A foreclosure tale
For three decades, Claireather Mason was timely in paying her mortgage but last June after making her monthly payment and a statement from her lender reporting it as received and processed, she got her first default notice in the mail, according to NBC12 in Petersburg, Virginia.
This is nowhere near the first story of a homeowner who has not missed a payment yet receives foreclosure notices, in fact, a study last fall claims that housing has been so irreparably damaged by the destruction of the chain of title that it is unclear who the real owners of most of the titles in America are.
In Mason’s case, Ocwen Financial took over her mortgage and despite verification payment had been made, they began rejecting her payments month after month, and pushed forward with foreclosure.
“They taped [my payments] together and they’re still taped together and they mailed them back to me,” said Ms. Mason. She eventually called Central Virginia Legal Aid for help, but even letters from lawyers could not get Ocwen to listen.
The twist in the story is the same twist in all of these stories – the homeowner who is being wrongfully foreclosed upon is ignored and so is their lawyer, but when a news outlet begins making phone calls, the gears begin turning.
An Ocwen Financial spokesperson said in a statement that “someone from our office will be reaching out to her quickly to rectify the situation,” noting that mistakes happen.
How did this happen? How does it end?
The hiccup in the system that was not pinpointed by Ocwen staff is that Mason’s loan was extended over 20 years ago through a Housing and Urban Development program. “Their computer was saying that her loan had matured and the entire balance on her loan has come due, of course that wasn’t true,” said Mason’s attorney Sara Blose.
Through NBC12’s pressing and Blose’s insistence, Ocwen has called off the foreclosure, accepted all payments without penalty or interest, and corrected the problem in her file and have committed to correct the record to restore her credit rating.
Mason is grateful yet angry, telling NBC12, “I was just devastated because I had tried all I knew how to talk to them to explain that I paid my money and nobody would listen.”
“Their own company just doesn’t know what’s going on in the records that they have. They’re supposed to be the custodian of these records, but they don’t look into what’s going on with it,” said Blose, noting that cases like this are becoming common.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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