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Widow fights back against aggressive Bank of America servicing tactics

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Losing a spouse and dealing with a mortgage

On August 2, 2010, Hawaiian homeowner Deborah Crabtree’s husband died of cancer, and as any widow or widower, she was left to put the family affairs in order, including their mortgage. According to court documents, for the last several years, the couple has paid their first mortgage ($467,400 in 2005) and second mortgage ($93,000 in 2006) after the due date of the first but before the grace period ending on the 15th. Crabtree alleges that on August 3, 2010, for the first time ever, the bank called her insisting payment was due although they typically paid closer to the 15th on their mortgages.

Crabtree says she explained to the BOA officer that the day prior, her husband passed away from cancer and she would need thirty days to get everything in order. As she told them between tears that she expected life insurance to pay out in that time, she also noted she only had $5,000 on hand to bury her husband and feed her family. The officer allegedly told her that if she had that much money on hand, she could take care of her mortgages (implying they should come first).

Not the type of condolence calls they expected

She notes that she prepared her answering machine to accept condolence calls during this period, but on the day of the wake hosted at her home, “a debt collector from Bank of America Home Loan Servicing called every 15 minutes and left harassing messages about the debts her husband had left behind that everyone in the house could hear.” Crabtree alleges she received roughly 48 calls the day after her husband’s wake, many of which were foreclosure threats.

BOA told her the calls would not stop as they were automated, and until she paid, they would continue. On August 18th, only three days late, Crabtree received her husband’s life insurance check and immediately paid her first and second mortgage. Court documents state that on the same day, Crabtree must mail the death certificate and proof that she has Power of Attorney over his trust. Crabtree claims to have complied, but BOA said otherwise and demanded the package be sent again.

Bank insists she has no right to be in her house

To add insult to injury, the mortgages were then changed from her and her husband’s name to simply his estate and Crabtree alleges BOA continued to call, requesting to speak with the husband and when told repeatedly he had passed away, she was told they could not speak with her about the account because she was no longer on the note. The bank then told her that she had no right to be in the house as it belongs to her husband and insisted she had obtained the property through “false pretenses, a crime of moral turpitude.”

After they finally cleared that up, they repeatedly insisted she had inadequate hurricane insurance as required, despite the insurance company directly faxing her policy to BOA and assessed $5,401 due to them which was eventually reversed but not after allegedly harassing Crabtree, claiming it is their legal right to call every 15 minutes when a debt is owed. In January, a BOA clerk erred on her phone payment and she began receiving calls that her payments were late. Court records show that when she finally spoke to a BOA Supervisor who was reviewing her records, Crabtree was told, “Oh my God, what are they doing to you?”

With Supervisor help, her payments were posted, she called an 800 number as directed to confirm the payments had been processed properly, was told she was “good to go” and believed the situation to be closed. Within weeks, she began receiving notices of BOA’s intent to accelerate on her second mortgage (which she had confirmed went through along with her first mortgage which she did not receive a notice on). The automated calls began shortly thereafter.

State debt collection laws allegedly violated

The suit claims BOA has violated state debt collection laws and although BOA has not yet commented on the case, a spokeswoman told CNN simply that the bank informs surviving family members when they are not responsible for debt left behind. The lawsuit alleges much more than calls about responsibility of a debt, as BOA has dropped the ball so many times on a single address, it is appalling.

Source: The Circuit Court of the First Circuit in the State of Hawaii.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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

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.

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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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