REALTORS® Adopt New MLS Rule Aimed To Eliminate “Off-MLS” Listings

Yesterday, the board of directors for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) approved a new policy dubbed the “Clear Cooperation Policy” which goes into effect January 1, 2020, and Multiple Listing Service’s (MLS) have until May 1, 2020, to adopt and implement.

While the vote by the board of directors, 729 in favor of it to 70 opposed, may not reflect it, there is a lot of controversy about this policy among real estate agents and brokers that are members of NAR. The two main changes this new policy bring about are that agents would be mandated to put, for all intents and purposes, 100% of their listings in the MLS system within one business-day of marketing the listing (marketing is defined to include putting a sign in the yard, telling someone about the listing, etc) and “MLS-exempt” listings will no longer be permitted.


Better for the consumer?

Proponents of the new NAR MLS policy say that this will be better for consumers by:

  • Making all available listings show in the MLS;
  • Giving more exposure to sellers of their listings by not permitting “MLS exempt”, “off-MLS”, “Coming Soon” or other marketing methods that may not include putting the listing in the MLS, or at least not initially;
  • Leveling the playing field, making all listings available to all consumers since listings could no longer be marketed through just social media, private networks, etc, but, instead, would be required to be put in the MLS;
  • Eliminating practices that may violate Fair Housing Laws by limiting what audience a particular listing is exposed to;

Opponents of the new NAR MLS policy argue that it is not better for consumers because:

  • It eliminates the opportunity for an experienced listing agent to determine, in cooperation with their seller client, the best means and methods to market their home to obtain maximum exposure and the highest price;
  •  Pre-marketing, such as a coming soon promotion on social media before the listing is ready to go in the MLS in an effort to generate buzz and hype over the listing, would be prohibited.  This is a method of marketing that, in our current low-inventory market, has been extremely effective in getting maximum exposure, and the highest price, for the seller.
  • Agents would not be permitted to quietly “test” the market to see how the listing, and/or it’s price, will be received by the market.  This is often done by marketing the home before entry in the MLS to establish the right price.  Once in the MLS, the days on market start working against the seller, as do price reductions, so coming into the MLS at the right price is essential for the seller.
  • It prevents a seller from using a REALTOR® when they wish to have their property marketed in a private manner and not publicly.  This happens often when the seller is a high-profile individual that for security and/or privacy reasons, does not want photos and details about their home (including that they are selling it) publicly known.  It can also occur in the case of a divorce, a distressed-type sale, etc;

Time will tell whether this proves to be good, or bad, for the industry and the consumer.

Stay tuned.

REALTORS® Association Considers New Rule Requiring All Listings Be In MLS

The MLS Technology and Emerging Issues Advisory Board, of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), proposed a rule change that is sparking some controversy among its’ members.  The proposed “Clear Cooperation Policy” requires that all listings be put in the MLS within 24 hours of “marketing a property to the public“.  The policy defines “public marketing” as including, but not limited to, “flyers displayed in windows, yard signs, digital marketing on public-facing websites, brokerage website displays (including IDX and VOW), digital communications marketing (email blasts), multi-brokerage listing sharing networks, and applications available to the general public”.

But, isn’t that how it is now?

Many consumers may having been thinking that this is how it was all along, that new listings were required to go into the MLS but, that is not currently the case.  Presently (and going back to the beginning of the MLS here in St Louis, I believe), agents have been able to determine the best marketing methods for their client, as well as allow their client input as to whether they wanted their listing in the MLS immediately, after a period of time or even not at all.

Who Pays The Buyers Agent?

I saw an article recently about the results of a survey done of home sellers that found that nearly half of them didn’t realize they pay the buyers’ agent commission when they sell their home.

Sellers pay the buyers’ agent in almost all home sales in St Louis…

While I don’t know for sure, I would guess that the people surveyed were homeowners that planned to sell their homes, rather than sellers that already had their homes listed for sale.  I say this because the standard listing agreement used by St Louis REALTORS® spells out the total commission being charged the seller, as well as the portion of the commission that will be paid to the buyers’ agent which I would think, would cause the seller to realize they are paying commission to the buyers’ agent.

While the seller, when presented with the listing agreement, could opt to not offer to pay commission to the buyer’s agent, the MLS rules require that all listings in the MLS (which is most of the St Louis home sales) include an “offer of compensation” for the buyers’ agent, which will come from the seller.  Therefore, the sellers have to either offer to pay the buyer’s agent or forego having their listing in the MLS, hence why sellers pay the buyers agent in nearly all instances.  It’s probably worth noting at this juncture that this practice has come under attack in a recent class-action lawsuit filed by Christopher Moehrl against The National Association of REALTORS®, Realogy Holdings Corp, HomeServices of America, Inc, Re/Max Holdings, Inc and Keller Williams Realty, Inc.  The suit, which can be accessed using the link below, seeks to ban this type of commission arrangement.

Christopher Moehrl v The National Association of REALTORS®

Mortgage Fraud Risk Report Shows Missouri In Top Five Increased Risk States

CoreLogic just released it’s 2017 Mortgage Fraud Report in which Missouri made the list of the five states with the highest year-over-year risk growth for mortgage fraud.  The two types of fraud Missouri made the list on were Transaction fraud risk and Undisclosed Real Estate Debt fraud risk.

Below are some national highlights from the report (all figures are based upon 2nd quarter 2017 compared with 2nd quarter 2016):

  • Occupancy Fraud Risk increased nationally 7%
  • Transaction Fraud Risk increased 3.9%
  • Income Fraud Risk increased 3.5%
  • Property Fraud Risk decreased 1.9%
  • Undisclosed Real Estate Debt Fraud Risk decreased 2.7%
  • Identity Fraud Risk decreased 7.3%.

 

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New Landlord-Tenant Bill Make Force Missouri Landlords To Use Property Managers-UPDATED Feb 3, 2017

UPDATE February 3, 2017 –

Representative Gary Cross has introduced HB 705 which would repeal this legislation.  Ironically, Rep Cross is the representative that first introduced the original legislation, HB 1862.  I’m guessing he has come to realize the problems this legislation has caused, which I believe were unintended consequences, and has chosen to fix the issue which I praise him for!

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This legislative session, the Missouri State Legislature passed HB. 1862, which modifies provisions relating to the existing landlord-tenant law in Missouri, specifically, it repeals sections 534.350, 534.360, 535.030, 535.110, 535.160 and 535.300 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri and replaces them with five new sections as described in the bill.  The bill has been delivered to Governor Nixon and, if signed by him, will go into effect August 28th of this year.

Why This New Law May Force Landlords (even licensed real estate agents) To Use Property Managers:

While this bill has some good things in it, such as establishing some reasonable procedures and time lines for a landlord regaining possession of a property as well as doing a little housekeeping with regard to what can be deducted from a security deposit, the bill also makes, what I believe to be, a very damaging change to the law with regard to security deposits.  With regard to security deposits held by landlords, the bill changes section 535.300 (2) to read (emphasis is mine):

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Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order To Stop St Louis County From Implementing Rental Licensing Ordinance

Yesterday, St. Louis County Circuit Court Judge Gloria Reno granted a temporary restraining order against St Louis County to stop implementation of their recently adopted rental licensing ordinance.  This is a huge victory for landlords, and property owners in general, as the new ordinance, as I wrote about previously,  trampled property rights in many ways.

In response to the passage of the landlord licensing ordinance, the St Louis Association of REALTORS® file a lawsuit against St Louis County on December 29, 2015 in an effort to stop the legislation.

Hopefully, the temporary restraining order will be become a permanent injunction by the time the case comes to a close.

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Requiring Adult Supervision Of Children At An Apartment Pool-Fair Housing Violation?

Today most, if not all, landlords are aware of the Federal Fair Housing Act with regard to making various types of discrimination illegal when it comes to housing and, even if they don’t have a thorough understanding of all of the nuances of the act, at least have a basic understanding of it.  However, today, a lack of a thorough understanding of the law, as well as the risks associated with violating it, or even being accused of violating it, can be quite costly to a landlord.  Therefore, if you are considering becoming a landlord, or perhaps are already in the midst of building your real estate empire, spending time studying and understanding the Federal Fair Housing Act and how it applies to you would be time well spent and it would also be a great move to align yourself with a real estate professional with a good understanding of it that can help you navigate the regulatory waters a landlord must navigate today.

The Case of HUD vs Pebble Beach Apartments –

In July 2013 there was a fair housing violation complaint filed against the owner and manager of the Pebble Beach Apartments alleging they discriminated against a tenant based on familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The Allegations made by HUD after an investigation: (the numbering corresponds with the complaint itself)

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St Louis County Surprise Vote On Landlord License Bill Tramples Private Property Rights

My, how fast things change!  Nine days ago I wrote about a bad piece of legislation St Louis Councilman Michael O’Mara had proposed with regard to the licensing of landlords and then, two days later, updated the article with the good news that the bill was voted down.  Well, in a last minute move, reportedly just minutes before the 6:00 pm start time of the council meeting last night, Representative Michael O’Mara, according to an article in STLTODAY this morning, “seized on a procedural loophole to return the issue to the council agenda.”

While the bill that was introduced last night, Substitute Bill No. 3 for Bill no 204, was slightly different than the bill proposed the last time, it’s still littered with issues that affect private property rights of individuals and should concern everyone, not just the landlords and tenants that are the largest of this legislation.

“I thought it was a travesty of government.”

According to the STLTODAY article, St Louis County Councilman Mark Harder (and real estate broker)  said “I thought it was a travesty of government. This bill was brought to us moments before we walked on the dais tonight, and that is not the way you handle a transparent government…We were steamrolled.

 

THERE IS STILL TIME TO STOP THIS!  The St Louis County Council will take the final vote on this bill on October 20th, so you still have time to be heard!  If would like to voice your opinion on this bill, I would suggest contacting the bills sponsor, St Louis County Councilman Michael O’Mara as soon as possible.  You can contact him through the St Louis County Council website here or you can email him at MOmara@stlouisco.com or call him at 314.615.5439.

 

Proposed St Louis County Residential Rental Property Licensing Is Property Rights Issue

UPDATE – October 7, 2015:
Thanks to Councilman Kevin O’Leary’s unexpected call for a vote on the bill at last nights St Louis County Council meeting, as well as the votes cast against the bill by Council members Kevin O’Leary, Mark Harder, Colleen Basinger and Hazel Erby, the Residential Rental Property Licensing Code bill died last night in a 4 to 3 vote defeating it.  The council members that voted in favor of enacting the bill into an ordinance were Council members Michael O’Mara, Dr. Sam Page and Pat Dolan.

It’s probably not over.  Remember, last year the council was close to passing a similar bill and then took another shot at it this year.  I firmly believe Councilman O’Mara will be back with this bill or a very similar one once the dust settles so be on the look out!

Last April I wrote an article about a bill in St Louis County introduced by Councilman Michael O’Mara which me, and a whole lot of other people and groups with interest in preserving private property rights, thought would trample on those rights.  Fortunately, as I later reported, the St Louis County Council chose not to move forward with the bill at that time.  However, St Louis County Councilman Michael O’Mara is back at it with a new proposed ordinance, Bill No. 204, which is pretty much the same as last years version.

St Louis County Bill No. 204 (known as the “Residential Rental Property Licensing Code“), like the similar Bill No. 73 last year, has met resistance again by people and organizations that feel the proposed legislation violates private property rights of property owners and may even be discriminatory.  In a letter to Chairman Pat Dolan, and the members of the St louis County Council, Willie Jordan,  Executive Director, and Zachary Schmook, Managing Attorney, for the Metropolitan St Louis Equal Housing & Opportunity Council (EHOC) stated the proposed bill “will have substantial negative, and potentially discriminatory, effects for tenants and vulnerable populations in St Louis County.”  The EHOC letter goes on to cite six areas of major concern they have with the bill, many of which are the same, or similar, concerns I expressed last year in my article written when the legislation surfaced the first time.

Click Here to read the current version of the proposed Residential Rental Property Licensing Code

If you would like to voice your opinion on this bill, I would suggest contacting the bills sponsor, St Louis County Councilman Michael O’Mara as soon as possible.  You can contact him through the St Louis County Council website here or you can email him at MOmara@stlouisco.com or call him at 314.615.5439.

 

Which St Louis County Council members ARE and ARE NOT supporting this legislation?  A the August 25, 2015 meeting of the St Louis County Council a vote was taken to “prefect” the bill and four of the council members voted in favor of this legislation and 3 against it.  The members are listed below:

Voted in favor of this legislation:

  • Dr. Sam Page
  • Michael O’Mara
  • Pat Dolan
  • Kevin O’Leary

Voted against this legislation;

  • Mark Harder
  • Colleen Wasinger
  • Hazel Erby

Eagle Bank Reaches Agreement With DOJ To Settle Discrimination Claim

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced today that they had reached an agreement with Eagle Bank and Trust Company to resolve allegations that “Eagle Bank and Trust Company (Eagle Bank) engaged in a pattern or practice of “redlining” predominantly African-American neighborhoods in and around St. Louis.”  “Redlining” is defined by the DOJ as “the discriminatory practice by banks or other financial institutions to deny or avoid providing credit services to a consumer because of the racial demographics of the neighborhood in which the consumer lives.”

In order to resolve the allegations, Eagle Bank has agreed to:

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Landlord Charged With Discrimination Over Cat

Paula Anderson, a landlord who owns a two-bedroom home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was charged with discrimination by HUD after HUD’s investigation revealed that there was cause to believe Anderson had violated the Federal Fair Housing act as follows:

As described in paragraphs 7 to 25 above, Respondent Anderson violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1) and (f)(2) as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B) because she discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of Complainant’s tenancy and made her dwelling unavailable by refusing to allow Complainant to live with her assistance animal and daughter at the subject property when such accommodations were necessary to afford Complainant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling. 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1), (f)(2), and (f)(3)(B); 24 C.F.R. §§ 100.202(a), 100.202(b), and § 100.204(a). 

The interesting thing about this case is that the “assistance animal” is a cat and while many landlords may be familiar with service dogs, particularly as used by visually impaired people, the claim by a tenant that a cat is a service animal may seem like a stretch and not be taken serious by a landlord but this case proves that it needs to be taken seriously.

Read the entire case here – The Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development vs Paul Anderson

FHFA Says No To HOA Liens or Super-Priorty Liens Wiping Out Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac Home Loans

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) issued a release yesterday stating that while that agency acts as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, no “property of the Agency shall be subject to levy, attachment, garnishment, foreclosure, or sale without the consent of the Agency.”  The release went on to say that ​Title 12 United States Code Section 4617(j)(3)  “precludes involuntary extinguishment of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac liens while they are operating in conservatorships and preempts any state law that purports to allow holders of homeownership association (HOA) liens to extinguish a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac lien, security interest, or other property interest.”

Just in case a homeowners association or others are still considering giving it a try to have their lien take priority over a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac lien, not that back in December 2014 the FHFA said they have an obligation to protect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s rights and “will aggressively do so by bringing or supporting actions to contest HOA foreclosures that purport to extinguish Enterprise property interests in a manner that contravenes federal law.”

Wells Fargo Agrees To $5 Million Settlement of Claim Of Discrimination of Pregnant Women & Women On Maternity Leave

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has agreed to a $5 Million settlement to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo discriminated against women who were pregnant, or had recently given birth, and were on maternity leave. (Click HERE for settlement agreement)

There have been a total of 190 maternity leave discrimination complaints filed with HUD against lenders in the past 4 years and those complaints have resulted in 40 settlements for a total of $1.5 million, prior to today’s settlement with Wells Fargo.

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City of St Peters Settles with DOJ On Disability Discrimination Allegations

City of St Peters MO agrees to pay fine and change discriminatory ordinance

The Justice Department announced today that the city of St. Peters, Mo. will pay $80,000 and make changes to its zoning laws to settle a lawsuit alleging that the city violated the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it denied a zoning request to operate a group home for four women with intellectual disabilities.  The lawsuit is part of the Justice Department’s continuing effort to enforce civil rights laws that require states and municipalities to end discrimination against, and unnecessary segregation of, persons with disabilities. The settlement was filed today and must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Continue reading “City of St Peters Settles with DOJ On Disability Discrimination Allegations

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Missouri Condo Lien Over Refinanced Mortgage

Missouri Condo Lien - Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTORThe Missouri Supreme Court just handed down it’s decision today which upheld the priority of  Missouri Condo Lien over a refinanced first mortgage.  This case, which involves a condominium in Parkway Towers in the Country Club Plaza area of Kansas City, Missouri, was a huge win for condominium associations in Missouri.

Here is a recap of the facts of the case, from the Supreme Court opinion:

  • Trish Carcopa purchased the condo in 2004 and then in 2006 did a quit claim from herself to herself and and Nicole Carcopa.  
  • In June 2006, the Carcopa’s refinanced their existing loan with a new loan through H&R Mortgage (later assigned to Homeward Residential.
  • There was a special assessment approved by the unit owners of the Parkway Towers condominiums and the Carcopa’s share was $78,144.64 which they did not pay.
  • In 2010 the Parkway Towers condo association brought suit to foreclose upon the condo to satisfy the unpaid lien for the special assessment and asserted that it’s lien took priority over the existing first deed of trust.  The lender filed a motion asking the court to declare their first deed of trust superior to the condo lien but the court refused.
  • On July 16, 2013 the Supreme Court of Missouri upheld the lower courts decision confirming that the condo association lien was, in fact, superior to the first deed of trust.

Attorney General Koster sues businesses that had promised foreclosure modifications and debt relief

Attorney General Chris Koster today filed a lawsuit against two related businesses that purported to provide loan modification and mortgage relief to desperate homeowners.   Koster’s suit is against Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, LLC and Mortgage Law Group, LLC, as well as the companies’ managing partner, Jason Edward Searns; senior partner, Thomas Macey; and senior partner, Jeffery Aleman.

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Attorney General Koster announces plea agreement with Lorraine Brown Over Robo-Signing

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced that the state of Missouri and Lorraine Brown, former President of DocX, LLC, have reached a plea agreement.  Under the agreement, Ms. Brown will plead guilty to one felony count of forgery, one felony count of perjury, and one misdemeanor count of making a false declaration.

Brown will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not to exceed three years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Continue reading “Attorney General Koster announces plea agreement with Lorraine Brown Over Robo-Signing

FBI Advice on How to Avoid Being a Victim of Loan Modication and Mortgage Fraud

st-louis-realtor-As a result of the Distressed Homeowner Initiative (begun one year ago) which targets companies that defraud distressed homeowners, over 200 companies have been shut down, according to the FBI. As a result, criminal charges have been filed against 530 defendants. The numbers involved in these cases are staggering; losses of more than $1 billion from over 73,000 victims in the U.S.

How do you protect yourself from being a victim of Loan Modification Fraud, Mortgage Fraud or a  foreclosure rescue scam?   The FBI offers the following tips: Continue reading “FBI Advice on How to Avoid Being a Victim of Loan Modication and Mortgage Fraud

Majority of Housing Discrimination Complaints are filed based on disability

st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-federal-fair-housing-disability-discriminationOver forty years ago Congress passed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 known as “The Fair Housing Act“. This act prohibits discrimination in public and private housing markets that is based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. At that time, the most common type of discrimination in housing was based upon race or color. Today, according to a recent report by HUD, the majority of housing discrimination complaints filed are based on disability discrimination. Continue reading “Majority of Housing Discrimination Complaints are filed based on disability

Bank of America, J.P. MOrgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial reach $25 Billion Agreement with Fed & State Government over Foreclosure Abuses

The Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and 49 state attorneys general announced today the filing of their landmark $25 billion agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to address mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. Continue reading “Bank of America, J.P. MOrgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial reach $25 Billion Agreement with Fed & State Government over Foreclosure Abuses

Former Coral Mortgage Operator Pleads Guilty to Multi-Million Dollar Securities Fraud

ST. LOUIS, MO—The United States Attorney’s Office announced the guilty plea of Matthew Kent, vice president and co-operator of Coral Mortgage Bankers Corporation’s University City office.

According to court documents, between May 2007 and December 31, 2010, Kent, his partner in Coral Mortgage David Rubin, and Joshua Gould, formerly of Woodbury Financial, embezzled approximately $1,500,000 from a retired individual solicited by Rubin to provide funds for operating capital for Coral’s St. Louis operations. The individual was Continue reading “Former Coral Mortgage Operator Pleads Guilty to Multi-Million Dollar Securities Fraud

Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Roger Harris, Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC have agreed to pay $295,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, retaliation and intimidation at Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Rolla, Missouri. Continue reading “Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

Clayton Developer Guilty of Fraud in the Development of the East St. Louis Bowman Estates Project

A Clayton developer pled guilty in U.S. District Court on October 27, 2011, for his role in the failed Bowman Estates construction project, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today. Harold Rosen, age 80, was indicted by a federal grand jury on January 21, 2011, for attempting to obtain more than $1.9 million of public financing under false pretenses. Continue reading “Clayton Developer Guilty of Fraud in the Development of the East St. Louis Bowman Estates Project

Mortgage loan fraud reports in 2nd quarter up 88 percent from a year ago

St. Louis REALTOR, Dennis Norman A report released today by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) shows that financial institutions filed 29,558 reports suspecting mortgage loan fraud activity during the 2nd quarter, an increase of 88 percent from the 2nd quarter of 2010 when there were 15,727 reports. Continue reading “Mortgage loan fraud reports in 2nd quarter up 88 percent from a year ago

REALTORS offer suggestions to the Fed on how to deal with the REO problem

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTORNational Association of REALTORS® (NAR) President, Ron Phipps, wrote a letter to Shaun Donovan, Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Timothy Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury Department and Edward DeMarco, Acting Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency with suggestions on how to improve the Real Estate Owned (REO) asset disposition programs for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA. NAR, like many other housing related associations and organizations, submitted letters in response to the government’s request for information on how to deal with the REO problem. Continue reading “REALTORS offer suggestions to the Fed on how to deal with the REO problem

FBI Report Shows Mortgage Fraud Continues at Elevated Levels

Dennis Norman St Louis RealtorThe FBI released it’s Mortgage Fraud Report for 2010 showing that mortgage fraud continued at elevated levels in 2010 and was consistent with levels seen in 2009. The top states for mortgage fraud activity in 2010 were Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Georgia, New Jersey, and Maryland. Continue reading “FBI Report Shows Mortgage Fraud Continues at Elevated Levels

Real Estate Agent, Loan Officer Among Five Defendants to Plead Guilty to $11 Million Mortgage Fraud

KANSAS CITY, MO—Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former real estate agent and a former loan officer are among five co-defendants who have pleaded guilty in federal court to their roles in an $11 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved upscale homes in Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs, Liberty, Parkville, and elsewhere. Continue reading “Real Estate Agent, Loan Officer Among Five Defendants to Plead Guilty to $11 Million Mortgage Fraud

Consumer organization blasts House Appropriations Committee on recent vote; fear return to policies that allowed predatory lending

Dennis Norman St LouisThis week, in response to the House Appropriations committee voting to slash funding for the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and to subject the new agency to a “politically-charged” funding process, Mike Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending, made the following comment: “the House Appropriations Committee yesterday voted for a return to policies that allowed predatory financial products to plunder our economy. Clearly some lawmakers have forgotten the lesson of today’s financial crisis, which continues at great cost to taxpayers, shareholders, retirees and, of course, tens of millions of families who have needlessly lost their homes or seen them plummet in value.” Continue reading “Consumer organization blasts House Appropriations Committee on recent vote; fear return to policies that allowed predatory lending

City of Bellefontaine Neighbors Attacks First Amendment Rights Again

Well, the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, in north St. Louis County, is back at it again. As some readers may recall, in February of last year I wrote about the appellant court declaring that an ordinance passed by the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors requiring property owners to apply for an inspection before advertising their home for sale violated their property rights and was unconstitutional. Then, the following month I wrote another article on the subject, this time about how, in spite of the decision of the appellant court, the city of Bellefontaine was still enforcing the ordinance.

So what are they up to?  Well, this afternoon I found out that tomorrow, May 5th, the Bellefontaine Neighbors Board of Alderman will consider passing Bill No. 2233, “Pre-Sales Inspections”, which, if passed, would in my opinion be the City thumbing their noses at the Eastern District Court of Appeals decision since this bill is basically the same as the ordinance struck down by the court with the exception being that in this one instead of requiring an application for an inspection PRIOR to listing your home for sale it now says you have to apply within 3 days of advertising your home for sale.  Yep, I’m serious….

While some of you may think this doesn’t affect you because you don’t own property in the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, think again…Ordinances tend to spread from one municipality to another, particularly in a case like this where the city attorney, Kevin O’Keefe, represents many other municipalities in the area.

So what can you do to try to prevent this?  The St. Louis Association of REALTORS has set up a Call to Action and you can easily send a message to the Alderman of the City of Bellefontaine Neighbors encouraging them not to pass this bill by clicking on this link.

St. Louis County Assessor offers tax relief to tornado victims

Within days of former State Representative Jake Zimmerman stepping into his new role as the first elected Assessor for St. Louis County, he has jumped into action.  In an effort to reach out and provide help to property owners whose property was affected by last weeks devastating tornado, Zimmerman plans to use authority given to him under State Statutes to reduce the value of the damaged property, thereby reducing the tax burden on the owners. Continue reading “St. Louis County Assessor offers tax relief to tornado victims