Lexis Nexis’ MARI report is out
The Mortgage Asset Research Institute has released their twelfth mortgage fraud case report, revealing that mortgage fraud is still on the rise although the velocity has slowed from a 26% increase in 2008 to a 7% jump in 2009.
Misrepresentation of information on loan applications accounted for 59% of incidents followed by fraud appraisals, up 11% from 2008.
“It remains critical for those in the mortgage industry to reassess their processes, work together by sharing information and reporting incidents of fraudulent activity, and ready themselves for more complex schemes in order to continue the fight against mortgage fraud,” says Denise James, a co-author of the report.
Three charged with fraud
Officials are not treating mortgage fraud lightly- just today, three people were charged for mortgage fraud conspiracy in Mississippi according to MortgageFraudBlog.com. Louis Gholar, Undrea Harris and Santiago Sutton were sentenced in a U.S. District Court and ordered not only to serve time but to pay restitution for conspiring with Carla Wilson who owned Home Mortgage Center, LLC to “fabricate documents (including false verifications of deposit, false verifications of rent, false forms to verify income, false W-2 forms, false tax returns, false verification of employment, false residential lease agreements and altered official bank checks) and give false information to lenders to fraudulently obtain residential mortgage loans for borrowers who did not qualify financially to receive the loans, and thereafter conduct financial transactions to disburse funds from the proceeds of that fraud to their co-conspirators to induce them to continue their participation in the conspiracy and to conceal the nature, ownership and control of the proceeds of the wire and mail fraud.”
Top 10 states hit hardest by fraud
Mississippi did not make the top 10 list for states where mortgage fraud hit the hardest in 2009, but the list indicates change. Florida experienced three times the expected amount of reported mortgage fraud considering the volume of loans there. Eastern states accounted for 80% of the top ten list.
- New York
- New Jersey
New York City experienced the highest mortgage fraud rate of any MSA in America followed by Los Angeles second and Chicago third.
CC Licensed image courtesy of revdancatt via Flickr.com.
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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