community stories for southern Nevada

housing

Marcy Kaptur says “When the bank comes to take it away…”

Stay in your homes:

  

Also, let’s play Wall Street Bailout:

 


Waiting for the next McMansion to drop…

 

The Wall Street Journal reports that Las Vegas remains vulnerable to further price drops, because banks are likely to acquire a significant number of new foreclosures in the coming year….Here’s a snip from the article:

For now, the market seems to be stabilizing, says Jeffrey Otteau, president of Otteau Valuation Group, an East Brunswick, N.J., appraisal firm. But if the job market gets much worse and mortgage rates rise sharply, “that could be the tipping point” for another drop in prices.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, predicts that average national home prices will bottom out in next year’s third quarter, assuming that employment begins growing again in mid-2010. But prices in some metro areas still have a long way to fall, he believes. Prices in the second quarter of 2010 will be down about 30% from a year earlier in Miami, 27% in Orlando, Fla., 24% in Las Vegas and 23% in Phoenix, Moody’s Economy.com forecasts.

Foreclosures and short sales (in which a home is offered for less than the mortgage balance) dominate the markets in some metro areas. Satish M. Mansukhani, a market strategist in New York, estimates that such “distressed” homes account for 79% of home listings in the Detroit area and 75% in Las Vegas, but just 16% in Houston and 7% in Boston.

One big question is how much more the federal government will do to prop up housing. Congress is debating whether to extend the tax credit for home buyers beyond Nov. 30. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is phasing out its massive purchases of mortgage-backed securities and plans to conclude the program by the end of March. Those purchases have helped keep interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages around 5%. Mr. Zandi says mortgage rates are likely to rise as much as one percentage point after the Fed ends that support. Analysts at Barclays Capital in New York forecast mortgage rates will be slightly over 6% by the end of March.


Renters fight an uphill battle in Nevada

We’ve  heard many many stories about homeowners struggling to save their homes, to negotiate with lenders, to sort out whether or not to walk away. In this two-part series, we ask: what about renters. It turns out renters have been caught in the middle of the foreclosure crisis, and they’ve had the least to do with the mess, they’ve been affected quite dramatically by the fallout. And mistreatment of renters in southern Nevada, by lenders, by third party proxies, by landlords, appears to be on the rise.

Listen to the two-part series…

Part I is the story of a man who is trying to answer a seemingly simple question…who changed the locks on his rental condo? Hear his story:

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Part II…This year, legislators enacted a number of laws which give renters some more traction. How effective are these new laws, and where are they falling short?

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Shalis Front Door

keys


IRS examining first time buyer claims

From this Wall Street Journal article:

The Internal Revenue Service is examining more than 100,000 suspicious claims for the first-time home-buyer tax break, another sign of potential trouble for the soon-to-expire program.

 The measure, adopted in February as part of the economic-stimulus bill, gives first-time buyers an $8,000 tax credit in an effort to boost sales and stimulate the moribund housing market. The program is set to end Nov. 30, but housing-industry leaders are lobbying Congress to extend it.

 More than a million claims for the credit have been received so far, and housing-industry experts estimated that the credit has helped generate about 350,000 home sales that wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. But some lawmakers and tax experts now say there is evidence that a significant number of the claims might prove to be unjustified, or even fraudulent.

 ”I am concerned about recent reports that there have been fraudulent schemes involving the credit,” Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.), chairman of a House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, said in a statement. The subcommittee is planning a hearing on the problems on Thursday.

 The IRS said it was investigating 167 “criminal schemes” involving the credit, according to the subcommittee. IRS officials on Monday declined to describe the suspected schemes or provide additional details.


Nevada is number one!…er….never mind…

Powerful graphic demonstrates Nevada’s housing sitch: 1 in 23 homes received a foreclosure filling in the third quarter of 2009.

usforeclosures-01


Extending (and broadening) the federal homebuyer credit…?

The Las Vegas Sun reads the tea leaves:

Las Vegas home sales traditionally slump at the end of the year as people wait until the spring to consider buying, and analysts are wondering how strong the market will be as the holidays and 2010 approach.

But the focus these days is more on Washington than on Las Vegas for what the future holds.

Congress is debating whether to extend the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers that expires Nov. 30. The credit has bolstered sales and likely will be extended, analysts said.

But Congress is considering making the credit available to additional buyers — a move that could boost the housing market.


Class action lawsuit on KNPR’s State of Nevada

KNPR’s State of Nevada did a program segment on the class action lawsuit being brought by Las Vegas Attorney Matt Callister. His clients claim they were defrauded by Indymac – the now defunct thrift that wrote a lot of subprime mortgages. It’s a good show. You can listen to the interview here:

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Ruling by judges rattles mortgage industry

From an article in the Las Vegas Sun:

A bankruptcy judge here, joining judges across the country, is throwing a bit of sand in the gears of the mortgage machine and its ruthless foreclosure blade.

She has raised this issue: In many home foreclosures springing out of bankruptcy proceedings, the foreclosure is being triggered by a representative of the lender — a surrogate that may not have a legal, equity stake in the proceedings.

As a result, it is conceivable — though still something of a legal long shot — that the homeowner who is filing for bankruptcy protection could end up saving his house.

The argument that a lender’s surrogate can’t trigger foreclosure has drawn notice of Nevada homeowners, who are preparing a class action lawsuit. They are seeking a preliminary injunction this month to stop their foreclosures.


NYT: Optimisim In Housing Market

Yesterday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its producer price index for residential construction. Its significant increase from July to August is a good sign for the housing market.

Here’s what the New York Times has to say.


Where Are They Now? Looking in the rearview mirror at the “Giant Pool of Money”

(belonginglasvegas.org wants to hear from you….yes, you. How have your circumstances changed over the past year? Have things gotten better or worse? How are you coping with the changes in your life, or with changes you see in your neighborhood?  Send us a little about your story, here….)

Leave it journalists to have a nostalgic look back at…well, just about everything. But seriously, the folks at NPR’s Planet Money are following up with several of the folks who they profiled a year ago in their effort to tell the story of the biggest financial mess in recent memory.

A little over a year ago, NPR and This American Life partnered on a series of stories that would explain the mortgage crisis. They called it the “Giant Pool of Money”, and you can listen to the original This American Life program here. The program they made had such a big impact, that NPR/TAL ended up creating a team at NPR focused on money and finance, called Planet Money.

This past week, the Planet Money team revisisted many of the folks who they interviewed for that first show–people we have come to see as archetypes in the mortgage crisis: borrowers, subprime lenders, and those who created the complex financial instruments which repackaged debt in a way that hid the risk of that debt.

You can hear some of these characters…two of the borrowers are here:

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An update on subprime lender Glen Pizzalaruso, who was making $100K a month at the height of the crisis, is here:

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Fantasy loan-mod football

Last week I blogged about Bobbi Giguere, the 41 year-old single mom who had the unusual opportunity to grill a Wells Fargo Exec in court about her stalled loan modification. Giguere had been working “through the system” for months, and getting nowhere (…well, she was actually headed somewhere….While Wells Fargo strung her along, the company was simultaneously moving to foreclose on her home…!) At her wits end, Giguere wrote to her bankruptcy judge and ended up getting to do what thousands of frustrated consumers can only dream about. Confront someone in charge:

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Bobbi Giguere joined us today on KNPR’s State of Nevada to continue the conversation. We were also joined by Nevada Bankers Association president Bill Uffelman, and Bill Buzenberg, Executive Director of the Center for Public Integrity:

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wells1_span


“Option” mortgages to explode

This article, from Reuters:

The federal government and states are girding themselves for the next foreclosure crisis in the country’s housing downturn: payment option adjustable rate mortgages that are beginning to reset.

“Payment option ARMs are about to explode,” Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said….”That’s the next round of potential foreclosures in our country,”…

Option-ARMs are now considered among the riskiest offered during the recent housing boom and have left many borrowers owing more than their homes are worth. These “underwater” mortgages have been a driving force behind rising defaults and mounting foreclosures.

In Arizona, 128,000 of those mortgages will reset over the the next year and many have started to adjust this month, the state’s attorney general, Terry Goddard, told Reuters after the meeting.

“It’s the other shoe,” he said. “I can’t say it’s waiting to drop. It’s dropping now.”


Rural America Hit Hard By Recession…

From the website Daily Yonder:

Declining housing prices, combined with a sharp rise in high-cost loans, were important factors in the recent mortgage and foreclosure crisis that has affected metro and non-metro housing markets alike. The most recent data show that non-metro residents were slightly more likely than metro residents to have obtained high-cost loans just prior to the recession.

Full story is here.


Buyer beware-hidden fees in empty homes

We’ve heard about angry homeowners who trash a place when the bank forecloses…some pour cement poured down toilets, strip oput plumbing and fixtures, punch holes in the walls…..In yesterday’s R-J, an article on the potential hidden costs and fees in buying a foreclosed home.

Michael Evans bought the bank-owned fourplex near Monroe Avenue and H Street at an auction without seeing it first.

The condition of the property might have scared off other investors, but he has been rehabbing and renting out property for a long time…..

…Then he ran into something new.

“I thought everything was great until the letter came in the mail,” Evans said.

The letter, from the city of Las Vegas, informed him that a previous, neglectful owner had racked up more than $60,000 in fees and fines because the city had to hire someone to board up the building and pick up trash.


Judges’ Frustration Grows With Mortgage Servicers

The New York Times writes about a woman who was given the runaround from her lender. And she decided to go to the mat–in court. Last week, an angry judge gave her an opportuntiy to grill her lender’s attorneys in court…article is here.

Bobbi Giguere had no luck in securing a loan modification from her mortgage servicer, Wells Fargo. For months, she had sent the bank the financial documents it requested to process her modification. But each time she called to check on the request, she was told to send her paperwork again.

 “I submitted the paperwork three times, and nothing happened,” said Mrs. Giguere, 41, who has a high school education and worked as restaurant manager before losing her job.

On Thursday, something happened. She questioned a Wells Fargo official about the bank’s lack of response — under oath.

The spectacle of a high-ranking banking executive being grilled by an ordinary homeowner was the result of an unusual decision by Judge Randolph J. Haines of the United States Bankruptcy Court to summon a senior executive from Wells Fargo to appear in Mrs. Giguere’s bankruptcy case.


Wells Fargo Exec throws parties in foreclosed Malibu mansion

Nothing like a story like this to spark more populist anger at banks:

Bernard L. Madoff’s massive fraud stunned some of the wealthy denizens of Malibu Colony, especially when a couple devastated by the scheme surrendered their oceanfront home to Wells Fargo Bank.

But some neighbors say the real shocker came when they saw one of the bank’s top executives spending weekends in the $12-million beach house and hosting eye-catching parties there. 

wells fargo


Decline of home prices slowing…

…and it seems that real estate oracles throughout the Las Vegas valley are becoming cagey and moderate in their market predictions.

We’ve heard over and over that home prices have “hit bottom”, when it’s now painfully clear that no one really knows what “bottom” is. Think those in the business of peddling advice have learned any lessons? Check out the padded prediction here: 

The chances are growing less likely that Las Vegas median home prices will fall to $100,000, according to a Las Vegas housing analyst.

But no one should expect prices to shoot up anytime soon despite a lack of inventory, said Larry Murphy, president of SalesTraq, a housing research firm.

“It appears prices have stopped falling,” Murphy said. “It’s possible that prices could fall further and hit $100,000 by the end of the year, but I don’t think that will happen.”

But no one should expect prices to shoot up anytime soon despite a lack of inventory, said Larry Murphy, president of SalesTraq, a housing research firm.
“It appears prices have stopped falling,” Murphy said. “It’s possible that prices could fall further and hit $100,000 by the end of the year, but I don’t think that will happen.”

This, snipped from an Aug. 3, 2009 article from the Las Vegas Sun. And a recent State of Nevada conversation on real estate prices:

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Hispanics hardest hit by unemployment

Here’s a link to an article in the RJG….


Nevada Development Authority mining the Golden State

Check out the latest attempt to attract business to southern Nevada:

Las Vegas’ mayor Oscar Goodman predicts the ads are, “…going to drive them (Californians) bonkers. This campaign is very Las Vegas.” It sure is a nasty one. Here a clip from the Las Vegas Sun article:

“The campaign, developed by Las Vegas-based Shonkwiler Partners, incorporates two basic themes, an apple-to-apple comparison of California and Nevada business climate in which the California apple shrivels and rots and another that compares the effects of California legislation on businesses to the shenanigans of a monkey. The ads incorporate the tagline “Kiss your assets goodbye.”

Apparently, this is supposed to drive businesses from California to Las Vegas in droves…. But we still must ask: If Californian businessmen and women are used to cultural amenities, what will they think about relocating to what is essentially a dead zone of  underperforming schools, underfunded social programs, and neighborhoods in a state of collapse?


“our neighbor left everything behind…”

motherson


“we’ve had to make adjustments…”

tony&daughter


“Trapped in my home….”

trapped 3


“Lender won’t return our calls..”

chelby 2


Newly poor in Nevada…

People are struggling across the country, and around the world…..

not homeless

This is the story of a chance encounter between two women. It was a moment that changed the lives of one family, very much for the better:

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