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

Former Chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Convicted for $2.9 Billion Fraud Scheme That Contributed to the Failure of Colonial Bank

Lee Bentley Farkas, the former chairman of a private mortgage lending company, Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (TBW), was convicted today for his role in a more than $2.9 billion fraud scheme that contributed to the failures of Colonial Bank, one of the 25 largest banks in the United States in 2009, and TBW, one of the largest privately held mortgage lending companies in the United States in 2009. Continue reading “Former Chairman of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Convicted for $2.9 Billion Fraud Scheme That Contributed to the Failure of Colonial Bank

Feds Take Action Against Banks for Misconduct and Negligence Related to Mortgage Loan Servicing and Foreclosure Practices

Dennis Norman St LouisOver the past year or so there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of stories questioning the manner in which lenders were handling the servicing of their loans, particularly those of underwater borrowers, as well as the foreclosure practices of many including “robo-signing” of foreclosure affidavits. Next came the lawsuits and now, this week, the Federal Reserve Board announced formal enforcement actions requiring 10 banking organizations to address “a pattern of misconduct and negligence related to deficient practices in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.” Continue reading “Feds Take Action Against Banks for Misconduct and Negligence Related to Mortgage Loan Servicing and Foreclosure Practices

Undercover Investigation Reveals Possible Discriminatory Treatment of REO’s by Lenders

Dennis Norman St LouisForty three years ago today, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which included Title VIII, the Fair Housing Act which, as described on HUD’s website, prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).Continue reading “Undercover Investigation Reveals Possible Discriminatory Treatment of REO’s by Lenders

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 – Update

Dennis Norman

UPDATE Jan, 2013 – Congress approved extending the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 through the end of 2013.

I first wrote an article on this topic a little over two years ago as the foreclosure rate was rising and borrowers were concerned about where they stood with the IRS with regard to “mortgage forgiveness”. Well, here we are today with the same issues looming over many people, so I thought I would do an update. Continue reading “The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 – Update

House Bill No. 553 has been introduced to License Home Inspectors in Missouri

For those of you who do not know me, I have been in the home inspection profession for the past 35 years. I have served as National President of ASHI® and have also served on the Examination Board for Professional Home Inspectors. I offer the following comments and opinions on HB 553: Continue reading “House Bill No. 553 has been introduced to License Home Inspectors in Missouri

Can you go to prison for not paying your rent?

My guess is you read the headline, chuckled and said to yourself “no way”. After all, the idea of sending people that could not pay their debts to prison went away over a century ago in the U.S., right? Yes and no….In 1833 the United States abolished Federal imprisonment for unpaid debts and most states did as well around the same time. However, Missouri Representative Gary L. Cross, representing the Kansas City area, has introduced legislation that would subject tenants that do not pay their rent to a criminal charge, a Class A Misdemeanor to be exact. Continue reading “Can you go to prison for not paying your rent?

Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) Extended One Year

Dennis Norman St LouisThe Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced it has extended the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) to June 30, 2012. The HARP program was scheduled to end June 30, 2011.

This program is designed to help homeowners whose homes have lost value. Through 2010 there have been 621,803 HARP refinances with loan amounts from 80 percent of value up to 125 percent of value.

For more information, or to see if you are eligible for HARP, click here.

Brookwood Man Faces 34-Count Federal Indictment in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

A federal grand jury indicted a Brookwood man yesterday on wire fraud and false statement charges related to a more than $1 million mortgage fraud scheme in the Birmingham area, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.

A 34-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges SCOTT ERIC PERRY, 34, with 17 counts of wire fraud and 17 counts of making false statements to lending institutions in connection to real estate transactions between February and December, 2006. Continue reading “Brookwood Man Faces 34-Count Federal Indictment in Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Feds Propose Rule on Private Transfer Fees

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) back in August, 2010, published proposed “guidance” related to private transfer fee covenants that applied to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Federal Home Loan Banks (the “regulated entities). The message in this guidance was that private transfer fees are bad and those regulated enterprises should stay away from lending on real estate subject to such covenants. Continue reading “Feds Propose Rule on Private Transfer Fees

FHA Condominium Recertification Requirements

Yesterday my wife received a letter from the condo association for a complex she owns a rental in with “OWNER ALERT!!!!!!!” (yes, that many exclamation points) at the top of it in big letters. The reason for the “alert” was to let condo owners know that FHA certification for this condominium complex expired December 31, 2010 (as it did for many complexes across the country) and that, in order to be eligible for FHA-insured financing the complex would have to obtain re-certification.

Now, in this particular case, the board is using this as a scare tactic to try to convince the owners to vote to change by-laws to prohibit rentals (something they tried last year and failed at and something I have major issues with, but that’s a topic for another story..) but I realized this is a very real problem or concern for many condo-owners, boards and associations across the country so I thought I would gather and share some info on the issue. Continue reading “FHA Condominium Recertification Requirements

FHA Extends ‘Anti-Flipping Waiver’

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced the temporary waiver of the “anti-flipping” rule has been extended through December 31, 2011. In my opinion the “anti-flipping” rule was a bad idea to start with and in the current housing market the last thing we need is anything to discourage investors from buying homes so this is a good move by FHA.

Continue reading “FHA Extends ‘Anti-Flipping Waiver’

Justice Department Settles Disability Discrimination Case Against Property Management Company for $1.25 Million

The Justice Department today announced a $1.25 million agreement with Warren Properties Inc., Warren Village (Mobile) Limited Partnership and Frank R. Warren to settle allegations that the defendants violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to grant a tenant’s requests for a reasonable accommodation. This settlement is the largest ever obtained by the department in an individual housing discrimination case. Continue reading “Justice Department Settles Disability Discrimination Case Against Property Management Company for $1.25 Million

Freddie Mac Extends Foreclosure Protection for Service Members Through 2011

Freddie Mac, one of the nation’s largest investors in conforming, conventional mortgages, announced it will delay initiating foreclosure for at least nine months for financially troubled service members who are released from active duty through the end of 2011 and have Freddie Mac-owned mortgages.

“Our military make sacrifices every day to protect our homes and families,” said Anthony Renzi, Executive Vice President of Single Family Portfolio Management at Freddie Mac. “This small act will protect financially troubled service members when they return from active duty by giving them more time to work with their lender to stay in their home.”

 

Former Employee of Florida Property Management Company Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

A former residential sales manager at a Florida property management company pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with housing repair contracts for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Justice announced this week.

Benjamin K. Graves, formerly a residential sales manager at West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., to wire fraud. According to the one-count felony charge filed on Nov. 12, 2010, in the Middle District of Florida, Ocwen managed foreclosed properties under contract with the VA, which guaranteed qualifying residential mortgages for veterans. Under the contract between the VA and Ocwen, if a veteran defaulted, Ocwen completed necessary repairs and re-sold the property. Continue reading “Former Employee of Florida Property Management Company Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Prime Lending to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination

Settlement Provides $2 Million to African-American Borrowers Who Paid Higher Interest Rates

PrimeLending, a national mortgage lender with 168 offices in 32 states at the end of 2009, has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve allegations that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African-American borrowers between 2006 and 2009. Continue reading “Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Prime Lending to Resolve Allegations of Lending Discrimination

FTC Issues Final Rule Banning Upfront Fees From Mortgage Relief Companies

Homeowners will be protected by a new Federal Trade Commission rule that bans providers of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they decide is acceptable. Continue reading “FTC Issues Final Rule Banning Upfront Fees From Mortgage Relief Companies

Mortgage Fraud Case Activity Drops

Dennis Norman St LouisAfter surging in the second quarter, mortgage fraud case activity sank in the third quarter based on the Third Quarter 2010 Mortgage Fraud Index from Mortgage Daily. The Mortgage Fraud Index came in at 1007 during the third quarter – falling 41 percent from the second quarter. The index hasn’t been this low since the first quarter 2008, when it was just 713.

Continue reading “Mortgage Fraud Case Activity Drops

Consumer Organization to Congress: Lenders ‘Lawless Attitude’ pushes homeowners into Foreclosure

The “robo-signing” scandal that has exposed illegal practices by servicers of mortgage loans has also showed the urgent need to reform a broken system that is plagued with abuses, lacks adequate resources and has pushed countless homeowners toward foreclosure.

That’s the message that Diane Thompson, a lawyer for the National Consumer Law Center, delivered in testimony earlier this week to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Continue reading “Consumer Organization to Congress: Lenders ‘Lawless Attitude’ pushes homeowners into Foreclosure

Mortgage Bankers Cautions Against Cutting Back Mortgage Interest Deduction

Dennis Norman St Louis

Last week the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (the group that is supposed to figure out how to rescue our country out of the financial quicksand it’s in) issued a draft proposal of a plan the committee says “will make America better off tomorrow than it is today”.

In addition to such enlightening statements such as “America cannot be great if we go broke” the report outlines a plan that makes five basic recommendations: Continue reading “Mortgage Bankers Cautions Against Cutting Back Mortgage Interest Deduction

Tax Credits Help Homeowners Winterize Their Homes; IRS says check credit certification first

Dennis Norman St Louis

Time is running out to take advantage of two tax credit programs that are a result of the expanded recovery act: The “Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit” and “Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit” programs both offer homeowners the opportunity to receive tax credits for energy-efficient upgrades, but the programs end this year. Continue reading “Tax Credits Help Homeowners Winterize Their Homes; IRS says check credit certification first

REALTORS® Support Proposal to End Private Transfer Fees

The National Association of Realtors® announced that it “strongly supports” the proposed guidance from the Federal Housing Finance Agency to prevent government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks from investing in mortgages encumbered by private transfer fee covenants.

In a letter sent to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), NAR reiterated its opposition to these covenants, which developers often attach to a property to require payment of fees back to that developer each time the property is resold. These covenanted mandates are often extremely difficult to reverse once in place, and in many cases are attached to a deed for up to 99 years. Continue reading “REALTORS® Support Proposal to End Private Transfer Fees

Missouri Voters Protect Their Homes from Transfer Taxes

Dennis Norman

In a loud and unified voice, 83.7 percent of the voters yesterday voted in favor of Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3, the ban on future transfer taxes or fees on real estate in Missouri.  In a huge victory for Missouri property owners, this effort, spearheaded, and funded in a large part, by the Missouri Association of REALTORS,  insures that Missouri remains free from this tax that many, including yours truly, consider a form of double taxation.

Missouri is one of only 13 states in the U.S. that do not have a transfer tax imposed at the state or local level on the transfer of real estate.  While some of these taxes or fees are less than 1 percent, in some areas, such as  Philadelphia, these fees can be as high as 4 percent of the price of the property.

 

Michigan couple awarded $600,000 judgment against Worth Township; Proof that you can fight city hall

Dennis Norman St Louis

Dennis Norman

Who says you can’t fight City Hall and win?

Well, it wasn’t easy, nor quick, but George and Margaret Paeth of the Worth Township in Michigan have”beat” City Hall and been awarded $600,000 by a Federal Court Judge. According to a press release by their attorney’s, Daniel P. Dalton and Pauline J. Pensler, this judgment is “one of the largest procedural due process and First Amendment retaliation verdicts in the nation, and the largest for the Eastern District of Michigan’s federal courts.” Continue reading “Michigan couple awarded $600,000 judgment against Worth Township; Proof that you can fight city hall

Fannie Mae Releases Appraiser Independence Requirements

Dennis Norman

Now that the controversial (to put it mildly) Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) has been put to rest as part of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform, Fannie Mae has released their “Appraiser Independence Requirements“.  Fannie Mae says the purpose of these requirements is to:

Scorecard on Obama’s Housing Recovery Plans

Dennis Norman St Louis

Dennis Norman

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development today released their “October 2010 Scorecard” on the “Obama Administration’s Efforts to Stabilize the Housing Market”.

The scorecard points out the success of “The President’s housing market recovery efforts” but does point out that “data in the scorecard also show that the recovery in the housing market continues to remain fragile.” Continue reading “Scorecard on Obama’s Housing Recovery Plans

Justice Department Obtains $120,000 Settlement in Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against Indiana Condominium Association

The Justice Department announced this week that a Munster, Ind., condominium association and its three member board of directors have agreed to pay $120,000 to resolve allegations that they refused to approve the sale of a condominium to an African-American couple because of their race and because they had children.   The settlement must still be approved by U.S. Senior District Judge Philip P. Simon. Continue reading “Justice Department Obtains $120,000 Settlement in Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against Indiana Condominium Association

Mortgage Bankers urge Feds not to ban all private transfer fees


Dennis Norman

In a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, John A. Courson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said that the MBA “opposes the practice of private third parties, such as developers, builders, licensing companies and real estate brokers, imposing private transfer fee covenants on residential real estate for the purpose of extracting future income.”  However, in his letter Mr. Courson goes on to say that the “MBA is concerned thatencumbering housing transactions with these types of PTFs will impede the marketability and affect the valuation of properties and thus the value of the loans and securities backed by such loans.”  In addition, the MBA points out that “distinctions among PTFs (private transfer fees) are necessary” as they do not oppose private transfer fee covenants that are: Continue reading “Mortgage Bankers urge Feds not to ban all private transfer fees

Wall Street Reform Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP) Update

Dennis Norman St Louis

Dennis Norman

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in July,called for HUD to administer and oversee a $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP), to provide assistance, for up to 24 months, to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure on their home as a result of a substantial reduction in income due to “involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition”. This program will be available to borrowers in 32 states, those states that did not receive other funding under the Treasury Departments “Hardest Hit Housing Fund” program.

Continue reading “Wall Street Reform Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP) Update

REALTORS Rally to promote a YES vote on Amendment 3

Dennis Norman

I just returned from the Lake of the Ozarks after attending business meetings for the Missouri Association of REALTORS (MAR) which included an update on AMENDMENT 3, the effort backed by MAR to prevent double taxation on Real Estate in Missouri. The “update” was more like a football rally, complete with “cheerleaders” and all and, while the fanfare was a little over the top for me, I was thrilled to see so much enthusiasm by REALTORS from across the state over this issue. Continue reading “REALTORS Rally to promote a YES vote on Amendment 3