Saturday, August 27, 2011

Online petition to Congress: Declare HOAs governments -- or outlaw them as rackets

Make Home Owner Associations legitimate by holding them to the same standards as our state and federal government, or end them as racketeering.

These privatized corporate goverments are judge, jury, and executioner against homeowners' basic rights. They require no oversight as they target, bully, and foreclose for profit, and just because they can. This multi-billion dollar a year industry uses oblivious HOA boards to extort billions from homeowners while proporting to "protect property values." Nothing could be further from the truth. Tragically, Senator Carona from Dallas owns the largest HOA management company in the country, and he writes the legislation against homeowners to protect his empire.
The petition can be viewed and signed here.

Foreclosures made up 31 pct. of home sales in 2Q - Yahoo! Finance

Foreclosures made up 31 pct. of home sales in 2Q - Yahoo! Finance
The share of the market would likely have been larger this spring if not for a state and federal investigation into faulty paperwork by banks and servicers. The probe has led many banks to delay foreclosure sales. Once that is complete, foreclosures will likely surge later this year.
I guess the real policy we are adopting de facto is just to bail out the banksters and let people lose their homes. All this talk about helping out the owners seems like empty rhetoric.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Borrowers claim lender knowingly made bad loans, depressing their property values

This is a case in which nearly 250 California customers of Countrywide Financial allege that the mortgage lender knowingly failed to practice diligent underwriting, generating bad loans that led to a liquidity crisis that cratered California's housing market -- and their property values:
As a proximate result of the foregoing concealment by Defendants, California property values have precipitously declined and continue to decline, gravely damaging Plaintiffs by materially reducing the value of their primary residences, depriving them of access to equity lines, second mortgages and other financings previously available based upon ownership of a primary residence in California, in numerous instances leading to payments in excess of the value of their properties

The Second District California Court of Appeal isn't buying the argument. It granted Countywide's petition to overturn a trial court ruling overruling its demurrer to the plaintiffs' fraudulent concealment allegation:

We conclude the plaintiffs/borrowers cannot state a cause of action against Countrywide for fraudulent concealment of an alleged scheme to bilk investors by selling them pooled mortgages at inflated values, the demise of which scheme led to devastated home values across California. Due to the generalized decline in home values which affects all homeowners (borrowers of Countrywide, borrowers who dealt with other lenders, and homeowners who owned their homes free and clear), there is no nexus between Countrywide‘s alleged fraudulent concealment of its scheme to bilk investors and the diminution in value of the instant borrowers‘ properties.

In other words, the court is saying, the conduct of a single lender -- even one like Countrywide that had a major segment of the pre-meltdown residential mortgage market in California -- can't be blamed for popping the real estate bubble. It's also impliedly stating that lots of lenders threw underwriting standards to the wind, so no single mortgage lender can be blamed for the resulting crash.

The full ruling can be viewed here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Walmart Is Dying Because Its Business Model Is Strangling Itself - The Consumerist

Walmart Is Dying Because Its Business Model Is Strangling Itself - The Consumerist
Make sure you read this in a spooky voice in your head: Wal-Mart is dooooomed! At least, the business model it relied on to reach such astronomical growth is now probably putting a choke hold on the company's ability to grow and compete.
Human institutions often collapse right after a period of explosive growth.

US May Back Mortgage Refinancing for Millions - CNBC

US May Back Mortgage Refinancing for Millions - CNBC
The Obama administration is considering further actions to strengthen the housing market, but the bar is high: plans must help a broad swath of homeowners, stimulate the economy and cost next to nothing.
I feel as though Obama has waited far too long to seriously address the housing market and the unemployment situation. And if he is thinking about next year's election, it may be too late for these initiatives to make any difference.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homeowner Groups Sue to Force Foreclosures - Bloomberg

Homeowner Groups Sue to Force Foreclosures - Bloomberg
Members of the Vintage East Condominium Association in Miami Beach got tired of waiting for JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) to foreclose on unit 9, so they sued the bank in February to take control of the property.

In June, more than four years after the owner stopped making payments, a judge ruled that JPMorgan lost its claim to the $144,000 mortgage. The apartment is now on the market for $87,500, and the association may stave off insolvency with proceeds from the sale and a new owner who pays monthly dues, said Jane Losson, a board member at the complex. Four of the 11 other owners at the property are also behind on dues.

Thanks to Doug Selby for this link. Maybe it's time to stop coddling the banksters. Just a thought.

New York Attorney General Kicked Off Government Group Leading Foreclosure Probe

New York Attorney General Kicked Off Government Group Leading Foreclosure Probe
WASHINGTON -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday was kicked off the committee leading the 50-state task force charged with probing foreclosure abuses and negotiating a possible settlement agreement with the nation's five largest mortgage firms, according to an email reviewed by The Huffington Post.
Why? Apparently because he is too aggressive about it: "He's leading his own investigation into mortgage improprieties, subpoenaing documents from the nation's largest financial institutions and reviewing court records for possible illegal home repossessions."

Monday, August 22, 2011

AM Alert: Beware the (privatization) beast

A beast is on the loose at the Capitol today -- and we're not talking about Sutter Brown.

A "privatization beast" will be roaming Capitol Park as librarians gather on the south steps to warn of what they say are the perils of privatizing public libraries across the state.

The 11 a.m. presser is being staged in support of Assembly Bill 438, a union-backed bill that would establish a series of hurdles for cities and counties looking to hand over their library operations to private companies. Several California libraries have already signed on with a national contractor called Library Systems & Services.

Privatizing libraries? That's nothing compared to local government, where entire towns and communities have been privatized into HOA-governed common interest developments in many parts of the nation.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

City of Aurora, CO Proposes Giving Corporation Right to Vote | Move to Amend

City of Aurora, CO Proposes Giving Corporation Right to Vote | Move to Amend
And...the Libertarian Party is opposing it!

How to Disband a Homeowner's Association

A quick tour of your favorite search engine's menu on the topic of "disbanding homeowner's associations" sites would be mildly entertaining if inquiries weren't so fraught with rants and anger. A great HOA does nothing but help a community share expenses and responsibility, but when power is abused and members reach a collective breaking point, there's nothing to be done short of cutting the umbilical cord that holds residents to an existing, structured code of conduct.