Quarter 2 (April - June) 2006 Archives
Friday, June 30, 2006. US: How not to Live Beyond Your Means I don't see how someone could waste more of the good luck that they were blessed with.
Friday, June 30, 2006. US: The House that Swallowed Don and Shelly Cruz The winners of a TV dream home have seen their giant fantasy house become a financial nightmare.
Friday, June 30, 2006. AK: 24 sue condo builder The homeowners say general contractor Lee Baker and the real estate agency primarily owned by his wife, Patricia Baker, failed to disclose known property defects. Each of the plaintiffs seek more than $100,000 in compensation and damages.
Friday, June 30, 2006. Inman article on Mortgage 101: Home prices threaten Fed balancing act Magnifying the price risk is the suicidal need of large production builders to keep building, selling at incentive-laden break-even or loss -- just like pathetic GM and Ford. This week we saw an increase in new-home sales and a decline in existing ones; I would feel better about overall price prospects if the new-builds fell off a cliff.
Friday, June 30, 2006. On CBS Television Tonight (Fri June 30, 2006): Close to Home episode "Annabeth and her office investigate a string of real-estate fraud cases involving a crooked real estate developer." (Regular series on CBS tonight deals with real estate fraud)
Friday, June 30, 2006. US: How to avoid common buyer mistakes Sage advice
Friday, June 30, 2006. KS & MO; MILLER CASE: Removal of attorney sought Prosecutors sought to disqualify the attorney of indicted homebuilder F. Jeffrey Miller on Thursday because he previously represented another defendant in the $25 million bank fraud case. (See HADD Message Boards, Miller Forum, for archived news on Miller case. --Ed.)
Friday, June 30, 2006. Kansas City Star; Nat'l interest: KC debates immigration Rep. Tim Flook, a Liberty Republican, disagreed with Begshaw that it’s impractical for general contractors to verify the legal status of every worker on a job site. Often, general contractors make subcontractors prove they have workers’ compensation coverage, he said, so they could just as easily ask for workers’ Social Security numbers or work visas.
Friday, June 30, 2006. OH; KY: Erpenbeck returns to N.Ky. Convicted former home builder Bill Erpenbeck, who has spent the last two years in a Florida prison, is back in Northern Kentucky. But he's still behind bars.
Friday, June 30, 2006. FL; NATIONAL: Home Builder Reviews Welcome, to the newest source of information for home buyers and the place for home owners to voice their accolades and concerns about home builders nationwide.
Friday, June 30, 2006. FL; NATIONAL: DefectiveHomes.Info Substandard Workmanship – Code Violations - Defects
Thursday, June 29, 2006. MI: Couple wins suit over moldy home "We had an expert examine the house, and the joists were so moldy they were actually weakened in spots," Remski said.
Thursday, June 29, 2006. OK: Right to Repair law in OK MANDATES arbitration Moreover, some statutes like the one in Oklahoma mandate a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) such as mediation or arbitration to resolve any disputes that remain after the notice and opportunity to repair have been given to the builder. (Article is written from an arbitration businsess perspective, promotes this law as good for consumers. HADD opposes Right to Repair laws because they favor the builder. --Ed.)
Thursday, June 29, 2006. WA: Conservative judicial candidates get help A conservative Christian group that led the unsuccessful fight to block Washington's new gay rights law has teamed with the heavy-spending homebuilders' lobby to try to elect right-leaning candidates to the state Supreme Court.
The Faith & Freedom Network asked in an e-mail Wednesday for recruits who "want to help elect conservative judges to the Supreme Court and get paid to do it."
Thursday, June 29, 2006. PA: Senate ok's builder regulation bill A bill to regulate home improvement contractors in Pennsylvania has moved one step closer to reality.
Thursday, June 29, 2006. From Bankrate: Survey: 30-year mortgage rate nears 7 percent, (author Holden Lewis) Champion says builders in the Dallas area are desperate to unload their newly built, empty houses, so they're encouraging buyers to use the builders' in-house lending arms. "They do whatever it takes to qualify the person and, as a result, you have people in houses with one-year, two-year, three-year, five-year balloon (loans) and stuff," he says. "They've basically put people in houses who probably shouldn't have been in houses."
Thursday, June 29, 2006. From Contractor Magazine: When are you "substantially complete?" SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION is a term of art in construction. Nowhere else do these two words have special legal and financial significance.
Thursday, June 29, 2006. MO & KS: MILLER CASE: More woe for indicted homebuilder Miller failed a drug test immediately following a hearing Tuesday at which he had pleaded not guilty to the month-old $25 million fraud charges, said a motion filed Wednesday by Richard L. Hathaway, senior litigation counsel for the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. NE: Builder Accused Of Fraud Makes Court Apperance Timothy Brummels, of D&R Builders, (article contains links to previous stories on this case.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. VA; Nat'l interest: Last of Mexican nationals sentenced Officials say the men posed as job applicants at construction companies during the day, then came back after nightfall to break in and steal blank payroll checks from the bottom of the stack. (If only the construction co's had "done their homework" and used the free service to check applicant's legal status as described in articles posted here June 22nd and earlier. --Ed.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. MS; Nat'l interest: Miss. developers' murky past includes fraud Brothers owe government more than $9 million from 1990s stock scam, (now involved in post-Katrina development)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. US: Home building quality highest in West "It concerns me that we routinely find missing structural connections in buildings around the country. This is the exact type of component that builders pay thousands of dollars per home for municipal inspectors to catch. It shows to me, and is supported by litigation evidence, that the municipal inspection process is failing us and we need to take a different direction," Mr. Luhr says. (Not an endorsement for "Quality Built," a service paid for by homebuilders, and the source of this article. --Ed.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. MO & KS; MILLER Case: Homebuilder pleads innocent in fraud case Public response to the indictment led U.S. attorney Eric Melgren to set up an online information source. Updates in the case are being posted at www.usdoj.gov/usao/ks under a link “U.S. vs. F. Jeffrey Miller, et. al.” Melgren also directed homebuyers and others who may have information that would aid prosecution of the case to send e-mail to special agent Kris Kanakares with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development office of the inspector general. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org. (Seed HADD Message Boards, Miller Forum, for full articles and links. --Ed.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. MO & KS; MILLER CASE: Local Homebuilder Pleads Not Guilty In $45M Scheme "Miller is accused of being the central figure in what prosecutors call a "fraudulent real estate machine" that began in 1997. He and the others intentionally inflated appraisals, falsified loan documents and manipulated homebuyers." (See HADD Message Boards, Miller Enterprises Forum, for more ongoing news about this case. --Editor)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. FL; Nat'l Interest: 2 accused in Brevard copper theft spree "But the thing is if a pipe's been broken off in a home, the homebuilders have to redo the whole thing. You just can't solder a new piece on." (Was your new home vandalized or stolen from while under construction? If so, be sure repairs are done properly. --Ed.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. US: "Fund For Builders" "The primary business of FFB is to purchase and leaseback model homes built by prominent homebuilders." (Could this be one way so many new homes in developments become rentals? --Ed.)
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. WA; National interest: Washington Property Rights Initiative Draws Shadowy Supporter and Big Money Opposition The push for an Oregon-style waive-or-pay property rights law in Washington state has a inspired an opposition movement, one that is well-funded and serious and going head-to-head with the property rights folks.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006. US: The Specter of Condemnation Indeed, about the only people who support the abusive practices are those who stand to benefit from it: local political officials, including big city mayors such as New York's Michael Bloomberg; and planners and developers. What these beneficiaries lack in numbers, however, they more than make up for in political muscle. The result is a massive struggle in state legislatures.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. US: 8 big mortgage mistakes and how to avoid them Here are some common ones that lenders and mortgage brokers see, and what you can do to prevent them.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. MI: Homeowners Sued by Bank The problem lies with the companies Brad Day, and others, worked with. Prime Title has since gone out of business. So has GBW Builders.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. MILLER ENTERPRISES CASE; MO, KS; Nat'l interest: Web page gives info on fraud-charged home builder A federal prosecutor in Kansas has created a special Web site to provide information about a Kansas City-area home builder who faces fraud charges.
The U.S. Department of Justice said in May that it was charging F. Jeffrey Miller, 45, of Stanley, with organizing a $25 million scheme to boost his business through conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering. Miller was charged in a 60-count indictment detailing crimes that allegedly occurred from 1997 to the present in Johnson County, the Justice Department said. [Article contains link to DOJ site below, also. --Ed.]
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. MO; KA; US Dept of Justice Site: U.S. vs. F. JEFFREY MILLER, et. al Court Dates:
6/27/06 First Appearance @ 9:30am, Frank Carlson Federal Building, Topeka, KS
All inquiries regarding this case should be directed to Special Agent Kris Kanakares, Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General at KKanakares@hudoig.gov
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud Mortgage Fraud Blog, numerous articles.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. NE: Hamilton Wanted For Forgery Charge His company is Windows and Siding Center of America. He's wanted on charges of second-degree forgery.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. US: Articles by Broderick Perkins Numerous articles of interest to home buyers.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. US: List of articles by Kenneth Harney Many helpful articles on mortgages, including article recently posted on HADD Headlines News about why builders' incentives to use their lender can be a bad idea for the consumer.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest; (Not an endorsement for any company named in the news article): Hurricane-Weary Residents Seek Stronger Homes One development in Eustis has 59 home sites and there's already a waiting list.
Beall said the amenities are basic, but safety is the seller. Standard equipment includes storm rooms and reinforced concrete construction.
The new homes are being built to respond to the buyers who want a stronger roof and walls more than they want granite countertops and expensive cabinets.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. AL: State investigating church roof collapse State officials say there's no excuse for building a church that endangers the safety of a congregation, and they are investigating last week's roof collapse at the Cedar Grove Methodist Church near Thorsby.
The church sat empty Thursday night, so no one was injured when an 80-foot span of roof fell on the seating area for up to 500 people...Efforts to reach Pastor Jeff Carroll, also a homebuilder, for comment Monday were unsuccessful. In an interview Saturday, he said government should not have a role in how a church is built.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. AL: Pastor defends church work Despite recent declarations by various authorities that the cause of Cedar Grove Methodist Protestant Church's roof collapse was due to lack of an architect and not treating the building as a commercial building, Jeff Carroll, pastor of Cedar Grove Methodist Protestant Church, says the church is not a commercial building but a house of God.
"It's a house, even if the state says its commercial," he said yesterday.
Carroll, who identifies himself as a licensed state homebuilder, built the church with members of his congregation with largely residential construction experience, over a period of a year. [Here comes the "affordability" argument again, depsite the fact we're talking about a roof COLLAPSE... --Ed.]
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. MD; similar influence by the building industry is common elsewhere too: Residents question roundtable consensus on development The group, known as Builders for the Bay, unveiled a draft agreement June 15 that asks the county to make as many as 80 changes to its development requirements and review process within the next three years.
But an analysis of participants revealed what some called an exclusive, hand-picked group that easily reached consensus, marginalizing other participants. More than 40 percent of the roundtable represented the development industry and more than 30 percent were county employees.
Environmentalists and community representatives made up 14 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. AZ; National interest: New home sales slip further across valley New home permits are continuing their downward slide thanks to many builders who didn’t heed the warnings of a cooling market and have yet to lower prices or give other incentives to buyers, a Valley housing analyst says.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Barry Stone Column: Agents advise against home inspection for condo Dear Henrietta,
For a real estate agent to advise against a home inspection is the height of professional irresponsibility and seriously undermines the trust that is essential between a client and agent. It is probably the most unreliable advice you are likely to receive in this or any future real estate transaction.
Monday, June 26, 2006. IL: Contractors Defrauded Consumers The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Consumer Fraud Division filed lawsuits Monday against three home repair and remodeling contractors for deceptive business practices, according to a release.
Monday, June 26, 2006. CA: Builders sue Arroyo officials "That’s just a way to be a bully," Councilman Ed Arnold said of being named individually. "It’s an intimidation lawsuit. It’s not working for me."
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: Duo searches for inside scoop to halt mortgage fraud scammers Doug Bachtel and Andrew Carswell said there's a wealth of information waiting for them behind bars - they want to find a convict willing to talk to them about how he or she masterminded a mortgage fraud scheme.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. NY: Hawthorne dream house turns to nightmare But the real problems arose when water began leaking through the joints of cinder blocks in the foundation. The Hutniks got all the evidence they needed that the job was troubled one morning in September 2002 when Stephen Hutnik noticed a bow in the ceiling in a child's second-floor bedroom where his wife was cleaning.
"I said 'Get out of here! The whole thing is going to collapse!' " Stephen Hutnik recalled.
Seconds later, a part of the ceiling did collapse. It sent water and debris into the room where two boys had been sleeping only a couple hours earlier.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. GA; Nat'l: Overwhelming odds The factors contributing to the foreclosure turbulence include job losses, creative financing, adjustable rate mortgages, an oversupply of homes and investment properties, a larger number of home- owners, health care issues, rising property values, increasing debt levels and higher interest rates, experts said....In the Athens area, a possible oversupply of homes is affecting the housing market, said Vicky Cain, real estate broker and owner of The Source for Homes. "We have more construction activity and people want to sell and move up," Cain said.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. IN: All that glitters is not mold Bill and Kathie Sanders moved from Calumet City to their newly built Roselawn home in 2003. In October, they abandoned the building, turning it back over to their mortgage company in lieu of foreclosure.
The proliferation of toxic mold has made the home unlivable, and the couple had to leave all their contaminated furniture, including sentimental antique pieces like Bill's late mother's rocking chair.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. OH, KY; Nat'l interest: Contractor pleads not guilty in immigration case The Pratt companies -- Progressive Builders and Pratt's Quality Construction -- helped provide Crestview Hills-based Fischer Homes with workers, according to a federal affidavit.
Four Fischer Homes employees also are charged with harboring or conspiring to harbor illegal aliens.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. FL: DeBary sues over missing stormwater pipe The complaint was filed against developers Pulte Homes in Plantation and Pinnacle-Reserve Phase III in DeBary. Engineering companies Zev Cohen & Associates in Ormond Beach, McKim & Creed in Clearwater and Evans Engineering in Orlando also were named. It says each company had a part in the stormwater system in one of the three phases of The Reserve where the missing pipe was supposed to be.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: Online Real Estate Listing Exec Found Guilty Stuart Wolff, 43, was found guilty of conspiracy, insider trading, making false regulatory filings and lying to auditors, all in a scheme to inflate revenue at Homestore Web sites -- including the former Realtor.com, Homestore.com, HomeBuilder.com and RentNet.com. Homestore changed its name earlier this year to Move Inc., and will bring all of its sites under the single domain Move.com.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: State stays atop foreclosure list Experts say that loose lending practices, adjustable-rate mortgages and homebuyers taking on more debt than they can afford are some reasons for a high foreclosure rate in Colorado and other states.
Another factor is that homebuilders have added more homes to the Colorado market than migration and population numbers justify, said Richard Wobbekind, a University of Colorado economist. That, he said, has created "a difficult used- home market."
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: We're still in denial on housing At this point, the data on rising inventories and stagnating prices speak for themselves. And yet, the denial factor has never been so stubbornly embedded in some homeowners' and homebuilders' psyches.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. HI: Fight against 'Ahuimanu development pushes on People are concerned that the subdivision will further pollute the stream running through the property, said Shirley Samuelson, an 'Ahuimanu resident.
'Ahuimanu is one of the wettest areas on the island. During heavy rains, underground streams swell and flood existing cesspools that overflow into the neighborhood, Samuelson said.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: PDF: Redevelopment Wrecks The argument is always the same:
Tax-hungry bureaucrats and land-hungry
developers claim that the use of eminent domain
is necessary for economic development. They
promise everything from high-rise condominiums to trendy
shopping malls, all in the name of more taxes and jobs. There is a
strong incentive for cities and developers to over-hype the benefits
of individual private development projects involving eminent
domain in order to garner political and public support. But it turns
out that many of these projects are failures.
This report details 20 prominent examples of those failures.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. MI: Lincoln Park says condo complex makes life complex Jimmy Garmo, the complex manager, said the delays are because nobody's buying due to a glut of new construction on the market.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: KENNETH HARNEY: Be wary of deals with your builder's lender One of the federal government's top housing officials has this practical advice for anyone negotiating with a builder to buy a new house: You can always say no.
Sunday, June 25, 2006. US: Predators feeding on homeowners The whole scenario -- the contact through a trusted member of the church, the transfer of the title, the eviction of the poor (and often elderly) owner, and the accusations of cold-blooded greed -- is part of a disturbing national trend.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. FL: 'New' Condos Could Cost Owners Thousands More Bulone is one of the hundreds of condo owners at Grand Reserve who will soon have to pay as much as $24,000 to fix major problems at their condos.
"Many of these code violations were signed off on by the city. We bought this property and we were under the assumption that it was up to code," Bulone said.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. CT: Under fire, building official decides to take retirement The latest suspension occurred in April when Mayor Murphy gave him two weeks off after finding out he had signed off on a permit for a Ring’s End addition that had not had the required approval from the fire marshal’s office.
The mayor had earlier ordered him to suspend a long-time practice of pre-signing certificate of occupancy permits.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. CO: City orders SkyRidge developer to stop construction SkyRidge developer Gene Fisher was ordered to stop construction earlier this week for failing to follow city guidelines when it comes to diverting sediment-filled storm water from roads, drains and creeks.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. US: Warranty company should be sued [Except that they probably can't be sued due to an arbitration clause. Real estate advice column. --Ed.]
Saturday, June 24, 2006. Washington Post: Barry Stone home inspector column DEAR JORY: It sounds as if you have some serious construction defects.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. NJ: Residents: Poor drainage sinking Galloway development Jin Chung said he has complained repeatedly to K. Hovnanian about the poor drainage near his home on St. Andrews Drive and that the developer has done very little to fix the problem...Tutunjian said that K. Hovnanian's solutions are “like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound.”
Casper went one step further.
“This area shouldn't have been developed,” Casper said. “It should have stayed a vacant lot.”
Saturday, June 24, 2006. CA; Nat'l: Schwarzenegger gets in flood game Not surprisingly, the Building Industry Association opposes Wolk's measure. The BIA would rather maintain the current system, in which developers can build new housing in deep floodplains -- such as Plumas Lake in Yuba County, which has flooded twice in the last 20 years -- without any state oversight.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. LA; Nat'l: FEMA quietly posts flood maps Two months after issuing a written guidance on the south shore's future elevation standards, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has released maps showing homeowners how high they would have to rebuild if governments adopt the rules.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. US: Red Ink Flooding On the Horizon The feds got into the flood-insurance business mainly because private insurers won't touch it. But the program has never been on solid financial ground because not enough people pay for the insurance to adequately spread the risk and because local governments have not been diligent about restricting development out of floodprone areas.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. AZ: Back-pay case being reviewed The issue came to light about two weeks ago when workers began showing up at a local radio station with stories about not being paid by Veemac, which does subcontracting work for U.S. Homes, Richmond American Homes, Toll Brothers and other Valley home builders.
Saturday, June 24, 2006. FL; Nat'l: Homes for sale: 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, 1 very large discount The price-cutting gives consumers an unusual look at the kind of profits some builders have enjoyed during the heady days of build-it-and-they-will-buy home sales.
Friday, June 23, 2006. US: Supreme Court Adds A Significant Limitation To Army Corps Of Engineers' Jurisdiction The Corps definition of waters of the United States remains largely intact with the significant caveat that the Corps will need to make an additional showing that there is a significant nexus between adjacent wetlands and navigable waters in the traditional sense.
Friday, June 23, 2006. NH: Residents, builder battle over subdivision Residents at a planning board hearing contended that by providing only one access road into the neighborhood, the developers have both violated their agreement with the town and created a highly unsafe situation.
Friday, June 23, 2006. FL: Detectives seeking other possible victims of builder scam Steven Joseph Kelly, 51, of 612 Stone Drive, Brandon, was arrested in May and charged with grand theft in connection with home repairs in which he allegedly took money and didn't do the work.
Friday, June 23, 2006. US: Know when to say NO to Builders Incentives When the builder dangles thousands of dollars of free upgrades or closing cost discounts in front of you if you will agree to use the builder's affiliated mortgage lender -- and threatens to withhold those incentives if you get your loan elsewhere -- you don't have to roll over and play dead.
Friday, June 23, 2006. MA: Reilly probes builders’ use of illegals The Attorney General’s Office yesterday launched a probe into shady work practices by contractors after the Herald revealed widespread employment of illegal immigrants at construction sites statewide.
Friday, June 23, 2006. More on story from NE posted previous day: Omaha Builder Faces Fraud Charges (Brummels) "The house cannot be purchased free and clear because of the liens placed by subcontractors for not being paid," said private investigator Tony Infantino.
Friday, June 23, 2006. VA: Homeowners say problems plague some high-end Ocean View homes Sean Regan is one of them, but he claims he’s not getting what he paid for and his year-long battle with the builder and city inspectors is headed to court.
Friday, June 23, 2006. FL: Immigration debate rages in Palm Bay A Palm Bay councilman has pushed his city into the national debate over illegal immigration by proposing to punish employers who hire unauthorized workers...Franck Kaiser, executive vice president and CEO of the Home Builders and Contractors Association of Brevard, said the organization opposes the city's proposal.
Friday, June 23, 2006. Nat'l interest: Prominent homebuilders failing to pay subcontractors By the way, is there such a thing as a "little cash flow problem"?
Friday, June 23, 2006. FL; National: MARTIN COUNTY TO LENNAR: FIX THE PROBLEMS, OR GET OUT AND DON'T COME BACK (From Free Market News, incl. article and commentary on Lennar incident and more regarding homebuilding. --Ed.)
Friday, June 23, 2006. AZ: Home builders showing doubts about entering Tucson market The home-builder caution is in sharp contrast to housing activity over the last two years, when the price of land rose quickly and builders enjoyed waiting lists and lines of hopeful buyers leading out the door.
Friday, June 23, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Ongoing information about the state's task force to investigate construction defect issues. HADD's OR Representatives are involved in this. Includes info on public commentary.
Friday, June 23, 2006. TX: Democracy's Steriods Era In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry's re-election fund just got a big boost from oil and gas interests, including $100,000 from one Houston oilman. Analysts attribute this to a Perry-engineered plan that not only lowers property taxes but lavishes deductions on the oil patch. Among donors, Perry surely owes the most to Bob Perry (no relation). The Houston homebuilder has given more than $7 million, mostly to Republicans, and more than $700,000 to Gov. Perry. Scandalously, Texas has no individual limits on political donations. One tacit result for Bob Perry is that homebuilders now can deflect liability suits in favor of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, created in 2003. No one should be surprised that Gov. Perry appointed one of Perry Homes' own executives to the panel.
Friday, June 23, 2006. TX: Texas Disclosure Law Less Than Complete Then there's a guy in Houston, a homebuilder named Bob Perry. My Texas friend, who knows Arkansas, compares him to Fayetteville's Jim Lindsey. As in, prominent, successful. But despite the fact that Perry dispensed more than $5 million dollars in political contributions in the first half of this decade, including a million dollars to the Texas Republican Party in just one two-year period and $600,000 to 23 legislative candidates in that same cycle; despite his having bankrolled the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; despite his kicking in more than six figures to U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and PACs controlled by DeLay -- despite all that, the best efforts of six state legislators (three of them Democrats) who received a combined $100,000 from Perry in their last campaigns failed to identify him by occupation.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. NE: Builder Charged Brummels faces three counts of theft by deception, three counts of second-degree forgery and two counts of issuance of a bad check in Douglas County.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. CA: State cracks down on phony contractors in Central Valley A dozen contractors in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties have been cited for operating without the proper state licenses, the Contractors State License Board says. [Don't hire unlicensed contractors, if your state even licenses them. Not all do. --Ed.]
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: Senate immigration bill insults our intelligence The Senate bill is an insult to our intelligence and as more Americans discover what it contains, pressure on House members to gut it will escalate. (Kudos to our senators, Dole and Burr, who voted against it.) Many have gone home to discover their constituents are incensed about this bill. Some who politically “thumb their noses” at the voters, in both parties, will pay a price.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. LA: Americans have no shame with FEMA aid The report indicates the level of fraud perpetrated on FEMA by some Americans was staggering.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. NY: Buyer Beware A meeting of town inspectors and engineers and the realtor trying to sell the 6 Magill Ave. home is set for 5 p.m. today.
Former owner Kristine Choma, who along with her daughter was poisoned by two strains of toxic mold present at high levels in her former home, worries a family will suffer as she did after buying it unaware of its contamination.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. LA: The true committers of fraud ‘Study Finds Huge Fraud in the Wake of Hurricanes,” read the June 14 New York Times headline. The conclusion was based on a Congressional subcommittee investigation headed by Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican in the House of Representatives.
Did the study look for fraud in the huge contracts handed out like slabs of pork to giant contracting and construction firms and real estate agencies?
Thursday, June 22, 2006. MO: Freedom Lending’s license suspended The Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance has suspended a Meridian mortgage company’s license for three years and imposed a $10,000 fine.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: HUD takes a look at fraud The illegal practices range from fudged loan applications to sophisticated rings that require cooperation from an array of professionals, such as corrupt appraisers and closing attorneys. Bob Young, HUD's regional director, called mortgage fraud "one of the fastest-growing crimes" in the country. "And in the end, everyone pays, from higher borrowing costs to inflated property tax values," Young said.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: Money and Markets much of the surging demand for houses in the past couple of years was “false” demand from wild-eyed speculators.
These people have no idea how true real estate investors make money — buying low and selling high, generating positive cash flow from rent once all expenses are deducted, etc.
Instead, the speculators bought houses by the dozen, hoping to unload them to “greater fools.” Many never even expected to have to close — they planned on buying contracts and flipping them before the places were even built.
Now, the market is collapsing under their feet, and they’re getting hosed.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: FHA finalizes anti-flipping fraud rules Real estate flippers got a new set of marching orders last week -- at least those flippers who want to use FHA mortgage financing.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. N.O., LA: New Orleans House `Flippers' Reap Profit, Spur City's Rebound June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Before Hurricane Katrina, Kyle Curry edited film in a New Orleans production studio. Now, he lugs a toolbox as a hands-on real estate speculator, capitalizing on one of the hottest housing markets in the U.S.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: ICE Basic Pilot Program [This is the govt site where employers may register and check the legal status of workers for free. --Ed.]
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: Bosses bypass worker status website In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004. But most employers decline to use the system.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. Nat'l interest: Illegal workers labor on luxury condos Bay State contractors are using illegal immigrants to churn out luxury housing complexes in communities across the region, paying laborers as young as 15 to work under the table in highly hazardous jobs, a Boston Herald investigation found.... "Homebuilders are using these (illegal) laborers, who don't have necessary credentials, to cut costs and increase their profit margins," said John Keeley of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies. "To the extent the government has no willingness to exercise enforcement, we're going to see a lot more of this."
Visits to 11 residential construction sites across the state revealed the following:
Thursday, June 22, 2006. From Free-Market News Blog: LITIGATION NIGHTMARE & HEARTBREAK HOTEL I recently called Jack McCabe of McCabe Research & Consulting for an update on Florida housing. McCabe told me he is now bracing for a "Litigation Nightmare" over the next several years in the wake of the housing bust.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. OK: Builder sponsored "Right to Repair" Law: Builder mediation now law [Article written entirely from the builders association point of view. In the opinion of this editor, the solution to too many lawsuits, a claim which has not been substantiated anyway, would be to build homes right. Instead, the builders pushed for passage of a law to hamstring homeowners' legal recourse. The same type of law has now passed in about 30 states. If you don't know if your state has it, find out, because you cannot move forward in your case if you don't comply with this law. --Ed.]
Thursday, June 22, 2006. FL: Martin officials rap Lennar over homeowner gripes After weeks of hearing homeowners complain about mold, leaky roofing tiles and shoddy workmanship, Martin County officials have had enough. The county has told a national home builder to prove its homes meet county standards, fix the problems, or get out and don't come back.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. US: Fortresses to weather the storm After two years of horrendous hurricanes and with perhaps a decade or two more of catastrophic weather expected, a few dozen developers and contractors along the southern U.S. coasts, from Texas to the Carolinas, have begun to produce a new generation of houses designed to withstand just about anything Mother Nature can throw at them.
Thursday, June 22, 2006. SC: Builder fails to stand up The last 18 months have been absolute hell. It is very clear that D.R. Horton did nothing to protect their homeowners' investment in the golf community that it, and it alone, marketed and sold.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. UT: Well-off candidates fund Sandy Senate run A primary election battle between two Sandy developers is setting records for early spending in a state legislative race.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. TX; Nat'l: Which builders will be left standing? It's painfully apparent that, somewhere along the way, the industry abandoned concern for its customers' long-term well-being.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. Nat'l Interest: A moment of your time? Lobbyists courting lawmakers take center stage in Raleigh The N.C. Home Builders Association had at least three lobbyists on deck in the legislative building last Wednesday, including Joe Tarascio who piled into an elevator beside a reporter. He looked like a lobbyist, and was indeed. His goal for the day was nipping a bill in the bud that would be good for the environment but bad for developers.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. AZ: Firm is failing to pay its carpenters Veemac Framing Corp., a subcontractor for some of the Valley's top home builders, acknowledged that it has not paid the workers, who are owed three to five weeks of back pay.
Company officials blamed a financial dispute with two home builders and a third company that is hindering its cash flow. (U.S. Home and Richmond American Homes)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. US: Beware False Housing Hopes It looked like there was finally a bit of good news in the housing sector, when the government on June 20 announced a rebound in home construction for May. But dig into the data, and the picture for housing is only getting worse. Permits for construction—a better indication of where the market's headed—continued to decline. (A reader's comment published at end of article was interesting, too: "Thank you for the truth. The news media yesterday looked like paid-hype to protect the housing industry and fool the public into believing the industry was recovering.")
Wednesday, June 21, 2006. MI: Former workers sue Former employees of Rycenga Homes Inc., where the company president siphoned thousands from their profit-sharing 401(k) plan, have filed a lawsuit to recover funds from the defunct company's insurance carrier. David Ellis, the plan's administrator, filed the lawsuit this month against The Hanover Insurance Co. The lawsuit claims Hanover is responsible for money transfers Rycenga Homes President Ronald Retsema of Spring Lake made from the plan over several years to bail out the company.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. PA: Homeowners sued for character defamation Kimberly Loffio, a former employee of Eagle Valley Homes in Brodheadsville, recently filed a lawsuit in Monroe County Court against Al and Marilyn Wilson of Blakeslee and the Pocono Homeowners Defense Association, which is headed by the Wilsons.
Eagle Valley Homes has been the defendant in an ongoing legal battle in which the state Attorney General's Office alleged the company defrauded first-time homeowners.
...Wilson called Loffio's suit "ludicrous, frivolous and a waste of taxpayers' money."
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. NJ; Nat'l: Eminent domain bill gains ground "I can't vote to create a new process that is easily corruptible," Handlin said. "Not only can a redeveloper be the mayor's brother, but he can get access to inside information and potentially work a sweetheart deal."
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. CA; Nat'l: Crackdown on undocumented workers If there’s a crackdown on illegals working on construction sites, prices may go up, but so will standards, he said. "This will give the construction industry more continuity. Prices will go up, but there will be consistency. Companies will start charging the same price for the same job if you take illegal labor out of the scenario."
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. US: Foreclosures May Jump As ARMs Reset This year, more than $300 billion worth of hybrid ARMs will readjust for the first time. That number will jump to approximately $1 trillion in 2007, according to the MBA. Monthly payments will leap too, many beyond what homeowners can afford.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. Commentary on Economics Blog: Beazer Teaser Anyone that needs 1.875 to qualify for a loan is a sucker who is probably going to regret buying in one short year.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. VA: Owners say ''dream'' home became anything but Among the code violations cited in July 2005: inadequate flood vents, the use of wood not intended for exposure to weather, improper support for decks and the lack of flood-resistant materials below the flood line.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. TX: Report: lawmakers fare poorly in disclosing donor occupations Several legislators of both major political parties failed to adequately identify the occupation and employer of Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who gave those particular lawmakers contributions totaling $10,000 to $50,000 each, according to the report.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. SPECIAL REPORT: CA; National interest: Rotten Houses Homeownership has doubled in California since the 1960s. But, by some estimates, as many as 15 percent of new homes sold are defective. Welcome to the dark side of the American dream. [The Orlando Sentinel's investigation a few years ago found an even higher percentage had serious defects. --Ed.]
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. US: PREDATORY LOAN TURNS HOME INTO BAD DREAM For the Wilsons, the first hit came when their home builder took the unusual step of helping them get a loan - at any cost - through a local broker, a middleman who earned a high fee for arranging the loan...."They're so excited that they're going to get a house, they don't know that they should look into things," said Michele Johnson, an East Side housing activist. "They don't get an appraisal. They don't get an inspection. They don't get anything. And in the meantime, they're screwed beyond belief. It just happens over and over."
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. Peter G. Miller: Realty Times: Why New Home Prices Are Too High Does it not seem odd that while there are claims of "local" government over-regulation, the building industry did "pretty dog-gone good" in the 90s and expects to do "even better" in this decade? If builders did so well, perhaps that's evidence suggesting we need more local regulation.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006. US: Justices open wetlands wars The 5-4 ruling, which delighted home builders and property rights groups, overturned lower court rulings that said the corps acted properly in blocking a shopping mall and condominiums in Michigan that would have destroyed wetlands with only tenuous connections to waterways. [HADD Editorial comment: If a home buyer purchased land with the intent to build on it without FIRST making sure they could legally build on it, they'd be called an idiot and probably rightfully so...so why can developers buy land without making sure they can build on it, and call it a "violation of their property rights?"]
Monday, June 19, 2006. US; Rapanos v. United States: Supreme Court Affirms Wetlands Protections The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the government can block development on hundreds of millions of acres of wetlands, even on land miles away from waterways, as long as regulators prove a significant connection to the waterways.
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: Gangs moving to suburbs But gangs are branching out into other activities, such as mortgage and real estate fraud.
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: PDF: Consumer Federation of America: ANALYSIS OF REAL ESTATE CARTEL Washington, D.C. – This morning, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) released
a report showing how many traditional real estate brokers, and their associations, successfully
stifle competition, what reforms are needed to protect home buyers and sellers, and how these
consumers can protect themselves.
Monday, June 19, 2006. OK: Construction contracts to carry mediation repair clause "It is a contractual agreement that the homeowner and builder agree to upfront," Dale said. "If the home builder doesn't respond when given a time frame to repair or compensate, the homeowner has every right to file a lawsuit. Although it is a voluntary clause in the contract, once signed, it becomes law." [Builder's side of the "right to repair law" issue. --Ed.]
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: Home builder sentiment falls; is lowest in a decade Home-builder sentiment sank to its lowest in more than a decade in June as rising interest rates made homes less affordable and inhibited speculation, according to an industry survey released Monday.
Monday, June 19, 2006. TX: Agency has many ties to builders Consumer groups also get irritated when they read letters like this one from Toy Wood, chief executive of the Greater Houston Homebuilder Association, which appeared in the August issue of Home Builder Magazine and was reprinted by the Houston Chronicle: "And although our reasons for creating the TRCC and the various associated processes were very worthy, we were creating another bureaucracy. While we maintain control of the commission, we must be just as vigilant with the TRCC as we are with any other agency or commission."
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004....But most employers decline to use the system.
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: Illegal Hiring Is Rarely Penalized The Bush administration, which is vowing to crack down on U.S. companies that hire illegal workers, virtually abandoned such employer sanctions before it began pushing to overhaul U.S. immigration laws last year, government statistics show.
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: When title co's compete, consumers lose Part 1: Consequences of a dysfunctional market, from Inman and Mortgage101.com
Monday, June 19, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News on mortgage fraud posted almost daily by attorney Rachel Dollar
Monday, June 19, 2006. TX: Rotten but looking pretty Outwardly the house looks great, but underneath he used some substandard materials, and all isn't up to code. It's rotting from the inside.
Monday, June 19, 2006. TX: Cracked system Angry homeowners contend that state agency, complaint process are tilted toward builders: Consumer groups say the agency limits home builders' liability while creating the impression that they are regulated. They especially don't like the fact that the TRCC cannot require builders to make changes, even when its inspectors find significant problems.
Monday, June 19, 2006. NY: Yorktown Contractor Sentenced In Home Repair Fraud White Plains, NY - The Westchester County District Attorney's office announced that Gjon Gazivoda, 48, of Yorktown Heights, New York, was sentenced today to 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison for defrauding three homeowners of nearly $140,000 for home improvements which he never performed.
Monday, June 19, 2006. NC: Embattled contractor under fire over forgery DURHAM -- A Durham contractor and developer who's already been convicted of federal fraud and conspiracy charges is also in trouble with state and local authorities thanks to his role in a five-lot housing project off Cook Road. The N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors is investigating allegations that someone forged a city permit on behalf of the developer, Isaac Woods, and his firm, UFR Inc.
Monday, June 19, 2006. TX: Agency (TRCC) has many ties to builders The (builders) association played a key role in writing the 2003 bill that created the agency. The Web site for Bush & Motes, an Arlington law firm with many home-builder clients, touts the firm's involvement in "drafting and passing" the law that created the TRCC.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. MO-Kan: MILLER ENTERPRISES: Dream deals sometimes turn into nightmares The indictment called his businesses “a fraudulent real estate machine.” It said he controlled information that went to the banks in a $25 million fraud that employed manipulated appraisals and false and fraudulent loan applications. [See stories posted today and around mid May on this case, also many news articles saved on HADD Message Boards, (Miller Forum). --Editor]
Sunday, June 18, 2006. Kansas City Star; Nat'l interest: Workers’ injuries lead to legal fight Missing safety precautions are common at some work sites employing illegal immigrants.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. NY: Assessor's practices questioned FBI agents secretly followed Hummel for months, digging into his involvement with assessments and developers before he resigned as West Seneca's sole property tax assessor last September.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. CO; Nat'l: Heartbreak along Mockingbird Lane In a two-block loop of Mockingbird Lane and Mockingbird Street - a neighborhood built just seven years ago - there have been 23 foreclosures among 94 homes in five years. ...The problem now, experts say, is that too many working-class families take on crippling debt loads to seize their piece of the American dream. They overpay for starter homes. They take on extreme mortgage rates to avoid making a down payment with money they don't have.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. CT: New Milford mayor gives ultimatum to inspector At that time, she also ordered him to cease the practice of signing off on certificates of occupancy before final construction inspections on homes and businesses are complete.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. CA; RI: Development magnet Robbins has turned his attention to Rhode Island...In Los Angeles, Robbins has tangled with public officials and public records show a string of lawsuits and controversy surrounding his California developments.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. NJ: Newark official stripped of license State: He profited from home inspection
Sunday, June 18, 2006. TN: Clauses keep 'spec builders' in business Recent changes in state law regarding the licensing of construction contractors have been revealed by litigation in Bedford County Chancery Court, where a Bell Buckle woman has sued her home builder....The lawsuit was filed by Shelbyville resident Ted Daniel, a Murfreesboro-based attorney who represents Sarah C. Brown of Bell Buckle. Tory and Troy May, doing business as May Brothers Construction, were sued, as were two real estate agents and an agency.
Sunday, June 18, 2006. MO-KS: Dream deals sometimes turn into nightmares Homebuilder Jeffrey Miller, facing fraud charges, has many unhappy customers. [See HADD's Message Boards, Miller Enterprises Forum, for more news on this case. --Ed.]
Sunday, June 18, 2006. MO: Contractor who bilked customers gets 120 days When he gets out of the penitentiary, Arthur C. Deno, 42, of Sunset Hills, must make restitution of $80,000 while he is on probation for five years, or face another 10 years behind bars.
Friday, June 16, 2006. WI: Union pickets Falls development contractor for 'exploiting' immigrant workers "I have nothing against these workers," he said. "I just think they're being exploited, and they're reducing our ability to work for a living wage."
Friday, June 16, 2006. US: Planned Confusion There's a legitimate debate to be had about eminent domain and regulatory takings. But using outrage over eminent domain to disguise a completely different issue--one that could be a poison pill for local communities, real farmers, and taxpayers--is simply dishonest.
Friday, June 16, 2006. New Orleans: Phase 1 of KB project ready for review But some have questioned the feasibility of building such a massive project on low-lying land that is well below the base flood elevation set by the federal government.
The project has drawn the opposition of West Bank fire officials because of concerns about streets in the town home community. The developers have designated those streets as private driveways, which means they could be built to standards that would not support the typical 68,000-pound firetruck
Friday, June 16, 2006. MO-KS: How to make sure home, sweet home, stays that way By Paul Wenske: More than five years ago I interviewed some very unhappy people who purchased homes from a Kansas City area developer named Jeffrey Miller. They showed me homes with porches that didn’t square up, floorboards that sprang loose, windows that leaked and chandeliers that dripped water. One Raymore couple complained that inspectors condemned their new dream home for having a badly bowed wall before they could move in. [Re-running June 4th, 2006 article from The Kansas City Star, kansascity.com. Watch for more news on the Miller Enterprises case expected Sunday from the KC Star. --Ed.]
Friday, June 16, 2006. MO-KS: KANSAS CITY BUILDER, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES CHARGED WITH $25 MILLION BANK FRAUD SCHEME [Re-running May 18th, 2006 Dept of Justice release on the indictment of Jeffrey Miller, dba Miller Enterprises, and others. Watch for more news on this. --Ed.]
Friday, June 16, 2006. US: 5 Homeownership Tax Myths Half-truths, misconceptions and just plain hogwash
Friday, June 16, 2006. US: A Dismal Standard A veteran builder bemoans the state of the construction industry today. [Originally from Fine Homebuilding]
Friday, June 16, 2006. US: KB Home Reports Plunge in Orders, Slashes Forecast KB, the nation's fifth-largest home builder by sales volume, also slashed its profit outlook for the rest of the year, citing rising cancellations, fewer speculative buyers and growing inventories of unsold new and existing homes.
Friday, June 16, 2006. OH: Schottenstein steps down Steven Schottenstein is stepping down as chief operating officer at MI Homes
Friday, June 16, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Ruling reinforces homebuilders Companies that insure homebuilders during construction of a home are liable for defects discovered by owners after the original buyer sells it.
Friday, June 16, 2006. US: Nation's love affair with McMansions shows signs of waning The golden age of McMansions may be coming to an end.
Friday, June 16, 2006. FL; Nat'l: Bush signs new wetlands prote Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday signed stronger stormwater and wetlands protections into law for the Florida Panhandle - ending decades of obstruction from Northwest Florida home builders and politicians.
Friday, June 16, 2006. AZ; Nat'l: Phoenix Homes sit with Big Price Tags "People are unrealistic about what their homes are worth," said Brooke Castaneda of Keller Williams Northeast Realty. "A lot of sellers thought their homes would have these phantom profits. They're not accepting that that isn't the case anymore."
Friday, June 16, 2006. GA; Nat'l: Realtors hear dose of reality Drug dealers and other hard-nosed criminals are finding their way from the street to the real-estate market, according to state Assistant Attorney General David McLaughlin
Thursday, June 15, 2006. US; From Inman News: Well-written code of ethics can go a long way In his testimony, Jim Nabors, president of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, advocates financial literacy programs in middle school as one way to address predatory lending. (See Inman News story, "Education key to fight predatory lending.") With utmost respect to Mr. Nabors, we think that this is like arguing for similar programs in medicine, law, accounting, real estate, and so forth. While it is true that it is harder to cheat an informed customer, we believe that moral clean-up efforts should focus on the source of the problem and not its victims.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: Before and After pics from hurricane Ivan Pictures showing a house that supposedly withstood the hurricane while others around it did not. Site's host explains some of their construction methods that may have saved the house.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. MA: Marlboro builder’s license is revoked Building Inspector Stephen Reid said the work done by Sheldon J. Berenson of 90 Sudbury St. is the worst he has seen in the 30 years he has been in the business.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. OH, KY: Contractor faces new charges A federal grand jury meeting in Covington on Wednesday upped the stakes against the man authorities believe is a key player in providing undocumented workers to the Northern Kentucky home-building industry.
It indicted Robert Pratt, a contractor who often worked with Fischer Homes, on 10 charges of money laundering. The new charges double his potential maximum prison time if found guilty from 10 years to 20 years.
The indictment said Pratt used his company, Progressive Builders...
Thursday, June 15, 2006. FL: Bay area homeowners demand answers Coral Bay, a homebuilding company, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May and left hundreds of its homes unfinished. That's what more than 200 people who purchased custom-built homes from the Spring Hill company are dealing with.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. NJ: Monroe couple sues builder over construction problems A couple from the Chestnut Green development has filed a class-action suit against developer K. Hovnanian...Trimble, who has about 40 cases against K. Hovnanian, say the problem extends to other new developments by the builder.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. NV: Unlicensed Contractors Caught in the Act Undercover state investigators posed as homeowners in a Las Vegas suburb to try to catch unlicensed contractors in the act.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: SCROLL DOWN TO: Justice Dept. seeks info on newspaper deals McClatchy Co. said Wednesday it has received antitrust clearance for the sale of two Philadelphia newspapers as part of its acquisition of Knight Ridder Inc....Those papers are being acquired by an investor group including Bruce Toll, co-founder of homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc., and advertising executive Brian Tierney.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. NC: FBI agent to be sentenced for filing false report Blowers was accused of lying about two trips to Las Vegas that were financed by an informant. At the time of one trip, Blowers was head of the squad that was investigating the man, homebuilder David Simonini.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. US Census Bureau: Characteristics of New Housing Government report; statistics
Thursday, June 15, 2006. FL: Tropical storm stirs up controversy "It's so much less expensive and easier on the homeowners to get these simple things done at the time of construction," she said, adding that failure to make the improvements will be a cost paid by all Florida homeowners.
Thursday, June 15, 2006. US: The pain of mortgage over-extension If you used an interest-only or so-called "option" mortgage to stretch into an unaffordable house in the last year or two, you could be facing some dark times.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. TX: Press Release: Texas Democratic Party calls for changes to the Builders Commission Ft Worth Texas. The Texas Democratic Party modified their platform during their convention held June 8-10 to include support for homebuyers with new home construction defects. The modifications pertain to the rules of the newly created Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC pronounced trick) which has been found to be heavily slanted towards the building industry with no representation for the consumers on the Commission.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. US: Labor Through Contract Theory of Sanctions Liability The following article contains a brief analysis of the "labor through contract" theory of sanctions liability (specifically addressing the building and construction industry)
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. TX: Cobarruvias: Forget higher rates; let's cancel State Farm Perry, Abbott and Geeslin should stand up for consumers and show State Farm the door, or the voters in Texas should show the leadership the door in November.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. MA: Deck collapses on owner: Fitchburg man breaks an ankle in 12-foot fall When you buy a house, you assume the builder will put in flashing.”
“Flashing is a $30 item. Is it really worth not putting it in?” Mr. DiPasquale said. The collapse “could have cost someone’s life.” [There are articles on proper deck construction on AskTheBuilder.com --Ed.]
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. WV: Homeowners dissatisfied Homeowners say they paid for projects -- mostly new roofs -- that were never completed, and that the company performed shoddy work. Last month, Attorney General Darrell McGraw filed a lawsuit against the company and its owner, Dana Sanders, in hopes of shutting the business down and getting refunds for homeowners.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. Seattle Times; Nat'l interest: Campaign cashes in before new donation limits Alarmed by the homebuilders' growing influence, the Democrat-controlled Legislature this spring passed a law requiring judicial candidates to adhere to the same limits that apply to campaigns for other statewide offices.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. FL: Home builder could sue town for $40 million over Jupiter Isles dispute Jupiter councilors plan to meet Monday with their attorney, which could determine whether a developer files a $40 million suit against the town for homes forfeited when it failed to construct Island Way on time.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006. US: Government Starting Reviews of Fannie, Freddie The report said Fannie Mae employees manipulated accounting to hit company quarterly earnings targets so senior executives could pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004. The company - whose accounting errors are estimated at some $11 billion - was fined $400 million in a settlement with OFHEO and the Securities and Exchange Commission, one of the largest civil penalties ever in an accounting fraud case. Fannie Mae also agreed to temporarily cap its mortgage holdings at $727 billion.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. Oregon: Aloha attorney gets 6-month suspension Although the Nutts appeared eager to resolve their legal situation, Paulson made several questionable decisions, and ignored offers from the lenders to settle, the Supreme Court determined. [Bad lawyer complicates homeowner's case. --Ed.]
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. Canada: Warning issued about contractor It wasn't until her Dewdney Avenue home collapsed into a basement hole that Myrna Parisian learned the deceptive past of the contractor she hired.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. OH; Nat'l interest: Butler County May Require Pledge Against Illegals The plan shown at an immigration forum in Hamilton Monday drew quick criticism from the homebuilders association whose president said members don't hire illegal workers and he doesn't understand why builders are being singled out. Butler County officials said they're targeting construction because that's one area over which the county has authority. [If they're 'not hiring illegal workers,' then why does the industry claim it can't survive without them? --Ed.]
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. US: William Lyon Homes says share trade suspended The NYSE told the company it intends to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to delist the stock.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. FL: Lennar has filed suit against (real estate agent) Morgan (Morgan's email response to the lawsuit is in this article.)
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. US: Home Building Stocks Go Down, Down, Down The exchange traded fund, which started trading May 5, is down more than 25% since then, with nary a break in its steep slide.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006. US: Just $6 Congress would only have to spend $6 per citizen per year to publicly fund each and every election for the House, the Senate and the White House. When you consider that "pork barrel" projects cost every one of us more than $200 last year alone, it’s no contest. [Industry and other special interest lobbying and contributions, such as from the building industry, contribute millions per year to our lawmakers, who are supposed to be representing us, the people, not the special interests. --Ed.]
Monday, June 12, 2006. US: Mortgage Companies Lose FHA Approval A Georgia branch of Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp., which says it is "the largest branch network company in America," as well as four Denver-area companies mentioned in the HUD notice, were subject to termination because loans they originated had excessive default rates.
Monday, June 12, 2006. NM: Consumers do not have to pay an unlicensed contractor Since 1992, unlicensed contracting has been steadily increasing and today, it is declared one of the top illegal activities in construction by the state Construction Industries Division.
Monday, June 12, 2006. US: Should companies buy from insiders? Among those mentioned, not surprisingly, was NVR one of the country's largest (and lowest-profile) home builders.
Monday, June 12, 2006. AZ: Slowdown not stopping Pinal developments Banking on the economic growth of the far East Valley, a handful of developers are planning to add more than 5,000 homes in unincorporated Pinal County.
Their development plans come despite a slowing housing market, transportation issues and massive congestion in the area.
Monday, June 12, 2006. NC: Frozen impact Durham County's elected leaders should be able to ask developers to share the cost of public services required by new subdivisions. Yet when the county imposed impact fees on new homes in 2003, builders sued and last week they prevailed in the N.C. Court of Appeals.
It's a crying shame. The court ruled that Durham first must get the approval of a state legislature that hasn't ceded impact-fee authority to any county in nearly two decades. That's the same legislature whose members accepted around $300,000 in campaign contributions from the N.C. Home Builders Association during the 2004 election cycle.
Monday, June 12, 2006. FL: Tough vote in North Port While the citizen group's lobbying has been strong, it has paled in comparison to the efforts of the home builders. They've packed commission meetings, threatened the city with lawsuits and even hired their own consultant to produce a counter-study on why impact fees shouldn't be raised.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. CA: The Cracked Foundation When Andrew Adelman took over as general manager of the Department of Building and Safety in 1997, he embraced the mantra “Be a facilitator, not a regulator.” But along with a laissez-faire style that endeared him to property developers and politicians came a bullying and, at times, abusive personality, according to lawsuits filed in Superior Court.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. NJ: Who pays code fixes? The Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods, or JCOW, is asking a judge to determine who is responsible to fix and pay for repairs to dozens of condominiums that still have building-code violations.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. US: HUD Looks to Legislation to Solve Downpayment Assistance Conundrum Glaser said HUD has not liked the shelter down payment assistance programs for a long time in part because of the questionable nature of the programs.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. US: Real estate bubble and the housing spin So, yeah, the NAR is full of it and will spin the numbers any way it can to keep up the pleasant fiction that all is well. But the cracks began to show in subsequent remarks from NAR "Chief Economist" David Lereah. The head outfit that ridiculed the idea of a housing bubble for years is now crying for Ben Bernanke to bring it back.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. MSN Money: 5 tips for wisely tapping your home equity Bankers love it when you borrow against your house. That's reason enough to be wary of home-equity lending.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. OH; Nat'l interest: Mortgages dumped, HUD says Banks illegally sent bad loans to FHA, audits find: This is a second blow for both lenders, who also were singled out in an unrelated FHA audit of Dominion Homes in April. Dominion, whose lending partners included National City and Huntington, was found to have skirted standards to qualify buyers for FHA loans.
FHA is considering penalties in that case as well, with the potential of millions in fines or even removal from the program.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Laws for townhouses inadequate Sleazy contractors obviously have learned how to hide their negligence for the required 10 years that allows them to escape liability.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. FL: Tradition residents stew over drainage The Laufers say discussions with Hanover Homes and Core Communities, the master developer of Tradition, produced no results until the Laufers and nine other residents sent a letter in February demanding information on any construction defects, citing a state law, Nancy Laufer said.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. US: Poor construction, lack of codes increased storm damage A federal building inspection team has found that damage from hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year was amplified by a lack of construction standards in the Gulf Coast states, as well as by shoddy building practices...The region's roofers, largely unlicensed and unregulated, come in for particularly scathing appraisal in the report. Where roofs were blown off, the team found that the culprit was almost always poor installation.
The team found roofers making repairs after the storms in the same faulty manner.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. FL: Profit & loss A huge development plannedfor Taylor Countywould bring upheaval to one of the last unspoiled regions of Florida's Nature Coast. In the name of "progress."...Ezell says it's not the wind, it's the water. She lives 12 miles from the coast and tells how in the no-name storm of 1993, "I had whitecaps in my front yard." Fifty-seven houses in Dekle Beach were destroyed and 10 people were killed. This is with the wetlands intact. Felicia Coleman says the wetlands are not just for "ecosystem services," providing the right kind of habitat for birds, turtles and fish and "filtering pollutants," but for "slowing wave action in a storm - dampening of the effects of a hurricane."
Sunday, June 11, 2006. OK; Norman Transcript: Ashton Grove developer suing city officials Developer William Dow Hamm III as Ashton Grove LC and the Ashton Grove Master Association, Inc. asks the court to require the council to approve without any conditions the renewal of the preliminary plat for Ashton Grove Addition, Section 1. The suit also asks the court to approve the final plats for Ashton Grove Addition, Sections 2, 3 and the Ashton Grove Villas Addition, Section 1...A group of 22 Ashton Grove homeowner filed a civil lawsuit Feb. 24 against Hamm, alleging developers committed fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, gross negligence and misappropriation of funds, while violating city ordinances and failing to install promised amenities and landscaping features.
The homeowners include University of Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops and his wife Carol, Stanton and Kerry Nelson, Mark and Megan Moore and several physicians and their spouses.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. NC: Court Ruling On Durham's Impact Fees May Affect Other Areas [Article contains links to past stories on this issue going back to 2003 --Ed.]
Sunday, June 11, 2006. FL: Builders' group drops impact fee lawsuit against county Under the joint dismissal order, CBIA is voluntarily dismissing its complaint without prejudice. That means the lawsuit could be refiled later. ... “While CBIA continues to believe the Government Building Impact Fee is wrong for a number of rational and legal reasons, the negative impact of the lawsuit on our organization has been unanticipated and unjust,” the statement said. “For example, several members of our board have been excluded from serving on county committees due to an ordinance excluding parties who have lawsuits pending against the county.”
Sunday, June 11, 2006. NC; Nat'l re: Impact Fees: Homeowners need a break, too Homebuilders and buyers shouldn't be expected to ante up for recurring costs - those rightly should come from customer fees or general tax revenues. But those who contribute to growth should bear some of the cost to support it.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. FL: Look at who pays bills for Myregion.org The project is called "How Shall We Grow? Creating a Shared Vision for Central Florida." It is sponsored by the think-tank, myregion.org, and it is expected to present a report to Gov. Jeb Bush's successor by May 2007.
Make no mistake, this group already has answered the question without any input from common citizens.
... Myregion.org is funded by businesses, including AT&T, Bank of America, Central Florida Hotel and Lodging, Walt Disney World, RE/Max Realty, Home Builders of Metro Orlando, and on and on. Sounds hopeless, doesn't it? But perhaps not. This growth has to be approved by our county commissioners, and they work for us. They have conveniently forgotten this fact -- so much so that they are a funding this growth group.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. AZ; Nat'l: Letter to the Editor and Reader comments on illegal labor issue (Be sure to click on the "comments" at the end. A few building industry professionals have commented that are skilled legal citizens and no builder will hire them.)
Sunday, June 11, 2006. Nat'l: Think again before using a "down payment assistance" program!: Ruling Imperils 'Gift Fund' Charities for Home Buyers The IRS’s "revenue ruling," issued May 4, states that charities that dole out cash to home buyers that comes from sellers do not qualify as tax-exempt organizations because they benefit private interests, such as builders and other home sellers. The IRS expects to begin revoking some charities’ tax-exempt status as it finishes audits, said Marvin Friedlander, chief of the IRS’s exempt-organizations technical branch. The IRS also could assess the organizations millions of dollars in income taxes if it decides they are for-profit organizations, not charities.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. OH; Nat'l: Interest deal puts many out in cold Builders wrap the cost of the incentive into the price of their homes. Buy-down mortgages have the highest default rate of all FHA loan types.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. Nat'l: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004...But most employers decline to use the system.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Overhaul must break the culture that encourages illegal work force Workers here illegally have learned like millions before them — make it past the increasingly militarized U.S. border and you'll find safe haven and steady work in industries such as home building, which employs more than 27,000 people in Tucson...Tangible change demands a fraud-proof system to verify legal workers and a wholesale overhaul that would bust more employers of illegal workers and force the sharing of critical information among federal agencies.
Sunday, June 11, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Drop in sales forces builders to regroup The next "shoe to drop" for home builders could be large write-downs on land and communities, said Allen, who is based in Scottsdale.
Saturday, June 10, 2006. NJ: Home-buyer protections sought Lawmakers in New Jersey are planning to change how developers build and buyers purchase new homes in reaction to frightening tales of shabby construction.
Saturday, June 10, 2006. US: How much should that insurance paper cost a homeowner? Illegal kickbacks to realty agents, builders, lenders and other pivotal parties in real estate deals are rampant in a business that purports to protect its customers from financial trouble, said Erin Toll, Colorado's deputy insurance commissioner. Title insurers are not allowed to pay for customer referrals - but they do, she said.
Saturday, June 10, 2006. OH: Noe allegedly used local firm to bribe Gasper According to published reports, the group was backed by a group of investors that included KB Homes of Los Angeles.
Saturday, June 10, 2006. New York Times, requires registration to read article: Inspectors Fault Lack of Codes In Storm Damage damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was amplified by a lack of construction standards in the Gulf Coast states, as well as by shoddy building practices
Saturday, June 10, 2006. OH: Scrapped subdivision's next life Lumby is skeptical about the latest plan. ``Everyone still has concerns,'' he said of Esser's plan. ``Building there is fighting the forces of God."
Saturday, June 10, 2006. Nat'l interest: Don't ever under estimate value of natural habitats Louisiana needed a Keith Wilkins many years ago. Northwest Florida needs Keith Wilkins today.
Wilkins, Escambia County's director of Neighborhood and Environmental Services, once again has come under fire for doing his job in actually trying to protect our environment.
Wilkins has long been in the crosshairs of developers -- they have sued him personally several times. He most recently raised the ire of the go-go growth community by sending personal e-mails to state legislators advocating effective wetland regulations -- the kind that could have spared New Orleans the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Saturday, June 10, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Homebuilder targets realtor over Web site Morgan, who runs the Morgan Florida real estate firm, created the Web site on Monday to gather complaints from residents who have bought Lennar homes. [The term for this type of lawsuit if found to be without merit is SLAPP: Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. --Ed.]
Friday, June 09, 2006. OK: Former Oklahoma Appraiser Pleads Guilty to Inflating Values From approximately January 1, 2000 through July 10, 2002, according to the information, Goodwin prepared residential real estate appraisals at the request of brokers employed at Wells Fargo Financial and other financial service companies. Christopher A. Richardson who was employed at Wells Fargo from February 12, 2000 until Wells Fargo Financial terminated his employment on January 14, 2003, along with other brokers, would tell Goodwin that they needed particular appraisals to state that particular properties were worth particular values.
Friday, June 09, 2006. US: Beware of falling in love with remodeled home Are you falling in love with a home that was just remodeled, but want to make sure it was done right before you consider buying it? [Some useful info but HADD recommends ALWAYS getting a thorough home inspection before buying ANY house. --Ed.]
Friday, June 09, 2006. US: "Avoid Arbitration Hang-Ups" (Lowe's home improvement store advising contractors to specify in contracts who will arbitrate disputes) "If you know a good arbitrator, specify that he or she will handle the arbitration. Also state where the construction arbitration proceedings will take place..."
Thursday, June 08, 2006. New Website, Nat'l interest: National Home Buyers Coalition Interesting info on arbitration, etc.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: Last stand for property-rights activists Scott Bullock, a lawyer with the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based public interest law firm representing the homeowners, says the city's vote on Monday was a raw exercise of power. "It was thumbing their nose at the governor and at the nation," he says. "No city government should put their citizens through this for the benefit of private developers."
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: Buying a House? Time to consider Insurance Implications
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: Home developer faces another mold-related lawsuit Another lawsuit has been filed against a Charlotte developer, Ryland Homes, after a resident said mold in his former home made them sick and forced him to leave.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: Criminal Drama Provided By A Ryland Home Employee; President of Ryland’s Dallas Division "This case involves unlawful insider trading in the securities of The Ryland Group, Inc... [Article contains links to Securities and Exchange Commission (sec.gov)documents etc. --Ed.]
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog News about the home building industry, well put together.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. From Consumer Affairs: Connecticut Nabs 115 Home Improvement Contractors Working as an unregistered home improvement contractor is bad business -- and hiring one is a bad decision.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: Tommy Franks takes up fight against mold Retired General Tommy Franks has joined Innovative Decon Solutions, a Tampa mold remediation company, as a partner...The process was originally developed for the U.S. military to fight chemical and biological warfare agents in the Gulf War and now has been reformulated for public and private use.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. OH, KY: Federal Agents Detain More Illegal Immigration Suspects A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the most recent arrests were made Friday at S & W Custom Interiors in Boone County. She said S & W is a subcontractor for Fischer Homes, the construction company that has been the focus of the investigation
Thursday, June 08, 2006. US: DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN In both telecom and housing, demand was artificially enhanced.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. CT: Sting nabs home contractors On Wednesday,the state Department of Consumer Protection, which ran the sting operation, announced that 111 contractors statewide are now facing criminal charges for breaking state home improvement laws.
Thursday, June 08, 2006. AZ; Nat'l: Engineer digs in to preserve owls Development is threatening burrowing birds
Thursday, June 08, 2006. CA: Irvine inspectors under suspicion City officials are awaiting separate reports from an outside investigator and the Police Department on allegations that include building inspectors' acceptance of gifts and solicitation of funds for investments.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. TX: Your Home Matters. A special newsletter for the Democratic Convention. This special newsletter was created for the delegates of the 2006 Texas Democratic Convention. We hope it will provide you with background information on the homebuilding industry and other issues affecting the consumers of Texas. Again, thanks for the vote and have a great convention!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. From Consumer Affairs: The Mistakes Borrowers Make, and How to Avoid Them Understandably, many people don't know much about the business of loans and loan salesmen are quick to sniff this out.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. US: Financial Literacy And The American Dream without the proper knowledge and financial skills, achieving the American dream may turn into a nightmare.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. CA; Nat'l: California developers put profits before safety Last week, lawmakers had a chance to approve Assembly Bill 3050 by Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento. It would have required local governments to share liability with the state for any future development they approve in floodplains.
Instead of approving this prudent measure, lawmakers chose to side with big homebuilders, who mounted a fierce and misleading campaign against Jones' bill.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. WV: Put Immigration Bill on the Agenda White and McKenzie point out that a bill to penalize contractors for hiring illegal aliens knowingly was discussed during the regular session of the Legislature earlier this year. It was approved unanimously by the state Senate — but was blocked in the House of Delegates. McKenzie said the state Homebuilders Association was “able to kill the bill.”
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. NY: Attorney general sues home repair business Some names Haas did business under include: J. Haas & Sons Construction Inc.; J. Haas & Sons Construction; J. Haas Enterprises; Skyline Roofing; J. Haas & Sons Inc.; and J. Haas and Sons Roofing Inc.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. FL; Nat'l: Real estate broker accuses Lennar of doing shoddy work in Stuart In addition, Morgan charged that stucco installed on the houses was too thin and probably would lead to moisture behind the walls and ultimately mold.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. NH: Court orders accused contractor from taking 'up front' money Allan Greene already has been indicted on theft charges and the state has filed a civil suit against him alleging violations of the state Consumer Protection Act.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. MI: Lawmakers Consider Tougher Penalties for Shoddy Construction Home building contractors doing shoddy work could face some tougher penalties.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. FL: SCROLL DOWN TO: "Sentencing in construction fraud case rescheduled for July 5" Steven P. Sanfilippo, 46, was convicted April 27 of 26 counts of fraud, theft, racketeering and other charges stemming from construction work. He could be sentenced to more than 90 years in prison.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. FL; National: Builder takes lumps over townhome project A Stuart real estate agent announced plans Tuesday to file complaints with state and federal agencies against Lennar alleging shoddy building.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. FL; National: Problems with Lennar Homes? We have now inspected several homes for our clients in Lennar communities. The inspection reports came back littered with defects and building code violations. These defects include...
Wednesday, June 07, 2006. Nat'l interest re: ARBITRATION CLAUSES: What are we missing in fine print? Think about all those seemingly thousands of pages of loan documents you have to sign when you buy a house
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. Nat'l: New Home Builders News Blog Some new articles were posted today.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. RI: Board hears of builders' failures The special legislative commission is considering requiring contractors to be licensed by the state:
"Where is the recourse?" Carrington asked. "This guy committed fraud. He took my money. And we are being sued right now, by him. It's absurd."
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. US: Barry Stone column: Home inspector downplays mold as 'no big deal' Your inspector was seriously out of line when he characterized the mold in your home as "surface mold only" and "no big deal."
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. NY: AG Targets Unscrupulous Home Improvement Contractors [Many contractors named, some under multiple names]
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. GA: Protester claims home is poorly built I think they took a lot of shortcuts and cut a lot of corners to get things done and it shows,” Sierra said.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. OH, KY, Nat'l: Growing Case Against Fischer Homes While Fischer says none of the arrested illegals work for them, in federal court, documents obtained by Local 12, Raul Hernandez Colin clearly says his employer was Fischer.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. US: Wall Street hammers home-builders Standard Pacific late Friday announced plans to lower its full-year earnings estimates after new-home orders slumped 40 percent during the first two months of the year.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006. US: NATION’S TEN HIGHEST METROPOLITAN FORECLOSURE RATES “Because of the high home prices in many areas, more home buyers have stretched themselves financially with creative, and often risky financing that involves adjustable interest rates, interest only and negative amortization loans” he said. “Home buyers with these types of loans are more susceptible to default and foreclosure when interest rates move higher.”
Monday, June 05, 2006. MO-KAN: Letter to the Editor re: Miller Enterprises charges Good story (“Local builder accused of fraud,” May 19). I’m wondering, however, why the U.S. attorney’s office finally decided, after all these years, to get tough with F. Jeffrey Miller.
For years, it appears Miller was seriously cheating low-income people trying to buy homes. And yet, for those victims, it doesn’t seem that government attorneys got heartburn over Miller’s cheatin’ ways.
But now that it appears banks got hurt, the government is ready to come down hard on Miller.
I’m a lawyer and, after 25 years in this business, a bit of a cynic. I’m also writing a book about the depth and breadth of corruption in our country. To me, your story is another example of how government attorneys don’t get worked up when little people get hurt — but only when big business gets hurt.
Monday, June 05, 2006. Nat'l Association of Home Builders: Home Owners, Contractors Sound Off About Each Other The worst nightmare for a contractor is a customer who continually asks for work to be changed or redone, and for a customer, it’s shoddy workmanship, according to surveys conducted by Opinion Research Corporation in March, on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional, to find out what the two think of each other...Only 2% of the customers who were polled said that they would choose contractors based on their good looks, but a small number of the contractors participating in the surveying, all of whom were male, said that customers chose them because they’re “hot and everyone knows it.”
Monday, June 05, 2006. Nat'l Association of Home Builders: Legal Action Fund Helps Litigate on Housing Concerns Six home builders associations have received grant approval from the NAHB Executive Board to pursue litigation on a range of issues of concern to the nation’s home building industry. [There is no such fund for home owners, of course! --Ed.]
Monday, June 05, 2006. MI: Warren project soaks neighbors Even though the project will not be finished for another year or two, city officials have instructed Farmington Hills-based developer Grand Sakwa to fix the drainage and berm problems.
Monday, June 05, 2006. RI: Rogue contractors arrested in sweep Investigators from the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Identification and detectives from the Rhode Island State Police arrested six contractors Thursday on misdemeanor warrants of failing to comply with final orders of the Contractors Registration Board.
Monday, June 05, 2006. MS: Hurricane season hails few code changes "They had a big go-around and they threw out the International Building Code and went back to the Southern Building Code because it had things about earthquakes and hurricanes in it that builders thought were too strict."
Monday, June 05, 2006. KY: Insider deal revives same old distrust Actually, the planning commission's actions weren't just unwise. They were destructive.
Commission members have just given residents of Jefferson County a reason to doubt their credibility.
Monday, June 05, 2006. FL: State agency to consider whether to move manatees off endangered list For years the wildlife commission has issued permits allowing developers to crush or bury tortoises alive, provided they paid into a fund to buy and protect gopher tortoise habitat elsewhere in the state. But the commission's biologists say this system hasn't prevented the tortoise's decline, and they petitioned the commission to revise the tortoise's status to threatened.
Monday, June 05, 2006. AL: Realtors, builders oppose bill to make drinking water safer Realtors and home builders are opposing legislation calling for mandatory testing of new private wells in part because the measure could slow development.
Monday, June 05, 2006. FL: Wildlife officials angry over golf course project A project that would destroy nearly 600 acres of wetlands is drawing sharp criticism from federal environmental officials and local environmental groups.
Monday, June 05, 2006. FL: Interests collide In his six years in the Legislature, Bennett has repeatedly pushed state legislation to help land developers, including himself.
Monday, June 05, 2006. U.S.: Building exec pulls in $21.5 million bonus Stuart Miller, boss of Miami home builder Lennar Corp., pulled in a $21.5 million bonus in 2005. Such kingly sums have become common for home-building executives.
Monday, June 05, 2006. NV: Vegas housing: not too hot anymore In one of America's overheated markets, home sales and prices slide. But builders keep building.
Monday, June 05, 2006. CA: RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION LAW The Legislature has recognized an obligation to address some of the perceived abuses of common interest developments because of the large number of people residing in them.
Monday, June 05, 2006. US: The new market reality in housing Some experts say housing is in a down-cycle; many investors are fleeing the home-builder sector.
Monday, June 05, 2006. TN: Interview with candidate (not an endorsement; for information only) "My opponents, Ernest Burgess and Bill Shacklett, are good men. But Mr. Burgess is a developer who is taking thousands of dollars from the development community to fund his campaign.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. US: Headaches Persist After Arbitration Award Perry Homes, a large Houston-based home builder owned by Bob Perry, a prominent supporter of tort reform, is attempting to overturn an $800,000 arbitration award to a Mansfield couple who alleged that they bought a defective home built by the company.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. MO-KAN: How to make sure home, sweet home, stays that way (Miller Enterprises case and more) Consumer experts observe wryly that the latest and harsher federal charges reflect a justice system more inclined to protect banks than consumers.
“No one will go after builders in a big way for poor construction, but when a bank gets hit, all kinds of investigators go after it,” said Nancy Seats of http://www.hadd.com">Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, a consumer group that has counseled many of Miller’s unhappy home buyers.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. US: Border wall: A monument to our hypocrisy Imagine that. Illegal immigration could be substantially reduced by simply requiring that employers not hire illegal workers. In fact, if you look at it from the demand perspective, we don't have an illegal immigration problem, we have an illegal employer problem.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. From: USA Today: 'Housing boom is over,' analyst says as Pulte is latest home builder to cut outlook Pulte (PHM) on Friday became the latest major home builder to lower its full-year earnings outlook as the housing market continues to cool.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. CA: 'Dreams' a legal nightmare Developers dubbed it Los Sueños or "The Dreams," for the promise that 15 landowners could buy new homes for only the cost to build them in a proposed Coachella gated community. But three years later, the plan for the 135-home development is a stalled legal mess, with the 15 families still waiting for homes to be built on land they no longer own.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. US: Ruling imperils home buyer 'gift fund' charities Although the system has helped hundreds of thousands of low-income households buy their first homes, it is riddled with abuse, according to the IRS and a variety of government studies. The IRS called the programs "scams" in its ruling last month and said that by providing down payments, the charities actually inflated home prices, making it more likely that homeowners would default on their loans.
Sunday, June 04, 2006. TX: State body footed $1,000 lunch bill A recent audit by the Texas comptroller found in its first two years, the TRCC spent $573,000 on public relations, including more than $90,000 for a Washington based PR firm and another $483,000 for an Austin PR firm.
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Young buyers want unique houses Reach Advisors, a market-research firm in Boston, found that there is a disconnect between affluent Generation X home buyers and the home builders...
Friday, June 02, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: No place like this home -- fortunately Galigher says the delays occurred because Holmes has not allowed anyone from Western Pacific onto the property for months and has insisted that another contractor make the repairs.
Holmes disputes that. He showed me copies of nearly two dozen certified letters he sent to Galigher's office in Pleasanton and to Western Pacific's parent company, D.R. Horton in Fort Worth, Texas, asking when the work would be completed. He said he's offered to provide Western Pacific with keys to the house so crews could work on it any time.
(Companion article to "Construction Defects, the Flood to Come," below, which discusses it.)
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Construction Defects: The Flood to Come? This is just speculation, but based on my own experience I wonder if the past few years' housing boom/bubble isn't about to unleash a flood of construction defects to go along with the foreclosures and bankruptcies.
Friday, June 02, 2006. NV; Nat'l: Foreclosure companies aren't reaping riches Most have no equity or are upside-down
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Immigration reform: Building costs could soar Up to 40% of home building is done by undocumented aliens. [Most contractors deny they are hiring illegal workers, so how is it possible that their other argument, that the industry needs these workers, also true? --Ed.]
Friday, June 02, 2006. Nat'l interest: A toilet mystery solved (Might want to read this if fixing a misbehaving toilet is on your to-do list this weekend. -Ed.)
Friday, June 02, 2006. NV Construction Defect Case: Settlement reached in $7 million class action (You will probably have to do free registration to view this article about Syncon Homes and 20 subcontractors contributing to proposed settlement with 181 homeowners and their attorneys.) "Christine and Erick Newell of Amador Circle found water under their house. Silverado Drive resident Jeaninne Weathers had ponding in both sideyards. Shirley Dieper of Valley Vista Drive had a deteriorating stem wall in her garage, water in her crawlspace and mold in her walls, according the records."
Friday, June 02, 2006. IL; Nat'l interest: Architect, engineer can advise on leaks The board then hired an architect to investigate the situation, and he found issues with the masonry, caulking and roof installation, all of which had been done incorrectly during construction
Friday, June 02, 2006. LA: Army Corps of Engineers Admits Levee Defects Caused Flooding The corps said that its 40-year effort to construct a hurricane protection system for the region of southern Louisiana had resulted in a set of piecemeal projects that "was a system in name only," a recognition that a wide range of errors, weak links and incomplete construction was at the heart of the massive damage that occurred on Aug. 29.
Friday, June 02, 2006. RI: Contractors arrested in state sweep When authorities set out before 6 a.m. yesterday, they had warrants for 20 contractors, almost all wanted for misdemeanors related to doing shoddy work or no work at all. Six were found -- two of them at job sites. All were handcuffed and taken into police custody and later appeared before a judge..."These people had continuous opportunities to correct the problems that were alleged to have occurred," Lynch said. "They disregarded the process and we responded."
Friday, June 02, 2006. OR: Builder Builds Dream Homes Amid Shaky Past While Buena Vista Custom Homes touts being named the fastest growing homebuilder in the nation by Builder Magazine in 2005, what the company is not touting is their owner’s troubled history including drug arrests, assault charges and lawsuits.
Friday, June 02, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Judge weighs hold on delisting of owl The bird's Sonoran Desert habitat is in imminent danger from several developments, attorney Michael Senatore said Thursday, citing a declaration outlining a half-dozen projects totaling at least 1,200 homes on 4,300 acres.
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Be careful with home builder's financing From Bankrate.com
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Dubai Firm Acquires O.C. Home Builder The purchase of John Laing for $1 billion is Emaar Properties' first venture into the U.S. It could signal further industry consolidation.
Friday, June 02, 2006. U.S.: Understanding green building, energy efficiency You might suspect that a sustainable house costs more money, but the builders said that sustainable, green building practices save money. A good example is job site disposal.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. Court Case re: Michigan Consumer Protection Act: Forton v. Laszar Given that the clear legislative intent of the act is to protect consumers in the purchase of goods and services, we conclude that the definition of "trade or commerce" includes residential builders who construct and sell homes for personal family use. Thus, residential builders are subject to claims of unfair or deceptive trade practices under the act.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. US: Nevada Regulators Settle with Title Insurer LandAmerica Richmond, Va.-based LandAmerica neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing in the agreement with the Nevada Insurance Commission. The company is among a handful of title insurers being investigated for similar charges in New York.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. LA: Contractor surrenders to face Katrina charges Gary Holland, 39, of Cypress was booked with seven counts of theft...
Thursday, June 01, 2006. National: Immigration reform: Building costs could soar Up to 40% of home building is done by undocumented aliens. But no one's talking about what a crackdown could do to new home costs.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. US: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004...But most employers decline to use the system.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. From Professional Roofing: The right side of the law Electronic verification of employees is likely to be required as the immigration debate intensifies
Thursday, June 01, 2006. Canada; of U.S. interest: Fire chief sounds alarm over siding Article on vinyl siding
Thursday, June 01, 2006. CO; Nat'l: Standoff in title insurance probe "I am very concerned that Land- America appears to be focusing its efforts on discrediting Ms. Toll, rather than resolving market practices in Colorado," Rivera replied to the company. "I have considered your charges and find them to be groundless." ... Here's how the alleged scams worked: When individuals bought new homes, a home builder would steer buyers to a certain title insurance company. Beforehand, the home builder had cut a deal with the insurer: In exchange for large volumes of business, the title firm used a shell reinsurance company owned by the home builder.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. FL: Seminole orders builder to halt work Engineered Homes of Orlando Inc. was ordered to halt all construction in the county and to pay a $10,000 fine after county officials said the builder's contractor covered up ductwork that had failed inspections and continued to work on the house in the Buckingham Estates subdivision west of Sanford.
Thursday, June 01, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently submitted material to the task force
Thursday, June 01, 2006. From Consumer Reports: Mold: Is your home at risk? Excessive mold typically means that water intrusion or high indoor humidity is causing a potentially serious moisture problem. Mold can damage your home by weakening floors, walls, and ceilings as it feasts on decaying wood and wallboard, ceiling tiles, caulk, cellulose insulation, and other organic materials. Toxic or not, it isn't good for you or your home.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Court Reaffirms Arbitrator Immunity in Disclosure Case A Texas appeals court has ruled that arbitrators are immune from civil suit even in instances where they fail to disclose a possible conflict of interest, suggesting that parties may need to do more of their own due diligence in selecting neutrals for their cases.
In its May 11 opinion in Pullara v. American Arbitration Association and Stephen Paxson (No. 06-05-00087) the Sixth Appellate District of Texas said arbitral immunity is the law of the land in state and federal courts, ruling that arbitrators are immune from civil liability when they fail to disclose possible conflicts of interest that may bring into question an arbitrator's impartiality. [Site will probably require you sign up for a free trial subscription to view article. Use google.com to search for the case name if you want more info and do not want to sign up for the trial subscription. --Ed.]
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. WI; Nat'l interest re: Arbitration Clauses: Wisconsin Supreme Court Says Arbitration Remedies Have to be Mutual Between Parties A business cannot draft an arbitration agreement that is tilted in its favor, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. U.S.: Church faces uphill battle in mold lawsuit Both parties to this lawsuit have accepted the expert's findings that the likely reasons for the extensive mold damage are roof deficiencies, improper installation of flashing, mold contamination in the walls between the drywall and the insulation, mold/microbial contamination in the mechanical rooms, and within the air-conditioning duct work, the judge explained.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. NC: Trees by lake coming down Laws intended to curb erosion, pollution aren't being enforced
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. U.S.: Homebuilders Meet To Discuss Labor Laws Homebuilders have been recieving government letters demanding reviews of company and subcontractors records from the Homeland Security Department in recent weeks.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Venezuela extradites Lee-based investor Investment and Equity Group is the holding company for EXIT I&E Realty, Innova Home Builders LLC and Associated Financial Service Group.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Venezuela extradites Lee-based investor Investment and Equity Group is the holding company for EXIT I&E Realty, Innova Home Builders LLC and Associated Financial Service Group.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. SC; Nat'l interest: Allow cities, counties to implement impact fees that have impact CANDIDATES RUNNING for county council in Lexington and Richland counties are understandably concerned about local governments’ struggles to pay for schools, roads and other infrastructure needed to keep up with new growth.
Several who visited the newspaper’s editorial board for interviews recently said impact fees must be part of the solution.
People in the real estate and home-building business don’t like that kind of talk. They target those seeking office who think that way. But the truth is that unchecked development is stretching infrastructure and putting an undue burden on current taxpayers.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. U.S.: Species on endangered list challenged "The conventional wisdom is that environmental groups exclusively used this provision in court, but today, the industry lawsuits challenging critical habitat designations far outnumber environmental challenges," says Pat Parenteau, a law professor at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt. ...At the forefront of the movement is the National Association of Home Builders, which recently prevailed in a legal battle over Arizona land that had been designated as a habitat for the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl. Two environmental groups have sued to restore the designation, and a court hearing on the issue is scheduled for Friday.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. FL: Barrington Homes closes doors John E. Barrington, also known as John Stuart Jakows, has been in Seminole County Jail since then. Jakows is a felon with an arrest record going back to 1990, with charges ranging from mortgage fraud to forgery.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. US: Supreme Court Rules against Government Whistleblowers Today, the Supreme Court severely limited the rights of government employee whistleblowers to protect the public interest. Through its ruling in Garcetti v. Ceballos, the Court holds that government employees’ job-related speech is not protected by the first amendment, a significant departure from prior law. [This could affect the ability/willingness of people working in building code depts, HUD, etc, from talking about corruption, too. --Ed.]
Wednesday, May 31, 2006. National: AMERICA UNDER SEIGE: The Crippling Consequences of Illegal Immigration Gary, a construction foreman for a large well known homebuilder in Arizona said that his crew of “illegals does work that American’s won’t do for the same wages.” He pays his “skilled day laborers” $30 a day, for a ten hour day, with a thirty-minute lunch break. “American workers would want at least minimum wage, an eight hour workday, and an hour lunch break.”
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. Texas: Allstate hit with rate cut and refund Allstate was ordered by the Texas insurance commissioner to reduce homeowner insurance rates by 5 percent and refund about $60 million in principal and interest to policyholders. Monday's decision comes a month after two judges of the State Office of Administrative Hearings told Allstate they should lower rates by 10 percent. Instead, Allstate appealed to Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin and offered a 4.8 percent reduction.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. MN: Builders hail passage of ‘opportunity-to-repair’ measure The legislation signed by the governor includes a key homeowner protection provision. Known as the Camacho amendment, it states that home warranties are still valid even if the contractor who built the home dissolves his company. (Credit a group of homeowners including "Minnesota Home Watch, www.mnhomewatch.org for getting something good for consumers added to this otherwise builder-friendly bill. --Ed.)
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. U.S.: Easy-to-get loans cause thousands to lose homes "I think the reason we are going to see so many foreclosures, so many more than we have ever had in the past, is because a broker or loan originator has gotten people into these crazy kinds of loans," said Steven Schneider, president of the Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers. ... Typically, a sub-prime loan is made to a high-risk market of borrowers that includes those with lower credit ratings. But not all of these borrowers had poor credit. National research by mortgage giant Freddie Mac found that approximately three of every 10 people with a sub-prime home loan had good enough credit to qualify for a less pricey mortgage, raising concerns that even people with good credit are being steered into unnecessarily costly deals.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. U.S.: Five Things Every Homeowner Needs To Know About The Mortgage Business (Some good info but this is not an endorsement for the company in the article. We are posting it just for the information. --Ed.)
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. NY; Nat'l interest: Debris pit raises cost of pool by $10,000 It cost Rundberg and his wife, Ingrit, an extra $10,000 - about $40,000 total - to put in a pool after installers discovered a debris pit in his backyard left by home builders who buried trees, brush and shrubs instead of having them hauled away. ... There was rotting vegetation at the bottom of the pit, which eventually could have created a sinkhole and jeopardized the foundation of the house that's 30 feet away, Rundberg said.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006. U.S.: Nehemiah contesting IRS ruling The IRS says it is examining 185 U.S. nonprofit organizations that use some version of Nehemiah's seller-funded down payments. The tax agency says what's called charity for low-income homebuyers is actually a commercial transaction that helps sellers expand the pool of available buyers. Many sellers are some of the nation's major homebuilding corporations. The IRS says Nehemiah should pay corporate taxes.
Monday, May 29, 2006. PA: Charges against builder sent on A Brodheadsville home builder(Slayton)accused of stealing deposit money from customers to fuel a drug habit admitted to spending as much as $2,000 weekly on crack cocaine, an Allentown detective testified Friday.
Monday, May 29, 2006. U.S.: 'Bombshells' revealed at title insurance hearing A congressional subcommittee held a landmark hearing in late April on that very subject, along with a related question: To what degree do illegal tie-ins among realty agents, mortgage brokers, home builders and title agents inflate the premiums that consumers pay at closing?
Friday, May 26, 2006. Nat'l: Portable Generators Can Kill With the approach of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which brings the possibility of power failures in affected areas, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging consumers to take steps to safeguard their families when using a portable generator.
Friday, May 26, 2006. Inman News: Grassroots group sparks anti-mortgage-fraud-law push The stay-at-home moms vowed to fight, founding a grassroots organization, the Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention Awareness Coalition, or GREFPAC, to push for legislation.
Friday, May 26, 2006. GA: Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention & Awareness Coalition Grassroots group's website
Friday, May 26, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Garamendi blasts insurer profits "The insurance companies are literally giving less and less money to the policyholders and more and more money to Wall Street, to fat executive salaries and overhead expenses," Garamendi said during a Capitol news conference Thursday. "It's time for the rates to be brought in."
Friday, May 26, 2006. Nat'l interest: Two Title Insurers Agree to Pay Fines The insurers drove up rates for homeowners by providing developers free or discounted insurance in other states in exchange for client referrals in New York, Spitzer said in a statement Tuesday.
Friday, May 26, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Building-permit corruption based on bribes Issue involves more than a few 'bad apples'
Friday, May 26, 2006. U.S.: Many legal immigrants forgotten in debate “They are putting as a priority illegal immigration, and legal immigrants are left out of the loop. It’s the curse of doing things right.
Friday, May 26, 2006. CA: Feds Arrest 29 Illegal Alien Workers in San Diego Of the 29 Drywall Company employees arrested, seven have criminal records including prior convictions for narcotics and firearms violations.
Friday, May 26, 2006. MD: Island house is at heart of argument; suit accuses defamation Spadaro has been among several activists who said that allowing Wagner to keep his home could encourage others to flout land-use laws and cause irrevocable harm to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and wildlife. They have said Wagner's actions are especially egregious because he builds homes by trade.
Several environmental and community activists called Wagner's action a desperate attempt to intimidate a chief opponent to back down. Developers typically file such lawsuits, or threaten to issue them, when they consider their own cases legally vulnerable, they said.
Friday, May 26, 2006. OH: (Some)Building contractors praise illegal immigrants bust In spite of concerns raised by some homebuilders, local building contractors Thursday lauded Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones’ pursuit of those who hire illegal immigrants.
The contractors said they hope raids by the sheriff’s office will make the market more competitive for employers who play by the rules. At least one man said he’s already seeing better pay because of it.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Oxley probes alleged threats against Colorado official The head of the House Financial Services Committee is investigating alleged threats from title insurer LandAmerica against a Colorado insurance official who is conducting a probe against the company, Inman News has learned. [There has been an ongoing ivestigation into illegal kickbacks from the title co's to builders, etc, in CO and other states, see previous articles on title kickbacks. --Ed.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. Palm Beach Post: Martin stops townhouse project Martin County officials shut down a townhouse project on Wednesday after environmental inspectors say they discovered the builder had filled in a wetland and was building without county approval.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. OH, KY: Illegals probe takes turn Deputies raid Butler builder's office for job records
Thursday, May 25, 2006. Canada: Private company assists gov’t in protecting new home buyers Robert Mitchell, director of government relations, and Gregory Gee, president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., formerly the Ontario New Home Warranty Program, were in Greater Sudbury recently to talk about changes within their organization. [HADD welcomes Canadians' feedback on how this is working out. --Ed.]
Thursday, May 25, 2006. AZ: Tempe officials stand behind developer Tempe leaders say they are standing behind the point man for a multimillion-dollar hotel project proposed for Tempe Town Lake, despite a California criminal conviction.
Documents and interviews show that Brad Gorman, CEO of Laguna Pacific Companies, was convicted in 1997 of felony grand theft from a business partner in connection with a $20 million real estate deal.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. MS: Builders told of coming bonanza Gov. Haley Barbour put on his cheerleader uniform and appealed to the bottom line-oriented business world Wednesday at a homebuilders conference.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. IL; Nat'l interest: Firms to pay $5 mil. in '96 DuPage blast that killed 2 The blast that destroyed Kim Bowen's brand new home apparently was triggered by the failure of a six-inch length of gas pipeline connected to her basement furnace, said Chicago attorney David Wise, who represented the Bowen family.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. OR: 20 Bend home permits missing, forged It's a homeowner's nightmare: What if you learned the dream home you're buying, or have even moved into, doesn't have all - or any - of its proper city permits? That situation in two Bend subdivisions has triggered a police hunt for a fired worker, costly headaches for the builder and unexpected woes for the buyers of 20 homes that have undergone new inspections, a few of which might need to be torn down.
Thursday, May 25, 2006. U.S.: Record new home supply "If you look at the trend, housing demand is definitely weakening," said Paul Kasriel, director of economic research at Chicago-based Northern Trust Co. "At the same time, supply continues to grow. That is not a good situation for home builders and home sellers. There is an index of home builder stocks that peaked in July 2005 and is plumbing new lows. It's happening because of this excess supply of new housing."
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. OK; Nat'l: Charities fear effects of IRS ruling The IRS complained of "organizations claiming to be charities ... being used to funnel down-payment assistance from sellers to buyers through self-serving, circular-financing arrangements.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Nat'l intrest: Opponents organizing to fight measure Supporters contend the measure is needed to hold judges personally accountable for violating people's rights.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. From Inman News: Cleaning the Augean stables: obstacles to fighting loan fraud "If it's a single buyer on a $200,000 house, we can't get involved. The threshold is $500,000," Burrus said.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004...But most employers decline to use the system. [This is a "re-run," and it bears repeating: employers can verify the legal worker status. --Ed.]
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. USA Today: 'Sealing the border is a tall order' Q: A reader recently wrote a letter about his experience in the construction trade. He had a job, but said because of illegal immigrants, his employer lowered wages. He ultimately lost his job. Would cleaning up the construction trade, for instance, be a realistic objective?
A: Anytime you're dealing with large-scale illegality, 100% is a difficult point to reach. I do think we can have a significant impact on the trade.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. FL: Disbarred Asbestos Lawyer Pleads Not Guilty to 41-Count Federal Indictment Louis Robles, a once-prominent Miami plaintiffs attorney, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 41 federal counts of mail fraud and misappropriating $13.5 million in settlements from asbestos clients. [This attorney had handled a class action against Lennar Homes in the past. --Ed.]
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. FL: Arbitrator Certifies Class Action Against Ryland Homes in Florida William Drier, a retired appellate judge form New Jersey, is the arbitrator who certified the class action earlier this week in Orlando, FL. Drier heard five days of live testimony and arguments, reviewed more than 30 volumes of documentary evidence and received hundreds of pages of legal briefs.
Drier's findings soon will be posted on the Internet at
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. FL: Pruitt, ally draw ethics complaint Senate-President-to-be Ken Pruitt has drawn an ethics complaint accusing him of taking kickbacks and misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars raised through political committees and a charity.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. PA; Nat'l interest: Inquirer, Daily News sale prompts speculation Philadelphia Media Holdings, which includes advertising executive Brian P. Tierney, homebuilder Bruce E. Toll and investment manager Leslie Brun, bought the papers from McClatchy Co. for $562 million.
Tierney told the New York Times he will continue to publish the struggling Daily News and vowed to uphold editorial independence, calling owner control “the best way to kill this as a business.” But for those like newspaper industry analyst John Morton who remember when former Inquirer owner Walter Annenberg used the paper as a personal tool from the 1940s to 1960s, it’s hard to not be cynical about local ownership.
“That’s the danger,” he told the Times. “And that danger may be aggravated by the fact that these new owners don't come out of a newspaper culture and might not be sensitive to the damage to a newspaper's journalism and to its future by using it for some kind of personal agenda.”
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. U.S.: Even brand-new homes need to be inspected for problems Most of us realize the importance of having a whole house inspection prior to buying an existing house, but few realize the importance of it when buying a brand-new house.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. U.S.: Mortgage Fraud in the News News blog of attorney Rachel Dollar has some interesting stories posted again today.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006. OH: Family Takes Action Against Builder Of Moldy Home The judge says he was shocked that Maronda Homes wanted the homeowners to take down signs around the house and not talk to anyone about their problems at home. The judge said that request was a clear violation of freedom of speech.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. GA: Lawyer arrested in Milford Hills case Athens real estate lawyer C. Michael Rose has been arrested in a $7 million mortgage fraud scheme centered around a Barnett Shoals Road subdivision.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. US: Health issue raised on FEMA trailers Hurricane victims who were forced to move into FEMA trailers last year may have moved from one hazardous situation into another
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Texas: Going to extremes. Why a survey indicating Texas is tops in limiting lawsuit judgments is bad news for consumers. IF Texans needed any evidence that the tort reform drive in the state has gone too far, they need only look at a study conducted by a pro-business think tank, the Pacific Research Institute. Although its purpose is to promote further efforts around the country to limit the number of lawsuits and size of judgments, the survey rankings suggest that the last major tort reform legislation passed in the Texas Legislature in 2003 has tipped the balance too far in favor of defendants. So far that Texas now has the lowest tort liability rating in the nation, followed by Colorado, North Dakota and Ohio. At the other end of the ranking is Vermont, followed by Rhode Island and New York.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. PA: McClatchy Sells Philadelphia Newspapers The two Philadelphia papers are being bought by a group led by advertising executive Brian Tierney and Bruce Toll, co-founder of luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. The papers are among 12 currently owned by Knight Ridder that McClatchy plans to sell.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. PA; National: McClatchy Sells Philadelphia Newspapers The two Philadelphia papers are being bought by a group led by advertising executive Brian Tierney and Bruce Toll, co-founder of luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. US: Homeowner finds questionable advice on the Web Barry Stone (home inspector) column
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. US: Fannie Mae to Pay Large Fine in Settlement WASHINGTON - Embattled mortgage giant Fannie Mae is being fined between $300 million and $500 million for the alleged manipulation of accounting so that executives could collect millions in bonuses, according to a person familiar with the settlement.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Nat'l interest: Owners of newer homes face water damage risk The Saunders' home is a local example of a national problem: Moisture is creeping into houses across the country, causing walls to rot and destroying the house's basic structure.
``We're building self-composting houses,'' said St. Paul microbiologist McGregor Pearce, who has tested the Saunders house and many others. The houses that have been identified as having problems are merely ``the tip of the iceberg,'' Pearce said.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. AZ: Company Makes Money off Mold Fears Air of America uses enticing coupons to catch your eye and then reels you in with a sales pitch customers say is riddled with deceit.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. US: Seller hopes model behavior will give homes lived-in appeal Dallas-based Centex built four model homes, filled them with furniture, then took things one bizarre step further. The company hired four actors to play the role of a family, in a role that's half improv, half sales demo.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. KY: Candidate Has Criminal Past Thomas was arrested in 2001 for conspiracy to distribute narcotics, but prosecutors gave him a plea bargain and downgraded those charges to possession of marijuana.
That's not all. In 2001, Thomas also pleaded guilty to D.U.I.
"I've made mistakes. Yes, I have, but I've paid for those mistakes. No one is perfect. You can also be a responsible citizen."Thomas said.
In 2005, Thomas lost a civil case when a customer sued his contracting company for taking money, and never finishing their home....Thomas was arrested and faced several charges, including menacing and intimidating a witness.
But we never found what happened to all those charges because they've been wiped from his record without explanation.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. TX: San Antonio Attorney Facing Federal Wire Fraud Charges Investigators say Attorney Harry Skeins, Jr. teamed up with David Allen Hawkins, a Seattle builder...
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. Russia: Hundreds Protest Against Fraud Case The target of their anger was a residential construction firm called Sotsialnaya Initsiativa, which they said collected more than 15 billion rubles ($555.3 million) between 2003 and 2005 after they promised customers affordable, new housing. More than 50,000 families are believed to have paid for apartments that were never built or that were sold to multiple buyers.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. NC: N.C. builder pleads guilty in conspiracy, tax fraud case In a January indictment, federal prosecutors alleged that Boone illegally used millions of dollars of JACO Construction money to further a romantic relationship with Myers, the man with whom he co-founded JACO in the mid-1990s.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. MI: Failed Spring Lake business owner pleads guilty to fraud A Spring Lake man who pleaded guilty Monday to a multimillion dollar bank and pension fraud scheme wasn't driving fancy cars or taking exotic vacations, his attorney said. Instead, 62-year-old Ronald Retsema used the money in a failed attempt to bail out his sinking business, Rycenga Homes Inc., according to his attorney and federal government officials.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. WA: Interest groups targeting state Supreme Court races Special-interest groups on both ends of the political spectrum — including the powerful homebuilders lobby on one side and labor unions on the other — are preparing to do battle over at least two of the three Supreme Court seats on this year's ballot.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. FL: Homeowners Get Class Action Lawsuit Against Ryland Homes Brodsky and other homeowners argue that shoddy workmanship sealing outside walls of their Ryland homes is what lead to the water coming in, not just the hurricanes.
"Before the hurricanes even hit I wondered why the tile in my kitchen always looked wet when I hadn't mopped the floor," Brodsky said.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006. FL: R-G Crown sorts out mess over developer R-G Crown Bank, one of the region's fastest-growing financial institutions, has become ensnared by the problems of an Orlando home-building company whose former chief executive faces money-laundering charges...The would-be homeowners are now questioning R-G Crown's role in the strange case of Barrington, a convicted felon who four years ago legally changed his name from John Stuart Jakows. Jakows has a lengthy arrest record, including charges of mortgage fraud, forgery and grand theft.
Monday, May 22, 2006. RI: Lawmakers hear about contractors A commission looking at the licensing of builders and contractors will hear testimony about complaints.
Monday, May 22, 2006. RI: Commission to hold hearing on problem contractors A House commission will listen to complaints about contractors at a Statehouse hearing this week.
Monday, May 22, 2006. OK: Bill limiting general contractors' liability heads to Henry another bill AGC supported was approved by the Legislature on Thursday. Senate Concurrent Resolution 56, by state Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, creates the Oklahoma Contractors Licensing Task Force.
Monday, May 22, 2006. TX: State commission strips Dallas builder's registration The commission took action based upon a default judgment entered against Paquette in November 2004 that he failed to pay, according to a news release from the commission. The judgment of $8,929 plus $2,500 in attorney fees involved a construction-related dispute between Paquette and a homeowner.
Monday, May 22, 2006. NJ: Builders fined for failure to register The requirement to register with the state is to ensure developers are reputable and are purchasing warranties to protect new homeowners from faulty construction.
The developers' lack of credentials was brought to the attention of the DCA by The Star-Ledger earlier this year. The newspaper also provided the DCA with a list of developers who were building in the city without registering. After investigating the list, Connelly issued violation letters to eight additional developers who built and sold homes without state approval.
Monday, May 22, 2006. MO: All-Phase Construction's owner ordered to repay $64,000 Thomas Mark Hogan, the owner of home repair business All-Phase Construction, pleaded guilty Friday to seven counts of consumer fraud and was ordered to repay $64,133 in restitution to 11 consumers he defrauded, the Missouri attorney general said.
Monday, May 22, 2006. NH New Home Nightmare: Nashua family suing builder over construction defects Fredette and his wife, Kimberly, have sued the builder, Ashwood Development Cos., of 84 Lake St., for defects they claim will cost more than $250,000 to repair.
“If we wanted to sell our house right now, we couldn’t. We are in such a predicament right now,” Kevin Fredette said. “We’re putting money into lawyers and engineers that we should be putting into our daughters’ education.”
Monday, May 22, 2006. TX: State commission strips Dallas builder's registration The Texas Residential Construction Commission has revoked Dallas homebuilder John Paquette's registration, prohibiting Paquette, owner of Paquette Construction, from legally building homes in Texas. (HADD welcomes feedback on how well the TRCC is protecting consumers. See earlier articles this year on state comptroller's audit of the agency. -Ed.)
Monday, May 22, 2006. PA; National: Group close to deal for Philadelphia newspapers Two reports Monday indicated that the leading bidder for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News is a Philadelphia-area investor group led by advertising executive Brian Tierney and Bruce Toll of luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. (Newspapers in this area reported both sides of the Right to Repair legislation builders wanted this year. It was vetoed by the governor. How likely is a builder owned paper going to be to publish balanced stories? --Ed.)
Monday, May 22, 2006. National interest: May 2005 article naming builders involved in kickback schemes (Relevant to article below on illegal title insurance kickbacks:) Artistic Homes; Beazer Homes USA; Citation Homes; Engle Homes; Fulton Homes; J.F. Shea Co.; John Laing Homes; KB Home; Maracay Homes; M.D.C. Holdings; Meritage Homes; Orleans Homebuilders; Pulte Homes; Ryland Group; Warmington Homes; William Lyon Homes
Monday, May 22, 2006. CO; National: Rules tighten for title insurance firms State officials are stepping up efforts to weed out illegitimate title insurance agencies in a move aimed at eliminating what they believe is a "black market" that's made it increasingly tough for those who play by the rules to compete.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. MN: Two Day Jail sentence for millionaire builder angers many Bren was initially charged with 19 counts of theft by swindle, credit fraud and what amounts to contractor fraud. Friday, he was sentenced on the contractor fraud charges he plead guilty too. [Some fraudulent builders go to jail for long periods of time, some not at all, or for very little...could the difference be whether "only" consumers were harmed vs. banks being harmed? See stories previously posted on MILLER ENTERPRISES, ERPENBECK, etc., for comparison. --Ed.]
Sunday, May 21, 2006. IL: Builder draws Kane County’s ire In a five-page letter written eight months ago, county board attorney Ken Shepro accused Ziegler of stalling the project and warned that he could face legal action. “You are being evasive and deceiving to all parties who have been in good faith discussion with you for over five years on getting the drainage matters rectified, which in the county’s opinion were purely caused by you,” Shepro wrote.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. OH: Family Takes Action Against Builder Of Moldy Home The judge says he was shocked that Maronda Homes wanted the homeowners to take down signs around the house and not talk to anyone about their problems at home. The judge said that request was a clear violation of freedom of speech.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. Construction Law News site: Numerous articles of interest. Last few days entries contain more articles of interest than are practical to post individually here. --Ed.]
Sunday, May 21, 2006. KS; MO: Walls Talk; a 2002 article on Miller Enterprises, see earlier stories this week: HUD, the Missouri attorney general and the Kansas Banking Commission have accused Miller of running a scam, but he's still in business.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. Nat'l interest: PR pro takes on tough gig Reno's done tough work before. He's represented KB Home, Durra Builders... [Why DO builders need a public-relations firm to help their image? --Ed.]
Sunday, May 21, 2006. GA: Fraud case ups defense spending Authorities have netted only a fraction of the people they say were involved in a massive mortgage fraud in Athens-Clarke County, but the legal battle already is shaping up for the eight men and one woman arrested in the scheme some say may be the largest in Georgia's history.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Building inspectors: Who's the Boss "They wanted me to pass the inspection whether it was right or wrong," he says.
Sunday, May 21, 2006. NJ: Developer accused of bank fraud loses control of companies A real estate developer accused of cheating a Pittsburgh-based bank out of millions by depositing a bad check must give up day-to-day control over all of his companies, a state Superior Court judge has ruled. [Why is it that we usually only see developers/builders charged by law enforcement when banks are affected, but not while hundreds or thousands of consumers are complaining about the fraud? --Ed.]
Sunday, May 21, 2006. U.S.: Roofing contractors are serving up baloney It sounds as if the roofer simply didn't follow the instructions, and when you called them on it they tried to feed you a line of baloney. [Another example of incompetent construction voiding the warranty on a new roof. --Ed.]
Sunday, May 21, 2006. U.S.: New-home contracts loaded with land mines [Author forgot a major landmine--the arbitration clause!--but otherwise food for thought. --Ed.]
Saturday, May 20, 2006. OH, KY; Nat'l interest: Ongoing Fischer Homes illegal workers case Butler releases alien suspects: County can't enforce federal law
Friday, May 19, 2006. US: Real Estate related Web Gripe Sites (Seems up to date. It even mentions how KBHomeSucks.com is now gone after an apparent settlement. --Ed.)
Friday, May 19, 2006. Mortgage Fraud news site of attorney Rachel Dollar: Kansas Builder Charged in Charged with $25 Million Bank Fraud Scheme5 “There are hundreds of homeowners in the Kansas City metro area who lost everything due to these 8 criminals who were indicted today. I’m expecting more indictments down the road.” said Nancy Seats, President of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings, whose organization was instrumental in exposing the fraud. “The case has been being investigated by one agency or another since 1999. Finally it appears there will be justice.”
Friday, May 19, 2006. Mold: Air traffic controllers are against Metro mold plan The union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, says the mold has led to health problems among controllers, who already are held to strict standards for their medical condition on the job.
Friday, May 19, 2006. FL: Stranded buyers pin hopes on spinoff More than 50 would-be home buyers, stranded by a general contractor now in jail on money-laundering charges, hope the houses they bought in three Apopka subdivisions can be finished by a corporate spinoff of the troubled construction company...The former chief executive of Barrington Homes, John E. Barrington, was arrested by the FBI this month and accused of offering to launder drug money through the business. Barrington, also known as John Jakows, has a criminal record dating to 1990, including arrests on mortgage fraud, forgery and obtaining property with worthless checks. Jakows changed his name to Barrington in December 2002. [New co. is D & D Development LLC: Buyer Beware! --Ed.]
Friday, May 19, 2006. KS, MO; The Miller Enterprises story: Builder, associates charged with bank fraud A man once described as the largest developer and home builder in the Kansas City metro area was charged in what federal prosecutors said was a $25 million scheme of bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.
Friday, May 19, 2006. Nat'l interest: Suitors confirm bids for Inquirer, Daily News [Home builder Toll Brothers owner bidding to buy newspapers.]
Friday, May 19, 2006. U.S.: Suburban real estate wreaks havoc on resources Dan Chiras, an Evergreen, Colo., environmentalist, teacher and home builder was quite specific.
"We cannot keeping spreading out across the country, gobbling up farmland at the rate of 3,500 acres a day to create roads and highways, single-family houses and suburban shopping centers.
Friday, May 19, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Housing decline triggers layoffs Home builders are laying off construction superintendents, subdivision sales agents, finance specialists and other employees, a telling sign that metropolitan Phoenix's new-home market has taken a radical turn from last year's selling frenzy.
Friday, May 19, 2006. OH, Nat'l interest: Immigrant workers detained 19 men admit to being illegal, Butler sheriff says: Home builders have insisted that they do not hire illegal immigrants.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. NM; Nat'l interest: Governor’s Ameriquest contacts in question In January, attorneys general in dozens of states, including New Mexico, announced a $325 million class-action settlement with Ameriquest, a California-based mortgage company accused of predatory lending and unfair and deceptive practices.
Two months later, the Democratic Governors Association, chaired by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, was wining and dining on Ameriquest’s tab at a DGA conference in Phoenix.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. WA: Men indicted in loan scheme A formerly bankrupt Seattle builder -- who FBI agents say was embittered by his perception that judges, lawyers and prosecutors thwarted his efforts to get justice in his business failure -- is accused of turning his ire into a conspiracy to hijack the titles to his nemeses' homes.
David Hawkins and Texas attorney Harry Skeins...
Thursday, May 18, 2006. KS, MO: Home Builder Charged In Alleged Fraud Scheme A Johnson County man who was once the area's largest home builder has been charged in connection with a $25 million fraud scheme, KMBC's Jim Flink reported.
U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren returned an indictment Thursday against F. Jeffrey Miller, 45, of Stanley. Miller operated Miller Enterprises and Star Land Development.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. KS, MO: Developer charged with $25M fraud scheme The U.S. Department of Justice has charged a Kansas City-area builder with organizing a $25 million scheme to boost his business through conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.
The developer, F. Jeffrey Miller, 45, of Stanley, was charged in a 60-count indictment detailing crimes that allegedly occurred from 1997 to the present in Johnson County, the Justice Department said in a release Thursday.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. IL; Nat'l: Loans to accused felons linked to candidate Records show a Chicago bank owned by Democratic state treasurer candidate Alexi Giannoulias and his family loaned more than $20 million to firms controlled by two local developers who are awaiting trial on federal money laundering charges.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. PA: Homeowners group plans protest at federal courthouse A local homeowners' activist group plans a week of rallies in Scranton to protest the state Attorney General's Office negotiated settlement of criminal and civil charges against Eagle Valley Homes officials.
Members of the Pocono Homeowners Defense Association...
Thursday, May 18, 2006. MO: KANSAS CITY BUILDER, BUSINESS ASSOCIATES CHARGED WITH $25 MILLION BANK FRAUD SCHEME TOPEKA KAN. – A man once known as the largest home builder and developer in the greater Kansas City area has been charged in a 60-count indictment alleging he organized a $25 million scheme to boost his business through conspiracy, bank fraud and money laundering.
The developer, F. Jeffrey Miller, 45, Stanley, Kan., is charged in a 20-page indictment detailing crimes that allegedly occurred from 1997 to the present in Johnson County, Kan. Also charged are Todd Earnshaw, 45, Overland Park, Kan., Brian Rouse, 36, Overland Park, Kan., Paul E. Nicolace, 50, Overland Park, Kan., Angela Parenza, 39, Kansas City, Mo., Elizabeth L. Hessel, 46, Overland Park, Kan., James Moser, 62, Overland Park, Mo., Steve Middleton, 45, Stilwell, Kan., and Lanny Ross, 64, Leawood, Kan..
“Mr. Miller advertised that he could sell homes to buyers with credit problems who had little or no money for a down payment,” said U.S. Attorney Eric Melgren. “In fact, with the help of willing co-conspirators, he defrauded banks and coerced buyers.”
Thursday, May 18, 2006. US: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004... But most employers decline to use the system. Congress is weighing whether to require that they do so.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. MI: Common-law arbitration lives on Arbitration article from Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Thursday, May 18, 2006. MI: State charges Macomb developer with wetlands violations Joe Salome of Grand View Construction is charged under Michigan's 1980 Wetlands Protection Act, Cox spokesman Nate Bailey said Wednesday.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. Nat'l interest: State recreation area land sale may violate public's trust Developers may buy land
Thursday, May 18, 2006. MI: Brownstown bursting at seams Now the department is reorganizing and working to resolve homeowners' complaints about shoddy construction, flooded basements, weak foundations, and other flaws in newer homes that passed the building department's inspections.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. US: From Boom to Bust All Over Again? Many current and would-be homebuyers haven’t factored in these substantial increases in their monthly payments.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. LA: Better Building Workshop Wednesday, area builders got a crash course in new construction techniques custom-designed for areas impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Thursday, May 18, 2006. From the home building indusrry:: Homeland Security Targets Illegal Immigrant Employers The House on Dec. 16 passed a strict immigration bill (H.R. 4437, the "Border Protection, Antiterrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act") that is opposed by NAHB and would focus on border security and punitive enforcement penalties for employers. It does not include a guest worker program that would help meet the workforce needs of NAHB members nationwide.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. From Consumer Affairs: Texas Court Invalidates KB Home's Forced Arbitration Laredo District Court Judge Solomon Casseb approved the class action settlement that prohibits KB Home from requiring any past, present or future customers to consent to mandatory binding arbitration in the settle of warranty claims.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. FL; National interest: Same old problems dog besieged home builders It also is no surprise that in an overdeveloped state where home builders carry extraordinary clout with lawmakers, home buyers are left at a disadvantage. Eleven years ago the Legislature made a halfhearted attempt to balance that inequity, but the Home Protection Act fell far short of being meaningful. The home builder's lobby made sure the most consumer-friendly provisions of the bill were left on the floor of the House.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. CA: Boycott Housing A personal website...interesting concept.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. US: We're Stuck With The Mortgage Monsters Fannie Mae is one of them.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Settlement OK'd over homes The settlement will be paid by four title insurance companies that allegedly overcharged new-home buyers for title insurance between December 1998 and July 2005.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. US: Pop! Any home builder who sees the competition knocking $100,000 off the price of their homes has to be worried.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. MD; Nat'l interest: Loans due, houses empty Many homeowners who could not have afforded the payment on a traditional mortgage used an interest-only loan to buy a larger house than they really needed, instead of seeing what they could realistically afford.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. TX; nat'l interest: Settlement allows homeowners to sue KB Home A Laredo judge finalized a court decision Tuesday that allows owners of homes made by KB Home to file lawsuits against the company.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: KB Home settlement approved People who bought a house from KB Home in the past 10 years will not have to submit to binding arbitration in warranty disputes, according to an agreement between the builder and plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. TX: Industrialized home earns another 'no' from Gainesville Builder, lawyer threaten federal lawsuit next...Smereczynsky has asked the National Association of Home Builders for legal aid.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. PA: Karoly's lawyer resigns from suit Christine sought to have Karoly disqualified from representing Slayton, a Brodheadsville home builder who is charged with stealing $500,000 from clients to fuel a drug habit.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006. LA: Builder allegedly bilks homeowner Gary Holland, 39, of Cypress, is wanted on a felony theft warrant for refusing to refund the homeowner nearly $60,000 for the uncompleted work, said deputies, who suspect Holland left behind other fraud victims when he disappeared Friday.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. MN; National: Raising the roof on cheap labor The roofing industry, in particular, has been a magnet for unskilled workers, according to Hackbarth. He estimates that 90 percent of the workers in local roofing crews are illegal immigrants.
“It’s destroying the industry,” he said. “Everyone is competing for who will work for the least amount of money.”
The result? Overall quality in the industry is “the worst I have ever seen it,” said Hackbarth, who founded his company in the early 1990s.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. WI: Creditors closer to payout from failed homebuilder Some Creative customers have received notices of intent to file liens from subcontractors, prompting them to file complaints with the Brown County Sheriff's Office alleging fraud.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. US: Drowning flood insurance reform Banks, homebuilders, and the real estate industry have powerful, well-heeled lobbyists, and lobbying "reform" aside, special interests get their way in Washington. If a flood of campaign contributions helps defeat flood insurance reform, the next major hurricane during this period of punishing storms will overwhelm the federal fund again, and taxpayers will again dig into their wallets.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. AZ: Napolitano vetoes builder-backed bill on development fees Napolitano agreed with the critics and said the bill's restrictions would "impede local control and could hamper the abilities of our cities and towns to manage their own growth."
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. CA: CBS 13 Investigates Beale AFB Homes With Mold (CBS 13) SACRAMENTO The Air Force let CBS 13 into Beale AFB Monday, confirming what has been reported by those living on the base. Military families were provided with housing with mold. During the course of our investigation 12 families came forward who had lived in these mold-infested homes.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. AL: Want-to-be builders use license loophole Of the 10,000 people who have an Alabama home builder's license, only a quarter of them actually took the 80-question multiple choice test that has a 40 percent failure rate, Carden told the Press-Register. This year was not the first time Alabama excused would-be contractors from the grueling exam.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006. From Free Market News Network: WHY NOW? Is Fischer the only home builder hiring illegal aliens? Hmmm. Lots of people were asking that even though everyone should know the answer. The answer is that "until now, the practice was condoned".
Monday, May 15, 2006. OK: Consumer Reporter Brad Edwards passes away He joined station, then WKY-TV, in 1973 as a street reporter and photographer, later serving as evening anchor. In 1981, he launched his now-famous news segment, “In Your Corner,” reporting on consumer advocacy issues that alerted viewers to unethical or illegal business practices.
Monday, May 15, 2006. OH; Ongoing story about Dominion Homes: Dominion defaults vary by lender The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administers the FHA loan program, cited Dominion on April 26 for 49 violations of lending standards. HUD found a problem with more than one of every four of the 151 Dominion-originated loans it pulled at random.
Monday, May 15, 2006. NE: Nebraska Mortgage Broker Banned from Business Jason J. Svoboda, Lincoln, Nebraska, was ordered by the Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance (NDBF) to Cease and Desist acting as a mortgage banker. The Order, dated April 21, 2006, states that Svoboda violated Nebraska law, which disallows individuals with felony convictions from being employed in the mortgage banking industry, by working as a mortgage banker after being convicted of felonies.
Monday, May 15, 2006. FL: Provision to help Pruitt's employer pulled from bill An ally of incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt attempted to place in an affordable housing bill a provision to help the homebuilder who has been paying Pruitt $2,000 a month, but withdrew it after top Senate staffers began asking questions.
Monday, May 15, 2006. U.S.: Bankrupt flood insurance program faces bleak future The drive to restructure the perennially underfinanced program has been blocked by real estate interests, who worry that requiring millions more people to buy flood insurance would stifle development, and by lawmakers from areas that rarely flood who see their constituents as supporting the frequently flooded, particularly in the South.
Monday, May 15, 2006. AL: Flood of untested builders possible The number of people who bought business licenses in Washington County last month far exceeded the expectations of officials who predicted a rush to take advantage of a loophole that would allow contractors to build homes without passing a rigorous state exam.
Sunday, May 14, 2006. Home Building Blog: Costs of Home-Defect Suits Mount Up; And for Good Reason - Unscrupulous and Shoddy New Home Builders May 12 posting on a consumer's blog on home building. News articles, commentary, numerous links cited.
Sunday, May 14, 2006. FL: There's no closure for Great Bay customers PORT ST. LUCIE — Five months after their homebuilder abandoned them with unfinished properties, stacks of liens and no answers, customers burned by Great Bay Homes are trying to move on with their lives and the construction of their homes.
Sunday, May 14, 2006. U.S.: KB Home, Pulte bonds slipping The slide surprised some investors who as recently as April bet the worst of the U.S. housing slump was over.
Sunday, May 14, 2006. MI: Smith stands firm on his reassignment of county's environmental prosecutor Martz said he's still suspicious that Smith's reshuffling of the staff was a political move to make the environmental prosecutor a mere "figurehead," someone who would not upset prominent developers in the community.
Sunday, May 14, 2006. U.S.: NAHB Wood-Flooring Guidelines Assailed Oak-flooring association advocates stricter installation standards: "We take issue with just about all the guidelines for wood flooring that the NAHB publishes," says Locke. "What they say is acceptable is ludicrous. Most of the tolerances NAHB allows are actually symptoms of improper installation or improperly manufactured product, or both."
Saturday, May 13, 2006. National: Read installation manual before hiring contractor For instance, windows may be shoved into openings and held in place with nails or sealed by cheap caulk.
Saturday, May 13, 2006. Barry Stone column: A Thorough Home Inspection Helps Builders as Well as Buyers All new homes have defects, no matter the competence and integrity of the builder or the construction supervisor. Some new homes have repair lists that are long, while other lists contain only a few items. In most cases, defects are minor. However, serious problems such as violations of safety requirements are not uncommon. A home inspector can spend three or more hours searching for construction errors in just one home. A municipal inspector cannot.
Saturday, May 13, 2006. PA, ongoing story of builder Dennis Slayton and lawyer Karoly: Karoly wants second hearing blocked On April 24, state police refiled the charges, which say Karoly gave Brodheadsville home builder Dennis Slayton $4,000 and told him to stay out of the area after a warrant was issued for Slayton's arrest because he skipped a bail hearing in October.
Saturday, May 13, 2006. OH, KY, Nat'l interest: Illegal workers an open secret The 80 people arrested this week at Fischer Homes work sites and charged with violating immigration laws are just the tip of an extensive underground economy of immigrant workers in the region's homebuilding industry, people in the business say.
Saturday, May 13, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Nailing down a dependable contractor The best way to make the experience as painless as possible is to do your homework first and shop around before hiring a contractor or signing a contract.
Friday, May 12, 2006. OH, KY: Jury indicts 20 people in immigrant probe A federal grand jury meeting in Covington indicted 20 people Thursday as part of a crackdown on the use of illegal immigrants in the construction industry in Northern Kentucky.
Friday, May 12, 2006. U.S.: Many Houses, in Washington Area and Elsewhere, Fall Short Aesthetically and Functionally like subdivision homes built over the years in suburban Maryland and Virginia, the design and construction of many houses in Durham, regardless of price or age, leave much to be desired aesthetically and functionally.
Friday, May 12, 2006. AZ: Tempe official’s son got housing money Tempe refused to release documents Thursday that would show whether the city violated federal conflict of interest laws for giving housing assistance to the son of one of the city’s top elected officials.
Friday, May 12, 2006. CA: Builder sued by farmer Attorneys representing the Tracy farmer and one-time politician filed a complaint against Trimark Communities LLC this week in San Joaquin County Superior Court. He is accusing the developer of fraud for not paying an agreed $43,000 settlement from the widening of Mountain House Parkway.
Friday, May 12, 2006. FL: Pompano housing-improvement program under investigation for shoddy, incomplete work Local and state agencies have opened a criminal investigation into the way this city runs a nearly $350,000 yearly program meant to improve homes.
Friday, May 12, 2006. CO: Home Sweat Home Owner says builder did shoddy work, shorted subcontractors and possibly left them to foot hefty bills
Friday, May 12, 2006. U.S.: Illegal Immigration Fact Sheet As an illustration, recently 70 US citizens were dismissed from an Alabama construction site by a foreman who said the dismissal was “because the Mexicans had arrived”. Linda Swopes, who operates Complete Employment Services in Mobile AL said: “I assure you it is not true that Americans don't want to work.
Friday, May 12, 2006. OH: New Indictments In Immigration Case Involving Fischer Homes New indictments in the growing immigration case involving Fischer Homes. The new indictments name nine individuals, in addition to the four Fischer supervisors already charged.
Friday, May 12, 2006. MD: Mayor: Suit possible over loss of affordable housing Feeling "snookered and taken advantage of," Mayor Ellen O. Moyer said yesterday she will ask the city attorney to investigate whether Annapolis can sue the developers of 300 condominiums who now plan to market them as apartments.
Friday, May 12, 2006. AZ: Builder to pay $75,000 dust-pollution penalty "For someone to rack up violations to this degree is inexcusable. Hopefully, this penalty will stop the repeated behavior," said the county's chief dust buster Bob Kard, who leads the Maricopa County Air Quality Department. Kard rates dust as the Valley's worst air-quality problem. A carrier of the spores that cause valley fever, dust can cause or aggravate serious lung diseases. [The purpose of fines and penalties is to punish the wrong-doer and discourage repeat offenses; it is not supposed to be a cost passed on to the home buyer but that is what often happens and there is little if any way to prevent builders from simply doing that. --Ed.]
Friday, May 12, 2006. GA: "Right To Repair" Law Investigated More than 2 dozen states, including Georgia, have a “Right to Repair” law. That law requires homeowners to take certain steps before pursuing legal action against a builder – but it doesn’t guarantee a settlement, as Consumer Advisor Clark Howard explains.
Friday, May 12, 2006. U.S.: A Made-Up Story? Either Mr. Jackson broke the law and then lied about it, or he lied that he had broken the law. Which of those actions makes him fit to be secretary of housing and urban development?
Thursday, May 11, 2006. MT; Nat'l interest: Montana's Kootenai Lodge one of nation's most endangered places The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Kootenai (KOOT'-nee) Lodge, in Bigfork, one of America's most endangered historic places.
The trust says the lodge is threatened by a developer's plan to build condominiums on the property.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. U.S.: Housing Bubble News News posted almost daily.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Task force to investigate construction defect issues in OR; Updated material posted.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. OH: Things Fall Apart Building the ghetto of the future in Central.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. MN: Centex recruits local mayors for online marketing campaign They say you can’t beat city hall, but Centex Homes found that mayors are willing to endorse the homebuilder’s Twin Cities projects.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. NC: Chatham residents stand up to money Last week, while Chatham County voters streamed to polling places to wrestle control of their county's future away from real estate profiteers, developer Holland Gaines sold a million dollars' worth of land.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. FL: County investigating complaints against homebuilders Central Harbor Homes is not the only company that has had complaints filed against it. Hernando County is seriously looking at three builders whose customers have filed statements, according to Ray Hejduk, field investigator with the Department of Contractor Licensing. Designer Homes has 21 open complaints at the Hernando County Department of Contractor Licensing, he said.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. Canada: Tory MP loads smoking gun John Cummins offers an ammo belt full of new documents pointing to a federal coverup in the disaster. He wants a judicial inquiry into Ottawa's liability...Vancouver lawyer John Singleton is seeking to have a class action lawsuit certified against Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., claiming it knew 25 years ago that the building design and construction practices then being used were doomed to fail.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. PA: Bill supports contractor registration Contractor fraud is the No. 1 complaint his office receives, he said.
“The person that cuts your hair has to register with the state. But the person that works in your home has no registration requirement,” Bannon said. “We have to change that.”
Thursday, May 11, 2006. FL: Barrington Homes subcontractors file lawsuits Unpaid subcontractors have filed foreclosure lawsuits against 29 home buyers in two Apopka subdivisions being developed by troubled home builder Barrington Homes, whose former chief executive was recently arrested by federal agents and accused of money laundering.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. OH: Deputy gathered evidence of illegal workers SUBCONTRACTORS IMPLICATED...Pratt used his companies - Progressive Builders and Pratt's Quality Construction - to try to provide a buffer between Fischer Homes and the immigrants who labored on homes under construction, the affidavit states. Bellamy said the sub-contractors and subsidiaries were just a ruse.
All the work was coordinated by Fischer supervisors who communicated directly with Pratt, the affidavit states.
Thursday, May 11, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Law office announces RICO investigation into HOA's Information Requested from Public
Thursday, May 11, 2006. OK: "No Agent" Makes No Deal: Brad Edwards, In Your Corner, KFOR TV When Brad Edwards began investigating, he uncovered the name of a man and woman who were in the headlines once before for alleged property fraud. The commercials for 1-800-No-Agent say they will buy houses in any shape...
Thursday, May 11, 2006. OK: The latest on Brad Edwards So many of you have called to ask about the condition of reporter Brad Edwards, we are sad to report that his condition remains extremely grave. [Brad Edwards has done KFOR TV's "In Your Corner" for many years, and has frequently tackled stories on crooked contractors, etc. I've posted one of his recent reports today also. Consumers in OK are pulling for Brad to make a full recovery. --ED]
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. OH; Nat'l interest: Immigrant Raid A Help To American-Born Contractors Egan's framer crew boss says they've been out of work for as long as five months while watching illegal immigrant workers do the jobs they expected.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Four-Time Felon Practices As Mortgage Broker Colorado and Alaska are the only two states in the country not requiring regulation of mortgage brokers. That means anyone can call themselves a mortgage broker and gain access to your most critical financial information, including a four-time felon.
In a hidden camera investigation, 7NEWS caught mortgage broker Wayne Martin giving our undercover producer a sales pitch.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. MS: Nearly 700 file suit over denied Katrina claims A lawsuit filed Tuesday by nearly 700 Gulf Coast homeowners accuses State Farm Insurance Co. of using a “one-size-fits-all” engineering report as the basis for refusing to cover damage to homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Environmental office seeks charges against developer Mark Richardson, who served as Macomb's environmental prosecutor for eight years before he was transferred earlier this month, had acquired a warrant in January against developer Joe Salome of Grand View Construction Inc., accusing him of filling in a small wetland in Shelby Township.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. FL: Fort Pierce bars Davie contractor from work in the city During a nearly four-hour hearing, the city's Board of Examiners of Contractors imposed the maximum penalty against Don Richards, owner of D.J. Richards Construction in Davie, involving two cases.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. Nat'l interest: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004...But most employers decline to use the system.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. Nat'l interest: The 'Day Without Immigrants' Backfires Ironically, the boycott may have done more damage to industries and businesses that employ illegal immigrants than to others. Agriculture, construction, meat production, restaurants and other small businesses, many of them Hispanic-owned, took the brunt of the boycott. The one thing the boycott did achieve was to expose the lie that the country cannot function without the labor of illegal immigrants.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. KY, OH, IN; Nat'l interest: Immigration Crackdown Targets Homebuilder Authorities said they knew illegal immigrants were working on their home sites as subcontractors and did nothing to stop it.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. OH: Dominion not expecting a profit in ’06 Dominion’s shares have been under pressure since the high mortgage-default rate among some of its customers was reported in a Dispatch series last year. In April, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released results of an audit of Dominion’s lending practices, revealing several cases in which Dominion violated national standards for helping home buyers qualify for federally backed mortgages.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. FL: A more public mugging The Legislature's failure to take adequate action means that intricately woven, interdependent groups financed by deep-pocket contributors such as home builders and sugar growers, like those linked in Post stories to incoming Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, will continue to plague Florida politics.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. KY; Nat'l interest: PDF file of arrests of illegal workers of Fischer Homes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, (ICE), document.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. KY; Nat'l interest: 80 People Arrested In ICE Raid Of Fischer Homes Police took four supervisors and 76 undocumented workers into custody Tuesday in connection with a two-year investigation of Fischer Homes.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006. KY; Nat'l interest: Fischer Homes part of illegal alien roundup According to a report by WCPO-TV, about 77 of the arrested workers were laborers, but police also raided the home builder's Crestview Hills headquarters and arrested four construction supervisors. An investigation into the home builder's hiring practices has been going on for about two years, the TV station reported, and the supervisors were allegedly housing undocumented workers in a Florence apartment complex.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. U.S.: Sold -- or Not: When Home Buyers Walk As the housing market cools, builders are reporting that more people are walking away from contracts and from tens of thousands of dollars in deposits.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. For Grins: Alton attorney accidentally sues himself Wyss’s boomerang litigation started in 2002, when he invited Carmelita McLaughlin to his office at 1600 Washington St. in Alton. Acting as her attorney when she bought a home in Alton and when she refinanced it, on both occasions she had chosen Centerre Title--a company that Wyss owned--to close her loans.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. PA; National interest (not just a PA thing): Guest essay: Developers, corporations have too much power in Pa. Indeed, it's the least well-kept secret in Harrisburg that the developers actually write the laws that control what communities can do to stop them.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. U.S.: Fraud Suit Could Have Huge Impact on Flood Insurance Although the house was so badly damaged that she and her husband eventually had it demolished, their flood insurance policy paid them only about half of the $109,000 they carried in coverage, she said.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. FL: Ocean Village condominium repair scandal brewing In January, the Board of Examiners found Richards guilty of six licensing and code violations stemming from that complaint, including misconduct and incompetence, negligence and deliberately disregarding or violating building codes.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. OH: Dominion Homes loses $3.9M in 1Q, predicts loss for year [See earlier stories this year on Dominion being investigated for predatory lending, and questionable down payment assistance schemes, particularly Sat, May 6th, Thur, Mar 2nd, Fri. Feb 24th to name a few.--Ed.]
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. Real estate advice column by Robert Bruss: Winning an arbitration award is just the beginning DEAR BOB: My husband and I won a binding arbitration award through the American Arbitration Association against our homebuilder who had 30 days to pay us. It has now been 41 days and we have not heard anything about the money due to us. The award gives us money to have our home fixed and relieves the builder of liability for repairs. Whom do we contact to make the homebuilder pay us? -- Nancy B.
DEAR NANCY: Your attorney can best advise you how to collect under the circumstances of your arbitration award. I wish I could give more specific advice, but you apparently have a homebuilder who isn't going to pay without a fight.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. LA; National interest: Building officials want more hefty fines in Hammond "Right now, we have contractors wanting to take advantage of the fact that there's only one inspector here, and he's not able to be on time," Doughty said. "And they just go ahead and pour the slab before inspections and cover up the plumbing.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. U.S.: Housing slowdown appears to be spreading nationwide There are signs a housing slowdown that has gripped certain high-growth markets during the past few quarters, is now spreading nationwide.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. OH; National interest: May 9th Letters to the editor re: illegal immigrant labor; eminent domain Why should we be forced to subsidize the labor force of the home builders? They should be forced to play by the same rules for the rest of the labor market.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006. U.S.: More Accounting Errors Found at Fannie Mae Still more errors have turned up in Fannie Mae's government-ordered review of its accounting, the mortgage giant disclosed Tuesday. It also said it doesn't expect the review to be finished before the second half of the year.
Monday, May 08, 2006. National: Policy Holders of America Newsletter (Large PDF) News on insurance, mold, tort reform, etc.
Monday, May 08, 2006. OK: Oklahoma 29th State to Enact Opportunity to Repair Law Oklahoma became the 29th state in the country to adopt notice and opportunity to repair (NOR) legislation when state governor Brad Henry (D) signed Senate Bill 1749 into law on April 27. [Also known as "Right to Repair Law." This is a building industry law that protects builders despite being promoted as some kind of consumer protection. Home buyers with a complaint can plan on having to hire a lawyer to help them thru the new process. --Ed.]
Monday, May 08, 2006. TX: Greg Abbott takes care of his homebuilder buddies What a neat deal it must especially be to own the Attorney General of Texas. When Greg Abbott ruled this week that Comptroller General Carole Strayhorn had no right to investigate the Texas Residential Construction Commission, it was a grand payback for one of Greg’s biggest financial supporters, Texas homebuilding tycoon Bob Perry.
Monday, May 08, 2006. U.S.: For Whom the Home Tolls Hmmm. The speculators are moving out, and prices are falling as supply increases. Doesn't that sound like exactly the thing all those people said wasn't happening? Wouldn't happen?
Monday, May 08, 2006. U.S.: Faux Down-Payment Charities Raise Home Prices, Foreclosure Risk The Feds say not only is the tax-exempt scheme illegal, the operations artificially inflate the cost of housing, they undermine underwriting quality and they put home ownership at risk.
That's not all.
Monday, May 08, 2006. National interest: Woman's new home doesn't fit usual mold [Re: Disclosures; Buyer finds out after closing that the house she bought had been condemned because of mold.--Ed.]
Monday, May 08, 2006. NY: House Of Cards No American Dream The District Attorney identified the defendants as Dennis Barnaby, 55, and his wife, Pauline Davis, 50, both of 141-24 181 Street, Springfield Gardens. Barnaby is the owner of East Coast Construction...
Monday, May 08, 2006. TX: Pastor’s family sues contractor The lawsuit alleges MP Electric was negligent in the design, assembly and installation of the church baptistry heaters, resulting in the electrocution death of the 33-year-old pastor during an Oct. 30 baptism. [As a pastor once said to me, "Forgiveness doesn't mean letting them get away with it." --Ed.]
Monday, May 08, 2006. NC: Brown denies assault charges Vincent Brown, [a general contractor] the former Durham mayoral candidate who had to withdraw his bid when an extensive criminal history was revealed, is denying the latest charges against him.
Monday, May 08, 2006. FL: Central Harbor Homes under investigation The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating Central Harbor Homes, and the county has received 11 complaints against Penna.
Monday, May 08, 2006. CA; National interest: Investigators: Home warranty worries Are they getting what they pay for? Some home warranty customers say “no”.
Monday, May 08, 2006. WI: Former Elkhorn mayor sentenced for mail fraud Paul D. Ormson admitted to receiving more than the maximum campaign contribution from Robert Mann, the former co-owner of Mann Brothers Construction...
Monday, May 08, 2006. NC: Trial to open in teacher's slaying A Robeson County prosecutor says Cary homebuilder Myron Keith Britt shot his wife to death in 2003 for financial gain -- more than $800,000 in life insurance. Britt's attorney says that's not true.
Sunday, May 07, 2006. GA: Scam is a costly 'cancer' Ann Fulmer was suspicious about houses in her Stone Mountain neighborhood that sold for extraordinary prices only to fall badly into disrepair, especially at a time in the late 1990s that preceded the Atlanta metro area real estate boom.
So, when the stay-at-home mother and lawyer began checking DeKalb County real estate records, she found homes were being bought and sold by the same people, sometimes doubling in price, and in the process uncovered a mortgage fraud scheme that authorities shut down and put the ringleaders in jail.
Sunday, May 07, 2006. US; investigation into title insurance, builder kickbacks: KENNETH HARNEY: Kickbacks can inflate title insurance costs "the pervasiveness of kickback schemes in the residential real estate process has created a black market that makes it impossible for those who play by the rules to compete. The cost of providing kickbacks is passed on to consumers and rolled into" the premiums consumers are charged.
Sunday, May 07, 2006. U.S.: Surplus sharks prey during foreclosures A disturbing trend has begun to compound the emotional stress at the foreclosure sale.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. FL: Dixon contractor still wants to help elderly The fact that he has been ordered by the city to stop work on a home he gutted and left empty, and that police are investigating his activities, isn't deterring him, he said.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. FL: Man pleads guilty in fraud case According to court documents, Galarza is part of a ring thought to be involved in a scheme to defraud the retailer and benefit a construction company owned by the suspected ringleader in California.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: Homeowners need to protect selves against faulty installation It’s worth remembering that product warranties can be void with improper installation.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: U.S. officials examine down-payment programs "The primary purpose is to increase home sales and profit margins for builders by laundering builder funds as a path around the traditional 3 percent down-payment barrier." [Older story on down payment gift programs, relating to newer ones posted today.--Ed.]
Saturday, May 06, 2006. Wall Street Journal: IRS Limits Home Down-Payment Gifts In its ruling yesterday, the IRS said these aid groups funded largely by home builders and other sellers no longer qualify for tax-exempt status because the benefits of the programs are going to sellers and profit-making entities. In its statement, the IRS said it has found "that organizations claiming to be charities are being used to funnel down-payment assistance from sellers to buyers through self-serving, circular-financing arrangements."
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: IRS publication on down payment assistance PDF File
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S. Govt Accountability Office Report on down payment "gift" programs; Large PDF file: Additional Action Needed to Manage Risks of FHA-Insured Loans with Down Payment Assistance FHA guidelines state that providers of down payment assistance may not have an interest in the sale of the property, noting that assistance from sellers, real estate agents, builders, and associated entities are considered an inducement to buy.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. National interest: Home-building industry is focus of county proposal Butler County commissioners agreed Thursday to move forward with a proposal to require home builders to sign pledges not to hire illegal immigrants - and to enforce the rule with random checks at construction sites.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S. (Another "I told you so."): IRS: Charity lending is scam Calling them scams, the Internal Revenue Service plans to revoke the charitable status of down-payment assistance programs that have fueled the business of Dominion Homes and other builders.
"So-called charities that manipulate the system do more than mislead honest homebuyers and ultimately jack up the cost of the home," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a statement. "They also damage the image of honest, legitimate charities."
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: Do illegal tie-ins inflate the cost of title insurance? To what degree do illegal tie-ins among realty agents, mortgage brokers, home builders and title agents inflate the premiums that consumers pay at closing?
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: Toll Bros. says orders down 32% Toll Bros., the luxury-home builder based in Horsham, said yesterday that orders for new homes fell 32 percent in its second quarter as the once-superhot housing market continued to show signs of cooling.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. FL: Home builder still in jail John Barrington of Barrington Homes Inc., who also is known as John Jakows, will continue to be held without bail at the Seminole County Jail. A felon with a criminal history dating to 1990, Barrington is accused of soliciting a drug dealer earlier this week with a proposition to launder drug proceeds through his business.
Saturday, May 06, 2006. U.S.: Mortgage Fraud news New articles for this week
Thursday, May 04, 2006. U.S.: Welcome to the dead zone The real losers will be those who bought recently at inflated prices and are forced to sell, usually because they're taking a job in another city or can't make the payments when their adjustable mortgage rate jumps. And speculators who bought overpriced condos in hope of a quick killing are going to get hosed.
Next: Unmaking the myths of the housing boom.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. FL; National interest: Study: Developers should stop building 'commodity' homes The number of starts adds more inventory to an already saturated market for existing single-family homes, said American MetroStudy, a Boca Raton-based provider of information on real estate and housing.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. IL: Clerk charged with taking bribes to speed up permits An employment clerk with the city of Chicago's Department of Construction and Permits appeared in federal court Wednesday, charged with taking bribes to speed up the permit process.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. USA; filed under I Told You So: Housing bubble going bust nationally Fleckenstein said: “A lot of people around the country are going to be badly hurt as this bubble unwinds. And, after they have taken their losses, the financial institutions that were the engine behind this folly will take their own hits.”
Thursday, May 04, 2006. FL: Panel would set building codes under legislation TALLAHASSEE -- Hurricane building codes in the Panhandle now will be set by the Florida Building Commission -- not the Legislature -- under a bill sent Wednesday to Gov. Jeb Bush.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. MD: Thompson, Gardner question new builders group A new group formed by leaders of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick County Builders Association is drawing scrutiny from two county commissioners...They believe the group formed solely to influence and support pro-growth candidates in this fall’s county and state elections.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. MD: Thompson, Gardner question new builders group A new group formed by leaders of the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and the Frederick County Builders Association is drawing scrutiny from two county commissioners...They believe the group formed solely to influence and support pro-growth candidates in this fall’s county and state elections.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. FL: Wetlands rules stop growth? That must be somewhere else There's only one real problem with the complaint of Pensacola home builder Dan Gilmore that letting counties adopt tougher wetlands rules than the state will "shut down growth."
It isn't true.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. FL: Home builder arrested on money laundering charges Barrington Homes founder John E. Barrington was arrested Wednesday on a money laundering charge, the latest in a long line of legal trouble for the Central Florida builder.
Thursday, May 04, 2006. TX: Strayhorn rapped over investigation "I was asked by a legislator to investigate the Texas Residential Construction Commission. I did it, and if the attorney general wants to take me to court, let's go," she said. [Moral of the story: better to ask forgiveness than permission]
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. U.S.: Exotic Mortgages Begin to Reset - Look Out Below! And the evidence of the aftermath of this 'buy now, think later' mentality is everywhere.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. U.S.: Ohio Builder Receives 8-Year Sentence Dennis Landon, who operated a home-improvement company called Landon Building Systems in Union County, Ohio, defrauded 27 victims from Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey from February to August 2004.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. OK: Inspecting the Inspectors, Text of Report “The builder who built our house, before we moved in, had close down and reopened under another name,” James Lankford says. James Lankford quickly learned why. Less than a year after taking residence the house began to collapse.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. OK; KFOR.com Mon May 2nd: Inspecting the Inspectors (Click on "Inspecting the Inspectors" video)
Lance West Reporting: It is the biggest investment you will ever make. The average cost of an American home is $250,000 dollars. Government inspectors are supposed to monitor construction for safety and code violations, but are there too many houses and too few inspectors?
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. TN; National interest: Twisted It’s bad enough that just about every house that’s been built around here in the last 20 years is substandard. It’s bad enough that homeowners have to spend time and money fixing things that wouldn’t have broken if their builder had built their house to conform with the building code—the minimum standard for an adequate house. Here’s what’s worse: from what I’ve seen, a whole lot of builders will cut as many corners as the local codes inspectors will let them cut. And the local codes inspectors, who seem to be willing accomplices in the builders’ shenanigans, will let the builders cut just about any corner. [Article by home inspector Walter Jowers.]
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. NY: Home Improvement Scammer to Pay Restitution, Serve Time Todd Cameron pled guilty in November 2005 to fraud and larceny charges, admitting he took thousands of dollars in down payments from nearly 50 customers without doing any of the work.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. IL: State Wants Contractor Out Of Business Back in 1991, CBS 2 first reported on Ronald Kafka and the frustrated customers he left with unfinished homes or homes with dangerous work that had to be redone.
Flash forward to today, when the attorney general filed a massive consumer fraud complaint against Kafka. The lawsuit charged Kafka and his current company, Father and Sons Contractors, with using some of the same deceptive practices he agreed to stop using years ago.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. IL: Remodeling Nightmares The attorney general's office has 34 recent complaints against Father and Sons Contractors concerning contract problems and incomplete work. There are another 32 complaints on Father and Sons Remodelers, a separate company. But the Better Business Bureau and the attorney general's office say they appear to be related.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. FL: Builder settles suit by Lockport homeowners Homeowners living in the Thunder Hills of Broken Arrow subdivision alleged Jack Zausa and his Zausa Development Corp. helped itself to $47,800 owed the association and failed to pay $49,000 in fees.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006. CA: JMC Homes fined for creek runoff Bill Marshall, chief of the board's storm water section, said the complaint resulted from a "continued history of noncompliance" at the Longmeadow site. ... "When outrageous fines are levied against quality home-builders, it ends up affecting home prices on a larger scale," Helman said. [Fines are meant to punish and discourage violators, not supposed to simply be passed on to the consumer.--Ed.]
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. CORRECTION: Lawmakers Hope To Crack Down On Convicts With Master Keys It's happening because of the licensing guidelines at state agencies such as the Texas Real Estate Commission in Austin. [TREC, not TRCC. Sorry for any confusion. --Ed.]
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. TX: Lawmakers Hope To Crack Down On Convicts With Master Keys It's happening because of the licensing guidelines at state agencies such as the Texas Real Estate Commission in Austin. [TRCC]
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. U.S.: Home inspectors face ethical dilemma with referrals Barry Stone column
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. CBS News: A Day Without Illegal Immigrants We are talking about illegal aliens, not mere “immigrants.” ... Colorado taxpayers would save almost $3,000,000 in one day if illegals do not access any public services, because illegal aliens cost the state over $1 billion annually according to the best estimates.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. Canada: Canadians not too sympathetic towards illegal immigrants But unlike the United States, there has been no groundswell of support in this country for those people who are here illegally.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. CORRECTION: News article from LA not GA: Lawsuit alleges homebuilder took kickbacks, inflated fees RESPA violations
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. GA: Lawsuit alleges homebuilder took kickbacks, inflated fees The lawsuit centers on a 1974 federal statute known as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. RESPA allows the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect consumers by outlawing kickbacks and inflationary referral fees.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. FL: Developers lobby to bypass strict wetlands policies TALLAHASSEE — Developers' lobbyists are working with lawmakers behind the scenes to try to pass a measure that would make it easier to build on wetlands, causing a last-minute flurry of objections from environmentalists and Martin County officials.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. PA; Slayton-Karoly case: Monroe DA wants judge off Karoly case Slayton failed to appear in court Oct. 12 on charges he bilked construction clients out of funds for work not completed. The charges against Karoly stem from accusations he told Slayton not to attend the hearing and then provided money to Slayton while he was a fugitive.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. AL: Some home builders bypass license test That's because of a loophole in a state law that allows people who hold a business license in Washington County to get a home builder's license without taking an otherwise required state test.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. TX: Immigrants skip work, take to streets Meanwhile, a spokesman for builders Main Street Homes said the company experienced some slowdowns Monday. "It varies by subcontractor, but apparently it's slower than normal and not business as usual," Jim Shay said. "Every builder in the neighborhood is affected," said Marty Hunter, Streetman Homes' construction manager for Circle C Ranch. "Probably 20 percent of the work force is here, and 80 percent is gone."
Tuesday, May 02, 2006. TX: Texas Republicans boost DeLay's legal fund One contributor was Houston home builder Bob Perry, the chief financial backer of Swift Boat Veterans of Truth, which campaigned against Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race. Perry and his wife, Doylene, contributed a total of $10,000 to DeLay's legal fund.
Monday, May 01, 2006. OH and other states: Richwood builder sentenced to 8 years The case started with reports of bad checks and ended after a state Organized Crime Bureau task force was formed to track down Landon, who was believed to have left the state.
Monday, May 01, 2006. U.S.: Bosses Bypass Worker Status Web Site In 10 seconds, any U.S. employer voluntarily can check the immigration status of workers using a free Web-based government screening system that's been available since 2004. ... But most employers decline to use the system.
Monday, May 01, 2006. MSNBC: Lawless sells assets in bid to save company Developer Michael Lawless is selling residential building sites, ground held for future development, the Valley Park office building where his company is based and his $2.9 million home in an effort to raise money to pay off creditors owed thousands of dollars by Lawless Homes Inc.
Monday, May 01, 2006. U.S.: Bubble Blog News articles on housing bubble
Monday, May 01, 2006. U.S.: Declassified Infrared Tech Can Save Home Buyers Thousands New declassified technology from the defense industry can help save home buyers from shoddy construction by using infrared thermography to locate structural flaws, moisture intrusion and even energy loss, according to a Local 6 News investigation.
Monday, May 01, 2006. OK: Bricklayer: Playing by rules is costly The bricklaying business is falling in around Randy Sissom because he refuses to break rules and hire illegal immigrants, he says.
But people in the trade who take a less scrupulous route are profiting, he says, along with home builders who look the other way....But in the home building business, Sissom thinks illegal immigrant work is only helping the bottom line of the builders and other people cutting the checks.
"The builders are profiting a lot because they are not dropping their house prices," he said. "The house prices are going up."
Monday, May 01, 2006. U.S.: Title Insurance Pricing, Kickbacks Criticized on Capitol Hill In one case, he said, a home builder allegedly required purchasers to use a particular title insurance company -- a violation of the federal real estate settlement law (RESPA) in itself -- but then pocketed substantial fees kicked back from the title insurer and paid to the builder's in-house title company affiliate.
Monday, May 01, 2006. TX: Limit proposed on campaign donations At $1.3 million, Leininger was second only to Houston home builder Bob Perry, who successfully pushed to create a state agency regulating disputes between builders and their customers.
Sunday, April 30, 2006. National: Mortgage Fraud Mortgage Fraud news from all over
Sunday, April 30, 2006. National: Thousands of illegals stay home for fear of federal roundups Len Mills, executive vice president of Associated General Contractors of South Florida, estimated at least 50 percent of workers on construction jobs in the region had not shown up for work.
Sunday, April 30, 2006. FL; National interest: Commentary: Be wary of condo builder promises Did you buy a condo pre-construction? Remember these words: Buyer beware.
Sunday, April 30, 2006. IN; National interest: Construction sector depends on immigrant labor "I have no proof, one way or another, but my gut feeling is that half or more are illegals," says Russell, who carries 35 people on his payroll. "That's just a shot in the dark, but from my experience, half or better of the immigrants who apply for a job with my company can't provide the necessary documentation, or something is wrong with the papers and we can't hire them."
Sunday, April 30, 2006. U.S.: Will Good Housekeeping Seal ensure you get good house? No wonder, then, that K. Hovnanian Homes, one of the nation's largest builders with operations in 17 states, has joined in a partnership with Good Housekeeping, a magazine that reaches 25 million readers a month, to promote the products in its houses that carry the seal.
Sunday, April 30, 2006. OR: Real estate industry pads coffers Developers, home builders and real estate professionals are jumping into the governor's race to the tune of more than a quarter-million dollars so far.
Saturday, April 29, 2006. MI: Save yourself some headaches when hiring a contractor Every spring, groups of people travel around neighborhoods, knocking on doors and offering deals to homeowners "because they are in the neighborhood." Sometimes, these are legitimate small contractors. All too often, they are con men collecting deposits on cement, asphalt and roofing jobs that they never intend to do.
Saturday, April 29, 2006. NY: Illegal day laborers sue village They said it was unconstitutional to keep them from speaking with contractors who drive by to hire manual labor for repairing and landscaping area homes.
Friday, April 28, 2006. AZ: Firefighters face arson charges in torching of $1.5M house The contractor wanted the house torched because the family building it hadn't paid him in full, Sheriff Joe Arpaio said at a news conference.
Friday, April 28, 2006. GA: Developer key in fraud probe Brian Dupree, the 34-year-old owner of Bogart-based Dupree Investments, was one of eight people charged this week under the state's Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act for the alleged scheme that may have defrauded homeowners and mortgage lenders out of millions of dollars....Those facing RICO charges in addition to Dupree are Michelle Couch, 35; Marc Canty, 33; Gerald Lumpkin, 31; Zaire Lawson, 30; Henry Piazza, 37; Roger Watson Jr., 35; and Michael Shinall, 24, who was arrested Thursday.
Friday, April 28, 2006. DE: Builder scam hits Corner Ketch New Castle County police are looking for other residents who may have been victimized by Robert L. Matthews Jr., owner and operator of the Newark-based Precision Construction & Design Group.
Friday, April 28, 2006. FL; National: Careful, area businesses: Angie is keeping a list One of Angie's first Orlando members gave a "D" to his home builder and wrote: "Nothing was done on schedule. The foundation was poured wrong. They had several engineers and fired several supervisors.
Friday, April 28, 2006. Canada: TV's home reno guru Mike Holmes starts charity to help fix broken homes The foundation will assist people across the country who need help or resources after botched renovations.
Friday, April 28, 2006. AL: Construction license loophole sends hundreds to Washington County A loophole in a new law has sent hundreds of construction workers to Washington County for a home builders license and the opportunity to avoid taking a test.
Friday, April 28, 2006. US: Former Centex Corp. employee files lawsuit Wright, who is black, alleges racial and gender discrimination, saying a supervisor told her that a position needed to be filled by a ‘‘white male closer.”
Friday, April 28, 2006. TX; National: Area has more new homes than buyers, quarterly stats show
Dallas-area homebuilders are on a construction binge.
But a market analyst worries that they may overdo speculative construction.
Friday, April 28, 2006. US: Rethinking Builder Bargains From The Street, stock market article
Thursday, April 27, 2006. HADD NOTICE: HADD Message boards working again Hacking incident fixed. It is now safe to go back in the water. :-) --HADD Secretary
Thursday, April 27, 2006. NJ: Builder pleads guilty to tax evasion Guy Ferraro, owner of Ferraro Builders in Red Bank, admitted that from 1998 until 2002 he diverted about $762,557 in company income for his own use. He did this, in part, by having home buyers make checks for extra features payable to himself instead of the company.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. U.S.: Marion victims among those scammed by builder Landon defrauded 27 victims from Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Jersey from February to August 2004.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. IL; Nat'l interest: Court bans non-profit from making a tax claim Non-profits such as Partners in Charity generally make a "gift" of up to 10 percent of a home loan to buyers who otherwise could not raise the amount. A builder or individual selling the home then pays the charity an equal amount to replenish its coffers, plus a service fee, typically 0.75 percent of the purchase price.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL: GREAT BAY CUSTOMERS OUT OF LUCK AGAIN [One of several stories from earlier this year that we are reviving due to a number of complaints coming into HADD about this builder in Apr. 2006 --HADD]
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL, NY: Interesting Forum posting on BBB and Great Bay Homes "The BBB is nothing more than a clearing house for information regarding businesses. If you pay their fee to join, they will tell people inquiring you are a member in good standing. If you do not pay the fee, they tell people innquiring that there is no info available. Not for nothing but they are basically worthless."
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL, NY: Scroll down to: "When builder fails, clients have few options" As Great Bay Homes' customers wait to find out the fate of their homes, experts say it might be time for them to cut their losses and find someone else to finish the construction. The New York-based partners halted operations in early January, leaving more than 75 customers without a builder and with liens on their properties. Later that month, the partners reached a deal with Premier Homes of the Treasure Coast to purchase the assets. That deal quickly collapsed. The partners did not return calls for comment and Christopher Berkman, former vice president, declined to comment on the record.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL, NY: Troubled St. Lucie builder has new name, owner The doors to the sales office of Great Bay Homes opened today for the first time in weeks with a new owner and a new name. Michael Riccio of Coconut Creek has purchased the company for an undisclosed amount and has renamed it Premier Homes of the Treasure Coast [story is from March 2006]
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL and NY: Great Bay Builders, aka Waterfront Group Inc BBB reports this builder, that has left dozens of home buyers in the lurch in FL, has a satisfactory record. --Ed.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL: Many harmed by contractor's actions In December 2005, Great Bay Homes Inc. ceased construction on over 70 homes in the Port St Lucie area, many of them nearly finished or partially started. The victims of this action include retired people, disabled people, cancer victims and new families.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. National interest: U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Is Major Victory for Due Process Rights Public Citizen Represented Man Whose House Was Seized
Thursday, April 27, 2006. U.S. From Bankrate: Superfund disclosure required only if nearby Does an appraiser have the responsibility to list the fact that a property he's evaluating is just four miles from a Superfund site?
Thursday, April 27, 2006. AZ: 2 Valley events to offer free legal assistance, consultations Attorneys will address a range of issues, including business, immigration, bankruptcy, child custody, construction defects and landlord-tenant issues. Participants can either meet in person with an attorney or phone in questions during the Law Week 2006 events, hosted by the Maricopa County Bar Association.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. CA; from the Tracy Press: Lawsuit charges shoddy construction “Anything that you can think of that could be constructively wrong with the house, is wrong,” Marinello said.
Marinello and her husband, Dale, moved into the house 10 years ago when it was newly built by one of the developers that is offering Tracy an aquatics center in exchange for a lock on development rights in 2013.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. National interest: Cisneros independent counsel shutting down office Independent counsel David M. Barrett said Wednesday his office would close after a 10-year, $21 million probe into former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros and Clinton administration officials.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. NC: Who rules? It's not by accident that developers, large land owners and Realtors have gotten so involved in the election. They want their interests represented--not the public's.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. U.S.; Reuters: Pulte, Centex see home orders tumble "The trends in housing are deteriorating,"
Thursday, April 27, 2006. NM: Migrant housing builders vanish Las Cruces home builders have been crippled this week because an unknown number of immigrant workers haven't shown up to work, apparently over fears of roundups by federal agents.
Thursday, April 27, 2006. FL: Builder guilty of fraud, theft Sanfilippo...was charged with organized fraud, failing to deposit escrow funds, theft of construction funds, making false statements and racketeering in relation to his business dealings with several customers.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. HADD NOTICE: Our message boards have been hacked Clicking on the message board link diverts to a hacker's website. It appears the group that did this has attacked a number of boards. Until further notice, just 'don't go there.' Thanks. --HADD Secretary
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. OH: Title insurance rules added to lending bill Schneider introduced the title insurance bill in 2004 in the aftermath of the Erpenbeck scandal. A now-defunct homebuilder in Edgewood...
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. National interest: Minnesota businessman testifies at hearing on title insurance Title insurance costs people $17 billion each year, an expensive and often confusing home-buying requirement. The business came under congressional scrutiny Wednesday over allegations of kickbacks and other abuses.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. National interest: Title Insurance and Homebuilders - An Unholy Alliance? title insurers market to the middlemen who are in the position to give them business time after time.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. FL: Pensacola builder convicted on fraud, theft Pensacola builder Steven P. Sanfilippo, 46, was led away in handcuffs...
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. FL: A disaster waiting to happen again Planning has always been a farce in Florida. Generations of legislators and Cabinet members have obediently taken their cues from developers, bankers and road builders, and you see the results. Coastal areas are so recklessly overpopulated that even the puniest hurricane becomes a crippling event.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. TN: Candidates for County Commission District 4 Position 2 It's about developer influence on the County Commision.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. Candada: Most new homes in Calgary have defects: engineer Almost every new home in Calgary has several building defects according to the owner of a home inspection firm.
Robert Samaska, an engineer and owner of Pillar Engineering and Inspections said he keeps seeing the same defects repeatedly.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. CA: New Law Restricts Scope of Indemnity Clauses in Subcontracts General contractors on residential construction projects now need to be careful about broad indemnity clauses in prime contracts because they may not be able to pass those broad indemnity obligations down stream to their subcontractors.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. CA: More California Courts Enforce Binding Arbitration Clauses These decisions are important because the enforcement of such binding alternative dispute resolution provisions eliminates the right to a jury trial for the purchaser of allegedly defective new residential construction.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Updated material
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. CT: State Settles Waterbury House Buying Scam State officials said that the companies and individuals bought run-down houses at rock-bottom prices, then resold the houses at inflated prices after making superficial repairs or failing to tell buyers about serious defects.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. TX: Builders fret over immigrant debate "The immigrant workforce is still keeping the housing market afloat to some extent," said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Homebuilders. The construction industry's reliance on immigrant labor isn't new. Today's heavily Hispanic work crews in states such as Texas, California and North Carolina have largely replaced the Irish, Italian and other European craftsmen and laborers that built cities and towns in the Northeast and Midwest.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. CT: Conn. Aide to Rowland, Builder Get Prison A contractor and a top aide to former Gov. John G. Rowland were sentenced Tuesday to 2 1/2 years behind bars in the corruption scandal that sent Rowland to prison.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. FL: Plan would limit campaign donations Last fall, Rep. Trudi Williams created a soft-money committee that has accepted big checks from rich developers.
This year, the Fort Myers Republican has pushed to pass a bill making it easier for developers to get government approval for housing subdivisions and shopping centers that pave over wetlands.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. ND: Debates, forums set in mayor race Several debates and candidate forums are scheduled in the Fargo mayoral race, but at least one won’t be open to the public or media.
Candidates are scheduled to gather today at the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead offices on 32nd Avenue South.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006. National: Foreclosures Up 38% RealtyTrac, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released its 2006 Q1 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which showed that 323,102 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in the first quarter of 2006, a 38 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 72 percent year-over-year increase from the first quarter of 2005. The nation's quarterly foreclosure rate of one new foreclosure for every 358 U.S. households was higher than in any quarter of last year.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Foreclosures in state increase More than one-fifth of the Larimer County households that entered foreclosure in March was a brand new home.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. PA: Activists: State too lenient on builders Homeowner activists want federal prosecutors to investigate what they call an unconscionably lenient settlement of the state Attorney General's Office criminal and civil cases against Eagle Valley Homes.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. PA: Home fraud pleaders deserved jail time "I have followed the Eagle Valley Home story for years. An official with HUD in Washington, D.C., told me about it when I contacted him regarding a similar situation in the Kansas City metro area..."
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. NC: Firm answers condo lawsuit An engineering firm says the developer for the Village Chase condominiums caused the project’s fines and delays.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. OH: Building collapses minutes after inspectors halt construction Workers were constructing a building for a private preschool slated to open this fall.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. NC: Couple gets [actually just awarded, still haven't gotten paid] $1 million judgment against builder Superior Court Judge W. Allen Cobb of Wilmington ordered the compensatory damages be tripled to $790,800. With the county's credit of $94,600, the Daniels were left with $846,200, including punitive damages, plus interest.
Whether the Daniels get any of that money is another question. Moore's license was revoked in 2001 for two years. James says he probably will sue to get money from Moore's insurance and the state Homeowner's Recovery Fund, which has a long waiting list and insufficient funds.
"The Daniels had to fight at every level, administratively and in civil court," James said. "If it weren't for Lisa Daniel's tenacity, most folks would have given up long ago."
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. National interest: Protecting Defect Evidence is Responsibility of Association Boards Too often Associations rush to make repairs and destroy evidence that will later be needed to recover damages.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. PA: Monroe conspiracy charges refiled against Karoly Karoly again faces conspiracy, hindering apprehension and other charges for allegedly aiding a fugitive client, Brodheadsville home builder Dennis Slayton. Criminal charges against Slayton, including conspiracy, were also refiled.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. National interest: Paying twice for work on garage Liens and waivers discussed in column
Tuesday, April 25, 2006. PA: Charges refiled against Slayton, attorney Allentown defense attorney John P. Karoly Jr. is headed back to district court to face charges that he criminally conspired with his client, Brodheadsville builder Dennis Slayton, to help Slayton avoid capture last fall on a bail violation.
Monday, April 24, 2006. National interest: With new development comes new dangers “Homes are becoming increasingly made to burn faster and to burn hotter; then we put them closer together.”
Monday, April 24, 2006. PA: Prominent lawyer recharged Prosecutors have charged that Karoly aided Brodheadsville home builder Dennis Slayton while he was a fugitive, writing checks totalling $4,000.
Monday, April 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: The housing bubble has popped Reports of falling sales and investors stuck with properties they can't sell are just the beginning. Property owners should worry; so should their lenders.
Monday, April 24, 2006. National interest: Illegal workers take others' (Social Security) card numbers The Observer contacted her and four others whose numbers showed up on payrolls for workers at several N.C. construction companies.
Monday, April 24, 2006. NC: NBC asks for camera in court at trial Police found the 49-year-old Nancy Britt collapsed in a hallway, with a single gunshot wound to her chest. She was in Lumberton to take care of her disabled sister, Donna Madry, while Ivey was away for the weekend.
The state says Myron Britt was having financial trouble with his construction business, Britt Home Builders Inc., in Cary. Johnson Britt has said there were four insurance policies - with a total value between $800,000 and $900,000 - in Nancy Britt's name.
Monday, April 24, 2006. FL: Civil actions seek $2.1M from builder 19 investors in a Kissimmee project want their money back.
Monday, April 24, 2006. MO: Nearly 200 protest Gravois Road residential development "We are not anti-development, we just want responsible development,"
Monday, April 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: A Real 'Green' House No Heating Bill for 25 Years
Monday, April 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: Foreclosures skyrocketing in Oakland And judging by homes going to foreclosure sales in Oakland County, people of all income levels are being affected.
Sunday, April 23, 2006. On the Lighter Side: Carpenter Charged With Working in the Buff A carpenter who keeps his clothes clean by working in the nude was arrested after a client returned home early and found him building bookcases in the buff.
Sunday, April 23, 2006. RI: Renovation 'nightmare' creates a crusader A bad experience with a general contractor has put Susan Gainor out of her house -- and on a legislative committee looking into tougher regulations for home-improvement companies... [contact info for reporter: email@example.com / (401) 277-7045]
Sunday, April 23, 2006. WI; National interest: Avoid having lien filed on your home A residential construction company fails. Unpaid subcontractors file liens against homeowners who believe they've already paid the bill. That's the kind of news that sends chills up the spines of new home buyers.
Sunday, April 23, 2006. FL: Builders sue to stop city law This week, Tallahassee lawyers will file court papers to defend a new city law that forces developers to build less expensive homes in some of the capital city's tonier neighborhoods.
Sunday, April 23, 2006. NC: Growth's fallout drives commissioner debate Openshaw, mayor pro tem in Marvin, says the upcoming election "is crucial (because) the builders are trying to buy it back."
Sunday, April 23, 2006. DE: Small-town election has big implications "Having three developers on Town Council is very beneficial to them when it comes to legislating annexations, when it comes to rezoning and who knows what else," Berl said.
Saturday, April 22, 2006. PA: Home fraud case awaits judge's ruling Monroe County Judge Margherita Worthington has yet to rule on a defense motion that would cut the heart out of the state attorney general's last remaining major criminal prosecution in the Eagle Valley Homes case.
Saturday, April 22, 2006. D.C; National: Doors Close for Real Estate Speculators After Pushing Up Prices, Investors Are Left Holding Too Many Homes
Saturday, April 22, 2006. CA: Local home builder may face criminal investigation scammed out of thousands of dollars by Siafa Vani of Lofa Homes
Friday, April 21, 2006. OH: Builder sentenced for defrauding clients Dennis Landon, who operated Landon Building Systems, a home-improvement business in Union County, was convicted of defrauding 27 consumers and ordered to pay $106,488 in restitution.
Friday, April 21, 2006. MO: Work stalls on complex after raid Nearly two months after illegal immigrant workers were discovered at the construction site of a low-income housing complex, work is nearly at a standstill, and the scheduled October completion is in question.
Friday, April 21, 2006. MO: 3-year study says radon too high in 3rd of homes As more and more residents become educated about the potential health concerns posed by household radon, Waterloo Junior High School science teacher Debbie Clinebell and her classes' gratification grows.
Friday, April 21, 2006. FL: Still looking for a place to call home He put down a $1,000 deposit to buy a new wheelchair-accessible house in Brandon, with help from a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that helps disabled veterans purchase functional homes. Instead, LaCruz said, builder Mercedes Homes sold the property he had contracted to buy - and kept his deposit.
Friday, April 21, 2006. WI: Former exec sentenced to 20 years on fraud conspiracy charge The former chief executive of a home construction firm was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison on a federal charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Friday, April 21, 2006. IL: Judge sentences developer for bribery Judge Ruben Castillo sentenced Montgomery developer Gerald Anderson to six years in prison, fined him $100,000 and ordered him to pay between $400,000 and $1 million in restitution for trying to illegally get city officials to speed up the approval process on an Aurora development.
Friday, April 21, 2006. CA: Broadmoor residents frustrated Residents are homeless because a house under construction is sliding down a hill, and the geotechnical expert who signed off on the project, according to county officials, is nowhere to be found.
Friday, April 21, 2006. NY: In a mold fight state must lend a hand Now the battle has been won. It's easy to see, though, why the Chandlers might find the victory a hollow one. Jeff has lost his livelihood and has been forced to find work where he can. Mounting legal fees and the simple expenses of daily living forced the Chandlers into bankruptcy. Most of the settlement money will go to pay the lawyers, the rest to pay for the RV they're living in and the mortgage on the house they still can't live in.
Friday, April 21, 2006. AZ: Migrants have no need to fear future ICE raids Because most of the illegal labor is hired by contractors and subcontractors. And ICE can't hold a homebuilder responsible for what those independent companies do.
Friday, April 21, 2006. WI: Green Bay-based homebuilder's assets ordered to be sold Proceeds will be distributed to lenders first
Friday, April 21, 2006. FL: Orlando builder must pay investors The same builder -- who authorities and customers say has an extensive criminal record under another name -- is also under fire from home buyers in northwest Orange County for collecting millions of dollars in down payments and construction draws for subdivision work that has stalled.
Thursday, April 20, 2006. PA: Victims, duped into shady home-equity loans, discuss loss Although Colon continues to pay on her 10-year loan, prosecutors persuaded the high-cost lending institutions to forgive many of the loans, said lawyer Irv Ackelsberg of Community Legal Services, who worked with the victims.
In exchange, the lenders were released from subpoenas they received ordering them to testify about the loans, he said.
Thursday, April 20, 2006. FL: Orlando builder must pay investors An Orlando home builder has been hit with $2.1 million in court judgments after angry investors sued to recover money they sank into an Osceola County subdivision that has never been built.
Thursday, April 20, 2006. WI: Creative Custom Homes Deal Falls Apart A deal in the Bankruptcy case of Creative Custom Homes and Development may have fallen apart....and that had tempers running short in Brown County court this afternoon.
Thursday, April 20, 2006. California: http://www.newtimes-slo.com/index.php?p=showarticle&id=1715 " target="x">Developer agrees to provide new SLO roofs BY KATHY JOHNSTON
The Contractors State License Board also investigated the development, hiring an independent consultant to inspect the roofs, according to Girvin. “I’ve been told that the original installation of the roof shingles was done improperly. They didn’t follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions,” he says, adding that the warranty specifies a five-inch exposure overlap, but the Rancho Obispo homes were “slightly overexposed” by a quarter of an inch.
Now R.W. Hertel & Sons, Inc., has agreed to foot the bill for replacing all 53 roofs in the subdivision. The developer will also cover the cost of an independent special inspector, required by city code enforcement officials to keep a watchful eye on every step of the construction, according to Girvin.
Thursday, April 20, 2006. US: Why Housing Looks Rickety If rates rise, prices will have to fall in order for buyers to afford the monthly payments.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. U.S.: Real estate insiders go bearish in blogs If the secret worries of real estate professionals are any indication, home prices could be heading for a swoon.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. U.S.: Blaming it on Greenspan Batra says ex-Fed chief created housing bubble, trade deficit
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. U.S.: Immigration and the law One of the excuses made for their illegal behavior is that they "work hard." So do a lot of other people. That does not give anyone an automatic pardon for breaking our laws. The other excuse is that they are doing jobs Americans won't do. The Washington Times put a severe dent in that argument when it reported on an Alabama employment agency that sent 70 laborers and construction workers to job sites following Hurricane Katrina. According to the newspaper, employers sent the men home after just two weeks on the job.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. MN: Exposed to the elements Tim Adelmann's window nightmare began three years ago when a contractor repaired hail-damaged siding and apparently installed the window flashing improperly, allowing water to soak the walls and floors of his Rosemount home.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. MI: Pontiac wants to nix land deal City officials are asking a local developer to give back $1.3 million along with a parcel of property adjacent to Great Lakes Crossing, alleging the development agreement has been broken.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. From "Texas Lawyer:": Interesting construction defect case in TX Petty documented several defects in Hernandez's previous roofing job, including lack of proper underlayment, lack of metal flashing, and improper tile spacing.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. MN: Agreement eases builders' concerns Local developers get break from council in annexation fight involving national firm [Pulte]
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. FL: Wetlands deal preserves local control Florida lawmakers are close to reversing three decades of obstruction of tougher rules for developing wetlands in the Panhandle.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. FL: What's Masilotti's next secret move? When commissioners get too cozy with developers, bad public policy can be sold as good. Commissioner Masilotti has gotten away with it. He's been nearly unchallenged since his 1998 election. He's the commission chairman, playing an important role in steering debate. He has foisted a new, more intrusive, county water-sewer policy on western communities. He has carved out exceptions in a regional growth plan to favor a single homebuilder.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. LA: Raising the Stakes Before Rita hit, Delcambre aldermen regularly granted flood variances to new homebuilders, allowing them to build lower than the requirements.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. TX; National interest: Mold Litigation: Expert Testimony Required to Prove Causation In mold cases that allege bodily injury, a plaintiff may be required to prove through expert testimony not only what caused the mold growth, but also that the mold caused the alleged bodily injuries. This can be a difficult matter to prove, and summary judgments are not uncommon.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. National: Tech Scientists Conclude Black Mold Is Toxic Scientists at Texas Tech prove for the first time that black mold in homes and buildings can be toxic to people.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. IL; National interest: Department of Justice WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a civil injunction lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois, in Chicago, seeking to bar Partners in Charity, Inc. (PIC) from making false and misleading statements in promoting to house sellers a program that assists buyers to fund the purchase of a house.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006. IL; National interest: DOJ bars group from misleading down-payment statements Partners in Charity prohibited from false promotions
Tuesday, April 18, 2006. FL: 'False promises' under fire Testimony is expected to begin today in the trial of a Pensacola homebuilder accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars given to him by clients.
The charges against Steven P. Sanfilippo, 46, include...
Tuesday, April 18, 2006. FL: Chief's e-mail concerns officials The president of the local Home Builders Association is calling for Escambia County's top environmental regulator to step down after he sent state lawmakers a strongly worded e-mail criticizing proposed wetlands legislation. [Guess all the home builders and their allies in public office are ok then? --Ed.]
Tuesday, April 18, 2006. From "USA Today": Freddie Mac to pay record $3.8M FEC fine Home loan giant Freddie Mac has agreed to pay a record $3.8 million fine to settle allegations it made illegal campaign contributions.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006. U.S.; Inman News: Freddie Mac to pay $4.8 million fine The mortgage giant, whose formal name is the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, has agreed in a conciliation agreement to pay a $3.8 million civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated the Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations, which prohibit corporations from making or facilitating contributions.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006. TX: Press Release: NEW DATA PROVES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE OVERCHARGES Texas Watch, a non-profit consumer advocacy group active on insurance issues, said that the new data proves what Texas homeowners have been suspecting for well over three years now: the insurance industry is grossly overcharging Texas homeowners and the so-called insurance “reform” bill passed in 2003 has done little to improve the marketplace for policyholders.
Monday, April 17, 2006. Permalink to article below: An End Run Around Class-Action Lawsuits Sorry for the mistake...this is the permanent link to the arbitration-class action story! Article allows for commentary. --Ed.
Monday, April 17, 2006. Washington Post Commentary on Arbitration and Class Action Lawsuits: An End Run Around Class-Action Lawsuits Businesses say arbitration is a faster and far more efficient way to resolve disputes than court suits. But consumer advocates say arbitration is often stacked against the individual, in favor of the large firm that is automatically protected from large jury verdicts by the ban on class-action lawsuits.
Monday, April 17, 2006. U.S.: Home Equity is Not Savings The main reason American homeowners can access their home equity is that foreign savers are willing to lend them the money. Once foreigners come to their senses, mortgage credit will evaporate, and home equity will vanish along with it.
Monday, April 17, 2006. U.S.: Payback looms on adjustable-rate mortgage spree More than $1 trillion in mortgage debt costing only 4 percent or so--rates locked in three years ago--is about to soar in price, to nearly 8 percent in some cases.
Monday, April 17, 2006. National: This land is whose land? The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that local governments could seize private property and hand it over to developers has set off a landslide of legislation in statehouses around the country.
Monday, April 17, 2006. FL; National interest: Crisis continues unabated for new home buyers There are no real solutions under consideration to address the problem of affordability. One of the largest low-end builders is staying with the same tactics that work for homeowners only when homes are appreciating. The builder is advertising a basic three-bedroom, two-bath home in Lehigh for $250,000, with nothing down because of state or federal down-payment assistance, and a three percent adjustable mortgage.
This is a recipe for disaster when the interest rates adjust, insurance costs go up and the family has any sort of problem that affects its finances. Some recent home buyers, who bought just before the market tailed off, are already trying to stave off foreclosures.
Monday, April 17, 2006. FL: Critics see a conflict in commissioner's vote Critics say Miami- Dade's commission chairman, who works for a firm tied to a powerful development group, has a conflict in voting on one of the biggest land-use decisions in decades.
Monday, April 17, 2006. NJ: Legal rebuff of builders is foundation for future The state still has some control over one of its most precious resources, thanks to an Appeals Court ruling last week upholding a state regulation that prohibits development within 300 feet of many of its reservoirs and rivers.
Monday, April 17, 2006. NJ: Building animosity Builder's remedy opponents further argue that developers have exploited the builder's remedy to ram through high-density, high-end developments that create suburban sprawl under the guise of offering affordable housing opportunities.
Monday, April 17, 2006. CA; National interest: Building industry invests in race DEVELOPERS ACCOUNT FOR A THIRD OF FUNDS AT $412,356 SO FAR
Monday, April 17, 2006. National: States with minimum-service rules for real estate sales In November, the DOJ wrote to the state's real estate commission that a proposed minimum-services regulation "would replace customer choice with a regulatory requirement mandating that a broker provide a 'one size fits all' package of services to the customer, whether or not the customer wants to purchase all of them."
Monday, April 17, 2006. National: Minimum-service rules boost home-selling costs Aaron Farmer wishes he could still charge $495 to help his clients sell their houses. But he can't anymore, because the Texas Association of Realtors persuaded the Legislature to tell him how to do his job.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. HOA Blog: The Privatopia Papers Interesting blog about living in a communtiy with a Home Owners Association
Sunday, April 16, 2006. PA; National interest: Two states, two outcomes. Same crime And that $1 million fine? Other builders in Monroe County have been fined, by no less than the federal goverment, for eight times that amount. And it's never been paid. And nothing happens to them.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. National: Before you buy, take a good look Buyers shouldn't let anyone convince them that they don't need an inspection. Even people moving into new construction seriously should consider hiring such a professional
Sunday, April 16, 2006. PA: Settlement opens new chapter in fraud case Though Eagle Valley Homes and related companies will be forced out of the new-home construction business as part of a plea deal announced Thursday, owner Steven Parisi and former owner Donald Kishbaugh will be allowed to continue careers as home builders and developers.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. AZ; National interest: Easing Rules on Land Sales Worth a Look Many home builders raised prices by as much as $100,000 a house last year and were posting 30 percent margins. Based on more recent land deals and price corrections, Valley home builders are still making 10 to 25 percent.
Not bad for an industry that was happy for a 5 percent profit on a house in the 1990s.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. PA: Home builders get probation in fraud case Two Brodheadsville home builders agreed to a lifetime ban from selling or brokering real estate in Pennsylvania as part of a deal to settle criminal and state civil complaints of defrauding customers.
But Steven Parisi, 43, and Donald Kishbaugh, 70, can continue to develop property and construct homes, according to a consent decree unsealed Friday.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. National interest: MUD finding out you don't mess with freedom of speech when it comes to yard signs. You can see a common theme here, can't you? The developers want to ban all signs other than their own, and the politicians pass a bill protecting theirs. So everybody likes their own signs, but they think everybody else's signs are butt-ugly.
Sunday, April 16, 2006. MI: STEALING HOMES Michigan has one of the most serious and fastest-growing mortgage fraud problems in the nation, according to the FBI
Friday, April 14, 2006. U.S.: Appraisers Petition Lenders (meaning any and all of the following: banks, savings and loans, mortgage brokers, credit unions and loan officers in general; not to mention real estate agents) have individuals within their ranks, who, as a normal course of business, apply pressure on appraisers to hit or exceed a predetermined value.
Friday, April 14, 2006. MD: Crown Farm developers give $48K to Montgomery council Activists say money taints annexation request and say five lawmakers should not vote
Friday, April 14, 2006. U.S.: CEO pay in US continues its relentless climb The other executives at large companies breaking the $100 million mark were KB Home’s Bruch Karatz ($164 million)...
Friday, April 14, 2006. CA: Environmental group sues to block below-sea-level housing tract An environmental group sued on Tuesday to block the east Contra Costa County city of Oakley's plan to allow 4,000 new homes on land that is behind levees and 6 feet below sea level.
Friday, April 14, 2006. NY: Siblings share name but not legal woes Brother fears he'll be linked to Angelo Rossi, accused of billing for unfinished work
Friday, April 14, 2006. PA: Home fraud case ends in no-contest pleas Three sentenced to probation; Eagle Valley Homes owner to pay $1 million fine-restitution
Friday, April 14, 2006. PA: Pleas In Poconos Mortgage Fraud Case Eagle Valley Homes owner Steven Parisi plead no contest to forgery in connection with the charges pending agaisnt him in the Poconos, Pennsylvania and was sentenced to three years probation. Mortgage broker Rose Perdue, his co-defendant also plead not contest to forgery and was sentenced to three years probation. Donald Kishbaugh, a builder facing similar charges, plead guilty to passing forged documents and was sentenced to two years probation.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. FL: State investigates Jim Walter Homes The Florida Attorney General's office is investigating a well-known but troubled Tampa homebuilding company for possibly breaking the state's unfair and deceptive trade practices law.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. MO: Missouri Mobile Home Dealer Hit With $564,000 Penalty One of central Missouri's largest mobile home dealerships will pay more than $564,000 in consumer restitution and penalties to the state under a consent judgment and permanent injunction obtained by Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. TX: Perry Patronage: Donor-Appointees Gave the Governor $3.8 Million Perry's campaign took in $3,103,928 more during the same period from sources affiliated with his appointees' employers. Perry Homes attorney John Krugh—whom the governor appointed to the Residential Construction Commission—led this group. Krugh's boss, Bob Perry, gave the governor (no relation) $690,000.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. NE: Benchmark houses could be on market this weekend More than 80 houses from the Benchmark Homes bankruptcy case could be listed and available as soon as this weekend
Thursday, April 13, 2006. WA; National interest: Weyerhaeuser "Built Green" houses not so, groups claim Weyerhaeuser's credentials as a "green" homebuilder are being challenged by a Canadian tribe and an environmental group, which has tracked the wood used to build Puget Sound-area homes to disputed logging zones in Canada's northern forests.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. National: Hot homes get cold in once-booming markets Linsley says home builders keep discounting unsold houses in the neighborhood - sometimes axing as much as $100,000 off the original asking price.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. NJ: Court rebuffs builders, OKs streamside buffers In a ruling praised by environmental advocates, a state appeals court has upheld 300-foot buffers around high-quality waters to protect them from development and stormwater pollution.
Thursday, April 13, 2006. National: Illegal Workers — For The Government? Despite dozens of arrests at military bases around the country, government construction sites continue to be fertile ground for undocumented workers, something Centex, the Texas-based conglomerate who has contracts with the federal government, was hesitant to discuss.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. NY: Sanctioned roofer files for bankruptcy Anyone with information about Ward's whereabouts or who knows whether Ward is still involved in the contracting business can call the state attorney general's office at 448-4800.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. MI: County reassigns touted prosecutor The transfer incensed some county officials and environmentalists, who described Mark Richardson as a skilled and passionate environmental watchdog whose hiring made national headlines. Some also noted that Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith has taken a significant amount in campaign contributions from developers.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. U.S. gulf coast: Wetlands project spans from Mississippi to Weeks Bay That information will be critical as development continues along the Gulf Coast, despite high property costs, rising insurance rates and fears of coming storms, he said.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. U.S.: Wetlands Degradation Promotes Bird Flu, Study Finds The research found that the loss of natural wetlands compels wild species to join domestic species in farm ponds and paddy fields. [From USInfo.state.gov]
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. NJ: Court OK's protecting waterways from development The Builders Association had argued that the DEP did not have
the authority to create such a buffer and that the regulation
was unreasonable. But the appeals panel said the agency was
within its rights and that the buffers serve a "legitimate
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. National: Before buying a home, check for mold "I received an anonymous HUD listing in the mail and it said this house had been condemned. It said there was no admittance to the property because of toxic mold."
In the year since HUD found the toxic mold, the house was sold twice before Rubdie bought it.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. CA: Call Kurtis: Cracked Tile “If they are going by one name and the official record that we have here has a different name then they would be in violation of the law,” says Rick Lopes with the Contractor State License Board.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. NY: Builder arrested in home dispute Residents accuse Rotterdam contractor of bilking them for shoddy work in new house
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. CA; National interest: Runoff crackdowns prod homebuilders Rain can push dirt tainted with metals, pesticides and other contaminants from construction sites as it drains into rivers and lakes, polluting and muddying those water bodies used for drinking water, recreation and by wildlife, regulators say.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006. TX: Group: 1 in 3 Perry appointees donated to campaigns Perry's campaign took in another $3.1 million during the same period from sources affiliated with his appointees' employers. The largest amount came from Perry Homes founder, Bob Perry, who is no relation to the governor but is one of his largest contributors. Perry Homes attorney John Krugh was named to the Residential Construction Commission, an agency that handles disputes involving homebuilders.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. PA: Ex-builder faces bankruptcy fraud Mr. Andros has been in trouble before for fraud. In 2001, the state attorney general's office won more than $30,000 in restitution for victims of a home improvement scam perpetrated by Mr. Andros between 1997 and 1999.
During that investigation, Mr. Andros filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy that is the subject of the new federal case.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. CA; National interest: Homebuilders fighting defect lawsuits get aggressive The attorneys counter that if builders don't want to be sued, they should build better houses (see story below). It took lawsuits to get builders to pay attention to homeowners, they claim, and there are more Band-Aids than permanent fixes in the new strategy to go directly to homeowners to get lawsuits to go away.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. U.S.: Betting against the house LaPerriere dismisses those who claim the housing market is stable. Comparing them to the dot.com cheerleaders, he describes their explanations for how housing will sustain its current price levels as “ever more creative.”
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. U.S.: Home is where the fraud is "Without getting your own appraisal, it's hard to know whether or not there's actually anything wrong with the other one," she said.
She also recommends purchasing a home inspection. "Make sure a new coat of paint isn't hiding things from you. A lot of first-time homebuyers walk in and fall in love with the home. They don't realize what it is they're actually buying, which is the roof and the foundation."
Also, be wary of real estate "experts" who advise you it's OK to fudge the numbers, or those who promise that your investment in a particular property will yield huge profits.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. CT: Probate Judge's Land Deals Draw Scrutiny The state probate administrator will refer the Southington probate judge to the state council that investigates complaints of unethical or improper conduct by probate judges. During his eight years in office, Meccariello or his wife has been involved in three real estate deals that passed through his probate court, public records show. In all three, Meccariello, as an attorney, helped the builders get needed subdivision approvals from the town. One builder happens to be the son of Meccariello's probate clerk.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. National interest: Condo Crunch New communities can avoid some maintenance and repair costs by making sure the construction is up to snuff before the resident association accepts responsibility for the property or the builder’s warranties expire.
Transition studies often find subpar work such as improperly built decks, rotting fiberboard siding, low-quality or poorly compacted asphalt, poor drainage, missing flashing and shingles, improperly connected roof trusses, and holes in fire walls between units, Liszkay said.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. PA; NJ: Police charge builder with another swindle In addition to Homeowner's Choice, Caprista conducted business as All Valley Builders & Remodelers, Lehigh Valley Builders and Remodelers and Hometown Builders.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. NC: Shoddy construction leaves family out of dream home and out of luck A report released Tuesday by the N.C. Public Interest Research Group, highlights the Gilberts’ story and that of others who have fallen victim to faulty construction by builders statewide.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. GA: Home repair program hit with 6 lawsuits The lawsuits say contractors did substandard work, which city inspectors approved.
To get the repairs, the homeowners have to give the city a secured interest in their homes until the renovations are paid off.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. FL; National: Suspect denies false-document charges An investigation by U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Shelley Gray uncovered a fraud ring based in Port Huenema, Calif., that has cost Home Depot at least $250,000. Galarza is the first arrest.
According to an affidavit by Gray, Galarza is one of several people thought to be involved in a scheme to defraud the retailer and benefit a construction company owned by the suspected ringleader in California.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. MS; National interest: Lott's lawyer: State Farm is destroying fraud evidence A lawyer for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott said Monday that State Farm Insurance Co. is destroying documents that could show the insurer has fraudulently denied thousands of claims by Lott and other policyholders whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. PA: Charges dropped in home fraud case Criminal conspiracy charges against Allentown defense attorney John P. Karoly Jr. and his client, Brodheadsville builder Dennis Slayton, were dismissed Monday even before the Monroe County District Attorney's Office could finish closing arguments.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. MN; National interest re: Builders' "right to repair" legislation: Legislative fix sought for ‘opportunity-to-repair’ bill The new bill, less than a page in length, is expected to get a floor vote in both the House and Senate. ... “It was nine pages long and filled with little landmines for homeowners,” Andresen said. “I think [homeowner advocates] were opposed to it vehemently. We were able to get it set aside.” [The question is: Is Right to Repair in any form a Trojan Horse? Will the bill, once passed, simply be amended to be as bad as ever? --Ed.]
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. PA: Judge tosses Karoly charges...DA may refile today Without explanation after a five-hour preliminary hearing in Stroudsburg, District Judge Anthony Mangan dismissed conspiracy, hindering apprehension and other charges. Mangan also dismissed charges against Dennis Slayton, the Brodheadsville home builder Karoly allegedly aided.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. Court Records and Cases; How public are they?: Widow battles to unseal secrets over blast that killed her husband In King County, a Seattle Times investigation revealed that at least 420 civil suits have been sealed in their entirety since 1990, the files hidden away at the behest of large businesses or at the request of lawyers, doctors, hospitals or public agencies accused of negligence or worse.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. Court Records and Cases: What lies beneath After vigorous lobbying from government entities all over California, the case was subsequently "depublished" -- which prevents it from being used as precedent in other cases.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006. U.S.: Barry Stone: New Homes Aren't Always Perfect As stated in previous articles, most purchasers of new homes fail to obtain a professional inspection. Instead, they trust that new homes are unlikely to have defects and that any imperfections will inevitably become apparent during the warranty period. These two assumptions have caused financial loss and mournful regrets for many buyers of new homes.
Monday, April 10, 2006. U.S.: Mortgage Fraud Blog News and info on mortgage fraud posted almost daily.
Monday, April 10, 2006. MS: Milford man charged with Katrina repair fraud A Milford man who passed himself off as the head of a nonprofit relief agency dedicated to rebuilding homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina was busted in Mississippi last week and charged with swindling survivors.
Monday, April 10, 2006. U.S.: 2006 Survey Lists Top Ten Ways Mortgage Lenders Overcharge/Abuse Homeowners Seeing it as a way to make more money, regional and national homebuilders have become "mortgage bankers". From outlanish processing fees, application fees, undiscolsed "yield spread premiums", or even survey fees, frequently homebuilders hold borrowers hostage by saying take our mortgage product or you don't get the house. Or homebuilders use the lure of a credit or upgrade to justify interest rates that might be as much as a full percentage point over market for the typical borrower. What the borrower does not realize is that the difference between 6% and 7% on a thirty year fixed mortgage might be hundreds of dollars more per month in the form of their monthly mortgage payment.
Monday, April 10, 2006. Homebuilders CEO Pay: Size doesn't always matter with paydays NVR Chairman Dwight Schar received $65.3 million, including $61.3 million exercising stock options.
Ryland Homes CEO R. Chad Dreier reaped $50.2 million, including $23.2 million from stock options, a $16.5 million bonus and $5.4 million to cover taxes.
Ara Hovnanian, CEO of Hovnanian Enterprises, received $47.8 million, including $28.4 million from stock option gains.
And Larry Mizel, CEO of home builder/mortgage lender MDC, pulled in $40.9 million in pay, bonus and gains from stock options.
Monday, April 10, 2006. MI: Environmental cop bounced from post Smith's predecessor, former prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who hired Richardson, said Richardson was always an aggressive worker, well-liked by local environmental agencies such as the county Water Quality Board, and sometimes a thorn in the side of local developers.
"I remember if I'd get any calls about him it was from local developers who were upset that his actions would be interfering with economic goals," Marlinga said.
Monday, April 10, 2006. California: Dirty deeds -Regulators are cracking down on a countywide environmental crime spree San Louis Obispo County News
A contractor is facing the revocation of his license by the State Licensing Board, after illegal grading along Seventh Street near Peachy Canyon Road in Paso Robles. Even with four stop-work orders from code enforcement officers, the contractor continued grading work.
Sunday, April 09, 2006. NV: Gardnerville contractor suspended for substandard work Build With You Construction was cited for substandard workmanship, failure to correct the faulty work and several other violations.
Sunday, April 09, 2006. National: National Build Masters Numerous articles on construction problems.
Sunday, April 09, 2006. National interest: Report cites pitfalls from loans Proving fraud can be difficult.
Such cases are often complicated and esoteric, the report states. Lawyers shy from them because they can't recover reasonable fees.
Sunday, April 09, 2006. NY: Roof complaints in Cicero Mufale calls complaints 'ridiculous'
Saturday, April 08, 2006. MS; National interest: Contractor [Joseph Patrick Gately] arrested during storm victims' meeting "About 35 people were having a meeting about this guy who was taking their money," Hood said. "This guy shows up, and he starts lying so much that our investigator arrested him on the spot."
Saturday, April 08, 2006. Nat'l interest: Man arrested in home repair fraud case also wanted in Calif. A former contractor facing Mississippi charges related to home repair fraud is also wanted in California for burglary, says state Attorney General Jim Hood.
Saturday, April 08, 2006. Canada: Sunriver residents left high and dry Controversial development on former farm land plagued by drainage problems
Saturday, April 08, 2006. CA: CORRECTIONS A story published on Page B1 Wednesday about an offer by homebuilder R. W. Hertel and Sons to replace roofs in their Rancho Obispo subdivision misstated the potential cost of the project. If all the subdivision homeowners agree to the plan, it could cost Hertel between $238,500 and $477,000.
Saturday, April 08, 2006. LA: The roof still leaks. The walls aren't finished. But the contractor is gone. And residents are fuming. Gauthier has joined thousands of New Orleans area homeowners reporting contractor nightmares, a trend that experts say is ballooning. Some residents trying to rebuild are onto their second, third or fourth work crews as the months roll on since Hurricane Katrina.
Friday, April 07, 2006. NJ; National interest: Despite investigation, inspector stays Carolyn Kelley-Shabazz read the building permit three times be fore she could believe what she saw. There on the bottom of the page, signing off on the job, was the signature of Newark Construction Official John H. Anstiss.
The head of the building inspections office routinely approves such applications, but this construction job was far from routine. Anstiss is under investigation by the state Department of Consumer Affairs for signing off on the original construction of Kelley-Shabazz's South Ward home, which had seri ous structural defects.
Friday, April 07, 2006. CA; National interest: 97% of Illegal Aliens Take Jobs That Americans Want and Need (Written by a legal immigrant.)
Friday, April 07, 2006. MT; National interest: Rotten deal After years of unsuccessfully lobbying tribal and federal housing officials for repair or replacement of their homes, in 2002 a handful of Glacier Homes residents filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funded and regulated construction of the 153 homes, and Blackfeet Housing, the nonprofit tribal housing authority that received HUD’s funds and contracted out the building of the homes.
Friday, April 07, 2006. CO; National: Glut of unsold homes "It's almost been a perfect storm," Jalowsky said.
He said many buyers of homes priced under $300,000 who locked in adjustable rate mortgages within the past few years are finding their monthly payments rising by $100 or $200.
"When they go to sell the home, they're finding that their home is worth less than their mortgage," he said.
Kelly Posiviata, a broker with K P Properties, Metro Brokers of Arvada, agreed that the glut of homes is being exacerbated by foreclosures hitting the market.
Friday, April 07, 2006. TX: The Public's Right to ‘No’ The dustup started late last year when beleaguered Texas Employees Retirement System (ERS) trustee—and GOP power broker—Bill Ceverha reported in a routine public disclosure filing that he had received a “check” as a gift. Ceverha stopped there, failing to disclose the value of this check. Given that it came from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry— Texas’ top political donor who gives Texas Republican PACs and candidates $4 million each election—Ceverha’s mystery check could have contained oodles of zeroes.
Friday, April 07, 2006. TX: Donor reveals gift total (Associated Press) AUSTIN - Major Texas Republican donor Bob Perry gave a state board appointee a gift of $50,000 in 2004, both men confirmed, revealing for the first time the amount of the money that's described only as a check on ethics forms. Bill Ceverha, a member of the board overseeing the state Employees Retirement System, also received another gift of $50,000 from Perry in January 2005, The Dallas Morning News reported in Wednesday's editions.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. OH, KY: Inmate charged with trying to kill judge, prosecutor A federal inmate has been indicted on charges he tried to have a judge and prosecutor murdered and the children of an FBI agent kidnapped. [Re: Erpenbeck home building scandal.]
Thursday, April 06, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Updated information
Thursday, April 06, 2006. VA: Keith Preliminary Hearing Curtis Michael Keith is accused of more than one hundred counts of rape of a child and more than fifty counts of construction fraud.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. AZ; National interest: Soiled Hands And while the agency that's supposed to protect consumers from shoddy construction does a decent job of resolving homeowner complaints, it really doesn't do anything to discipline or educate the big builders who just keep making the same mistakes.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. AZ; National interest: Cracked Houses Now she's left trying to salvage her investment in a system that's stacked against her. Arizona's government has been heavily influenced by developers, and if the builders have their way, it's sure to get even worse.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. AZ; National interest: Bringing Down the House Letters to the Editor: " Great articles regarding an area of frustration that leaves too many homeowners wringing their hands ("Cracked Houses," March 16, and "Soiled Hands," March 23, both by Sarah Fenske)." [You will need to scroll down to "Bringing Down the House," on "letters from Thursday April 6 issue."]
Thursday, April 06, 2006. PA; National: BIDDER FOR KNIGHT TO SEE BOOKS Bruce Toll, co-founder of luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers, is leading a group of wealthy investors to bid for Knight Ridder's two Philadelphia dailies, the Inquirer and the Daily News.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. OH: Dominion finalizes mortgage deal with Wells Fargo Dominion (NASDAQ:DHOM) has been dealing with allegations of fraud and predatory lending from disgruntled homeowners who arranged financing through the company's mortgage arm.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. WI: Creative Custom's property being sold The liquidator for Creative Custom Homes & Development is selling the company's inventory of 40 houses, 140 lots and other property.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. National: Orders down at Brookfield, William Lyon A pair of home builders said new orders fell in the first quarter from the year-ago period, raising additional fears that activity is slowing in the nation's housing market.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. International: Buy don't build PROPERTY experts tend to endorse the old adage that fools build houses and clever people live in them.
Thursday, April 06, 2006. TX; National interest: Lawmaker's suit aims for full disclosure of gifts "The Ethics Commission has grossly misinterpreted the law,” said Burnam, D-Fort Worth. “If politicians or state officials receive huge gifts, the public has a right to know the amount, and the law requires the official to reveal it.” At issue was a check from Houston home builder Bob Perry...
Thursday, April 06, 2006. TX; National interest: House bill limits donations to nonprofit political groups Houston
home-builder Bob Perry contributed more than $8 million...
Thursday, April 06, 2006. FL; National interest: Lee wants quicker disclosure of soft money Current state and federal laws let wealthy interest groups - from trial lawyers and the business lobby to home builders, insurance companies and doctors - to wage political warfare during election seasons with TV, radio, newspaper and direct-mail ads that often don't clearly tell the public who's buying the ads and why.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. MO: Nixon sues Leawood developer "Those who evade tax responsibilities by not deducting or paying taxes and by paying workers under the table have an unfair and illegal advantage over those businesses that work hard and play by the rules," Nixon's statement said.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC: North Carolina Builder Pleads Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Case David L. Layton, builder, Raleigh, North Carolina, plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme where new home prices were allegedly inflated to cover third party and borrower payouts.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC: North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) NCPIRG Blog entry; links to stories about trying to obtain more protection for home buyers, and an opportunity to tell NCPIRG your story.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC: Homeowners in a loophole jam It's one example of a gap in state homeowners' rights outlined Tuesday in a report released by the N.C. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer watchdog. The report listed loopholes in state laws that leave homeowners vulnerable.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. TN: Don't let rebuilding be next disaster Nearly three years after tornadoes struck Jackson, Hairrell still is trying to recoup about $5,000 lost to a contractor who did shoddy repair work on her roof.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC; National interest: Group fights for homeowners' rights NCPIRG is pushing for a homeowners’ bill of rights.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC; National interest: Consumer Group Releases Report Detailing Serious Gaps In Homeowners' Rights CHARLOTTE—NCPIRG released the report, “Who Pays The Price For Faulty Construction,” at a press conference today with homeowners from across the state
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. MI: Sunk by sinkhole Besides the water department, the suit also names Pulte Homes of Michigan, Pulte Land Company and C.R. Miller Homes Inc.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. MO: Missouri AG accuses lake developer of using illegal workers Attorney General Jay Nixon claimed Michael G. Schlup used as many as 35 illegal workers last year while building the Plaza Gardens on the Lake condominium complex. One of those workers was killed when he fell from scaffolding at the work site, Nixon said.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. NC; National interest: Would you pay $400K for this? The couple's 5-year-old home, once valued at over $400,000, is now worth just over $200,000 and has been declared unsafe for occupancy. [A must-read New Home Nightmare! --Ed.]
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. CO; Green Building: The big buy out County’s proposed Eco-Build guidelines allow people to opt-out, for a price
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. PA: Rendell raises nearly $16 million, Swann's fundraising lags Other Swann donors gave $25,000 apiece, including Penguin Industries chief executive Robert McNeil of Pittsburgh; philanthropist John Rangos Sr. of Pittsburgh; the political action committee of a homebuilders lobbying group, Associated Builders and Contractors [See earlier articles this year on PA Governor Rendell's veto of the homebuilders' legislation. --Ed.]
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. CA: Contractor offers to replace roofs Hertel & Sons responds after inspector raises questions about the roofs at the SLO subdivision
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. OH, USA: Wells Fargo, Dominion team up Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and home builder Dominion Homes have formalized and named their previously announced new joint venture, Centennial Home Mortgage... [See earlier articles this year about Dominion Homes being investigated for predatory lending. --Ed.]
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. KY: Protect yourself when buying new home Another area home builder has apparently closed up shop and gone out of business leaving customers to fend for themselves.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006. USA: Housing Bubble Trouble [CBS News] If this isn't a housing mania, why have so many people embraced financing schemes that leave them vulnerable to higher interest rates or even a modest correction in home prices?
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. MI: PDF File RE: Michigan court case involving unlicensed contractor "A court that allows an unlicensed contractor to recover for its services would be defying the residential builders act." [Cabinets by Graber v. Hebel, Unpublished decision, 2006.]
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. NC: Builder pleads guilty in fraud plot Raleigh home builder David L. Layton pleaded guilty Monday to a conspiracy charge in connection with a federal investigation into a mortgage fraud scheme, his lawyer said.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. FL: Developer will skip hearing Builders of The Carlisle condo project in Winter Park say they won't appear before a board as required.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. MI: Detroit, builders sued for sinkhole's misery Residents of Villa Fontana and Bartola Farms subdivisions filed the lawsuit Friday in Macomb Circuit Court against the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Pulte Homes of Michigan Inc., Pulte Land Company LLC, both based in Bloomfield Hills, and C.R. Miller Homes in Shelby Township.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. WV: Builder settles with W.Va. couple in flooding suit Days after a Berkeley County judge cleared the way for a jury to consider a count of fraud against a Maryland-based homebuilder, the company agreed Monday to resolve a complaint brought by a local couple who claimed the builder failed to disclose that their lot was prone to flooding.
Homeowners Anke and Charles Linton withdrew a complaint they filed in Circuit Court in May 2004 against Dan Ryan Builders Inc. after agreeing to the terms of a confidential settlement with the homebuilder, who presented them with an offer following testimony from an expert witness who said the couple's house should never have been built over a basement.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. U.S.: RESPA Reform Timetable Remains Uncertain HUD has opened negotiations with the Office of Management and Budget over changes to the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act that could signal approval of the long-awaited legislation, says FHA commissioner Brian Montgomery. ... Montgomery's remarks came during the start of the organization's three-day conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel that has drawn industry leaders from real estate broker-owners, real estate franchisers, mortgage lenders/brokers, title insurers/agents, home builders, home warranty companies and other settlement service providers throughout North America. [Where is the CONSUMER input? --Ed.]
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. CA; Affordable Housing: Builders' lawsuit on fees is settled “It's unfortunate that the Building Industry Association has chosen to once again sue the city of San Diego. They're adept at suing anyone that puts something in front of them that costs them a couple bucks.”
Tuesday, April 04, 2006. NJ: Home builders urge reforms to regulations "A year after a state government investigation uncovered waste, fraud and abuse in the home construction industry in New Jersey, building industry officials Monday renewed their call for the state to bring sweeping reform to the system." [Beware of the building industry appearing to be for reform...if the builders plan to take charge of reform, it's just another FOX GUARDING THE HENHOUSE. --Ed.]
Monday, April 03, 2006. USA: States Make More Headway on Construction Defect Suits National Association of Home Builders--Nation's Building News. Article from building industry perspective on "Right to Repair" type legislation promoted by the builders.
Monday, April 03, 2006. FL: Wellington campaign disclosures insufficient, records show In more than 105 instances, Benacquisto's report excluded the occupation for donors giving more than $100 to her campaign, another requirement of Florida's election law. Many of those contributors donated a maximum of $500 and were developers, builders, Big Sugar and other special interests.
Monday, April 03, 2006. NC: Raleigh builder pleads guilty Raleigh home builder David L. Layton pleaded guilty Monday to a conspiracy charge in connection with a federal investigation into a mortgage fraud scheme, his lawyer said.
Monday, April 03, 2006. NC: Raleigh builder pleads guilty Raleigh home builder David L. Layton pleaded guilty Monday to a conspiracy charge in connection with a federal investigation into a mortgage fraud scheme, his lawyer said.
Monday, April 03, 2006. LA: New Orleans residents await guidance on flood zones "I don't want to make the mistake of investing the money I've been given, and the next hurricane season, I'm flooded out again," said the 74-year-old who received $180,000 in insurance money but fears it won't be enough if she needs to raise her home's elevation. "It's kind of folly, not to know and be on sinking sand."
Monday, April 03, 2006. AZ; National interest: Mesa accuses developers of scraping, flattening land [Nicholas Homes] City standards to preserve the natural character of northeast Mesa's scenic desert were violated in the preparation of a site for construction of high-end homes, say city planners and the president of a neighborhood group monitoring the development.
Monday, April 03, 2006. TX: Too little information The issue arose after Bill Ceverha, a board member of the Employees Retirement System of Texas, received a gift from Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, a contributor to Republican Party candidates and causes. Ceverha described the gift only as a "check" on a financial disclosure form and declined to disclose the amount.
Monday, April 03, 2006. TX: Dentures Anyone? The Texas Ethics Commission spit out one of its few existing teeth last week, determining that public officials don't have to disclose the dollar amount of checks given to them as gifts. Never mind that the public official in this case isn't just some faceless political appointee who's new to financial disclosure laws. No, the official in question is Bill Ceverha, a GOP insider and board member of the Employees Retirement System of Texas. And the gift giver is Houston home builder Bob Perry, the largest individual political donor in Texas.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. U.S.: Rate your lawyer on lawyer listing site Opportunity to rate at least some attorneys in some areas.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. MI: Black Mold Leaves Family Homeless Andrea Oswald was forced to tear down her home after it became infested with black mold.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. U.S.: The cooling housing market From MSN Real Estate April 2, 2006
Sunday, April 02, 2006. OK; National interest: Honest property appraisal not too high, not too low -- just right Graziano has been an appraiser for 26 years. That means he's seen the highs and lows of the real estate business in Oklahoma -- the frenzy at the height of the oil and real estate boom, the desperation at the bottom of the market, and now, renewed recklessness in the current market, which probably is at a plateau if not a top.
We talked about the dangers of bad timing, adjustable-rate mortgages, zero-down-payment home buying, interest-only home loans, and the sheer insanity, as far as we're concerned, of 40-year -- FORTY-YEAR -- mortgages, which, frankly, all combine to put people in houses they ought not be put into, in our humble estimation.
Housing prices appear to be stabilizing. In the lurch, expect to see an increase in inflated appraisals, as some in the housing-lending-industrial-complex try, by nefarious means, to keep alive the golden-egg-laying goose.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. FL: Ex-felon put up dozens of enclosures without permits Now, the felon who once went by the alias "Skip Town" has moved into the South Florida screen enclosure business. The moniker of one of his companies: Mighty Mike's Pool and Patio Screening.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. MS: Officials hope construction fraud law will curb unscrupulous contractors Gov. Haley Barbour signed a bill last month elevating home repair fraud to a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison depending on the amount of the fraud.
The change will make it easier to prosecute contractors who take customers' money and don't complete the work, said Grant Hedgepeth, director of consumer protection in the Attorney General's office.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. AZ: Bill would lower HOA dispute expenses “Again, we have the developers asking for special treatment,” she said. “In our opinion, they get enough of that already — to the detriment of the consumer.”
Sunday, April 02, 2006. TX; National interest: Too little information Let's say that a wealthy, politically influential Texan gives a boat to someone holding public office.
Under a controversial interpretation of a state statute by the Texas Ethics Commission on March 24, the gift could be listed merely as "boat."
The officeholder -- whether governor of Texas or an appointee to an obscure state commission -- wouldn't have to disclose whether it was a simple rowboat worth $300 or a luxury yacht valued at $2 million.
The same rule would apply for a check, whether for $10 or $10 million.
So much for full disclosure and open government.
Sunday, April 02, 2006. CO: Campaign cannonballs Beauprez and the home builder settled out of court with the couple after a blistering decision from the Colorado Court of Appeals, which found that Beauprez and the home builder were negligent in the matter and that they should stand trial on charges of fraud and violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
Saturday, April 01, 2006. CA: Developers will repair damaged homes A San Luis Obispo neighborhood makes progress after a two-year legal battle with its developer over faulty roofing.