Proactively seeking a loan modification
As with most Realtors in America, the economic downturn has hit Realtor Mark Conca’s bottom line, so in 2009, he proactively approached Bank of America to see if he qualified for a loan modification. Knowing the system is backlogged, he waited patiently for months, meanwhile making all payments on his mortgage on time and in full. Bank of America claimed otherwise, sending him a foreclosure notice according to the New Jersey Star Ledger.
Does applying for a loan modification signal to Bank of America that you are a foreclosure risk and they preemptively foreclose? How did a Realtor that knows the system and paid all payments in full on time get ignored by a bank and foreclosed upon?
Homeowner told to miss payments. He said no.
In 2005, Conca bought a Cape Cod home with a loan through Bank of America. In December 2009, he proactively applied for a modification and was told that he needed to miss payments, but said he told the bank he would do no such thing.
“If I have a debt, I pay it,” Conca said.
Despite the advice to miss payments, he continued to pay on time as he patiently awaited approval for his mortgage modification. In March 2011, he received he was 60 days late on his mortgage. Conca said “I called [Bank of America] and said that’s impossible. I had copies of all my payments on my bank statement.”
Finally, he spoke with a superviser who told him his account would be reviewed and an answer would be given in ten days.
Bank never informed him of the 2010 temporary modification
Three weeks later, the supervisor called Conca telling him that a temporary modification had been granted for October, November and December 2010 and that “something wasn’t properly recorded.”
The supervisor told Conca everything was fixed, he was approved not for a trial payment plan but an actual modification and within ten days, he would receive the paperwork via mail.
A month later, nothing. On April 10, he did receive a letter, but not his modification details, but a notification that his home loan was past due (which it wasn’t). Conca hired a lawyer who was also not responded to by the bank.
Rate reduced and mortgage officially modified
On July 19, Conca received the letter confirming his rate reduction and modified mortgage for which he would receive the paperwork in ten days.
Two days later he got a foreclosure notice. He has received three since July 21st.
Bank of America’s errors destroying Conca’s credit
Conca claims his credit has been destroyed after maintaining a high 700s for over 21 years. The credit card he has had for twenty years notified him of a limit reduction due to Bank of America’s reporting him over 60 days late on his mortgage.
The Ledger reached out to Bank of America regarding the case and a spokeswoman said Conca had been approved for a HAMP trial modification and was notified by the bank, noting he continued making payments which were improperly recorded as partial payments which sent his account into accelerated foreclosure.
The spokeswoman said the payments have now been properly recorded, the loan is not in foreclosure and they have submitted corrections to the credit bureaus, but The Ledger asked how it happened in the first place given that all payments were made on time and noted they should be linked to his mortgage regardless of being credited to the original or modified mortgage.
Bank of America attempts to explain
The bank simply said his regular mortgage payments were treated as trial payments in the system so the payments were placed into the partial payment account associated with his loan (which does not explain the fiasco).
When they asked the spokeswoman if Conca was supposed to make the full payments or the modified payments for which he was approved for in writing on July 19th, she said “If Mr. Conca is interested in being reviewed for a modification, and can demonstrate a hardship, we can assign a home retention specialist to work with him.” Given Bank of America’s track record, most are not surprised that this response sends Conca back to square one.
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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