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DOJ revises web transcript of 2012 Eric Holder speech

When it was discovered that Eric Holder misstated facts about the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, the DOJ initially issued a press release to correct the record, but has now made the situation worse by editing the original transcript, scrubbing it of errors.

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Eric Holder speech updated

Recently, it came to light that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder misled Americans about mortgage fraud, claiming that the high profile Mortgage Fraud Task Force was making great headway and uncovering endless fraud and charging hundreds, but Bloomberg uncovered that the facts in his 2012 speech on the topic were wildly inaccurate.

When the news agency pressed the Department of Justice (DOJ), they were never given access to the list of people charged, or other information that would be easy to verify.

We reviewed the web version of the Holder speech prior to publication of our outline of Holder’s missteps and verified the overstated facts, but it appears the speech online has been edited. According to Rolling Stone, Paul Thacker, former Hill staffer and currently a fellow at Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center first discovered edits to the original transcript on the DOJ website, which is akin to going back in time and changing a printed newspaper story – it just doesn’t happen.

Comparing the two versions

“Transcript” typically refers to the actual words said by a person, as transcribed to the web, but in this case, someone at the DOJ has simply updated the actual words with what the words should have been.

The second paragraph of the official transcript of Holder’s 2012 speech as it now appears on the DOJ website:

This national effort – known as the Distressed Homeowner Initiative – ran from October 1st, 2011, to September 30th of this year – and was led by members of the Mortgage Fraud Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file federal criminal charges against 107 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 17,185 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $95 million. On the civil side, as part of this Initiative, Mortgage Fraud Working Group Members have filed federal civil cases against 128 defendants for losses totaling at least $54 million, and involving more than 19,000 victims.

The transcript originally read:

This national effort – known as the Distressed Homeowner Initiative – ran from October 1st, 2011, to September 30th of this year – and was led by members of the Mortgage Fraud Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. This landmark Initiative, spearheaded by the FBI, was launched to help streamline and advance investigations and prosecutions against fraudsters who allegedly targeted, and preyed upon, Americans struggling to keep their homes. And it’s been a model of success. Over the past 12 months, it has enabled the Justice Department and its partners to file 285 federal criminal indictments and informations against 530 defendants for allegedly victimizing more than 73,000 American homeowners – and inflicting losses in excess of $1 billion. On the civil side, as part of this Initiative, we have filed 110 federal civil cases against over 150 defendants for losses totaling at least $37 million, and involving more than 15,000 victims.

What next?

In light of endless scandals hovering over Holder’s head, it will be of note how this particular issue is handled. The DOJ should have stuck to their original statement that a mistake was made rather than attempt to go back in time and rewrite the record.

Editing transcripts is a substantial ethical breach in a world where information is currency and transparency was a promise offered by the President on the campaign trail so many years ago. Will the DOJ re-edit their edits, leave it as it stands with a link to the original unedited version, or will this be swept under the rug like so many other “hiccups” today?

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.

Austin

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?

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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.”

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.

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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.

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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

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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