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$26B settlement provides relief for service members



Official Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Randall A. Clinton at 2009 New York Jets vs Jacksonville Jaguars Military Ceremony.

Service members illegally foreclosed upon

In a historic deal after repeated delays and over a year of negotiations, the Justice Department, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and 49 state attorneys general recently finalized a $26 billion civil settlement with five of the largest mortgage lenders for wrongful foreclosures through robo-signing wherein homes were foreclosed upon without human review or proper paperwork. Participating banks include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup Financial and AllyFinancial. The settlement is structured so that attorneys general and federal agencies may still pursue criminal charges against bank executives.

The settlement allowed attorneys general to provide relief to victims of wrongful foreclosure, with special funds set aside in dedication to American service members and veterans, especially for violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that states that even in states that don’t require it, only a judge can authorize a foreclosure and only after hearing where a service member is represented.

Over a year ago, AGBeat reported that violations of SCRA could stunt the entire recovery process of housing and condemned the banks for illegally foreclosing on anyone sacrificing to keep our nation safe.

Part of settlement set aside for service members

As part of the multi-billion dollar settlement, service members were outlined specifically, with various provisions designed to help foreclosure victims, particularly those cases where banks violated the SCRA.

All cases of service members foreclosed upon will be reviewed, dating back to 2006 and will provide compensation to those illegally foreclosed upon in an amount equal to a minimum of lost equity, as well as interest, and $116,785.

The settlement provides relief to service members who were forced to sell their home for less than what they owe on their mortgage, as a result of a “Permanent Change in Station.” Any service member wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates will see a refund.

Terms also included $10 million set aside for the Veterans Affairs fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for vets. Additionally, certain protections through the SCRA will be extended to any service member serving in harm’s way.

Related reading:

  1. Military homeowners’ class action suit against Chase settled for $48 million
  2. Lawsuit filed against CitiBank for illegal foreclosures on military personnel
  3. Service member wins $21M lawsuit against lender – ultimate David and Goliath tale
  4. Minnesota rental ban ordinance could force deployed troop into foreclosure

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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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, 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.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

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.



aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

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.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

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.



zillow move

zillow move

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,, 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’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

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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