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Economic News

Foreclosure mill that mocked foreclosure victims settles with AG for $4M

The New York Attorney General has finally wrapped up their year long investigation of the state’s largest foreclosure mill who will now pay $4 million to the state. The firm made headlines last fall when photos of a foreclosure-themed Halloween party were leaked.



New York State AG settles with Baum

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced an $4 million settlement to go to the state for penalties, costs and fees for the foreclosure abuses at Pillar Processing LLC, Steven J. Baum PC, Steven J. Baum and Brian Kumiega. The funds will go toward assisting homeowners victimized by predatory lending practices or who are up against foreclosure.

As part of the agreement, Baum and Kumiega agreed to not represent lenders or servicers in new foreclosure-related cases for at least two years. The Baum Firm was one of the largest foreclosure mills in the state until the company closed their doors at the end of 2011.

“The Baum Firm cut corners in order to maximize the number of its foreclosure filings and its profits,” said Schneiderman. “This settlement demonstrates that my office will not allow New York homeowners to face the drastic consequence of foreclosure based upon inaccurate documents filed in court. Foreclosure law firms must ensure that their client has the authority to sue and is the rightful holder or assignee of the note and the mortgage before filing cases.”

The investigation found the Baum Firm to have filed foreclosures without verifying the accuracy of cases or whether or not the plaintiff even owned the title, getting the company in hot water, particularly as whistleblower Susan Chana Lask came forward via YouTube. The AG reports an assembly line wherein non-attorneys prepared complaints without adequate attorney supervision, then the complaints were notarized without verification and signed without the notary being present. Investigators found that attorneys routinely signed complaint verifications claiming they had verified the complaints, but they had not, leading to illegal foreclosures.

Why the Baum Firm was a target

The Baum Firm has been the subject of widespread criticism and has been under investigation for nearly a year by the New York AG. They are the subject of several class-action lawsuits. State and federal courts have found cases brought by the firm frequently contained errors, especially regarding the plaintiff’s right to file foreclosure.

Last fall, a former employee of the firm leaked photos of the company’s 2010 Halloween party wherein the offices were transformed into shanty towns to mock the people that were foreclosed upon and now homeless, and employees dressed as dirty homeless people with misspelled signs mocking their excuses given before being evicted. After being leaked, the company apologized for their poorly themed party.

Around the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac severed ties with the Baum Firm, announcing that mortgage servicers could no longer use the firm to handle foreclosures. Baum himself very publicly pointed the blame not at their practices or even Fannie and Freddie, but at the New York Times columnist that shared the photos of the distasteful party. “Mr. Nocera,” Baum wrote in a letter, “You have destroyed everything and everyone related to Steven J. Baum PC. It took 40 years to build this firm and three weeks to tear down.”

The $4 million agreement with the AG is not likely the last for the Baum Firm, as the founders are being sued directly from various angles, despite the company already shutting down.

Economic News

Boomers retirement may be the true reason behind the labor shortage

(ECONOMY) Millennials and Gen Z were quick to be blamed for the labor shortage, citing lazy work ethic- the cause could actually be Boomers retirement.



Older man pictured in cafe with laptop nearby representing boomers retirement discrimination.

In July, we reported on the Great Resignation. With record numbers of resignations, there’s a huge labor shortage in the United States. Although there were many speculations about the reasons why, from “lazy” millennials to the number of deaths from Covid. Just recently, CNN reported that in November another 3.6 million Americans left the labor force. It’s been suggested that the younger generations don’t want to work but retiring Boomers might be the bigger culprit.

Why Boomers are leaving the labor force

CNN Business reports that 90% of the Americans who left the workplace were over 55 years old. It’s now being suggested that many of the people who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic were older Americans, not Millennials or Gen Z, as we originally thought. Here are the reasons why:

  • Boomers are more concerned about catching COVID-19 than their younger counterparts, so they aren’t returning to work. Boomers are less willing to risk their health.
  • The robust real estate market has benefitted Boomers, who have more equity in their homes. Boomers have more options on the table than just returning to work.
  • Employers aren’t creating or posting jobs that lure people out of retirement or those near retirement age.

As Boomers retire, how does this impact the overall labor economy?

According to CNN Business, there are signs that the labor shortage is abating. Employers are starting to see record number of applicants to most posted jobs. FedEx, for example, just got 111,000 applications in one week, the highest it has ever recorded. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the pandemic-induced increase in retirement is only temporary. People who retired due to the risk of the pandemic will return to work as new strategies emerge to reduce the risk to their health. With new varients popping up, we will have to keep an eye on how the trend ultimately plays out.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?



NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<


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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.



young executives

job openings

Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.


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