Thursday, December 30, 2010

Have a Happy and Safe New Year in 2011!

The Iron Eagle Realty Team wishes you and your family a Safe, Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2011!

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Boise Idaho Real Estate: Heaven For Open-Air Activity Devotees

Boise Idaho Real Estate: Heaven For Open-Air Activity Devotees
Posted Thursday, December 16, 2010 on

City of Boise, a city known for its natural beauty is situated circled by challenging mountains and the lovely Boise river slowly seeing its way, meeting the feet of Boise city alongside. Boise is the capital of the Idaho state with a population slightly over 0.2million. Boise is a heaven for open-air activity lovers. Mountains and Boise river makes clean locations for exercising outdoor activities such as biking, skiing, camping, hunting, fishing and many more.

But Boise’s pride is not just about stunning scenes and rocky terrains; most of it comes from the people living in Boise city. Boise is graded as the 4th best city to live, work and play in USA according to the Kiplinger Personal Finance’s report published in May 2008.

Talking about the city residential area, according to America’s Promise Alliance’s statement on January 2008, Boise is acquainted as one of the best 100 residential areas for young people. This is why Boise real estate has become a good occupation point for numerous realtors.

Boise real estate has been in core of attractiveness for a lot of people searching for homes. Even during the time of economic recission, it’s understood that the investments for Boise real estates haven t declined. This only advises that, the Boise real estates are in very high demand.

There are several well known companies and traders who are in to Boise real estate business sector. Many Boise real estate dealer companies promote their selective information through the cyberspace. It’s simple for anybody to surf through some good web sites and come to some understanding about the nature of the Boise real estate that interests them.

Most of these web sites offer Boise real estate alternatives, grouped in to various sections based on location, property type, price, area and so on. Most of these internet sites offer fine descriptive information about each Boise real estate. Even functions such as online inquiry, making calling appointments etc. are proposed in some internet sites. However it’s better for Boise real estate seekers not to count on the selective information provided by sites, alone.

Average price range for standard single family homes may change between $200,000 to $1,000,000 in the Boise area. Price may somewhat become painful to the location of the house as well. Boise is well known as a city rich from geographical diverseness and natural beauty. Northern end of the city is home to older mansions which was the first village that was enforced.

These homes are conceived quite exclusive and are differentiated with compatibly high costs than the fresher homes situated in southwest Boise area where, clients are extended a range of choices to select from with respect to space, floor arrangements, etc. Normally North Boise and East Boise has most expensive prices for per square. Due to this understanding, the area has less walk-ins and homes with small or no garages

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Foreclosure Help: 5 Pros You Need on Your Team

Foreclosure Help: 5 Pros You Need on Your Team

By: G. M. Filisko
Published: July 8, 2010

1. A foreclosure counselor

Your first step to get foreclosure help should be contacting a foreclosure counseling agency approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"A foreclosure counselor should help you evaluate your current financial situation by looking at your bank statements, tax returns, and monthly expenses and income," says Kimberly Allman, manager of homeownership preservation at the New York Mortgage Coalition in New York City. A foreclosure counselor also can help you understand the programs available through banks and government agencies and serve as an advocate to help you communicate with your bank.

And don't worry about money--foreclosure counselors provide foreclosure help for free. Find one at NeighborWorks America or by calling HUD's foreclosure counseling hotline at 800-569-4287 or its foreclosure prevention hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673).


A REALTOR® can help you find out if a short sale, rather than a foreclosure, is the right path for you. Use this pro to discover if you can sell your house, how quickly, and at what price.

If a short sale seems right for you, make sure your agent is experienced with these. If not, ask for a recommendation for one who is. Short sales are tough to navigate, and they're further complicated by your loan type--FHA vs. Veterans Administration vs. conventional loans. Real estate agents who specialize in short sales will know the proper steps and order of the steps involved. They'll also be able to navigate the many parties involved in the process and over-burdened loss mitigation departments.

Look especially for agents who have the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) Certification, which requires specialized training.

3. A tax expert

You'll need a tax expert for foreclosure help if you do a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Consult with a qualified tax adviser since forgiven debt may be taxable income, says Nancy Polomis, chair of the real estate development department at the law firm of Hellmuth & Johnson in Eden Prairie, Minn. You'll face myriad other foreclosure-related tax issues as well, which require professional advice.

Tax advisers' hourly rates range from $150 to $250, depending on where you live. A good choice is a certified public accountant. Check with your local CPA society to see if its members offer free advice at volunteer events like those sponsored by the Illinois CPA Society. Find a list of state CPA associations at TaxSites.

Another qualified tax adviser is an enrolled agent. EAs, like CPAs, are licensed to represent clients at an IRS hearing. Find an EA at the National Association of Enrolled Agents.

4. A credit counselor

If you're having trouble getting a loan modification, a credit counselor can give you some foreclosure help. According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a counselor can advise you on managing your money and help you develop a plan to help you avoid future financial difficulties. "Often people need credit counseling because the one thing that's holding them back from getting an affordable loan modification is high credit card payments," says Allman. Even if foreclosure is inevitable, credit score repair can help you get back into a home sooner.

Allman often refers foreclosure clients to the nonprofit Greenpath Debt Solutions, which operates in many states. You can find a list of government-approved credit counselors from the U.S. Trustee Program.

5. An attorney

Once your lender has filed a foreclosure lawsuit, contact an attorney. A lawyer can review the lender's foreclosure papers to determine if it actually owns your mortgage or whether your loan servicer has made mistakes in applying your payments or assessing fees, says Lisa A. Magill, an attorney at Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

You may be able to avoid foreclosure, or even a short sale, if you just have more time to sell your home, acquire secondary financing, or get a new job. For example, a lawyer can usually make arrangements with the lender to give you more time by filing responses and motions in the lawsuit, says Magill.

Also consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney, who can help you discover whether bankruptcy is a viable option for avoiding foreclosure, says Polomis.

Lawyers charge $150 to $300 per hour or a flat fee of $1,000 to $2,500 to defend a foreclosure action or file a bankruptcy petition. Contact your local legal aid office, such as the Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance, or your local bar association, like the Florida Bar, for a list of agencies that offer free legal representation. A list of state resources may be found at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has seen the sad effects of foreclosure on friends and neighbors. A frequent contributor to many national publications including American Bar Association Journal,, and REALTOR® Magazine, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Facing Foreclosure: What to Do Right Now

Published by Jerry Demuth

If you're facing foreclosure, don't panic: Take steps right now to save your home or at least lessen the blow of its loss.

Foreclosure process takes time
The entire foreclosure process can take anywhere from two to 12 months, depending on how fast your lender acts and where you live. Some states allow a nonjudicial process that's speedier, while others require time-consuming judicial proceedings.

Once you miss at least one mortgage payment, the steps leading up to an actual foreclosure sale can include demand letters, notices of default, a recorded notice of foreclosure, publication of the debt, and the scheduling of a foreclosure auction. Even when an auction is scheduled, however, it may never occur, or it may occur but a qualified buyer doesn't materialize.

Bottom line: Foreclosure can be a long slog, which gives you enough time to come up with an alternative. Meantime, if your goal is to salvage your home, think about keeping up with payments for homeowners insurance and property taxes. Otherwise, you could compound your problems by getting hit with an uncovered casualty loss or liability suit, or tax liens.

Read the fine print
Start by reviewing all correspondence you've received from your lender. The letters--and phone calls--probably began once you were 30 days past due. Also review your mortgage documents, which should outline what steps your lender can take. For instance, is there a "power of sale" clause that authorizes the sale of your home to pay off a mortgage after you miss payments?

Determine the specific foreclosure laws for your state. What's the timeline? Do you have "right of redemption," essentially a grace period in which you can reverse a foreclosure? Are deficiency judgments that hold you responsible for the difference between what your home sells for and your loan's outstanding balance allowed? Get answers.

Pick up the phone
Don't give up because you missed a mortgage payment or two and received a notice of default. Foreclosure isn't a foregone conclusion, but it's heading in that direction if you don't call your lender. Dial the number on your mortgage statement, and ask for the Loss Mitigation Department. You might stay on hold for a while, but don't hang up. Once you do get someone on the line, take notes and record names.

The next call should be to a foreclosure avoidance counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of these counselors can, free of charge, explain your state's foreclosure laws, discuss alternatives to foreclosure, help you organize financial documents, and even represent you in negotiations with your lender. Be wary of unsolicited offers of help, since foreclosure rescue scams are common.

Be sure to let your lender know that you're working with a counselor. Not only does it demonstrate your resolve, but according to NeighborWorks, homeowners who receive foreclosure counseling are 1.6 times more likely to avoid losing their homes than those who don't. Homeowners who receive loan modifications with the help of a counselor also reduce monthly mortgage payments by $454 more than homeowners who receive a modification without the aid of a counselor.

Lender alternatives to foreclosure
Hope Now, an alliance of mortgage companies and housing counselors, can aid homeowners facing foreclosure. A self-assessment tool will give you an idea whether you might be eligible for help from your lender, and there are direct links to HUD-approved counseling agencies and lenders' foreclosure-prevention programs.

There are alternatives to foreclosure that your lender might accept. The most attractive option that'll allow you to keep your home is a loan modification that reduces your monthly payment. A modification can entail lowering the interest rate, changing a loan from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, extending the term of a loan, or eliminating past-due balances. Another option, forbearance, can temporarily suspend payments, though the amount will likely be tacked on to the end of the loan.

If you're unable to make even reduced payments, and assuming a conventional sale isn't possible, then it may be best to turn your home over to your lender before a foreclosure is completed. A completed foreclosure can decimate a credit score, which will make it hard not only to purchase another home someday, but not impossible: The foreclosure disappears within 7 years or even less, especially if there are extenuating circumstances.

The more quickly you get steady employment and repair your credit score, the more quickly you'll be eligible to buy a home again. It also may be difficult to rent a home in the short term, but your HUD counselor may be able to offer help.

But you're better off if your lender can approve a short sale, in which the proceeds are less than what's still owed on your mortgage. A deed in lieu of foreclosure, which amounts to handing over your keys to your lender, is another good possibility.

Although a deed in lieu of foreclosure or short sale will have virtually the same effect on your credit score as a foreclosure, you will likely be able to buy another home more quickly than if you go through a foreclosure. The earlier you begin talks with your lender, the more likelihood of success.

Explore government programs
The federal government's Making Home Affordable program offers two options: loan modification and refinancing. A self-assessment will indicate which option might be right for you, but you need to apply for the program through your lender. A Making Home Affordable loan modification requires a three-month trial period before it can become permanent.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own foreclosure-prevention programs as well. Check to determine if either Fannie or Freddie owns your mortgage. Present this information to your lender and your counselor. Fannie and Freddie also have rental programs under which former owners can remain in recently foreclosed homes on a month-to-month basis.

The federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, which takes full effect in April 2010, offers lenders financial incentives to approve short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure. It also provides $3,000 in relocation assistance to borrowers. Again, talk to your lender and counselor.

Jerry DeMuth has written about mortgages and other financial issues for more than two decades for trade publications, major newspapers, and consumer magazines. His writing has received four awards and has been included in eight non-fiction books.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family in real estate collapse deals with fallout

You can't write fiction like this!

Family in real estate collapse deals with fallout
By: CYNTHIA SEWELL 11/27/10 3:00 AM
Idaho Statesman

Shauntee Ferguson sobbed uncontrollably as she stood before a federal judge this month. The mother of five begged for mercy as the judge set her sentence for mortgage fraud.

Her father, Michael Hymas, sat in the courtroom, head hung low. He listened to the prosecutor and the judge chastise his daughter for letting him, and her husband, talk her into signing falsified loan applications. Just a few hours earlier, the same judge had sentenced Hymas to 21 months in federal prison. Next week, the judge will sentence Ferguson's husband, Stanley.

One by one, over the course of 11 months, almost a dozen people have pleaded guilty or have been charged in federal court for their roles in a web of real estate schemes that made and then lost millions of dollars in the Treasure Valley's housing boom and bust.

It has all the trappings of a Hollywood movie assets hidden in shell companies, abandoned and unfinished homes, a beauty queen, a fatal plane crash and an appearance on a television reality show.

At the center of this complex story is the now defunct Crestwood custom home-building business, its young, ambitious owners and the close-knit group of family and friends around them.

The numbers are staggering: Between April and July 2008, Crestwood owners Aaron Hymas and Justin Walker and their family members and friends filed seven bankruptcies, collectively owing more than $85 million to more than 900 creditors. More than 100 civil cases have been filed in Idaho and Utah against Crestwood, Hymas and Walker.

The subsequent and ongoing federal investigation led to charges last year against eight Hymas family members or associates. All pleaded guilty.

Now, a second wave has begun. Last month, a federal grand jury indicted two more people, and additional indictments are expected in the coming months as the U.S. Attorney's Office, Idaho Attorney General's Office, FBI and federal bankruptcy and IRS investigators unravel a labyrinthine paper trail involving millions of dollars in real estate transactions and dozens of businesses and shell companies.

The two central figures, Aaron Hymas and Justin Walker, have not been charged with any crimes. One never will be: Walker died in a plane crash last year.

And while Aaron Hymas has no criminal charges, he recently was dealt a legal and financial blow. In September, a federal bankruptcy judge refused to discharge any of his debt.

During the real estate boom, many people in the Treasure Valley and across the nation were operating real estate Ponzi-like schemes that worked like this:

— Obtain bank loans to purchase or build homes.

— Quickly sell the homes for a profit.

— Repay the bank and pocket the extra cash.

— Repeat.

The system worked as long as the properties kept selling for more and more money one property sale would pay off the loan coming due on another property.

"The market was out of control," Michael Hymas' attorney, Darren Meacham, told a federal judge at Hymas' Nov. 1 sentencing.

"To call this fraud is misleading," Meacham said. "In fact, this worked in the beginning. Nobody thought they were going to get hurt. Nobody thought it would go down."

But when the housing market cooled and the buyers went away, many were left owning numerous properties, with millions of dollars in bank loans and no financial ability to keep it all afloat.

In October 2007, the tanking economy forced dozens of buyers to walk away from pending Crestwood home sales, leaving Crestwood with more than a hundred unsold lots and homes. Aaron Hymas and Justin Walker consulted a bankruptcy attorney.

The same month, Hymas and Walker attended an "asset protection" seminar by Nick Malis, who presented himself as a Nevada attorney. Malis would tell them how "to own nothing but control everything" by creating holding companies that would own all of a person's assets in effect, making the person penniless and judgment-proof.

Malis' advice so impressed Hymas that he hired him to create nine companies in Nevada on Dec. 4, 2007, to provide the "layers of protection" discussed at the seminar. On the same day, Walker created four similar Nevada companies. A few weeks later, Hymas unsuccessfully tried to contact Malis. "Aaron learned Malis was not an attorney ... and, in fact was in trouble with the law," according to bankruptcy court documents.

The court documents detail what happened next:

Hymas hired another attorney, who determined Hymas' nine Nevada entities were legal. Hymas and his wife, Tiffany, began liquidating investment accounts and transferring assets, their personal home and most of their household goods to the Nevada accounts and elsewhere. Dozens of asset and cash transfers occurred between December 2007 and April 2008, "at a time when Crestwood, Inc. ... was in its financial death spiral," Assistant U.S. Trustee David Newman wrote.

Hymas said he had no intention of filing bankruptcy when he set up the Nevada accounts in December 2007, according to court documents. He said he did not consider filing bankruptcy until Bank of the West filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against him, Walker and Crestwood on Feb. 20, 2008. (On Feb. 21 and 22, the Hymases had transfered $325,000 from a personal account to their Nevada companies.) Hymas and Walker retained bankruptcy attorney Kelly Beeman on Feb. 28, 2008, but they would not file bankruptcy until almost two months later.

The Hymases loaned themselves $60,500 in March 2008 from one of their Nevada companies to pay for a surrogate mother and in vitro fertilization. Twin boys were born in January 2009.

Just days before filing bankruptcy, Hymas partnered with Vince Covino to buy 1,000 shares of stock in a financial planning company. For his shares, Hymas wrote a check for $220,000. About a year before filing bankruptcy, Hymas had loaned Covino $500,000, which was later converted into 49 percent of Covino's company, Equity Benefits, which owned commercial real estate in Eagle and Phoenix.

On April 17, 2008, Bank of the West was awarded the $1.3 million judgment it sought. On the same day, the Hymases sold Tiffany's wedding ring, watches and other jewelry to Aaron's father for $13,000. One week later, on April 25, Aaron, 36, and Tiffany, 35, finally filed personal bankruptcy. The final document comprises several hundred pages, listing assets of just $64,000 and debt of a staggering $68 million.

For more than two years now, bankruptcy trustees have waded through myriad filings fraught with omissions and mistakes.

Aaron Hymas told the court their initial bankruptcy attorney, Kelly Beeman, is to blame for incomplete and missing information.

Beeman and Hymas refused to be interviewed by the Idaho Statesman. Other Hymas family members could not be reached, and Aaron Hymas said they didn't want to talk.

Hymas brought on a new bankruptcy attorney, Brent T. Robinson, in October 2008.

Robinson did not return a call from the Idaho Statesman.

Robinson told the bankruptcy court this summer that his clients had received bad advice from Beeman.

"Once they realized that they were receiving bad advice from Mr. Beeman, they attempted to correct any mistakes, misinformation or omissions that were present," Robinson wrote.

"Defendants have no defenses," Assistant U.S. Trustee David Newman responded. "They cannot claim advice of counsel as defense or blame their misconduct on attorneys' sloppy work."

The judge agreed Beeman's work may have been less than stellar.

"Beeman's advice and conduct was patently wrong in numerous regards," wrote Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry L. Myers, noting that Beeman "was in many instances impeached by his own deposition testimony."

But ultimately the responsibility lies with the Hymases, the judge said.

On Sept. 30, Myers denied the discharge of the Hymases' $68 million debt because of "their transfer of assets within a year of filing bankruptcy with the intent to hinder, delay or defraud their creditors and their knowing and fraudulent false oaths," Myers wrote.

The Hymases did not appeal the judge's decision.

Even though none of their debt will be discharged, the bankruptcy case moves forward as the trustee attempts to recover and liquidate the couple's assets to pay creditors.

On Sept. 17, the bankruptcy trustee filed a complaint against Covino seeking recovery of the $500,000 Hymas gave him. Covino is amicably working with the trustee to resolve the matter, according to his attorney, Brian Boyle.

Between 2004 and 2006, Michael Hymas (Aaron's father), his daughter, Shauntee, and his son-in-law, Stanley, pleaded guilty to falsifying $8 million in loan applications to purchase and flip 21 properties in Idaho and Utah.

"Ultimately, the scheme collapsed," Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsameter told Judge Edward J. Lodge at Michael Hymas' sentencing.

Hymas, 59, a longtime Meridian insurance agent, asked the judge for leniency.

"This is not me," he told the judge. "My entire life I've taught my family about integrity. I put myself in a position where I jeopardized my integrity. I didn't mean to."

Hymas wants to return to Utah and start making money so he can pay his restitution. He and his son, Aaron, have just started a new business venture called eNutriTec, a health food products company.

The elder Hymas' attorney asked the judge to let his client go with probation or house arrest and restitution.

Lodge scoffed at the idea.

"Restitution is not a punishment the money was never yours to begin with," Lodge said.

This wasn't just one mistake in need of restitution, Lodge said. Because Michael Hymas had filed bankruptcy a few years ago, he had to use his daughter and son-in-law's names and credit ratings to get bank loans. Twenty-one of the 28 loan applications filed by the trio contained false information.

The "train wreck" was inevitable, Lodge said.

Lodge sentenced Michael Hymas to 21 months in federal prison, three years supervised release and 80 hours community service. He ordered him to pay restitution of $544,647.

Lodge was especially critical of how Hymas and his son-in-law used his daughter.

"Your daughter pretty much did what she was told," Lodge said.

Shauntee Ferguson, 33, a stay-at-home mom, signed her name to loan applications and other documents prepared by her father or husband. Some documents indicated she made $10,000 a month as a marketing director at her father's insurance agency, when in fact she was not employed and had no income.

"You cannot put your head in the sand and say you didn't know what was going on here," Lodge told her. "You just don't sign documents unless you read them."

Lodge sentenced Ferguson to one day in prison, five years of supervised release and restitution of $365,829.69.

"It is probably unfair to the victims, but it is the only sentence the court feels is realistic," Lodge said.

Her husband, Stanley, will be sentenced on Nov. 29.

Melody Covino Redondo, Vince Covino's sister, slouched in her chair next to her husband, Paul, at the defendants' table during their arraignment before a federal judge on Nov. 1 coincidentally the same day as Michael and Shauntee Hymas' sentencing.

Their indictment on multiple counts of bank fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to a financial institution marked another wave of charges brought by federal investigators and prosecutors.

The Redondos may be familiar faces to fans of "Fear Factor." The couple appeared on a honeymoon episode of the television show in 2005.

In an alleged real estate scheme, Melody Redondo, a real estate agent, attempted to sell Crestwood subcontractor Christopher Georgeson's $1.4 million Eagle home in a short-sale without notifying the bank of higher offers.

Under the scheme, the house would be simultaneously sold to another buyer and Redondo would get a share of the proceeds. When Redondo couldn't get someone to notarize a quitclaim deed on which she had allegedly forged Georgeson's name, Redondo became a notary and signed the deed herself, according to the indictment.

The simultaneous sale never took place.

Both Paul, 33, and Melody, 32, also are accused of falsifying income and other information on loan documents.

The Redondos pleaded not guilty at their Nov. 1 arraignment. A trial is set for Jan. 11.

Breitsameter said the FBI investigation continues and he expects to bring more cases to the grand jury in the coming months.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Friday, November 12, 2010

Count on Deficit Reduction Plan Changing Shape

Count on Deficit Reduction Plan Changing Shape

Source: National Association of Realtors
Nov. 11th, 2010

An initial draft proposal for reducing the federal deficit that suggests cuts to the mortgage interest deduction is thin on details and will likely change many times before it’s released in any final form, according to NAR.

The New York Times Wednesday published part of a leaked draft by the co-chairs of President Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission; the commission’s report won’t be released until Dec. 1 at the earliest and will likely look very different from the leaked draft, NAR analysts say. Therefore, early reactions to the plan are pure conjecture, say NAR analysts. In a statement sent to association leaders late Wednesday, NAR said media reports that the commission has recommended reducing the mortgage interest deduction are false.

The White House itself said in a statement released Wednesday that the draft is "only a step in the process toward coming up with a set of recommendations." The White House quote was included in a Nov. 11 report in the Washington Post.

Obama created the Deficit Reduction Commission earlier this year to recommend how the federal government can balance the budget by 2015, not counting interest on the national debt. The commission consists of 18 members, six members selected by the president and 12 members selected by Congress. The co-chairs, who released their initial thoughts yesterday, are retired Wyoming senator Alan Simpson and former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles.

What the actual report will look like is impossible to know at this point, because 14 of the 18 members at a minimum must agree to the recommendations before the report can be released. Presuming commission members agree or all or parts of a plan, it would still have to work its way through congressional hearings before Congress would take any action. A reform of similar scope, the Tax Reform Act of 1986, was in the works for more than two years before it was signed into law, pointed out Linda Goold, NAR Director of Tax Policy.

One congressional leader who has made clear the initial draft proposal won't fly if left unchanged is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who remains House Speaker until early 2011, when the new Congress convenes and the Republican members, now the majority party in the House, name their speaker. Among the proposals Pelosi calls "simply unacceptable" are changes to Social Security benefits.

For the real estate industry, any changes in incentives around home ownership, which have been around for generations, would raise considerable concern because of the core role of home ownership in fostering communities and social stability, and in building household wealth.

As CNN, ABC, and NPR political commentator Donna Brazille has said, "For generations, the government has provided federal incentives to help families fulfill the dream of home ownership. . . The one thing that Americans aren’t cynical about is the promise of the American Dream and of home ownership’s role in that dream. We should do all we can to preserve and protect home ownership and the American Dream for today’s home owners as well as future generations."

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Loan Modifications Are A Waste Of Time

I have to laugh every time I go the Making Home Affordable website.

The Iron Eagle Realty Team has been successfully closing short sales for the last three years in the Boise Idaho Real Estate Market. Just like Medicare, Social Security and all the stimulus packages that have been passed, the Home Affordable Modification Program is another example of a government program failing miserably. The sad part about the HAMP program is that it provides false hope to those homeowner who think they have a shot at a loan modification. Overall, the statistics show that the HAMP program has been a miserable failure; less than 10% of homeowners that apply even get to the TEMPORARY modification stage. Why is that you may ask? Because loan servicers are incentivised to either foreclose or short sale by the VERY SAME GOVERNMENT THAT CAME UP WITH HAMP!

I have personally talked to many homeowners who have attempted to obtain a loan modification with their lenders through HAMP and the traditional process. They have all spent months going in circles with numerous "customer service" knuckleheads at the other end of the line only to find out that they either have TOO MUCH MONEY in savings or they don't MAKE ENOUGH MONEY to qualify for a loan modification. What the servicers don't tell you is that the margin of qualification is so ridiculously thin that less than 10% of individuals even qualify. LOAN MODS ARE A MAJOR LEAGUE WASTE OF TIME!

At the end of the process, these homeowners are months behind and guess what; they now have a notice of default recorded on their home. This means they are in foreclosure and the clock is ticking. They have been strung along with the hope of "Making Their Home Affordable"; it's not going to happen!

It really and truly sucks what these people have to go through only to find out they are not approved. Their only choices at that point are short sale, deed in lieu or foreclosure. At this point in the game, short sale is probably the best way to go. The credit hit is much less than foreclosure or deed in lieu and you at least have a chance to negotiate with the lender.

If you are thinking of attempting a loan modification, don't waste your time.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mortgages Lost in the Cloud

Commentary: Mortgages Lost in the Cloud
The foreclosure documentation mess isn't just a clerical problem. It erodes certainty about property rights—the key to capitalism

By Peter Coy
COMMENTARY October 14, 2010, 5:00PM EST

The U.S. and other Western democracies have grown wealthy over the past three centuries for a simple reason: Their citizens have been able to establish clear title to land, buildings, and other property. So argues Hernando de Soto, the Peruvian economist, in his influential 2000 book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. While people in developed nations can borrow against their property and use the money to start businesses and accumulate wealth, he wrote, squatters in countries like Peru have no such option. Property rights beget prosperity.

That's why the burgeoning foreclosure mess in the U.S. strikes at the nation's economic heart. Confusion is so rife that Bank of America (BAC), the biggest mortgage lender, suspended foreclosures in all 50 states to determine whether faulty documents were used to confiscate homes. Americans took their title-recording system for granted, abused it during the housing boom, and let it deteriorate. "Somehow in the last 10 or 15 years, everything that was good record-keeping isn't telling the truth anymore," says de Soto, reached by phone while traveling in Copenhagen. "My feeling is this: Your recession is going to last. And it's going to last, and it's going to last, because essentially the trust has broken down."

De Soto may be an alarmist, but he has correctly identified why the foreclosure mess is not a simple clerical problem. It's part of a broader breakdown in the financial world—the one that nearly caused a depression in 2008 when banks and other financial players couldn't tell whose balance sheets were stuffed with toxic subprime mortgage debt and whose weren't. Unable to trust one another, the big institutions pulled back from every asset except Treasury debt. At the height of the crisis, even stalwarts like AT&T couldn't borrow in the commercial paper market for durations of more than a day—meaning they were only 24 hours removed from default.

That crisis is past, but its causes aren't. Uncertainty still reigns. Its current manifestation is faintly ridiculous: Lenders can't say for sure who holds a mortgage—which means that sales can't go through. Buyers won't put down good money for a property if they aren't sure they'll get clear title to it, nor will lenders extend loans. Buyers of hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of mortgage-backed securities may have grounds to sue. That could "rock the market," says Joshua H. Rosner, managing director of Graham Fisher & Co., a research firm.

All this at a time when every imaginable bit of information—from your bank statement to your Facebook photos—seems to be stored in the cloud, ready for instant retrieval. Google "who owns my mortgage?" and you get a quarter of a million results in a quarter of a second. What the cloud can't tell you is what you really want to know, which is who actually does own your mortgage—that is, who has the power to throw you out on the street if you stop paying. The only way to verify that is to leave the cloud and dive into a recording system that predates the founding of the U.S.

Titles and mortgages on real property are officially recorded in county clerks' offices, a slow-moving, old-fashioned, deliberate world of ink, paper, and filing cabinets. The process has been perfected over a millennium, going back to the Domesday Book, the survey of English property completed in 1086 for William the Conqueror. This paper-based system, though admirably accurate and permanent, wasn't equipped for the era of rapid-fire refinancing and securitization. When over 8 million new and used homes are sold per year, as at the height of the boom, and most loans are packaged into securities, you need a lot of clerks.

The mortgage industry responded to the scale and speed of the modern housing market by creating an electronic overlay called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS) in 1997. MERS, however, lacks the thoroughness and—more important—the legal standing of the old system. Some judges have rejected foreclosures based on MERS when the party claiming to hold the mortgage couldn't produce the note to prove to the court's satisfaction that it was in fact the creditor. The courts want to see paper.

State and local governments could have invested in digital record-keeping systems for real estate to preserve every legally important feature of the paper method, but with the speed and accessibility of a Google or a Facebook. Why didn't they? William Raftery, a communications and research specialist at the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va., says three things got in the way: state laws, which no one bothered to amend; court precedents dating back hundreds of years that demand paper records; and inertia. Says Raftery: "Things of this nature only happen when circumstances demand it."

The private sector couldn't afford to wait for government to catch up. Hence the MERS database, a unit of MERSCorp in Reston, Va., which was founded by Fannie Mae (FNM), Freddie Mac (FRE), and the mortgage industry. The concept was to avoid the cost and delay of recording the passing of loans from one party to another by naming Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems as the mortgagee for the lifetime of the loan, regardless of how many times it changed hands and to whom.

Some judges accepted MERS' right to foreclose on a delinquent homeowner. Others didn't. Instead of untangling the confusion early on, MERS forged ahead. It's now the mortgagee for more than 60 percent of new mortgage loans.

A promissory note—i.e., a paper I.O.U.—is the only legal proof of creditorship that courts ordinarily accept. Incredibly, though, the Florida Bankers Assn. told the state Supreme Court that when its members converted to electronic records, "the physical document was deliberately eliminated to avoid confusion." Further angering judges, MERS deputized bank executives to handle foreclosures, making it unclear who the people appearing in court really worked for. In Brooklyn, state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack in 2009 rejected a foreclosure in which a Bank of New York executive identified herself as a MERS vice-president. He called her "a milliner's delight, by virtue of the number of hats she wears." Ally Financial said in September that it found a "technical" deficiency at its GMAC Mortgage unit that let employees sign foreclosure documents without a notary present or with information they didn't know was true.

If the transition from paper to terabytes were unprecedented, it would be easier to give lenders a pass. But the banks behaved more straightforwardly in 2003 when they sought permission to digitize paper checks—a similar legal leap, since electronic copies had long been considered unacceptable in court. The banks lobbied Congress, which in 2003 passed the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act. Now your monthly bank statement contains images of your checks instead of the paper, saving time and money. Because the reform was done with the blessing of Congress, there have been few problems.

MERS executives say their system will overcome legal challenges. "We find it very ironic that we're being accused of all these different wrongdoings when in fact we brought a lot of clarity to not just the industry but homeowners," says Karmela Lejarde, a MERS spokeswoman. There's some truth in what Lejarde says. This year, MERS opened its system so homeowners can find out for free online who their loan's servicer is and (usually, but not always) who owns the loan.

The problem is that the data in the MERS system isn't verifiable or legally binding. That recalls de Soto's insight into what made the U.S. work so well in the first place. "What characterized the rise of capitalism was that you actually created facts—statements that can be tested for truth. Now you've got plenty of information, but you don't have facts that can be tested for truth. Can you have a prosperous market economy without knowledge of who owns what and how they're related?" We know the answer to that one.

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Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Monday, October 18, 2010

BofA CEO: Foreclosure Review Will Take A 'Few Weeks'

BofA CEO: Foreclosure Review Will Take A 'Few Weeks'
By Jon Kamp and Aparajita Saha-Bubna

BOSTON (Dow Jones)--Bank of America Corp.'s (BAC) chief executive said Thursday that it will take a "few weeks" to finish reviewing documentation problems related to home foreclosures, but said there is no timeline yet for lifting the bank's moratorium on foreclosures and sales of foreclosed homes.

The review is "a lot of work, [and] it will take a few weeks to get through it," said Brian Moynihan, the bank's chief executive. "We're going back to recheck that we did things fairly."

Once the review is completed, Bank of America will evaluate when to lift that moratorium, he said, speaking at the Chief Executives' Club of Boston luncheon held by Boston College.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who attended Thursday's event, gave Bank of America credit for stepping forward and holding off on foreclosures. "The actions that they've taken are encouraging," Coakley told reporters, though she added "I think there's more to be done."

Earlier this month, the Charlotte, N.C., bank imposed the nationwide halt on foreclosures and the sale of foreclosed homes after it came under intense pressure from a government-run housing-finance organization worried about documentation problems. State attorneys general across the U.S. are probing allegations that thousands of home foreclosures were improperly handled, and other banks are also holding back on foreclosures or reviewing their processes.

Moynihan said he is "not concerned" that these moves will destabilize the housing market. Bank stocks slipped on Thursday, however, due to mounting concerns that foreclosure moratoriums could hurt the industry. Bank of America declined 5.2% to close at $12.60.

During prepared remarks, Moynihan focused on Bank of America's new plan to hire more than 1,000 small-business bankers by early 2012, focusing on an area of the economy seen as important to help prop up a sluggish recovery following the recession. During a later question-and-answer session and meeting with reporters, the executive also talked about the importance of a "solid" mortgage and home-finance market.

He also stressed that the focus on reviewing foreclosure methods is aimed at reassuring home owners that the process works correctly.

-By Jon Kamp and Aparajita Saha-Bubna, Dow Jones Newswires; 617-654-6728;

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Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Idaho foreclosure filings remain high

Idaho foreclosure filings remain high
The state ranked No. 5 in new notices of default served in September, a report says.
Copyright: © 2010 Idaho Statesman
Published: 10/14/10

Do you have 204 homes in your subdivision?

Then you can bet at least one was slapped with a notice of a foreclosure proceeding in September, according to a report released Thursday by RealtyTrac, an online monitor of real estate filings.
Idaho was fifth in default notices, with 1,175 filings last month, behind California (31,702), Michigan (6,834), Nevada (6,399) and Utah (1,316).

Total foreclosure filings were reported on 347,420 U.S. properties in September, including 3,141 in Idaho. That’s a rise of 24 percent over the same month last year, and 7.75 percent over August.

A record total of 102,134 bank repossessions nationally were reported in September as well, the first time bank repossessions surpassed the 100,000 mark in a single month, RealtyTrac said. Idaho had 804.

Some neighborhoods are being hit harder than others. In August, zip codes with high rates included 83709 in south Boise, roughly south of Franklin Road between Cloverdale and Curtis roads, with 124 homes in foreclosure; and 83686 in Nampa, a large area south of Roosevelt Avenue and the railroad tracks, with 172.

”We expect to see a dip in those bank repossessions, and possibly earlier stages of the foreclosure process, in the fourth quarter as several major lenders have halted foreclosure sales in some states while they review irregularities in foreclosure-processing documentation that has been called into question in recent weeks,“ said James J. Saccacio, CEO of RealtyTrac.

Idaho has joined 48 other states in an inquiry into those lenders’ practices. Employees of several major lenders have acknowledged in depositions that they signed thousands of foreclosure documents without reading them.

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Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Canyon County home prices at 10-year low

Time to buy in Canyon County!!!

Canyon County home prices at 10-year low
Real estate agents say foreclosures are still dragging property values down.
Copyright: © 2010 Idaho Statesman
Published: 10/12/10

Canyon County’s median home price in September dropped to a 10-year low of about $82,000, slightly more than half of Ada County’s median home price, according to Intermountain Multiple Listing Service numbers released Monday.

There’s a half-price sale under way for homes in Canyon County. The question is whether it will it end before discounts get even bigger.

Canyon County’s median home price in September dropped to $81,900, the lowest since the Y2K computer-bug era, and about half of its $170,000 peak in 2007, the Intermountain Multiple Listing Service reported Monday.

The reason: homeowners in distress.

”In Canyon County, close to 70 percent of the homes that are selling are either short sale or foreclosures,“ said Jim McNabb, branch manager for the Coldwell Banker Tomlinson Group in Nampa and a longtime real estate professional. ”It’s having a real negative effect on values. I’ve not seen such a rapid decline in property values.“

The latest figure is even lower than January 2000, the first month of more than a decade of price data reviewed by the Idaho Statesman.

That month, the median had fallen to $82,400.

But there’s an upside: Bargain hunters are buying. The number of homes sold in Canyon County was up over the same month for the past three years.

”There are buyers,“ McNabb said. ”We have activity.“

In Ada County, the median price fell to $158,000, about the midpoint of the $149,000-to-$168,000 range that prices been bouncing in for more than a year.

McNabb and others said jobs are needed to rebuild the local housing market.

”That’s the only thing that’s going to stop the decline“ of home values, he said.

Nampa Association of Realtors President Gloria Urwin said she’s concerned that the recent disclosure of mistakes in foreclosure proceedings by national lenders will put Canyon County in a worse position.
Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. lender, extended a freeze on foreclosures to all 50 states Friday as concern spread among government officials that homes are being seized based on faulty data.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit stopped repossessions in 23 states, amid allegations that employees submitted documents with unverified or false information to speed the process. PNC Financial announced Friday that it, too, would postpone at least some foreclosures.

Urwin said she’d like to see banks lower loan values for struggling homeowners instead of foreclosing and reselling the homes for a fraction of what was owed.

”Banks need to loosen their belts and start working with people,“ she said. ”Why not rewrite the loans and add a clause if they’re concerned about a market correction in two years? ... Give (people) an incentive to stay in their homes.“

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tamarack's ski lifts will open Dec. 20

Tamarack's ski lifts will open Dec. 20
Skiers could hit the slopes four days a week this winter, and the troubled resort may soon be sold.
Copyright: © 2010 Idaho Statesman
Published: 10/01/10

A group of Tamarack homeowners working to open the beleaguered ski resort say they are selling season passes and hoping to hire 65 people - many former Tamarack workers.

"Word is getting out among the mountain pros that winter sports are returning to this resort and we're grateful to be able to secure the services of these experts," said Tamarack Municipal Association general manager Tim Flaherty.

Flaherty said five lifts will operate Thursdays through Sundays from Dec. 20 to April 3.
Meanwhile, the decision by CEO Jean Pierre Boespflug and co-owner Alfredo Miguel Afif to step away from their leadership positions could speed the sale of the resort.

Boespflug told the Idaho Statesman on Thursday that Candlewood Capital, a member of a consortium of lenders headed by Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group, had agreed to loan the resort $2 million to pursue a sale if he and Afif stepped aside.

The loan is an indication that Tamarack's creditors believe the resort is close to a deal to sell the property, Boespflug said. A sale could be announced within a month of the appointment of a new restructuring officer, he said.

A Tamarack court filing asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers to appoint Michael Fleischer, head of Links Realty Advisors, a Los Angeles real estate advisory and consulting firm, to take over negotiations to sell the resort.

Tamarack's filing said Links Realty was an experienced marketer of distressed properties.
Fleischer, who would have sole authority over the resort, said he could not comment until the court rules on Tamarack's motion.

Boespflug said the bankruptcy court's decision in April to grant Tamarack's request to convert its Chapter 7 liquidation filing to a Chapter 11 reorganization helped bring buyers to the table.
"We've got buyers knocking at the door, which is something we didn't have before," he said. "Now is a logical time for a restructuring officer to come in. The final negotiations will be done by a specialist, not ourselves."

One potential buyer is Utah's Pelorus Group, which has offered a reported $42 million for the resort. It recently purchased the Arling Center, Tamarack's conference center, for $900,000.
Boespflug warned that a sale does not mean that creditors owed some $300 million will be repaid in full. The property is listed at $68 million. However, once a sale is announced, the court could grant additional time to see if a competing higher bid surfaces.

Cascade Mayor R.W. Carter said he was aware of at least two other potential buyers.
"I'm optimistic that we could have a sale in pretty short order," he said.

Tamarack homeowner Doug Dvorak said the departure of Boespflug and Afif will help.
"It's unfortunate to see them go," said Dvorak, a motivational speaker who divides his time between homes in Chicago and Tamarack. "They tried to make a go of it. But we have to move on."

In the meantime, homeowners have contributed $250,000 in seed money to reopen the ski lifts.
Dvorak said the association expects ticket sales will generate an operating budget of $1.5 million, which will cover a projected payroll of $500,000.

Getting the resort back on its feet is critical to Valley County, which has fallen on hard times since the real estate collapse that followed Tamarack's spiral into bankruptcy, Dvorak said.
"It's not a recession up there. It's a depression," he said.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Friday, October 08, 2010

Bank of America halts all foreclosure sales

Bank of America halts all foreclosure sales

By Charles Riley, staff reporterOctober 8, 2010: 2:16 PM ET

NEW YORK ( -- Bank of America is halting foreclosure sales in all 50 states as part of a widening investigation into flaws in the process, the company announced Friday.

The announcement came a week after the nation's largest bank said it was freezing home foreclosures in 23 states where foreclosures must be approved by the courts.

The bank said the foreclosure process on delinquent borrowers will continue, but it will not proceed to judgment or a foreclosure sale.

"We haven't found any problems in the foreclosure process," Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) President and CEO Brian Moynihan said in an appearance before the National Press Club in Washington. "What we are trying to do is clear the air, and say 'We will go back and check our work one more time.' "

The review process is likely to last a few weeks, Moynihan said.

Bank of America is not the only bank to freeze foreclosures.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) announced last week that it will also halt proceedings for about 56,000 homeowners after learning that its employees may have approved foreclosures without personally reviewing loan files.

JPMorgan Chase had no comment on Friday's announcement by Bank of America.

Ally Financial, previously known as GMAC, the finance arm of General Motors, has also paused foreclosures in the 23 states.

However, Citigroup said it is making no changes in its foreclosure procedures. "At this point, we have no reason to believe our employees haven't been following our procedures, so we do not believe a suspension is necessary," spokesman Mark Rodgers said in an e-mailed statement.

State attorneys general have stepped up pressure on banks in recent days after it was revealed that some bank employees had signed foreclosure affidavits without verifying that the documents were accurate, a process now known as "robo-signing."

Ohio's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Ally Financial and its subsidiary GMAC Mortgage for allegedly submitting fraudulent documents in hundreds of foreclosure cases across the state.

Ally declined to comment Friday when asked if they would follow Bank of America and expand their freeze.

Citibank, another large servicer, reiterated Friday that it is not planning a suspension, and that it has no reason to believe employees haven't been following procedure.

Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, announced Friday that he will hold a hearing to investigate allegations of improper mortgage servicing and foreclosure processing on Nov. 16, the day after the Senate returns from recess.

On Thursday, the White House said that President Obama won't sign a bill that could have made it easier for courts to clear foreclosures. The bill would have required federal and state courts to recognize documents that were notarized in other states.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Free Automated Dream Home Search

Free Automated Dream Home Search

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Whether you are looking for your next home, a cabin in the woods or the perfect investment property, click on the link above to start your search today. Thank you in advance for visiting our website and we look forward to helping you find your DREAM PROPERTY! If you have any immediate needs, you can call us at 208 939 9033 or email us at

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Foreclosure Furor Rises; Many Call for a Freeze

From The NY Times
Published: October 5, 2010

Foreclosure Furor Rises; Many Call for a Freeze

The uproar over bad conduct by mortgage lenders intensified Tuesday, as lawmakers in Washington requested a federal investigation and the attorney general in Texas joined a chorus of state law enforcement figures calling for freezes on all foreclosures.

Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and 30 other Democratic representatives from California told the Justice Department, the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency that “it is time that banks are held accountable for their practices.”

In a request for an investigation into questionable foreclosure practices by lenders, the lawmakers said that “the excuses we have heard from financial institutions are simply not credible."

Officials from the federal agencies declined to comment.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, sent letters to 30 lenders demanding they stop foreclosures, evictions and the sale of foreclosed properties until they could provide assurances that they were proceeding legally.

Both developments indicated that scarcely two weeks after the country’s fourth-biggest lender, GMAC Mortgage, revealed that it was suspending all foreclosures in the 23 states where the process requires judicial approval, concerns about flawed foreclosures had mushroomed into a nationwide problem.

Some of the finger-pointing was also being directed back at Congress. The Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, suggested in a telephone interview on Tuesday that a bill passed by Congress last week about notarizations could facilitate foreclosure fraud.

Dubious notary practices used by banks to justify foreclosures have come under scrutiny in recent weeks as GMAC and other top lenders suspended homeowner evictions over possible improper procedures.

Ms. Brunner, who has recently referred possible cases of notary fraud in her state to federal authorities, worries that the legislation would allow the lowest standard for notaries to become a nationwide practice. She said she also worried that the changes were coming in the middle of a foreclosure storm where people could lose their homes improperly.

“A notary’s signature is that of a trusted, impartial third party, whose notarization bolsters the integrity of the document,” Ms. Brunner said. “To take away the safeguards of notarization means foreclosure procedures could be more susceptible to fraud.”

As banks’ foreclosure practices have come under the microscope, problems with notarizations on mortgage assignments have emerged. These documents transfer the ownership of the underlying note from one institution to another and are required for foreclosures to proceed.

In some cases, the notarizations predated the preparation of the legal documents, suggesting that signatures were not reviewed by a notary. Other notarizations took place in offices far away from where the documents were signed, indicating that the notaries might not have witnessed the signings as the law required.

Notary practices vary from state to state and the bill, sponsored by Representative Robert B. Aderholt, a Republican from Alabama, would essentially require that one state’s rules be accepted by others. If one state allows its notaries to sign off on electronic signatures, for example, documents carrying such signatures and notarized by officials in that state would have to be recognized and accepted in any state or federal court.

Ms. Brunner pointed out that some states had adopted “electronic notarization” laws that ignored the requirement of a signer’s personal appearance before a notary. “Many of these policies for electronic notarization are driven by technology rather than by principle, and they are dangerous to consumers,” she said.

Mr. Aderholt had introduced the bill twice before and both times it passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate. Mr. Aderholt reintroduced the bill last October and it passed the Senate on Sept. 29. It is awaiting President Obama’s signature.

Mr. Aderholt’s press secretary, Darrell Jordan, said there was no connection between the timing of the bill and the current notarization problems with foreclosures. In a statement announcing the bill’s passage, Mr. Aderholt said: “This legislation will help businesses around the nation by eliminating the confusion which arises when states refuse to acknowledge the integrity of documents notarized out of state.”

Last week, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America joined GMAC in suspending foreclosures in the states where they must be approved by a judge. The judicial states do not include California or Texas. But Mr. Abbott, the Texas attorney general, told lenders in letters dated Oct. 4 that if they used so-called robo-signers — employees who signed thousands of foreclosure affidavits a month, falsely attesting that they had reviewed the material — it would be a violation of Texas law.

As a result, he wrote, “the document and therefore the foreclosure sale would have been invalid.”

The three lenders who are at the center of the controversy, GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, declined to comment. Other lenders singled out by Mr. Abbott include Wells Fargo, CitiMortgage, HSBC and National City.

Meanwhile, shares of a major foreclosure outsourcing company, Lender Processing Services of Jacksonville, Fla., fell 5 percent on Tuesday, adding to a slide that began last week.

The company’s documentation practices are stirring questions, including how the same employee can have wildly varying signatures on mortgage documents. L.P.S. blamed a midlevel manager’s decision to allow employees to sign forms in the name of an authorized employee. It says it has stopped the practice.

The United States Attorney’s Office in Tampa began investigating L.P.S. in February. An L.P.S. representative could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Other calls for investigations came from Senators Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Monday, October 04, 2010

One Million Homeowners Win Foreclosure Breather as 3 Big Banks Goof on Alleged Fraudulent Actions

From The Real Estate Channel
Posted by Alex Finkelstein 10/04/10 8:02 AM EST

  • Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage Halt Foreclosure Actions in 23 States.
  • At Least One Bank of America Official Signed Off on 8,000 Foreclosure Applications Without Reading Them.
  • Other Lenders Acknowledge Automatically Signing Off on "Tens of Thousands) of Foreclosure Actions.
  • Office of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Tells 7 Big Banks to Immediately Check Their Foreclosure Procedures.
  • The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) followed Up by Directing 1,400 Loan Services to Check all Their Foreclosure-Filing Paper Work.
  • Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal Freezes all Foreclosure Actions for 60 Days.
  • California Attorney General Jerry Brown Demands JP Morgan Chase to Show the Bank Fully Complied With State Foreclosure Law.
  • Temporary Foreclosure Halt Means Market Won't Be Flooded With More Houses for Sale, Giving Prices a Chance to Stabilize.
  • Thousands of Lawsuits by Homeowners Against Lenders Involved Expected to be Filed Shortly.

An estimated one million U.S. homeowners, behind in their mortgage payments, are breathing easier today after three of the country's largest banks agreed to immediately stop new foreclosure actions until they could review sloppily-read foreclosure filing by their own staffs.

The lenders are Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage Co. owned by Ally Financial Inc. They are temporarily halting foreclosure actions in 23 states.

They are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Several states are stepping up pressure to halt foreclosures.

Richard Blumenthal

- On Friday, Oct. 1, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal asked a state court to freeze all home foreclosures for 60 days.

Doing so "should stop a foreclosure steamroller based on defective documents," he said, the Associated Press reported.

- California Attorney General Jerry Brown called on JPMorgan to suspend foreclosures unless it could show it complied with a state consumer protection law.

The law requires lenders to contact borrowers at risk of foreclosure to determine whether they qualify for mortgage assistance.

- In Florida, one of the country's largest residential real estate markets, the state attorney general is investigating four law firms, two with ties to GMAC, for allegedly providing fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases.

In Ohio, the attorney general this week asked judges to review all GMAC foreclosure cases for their legality.

Jerry Brown

The banks so far have not disclosed the total number of foreclosure actions they are reviewing, but banking industry insiders have told the electronic and print media about one million applications are being checked.

A source at JP Morgan Chase told the media about 50,000 foreclosure applications are being reviewed at his bank.

The announcement by the three banks late Friday, Oct. 1, marked the newest scandal emanating from Washington, but this time not directly affecting President Barack Obama's revolving-door stable of Administration executives.

Still, the government quickly became involved by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ordering seven of the largest lenders in the U.S. to immediately review their procedures in handling foreclosure applications.

Those lenders are JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, HSBC, PNC, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and U.S. Bank, which is not affiliated with the federal government.

The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), owned by the government, followed up by ordering 1,400 loan servicers nationwide to re-check their foreclosure-filing paper work.

Bank of America officials acknowledged one of their staffers had regularly signed off on about 10,000 foreclosure actions without actually reading the application.

Unidentified officials at other banks acknowledged to online and print media that their staffs regularly sign off on "tens of thousands" of foreclosure actions without actually reading them at all.

Real estate executives, lawyers and lenders are involved in this latest Washington scandal. Thousands of lawsuits are expected to be filed by homeowners against the lenders involved, alleging fraud in filing the foreclosure applications.

A lawyer for a homeowner in one case already, James O'Connor of Fitchburg, MA, told The Wall Street Journal alleged illegal foreclosure actions by lenders are rampant throughout the industry.

"We have had thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of foreclosures around the country by entities that did not have the right to foreclose," O'Connor said.

"The general level of sloppiness is pervasive around the industry," Diane Thompson, counsel at the National Consumer Law Center, told the WSJ.

For the homeowners, the action by the banks gives them a little more time to catch up on their delinquent mortgage payments.

For the residential real estate market, the action means fewer houses will be dumped in the for-sale arena, giving falling prices a chance to stabilize.

For the real estate market as a whole, the banks' actions give the industry another black eye at a time when it is struggling to regain the public's confidence.

Rick Sharga

For commercial statistical houses, such as RealtyTrac of Irvine, CA which RealEstateChannel regularly publishes, the temporary halt in foreclosure filings means the numbers for the next several months will be skewed, says Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president.

That means October and November's reports will likely show an artificially low number of foreclosure starts. Some might interpret the falling numbers as improvement.

But "don't get too excited about the market getting better," Sharga warns.

Provided the paperwork is in order, which Sharga thinks will be the case in many of the stalled foreclosures, REO (real-estate-owned by the bank) actions, or actual foreclosures, will likely spike early next year.

"Don't panic and think everything is sinking," he tells The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier this month, RealtyTrac reported that lenders foreclosed on more than 95,000 properties in August, shattering the report's previous record dating back to mid-1995.

The good news? Delinquencies appear to be slowing down, meaning fewer foreclosures are headed for the pipeline.

Fannie Mae last week said serious delinquencies on single-family mortgages slid in July from June, the fifth-straight month of declines, the WSJ reports.

Barring further economic upheaval, Sharga speculates foreclosure filings should peak next year, followed by a gradual reduction in 2012. This "significant overhang of distressed properties" will spend 2013 being sold off, he tells the WSJ.

He predicts the residential market will be normal again in 2014.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

Friday, October 01, 2010

OPEN HOUSE IN THE NORTH END, 1p to 3p, SAT., OCT 1st, 2010, 1607 N 26th St.

You are cordially invited to an OPEN HOUSE in The NORTH END from 1p to 3p, Sat. Oct, 2010. This is NOT AN REO OR A SHORT SALE. Tons of POTENTIAL!

It's over 1/3 of an ACRE in the NORTH END with an EXTRA GARAGE FOR YOUR RV AND OTHER BIG TOYS! There is nothing else like it in the NORTH END! Thanks in advance for your consideration and we look forward to seeing you there.

Regards,IERT logo
Michael Hon
CEO, The Iron Eagle Realty Team
Associate Broker, Market Pro

Certified Short Sale Specialist®
Investment Property Consultant
Direct: 208.919.0458 Office: 208.939.9033 Fax 208.514.1422

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