Here at AG, we’ve written about how Bank of America has foreclosed on homes by continuing the foreclosure process even after the home was successfully sold to a new buyer who didn’t even have a loan through Bank of America and we’ve covered how they have foreclosed on addresses they never even had a loan on despite dispute and direct correspondence.
AG columnist, Russell Shaw has remained our most vocal advocate for homeowners and agents having to battle Bank of America. His “Bank of America retard division for short sales” article that outlines the unfair, irrational and possibly illegal behavior of Bank of America remains one of the most read articles here at AG on most days, almost a year after it was originally published.
In steps the Texans
We’ve awaited the day that someone stood up to the documented abuses in a fashion that would impact Bank of America’s bottom line, and today, a group of homeowners are no longer taking it lying down. In true Texas fashion, a class action complaint was just filed and a jury trial has been demanded. Today,
the Texas Housing Justice League joins the 15 homeowners in the suit against Bank of America and its subsidiary BAC Home Loans Servicing.
Interestingly, the claim is using RESPA (Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act) as grounds for the complaint. The other eight claims are as listed below:
- Count Two: Breach of Contract – Loan Modification Agreement
- Count Three: Breach of Contract – Forbearance Agreement
- Count Four: Breach of Contract-Promissory Note and Deed of Trust
- Count Five: Violation of the Texas Property Code
- Count Six: Breach of Oral Contract-HAMP Trial Modification
- Count Seven: Unreasonable Collection Efforts
- Count Eight: Intentional Misrepresentation
- Count Nine: Texas Debt Collection Act
About the plaintiffs:
According to the Texas Housing Justice League, “Plaintiffs are and represent people who purchased their first homes between 1994 and 2006, usually with loan assistance from the Federal Housing Administration and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Their loans were all serviced by Defendant BAC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Defendant Bank of America, N.A.”
They continue, by noting that “The lawsuit complains not of poor customer service by BAC, but of a systematic home loan servicing scheme that includes hours of telephone runaround, misleading and inconsistent information, lost correspondence, verbal abuse, and extensive delay, all of which have documented costs not only in terms of money, but in health. The facts in this case reveal the harsh reality that underlies the loan servicer’s press statements about loan modifications and forbearance agreements following collapse of the U.S. housing market.”
A suitable summary of the suit:
Denver Realtor, Kristal Kraft says, “In the interest of time, I will now use only the keywords describing the gripes against Bank of America as accused by the Texas Homeowners.
‘Scheme, misleading, inconsistent, lost correspondence, verbal abuse, extensive delay, money, health, harsh, shuffled, no resolution, dysfunctional, barrage of misinformation, misdirection, deliberate inactivity, abuse, harassment, yo-yo. blocked at every turn, labyrinth of transfers, hundreds of hours on the telephone, transferred, never speak to same person again, contradictions, complaints meet with resistance, no supervisors available, unaccountable departments, asked to sign same documents three, four or even five times, negotiators who would not return telephone calls, not isolated incidents, pattern and practice by Bank of America.’”
What will happen next?
One of the Plaintiff’s lawyers, Robert Doggett said on ForeclosureBuzz.com, “It would be hard to imagine that Bank of America and BAC will fight the facts of the case; the question will likely be whether they can get away with it. The servicer will likely claim that poor “customer service” is something that must be accepted like a slow waiter or a bad movie. The difference is of course that homeowners are not merely customers that should expect to be mistreated and lied to — homeowners have a contract with the holder of their home loan and these servicers are the agents for the holder — and moreover, servicing a home loan is not in the realm of someone forgetting your fries or being tricked into seeing Gigli.”
For the full claim, click here.
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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