Criminal investigation into four mortgage servicers
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced today that an Ingham County judge has approved his subpoenas which he intends to execute in his criminal investigation into four mortgage processors including Lender Processing Services (LPS) Inc. (said to be the processor of half of all American mortgages), LPS subsidiary DocX, Fidelity National Financial Inc., and CT Corporation System as a part of the AG’s probe into mortgage documentation practices, namely the robosigning scandal.
Schuette has been a part of the 50 state collaborative effort to investigate mortgage processors and punish any transgressions, but this subpoena does not imply that Michigan is no longer a part of the collaborative effort that is continuing alongside a dozen governmental agencies.
The subpoenas demand documents “regarding the mortgage processing companies’ operations in relation to foreclosure and/or bankruptcy-related document processing” by June 20th, according the the Attorney General office.
“Allegations of forged mortgage documents are very serious and require a thorough investigation. I will continue to work closely with federal and local authorities to find answers on behalf of Michigan homeowners,” Schuette said in a statement.
The AG office also encouraged any current or former mortgage servicing company employees who know of unlawful practices related to mortgage servicing to contact his office and reminded consumers that they do not have to pay their mortgage servicer a fee in order to speak with them about their loan.
More troubles for servicers
News of Michigan’s probe into these servicers follows the FDIC suing LPS for “negligence and breaches of contract for which they are demanding a jury trial to recoup $154.5 million in losses on behalf of Washington Mutual Bank (WaMu) of which they are now the receiver.”
Michigan isn’t the only state investigating as California and Illinois announced in May that they too were subpoenaing LPS and California formed a “mortgage fraud strike force” in response to the illegal foreclosures due to robosigned documents that never received human review prior to repossession.
LPS has also had a rough time in Alabama where a judge ordered documents public that LPS had requested remain sealed in a case where “attorney Nick Wooten who is currently suing LPS in several cases on behalf of homeowners, alleging an illegal fee-splitting scheme between default services attorneys using LPS’ platform.”
Times are certainly troubled for these four servicers, especially for LPS as they are the processors of so many mortgages. The final verdict is not yet out on the robosigning debacle, but it appears the government on all levels is now seeking to take action and in this case, Michigan is pushing for criminal charges.
At the time of publication, LPS, FNF and CT Corporation had not responded to our calls. AG is not affiliated with any of the aforementioned companies.
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
Business Entrepreneur2 days ago
Why receiving big funding doesn’t guarantee startup success
Business Entrepreneur6 days ago
‘Small’ business was once a stigma, but is now a growing point of pride
Business Marketing2 weeks ago
6 tips to easily market your side hustle
Opinion Editorials2 days ago
Be yourself, or be Batman? A simple trick to boost your self-confidence
Business Entrepreneur6 days ago
3 types of clients you should fire as a freelancer (without feeling guilty)
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
Tesla: One company, or a collection of innovative startups?
Tech News22 hours ago
Google is giving back some privacy control? (You read that right)
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
If you’re an employer, don’t hire without knowing about these hidden traits