Wrongful foreclosures increasing in number?
We’ve seen banks foreclose illegally on the wrong address, illegally foreclose on soldiers fighting abroad, foreclose on homes that are fully paid off with no mortgage, and even on homes that had new homeowners in them which they no longer held the mortgage for. It is not uncommon to hear stories of homeowners that were blindsided by banks’ hired guns showing up to their home while they are at work, only to come home to their house ransacked and empty. These tales, despite an unofficial freeze in foreclosures, are rising in number, mostly among the largest banks with the most complicated methods of communicating with consumers and mortgage holders.
70 year old foreclosed upon for early payment
Today, Bank of America has been persistent in foreclosure proceedings of 70-year-old Sharon Bullington in Florida whose husband is ill and bedridden which has led to high medical bills and financial difficulties for the couple, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
Bank of America granted Bullington a HAMP loan modification which she believed would save her home from foreclosure, but when she made her January 2011 payment on December 23, 2010, the bank notified her that the would no longer accept her mortgage payments and that foreclosure proceedings would begin. The reason? Bank officials say the foreclosure could not be stopped because “In accordance with the Trial Payment Letter dated December 15, 2010, it indicates that if you are not able to make each payment in the month in which it is due, you will not be eligible for a modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program.”
Cold response from Bank of America
Bullington says over the months, she has contacted Bank of America repeatedly but that no one would talk to her or return her calls. She appealed to the CEO of Bank of America whose assistant responded in a letter indicating that the only means of avoiding foreclosure was to sell her home in a short sale or simply sign it over to the bank. The letter closes with the cold line, “I understand that you may be disappointed with our final resolution and appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter. While this may not be the response you were hoping for, I trust I have addressed your concerns.”
Bullington has no children or siblings and is the sole caregiver for her ill husband, making it impossible to move while he is in this condition. The Times reports that she wants Bank of America to know how her situation feels. “I just don’t understand why they’re doing this. It looks like they’re out to get us.”
As in many cases that capture media attention, upon being contacted by the St. Petersburg Times, Bank of America said it is now going to “re-review” the case.
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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