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Former Realtor sentenced to nearly three years in prison

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$50 million mortgage scheme

Former Virginia Realtor, Diane Atari was sentenced this morning to three years on all 12 felony counts of making false statements to obtain credit and grand larceny in a $50 million mortgage and credit scam, according to the Loudoun Times. All counts were suspended barring two years and nine months, also taking into account time she has already spent in prison awaiting sentencing.

Atari pleaded guilty last fall to all counts, raising eyebrows for having obtained over $1 million personally from the scheme.

Final chapter of the international manhunt

Atari owned and operated ACR Consulting Co. and Atari Management Co. wherein she fixed her clients’ credit as well as reported their incomes as substantially higher than they really were so that they would qualify for homes they never would have otherwise, which the prosecutors claim ultimately led to losses of over $50 million in defaulted mortgages.

Originally indicted on the charges on July 13, 2009, Atari fled to Turkey where she was arrested three months later with the help of Interpol, spending over a year in a Turkish jail. Atari was extradited in February, 2010.

“The investigation was not an easy one,” Captain Ken Pratt of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office told the Loudoun Times in February. “It deals with forensic audits and an attention to detail that goes beyond normal fraud and white collar crime investigations.”

A change in tune

Although in February of 2011, she told the court, “It’s been distorted and fabricated,” immediately following her guilty plea in October, her lawyer said in a statement, “Diane Atari has today acknowledged the mistakes she made years ago. After reflecting on those mistakes and what she has learned from them, during the past several months she has fully cooperated with authorities and has agreed to assist a local Community Services Board in a program aimed at helping offenders readjust to society upon their release to help prevent recidivism.”

“We believe the judge’s sentence was very fair,” defense attorney Steven Webster told the Times-Mirror today. “Ms. Atari accepted responsibility for her actions, offered substantial assistance to law enforcement, and has made a commitment to serving others in the future through a transitional program for ex-offenders. She is pleased to put this chapter of her life behind her.”

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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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Greg Cook

    February 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Turkish jail? Didn't she see Midnight Express?

  2. Mark Eibner

    February 14, 2012 at 9:25 am

    @Greg, LOL- OMG, I'll do anything to not be in a Turkish jail! Sad part is that she is the typical "patsy" held out to the people that justice is being done, when in fact the Treasury, Fannie-Freddie, DC, the Fed are stealing trillions right in front of us and nothing is being done. I sure fel safer and I am sure the finical Institutions of the world are now safe from the likes of Ms. Atari. LOL, the jokes on us!

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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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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.

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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, 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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