December 2008 archives

Friday, December 12, 2008. Texas: Another Opportunity in Austin – Change is Coming The Sunset Commission will meet this coming Tuesday, December 16, 2008 to vote on its recommendations to either significantly regulate the homebuilding industry through licensing as well as many other changes or to Abolish TRCC. Sunset staff report recommendations will then be presented to the 2009 Legislature in January. See Sunset staff latest update material for the Sunset Commissioners Click Here Then click on the "New Issues" bookmark.

Friday, December 12, 2008. NV. National Interest: A warning for new and potential homeowners Kimball Hill buyers may be out of luck getting construction defects repaired under warranty since builder folded. Other builders could be heading same direction.

Friday, December 12, 2008. National Interest: Home, Saccharine Home Policymakers!! Put your hands up! Turn around and step away from that plan to fix the housing crisis! You've all done plenty already. The Fed has just motored out a $600 billion package for Fannie and Freddie to "force" down mortgage rates. And that came on top of allowing Fan and Fred to expand their portfolios (with $200 billion to cover losses), the Hope for Homeowners Act, which allows banks to move mortgage-holders into government-insured loans, and a $7,500 tax credit for new-home purchases. Enough!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. Arizona: Lennar Pinnacle Hill Questions, Answered It has been a while since we have revisited the Pinnacle Hill situation. Being side tracked with so many Lennar news events that have happened recently regarding toxic waste, benzene and methane gas, A Peeping Tom, Asbestos, Lawsuits, and lets not forget Bombs, it has been pretty busy. Recently we were contacted by an individual requesting information concerning this community. We have now re-opened the Pinnacle Hill chapter to get a fresh glimpse of what is happening in that area and what information we could find for our readers and also by our readers.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. New Jersey:

Shoddy homes irk legislators: Defects bring into question whether homes were ever fit for occupancy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. :
UPDATE on builder's plea for bailout:
Home Builders Pull a 180, Lobby for Mortgage ‘Cram Downs'
NAHB long opposed cram downs; readers comments interesting too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. National:
NAHB announces cutbacks.
Builders trade group cutting $11.5 million from its operating budget.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. National:
As FHA’s Role Grows, So Does the Risk of Fraud:
The review board accepted fines or penalties smaller than those recommended by HUD auditors. For example, a 2006 HUD inspector general’s audit of a Louisiana-based lender, America’s Mortgage Resource, found that a company official had been involved in a practice by lenders and home builders that was once widespread and is now banned — the use of an unapproved charity to funnel down payments to home buyers so they could qualify for F.H.A. loans.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. MO.:
UPDATE: Greenleaf raided:
Federal, state and local authorities on Tuesday raided the office of a troubled housing developer accused by customers and investigators of real estate fraud and conspiracy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008. National: UPDATE: Trial coverage of builder F. Jeffrey Miller: Ongoing coverage on right sidebar, home page of Mortgage Fraud Blog.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008. National:
Debt Watchdogs: Tamed or Caught Napping?
The housing mania was in full swing in 2005 when analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious credit-rating agency, were pressured to go back to the drawing board.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008. Nebraska:
AG sues local builder, mortgage firm, appraisers
The state is accusing a Lincoln homebuilder, mortgage broker and two appraisers of working in concert to inflate home prices to obtain mortgages fraudulently for home buyers.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008. National:

Wall Street's toxic export Securitization is a shadow banking system that funds most of the world's credit cards, car purchases, leveraged buyouts and, for a while, subprime mortgages. It also pumped out record profits for banks, accounting for as much as one-fifth of their revenue over the past decade.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008. California: Gearhart, partner face civil suit The developer and Jay Miller are accused of fraud by an investor after two North County projects stall

Tuesday, December 09, 2008. National: Homebuilders lobby Congress for billions The nation’s home builders, tired of being left off the economic bailout train, launched a lobbying campaign on Monday to push for $200 billion in housing assistance in a stimulus bill that is likely to be a top priority when the new Congress convenes in January.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Florida: State's lien laws must be changed: The construction industry obviously has a huge influence in Tallahassee. I'm tired of a government that represents the business lobbyists and not the people. Who will become the next unsuspecting victim of these ill-conceived laws? Too many have already suffered.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Florida: Builder accused of home-repair fraud “He came highly recommended and had a very good reputation,” she said. But there were problems. The Morris’ paid a total of $167,724 for home renovations toward a quoted $199,750 project, according to a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. Three months before the project was scheduled for completion, money dried up for Oberhofer’s business and the renovations were never completed, the report said.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Florida: Oakland homebuilder loses $1.64M suit, ceases operations: Robert E. Wheeler and Jeffrey G. Schnellmann, co-founders of Kelly Homes, could not be reached for comment, but an automated message at the business said the company has “suspended operations and closed [its] offices.” The message refers homeowners needing service to contact the subcontractors who worked on their houses. In addition, Kelly Homes’ Web page has been removed.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Mississippi: Protesting raids-Advocates protest Miss. anti-immigration law: Aldridge also said the legislation holds contractors accountable for subcontractors who hire illegal immigrants, and that’s a provision his organization wants amended.

Friday, December 05, 2008. National: Record 1-in-10 Americans in mortgage trouble: WASHINGTON - A record one in 10 American homeowners with a mortgage were either at least a month behind on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of September as the source of housing market pressure shifted to the crumbling U.S. economy.

Friday, December 05, 2008. National Interest: Unions Back Home Buyers’ Right to Pick Mortgage Co: Ross Hyman, a research analyst for the AFL-CIO Center for Strategic Research, brings us this on a new rule that will stop Pulte Homes and other home builders from penalizing buyers who choose their own mortgage company over the builder’s.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Nevada: Del Webb to pay $27.2 million in faulty plumbing lawsuit: The developer of the Sun Cities in the Las Vegas Valley has reached a tentative settlement in a class action lawsuit over faulty plumbing.

Del Webb and its Coventry Homes of Nevada subsidiary agreed in principal on Nov. 6 to pay $27.2 million toward replumbing about 4,200 homes with Kitec plumbing fixtures, attorneys said Tuesday.

Friday, December 05, 2008. Oklahoma: Building code inspector's case reinstated: A building code inspector who was fired after protesting alleged illegal favoritism on behalf of the mayor of Blanchard has won a round in his federal free speech lawsuit.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. KS: MORE trial coverage of homebuilder F. Jeffrey Miller and others Mortgage fraud trial

Thursday, December 04, 2008. CO: Builder's bankruptcy puts home buyers in limbo With Village Homes reorganizing, some between 'rock and hard place'

Thursday, December 04, 2008. FL: More trouble for developer Another property owned by prominent Venice developer Mike Miller has slipped into foreclosure...Other local borrowers sued by Orion (Bank) include home builders Andrew Coles of Jade Homes; Ronald Mustari of Whitehall Homes; David Lewis of DL Homes; and Jack LeFrock and Roger Van Wie of Coastal Cottages.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. Multi state: UPDATE on Kimball Hill Homes closing shop Homeowners Concerned About Warranties

Thursday, December 04, 2008. US: U.S. polluters to pay record $11.8 billion in 2008: EPA Centex, KB Home, Pulte, and Richmond American agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. TX; Nat'l interest: Grand TX Homes, aka Grand Homes, to pay HUD $200,00 for title insurance violations involving Grand Title HUD PDF, a settlement for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, re: their affiliated title co. Builder to pay $200,000 to HUD but admits no wrong doing. Note that in the fall of 2007 several national builders were also 'fined' similarly. By paying this fee they get out of any stiffer law enforcement consequences, however the document does say if they don't pay/comply with HUD, HUD can refer them to such action. --Ed.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. National Interest: LIUNA: Alliance For Homebuyer Justice : Are adjustable rate mortgages, sinking home values, and construction problems turning your American Dream into an American Nightmare? Explore the Alliance For Homebuyer Justice. How did big home builders contribute to the housing crisis? Have you had problems with the construction of your home? Are you facing foreclosure and looking for help? Did you get ripped off? Tell us how.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. Nevada: NEVADA VIEWS: Seeking to protect homeowners: As of January 2008 there were 2,942 homeowner associations in the state. One million people live within these associations. We were complete strangers until disputes with our respective homeowner association boards brought us together. Both of us had run into differing problems, but soon realized that a strong advocacy group was needed.
Out of our battles was born www.hoadvocates.com. This Web site has been created to bring homeowners together to fight for the restoration of homeowner rights and allow people to know what changes are being made to HOA laws.

Thursday, December 04, 2008. Nevada: County loses arbitration case, must pay $52.6 million to contractor : An arbitrator ruled Wednesday that Clark County must pay $52.6 million to a contractor it had publicly criticized for construction flaws that caused the Regional Justice Center to open four years late and millions of dollars over budget. The binding decision deals a blow to county officials who had blamed AF Construction for an array of defects plaguing the project and had expressed confidence about winning a long-running legal feud.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. WSJ: Economists: Stabilize Home Prices By Cutting Them Drastically While builders and Realtors lobby for Congress for bailout, report from Center for Economic and Policy Research calls for 20-30% price declines in the most overheated markets and for government-held Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to restrict mortgage lending.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. OH: UPDATE: Jury has Willan case The trial of Willan, ex-chief executive of three Akron businesses — Evergreen Investment Corp., Evergreen Homes and Evergreen Builders — is in its 10th day and involves 68 counts.

Willan is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, selling investment securities without a state license, aggravated theft, theft from the elderly and other financial crimes.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. Nat'l interest: Problem Solver: Home Warranty Complaint Attorney says home warranties are useless.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. National Interest: Builder Online-Dangerous Incentives: Builders beware: The FBI is looking into 21 companies concerning mortgage and subprime issues, and rumors are swirling that the focus of the investigation is home buyer incentives offered by builders throughout the housing bust.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. Connecticut: Developer's dad arraigned on corruption charges: NEW HAVEN -- The father of Shelton developer James Botti was arraigned Tuesday in New Haven federal court, where he denied aiding his son's alleged scheme to win favor for his projects by bribing public officials.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. Maryland: Homeowners testify in gas-leak lawsuit: The Twardziks, DePasquales and Fritzes moved to the Jacksonville area in different decades but for the same reason: to raise families in their dream homes. But their dream has become a nightmare since a massive gasoline leak in 2006 at a nearby Exxon station. Family members testified Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court that the five-week leak has fouled their wells and their sense of well-being, destroyed their property values and made them fear for their future health.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. Illinois: Builder Kimball Hill to shut down: The crash of the housing market will mean the end of operations for Kimball Hill Inc., formerly one of the largest builders in the Chicago suburbs.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. National Interest: Mortgage fraud incidents up 45 percent in second quarter: Reported incidents of mortgage fraud grew by 45 percent in the second quarter compared to the year-ago period, as borrowers misstated their financial information to maneuver around tighter lending standards, industry data released Tuesday showed.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. Arizona: Stapley indicted on 118 counts over land, business deals: Longtime Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley has been indicted on more than 100 felony and misdemeanor counts stemming from a suspected failure to disclose interests in millions of dollars worth of property and other business dealings.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008. National Interest: It took 90 minutes for Daily News to 'steal' the Empire State Building: In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building.
And it wasn't that hard. The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. National Interest: Americas Watchdog Wants to Talk to the Employees of Major U.S. Homebuilders About Undocumented Construction Workers and a Possible Reward: If big US homebuilders think they are about to get a windfall from the US taxpayers, think again, its show & tell time. Start thinking about prison, if you are a large US residential homebuilder CEO, COO or CFO. Current or former major US homebuilder superintendents, project managers or executives with substantial proof of this outrageous behavior can call the Wall Street Fraud Watchdog anytime at 866-714-6466, or visit their web site at http://WallStreetFraudWatchdog.com (they also provide a link for homeowners with defects-Ed)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. CNN Money: $700 Billion bailout needs better oversight Government Accountability Office says banks aren't being held accountable to terms of bailout money they received, and many more banks are applying for the money.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. Missouri: Nixa Family -Homeowners Sues Over Mortgage Fraud: Nixa family says they were caught in a tangled web of fraud. Marcie and Tim Thompson aren't lawyers, they’re homeowners.“Even now it makes me nervous to go in before a judge but I also know we're right,” says Marcie, who has spent the past six months compiling a case against what she says are the 26 companies and 11 individuals connected to Greenleaf, the private lender they say knowingly defrauded them.“Mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, misrepresentation, conspiracy,” Tim explains as he shows us the lawsuit. [Lots of posts and feedback on this story- hope more homeowners take the initiative-Ed]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. KS: UPDATE on Miller trial Ongoing trial coverage of homebuilder Jeff Miller on right side of home page of Mortgage Fraud Blog.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. Denver Post; Nat'l interest: Carbon-Monoxide Detectors key to saving lives Among the groups that opposed the bill (to require them in homes) were the Colorado Association of Homebuilders, the Colorado Association of Realtors and the Colorado Apartment Association. "They thought it was too costly," Soper said. "For $25, maybe (the Lofgrens') lives would have been saved." [Readers' comments at the end of the article are interesting, too. --Ed.]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. The Street, investment site: Cramer: We Need Some Failures Wouldn't it be better if we had fewer homebuilders like the zombie Beazer that just reported? We need inventories to decline for housing, but this industry wants bailouts so it can pump out more homes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. Forbes: Beazer's loss hurts lender ties; shares fall Builder has no borrowing capacity at all

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. CNN Money: Beazer Might Not Be Last Builder Caught By Ownership Change Beazer Homes found itself tangled in complicated tax code, likely to prevent it from utilizing financial benefits of net operating loss carry-forwards...issue could affect other builders with both large outside ownership and...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. Housing Wire: Viewpoint: Add Rubin to the Who-Knew-Crew Nobody should be allowed the “who knew?” defense when it comes to the current mortgage and financial crisis — least of all anyone with a regulatory background.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. NC: Raleigh builder files for Chapter11 Benjamin Construction: subcontractors have filed suit, say builder owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008. IL: Pasquinelli subdivisions said in financial trouble Bank is foreclosing on some Pasquinelli Homebuilding developments.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Texas: KB Home the beginning of the mortgage mess From 2005: The 13 alleged violations by KB Mortgage Company involve a number of poor underwriting practices such as approving loans to borrowers who were not eligible; approving loans based on overstated or incorrect income; failing to include all of borrowers' debts; failing to properly verify sources of funds; and, failing to ensure gift letters met HUD requirements.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Housing Zone: Mortgage Check Housing Giants, part of Housing Zone, an industry site, warns builders that 'incentives' may be crossing the line into mortgage fraud: "Although it's true that unscrupulous individuals engaged in straw sales or foreclosure rescue scams have driven up the mortgage fraud rates, a fair amount of fraud is also committed by home builders and their agents, even if inadvertently. If you offer a $15,000 landscaping allowance for a buyer to cash in after winter thaws but you don't properly document it on the loan application, you are committing fraud. The same goes if to close a deal you roll in the cost of a flat-screen TV, a car in the driveway, the furnishings from the model or other chattel without properly disclosing them to the lender — even if you raise a previously agreed upon sales price to give down payment assistance or fund the closing costs."

Monday, December 01, 2008. Consumer Law & Policy Blog (Public Citizen's): The Economic Team and the Foreclosure Crisis Author doesn't hold much hope for transformative administration, on foreclosure crisis front, or new regulatory architecture for financial services.

Monday, December 01, 2008. AZ: Foreclosures: Hardest hit blocks are in Tolleson Another article about a new development afflicted with foreclosures: "Homes on the two blocks were built during the housing boom in 2005-2006. They originally sold for as much as $300,000. Several of the homeowners took out subprime mortgages to afford the houses, according to public records. Today, values have dropped below that sales price, trapping many residents."

Monday, December 01, 2008. NV: AmLand Development fined, loses contracting license State Contractors Board recently revoked the license of AmLand Development, a Las Vegas high-rise and home builder. The company has thousands in unpaid bills related to its residential developments

Monday, December 01, 2008. US-World: Housing Crash Current news from Patrick.net on the housing market, meltdown, bailouts, etc.

Monday, December 01, 2008. KS: Trial coverage of home builder F. Jeffrey Miller and others in massive KS mortgage fraud case Mortgage Fraud Blog, see daily coverage bar at right side of their home page. Trial may be going on for next few weeks.

Monday, December 01, 2008. US: Bush administration ignored clear warnings WASHINGTON - The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Michigan: Lien on dead embezzler's home: To the end, convicted embezzler Eric McAlpine insisted he didn't act alone in stealing more than $2 million from his clients. Facing three years in federal prison, the Macomb Township bookkeeper was found dead inside of his frosted-over car on the morning of Nov. 11 at Canal Park in Clinton Township from an apparent suicide. {allows posts}

Monday, December 01, 2008. National Interest: Convicted Broker Appeals Sentence Stay up to date on mortgage fraud at mortgagefraudblog.com
Toby Wayne Goss, Hinds County, Mississippi, having been convicted for mortgage-lending fraud, appealed his sentence contesting the loss calculation used in determining his sentencing range for his mortgage-fraud scheme. At

Monday, December 01, 2008. National Interest: Subprime Suspects: Just about everyone, it seems, is being held to blame for the financial meltdown. But what role auditors played, if any, is far from clear: In past financial blowups, auditors have paid a heavy price. After the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s, for example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. collected more than $1 billion in settlements from four of the then–Big Six for their alleged complicity.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Alabama: US mayor is arrested on bribery charges: BIRMINGHAM, Alabama: The mayor of Alabama's largest city, Larry Langford, was arrested Monday on federal bribery and fraud charges connected to a multibillion-dollar sewer bond deal that has driven the surrounding county to the brink of bankruptcy.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Missouri: Feds charge six with alleged mortgage fraud: A federal grand jury has indicted six area people, including four mortgage brokers, for their alleged roles in a mortgage fraud scheme, and eight Springfield properties linked to the scheme were sold by David Poppenga - a Springfield home builder and concrete contractor who has denied any involvement.

Monday, December 01, 2008. Georgia: More strapped homeowners get break: Mortgage holders seek to avert foreclosures: Tim Collins finds himself living a national crisis. First he lost his job when his company moved. Then he fell behind in his mortgage and faced foreclosure. Now, he’s rebuilding his finances thanks to a last-minute deal with his mortgage company to rework his debt and lower his interest and monthly payments. “You hear all these tales about homeownership being the American dream,” Collins said. “Honestly, it will shorten your life span.” In December, 6,996 foreclosures are pending in the 13 core metro Atlanta counties.

Monday, December 01, 2008. National Interest: Let bankruptcy help fix bad mortgages- It's a powerful step back to financial stability: I watched a middle-aged widow lose her home recently. Her story was familiar. She owned her simple brick residence outright until four years ago, when a mortgage broker stopped by and offered her a loan too good to be true. In exchange for taking on a modest monthly payment, she could make some needed repairs and consolidate other debts.