly Capital Management, a firm which invests in mortgage-backed securities.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Do your home work Insurance industry press release with some interesting points about a home's features that may add to the cost of owning and insuring it. Not an endorsement. --Ed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. Nat'l interest: Questionable incentives may cause legal problems A certain type of cash incentive some home buyers are seeking may lead them, and their real estate brokers, into a legal gray area.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes bankruptcy: Loan may tide builder over in bankruptcy The loan agreement must be approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Kaplan in Trenton. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. LA: New building codes coming for Calcasieu Parish the biggest confusion builders face is building the home to meet the code.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. Nat'l interest: Area tradesmen being left out of housing boom large-scale developers fueling the growth rarely employ local tradesmen

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Housing slowdown creating 'ghost towns' Many unsold homes stand empty

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. FL: Palm Beach Post editorial on election for Judge Mr. Brannock spent 10 years as a lawyer for home builder K. Hovnanian before leaving to start his own real-estate law practice in West Palm Beach.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes says plan will rebuild trust Kara Homes Inc. says it has lined up $5 million in financing to resume building the homes it has already sold and to reimburse buyers who canceled their contracts before the home builder filed for bankruptcy protection.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. MI: Bids for $375K home start at $1 couple rolls dice with auction sale

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. MI: Deals distort home prices buyer incentives such as cash back suggests market downturn is worse than reported.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Policy Holders of America Current Newsletter on mold related issues and lots of other info on mold and insurance.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. AZ, KS, MO: UPDATE, RE: Miller Case, d.b.a. LAND STAR DEVELOPMENT See earlier articles posted on the Miller Case. As noted in some of the earlier material, Land Star is but one company run by F. Jeffrey Miller. Land Star had done business in AZ and this article warns of the company's past history of indictments in KS/MO. --Ed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006. US: Builders Work With Lenders to Heat Up Sales in Chilly Markets National Association of Home Builders article. (HADD Editor's opinion: It may be that if you need to resort to exotic methods to buy a house, that you are putting your family at financial risk. An increasing number of the builder complaints we get now seem to have elements of risky/exotic loans. --Ed.)

Monday, October 16, 2006. OK: State License Will Soon Be Required for Builders/ Contractors The state currently has no licensing

Monday, October 16, 2006. US: Smart Money Magazine Those who are speculating in the market are more likely to lose out than in the past. Also, new home builders, as we've seen, are in a bit of trouble, but that's mostly their own fault, since they made the bad business decision of overbuilding, swelling supply and overstripping demand. Serves 'em right.

Monday, October 16, 2006. NJ: High-flyer's fall Will Kara Homes’ Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing create a domino effect in the homebuilding industry?

Monday, October 16, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Information on builders getting tough to nail down But now that's getting harder to do because the Texas Attorney General's Office stopped processing all consumer complaints three years ago, and there are fewer homeowner lawsuits at the courthouse because of binding arbitration clauses in contracts. (TRCC and BBB also not necessarily telling the whole story, the article goes on to say. --Ed.)

Monday, October 16, 2006. PA: Home builder fined Maryland-based Altieri Homes

Monday, October 16, 2006. US: Efficiency Dos and Don'ts From an Energy Nerd From Journal of Light Construction

Monday, October 16, 2006. US: A 'green' house What it is, simply put, is creating a home and lifestyle around environmentally safe products.

Monday, October 16, 2006. MI: Taylor's plan to halt development may be falling apart Too many empty houses

Saturday, October 14, 2006. NJ: Township may finish Kara work Township officials may call in a performance guarantee bond against an East Brunswick-based developer that recently filed for bankruptcy.

Saturday, October 14, 2006. US: Lung Cancer Deaths in Nonsmokers Demonstrate Urgent Need for Radon Awareness, Mitigation Radon exposure is completely preventable in new construction. The nation's homebuilders and building code officials are encouraged to require radon-resistant safeguards in all new homes.

Saturday, October 14, 2006. "St. Louis Today": Council overrides Morrow "Are you here to protect the citizens, or are you here to increase the funds of your campaign contributors?" Busken said, arguing that the international codes were not politically motivated and were designed by experts.

Saturday, October 14, 2006. St. Louis: Judge removes Sunset Hills from resident's lawsuit In its motion for summary judgment, the City of Sunset Hills claimed sovereign immunity, which, according to Missouri statutes and case law, means governmental entities and municipalities such as Sunset Hills are immune from most lawsuits.

Saturday, October 14, 2006. US: Consumer Law & Policy Blog Variety of topics, some relating to homeownership, new entries.

Friday, October 13, 2006. MN: City broaches Stoney Point Development again “What appears to be happening is that the developer keeps bringing in revisions for something that I don’t ever plan to approve anyway. The people of this community have said they don’t want the holding ponds, they don’t want all the extra water running into a storm sewer system that is currently 50 percent undersized, and they don’t want the west ridge torn up. (What part of "No" doesn't the developer get? --Ed.)

Friday, October 13, 2006. US: HUD ANNOUNCES THREE SETTLEMENTS WITH BUILDERS INVOLVED IN CAPTIVE TITLE REINSURANCE ARRANGEMENTS The agreements include a $950,000 settlement with Shea Homes, Inc., and its captive title reinsurance company Shea Financial Services, Inc.; a $850,000 settlement with William Lyon Homes and its captive title reinsurance company Duxford Title Reinsurance, Inc.; and a $150,000 settlement with Fulton Homes, an Arizona builder.

Friday, October 13, 2006. KS/MO: REMINDER: F. JEFFREY MILLER CASE dba Miller Enterprises, etc NOTICE OF HEARING as to Defendant Angela Parenza. Change of Plea Hearing set for 10/16/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson.

Friday, October 13, 2006. NV: Lawsuits buzz like flies over septic systems The different building contractors and home installers cited as defendants read like a litany of valley contracting firms...The defects and deficiencies include, but are not limited to, improper design and construction of home foundations, drainage systems and septic systems in light of the hydro-collapsible and/or expansive soils and resulting foundation and system failures resulting in septic system "malfunctions, saturated soils, depressed soils, contaminated soils, contaminated water."

Friday, October 13, 2006. NV; Nat'l interest: Foreclosures just 'tip of the iceberg' "It's not surprising at all," said Dennis Smith, president of Homebuilders Research who tracks housing trends. "We anticipated there would be more foreclosures.

Friday, October 13, 2006. NV: Legislative battles already developing for builders The Legislature could also take up home construction defect legislation.

Friday, October 13, 2006. NV: Foreclosures up as Nevada's housing market softens Most vulnerable are investors who purchased homes about a year ago with minimal down payments as the market began to soften and were unable to resell them for quick profits. Many are now holding mortgages they can't afford.

Friday, October 13, 2006. US: New combatant against global warming: insurance industry The world's second-largest industry, worried about losses related to climate change, offers incentives to 'go green.'

Friday, October 13, 2006. CA: KB Homes: Don't miss your chance to be good guys (Related to CA story posted earlier today) In 2005, the city gave approval to KB Homes to construct 461 residences on 140 acres of the 1,595acre Runkle Canyon property, which lies just a few miles from the former Rocketdyne testing site.

Simi did so only after receiving and reviewing an Environmental Impact Report from a company hired by GreenPark, the developer who owned the land before KB. The report included detailed soil samples from the property. Although it found evidence of leftover contaminates, the study said the levels were not high enough to be a threat to the public.

Now it appears that report may not tell the whole story.

Friday, October 13, 2006. US: More Execs Ousted As Options Scandal Widens UnitedHealth and KB Home are both under investigation for their stock options granting practices.

Friday, October 13, 2006. FL: Dispute Could Cost Contractor His License Thomas Brooks, a residential builder and owner of TMB Inc. in Winter Haven, could have his contractor's license revoked tonight if he does not meet the demands of Polk County's Contractor Licensing Board.

Friday, October 13, 2006. MS: AG charges two contractors with home repair fraud Charles W. Banyard of Renaissance Construction of Jackson; Teddy Brian Badurak of Serenity Homes Inc. of Gulfport

Friday, October 13, 2006. US: Real Estate Groups Settle FTC Complaint The Federal Trade Commission yesterday said groups representing thousands of real estate agents in five states have agreed to drop practices that hampered rival discount brokers from posting home-sale listings on Internet sites.

Friday, October 13, 2006. CA: Residents near Runkle Canyon say latest report on Rocketdyne confirms their fears An independent study released last Thursday says a 1959 nuclear meltdown at the facility has produced several cases of cancer....Scott Ouelette, KB Homes' executive vice president in charge of the Runkle Canyon development, spoke at the Sept. 25 City Council meeting. He said KB, which performed a "stringent review" of the property before gaining a financial foothold, is confident that development of the property poses "no threat" to nearby residents.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX: Builder settles dispute with S.A. homeowners Wednesday's agreement resolves all disputes between the homeowners and the builder, including the libel lawsuit, attorneys for both sides said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX: Older story about the Hiratas v. Sitterle case (Bears repeating in light of news this week that the case had settled. --Ed)

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: Builders Win Big in First Code Hearing Round (This article about the NAHB defeating codes such as hurricane ties, etc, was posted two days ago but bears repeating. --Ed.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: "Wall of Wind" helps scientists study hurricanes "If we build better and don't have these catastrophic losses, then more companies will get into the business and our rates will drop."

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: Mega-Storm Signposts Small regional home builder Kara Homes of New Jersey has filed for bankruptcy. Depositors have reason to worry. Other builders like Hovnanian, which serves the same northeastern area, has begun to ax executive and field jobs...A war has been triggered between Wall Street and lending institutions over damaged loan portfolios, the new “hot potato” in the game.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: Alan the Preposterous Rides Again Interesting commentary about the housing bubble and an email supposedly from K. Hovnanian. --Ed.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. GA: Park at Copper Trail; Homeowners site detailing their bad experience with a developer Local Residents Post Signs To Warn Public About Questionable Developers

Thursday, October 12, 2006. MI: Oakland Co. fights mortgage fraud To protect homeowners from mortgage fraud, the county will soon offer an online service that will allow people to check whether any documents, such as quit-claim deeds and warranty deeds, have been forged and recorded illegally.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. MI: Judge rules out development of Rackham must be maintained as a golf course or park -- no matter who owns it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Homeowner's site about a bad experience with DR Horton See also related Home Engineering site below.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: Home Engineering: a homeowner's website detailing their personal experieces This web site has been created to keep Americans informed about construction defects, misrepresentations and predatory lending practices by D R Horton, "America's Builder," and its fully owned subsidiary/affiliates DHI Mortgage and DHI Title.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX: Builder settles dispute with S.A. homeowners Wednesday's agreement resolves all disputes between the homeowners and the builder, including the libel lawsuit, attorneys for both sides said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Agency set to put complaints online The Texas Residential Construction Commission will soon make available online reports about investigations of defects, homeowner complaints and fines, officials said.

Yet while the state is pushing for more disclosure, some builders are threatening defamation lawsuits against homeowners who speak out.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. US: Why You Should Be Afraid of Mandatory Arbitration Agreements In short, a mandatory arbitration agreement is a contract which bars an aggrieved consumer from seeking redress in the nation's courts.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. MA: Probe targets housing abuses Massachusetts Inspector General Gregory Sullivan says "a lack of oversight" by the state has prompted an investigation of 10 developers, in a diverse cross section of communities, suspected of abusing affordable-housing laws and hiding profits.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. PA: Lawsuits block Ryan from work on housing project Court records show a flurry of legal actions filed by the Cargnoni companies against one another earlier this year. Charges include in part unpaid bills, mechanics' liens, overbilling, fraud and mismanagement. Some actions were partially resolved in late April, which allowed for the release of some lots to NVR, Inc. of Reston, Va., the parent company of Ryan Homes.

But not enough.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX: State-sought home fixes rarely made (TRCC) Construction board lacks authority to have builders correct defects: Homeowners often find that if they don't get relief through the agency, their options are limited. Some may opt for a private, fee-based arbitration hearing. An arbitrator's decision is legally binding, not subject to appeal and not made public, unlike a court judgment. Almost all large builders have mandatory arbitration clauses in their contracts. But arbitration can be a risk for homeowners, as some end up owing the builders....Some smaller, custom homebuilders simply disappear or threaten bankruptcy if homeowners don't agree to a settlement.

Ms. Cogdell, whose Sachse home needs foundation repair, said builder Doug Buchar told her that he might file for bankruptcy if she continued the case. (Editor's note: article contains quote from one of the owners of Construction Arbitration Services, the company investigated for bias, etc, in this Public Citizen report: http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=1775 )

Thursday, October 12, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Homes sales fall for month As builders try to sell a larger-than-usual inventory of new homes, their aggressive incentives are making it hard for the ordinary homeowner to compete, brokers have said. The builders have paid bonuses to real-estate agents, offered lower interest rates to buyers and thrown in freebies such as furniture sets and pools. Home sellers need to price their homes competitively to get buyers in the door, Smith said.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. NY Times; may require registration to view: Insurers Get an Earful From Senator Sometimes, political connections come in handy. Ask Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Mr. Lott, a Republican and former majority leader, is one of thousands of homeowners on the Gulf Coast who have been fighting with their insurers over payments for damage in Hurricane Katrina. In an interview yesterday, he said he was angry about the insurers’ “insensitivity and outright meanness” in rejecting many homeowners’ claims.

He said he inserted a provision into legislation, signed by President Bush last week, directing the Department of Homeland Security to investigate potential fraud by the insurance industry.

Thursday, October 12, 2006. CO: Builders agree to pull anti-Colgan ads The group running a barrage of advertisements targeting Joe Colgan has agreed to pull them in response to local complaints, said officials familiar with the discussions.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: KB Home delays filing over stock-option probe An ongoing internal investigation into its stock options will delay the third-quarter earnings report for KB Home, the company said Tuesday. The delay could create problems with the giant homebuilder's financing arrangements.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. WA; Nat'l interest: Washington Supreme Court Interprets Notice Provisions in Construction Defect Statute The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals, holding that the pre-litigation notice requirement becomes operative only after the construction professional has given the contract notice. (Re: "Right to Repair" law. --Ed.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Subcontractors Can Be Sued in Tort for Negligence in Building Homes, Colorado Supreme Court Rules The court explained that the subcontractors owed a duty of care to act without negligence when constructing homes.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Pitchford's opponent's inclusion in lawsuit may be attempt to SLAPP down free speech Jackie Trancynger can't figure out why she's been named in a lawsuit filed by developer Bill Reily....'"In a typical SLAPP, an individual or citizens' group — the 'target' or defendant — is sued by the 'filer' or plaintiff for alleged wrongdoing simply because that individual or group has used constitutionally protected rights to persuade the government to take a particular course of action."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: Bankruptcies likely to spike, experts warn Consumer lawyers say they are already beginning to see some "victims" of real-estate investments during the housing boom.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Meeting notices, new material posted frequently. Good opportunity for the public to have a say in problems with the state constractors licensing agency.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: Victims of Exotic Mortgages, Frightened of Losing Homes According to Consumer Advocate Gill, as a whole the real estate and mortgage industries have proven without a doubt that you cannot rely on them to give you proper advice. Federal and State governments have proven that you cannot rely on them to protect you. (Posted for informational purposes only. We have not seen or reviewed the material mentioned in this press release but the info may be helpful. --Ed.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Nat'l interest: Lawsuit filed related to alleged scam The suit also asks to be considered as a class action suit that could include all the people claiming to be victims of the alleged (real estate) scam.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: Wall Street questioning effects of bad loans, defaults on investors Today, a complex Wall Street machine buys and sells mortgages and packages the loans into securities that are diced and sliced and sold again to investors worldwide...Bear Stearns Cos. and other companies are suing lenders that they claim passed on bad mortgages that quickly defaulted.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. Nat'l interest: Foundation Seepage Investigation "Your average home buyer believes they are protected by the law when it comes to known defects on the part of the homeowner," said Barry Schilling, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for US Waterproofing. "This is not true. (Posted for informational purposes only. Not an endorsement of the company providing the info. --Ed.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: The Advantage of a Housing Slump As home builders lay off workers and purchase fewer materials and discouraged home-owning consumers stopped spending as much, the country could even face a recession, according to some dire predictions that fortunately seem to have little support.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. US: Debunking the Green Building Myth Is super-sized housing defeating conservation efforts?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006. USA Today: Home builders see no end in sight to housing fall In addition to the housing slowdown, KB Home is also facing an SEC investigation into stock-option grants.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: Builders Win Big in First Code Hearing Round (National Association of Home builders (NAHB) defeated proposed codes such as: better insulation, hurricane resistant clips on roof-framing, carbon monoxide detectors, fire dept access roads and fire protection water supply...and more. --Ed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: Parody Video: "Real Financial Heroes poking fun at those who bought too much house. There is a part 2, also!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: Flipping Frenzy New entry today on Iowa mortgage fraud case

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. TX: Are homeowner associations environmentally unfriendly? Reporter requests stories on restrictive covenants in Texas subdivisions: This is a time sensitive story - he has a couple of days. Please email or call him as soon as you can.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. GA; Nat'l interest: For elderly, home rehab a cruel joke The couple — who live on a fixed income of $1,263 a month — said they found cigarettes burns on their furniture and empty beer cans in a closet. Neighbors told them about wild parties in the house. Some of their belongings were missing. And the work done by the contractor, they said, was generally shoddy. Even a new ramp built for Louie Sheriff is useless because it's too steep, a problem that's left the wheelchair-dependent retiree housebound.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. KY: Residents say put brakes on home building She urged that the city's "terrible infrastructure problems" be addressed first, telling of four of her Lansdowne neighbors who repeatedly have flooding in their basements.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. NC: Haywood leading way with slope regulation The Naffins and 10 of their neighbors now have condos that are worthless because they’re too dangerous to live in. The town has refused to condemn the homes, meaning owners are paying mortgages on property they can’t use. One person has filed bankruptcy...The momentum for more mountainside development regulation is building but the laws still find traditional adversaries in homebuilders associations and real estate offices.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. CA: Running Horse Golf Course: Up for Sale? over the past year, managing partners Scott Webb and Tom O'meara have been plagued by money problems and now have reportedly put Running Horse up for sale...The builder who started the work two years ago never finished. Only a third of the 58 home sites are occupied. Lupe Sanchez is one resident who are still waiting.

Sanchez said, "It's been a struggle for us. You still have to pay rent, interest payments and all other bank penalties that come along with it."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. NY: Contractor indicted in alleged scam Thomas B. DuFore, 33, of Gansevoort Road faces felony counts of grand larceny and misappropriation of funds of a trust and a misdemeanor count of petit larceny.

He operates DuFore Construction LLC.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. NJ: Water, mold in crawl space prove persistent irritants Blankfard also has 11 years' worth of correspondence with developer Hovson's Inc., township engineers, the Holiday Heights Code Committee, Mayor Jason J. Varano and even the 9th Legislative District Office in Lacey.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. NJ; Nat'l interest: Kara's failure worries banks Kara Homes' bankruptcy filing could hurt a number of banks and make lenders more cautious about lending to builders as the real estate market slumps.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: D.R. Horton 4Q Orders Fall 25 Percent The cancellation rate, or homes cancelled divided by gross homes sold, rose to 40 percent for the fourth quarter from 29 percent in the third quarter.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: KB Home Delays 3Q Filing Home builder KB Home said Tuesday it won't make a deadline for filing its third-quarter financial report because it needs more time to finish a review of its history of granting stock options, after a committee uncovered evidence of improper accounting for the options.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. NY: Grand jury homes in on shady contractor (Jim Cartrette) The case, reported by the Advance, highlighted problems with the city Department of Consumer Affairs licensing system, which can result in people with arrest and prison records getting a license to operate a home improvement contracting company.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. FL: Contractor: Law needs to keep thieves out of business pool Electrical firm owner complains that employees convicted of stealing from him are still able to get state licenses -- and become his competitors

Tuesday, October 10, 2006. US: Ameriquest Mortgage Company Settlement The Settlement resolves an investigation by the Attorneys General and/or banking and finance regulators of every state (except Virginia) and the District of Columbia into claims that Ameriquest and other affiliated companies had engaged in various unlawful mortgage lending practices from January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2005. It includes Ameriquest, ACC Capital Holdings Corp., Town and Country Credit Corp., and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc. (formerly doing business under the name Bedford Home Loans).

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: "Community & Environmental Defense Services" "CEDS exists solely to help people defend their community and environment from the impact of sprawl and other flawed development projects." (Not an endorsement. Posted for informational purposes only. --HADD)

Monday, October 09, 2006.Mortgage Fraud Blog/News New articles posted almost daily

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News New articles posted today

Monday, October 09, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes in Bankruptcy Kara Homes Inc., the New Jersey builder known for so-called McMansions, filed for bankruptcy after $250,000 discounts failed to lure buyers.

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: Engineers Commit to Ending Corruption About 10 percent of the approximately $4 trillion spent annually for engineering and construction worldwide is lost to corrupt activities, according to conservative estimates.

Monday, October 09, 2006. FL: Central Floridians arrested on workers' comp fraud charges Zeigler Concrete & Reinforcing Inc. & Jaxon Painting Inc.

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: FDIC: A Wealth of Housing Data Although written for banking experts, the FDIC report is for anyone interested in the housing market.

Monday, October 09, 2006. UT: Heber City man charged with fraud and racketeering A convicted swindler (Jack Daggs) with a 30-year criminal history has been charged with fraud and racketeering for not building log homes paid for by customers in Utah and other states.

Monday, October 09, 2006. NJ: Kara Homes in Bankruptcy After Mortgage Payment Offer ``There could be many similar filings in markets glutted with single family homes,'' said Gerard Cassidy, managing director of bank equity research for RBC Capital Markets in Portland, Maine. ``Kara is already at the table.

Monday, October 09, 2006. MI: PDF, the Fifth Third lawsuit re: mortgage fraud Numerous defendants named

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: Even if it's allowed, don't charge your down payment If you're unable to save enough money for a minimal down payment for a conventional mortgage, you probably shouldn't be buying a home and might not be able to keep up with the monthly payments on your credit cards and home loan if the deal is approved.

Monday, October 09, 2006. MI: Taylor may halt home construction They pointed to 18 new housing developments in the city where sales and construction have stalled, leaving blight, vandalism and empty structures

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: Lenders must do more to explain creative mortgages when lenders begin to mass market them and add on a lot of other features, payment-option and interest-only mortgages can verge on toxic.

Among the risk features the federal government wants lenders to avoid piling on:

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: H. R. 4772, Private Property Rights Implementation Act of 2006 "To simplify and expedite access to the Federal courts for injured parties whose rights and privileges under the United States Constitution have been deprived by final actions of Federal agencies or other government officials or entities acting under color of State law, and for other purposes." (This is the bill the building industry supports, to move cases to federal court, where there would potentially be a decision more favorable to developers. In our opinion, would possibly be a give-away to developers under the guise of private property rights. --Ed.)

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: S 3873 PCS, Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2006 A BILL To protect private property rights.

Monday, October 09, 2006. US: ONE LAST CHANCE for Federal Eminent Domain Reform From Castle Coalition, RE: Current Legislation, S. 3873, the "Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2006." (There are two nearly identical SOUNDING bills, this one and also the "Private Property Rights Implementation Act" HR 4772 which is supported by the building industry. --Ed.

Monday, October 09, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Choice Homes Complaints Homeowner's site about thier experience with Choice Homes. Note on site mentions that Oct 16-22 is "National Freedom of Speech Week." Homeowner is being sued by the builder for their complaints.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. MS: Home contractor arrested for fraud Lambert, 35, of 817 Wheeler Dr. in Sandersville, was arrested Thursday by detectives of the LPD and charged under the new home repair fraud law that went into effect July 1, of this year. Lambert was operating under KRL Concrete Specialists

Sunday, October 08, 2006. AZ: Homeowners complain builders (Beazer; UDC/Sheah Homes) did shoddy work Fueled by frustration, a desire to raise awareness and a need for action from the homebuilders, the homeowners went beyond some more conventional ways to voice dissatisfaction with their homes, such as filing a complaint with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. (Shea/UDC has threatened a lawsuit also, the article says. --ed.)

Sunday, October 08, 2006. NY; US: In Buffalo, a house is a home, not an investment At a time when the slowing national housing market is causing worries that a housing bubble is in danger of bursting in some of the most superheated markets, Canisius College economist George Palumbo said the Buffalo Niagara region's low home prices and slow growth in home values make it highly unlikely that the local real estate market is in danger of a steep fall.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. FL: Amendment 3 strips power from the people ''Maybe the powers-that-be aren't happy with the idea of citizens fighting back,'' ventured Blackner, arch-enemy of a cabal of builders, landowners, lenders and land speculators who have long had their way with this state.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. US: Stop Mortgage Fraud Mortgage Bankers Association set up this website.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Protect yourself against threat of mortgage theft Real estate fraud includes everything from forged documents and deeds to predatory lending practices.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. US: Giant Scam? Real Estate Dreams Dashed, Debts Mount

Sunday, October 08, 2006. MI; US: Flipping Frenzy Numerous entries about mortgage fraud including the case in MI involving Fifth Third.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. US: Home ownership is great; just don't call it an investment Let me clue you in to a big financial secret, Money & Lifers: buying a home really isn't any kind of investment at all.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. MI: Fifth Third Bank accuses dozens of mortgage fraud An attorney and numerous other Oakland County business owners are named in a lawsuit that alleges massive mortgage fraud at Fifth Third Bank. The lawsuit could spur a federal criminal investigation.

Sunday, October 08, 2006. Nat'l interest: Detecting danger Radon gas is estimated to cause 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year nationally...The gas is the natural byproduct of uranium decaying in the soil. It seeps into a house through cracks in the basement floor, drains, sump pumps and loose-fitting pipes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006. CO: Real estate chief targets kickbacks Toll plans to go after appraisers who inflate real estate values with the same gusto she went after title insurance companies that gave illegal kickbacks to people in the real estate industry while she was in her previous role at the insurance commission.

Saturday, October 07, 2006. Kansas City: Sizing up appraiser is key for a homebuyer The lawsuit alleged appraisers conspired with mortgage brokers and inflated appraised values to support loans that greatly exceeded the values of the houses. It said the scheme boosted business and generated unjustified fees.

Saturday, October 07, 2006. NJ: Bankruptcy is met with uncertainty (Kara Homes) Ocean Township lawyer Douglas Katich said Friday that he would file civil lawsuits on behalf of several customers charging company officials with fraud — a charge he said would be appropriate "if they are soliciting deposits when they knew the business wasn't viable."

Saturday, October 07, 2006. NJ: Hovnanian laying off some employees Kara Homes is not the only home builder affected by a slowdown in the residential real estate market.

At Hovnanian Enterprises, New Jersey's largest home builder, the downturn has led to an unspecified number of layoffs.

Saturday, October 07, 2006. NJ: Hard times for NJ Builder Adding to the company's woes, the supervisor said, it is likely that delivery of homes will be delayed, risking lawsuits from homebuyers who made hefty down payments.
The list of creditors includes suppliers, subcontractors and unpaid Kara employees.

Friday, October 06, 2006. CT: Governor Rell Issues Executive Order Championing Responsible Growth “If left unchecked, sprawl will continue to fragment the landscape, impair our ability to remain economically competitive, consume precious natural resources, waste energy, and pollute our air and water. This is an issue that has been talked about by state and local officials for years. It is time we tackled the issue head on. It is time to lead our state in a more responsible direction.”

Friday, October 06, 2006. National interest: Green Building video part 2 see below

Friday, October 06, 2006. National interest: Green building video Couple remodels 1920's era home with "green" materials & methods.

Friday, October 06, 2006. Kansas City: First Magnus, and Mortgage fraud lawsuit See related article from Kansas City posted today also.

Friday, October 06, 2006. US: Protecting your home Explains the difference between Licensed, Bonded, Qualified, and Insured, re: Contractors

Friday, October 06, 2006. Canada: The Holms Foundation The mission of The Holmes Foundation is to ensure that all residential renovation and construction in Canada is done right–the first time.

Friday, October 06, 2006. Kansas City: Suit claims mortgage fraud in KC The suit described a scheme that originated at Star Equity Funding LLC and then jumped to Reis Enterprises Inc., American Residential Funding Inc., which was not listed as a defendant, and Olympic Mortgage in succession. These companies often had the same phone number, address and employees as the predecessor.

Friday, October 06, 2006. NJ: Owner told to demolish home sliding toward pit The demolition order, issued Wednesday, is the latest chapter in a nearly two-year dispute between 68-year-old Sarmanoukian and a construction company whose pounding and blasting next door has damaged her home beyond repair. It is also an extreme example of the risks faced by North Jersey property owners who have or will become neighbors to construction sites in a building spree that began about five years ago.

Friday, October 06, 2006. NJ: Glassboro suing over unfinished Oberst work Borough officials said the developer has not been responsive in fulfilling its obligations to the residents or the community, leaving the borough to "perform works of repair, restoration, and construction" and to "ensure the health and safety of the residents," according to the suit.

Friday, October 06, 2006. CO: Roberts renounces Colgan ad Roberts said the ad targeting Democrat Joe Colgan is "not consistent with the civil and respectful nature that I hope and expect of all candidates, including myself," according to a statement issued by her campaign. She called for it to be pulled from the air. ...The ad was created by Committee for the American Dream, a political group associated with the Colorado Association of Home Builders.

Friday, October 06, 2006. TX: FBI probing contracts with renewal agency Investigation into the operations of a housing organization, San Antonio Development Agency.

Friday, October 06, 2006. NC: Habitat For Humanity's losses top $500,000 Davidson said an employee took cash mortgage payments from homeowners, then falsified records and reports to the board and pocketed the cash.

Friday, October 06, 2006. NJ: Housing Bust Kara Homes Inc., one of the biggest home builders in Monmouth and Ocean counties, has filed for protection from creditors under the bankruptcy laws.

Friday, October 06, 2006. MI: Michigan Civil Lawsuit Alleges Fraud Involving Eleven Loans Funded by Fifth Third Bank Inflated appraisals, fraud, civil conspiracy, and more. LONG list of defendants, and addresses of the properties. --Ed.

Friday, October 06, 2006. OK: The new "In Your Corner" team OKC's KFOR-TV used to have a great consumer spot done by Brad Edwards. When Edwards died earlier this year we lost a wonderful consumer advocate and investigative journalist who frequently covered the topic of contractor fraud. KFOR is announcing that they will continue "In Your Corner." I talked to Brad Edwards once by phone and he certainly did get the bad builder problem! His passing will be greatly missed. Contact info for the station: PHONE: 405- 478-6363, EMAIL: InYourCorner@kfor.com --HADD Secretary

Friday, October 06, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Mortgage Fraud rocks Fifth Third Bank A multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme involving pricey homes in Bloomfield Hills and Birmingham has resulted in a half-dozen firings and resignations at Fifth Third Bank, according to court documents.

The alleged scheme involved a conspiracy among bank employees, appraisers, title companies, and others....Another defendant in the civil suit is Robert S. Shumake, a prominent Detroit-area businessman and former city track star who is CEO of Inheritance Investment Group in Southfield.

Shumake has denied wrongdoing and has filed a counterclaim alleging breach of contract by Fifth Third.

Central to the bank's accusations is Bloomfield Hills lawyer Paul J. Nicoletti, who is also president of Continental Title Insurance Agency Inc.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. MT: The last best house? In December, the new homeowners were allowed to move in, before the homes had even been completed.

Within weeks, the crawl spaces beneath the Waverly Street townhomes began flooding, homeowners discovered mold in the attics, and the siding began to buckle.

The problems were caused by a variety of circumstances and mistakes. According to Grogan, lumber used in the attics got damp before the homes were finished, then an unusually wet winter set in, and with the heat on conditions were ripe for mold to flourish. The flooded crawl spaces were apparently brought about by an oversight; when plans for the homes were changed from slab foundation to crawl space, sump pumps were not drawn in. Marguerite Amstadt purchased one of the homes and moved in on Dec. 28, 2005. “It’s been a trying nine months,” she says now. “I wish I were just telling you that I was extremely happy to be here.” Since the problems were discovered, WHDI (Whitefish Housing Development Incorporated) has spent about $27,000 fixing the homes, Grogan says. The mold has been abated, the siding is being replaced and sump pumps have been retrofitted into the crawl spaces. Amstadt says things are moving in the right direction with the townhomes now, but adds, “No one else should have to go through this.” (WHDI is not the builder, it is a charity to put people in affordable homes. --ed.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006. FL: Limit 'far-fetched' lawsuits? Crist running mate has one of his own, critics say In a potentially multimillion-dollar claim filed in August 2005, Kottkamp is suing a worldwide construction company and its subcontractor, claiming they failed to clean up adequately after a water leak at Fort Myers' Health Park Medical Center. The conditions spawned the mold in his chest, the suit alleges.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. IL: Builder sends threat of lawsuit to critics Five Lake Barrington residents said they received hand-delivered letters around 8 p.m. Sept. 28 from developer Michael Graft Jr.'s attorney and brother, William Graft..."They are intimidating the people that are standing up and speaking about this," Schnack said.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. NY & vicinity: Red Hook plumber faces suit Lawyers in the Poughkeepsie office of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer say Heidcamp isn't the only one chasing Brown for money. Last month, Assistant Attorney General G. Nicholas Garin filed a suit against Brown in state Supreme Court, claiming he owed nine homeowners in Dutchess County a total of more than $25,000 for work he failed to complete on various jobs over the past 10 years.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. PA: Checking up on contractors could get easier with proposed law Home improvement contractors in Pennsylvania would be subject to state regulation for the first time under legislation being consid ered in the House and Senate.

The bills in both chambers would require contractors to register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the state attorney general's office.

The legislation also would make home improvement fraud a criminal offense. That would make it easier for victims to bring legal action against contractors through district attorneys or the attorney general, said Barbara Petito, spokeswoman for state Attorney General Tom Corbett.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. SC: Contractor, wife, charged with fraud Henry Stokes Moseley Jr., 46, has been charged with three counts of obtaining goods under false pretenses, Sheriff James Metts said in a news release. His wife, Meredith Gerald Moseley, 36, was charged with criminal conspiracy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. Nat'l interest: Mogul's network bankrolls Prop. 90 "A lot of times (the groups) are just used as part of an elaborate money-laundering scheme to hide the true involvement of donors,''

Thursday, October 05, 2006. FL: Regulator imposes sanctions on lender Although the order mentioned no specific cases, the regulators' action comes less than five months after R-G Crown became ensnared in a construction industry scandal involving John Barrington, a former local builder who was arrested in May on money laundering and drug charges.

Barrington, a convicted felon formerly known as John Jakows...

Thursday, October 05, 2006. WI: The big chill for home sellers 'For Sale' signs dot landscape as county housing market cools down: Contracts for future residential construction in the Madison metro area - Dane, Columbia, and Iowa counties - were down 66 percent last month

Thursday, October 05, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Economist: Homebuilders Slow to React “The permits are moving in the wrong direction,” Anderson said. Homebuilders "haven’t responded to the housing slowdown. They are building as though it's business as usual.”

Thursday, October 05, 2006. MS: McCoy questions whom tax cut would benefit Gov. Haley Barbour needs to guarantee that consumers, rather than contractors, will benefit from his proposed tax cut on modular housing, a top lawmaker says.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. US: Forecast: Housing slowdown will result in widespread price declines Housing prices, slumping after a five-year boom, are projected to decline in more than 100 metropolitan areas, with the Northeast, Florida and California among the areas hardest hit.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. MI: Judge to rule on Rackham Huntington Woods filed a lawsuit against Detroit in June seeking to enforce a deed restriction that requires the 123-acre property stay a public course or park. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wants to sell the property to Premium Golf, which wants to build housing on the land.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. MI: No deal for state recreation land Developer cancels deal with DNR to buy 130 acres of Genoa parkland for housing project.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. MI: Taylor bans new housing developments The economy has caused too many construction projects to idle and become eyesores, officials said.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. US: Topping 2006 ballots: eminent domain In November, 12 states have initiatives on the ballot that seek to protect private property against seizure and regulation.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. US: National Association of Consumer Advocates NACA has numerous articles of interest re: consumer protection, arbitration, predatory lending, and other issues.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. NV; Nat'l interest: HUD charges Nevada homebuilder with violation of Fair Housing Act WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Perma-Bilt Corporation, a Nevada-based corporation, and its Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ruth Ochoa with violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against Terrell and Candra Evans and their children because of the children’s disabilities.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: South TX development battles headed to court more often Wrob is part of a growing number of city officials and residents who spoke out against real estate projects by San Antonio developers — and were then sued by the developers when the deals soured.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. FL: Florida Workforce Housing Network Florida Workforce Housing Network is a free, all-volunteer, information-sharing resource for cities and counties, public policy makers, activists, attorneys, builders and developers, planners, manufacturers, administrators, consultants, sales agents, lenders, students and journalists.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Builders added to housing inflation In response to the Sept. 22 article, "Lennar's quarterly profit down 39%," in the Business section, I believe that this crash in the stock is the fault of homebuilders like Lennar Corp., that have allowed this inflation to occur. This profit decrease is merely inflation catching up with the people who have stimulated it over the past five years.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. CO: State House candidate criticizes ad The ad was sponsored by Committee for the American Dream, a political action committee created by the Colorado Association of Home Builders.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. NJ: Home builder may file for bankruptcy protection Are you a Kara Homes customer or employee who
will be affected by Kara Homes' bankruptcy filing? For
information or to talk to a reporter, e-mail Home News Tribune
staff writer Carmen Cusido at ccusido@thnt.com or call her at
(732) 565-7296.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. AZ: Builder to appeal ruling on fire fees levied on units under construction An appeals court ruled Friday that the Northwest Fire/Rescue District can charge developers a Facilities Benefit Assessment Fee. The defendant, Lennar/US Home, will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, said Ed Taczanowsky, the president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. US: Exposing New Home Builders New entries recently, one asking for homeowners' stories.

Thursday, October 05, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud in the news Recent entries.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. LA: 5 men arrested for felony theft related to contractor fraud Dallas Shane McClanahan with Watertight Roofing; John Franklin Richmond II, owner of Hardwood Custom Cabinets; Timothy J. Peterson with AAA Professional Exterior Building Maintenance Services; Flubert Louis Sabathier Jr., of Mandeville, with All-American Renovation and Contracting; Nelvin A. Sellers, with Sellers Construction

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. LA: State Licensing Board Hands Down Punishment to Arrested Contractor Investigators say Fontenot agreed to construct an addition to a family's home and then took off with $43,000.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. US: A homeowner posts her problems with window flashing on a building forum We don't normally post forum threads on the news page, but this is very educational. Window flashing is one of the most commonly omitted materials we hear about in HADD builder complaints. This shortcut is very expensive to fix when later damage is discovered. It's also a shortcut easy to spot on builders' homes. We do not advise buying from a builder who is not flashing the windows properly. --HADD

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. Nat'l interest re: Tort Reform & mold cases: Kottkamp lawsuit challenges party line Kottkamp hovered close to death two years ago, after a devastating mold infection developed in his chest following heart-bypass surgery.

But Kottkamp isn't suing the doctors or hospital, whose financial liability would be limited in the case. Instead, he is targeting a multibillion-dollar building firm, contending its shoddy work allowed the mold into the hospital. In a strange political twist, Kottkamp is using legal tactics that Florida's Republican-ruled Legislature have railed against and struggled to stamp out.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. OR: Springfield UGB Is Debated It believes the contribution of money from the Homebuilders could taint the study.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. FL: Protections can double discount Florida insurance companies must increase the discounts they give homeowners who add hurricane shutters, roof straps or similar storm-protection measures under a rule passed Tuesday by the Florida Cabinet. The discounts will be up to twice what they currently offer.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006. US: Home builders' CEOs make timely stock sales Investors hurt by the sharp slide in home-builder stocks might now wish they'd kept a closer eye on what industry executives were doing with their own holdings.
CEOs of three of the top eight U.S. home builders sold large amounts of stock last year and avoided some of the financial pain since the shares peaked, a review of regulatory filings for USA TODAY by Thomson Financial shows.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: Ouch! Your house payment just doubled Big, fat surprises are ahead for about 20% of homeowners: Their complicated, often-risky adjustable mortgages are going to soar as introductory interest rates expire.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US; international: Bubble farce Financial engineers devised new and innovative ways to leverage the witless homeowner into a house he couldn't afford and could never hope to pay for.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. PA: Brandywine balks at builder's try to cut funds Grande Land wants to rescind a commitment of $1.375 million to offset the district's costs for students coming from two subdivisions not yet built.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: A Different Take on New Home Sales The data itself is reported not by a neutral observer, but by the Builders (an interested party) to the Commerce Department

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: Write Makes Right Homeowners, Write, Track and Publish Letters to Government, Vendors & HOAs using the AHRC Website

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: Dangerous Loans from A to Z There is a veritable alphabet-soup of mortgages, which are mislabeled "non-traditional" or "exotic" mortgages. With such mild names they are often passed off as basically normal mortgages with a few added features. In reality, they have all the safety of permitting a six-month old infant to play with a hand grenade.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. FL: Amendment 3 seeks 60% approval The biggest contributors appear to be the home builders and developers who fear a pending constitutional initiative -- called Hometown Democracy -- that would make it more difficult for local governments to rezone land and would give citizen groups more power in local planning decisions.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: Coping With Stiffer Lending Rules Pretty much already carved in stone, the rules, headed for a final 60-day public comment period, seek to curtail the rise in the risky business of "nontraditional," "alternative," "exotic," even "toxic" mortgages, including interest-only, payment-option, piggy-back, stated-income (no-doc) and other types of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs), as well as some home equity loans.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. OR: City considers sealing deal on housing study The fact that the city would consider partnering with the builders' group doesn't sit right with Segel.

"I'm disappointed that Springfield would accept half the money from a special interest like that," she said. "It looks (like an) impropriety."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: Housing Hangover? The role of low interest rates and novel loan structures in helping buyers enter the market — or trade up to McMansions — has been well-documented. Less understood is the potentially problematic financing that has enabled developers to increase their supply of land to meet, and perhaps exceed, this unprecedented demand.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. FL: PSL subdivision construction shut down after damage to sewer As a result, the city building department won't issue any more permits or certificates of occupancy to the home builders, Lennar and Centex Homes, until they fix the damage, city officials said.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. US: IRS Plans to Look at Small Builders More Closely Ann Makres, senior stakeholder liaison with the agency’s small business/self-employed division, told builders during an informational session at the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead, N.D. that small businesses and self-employed people will be looked at more closely because many are not reporting all their business income, overstating business expenses or underreporting self-employment tax.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: CENSUS 2006: Habits, real estate set Michigan apart Census data released for publication today show that while growth in median home values in Michigan lag that in the rest of the nation, homeowners here have kept pace with the national trend toward getting second mortgages and home-equity loans, taking advantage of low interest rates and using their stake in their homes for ready cash.

But that may prove a dangerous strategy...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006. National interest: Home values lag ownership costs Experts say the trend threatens to squeeze families whose home investment may no longer be growing as fast as the expenses of maintaining it.

Monday, October 02, 2006. National interest: Shreveport company is in the money "Checking to see how a builder pays his bills is just as important as calling the chamber of commerce or Better Business Bureau," Edwards said.

That is because a builder who doesn't pay bills can mean trouble even for the homeowner, as the collection company could file a lien against the property.

Monday, October 02, 2006. KS/MO: Reminder: Miller Enterprises case Next court hearing posted on Dept of Justice website is Oct 16, 2006

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: Immigration and employers The reality is that we don't have an "Illegal Immigration" problem in America. We have an "Illegal Employer" problem.

Yet it's almost never mentioned in the mainstream media, because to point it out could slightly reduce the profits and CEO salaries of many of America's largest multi-state and multinational corporations - who both own the media and contribute heavily to conservative politicians.

Monday, October 02, 2006. AL: Montgomery Home Buyers' Fraud Suit The latest complaints in this alleged home buying scheme are just three in a string of several similar charges against Wilmar, Inc. partner, Don Martin. He made headlines 14 years ago when the feds indicted Martin on 43 counts of fraud June 15, 1992. Martin later pled guilty for swindling homeowners out of their mortgage payments. Most of them lost their homes in the process, just like two of three latest accusers.

Monday, October 02, 2006. LA: Contractor fraud soars in New Orleans The Louisiana attorney general's office says it is pursuing criminal investigations of 183 cases of alleged contractor fraud, and an additional 48 are being reviewed for criminal activity. There have been 20 related arrests. And 135 other cases are being investigated as civil matters by the consumer protection section of the state attorney general's office.

Monday, October 02, 2006. NY: Bill Buza and Sons Construction Company in hot water You place your faith, trust, and money in a company for a home improvement project, but instead you end up losing thousands and still no renovations.

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: Homebuilders slammed by downgrades Shares of major homebuilding companies fell again

Monday, October 02, 2006. NJ: Report says code officials under probe A state report issued in March 2005 on new home construction said overworked inspectors were part of a dysfunctional system that allowed "potentially dangerous building code violations" to go unnoticed.

One official under investigation by the DCA is Robert K. Rogers, who worked six positions in five towns and had an overlapping schedule throughout 2005, according to state records. Rogers reportedly made several mistakes that cost homeowners tens of thousands of dollars and led to lawsuits against the borough of Ridgefield.

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: Even new homes should be inspected The fit and finish work of most new homes is usually very good. The problems typically occur in the subsurface work, where the builder may not be as disciplined. Here are some problems that professional inspectors have told me that they have uncovered in brand new homes:

Monday, October 02, 2006. AZ: Fire districts can impose construction fees The Court of Appeals reversed a Pima County Superior Court judge and instead ruled in favor of the Northwest Fire District in a lawsuit filed against a major homebuilder, U.S. Home Corp.

Monday, October 02, 2006. MN: Business Bankruptcies for Oct 1st Daniel C. Vevea and Terri J. Vevea, formerly doing business as Today's Classic Home Builders, 18845 Nowthen Blvd., Anoka; filed Sept. 26, 06-42112; Chap. 7; assets, $437,165; liabilities, $602,751.

Monday, October 02, 2006. GA: Dream home a nightmare after three closing extensions, a punch list of incomplete tasks, several mechanic liens on the property, no Certificate of Occupancy to date and a builder who filed for bankruptcy, the Teals are demanding accountability — along with some of their neighbors who must also cope with liens on their property and punch lists that haven't been completed. (Article states the Builder is Teresa Lynn Lewis and Bobby Lewis, developer is Pathway Communities, houses marketed by The Home Source Realtors. --Ed.)

Monday, October 02, 2006. ABC: Extreme Home Makeover As a result of her husband's autopsy, Maryann learned that the basement of her family's home was contaminated with dangerous levels of toxic spores. Her doctor advised the mother and her six children to vacate the house for health reasons. (If you missed this watch for the repeat! --Ed.)

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: Study Finds Missed Messages On Capitol Hill "Citizens would be understandably upset if they knew that letters they sent through the U.S. Post Office were never delivered," writes Dennis W. Johnson, a George Washington University professor who oversaw the study for the e-mail company, Capitol Advantage. "Unfortunately, there is strong evidence that much of the electronic mail that citizens assume is reaching Congress is ending up in an electronic trash can." (Maybe you should go back to writing letters to your elected officials on paper and/or calling on the phone! --Ed.)

Monday, October 02, 2006. OH; Nat'l interest: Campaign Cash Mirrors a High Court's Rulings In the weeks before the election, Justice O'Donnell's campaign accepted thousands of dollars from the political action committees of three companies that were defendants in the suits. Two of the cases dealt with defective cars, and one involved a toxic substance. Weeks after winning his race, Justice O'Donnell joined majorities that handed the three companies significant victories. (Similar benefits may be forthcoming when building trade groups contribute large sums of money to a judge or other elected officials in elections. E.g. Texas builder Bob Perry, and the TRCC. --ED.)

Monday, October 02, 2006. WA; National interest: Interest groups have taken over elections, panel fears "The only reasonable conclusion you can draw from those facts is that the entities — the corporations, trade associations, unions — have taken control of the election process," Commissioner Mike Connelly said. "By the simple volume of the money being spent, they have taken over ... pre-empted if you will, the voters and individual citizens." (WA's Building Industry is listed as a major contributor. --ED.)

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: Your Next Home: Custom or Modular? Consumer Affairs article; discusses the significant difference between "manufactured" homes and "modular" homes. Be sure to see the links to the side on home-related articles and a few builder complaints, too. --Ed.

Monday, October 02, 2006. US: The curse of negative equity: Is there an escape? Lenders are supposed to be more worldly and wiser, but in fact, they are caught up with the tooth fairy of appreciation just as much as borrowers.

Monday, October 02, 2006. National interest; from Washington Post: Court Ruling Fuels Dispute in West Over Eminent Domain "bait-and-switch" ... "They bait you with eminent domain, but you end up voting to destroy all land-use regulation,"...The federal bill, which was approved in the House by a vote of 231 to 181, would revamp land-use regulation nationwide, allowing developers and property owners to challenge local and state rulings in federal court, rather than in state court.

The National Association of Home Builders has been pushing the measure for years, but the Supreme Court's eminent-domain decision finally "brought the bill back into the limelight," said Jerry Howard, the association's chief executive.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: Does your state have an "Anti-SLAPP" law? Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPP suits) may be used to silence outspoken people.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. W. VA: The black art of suing into submission Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or "SLAPP" suits. These lawsuits are filed in retaliation against citizens for communicating their opinion to public agencies....People should be able to speak on issues of public concern without fearing costly litigation.
Our West Virginia state legislators need to introduce and support anti-SLAPP legislation.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. TX: Developers' feud dividing community Many leaders are reluctant to discuss the tensions publicly because of the political connections of both sides.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: Confessions of an Ex-Mortgage Lender "The average person only gets a mortgage every seven years. How can you become good at something you do every seven years, especially if you're dealing with somebody who knows all the ins and outs and is doing this several times a day?"

Sunday, October 01, 2006. UT: Locals see land plan as a 'disaster' Residents say they don't trust land developer

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: What Bankers Really Fear The financial fools who created the bubble that is now collapsing are desperately trying to manage the coming financial shipwreck.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: The Cost of Arbitration Public Citizen presents the first comprehensive collection of information on arbitration costs.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog recent entries

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: Blowing off the coast Too often in our nation's history have states or the federal government succumbed to the entreaties of influential real estate developers to help insure property in flood plains near rivers or in hurricane zones along the coast.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. TX: Builders paying to avoid City Hall With San Antonio's costly tree-preservation ordinance still on the books, and with city officials rejecting attempts by developers to avoid it, Powell is part of a broad and expensive effort by the real estate industry to bypass City Hall altogether, records and interviews show.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. New Orleans: Desperation Doubles Complaints against fraudulent contractors have skyrocketed, adding insult to injury.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. MI: PDF of Court Case: ROBERSON BUILDERS, INC., v. JAMES LARSON, Sept 2006 Decision Plaintiff is a residential building contractor who was hired by defendant to complete an
extensive remodeling project on his vacation home in Cheboygan, which involved re-roofing and
the installation of siding. Defendant was not happy with the work, in particular the siding, and
withheld payment of his final bill. Plaintiff then sued defendant for the remaining balance on the
contract plus extra charges incurred during the course of the project. Defendant filed a
counterclaim, alleging breach of contract, breach of express and implied warranty, and a
violation of the MCPA. Prior to trial, however, it was discovered that plaintiff was unlicensed
and therefore barred by statute from suing to recover for compensation.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. MI: Eminent domain cases can still go to state courts Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said the measure would have permitted land developers to shop for the most receptive court while making it harder for local communities to protect against the creation of waste dumps or adult bookstores.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: KENNETH HARNEY: Cheating on mortgage forms gets riskier Borrowers who are playing games with stated incomes or falsified 1040 tax returns more likely will be spotted before closing and could be prosecuted...(Also) means never signing the form without dating it and specifying the tax years you're authorizing to be checked. Even if the loan officer insists that it's the mortgage company's standard procedure -- or worse, a precondition for obtaining the loan -- never sign an incomplete 4506-T.

In the right hands, federal income verification is a great way to fight fraud. In the wrong hands, it's an open invitation to identity theft. Or worse.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Slow sales stall Taylor projects The Island Lakes situation is the most high profile, but it is only one of many developments that have highlighted a major problem in Taylor -- housing and condominium projects that have stalled because of the weak economy and a glut of new homes for sale.

Sunday, October 01, 2006. KY: Mold in dormatory at UK Crutcher said the problem could be caused by malfunctions in the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. Some preliminary evidence suggests there could be a problem in the air intake of the forced-air system, he said. (HADD finds, or is sent, numerous articles about mold in schoos and commercial buildings. The information may be relevant to those with mold issues in homes as well. --Ed.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: News about Home Owners Association issues News posted recently

Sunday, October 01, 2006. US: Castle Coalition Organization fighting the abuse of eminent domain