Category Archives: Real Estate

Congress Trying to Get More Efficient

My fellow Americans I believe Congress might finally be endeavouring to become more efficient since they seem to be trying to kill two birds with merely one stone.

The reeling housing market has come to this: To shore it up, two Senators are preparing to introduce a bipartisan bill Thursday that would give residence visas to foreigners who spend at least $500,000 to buy houses in the U.S…

Foreigners have accounted for a growing share of home purchases in South Florida, Southern California, Arizona and other hard-hit markets. Chinese and Canadian buyers, among others, are taking advantage not only of big declines in U.S. home prices and reduced competition from Americans but also of favorable foreign exchange rates.

To fuel this demand, the proposed measure would offer visas to any foreigner making a cash investment of at least $500,000 on residential real-estate—a single-family house, condo or townhouse. Applicants can spend the entire amount on one house or spend as little as $250,000 on a residence and invest the rest in other residential real estate, which can be rented out…

International buyers accounted for around $82 billion in U.S. residential real-estate sales for the year ending in March, up from $66 billion during the previous year period, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Foreign buyers accounted for at least 5.5% of all home sales in Miami and 4.3% of Phoenix home sales during the month of July, according to MDA DataQuick.

Housing crisis? Check. Immigration? Check. Gotta love efficiency.

Today in Real Estate

We do live in strange times, especially when it comes to real estate.  Here are just a couple of fun stories for your entertainment:

In Texas an obscure law might have enabled a man to take possession of a $300,000 home for $16 and three years of his time:

In other news it looks like the robo-signing practices that mortgage companies promised to halt have continued:

"Robo-signing is not even close to over," says Curtis Hertel, the recorder of deeds in Ingham County, Mich., which includes Lansing. "It's still an epidemic."

In Essex County, Mass., the office that handles property deeds has received almost 1,300 documents since October with the signature of "Linda Green," but in 22 different handwriting styles and with many different titles.

Linda Green worked for a company called DocX that processed mortgage paperwork and was shut down in the spring of 2010. County officials say they believe Green hasn't worked in the industry since. Why her signature remains in use is not clear.

"My office is a crime scene," says John O'Brien, the registrar of deeds in Essex County, which is north of Boston and includes the city of Salem.

In Guilford County, N.C., the office that records deeds says it received 456 documents with suspect signatures from Oct. 1, 2010, through June 30. The documents, mortgage assignments and certificates of satisfaction, transfer loans from one bank to another or certify a loan has been paid off.

Suspect signatures on the paperwork include 290 signed by Bryan Bly and 155 by Crystal Moore. In the mortgage investigations last fall, both admitted signing their names to mortgage documents without having read them. Neither was charged with a crime.


This Might Not End Well

The NY Appellate Division has found that MERS does NOT have the right to foreclose on a mortgage in default, nor can it assign that right.  From the story (found via VDM):

The ubiquitous Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, nominal holder of millions of mortgages, does not have the right to foreclose on a mortgage in default or assign that right to anyone else if it does not hold the underlying promissory note, the Appellate Division, Second Department, ruled Friday. "This Court is mindful of the impact that this decision may have on the mortgage industry in New York, and perhaps the nation," Justice John M. Leventhal wrote for a unanimous panel in Bank of New York v. Silverberg, 17464/08. "Nonetheless, the law must not yield to expediency and the convenience of lending institutions. Proper procedures must be followed to ensure the reliability of the chain of ownership, to secure the dependable transfer of property, and to assure the enforcement of the rules that govern real property." The opinion noted that MERS is involved in about 60 percent of the mortgages originated in the United States.

This could, and maybe should, end very badly for the mortgage industry.

Lewisville, er, Western Forsyth Development Almost Complete

Did any of you catch the interesting play by the town council of Lewisville, NC to annex roads just outside its current borders?  You read that right – Lewisville's town council tried to annex roads, but not the land surrounding those roads, and in the process ticked off just about every state legislator from the area.  Basically the town was trying to control the access and delivery of services in the immediate vicinity because it wasn't granted extraterritorial jurisdiction and it wanted to prevent a development being put right outside its borders, thus increasing use of Lewisville's resources without contributing to its tax base.  You ever wondered what might have prompted this concern? I'd venture a guess that the soon to be completed Lake at Lisarra development had something to do with it:

Construction on the upscale Lake at Lissara residential development in western Forsyth County is slated for completion this month, capping a more than $60 million project.

Lake at Lissara, a 254-acre project developed by Lang WilcoxBrant GodfreyPete Ramey and Beau Dancy, features a man-made lake and 102 lots off Shallowford and Conrad Roads. Homes prices range from the $400,000s to more than $1 million.

Read more: Forsyth development nearly complete | The Business Journal


Foreclosure Map of Forsyth County

I'm going to warn you ahead of time that this is potentially a very depressing post.  Have you ever wondered how many houses in your area are in foreclosure?  No need to wonder.  Just go to Google Maps and do the following (found via Fec's blog):

Google Maps Foreclosure Listings

1. Punch in any US address into Google Maps.

2. Your options are Earth, Satellite, Map, Traffic and . . . More. (Select “More”)

3. The drop down menu gives you a check box option for “Real Estate.”

4. The left column will give you several options (You may have to select “Show Options”)

5. Check the box marked “Foreclosure.”

Below is a screen shot of a Google Map after I plugged in a Forsyth County, NC address and zoomed out.  Those aren't measles you're looking at.


Clear Title

Clear title is becoming a serious issue in the residential mortgage sector. It might be more accurate to say that clear title has been a serious issue in the residential mortgage sector, but it's now becoming a more commonly known problem. It appears that what's happening is people are realizing that the banks have done some pretty crappy, and sometimes fraudulent paper work on the mortgages that they're now trying to foreclose, and as the courts have started calling them on it the title insurance companies have decided that they can't insure what the banks are trying to resell.  Here's the scoop:

So why is it a big deal that Old Republic National Title isn’t going to insure Chase’s or GMAC’s foreclosures?

Because if a house doesn’t have clear title, you can’t get a title insurance policy for it. If you can’t get a title insurance policy for a property, lenders won’t lend because there is a huge risk that someone else is going to come forward with a valid title claim and take away the property and they will lose the investment they’ve made in the mortgage.

Clear title is one of the main tenets of homeownership in this country. If lenders can’t be assured that the seller (in this case, the banks who are reselling millions of foreclosures as REOs) have clear title to the property, they won’t issue a mortgage.

Which means homeowners can’t buy homes.

Which will be the perfect storm scenario that tanks the already crippled housing market.

If you think the current foreclosure freeze is bad news, think about what will happen if the millions of homes that are already in foreclosure and the millions more heading into foreclosure can’t be resold.

You know where all this is heading, right? Hello class action lawsuits.

(h/t to Fec for the link)