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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

One of the most important accomplishments of Dr King and the Civil Rights movement was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was signed into law on July 2, 1964 and prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal. It did not, however, make discrimination in housing illegal which Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement continued to work toward. [...]

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Photo by: John Pavelka

Mold: The Enemy of Investors That Lurks in the Shadows?

A Nasty Mold Problem From One of Aaron’s Inspections

Real estate investors today know enough about mold to know that it is a potential health problem. You may envision it as a serious respiratory health concern. This mysterious enigma does not wear a skull and crossbones, but some see it as a “deal killer” just [...]

Busted for grass; a story from the trenches

No, it’s not what you are thinking; what I’m talking about is one of the many nightmares out there facing landlords and other real estate investors today, over-zealous municipalities with broad powers given to them by local ordinances. It seems in many municipalities, landlords are seen as the “bad guys” and rental property is often the target of new rules and regulations many of which provide for criminal penalties for things you would not necessarily think of as a crime that can send you to jail, until it happens. [...]

Should you consider a strategic default if you are underwater on your mortgage?

Over one in four homeowners in the U.S. with a mortgage are “underwater” meaning they owe more on their homes than they are currently worth and, according to data just released from a survey by Zillow, 75 percent of them are underwater by 40 percent or more meaning it will most likely be many years until they even have the hope of seeing equity in their home again. Nonetheless, this has not deterred the majority of these underwater homeowners from “staying the course” as 59 percent said would not consider a strategic default in order to get out from under their home. [...]

Is there a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health-care legislation?

In the past few months I have received dozens of emails being forwarded around the internet warning of a new “3.8 percent real estate tax” or “tax on home sale” coming as a result of Obamacare. Given there seem to be many misconceptions out there about this topic I decided to address it this morning. For starters, there is not a 3.8 percent house sale tax in the health care legislation per se. There is, however, a 3.8 percent on unearned income for high-income individuals and couples that could end up being applied to the sale of one’s home. [...]

Loan Officer Sentenced to 54 Months in Prison for Role in Mortgage Fraud Scheme That Resulted in More Than $9.2 Million in Losses

A loan officer for a Florida mortgage company was sentenced today in Miami to 54 months in prison for his role in a mortgage fraud scheme, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Inspector General David A. Montoya. [...]

Where are the best beach-town bargains?

My family is definitely a beach-loving family! Most of the trips and vacations our family has been on over the years have included beaches and both of our children’s first trips as infants were to the beach. So, I guess it is safe to say our family loves beaches and we are not alone! Even though beach property has suffered during the real estate bust, there seems to always be demand for homes in beach communities. Some areas, like Sarasota, Florida, are already seeing prices increase on homes located on or near the beach. Did you wait too late to buy that second home or vacation home in a beach community? Well, according to a report just released by RealtyTrac, there are still some bargains to be found out there! [...]

How to apply for independent foreclosure review

If you feel you were a victim of an improper foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 by one of the companies below, you may apply for an independent foreclosure review and receive compensation if the independent review finds evidence of direct financial injury to you due to servicer error. Time is running out however as the deadline to apply is July 31, 2012. To make it easier to understand the process, the fed’s have produced a video on how to apply which I have included below. [...]

Former Employee and Contractors of Florida Property Management Company Indicted in Illinois for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery and Wire Fraud

WASHINGTON – A Rockford, Ill., grand jury today indicted a former residential sales manager and two former contractors of a Florida property management company in connection with housing repair contracts for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Justice announced. [...]

FHFA Sues the City of Chicago Over Vacant Buildings Ordinance

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), on its own behalf and as Conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the city of Chicago to prevent enforcement of the city’s recently amended “Vacant Buildings Ordinance” against the Enterprises. FHFA reluctantly took this action after undertaking efforts to discuss these matters and to seek alternative solutions to the problem of vacant properties that the ordinance seeks to address. FHFA indicated that the ordinance could affect costs for homeowners in the city. [...]

Baby Boomers Helping Their Kids Buy Homes

Want to buy a house but a little short on cash? If your parents or grandparents are of the baby boomer generation then no problem, they’ll give you the cash! Well, at least one in five will according to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. [...]

Justice Department Files Fair Housing Lawsuit Against the Owners and Managers of Rental Homes in Mississippi for Discrimination Against Families with Children

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against the owners and managers of 23 rental homes in Magee, Miss., for violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against families with children [...]

2012 Presidential Elections: 69.6% of Americans Said Housing Will Influence Their Vote

Candidate positions on housing will be important considerations to nearly seven of 10 Americans (69.6%) in the 2012 presidential and congressional elections, according to a new national survey on housing released today by Move, Inc. This is especially true for Millennials(1) (70.7%), the next generation of homebuyers and the segment expected to play as important a role in the 2012 elections as they did in 2008. [...]

Buffalo Developer Indicted for Illegally Filling Over 90 Acres of Wetlands in Amherst, N.Y.

WASHINGTON – A New York developer and his companies were indicted today on federal charges that they conspired to illegally fill jurisdictional wetlands, announced Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney William Hochul for the Western District of New York. [...]

Victims of bad foreclosure practices can now apply for review and possible compensation

In late September I wrote about a plan presented by acting Comptroller of the Currency, John Walsh, to address the “robo-signing” issue as well as other improper practices in the foreclosure process that have surfaced. Mr. Walsh’s plan includes an independent review of the files of borrowers that feel they were a victim of a wrongful foreclosure practice as well as the potential for compensation or other relief for borrowers that were found to have been subject to improper foreclosure practices. Just this week it was announced that eligible borrowers may not apply for a review of their file and, if irregularities are found, file a claim for compensation. [...]

Virginia Real Estate Businessman Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Mortgage and Investment Fraud Schemes

WASHINGTON – Alexander Otis Matthews, a Virginia real estate businessman, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison in connection with mortgage and investment schemes to obtain more than $12 million in fraudulent loans.

The sentencing was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. [...]

Harris County, Texas, Commissioner Pleads Guilty to Making a False Statement to FBI; Real Estate Developer Pleads Guilty to False Tax Statement

WASHINGTON – Harris County Commissioner Gerald R. Eversole and Houston-based real estate developer Michael D. Surface both pleaded guilty today in federal court in Houston to making false statements, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special-Agent-In-Charge (SAC) Stephen L. Morris of the FBI’s Houston Field Office and SAC Rodney E. Clarke of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Houston Field Office. [...]

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

National 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 [...]

Four Defendants Indicted in Multi-Million-Dollar Mortgage Fraud Conspiracy

TUCSON, AZ—A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging four defendants in a mortgage fraud conspiracy. The indictment charged 20-counts including conspiracy to commit bank fraud, false statement to influence a financial institution, and conspiracy to commit transactional money laundering.

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Man Charged in $20 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

MINNEAPOLIS—Earlier this week in federal court, a 52-year-old man was charged for his role in a $20 million mortgage fraud scheme that involved 57 properties. Douglas Rex Butler was charged via an information with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

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Electric Panels need their space too

It is not uncommon when performing an inspection, not be able to have ready access to the electric panel cabinet. Items are stored in front of it, it is located behind the laundry equipment, it is covered by a finished wall, it is located in a closet with limited space and yes even it [...]

Justice Department Obtains $70,000 Settlement in Housing Discrimination Lawsuit Against New Orleans Landlords

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that New Orleans landlords Betty Bouchon, the Bouchon Limited Family Partnership and Sapphire Corp., have agreed to pay $70,000 in damages and civil penalties to settle a lawsuit alleging they unlawfully denied housing to African-American prospective renters at a 16-unit apartment building located in New Orleans. The settlement [...]

Four Charged with Running $13 Million Loan Fraud Scheme

CINCINNATI—A federal grand jury has indicted four people who ran a Cincinnati real estate business known as American Equity Group (AEG) with fraudulently obtaining more than $13 million in loans through a loan fraud scheme that targeted homeowners or builders in or near foreclosure. The scheme allegedly caused a loss of $6 million.

Carter [...]

Former South Holland Man Sentenced to 17½ Years in Prison for Directing $35 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme Involving More Than 120 Residences in the Chicago Area

CHICAGO—A former South Holland man was sentenced to 17½ years in federal prison for directing a $35 million mortgage fraud scheme involving more than 120 residences on the city’s south side. The scheme caused various lenders and financial institutions to lose approximately $16 million on mortgage loans that were not repaid by the borrowers or [...]

Buying a home more affordable than renting in three out of four major cities

A report released by Trulia shows that, based on current market conditions, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent in 74 percent of major U.S. cities. At the top of the list is Las Vegas with a price rent ratio of 6 (the lower the number, the more affordable it is). At the [...]

Where are the best places to live in the U.S.?

Today, CNN Money published their 2011 list of the best places to live in the U.S. At the top of the list is Louisville, Colorado. The criteria for selection of the best places to live include jobs, schools, crime, local economy, weather and activities.

The top 10 places to live, according to CNN Money, are:

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Justice Department Sues City of Joliet, Illinois, to Preserve Affordable Housing for City Residents

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today filed a lawsuit against the city of Joliet, Ill., alleging that the city violated the Fair Housing Act and the Housing and Community Development Act by taking a series of actions, culminating in the taking through eminent domain a federally-subsidized affordable housing development, that would displace more [...]

Two Loan Officers and One Title Agent Charged in $2.5 Million Reverse Mortgage and Loan Modification Scheme Plead Guilty in Miami

MIAMI – Louis Gendason of Delray Beach, Fla.; Kimberly Mackey of Pittsburgh; and John Incandela, of Palm Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their participation in a $2.5 million Home Equity Conversion Mortgage, or reverse mortgage, fraud scheme . [...]