Quarter 2 (April - June) 2005 Archives

Thursday, June 30, 2005. National: HUD Chief to Hold Discussions on Mortgage Reform Starting July 14 in Washington D.C., the HUD secretary said his agency will host at least six, by-invitation-only discussion sessions around the nation this summer to gauge consumer and industry group opinion on mortgage reform, authorized by the 1974 Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. CA: Plaintiffs Claim Victory in Cal Shake Class Action Suit A highly anticipated class action lawsuit against the manufacturer of faulty CAL-SHAKE roofing material has concluded an important phase, with the jury finding in favor of the class.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. National: Healthy Building Network Releases First Environmental Rating of Plastic Lumber First-Of-Its-Kind Study Follows Successful Campaign To Phase-Out Arsenic-Treated Wood

Thursday, June 30, 2005. FL: Pastor being investigated for fraud "As of right now, it seems that he took off with quite a bit of money," Stiscak said, noting he's heard from contractors and former workers that Ruff may have collected as much as $500,000 in up-front deposits for jobs never completed.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. IL: Contractor violated fraud law, state suit says A Hoffman Estates contractor collected more than $150,000 for home repair projects it never completed, state Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan alleged in a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. FL: County must bolster staff to enforce building rules Two recent stories in the Times illustrate the need for Hernando County government to be more vigilant than ever in identifying and penalizing those who thumb their noses at rules that sanction building and development.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. National: Proposal Made to Seize Souter's Property Following a Supreme Court ruling last week that gave local governments power to seize private property, someone has suggested taking over Justice David Souter's New Hampshire farmhouse and turning it into a hotel.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. Kansas City Star: Developers fined for storm water runoff violations Federal regulators have fined seven area developers nearly $100,000 for violating laws intended to protect streams and lakes from contaminated storm water runoff.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. FL: Kimball still lags on building houses for Marco, Estates customers The whole roof might have to come off because some of the trusses don't match the house, Reynolds said.

"The model house is six blocks away," Schreier said. "If they had a problem they could go look at it."

The windows were made too big. The plans asked for thicker plywood, and after the heavy rains this month, the couple discovered a leak. They're afraid that some of the boards are rotting, they said.

"The slab is already cracked," Schreier said

Thursday, June 30, 2005. For all KB Home owners: Countrywide, KB Home in mortgage deal Largest U.S. home lender to acquire almost all of the builder's mortgage business.

Thursday, June 30, 2005. NJ: Builders group backs construction reforms Association praises Codey, but says state should do more [HADD editor’s opinion: The SCI did a good job and the state now needs to ensure that any changes are not simply another situation of the “fox guarding the hen house." The "Blue Ribbon" task force mentioned in the article should have at least equal input from consumers who have had a construction defect problem or it will result in more self-regulation by builders.]

Wednesday, June 29, 2005. IL: State sues Hoffman Estates construction firm The office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed charges against a Hoffman Estates construction company and its owner Tuesday, alleging he swindled more than $150,000 from homeowners in Rolling Meadows and Hoffman Estates.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005. AZ: HOAs prepare for new law; Board-removal process laid out, proxies voided The Arizona Legislature agrees homeowners associations can do without proxies and bad board members.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005. OH: Havlovitz’s still waiting to recoup damages The family met with Schmid/McCathern builders in December 2003; after that meeting the family wrote the business a check for $45,200 to pay for the down payment on their new home. The home was never built; they have yet to see the money returned.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005. CO: Thin walls, noisy condos bring $550,000 verdict [to multiple plaintiffs of luxury condos] Following a two-week trial in Arapahoe District Court, an eight-member jury concluded Friday that project developer - BCORP-HRT - had acted with negligence by not building to code for either sound transmission or fire.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. Interesting concept: Robot-built houses Contour Crafting (CC) is a layered fabrication technology developed by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California. Contour Crafting technology has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components. Using this process, a single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. NJ; National interest: Help others avoid rip-offs The best way to drive dishonest and incompetent contractors out of business is by exposing them. Consumers themselves are in the best position to do so, by sharing their negative experiences with agencies that can help raise the red flag for others. A free marketplace operates best when consumers have good information about service providers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. VA: County to require soil tests for homebuilders In Chesterfield County at the time were several instances of "poor construction practices" and "violations of code" that, when combined with the shrinking and swelling soils, led to a housing disaster that resulted in destroyed structures and court wrangles, he continued.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. TX: Texas Housing Agencies Grow Leery of Developer RISMEDIA, June 24 – (KRT) – Local public housing authorities are involved with a Dallas developer targeted in an FBI raid Monday -- prompting one official to call a halt to all activity with the developer until the facts are clarified.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. National Interest: Supreme Court Ruling May Threaten Fan Pier Plans BOSTON-Boston City Council president Michael Flaherty has called on the city to use eminent domain to seize control of Fan Pier in order to spur development on the 21-acre parcel. Flaherty, saying a recent Supreme Court ruling strengthening eminent domain will put the city in a better position to legally take the land, also urged the city not to renew parking permits on the property which has allowed the landowners to reap millions of dollars in profits while the land remains vacant. ... Two preliminary deals for the waterfront property recently by national homebuilder Lennar Corp. and Boston developer Stephen R. Karp fell through earlier this year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005. MI; National: Condemnation ruling’s impact muted in state The decision last week, which was based on a case in New London, Conn., said that economic development is a legitimate government reason to invoke eminent domain but said that states can set their own restrictions on condemnation that give greater protection to property owners.

Monday, June 27, 2005. National interest: Codes differ by locality, but have some constants Either through local budget restraints or because of the state's legislature's failure to write adequate laws for code enforcement, inferior and unsafe homes and other buildings are constructed for use by the citizens of that locality. Following the codes is not all that difficult; the building codes are meant to be minimum standards.

Monday, June 27, 2005. National interest: Home Sour Home What happens when a Republican homemaker goes up against an elusive construction company, a faceless bureaucracy, and the whole housing-industrial complex?

Monday, June 27, 2005. AZ: The offal truth and consequences Fulton Homes did not tell prospective buyers about a massive garbage transfer facility that was going to be across the street from their new homes.

Sunday, June 26, 2005. Arizona: The offal truth and consequences Fulton Homes did not tell prospective buyers about a massive garbage transfer facility that was going to be across the street from their new homes. For this admitted violation, the developer paid the maximum fine allowed by law: $3,000. The bigger penalty will be paid by all residents of Chandler, who will spend millions in taxes to help rectify Fulton's transgression. And by people who bought the Fulton homes, each around $200,000, based on a misleading sales pitch.

Saturday, June 25, 2005. Oregon, National interest; letters to editor re Oregonian's series on mold and construction defects: "Shoddy materials, labor contribute," and "Energy rules not to blame" I just finished reading the third report by Jeff Manning regarding problems with home construction in Oregon ("Home defects may get scrutiny," June 21). His June 19-21 series is an outstanding report on the problems homeowners face upon learning of serious defects in their new homes.

Saturday, June 25, 2005. WY: Home buyers oppose Schuler traveling Developer Clint Schuler, charged with credit card fraud, hasn't made good on his warranty for a house he sold to a couple, who oppose his request to travel out of state, according to letters they wrote to Natrona County Circuit Court Judge Michael Patchen.

Saturday, June 25, 2005. CA: Unlicensed Contractor Arrested and Charged with Extortion A man suspected of illegally filing liens against homeowners in the Visalia area is under arrest following action by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB). Wayne Tyson Girard was arrested in his home in Exeter today (Monday) by the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office. Girard is an unlicensed contractor who operated under the name "Household Handyman." He is being charged with a number of crimes, including extortion, filing a false document, possession of a loaded handgun and contracting without a license. He is in Tulare County Jail on $500,000 bail.

Saturday, June 25, 2005. FL: Contractor is back in court Richard Mitchell Morgan, who was arrested for fraud in 1995, returned to court Wednesday for a similar offense.

Saturday, June 25, 2005. WI: Charges against contractor mount 10 months later, Boyle and his wife are $33,000 poorer and the contractor, Tim Loritz, 59, is in jail facing multiple contractor fraud charges.

Friday, June 24, 2005. U.S.: Why Rising Interest Rates Will Hammer Housing For many areas around the country, buyers are way ahead of Alan Greenspan.

Friday, June 24, 2005. Okla.; U.S.: City unsure about new court ruling "When I first read about the ruling, I could not believe it could happen in this country," State Rep. Mark Liotta, R-Tulsa, stated in a press release.

Friday, June 24, 2005. U.S.: Court clarifies eminent domain the Supreme Court concluded, by a 5-4 margin, that it is up to elected officials, not the courts, to determine the "public interest" that justifies eminent domain.

Friday, June 24, 2005. AR: City attorney says Supreme Court’s ruling on eminent domain likely won’t affect Fayetteville development The United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that residences and businesses can be taken by the government through eminent domain to accommodate private developers, though Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody doesn’t see that happening in Northwest Arkansas. "We wouldn’t use it in Northwest Arkansas because we don’t have the desperation for economic development that a lot of communities have around the United States," Coody said. "I’m not crazy about using eminent domain unless it’s absolutely necessary to accomplish a very, very important goal."

Friday, June 24, 2005. TX; U.S.: Home seizure ruling doesn't play in Texas After decision, an amendment is quickly proposed to limit powers of eminent domain

Friday, June 24, 2005. MI; U.S.: Michigan law aids owner in land use Even as the court allowed the City of New London, Conn., to displace homeowners for a new mixed-use waterfront project, it acknowledged that individual states have the right to erect tougher standards than the one applied in the Connecticut case.

Friday, June 24, 2005. U.S.: US judges back developers over home owners In a deeply emotional case weighing the rights of property owners against the good of the community, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that local governments can sometimes seize homes and businesses and turn them over to private developers.

Friday, June 24, 2005. CT; U.S.: Lawmakers Consider Providing Protection Against Eminent Domain Thursday's 5-4 decision broadens the eminent domain power, granting local governments broad rights to seize private property to generate tax revenue. But the court also ruled that states can restrict that power.

Friday, June 24, 2005. CO: Insurance firm sues Thunderbowl contractor The lawsuit alleges Resort Builders failed to adequately protect interior water lines from freezing. It also says the home was not properly insulated.

Friday, June 24, 2005. Delaware: Sparks pierce the peace in this developing situation in Smyrna Most of the homebuyers who spoke complained less about construction defects than the developer's combative response to criticism. A few of the people who spoke out two weeks ago received a letter from Ramunno, a member of the Delaware Bar, threatening to sue them for libel and slander if they didn't retract and apologize for some of their remarks.

Friday, June 24, 2005. Oregon; National Interest: Builders under siege The two-day series by reporter Jeff Manning revealed that a small but growing number of today's new houses and condominiums in the rainy Northwest are literally falling apart. Moisture damage stemming from new building methods, trouble-prone materials and slipshod construction is creating this homeowners' nightmare.

Friday, June 24, 2005. PA: Monroe judge declines to overturn home builder ruling Corbett, who filed an unusual petition to examine the actions of a district judge, asked the court to overturn that district judge's decision. Corbett argued his prosecutors presented evidence alleging the owners of Eagle Valley Homes, three employees and a title agent conspired to defraud home buyers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005. MI: Former Antrim inspector faces felony For a second time in less than a year, Antrim County's former building department director is standing trial on a felony charge of corruption by a public official. ... Turner also faces three additional felony charges at a separate trial not yet scheduled. In that case, Turner is accused of allowing an unlicensed builder to use a contractor's license, then approved permits on homes constructed by the builder that contained serious structural defects.

Thursday, June 23, 2005. From Kansas City Star, may require free registration to read article: Housing agency’s officials withheld analysis of its flaws “In general, employees in this organization appear to have lost sight of why they are here and what the mission of the organization is,” the accountant’s report stated.

Thursday, June 23, 2005. National: Supreme Court Rules Cities may Seize Homes WASHINGTON (AP) -- A divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth often is at war with individual property rights. The 5-4 ruling - assailed by dissenting Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as handing "disproportionate influence and power" to the well-heeled in America - was a defeat for Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They had argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.

As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005. National interest: http://www.hometownlife.com/Novi/News.asp?pageType=StoryCurrent&StoryArc... " target="x">Plans for 10 homes by floodplain advances Despite resident outcry, preliminary plans for 10 homes near a flood-prone area received Novi Planning Commission approval June 8.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005. National: The Biggest Bubble Ever
No one disputes that housing prices in the United States since 1995 have soared way beyond inflation. However, that alone does not reveal a housing “bubble.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2005. CA: Developer runs into buzz saw at meeting Several families who bought DC Corp. homes in the city say the company should not be allowed to build. The families bought DC Corp. homes on Schmidt Road about one year ago. They allege DC Corp. built some of the homes very poorly and did not fix construction problems even when the homes were under warranty.

Some of the families also allege DC Corp. tried to pressure them into signing mortgages with a finance company affiliated with the developer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005. OR; National, From Insurance Journal. Comments can be posted at end of article: Moisture rotting Oregon Homes Moisture is rotting newer homes and condominiums from Portland to Seattle left vulnerable by a combination of new building techniques, trouble-prone materials and shoddy construction, a newspaper reports.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005. MS, TN: Hernando: Indicted developer faced earlier charges Developer Clay Lane, indicted this week by a DeSoto County Grand Jury for embezzlement, faced a charge of misappropriation of funds in Tennessee 12 years ago, court records show.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005. OR, National interest: Home Defects May get Scrutiny Homeowners, builders and legislators react to The Oregonian's series, and a task force may be the result

Monday, June 20, 2005. NE: Contractor Arrested A contractor [Darrel Hamilton] accused of taking money from an Omaha couple without delivering the new windows he promised, then threatening to kill the family if they talked to channel 6, has been arrested in Des Moines.

Monday, June 20, 2005. National: Keep focus on appraisal process WASHINGTON -- Behind the billowing housing boom in dozens of metropolitan areas around the country toils an industry under steadily increasing pressure: Legions of real estate appraisers who are routinely asked for professional opinions that validate -- or dispute -- the soaring values eager sellers and buyers place on homes.

Monday, June 20, 2005. FL: Official's tie to firm: A conflict? For more than a year, Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez worked as a consultant for a law firm that represents one of the county's biggest developers.

Monday, June 20, 2005. National: Many Real Estate Agents Advise Buyers to Have Home Inspected RISMEDIA, June 20 – (KRT) – Don Martin, a Bakersfield, Calif., reigion home inspector who owns 2020 Inspection Group, recently found a $2 furnace collar installed upside down on the roof of a new home.

Instead of shedding water as the part should, the collar was funnelling water inside the house.

Monday, June 20, 2005. OR, National interest: Builders seek shelter from flurry of lawsuits Oregon contractors faced with increased litigation seek relief at the Capitol, where homeowners lack comparable political clout

Monday, June 20, 2005. Oregon: Builders seek shelter from flurry of lawsuits Builders have one of the most powerful and deep-pocketed political lobbies in the state, but they are squaring off against an equally well-heeled opponent in the trial lawyers. Between them, the two groups have showered more than $1.2 million on legislative campaigns in the past four elections.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. Oregon: Building defects spoil homeowners' dreams Over the past decade, the combined effects of new building techniques, trouble-prone materials and shoddy construction have made modern homes vulnerable to moisture damage. Simply put, rot and mold are eating away at the structural components inside a small but growing number of today's homes and condos.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. Nebraska: Contractor Facing Charges An Omaha siding contractor who allegedly threatened to kill a customer if he talked to Channel 6 News is facing more charges. Darrell Hamilton now faces two counts of Theft by Deception.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. CA: SF DISTRICT ATTORNEY FILES CIVIL SUIT AGAINST CONTRACTOR A contractor and his company have been named as defendants in a civil suit filed by the San Francisco District Attorney's Office today, accusing them of misleading customers into thinking the company was affiliated with a government agency and of unsafely removing asbestos-containing materials from homes.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. CT: Contractor backs off bribe tale Inspector's defense helped by testimony

Sunday, June 19, 2005. CO: Developer sues contractor for flaws in expensive homes near Aspen Developer Jay Weinberg, a part-time Aspen resident, is suing the Grand Junction construction firm Sun King Management Corp., for nearly a half-million dollars, saying shoddy workmanship on 16 homes and a pool house in Aspen Equestrian Estates left the firm in breach of its $5 million contract.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. National interest: Family had severed ties with child abuse suspect Authorities said Dean Schwartzmiller apparently gained the trust of victims and parents by working as a home renovation contractor.

Sunday, June 19, 2005. Oregon, National interest: Building defects spoil homeowners' dreams Over the past decade, the combined effects of new building techniques, trouble-prone materials and shoddy construction have made modern homes vulnerable to moisture damage. Simply put, rot and mold are eating away at the structural components inside a small but growing number of today's homes and condos.

Saturday, June 18, 2005. National: Bush Profiteering from Housing Defaults The Bush “Dream Act” and the zero-down-payment plan are modeled after “down-payment assistance programs” that have proliferated in recent years. These programs, often engineered by nonprofit groups, routinely involve a home builder giving a “gift” to the nonprofit, which provides a home buyer with money for the down payment. The price of the house is sometimes increased by the same amount as the builder’s “gift.” Almost all the mortgages created with down-payment assistance end up being underwritten or guaranteed by either the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Ginnie Mae (the Government National Mortgage Association).

Free down payments carry catastrophic risks. The default rate on mortgages from the largest down-payment-assistance organization, Nehemiah Corp., is 25 times higher than the nationwide mortgage-delinquency rate, according to the HUD inspector general.

Saturday, June 18, 2005. National: The other real estate boom: Scams It's not just the elderly and the poor who are victimized. Awash in paper profits and refi cash, homeowners of all economic stripes are overly eager to protect and improve their investments.

Friday, June 17, 2005. National: The Mortgage Trap Lenders are cranking out an ever-growing array of financing schemes and lowering standards to keep the housing boom going

Friday, June 17, 2005. NY, National interest: Spitzer Charges Feds Conspiring to Shield Banks Against State Consumer Protection Laws New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer says a lawsuit filed against him by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is a "shameful ... effort to shield the banks from scrutiny by state regulators."

Friday, June 17, 2005. National: Regulators Warn Lenders To Elevate Their Standards The government warning was issued on the same day that the National Association of Realtors called for increased consumer education on the dangers of what the trade group called “toxic” loans with predatory terms that hurt homeowners, such as high-interest-rate loans that could cause them to lose their homes if they lost their jobs. The group said that banking regulators were doing little to protect homeowners.

Friday, June 17, 2005. WI: Contractor Accused of Fraud "Tim Loritz is a classic crooked contractor," Sgt. Tom Janda, Appleton Police Department, said candidly.

"A lot of these victims are elderly and they don't have the money to do this job twice," Sgt. Janda said.

Janda says Loritz used religion to attract victims.

Friday, June 17, 2005. GA: 2 men face charges in mortgage fraud case A Dacula-area subdivision is the focus of a mortgage fraud investigation that has cost lenders at least $3.9 million, authorities said Thursday.

Two people were arrested Wednesday at the subdivision, south of Dacula near Alcovy Road. About 20 search warrants related to the probe were executed in Gwinnett, Fulton, DeKalb, Paulding and Cherokee counties, said Officer Darren Moloney, Gwinnett police spokesman.

Friday, June 17, 2005. National, from Inman.com: Crackdown on real estate loan servicing fraud Consumers have come together to fight mortgage-servicing fraud, exchanging advice and experiences in forums such as www.msfraud.org, a 2-year-old site with information on how to report the problem, legal resources, a discussion forum and other resources.

Thursday, June 16, 2005. MN, National interest: Environmental review is an essential part of development, not 'red tape' historically low interest rates have pushed home ownership through the roof in Minnesota and across the country. Low rates have allowed homebuyers to inflate the cost of homes by bidding above asking price in order to be competitive. It's for these reasons, not environmental review, that so many homes in the metro area are outside the definition of affordability.

Thursday, June 16, 2005. National interest: "Minimizing Indoor Mold..." from American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE is the primary organization for the technical aspects of design, construction and operation of HVAC systems and building envelopes, and has a long history of developing standards, guidelines, design guides and special publications, which provide design criteria that help minimize mold proliferation within buildings.

Thursday, June 16, 2005. National; Book review re: how industries, such as the housing industry for example, deal with consumer activism: Managing Activism: PR Advice for "Neutralizing" Democracy As someone who has spent the last decade investigating the seamy side of the "perceptions management" industry, I wish I could tell you that this book is a gold mine of revelation, but for me it is not. Still, I recommend that my fellow citizens read this book. It is written in classroom text-like fashion, and the author is careful to put the best face on her profession and not include advice that might offend the atypical reader. Nevertheless, it can help people working for democratic social change to understand the often successful ways in which we are targeted for defeat, especially the "good cop/bad cop" tactic for dividing and conquering activists through "partnering" and co-optation by industry. For activists, Deegan's book provides a primer on how to recognize these traps and hopefully avoid them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005. NY: Contractors: A hardship to get B'haven permit But builders and homeowners alike have also encountered moments of amazement when others -- with connections unknown but easily imagined -- saunter up to the counter, chitchat with a clerk and quickly leave, valuable documents in hand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005. NY: Foot Dragging or Following the Rules? Spota said town attorneys were present three times in the past year when two developers in taking pleas made sworn statements in court that they gave Dragone bribes, and a convicted former town plumbing inspector said Dragone told him to approve work that was substandard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005. FL: Family hopes for consolation, if not health, if governor signs mold bill The Deptulas know the job of detecting and ridding a house of mold shouldn't be left to amateurs.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005. Texas: Angry resident paints giant lemons on her condo's windows in protest Homeowner associations taking homeowners to court is not unusual - certainly in Harris County. This story has a different twist. It's a condo board taking a condo owner to court. They were seeking an injunction against a large window display, but the case goes deeper that what's visible to the eye.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005. Texas: Home Construction Standards, Warranties Now Effective in Texas [Note: A number of comments are posted on this story. See the article for information.]

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. FL, National: Woman pleads guilty to stealing identities in mortage fraud case A former loan processor pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of mortgage fraud and fraudulent use of personal identification for stealing three Palm Beach County residents' identities to buy or try to buy homes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. FL, National: Deal with ID theft, mortgage fraud Why not go after the title company that issued the title? Are they all blind? No one detected the fraud? Please!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. National: Appraisers Report Feeling Pressure to Inflate Home Estimates That home you just bought or refinanced might not be worth as much as you think it is.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. NC: Magistrate orders documents unsealed in N.C. FBI agent case Blowers, 39, was indicted in April, charged with failing to disclose thousands of dollars in gifts and travel expenses he received from former Charlotte home builder David Simonini during two trips to Las Vegas in 2000. Simonini....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. NY: Brookhaven building inspector surrenders Among the allegations are that Dragone accepted a rubber-band-bound envelope containing a $5,000 cash bribe from a builder, plotted money laundering at a local convenience store and destroyed evidence with a sledgehammer.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005. National interest--An oldie but a goodie: Stucco Shock "Sometimes I feel so bad I want to give up," Beck says, stalling out at the end of a long-winded rant about criminal builders, corrupt attorneys and incompetent public servants. "My children say, 'Mom, you're going to kill yourself.' But someone has to bring this out. Someone has to stand up against this."

Monday, June 13, 2005. FL: Victims Sought In Fraud Inquiry Robert J. Hill of 306 Dixie Highway is accused of approaching several people posing as a contractor and offering to rescreen decks and repair homes that had hurricane damage. .... People who think they have been victimized by Hill should call the Polk County Sheriff's Office at 863-533-0344 or Detective Susan Weiss at 863-297-1146.

Monday, June 13, 2005. National: Appraisers feel pressure to inflate home estimates That home you just bought or refinanced might not be worth as much as you think it is. Real estate appraisers in Western New York and nationally have been facing intense pressure for years to prop up home valuations in order to close lucrative loan deals.

Monday, June 13, 2005. National: The Home Loans Vexing Greenspan Drawn by low initial monthly payments, borrowers may live to regret joining the boom in interest-only mortgages

Friday, June 10, 2005. National: New home inspectors identify common defects New homes are perfect, right? Not according to those who inspect them for a living. Knowing what problems are most common in new home construction might help would-be homebuyers sort out the best builders from among the throng.

Friday, June 10, 2005. National: What if the bubble bursts? In parts of the country there's a speculative fever among people who shouldn't be speculators that seems all too familiar from past bubbles - the shoeshine boys with stock tips in the 1920's, the beer-and-pizza joints showing CNBC, not ESPN, on their TV sets in the 1990's.

Even Alan Greenspan now admits that we have "characteristics of bubbles" in the housing market, but only "in certain areas."

Friday, June 10, 2005. Affordable Housing: K.C. HOPE builder enmeshed in difficulty the former housing agency and another local partner are no longer involved in the project, and a third partner is considering pulling out.

What’s more, The Kansas City Star has found that financial and legal troubles entangle the builder, Marianna Homes, an Oklahoma company.

Thursday, June 09, 2005. National: What is the debate over mold? There really is no controversy as to whether there is a health impact - only how much of an impact for who and the degree of the impact.

Thursday, June 09, 2005. MO: Fire officials cry foul over building inspection bill A bill passed in the state legislature could put Jefferson County residents' safety at risk, say county fire officials.

Senate Bill 210 is an all-encompassing local government bill that contains between 65 to 70 items throughout the state. Included in the bill is the elimination of all fire district safety inspections for new construction of one and two family dwellings in Jefferson County, the only county in the state affected by that part of the bill.

Thursday, June 09, 2005. GA: Developer indicted in mortgage flipping Phillip Hill and 18 others were indicted Wednesday by an Atlanta grand jury

Thursday, June 09, 2005. National re Construction Arbitration Services (CAS): Arbitrator accused of unfair judgments Dane County Circuit Judge Michael Nowakowski last week laid out a trove of information that he said calls into question the impartiality of Construction Arbitration Services, a Dallas company often used to resolve disputes over contracts and buildings.

Thursday, June 09, 2005. National: High Foreclosure Rates the Dark Side of a Hot Real-Estate Market In Texas, homeowners are fighting back. Class action lawsuits against Ameriquest, Option One, Washington Mutual and Long Beach Mortgage allege that their adjustable rate home equity loans written between 1998 and 2003 violate a critical provision of the Texas Constitution.

Thursday, June 09, 2005. Vermont: The bitter end Gov. James Douglas has all but assured lawmakers that he will veto the $1.03 billion budget for fiscal 2006. This means that the Legislature will be back in Montpelier later this month to come up with another budget plan.The only reason why Douglas wants to veto the budget is because it contains a provision to call for binding arbitration to settle a dispute over the phase-out of a early retirement plan for full-time faculty members of the Vermont state colleges.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005. National interest; relates to Public Citizen report on HADD home pg:: Judge questions partiality of leading arbitration company Dane County Circuit Court Judge Michael Nowakowski last week laid out a trove of information that he said calls into question the impartiality of Construction Arbitration Services, a Dallas company often used to resolve disputes over contracts and buildings.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005. Ohio & Kentucky: Erpenbeck to be evaluated Tony Erpenbeck, the imprisoned patriarch of Northern Kentucky's Erpenbeck home-building family, has been ordered to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation to determine whether he's competent to stand trial on charges he tried to arrange for the killings of a federal judge and prosecutor.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005. Hawaii: The Price of Binding Arbitration is Too High by Rep. Galen Fox, R-Waikiki, the House Minority Leader in the Hawaii State House of Representatives. We urgently need such a reform. Unelected arbitrators should not be telling Hawaii how to spend our tax money, taxes needed to help with state needs beyond government salaries.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005. From U.K.; many familiar tunes here: Why are builders such bums? Helen Kirwan-Taylor was fed up with being ripped off by unscrupulous tradesmen - so she decided to fight back

Tuesday, June 07, 2005. CA: Torrance family says it got remodeling nightmare A $385,000 job is in litigation to correct more than 200 alleged defects. Builder says lawsuit is a "knee-jerk reaction" to his lien.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005. National: Homeowners Insurance: Use it and Lose it Many insurers refuse to renew policies of homeowners who file claims.

Sunday, June 05, 2005. Texas: Up Close: Defective homes turn 'American dreams' into nightmares [Richland Homes in Houston] "If you really want to buy a new home, buy one that's five years old. The reason I say that is if it has any major problems they're probably going to surface by then," said John Cobarruvias, homeowner.

Sunday, June 05, 2005. Oldie but Goodie--National interest: Sneaky Builder Attempts to Undermine Home Warranty Since when are builders' warranties limited merely to defects that a buyer happens to notice on the day of a final walkthrough inspection? What does he presume a walkthrough inspection to be, a reality game show?

Sunday, June 05, 2005. PA: DREAM HOME NIGHTMARES The complaints list a wide array of problems, including failure to properly landscape properties, seed lawns, fix cracked walls or address problems of water running into basements. The homeowners say they all have been unsuccessful, some for years, in getting Banyan Homes to address problems they say are covered by warranty.

Sunday, June 05, 2005. OH, KY; national interest: Closing 'Lenient' Loopholes Banking regulations on construction loans are somewhat "lenient," and a builder in a financial pinch could find loopholes, according to Steve Schwalbach, owner of Schwalbach Homes in Cold Spring.

For example, builders must sign affidavits that subcontractors have been paid, but builders don't have to show proof, and banks typically don't do follow-up.

Sunday, June 05, 2005. KY, OH: Made Of Sand Buyers at Risk From Failed Homebuilders

Friday, June 03, 2005. Texas: Texas New Home Warranties. A Trick On The Public. By law, the standards cover 1 year for workmanship, 2 years for air and electrical, and 10 years for structural damage. Common sense defects such, as hardwood floors buckling after 1 year is not covered. Neither is ceramic tile cracking and lifting off the floor. Leaking roofs, paint fading or cracking, siding coming apart, carpets buckling, driveway cracking and literally coming apart, bricks cracking, mortar prematurely deteriorating all are examples of what is not covered once the 1-year warranty expires.

Friday, June 03, 2005. MO: Bill makes suing builders tougher The dream turned into a five-year nightmare the following spring when a 3-inch rainfall revealed structural problems. In the following months, the DeMarcos discovered roof leaks, mold and plumbing problems.
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The DeMarcos settled with the builders last summer.

As part of the agreement, Donna said she is not allowed to reveal the builder's identity.

She said they were lucky.

Other house owners who have problems do not have the finances to take their cases to court.

Legislation awaiting Gov. Matt Blunt's signature may make suing builders more difficult.

Friday, June 03, 2005. WI: Builder is accused of smear tactics Four former employees of southeastern Wisconsin's biggest home builder are suing the company, claiming it has been smearing them and trying to hamper attempts by two of them to help run a competing business.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005. National interest: PDF Article: When Bad Houses Make Good Cases A homebuilder's shoddy work can render a house uninhabitable.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005. Texas: Home builders subject to new standards today [CORRECTED LINK] "The leadership of Texas has stooped to the lowest set of warranty standards for a new home," complained John Cobarruvias, president of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings. "It is a shame they hold such little regard for the largest investment of a Texan's lifetime."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005. Texas: Home builders subject to new standards today "The leadership of Texas has stooped to the lowest set of warranty standards for a new home," complained John Cobarruvias, president of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings. "It is a shame they hold such little regard for the largest investment of a Texan's lifetime."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. Texas: New rules should make it easier to find out about builders. [Don't hold your breath]

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. MICHIGAN: Interest in new homes remains steady Development sometimes pits builders against neighbors The high percentage of development in the city has often come up as a source of contention between some residents and the city. Take, for example, the 50 acres of open space east of Willow Grove and south of Square Lake Road, which Joel Garrett of Ladd''s Inc. has been trying to develop for several years, much to the chagrin of residents living in the adjoining neighborhood near Willow Grove. Garrett wants to build a 99-unit condominium subdivision called Oak Forest. Lon Ullmann, who''s lived on Willow Grove for 30 years, thinks the proposed development will cause flooding problems for the adjoining neighborhood.
"We need responsible development," he said. "Every time a house has been added (to the neighborhood) it has gotten progressively wetter." Ladd''s Inc. must get clearance from the state''s Department of Environmental Quality before going back to council for approval, though it hasn''t assuaged Ullmann''s concern that development in the city has gotten out of hand. "Anything that''s left vacant in Troy is basically under siege," he said. "I don''t think they''ll stop until it''s all done."

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. MICHIGAN: Year after flood, four Utica homes still uninhabitable I just want to get back into my house and live my life," David said. A previous contractor quit last June, and a dispute with her most recent contractor have caused repairs that were supposed to be done last fall to still be incomplete, she said. David, who raised two children in the 960-square-foot home, said the contractors, some of whom she says were hired by the general contractor, have not done all the work. One of the contractors, she said, has placed a lien on her house. So she refuses to pay the last $3,000 from her pocket that she owes the general contractor, John Wiggin of Orion.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. Connecticut: Homer D. Babbidge library Construction Problem Because of the design of the cantilevers....This led to a deflection or tilt of as much as 1.75 inches in the floor at certain locations. Because of this sag, the brick facade of the building began to crack and separate from the building in certain spots. This allowed water to seep into the masonry. As this water froze during the winter it, expanded and began to push the bricks away from the building

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. National; predatory lending and general consumer protection: Business Interests Target "Activist" Attorney Generals The Chamber has set up a front group, the United States Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), to carry its fight against the consumer protection efforts of state attorneys general.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. Texas: Press Release: Homebuilder Bob Perry's Vice President Confirmed to Builder Commission by slim margin The Senate had an opportunity to bring a sense of balance to the Commission by not confirming Mr Krugh. Instead Mr. Krugh will continue to be a lightning rod for controversy for the builder friendly Commission as well as being allowed to continue his anti-consumer crusade against homebuyers in Texas.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005. Texas: Press Release: Historic New Home Warranties to Take Effect June 1, 2005 The leadership of Texas has stooped to the lowest set of warranty standards for new home construction. It is a shame they hold such little regard for the largest investment of a Texan's lifetime.

Monday, May 30, 2005. National: Arbitrator Declares Class-Action Ban Unfair A leading arbitration firm has declared it will no longer enforce contracts that bar consumers from bringing class action cases. Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS) said the class-action restriction is "an unfair restriction on the rights of the individual consumer." [CAUTION: JAMS advocating for the consumer is like Al Qaeda advocating for homeland security]

Monday, May 30, 2005. Nat'l: U.S. housing boom a bust for many But many policymakers say the rise in foreclosures leads to a larger question: Is the push to boost homeownership — successive presidential administrations have strongly promoted it — backfiring? As home prices and personal debt rise to record levels, they note, homeownership has become an albatross for millions of Americans, destroying rather than creating wealth.

Sunday, May 29, 2005. OH, KY: Boone Co. builder now faces probe by sheriff Boone County authorities have started a preliminary criminal investigation into the financial failure of Keeneland Homes.

Sunday, May 29, 2005. National, from FBI website: Scroll down to MORTGAGE FRAUD The increased reliance by both financial institutions and non-financial institution lenders on third-party brokers has created opportunities for organized fraud groups, particularly where mortgage industry professionals are involved.

Sunday, May 29, 2005. IL; National interest: Home buyers need faith in builders and inspectors If a $625,000 house has to be vacated and posted unfit for occupancy nine months after it was occupied, there should be major accountability issues.

Sunday, May 29, 2005. Texas: No place like home for this cuddly Austin lapdog Two of the "public" members appointed to the Residential Construction Commission by the governor also have strong ties to the homebuilding industry. And, even more troubling for consumers, one of the industry representatives, John Krugh, an executive of Bob Perry's homebuilding company, was appointed to the commission by Rick Perry less than a month after the governor had received a $100,000 political donation from Bob Perry.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. TX, AZ, CO; National; Re: KB Home: UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION [Scroll down about 3/4 of the way to the last paragraph in "Note 9," or use your find feature to find "indemnification:"] "The Company’s mortgage banking subsidiary originates loans insured by HUD. In May 2004, HUD initiated an audit of certain loans which were underwritten by the mortgage banking subsidiary during 2001 and 2002 in Texas, Arizona and Colorado. HUD has informed the subsidiary that it may seek indemnification for any loans in default, as well as possible administrative action and civil penalties. While the magnitude of any payments and the likelihood of administrative action cannot be determined at this time, the Company believes that the outcome is not likely to be material to its financial position or results of operations."

Saturday, May 28, 2005. IL: $625,000 home unlivable Last summer, construction workers hired by Snyder Corp. to finish the house started by another contractor would solve one problem, only to find another.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. IL: Bloomington Homeowners Face a Big Nightmare Investing in a new home has been anything but easy for one Bloomington family who want to make sure others don’t have the same difficult experience.

Less than a year ago, one Bloomington family built a brand new house, a moldy home they’re not living in anymore.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. Texas: Chorus of complaints against builder grows The list of complaints against a Kaufman homebuilder profiled in a recent News 8 investigation grows, but the individuals making those complaints aren't getting help from state regulators or law enforcement officials.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. Texas: Follow the Leader. The Right and its Big Night for Tom DeLay If House members were rare, this was a movement event, for and about the movers and marchers of the American conservative movement. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, best known for underwriting tort reform in Texas (see, “A Homeowner Nails Bob Perry,” May 13, 2005) and the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential election, flew in from Houston. He stood beside Franks in the hallway outside the ballroom after almost everyone departed. “I’ve talked to my own lawyers,” Perry said. “They tell me Tom DeLay doesn’t have any legal problem. He has a public relations problem. So he’s going to be all right. You can fix a public relations problem.” Perry added that DeLay “can’t be defeated in his district. If they are going to destroy him, they have to do it here in Washington, D.C.”

Saturday, May 28, 2005. OH: Hearings on Ohio Home Improvement Bill #148 Highlight National Home Improvement Month COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- It is only fitting that recent hearings on HB #148 requiring statewide registration of home improvement contractors be heard in the month of May since it is National Home Improvement Month.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. Hawaii: Roofing suit becomes class-action The suit alleges Interlock Industries Inc. and Ivor Wenzel and Mark Wenzel, the father-and-son team who oversaw the company's Hawaii operations, pulled a "bait and switch" on customers, then skipped town, leaving up to hundreds of people with leaky roofs and worthless warranties.

Saturday, May 28, 2005. CA--National interest: FBI REQUESTS INFORMATION ON HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION CRIMES IN CALIFORNIA Homeowners Asked to Submit Information

Friday, May 27, 2005. Texas: Dallas may lead in foreclosure rate A California company that tracks foreclosures thinks Dallas-Fort Worth has the highest foreclosure rate in the country. It may be right.

Friday, May 27, 2005. Oklahoma...builders claiming there is "no opposition" to builder-sponsored right to repair legislation; blaming it on trial lawyers because the public already has a low opinion of them. Transparent tactic in this editor's opinion. There is MUCH consumer opposition to right to repair! And for good reason!: Governor Vetos Bill placing defect regulations on home builders Lamb indicated that similar legislation has been passed in 25 other states and attributed the governor's veto to pressure from trial lawyers. [Note: not one trial lawyer came forward to contact OK's active homeowner groups to say they opposed the bill. At least two letters were published in the Daily Oklahoman this legislative session by consumers opposing the bill. Homeowners in OK wrote to their elected officials to oppose it. Most lawyers our homeowners talked to were told there's not enough money in construction defects to interest law firms here. Most lawyers talked to here didn't know or care about this bill.--Editor]

Friday, May 27, 2005. GA; National interest: Spray-on Siding Claims Questioned This is one of about 400 homes coated with Alvis Spray On Siding. This stuff was supposed to mean no more painting, ever. Instead, the Townsend family fears it will eventually mean no more money once they fix what's happened.

Friday, May 27, 2005. KY: Homebuilding company in Ky. seeks Chap. 11 A Northern Kentucky couple is facing about $6 million of debt after their home building business fell apart this spring.[Customers should find out if they have liens on their houses as a result!--Ed.]

Friday, May 27, 2005. MO; from St. Louis Today: Chesterfield home builder convicted of fraud U.S. Attorney James G. Martin said Jeffrey Thomas, 37, of the 700 block of Finch Court, was convicted May 18 before Chief U.S. District Judge Carol E. Jackson on four felony counts of mail fraud, one felony count of wire fraud, two felony counts of money laundering and one felony count of bank fraud.

Friday, May 27, 2005. National; Paul Bianchina column: Best ways to divert water runoff, remove popcorn ceilings To start with, the soil surrounding the house should be a minimum of 6 inches below the level of the siding. From there, if the house sits on level ground the soil should be sloped down at least 1/4-inch per foot away from the house for a distance of at least 3 feet out in all directions.

Thursday, May 26, 2005. National; PDF: Policy Holders of America Newsletter Arbitration, mold, fake stucco problems, insurance, and more...

Thursday, May 26, 2005. LA.: Acadiana Contractor Arrested A local builder has been arrested for allegedly cheating sub-contractors and homeowners out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Lorenz Leblanc of Stonehenge Companies Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, May 26, 2005. Oklahoma--Governor Henry vetoes builder sponsored "Right to Repair" legislation:: Homeowner bill receives veto Henry said the legislation places substantial requirements on the consumer and unduly restricts the consumer's rights when trying to deal with construction problems.

Thursday, May 26, 2005. Texas: Senate Confirms Bob Perry's VP to Builders Commission The Senate took the unusual step of separating out Krugh for an individual confirmation vote. And Sens. Robert Duncan, Royce West, and Eliot Shapleigh all spoke against his confirmation, saying Krugh is biased toward the building industry (imagine that?).

Thursday, May 26, 2005. National interest: Contract’s Notice Requirements Strictly Enforced, Recovery Denied by Washington Supreme Court The contractor failed to follow contractual procedures [similar to right to repair law procedures that can adversely affect homeowners--Ed.]

Thursday, May 26, 2005. Texas: Chorus of complaints against builder grows Janet Cook was so angry she had signs printed that read, "I chose Texas Custom Homes ... don't make my mistake." That was three years ago; since then Tidwell's adopted two other corporate identities.

Thursday, May 26, 2005. Texas: webmaster@bayareanewdemocrats.org Janet Cook was so angry she had signs printed that read, "I chose Texas Custom Homes ... don't make my mistake." That was three years ago; since then Tidwell's adopted two other corporate identities.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. IL: $625,000 home unlivable In June 2004 they moved in, and then the house started falling apart.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. National interest: Important To Verify Contractors Linked To Your Home Warranty Tammy says those two or three days were stretched into a six month backorder by Residential Service Center . She called National Home Warranty to find out if there was another contractor they could send out. "They told me; oh no we work with one company, I said, "You work with one company?" This is a National Home Warranty program. One company doesn't make any sense."

And it didn't make sense to us -- especially since National Home Warranty's own web site says they have: 'A network of independent service contractors and affiliated companies to provide repairs.'

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. Minnesota: Ex-official accused again The charges against Arlen Turner, 69, of Elmira, stem from illegal construction of three homes by an unlicensed builder, said Kalkaska Prosecutor Brian Donnelly, who is handling the Antrim case.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. Another from MD: Builder halts work; subcontractors, clients left guessing Golden Builders' decision has left property owners and subcontractors wondering how the work will be finished and who will pay for it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. MD: Builder who didn't finish homes to pay restitution A Baltimore home builder has been ordered by the state Consumer Protection Division to pay more than $365,763 in restitution for taking deposits and payments from homebuyers in Prince George's County but failing to complete their homes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. National: How to Become a Certified Home Inspector That’s it? Thirty-five minutes, less than 300 bucks and I’ll be a certified home inspector? No experience necessary, no proof that the applicant took the test instead of a friend or an employer and no proof that the applicant took a closed-book test. “POOF” you’re a “Certified Home Inspector.”

Wednesday, May 25, 2005. Texas: TRCC comes to Houston to discuss the extremely limited home warranties The Texas Residential Construction Commission will be in the Houston area to discuss the details of the extremely limited warranties created for new home construction. These warranties will come into effect June 1. When: May 26, Thursday at 5:30 PM
Where: Marriot Hotel, Sugarland, 16090 City Walk 77479 281-274-8400

Tuesday, May 24, 2005. MA: MA sues home improvement contractor The lawsuit alleges that Clough has been misleading consumers into paying thousands of dollars in deposits - ranging from $12,000 to $54,000 - for substandard or incomplete work.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005. CA: Building a defense for consumers The Contractors State License Board now lists complaints against contractors before its lengthy investigation process is completed. A bill that would outlaw consumer gag clauses in consumer settlement agreements is in the Assembly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005. NJ: N.J. Shores Homeowners told they don't really own their homes SEA ISLE CITY, N.J. -- Imagine getting a letter in the mail one day telling you that you don't really own your home. Thomas and Dorothy Dowdell don't have to imagine. It's happening to them.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005. AR: Drainage Problem Plagues Homeowners "If the plans match, it's an engineering issue because the contractor (Don Haxel) built the subdivision based on what the engineer had in the development phase," Duke said.

If the plans don't match, "It's a homebuilder issue -- whoever did the final grading of the lot," which is Bishop Properties, Duke said.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005. U.S.: Mold! How to Deal With it It can make your family sick and getting rid of it is expensive. Think your homeowner's insurance will cover it?

Monday, May 23, 2005. National; CBS News, downpayment programs and fraud: It Takes One to Know One [Quotes from page 2 of article] Minkow received a tip about a Texas couple, Debby and Eric Berry. They control two Dallas-based companies called Genesis Capital Management and Genesis Alliance, which bankroll a non-profit organization called the Nehemiah Fund. It promises a 100 percent matching grant to churches willing to put a minimum of $500,000 into a bank account controlled by a representative of the Berrys...."All the red flags, every one of them," says Minkow. "No accountability from the Berrys. They just are one-man shows. The untenable business model: Normally and regularly people who are in the grant business don't ask for your money first before they double it."

Monday, May 23, 2005. National: Realtors Try to Head Off Anti-Trust Suit Over Internet Listings The Justice Department last week was reported ready to file its lawsuit, charging that the Realtors' action stifled competition and drove up home prices.

Sunday, May 22, 2005. WY: Builder posts bond in fraud case The president of a local construction company faces six felony charges in connection with reports of unauthorized credit card transactions and unpaid contractor fees that add up to more than $300,000.

Clint Schuler -- president of Schuler Custom Homes and also publisher of Wyoming Homes and Living Magazine -- posted a $50,000 bond on Thursday as Casper police conduct an investigation that Sgt. Brad Wnuk says is "far from over."

Sunday, May 22, 2005. National: Title Insurance Industry Under Investigation Federal law enforcement agencies and insurance regulators from virtually every state in the nation are currently investigating the beleaguered title insurance industry largely for alleged kickbacks -- illegal monetary inducements or payments for referrals......."Time and again we have caught the title insurance industry breaking the law in order to line its pockets at the expense of consumers. Let this latest fine be a warning" said Mr. Garamendi.

Saturday, May 21, 2005. MO: Owner of closed St. Charles title company is indicted in fraud case The indictment in U.S. District Court in St. Louis charges James A. Thurman, owner of Phoenix Title Inc., with nine counts of wire fraud and one count of bank fraud.

Saturday, May 21, 2005. MO: Developer gets 5-year sentence in fraud, money laundering case Real estate developer Philip H. Cohn was sentenced Friday in federal court in East St. Louis to five years in prison for schemes that involved mail fraud, money laundering and violating environmental law.

Saturday, May 21, 2005. MO--National interest: Buyer Beware: How To Avoid Trouble When Building A House Building a new home can be a rewarding experience but consumers who aren't careful can lose their life savings.

Saturday, May 21, 2005. Kansas City Star: Investor's transaction leads to jail Belton real estate investor Brent Michael Barber was escorted to jail Friday after a federal judge ruled that he had violated his bond.

Barber, 40, is charged in three criminal cases that allege more than 130 counts of money laundering and real estate and mortgage fraud.

Friday, May 20, 2005. National: White House Sets Forth Plan To Limit Size of Fannie, Freddie The Bush administration has backed legislation that could substantially reduce Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's investment holdings, part of an accelerating push to shrink the size and influence of the mortgage companies.

Friday, May 20, 2005. KY, OH: 'Keeneland' name confuses Burch and his Calumet Homes LLC home development company have nothing to do with Keeneland Homes. But that hasn't stopped lenders, customers and reporters from thinking it does.

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH, KY: Learning from scandal Some argue that it's impossible to prevent a criminal from acting, but home buyers deserve better protection than they're getting.

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH, KY: Bank alleges fraud The problems for financially troubled Boone County home builder Keeneland Homes intensified Thursday when a bank foreclosed on seven properties and accused the company of fraud.

Friday, May 20, 2005. MO: Home builder convicted of fraud [Also involved: Carlton Dinwiddie] Jeffrey Thomas, 37, of the 700 block of Finch Court in Chesterfield, was convicted Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, on four felony counts of mail fraud, one felony count of wire fraud, two felony counts of money laundering and one felony count of bank fraud.

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH, KY: Home builder heads to prison--Homes by Calkins defrauded five banks Homeowners pick up tab

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH, KY: Builder, wife, jailed in scheme on homes Bunning sentenced Chester Calkins, 65, to 46 months in prison. Calkins' wife, Antonette, 51, was sentenced to two months in prison and eight months of home incarceration. Both will be on supervised release - a form of federal probation - for five years after each is released from prison.

Friday, May 20, 2005. TX: Door slams shut on bills to protect homeowners "It appeared to be to the public a regulatory body," he told fellow lawmakers at a hearing Monday in Austin. But in fact, he said, "The people that are being regulated by the act are the consumers, to a certain degree, as opposed to the builders."He questioned whether the board was independent enough to make sure that its decisions "are in the best interest of all Texans and not just in the best interest of home builders and the Texas Association of Builders."

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH: Learning from scandal Legislators in both states have already missed once on the opportunity to change the law to help protect homebuyers from builders who steal money at closings. They shouldn't blow their next opportunity. Separate bills pending before the Ohio House and to be filed in Kentucky before the General Assembly there next meets in January should be made a priority by both bodies.

Friday, May 20, 2005. OH: Builder, wife jailed in scheme on homes A Northern Kentucky homebuilder will serve nearly four years in prison for diverting into his private business close to $5 million in cash meant to pay off mortgages on new homes.

Thursday, May 19, 2005. MICHIGAN: More undeveloped land likely to disappear But it's a near impossibility that the land will remain undeveloped, because the property is privately owned and Michigan courts almost always decide in favor of developers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. NJ: New Jersey Toughens Regulation of Builders New Jersey Acting Governor Dick Codey has signed an executive order intended to protect home buyers from unscrupulous builders. Codey's action came less than six weeks after the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) issued a blistering report on new-home building in New Jersey, describing an industry marked by waste, fraud and incompetence on the part of builders and municipal inspectors.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. NJ: Tuesday Letters to the Press On behalf of New Jersey's chapter of Homeowners Against Defective Dwellings, I want to congratulate chairman W. Cary Edwards and the SCI staff for their careful but hard-hitting conclusions. But now for the hard work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. OH, KY: Home Builder Sticks Buyers With Liens BURLINGTON, Ky. -- Some Tri-state home buyers are discovering they owe more than they bargained for because their builder, Keeneland Homes, stuck them with its bills, Target 5's Juliette Vara reported.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. OH: Builder faces liens for debts A lien is the first step contractors often take to collect for material and services [when the general contractor didn't pay them]. Home or land owners could be responsible even though they did not incur the debt.

Until liens are released, home and land owners would find it difficult if not impossible to sell.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. OH: Builder Who Left Liens Charged With Bad Checks News 5 Catches Up To One Of The Owners Of Keeneland Homes-- Criminal charges have been filed against a home builder who has left buyers facing at least $438,126 in liens, News 5's Brian Hamrick reported.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. NY: New York Takes On Predatory Real Estate Scams The New York Senate and Assembly are considering legislation to protect vulnerable homeowners from "foreclosure rescue" scams.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005. NJ: New Jersey Toughens Regulation of Builders New Jersey Acting Governor Dick Codey has signed an executive order intended to protect home buyers from unscrupulous builders. Codey's action came less than six weeks after the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) issued a blistering report on new-home building in New Jersey, describing an industry marked by waste, fraud and incompetence on the part of builders and municipal inspectors.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005. Texas: Duncan Duels with Homebuilders (Note: Senator Duncan filed the homebuilder bill which created the commission) That didn't sway Duncan, who fired off a warning shot, "I'll say this before I go. I've got a poll of [Senators] who have concerns." It would take 11 "no" votes on the Senate floor to kill any of the nine commissioners' nominations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005. FL: Builder Halts, Leaving Unfinished Homes, Missing Money Property owners, subcontractors, former employees and vendors of Rainbow Springs Construction -- doing business as Podia Construx -have formed a bond of sorts in recent weeks in an effort to figure out what is going on with the company and its owner, David Sullivan.

Monday, May 16, 2005. NV: Victorville homebuilder sued in Nevada. Pulte spokeswoman says lawsuit stems from pre-merger project Pulte homes is being sued in what is being called Nevada's largest-ever construction defect case after homeowners alleged their homes were structurally uninhabitable.

Monday, May 16, 2005. PA: City appeals verdict on Osage houses Twenty years to the day after the MOVE bombing, the city asked a federal court judge yesterday to rescind, reduce or re-try a $12.83 million jury verdict won recently by residents of the bombed West Philadelphia block.

Monday, May 16, 2005. OHIO: Sexual Predators Allowed To Have Contractor's License Contractor Botches Work... Police work hard to warn neighbors about sex offenders, so did the city of Cleveland allow a sexual predator to become a licensed contractor, giving him access to homes without warning anyone?

Monday, May 16, 2005. FL: 'Escalation clause' becoming common in housing contracts Maureen Trimble thought she had a deal: $192,000 for a new three-
bedroom house in North Port.

But in January, with construction already under way, she found her contract might not be as ironclad as she thought. Her builder sent a letter saying that it was raising the price by $51,000 to cover increased costs.

Monday, May 16, 2005. NJ: Affordable Housing Plan goes Awry A program intended to boost the city's stock of affordable housing by selling city land to nonprofit groups instead put the land at cut-rate prices into the hands of private developers.

Monday, May 16, 2005. National:: Realtors Try to Head Off Anti-Trust Suit Over Internet Listings The National Association of Realtors is revising its policy on Internet home sales in an effort to head off an antitrust suit by the U.S. Justice Department.

Sunday, May 15, 2005. MICHIGAN: Selfridge changes may open up land Loss of unit may spur development on 520 acres of prime real estate. U.S. Rep Candice Miller laments the pending demise of the 300-member Army garrison unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in her home community, but she says the loss could be more than offset by a lucrative private residential development along Lake St. Clair on property now owned by the military..."I would have to say that's the most valuable piece of property in the state," Miller said. "People have been gnashing their teeth over the closing of the garrison, but look at what they have there -- 520 acres along 2.2 miles of Lake St. Clair shoreline -- and another 102 acres in Chesterfield. "I would think developing that property and putting it on the tax rolls is a very good thing."

Sunday, May 15, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Map may change cost of insurance More properties designated in the floodplain; they may need more coverage.
Being placed in the floodplain requires a property owner to purchase FEMA insurance, either directly or through a third party. By purchasing insurance before the new map is finalized, municipal officials said property owners can secure a lower annual payment....Floodplains change for a variety of reasons. The most common is development. Having more paved surfaces increases the amount of runoff and expands the floodplain.

Sunday, May 15, 2005. NJ, National interest: Web site will offer data on builders TRENTON, N.J. -- People interested in buying a new-construction home will soon have another way to check out builders before they sign a contract and more information about what they can do if there are problems later on.

Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey has signed an executive order directing the Department of Community Affairs to develop a Web site with information about home builders, including claims against them.

Sunday, May 15, 2005. NJ-National interest: Codey hits nail on head With the stroke of his pen, the acting governor has found a way to protect home buyers from unscrupulous builders. The executive order he signed last week hasn't fixed everything, but it has gotten the process off to a great start.

Sunday, May 15, 2005. GA: Builder [D.R. Horton-Torrey Inc.] Faulted Over Runoff; Jury Awards $2.35 Million Cole had lived on her three-acre "slice of heaven" for 15 years before the homebuilder constructed a drainage pond that emptied into her back yard and contaminated the well she shared with her friend and co-plaintiff Pattie Rouse.

Sunday, May 15, 2005. NV, CA: Victorville homebuilder sued in Nevada The suit alleges that since Del Webb [now Pulte] decided not to install a metal strip known as weep screed, these homes have sustained water damage to their structures, leaving homes in deplorable shape.

Saturday, May 14, 2005. NATIONAL: Developer tactics to avoid housing bust But there is one thing they won't be able to do: sell their condos - that is, not until the developer has sold every one of the $190,000 to $400,000 units. The reason: "We're selling communities, not commodities," says Robert Lyles, founder of Starpointe, the developer. Limits on resales, requirements that buyers live in their homes for a year, and mandatory profit sharing with the developers if a home is "flipped" are just some of the ways that home-building communities - and bankers tightening standards - are trying to quell speculation in the housing market. By taking off some of the froth, they hope to keep one of the greatest real estate markets in the nation's history from becoming one of the biggest busts.

Saturday, May 14, 2005. MICHIGAN: Land clearing permit debated Residents complained to township officials about Pulte Homes and the Dominion Building & Development Co. clearing the woodlands at the gateway to the township.

Saturday, May 14, 2005. NATIONAL: House prices soar 50% in five years Economists fear 'bubble' could cause major price correction in housing market High prices are keeping buyers out of the market, making it harder for firms to attract workers in pricey markets and breeding high consumer debt and speculative buying. Many economists warn a major swath of the market is at risk of a price correction.

Friday, May 13, 2005. Texas: A Homeowner Nails Bob Perry. {HYPOCRISY AT IT'S WORST] This appeal by Perry Homes makes one other fascinating claim that consumers typically invoke: arbitrator bias. As evidence, Perry Homes cites the fact that arbitrator Robert Prather previously had represented some homeowners in construction litigation. By contrast, homeowner plaintiffs in other cases repeatedly have claimed that an arbitrator had close ties to the homebuilding industry or favored an industry that brings arbitrators so much business. The bias claim in this case is extraordinary, coming as it does from Texas’ largest individual campaign contributor. Apparently, someone who has built so much bias into the political system knows it when he sees it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. National: HR 1295: Protecting the Consumer? Consumer Protection Experts Say NO!
So Does This Appraiser

Thursday, May 12, 2005. OR: House favors less time to sue for construction SALEM -- Homeowners would have less time to sue over construction defects with a bill that passed the Oregon House on Wednesday.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. NV: Home Defects: Know What You Should Do A fraudulent unlicensed contractor has pleaded guilty to 44 felony charges.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. NC: Survey Finds Common Code Violations It's National Building Safety Week and a new survey identified the most common problems with new and older homes.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. TX: Up Close: What lies beneath pits neighbor against neighbor It all began when a homeowner in the Woodwind Lakes subdivision began digging a swimming pool in his back yard and ran into petroleum pipes left over from the 1950s.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. PA: Local Builder is Guilty of Fraud Five face sentencing for $9 million scheme to cheat about 100 home buyers.

Thursday, May 12, 2005. Nat'l, IEQ Mold News: Current Archive List of articles

Wednesday, May 11, 2005. NJ; national interest: N.J. Gov. Steps in to Protect Homebuyers May 11, 2005

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Codey has signed an executive order establishing a series of reforms to protect homebuyers from being victimized by unscrupulous builders.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005. OH & KY: Ky. bank's directors were inattentive This case, like the Peoples Bank collapse from the Erpenbeck [homebuilding] scandal, also raised troubling questions: What happened to oversight by the bank board?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005. NV: Las Vegas homeowners expand building defect suit against Del Webb Mitidiere said retrofitting the strips, removing mold and replacing damaged stucco could cost $50,000 for each home - or a total of more than $76 million.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005. New York: Building cases against unlicensed contractors 26 firms on Staten Island and in Brooklyn had their vehicles seized by city.Imagine returning to your office and finding that someone had taken it away.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. FL: Coral Lakes homes, soil to be replaced The luxury homes, which are in the early stages of construction, are being knocked down because the soil beneath them is filled with boulders, tree parts and clay that can lead to foundation cracks, according to city building inspectors.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. FL: Files confiscated from suspended Fort Lauderdale code chief City code chief Lori Milano, 42, was suspended with pay from her job overseeing code enforcement five weeks ago after city officials said they were advised Milano was the target of a federal criminal investigation.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. CBS News: Home appraisers under the gun No one knows exactly how often appraisers tinker with reality. But reports suggest that they face enormous pressure to tweak their numbers.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. U.S.: States limit limited service A growing number of states are cracking down on limited-service real estate brokerage, passing laws that would mandate services that real estate brokers must perform for their clients, according to a special Inman News report.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. MO: MO Bill Sets Barriers To Home Construction Lawsuits Opponents of the bill argued that homeowners may have to hire an attorney just to understand the steps they must follow if they have a complaint.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. NJ: Governor orders ethics code for state's building inspectors The executive order follows a series of hearings by the State Commission of Investigation that highlighted horror stories by homeowners. But it falls far short of the strongest SCI recommendations, such as a lemon law for poorly built houses.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005. Texas: Frisco still looking into builder codes Frisco leaders and even some opponents of two failed propositions aimed at regulating builders more closely say they are willing to study the issue further.

Monday, May 09, 2005. TX: Construction Commission to hold meeting The Texas Residential Construction Commission is holding a series of free seminars across Texas designed to answer questions from homeowners and other interested parties about the commission's operations and its recently adopted warranties and building and performance standards.

The commission will visit Texarkana at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ramada Inn's Rose Room at 2005 Mall Drive.

Monday, May 09, 2005. TX: Home builders resist reconstructing rookie agency Buyers no better off in resolving disputes, say proponents of strengthening regulator this session.

Monday, May 09, 2005. IL: Illinois Charges Hail Storm Chaser Olson and his company, Hail Restoration inc., allegedly solicited storm-related roof repair jobs in the Chicago area and collected down payments but never did the work.

Monday, May 09, 2005. Nat'l; from Inman.com: DOJ to sue NAR for antitrust The U.S. Justice Department is planning to sue the National Association of Realtors over policies the federal agency believes will illegally restrict competition and harm online competitors, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Monday, May 09, 2005. Nat'l: Overhauled! No one knows exactly how often appraisers tinker with reality. But reports suggest that they face enormous pressure to tweak their numbers. Some observers predict they'll face even more if the real estate market cools.

Monday, May 09, 2005. Nevada: Nevada high court takes up class-action construction defect case The Nevada Supreme Court is considering whether a construction defect lawsuit involving homes in North Las Vegas should have been a class-action case

Monday, May 09, 2005. Texas: Low-income housing could be overhauled RESOURCES
• Complete coverage: See more stories and resources on the 79th Texas Legislature from the Houston Chronicle.

A year ago, Julian and Martha Rojo and their three children moved into a three-bedroom house near El Paso they had built mostly with their own hands. Their monthly mortgage payments are $406 — considerably less than the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the area.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. MICHIGAN: Adams dispute ending? City and developer near a settlement Retired Oakland Circuit Court Judge Barry Howard appeared at Wednesday's city council meeting representing Grand Sakwa. But then in February 2004, the city agreed to another consent judgment with Real Estate Interests Group for another mixed-use development on Hamlin not far from Grand Sakwa's site. In exchange, REI agreed to clean up a landfill on the site. Ben Matthews of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Remediation and Redevelopment Division said Friday he is still waiting to hear from REI on the complicated cleanup plan that must precede its development of the landfill site.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Printer Version of Ken Harney article below:: Ken Harney: Some builder financing 'incentives' can add up to fraud Marc Savitt, the association's government affairs committee head, said he recently posed as a home buyer at five Florida home builders' subdivision sales offices.

"There were violations [of federal rules] at every one," said Savitt, president of the Mortgage Center Inc., a Martinsburg, W.Va., brokerage firm.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Nat'l interest: Ken Harney: Some builder financing 'incentives' can add up to fraud Marc Savitt, the association's government affairs committee head, said he recently posed as a home buyer at five Florida home builders' subdivision sales offices.

"There were violations [of federal rules] at every one," said Savitt, president of the Mortgage Center Inc., a Martinsburg, W.Va., brokerage firm.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Bob Bruss column in Washington Post: Real Estate Mail Bag DEAR BOB: I have been a real estate agent for 18 years and I used to recommend my sellers provide one-year home warranty policies to their buyers. This was a great sales inducement for buyers, but a few years ago most of the home warranty companies started refusing to pay valid claims... I no longer recommend these home warranty policies because they pay claims so rarely

Sunday, May 08, 2005. NATIONAL: Is your house an energy guzzler? •First, if you're planning to buy a home that only meets the standards of your state's building construction code and doesn't exceed them, you're buying the worst building allowed by law to be built in your state. Second, many states are using energy codes that haven't changed much in a long time, 10 to 15 years in some cases. Third, if you're looking solely at the purchase price of a home, you're not factoring in the cost of ownership -- how much it will cost you to live there every month.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Nat'l interest: Surging Housing Market Sounds Echoes of Technology Past Watch for lending shifts, consumer debt trends and mortgage fraud. Build spreadsheets of home prices, sales and interest rates over decades to detect patterns. Talk to residents who've paid mortgage for years, and still barely built up equity in their homes. Check financial filings and market charts for homebuilder executives shedding their shares – a sign they think their profits are about to be squeezed. Search for foreclosures and spiraling home equity loans.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. FL: 'Club Fed' or real hard time? Three convicted in a Tampa housing scheme will spend time in federal prisons

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Mold/Dryvit/improper installation: Jail study finds mold and more It also says that the exterior coating relies on “water tight” components such as windows, copings and flashings combined with sealed joints. However, the cladding lacks a “secondary drainage plane to capture incidental water intrusion and redirect it to the building exterior. As a result, bulk water … becomes trapped within the barrier wall assembly. If sufficient water is retained … it may deteriorate the wall system and compromise the system’s properties.”

Sunday, May 08, 2005. Nat'l interest: Teen educates others on dangers of mold Both said they developed asthma. Simone Sommer, a physician, said she became so fatigued that she had to give up her family medical practice. Josh Sommer developed a rash and suffered blinding headaches and lapses in memory.

Sunday, May 08, 2005. LA: Mold to push Blancos out of Governor's Mansion BATON ROUGE, La. Mold is forcing Governor Kathleen Blanco and her husband, Raymond, to make other living arrangements this summer.

Saturday, May 07, 2005. NATIONAL: New Bridges Made of Bendable Concrete By mixing fiber in concrete scientists have created a bendable material that is lightweight, resists cracking, and lasts longer. Fiber-reinforced concrete is not new. But this variety, developed at the University of Michigan, is said to be 500 times more resistant to cracking than what your sidewalk is made of. It's also 40 percent lighter. The new mix contains mostly the same ingredients as regular concrete minus the coarse gravel, explained engineering Professor Victor Li. It looks like regular concrete, but under intense strain it gives instead of breaking because fibers slide within the cement. The fibers behave somewhat like your body's ligaments, holding things together in a flexible manner.

Saturday, May 07, 2005. MASSACHUSETTS: HOW TO STEAL A UNIT FROM A CONDO OWNER THE PERFECT CRIME Their reasons to complain ranged from illegal structures in the common area of their garage (cited as a safety violation by the city building inspector, yet never removed), to a serious damage to the interior of their unit and valuable personal property caused by faulty maintenance of the common areas. They also wanted to know why in early 2000, shortly after they had submitted an insurance claim regarding the damage, a false allegation of unpaid condo fees was made by the board of trustees, and over $3,500.00 was transferred from their mortgager's escrow account into the condominium trust's account. The couple believed that these were simple, straightforward issues, and there was no reason why the board of trustees, now facing court action, should not finally address them. Or so they thought.

Saturday, May 07, 2005. NATIONAL: Will housing bubble burst? Some economists have watched the soaring home prices with alarm as well, fearful the steep rise could lead to a plunge. They see a combustible mix of low interest rates, easy credit and rising speculation, coupled with a widely held belief among buyers -- especially younger ones -- that real estate values never decline.

Friday, May 06, 2005. NATIONAL: Viagra for the mob? This can't turn out well... Three New York doctors were charged on Thursday with giving large amounts of Viagra and other anti-impotence drugs to mob members in return for construction and auto repair work done by mafia-controlled businesses.....Robert Wolf, one of the lawyers representing Fleisher, said it is an accepted practice among doctors to give patients samples. "This is a message to the medical profession. Don't treat Italians," he told reporters. "This is rampant and accepted in the medical profession, unless your patient is Italian."

Friday, May 06, 2005. NATIONAL: Bush removes logging barrier The Bush administration on Thursday overturned one of the most significant land conservation measures of the Clinton presidency: a ban on roads, logging and development on 58.5 million acres of national forests. The move could open large pristine areas to industry.

Friday, May 06, 2005. MICHIGAN - Troy: Troy residents fight developer Wildlife habitat is threatened by plan to build 100 homes, neighbors maintain. But local residents like Ullmann are afraid a developer will irrevocably harm the area if he moves forward with plans to build about 100 homes on 48 acres of the land. In April, the Troy City Council gave preliminary site plan approval to the project, the Oak Forest subdivision, although several neighbors publicly came out against the idea. Freeman said he is not an expert on herons but knows a change in the hydraulics of the wetlands could make it inhospitable for them or other wetland wildlife. Neighbors are afraid of the changes the proposed subdivision could bring. Ullmann has lived next to the rookery for about 30 years on Willow Grove, a dirt road. She said more and more rainwater runoff has flowed into her neighborhood as the area has been developed over the years. "We're dealing with more and more water," Ullmann said. "It's the middle of June before I can get out and work in my perennial garden because it's so soggy." She and other neighbors are worried that the proposed subdivision will force more runoff water into their neighborhood and wash them out. I don't think the birds are going to mind seeing a few homes around them," Garrett said. Oak Forest is still far from a done deal. The council passed the preliminary site plan with some amendments. Before the development can move forward, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Oakland County drain commissioners must grant permits.

Scott Oliver, 64, lives across the street from Ullmann and complains of how wet his yard can get from the rainwater.

The retired skilled tradesman said some sections of his lawn have to go weeks without a mowing because of standing water.

"I don't know what he (the developer) can do to stop water from rolling downhill," Oliver said.

Dale Garrett, vice president of Ladd's Inc., the company proposing the development, doesn't foresee any of that happening due to the Oak Forest subdivision.

Friday, May 06, 2005. NATIONAL: HUD has home-buying data The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a wealth of home-buying information and advice at www.hud.gov, including answers to the following commonly asked questions:

Friday, May 06, 2005. CT, National interest re Freedom of Information Act which is getting harder to get results from, and can provide documents relevent to a person's housing related case:: Housing Chief Says FOI Policy Will Be Revised Resident Evon Kochey brought the policy to Hennick's attention. Kochey, a resident of the Dyer Farms subdivision, has waged a battle with the housing authority over access to documents about affordable housing units in the subdivision that are under the housing authority's control.

Friday, May 06, 2005. PA: MOVE-bombing tab may top out at $59M "We could have given everyone a check for $200,000 and let them buy a single-family home in Lower Merion," said Saidel.

Instead, the city started out by building new homes for the Osage-Pine area residents who had been burned out by the MOVE fire. This led to a scandal that saw contractor Ernest A. Edwards Jr. jailed for seven years for stealing $137,000 in project money.

Edwards also produced houses that led to chronic complaints from the residents, causing the city to pour millions more into repairs.

Friday, May 06, 2005. PA: WHERE HAVE THEY GONE? Most connected with MOVE bombing are still around ERNEST A. EDWARDS JR., 59. Imprisoned for six years for stealing $137,000 in public funds earmarked to help pay to rebuild houses destroyed by the MOVE fire, Edwards was the contractor chosen by the Goode administration to do the work. The residents of the 61 rebuilt houses on Osage Avenue and Pine Street complained bitterly for years about what they said was shoddy construction. Edwards got out of jail in 1998, settled in Lawnside, N.J., and began building single-family homes in a development he called Estates at Lion's Gate.

Friday, May 06, 2005. MA: Builder hit with injunction The Massachusetts attorney general’s office has filed a complaint against former Millville selectman Michael Pare, charging he bilked two impaired women by paying them just $100 each for valuable real estate.

Friday, May 06, 2005. CA: Bad contractor can ruin building project She had paid about $20,000, and believes the builder owes her about $10,000 worth of work. Williams even had to cover for material that the contractor paid for with checks that bounced.

Williams later discovered the builder's license had been suspended, and numerous grievances had been filed against him.
[Editor's note: only about half the states license builders at all.]

Friday, May 06, 2005. MN: Loose-knit group gives voice to homeowners Minnesota Homewatch is a growing presence at the state Capitol, representing the interests of homeowners against shoddy construction projects that in some cases threaten to bankrupt them. [Website of MN Homewatch: www.mnhomewatch.org ]

Friday, May 06, 2005. OK, National interest: All tort reform arguments stumble over same problem: stats "The press has not been fair to the issues," said Ward. "The press has bought into the big business argument, and they have not demanded any accountability or any statistical databases to say that we have a runaway tort system." [Editor's note: builders have their own brand of tort reform, "right to repair," aka "notice and opportunity to repair," legislation, that parallels medical tort reform in many ways.]

Thursday, May 05, 2005. GA: Georgia Mortgage Fraud Bill Signed into Law Today The “Georgia Residential Mortgage Fraud Act” was signed into law today by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

Among other things, the bill defines the criminal offense of residential mortgage fraud, provides for penalties, authorizes district attorneys and the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute cases of residential mortgage fraud, provides for forfeiture of real and personal property and amends the “Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act,” so as to include residential mortgage fraud within the definition of racketeering activity.

Thursday, May 05, 2005. NATIONAL: Journal of Light Construction - May 2005 - NEWS New Code Would Allow Unvented Attics - Asphalt roofing manufacturers oppose the change, fear trapped moisture and rot. *** Builders in Dallas are offering everything from appliance upgrades to free maid service to lure buyers into signing on the dotted line, reports the Dallas Morning News. Although demand for new homes remains strong in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, new builders entering the market have raised the inventory of unsold new homes in the vicinity to nearly 8,000, up from just 4,200 in the year 2000, says the paper. *** A recent report by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation cites "an astonishing statewide panorama of waste, fraud, and abuse" in new-home construction, including "shoddy and negligent workmanship" and "widespread inspection irregularities." The commission found that in many cases inspections were not performed or pressure from builders to move a project to the next phase resulted in incomplete inspections, and that inspection office personnel "accepted gifts and other inducements from representatives of builders and/or developers ... tainting the public's perception of their ability to perform a vital function as dispassionate sentinels over the process."

Thursday, May 05, 2005. CANADA - New Foundland: City of St. John's orders tree house razed Municipal officials have ordered a man in St. John's to tear down a children's tree house in his west-end yard because it's not up to code. He soon found out that the City of St. John's does not have an official policy on children's structures, "so they've applied the National Building Code and its rules about rises and runs and stairs and all kinds of loads and engineering plans to a tree house. "It's ludicrous beyond belief."

Thursday, May 05, 2005. CO, National: Tom Redux Firms on Troubleshooter.com pay yearly fees as high as $4,000 to receive Martino's de facto endorsement.

Thursday, May 05, 2005. OR: Klamath Falls families who live atop asbestos site to be moved EPA officials say they eventually can charge the costs to the subdivision's developer, who homeowners say failed to disclose the existence of the asbestos.

Thursday, May 05, 2005. Texas: Tough love Some might call Schubert's relationship to development and business, whose donations have poured into his coffers like money from home, easy love. Schubert's contributors include individuals associated with Pape-Dawson, the San Antonio Builders Association, KB Homes, and Atlee Development, among others. "It's easy to tag developers as evil," says Schubert, "but we're policy makers, we need to factor the interests of the neighborhoods, environmentalists, and the developers and business into what we do. I'm the only person in this race who can talk with those people, because I've been in business, I understand it, and I don't view it as something negative for our community."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. Texas: Houston Woman Loses $270,000 House Over $420 Bill A Houston woman lost a $270,000 home she owned free and clear because of a $420 debt to a homeowner's association, Local 2 reported Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. TEXAS: TRCC Says Third-Party Warranty Providers Must Now Register

Third-party warranty companies that provide services for Texas homeowners on behalf of builders/remodelers must now register with the Texas Residential Construction Commission. The commission announced it adopted rules that cover the warranty company guidelines during the its April 13, 2005, meeting and those rules were effective May 3.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. TX: TRCC Says Third-Party Warranty Providers Must Now Register Third-party warranty companies that provide services for Texas homeowners on behalf of builders/remodelers must now register with the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. KY: Slipping away on Rocky View A system that doesn't protect would-be property buyers from homes that begin to fall apart almost as soon as they move into them isn't a good system.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. MN, National: Moisture problems persist in stucco homes in Woodbury Stucco providers staunchly defend their product, saying that the unwanted moisture in most of the homes stems from leaky windows, lack of flashing and newer wall systems that don’t allow moisture to dry out.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. PA: Home improvement contractors face fraud charges Brad Marks, 45, and Edwin Rivera, 46, were charged with 13 counts of mail and wire fraud, U.S. Attorney Patrick L. Meehan announced.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. AZ, National: Arizona launches real estate title insurance investigation Title insurance is required by lenders to protect themselves and home buyers in case of property-ownership disputes. Colorado officials have alleged that insurance companies were paying kickbacks for business that was funneled to them by builders and others.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. Okla.: Radioactive tract Until recently, families living near the site had no idea of the radioactive experiments. They are skeptical and uncomfortable with the company's assurances that the site has been cleaned up.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. New Jersey: Campaign cash, Drinks and jobs tools of his trade Some developers establish rapport with municipal officials to help gain approval for their building plans. Others offer campaign contributions and attend political fund-raisers with hope of winning favors.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. TX: Letter: Frisco Rights of consumers, once taken for granted, are replaced by a very limited state-mandated warranty covering few defects, helping this Goliath industry. We feel that this is the last chance for the consumer to "Take Back Your Rights."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005. PA: Theft charges held over for trial in home builder case The county district attorney's office filed charges in January alleging that Kunz, through Rosewood Homes and another entity, American Home Alliance, sold a home in Jackson Township for $339,999 but reported the sale at $135,000.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. MICHIGAN: Tower plan upsets residents Oakland Twp. says the only workable site for communications network is near homes. Some residents in the Bear Creek and Goodson Hills subdivisions are crying foul over plans to install a 199-foot emergency communications tower in their neighborhood. But Davidson believes the true reason for the site switch was political. "Two of the people on the Board of Trustees live right across from where the original tower was proposed," she said.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. National: Report Suggests Remedies for Appraisal Fraud So, why has appraisal fraud gained the foothold that it apparently has in the mortgage granting process? Is anyone watching the store? According to the Demos Report, there are a lot of people who might be or maybe even are watching, but few who have both the power and the motivation to crack down on abuses.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. Iowa: Spring Scams In the Moukagam's case the contractor, Darrell Hamilton, said he would need half the money up front. So they gave him two checks; one for $1,500 and one for $2,000. Money they will likely will never see again. After finishing just half the work, the contractor has not been heard from in nearly two months.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. New Jersey: Spalliero arrested on bribery charges Anthony Spalliero, a developer tied to the recent down fall of former Marlboro Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco and former freeholder Director Harry Larrison Jr., was arrested today and charged with four counts of bribing public officials, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. CA: Limitations Period Defense for Construction Defects Restricted Showing of Builder’s Own Knowledge Held Unnecessary to Invoke ‘Willful Misconduct’ Exception

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. U.S.--Barry Stone column:: Beware of builder who insists buyer sign a repair waiver Any builder who would deny a home buyer's right to a professional home inspection prior to purchase or who would refuse to make repairs subject to that inspection is blatantly unethical, and dealings with such persons should be avoided whenever possible.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005. Texas: Complaints against builder illustrate agency's problems It was supposed to be their dream house. More than four years ago, the Partingtons hired Tidwell to build it. They signed over their lot to him; he took months to build a little, then quit. They sued him and won $65,000, but Tidwell never paid them, and they lost everything - the lot and their partially-finished house, where someone else now lives. It's all because Tidwell declared bankruptcy. He blames his financial problems on 9/11, a bad court system, not enough legal funds, a bad bank, questionable appraisers and the Partingtons.

Monday, May 02, 2005. Alaska: Unhappy homeowner takes on city While he's obviously not satisfied with the builder, Matt Matthews, he's really peeved with the city's inspection program. He says the program overlooked problems it should have detected.

Monday, May 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Ficano courts builders Critics say his plan to create Wayne Co. projects by giving tax breaks lacks oversight. Ficano wants to wipe out county taxes for one year on new projects or additions, and offer tax breaks of up to 50 percent for eight years, so developers could apply that money toward construction costs. "I live next to three empty lots," said Helen May, a 45-year resident of Ecorse. "A lot of them are owned by people who have a lot more money than me. I'm not in favor of government making it easier for people to buy them up." Ficano's plan can't proceed unless commissioners agree to create a Land Bank Authority, a quasi-government entity that could take unwanted land, wipe out taxes and assemble it for developers. The devil's in the details," Commissioner Keith Williams, D-Detroit, said at a recent hearing. "When you create this monster, you can't change it. How can we be assured the community will receive the land or get good development?"

Monday, May 02, 2005. National, re CLUE report: Take a look at what they have on you
For years, the public has known little about a database that helps the nation's insurance companies determine how much to charge their customers for auto and homeowners coverage - or whether they will cover them at all.

Monday, May 02, 2005. DE; National interest: Beware of fraudulent contractors New Castle and New Castle County police recently charged Richards with six counts of home improvement fraud.

Monday, May 02, 2005. CA: State Contractors Board Catch "Big Ones" in Bass Lake Sting SWIFT investigators stung a total of 13 unlicensed contractors in yesterday's undercover operation. One person was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant for grand theft.

Monday, May 02, 2005. CA: Homeowners can pay dearly for illicit contractors Hayward homeowner Arlene Hood took care when hiring a contractor to tackle some major work on her property. She found a tradesman in the phone book with a contractor license number displayed along with his listing. Hood also contacted the Better Business Bureau to see if there had been any complaints against the man.

"I thought I was doing the smart thing," Hood said.

But it wasn't enough.

Monday, May 02, 2005. FL--still dealing with hurricane damage from last year:: Wait for roofs leaves thousands unsettled Of those done, 25% fail county inspections

Monday, May 02, 2005. OH: Law offers homebuyers little help Under current state law, anyone can build a house, although workers who install the electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning systems must meet certain requirements.

It's a fact that most consumers are not aware of, said Tom Barnes, deputy director of the Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction.

Monday, May 02, 2005. PA: Pennsylvania Charges Home Improvement Fraud Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has filed a civil lawsuit against the owner of a Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, window and siding company, charging that it defrauded consumers by cashing their deposits for contracted work without completing the jobs and illegally contacted homeowners on the state's Do Not Call list to sell his home improvement services.

Monday, May 02, 2005. U.S.: Spitzer Probing Discrimination in Mortgages Do mortgage lenders charge higher fees and interest rates when writing mortgages for ethnic minorities, the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable groups?

Monday, May 02, 2005. Texas and National: Developers, real estate force in Va. races A wealthy Texas homebuilder who was prominent in the 2004 presidential race was a major individual contributor to Republican Jerry Kilgore's campaign for governor. Bob J. Perry, a leading benefactor to the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, gave Kilgore $15,000.

Sunday, May 01, 2005. Texas: The Exurb Rebellion The Beckas also tried to enlist state officials in a solution. In August, they visited with their state representative, Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), at his district office in McKinney. They briefed him on their concerns and asked him for help at the state level. The meeting was anti-climactic. “He appeared uninterested and yawned through most of [it],” wrote Carolyn Becka in an e-mail message. Seven days later, Paxton received $10,000 from the single largest Republican political donor in Texas, real estate developer Bob Perry. This may have been a coincidence in timing, but it sure didn’t put the Beckas on equal footing with the construction industry. In November, Paxton helped arrange a meeting between Frisco city officials, the Beckas, and the construction commission. “The purpose of calling the meeting was to bring all the parties together to have a dialogue,” said Paxton’s District Director, Sheacy Thompson, who, herself, has donated to the Frisco builders’ PAC. According to all parties, little came of the meeting.

Saturday, April 30, 2005. MICHIGAN: Only 2 county communities make top 10 building list "I think there's a pretty good scarcity of improved land or land that's capable of being improved with water and sewer in Oakland County," said Richard Komer, president of Wineman & Komer Building Co. in Southfield and treasurer of the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan.
"Some of the other counties have sort of stepped up - Macomb County and (specifically) Macomb Township. There seems to be plentiful land. There's more affordable houses being built over there. Politically, over there, it's a little easier to do business." Closings on new homes are being somewhat held up by the sale of buyers' existing homes, which are taking longer to market, Babcock said.

Saturday, April 30, 2005. TX: The Exurb Rebellion The people in this case are a group of newly minted activist-citizens who are fed up with what they say is an unaccountable building industry that all too often sells faulty homes.

Friday, April 29, 2005. National: Buyers Should Be Wary Of Add-on Incentives If you've bought a new home in recent years, you've probably run into this: The builder offers you a substantial incentive — a finished patio, extra square footage or extra lush landscaping — if you agree to obtain your mortgage, and maybe your title and settlement services, through an affiliate of the builder.

Friday, April 29, 2005. MICHIGAN: Residents fight water project "I'd rather opt out of this," said Bowen Road resident Mike Boyer. "The developer is going to make a lot of money. Why don't they pay for it?"

Friday, April 29, 2005. MICHIGAN: Genoa residents question plan to shrink park The Genoa Township Board of Trustees authorized moving forward with the proposal. The deal calls for the DNR to sell the land to the township for $4 million. The township will sell it to the developer, who in turn would swap 250 acres in Cohoctah Township with the DNR.

Friday, April 29, 2005. CA: Condo-conversion plan catches residents off guard Kimberly Place is owned by a complex maze of partnerships controlled by Southern California real estate magnate William Lyon, whose flagship company is William Lyon Homes.

Though no criminal charges have been filed, the company was recently alleged to be a participant in a broad kickback scheme investigated by the Colorado Division of Insurance.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. New Jersey: Larrison charged with Taking Bribes FBI: was to get $10,000 for help in Marlboro but received $8,500.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. NORTH CAROLINA: Ownership of the NC Real Estate Industry by the NC Legal Industry Out of Control The crux of Rushing's case stems from the condemnation of property for a developer and the lack of adequate notification for that property owner as well as the county's payment for that property. The property owners were offered $827 for their property for a sewer easement, but eventually, through litigation, was awarded a $40,000 sum.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. NATIONAL: Homeowner associations can bully you, slap you with fines, even take your house THIS OLD HOUSE publishes article critical of homeowner associations in its May, 2005 issue

Thursday, April 28, 2005. CALIFORNIA and NATIONAL: California Attorney General Lockyer Defends Sacramento's Affordable Housing "The American dream of owning your own home has become an unrealistic fantasy for too many Californians," said Lockyer. "With home prices at record highs, these ordinances are essential to meet the housing needs of our state. If developers are successful in blocking Sacramento's ordinance, similar policies throughout California may be abandoned or thrown out, and the notion of an affordable home could become a relic of history." On March 7, 2005, the Building Industry Association of Superior California filed a lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court challenging the validity of Sacramento's ordinance. Today, Lockyer formally requested court permission to intervene in the pending suit.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Green light districts are envisioned for developers Developers soon may have a powerful new tool to creatively build their properties if the Sterling Heights City Council acts on a plan it is considering. It's called planned unit development, typically referred to as a PUD, and it enables developers to bend the rules of zoning districts, mixing and matching their development needs. With a planned unit development, a developer is allowed to use combinations of various kinds of zoning, regardless of how the district is zoned overall.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. NEVADA: Las Vegas glitz dulled by growing pains Many who live in America's fastest-growing city say the soaring billions in wealth generated by Vegas as an international destination for world travelers has not trickled far beyond casino floors. Likewise, many who study the effects of rapid growth - the city had just 5,100 residents the year before the state legalized gambling in 1931 - say the traffic congestion, smog, crime, and insufficient social services show little sign of improving. The soaring cost of housing is another area of concern. In 1997, residential development cost roughly $20,000 per acre. That figure has climbed to $700,000 today. The spike has made Las Vegas increasingly unaccessible to the middle class

Thursday, April 28, 2005. MO: Blessed Are the Moneymakers To some former Tri-City Ministries members, Pastor Carl Herbster’s relationship with Security Savings Bank CEO Don Bell [a home builder] seems like an unholy alliance.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. NATIONAL: The higher the SAT scores, the more the house is worth It's all related, says Mr. Friedman. "Better-paid teachers yield better overall teachers. Better teachers yield better students. Better students yield higher scores. Higher scores yield a greater demand for people moving into the district."

Thursday, April 28, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Home buyers must check for mold In Michigan, the law of "caveat emptor" applies to a used home purchased "as is," meaning the seller is not liable for any harm due to defects at the time of the sale, unless the seller made fraudulent misrepresentations before the contract was signed. Even so, fraud claims are not covered by the seller's homeowners insurance, so purchasers may be limited in how much money they can actually collect to compensate for out-of-pocket expenses. Do not rely upon the seller's disclosure statement.
• Do not rely upon the seller's disclosure statement. Ask the seller specific questions in the presence of your real estate agent about water intrusion, moisture and mold.
• Do not sign an arbitration clause in the purchase agreement, which is never for the benefit of the purchaser. It costs more to file for arbitration than it does to sue, and arbitration costs are usually not recoverable. Once you sign the closing documents, disputes are limited to failure to disclose existing conditions.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Home sales cool off, but still strong The one negative for home sales in March was a sharp 17.6 percent drop in construction activity on new homes and apartments last month, the biggest drop in 14 years. But economists blamed much of that decline on weather factors.

Thursday, April 28, 2005. OK: A Tulsa Homeowner's Nightmare Just after the Garrett’s closed on their new home, they found out it had a 16-thousand dollar lien against it. A subcontractor who did the stucco work for the house says he had not been paid. Michelle: "we do stand to lose our home under foreclosure proceedings.” Jimmy: "I felt like someone stole from me, like someone broke into my home and stole from me."

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. National interest re Freedom of Information Act which some home buyers rely on to get facts about their govt insured loans, etc: FOI Officials Fault Housing Panel Policy State Freedom of Information officials say the Canton housing authority's new policy on FOI requests illegally restricts access to public information.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. Kansas: Problems lurking behind bad stucco Experts predict that because of damage caused by improperly applied stucco, hundreds of homeowners in the Kansas City area — and thousands nationwide — may end up paying millions of dollars to repair homes that are less than 15 years old.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. National: Your right to fight The party that writes a contract often gets to choose the arbitrator, and there are arbitration firms that skew their business toward, well, big business. How bad is it? Well, car dealers who often force consumers into arbitration spent millions of dollars a few years ago to keep Congress from requiring dealers to go to arbitration when they had disputes with car manufacturers.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. Texas: LTTE: Letters: Higher standards for builders? This is why we are in favor of Propositions 1 and 2 in Frisco. We need to have rules and regulations in place so that home builders can be held accountable for their mistakes just like everybody does in this world. Propositions 1 and 2 will be good for everyone concerned, especially the home buyer

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. National: Who's buying these homes? The short answer, says LSU economist Loren Scott, is low interest rates.

But the long answer is worth examining, because new housing in the absence of population pressure has to pull from somewhere.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. CO, National interest re corporate fraud in general: Fraud finder moving back to Denver He says investment bankers hire him to find the truth about the companies they finance. But often, when he dutifully roots out the truth, they ask him to temper his reports.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. OH: Urine spurs lawsuit against Ryan Homes A house allegedly damaged with urine as it was being built is the subject of a lawsuit that could have far-reaching ramifications.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005. OH, KY: Appeal dropped for fraud sentence Erpenbeck

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. U.S.: Avoid Buying a "Bad House" [Article is about resale homes] Ask any experienced residential real estate attorney about his or her most difficult case. The answer will probably involve a "bad house." While not exactly a legal term, a bad house is one where the buyer alleges the seller knew about a serious structural defect, but failed to disclose it to the buyer before purchase.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. U.S.: Appraisal Fraud: A Need To Sort Out The Victims From The Perps? In one particular case involving what was commonly known in Boston as "The Mob’s Favorite Bank" the lead loan officer had, by all accounts, been unable to coerce suitable values from the bank’s regular list of appraisers and had taken to doing "windshield appraisals" of properties that the bank was hell-bent to lend on. The values resulting from these drive-bys were worthy of some kind of fiction-writing award.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. WA--another state close to passing building industry "right to repair" type law, instead of insisting builders build it right to begin with:: Legislation to cut condo defect disputes approved Many of the disputes in recent years involved improperly installed siding on multifamily buildings that leaked and needed to be replaced.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. NY: Home improvement fraud targeted in Hudson Valley Attorney General Eliot Spitzer yesterday announced efforts by his office to protect consumers in the Hudson Valley against unscrupulous home improvement contractors.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. FL: Builders make few fixes to halt leaks "If they built the houses according to code and followed the manufacturers' instructions . . . we wouldn't have these problems," said Resch, who acted as a consultant on a 2003 series by the Orlando Sentinel and WESH-NewsChannel 2 that found widespread evidence of shoddy new-home construction.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. MA: Builders overseeing building? Milinazzo said the presence of such board members creates the appearance of a conflict of interest and that City Manager John
Cox should not allow them to serve on those boards.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. S.Africa...but the advice is relevent for the U.S. also:: 10 pitfalls of buying from a developer 9. ‘Heads you lose, tails I win’

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. PA: Monroe builder charged with theft A Brodheadsville home builder has been arrested by Monroe County detectives and charged with allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars from customer deposits to fuel what a search warrant affidavit called a $2,000-a-week crack cocaine habit.

Dennis Slayton, 51, of Carney Road, Polk Township, was charged with 26 counts each of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and theft by deception, and two counts of writing bad checks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. NC: Charlotte FBI agent makes first court appearance on ethics charge He became the handler for cooperating witness David Simonini, a builder of luxury homes.

In 1999, the FBI's Charlotte office formally opened an investigation of allegations that Simonini was involved in loan fraud and money laundering.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. OREGON and NATIONAL: In Portland, living the green American dream More young urban professionals are forgoing square footage for eco-friendly homes. But as the owners of green homes know firsthand, the cost difference is largely superficial. Any up-front costs are recaptured over time because these buildings use so little energy. Portland General Electric, for instance, reimburses houses that generate more power than they use. An award-winning green house in Cannon Beach, Ore., with its solar panels and eco roof (a roof planted with greenery to deflect heat and improve insulation), is actually making money this spring."There are such significant selling advantages to building a green building that if the up-front cost differential is eliminated you will see a lot more green development taking place," says Leanne Tobias, founder of Malachite LLC, a venture founded to provide services on sustainable or green development in Washington, D.C."As energy prices continue to inflate, the advantages for building green become even greater," she says. "Green building will be mainstreamed, a far greater share of new construction will be green construction, and there will be a great deal of interest in retrofitting existing buildings so that they are more energy efficient."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. MICHIGAN: Residents claim wetlands mistreated Mack said she's developing her land to build three houses. She contends that the entire acreage is not wetlands. "Hardwoods are growing there," Mack said. "Hardwoods do not grow in wetlands." "She is filling the wetlands and doing work without permits, and the township isn't backing us up," resident Mike Williams said.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005. Texas: HADD Texas April Newsletter A newsletter from HADD Texas. In this issue: Bills on the Hill, Review of the TRCC’s Warranty Standards, TRCC Fact Sheet, Statistics from the TRCC, Tremont Homes and the BBB, Strike a blow against forced arbitration,Take Back Your Rights. Frisco Texas

Monday, April 25, 2005. NATIONAL: Justice Department champions new brokers The Department of Justice has two blunt warnings for the American home real estate establishment:Do not block efforts to save consumers money through rebates of real estate commissions.Do not stand in the way of discount "fee-for-service" firms that will list sellers' properties for a fixed-dollar amount, but not perform all the traditional brokerage services such as holding open houses or advising on buyers' offers.

Monday, April 25, 2005. CALIFORNIA: Wanna buy this house? Send your résumé. Unfortunately, Jane Centofante has yet to sell her home in Los Angeles. An inspector found traces of creosote - a mixture of potentially toxic chemicals - throughout her home. Since the finding, she has lost four potential buyers during escrow, that critical period of time when a buyer and seller work out the money and other requests when transferring ownership of a home. "I'm ready to sell. And I want to sell. But now I can't," says Centofante, who hopes to have the creosote problem remedied before the market sours.

Monday, April 25, 2005. MICHIGAN: Most figures in school scandal are behind bars Hudson is serving 60 months, and with him in Pennsylvania is Joseph Zajac, a subcontractor considered by prosecutors to be one of the more heavily involved underlings beneath Hudson. Lupo and Gardiner were both convicted by a federal court jury in July for conspiracy to commit racketeering and other charges in the East Detroit-Clintondale school corruption scandal, in which at least $3 million went into bribes, kickbacks, inflated bids or other tainted transactions from school district coffers in the mid-1990s.

Monday, April 25, 2005. U.S.: Groups Launch Nationwide Effort to Stop Use of Binding Mandatory Arbitration Clauses WASHINGTON, D.C. – More than two dozen public interest organizations on Thursday launched a nationwide effort to stop the corporate use of binding mandatory arbitration (BMA) clauses, those insidious paragraphs that are tucked in the fine print of an array of contracts and through which millions of consumers unwittingly waive their right to access the courts.

Monday, April 25, 2005. CANADA: Home Warranty Karen Somerville runs Canadian[s] for Properly Built Homes, [www.canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com] a consumer lobby group based in Ottawa, and says she's getting complaints about home warranties, not just from Ontario, but from all over Canada.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. New Jersey: Home-building Report seeks to fix broken system The final report of this unpresedented investigation sets forth a catalog of shoddy and deficient construction practices.....

Sunday, April 24, 2005. OK; National: Feds probe real estate agents NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Did you pay your real estate broker too much? The U.S. Department of Justice may be set to turn Tulsa, Okla. into a test-case for ending the stranglehold 6 percent commissions have over the real estate brokerage business.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. NEW JERSEY: Ripoffreport.com Continental Properties,Builders, Eric Goldring Esq.Attorney, John Boyle, Judge Builder, Attorney, Judge and MORE, Racketeering, ...where's the US Attorney? Red Bank New Jersey, Woodbridge, Union County, NJ New Jersey After moving into the brand new constuction,Villas on the Park, Berkeley Heights, NJ, I began to feel very sick. The other four families that moved in also became ill...we found our homes to be over loaded with toxic molds and bacterias.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. FLORIDA: Builder's demise dashes dreams The 75-page lawsuit outlines allegations of purposeful deception by company principals to mislead homeowners about Lighthouse's ability to fulfill contracts and the company's payment of subcontractors and suppliers. It further says that Lighthouse principals engaged in racketeering activities by willfully misappropriating homeowners' money for personal gain.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. Nassau County: Builder Is Indicted In Low-Wage Scam A contractor and his firm have been accused in a 221-count indictment of underpaying employees on three public works projects and attempting to cover it up by submitting false payroll records, Nassau County prosecutors said yesterday.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. OHIO: Builder's racketeering conviction upheld An appeals court has upheld the racketeering conviction of a Kentucky man who prosecutors said defrauded customers and suppliers of more than $200,000 through his construction company.

Sunday, April 24, 2005. MICHIGAN: More residents go west for Livingston lifestyle "Residential development tends to be a drain on governmental services such as law enforcement and road costs. New homes cost local governments about $1.50 for every $1 that the residences generate in taxes. Industrial developments, however, cost about 43 cents for every $1 they bring in and commercial developments cost 73 cents per tax dollar generated."

Sunday, April 24, 2005. NEVADA: Plight of the condo - How a 1980s lawsuit frenzy still limits local affordable housing "Some of those dwellings and the many other new homes weren't as soundly constructed as they should have been, however. Mold, rotting walls, cracked foundations and other problems appeared in the nearly new structures. "

Saturday, April 23, 2005. MO: Three men plead guilty in home mortgage scam A father, his son and a Lee's Summit builder pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud home buyers and mortgage lenders of millions of dollars, officials said.

Saturday, April 23, 2005. FL, National: Deals turn raw in real estate Real estate attorneys said they are being flooded with calls from would-be buyers trying to enforce their contracts and by developers frantically trying to find a way to break a deal because both prices and costs have risen dramatically in the past year.

Saturday, April 23, 2005. National: Appraisal Fraud Remains Hot Topic Questionable appraisal activity has flown under the radar for years as many appraisers succumbed to pressure (for fear of being blacklisted or losing their jobs) to value a home often based largely on the highest bid. However, law enforcement has begun to take a closer look at inflated appraisals in its crackdown on home finance industry fraud that's reached levels comparable to organized crime and racketeering.

Saturday, April 23, 2005. NATIONAL, D.C., TEXAS: JOURNAL OF LIGHT CONSTRUCTION, April 2005; IN THE NEWS Contents:DOE Study Criticizes Energy Code Amendments;Carbon Monoxide Death Spurs New Look at Old Problem; OFFCUTS
Washington, D.C., Builder Accused of "Terrorizing" Community; Retreating Snows Leave Legacy of Roof-Ice Repairs;Texas Environmental Suit Is One to Watch; Oregon Zoning Official Butts Heads With HBA

DOE Study Criticizes Energy Code

Friday, April 22, 2005. OK: Feds looking at real estate practices in Tulsa The Justice Department's Antitrust Division is gathering information on whether full-commission brokers in Tulsa are using tactics against discount firms to discourage commission-cutting, the magazine reported. Tulsa could serve as a test case for the rest of the nation

Friday, April 22, 2005. MO: Missouri title insurance agency closes, $1 million gone James Thurman, owner of Phoenix Title Inc., disappeared last week; the Missouri Department of Insurance has launched an investigation; and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking into the matter, the Post-Dispatch reported.

Friday, April 22, 2005. National interest: Bad Coaching Buyers penalize builders who try to influence satisfaction survey answers.

Friday, April 22, 2005. NJ, National interest: Another Jersey Jolt State Supreme Court rules unanimously against home builders in code violations case.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. Texas: HADD Meeting April 25 in Houston Guest speaker will be Duane Waddill, Deputy Executive Director of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, the new Commission designed to oversee the homebuilding industry. He will be speaking on the TRCC with Q&A.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. U.S.: Building of New Houses Plunges The frenzy of sales to people seemingly desperate to buy homes in recent years has sparked a variety of abuses, ranging from sellers hiding major home defects to lenders arranging kickbacks from in-house title companies, according to the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. NY: Yonkers contractor wants customers to know he's honest Saraiva, the owner of Landmark Construction of Yonkers Inc., said he believes a fraudulent home builder that operates under a similar name is besmirching the image he has built for his company since he went into business in 1988.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. CA, AZ, NV: Former Oroville business owner guilty of fraud "He ought to get a lot more than three years in prison," said a former employee of North Valley Lumber. "So many people suffered because of that guy who acted like a gangster."

Thursday, April 21, 2005. NJ--National Interest: Home-building report seeks to fix broken system The final report of this unprecedented investigation sets forth a catalog of shoddy and deficient construction practices, lax regulatory oversight and poor remediation options that routinely plunge unsuspecting new-home purchasers into a quagmire of waste, fraud and abuse.

Thursday, April 21, 2005. PA: Builder law backed in Bucks State attorney general's office received 3,000 contractor complaints last year...McCall has been working since 1997 to pass legislation that would require contractors to register with the state; provide for stricter laws governing their practices; and create a fund to reimburse ripped-off consumers.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005. Home Owners Insurance: CA, National interest: Homeowners get help against cancellations California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi proposed the changes to rein in what he called insurance companies' "use it and lose it" practice. He said more than 40,000 Californians lose their homeowners insurance every year after filing legitimate damage claims on their houses.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005. Home Buying and Selling:: Senate bill would limit "affiliated" enterprises Companies with a stake in such partnerships often refer to their joint ventures as one-stop shopping. But the affiliations quash competition and should be more transparent, the bill's supporters say.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005. CA, National: Stewart Title of California fined $750,000 for alleged kickbacks Other companies subpoenaed in the overall investigation include William Lyon Homes, KB Home, RE/MAX, United Home Mortgage Corp., Shea Financial Services and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005. Texas: Consumers want homebuilder reforms "The TRCC was not created to help the consumers," consumer advocate John Cobarruvias said. "It was created for the builders; it was created by the builders."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. Texas: Bill to protect home buyers going nowhere, backer says A proposal to give new home buyers in Texas more protection against construction defects probably won't go further than the discussion that was expected late Monday night among members of a legislative committee.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. MN: Court throws out defamation suit filed by developer The state appeals court ruled that Marchant Investment & Management Co. was not defamed by a Minneapolis neighborhood group.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. NATIONAL: U.S. Core Producer Prices Benign The housing starts report showed widespread weakness, with groundbreaking activity for both single-family and multifamily homes tumbling and activity off across the nation. In recent weeks, several U.S. home builders have reported construction delays due to severe weather. Ryland Group Inc. (NYSE:RYL - news) and MDC Holdings Inc. (NYSE:MDC - news) were among those who have said weather-related delays in red-hot markets would push home closings into later quarters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. MICHIGAN: Site cleanup worries neighbors Joe Amicangelo has lived in his Dearborn neighborhood for more than 50 years but says this is the first time he's heard about contamination at the W.R. Grace plant about two blocks from his home. Records also show the facility received more than 300 million pounds of vermiculite, which may have been sent to more than 700,000 Michigan homes for insulation purposes. This includes virtually all the single-family housing in Flint and nearly 280,000 homes throughout southeast Michigan. Eight additional W.R. Grace vermiculite-processing plants were located in River Rouge, Warren, Milan, Reed City, Elsie and Grand Rapids.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. MICHIGAN: Brownstown growth stirs fears Residents claim officials fail to make sure power lines can handle development. On April 4, a power line fell on the north side of Pennsylvania across the street from the house and touched off fires in power lines that run along the Rybski's property line about 13 feet from their house. The fires caused in excess of $60,000 to the home and major damage to an adjoining wetland, they said. "Our Economic Development Department and Building Department needs to assess these things. It's been carte blanche for the developers." "They won't say no to any developer that walks in, the infrastructure is not keeping up," LaFrance said. "They need to put a moratorium on development until they get this infrastructure issue resolved."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. MICHIGAN: Romeo launches offensive to save area's rustic feel "Our community is being threatened by development, and we want to go on the offensive to try to save the village as we know it by any means necessary. You're not going to stop the developers, so the choice becomes: Do you want to try to do something about it now, or sit around and wait until it's too late?" Laura Ashlee, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Historical Commission, said she has never heard of the state designating a street as historical.

"We don't do streets," Ashlee said. "What they might do is list the entire district with the National Register of Historic Places, which might offer some protection against any work being done in that district. But that would be for the entire district, not just particular streets."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Officials aim to protect trees "We want to include all residents, property owners and developers, to make it balanced and fair," Bickel said. "So many communities in other places have creatively integrated development with an area's natural features. There's no reason we can't expect the same amount of imagination and quality from our developers."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. From: Kansas City Star: MLK Village a failed promise Indeed, if there ever were a poster child for all that could go wrong with public housing, MLK Village at 2525 Euclid Ave. would be a contender, and there is plenty of blame to go around.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. National: Housing groups oppose GSE portfolio limits WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- In a boost to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two large housing groups in a Congressional hearing on Tuesday came out against limiting the amounts of mortgage loans the government-sponsored companies may hold.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. CO, National interest: Colorado insurance commissioner confirms new title probe Denver-based company closed last week, now under investigation

Tuesday, April 19, 2005. National: New home construction posts big decline Inflation at the wholesale level, propelled by a surge in the price of gasoline and other energy products, shot up 0.7 percent in March while construction of new homes and apartments fell by 17.6 percent, the biggest decline in 14 years.

Monday, April 18, 2005. MICHIGAN: Developer makes case for project "Being against development is like being against plate tectonics," said Jim Sprague, a resident who lives just north of the Sloan property and has participated in the coalition. Dexter residents don't have to believe that development is fate, Ream said."If they don't raise a big stink, (the developers) will just go ahead," Ream said.

Monday, April 18, 2005. NATIONAL: House buyers always need inspections State law requires a seller to disclose any problems his or her home might have, and a buyer can sue if the seller keeps such problems a secret when negotiating the final purchase price. So, paying a home inspector several hundred dollars for his services is a waste of money!

Monday, April 18, 2005. MICHIGAN: Settlement angers Milford residents CSX will pay $1 million in landfill suit, but some homeowners say it's not enough. "Conrad said she and her neighbors never were informed about the landfill, which has been covered over and fenced in, and that they now cannot sell their homes. Some of the nearby residents say the homes would be worth around $300,000 on another location. "

Monday, April 18, 2005. National: Colorado investigators target another real estate title insurer The Colorado Insurance Department has started investigating another major national title insurer, an official with the agency confirmed.

Monday, April 18, 2005. NC: Contractor complaint goes unheard "I'm baffled about why they expect me to let that man back in here after everything he did."

Sunday, April 17, 2005. SC: Fugitive, scams pop up in S.C. "This whole scam is the talk of the real estate community," said Mary Nell Degenhart, a Columbia lawyer who handled a loan closing for Sullivan. "It just amazes me he got away."

Sunday, April 17, 2005. NJ, National interest: Marlboro developer usually got quick OK In federal court last week, Scannapieco, 60, pleaded guilty to accepting $245,000 in cash from an unnamed developer, in exchange for votes or support for various development projects.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. National: For big dogs, bankruptcy law has little bite [Including home building companies--Ed] influential bankruptcy courts in states such as Delaware and New York compete with one another to attract giant bankruptcies. In an interview, he said this forum-shopping ends up “protecting the executives without protecting the business itself.” One result, he said, is too little examination of what went wrong. In many cases, the business is back in bankruptcy a few years later.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. MO, National Interest: Sale of 40 properties may have violated order Federal officials are investigating whether Kansas City's former housing agency violated an order barring it from transactions involving federal money, The Kansas City Star has learned.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. From Kansas City Star, may require free registration to read article:: http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/11408288.htm Federal officials are investigating whether Kansas City's former housing agency violated an order barring it from transactions involving federal money, The Kansas City Star has learned.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. National interest: Homeowners sue Ryan Homes over Pools of Urine The Parkers claim they told Ryan Homes of their findings and said they wanted to be released from their purchase contract because of unsanitary conditions. According to the suit, Ryan has refused to release the Parkers from the contract and has not refunded a $5,000 security deposit. The Parkers also claim Ryan Homes failed in its obligations under its contract with the subcontractor to provide adequate supervision and make sure portable toilets were located within reasonable walking distance of the home, which is in the Terrace Ridge subdivision.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. FL--National Interest: More than 200 homeowners named in foreign loan-developer suit More than 200 homeowners and their mortgage and title companies are caught up in a foreclosure lawsuit between a foreign loan corporation and a developer.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. FL: Brevard Co. Makes It Hard To View Public Records County officials wanted Asel to sign a form guaranteeing he had no dispute with his builder and would not use the plans as part of a lawsuit against the builder.

"I think they're protecting big business, the builders, and they're not looking at the homeowners," Asel said.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. CA: Lennar's monstrous land grab Some top attorneys are interested in suing to stop this monstrous land grab – to stop Lennar from building 1,600 or more new homes on a Superfund dump, exposing thousands more residents to the toxins and radioactivity that have taken so many of our loved ones already.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. TX and National Interest: Eliminating the perks could mean lower rates Some 20 title companies are under investigation for giving gifts to firms that can send business their way, according to the Texas Department of Insurance, which regulates the title insurance industry.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. National: Mortgage fraud scams costs millions of dollars each year Insiders are the main culprits, he said.

"There's fraud for commission, where a professional such as the mortgage broker, banker, realty agent or appraiser changes documents in order to get a commission. This results in a loss to lenders. Then there's fraud for profit, where the con artists are people in the know — mortgage bankers, brokers, real estate agents, appraisers — are ripping off the system. Some of their schemes are just outrageous," he said.

Borrowers rarely fleece the system.

"Oh, maybe they get their employer to fudge some numbers for them or get a relative to report a second job that they don't really have. But what they do usually doesn't result in losses. After all, if you cheat to get your home, you'll probably give up a lot to keep it," Matthews said.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. MO, National Interest: Phoenix Title abruptly closes, 35 fired Phoenix Title Co., a nine-year-old firm based in St. Charles County, closed abruptly Friday morning, becoming the second area title company to shut its doors in the last three months.

Sunday, April 17, 2005. Texas: Rising scams in mortgages hitting home The long-running housing boom in Houston and around the country has a dark side.

Saturday, April 16, 2005. OH, KY: Subcontractors settle with bank Bricklayers, landscapers and heating and air conditioning subcontractors stiffed millions of dollars by Erpenbeck Co. when the home builder collapsed in a bank fraud scandal in 2002 settled Friday after a long legal battle for at least 10 cents on the dollar.

Friday, April 15, 2005. National: CEO Pay Widens the Income Gap Every year, shareholders and America’ s workers learn of new jaw-dropping executive compensation packages that seemingly defy rational explanation. [Homebuilder CEO's included]

Friday, April 15, 2005. National: Sub-Prime Mortgages Pose Unknown Risk Level The loans pose an unknown level of risk for both securities investors and consumers.

Friday, April 15, 2005. National: Illegal Appraisals Inflate Housing Bubble Through the din of reports about mortgage fraud, title industry kickbacks, and a general upswing in errant real estate industry activities akin to organized crime, a new report turns the focus to real estate appraisals.

Friday, April 15, 2005. National: Appraisal Fraud Likely Greater Than Reported In San Diego, Stephen G. Bishop, turned his appraiser's license back into California's Office of Real Estate Appraisal after being fired thrice consecutively because he refused to inflate residential real estate appraisals.

Friday, April 15, 2005. CA: Builder levies fee on houses in county for charity, but some in industry fear worsening affordability Making the required contribution even more unusual is that legal documents recorded with the county require future buyers to fund the trust over the lifetime of the Lennar homes. This results in a what the company calls "a perpetual source of revenue" for the Lennar Charitable Housing Foundation.

Friday, April 15, 2005. NC: Local FBI agent indicted A Charlotte FBI agent has been indicted for failing to disclose expenses for two trips to Las Vegas paid by David Simonini while the custom home builder was under federal investigation.

Friday, April 15, 2005. KY, OH, National interest: Erpenbeck's calls were monitored The 70-year-old patriarch of the disgraced Erpenbeck home-building clan is due to be arraigned Monday on seven charges filed Friday. He is charged with threatening to murder U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Brinkman, and to kidnap children of Timothy Tracy, an FBI agent based in Covington.

Friday, April 15, 2005. National: Class Actions: New Field, Same Game? Class Action Fairness Act might have unintended consequences, say lawyers

Thursday, April 14, 2005. FL: Homeowners Hire Inspectors To Investigate Hurricane-Damaged Homes "They're out there competing for the low-end portion of the market place and, needless to say, they're gonna cut corners,"

Thursday, April 14, 2005. Texas: Texas Residential Construction Commission Sanctions Builder. Builder’s Registration Revoked for Minimum of Two Years (AUSTIN)—The Texas Residential Construction Commission today revoked the registration of David Montgomery, Inc., and its agent David L. Montgomery, a builder from The Woodlands, Texas.

Thursday, April 14, 2005. Texas: A Split Decision: Frisco voters should be leery of bonds for home builders in Prop 1, but they can still send a message with Prop 2 [Dallas Morning News Endorsement] People like "alternatives," but this clause really means that a buyer gives up his or her right to sue a builder. Instead, unresolved complaints would be decided in arbitration, which critics say is a deeply flawed process that is costly to consumers and tilted in favor of builders. Reforming that process requires state action, but passing a strong disclosure policy would send a message to lawmakers that Frisco voters want to protect consumers from a system that so shamelessly shields builders.

Thursday, April 14, 2005. NJ, National interest: One-word answers [See sidebar with series of related articles on corruption] When you received and accepted the money from the developer in exchange for supporting and voting in favor of his projects, did you know it was wrong and illegal to do so? "Yes."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. Texas: John R. Cobarruvias: Strike a blow against forced arbitration It is a shame that the citizens of Frisco must give up their rights as Americans in order to purchase the American dream, but on May 7, they have a chance to preserve the use of arbitration, if it is fair to both parties, and to restore their access to rights once protected by the Constitution. Who, besides the home building industry and those who benefit from the industry, could possibly be against this?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. Texas: p Close: New homes with defects, turning 'American dreams' into nightmares (May require free registration) "If you really want to buy a new home, buy one that's five years old. The reason I say that is if it has any major problems they're probably going to surface by then," said John Cobarruvias, homeowner.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. MICHIGAN: Township considers inspections for rental properties, homes up for sale " The second measure calls for township inspections of homes for building violations before the properties are sold."..."Bill Servio, a local builder, said he's concerned about the potential economic impact the new laws could have on his business. He said an inspector's decision on workmanship could be subjective."

"It might become cheaper to tear down a structure than to bring them up to the current code," Servio said."

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. NY: Dillon levels fraud charges Fifteen home improvement contractors face criminal charges for performing shoddy work - or none at all - and bilking homeowners out of thousands of dollars, Nassau District Attorney Denis Dillon said yesterday......The contractors charged include Peter Pagoulatos, 43, of Levittown, of Pemo Remodeling; Thevenot Gourdet, also known as Trevor Gordon, 38, of Melbourne, Fla.; Marc Lobel, 39, of Long Beach; Paul Cappel, 33, of Cappel's Home Services in North Babylon; Kenneth Dowling, 48, of ABC Chimney in Bellmore; Jim Chen, 50, of C&S Construction in Flushing; and Thomas Gonzalez, 31, of Classic Lawn Design in Coram.

Also, Brian Hewson, 30, of Tobyhanna, Pa.; Kevi Johnson, 34, of K&M Bulkhead in Baldwin; Wayne Lunati, 50, of Reliable Craftsman in Patchogue; Grzegorz Meller, 47, of G.M. Meller in Oceanside; Walter Moler, 44, of Gloucester City, N.J.; Shawn Peace, 43, of Peace of Mind Electrical in Woodbridge, N.J.; Arthur Spero, 42, of All Phase Plumbing in East Meadow; and John Trumpin, 58, of Closet King in West Islip.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. National: Mortgage fraud takes heavy toll America's booming mortgage industry has proven ripe for criminal pickings.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. IL: Fraud alleged against home builder Edmund and Allison Hershberger filed suit against the builders of their Edwardsville home alleging the defendants, Ricky Pinkston and Tanya Cook-Pinkston, entered into a contract with the intent to deceive them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. NJ: Home-warranty plan is riddled with defects IN 1979 New Jersey became the first and so far the only state to require builders of houses to provide insurance-backed protection for buyers. So, good news for consumers, right? Well, not quite. In an eye-opening report on the housing industry, the State Commission of Investigation concludes that the warranty system is riddled with loopholes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. FL: Builder's victims compensated The state has finished paying out nearly $500,000 in restitution to victims of Brevard Builders Group, a defunct Melbourne custom-home builder found guilty of racketeering and deceptive trade practices.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005. NJ: Mayor admits taking $245,000 in bribes from developer Even as the town he governed struggled with the effects of explosive growth, former Marlboro Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco was taking nearly a quarter of a million dollars in bribes for shepherding a prolific developer's projects past the township council and planning board. Yesterday, Scannapieco, a Republican who was mayor of the Monmouth County community from 1992 to 2003, admitted in federal court that he accepted $245,000 in payoffs for helping the developer with six projects between 1997 and the year he left office.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005. Texas: http://Good Works: Helping homeowners save their homes That's where Cobarruvias stepped in. For over 10 years, he's been a volunteer with the group Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings or HADD. "We help everbody who has a defect with a homebuilder," said Cobarruvias. "We do this out of our own time and with our own money."

Tuesday, April 12, 2005. MICHIGAN: Residents ask CSX to buy homes There was nothing that would raise any red flags when we moved in," said Kim Conrad, a stay-at-home mother of two daughters, ages 8 and 5. But seven years later, in 2002, when they tried to sell their home, they learned they had been living near a decades-old landfill that was leaking contaminants, including arsenic, lead and cyanide, into surrounding wells.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005. National Interest: Problems lurking behind bad stucco Experts predict that because of damage caused by improperly applied stucco, hundreds of homeowners in the Kansas City area — and thousands nationwide — may end up paying millions of dollars to repair homes that are less than 15 years old.

Monday, April 11, 2005. Texas: Homebuilder files restraining order on picketers. Reference Frustrated home owners protest builder for background information.

Monday, April 11, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Former officer now hunts water, black mold The company uses infrared cameras and air-quality testing to find water, which can cause toxic black mold in buildings...."It's been a real problem with the state of Michigan, not just in new construction but for people who are living in sick homes with black mold," Snoeyink said.

Sunday, April 10, 2005. MICHIGAN: THE PRICE OF SAVING: Builders agree the state's proposed energy-saving rules would cost too much to make economic sense Michigan's proposed revision of the state's energy code -- a push to make newly constructed houses more efficient -- is a question of another kind of green (as in money) no matter which side of the argument you're on....Granholm and state officials began pushing last October to revise the Michigan Uniform Energy Code (MUEC) by incorporating the national standard, Chapter 11 of the International Residential Code, for new residential home construction in the state....Proponents say Michigan has some of the weakest insulation and energy rules for new and remodeled houses in the United States, and after a winter of soaring heating bills and gas prices it's time for a change....In metro Detroit, the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan has joined forces with the MAHB to fight the code revisions, though some members already build homes that meet or surpass the new guidelines....Currently, builders charge buyers for energy efficiency extras and often, because of the costs, it is considered practical only in high-end, high-priced homes. Some builders argue that most of their customers do not want to, or cannot, pay for energy additions....There are some builders, including BIA members, who believe constructing homes to meet the proposed standards is just the right thing to do. Paul Pazgrat, a Shelby Township builder, is one. He is currently constructing a stretch of houses for lower-income buyers in Pontiac.

Saturday, April 09, 2005. IA: A-G's office files suit against Northeast Iowa manufacturer The Iowa Attorney General's filed a lawsuit against a northeast Iowa manufacturer. A spokesman for the Attorney General, Bob Brammer, says the agency's teamed up with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to confront the defendant known as "Buffalo Bill Estates." It's a mobile-home company, a maker of "manufactured housing," at Camanche near Clinton that over the years has had what Brammer calls "a whole slew of environmental problems."

Saturday, April 09, 2005. NATIONAL : Inspections good for new, old houses All homes require checkups of equipment and structure regardless of when they were built. Francis DeSouza, an accountant in Loudon County, Va., whose 3,200-square-foot house is under construction, made sure an independent inspector was given access to the site. "I knew I needed an expert opinion before they threw the drywall up there," he says. The inspector was at the site for three hours and found "a ton of stuff" such as cracked floor joists, missing hangers on studs, and missing fire blocks. A county inspector already had passed it.

Saturday, April 09, 2005. NATIONAL and MICHIGAN: Unsold new homes start to pile up The housing market may be red-hot in most places, but newly constructed homes are beginning to pile up in some Midwestern and Southern cities, forcing builders to offer incentives to lure prospective buyers.... In the Detroit area, sellers of entry-level homes "are doing everything but hiring strippers to sell their homes," says Susan Carter, an associate broker at Woodwardside GMAC Real Estate in Royal Oak.

Friday, April 08, 2005. KY, OH: Tony Erpenbeck indicted for threats Tony Erpenbeck, who is serving six years in prison in connection with the scandal that brought down his family's home building empire, was indicted late Thursday for threatening the FBI agent, prosecutor and judge that sent him to prison.

Friday, April 08, 2005. ME: Homeowners tout bill proposing licenses for building contractors Homeowners with hefty legal bills, unfinished homes and tales of falling prey to unscrupulous or incompetent contractors asked state legislators Thursday to license residential building contractors.

Friday, April 08, 2005. OH & KY: Erpenbeck Tried To Kill Judge, Prosecutor, Charges Say Figure In Home Builder's Scandal Allegedly Tried To Hire Hitman From Prison

Thursday, April 07, 2005. Texas: Frustrated home owners protest builder Holding signs of lemons and wearing bright yellow clothes, Montrose home owners Jordan Fogal and Heather Mickelson joined a group of protesting home owners last month in front of Juliet Homes’ new luxury town home community, Washington Square at 5338 Washington Ave.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. New Jersey: Kaye: " Sooner or Later" arrests will be coming An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office of possible bribery and corruption related to a Howell zoning decision and a residential development approval is set to conclude soon.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. ARBITRATION (in General): Calif. Justices to Consider Credit Card Holders' Ability to File Class Actions Today the California Supreme Court will step in, hearing arguments in Los Angeles to determine whether arbitration clauses that ban class actions, such as Discover's, are un-conscionable under California law.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. National: Newly built houses need inspections, too The [buyer's private] inspector was at the site for three hours and found "a ton of stuff" such as cracked floor joists, missing hangers on studs, and missing fireblocks. A county inspector already had passed it.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. PA: Attorney General: Reinstate Charges The six defendants all are affiliated with Eagle Valley Homes and the first to be charged with criminal counts in the attorney general's ongoing investigation of real estate fraud in the Poconos.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. National:: False Signatures Aided Fannie Mae Bonuses, Falcon Says Fannie Mae employees falsified signatures on accounting transactions that helped the company meet earnings targets for 1998, a "manipulation" that triggered multimillion-dollar bonuses for top executives, a federal regulator said yesterday.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. NJ; National interest: Builders defend work after SCI's negative report The SCI was quick to point out that it wasn't tarring every builder in the state, but its strong language about shoddy construction and recommendations for protections like a lemon law for new houses was jarring to the industry.

Thursday, April 07, 2005. Texas: Houston homebuilder catches heat from unhappy owners The American dream has turned into a nightmare for some northwest Houston homeowners

Wednesday, April 06, 2005. Texas: Tremont Homes, Houston Texas, membership in the BBB terminated. (Search for Tremont Homes) This firm's membership in the BBB was submitted to the Board of Directors for termination because of its refusal to complete mediation or arbitration of a dispute with a customer. The Board voted to revoke this company's membership due to its failure to meet its obligations in regard to this complaint.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005. PA: Builder under theft investigation Monroe County detectives are investigating whether a Brodheadsville home builder bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from potential home buyers to fuel a $2,000-a-week crack cocaine habit, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005. Arbitration Article: Suing Not An Option "The courts are there to ensure fairness," says Hoang. "With arbitration, you don't get all the protections of the courts."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005. National: Fooling Buyers a Cottage Industry? Three Critical Buyer Alerts for Consumers & Calls for Expansion of State Probes

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. Idaho: Forum explores return of building department "Most people building their own home for the first time or even the second or third just don't know all that's really required in putting up a house to the International Building Code," says Dorval, whose company charges between $1,200 to $1,500 per inspection. "But contractors who have been around the block and are doing this for their living know better. They don't want to pay the inspection fee and are looking for short-cuts.

"We see them continually, and they end up being not just costly errors; but ones of gross negligence."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. FL: Definition could sove sinkhole issues surance companies say the sinkhole issue is causing them to limit coverage or raise rates in some sinkhole-prone parts of Florida. They say they are forced to spend thousands of dollars to investigate claims they contend are often caused by homes settling or shoddy construction -- not sinkholes.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. CA; National: INSURANCE COMMISSIONER JOHN GARAMENDI’S OPENING STATEMENT DURING HIS INVESTIGATORY HEARING INTO ILLEGAL KICKBACKS IN THE TITLE INSURANCE INDUSTRY LOS ANGELES – “I have called this hearing today to investigate serious charges of illegal practices in the title-insurance industry, practices that many believe are driving up the costs of purchasing and financing a home.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. AZ; National: 2 title companies questioned Regulators contend the practice amounts to kickbacks to builders, brokers and mortgage lenders in return for steering title business to insurers and unnecessarily costs homeowners hundreds of dollars every time they buy or refinance a home.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. WI; National: Title probes include state Wisconsin is part of a budding nationwide scandal involving suspected kickbacks from title insurance companies to real estate agents, lenders, builders and developers, authorities confirmed Friday.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. MN: Builder-supported legislation in limbo for another year An industry-supported “notice-and-opportunity-to-repair” bill received hearings in the House and Senate in recent weeks, but its chief Senate author tabled the measure last week after plaintiff lawyers spoke out against the bill at a committee hearing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. OK: Affordable Homes fail to finish job [Story includes defects, unfinished work, and liens] The builders Earl Shriver and George Baum kept saying they had underbid the cost to build the Kelly's house and that they did not have the money to finish.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. NC: Homeowner Can't Get Satisfaction From Builder Howard's inspector determined there was no metal flashing behind the brickwork under the window to keep water out.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. National: New-home buyer suspects builder inflated costs Of concern to us are several items that are not included in the construction but are being billed to us.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005. CA, National interest: Title insurance execs testify at California hearing "Nothing less than the American Dream is at stake here," Garamendi said at the hearing.

Monday, April 04, 2005. NATIONAL: The dangers of falling home prices The danger of a bust is "absolutely getting worse," says Mr. Baker, codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. A bear market in housing would chew up home values, take a big bite out of commercial banks, and depress consumption, perhaps causing a recession, he and some other economists warn.

Monday, April 04, 2005. MICHIGAN: Auburn Hills officials, contractor remain in mediation over final payment But conflicts with Farmington Hills-based contractor Garrison Co. forced nearly a year in delays in the construction of the addition and led to the city cutting ties with the contractor, leaving the remodeling project in limbo. The city and contractor are now in mediation in an attempt to settle the contract and nearly $150,000 in added construction costs the city won't claim responsibility for.
"There were a lot of things we didn't agree on that we didn't feel we should pay for," said Assistant City Manager Tom Tanghe. He declined to elaborate on the dispute.

Monday, April 04, 2005. NJ: A 'lemon law' for homes? New Jerseyans who find their new homes plagued with dangerous defects should be guaranteed a full refund from the builder. Call it a "lemon law" for new construction.

Monday, April 04, 2005. National: Secret incentives "Homeowners are being fleeced," Garamendi said. "They are the victims of a scam perpetrated by title insurers, Realtors, lenders and developers."

Monday, April 04, 2005. National: Is real estate title insurance overpriced? I recently read that some of the large title insurance companies have been kicking back to home builders 50 percent of the premiums collected from the people who buy houses from the builders. Doesn't that mean that title insurance is seriously overpriced...?

Monday, April 04, 2005. National: Feds investigate kickback schemes with closing fees In settlements announced March 21, regulators broke up what they alleged to be a sophisticated kickback scheme in which real estate agents, home builders, and title and escrow executives illegally shared portions of consumers' closing fees.

Sunday, April 03, 2005. National: Give Me Back My Rights! A site dedicated to stopping the use of Binding Mandatory Arbitration. "Give Me Back My Rights" is operating, in part, under a grant from AARP. "AARP supports the work of the coalition," an AARP spokesperson announced, "and will continue to advocate and press its legal advocacy, including filing Amicus briefs.

Sunday, April 03, 2005. Florida: Poor construction led to storm damage, suit says VIERA - Seven area homeowners have sued Mercedes Homes, saying the company built homes that didn't stand up to last year's hurricanes and refuses to fix them

Sunday, April 03, 2005. New Jersey: Lemon law urged for new homes An investigatory panel that uncovered shoddy and corrupt construction of thousands of new homes in New Jersey recommended Thursday that the state improve its oversight of builders and code inspectors and dramatically expand consumer protections for new homeowners.

Sunday, April 03, 2005. Idaho: Forum explores return of building department SANDPOINT -- Heralded by many as a blessing and vilified by others as treading on unprotected waters, Bonner County's lack of a building department and enforcement of an International Building Code is crawling back into the headlights after eight years.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. New Jersey: Starledger Editorial Safeguard home buyers. The litany of problems involving shoddy construction is all too familiar

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Development worries township residents "We just feel concerned and suspicious. People have always empathized with the builder's rights. ... I think the people of the Township of Oakland must have property rights too. And we want to preserve the wooded nature, the rural nature, the animals and the wildlife. And there's nobody that's really advocating that seriously."

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Defect claim may not be subject to arbitration We purchased a home and now have a construction defect claim against the builder. The builder indicates that there was an arbitration clause in the agreement which we never noticed and demands that we go to arbitration. Must we do so?

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: How house is measured makes a difference You know that old phrase, "Let the buyer beware." Maybe it should be, "Let the buyer bring a tape measure and calculator." If you want to know the exact, precise, accurate, inarguable total square footage of the house you're thinking of buying, you just might have to measure it yourself.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Contractor charged in renovation dispute Over the course of several months, the Sasenas paid a Livonia contractor nearly $48,000 and ended up with a half-completed front porch, an unfinished bedroom addition, a kitchen and bathroom that were shells, a broken-down furnace and water damage to the wood floors. "After he started asking for more draw money, we got a little suspicious. We checked for a builder's license in Lansing and found out he didn't have one," said Mark Sasena.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Police investigate fraud allegations The Michigan State Police is investigating whether a Birmingham builder defrauded a contractor and homeowner.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Residents say supervisor is meddling Some Unadilla Township residents believe Supervisor James Peterson is inappropriately meddling in local planning matters, specifically involving a Planned Unit Development (PUD) ordinance that could provide building bonuses for developers. While some residents claim Peterson is a developer, Peterson said he is only a land owner, with parcels in Unadilla and Iosco townships. Peterson said he's not a homebuilder. He is a builder and a developer. A lot of people believe that he is trying to steer things a certain way," Looby said. "I think a lot of people that come through the store have expressed the same concern about the potential for a conflict of interest."

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Lawsuits flying in dispute over English Gardens The dispute between the developer of English Gardens and residents has entered a new chapter. The class-action lawsuit claims that the developer failed to disclose liens on the property prior to selling units in the development.
Residents said these assessments were not discovered until they opened their 2003 winter tax bill. Clark was among the residents who accused Colyer of doing a poor job of constructing the condos. "I would like to see the township make sure these issues are resolved," Clark said at a township board meeting several weeks ago. "We've purchased a bill of goods, and the builder is not living up to his end."

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Man takes umbrage with zoning board Robert Gramer, a Portage Lake Avenue resident who lives within 300 feet of the townships' border, said the zoning board didn't notify residents before considering a variance for a three-story home. The board denied that request at its Sept. 27 meeting, but approved a two-story variance instead. The home is reportedly vacant.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Residents clash with developer Colyer said every building passed inspection by the Livingston County Building Department and the township's deputy zoning administrator Carolyn Eaton signed off on zoning compliance certificates on each building. "I feel like I'm guilty until I'm proven innocent," he said. Complaints from the residents included standing water on patios, leaky roofs, poor landscaping, unfinished street lights and improperly installed windows. "The ground is saturated even when it's dry," Clark said. A couple of months ago, the township got involved by pulling a required letter of credit from the developer's bank account for $60,000 that will go toward fixing some of the drainage problems. Colyer said just before the township pulled the money, it signed the last of the zoning compliance certificates on one of his buildings.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. NATIONAL: How should you pick a builder? Local builders can construct a variety of homes, he said, as opposed to only four or five versions offered by a large builder. Doyle believes local builders offer more value and attention to detail. Before starting his own building company, he used to work for Cintex, a national builder.
"I think the advantage of working with a small builder is you get a lot more personalized service," Doyle said.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Condo owners want fairness In my opinion, it is fair that a developer can present a site plan to the city and the city can approve it even though it doesn't meet existing City standards for sidewalks, streets, lighting, etc. The necessity for standards to be flexible is important, but when the standards are adjusted for convenience and practicality it should not adversely affect the resident taxpayers.

The developer saves money by eliminating sidewalks, downsizing lighting, building narrower streets, etc., and the citizens of Brighton reap greater tax revenues. It makes good business sense for everyone except the forgotten condo owner. That is the big problem!

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Brighton builder Van Oyen charged for faulty sewer system A.J. Van Oyen Builders of Brighton and owner Anthony Van Oyen have been charged with 20 misdemeanors in connection with an allegedly faulty sewer system in an Oakland County development, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Claims about pool are all wet Caroselli had even received a call recently from a township trustee about the pool. Most everyone who's been asking has said he's heard it from someone else. The builder said it was one of the nicest, if not the nicest, pool he's ever built, Caroselli said. "I don't know why these rumors are surfacing," he said.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Builder says eyesore home was vandalized The home, which neighbors complain is making their property value decrease, might be torn down after the Clawson City Council voted 4-1 at its Dec. 7 meeting to demolish the partially-built home.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN and NATIONAL: Manufactured housing offers alternatives - and controversy The Michigan Legislature is addressing the issue of manufactured housing developments with a package of bills that would repeal the current tax system and replace it with a new system. The primary bill of the package is House Bill 4880 sponsored by Representative Randy Richardville. The bill proposes to create a new system based on the size of the manufactured home. In the first year, single-section homes would pay $60, double-section homes would pay $72, and multi-section homes would pay $120. Those amounts would increase each year for five years so in the fifth year single-section home owners would pay $120, double-section home owners would pay $180, and multi-section home owners would pay $240. After the fifth year, the fees would be the same as the fifth year but adjusted based on the percent change in the consumers price index. The fee would also be adjusted if the local or intermediate school district levies a debt millage.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Ford Road homes sell fast Builder finds Canton great place to sell homes Pulte has built about 370,000 homes in communities across the nation since its founding in 1950. The builder is a Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing Company.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. National Interest--a fairly common complaint not unique to the area it was reported from:: Homeowner Sues After Finding New Home Soaked In Urine CLERMONT COUNTY, Ohio -- Homeowners shelled out thousands of dollars for a new house only to find parts of the home soaked in urine by construction workers, WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Building facts There were inaccuracies printed in your Nov. 21 article concerning a home under construction in Bloomfield Hills. Here are the facts: Immediately after construction began, numerous property owners in the vicinity questioned whether the home met city setback and height ordinances. Our ordinances are in place to protect our residents' quality of life, and to provide a uniform standard for construction. We take them seriously. An investigation into alleged ordinance violations was initiated. Numerous requests were made of Heritage Homes to provide additional information that was necessary to determine whether the builder was complying with city ordinances.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. MICHIGAN: Hills neighbors in suit over land issue Resident William Froling of 1875 Rathmor has filed a lawsuit against the city and several neighbors over what he claims are serious flaws in the city's building code enforcement regarding grading and drainage and the way he claims his homeowners' association ignored his plight.

Saturday, April 02, 2005. NEVADA and NATIONAL: Nevada Real Estate Division fraud compliance investigator berates homeowners for speaking out about fraud and corruption Try to do what you probably did when you started out. Try to buy a single dwelling on a piece of land where if you want to fly a flag on a 20 foot tall pole because you just want to. Try to buy a house or build a house to satisfy your desires while meeting the local building codes. You will find it very difficult. The CAI has convinced local municipalities that they do well to just let a developer build a CIC, gated or un-gated and let the builder take the responsibility for all the infrastructure, or most of it. The CAI attorneys have the developers governing documents all prepared with sufficient ambiguity built in that they have a perpetual rice bowl.

Friday, April 01, 2005. National:: Trane, American Standard Recall 18,200 Heating/Cooling Units WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Trane and American Standard are voluntarily recalling 18,200 Gas-Electric heating/cooling units.

Friday, April 01, 2005. CA: D.A. launches probe into potential conflict The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is investigating a possible financial conflict of interest violation by Milpitas City Councilmember Bob Livengood, with regard to his 2003-2004 employment with developer KB Home.

Friday, April 01, 2005. New Jersey: Shoddy Construction Found at Homes in New Jersey

TRENTON, March 31 - When Sander Kelman bought his new home in Wall Township, he discovered that the house was so small that he could not fit his compact car into the garage.

Friday, April 01, 2005. NJ--National interest:: Home Building Remedies Urged Industry rife with problems

Friday, April 01, 2005. N.J.--National Interest:: Home-builder crackdown urged In the worst cases, the report said, the problems did not just affect individual homeowners, but rather every resident of new home communities. Also, the warranties given to the homeowners proved to be grossly inadequate and included an arbitration provision tilted in favor of the builders, the investigation found.

Friday, April 01, 2005. NATIONAL: Buyers should know rights Buyers are entitled to disclosures of information as well as protected by law, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Make sure you know your rights before signing any dotted lines. Here are a few disclosures to clue consumers in to the nuts and bolts of home-buying. (Check out the HUD Web site, www.hud.gov, for more information and home-buying tips.)

Friday, April 01, 2005. NJ--National Interest:: N.J. Home builders hammered by SCI In a scathing indictment of new home construction in New Jersey, the State Commission of Investigation yesterday proposed sweeping reforms designed to attack an "astonishing statewide panorama of waste, fraud and abuse."

Friday, April 01, 2005. MICHIGAN: Birmingham takes leap forward in the green building movement Next Friday, Birmingham will introduce its first environmentally-conscious house, dubbed the Green Home. After a year of construction, the house with floors and kitchen cabinets made of bamboo will be up for sale.

Friday, April 01, 2005. North Dakota: Home inspector regulation wins OK Regulating home inspectors is imminent, now that both houses have approved House Bill 1507 by wide margins.

Friday, April 01, 2005. Missouri: Senate gives initial OK to measure targeting homeowners JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Legislation that would require homeowners to go through a series of steps before they could sue for home construction defects won first-round approval in the Senate yesterday.

Friday, April 01, 2005. National: Pros and cons of buying or selling an 'as is' home
Spring is the peak season for house and condo sales. April, May and June traditionally have the largest number of home-sale closings. As mortgage interest rates slowly edge upward, the result is expected to be a surge of home buyers who want to buy before home loans become more expensive.