MERS subject of several lawsuits
In 2011, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS) became the subject of and onslaught of lawsuits from counties across the nation as District Attorneys allege the company never owned the loans they were facilitating foreclosures for, and in most cases, judges agree, and their authority to facilitate has been denied in several counties.
Dallas County alleged the mortgage-tracking system violates Texas laws and shorted the county anywhere from $58 million to over $100 million in uncollected filing fees due to the MERS system, dating back to 1997, and other counties have tried their hand at suing the company as well, even after it has ceased operations.
Case against MERS dismissed in Hawaii
Now, it appears the tides have turned after several cases in late 2012 and more cases in early 2013 have sided with MERS, halting various lawsuits. Now, in appeals court, an appellate ruling affirmed a decision issued by District Judge David Alan Ezra of the District Court for Hawaii and the complaint against MERS was dismissed with prejudice.
In this case, the complaint contained four allegations related to its assignment of a mortgage to a foreclosing lender, but the ruling found MERS as having the authority to have done so.
“[T]he Court has grave doubts about the validity of the factual predicate underlying most, if not all, of Plaintiffs’ claims,” Judge Ezra wrote, adding that the court “concluded that MERS was a legitimate organization and that the mortgage which plaintiffs signed put them on notice of the role MERS was to play in their home loans.”
Kentucky court rules in favor of MERS
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Kentucky ruled in favor of MERS after the case had already been dismissed with prejudice in a lower court.
“There is nothing in the plain language of the statute that indicates that the statute was designed to be enforced by a county clerk,” Judge McKinley held. “Had the General Assembly wanted to allow county clerks to file lawsuits regarding recording fees, it certainly knew how to do so.”
“We have consistently held that the use of the MERS® System to register mortgage loans fulfills the purpose of the recording statutes,” MERSCORP’s Director for Corporate Communications Jason Lobo said in a statement. “The statutes’ intent is to assure that liens are discharged when an underlying loan is paid off, to give subsequent purchasers and lenders notice of recorded liens and to allow creditors to give notice of their secured interest in the property. MERS’ business model is consistent with these purposes.”
A shift in the tides
After much public demonization and chastising of the MERS company, more judges are siding with MERS than against, and while some states disagree based on their local laws, it appears that the shift in tides is that the structure of MERS was acting legally regarding recording fees. That said, it is not only counties that have targeted MERS, but states as well as homeowners, so the battle is not yet over, but there is certainly a shift in the currents.
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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