Monday, November 17, 2008
Mortgage Fraud Crackdown by Chicago FBI
The National Association of Realtors magazine's November issue had a great cover story on the crackdown
by the Chicago FBI of mortgage fraud.
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On June 19, 2008, over 400 people were charged with mortgage fraud in "Operation
Malicious Mortgage". These people were all real estate professionals, including mortgage brokers, developers, attorneys
and real estate agents. They were involved in more than $170 million fraudulent mortgages.
So what are the red
flags to look for?
1) Developer Cash-Back Incentives at Closing - Be wary of a developer who wants to give a client
money "under the table" or not disclose the cash to the lender or on the settlement statement (HUD-1). Watch out
for falsification of income, employment or assets by clients, or inflated appraisals.
2) Bogus Appraisals - The
FBI finds inflated appraisals very common on renovated 8, 12, and 16 flats in Chicago. In a typical scenario the developer
buys the building, rehabs one of the units with top of the line items, then guts the rest of the units. In this case, the
appraiser knowingly uses photos of the model unit for the appraisal of all other units in the building.
Stolen Identity/Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) - Stolen identity is being used to take out home equity lines on property
the victim does not even own. When the victim goes to buy or refinance his or her own home, they find out that they have mortgages
on properties they don't even own.
4) Release of Liens - At closing, forged documents are provided to show
that a lien has been satisfied when it has not.
5) Stalled REO Sales - A common, new tactic is for a listing agent
of an REO (bank-owned) property will stall the sale of a home by not returning phone calls for would-be buyers. The home sits
unsold and the agent's family or friends buy the property at a greatly reduced rate.
For more information,
go to www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/1006mortgagefraud .
Thursday, November 13, 2008
New Statistics on First Time Home Buyers
According to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors, the number of first-time buyers
rose to 41 percent from 39 percent of transactions in last year’s survey and 36 percent in 2006. According to the NAR
study, the median age of first-time buyers was 30, down from 31 in 2007, and the median income was $60,600. The typical first-time
buyer purchased a home costing $165,000 and plans to stay in that home for 10 years, up from seven years in 2007.
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Monday, November 3, 2008
More News on the Real Estate Market
The Chicago Tribune had a great "Home Finance Toolkit" in the Home section of the Sunday paper.
According to the National Association for Business Economics, "Sales and starts activity should bottom out before the
end of 2009, that's if we can get the lending apparatus moving again. But the downward pressure on (home) prices will
take much longer, well into 2010, if not the end of 2010, as the credit crunch continues."
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BUT, keep in mind
that the Chicago real estate market has fared well compared to other markest. The median selling price in Chicago for 2008
through October 27 was $295,000. Overall prices in the Chicagoland area have remained steady, but the average market time
is 139 days, up dramatically from the year 2000.