Quarter 3 (July - Sept) 2006 Archive

Friday, September 29, 2006. Nat'l interest: House bill would be gift to developers Here we go again. Since 1994, some members of Congress have introduced bills to redefine local land-use regulations as "takings" and to give developers a special fast-track to the federal courts. Currently, developers have to go first to local zoning boards and state courts.

Now a rehash of a failed 2000 bill is being rushed the House floor. Proponents claim it is about stopping eminent domain abuses, but HR 4772 is really about hampering the ability of local communities to enforce their zoning and environmental protection rules. Members of Congress should reject this bill, again.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Eminent domain is a government tool to be used sparingly One thing is clear: eminent domain is an extraordinary government power that should be used only in extraordinary cases and then only for limited purposes. It is a tool to be used sparingly, as a last resort, and only after the property owner has been fairly compensated.

Friday, September 29, 2006. Nat'l interest: Riviera Beach Homeowners Fighting Eminent Domain Abuse Just as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor warned in her dissent in the Kelo eminent domain case last year, lower-income and minority property owners are being forced off of their land by the government to make way for the rich and politically powerful in one Florida community.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Take It Back THE HOUSE of Representatives is scheduled to take up today a terrible piece of legislation designed to strengthen the hands of developers in their battles with government. Congress considered and rejected a similar bill in 1997 and again in 2000. Now it's back -- only worse.

The bill deals with legal claims under the "takings" doctrine -- a requirement of the Fifth Amendment under which government has to compensate property holders when it seizes their land.

Friday, September 29, 2006. IN: Second lawsuit filed regarding political calls So-called ‘stealth PAC’ says it will review the law: Monday’s announcement comes just one week after a lawsuit was filed against the Economic Freedom Fund — a rightwing political action committee bankrolled by Texas millionaire Bob Perry (a homebuilder)...

Friday, September 29, 2006. IA; Nat'l interest: Only Iowa money should talk here Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder, donates $5 million to support Republican candidates. This will include Jim Nussle.

It sounds as if Perry wants to make Iowa the Lone Star State of Iowa. Perry was the financial power behind the swift-boat commercials during the last general election.

Why does a Texan want to spend so much money to influence the governor's race in Iowa? Why is he even permitted to interfere with an Iowa election?

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: A political Mr. Buffett? If his $5 million this year is seen as helping hold on to Republican control of the House of Representatives, the reclusive homebuilder (Bob Perry of TX) will be to political "investing" what Warren Buffett is to the stock market.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Court Throws Out Industry's Challenge to Clean Water Act Permits The National Association of Home Builders and other industry groups challenged these revised nationwide permits, seeking a return to the days when they had much wider leeway to destroy wetlands without obtaining project-by-project permits.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Federal courts not for zoning cases The bill is also intended to intimidate local governments from daring to challenge developers who are often armed with better legal and financial resources.

Friday, September 29, 2006. IL: Union ordered to pay builder $2.35M A lawyer representing the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters said Wednesday that the union will seek to overthrow a jury award totalling $2.35 million to builder John Maki Sr.

Friday, September 29, 2006. FL: Real estate bust hits home for area builders, buyers The Sondheimers, who bought a house from Jade Homes that now stands unfinished with 75 others, also enticed more than a dozen neighbors and friends to buy investment homes from Jade.

Friday, September 29, 2006. MD: Attorney general fines home builder $1.6M Curran said in a statement that Opportunity Investment Group Inc. of Baltimore and its principals, Leon Coleman and Emma Coleman, broke state law by failing to build 11 homes in Prince George's County for which it had taken deposits from consumers.

Friday, September 29, 2006. FL: No more work here Flaherty, 44, faces new multiple felony charges from both LaPorte City Police and the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department over allegations this year that he took people’s money for contracted jobs, but never did the work.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Realty Q&A: Something fishy My gut feeling tells me that if your friend gives the contractor $40,000, the supposed buyer won't show up for settlement and the contractor will abscond with your friend's money

Friday, September 29, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently submitted material; excellent opportunity for the public to be involved in needed changes to the agency that licenses contractors in OR.

Friday, September 29, 2006. CT: Building official resigns (but going to another city) The couple contends that the town failed to adequately supervise the house's construction or to identify
deficiencies in the finished house.

Friday, September 29, 2006. US: Risky mortgages threaten a squeeze The overall impact is muted, but some 500,000 homeowners are projected to face foreclosure.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. CA: Phony Contractors Stung in Los Angeles County Undercover Operation "Homeowners need to know the huge risk they're taking when they let these phony contractors into their home or when they hire them." It's not unusual for unlicensed operators to have violent criminal backgrounds, a drug problem, or to take a consumer's money and abandon the project.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. NC: Neighbors complain of contractor scam Several homeowners in a Charlotte neighborhood have said that they were deceived by a man posing as a licensed contractor. (Always VERIFY with your state contractors licensing agency, if your state licenses contractors at all! --Ed.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006. AZ: Couple loses $50,000 to unlicensed contractor ...Padgett posed as a legitimate, licensed contractor by providing a business card that had the license number, but it was ficticious.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. MO: City Officials, Country View Residents Meet About Issues Couch questioned if there were codes that say when concrete is poured for foundations or driveways, if rebar or screens had to be placed. Crumb and Carroll said there was not one they know of and they follow the 2003 IBC. "A 'good builder' doesn't use the bare minimum, they use what it takes to make it work," Couch said. "There are two things to do with Missouri state law; there is negligence and willful negligence. And these are pretty recent. What these guys are doing is not the accepted norm. Whatever you guys have to do, to make them come up to that level, is what you need to do."

Thursday, September 28, 2006. OH: Builder stops selling 2nd mortgages Evergreen Homes of Akron has been selling second mortgages without a license, in violation of state law, according to a complaint filed Wednesday.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. US: How fast will housing crash? Video from MSN.com

Thursday, September 28, 2006. KY News station investigates: Contractor Leaves Couple In Debt With Unfinished Home Pinter went on to say: "this is the first time this has ever happened to me, and it's unfortunate."

But we found out that Pinter has been named in at least four other lawsuits.

When I asked Pinter what he did with the Sherrard's $160,000, there was silence.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. AZ: Designing Arizona "To truly be Southwestern architecture today, you at least need to pay a great deal of attention to where you place the openings on the buildings and how you use the space to be energy efficient," Abell said. "In many cases, (builders) ignore the reality of the climate."

Thursday, September 28, 2006. WI: Editorial: Green ad steps over the line Yes, some of Doyle's campaign finance actions do raise smoke. As does the timing of an endorsement of Green by Realtors and home-builders, more than $100,000 from these interests and a proposal he issued on housing regulations.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. AZ: Value of land is worth more than money In November, however, voters will have a chance to spare these 16,000 acres from becoming just another marvel of master planning for millionaires.

Thursday, September 28, 2006. FL: Land rush turning into a retreat A series of busted land deals reflect the new reality:

Thursday, September 28, 2006. US; Re: Eminent domain: Home Builders Call on Congress to Pass Property Rights Bill The nation's home builders today called on the House of Representatives to pass the Private Property Rights Implementation Act, H.R. 4772, which would ensure that property owners can litigate their Fifth Amendment takings claims in federal court. (We wonder if this is to get cases out of state courts, just as state legislatures are passing laws that would prevent the kind of damage done by the Kelo decision that allows the govt to take private property and hand it over to developers. --Ed.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006. From Inman News; Article only free to view for about one day: Beware of home builders that discourage buyer's agent If you decide to go back to see this development again, hire an agent first. Then, don't turn up without your agent in tow. If the salesperson gives you a hard time, push back. Inform the builder's representative that you're going to make an offer but only with your agent. If that's unacceptable to the builder, you'll take your business elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. OH: Beware of appraisal fraud -- it could lead to foreclosure on your home After they contacted attorney Eric Deters, he determined someone inflated the appraised value of the Freeman's house. It was inflated from $106,000 to $155,000 according to the appraiser, Paul Steffen....(their lender)Centex has been acquired by Nationstar Mortgage LLC

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Residents sue Riviera Beach over plan to condemn homes for development Eminent domain has been used for years for public projects such as new roads, but it gained new attention after a 2005 Supreme Court decision siding with developers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. WI: Creative Custom Homes' receiver has sold about 75% of homes Creative, whose principals are Gary Wyman and Shane Dillenberg, said in a March 28 document that it had $20.7 million in assets and $21.3 million in liabilities when it asked to be placed into receivership....The Brown County Sheriff's Department is investigating complaints alleging fraud from some Creative customers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. USA Today: Home prices likely to fall more Home prices are projected to fall for the rest of the year, the National Association of Realtors said Monday, with sellers being forced to accept a new reality

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. MI: Union chief gets a 2-year sentence Michigan carpenters union chief Ralph Mabry and his former top assistant were sentenced to prison Monday for conspiring to obtain a $127,800 discount from construction companies that helped build Mabry's $803,000 home in Grosse Pointe Park in the late 1990s.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. WA: Homeowners left high and dry (Unfinished homes, liens, possible bankruptcy, due to Ed Branson, of Branwood Co.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. LA: Homeowners Fall Prey to the Con After the Storm In New Orleans and beyond, complaints against fraudulent contractors have soared since Katrina and show no signs of abating.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006. IN: LaPorte Builder faces charges The charges keep mounting against convicted LaPorte contractor Anthony Flaherty. Authorities say he is back to pulling off home-improvement scams.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. UT: Website Allows Consumers to Grade Contractors Finding the right company for the job can be a job in itself.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. TX: Study examines who's donating to race for governor For example, Houston-based homebuilder Bob Perry (no relation to Rick Perry) has donated nearly $600,000 to the Governor's campaign. Campaign finance watchdogs say donations of that size point to a big problem.

"The checkbooks of a few special people are drowning out the voices of the rest of us. Big money buys access, big money buys the priorities of the administration," said McDonald.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. FL: Lobbyist (Sandy Walker) charged with fraud At County Hall, Walker has represented more than 40 clients, including influential construction companies, rock miners and airport contractors. She was hired last year by five home builders and landowners hoping to pierce the urban-development boundary that limits construction in south Miami-Dade.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. US: American dream can become nightmare Too often, workers are simply not paid, and when they pressure employers, they are blackmailed: "If you insist, I'll call the authorities" is what they're told, Bauer said.

"Big builders are relying on a system of multiple-layer contractors to allow for the hiring of illegal immigrants," she said, and labor brokers are providing legal cover.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. CA; US: State accuses title firm of illegal kickback ploy Houston-based Stewart Title Guaranty Co. illegally channeled payments to home builders and lenders in exchange for steering their title business to the firm, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi alleged in a formal accusation Monday.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. TX: Those in office draw big money What Texans should find shocking is that such a relatively small group of megadonors can gain so much influence over the political process

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. US: Advocacy Group Expands Consumer Mortgage Protection Services For All Homeowners The National Mortgage Complaint Center's service has expanded because of a national epidemic of mortgage lenders, banks, homebuilders, mortgage brokers and Internet mortgage lenders over-charging unsuspecting consumers/homeowners on mortgage fees, interest rates, various mortgage products or mortgage servicing.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006. TX: Builder sues homeowners over complaints A legal sparring match between Choice Homes and a dissatisfied homeowner owner is now a matter of freedom of speech.

Monday, September 25, 2006. FL: Unlicensed Contractor Charged With Grand Theft The wheels of justice move so slowly when a contractor takes your money and does nothing," ... Deaton has an extensive criminal history. He's been arrested 20 times for things such as assault, bribery, organized fraud and exploitation of the elderly. Although Deaton did serve some time in jail, many times he has been let off the hook.

But on Monday, Judge Joseph Will recognized Deaton from a case the judge handled as an attorney in the 1980s.

Monday, September 25, 2006. LA: Builder to face court The man with the money to pay all the subcontractors was Lorenz Leblanc, a licensed contractor who ran Stonehenge Builders. But instead of doling out money to subcontractors as they did the work, Leblanc allegedly dodged calls and promised checks he never sent.
Now, Leblanc is facing multiple criminal charges...

Monday, September 25, 2006. US: 24 Years Old, $2 Million in the Hole Well, let's back up a step. If the information on that blog was genuine, Countrywide Financial (NYSE: CFC) and Citigroup (NYSE: C) made some very stupid loans. If Countrywide did, as alleged, make two loans to an overextended "self-employed" 24-year-old with nearly zero assets, will anyone else out there be surprised if its loan book becomes absolutely rank in a few months? Greed makes you Stupid.

Monday, September 25, 2006. MI: Judge lets case continue against official An attorney for Public Works Director Charles Abbey had asked U.S. District Judge Paul Gadola to dismiss charges that Abbey did favors for a developer in exchange for a bargain price on a residential lot. The developer, Blake Rizzo, has claimed that Abbey was the ringmaster of a controversial housing development that resulted in $324,000 in payments from the city to Rizzo.

Monday, September 25, 2006. AZ: Conserving Arizona's Future, Yes on 106 Airs New Television Spot, Blasts Homebuilders Conserving Arizona’s Future rolled out a new television spot highlighting the need to support Prop 106, while addressing the negative and misleading homebuilders’ negative ad campaign intended to derail the protection of Arizona’s precious park and recreational lands.

Monday, September 25, 2006. US: Stewart Faces Millions in Fines California regulators want $46.7 million in damages from Stewart Information Services Corp., which insures property titles, alleging the company's arrangements to buy reinsurance amounted to kickbacks to home builders in exchange for client referrals, the state said Monday.

Monday, September 25, 2006. US: Lennar CEO keeps building despite cooling housing market This month three stock analysts downgraded Lennar's stock -- two from buy to hold and one from hold to sell. Bank of America analyst Daniel Oppenheim cautioned that a record number of homes on the market for sale coupled with overbuilding will result in ''sharply lower margins'' in the next two years for Lennar.

Lennar's response: Keep building.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. MI: Developers net $4.5M credit from flawed tests Michigan Economic Development Corp. officials who administer the program never caught the mistake and don't plan to rescind the tax credit awarded in June to Lake Street Petoskey Associates.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. MI: Developer got tax credit despite questionable contamination The newspaper said Petoskey Pointe developers used the flawed information _ weeks after their consultants acknowledged the errors to the state _ in an application that led to the $4.5 million tax credit.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. IL: Homeowners' signs spark freedom-of-speech fight Michael and Holly Oswald thought they were on firm legal ground when they posted signs in their chateau-style home's windows this year stating they had sued the man who remodeled their basement.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. NJ: Grand jury indicts 6 on consumer fraud charges Jeffrey Allen Building and Design * Sorrentino Construction * Cooper Construction * Earl Graves * Jethro Grace, Jr. of RRCE * McClintock Construction Company and/or Hot Tuna Construction

Sunday, September 24, 2006. OH; Nat'l interest re: Liens on new homes: Builder's porch crowded In a new Barberton neighborhood, Jamie Harmon and her husband worry about the letter telling them a mechanic's lien was being placed on the new home they bought in March from Evergreen Homes LLC.

The builder didn't pay for some construction work, the letter said. Many neighbors on Joseph Street, living in Evergreen-built homes, received similar letters.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: Avoiding mortgage crisis is a priority When the real-estate industry made it easy to borrow a lot of money, it also made it easy for people to get into financial trouble. Which is exactly what's happening, as foreclosures are surging across the country....Some people are even questioning the sanctity of homeownership, which is the equivalent of economic blasphemy.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. AK: FBI raids cast light on dual incomes He was there representing the home builders association....The practices of Anderson and a few others who consult on the side also raise broader questions about state ethics laws. As it stands, lawmakers can receive unlimited and undefined "consulting" income from companies who could benefit from the Legislature's actions.

Sunday, September 24, 2006. AZ: Land sales pull in little interest (including from builders) If the same thing happens to the high-profile properties Thursday, Hogue said the department would announce new appraisals and starting bids that reflect the current market.

Saturday, September 23, 2006. TX; Site of the Texas Residential Construction Commission. This State of TX PDF refers to the TX article about builder fraud below, also posted today.: Local Builders Fined by State Agency At its September 20, 2006, meeting, the Texas Residential Construction
Commission levied penalties against three builders/remodelers in the El Paso area. These three
companies were among 19 throughout Texas fined by the commission for reasons that varied by
case.

Saturday, September 23, 2006. KY: Leaks plague Beaumont homes After Nasir learned that other houses in the subdivision had water problems, she contacted the Lexington office of Beazer Homes Investments, which inspected.

Saturday, September 23, 2006. TX: 3 TX Home Builders charged with Fraud Three El Paso home builders-remodelers have been fined by the Texas Residential Construction Commission for fraud and deceit, the agency reported last week.

Saturday, September 23, 2006. GA: Public defender falls from grace Mac English was a home builder, but his real avocation, according to law enforcement officials, was crime...

He enlisted a friend, Steve Scott, to kill Buice and another ranger, Al White.

Friday, September 22, 2006. VA: Embattled Builder Cites 'Colossal Business Failure' Grimm was indicted in August in Winchester and Frederick County circuit courts on charges of construction fraud, failing to provide lien affidavits and obtaining money by fraud. The Loudoun Sheriff's Office also is investigating Grimm

Friday, September 22, 2006. FL: Key to Ruin The snare can be of their own making -- taking on more house than they can afford, or borrowing more against their home equity than they can repay. But borrowers also fall victim to predators. Last year, the FBI singled out Florida as one of the top 10 states plagued by rampant mortgage fraud.

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: Waning Home Sales Take Further Toll on the Industry KB said it was releasing only limited financial results for its fiscal third quarter because of an internal probe of its stock option practices. Other companies caught up in the growing option controversy have had to restate earnings after similar investigations.

Friday, September 22, 2006. TN: Citizens Against Sick Houses (CASH) To assist the Homeowner in protecting the largest investment of his life - the familiy home. (See news article below on CASH in TN)

Friday, September 22, 2006. TN; Nat'l interest: ‘CASH’ in on home knowledge By Don McGonagil: Just ask CASH (Citizens Against Sick Homes, cash-tn.org). One of the founders and Hendersonville homeowner David Whitt was the unfortunate victim of an unscrupulous builder and an inadequate codes system failing to protect homeowners from substandard construction.

Friday, September 22, 2006. NY: Homebuilder on bail until appeal One of two Rochester homebuilders, (Amico) who with their father were accused of running the largest federal mortgage fraud scheme ever prosecuted in the region, was released from prison on bail while he appeals his conviction.

Friday, September 22, 2006. TX: Group seeks limit on political contributions The multimillion-dollar political largesse of Texans including Houston home builder Bob Perry and San Antonio businessman James Leininger should be cut drastically, a coalition of citizen groups said Thursday.

Friday, September 22, 2006. Nat'l interest: Union defamed builder, jury finds The fliers, distributed in Lake and McHenry Counties, where Maki does business, rhymed Maki's name with "crappy."

Friday, September 22, 2006. AZ; National interest: Protect yourself when buying Your agent may be faithfully representing your interests, but the objective of an exorbitant commission is to induce the agent to betray your interests in the builder's behalf.

Here's the kicker: Every cent of that commission will be paid by you.

Friday, September 22, 2006. TX; National interest: Home builder Sitterle files suit against military couple for complaining Fred Lewis, an attorney and president of the Austin-based advocacy group Campaigns for People, said the suits are often intended to intimidate consumers from speaking out against a company..."It's not fun to get sued for $500,000," Lewis said. "Home builders have time and money and staff. Individuals don't have the same resources."

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: Healthy Economy, with Soft Spots If home builders are to eliminate excess inventories, prices may need to be reduced or incentives ratcheted up. And any price cuts on new homes could have some impact on the existing home market.

Friday, September 22, 2006. National interest: Analyst: Adapt to slowdown Sellers and home builders need to get real.

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: EPA ignores own experts' advice The new standard was attacked by such industry groups as Edison Electric Institute, an industry group of power companies, and National Home Builders.

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: Economist says builders should take lead in housing correction To bring the housing market into balance, Phoenix area home builders need shrink their inventory and home sellers need to realize they won't get top dollar for their homes.

Friday, September 22, 2006. FL: Builder to lay off 135 workers DiVosta is owned by Pulte Homes

Friday, September 22, 2006. MD: Canterbury bails Centex: David and Goliath

Friday, September 22, 2006. NY: City finally ready to OK licensing for home builders "No builder who is a good builder should fear this bill," Oddo added.

Friday, September 22, 2006. NC: Gupton associates get years in prison For their roles in a conspiracy that defrauded hundreds of low-income Tri-County home buyers and cost private lenders and the federal government nearly $19 million, Donald Scott Carroll and Richard Meador received terms of 30 and 53 months, respectively.

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: Housing Boom – Another Bush Bungle giving banks a green light to open the floodgates and lend freely, combined with a real estate industry that knows no boundaries (legal or ethical) and you have a plague of locusts ravaging the countryside, devouring everything in it’s path.

Friday, September 22, 2006. US: Probe Finds Jackson Urged Favoritism in HUD Contracts The report describes investigators' research into the political contributions of 29 companies that received HUD contracts.

Thursday, September 21, 2006. US: Senators Criticize Regulators Over New Mortgages "It seems to me there's been a race to the bottom" in lending standards, said Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). He said that consumers don't seem to understand the new products, and that if real estate values continue to fall, the market "pullback" could become "a prelude to a crash."

Thursday, September 21, 2006. NJ: Plans to clean radioactive sites assailed as deficient WASTE WOULD STAY AT SITE (See more recent article on this matter, with homebuilder "H. Hovnanian," posted Sep 21st also. --Ed)

Thursday, September 21, 2006. Orange County Register: Homeowners sue Lennar Corp Cracked concrete, faulty plumbing; article reposted on real estate agent's site about Lennar problems.

Thursday, September 21, 2006. NJ; Nat'l interest: Radioactive cleanup to pave way for homes The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday approved a radioactive cleanup by H. Hovnanian Industries in Ocean County, despite objections from the state government.

The home builder intends to build 2,450 units of senior housing on the site, a former metals mine in Manchester Township known as Heritage Minerals.

Thursday, September 21, 2006. US: New Book Entitled Your Green Home Article from Builder Online

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. LA: New Building Regulations That means builders will have to make sure the homes they put up can withstand 100-mile-per-hour winds.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. MD: Housing proposal gone, for now A proposed housing development in Frederick may be on hold, but opponents are not celebrating yet.

Centex Homes has 10 months to ‘‘pick up where they left off,”

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. NJ: State yanks licenses of Newark construction official DCA officials say construction official John Anstiss, who was suspended from his job last month on unrelated administrative charges, improperly approved shoddy home construction by a developer with close ties to the administration of former Mayor Sharpe James.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. NJ: Pending licensing law in NJ The bill is among dozens introduced in the wake of a scathing report in 2005 from the state Commission of Investigation detailing abuses and failings in the construction and regulation of new homes.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. IL: Contractor licensing proposed Some contractors have a cycle of bilking money out of consumers, filing for bankruptcy, setting up a new shop under a new name, and then doing it all over again

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. UT: Developer accused of sexual harassment Defendants in the lawsuit include Hamlet Development Corp., Hamlet Homes Corp., Stirling Mortgage and Diversified Habitats.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. TX: Flooded With Problems All three structures, priced for lower income residents, were built in a FEMA floodplain without proper permitting(Builder is Jacky Lee, JML Properties)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. NV: Pulte (Del Webb) named in lawsuit Five local painters filed a wage and hour lawsuit Friday in federal court against two contractors and one of the Las Vegas Valley's biggest home builders.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. An OLDIE but a GOODIE: Attorney sues to enter 'lawyer-free' community "I just happened to mention that I was a lawyer," said Liebaert, who specializes in oil industry and environmental law. "The sales agents face somewhat grimaced and she said, 'Oh, I have to warn you up front that sometimes the builder refuses to sell to attorneys.'"

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. AR: Runoff woes plague local builder, again embattled developer Benny Doyal (Homeport Land Company)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. NJ: Homeowners pay thousands to fix mistakes by code official The string of mistakes cost Rogers his job last November, but property owners and taxpayers have continued to pay in the form of tens of thousands of dollars in added construction costs and lawsuits against the borough, records show.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. FL: Palm Beach County panel tells developer to fix work John Kennelly, of Aspen Homes, must have the glass block repaired within 30 days or else his permit-pulling privileges will be suspended for five days, according to a ruling from the board, which has the authority to regulate or discipline local contractors.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. CA: Homeowners sue Lennar Residents say the developer's homes have defects ranging from cracked concrete to faulty plumbing. (Lennar claims to be unaware of the problems)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. US: Kelo--One Year Later many states have accepted the Court's invitation to impose stricter definitions of "public use" on their local governments' eminent domain power by either proposing or enacting statutory reform measures and constitutional amendments.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. OK; Nat'l interest: Immigration hearing draws both sides "Contractors are making great profits on the backs of the laborers and the taxpayers," said Adrian Privett, director of organizing for the Arkansas Regional Council of Carpenters. "It's a form of insurance scam, and it puts a burden on all of us." Larry Wisdom, a contractor working in Tulsa and Rogers counties, said competitors with illegal immigrant work forces regularly underbid his operation, which employs only citizens.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. NC: Durham builder drops lawsuit A Durham builder with a long history of criminal convictions has dropped a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city.
Vincent Brown, the CEO of Hairston Enterprise, alleged in the suit that the city broke the law in 2004 when a multimillion dollar contract for a housing redevelopment project was awarded to another company.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. VA: Judge modifies bond for builder accused of construction fraud Update on builder Gary Grimm, G&M Homes case

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. US: CBS 2 Investigates: Ex-Con Contractors A worker who was hired by Amy's general contractor, and had complete access to her home, had made the months of harassing phone calls, out of revenge.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. AZ: Home buyers face long battle to recoup money from shuttered Turner-Dunn The Phoenix-based builder walked away from hundreds of home lots in Pinal County last spring, leaving in its wake millions of dollars owed to banks and subcontractors, lawsuits, an ongoing Arizona Department of Real Estate investigation, unfinished homes and home buyers who paid thousands of dollars each in hopes of finally getting their big dream home.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. US: Cisneros's new career: fostering affordable homes After Henry Cisneros resigned as housing secretary in 1996 amid an embarrassing independent-counsel investigation, he put aside his passion for making a difference in U.S. cities in favor of a more pressing matter: making money.

Now Mr. Cisneros is back in the housing fray...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006. TX: Officials can keep gift amounts secret, ethics staff says The opinion Tuesday reignited months of criticism from Texans for Public Justice and Common Cause, among other groups, who objected to a government appointee, Bill Ceverha, taking $100,000 from Houston home builder Bob Perry.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Lender helps get projects finished The managers of EFO Holdings LP noticed what they thought was a pattern emerging during the last six months - more developers seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. FL: Short memories allow scammers to keep preying The new version of Brian Neiman had cobbled together cabals of speculators and purchased huge blocks of preconstruction condos at discounted prices, then flipped the units later for fat profits. The plan, dubbed The Formula, allowed developers to assure banks that with so many of the units presold, construction loans were secure.

When the overbuilt condo market cools, of course, the facade comes tumbling down.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. IL: Law Would Regulate Building Contractors Under the proposed law, contractors would have to be licensed by the state. To get a license, they would need to have four years of construction experience, undergo a criminal history check, and disclose all court settlements and judgments -- information that would be made available to the public. (Article also contains references to cases against builders John Volpentesta, & Bruce Johnson of JCS Design. -Ed.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. VA: Washington Post: Loudoun Probing Builder Who Left Homes Unfinished Man Charged With Fraud Elsewhere (Gary Grimm dba G & M Homes case): Frederick Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Ambrogi said the case is one of the largest fraud cases in the county in recent years. The prosecutor said Grimm defrauded subcontractors out of more than $1 million. He said G&M's collapse has probably cost clients hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they might have to pursue claims against Grimm in civil court rather than criminal court.

In Loudoun, Troxell said it is unclear whether homeowners' complaints against Grimm warrant criminal prosecution. He has not been charged in the county.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. NC: Losing bidder drops lawsuit against city Officials were also looking for information on the litigation track record of the firm and its operators, Henry Hairston and Vincent Brown, said Kim Grantham, one of the assistant city attorneys who'd been handling the city's defense.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. MA: Builder on trial over kickbacks Building contractor Peter Davis reaped more than $3 million from jobs at the Springfield Housing Authority that were often performed by the agency's own employees or not done at all, a prosecutor said yesterday in the city's latest corruption trial.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. US: U.S. builder's wife tied to money laundering In March, a U.S. jury ordered contractors Mike Battles and Scott Custer to pay $10 million for swindling the U.S. government over Iraqi rebuilding projects in connection with their Middletown, R.I.-based company, Custer Battles LLC.

However, a federal judge overturned the verdict on a technicality in July.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. VA: Contractor gets five years in prison for fraud A hole in the ground. That's all Shirley and Matt Matula got of their new home after paying more than $36,000 to contractor Bane "Mike" VanDyke III.

And that was enough for New Kent Circuit Judge Thomas Hoover to send the former vice president of the Peninsula Housing and Builders Association to prison on Monday.

Hoover sentenced VanDyke, who had recently been operating his business on a fraudulent license using his daughter's name, to five years in prison for construction fraud perpetrated on the Matulas. He was also given 20 years supervised probation on five other felony counts of failing to pay subcontractors associated with two other families' construction projects, and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Matulas and $10,000 to another family he defrauded.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. TX: We've Been Punked The Republican Party has promised consumer protection for the biggest investment of a lifetime, a new home, by creating the Texas Residential Construction Commission, yet stacked it with homebuilder friendly Commissioners resulting in a near worthless homebuilder controlled bureacracy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. VA: Loudoun Probes Builder Who Left Homes Unfinished Some residents have been stuck with loan payments for homes that are only partially finished after G&M Homes didn't uphold contract agreements. The firm's owner, Ga(r)y Grimm, declared personal bankruptcy in May.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. OR: Wash primary sifts candidates for Senate, high court Alexander, who has served in the state judiciary for 33 years, could be the biggest casualty of the high-stakes effort by homebuilders and others to promote replacement candidates.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. FL: Property taxes got you down? Speak up If you've got gripes about property taxes, this week is your chance to share them with a state committee studying changes to Florida's tax system..."We've got to get them [taxpayers] into the room, and not just the Realtors, the homebuilders and the developers," Donegan said.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. US: A Bubble or a Value? overbuilding was probably the key factor that led to the housing market's peak and subsequent downturn.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. Nat'l interest: Low-paid illegal work force has little impact on prices If the supply of illegal workers were cut off, wages for those low-skilled jobs presumably would have to rise enough to attract legal workers into them. If, hypothetically, wage levels rose by a third, that would either add around $1,600 to the cost of the typical house or shave half a percentage point off the builder's 12 percent average profit margin.

"If I'm buying just one home, there's not that big an impact," Chiswick said. "But if I'm building a lot of homes and I can save a few thousand on each one.... "

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. US: Another home builder warns Meritage Homes pressured by rising buyer cancellations, inventory

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. IN' Nat'l: Swift Boat ad backer turns to Indiana race A group behind automated phone calls attacking Democratic congressional candidate Baron Hill is being funded by the Republican donor who helped bankroll the Swift Boat attack ads on Democratic Sen. John Kerry's war record.

Bob J. Perry, a Texas home builder with close ties to White House adviser Karl Rove and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, recently donated $5 million to the Economic Freedom Fund, a newly created California group targeting Democratic candidates.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. US: Home builder sentiment sinks again in September Home builder optimism sank for an eighth consecutive month in September to the lowest level in more than 15 years, with a surge in the backlog of unsold homes putting development on ice, an industry survey showed Monday.

Monday, September 18, 2006. WA: Get-tough policy on employers has had limited effect The prospect of prison

Immigration officials say they are trying this new tactic after years of failure to rein in illegal employment.

Monday, September 18, 2006. NJ: Licensing builders way to better homes The bill is among dozens introduced in the wake of a scathing report in 2005 from the state Commission of Investigation detailing abuses and failings in the construction and regulation of new homes....However, a representative from the New Jersey Builders Association said a more coherent approach was needed to correct the abuses detailed by the commission's report, such as forming a housing task force of state officials and industry representatives. (Builders appear to be trying to make formation of a licensing agency under control of builders, i.e. The Fox Guarding the Henhouse! --Ed.)

Monday, September 18, 2006. WA: State struggles to catch work-site abuses Employers willing to break the law are the problem

Monday, September 18, 2006. NJ: Lawmakers to hear construction grievances Lawmakers will hear testimony from victims of shoddy construction, who will offer
suggestions on what legislative initiatives would help protect homebuyers from
irresponsible builders and unresponsive overseers.

Monday, September 18, 2006. TX: New Home Warranty Standards review; Activist Training in Texas If you are interested in reviewing the warranty standards and providing suggestions on how to modify them to help the consumer, please review the set of documents at http://www.trcc.state.tx.us/brochures/WarrantiesStandards/WarrPerfStand.htm Contact:
john.cobarruvias@hadd.com for further information.

Monday, September 18, 2006. US: Settlement opens new chapter in fraud case; Eagle Valley defendants can keep building homes; suits with buyers continue 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...

Monday, September 18, 2006. US: Indiana Attorney General Sues Group Making Automated Phone Calls Bob J. Perry, a Texas homebuilder with close ties to White House adviser Karl Rove and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, recently donated $5 million to the Economic Freedom Fund, a newly created California group targeting Democratic candidates.

Monday, September 18, 2006. AZ: New laws will affect developers, landlords A host of new laws that take effect Thursday will alter the landscape for those dealing in property.

Monday, September 18, 2006. NJ: Senate to hear homebuyer woes Damning results from a state report released last year about negligent and sometimes dangerous workmanship on new homes throughout New Jersey are expected to reemerge Tuesday night during a public hearing called by a state Senate committee.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. FL: ICE detains 15, accuses them of using fake documents Immigration officers have detained 15 foreign nationals and accused them of using fake documents while working for a company doing roofing contract work at a federal detention facility in south Miami-Dade, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Friday.

Sunday, September 17, 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.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. US: Article on mediation--PDF file Explains the difference between mediation and arbitration, etc. --Ed.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. WA; Nat'l: Experts see home-price slide continuing for possibly two years Americans, who in some areas of the country have seen the value of their homes double in the last five years, may suffer price declines within the next two years.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. WA; Nat'l: Home building boom relies on illegal workers They dominate unskilled-labor crews

Sunday, September 17, 2006. US: 18 wheels and countless dangers Trucking companies often put non-English speakers, felons, addicts in driver's seat, but rarely take blame in fatal crashes...Many sand and gravel haulers are the trucking industry's equivalent of undocumented day laborers. Paid by the load, they are frequently hired by homebuilders and construction contractors, even though they often lack proper insurance or registration.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. OR: Sen. Cantwell and Mike McGavick expected to win primaries Tuesday But the high court races have drawn unusually heavy spending and attention this year, as homebuilders and others try to oust justices and install their favorites.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. LA: Shoring up flood insurance One element included only in Sen. Shelby's plan should be part of the final reform package: A proposal that homeowners living behind levees and dams be required to buy flood insurance, whether or not they are in the 100-year flood plain. Rep. Baker's bill would only ask FEMA for a feasibility study on the matter.

Homebuilders oppose the idea, saying that it would make buying or building a home more expensive. But flood insurance rates for homes outside the 100-year flood plain are very affordable, and the requirement would protect a homeowner's investment. That's not a lost lesson for thousands of New Orleanians who lived in zones that did not require insurance but flooded anyway when the levees broke.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. WA; Nat'l : Battle of the Builders Larger regional and national home builders have gobbled up land and changed Thurston County's real estate market for buyers, sellers and smaller local builders.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. TX: Homeowners increasingly face builder damages, neglect "I usually follow my gut instinct 99 percent of the time, and in the beginning something told me to pull out and lose whatever money I had already put down and just walk away," Kushner said.

"But because of this company's rating with the Better Business Bureau, I said they had a satisfactory record and believed they were going to do the right thing regardless. I believed they would fix it and everything would be fine."

No sooner had she moved in did more troubles plague the single Kushner.

Sunday, September 17, 2006. TX: LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD Communicating with the media and state lawmakers in an effective way is the key to our success. Texas Watch is holding a series of activist trainings around the state. These sessions will teach you how to be a successful advocate for real legal and insurance reforms.

Saturday, September 16, 2006. US: Rate Your Builder: Who is the new owner? Some of you may have noticed the popular "Rate Your Builder" site was for sale on E-Bay. From what we can tell, someone going by the name "smokinbuilder" bought it. It was unfortunate that no consumer advocate groups had the money to buy, and run, the site. We hope that the new owner will continue running the site as it was, and not compromise its usefulness to consumers doing research before buying. --HADD News Editor

Friday, September 15, 2006. US: NATIONAL ALLIANCE AGAINST CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS--Message Board This used to be the HADD Message board years ago. Since our new board was repeatedly hacked and is no longer up, please use this board for now. Thanks! --News Editor

Friday, September 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: HIDDEN DEFECTS Thinking of buying a house? The home, and the inspector, may have shortcomings you can't see

Friday, September 15, 2006. FL: The St. Joe Company to Exit Florida Homebuilding Earlier this year, JOE announced a long-term relationship with Beazer Homes, USA. Additionally, JOE's relationship with David Weekly Homes has expanded over the past year. Conversations with other homebuilders are ongoing. Nineteen local, regional and national homebuilders have submitted letters of interest to participate in JOE's RiverTown development south of Jacksonville.

Friday, September 15, 2006. NJ: Builders assured fast payment The law, which was signed by Governor Corzine on Sept. 1, has divided the construction community and the political parties. Two big builders' associations took opposing positions....Sen. Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who sponsored the bill, said he wrote it in part to help small contractors who don't have the cash to pay bills and salaries while awaiting a delayed invoice payment.

Friday, September 15, 2006. US: Is Arbitration the Way of the Future for Commercial Disputes? Arbitration decisions are not subject to the standard appeals process, and parties like the fact that arbitration hearings and decisions are confidential, with no potentially bothersome public records.

Friday, September 15, 2006. New Home Builders News Blog: New entries Sep 15 News, commentary

Friday, September 15, 2006. LA: Saying no now to permits The state’s Uniform Construction Code Council administrator paid a surprise visit to Mayor Carol Broussard’s office Wednesday, with concerns that the ongoing rebuilding of dozens of homes is not up to the new codes put in place in March.

Friday, September 15, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Feels almost like we're in 1926 Florida Vastly inflated prices and easy credit made the market ripe for collapse. Many Floridians denied that there was a real estate boom.

Friday, September 15, 2006. IL: Booted from BBB (Scroll to end of article)...the Better Business Bureau also announced Thursday that it had expelled BC General Contractors of Belleville because of a consumer complaint.

Friday, September 15, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Home buyers' refunds bounce It is a $27-million lawsuit, and they are sending out bad checks," (Class action lawsuit re: title insurance and illegal kickbacks to builders, 66,000 people were to get refunds. --Ed.)

Friday, September 15, 2006. PA: Fourth home-fraud defendant sentenced to a year's probation The state Attorney General's Office in January 2005 filed fraud charges against Erb and others affiliated with Eagle Valley Homes in Brodheadsville, including owner Steven Parisi, mortgage broker Rose Perdue, builder Donald Kishbaugh and Mountain Valley Abstract owner Anita Peterson.

Friday, September 15, 2006. FL: Frustrated homeowners ask for help from county One woman’s contractor built her house without installing concrete footers, prompting an engineer to warn her that roof collapse is “imminent.” ...Many attendees were victims of Central Harbor Homes and Coral Bay Construction. Coral Bay filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year, leaving nearly 200 customers across Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties with unfinished homes or garages.

Friday, September 15, 2006. NJ: N.J. bill bolsters home building The bill is among dozens of pieces of legislation introduced in the wake of a scathing report from the State Commission of Investigation (SCI) in 2005 detailing abuses and failings in the construction and regulation of new homes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. US: Power Play (Older article worth repeating as the newest JD Power Survey is out this week) In some instances, builders have sent letters to homeowners alerting them to the fact that J.D. Power surveys are being mailed and strongly encouraging them to respond. In other instances, builders have sent representatives door-to-door to ask buyers "what can we do for you?" just prior to the survey period. One building executive, who asked not to be named, recounted how a fellow employee who had purchased a home from a competing builder was offered a cash incentive to return their J.D. Power questionnaire to the builder's representative. Accounts from other builders, which could not be confirmed, suggest such tactics go beyond isolated incidents.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. WA: Groups for high court challengers face inquiry The complaint says the political committees are creating "shell" PACs to conceal the real donors' names and avoid having to list them on ads. "We're going to investigate the complaint," PDC spokeswoman Lori Anderson said in an e-mail Wednesday. "We won't be finished with the investigation before the primary election, but we are expediting the investigation because of the seriousness of the allegations." The Building Industry Association of Washington, which is a major contributor to the pro-Groen, anti-Alexander ads, called the complaint "bogus."

Thursday, September 14, 2006. WA: Special interest money targets Alexander Special-interest groups, including the Building Industry Association of Washington and Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse, paid for them - spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of days.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. WI: Congressman Green Selling Influence to Special Interests “We’ve seen that Congressman Green will do just about anything to get his hands on special interest money, even if it means selling out Wisconsin families.”

Thursday, September 14, 2006. WI: More Evidence of Congressman Green Selling Influence to Special Interests Green Takes More Than $100,000 from Real Estate Industry in Days Surrounding Announcement of Housing Plan Favorable to Industry

Thursday, September 14, 2006. PA: She says ex-L&I official, builder fleeced her Based on information she received, Dean said, she believed that Green and Sacerdote worked together against her. She said she had been warned indirectly by another contractor that Sacerdote had Mafia connections.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. US: New Home Builders News New blog/news entries today, Sep. 14

Thursday, September 14, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force meeting Sep 19 Agenda, links; excellent opportunity for Oregonians to get involved.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. MI: More time in jail possible Prosecutors argued that Gardiner and his family accepted more than $150,000 worth of gifts in exchange for steering work to William Hudson, the contractor at the center of the scheme. The gifts included a down payment for Gardiner's home plus remodeling costs, down payments on homes for two of his children and a year's rent and wedding costs for another daughter. Gardiner insisted the gifts bought no influence.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. MI: Greens may get subdivision "The water table over there is only one foot below ground level which means that anything you put on the lawn is going to go right into the lake. Then you have the docks that will be built for lakefront homes that will destroy the shoreline in addition to the dredging, which will harm fish hatcheries."

Thursday, September 14, 2006. OH; National: Keep eye on workmanship while building home America's passion for brand-new homes has its downside: an epidemic of bad workmanship. Here are a few tips on getting it right.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. LA: Zachary councilman questions investment by mayor, city official Councilman Donald J. “Pete” Charlet blasted Mayor Charlene Smith and another city official Tuesday, accusing them of ethics violations for investing in a real estate development Charlet said is under review by the City Council...Because the developers didn’t build what they told the council they were going to build, Charlet said he wants the council to issue a “stop and desist order” to halt all construction on the project while council members consider their legal options.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Swift Boat Ads Backer Funds New Group Bob J. Perry, a Texas homebuilder with close ties to White House advisor Karl Rove and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, recently made the hefty donations to the Economic Freedom Fund, a newly created California group.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. AZ: Marana to intensify inspections after allegations against builder Homebuilders in Marana will face more scrutiny when installing tile roofs partly due to recent allegations against Richmond American Homes and a local roofing company.

About 50 Continental Ranch residents last month showed their disgust at a town council meeting for the billion-dollar homebuilder and Headlee Roofing Co., which operates out of Phoenix and Tucson. One by one, the residents described leaks, rotted wood, ceiling stains and mold and fungus growing inside their homes. Some asked the town to ban Richmond American from building in Marana.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. NJ: Lawmakers push for home-buyer protections The bill would enhance oversight of home builders and construction officials while giving homeowners new protections when seeking damages for shoddy workmanship. (NJ Homeowners would do well to find out about the bill and read it carefully to make sure it really is consumer protection before assuming it is. --Ed.)

Thursday, September 14, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Group fined over flier for Thom In a 24-page report, Phoenix investigator and attorney David Pennartz concluded that the Citizens for Responsible Government, a group created by the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona's political action committee, broke three laws when it produced literature supporting Thom.

Thursday, September 14, 2006. OR; Nat'l interest: Color it Complicated What does going green mean? Answers vary, and standards are spotty

Thursday, September 14, 2006. REMINDER: Smart Money; Sept. 2006 Print issue "Heartbreak Houses," by Jim Rendon; this story is only available in the PRINT version of the magazine, not online.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. FL: Miami Beach building inspector arrested, charged with soliciting a bribe Thomas Ratner, the city's chief electrical inspector, was caught on videotape accepting a $1,000 kickback

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. LA: LMS Contractor Arrested The company was the subject of complaints of taking large sums of money up front, then not completing the work.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. FL: Electrical Inspector Arrested For Bribes Police arrested the head Miami Beach Electrical Inspector for allegedly demanding bribes in order to have builders pass his inspections.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. VA: Elderly Woman Scammed out of Thousands "He said that he and his father had put the roof on and he said I'm going to check your roof for leaks and in order to do that I need to take the hose to the roof," Elizabeth explained.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. AZ: Man charged with 17 felony counts in Baseline Killer case Mark Goudeau, a 42-year-old construction worker, was charged Monday with 17 felony counts in two sexual assaults that have been linked to the Baseline Killer...At a news conference on Monday, Thomas said Arizona's parole board was "naive and misguided" when it granted early release to Goudeau in 2004. Goudeau had eight more years to serve on a prison sentence for unrelated assault charges.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. TN; Nat'l interest: Mold creates nightmare at new home in Farragut Sherrie now questions the whole point of the builder's homeowner's warranty. "This home is two-months-old. We shouldn't t have problems."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog Building homes 6 feet below sea level? Are "green" houses really green? These and more posted recently on this site.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News New articles posted today

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Homebuyers Better Be Ready For Arbitration FL Arbitration law blog, new entry today discussing several cases

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: Exposing New Home Builders New entry in blog/news today re: Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. Nat'l interest: Buyer Beware, by Walter Jowers From lame warranties to lax home inspectors, the process of purchasing a new house is fraught with peril

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: Fungus malpractus Bell’s ordeal illuminates an often-unacknowledged aspect of the toxic mold problem: the physical and psychological trauma that many toxic mold victims experience as a result of the misdiagnosis of the illnesses caused by their exposure.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. MI: Residents speak out against rezoning efforts They want to put the rezoning that was approved for the project, called Harvest Corners, before voters.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. NY: U.S. judge backs off on Amico bail The Amicos were found guilty of stealing nearly $60 million from mortgage lenders by fraudulently inflating the value of more than 150 homes they built in suburban Rochester.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: 30 States Unite to Create a National Licensing System For Mortgage Professionals The announcement culminates an 18-month effort involving CSBS, the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) and the industry to develop the uniform mortgage license applications to be used by each state mortgage regulator.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. MI: Foreclosures Soar Increasingly "creative" lending practices are also contributing to the spike, say Realtors, financial experts and bankruptcy attorneys.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. US: Inman News Blog Real Estate News Blog from Inman.com; some interesting articles today

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. CA: Couple accused in attack on Fox 6 reporter plead not guilty A husband and wife accused of attacking a local television reporter investigating the couple's real estate dealings pleaded not guilty Tuesday to assault, battery and other charges. Assad “Sam” Suleiman, 36, and his wife, Rosa Barraza, 33, were arrested last Tuesday outside a home in La Jolla. (Earlier story posted on HADD showed video of the attack. --ed.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006. IN: Home building tumbles 43% from year ago Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog: new entries & news links, Sep 12th.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. MI: Ruling favors Glen Ann project A judge has overruled Ann Arbor's Historic District Commission, recommending that developers of Glen Ann Place be allowed to demolish two historic homes on the site of their planned $30 million project.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. US: Barry Stone column: Q: Should buyers forego inspection in a hot market? Buying a property as-is means accepting whatever defects may exist, without requiring repairs or price adjustments by sellers. It does not mean, however, accepting a package of unknown and undisclosed defects, to be discovered after the close of escrow. (HADD advises all home buyers to have an inspection on both older and new houses. --Ed.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. AZ: Turner Dunn takes another turn for worse Unpaid subcontractors are claiming millions of dollars in unpaid services and have placed liens on lots and homes in the developments. Currently, Turner Dunn is under investigation by the ROC and the Arizona Department of Real Estate.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. Fannie Mae Mortgage Fraud Document PDF: Fannie Mae Mortgage Fraud Update: Under "Law Enforcement News" Scroll down to about pg. 4: "Topeka, KS – The US Attorney (5/18) announced that home builder F. Jeffrey Miller (Miller Enterprises,
Star Land Development, Associated Finance and Associated Capital), loan officers Todd Earnshaw
(Maplewood Mortgage), Brian Rouse (Pronounce Mortgage), Angela Parenza and Beth Hessel
(Associated Capital), James Moser, middleman Steve Middleton, and appraisers Paul Nicolace and
Lanny Ross were indicted on fraud charges related to false statements, fabricated documentation, inflated
prices/appraisals and the payment of kickbacks to investors." Gives link to DOJ site on Miller case: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ks/press/May06/May18a.html

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. KS & MO: UPDATE: F. Jeffrey Miller dba Miller Enterprises, etc NOTICE OF HEARING as to Defendant Angela Parenza. Change of Plea Hearing set for 10/16/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. US: TA Associates Announces the Completion of an Investment in Professional Warranty Service Corporation Article from the warranty industry perspective on PWC, a large home warranty provider for builders. Discusses their view on the arbitration clause the warranty has. --Ed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. DC: Leading Developer Portrayed as 'Thief' or 'Visionary' Government lawyers said Jemal and his company, Douglas Development Corp., used bribes and fraudulent documents to keep an overextended real estate empire alive in the years before the boom in District property prices.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. LA: Many of Katrina's Migrant Workers Go Unpaid A cash-based reconstruction economy has taken root in New Orleans, and reports of worker rip-offs are common.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. TN & FL; Nat'l interest: Man Who Used Local Man's Social Security Number To Hire Illegal Alien Is Charged He said he contacted the Social Security Administration and learned that wages were earned using his Social Security number at W9Y Construction in Florida.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. LA: State and Federal Officials Team up for 'Zero Tolerance' Program in La. Louisiana Attorney General's Office
1-800-351-4889
Handle complaints regarding dishonest contractors and other frauds against homeowners.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. FL: Big businesses (incl. home builders) support effort to limit power of voters to change state Constitution "They don't like citizens having the ability to go around the Legislature, which they can control through their campaign contributions," said Ben Wilcox, the executive director of Common Cause Florida

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. IA; National Interest: Johnston takes steps to reduce erosion Soil is not the only pollutant, Leonard said. There are other contaminants that can be in the dirt at a construction site, from chemicals added to concrete mixes to caulking residue.

"You don't want those chemicals getting into the stream," Leonard added.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006. US: Real Estate Recession Coming Some realtors and economists now argue that the decline in home prices will be modest and is nearly complete.

They are very likely to be mistaken.This decline is just beginning and will become more severe because of a recession that will be triggered by the falling home prices. This in turn will lead to a surge in unemployment and many of the newly-unemployed will no longer be able to afford their homes.

Monday, September 11, 2006. DC: Trial Of Developer Begins In D.C. Jemal is charged with a host of crimes, including conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud, and tax evasion. Prosecutors allege that Jemal engaged in shady business dealings with Michael Lorusso, the city's former deputy director of the office of property management.

Monday, September 11, 2006. AZ: Payouts on home claims drop While homeowners have kept up a steady flow of complaints about licensed contractors who have jilted them, the number of claims paid out by a state fund has dropped by almost one-third in the past fiscal year.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Letter to the Editor of Nations Building News (NAHB news) I believe we are also seeing an increasing awareness of the importance of surface waters (including areas of seasonal water storage) in recharging our nation's aquifers, a resource well worth protecting...

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Analysts Are Looking Hard At Rate Shock and The Possible Fallout And, as BusinessWeek.com noted, in spite of the recent bad publicity attending the "exotic" mortgages, they continue to be promoted and publicized. Motley Fool has an interesting article this week in which the writer, Seth Jayson, waxes furious about an ad running in a Washington, DC area newspaper placed by a major national homebuilder. The ad offers "a variety of living arrangements at what seem like rock-bottom prices." For example: "3-4 bedroom garage townhomes... $1,174 per month." Or this one: "Single family and manor homes... $1,478 per month."

However, the builder discloses, "in microscopic print, that these payments are in fact based on teaser (interest) rates of 2.75%, a rate that disappears after one year. After that, you're stuck with a 6.25% rate on a 40-year mortgage. You got that right, 40 years".

Monday, September 11, 2006. Nat'l interest: Contest winner can't afford to live in new house Cook, an auditor for the state of West Virginia who has been disabled since childhood by multiple sclerosis, plans to sell the house because of the high taxes and maintenance costs.

He said the electricity bill is more than 10 times what he now pays.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Housing report sees nasty fall Credit Suisse says the "macro data" — housing starts, new-home sales and existing-home sales — have obscured what's really going on in real estate markets:

Monday, September 11, 2006. FL: Building responsibly The way in which the Miami-Dade Housing Agency structured and handled paying builders and developers to build low-cost housing was either done intentionally to reward builder friends or was the most ineptly designed financial program by a local government.

Monday, September 11, 2006. OH: Petro proposes rules to fight abusive lending Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro proposed rules last week to combat predatory lending and other abusive lending activities by loan officers, mortgage brokers and other lenders.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: When will the tsunami of foreclosures hit? With millions of adjustable-rate mortgages about to reset this fall, experts expect a wave of foreclosures by Americans in every income bracket.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: New Home Builders News New entries/news links today

Monday, September 11, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Arbitration Clauses Legal/Arbitration blog entry on a case against Beazer Homes

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Quotes that will live in infamy Some notorious quotes –like events– represent pivotal moments that should never be forgotten. They should be preserved for posterity and passed along to future generations to serve as a warning. Some of the crap the REIC (Real Estate Industrial Complex) has been spewing for the last 5 years meets this lowly standard of putrescence.

Monday, September 11, 2006. TX: Group takes aim at Choice Homes Complaints from some about construction divide neighborhood...Several homeowners say Choice Homes has come out to their houses to make repairs. But they said that patching drywall and other cosmetic fixes are a waste of time, because they do not address the root of the problem: cracked foundations.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: And the Award Goes To… Housing super-bull, David Lereah, admitted last week what we all knew was coming...

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: The Worst Cases of Tax Fraud in US History -- Who Built Your House? Americas Watchdog has just released the findings of a two year investigation into the practice of national, regional & local homebuilders hiring undocumented construction workers to build our nation's residential housing.

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Today's Housing Bubble Post - Prices Will Drop Now From: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Monday, September 11, 2006. US: Hiring a Contractor It's easy to spend hours poring over decorating magazines, catalogs and color swatches to find the styles and materials that will morph the old homestead into a dream house. But the key decision in any home-improvement project is finding an honest, reliable contractor.

Monday, September 11, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Home Inspector's site showing defects in newly constructed home Sample inspection report on home that is less than one year old. Not an endorsement; posted for informational value. --Ed.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. KS/MO: Reminder: U.S. vs. F. JEFFREY MILLER, et. al NOTICE OF HEARING as to Defendant F Jeffrey Miller. Status Conference set for 9/11/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson (Miller and others were indicted for fraud in homebuilding and lending schemes earlier this year.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006. CA: Judgment for Builder Rendered in Mold Bodily Injury Lawsuit Shea Homes was absolved of any liability for damages that a Stevenson Ranch family alleged had arisen out of mold exposure in their home. (One wonders if the plaintiff and/or their lawyer hurt their case by asking for such a large amount. Sadly, if that was the case, the tactic backfired and possibly damaged the chances of people with valid cases who are asking for a reasonable amount of damages. My opinions, not necessarily that of HADD. --Ed.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006. LA: Louisiana Federal Judge Nixes Contract Claim Dismissal Try New home warranty legislation in Louisiana does not bar contract claims related to alleged defects in the construction of an apartment complex, a federal judge held Aug. 18 (Flournoy Construction Co. v. Slidella

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: KENNETH HARNEY: Lenders stalling protection law A congressionally mandated consumer protection of huge potential value to home mortgage applicants has been paralyzed because two federal agencies have not published required regulations, 33 months after the legislation was signed into law.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. MI: Construction dip triggers layoffs The fastest growing county in southeastern Michigan during the past five years will lay off four more building officials on Friday due to the economic downturn that has slowed construction projects statewide.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. MI: Builder accused of letting work slip, (homeowners file complaints with state attorney general) The result is an administrative complaint filed late last week charging Cummings and his company, Estate Homes LLC, with violations of state law and professional misconduct which could lead to suspension or revocation of his license.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: Water intrusion, Stucco Forum posting with many pictures, on bad stucco application, water intrusion

Sunday, September 10, 2006. OR: Public Meeting Notices Sep 21 is the next one, more meetings to follow, into 2007. This is the Construction Claims Task Force in Oregon, to assess the problems with their licensing agency, shoddy construction, etc. An excellent chance for the public to get involved and be part of positive changes!

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: New Home Builder News Blog New articles posted recently incl. story on plan to build homes on old Xerox site that may be contaminated

Sunday, September 10, 2006. WA: Woman with fraud conviction hired by Better Business Bureau A woman involved in a $1.4 million mortgage fraud scheme was hired by the Spokane Better Business Bureau while appealing her conviction and federal prison sentence.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. IN: Indianapolis Homebuilders Sued by Business Partners Dennis and Deborah Copenhaver of Indianapolis are accused of stealing more than $100,000.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. MI: Ex-official of builders group charged Association's public affairs director for 6 years accused of writing fraudulent checks while in office

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: Home sale incentives; look closely are the deals as good as they seem?

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: Green Growth How Homes Become Green

Sunday, September 10, 2006. KY; US: Immigration trial puts home builders, market in the spotlight "Employers shrugged it off and looked at is as a cost of business," Counts said of the fines. "Facing federal criminal charges is bound to get anybody's attention much more than an administrative fine."

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: Housing slump harsher than predicted The rapid deterioration of the market over the past 12 months has caught many homeowners and builders off guard.

Sunday, September 10, 2006. US: Ellen Degeneres Show looking for construction horror stories The Ellen DeGeneres Show
PO Box 7788
Burbank, CA 91523
Attn: Home Renovation/ Repair Problems

Friday, September 08, 2006. CA; International interest: Failed Panama Real Estate Developer Sues Whole World In an apparent bid to protect himself from fraud charges brought against him in Panama, Isla Solarte developer Shepard Johnson has filed a lawsuit (document here) with the Sacramento Superior Court against an apparent total of 251 people, including his former right hand man Monte Watson. Isla Solarte is, if you remember, just another example of one of those Panamanian real estate developments that keeps an army of lawyers busy sorting the mess out, with money missing, roads that were never built, titles that never existed - the usual Scam-R-Us circus....And what is Shepard Johnson doing for a living these days? Muhaha! Developing real estate of course! He's now the developer of something called "North End Lofts." The website carefully avoids mentioning Johnson's capers in Panama and his legal troubles

Friday, September 08, 2006. PA: Call 4 Action: Couple Claims Shoddy Job By Pepper "This is not up to industry standards. That's how we refer to it," O'Connor said. "Dented siding, warped siding -- those kinds of things are not how the manufacturer intended the product to be installed."

Friday, September 08, 2006. GA: City's home-repair program in tatters The officials who oversaw the program authorized payments to contractors for work that was never performed on houses owned by disabled and elderly homeowners.

Friday, September 08, 2006. US: Homeowner's site about their experience with K. Hovnanian Some recent entries/complaints

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL; From NPR: Floridians Debate Changing Storm-Rating Codes But home builders have successfully convinced regulators that tougher standards aren't needed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL: Developers seek $200 million in city funds The Miami commission is set to vote today on condo and retail plans for land being sold by The Miami Herald's parent. But some are wondering why the developers are seeking public funds.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. MD: Questions Raised About Large Developer Campaign Contributions An anonymous complaint has been made to the Maryland State Board of Elections that businesses associated with local developer Mark Odachowski and ADC Builders of Rockville have contributed more than allowed to County Commissioner incumbent candidates Tom Cetola, Bud Church, Louise Gulyas, James Purnell and Judy Boggs.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Infection risk in kids living near landfills Living near a hazardous waste site containing persistent pollutants such as dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and chlorinated pesticides, seems to increase the risk of hospitalization for respiratory infections and asthma in children, a study suggests.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. MI: Real estate project moves forward City leaders gave an early thumbs-up to a plan to develop property that sits on an old landfill.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. RI: Dump site contamination study to begin While litigation between the Town of Coventry and Centre of New England (CoNE) developer Nicholas E. Cambio over the clean-up of the former landfill on Arnold Road is still pending, a judge has ordered site investigations to begin in September to determine the extent of the property's contamination.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. NJ: Department of Environmental Protection understaffed and overwhelmed The result of what critics call an ingrained culture of overburdened state regulators, slow-moving polluters and a fragmented bureaucracy is that pockets of pollution can fester for years...A developer plans to build a 206-unit apartment building at the site, but a cleanup plan has yet to emerge for the factory that once manufactured pesticides, paint strippers and airplane deicing chemicals.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Housing slump seen hurting economy Way too many houses on the market

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: HomeThinking.com Site has a rating function for real estate agents. Please let HADD know if you've found the ratings helpful/accurate. --Ed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. From US Dept of Housing and Urban Development: HUD SETTLES CASES AGAINST NEW ENGLAND ATTORNEY AND PROPERTY APPRAISAL FIRM FOR PAYING KICKBACKS FOR REFERRALS violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

Thursday, September 07, 2006. CA; update on Mortgage Fraud Blog article below: Mattes' attackers freed on bail, threats continue Suleiman and Baraza face a variety of charges. Suleiman is charged with battery, while his wife faces charges of battery, brandishing a weapon (a rock), grand theft, and making criminal threats.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. From Mortgage Fraud Blog: Reporter Attacked While Investigating Real Estate Fraud Story Article contains link to local news site with video

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Cash Back at Closing? Strictly Illegal! Real Estate Expert Ralph R. Roberts Explains Why

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL: Warranty obligations different Article on HOA's, condos, and warranties

Thursday, September 07, 2006. AZ: County employee accused of soliciting bribe from builder Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Dotson contacted employees at Extreme Construction in Mesa saying he could help the company avoid fines of $7,000 to $10,000.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. CO: Hartman to Auburn: Return Developer Dough Kathy Hartman, Democratic candidate for Jefferson County Commissioner, today sent a letter to her opponent, Commissioner Dave Auburn, asking him to return a campaign contribution he received from a developer that had just benefited from a decision made by the Commissioners.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. IN: Builder admits his role in $217M bad-check case Tauer (Royal Haven Builders) was indicted by a grand jury in February 2005 on 13 counts of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy for writing 2,772 checks without sufficient funds to cover them. Prosecutors said the scheme, in which he shifted funds to different accounts, was designed to make it appear to creditors that his finances were in good shape.
The bankruptcy resulted in contractors going unpaid -- one was owed about $700,000 -- and some homeowners claimed contractors then attempted to place liens on their homes to recoup what they were owed.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. MA: Ringleader in Springfield housing scandal agrees to prison term A man considered by federal investigators to be a ringleader in the Springfield Housing Authority scandal has agreed to forfeit his two homes and serve up to 14 years in prison for helping to embezzle more than $2.5 million from the agency.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL: Mayor in hot water Walker’s construction company also wrote a check to his campaign to the amount of $8,700, while checks of $500 or more, are illegal.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. PA: Contractor with financial woes admits stealing from customer "Dolla took $10,000 from the victim and did no work in exchange for the money," Latzer added. "That’s no different than someone breaking into the victim’s home and stealing that amount of cash."

Thursday, September 07, 2006. NY: $36M suit vs. B'klyn developer Condo owners in Brooklyn's trendy DUMBO neighborhood are suing developer Joshua Guttman, whose massive Greenpoint warehouse complex burned in May, over what they call shoddy construction.
The owners of 58 units at 50 Bridge St. want $36 million in damages from Guttman for "hundreds of structural construction defects" and code violations, according to their attorney Adam Leitman Bailey.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL: Carl Hiaasen: Just say no to stronger building code Andrew leveled acres of crackerbox subdivisions that the industry had previously asserted were of first-rate construction. During the ensuing uproar, panicky Panhandle builders leaned on lawmakers to spare them from the tougher construction standards that had begun sweeping the state.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. IN: Grand jury indicts builders A Johnson County grand jury has indicted a husband and wife homebuilding team on felony charges of stealing more than $100,000 from their business partners.

Dennis and Deborah Copenhaver are charged with one count each of theft and two counts each of corrupt business influence in their dealings with two area subdivisions.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. FL: Pro-growth PACs' choices don't fare well Those smear campaigns against him by the developers ... the effect they wanted to have is having the opposite effect...

Thursday, September 07, 2006. NC: Chamber stiffens award finalist criteria And at least one (winner of the award), David Simonini, the custom home builder and winner of the 1998 award for companies with 10 or fewer employees, later filed for bankruptcy.

Simonini was indicted in 2003 and accused of scheming to obtain millions of dollars in loans to finance his failing business, investments and lifestyle. He was sentenced in December 2004...

Thursday, September 07, 2006. PA: News in brief from eastern Pennsylvania Scroll down to article from STROUDSBURG, RE: builder Dennis Slayton: "Customers claimed he had taken more than $500,000 in deposits placed on new homes that were never built, allegedly using the money to buy crack cocaine."

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: KB warns, Hovnanian quarterly earnings fall "I think you'll expect more pre-announcements, more lowering of guidance, more missing estimates, orders coming in below expectations, yada yada," said JMP Securities analyst Alex Barron. "It's just starting. It's only the 3rd inning of the downturn."

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Beazer trims 2006 outlook Home builder lowers profit view as housing markets deteriorates

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: $150 Chance At $1.5 Million Home Could Really Cost $700,000 After state and federal taxes, property taxes and the cost of homeowners' insurance, chances are you can't afford to win such a home and the cost is a big reason property raffles often fizzle.

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Parody: Words to song below If you can't listen, read along

Thursday, September 07, 2006. US: Parody: Song about HOA's Turn on your speakers to hear this humorous song about living in a community with an HOA

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. TX: Houston Real Estate Follies Tongue in cheek video from Google Videos

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. US: VIDEO: Value of a home inspection From YouTube.com

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. KY: $6 million SoHo condos go bust Developers file for liquidation

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. NJ: NJ Affordable Homes Portfolio Going Up for Bankruptcy Auction Properties owned and controlled by bankrupt residential builder NJ Affordable Homes Corp. (NJAH) in Woodbridge will be put up for auction...The Securities and Exchange Commission went to court last September to freeze the assets of NJAH and its president Wayne Puff. The SEC alleged Puff and the company sold at least $40 million notes in unregistered offerings in a Ponzi scheme to more than 490 investors across the country.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. The Washington Times: Loudoun builder faces fraud charges A Loudoun County developer (Gary Grimm) is facing charges from two Virginia law-enforcement agencies after subcontractors and home buyers reported losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a series of failed business deals.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. AZ; National interest: Law firm site with articles on construction defects (Not an endorsement; informational purposes only. --Ed.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. PA: Authorities uncover housing trap Kissane called it one of the largest fraud cases he has ever prosecuted.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. AL: Summerdale contractor charged with Katrina, elderly fraud A Summerdale contractor (Tracy Allen Hoyt) who was chased down and tackled by deputies remained jailed Wednesday on charges accusing him of cheating Baldwin County residents out of about $500,000 in a series of scams targeting the elderly and Hurricane Katrina victims.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. VA: Convicted carpenter plans to appeal Jay Anthony Meyers of Catlett was convicted following a one-day bench trial in Fauquier County Circuit Court Aug. 2, according to court records.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. UT; National interest: Housing prices climb "In many cases when the investors came in the builders couldn't supply the inventory fast enough, so the prices escalated even more rapidly, which brings in even more speculators and investors," Ivory said. "Builders don't realize that many of those people that were buying their homes had no intention of occupying them. The builders are ramping up production to meet a new demand, which is an artificial demand. The whole thing is artificially inflated, and then all of a sudden there is this surge of supply."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. VA; National interest: Follow the Money ("mushroom PACs") We are going to have more money to spend in a House race than the candidate will," said Joe Sinagra, executive officer of the Homebuilders and Remodelers Association of Vermont, another group involved in the VBC.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. US: Homeowner Tips To Survive The Real Estate Burst For over two years the National Mortgage Complaint Center has been expressing concern/panic over regional or national homebuilders forcing local real estate appraisers to come up with inflated or over-valued real estate valuations. The net result is, as builders inflated the price of their new homes, existing homeowners inflated theirs. This practice goes back to about 1998. It was a game of musical chairs. According to Martin,"at some point the music would stop and someone would get left without a chair. In this instance it will be the homeowners who recently purchased a home and or the pension funds who thought they were buying a real estate portfolio worth 100%. In reality new mortgage backed securities might only be worth 90% or 85%. Ultimately it will be the taxpayer; as this real estate bubble burst will call for another massive federal bail-out just like the Savings & Loan Bail Out of the late 1980s & early 1990s." (Not an endorsement for this service; posted for information only as is all our news. --Ed.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. US: Union calls for UnitedHealth director to resign The union said Johnson should be ousted due to his involvement with companies, including UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH) and Los Angeles' KB Home (NYSE: KBH), that have been the subject of stock-option backdating investigations.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: Disclosure Case Bolsters Enforcement of Arbitration Awards The case is Rick Fininen et al. v. Mark Barlow ( No. B183709, Aug. 22, 2006). "Parties who waive their right to challenge an arbitrator for failing to disclose conflicts of interest cannot later seek to vacate an arbitration award on that ground, despite what state law might suggest, according to a California appeals court." (Contractor chooses arbitrator, waives right to exclude arbitrator for conflict of interest, loses, then tries to say arbitrator had a conflict of interest? --Ed.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. TX: Group takes aim at Choice MIDLOTHIAN -- Dozens of homeowners in this community southeast of Mansfield are pulling together to challenge their builder, Choice Homes of Arlington, over problems including cracked foundations, stuck doors and water pressure so strong that it blasts out of faucets.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006. TX: Houston to adopt worthless builders commission "It doesn't mean consumers are being protected," Winslow said. "In fact, we think it gives consumers a false sense of security, because all you really have to do is pay a fee and you're registered. There aren't any standards to be met."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. From Contractor Magazine: All plumbers should be licensed, period Plumber's letter to the editor

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. KS; MO: REMINDER, hearing for indicted builder F. Jeffrey Miller Status Conference set for 9/11/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. SC: There’s a new power broker in town, and he’s talking mom, apple pie Much may depend on the fallout from the delicate political operation that will be necessary to separate the Realtors from their Siamese twin, the homebuilders.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. FL: Building code can't see forest for the trees It's another signature cop-out for an industry-stacked panel that was formed after Hurricane Andrew with the unstated mission of preempting tough local construction codes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. AK: Built to suit This is the third in a series of articles involving a possible arson fire in Sterling, questionable business practices by a home builder and the alleged swindling of millions of dollars in property from an elderly Sterling couple. (earlier articles posted below)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. FL: Buyers in a bind After struggling home builder Jade Homes suddenly closed its doors last month, buyers of about 75 homes found themselves in difficult straits....Bobcat resident Mike Milak has begun to organize residents and suggests that other owners of Jade-built homes meet "to collectively look at their experiences," and presumably plot legal, communal and community strategy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. CA: San Diego Contractor to Pay State Fund $171,000 and Serve 3 Years Probation in Insurance Fraud Case Arturo Cuevas, 43, owner of Cuevas Roofing & Painting, Inc./Western Pacific Design & Development, Inc., was also sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to insurance premium fraud.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. NC: Man behind FBI agent under investigation sentenced It was a disgraceful end to what had been a sterling FBI career. Blowers admitted that he took expensive trips to Las Vegas with developer David Simonini and failed to report it. Simonini is in prison on bank fraud charges.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: The Truth About Toll: a homeowner's site Personal experience of a Toll Brothers customer

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: Toll Brothers and Urban Sprawl third of a four-part series

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. TX: Political scandal doesn't always lead to reforms In Texas, the Legislature created a state agency to deal with complaints against homebuilders, making it difficult for consumers to sue. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the state's largest campaign donor, favored the cause. His company's lawyer helped write the legislation, and Gov. Perry (no relation) appointed him to the new state commission.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. AK: Elderly couple’s assets tied up in legal battle This is the second in a series of articles involving a possible arson fire in Sterling, questionable business practices by a home builder and the alleged swindling of millions of dollars in property from an elderly Sterling couple.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. LA: KB Home quick to get land, but slow to start New base flood elevations issued by FEMA have forced KB to re-engineer some of the homes it planned for Waggaman, Davis said.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. OH; KY: Two more are indicted in home-building case A federal grand jury has indicted two more employees of Fischer Homes, the latest charges brought in a two-year investigation of the use of illegal immigrants in home building.

Construction superintendents Ronald Vanlandingham and David Schroeder are each charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: Smart Money Sept 2006 issue has an article, "Heartbreak Houses," that is NOT ONLINE but only in the PRINT magazine. Look for it in stores now. If you would like to see the article online please contact Smart Money and request it! --Ed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recent input on the Construction Claims Task Force in OR, re shoddy construction, and warranties.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: Worth Repeating: "10 Things your builder won't tell you" From Smart Money Magazine, Jan. 2000

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. US: Inspectors Code Forum on moisture problems Many interesting threads here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. TX: Home-building measure's effect unclear Home construction regulators say a new city requirement forcing many Houston builders and remodelers to register with the state will give greater protection to consumers. Consumer groups are glad to see the new requirement, but they say registering with the Texas Residential Construction Commission won't do much for consumers.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. TX: Texas Consumer Complaint Center New site; HADD would appreciate feedback on whether this is an effective consumer site or not as it develops. --Ed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006. TX: Political scandal doesn't always lead to reforms Washington is not the only place where monied interests can sway issues. In Texas, the Legislature created a state agency to deal with complaints against homebuilders, making it difficult for consumers to sue. Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the state's largest campaign donor, favored the cause. His company's lawyer helped write the legislation, and Gov. Perry (no relation) appointed him to the new state commission.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. US: New Home Builders in the news New blog/news entries today

Saturday, September 02, 2006. Nat'l Interest: EIFS and Building Defects Exterior Insulation Finish Systems (synthetic stucco) and other construction defect problems

Saturday, September 02, 2006. PA: Home-fraud settlement fails to satisfy everyone The consent agreement between the state and Eagle Valley Homes also settled criminal charges against most of the defendants in the case. Parisi, 43, and mortgage broker Rose Perdue, 44, pleaded no contest to passing forged documents and were sentenced to three years' probation each. Kishbaugh, 70, also pleaded no contest to a forgery charge and was given two years' probation.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. IN: Protect yourself against shoddy home construction A red flag came up when I read the article "Builders adapt as home sales sag" in the Aug. 30 Business section of The Star. As a victim of a production homebuilder listed in the article, I am concerned that the "coping" of these homebuilders may lead to the reduction of value in the construction. Shortcuts in construction may be a popular choice when cutting costs during the "downturn" of the home sales sag.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. US: Housing casts shadow on prospects for banks With the $10 trillion housing market weakening fast, in defiance of the assurances of most pundits just a year ago, investors are starting to question the confidence among banks about their ability to weather a housing downturn.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. AZ: AFL-CIO tries to attract construction workers A group of 50 or so employees and union organizers gathered outside the north Scottsdale office of Pulte Homes to announce the filing of a federal lawsuit that alleges Bean Drywall, a Pulte subcontractor, hasn’t been paying overtime for four years.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. PA; Nat'l interest: Local leaders must step up, expert urges Pennsylvania communities do not have to let business owners dictate development. All they need is the courage to take charge.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. Nat'l interest: Homebuilders spend least since 2002 With fewer people buying homes, building permits in the bay area fall 43 percent.

Saturday, September 02, 2006. KY: Two from Fischer Homes indicted The new indictments are against construction superintendents Ronald Vanlandingham and David Schroeder. Each is charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Large PDF file on "Moisture Resistant Homes" From US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); a study done by PATH (Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing)

Friday, September 01, 2006. From US Dept of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): PDF: KB Home Mortgage Failed to Ensure Underwriting Certifications for Federal Housing Administration Loans Were Accurate In an estimated 206 of 543 HUD loans targeted for review,
KB’s underwriters certified that they personally underwrote the loans when they
did not. As a result, HUD has no assurance that these loans were properly
underwritten to ensure they were eligible for Federal Housing Administration
mortgage insurance; therefore, HUD was exposed to unnecessary insurance risk
for these loans.

Friday, September 01, 2006. FL: Contractor now a Convict Most of the victims of Sanfilippo’s schemes did not find out until it was too late that he was using the money they had given him to build their home for some other purpose. Some of the victim’s of Sanfilippo lost their entire life’s savings of $100,000 or more and many were retired.

Friday, September 01, 2006. AK: Suspicious fire just the beginning of legal drama This is the first in a series of articles involving a possible arson fire in Sterling, questionable business practices by a home builder and the alleged swindling of millions of dollars in property from an elderly Sterling couple.

Friday, September 01, 2006. From Insurance Journal: Texas Supreme Court Upholds Mold Exclusion in Homeowners Policy Justice Medina filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice O'Neill joined. (Article allows for comments at the end.)

Friday, September 01, 2006. OH; KY: Taylor Building Corporation v. Marvin Benfield Important case describing why arbitration clauses that benefit one party over the other may be unconscionable and unenforceable. --Ed.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Strategies for implementing a successful construction arbitration program (From Lowe's site, advising contractors to have their arbitration clauses be as favorable to them as possible. --Ed.) ""You can make the construction arbitration or mediation document as detailed as you want," Cortez says. 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—usually, near the work site—and what rules will govern the agreement. "At least 90 percent of construction arbitration cases are [governed by] the Construction Industry Rules of the American Arbitration Association (AAA)," Cortez says."

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Hurricane-proof homes too costly, US experts say Even a handful of screws used to secure the corners and other fragile areas of roofs can reduce damage significantly, engineers say.

Friday, September 01, 2006. CA: Contractor Ordered to Pay $475,000, Serve 1-Year Jail Term for Insurance Fraud The fraud was uncovered after Seiler filed a workers' compensation claim for an employee, even though he had never reported any wages for the employee to State Fund.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: 10 Tips to Construct a Mold-Free Building An independent third party should assess the strength of the building's roof, wall assembly and foundation.

Friday, September 01, 2006. CT: Homeowner's website about their problem-house over 40 State Code Violations

Friday, September 01, 2006. CT: Trouble-plagued house brings about lawsuit Whatever the merits of the lawsuit, there is general agreement among neutral observers that the property in question never should have been developed as a housing lot.
It was "a building lot of record," meaning it had been considered as a building lot before the advent of zoning. One individual with knowledge of some of the back-and-forth of the past three years suggested this week that if the lot came before town officials now, "it would never be approved as a building site."

Friday, September 01, 2006. MI: Bloomfield Township forcing demolition of unfinished house They said delays in the construction process came from a contractor abandoning the job before its completion...

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Fight Against Eminent Domain May courts summarily permit local governments to hand over your home to someone else for private development without even allowing you to first present evidence in your home’s defense?

That is exactly what a New Jersey judge did early this year, and that is the decision homeowners from Long Branch, N.J., who are fighting eminent domain abuse, will appeal today with the help of the Institute for Justice, the nation’s leading opponents of eminent domain for private gain.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Blaming the Homeowners Developers can build without violating anyone’s constitutional rights.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: When Bait and Switch Meets Eminent Domain Abuse City officials across the country have put a new spin on the well-worn bait-and-switch tactic. They’re taking private property by eminent domain under the pretext that it’ll be used for public use and then giving that property to private developers as they intended to do all along.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Going For Broke Elizabeth Warren discusses how ordinary families wind up bankrupt and why new legislation could be hurting those at risk: "When these creative lending [deals] come due, more than a million Americans will lose their homes, and millions more will be stretched to the breaking point." [HADD would also add severely defective new homes to things that put families at risk of bankruptcy. --Ed.]

Friday, September 01, 2006. CA: Condo Owners to Pay For Developer’s Mistakes Nearly 200 luxury condo owners in the first tower at Turnberry Place, including "Six Million Dollar Man" Lee Majors, may have a mechanics lien filed against them, which would sully their credit record and tie up any sales of their units.

Friday, September 01, 2006. US: Nightmare Mortgages After prolonging the boom, these exotic mortgages could worsen the bust.

Friday, September 01, 2006. LA: Stricter building codes coming Some police jurors like Chris Landry agree stricter codes will be good in the long run. Says Landry, "That's something that's going to protect consumers. There's a lot of shoddy workmanship that's going on. You have these out of town contractors coming in, I mean there are no inspections and they're taking advantage of people."

Friday, September 01, 2006. TX; Nat'l: Foreclosures rise as income falls, expenses pop up "If the builders in the area would stop putting people in houses that they cannot afford and qualify them with the correct taxes, this would not happen," she said.

Friday, September 01, 2006. AZ: Arizona Supreme Court Gives Voters Chance to Vote for Prop 106 and Protect Arizona Land Prop 106 will protect 694,000 acres of open space—including some of Arizona’s most precious natural areas, require the Arizona State Land Department to work cooperatively with communities to better manage growth, and safeguard funding for the classroom. In contrast, the measure that was pushed through the legislature at the end of the session by the homebuilders protects only 37,000 acres and requires complex legislative approval.

Friday, September 01, 2006. FL: Political mailer called false, misleading This card — unlike a similar attack piece leveled at Thompson earlier this week by the same group — cites a specific case involving a violent criminal who faced felony charges related to sex and attempted murder.

It says Thompson, a prosecutor with the state attorney's office, put him on the streets.

But Russell said that case was heard in 1981 — when Thompson, 40, was 15 years old, and obviously not working as a prosecutor.

...The mailing came from a group called "Parents for Safer Neighborhoods," with a Tallahassee address.

No individuals are named, and detailed information on such groups is often limited just before an election.

But the address is the same as that for the Florida Home Builders, a group whose leaders have donated to Albion and whom Albion's consultant has worked with closely.

Friday, September 01, 2006. MO; KS: REMINDER: Upcoming hearing for indicted developer Jeffrey Miller NOTICE OF HEARING as to Defendant F Jeffrey Miller. Status Conference set for 9/11/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson [It's been brought to our attention that "cache problems" on some people's computers cause this page to show as it was the last time they visited the USDOJ site. Watch HADD for updates and/or contact HUD Office of the Inspector General, KKanakares@hudoig.gov if you have information about this case. --Ed.]

Friday, September 01, 2006. OH; KY: Erpenbeck sentence reduced by 5 years Calling disgraced Northern Kentucky homebuilder Bill Erpenbeck an "immoral, self-centered egotist," a federal judge in Cincinnati sentenced him Thursday to 25 years in federal prison....Whitaker asked Beckwith to sentence Erpenbeck to the minimum under the guidelines, saying that was reasonable and sufficient.

But Beckwith was not sympathetic. She noted that while hundreds of people were fighting with banks and lawyers about liens on their houses or unfinished work on their condos, Erpenbeck was living the high life on their dime, with boats and a private plane available for cruises and golf outings, a luxury box at Paul Brown Stadium, and extravagant parties.

Friday, September 01, 2006. OH; KY: Erpenbeck term reduced Judge weighs harm that bank swindle Erpenbeck caused

Friday, September 01, 2006. OH; KY: Erpenbeck resentencing Article provides links to some archived stories on Erpenbeck case going back to 2003. --Ed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. TX: Perry Homes vs The Culls in the Texas Supreme Court No 05-0882 The latest brief filed with the Supreme Court. Other related documents can be found at http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/ebriefs/files/20050882.htm

Thursday, August 31, 2006. CA: Folsom Condo Owners Upset With City, Developer Over Toxic Mold A KCRA 3 investigation has uncovered that the city and the developer were well aware of the potential dangers from mold long before the condos were sold.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. FL: UPDATE: Builder tied to housing scandal is jailed ''It's repugnant that Rivero, who knew the desperate need for housing for the poor, instead stole the money to build his own castle,'' said State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle, whose office has been investigating along with the Miami-Dade police public corruption unit.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. TX: Ex-bank clerk, contractor admit fraud in separate Midland cases (The contractor) case is against 38-year-old Jon Mark Whitaker, who could be sentenced to 20 years for using his "Homes by Whitaker" company to defraud homebuyers, subcontractors and suppliers of more than $500,000 between November 2004 and November 2005.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. OH: Judge gives Erpenbeck 25 years for stealing "people's dreams" Calling Bill Erpenbeck a "self-centered, amoral egotist" who "stole people's dreams," U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith imposed a 25-year sentence for the Northern Kentucky homebuilder's 2004 bank-fraud conviction.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. US: Short sales are latest sign of stress That endgame is contributing to the practice of ``short sales,'' according to an Aug. 21 story in the Sacramento (California) Bee. Homeowners who owe the bank more than the house is currently worth try to convince the lender to accept less than the loan value to avoid the costs of foreclosing on the property.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. USA Today: Builders cut back landholdings As sales slow and inventories jump, large publicly traded home builders are trimming landholdings or renegotiating deals, according to earnings reports and industry officials.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. AZ: Home builders win key victory Home builders have won a crucial victory in their effort to defeat an initiative that would set aside up to 690,000 acres of state trust land as off-limits to development.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. AZ: Home builders win vs. city of Maricopa County's prior deal to bar future fees valid, judge rules

Thursday, August 31, 2006. OH: PDF of Court Case: Appeal involving Taylor Building Corporation Case involves unconscionability of arbitration clause: Court's decision was Aug 28 2006.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. OH; Ky: 25 Years for Erpenbeck Judge cuts sentence by 5 years [Update on Erpenbeck home building scandal. --Ed.]

Thursday, August 31, 2006. US: 'Exotic' mortgages seen losing their allure Many homeowners with nontraditional loans are in for a payment shock

Thursday, August 31, 2006. US: The Case for Going Green Green building is, by definition, good for the environment, but it also benefits homeowners' health and pocketbooks.

Thursday, August 31, 2006. Housing Zone: Sink or Swim Although they provide income and help improve customer service, captive mortgage loans can also be a liability. Just look at KB Home. In July 2005, HUD announced it reached a $3.2 million settlement with KB Home Mortgage Co. in connection with a series of alleged violations of HUD requirements, some of which purportedly caused homeowners to default on their loans.

That's a hefty price to pay for any business, but for KB, it amounted to 18 percent of the $17.6 million in mortgage banking revenue the company brought in the year before — A rather significant sum, even though the Los Angeles-based company downplayed it at the time by publicizing that the mortgage business was merely less than one percent of what the $9.4 billion company rakes in from one fiscal quarter of earnings.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. US: Construction Law Blog New entry this week

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. US; international: YouTube.com A website to post videos and share worldwide. Anyone have video of their home's defects or repairs that they want to share? This might be a good site to do that from.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. MI: Builder accused of letting work slip Woodland Estates subdivision of detached condominiums at 40995 Schoenherr Road still sits partially unfinished, after homeowners there complained to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox earlier this summer and launched an investigation into the building company and its proprietor, Gregory Cummings.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. MI: A Brazen Example Of Attempted Real Estate Fraud real estate and mortgage fraud has gotten so out of control that a crook tried to pass a phony deed right under the nose of the home’s owner, who just so happened to work at the Register of Deeds office.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. Nat'l interest: Group Files Appeal for NJ Homeowners national organization that won a landmark Ohio eminent domain case helped file an appeal Wednesday so Long Branch homeowners can fight that city's attempt to take their homes for beachfront redevelopment.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. Canada: Housing rush breeds quality concerns Real estate pros say some builders may be cutting corners in the rush to feed Lloydminster’s unprecedented housing demand.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. OH; KY: Archived article on Erpenbeck case re; article below Erpenbeck, 71, was convicted in December of soliciting a contract killer to murder U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathleen Brinkman, and of attempting to have the children of FBI agent Timothy Tracy kidnapped. (Tony Erpenbeck and Bill Erpenbeck are part of a home building family involved in the same fraud case. --Ed.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. OH: Update on ongoing fraud case: Erpenbeck to get less time Fred Alverson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Cincinnati, said the government will press for the “strongest possible sentence because we believe that the case caused a tremendous impact on many Tristate area homebuyers and lenders.”

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. AZ: Richmond American tight-lipped on any layoffs A caller who identified himself only as a former employee of Richmond American Homes, one of the Valley’s largest homebuilders, phoned the Tribune’s Vent line to say the company laid off 100 office workers here on Friday.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006. OR: Protection of trees was responsibility of home builder $10,000 fine is inconsequential for developer of 72-lot subdivision

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. AL: Feds rest case, drop handful of charges Russo still faces several charges for allegedly accepting money and gifts from developers whom he helped with condominium projects, while Sutley and Wall also face charges stemming from the alleged real estate deals.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries again today

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. US: Contract is key to successful home-improvement job If the contractor asks you to sign a "standard contract" when he asks for your down payment, it may not be in your best interest. You can be sure it has been fine tuned with paragraphs designed to protect the contractor, not you.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. Nat'l interest: Shadow Boxing “The bulk of resales happen after three to seven years,” notes Al Trellis, president of Home Builders Network, a Maryland-based consultancy specializing in strategies for small builders. “When you're selling against houses that are two to four years old, you're often selling against your own stuff.”

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. UT; Nat'l interest: Builder blasts speculators Behind the soaring prices, which are pushing homes beyond the reach of many working families, are speculators, Ivory contends. And he is blunt when it comes to homebuilders selling out to speculators, saying their motives amount to "short-term greed and thoughtlessness."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. US: No Housing Bust Here! I'm sure others have noticed, as I have, the increasingly desperate pleas from the housing-bubble cheerleaders, especially National Association of Realtors Chief Economist David Lereah. A longtime bubble denier -- who, I think, is more interested in protecting his constituency of six-percenters than in offering realistic housing-market commentary

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. FL article related to one below: Lawsuit sheds light The Florida Home Builders, Nielsen and Nielsen's West Palm Beach-based firm, Public Concepts, are the defendants in the case. Pruitt is not a defendant but has been subpoenaed as a witness.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. Another builder-backed group in FL involved in smear campaign (See earlier articles this year from FL): Sheriff, state atty. defend House candidate The flier comes from a group callled “Parents for Safer Neighborhoods,” with no individual name listed.

But the Tallahassee address belongs to the Florida Home Builders — the group that staged a campaign event for Thompson’s opponent, Lee County Commissioner John Albion, in December in the capitol city.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. LA; Gulf Coast: Losing air? The "hot potato" factor could also make things worse. That's when developers try to sell off as many of their lots as possible to builders, in order to pay off their investment. The builders then scramble to put homes on the lots in order to pay off their investment, flooding an already crowded market with even more houses, dropping the prices further.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006. Washington Post: Height of Unfairness As reported by The Post's Lisa Rein, thousands of homes taller than the permitted 35 feet were constructed because the county wasn't paying enough attention. Seems that the builders, whom the county trusted to police heights, used a different method of measurement....Imagine being a month away from closing on the house of your dreams, only to be told you can't live there unless you make expensive, and in some cases undesirable, fixes. Not only did these people act in good faith, but they have also invested a great of money, not to mention their hopes, in these new homes.

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: Financial Mouse Trap So far, of course, the housing fraudsters have managed to stay clear of the plank. Mortgage giant Fannie Mae paid a record $400 million fine this past May, but managed to squeak out of criminal prosecution over prettifying its earnings. Ditto for Freddie Mac, which had its own accounting scandal in 2003.

And the rest of the perps today happen to be thousands of middle-class homeowners who still think the Fed will dive in and give them a get-out-of-jail-free card at the last minute. But our friend, Steve Sjuggerud, thinks they shouldn't bet on it. Recalling the aftermath of the 80s, Steve says real estate is just about to get much worse:

Monday, August 28, 2006. MI: Contractor testifies he did other free jobs for Bates (Update on city councilman's work that was billed to a housing project. --ed.)

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: Forget the Mansion: Why Buying Bigger Doesn't Guarantee a Rich Retirement Money Pit

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: Homeowners down in the dumps The rapid deterioration of the market over the past 12 months has caught many homeowners and builders off guard.

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries today

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: Homebuilders living in a new world "The builders have finally realized they've been hit with a truck," Kiesel said, "and they're trying like mad to get out of their land commitments."

Monday, August 28, 2006. US: This could be the big one Bill Wendell thinks that is an understatement. In his local real estate blog, http://realestatecafe.blogs.com/ he warns of “seller concessions masking deeper discounts on sales prices.” Wendell has a stake in exposing this shell game; he’s a realtor whose Real Estate Café works exclusively as a buyers’ agent.
Most realtors, however, are sellers’ agents. They dominate the trade associations whose lobbyists and experts testify and get quoted by the media. They, and their friends in financial and political circles, have a vested interest in minimizing the public perception of a downward trend in prices.

Monday, August 28, 2006. AZ: Builders work to mend fences with agents Home builders are spending big bucks and dishing out heaping helpings of hospitality during what has become the summer of love in the Phoenix new-home market.

The objects of their affection? The real estate agents they spurned during last year's housing boom.

Monday, August 28, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Building sturdier homes gains cachet Developers build beefed-up houses they can market as storm and fire resistant.

Monday, August 28, 2006. Smart Money Magazine: September Issue, PRINT edition; "Heartbreak Houses" By Jim Rendon, (page 72 of magazine. This is NOT ONLINE at this time but may be eventually. In the meantime, check your stores for the SEP issue of Smart Money for an article on defective new houses. --Ed.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Duped by duplex duplicity? Founder Rick Dryer, 57, portrayed himself in seminars as a millionaire homebuilder and the author of a book on real estate investing. There was a picture of his book cover in Mile High's promotional materials, but the book didn't exist, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Neither did most of the duplexes Mile High sold to investors.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. MI; update on previous story: Roofer grilled on Bates bill A contractor who put a new roof on the home of former Detroit City Councilman Alonzo (Lonnie) Bates testified Friday he was told to bill the job to a public housing project in Hamtramck.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. From Smart Money Magazine: SEC to Probe KB Home Over Stock Options KB Home, as well as certain of its directors and officers, are also facing three shareholder derivative suits, filed in the past two months, alleging breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the stock-option grants.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. NC: Quit blaming mortgage brokers for everything The other thing to remember is that generally there are more personalities in play in a real estate transaction. I feel like new home builders and real estate agents are more culpable than a mortgage broker. Many times a mortgage broker will get a referral from one of these sources, but then the pressure is on to get the buyer qualified. That is the true culprit.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. DE: This year, campaigners pay for illegal signs
Politicians and their campaigns -- not to mention home builders, who are racking up by far the most fines -- are already feeling the law's pinch as they figure out its restrictions.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Find a contractor that builds green homes My first thought is that if you have to explain the concept to him, you're talking to the wrong builder.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. FL: "Just say No to stronger building codes?" The Florida Building Commission, seeking cover in the woods, has voted to keep a prime coastal corridor of the Panhandle exempt from stiff wind protections in the state hurricane codes.

It's another signature copout for an industry-stacked panel that was formed after Hurricane Andrew with the unstated mission of preempting tough local construction codes.

Sunday, August 27, 2006. CO: Out of Sight, Out of Mind Radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas, is considered the second-leading cause of lung cancer, behind only tobacco smoke....More and more often, though, home buyers are requesting radon tests and requiring that mitigation systems be part of the deal. Most of the region’s largest home builders are not installing radon systems in new homes, even though the EPA urges they do so in Zone 1 areas.

Saturday, August 26, 2006. CA: Developer agrees to repair Nipomo homes King Ventures says it will check each of the 100 homes in Nipomo Village and fix damage related to builder error

Friday, August 25, 2006. Nat'l interest: New Houses Aren’t Quite as Trouble-Free as They Seem Many of the newer houses we’ve seen built in the last 15 years in our area have turned out to leak. This is the most common failure by far.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: Big profits oil the wheel of loan fraud; (Decades old battle against mortgage fraud still going on) Subsequent trials convicted 70 people and companies. Even the regional director of the Federal Housing Administration went to prison.

"We closed down nine mortgage banks," Accetta said. "Presidents of various mortgage companies went to jail, mortgage brokers and credit analysts went to jail, lawyers and accountants - they all went to jail. The whole system was corrupt."
..."A key factor in the state's record-setting wave of foreclosures, critics say, is an FHA program that allows people to borrow more than their houses are worth with little or no money down,"

Friday, August 25, 2006. WV: Supervisor accused of stealing $122,000 worth of copper A construction supervisor is accused of using his position to steal more than $122,000 worth of copper from his employer.

Steven R. Kotvas, 56, of Jeannette, Pa., is charged in Monongalia County with 10 counts of embezzlement and one count of fraud.

Friday, August 25, 2006. MI: Contractor told to bill City Councilman's new roof to public housing project A contractor who put a new roof on the home of former Detroit city councilman Alonzo (Lonnie) Bates testified today he was told to bill the job to a public housing project in Hamtramck.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: Whistleblowers Say State Farm Cheated Katrina Victims In an exclusive interview with ABC news, to be broadcast on 20/20 Aug 25th: State Farm Insurance supervisors systematically demanded that Hurricane Katrina damage reports be buried or replaced or changed so that the company would not have to pay policyholders' claims in Mississippi, two State Farm insiders tell ABC News.

Friday, August 25, 2006. Nat'l interest: Goodbye Condo Mania "Most developers thought that speculators weren't going to stop buying," says housing analyst Jack McCabe, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Friday, August 25, 2006. Nat'l interest: It's getting harder to stay cool Didn't we learn anything from the energy crisis of the 1970s? The utility companies are bleeding the average consumer dry, but the utilities are not solely to blame for our dilemma.

Where is the consumer demand for solar hot water products, solar lighting and solar heating? Why aren't the mainstream homebuilders – and the high-end ones as well – putting solar products into new housing? Why isn't the retrofitting of older homes with alternative energy products further along in development and affordability?

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: Housing Bubble Horror: Market Has Makings for a Gory Story Regrettably, our housing worry-wart says, he expects the "homesick" environment to get worse, amplified by the $2.7 trillion worth of adjustable rate mortgages that will reset at a higher interest rate in 2006 and 2007. These higher rates, he notes, come on top of the fact that 10% of all home owners with mortgages have no equity in their houses, while 15% of the 2005 home buyers owe at least 10% more than their home is worth.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: Getting real about the real estate bubble Myth #2: The builders learned their lesson in the last downturn. They won't swamp the market with new houses when the market turns

You might call this the OPEC theory of homebuilders. The idea was that the builders wouldn't take a chance by building lots of unsold, "spec" units that could clog the market in a downturn. They had supposedly absorbed hard-won discipline from their excessive building in past downturns. Well, it hasn't turned out that way. Builders are still pouring out near-record numbers of new homes as sales decline, assuring a further fall in prices.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: No respite seen for unloved homebuilders' shares U.S. housing stocks are among the market's worst performers over the past year and conventional wisdom would suggest it might be time to buy, but fund managers are warning to hold off.

U.S. government data and forecasts by companies are downbeat, and the sector has had a speculative, bubble-like growth which will take years to unwind, some investors said.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: As rates, inventories rise, developers try house auctions Auction companies say new-home sales represent a growing part of their business. In Denver, auctioneer Janelle Karas has gotten so many inquiries from builders and developers worried about mounting inventories that she recently changed her business model to specialize in them.

Friday, August 25, 2006. US: SEC Probing KB Home The company's announcement of the SEC inquiry follows press reports that CEO Bruce Karatz cashed out nearly $100 million from stock options dated from periods when the stock price was unusually low.

Friday, August 25, 2006. From: Market Watch: The Real Housing Story "The younger whiz-kid types that have been around for the last 10 years or so? They think that they can just blow out some of the inventory over the next several months and then just go back to the 'If you build it, they will come' market.

Friday, August 25, 2006. FL: Trusted home builder sentenced for swindling Sanfilippo to serve 15 years,repay clients about $800,000

Thursday, August 24, 2006. AZ: House Arrest Jim Bebout, owner of Bebout Concrete, laid foundations for the company for years. But when Del Webb tried to blame him for shoddy work, he fired back, claiming that the builder had told him to ignore its engineering reports and ordered cheaper foundations.

When Bebout suggested a few simple measures to protect homeowners, he claims that Del Webb resisted — even though the measures would only cost a few hundred dollars per house.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. MD: State "looking into" contributions State board of election officials say they are "looking into" recent reports that developer Aris Mardirossian may have run afoul of campaign contribution laws by giving more than $10,000 over the state limit during the current election cycle - but stopped short of calling it an investigation. ...In addition, several businesses involved in the purchase or future construction of Crown Farm have made campaign contributions to councilmembers. KB Home, Lebling Development and Lebling Investments, ARL LLC, GoTwo LLC, Benjamin Lewis Investments and Centex Homes have contributed $31,500 in total to council members.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. GA: Ex-Con Building New Problems A building contractor (Steve Stratacos) who's already served prison time for ripping-off homeowners is in trouble with the law again.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. AL: Contractor charged with theft by deception in one case the shutters fell off the home before the contractor even left the driveway

Thursday, August 24, 2006. PA; Nat'l interest: House committee holds hearing on contractor bill The hearing was on Senate Bill 1000 -- already passed by the Senate and now in the House -- which would make such rip-offs a criminal offense punishable with prison terms.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. Nat'l interest: FHA program key in surge of foreclosures Nationally, from 2000 to 2005, reliance on down-payment gifts from nonprofits jumped from 2 percent to 30 percent of all FHA loans. HUD estimates more than 90 percent of those "nonprofit" gifts actually came from home sellers. During the same period, the national foreclosure rate on FHA loans doubled.

"I really think it was the down-payment assistance programs that got FHA into trouble," McGinnis said.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. GA: Officials say lender a part of fraud ring Authorities have charged a lender in connection with a massive alleged mortgage fraud in southeast Clarke County - another player in a scam investigators say required a real estate agent, attorney, appraisers and others to artificially inflate sales prices and falsify loan applications.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. FL: http://www.local10.com/news/9733956/detail.html the housing agency spent millions of dollars to build affordable housing but very few of those housing projects were ever built.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. US: Fannie Mae Avoids Criminal Prosecution Federal prosecutors in Washington confirmed they had shut down their investigation of Fannie Mae's faulty accounting after two years. But the Securities and Exchange Commission still could bring civil actions against individual executives, including people no longer at Fannie Mae

Thursday, August 24, 2006. US: Recession will be nasty and deep, economist says Housing is in free fall, pulling the economy down with it

Thursday, August 24, 2006. CA: http://www.kcra.com/news/9729361/detail.html A KCRA 3 investigation has uncovered that the city and the developer were well aware of the potential dangers from mold long before the condos were sold.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. AZ: House Arrest: A Sun City couple beat Del Webb (aka Pulte) in court. So why is their house still a mess? The problem is that some builders haven't been willing to take even the smallest steps to spare their buyers heartache — and Arizona regulators have been only too willing to look the other way instead of holding them accountable. (Article contains links to earlier parts of the series on shoddy construction. They can also be found in HADD's news archives, "Cracked Houses," and "Soiled Hands," earlier AZ news items. --Ed.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006. OH; KY: Update on the Erpenbeck home builder fraud case: Yes, there were victims Even with an allowance for the legal hairsplitting that was in play, the latest performance in the Bill Erpenbeck courtroom saga was offensive.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. AZ: Builder denies blame despite claims of shoddy roof work Of the more than 10,000 houses the company has built in Tucson, several dozen stand in Continental Ranch, where residents claim shoddy roof construction has left them with leaks, rotting wood and even fungi growing inside their homes. More than 50 irritated homeowners filled Marana's Town Council chambers last week to voice their frustrations. "We ask that no more homes be built in the town of Marana by Richmond American Homes," said the group's unofficial leader Ross Iwamoto, who lives at 6861 W. Rifle Way. The residents went public with their complaints after several failed attempts to hold Richmond American accountable.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. CO: Title insurance company agrees to settlement The Colorado Division of Insurance announced Wednesday that it reached a settlement with LandAmerica Financial Group stemming from an investigation into alleged kickbacks to builders and lenders.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. AL: Engineers find truss company not liable in church collapse n a report submitted by structural engineer Kirk Grundahl, the cause for the building's failure was not in the construction of the trusses but "was due to improper/inadequate lateral and cross bracing during installation."

Thursday, August 24, 2006. US: KB Home Reviewing Top Exec's Options A lawsuit accuses the builder of backdating grants to CEO Bruce Karatz and others to take advantage of share price run-ups.

Thursday, August 24, 2006. FL: Developer Sentenced Upscale home builder Steven Sanfilippo was sentenced Thursday to 15 years in prison for bilking customers and subcontractors out of nearly $800,000. (Article has feature to add readers' comments at end. --Ed.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006. CO: Heartbreak along Mockingbird Lane KB Home development, exotic loans, and one in four houses in foreclosure

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Real Estate Agent's website on Lennar Homes problems Substandard Workmanship – Code Violations - Defects

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: 'Bizarre' Electrocution Prompts Home Builder Lawsuit Ugalde was electrocuted even though power to the room had been turned off, the report said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. KS; MO: Miller Enterprises update: Attorney disqualified in federal fraud case U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson disqualified Jim Wyrsch after a hearing that centered on previous work by Wyrsch and another attorney for a former Miller employee who also was indicted in the case.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. US: KB Home examining CEO stock options "Specifically, the company is facing a shareholder lawsuit, filed last month, regarding stock option grants to executives that were allegedly backdated to coincide with low points in the company's share price,"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. US: KB Home's CEO under review for stock options A shareholder lawsuit was filed against the company last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court, naming Karatz and other officers and directors of the company, and alleging manipulation of the grants.

The chairman of KB Home's compensation and stock-option committee from 1995 through 2000 was James A. Johnson, who also serves as a director at UnitedHealth Group Inc., which is facing a criminal and civil investigation into grants to senior officers that included its chief executive, William McGuire, as well as to other senior officers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. OH; KY: Erpenbeck sentencing is delayed The arguments Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati on whether Erpenbeck's 30-year sentence should be reduced hit on both the emotional and the legally technical. And after three hours of arguments and counter-arguments, Judge Sandra Beckwith said she needed more time to analyze and research the issues, and she put off a decision until next week.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. OH; KY: UPDATE: Erpenbeck requests new sentence Glassman disputed Whitaker's points vigorously. He said the scheme involved listing the outstanding loans that were "held," monitoring when interest payments were due and creating false statements to cover their trail. He said Erpenbeck violated the trust of banks making him loans and people buying his homes. He said Erpenbeck admitted under oath to bilking not just the eight banks, but 32 other banks and 224 home buyers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. OH, KY: UPDATE: Erpenbeck's Attorneys File To Reduce Sentence "He's a sociopath -- that's what I would call him -- to tell people there were no victims with the number of people who suffered," victim Dan Andrews said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. FL: Panhandle storm codes stay weak State government and insurance officials -- and also Florida homeowners, some argue -- suffered a defeat Tuesday when the state's building commission refused to toughen comparatively lax building standards in the Florida Panhandle.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. US: KB Home Shares Fall on Review, Downgrade "While this development does not change our view of KB Homes fundamental operational prospects ... we are nonetheless concerned that the risk for potential fines or judgments against the chief executive, or the company, will create an overhang on KB Home's valuation and stock price," Rehaut wrote in a client note.

At least 75 public companies under scrutiny by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible manipulation of stock option grants.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006. PA: 'Dream home' became a true nightmare My fiance and I were so caught up in the BS that we became blind to what was really happening.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. NY: Man convicted of mortgage fraud will remian in jail during appeal Amico and his brother, Richard Amico, 35, were convicted in 2003 of conspiring to persuade 53 financial institutions to lend them up to twice the worth of upscale homes they built from 1994 to 2000 in the Rochester suburbs in Monroe, Ontario and Wayne counties.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. NC: North Carolina Jury Finds Real Estate Consultant Guilty in Mortgage Fraud Scheme In addition to Davis, a Raleigh based residential house builder, David Layton, 54, was charged in this case. In April, 2006, Layton pled guilty to conspiring with Davis to make and use false documents at closings where Layton was the seller. Layton testified at trial as part of the United States’ case-in-chief. Layton told the jury, among other things, that he and Davis had created fake sales prices based on appraisals rather than a bargain between a real buyer and seller.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries Aug. 22nd.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. PA: Erie County closes loophole that kept some records private Clerk of Records Patrick Fetzner said he and his employees previously granted requests to keep information on some public transactions out of the Daily Record reports...
Fetzner said the new policy, adopted this month, stemmed from an ongoing FBI investigation into housing fraud.

The newspaper reported in July that the FBI is trying to determine why a particular real estate transaction from December 2004 never appeared in the Erie Times-News. The FBI is investigating whether some houses were sold at illegally inflated prices, according to the newspaper.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. PA: POCONO (Pennsylvania) HOMEOWNERS DEFENSE ASSOCIATION Organization helps educate home buyers about avoiding predatory lending and Housing Fraud

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. PA: Head of home buyers counseling service pleads for more state funds "I've been using a lot of my own money to run the operation for four years," said Wilson, who has been a vocal advocate for prosecuting housing fraud offenders.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. FL: How safe is your roof? A review of local building departments found many inspectors ignore the state building code and professional standards, such as getting up on roofs to check nailing patterns on shingles.

Local building officials also are signing off on contractors' permit applications that are left blank in spots and spec sheets that don't meet the code. Inspectors rarely check to make sure roofs are installed according to manufacturer specifications, which could lead a manufacturer to deny claims under its warranty if a problem develops.

Some cities even let contractors mail in pictures of their roofs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. SC: Saturated? Nobody's certain [Excerpts] He gets calls all the time from national builders who need manpower and want him to do subcontracting work. Owners of out-of-warranty tract homes also call him to fix problems resulting from poor workmanship and materials....Debbie Jackson, a real estate agent with First Realty of Charleston, said national builders simply go where there's money to be made. "They've already been in other markets where they have dried it up. It doesn't matter to them if it's oversaturated. They'll keep building until they can't give the homes away."...And if they overbuild anyway? "They did it to themselves," he said. "If there is too much product on the shelf, it's going to sit there."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. OH, KY: UPDATE: Erpenbeck resentencing set for today Federal prosecutors now agree that Bill Erpenbeck should be resentenced for swindling banks and homebuyers - but instead of giving him a reduced prison term, they say U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith should slap an additional five years onto his current 30 years behind bars. (See numerous articles on the Erpenbeck case posted in earlier news/archives on HADD news pg. --Ed.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. US: Fat Cats' Friend? JAMES JOHNSON, A former chairman of Fannie Mae, just can't stay away from boardrooms. He sits on the boards of no fewer than six corporations, and is chairman of the compensation committees of five of them. That's a full plate for anyone in these times of increased scrutiny of boards' actions. Only 350 of the nation's 50,000 corporate directors sit on four boards, and most are content with one.

But that's not all that makes Johnson's board work stand out. When Johnson joins a board, executive compensation controversies often follow. The executive-pay practices of five of the companies where he serves have been criticized by two research groups on corporate governance, mostly for being insufficiently tied to performance. In other words, the presence of the legendary executive on a board may be shaping up as a warning sign for investors.
...In a less-publicized instance earlier this year, Institutional Shareholders Services, which researches corporate governance for big investors, recommended that its clients who own shares of KB Home (KBH) withhold their votes for Johnson, who is a compensation-committee member, because KB's bonus plans are too generous and lead to "runaway compensation."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. VA: Seven file complaints against developer over modular homes The complaints target Carl M. Lewis Jr., who runs Virginia Beach-based Commonwealth Merchant Services Inc., a two -year-old company that advertised it would build modular homes on undeveloped lots.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. TX: Money trail Of Perry’s millions, about 40 percent — $10 million — comes from 85 individuals, reports The Dallas Morning News. Many of those donors had favorable legislation in mind in giving all that money away. One such individual is home builder Bob Perry, Texas’ biggest political donor. He has given Gov. Perry (no relation) $700,000 since he became governor.

Meanwhile, the governor pushed for legislation desired by the home builder: creation of a home building commission to take some consumer complaints out of court. Then Gov. Perry appointed one of Perry Homes’ executives to the commission.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. US: Tipping point pops bubble, triggers bear Ten warnings the economy, markets have pushed into danger zone

Tuesday, August 22, 2006. US: Toll Brothers cuts forecast Luxury home builder Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE:TOL - news) on Tuesday said its quarterly profit fell 19 percent, partly on write-downs on land options, and slashed its forecast for the year for the third time, underscoring deteriorating U.S. market demand.

Monday, August 21, 2006. KS/MO: UPDATE on Miller Enterprises case NOTICE OF HEARING as to Defendant F Jeffrey Miller. Status Conference set for 9/11/2006 at 09:00 AM before District Judge Julie A. Robinson

Monday, August 21, 2006. PA: New bill could stop remodeling scams Now, there is a law in the works, House Bill 2557, that would require contractors to register with the state Bureau of Consumer Protection.

The new law would make home improvement fraud a criminal rather than a civil offense.

Monday, August 21, 2006. TN: Maryville couple filing suit against contractor who quit A1 Advantage Contractors (owned by) Mike Sullivan

Monday, August 21, 2006. TX; LA: Texas Contractor Wanted For Fraud: Contractor Crime Up 300% Post Katrina Gary Holland, a contractor from Texas, is wanted by the St.Tammany Sheriff Department for a contractor fraud case. A homeowner in Slidell, LA paid Holland $60,000 for a job he never completed, and he refused to refund the money.

Monday, August 21, 2006. FL: Osceola County Home Investment Becomes Nightmare For Brits One of the newest and largest Osceola County developments is named Harmony, but for some home buyers it has been disharmony.

Monday, August 21, 2006. US: Rip Off Report on Home Buyers Warranty 2-10 HBW complaint had a new entry today on ripoffreport.com

Monday, August 21, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries/news today

Monday, August 21, 2006. US; From Realty Times, by Kenneth Harney: Option ARM "Reset" Payment Spikes Worry Mortgage Lenders, Regulators Major lenders who actively pushed option ARMs during the heyday housing boom years have now scaled back, and at least one is concerned enough about the coming payment "reset" dates that it has sent letters directly to thousands of borrowers.

Monday, August 21, 2006. AZ: Homeowners associations reined in under new law A new state law that takes effect Sept. 21 lets homeowners have their disputes heard before an administrative law judge

Monday, August 21, 2006. US: Face it: The housing bust is here Although the abdication of responsibility in lending showed up in housing prices, this mania, at its heart, has been a lending mania. (If we'd had a bull market in houses that produced stupid prices -- but we didn't have folks buying homes they patently couldn't afford -- it wouldn't have to end in the absolute debacle we are headed toward.)

Monday, August 21, 2006. MI: Brighton will mediate resident-builder dispute A yearlong struggle between residents of a condominium project and the developer over quality issues at the complex is closer to being resolved after city officials promised to intervene.

Sunday, August 20, 2006. FL: Land deals show tension of official vs. private roles Six months before he helped boost the value of developer John Sansbury's land by voting to bring it into development-friendly West Palm Beach, City Commissioner Jim Exline was trying to strike a lucrative deal as an agent for Sansbury's realty firm.

Sunday, August 20, 2006. NC: Creditors, wife pursue assets of missing lawyer McCormick was last seen July 10, a few hours after one of his major clients, national homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc., sent a representative to McCormick's office in Chapel Hill to confront him over an overdue $802,000 from five home closings.

Sunday, August 20, 2006. US: Developers display largesse to Craig "I am not personally rich, so I won't be buying this election," Craig said. "I don't have a wealthy developer spouse to pay for my campaign."

Though he might not have a wealthy spouse, a review of Craig's fundraising suggests his campaign has benefited greatly from developer money. The Sun found that more than half of the $356,000 Craig has raised since 2003 came from developers, their companies, associates and relatives.

Sunday, August 20, 2006. OH: House, lawsuit rising Prestige says the $1 million-plus home that is being built for Karam owner Dan Karam and his wife, Laura, infringes on Prestige's copyrighted plans for a Parade of Homes model.

Sunday, August 20, 2006. NJ: K. Hovnanian's quick profit on land sale questioned "This is a deal that smells to high heaven," said Ammond, who said the property has considerable wetlands. "We (taxpayers) cannot afford to continue to pay politicians' friends back for their huge contributions."

Sunday, August 20, 2006. FL: Officials' home deals raise red flags Ethics experts say elected officials should not be doing any kind of business with developers they deal with regularly. The county's ethics commission is not so sure.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. AZ: Builder Turner-Dunn files for Chapter 11 The Arizona Department of Real Estate and the Registrar of Contractors are investigating Dunn's companies. Unpaid subcontractors have claimed they're owed millions of dollars and slapped liens on Turner-Dunn's housing lots and in some cases on new homes that buyers moved into a few months ago.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. AZ: Turner-Dunn files Chapter 11 bankruptcy Total debts of at least $22 million were listed to about 100 creditors, including lenders, subcontractors and other businesses, through bankruptcy filings for five Turner-Dunn companies owned or controlled by Marcus Dunn and involved in Pinal County construction projects. The amount debtors might receive is unclear, but the bank is a secured creditor, meaning it has priority.

The bankruptcy is the latest in a string of problems for Turner-Dunn, which pocketed thousands of dollars in earnest money from each home buyer and has left homes unfinished for months in Casa Grande and Maricopa.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: DA finds no criminal conduct in city, Lennar dealings The investigation was initiated in fall 2005 after former Deputy City Attorney Deborah Schulte filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was subjected to punitive measures within the office and eventually forced to resign because she was outspoken in her belief that the city's financial arrangement with Lennar was illegal....Schulte dropped her federal lawsuit in June in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision restricting free-speech rights of public employees. The high court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect them from punishment for complaining to their managers about possible wrongdoing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. CA: Mold sends homeowners packing More than a dozen of his neighbors living in $4-million to $5-million homes with ocean views tell similar tales, and they said the builder, U.K.-based Taylor Woodrow, has only made limited efforts to repair the damage.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: State trying to stop developers from burying tortoises alive Rather than test and relocate all tortoises found on a site, most developers chose the easier option of writing a check to the state to buy and protect tortoise habitat elsewhere, then sending in the bulldozers.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. LA: Dishonest contractors running rampant in New Orleans Nearly one year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pounded south Louisiana, many owners of damaged homes are getting hammered again: this time financially by fraudulent, unscrupulous and unlicensed contractors, state officials say.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. US: PDF: The truth about Weyerhaeuser’s “Green” Products and Homes New research contained in this document exposes Weyerhaeuser’s misleading marketing of
“green" building products and homes, which in fact contain wood cut from endangered forests in
traditional Native territory without consent in Northern Ontario, Canada.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. MI: Court of Appeals hears Gardiner, Lupo cases Gardiner was found guilty of accepting gifts from local builder William “Bill” Hudson in exchange for favorable treatment at the school districts.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. US: Insurers Urge Action On Risky Mortgages Despite regulators' warnings that some popular types of mortgages are risky, lenders are still making them, and mortgage insurance companies have begun pleading with federal banking agencies to act quickly to restrict them.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. US: The American housing racket Drawbacks of home owners associations

Saturday, August 19, 2006. NJ: N.J. contractor charged with 399 counts of child porn, sex crimes Clement Bilski Jr., 43, offered children toys and candy to stay quiet after abusing them in their own homes, often while caretakers were elsewhere in the houses, said Monmouth Prosecutor Luis Valentin.

Saturday, August 19, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force New material submitted recently; meeting notices

Saturday, August 19, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: 300 more civil cases uncovered in Broward court More cases have been hidden from the public in Broward Circuit Court, including the divorces of public officials and business people. [With rare/special exception, court records are "public," and are a valuable tool for consumers' research. Hiding court records for the wrong reasons is the topic of this article. --Ed.]

Saturday, August 19, 2006. KY: 3 plead not guilty in illegals case S&W was a subcontractor for a home builder in Boone County, says the indictment, although it does not specify which builder.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. TX: Ex-adjuster who bilked Allstate for $1.3 million is sentenced A former insurance adjuster and ex-Windcrest police officer was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday for conspiring to commit more than $1.3 million in insurance fraud.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery also ordered Chandler S. Bruton to pay restitution to his former employer Allstate Insurance Co., which lost the money paying out insurance claims for shoddy home repairs or work that was never done.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. GA: Gadsden official agrees to plead guilty for lighter sentence Documents filed against Thompson claim he paid Huff and Armstrong money disguised as campaign contributions for their support to give a zoning variance to the project as well as additional tax incentives to the developer, Rainbow One.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. NY: Fraud Case Puts Chili Subdivision in Limbo A 287-acre housing subdivision is on hold, mired in the legal mess involving Pittsford Capital. The firm and its principals are accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of scamming investors, mostly retirees, out of $15 million.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. US: Housing Starts Drop, No Quick Cure Seen And industry watchers now say the market will likely get worse before it gets better.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. US: Big bad wolf proof Houses built with straw bales sturdy and earth-friendly

Thursday, August 17, 2006. OH, KY: Different judge for Erpenbeck case UPDATE: See previous news articles on the Erpenbeck case: A different judge will now decide whether Bill Erpenbeck's sentence for bank fraud should be reduced after the former Northern Kentucky homebuilder succeeded in having his case transferred Wednesday to a new U.S. District Court judge in Cincinnati.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. AZ: Continental Ranch residents ask town to restrict builder Nearly two dozen Continental Ranch residents requested at a Monday council meeting that the town of Marana restrict Richmond American Homes from building in the town and asked for help getting financial compensation for damage to their homes.
The residents said improper roof construction has led to leaking and water damage in their homes. Many residents said they would have to replace roofs on houses built by the company a little more than a decade ago at costs exceeding $10,000.

Thursday, August 17, 2006. IL: City inspector fired after girl died is back on job When a 9-year-old Chicago girl fell to her death last year after a porch railing snapped, city officials were quick to blast a city building inspector.

The inspector, Charles Walker, admitted filing a false report that he had checked out the railing, the builder commissioner alleged.

Mayor Daley vowed to fire Walker.

But now, Walker is back on the city payroll, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned. And he's inspecting buildings.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. AZ: (Town of) Marana unhappy with developer's initial offering "Richmond American doesn't get it," Councilwoman Patti Comerford said. "They need to go back to the drawing board ... I don't even give them an A for effort."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. MO: Sinkhole could be costly for Nixa Hammons, who said some developers have resisted showing sinkholes on maps for planning reviews, said lately her office has been fielding questions from people concerned about sinkholes in the county.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. NC: Homeowner denied share of fees Jones' attorney, Edward J. "Trip" Coyne, argued that Jones and others who bought homes in Durham County while the county was collecting the fee were due money back because the cost of that fee was passed along to them in the purchase price of their homes.

In court filings, Coyne accused home builders of deceit, saying that they claimed at one point that they would have to pass that extra cost to buyers and later saying that they bore the financial burden themselves.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. US: U.S. home builders' confidence dives Confidence among U.S. home builders plunged to its lowest in 15 years this month as buyers canceled orders and inventories of unsold dwellings piled up, a private survey showed.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. PA: Town sued over strict immigration law The suit says Hazelton's City Council violated the U.S. constitution when it passed a law denying business permits to companies that hire illegal aliens and fining landlords who rent homes to them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006. MI: No mediation for lawsuit Judge denies city's request for open sessions: The city sued developers of the 73-unit Incochee Woods subdivision.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. US: Dateline: Home construction turning into a money pit? Last fall, a San Francisco single mother hired a contractor to do work on her home. But instead of a finished basement, she says she was left with a rotting frame and plenty of rage.

After spending more than $100,000 dollars, she's broke and facing foreclosure.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. FL: Homeowner's site "HansenHomesSucks.com"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: A legal loophole as big as a house In this case, Altman Builders constructed a home on Debordieu Island. The original construction costs were more than $350,000. Altman Builders made some mistakes, admitted that it made the mistakes and admitted that those mistakes were going to cost the homeowners $300,000 to fix. Nevertheless, because Judge Norton found that there is no recovery under Altman Builders’ insurance policies, the homeowners are going to be left to pay the $300,000 themselves.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. US: Katrina storm surge damage not covered by homeowners insurance, judge rules A federal judge ruled Tuesday that an insurance company's policies do not cover damage from some wind-driven water in a decision that could affect hundreds of upcoming cases related to property damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. US: Line in the Sand, (From BuilderOnline.com) Given the current mood of the country, more builders might find themselves registering with the federal “Basic Pilot” program, which has been around since 1996 and is run by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. Within three days of hiring someone, employers enter the worker's information—social security number, address, driver's license, etc.—into Basic Pilot's database, which flags discrepancies with existing records. (Quote from pg. 4 of article.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. US: Free but underutilized: US Govt program to check worker status available since 2004 "The Basic Pilot Program is available on the Internet for all U.S. employers seeking to verify the employment eligibility of new hires."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. Realty Times: Broderick Perkins columns Real estate related columns

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. VA: Grimm indicted by Winchester grand jury (G & M Homes) A contractor who promised to build half-million-dollar homes for local residents is facing 18 criminal charges in Winchester.

Those add to the seven charges Gary Paul Grimm already faces in Frederick County for construction fraud.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. OH: Contractor facing prison Williams and his wife, Pamela L. Williams, had operated a single business under four different names from a Westerville post-office box, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. Nat'l interest: 'Zero-energy' home is a dream come true "They wanted a home that would be a contribution to the environment rather than like most buildings, which are all about taking resources," McLennan said. "This home uses about 70 percent less energy than a typical home of its size. It doesn't use any fossil fuels to heat and cool."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. TN: Skipping out on prison may earn child porn owner more jail time In 1999 Blount County Sheriff's Office Investigator Robert Shaffer charged Cooper with molesting five teenage boys after plying them with drugs and alcohol. Shaffer, in investigating that case, then unearthed evidence of the Thailand trip and the child pornography cache.

Eventually, the molestation charges were dropped in lieu of a federal prosecution of the homebuilder.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006. WA: County accused of favoratism A developer's lawsuit criticizes Snohomish County for changing land-use rules to allow a rival developer to build outside Mill Creek's urban growth area. Officials say the deal protects sensitive land along a creek.

Monday, August 14, 2006. NJ: Homeowners' site about Piersol Homes Recently, the Harrison Township Committe authorized legal action against Piersol Homes. Unfortunately this action now affects ALL RESIDENTS OF HARRISON TOWNSHIP, since the Township is forced to use taxpayer dollars to pursue something Piersol Homes is contractually obligated to do.

Monday, August 14, 2006. CO: Colorado Enacts Employment Verification Requirements Members of the public have the right to file complaints against contractors suspected of employing unauthorized workers.

Monday, August 14, 2006. OH: Homeowner's site about their experience with Duffy Homes Much to our surprise, the structural and civil engineers noted many problems with the construction of our home. These included paper in the walls where they had expected to find rebar and mortar, and structurally significant cracking, just to name two.

Monday, August 14, 2006. US: Dateline NBC's special report on bad contractors Check Homepage of Dateline for: Recent Reports: The trouble with contractors, to watch the video of the show that was on Sunday Aug 13th. --Ed.

Monday, August 14, 2006. US: Dateline NBC Don’t let your dream house become a money pit.

Monday, August 14, 2006. FL: Jade Homes sends out letter to its vendors and trade partners UPDATE: See articles posted earlier this month, or search for "jade homes" on www.news.google.com for more. --Editor

Monday, August 14, 2006. TX; US: Builders: No soft landing The decline is a belated reaction from homebuilders who have seen annualized new-home price declines of 22 percent since February – the deepest slide since September 1990, when we were in recession.

Monday, August 14, 2006. US: The house that green built The Pares could have used materials widely familiar to mainstream builders, but they wanted to redo their Orlando home in a way that will conserve water, save energy and ultimately be environmentally friendly

Monday, August 14, 2006. AZ: Home builders must know more than I do The whole thing just baffles me. If you want a home in Kingman, and have the money to buy it, your choices are limitless. If money is no object, you can have your pick of thousands of homes, in pretty much any neighborhood you want. So what is my gripe?

Well, I wonder who is going to buy these homes. Actually, I wonder where these folks are going to work to pay for the homes. I don't see the jobs here keeping up with the home builders. And I'm not the only one.

Monday, August 14, 2006. South Africa: Nearly 1000 builders suspended "They build houses which sometimes have structural defects. We tell them to fix them. If they refuse, we suspend them." [Perhaps the US home building associations and licensing agencies, TX TRCC, etc should take a cue from this! --Ed.]

Sunday, August 13, 2006. US: Homeowenrs say "Downsize Me!" Americans are carrying a lot of excess weight and desperately want to slim down. No, not their waistlines --in the size of their homes.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. US: Sunday Aug 13 on Dateline NBC, 7 p.m. Check local times Coming up: Plus, investigating home contractors
"Dateline's" Victoria Corderi reports on unscrupulous home contractors and the families who say they have broken their dreams and wallets.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. SC: Appraiser overseer in trouble In a rare move, a state oversight board for real estate appraisers has accused one of its own members of malpractice.

Christopher Cochran of Spartanburg and his firm Two Day Appraisals are accused of overvaluing land near Lake Keowee in Oconee County, according to a complaint by the Real Estate Appraisers Board.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. OH: National City may be fined for mortgage problems National City also was named in an April investigation into Dominion Homes’ mortgage-lending practices.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. US: Fannie Mae's fall from grace If the largest corporate scandal in U.S. history was Enron, in which shareholders lost as much as $60 billion, what's the next largest instance of greed, mismanagement and excess?
Try Fannie Mae, the nonprofit home-lending behemoth. Key executives misstated earnings by nearly $11 billion so they could pocket million-dollar bonuses.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. FL: DISENCHANTED KINGDOM Siu, who was arrested and convicted on charges of unlawful compensation and mortgage fraud in a kickback scandal and sentenced to 1 year's probation, did not return calls...Kendall Kingdom homeowners are not the first to voice issues with the developer.

Another group of homeowners, in a nearby Monaco community called Kingdom of Dreams at Southwest 162nd Avenue and 59th Street, told The Miami Herald in June that they kept calling Siu and De La Torre about their concerns and were not hearing back.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. FL: Only licensed contractors should do your repairs "A lot of times, contractors are aiding and abetting unlicensed people" by getting them permits illegally.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. TX: Homeowners insist builder (Choice Homes) fix damage And after years of complaints in some cases, an executive with Arlington-based Choice Homes has agreed to meet Monday with Midlothian city staff members to see what can be done to address the homeowners' concerns. Among them are faulty foundations, inadequate drainage, cracked walls, high water pressure and buckling streets.

Sunday, August 13, 2006. OK; Nat'l interest: Fraudulent loans cost industry, consumers [Excerpts from article:] "The IRS in May issued a ruling that will help stop much of the fraud involving down payment assistance programs, industry observers say. The agency ruled organizations that provide seller-funded down payment assistance to home buyers do not qualify as tax-exempt charities." ---- "Still, mortgage fraud is pervasive throughout Oklahoma, Kansas City-based fraud prevention consultant Kevin Barnes said. Based on phone surveys he made as a mystery shopper, nine of 12 mortgage brokers in Oklahoma City were willing to commit fraud. Eight of 15 brokers in Tulsa and three of eight Realtors in Tulsa also were willing, he said." ---- "Eighty percent of fraud originates with industry insiders, Barnes said." ---- "Oklahoma City appraiser Lonnie Stephens doesn't take offense. He's seen his share of fraud. Just last month, a lender called and needed a newly constructed house reappraised.
"The first appraisal said it was complete and from the street it looked finished," he said. "But none of the interior was done."
The lender looked shocked when Stephens told him about the incomplete appraisal but wouldn't give him the name of the first appraiser so Stephens could file a complaint."

Saturday, August 12, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Who is building your home? NBC News Investigates: Every homeowner should know that unlicensed subcontractors are building homes in Southwest Florida and state law allows it to happen.

Saturday, August 12, 2006. CA: NewsChannel 3 Investigates: Home builder contracts without license Joe and Ann Ferry say they've been waiting for two long years to hear this news. The retired couple says they hired Siafa Vani, owner of Lofa Homes, to build them their dream home, but say Vani took their money and never finished the job. The Ferry's also say Vani claimed to be a licensed contractor, which he's not, we verified that with the state.

"He's cost us so much money. If we would ask for the refund of our tears and our anguish he would never be able to pay us because it has just been terrible."

The ferry's say prior to contacting NewsChannel 3 they tried to get help.
But no one would listen to them.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Major Condo Company Sees Market Collapse WCI Communities; "Tower homebuilding orders for the second quarter 2006 decreased 82.6% in value to $57.0 million and 88.8% in units to 36."

Friday, August 11, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Updated materials and meeting notices. This is a task force formed by the state of OR to study the construction defect problem. There is public commentary as well as expert and governmental commentary and participation.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Home inspector forum discussion Leaking new house discussed on home inspection forum.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Bad Stucco, Leaking Windows Forum posting showing pictures, lack of flashing. Look for these shortcuts as you eliminate builders from your list of consideration while home shopping.

Friday, August 11, 2006. VA: Area builder faces 7 counts of construction fraud Gary Paul Grimm, (G&M Homes), a Chantilly-based builder with an address in Hamilton, was indicted for seven counts of construction fraud in Frederick County Circuit Court on Thursday.

Friday, August 11, 2006. MD: 'Someone you could trust' Craig John Oliver and wife Jennifer bilk homeowners out of millions, jump bail, still missing.

Friday, August 11, 2006. From Realty Times, columnist Broderick Perkins: Timely Defect Litigation Guide Book Published Home construction defects are more than isolated events and the litigation that's too often necessary to resolve shoddy construction can take consumers through a gauntlet of weak regulatory redress and builder resistance.

Friday, August 11, 2006. OH: Dominion warns of financial problems Dominion Homes Inc. said this week that it’s likely to default on terms of the financing program that helps the company remain in operation.

Friday, August 11, 2006. FL: Will a 'white knight' ride to Jade's rescue? A West Palm Beach builder and others have emerged with offers to help Jade Homes, the struggling Sarasota home builder, to complete its 75 or so homes around the region.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: It's Not Expensive Being Green Green builders dispel the myth that building better equals a bigger "green" price tag

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Can Pulte alum Jeffrey Croft steer Dominion Homes out of oblivion's magnetic tug? 5 pg article from Big Builder Online about the problems of Dominion Homes' lawsuits, investigations, and more.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Green Building Green Building articles

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: 12 Most Common Defects Found During Home Inspections Before going house hunting this weekend take a look at this.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Journal of Light Construction Current issue recently posted, many archived articles available.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Building Science Lots of how-to information.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: Ask The Builder New articles added frequently, many useful archived articles.

Friday, August 11, 2006. US: This Old House Home page. Lots of potentially useful material.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. CA; Nat'l interest: For Some, Renting Makes More Sense Though Seibel and Leger love their home, which they bought in 2002 for about $1 million, it's been draining them of $5,600 a month for their mortgage and taxes, when they could be renting a place just as nice in the same neighborhood for about $3,400. "We can put that savings in the bank and make it work for us and take away the risk of the unknown future of the real estate market," Seibel notes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. TX: Judge Orders Access to Personal Home Computers Under strenuous objections from Jeff Singer and Lee King, homeowner attorneys in the SLAPP-suit filed last year by Johnson Development Co. of Houston, Judge Pedro Ruiz (in Thomas Culver's Court) orders a Sienna Plantation family to turn over personal computer hard-drives to forensic specialist for the developer.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog New entries made today, recommended to our readers to check it out. --Ed.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. AZ: Give Credit to KB: New KB Homes get 'roof anchors' for worker safety Borane says, "Nationally, I believe, last year, 440 people fell to their deaths and if there's something here in Tucson we can do to prevent those fatilities, that's what we're doing." What makes the new anchor different is that it's permanent. It stays in the roof so the homeowner can use it for future repairs.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. GA: Kenney seeks to beat Kenerly for county commission seat Neighborhood activists have for years accused Kenerly, a real estate investor, of being too close to the development community.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. NJ: Madden to introduce four bills on curbing new housing defects Homebuyers got to speak their minds this morning at a meeting with Sen. Fred Madden and the Senate Committee on Community and Urban Affairs, on four new bills aimed at trying to stop housing defects in newly built homes in South Jersey.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. WI: Commerce Bluff condo owners sue developer problems included structural defects, moisture-related defects and defects related to the chimneys, flashing, brick, carpentry, caulking and doors

Thursday, August 10, 2006. CA: "Increasing costs, potential litigation create headaches for construction industry" (Article about builders' insurance, and CA's "right to repair law." Suggestions from building community include making process harder for homeowners, doing away with profit incentives for their lawyers, and doing away with a jury in trials. A must-read for CA residents. --Ed.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006. MO: Charity founder spent funds for personal use Bolling was the executive director of the Kansas City chapter of Gateway to a Cure and was an official with Mark Bolling Homes, a homebuilder named for her husband. It was her family's company that built a $1.3 million luxury home in suburban Kansas City that was supposed to have been the charity's grand prize in the Valentine's Day drawing.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. VA: Centex reneges on proffer deal In the last three weeks, a Centex executive sent two letters to town and county officials indicating the company has no intentions of complying with the $22 million deal.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. VA: Bait and Switch? Centex wants the town and county to give up the money offered, or allow more homes on the property , so Centex can make its profit projections.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. US: When the walls come tumbling down Housing led the economic recovery and will now lead the economy's contraction -- a causal relationship far older than most hedge fund managers' (who have never seen a bear market) half-life of investing. (Quote from pg. 2 of article.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006. US: William Lyon Homes Settlement Is Approved Home builder William Lyon Homes Inc. won a judge's approval to settle a lawsuit filed by shareholders challenging the fairness of a takeover of the company by its chief executive.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. CA: CA builder faces criminal charge Siafa Vani, owner of Lofa Homes...

Thursday, August 10, 2006. AZ: Bank sues home builder Turner Dunn On Wednesday, Cleveland-based Ohio Savings Bank filed a nearly $23 million lawsuit in Pinal County Superior Court and initiated foreclosure proceedings on Turner-Dunn's remaining lots and properties in Maricopa and Casa Grande. The Valley builder, led by Marcus E. Dunn, pocketed thousands of dollars in earnest money from each home buyer and then walked away from about 200 hundred homes in various stages of construction.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. TX: Woman injured during arrest (More on the beating of TX HADD volunteer Tamara Pearlman; this article allows reader comments at the end. --Ed.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006. TX: HADD Texas Volunteer accuses policeman of abuse Pearlman says the officer attacked her as she dialed 911 to have the confrontation recorded. The wounds are obvious, including a broken arm.

Thursday, August 10, 2006. WA: Give homeowners some basic rights Faulty construction is a nightmare for too many new homeowners....A homebuyer's bill of rights, which I plan to introduce in Olympia, includes holding contractors liable for their mistakes for several years and giving subsequent buyers the same rights as original buyers. --Senator Brian Weinstein

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. FL: Uniform building code for all If Floridians "are ever going to be able to really have affordable insurance we have to build buildings that resist the wind load that we are expected to have in Florida on a periodic basis," said Office of Insurance Regulation Director Kevin McCarty.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. FL: Region sees ripples from housing slump Slowdown in building is rocking small contractors as they scramble for jobs

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. FL: Jade Homes shuts down operations Jade Homes, a Sarasota-based builder with 75 houses in varying stages of construction in Sarasota, Charlotte and Manatee counties, has shut down its operations and closed its main office and six sales centers.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. AZ: Sticker shock kills Phoenix state land sale Instead of buying land now, some home builders are trying to sell sites to other builders or are even walking away from deposits on big parcels.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. US: Toll Brothers says home building still sliding The pain is not limited to the luxury market.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006. TX: Midlothian homeowners appeal to city for help They say their builder—Choice Homes—won't fix construction-related problems, including cracks in walls, shifting bricks, sagging foundations, high water pressure, and streets with washboard bumps.

"This is not acceptable," homeowner Sherry Freedland told City Council members. "This is affecting the community."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. US: Protecting your home Reverse Mortgage scams and the elderly

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. MI: 'Extreme' crew builds hope They didn't know the basement contained dangerous levels of toxic mold, which the family's doctor believes may have been responsible for his death. The mold forced Maryann Gilliam, 32, and her six children, ages 8 months to 12 years, out of the tiny house and in with family members.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. FL: Insurance companies shower Fla. politicians with donations to get rate hikes The contributions represent a small fraction of what's given each year to state parties and candidates in Florida. Other industries, such as telecommunications businesses, home builders and real estate agents, give more. Sun-Sentinel research found that about 2 percent of what's been given to all Florida campaigns and state parties since 1996 -- or $11.2 million of more than $557 million -- can be reported as having come from the property insurance industry.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. FL: Pulte Home Corp. sues Osceola over impact-fee refunds School-impact fees are charged on new homes to pay for building new schools. They typically are paid by the builder and passed on to the home buyer...County officials have taken the position that homeowners are entitled to the refunds in most cases. But to avoid conflicting claims, the county is requiring homeowners to get their builders to waive rights to the money. Likewise, contractors or builders who contend they are entitled to the refunds must get the current property owners to waive their rights. If the two sides cannot agree, they may end up in court.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. US: Captive Title Re-Insurance: What About The Rest of the Questions? Homebuyers and those refinancing do not now get to choose their title insurance provider under the current system. Instead, settlement agents make such selections and in return sometimes get commissions equal to 70 percent of the premium -- and more.

What's needed here is a system where title insurance is sold directly to the public. This would force title insurance firms to compete, reduce closing costs and make homes more affordable.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. TX: Arbitration Task Force seeking homeowner input The Commission's Arbitration Task Force seeks one homeowner who, is not a Builder/Remodeler and not engaged in Residential Construction and one attorney licensed in the State of Texas with a significant history of representing consumers in the area of alleged home construction disputes with builders.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006. TX: Regulation of bulders in TX Site of the Texas Residential Construction Commission, recent updates.

Monday, August 07, 2006. US: Chemicals used long ago hinder building at naval station today When sailors needed to get rid of napalm, oil and grenades at the Concord Naval Weapons Station after World War II, they had a simple solution: Just dig a hole and have a bonfire...A recent Navy report details the dangers of nine contaminated sites in the base's southern inland area, which Congress shut down last year and where the city might approve thousands of homes.

Monday, August 07, 2006. LA; Nat'l interest: Louisiana Civil Suit Alleges Fraud in Interim Construction Financing As a result of the scheme, many of the home loans are in default; construction on many of the homes has not been completed or in other cases, not even begun.

Monday, August 07, 2006. CO: After the flood (or: 'It could happen to you') Well, this would have been an easy fix, if we could have found the developer or the contractor, but both had gone bankrupt and emerged with new projects under new names.

Monday, August 07, 2006. CT; Nat'l: Growth swamping planners The city's Building Department staff is nearing a breaking point and officials worry spreading the inspectors' resources too thin could result in shoddy or unsafe construction at building sites.

Monday, August 07, 2006. NC: The fee flaw Filings in a Durham civil case expose a flaw in the argument that home builders use to discourage local impact fees

Sunday, August 06, 2006. WA: Housing development could offer future problems for homeowners Site is on the list for possible contamination

Sunday, August 06, 2006. NJ: Judge denies automatic approval of Teaneck project Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Conte said there was no evidence that the board intentionally tried to delay the hearing. He said the builder seemed to be trying to manipulate the legal system.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. TN: Construction Scammers Target Elderly A summer construction scam nearly cost a Bartlett woman $10,000.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Foreclosures are on rise in Valley Thousands of people used the non-traditional mortgages last year to afford a house in the Valley, where home prices jumped nearly 50 percent.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. FL: Money gone, 100+ home buyers try to pick up the pieces The Orlando builder who had taken their $75,000 down payment -- and had no black marks with city officials or the local Better Business Bureau -- also withdrew about $100,000 from the couple's construction loan with a local bank...The suspect: Barrington Homes Inc., a 4-year-old company whose two principals, John and Deanna Barrington, have been arrested on federal conspiracy and fraud charges. The company's employees have been fired. Its headquarters in south Orlando has been foreclosed on and sold.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. FL: New legislation benefits developers and builders at the expense of property owners In reality, all it has done is delayed construction defect lawsuits usually to the benefit of the developers, contractors and builders and at the expense of the residential owners.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. MS; TX: 3 expected to plead guilty in housing scheme Two Hinds County men and a former Trustmark bank employee are expected to plead guilty to federal charges in an elaborate housing scheme designed to disguise more than $1.1 million in cash payments to a Texas homebuilder, a prosecutor said.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. US: Lobbyist was in eye of scandal hurricane Buffalo's D.C. lobbyist had a front-row seat to the biggest Capitol Hill scandal in decades and he says he didn't see a thing.
G. Patrick Gould, a paid representative of the city and several other local interests, spent nearly two years as a partner of Michael Scanlon, who has pleaded guilty to bilking Indian tribes out of $40 million in a scheme involving now-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
...Gould knew Scanlon from their days working together at the National Association of Home Builders in the 1990s.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. LA: TAKING THE CON OUT OF CONTRACTOR Owners of damaged houses are complaining in droves about shoddy repairs and scams, and most of the culprits are unlicensed contractors

Sunday, August 06, 2006. National: Glut, high prices put condo projects on hold across the country From coast to coast, developers are nixing or delaying condominium projects as home sales decelerate, construction costs soar and lenders start to balk at financing units that might not sell. What’s making it worse is the glut of high-priced condos and too few people who can afford them.

Sunday, August 06, 2006. PA: Sinkhole prompts officials to condemn woman's home "Before [municipalities] start giving people permission to develop in these areas, they should consider checking to see if there is a sinkhole problem," Rathbun said. (Quote is from page 3 of article.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: Dominion post $5.9M loss in 2Q Dominion Homes Inc. continues to predict a loss for the fiscal year-end as it lost $5.9 million during its second quarter. (Earlier articles on Dominion tell of a HUD investigation for predatory lending. --Ed.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006. AZ: Shut-down builder not big player in Casa Grande Turner-Dunn suddenly stopped work on projects in both Casa Grande and Maricopa, leaving prospective homeowners in the lurch, including those who had already paid deposits or earnest money, and has apparently been dodging the angry phone calls.
Another problem is that subcontractors have filed liens against more than 100 of the homes because they are owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: Rate Your Builder Good or Bad comments about your Builder? Site is growing since it went national a couple of years ago.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: "Going Bare" exposes homeowners to risks With higher premiums, ditching insurance may be OK for the rich, not for those with mortgage.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. MI: 2 plead guilty in Detroit councilman's corruption case Michael Rosett, 69, of Farmington Hills pleaded guilty to failing to report a bribe on accusations that his company installed a roof worth $7,480 on Bates' home in 2002.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. FL: For her, remodel became her rage As the popularity of renovating and expanding homes has grown, many consumers looking to improve their piece of the American dream have found themselves trapped in a nightmare.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. MO: Fire destroys condo complex Rocky Mount Fire Protection District Chief Larry Paynter said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but corroborated that it appears to have started in the building under construction. Faulty cords, wiring or sparks from smoldering equipment could have ignited the blaze, but it may be impossible to officially determine a cause due to the extent of the damage, he said.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. MO: Fire spread easily at Lake of the Ozarks condos Lake Ozark Fire Chief Gary Woodson said the fire spread easily because the buildings were not constructed with fire stops.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: Hovnanian Haze Thickens Now, cancellation rates continue to rise, and the margins are dropping significantly on those homes in the backlog as more incentives are used to keep buyers from cancelling their contracts.

Saturday, August 05, 2006. TX: 3 charged in $1.1M bank scheme Suspects, including ex-bank employee, disguised cash payments to Texas builder

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: Building industry lobbying re: drainage "Philadelphia Ditch Rule." (Article is from the Nat'l Assoc. of Home Builders site)

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud Blog Mortgage Fraud News updated most weekdays

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: New Home Builders News Blog Updated news and commentary

Saturday, August 05, 2006. US: From: Fine Home Building Forum entry discussing the detrimental results of a common shortcut; no window flashing, no house wrap.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. FL: Religious Group Fights For Residents' Voice In Housing Scandal The coalition is also insisting that all funds given to the developer for the Ward Towers project be returned to the county, and that the individuals responsible for the neglect face prosecution.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. MA: Letter: Save ponds, before developers swoop in We all know these ponds are disappearing, being buried by invasive plants, algae, runoff, etc. Eventually, they will all dry up and then, here comes the scary part, the developers and their lawyers will start to convince town hall that they can convert these dried-up ponds into huge tax-paying developments! How long will that temptation be resisted?

Thursday, August 03, 2006. MI: Bank, title company reach settlement Day is among 47 property owners in four Caledonia-area developments facing foreclosure by Irwin Union Bank and Trust Company because Caledonia-based GBW builders failed to repay lot mortgages.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. MI: Title Insurance: Local Kent County residents to keep homes Some Kent County residents who once feared they would lose their homes can breathe a little easier today. The people live in the Cornerstone Estates Development in Gaines Township.

In June, they were served with legal papers that said the bank never received payment on their loans. Allegations of fraud involving the builder have surfaced

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: Region's home builders hear sobering news Seiders said cancellations of new-home sales contracts are up sharply, builder confidence has plummeted, investor-owned homes are boosting inventory to record levels and home prices are starting to slip.

"Something is seriously going on here," said Seiders, who repeated a previous warning that "it's more than an orderly downturn."

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: Free Speech and Internet Gripe Sites From Public Citizen

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: "Delores House" A photo essay of how one person did it right "This is a photo album, with all of the different building science approaches integrated into this structure..."

Thursday, August 03, 2006. FL; Nat'l: "Lennar Homes Info" FL Real estate agent's website on his experience with Lennar Homes.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: "Defective House" Photo essay of a house's construction defects.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. OK: Common Defects, Hidden Complaints Photos of several different houses with missing materials, big cracks, improperly applied roofing felt, plus letters from a BBB and a state attorney general stating complaints are not public information.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. AZ: "Builder Complaints" Real estate agent's page showing number of homes built and number of complaints filed, apparently from Registrar of Contractors figures.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: "Rate Your Builder" "WOW!!! I wish I had seen this web site prior to building with..." (This site has really taken off since it went national a couple years ago. New builder ratings are added daily, good and bad. --Ed.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006. FL; National: "Defective Homes" A real estate agent's bad experience with a builder led to creation of this site.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. TX: "Choice Homes Complaint" Homeowner's site reflecting their ongoing problems with Choice Homes.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: "K. Hov Sucks" Another homeowner's site about their experience with their builder, in this instance, K. Hovnanian. Has a message board, news, etc.

Thursday, August 03, 2006. US: "Truth About Toll Brothers" Homeowner's site about her experience with Toll Brothers Homes, updated frequently.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. MI: Arbitration forced on consumers “This is not a very consumer-friendly law,” said Stanley Pruss, chief of the division. “There’s nothing in the law that lays out the rules for the arbitration. So a builder can select his own arbitrator. That’s not very good news for consumers.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. FL: Florida plan focuses on restoring affordable housing Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson today announced he is approving an $82.9 million plan to support the State of Florida's long-term recovery efforts following Hurricane Wilma. [Let's hope they don't give it to an unscrupulous developer like the "House of Lies" story posted here recently. --Ed.]

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. WA: Suits over homes add Bothell development The Snoqualmie families also expanded their lawsuit to allege that their homes had bad wiring, leaky roofs, problems with siding and poor ventilation that spread furnace fumes. Quadrant has sued several subcontractors in response to the lawsuits for any defects that may be proved at trial.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. AZ: The law of gravity trumps speculation Those who treated the Valley's housing market like a casino, buying homes sight unseen and expecting to cash in a big winner every time, deserve no pity if their gamble isn't paying off. (Article also mentions Turner Dunn, builder being investigated for unfinished homes. --Ed.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. AZ: Home work stoppage in Pinal investigated The state Real Estate Department has been investigating Turner-Dunn for about a month, spokeswoman Mary Utley said. The investigation could lead to civil fines, suspensions of licenses and sales, and possibly criminal charges. The Registrar of Contractors is also investigating.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. NC: It’s about time for some apologies Chavonne, who received 25 percent of his campaign financing from developers, has said that he called the meeting out of concern over a proposed infill development impasse that he feared would fail at a July 24 council meeting.

Calling the unofficial infill gathering was fine. Ignoring the council clearly was out of bounds. That is governance, sans the sunshine.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. FL: Builder's Letter to the Editor: Let qualified builders construct affordable homes As president of the Builders Association of South Florida, I speak for its members in expressing our gratitude for the House of Lies investigation, which uncovered the trail of money squandered at the expense of taxpayers and the poor in our community...There are many solid and reputable developers and home builders in South Florida. They know how to build quality housing efficiently and cost effectively. Such legitimate builders are not given the chance to build affordable housing.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. US: Dome-Home Builder Anticipates Energy Savings His three-bedroom home, built in one piece, is seamless, strong, and virtually indestructible.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006. US: Helocs from Hell The cost of a home equity line of credit has soared over the past two years...what was a bargain two years ago can be a burden today.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. CA; Nat'l: Common Myths & Realities about Home Inspections Myth: A newly constructed home does not need an inspection. REALITY: No matter how good a job your builder does, a competent home inspector may find defective conditions that managed to slip through the cracks of the construction and municipal inspection processes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. NY: Court rules against Orange County masonry contractor Dutchess County State Supreme Court Justice Christine Sproat issued a court order barring David Wright and his home improvement company, Stonecraft Masonry and Stucco Contractors, Inc., from the home improvement contracting business unless he posts a $100,000 performance bond.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. Nat'l interest: Glen Riddle builder sued for $10 million Laurel-based contractor David G. Horsey and Sons, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Glen Riddle developers Centex Homes -- one of the nation's largest home builders with more than $21 billion in assets -- and its local subsidiary, Centex/Taylor LLC, in Worcester County Circuit Court on July 13.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. CA: City says builders avoiding duties If Toll Brothers continues to refuse to fulfill its obligation, the council gave City Manager Bill Lindsay authority to withhold the certificates of occupancy for eight homes in the Seacliff Estates development, which are now under construction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. Gulf Coast, Nat'l: Big builders, big business For as long as anyone can remember, the homebuilding market in Baton Rouge has been made up of a bunch of small, local companies, all constructing a few dozen or so houses a year. But that's all about to change

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. FL; Nat'l: Builders now cutting staff With the market slowdown, some small housing contractors have gone out of business, and the big builders have been "belt-tightening" by reducing staffing, said Franck Kaiser, chief executive officer of the Home Builders & Contractors Association of Brevard.

"This is just the beginning,"
Kaiser added. "I think you're going to see a little bit more of that."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. US: Infrared Thermography Site has a map showing where home buyers may find inspectors using this technology. Not an endorsement for any particular technology or inspector, etc. Posted for information only. --HADD

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. US: Mortgage Ledger Articles on mortgage fraud and related issues.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. FL: Palm Beach County woman says her dream house makes her sick Now the Amarals are battling the builder, Town & Country Homes Florida, a K. Hovnanian Co., in an attempt to break free of the home.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. MI: Sinkhole legal issues remain unresolved At the same time the Collins family was celebrating the first year in their new home on Giannetti Drive in 2004, the earth literally opened up and appeared ready to swallow their house.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006. US: A Reckoning with Risk Will adjustable-rate loans lead to record foreclosures?

Monday, July 31, 2006. NJ: (City of) Oceanport wins builder's remedy lawsuit "This decision has ramifications far beyond Oceanport," Surenian said. "This opinion is a wake-up call. It is basically telling developers that 'You have a responsibility too.' There are consequences if you bring about excessive lawsuits."

Monday, July 31, 2006. AZ: Cox fights fine for role in deal with builder Developers and communications companies, usually Cox or Qwest, routinely reach such preferred-provider deals that allow the company to display marketing materials in a builder's office. The Cox-Shea-Sunbelt deal was unusual because it included a private easement that allowed the developer to become the gatekeeper of service for the new-home community.

Monday, July 31, 2006. AZ: Troubled builder defends record Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and . . . George Johnson? Johnson, a Scottsdale-based developer who has racked up record fines in recent years from state regulators accusing him of environmental violations, has launched a Web site to chronicle what he characterizes as the government’s persecution of a proletarian hero.

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Their house was not a healthy home The experts said to get his family out, to tear the place down and leave everything. The house was toxic. (Quote from pg. 2 of article, about family sickened by moldy home.)

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Inflated appraisals bungle refinancing Critics inside and outside the appraisal business have long warned that many appraisals are unrealistically high.

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Eminent domain hits roadblock Ohio is ahead of New Jersey in preserving property rights by having imposed a moratorium on local governments from seizing unblighted private property for use by developers until next year.

Monday, July 31, 2006. PA: The issue of flooding in this vast county of ours is not something new. Ask Angelina Royalty as she awaits a 10-day condemnation notice, her Caln Township home’s walls buckling.

As she correctly put it, she didn’t cause the problem.

What caused the problem was a series of mudslides, mudslides that resulted from uncontrolled stormwater problems from a neighboring development.

Monday, July 31, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Regulators, developers too cozy So the man who heads the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Florida is going to take a new job with a developer who might want to build on some Pasco County wetlands. And which agency issues permits to destroy wetlands? If you guessed the Corps of Engineers, you're starting to understand the revolving door between government regulators and those they regulate.

Monday, July 31, 2006. OK: Developers don't like Tulsa's regulations for sidewalks Developer Chris Bumgarner has filed a lawsuit against the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission over the rule. (Another case of the building industry ignoring the rules and suing if the city tries to enforce them? --Ed.)

Monday, July 31, 2006. NJ: Feds still on the prowl Investigations into Marlboro have yielded guilty pleas from former Marlboro Mayor Matthew V. Scannapieco for accepting more than $200,000 in bribes from a Marlboro housing developer, former councilman and Marlboro MUA commissioner Richard Vuola for attempting to bribe public officials in Marlboro and Manalapan to win zoning favors for builders, and Planning Board member Stanley Young, who admitted taking $27,700 in bribes from two developers.

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Home Inspection Laws Finally, the Court issued a clear ruling. These exculpatory clauses will not be enforced "when a party to the contract attempts to avoid liability for intentional conduct of harm caused by 'reckless, wanton or gross behavior.'"

Monday, July 31, 2006. AZ: Home buyers' nightmare Turner-Dunn under investigation as unfinished houses put people in limbo

Monday, July 31, 2006. KS; Nat'l: Builder says cement homes will be wave of the future "I absolutely think people will start building homes more like this because the public will start demanding it," Craft said. "Maybe utility prices aren't high enough now to spur it, but just wait a year or two and I bet they will be."

Monday, July 31, 2006. TX: Agency's sanctions of builders don't go far A state agency designed to bring more accountability to Texas home builders recently -- and with much fanfare -- released a list of 49 builders that the agency has penalized.

But none of the penalties levied by the Texas Residential Construction Commission have anything to do with improper home-building practices, nor had the agency taken steps to identify them on its Web site.

The agency has been criticized for its inability to take action even when it finds that home builders have not lived up to their obligations.

Instead, all of these infractions are for the bureaucratic failure to register with the agency.

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Developers nix or delay condo projects as sales slow, costs rise More and more developers are canceling or delaying condominium projects as home sales slow, construction costs soar and lenders balk at financing units that might not sell.

Monday, July 31, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Home building commission continues to draw fire Critics say new agency remains toothless: Despite a state-hired inspector's warning that a wall could collapse, their fight against Plantation Homes of Houston was settled only on the way to the courthouse — not by the state agency charged since 2003 with regulating residential construction. The Andrews case underscores the debate over the Texas Residential Construction Commission, which has been criticized by consumers and an outside review as a toothless bureaucracy created to protect builders.

Monday, July 31, 2006. US: Housing bubble's latest woe: Land writedowns Companies writing down their land values because they aren't worth what they paid for them.

Monday, July 31, 2006. AZ; National interest: As Valley home market cools, emotions heat up "She was expecting to flip them," he said. "The market flipped her. She was devastated. People have forgotten that houses are not a liquid asset. They never were meant to be."

Saturday, July 29, 2006. US: Material Crimes: construction defects and the lawsuits they are spawning "They tell you about testing, building codes, warranties," said Arnie Rodio, an inspector who has seen hundreds of homes ruined by disintegrated pipes, cracked siding and shattered roofs. "It's all false advertising and empty promises."

Friday, July 28, 2006. Gulf Coast: Katrina Spawns Field Guide For Restoring Flooded Homes The people from New Orleans know flood damage clean up.

They know it so well they've written the book on it, figuratively speaking.

Friday, July 28, 2006. TN; Nat'l interest: Homeowner's complaint site: Beazer Homes My property is not a public property where public works can be dangerously and half hazardly placed for the convience of Beazer.

Friday, July 28, 2006. US: Think ahead about closing costs Federal law requires banks to issue the closing documents to the buyer a day before the closing, if you request them.

Friday, July 28, 2006. NV: Pay to play Henderson Mayor Jim Gibson took contributions from LandWell, and others, around the time of a critical vote...And it seems no coincidence that Real Homes, the local division of Centex Homes, donated $5,000 to Gibson on Dec. 29. Centex Homes is planning to build residences on the BMI property, once the contaminated soil has been cleaned up.

Friday, July 28, 2006. WI: Charges dropped against Bielinski contractor Prosecutors have dismissed felony fraud charges against Robert Mann, a former owner of Mann Brothers Construction, due to Mann's poor health, according to court records.

Friday, July 28, 2006. MD: Investigator honored for uncovering fraud Her work led to man who was convicted for a $2.5 million home improvement scheme

Friday, July 28, 2006. FL: Building Commission erred in its decision Why don't Northwest Florida homebuilders build to these standards today?

Friday, July 28, 2006. US: Del. contractor files $10M lawsuit against home builder Horsey and Sons is accusing the corporation and its parent company of breach of contract and of transferring its assets to avoid paying creditors, according to court documents. (Glen Riddle developers Centex Homes are being sued.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006. FL: Dade housing scandal's depth is shocking The waste, negligence, cronyism, nepotism and possibly fraud exposed by The Miami Herald's Debbie Cenziper amounted to millions squandered by the Miami-Dade Housing Agency. Developers borrowed money for projects never built. The loans were never repaid. Buyers were allowed to flip low-cost homes for a quick profit. Insiders and relatives enjoyed sweet deals.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. PA: ID-fraud indictment names 24: $14 million scam One of the more elaborate alleged schemes involved a Voorhees-based mortgage lender, which allegedly opened a Philadelphia office to process phony government-backed loans. In all, 10 people are accused of conspiring to illegally flip homes in the city, including a construction company owner, a real estate appraiser, a title officer, and the owner and several employees of the lender, Encore Mortgage Services.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. IL: Alsip business owner convicted of tax fraud Ronald J. Presbitero, 64, of Lockport was found guilty by a jury that began deliberations in the case last Friday. Presbitero is the owner of Presbitero Drywall Co., a subcontractor that installs drywall for residential developers throughout the Chicago area.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. MN: Stones falling at complex "The stonework wasn’t installed per the manufacturer’s instructions," said Normal Building Director Greg Troemel. While workers used adhesive to attach the stones to the building, he said they didn’t grout between the stones.

Because of the freeze/thaw conditions in the Twin Cities, the grout was critical to the project.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. US: New home sales fall further "That 11 percent drop is one of the bigger declines we've seen in the government survey," said John Tomlinson, an analyst who follows home builders' stocks for Majestic Research. And he believes that the true market could be weaker than the government report suggests, due to rising cancellations of new home purchase by buyers, which is not reflected in the number.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. FL: Troubled Fundraiser Leaves Crist Camp The foundation’s web site shows two Pino-controlled companies donated $130,000 to the Bush foundation. The money came from Century Home Builders and Century Home Builders of South Florida.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. MI: County lays off building inspectors The dip in new housing construction is forcing the county to lay off nearly a third of its building division employees.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. US: More builders lower expectations More home builders have cut their 2006 profit outlooks as second-quarter orders for new homes have come down significantly from last year on continued weakness in the U.S. housing market.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. OH, Nat'l: Poll: Do you agree with the decision? The Ohio Supreme Court decided that Norwood cannot take private property by eminent domain for a $125 million development project next to Rookwood Commons. Do you agree or disagree? (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Thursday, July 27, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Mortgage Fraud Costs Homeowners Millions FBI agents said most of the homes fall into foreclosure turning otherwise nice neighborhoods into eyesores.

Fraudulent appraisals threaten to send neighbor's tax evaluations soaring.

"Once the fraudsters hit a neighborhood, they'll try to buy every house that they can in that neighborhood because they have other fraudulent appraisals in that neighborhood," Kelly said.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. OH, Nat'l: States already addressing property rights issues The Ohio Supreme Court's decision Wednesday in favor of homeowners in a hard-fought Norwood eminent-domain case will reverberate across the country.

Thursday, July 27, 2006. US: Realtors Block Internet-Based Home Sales Through a combination of industry rules and recently-enacted state laws, major real estate brokerage firms and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are thwarting innovative, Internet-based real estate businesses that could bring real change to a business that is inefficient, anticompetitive and anticonsumer

Thursday, July 27, 2006. TX: Katy Democrats hear from clerk candidate Pierre During Cobarruvias' presentation, he declared that Texas has one of the most corrupt homebuilding industries in America. He pointed out that many consumers are not as protected as they used to be when buying a new home.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. US: International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) (Many articles relevant to home building and other housing and insurance issues affecting consumers. --Ed.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. FL: 'House of Lies' hits home (Numerous letters to the editor re: the FL housing fraud case.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. FL: HOMES FOR THE LOW-INCOME WERE SNAPPED UP BY OTHER BUYERS WHO FLIPPED THEM FOR A PROFIT In a county seized by one of the most dramatic affordable housing shortages in the nation, developers entrusted with government land and money to build homes for the poor have sold instead to real estate investors, wealthy buyers or families who turned quick profits.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. US: For Timing Homebuilder Stocks, Use Deductive Reasoning On Jobs The gist of the article was, as the title suggests, that homebuilder insiders were lightening their load of shares in their own companies. He notes that at that time the homebuilder execs were still trumpeting the industry despite the selling. (Be sure to read the link in this article "Insiders are Bailing on Home Builder Stocksw." --Ed)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Grand jury criticizes state laws, Ethics Commission Ceverha, under mounting pressure, eventually revealed that Houston home builder Bob Perry had given him $100,000 to defray legal expenses incurred when Democrats sued — and won — a judgment against him for his role as treasurer of DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006. US: Why mandatory arbitration clauses are bad for business -- and what companies should do instead Mandatory arbitration clauses, in my own experience, seem to be favored by large corporations with poor customer service records and a history of unfair or deceptive business practices. Mandatory arbitration clauses are a way to limit corporate accountability to customers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. US: Business Owners Discuss Immigration Reform With Commerce Secretary From the site of the National Association of Home Builders. (Though many builders deny THEY hire illegal workers, the industry says they "need" these workers, and supports a "guest worker program" that bypasses legal immigration requirements for the benefit of the builders' profits. --Ed.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. Nat'l Interest: The Mirage of Homeowner Associations The real reasons why homeowner associations have come to encompass 55 million Americans are not romantic. They are developers' desires for a bigger bang for the buck and their unholy alliance with cities and counties to increase tax revenue when the law set limits to the amount of taxes. As a result, it is not that Americans wanted homeowner associations. It is that the alliance between developers and government really gave Americans no other choice.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. MI: Tax would fund legal battle to fight developer lawsuit "We don't have the funds in the township coffers to fund anything like this,'' Marion said. "We just thought it would be best to let the people decide."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. CA: Atherton's probe of building department widens Town official reports at least $100,000 in missed fees and alludes to evidence that suggests "a pattern of inappropriate conduct."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. FL: Area men accused of cheating investors DeSantis made local news earlier this year when Premier Homes of the Treasure Coast, a company he was involved in, tried to buy assets of Great Bay Homes, a builder that shut down operations before completing a number of homes in St. Lucie County.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. FL: Builder faces Gotha's ire for destroying oak trees "I'm told that this was an honest mistake, but developers have a responsibility to know and abide by the rules," she added. "The cost of asking for forgiveness should be a lot more than the cost of asking for permission."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. NY: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/436508p-367798c.html Last week, Hynes said Gordon agreed to cooperate when confronted with the damning tapes that show her making demands for a free $500,000 house from a developer in exchange for getting a $2 million city-owned vacant lot turned over to him for development.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. FL: Housing dreams sink in a swamp of sleaze, greed Cenziper's ongoing series describes an agency that has tossed away millions on affordable housing projects that remain empty lots. She writes about favored developers who, with help from buddies in the agency, jobbed the system out of big bucks without building anything.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. Canada: 'It's like a nightmare,' homeowner laments over loss Only a few truckloads of furnishings survived after Parisian's house tumbled into a basement hole in May. The Parisians spent Monday sifting through the home, which was deemed unstable since a Regina contractor attempted to lift the structure and pour a cement basement underneath.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. MS: Advice center will focus on rebuilding People in this Katrina-wrecked county will be building new homes for years, a tedious process that can be downright scary at times.

The Housing Committee of the Hancock County Governor's Commission this week is launching The One Stop Shop, a free housing and information center, to help locals sift through the nerve-wracking process in hopes of making home-building a more pleasurable experience.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. FL: Building Industry Cutting Workers As the housing market slows, local builders are looking to slim down.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006. AZ; Nat'l: Inflated appraisals The appraisal system has a built-in conflict of interest.

Monday, July 24, 2006. MN: La Crescent Planning Commission says ‘no’ to Stoney Point development Following a presentation by city engineer Don Borcherding on the condition of the city’s storm sewer system at the previous public meeting on June 27, opposition toward the proposed development increased...The planning commission’s denials will be passed on as recommendations to the La Crescent City Council, which will be making the final decision on the Stoney Point development at the July 24 council meeting.

Monday, July 24, 2006. MS: AG's office readies for next wave of frauds More help sought to catch crooks in construction

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: Prominent developer sued by homeowners The suit was filed in Pasco-Pinellas Circuit Court by the homeowners' attorney, Daniel L. Moody. Defendants are the East Bay Development of Pinellas County, owned by Sam Hall and his wife, Melinda. Also named in the suit as a defendant is M.R. Lowe General Contracting, Inc.

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: County mayor: Investigate housing agency The series, which continues through Wednesday, has outlined how the agency doled out millions of dollars to well-connected developers who built little or nothing for years.

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: DreamBuilders project still unrealized More than two years since construction began, however, the Asante dream homes are half-finished shells that have been largely untouched since a bank stopped releasing money for the project last year.

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: Lennar cuts deals for homes The same five-bedroom house was originally contracted for $490,000, said Mike Morgan, a Stuart-based real estate broker who has accused Lennar of shoddy construction practices and is in a legal battle with the company.

Monday, July 24, 2006. TX: Just when you thought it was safe to be a tree in San Antonio After years of shaving costs — and increasing profits — by developing rows of cookie-cutter homes with solitary saplings that could make only Charlie Brown proud, the tree ordinance has forced developers on non-grandfathered plots of land to work around protected trees or mitigate their removal by planting replacements or paying penalties.

So far, representatives of Continental Homes/D.R. Horton aren't tipping their hands on this potential test case. The company's City Hall lobbyist, David Earl, who is as litigious as he is influential, did not return a phone call.

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: Big-name developers denied tax breaks Florida law allows property owners to reap tax breaks if their property is used for agricultural industry -- a classification that includes dairy farming, cattle grazing and nursery cultivation. A Miami Herald investigation last year found that many of the largest tax breaks went not to farmers, but to developers who often made only token nods to agriculture on suburban lots slated for projects.

Monday, July 24, 2006. RI: Builders who do shoddy work face stiffer penalties The law -- signed by Governor Carcieri July 12 -- enacts stiffer penalties for contractors who do shoddy work or work without valid registration. It increases the insurance requirements for contractors and gives the public access to more information about complaints against contractors.

Monday, July 24, 2006. FL: When a storm's headed this way, those in fortified houses say there's no place like home In the midst of sunken roofs and fallen trees, Bill and Cathy Mathews' round-shaped home stood unscathed by Hurricane Wilma's wrath.

Monday, July 24, 2006. US: Facing up to reality on housing The first stage of grief is denial. That's the state the few remaining housing bulls seem to be in.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. TX: Facing up to reality on housing The best news came out of Texas, where foreclosure postings plunged 22 percent. That said, the level of postings remains so high that the Lone Star State retains its status as the number-one foreclosure state for a seventh straight month.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. TX: Danielle DiMartino: Housing: Grin and bear it On July 13, the last bull standing, Dallas-based homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. lost its stature as the Teflon builder in a big way, hacking 30 percent off its 2006 earnings guidance.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. TX: PDF: Commission Levies Penalties Forty-eight builders were assessed fines ranging from $150 to $2,500 for registering late. In a separate case, Lifestyle Design/Build, Inc., of Houston, was fined $1,000 for using fraud or
deceit in obtaining a registration.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. FL: House of Lies For these two affordable housing projects, the Miami-Dade Housing Agency paid Rivero's development companies almost $1.6 million -- but not a single house was built.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. VA; Nat'l interest: Building a subdivision could be easier than it looks You start with the most insane layout you can devise. Just make sure that you can make a lot of money with it. If nobody complains, you can get it approved the first time through. And don't worry about the costs; you just pass them on to the homebuyers. Apparently they don't mind paying $250,000 for an $80,000 house, as long as their property taxes don't go up to pay for new schools.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. FL: Lack of opposition allows some candidates to skate to victory Kreegel sued political consultant Randy Nielsen last year, claiming political fliers put together by Nielsen in a 2004 primary election falsely accused Kreegel of being arrested. A group largely backed by the Florida Home Builders Association paid for the fliers.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. FL: Man vs. Nature Gieseler is suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the Florida Home Builders Association. [Another instance of a buying the land first, without doing one's homework to find out if it can be built on, and then suing to change the law? --Ed.]

Sunday, July 23, 2006. NC: Monday’s infill-ordinance vote will reveal who’s really in charge here. Chavonne has repeatedly said the city should “raise the bar” on the quality of development. In the past week, he has dropped the bar, letting developers dictate the conditions for their own regulation.

Sunday, July 23, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Builders, real estate firms feel market's decline Cuts made from construction to sales

Sunday, July 23, 2006. FL: Builder backs out of huge project Lennar walks away from 4,000-home Hills of Minneola proposal

Sunday, July 23, 2006. US: State-by-state mortgage delinquencies by Holden Lewis, on Bankrate.com

Saturday, July 22, 2006. Tx: Few homebuilders apply for Texas Star Builders In a press release issued July 17, the Texas Residential Construction Commission announced the names of 12 Texas homebuilders who qualified for the Texas Star Builders program. �In order to qualify as a Star Builder, applicants must provide documentation indicating an excellent financial history and overall positive association with a financial institution, plus information about their experience, training, education, building practices and participation in the building community.� Unfortunately the TRCC�s press release failed to mention that out of 24,723 registered builders in Texas, only 30 builders have applied to participate in the Star Builder program. 9 have withdrawn their applications, 12 have been approved and 9 are pending.

Saturday, July 22, 2006. US: State Rule Enforcers Are Often Players, Too, by Kenneth Harney When it comes to protecting consumers in the real estate market, are the foxes guarding the henhouse?

Saturday, July 22, 2006. US: Home Buyers Pick Up More Leverage With Inspectors in Carleton v. Home Tech Systems , decided by the D.C. Court of Appeals on June 15, the court was not willing to apply the doctrine of the exculpatory clause across the board. When the Carleton case went to trial, the lower-court judge found that there was a genuine dispute "as to whether the inspection was negligently performed."

Saturday, July 22, 2006. NJ; Nat'l interest: Judge’s decision clearly on side of homeowners State Superior Court Judge E. Benn Micheletti delivered a clear and concise dismissal of the builder’s defamation charge on July 5. He cited previous New Jersey cases in which private corporations have been held to be "public figures," much like politicians, for the purposes of defamation law.

In one of those cases, Micheletti wrote, "the Court recognized that all sellers of products can expect and must accept public examination of their products. Commercial vendors have submitted their products for inspection and presumably invite public attention with the accompanying risk of occasional disparaging or defamatory comment."

Saturday, July 22, 2006. US: K. Hov. Sucks Homeowner's site reflecting their experience with the builder. Links, etc.

Saturday, July 22, 2006. OH: Guilty official still holds seat As he waits to be sentenced for his part in a real estate "flipping" scheme, Bainbridge Township Zoning Commission member David Weiss remains in his appointed position.

Saturday, July 22, 2006. US: Homeowners hit hard as adjustable-rate mortgages reset Can families absorb the shock? Some can; others prepare for bankruptcy court

Saturday, July 22, 2006. US: 6 mortgage rip-offs to avoid Our ignorance of how the mortgage process works and the many ways mortgage pros rig the system in their favor lead many of us to pay far more than we should.

Friday, July 21, 2006. OH: Desvari has worn out his welcome as Lorain's chief building inspector We've got a real problem with Desvari deciding that the law doesn't apply to him.

Friday, July 21, 2006. IA: Contractor gets 10 years for fraud Britton C. Anderson, 41, was also fined $1,000 and ordered to repay $64,587 to various homeowners he was accused of defrauding.

Friday, July 21, 2006. Nat'l interest: Horton cancels land deals Fort Worth-based builder D.R. Horton Inc. has taken a write-off in excess of $57 million to get out of purchasing land for new homes.

Friday, July 21, 2006. US: Ghost Housing Market Builders have been selling the vast majority of their homes to flippers. Flippers don’t care about quality.

Friday, July 21, 2006. US: Prices, not Fed, make homes less affordable --Bernanke Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday said the main reason many Americans were being priced out of the housing market was five years of steady house price rises, not Fed interest rate increases.

Friday, July 21, 2006. US: Homeowner's site on their Toll Bro's Homes experience Title: "The Truth about Toll Brothers"

Friday, July 21, 2006. Gulf Coast: Builder beefs up new home to withstand storms "The whole outside of the house is encased in plywood," he explained. "That's what makes it so strong." Usually, the outsides of homes are covered with oriented stand board -- or OSB -- a cheaper, lower-quality product made from wood chips.

Friday, July 21, 2006. Gulf Coast: LP Donates Additional 1.2 Million Square Feet of OSB to Katrina Rebuilding (See related article today, "Builder beefs up new home to withstand storms" --Ed.)

Thursday, July 20, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: Consumers for Quality Homes This site was brought to our attention by our MI HADD representative. --Editor.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. SC: Builder alleges council conspiracy Two Horry County leaders are the targets of a lawsuit filed Friday by the developer of a stymied Little River high-rise project.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. NC: Real-Estate Investor Convicted Of Federal Fraud, Conspiracy Charges Prosecutors said that Jim Davis, through his companies Easy Financial Services and Eagle Investment Group, and builder David Layton orchestrated elaborate pyramid-like schemes where people -- investors, sellers, buyers, renters and homebuilders -- who bought in to the so-called development either lost money, had their credit ruined or both.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. US: MDC pays to end U.S. investigation CitiMortgage Inc., the mortgage affiliate of financial giant Citigroup, and WL Homes, which does business as John Laing Homes, were other participants in $1.6 million worth of settlements announced Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The agreements represent the latest chapter in an investigation Colorado Deputy Insurance Commissioner Erin Toll launched early last year into kickback arrangements and other illegal practices within the title-insurance industry.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. AZ: Construction Defect Litigation This well-meaning Statute is designed to cut down on litigation, but as shown in my paragraph C(d) above, it may well turn into a trap for homeowners who think they can just "dabble" in this dance without using a claim expert or lawyer.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. AZ: Homebuilder sues couple in dream-home dispute Russell now faces the possibility of losing his remaining (contractors)license, registered under the name of Sierra Canyon Homes LLC

Thursday, July 20, 2006. US: Dominion, HUD update Dominion Homes Inc. and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have settled one of seven areas of concern the federal agency raised in a recent audit.

Thursday, July 20, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force New materials now available, next meeting for July 26, agenda now posted. Public should not miss the opportunity to have a say in this task force addressing construction defect issues in Oregon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Foreclosures, mortgage fraud out of control, appraiser says Hill said people frequently are defrauded in the mortgage process by being encouraged to secure high-interest construction loans in order to buy houses.

The loan comes with the promise that the applicant will be assisted with refinancing to an appropriate level within a couple of months. When the new homeowners attemp to do that, Hill said they find their new property is worth much less than its appraisal value. There is no way for them to refinance the houses, so they're stuck with high payments they cannot afford.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: Attack of the Real Estate Rip Offs From Forbes.com

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: Homeowner's site on Toll Brothers Homes problems Title of site: "The Truth About Toll Brothers"

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. WA: Contractor jailed in construction scam Sam Cover, 40, was arrested Monday

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: Mold Found Where Least And Most Expected Building quality could explain the difference.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Too Many Houses, Not Enough Homes you know it's not a good sign when a new development is trying to sell its second phase of new homes in a community where the number of "For Sale" signs and real estate agent-led open houses is exceeding the number of houses that were delivered just months ago.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. OH: Dominion Homes update HUD recently audited procedures used by Dominion Homes to originate the insured mortgages... (Several articles on the investigation into possible predatory lending by Dominion have been posted on our news page this year. --Ed)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. MS: State auditor gets word out about abuse Tips and website for getting repair work done in MS

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. NV: Landmark Homes fined by contractors board for not responding to complaint (3 other co's also listed as having been fined last month. --Ed.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. FL: Builder beefs up new home to withstand storms After seeing homes in Northwest Florida being destroyed by hurricanes two years in a row, the people who build and live in new houses are taking a hard look at making dwellings as storm-resistant as possible.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. WI: Law sparks debate on costs of development A change in state law that makes homeowners, rather than developers, responsible for "impact fees" could slow development or force an increase in property taxes, some officials in fast-growing suburbs say. Critics also say that the change, which was pushed by home builders, shows what happens when lawmakers hastily approve bills sought by special interests near the end of a legislative session.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: Housing downturn swats home builders "This has all the hallmarks of past housing downturns, like the one that started in the late 1980s," says Rick Murray, a Raymond James analyst, of a slump in markets like Boston and Los Angeles that shaved 20 percent or more off prices and lasted nearly a decade. "This time around the signs are even less favorable."

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. KY, OH: Fischer Homes case update More plead guilty to harboring illegals

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. KY: Woman accused in illegal immigration case pleads guilty Six people have pleaded guilty to conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants in the federal investigation of a northern Kentucky home builder and its subcontractors. (Fischer Homes case. Also, see previous articles on free program to check worker's legal status that bosses aren't using.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. TX: City Sues Home Builder Over (illegal) Tree-Cutting Continental Homes

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: HUD REACHES RESPA SETTLEMENTS WITH MAJOR LENDER AND BUILDERS FOR $1.6 MILLION WASHINGTON - The Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced $1.6 million in settlements under The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) with a national mortgage lender and two major homebuilders that engaged in business practices involving captive title reinsurance. The agreements included a $650,000 settlement with CitiMortgage, Inc., and its captive title reinsurance company Chesapeake Reinsurance; a $675,000 settlement with M.D.C. Holdings, Inc., certain of its Richmond American Homes homebuilding subsidiaries and AHT Reinsurance; and, a $305,000 settlement with WL Homes, which does business as John Laing Homes, a California and Colorado builder.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006. US: Ryland Profit Falls 9% Ryland Group (RYL - commentary - Cramer's Take) reported a 9% drop in second-quarter earnings, and the homebuilder cut its full-year guidance because of the continued slowdown in the U.S. housing market.

Monday, July 17, 2006. TX: Letter to the Editor. A must see. Trusting the home builders with consumer protection is like trusting terrorists with homeland security.

Monday, July 17, 2006. US: Exodus Continues at Troubled Fannie Mae Some executives were forced out or left as part of housecleaning efforts in the aftermath of the scandal.

Monday, July 17, 2006. MN; Nat'l interest: Goodbye to the real estate boom Centex has also recently began offering a "down payment assistance" program, in which the builder pays a nonprofit organization to "gift" down payment cash to certain Centex buyers. (See articles posted earlier this year about the IRS ruling that such "gifts" were not charity and were for the builders' profit. The cost is rolled into the house price and one way or another the buyer pays, it is not a "gift." --Ed.)

Monday, July 17, 2006. TN: Citizen group takes on shoddy builders County officials have given a preliminary thumbs-up to legislation that would require builders and contractors to post a bond of up to $50,000 before building in Sumner County.

Monday, July 17, 2006. US: Dispelling Home Inspection Myths, by Broderick Perkins, real estate author Myth: New homes don't need inspections. This is perhaps one of the greatest myths of all and potentially the most costly. ... Unfortunately, builders often won't let you hire a private inspector to inspect the home, during the phases of a home's construction, at several times when inspectors say such an inspection would be most beneficial.

Monday, July 17, 2006. WA; Nat'l interest: Too close for safety? Pierce County will reconsider an emergency ordinance that tightened rules on dense developments. Fire officials and others want the controls to continue. Builders say no one is in danger.

Sunday, July 16, 2006. US: PDF: Defining a National Housing Research Agenda "Priority defects were believed to pose potential health, structural, operational, and safety risks." (pg. 2; see chart on pg. 3 showing 95%)

Sunday, July 16, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: On false foundations Finn and many of his former neighbors believe they were victims of appraisal fraud, a hidden crime that officials say is helping fuel Colorado's nation-leading foreclosure rate.

Sunday, July 16, 2006. FL: Reid Hughes Yet fighting sprawl makes saving the manatee look like a cakewalk. Even when you win -- as Hughes and other activists did when Volusia County voters overwhelmingly supported urban growth boundaries in 2004 -- you can lose. The homebuilders' lawyers got the ballot results tossed.

Sunday, July 16, 2006. FL: Tougher code needed The commission, despite pressure from home builders who complain that stricter building standards will increase the costs, needs to reconsider its decision when it meets in August in Miami.

"We can no longer measure the affordability of housing based on the price you pay to buy or build your home," said Chapman-Henderson. "Affordable housing must be measured in terms of whether a home survives a hurricane."

Sunday, July 16, 2006. US: Tax benefits for homeowners spread unevenly Bottom line on realty write-offs: If you're not taking big ones, that's probably because you're not being eaten alive by huge mortgage bills and heavy property taxes.

Saturday, July 15, 2006. GA: State fines developer over sewer lines EPD stops work at adult community after company began without approval

Saturday, July 15, 2006. MN; Nat'l interest: Fixit: Who's to blame for concrete failure? Any of these problems so early in the concrete floor's life most likely stem from improper installation

Saturday, July 15, 2006. SC: 'Envelope important in hurricane For home builders, protecting windows isn't just a good idea, it's the law. Building codes for homes built after 2003 on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton and unincorporated Beaufort County require all homes to be built to withstand winds of at least 130 miles per hour. To accomplish this requirement, homeowners must have impact-resistant glass installed or be prepared to quickly cover windows with shutters or plywood.

Saturday, July 15, 2006. AZ: Builders regroup in valley New-home glut alters strategies

Saturday, July 15, 2006. MI: Posh condos set for Big Beaver Demolition is under way on an older building -- the Neumann Building on Big Beaver at Alpine -- to make way for 165 condos billed as "ultra luxury" that will sell for as high as $2 million each.

Builders are banking on demand from people with big bank accounts and bigger taste. (Is this part of the industry's concern about "keeping housing affordable?" --Ed.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006. US: Investors Flee Housing As Horton Cuts View You'd think investors wouldn't have acted so surprised.

Saturday, July 15, 2006. US: Mortgages that outlive you Stretching yourself too thin to buy a house is a recipe for disaster.

Friday, July 14, 2006. AK: New Contractor Licensing Enforcement Now in Effect Under the new law, a violator will be issued a civil penalty in the amount of $1,000 for a first offense and $1,500 for subsequent offenses. In cases of severe or repeat offenses, the law allows for criminal penalties in addition to the civil fine.

Friday, July 14, 2006. OK: Letter to Editor: Not to be trusted
Regarding “New state law gives builders time to repair” (news story, July 2): It always seems that the only people who claim this is a win-win for the builders and the home owners are the builders! Trusting home builders with consumer protection is like trusting terrorists with homeland security. If the home-building industry wants to claim the “right to repair” law is good for the industry, it should do so. But don’t claim to talk for the consumers!

Texas saw the first right to repair bill passed in 1989. It failed so miserably that the state created a commission to oversee the builders.

John R. Cobarruvias, Houston, Texas

Cobarruvias is president of the Texas chapter of Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings.

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Worth repeating: Green Building Articles from Mother Earth News, techniques that are really green building, from before it was cool, and before the NAHB started pushing their version. See July 2nd article also, "Green? It's a bit of a Gray Area," www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/02/REG2NJNI4V1.DTL

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Are you considering using PVC pipe in your new home? Read this first

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Roof Collapses at Horton "We continue to believe the Washington, D.C., market is headed lower as excessive speculation and overbuilding will weigh on the market for the foreseeable future," Raymond James analyst Rick Murray wrote.

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Builder Should Be Ashamed Another Disgraceful Structured Wiring Job

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: GREENGUARD Ranks Top 10, Bottom 5 States at Risk for Mold From BuildingOnline.com

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: SUZETTE HACKNEY: 10 lies about buying, selling Top 10 lies in real estate, (book review)

Friday, July 14, 2006. NJ: Builder charged with selling heroin at job sites Boyd H. Howard, 56, is accused of selling the drug in large quantities to people afraid to buy it on the streets.

Friday, July 14, 2006. National Interest: The Teardowns of Tomorrow; Dealing with problems in newly-built homes Industry estimates claim that nearly 85 percent of all new homes have defects, and 15 percent of these homes may have serious problems, including faulty foundations, dangerous moisture intrusion and inadequate framing. Often these problems show up months or even years after the buyer has moved in and the builder has moved on. Many of these new starter castles will be lucky to survive their mortgage.

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Realtors fight discounters with restrictive state laws So far, Realtor groups in nine states have lobbied successfully for laws requiring all brokers to provide the full services. (Oklahoma Realtors succeeded in getting a law passed late last year, but the state attorney general said it couldn't be enforced against discounters.) Ten other states have passed laws that forbid agents to rebate part of their commission to buyers. The result: Brokers who offer a la carte services at lower prices have sometimes been shut out.

Friday, July 14, 2006. NC; Nat'l interest: Durham County poised to bid adieu to $8.3 million "Everyone had to contribute to that $2,000 in some shape, form or fashion," Bullard said recently. "I would agree that the buyer would have some entitlement to at least part of that impact fee."

Not so, said Hank Fordham, the lawyer representing the 13 home builders who sued Durham County. The fees could not be passed on to the buyers because the free market alone determines the price of a home, Fordham said, echoing an argument county officials made themselves in 2003 in arguing for the fees. Builders who would tack an extra $2,000 onto the price of their homes would put themselves at a competitive disadvantage, he said. [Then why do builders groups argue that impact fees will drive up the cost of housing? --Ed.]

Friday, July 14, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Jume was cold month for resales Home builders have been blaming the local resale market for some of their troubles, saying that their buyers are canceling deals because they can't get what they want for their existing homes. Now, resale experts are saying that builders are messing up their market by dumping so many built-but-not-sold homes on the market with outsize buying incentives.

Friday, July 14, 2006. FL; Ongoing BARRINGTON Case: Wife of jailed builder arrested in fraud case She had been running the troubled Barrington Homes Inc. after her husband's arrest in May on a money-laundering charge.

Friday, July 14, 2006. US: Truth About Real Estate Agent Referred Home Inspectors The derogatory phrase "deal killer" is often used by real estate agents to describe independent home inspectors who give buyers objective information in an inspection report, which may lead the buyer to renegotiate or to look at other properties.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. WA: Building Industries Association of WA hoping to pack State Supreme Court with handpicked candidates this fall Northwest Progressive Institute Blog entry: If you aren't familiar with the BIAW, here's a primer to explain who they are, what their agenda is, why they're a threat, and why they want to stack the state Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. US: Fannie Mae to suspend construction lending program The mortgage finance giant is recovering from a $10.6 billion accounting scandal and recently paid a $400 million fine to federal regulators because of its internal lapses.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. AZ; Nat'l interest: Ahwatukee home resales plummet "We spent all day rechecking the numbers," he said Wednesday. "It should be better than it was. That was a big surprise." ...He attributed the overall slowdown in home sales to higher interest rates, homes dumped on the market by investors and competition from new home builders who are dropping prices.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. NY: Victims charged for estimates FEMA cries foul as contractors seek hundreds to assess damage: But a representative of the Southern Tier Home Builders and Remodelers Association defended the action, saying the late-June flooding caused a crush of activity.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. Thanks to A.S. for sending this link. It's not real current but it's still helpful info.: Team 4: Home Inspectors Only weeks after moving in, she found water leaking from a bathroom and rotten wood on the doorframes.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. US: Fannie and Freddie: "Vehicle For Corruption" Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said it's a mystery why Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) continue to use "the faulty logic" that their mortgage-backed securities holdings are essential to their mission.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. US: Welcome to Fantasyland: Housing's "Soft Landing" But before you enter Fantasyland, maybe you'd better read this selection of facts first:

Thursday, July 13, 2006. US: Lennar Update One of his clients smartly backed out of a deal on a Lennar home under contract at $490,000. Because of defects, the would-be buyer got his deposit back. Lennar sold that home for $315,000. That is a 35.7% reduction in price. Another one of his clients has been "walking the market down" for one full year trying to unload a townhome. The client keeps wanting prices that he could have gotten two months ago. That client is now in the red and profit is no longer possible.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: Defective Homes Here are a few inspection reports on Lennar built homes that are defective and do not meet building codes at the time of the inspections.

Thursday, July 13, 2006. US: Homebuilders Stumble Homebuilders Feel Pain of Cooling Market, NAHB Report Sees '07 Upswing on Katrina Rebuild

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. MS: Mississippi panel adopts statewide building codes The Mississippi Building Codes Council has taken a first step toward statewide rules on how homes and businesses are built.

But how to help local governments train their staffs and determine how the changes might impact them are far from being worked out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. AZ: State trust lands at risk The opponents, led by the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association and the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, have been fighting the initiative for months.

Already, they've helped push a weak, competing ballot measure through the Legislature to confuse voters.

Now they're promoting a funhouse-mirror view of Conserving Arizona's Future.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. TX; Nat'l interest: Centex Completes Sale of Home Equity Lending Operations Centex Corporation (NYSE: CTX) today announced it completed the sale of its sub-prime home equity lending operation, Centex Home Equity Company, LLC (CHEC), to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. AZ: Home builders agree to give workers back pay The workers earned the wages while working for Veemac Corp., a Scottsdale framing company, which had done contractor work for Richmond American Homes, U.S. Homes and other Valley home builders.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently submitted material.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Meeting notices.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. US: NACHI Forum Nat'l Association of Certified Home Inspectors. [Public can read this forum for home inspectors even if you can't or don't want to register to post there. Interesting and useful info for home buyers and homeowners. --Ed.]

Wednesday, July 12, 2006. US: Complex Construction Defect Claims Involving Performance Bonds and Insurance: Who Pays First? This is the first in a series of two articles that will explore the relationship of, and differences between, the CGL insurance policy and the performance bond as applied to claims involving defective construction.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. NY: Diane Gordon’s Indictment Brooklyn State Assemblymember Diane Gordon was charged with bribery, accused of demanding a $500,000 home from a developer in return for helping the builder acquire city land - and many opinion writers are leafing through the indictment and weighing in on the situation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. NH: Builder tries to deflect defect blame “Our position is that Ashwood sold the house, and the claim is against Ashwood,” Murphy said, adding later, “We don’t want to get into the whole issue of what degree of fault lies with the framer, the foundation and the other subcontractors. . . . All of those details should have been checked out thoroughly by Ashwood’s site manager.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. MI; National interest: Lawmakers propose bills to crack down on mortage fraud About 80 percent of fraud losses involved collaboration by industry insiders, according to the FBI.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. CO: Immigration pact OK'd Republican Rep. Al White, the sponsor of House Bill 1018, told his Republican colleagues that Owens was supportive of the bill until business leaders told him that the price of a house might go up by 5 percent because some homebuilders could lose illegal-immigrant labor.

"That tells me that business in Colorado is really not serious about doing away with illegal immigration in this state," White said. "And if that is the case, this whole special session is nothing but bull."

Rep. Lynn Hefley, R-Colorado Springs, said it bothered her "when businesspeople come and talk to the governor and tell him what needs to be done."

She was referring to homebuilder Larry Mizel, who talked with Owens on Sunday.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. CO; Nat'l interest: Record foreclosure pace He said lenders, consumers, real estate agents and home builders all share blame.

Experts said foreclosures are being driven by several factors: adjustable rate mortgages that are rising with interest rates; interest-only loans; houses sold to people with less than stellar credit ratings who in previous years wouldn't have qualified for loans; programs allowing homes to be purchased with no down payment; overbuilding; the lack of new, high-paying jobs; and predatory lending and fraud.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. WI: Builders bristle at Greenville plan "My brother farms and he would like to buy more farmland, but (developers) have taken that opportunity away from him," said Jean Goffard, a lifelong town resident.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. TN: Builders threaten impact fee lawsuit Town Council to consider raising road and parks rates

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. US: ICE Basic Pilot Program [This is the free, quick service available to employers to check the legal status of workers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that has been available since 2004. If we can find it, why can't employers? --Ed.]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. US: Papers or not, there's work Crackdown hasn't stopped hiring of (illegal)immigrants

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. US: M/I Homes 2nd qtr new home contracts down 35 pct Home builder M/I Homes Inc. on Tuesday said contracts for new homes fell 35 percent in the second quarter, underlining the softening U.S. housing market.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. NM: Builder claims fraud in suit over property-height limits A builder who bought an east-side lot is suing Paul Duran, a real-estate agent and former Santa Fe County commissioner, charging Duran didn't disclose building-height restrictions on the property. [Guess the builder "didn't do his homework." --Ed.]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. US: Default rate of 'piggyback' loans spurs Wall Street to action With low equity and home price appreciation flattening in once-zesty markets, many piggyback borrowers are being squeezed financially.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. From Realty Times: Home Sizes Revisited: Do Bigger Houses Mean Higher Costs? If the median new home was priced at $55,700 in 1978, then calculations from the Bureau of Labor Statistics say that corrected for inflation that same home would be priced at $166,844 in 2005 dollars. It wasn't. It was priced at $242,000 -- a difference of $75,156.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006. US: Builder in control of HOA charges homeowners $245 and only landscapes his spec homes From AHRC news

Monday, July 10, 2006. Nat'l interest: When paying the mortgage gets tough, take action Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages or who bought more house than they could afford — made worse by stagnating wages or a job loss — are especially feeling the squeeze.

Monday, July 10, 2006. US: Cheated Out of House and Home Don't let these scams happen to you! (From Reader's Digest)

Monday, July 10, 2006. NC; Nat'l interest: Growth's expenses Impact fees, assessed on developers, would pass some of the cost of growth on to those who benefit from it.

Monday, July 10, 2006. US: More pain for home builders KB Home, Dominion Homes issue negative views on housing

Monday, July 10, 2006. NE: Houses for sale: A record local inventory Barney Helton, who’s been a Realtor for several years and has spent most of his career either building or selling houses, said the market has really slowed down and many homes are taking a long time to sell or aren’t selling at all.

Monday, July 10, 2006. US: How many home inspections does a buyer need? The home inspector recommended that an engineer evaluate the foundation. The buyers failed to heed this advice. After closing, they began to worry about the unevenness in the floors. They consulted with an engineer who told them that the foundation was faulty and that the house was moving.

Monday, July 10, 2006. Nat'l interest: Refi loans could prove costly in foreclosure Law allows lenders to go after personal savings as well as the house, unlike original mortgage.

Sunday, July 09, 2006. WA: Washington Construction Law Blog News about court decisions, etc, re Construction Law in WA State.

Sunday, July 09, 2006. NV: Delays dog Del Webb defect cases When the "Right to Repair" law was passed by the Nevada Legislature in 2003 it was hailed as the key to stopping the tide of construction-defect lawsuits that many said was slowly killing the industry.

But three years since that law was passed nothing has changed, many in the construction industry have said. If anything, construction-defect cases haven't decreased since the Right to Repair law was passed. [Article also talks about class actions. --Ed.]

Sunday, July 09, 2006. VA: Churchville contractor loses license Three strikes and he's out — for now. Shoddy craftsmanship and missed deadlines were among the complaints that stripped Churchville-based builder Lynwood K. Dull of his contractors license last month.

Sunday, July 09, 2006. NY: Town takes developer to court It was supposed to be the premier 55-and-over community in Huntington. But residents at The Greens at Half Hollow say the exclusive development has been plagued by shoddy construction, poor lighting, flooding and other problems.

Sunday, July 09, 2006. FL; Nat'l interest: House ready for the big one Is there such a thing as a hurricane-proof house? Maybe not, but Edward Boza wants to find out how close you can get.

Saturday, July 08, 2006. KY; Nat'l interest: Up a creek In 40-something years, the Cains had seen high water once - in 1962. But the explosion of home construction on the hills upstream changed all that, he said.

Saturday, July 08, 2006. US: It's easier to denounce illegal workers than illegal hiring Of course, this unsubtle hypocrisy -- targeting illegal workers while protecting illegal hiring -- is aided and abetted by constituents who find it easier to blame darker-skinned Latinos than white business owners. While the Minutemen have stood guard at the border and various factions have organized protests aimed at Mexicans, Guatemalans or Salvadorans, those groups have not targeted onion growers or homebuilders.

Saturday, July 08, 2006. US: After Katrina, Gulf Coast building codes getting stricter Scenes of buildings crumbled by Hurricane Katrina's fierce winds and surging waves have been spotlighted as examples of poor construction and lax building codes on the Gulf Coast.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: National Alliance Against Construction Defects This forum used to be the HADD forum long ago. It is still online but not getting much activity. If anyone has material they wanted to post on the HADD board, but can't because of the hacking, you may want to post it on NAACD in the meantime. --HADD

Friday, July 07, 2006. OR: Construction Claims Task Force Recently submitted material.

Friday, July 07, 2006. From Journal of Light Construction: Collapse of abandoned mine sinks Indiana home Schmitt’s situation is far from unique. Hundreds of homeowners across the country have found themselves in similar straits as old mines have given way beneath their properties. (Editor's note: if you can't access the above link go to www.jlconline.com and view the current issue.)

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: Mortgage Fraud News New articles posted almost daily.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: New Home Builders News New stories and commentary added today, July 7, 2006.

Friday, July 07, 2006. MI: BRIAN DICKERSON: Dearborn deal's stench should attract the feds I don't know how many Department of Justice employees are still busy looking for Jimmy Hoffa's remains or sifting through the late Ed McNamara's campaign records. But I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Uncle Sam could afford to dispatch one or two of those G-persons to Dearborn, where a living, breathing elected official named Michael Guido is up to his eyeballs in one of the foulest-smelling land deals in memory.

Friday, July 07, 2006. KS & MO; MILLER Case: Indicted builder remains free despite failed drug test Miller was the central figure among nine indicted in May on charges of a $25 million bank fraud involving inflated house appraisals, falsified loan documents and homebuyer manipulation.

Friday, July 07, 2006. IL: Wheeler Dealer Builder accused of Fraud Clients say they've lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and wasted years of their lives trying to build a new home, and then fighting with builder John Volpentesta. He was most recently operating as VCI Construction based in Marengo.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: More New Homes Contain Life Threatenting Defects Quality Built's study of new homes and condos in 27 states, constructed by more than 900 different builders, commonly found window flashing problems, improper roofing, missing structural hardware and other defects to be more prevalent in the eastern and southern states.

Rather than questionnaires used in other studies to sleuth quality construction, Quality Built says it used data collected by hands-on independent inspectors trained to identify high-risk construction defects.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: IRS scrutiny of down-payment gifts threatens charitable movement The IRS also has raised concerns about how the programs raise down-payment money. Nehemiah and many other programs rely on home sellers -- both home builders and individual homeowners -- to fund the down-payment gifts. The IRS said that practice is benefiting profit-driven sellers and may not qualify as a charitable activity.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: EIFS Covered by General Liability Insurance Program Leading manufacturers like Dryvit Systems, Inc. are helping to promote an innovative program that enables home builders to use EIFS as a cladding option for their homes without having to worry about general liability. (These types of synthetic stucco siding have been the subject of class action lawsuits and many defect cases, often due to improper installation. See: http://badstucco.com/phpbb/index.php --Ed.)

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: Court Says Housing Must Follow Erosion Guidelines “NAHB is disappointed in the court’s decision,” (NAHB is National Association of Home Builders. --Ed.)

Friday, July 07, 2006. MI: Biz Briefs: Good Builders The Senate unanimously passed bills sponsored by Senator Nancy Cassis (R-Novi) that will protect and advance the professionalism, ethics and integrity of the residential building industry while giving consumers greater confidence and security in those they hire. [HADD welcomes feedback on this new law as to whether it is doing what's promised. --ed.]

Friday, July 07, 2006. MI; Nat'l interest: New Homes Crowd Market Over the past few years, acres of Metro Detroit soil that once fed corn and soybeans have been sliced into neat subdivisions with new colonials and trilevels.

Now, those new homes are putting unwanted pressure on the housing market, adding to the mound of buyer options.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: Root cause of the housing bubble Here is an actual scan of a flyer I recently received in the mail. It neatly captures both the root causes of the housing bubble and its extreme precariousness.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: Don't bite off too much house The classic formulas for mortgage affordability could lead you to disaster. Here’s how to get a better handle on what you really can afford.

Friday, July 07, 2006. MI: Desperate house sellers The slowdown is taking its toll on many of the thousands of Metro Detroiters trying to sell their homes. They're postponing moves, giving up on new jobs, leasing houses that haven't sold and juggling two mortgages.

Friday, July 07, 2006. US: Little equity in alternative mortgages in a falling market, some owe more than home is worth.

Friday, July 07, 2006. Kansas City, MO: Real Estate Scammer Pleads Guilty When unscrupulous individuals lie on loan applications and misrepresent the condition of properties, they undermine the integrity of the real estate market and the local economy suffers as a result.

Thursday, July 06, 2006. TX: D.R. Horton wants to stop protesters BLUFFTON -- The developer of Traditions at Old Carolina is accusing at least one homeowner of extortion and has received a temporary court order to prevent him from picketing at one of the company's other developments. Texas-based D.R. Horton Inc. is seeking a permanent injunction to prevent homeowners from picketing Mill Creek at Cypress Ridge on S.C. 170. David Champoux, an outspoken critic of the homebuilder, had announced plans to demonstrate with signs to dissuade people from buying homes.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. US: Borrowing a Few Ideas From a Housing Lender Too many Americans have said "Supersize me" at the McMansion counter and are now regretting it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. US: Sierra Club Endorses Jeff Rader for DeKalb Commission, District 2 (Reader Comment at end of article)"Rader has not done anything to back up his pious words. He is the "big developer" supported candidate. Check out his endorsement list. He has been heavily involved with the Homebuilders, who see trees and stream buffers as "impediments to progress."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. AZ: Pinal County developers, homeowners vie over limited buyers And homeowners are feeling the fallout. Some of them are determined to make big bucks and others who are overleveraged just need to sell at a certain price.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. US: Runaway Market In many boom markets oversold homeowners are trying to refinance mushrooming mortgage payments that have resulted from the unique forms of creative financing that put them in homes they simply couldn't afford and should not have purchased.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. OR: Wetlands eyed for subdivision (Hayden Homes) The Corps and the Department of State Lands, the federal and state agencies charged with overseeing the filling of wetlands, began accepting public comment on Hayden Homes' proposal on June 29, and will continue until July 17.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. MI: Big plans unveiled for ex-hospital site A comprehensive redevelopment proposal for the former Northville State Psychiatric Hospital calls for 1,000 single-family homes, condominiums, parks, an elementary school and a retirement community alongside a downtown-like village of offices, restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues...Demolition of the hospital buildings could start next spring. Knocking down the eight-story main building is expected to take less time than digging up a network of concrete tunnels containing asbestos-wrapped steam pipes linked to more than 20 structures. There are numerous other environmental hazards, including dump sites containing medical waste such as syringes, photo and X-ray chemicals and human tissue. The developers hope to gain state approval soon for financial incentives to restore polluted industrial sites.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006. MI: Delta developer sues G. Ledge over condo project A Delta Township developer has sued the city over a city council decision to turn down an apartment and condominium project west of the Meijer store.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. FL: Developers Bait & Switch; a legal advice message board post from Lawyers.com I bought 2 units in a 33story/330 angry unit owners high rise in Miami & closed in Jan., it took almost 6 mos. to get the walk through items done, they advertised many luxurys that they did not deliver & left us with very low quality appliances, w/d, fixtures, toilets--they just cheapened this whole project. Now none of the ammenities they promised are complete and it is looking like they are going to walk away from the building uncompleted as they have all our money now! We are paying full HOA's w/o any ammenities to use--this has been going on since Nov 05

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. US: Problems with Stucco? Or, want to avoid problems? Mr Bad Stucco himself, Carl Brown, is one of the most prolific writers about stucco on the web.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. RI: Bills Would Empower R.I. Consumers The changes would include increased fines and surety bond requirements, and the bill makes it harder for unscrupulous contractors to work under different names and addresses. Consumers also would be able to get more information about a contractor's complaint history.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. PA: High court allows grand jury to investigate Karoly Karoly, who represented Slayton, a Brodheadsville home builder charged with bilking $500,000 from customers to fuel a drug habit...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. US: Housing's hot, but builders' stocks are not Home builders' stocks have turned into Wall Street's version of the money pit this year as rising interest rates cause home buyers to pull back or hold out for discounts and other incentives.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. NY; Nat'l interest: Contractors Divided Over Day Laborers Both are contractors, in their forties, married, with homes near the ocean and annual incomes of $120,000. They both grew up in suburban Long Island. But they hold very different views of the day laborers who wait for contractors like them to cruise through the parking lot and offer them a day's wage.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006. TX: http://www.hadd.com/documents/texasnewsjun2006.pdf " target="x">HADD Texas Newsletter for June 2006 You wont believe what is happening in Texas!

Monday, July 03, 2006. TN: License to Deal Walter Jowers column re: licensing of home inspectors

Monday, July 03, 2006. US: Teens in construction jobs at risk Teens employed in construction during the summer not only work in one of the most dangerous jobs, most are also likely to perform labor that is illegal, unsafe or risky, according to a study by the Injury Prevention Research Center at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Monday, July 03, 2006. AL: Charges unlikely in church collapse "If people had been seated in the pews of that church, we would have had fatalities," Paulk said. "It just was not safe. If it had been designed and constructed properly, it would have been." Cedar Grove Methodist Church Pastor Jeff Carroll, a homebuilder...

Monday, July 03, 2006. NC: Lawmakers need to stop being lapdogs for developers Lax and loophole-laden state regulations allow booming development to pour pollution into the tender waters of sounds and creeks. The culprit? The politicians in the General Assembly and the skillful real estate and homebuilding industries, which have succeeded in delaying and deflecting tougher rules.

Monday, July 03, 2006. US: Barry Stone Column (Home Inspection questions in this column: fireplace defect; developer won't give homeowner house plans.)

Monday, July 03, 2006. US: What to look for in inspections Here are a few to watch for: [HADD recommends ALL homes, new or older, be inspected by the buyer's own experts before purchase. --Ed.]

Sunday, July 02, 2006. CA; National interest: California Illegal Alien Employers to Face Lawsuits for Unfair Business Practices According to legal experts, a Californian civil law includes a provision for a company that knowingly employs illegal aliens to be sued by competitors who have suffered economic damages as a result of such an illegal practice. When a construction company, for instance, uses minimum wage workers who are illegal aliens to underbid competitors in order to secure work contracts, those companies who hire Americans and legal "green card" immigrants and pay fair wages will be able to sue the illegal aliens' employer in a court of law.

Sunday, July 02, 2006. CA: Builders are playing with fire by suing Bruegman has a theory why the builders are kicking and screaming, and it's a good one: "They don't like being told what to do by the city."

Sunday, July 02, 2006. FL: Transactions raise ethical concerns According to the county's ethics commission, elected officials have no conflict of interests voting on a home builder's project that they did business with in the past...At issue: two property transactions he made with Lennar homes.

Sunday, July 02, 2006. NJ; Nat'l interest: Housing bubble looms on horizon There are two camps in this debate. The first says there is no bubble and the market will simply cool. That is the soft-landing crowd. This group may be involved in the industry as home builders or real estate agents...

Sunday, July 02, 2006. TX: Proposal: A $1 million recusal rule Perry is one of Houston's top homebuilders and one of the state's champion political contributors, together with his wife giving millions per election cycle to state officials....A few Texas legislators last spring introduced a bill that would have limited campaign contributions to a total of $100,000 per two-year election cycle by any individual for all state races. The bill got nowhere.

Sunday, July 02, 2006. US: Green? It's a bit of a gray area Calling a home, apartment or other built environment "green" has become a great marketing tool, so some builders use it regardless of whether their homes are healthy for the environment.

Sunday, July 02, 2006. ANNOUNCEMENT: HADD Message Boards Hacked--AGAIN Please do not try to use the HADD Message Boards until further notice. It appears the same group that hacked the boards a couple of months ago did it again today. --HADD

Sunday, July 02, 2006. OK: New state law gives builders time to repair; builders association claims home buyers don't let builders make repairs Every complaint we've had in HADD starts out with 'I called my builder' or 'I wrote my builder' and they did not fix the problem. I've never seen a case where someone sued the builder first."

Saturday, July 01, 2006. GA: Cumberland Island-area development case to be decided in Fulton County A Camden county Superior Court judge transferred a key coastal development case to Fulton County, despite an apparent attempt by the developer to have the case heard in Camden County.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. US: Eminent Domain Plaintiff Will Keep Her House However, under a settlement between New London, Conn., and the suit's namesake, the structure will be moved: Eminent domain usually had been employed when governments wanted to build highways, bridges or public buildings — not office parks, restaurants, town houses, shops and hotels, as have been proposed for the site.

The court's action also produced a flood of new commercial proposals around the country, as developers sought to turn the decision to their benefit.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. CA: Building code inspections faulty A recently released report has found serious faults in the building inspection services provided to the city of Canyon Lake by an independent contractor.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. AZ: Home buyers concerned as builder disappears For dozens of Turner Dunn home buyers in Maricopa Meadows, owning a piece of the American dream has turned into a nasty nightmare.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. FL: Ryland Leaks On June 1st a Class Action Lawsuit Against Ryland Homes in Florida was certified by an arbitrator.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. US: Ryland audited by HUD Scroll down to Oct 31, 2005, "Ryland Mortgage Company, Tempe, Arizona, Did Not Follow HUD Requirements in the Origination of Insured Loans" (See HADD Message Board, Ryland Forum, for more. --Ed.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006. US: K Hovnanian and HUD audit (Scroll down to Jan 26, 2006 article:) "K Hovnanian American Mortgage, LLC, Plano, Texas, Violated Underwriting Requirements and Did Not Meet All Quality Control or Branch Requirements" (See HADD Message Boards, K Hovnanian Forum, for link to longer, more detailed PDF version. --Ed.)

Saturday, July 01, 2006. AZ: Framing company employees owed pay to get money next week Veemac Corp. officials have said workers were not paid because it had not received payments from the home builders for completed work.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. FL: Senate chief to testify in Kreegel suit Kreegel's case has exposed how Florida Home Builders used a series of political action committees and organizations to funnel as much as $1 million during the 2004 election into legislative campaigns across the state.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. Atlanta Journal Constitution: EEOC asks court to make builder turn over papers The agency filed an initial subpoena for the information March 24 that gave Wieland until April 11 to comply. Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the EEOC's Atlanta office, said the company had been stonewalling the investigation, which led to Friday's court filing.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. SC: Ravenel cautioned about some of his comments Huffmon said Ravenel may see regulations as "getting in the way of his freedom to do business as he sees fit," but they also protect the average citizen from fraud and safety issues.

Saturday, July 01, 2006. US: Kerik Pleads Guilty for Gifts and a Loan Investigators said Mr. Kerik paid about $30,000 for renovations worth about $200,000, a violation of the city's administrative code. The work was performed by an affiliate of a construction company that the city has accused of having ties to organized crime.