Saturday, July 30, 2011

Garten Polizei: City tries to out HOA HOAs

Ms. Bass lives in the Detroit suburb of Oak Park, but her street of red brick ranch houses might be any mature neighborhood in America. Close set and tidy, the homes have front yards that for generations have embodied an iconic conformity of foundation shrubbery and unfenced lawns.

After her front lawn was excavated to repair the sewer this spring, she replaced the grass with five raised beds for vegetables. If she was going to water the yard, she figured, she might as well raise food for her husband and six children. Within a few days, the garden police came calling.

She said she was told to remove the offending garden and replace it with the municipal code's demand of "grass, ground cover, shrubbery or other suitable live plant material."

"We are sticking to our vegetables," she said in an interview.

This disobedience, inevitably, brought the might of the municipality down upon her. Facing more than 90 days in jail, she hired a lawyer. The charge was dismissed while the city studies its law. Ms. Bass says the case could be reopened. Meanwhile, she is harvesting tomatoes, basil and cucumbers.
The article goes on to note that municipalities while having the power to jail those who run afoul of the garden cops have nothing on HOAs as the "ace guardians of landscape behavior."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Illinois License Plates May Get Corporate Ads - Libertyville, IL Patch

Illinois License Plates May Get Corporate Ads
Sure, but that's thinking small. I think they should just sell naming rights to the counties and other local governments and special districts. Lake County could be Abbot Laboratories County, Cook County could be Allstate Insurance County or maybe United Airlines County, and so forth. Take all those little mosquito abatement districts and name them after exterminators.

And come to think of it, we aren't making any money being called "Illinois." Why not "McDonalds"?

BofA Bulldozing Foreclosed Homes - The Consumerist

BofA Bulldozing Foreclosed Homes - The Consumerist

The bank is working with local housing partnerships to donate some of the houses and pay for the demolition of others. BofA will pay as much as $7,500 per tear-down. Some of the houses are worth less than $10,000.

They're giving up 100 properties in Detroit, 150 in Chicago and will be doing the same in nine other cities.

"Donating a house may create an income-tax deduction, said Robert Willens, an independent accounting analyst based in New York. A bank might deduct as much as the fair market value if a home wasn't acquired with the explicit intent of knocking it down," reports SF Gate.

Always thinking, these banks. Thanks to Mystery Reader for this and the following two strange stories from the world of foreclosures.

Angry Homeowners Dump Trash From Abandoned Home - Flash Player Installation

Angry Homeowners Dump Trash From Abandoned Home - Flash Player Installation

The wrong bank for that particular load of trash, maybe, but one would hope the message wasn't wasted on them. Thanks to Mystery Reader.

Wells Fargo Forecloses On, Auctions Off House With Dead Owner Inside - The Consumerist

Wells Fargo Forecloses On, Auctions Off House With Dead Owner Inside - The Consumerist

Another story from the bizarre world of foreclosures. Thanks to Mystery Reader.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Foreclosure crisis persists with little relief in sight

The pace of foreclosures ebbed following the eruption of the "robo-signing" scandal, in which loan servicers approved foreclosures without looking at the underlying documents. Banks halted foreclosures over the last several months temporarily to overhaul their protocols.

But foreclosures are expected to pick up in the months ahead. An estimated 1 million foreclosure actions that should have taken place this year will now happen in 2012, according to Daren Blomquist, director of marketing and communications with Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac.

"That's not because 1 million people have avoided foreclosure over the long term, it's because the process has slowed," he said, noting that the time it takes to complete a foreclosure has doubled in the last four years from 154 to 318 days.

Bottom line: The foreclosure crisis is far from over.
As Teal'c would say, "Indeed, O'Neill."

HOA troubles pitting neighbor vs. neighbor | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

HOA troubles pitting neighbor vs. neighbor | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper
Of the nation's 300,000 homeowners' associations, more than 50 percent now face "serious financial problems," according to a September survey by the Community Association Institute trade group. An October survey found 65 percent of associations have delinquency rates of more than 5 percent, up from 19 percent in 2005.

Read more:

A shorter version of Michelle Conlin's AP article from a few weeks ago--thanks to Shu Bartholomew for the link.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ranlo family frustrated after HOA foreclosed on their home for unpaid dues

Michelle Roberts says her family fell victim to an HOA board that refused to recognize the financial hardship they were experiencing. The board held them to unfair expectations of paying not only the original dues that were in arrears, she said, but also the charges that mounted from attorney hours, court filings and assessments.

Additional fees have taken the $975 they originally owed for HOA dues and mushroomed their debt to more than $6,000. It’s money they don’t have, she said.
Times are tough for a lot of people and this situation is repeating throughout Privatopia as the economy struggles to return to health nearly three years after financial markets imploded in the fall of 2008. HOA assessments while typically substantially lower than property taxes can mushroom once delinquent when the community association industry takes its cut.

California households are doing without

The poll found that 37% of Californians were cutting back on household expenses such as groceries and gasoline, while 52% were forgoing luxuries such as concerts and restaurant meals, in order to make their mortgage payments.

And with home prices weak, the poll found that 31% of the more than 1,500 California voters surveyed had put off looking for or buying a new home — and that 50% had set aside investing in home improvements.

Both of those trends are sobering reminders of how hard it will be for California to escape the grip of the devastating economic downturn. Housing has traditionally fueled recoveries, but tepid demand for homes — and even home improvements — is crimping the creation of new jobs in construction and real estate.
The Golden State economy remains overly dependent on the residential real estate sector that's stalled on both the supply and demand sides. Homes aren't being built, improved or sold while consumers are pulling in their horns and won't spend on these things fearing for their job security -- if they have work. So unless the economy can diversify, economists predict this standoff will continue for the foreseeable with its accompanying high unemployment.