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Homeownership

Groundbreaking evidence that banks are still pushing homeowners out of their homes

Christopher King has presented compelling evidence that the banks are still criminally screwing homeowners and taxpayers, and MERS could be behind it all.

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Christopher King, a former Assistant State and Escrow attorney who has worked in residential and corporate real estate in various capacities for over fifteen years, presents compelling evidence as to how, despite making agreements to the contrary, banks are continuing to push homeowners out of their homes and how these actions are costing taxpayers money.

In an interview with The Blue Republican, King explains how banks are using “dual tracking” to go against the HARP rules and cover their tracks with MERS. MERS, or the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, is a database that is supposed to track mortgages and deeds of trust. If you have a MIN number, you are dealing with MERS. King states any dealing with MERS should cause concern as MERS employs bank executives and they absolutely do not have your best interests at heart.

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Filling in the gaps

Why worry? MERS is a database to track your information, right? Wrong, according to King. MERS has been created for the explicit purpose to cover up the messy situation that banks have found themselves in, in regards to the mortgage process. King alleges (and has some compelling evidence to be discussed below) the banks have separated the mortgage or deed from the note; as the note is the homeowners promise to pay the mortgage, they should never be separated. However, they have indeed been separated and this begins a falsification process whereby the banks scurry to retroactively correct mistakes made in the process.

Here’s the example King gives: Let’s say Bank of America winds up with a deed of trust and they say okay, where are the documents that go with it? Where are the supporting chains? And there’ll be gaps in that chain and so to fix that then falsified documents are created. How are these gaps filled? MERS.

Hiding dual tracking

King believes MERS is one of the leading offenders and creators of these falsified documents.

The banks have violated the very HARP rules they previously agreed to, and by breaking these rules, and participating in “dual tracking,” they have put themselves in a situation of constantly trying to cover their tracks. If you’re unfamiliar with dual tracking, this is the process that occurs when banks attempt to push homeowners out of their homes while simultaneously state they are negotiating a new payments plan with the very homeowners they’re attempting to remove. This scheme has been targeted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in an effort to create stricter legislation.

Because the banks have engaged in dual tracking, the chain of title has been corrupted. Their solution was to create a database to “hide” any malfeasance. What database was this? MERS. MERS has been used to avoid the payment of millions of dollars of recording fees to counties and cities all over the country, leaving tax payers short large sums of money, which are being assessed elsewhere at the tax payer’s expense.

Auditing for proof

Sound like a conspiracy theory? Well, it is, a little bit. King has proof, however. Marie McDonnell, a certified fraud examiner and forensic mortgage analyst, was contracted by the city of Seattle to perform an audit on MERS documents. She surveyed 195 documents; each one showed MERS attempted to transfer legal interests in the mortgage, to another entity.

According to Washington law, MERS wasn’t legally able to even be the beneficiary. MERS attempted to change the language, calling themselves the “nominee for the lender” rather than the beneficiary, but it seems to serve the same purpose.

Over 4 million dollars in taxpayer money

By pretending to transfer interests that MERS didn’t own, the assignments were fraudulent according to Washington law. As if this wasn’t enough, since the vast majority of the documents were never properly recorded, proper recording fees were not assessed. McDonnell found over 4 million dollars that could’ve been recorded with the county had proper recordation fees been assessed and the fines for improper/illegal documents been realized. Instead, the taxpayers are making up for this missing money.

This isn’t just happening in Washington. King contends this is a nationwide epidemic that homeowners and taxpayers need to be made aware of, immediately. If you’d like to read more about what King has found through his investigation, he regularly updates his website.

What do you think: is MERS a front for falsifying documents?

#MERSConspiracy

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Homeownership

The phrase ‘starter home’ is overrated and overused

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) You see the term in the MLS for fixer uppers, you hear it when Realtors are working with first time buyers. But the term “starter home” shouldn’t be in anyone’s vocabulary. Here’s why.

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Just words

Collins English Dictionary defines a starter home as a “small, new house which is cheap enough for people who are buying their first home to afford.” You won’t find the phrase too often outside of the real estate industry.

There isn’t much about the etymology of the phrase, but most likely, it’s a marketing ploy to get people to buy into the idea of purchasing another home in a few years.

Grind your gears

Mark Greutman, husband to Lauren Greutman, believes that the term “starter home” should bother people. The phrase implies that you will upgrade later.

Your starter home isn’t good enough for the rest of your life. And not to get into how well Americans have it, what about people who will never be able to afford anything more? Is it an insult to them?

Do you really need two living rooms?

Older generations bought one home and lived in it until they could no longer be independent. In today’s world, we buy a starter home, then upgrade to have more space, to live farther away from our neighbors, to have rooms that are only used once or twice a year, and to make sure you have a 2 or 3 car garage to hold your vehicles and more stuff, some of which isn’t taken out very often.

But consider this: You could pay off your starter home in 15 to 20 years, if you budget right.

You could be out from under a mortgage and have money to travel, send the kids to college, or even retire early. When you think about what led to the financial crisis in 2008, isn’t it better to have a smaller house where you can make the payments than worry about losing your house?

Be content where you are

Realtors are motivated to make sure that they have customers. If people buy one home with the intent to stay, will the market dry up? Probably not, because people move and a new generation will be ready to purchase homes for their own family.

Let’s think about that phrase, “starter home.” It fuels consumerism and discontentment. Don’t call cheaper houses starter homes, but just a home.

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Homeownership

The remodeling projects with best ROI that actually increase home value

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Knowing which remodeling projects to tackle when a home is being put on the market can save a lot of wasted effort and money.

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If you’re looking to help your clients to identify which projects to tackle before putting their home on the market, look no further: the National Association of Realtors surveyed thousands of real estate agents, industry professionals, and consumers on interior and exterior house remodeling projects, and these are the best projects for upping a home’s value before listing it on the market, ranked on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can get.

  • Refinishing hardwood floors. Start from the bottom to earn top dollar. Refinishing floors transform a home from worn-out and aging to vibrant and inviting, and only costs about $2500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The project also increases a home’s value by that same amount, meaning a homeowner can recover 100 percent of the costs. Pretty sweet deal.
  • Upgrading insulation. Because it’s what’s inside that counts. This project costs about $2100 based on NARI Remodeler’s estimate and increases a home’s value by $2000 according to Realtors surveyed. That’s a 95% cost recovery.
  • Adding new wood floors. If you don’t have wood floors to refinish, add them in! This costs about $5,500 according to NARI Remodelers, and the increased sales value is $5000. A homeowner can recover 91% of costs from a new wood floor addition.
  • Replacing HVAC system. A new HVAC system adds energy efficiency and refreshes the entire home, and NARI Remodelers estimate doing so costs $7000. The increased value for sellers is $5000 according to NAR REALTORS, meaning an easy breezy 71% cost recovery for homeowners.
  • Converting a basement into a living area. Not only is this cost and space-efficient, it’s also undeniably trendy. A basement makeover costs about $36,000 according to NARI Remodelers estimate and increases value for sellers by $25,000 according to Realtors surveyed. That comes out to a cost recovery of 69%.

Which projects are the most costly?

In case you’re curious, these are some of the most expensive remodeling projects:

  • New master suite. More like master $uite – this costs about $112,500 with a cost recovery of 53%. 
  • Converting an attic into a living area. Cute idea, but also a $65,000 one with a 61% cost recovery. One might say the price is through the roof.
  • Complete kitchen renovation. This project costs an estimated $60,000 with a 67% cost recovery. Even more if you want to throw in a brick oven, and you probably do.
  • New bathroom. With an estimated cost of $50,000 and a 52% cost recovery, make sure you aren’t flushing money down the drain with your bathroom addition!

These trends change over the years, so make sure your knowledge is up to date locally since we all know local trends trump national. Hopefully today you’ve garnered some ammo to help clients better understand how to improve their home’s value!

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Homeownership

How to inform clients about well-known homebuyer scams

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Real estate scams continue to victimize people, but Realtors are in a position to better protect homebuyers. Here are some tips.

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Despite warning after warning and news story after news story, homebuyers keep getting their money stolen in real estate wire transfer schemes. Some blame the mortgage and real estate industries for not doing enough to educate and protect their clients. Others say the people committing these crimes are getting more and more sophisticated. No matter who’s to blame, there’s no arguing that this crime is on the rise.

What exactly do these real estate scams look like? These criminals usually hack into a business’s emails, often a title company, and get all the pertinent information they need. They then steal and copy that company’s letterhead, and the email addresses, signature blocks and any other relevant information they will need to fool the homebuyer. The homebuyer then gets an email that appears to be from the title company, asking them to wire money, often tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, you’re probably wondering right now: What can I do? You want to know how to warn and protect your clients and keep your reputation intact (and avoid costly lawsuits). The following safeguarding tips can help keep cash out of cyberthieves’ hands:

1. Pick up the phone. If you’re closing on a home and receive an email with instructions on how to transfer money to your closing company or lender, take a few minutes to call your agent or broker to make sure it’s legit. Yes, this might be a bit annoying, but not as annoying as losing thousands of dollars in an email scam.

2. Be aware. These scammers usually send emails that look like the real thing. If you’re a homebuyer, look for weirdly timed emails (sent in the middle of the night) or spelling and punctuation errors. Is there a sense of urgency to the email?

3. Educate your clients. If you’re a real estate professional, make sure your clients know about this scheme. Not everyone is aware they could be a target (which is why it keeps happening). Set up a specific passcode for each client.

4. Consider using ClosingLock and asking your title company to use this technology for all of their transactions… What’s ClosingLock (previous name was BuyerDocs), you ask? This tech startup provides secure document delivery for closing companies and homebuyers. The company says it has protected more than $5 billion in wire transfers and works with big and small businesses across the country.

Scams will never be eradicated, but it is part of your job to know the current scams and how to protect transactions against shady folks.

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