Bedtime Reading

Over time we’ve posted a number of Blogs and vLogs related to All Things Real Estate.

Between our War Story Wednesdays and Daily Dose of Real(i)ty posts, we offer up a perspective on changes and happenings in the real estate industry, legal and practical. Some relate to advise for real estate brokers (after all, I am one, and have been protecting – or suing – them for decades). Others relate to the state of the industry in general – or to cases or laws that I found particularly interesting – or dumbfounding.

There are also some Tips and Traps related to Mediating Real Estate Disputes which I think are (and hope you’ll find to be) helpful insights to the Mediation process.

Common Competing Concerns Between Experts and Lawyers.(And how to avoid them.)

Common Competing Concerns Between Experts and Lawyers.(And how to avoid them.) It all starts out nicely enough. The Lawyer has called a fellow attorney, or looked on SEEK or and read though a Bio and CV, or two, of potential Experts for her case. She picks one, and makes the call. The Lawyer and

The Dance with Lawyers and Expert Witnesses

The dance between Lawyers and Experts; it’s filled with complex steps and mixed rhythms. The Texas Two Step has nuthin on the Lawyer Lindy Hop. I guess in this arena I suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder. I was (in a past life) a Lawyer, and now I am an ‘Expert Witness.’ (What a loaded term

What Does a Lawyer Want in a Mediator ?

When a real estate lawyer is considering a mediator for a dispute, they typically look for mediators with the following three characteristics: 1. Expertise in real estate: A mediator with a strong understanding of real estate law and the intricacies of the industry is highly valuable. Someone who possesses knowledge of relevant statutes, regulations, and

What Do Lawyers Look For in a Mediator?

Lawyers typically consider several factors when selecting a mediator for a dispute. Here are some common considerations: 1. Expertise and experience: Lawyers look for mediators who have relevant expertise and experience in the specific area of law related to the dispute. This could include knowledge of real estate law, contract law, intellectual property law, employment

Utilizing Mediation to Facilitate Workout Agreements in Defaulted Commercial Office Building Loans

Utilizing Mediation to Facilitate Workout Agreements in Defaulted Commercial Office Building Loans Abstract: This article explores the application of mediation as a viable dispute resolution mechanism for commercial office building owners and lenders to negotiate workout agreements in cases of defaulted loans. It analyzes the benefits of mediation over traditional litigation and arbitration methods, highlighting

Restructuring Strategies for Commercial Office Landlords in the Face of COVID-19 Vacancies

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the commercial real estate market, particularly on the office sector. The rise of remote work, economic uncertainty, and changing tenant needs have resulted in increased vacancies in commercial office spaces. In response, commercial office landlords have been forced to reevaluate their assets and implement various restructuring

Use it or Lose it – Special Tenant Notice by Sep 30

On August 31, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB3088, providing a framework for California’s residential landlords to preserve their rights to later claim unpaid rent and/or evict tenants for unpaid rent, while protecting tenants who have demonstrated financial hardship arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ADR has an ODR ???

Is this a secret code or TXT abbreviation meaning that ADR has an odor? No. ADR stands for “Alternative Dispute Resolution” which is typically Mediation or Arbitration.

PPP Loans (to prevent Company DEATH) and TAXES

The Guvm’nt giveth, and the IRS taketh away! IRS Guidance: No Tax Deductions Allowed for PPP-Paid Expenses Friday, May 1, 2020 On April 30, the IRS released guidance providing that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan borrowers may not deduct costs that are paid for with loan proceeds that are forgiven under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief,

25% Rent Reduction? Stupid Legislation Proposed

California AB 828 (Ting) is another STUPID proposal by “the Guv’mnt” that’s here to help. The Bill, if passed, would mandate courts to give any tenant that declares they have suffered “increased costs for household necessities OR reduced household earnings.” No showing of proof is needed to demonstrate a “financial hardship” was created by the

C.A.R. Form Redo – Who Gets the Liquidated Damages?

The California Association of Realtors (CAR), in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, reacted quickly and prepared template forms for its trade association members (I am one) to use in response to the myriad of issues Stay in Place (SiP) orders, job losses, banking chaos, and pre-existing contractual obligations created. The first round of Forms

Commercial Lease – CoVid19 – Decision Making Flow Chart

Pandemic Lease Chart Follow these steps when analyzing your commercial lease non-rent payment issue. COVID-19 COMMERCIAL TENANCY AND FORCE MAJEURE WHITEPAPER We’ve put together a white paper on “force majeure” and “impossibility” and “frustration of purpose.” —– CLICK HERE TO READ / DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER  —– This whitepaper is not, and should not be construed to

COVID-19 — IRC Sect 1031 — Timeline Extensions

On Thursday, April 9th the IRS published the IRS published Notice 2020-23 issuing gudiance granting deadline relief for 1031 Exchanges.  The Notice from the IRS leaves some issus unclear, but we have summarized key facts below: Who Qualifies? Anyone that sold relinquished property and their 45-day deadline falls between April 1st and July 15th. Anyone

The Math Behind Social Distancing

As scientists and healthcare professionals rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, social distancing can be thought of as the first line of defense. We all have a part to play. 📷 via Visual Capitalist #stayhome #stayhealthy #washyourhands

C.A.R. = CYA ? New CoronaVirus Forms

With millions confined to their homes and face-to-face meetings on hold, as you might guess, real estate transactions (especially residential ones) have been turned upside down and sideways. The California Association of Realtors (CAR) – an association of which I am a 40 year (or so) member – has been nimble, and prepared forms and

Commercial Tenancy and Force Majeure Non-Payment of Rent Whitepaper

A rent non-payment letter received from a Tenant is not unexpected. Many hundreds of thousands of commercial tenants across the Country are sending similar letters to Landlords (indeed, some national Tenants are sending a ‘template’ to ALL their Landlords), because the Tenants’ customers are not showing up; the customers are Sheltering-in-Place (SIP). The situation Landlords

A Line in the Beautiful California Sand

Beaches. Surfers. Fabulous wealth. Land squabbles. Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Outrage. Random accusations of Communism. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but this may be our most “California” story yet. It all started in 2008, when Vinod Khosla, the billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, purchased 89 acres south of Half Moon Bay, including Martin’s Beach, for

Play That Funky Music Law Boy

The screen flickers on. A charming real estate agent, smiling brightly, introducing her company while an upbeat tune follows her down the hallways. Sweeping drone footage of a beautiful home, followed by panning shots of its rooms, underscored by stirring classical music. A video tour of the neighborhood, local coffee shops and lush green parks,

For a Fistful of Emojis

Imagine you’ve been out of town for work and by the time your Uber drops you home from the airport, you’re tired, cranky, and you just want to unwind before bed. You leave your luggage in the living room, shuffle to the kitchen, and pop open a bottle of white. You’re lucky enough to live

Burn After Pleading

Who remembers 2008? People thought we were all gonna die because they switched on the Large Hadron Collider, Breaking Bad was – WAIT A MINUTE! We’ve done this opening bit already. Dang it! Well, anyway, along with everything else, there was also the release of the Coen brothers flick Burn After Reading, a movie about

Game Over – Insert Coin

Hands up, who’s got a procrastination problem? And don’t weasel out of it, either – we lawyers are trained to spot deceptive behavior. Even the most assiduous among us has a lazy day or two. I’ll fill this form out later, I’ll answer this email tomorrow… well, how about letting that email slide for a

POP Goes The Agent

It’s a sunny day, and people have come from all around the city to check out this brand spanking new property’s first open house. Sales Agent John anxiously watches the prospective buyers mill around. His wife just left him, he’s sleeping in his car, and he’s been skipping his anger management classes because he can’t

To AB or not to AB

If you have eyes and ears (and if you don’t, how are you reading this), you’ll know all about the gig economy. Some people say it’s the way of the future, some people say it’s just exploitative, others position themselves in the middle. I’m guessing you’re sick of hearing about it. As someone who lives

All I Wanted for Christmas was a Clear Definition of the Duties of a Deed of Trust Trustee

A recent opinion on the Citrus El Dorado, LLC v. Chicago Title Company case made my wish come true. It’s a pretty classic story of company meets bank, company gets money from bank, company ends up being unable to pay loan from bank, shenanigans, and a happy ending (for the bank); still, it sets an

KO Boomer

Baby Boomers have been getting a bad rap for a while now, but Millennials’ better get ready to eat crow, ‘cause the second greatest generation’s preparing to open up the gates to homeownership by dying en masse. You’re welcome. According to research by Zillow, the U.S. is on the cusp of a flood of homes

420 Trail Blaze It

We’ve talked about the devil’s lettuce before on this blog, and with good reason: legalization’s opened up so many smoky doors, you’d be forgiven for getting lost in the weed(s). So, for the benefit of those thinking of leasing to or investing in CRB (Cannabis Related Businesses), let’s hash out a blunt pros and cons

Clean Bill

Inside you are two souls. One wants to boost housing production and solve the long-standing, devastating California housing crisis. One wants to do favors for friends and put a bandaid over a bleeding stump. You are the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. A few weeks back, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 330 into law.

Canal LLC (Legal Liability Contributor)

Hear ye, hear ye! The end of a protracted legal battle is upon us! You might recognize the name “Omega SA v. 375 Canal LLC” from a brief mention on your favorite roguishly handsome attorney’s blog a little while back. If you skipped over that entry, 1) rude, and 2) we’re getting deeper into the

Coast Clear?

So, who’s heard of a regulatory taking? Basically, it’s when a government regulation limits your use of private property so much, it might as well be government property. It’s still yours, in name only. You can’t use it, can’t make money off it, nada. So, who’s heard of the California Coastal Commission (CCC… no, let’s

Non-Disturbance Agreements

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson discusses Non-Disturbance Agreements and Attornment Agreements. As humans, we learn from stories. The War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story Wednesdays: A Trial Lawyer’s Tales from the Trenches” are stories based upon actual cases decided

Counterfeit Justice

You know the first time you wander into the market area of some big city, and you start seeing really famous brands being sold at amazingly affordable prices, and you reach for your cash to buy yourself a nice luxury watch or to get your girlfriend a designer purse, and just as your fingertips brush


This might come as a surprise, but San Francisco has a housing problem. I know, I know, sad but true. It’s hard to find a place if you make a decent living, but if you’re poor or even middle class? Probably looking at a couple thousand a month to live in a dorm. Sharing a

Where’s the Beef?

What’s the first thing your parents tell you about contracts? Cast your mind back to opening your first bank account. Your dad’s sitting beside you as the clerk hands over the papers, and you make a beeline for the signature so you can feel like an adult, and your father sternly moves your hand away

Revenge of the Modifications

Who remembers 2008? People thought we were all gonna die because they switched on the Large Hadron Collider, Breaking Bad premiered, Barack Obama was elected, the financial system collapsed and led to a worldwide recession that ruined people’s lives and that we’re just barely getting out of. Good times. Wait. That last thing? That wasn’t

Buyer Beware, You’re in for a Scare

Imagine the scene. You’re on your way to your tech job in SF when crossing the street for your morning Starbucks, you almost get run over by a PostMate delivery person, jumping back just in time to avoid death by bike. This happens pretty much every day, but something snaps. You’re fed up. With coding,

The Mountain (Coming this Summer…)

🎬 EXT. POMONA – PARK – MORNING A sunny morning in the park. It’s fairly empty, but a few families are dotted about the area. A little GIRL bends over the lip of the fountain to splash some water on her face, looking to quell the California Summer heat. As she starts to straighten out,

Who’s Got the Power?

🎶 It’s getting’, it’s gettin’, it’s gettin’ kinda hectic… Today’s entry has a soundtrack. The situation is bizarre from the outset. In the city of Mountain View, a battle rages between energy giant PG&E and the California Station Homeowners Association – a battle that has the new Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School opening without electricity.

FHAntastic Rulings and Where to Find Them

2019 marks ninety years since the Great Depression began. The various financial crises our nation has weathered in the recent past weren’t easy, by any means, but a little research into the Depression is enough to make the past feel truly alien. Go back in time not even a century ago, and you’d likely be

Hacked Off

Ever noticed how you can’t take one step without stumbling over a hacking story? It’s in our elections (allegedly), on our screens with shows like Mr Robot, even in our food… in a way. Isn’t it about time we get some of that action going in real estate? Well, look no further than 924 Bel

Dr Strangetimes or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Climate Change

How’s that for a provocative title? People with one brain cell pinging around their skull will tell you there’s nothing to worry about. That the world’s always cycled through periods of climate change. They’ll tell you that the planet’s always survived the upheavals. And they’re right, of course. To quote George Carlin, “the planet has

Sweet DREams are Made of This

Inspired by the Department of Real Estate’s recent decision to file against eXp Realty of California for a number of simple, eye-wateringly easy to avoid violations, why don’t we run through some of the most common ways people run afoul of the DRE so we can all start paying attention and stop losing money and

Clash of Titans: Realogy vs. Compass

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to tonight’s headline fight! In the red corner, weighing in at almost $2.5 billion in total equity, the heavyweight champion Realogy! Still in the midst of a doping scandal courtesy of his manager, NAR, he’s still raring to go. In the blue corner, the tech dealer turned real estate player, the

Indentured Subordination

California Supreme Court Adopts New Rule Related Timing of Service of a Notice to Quit Today’s case involves adventures in grammar, general real estate shenanigans, and a very simple lesson: don’t put the cart before the horse. The background: Westlake Village Property (WVP) leased a nursing facility (get the title now? Eh?) to Westlake Health

Keller Williams Realty Is Sued Over Robocalls

The phone rings. You pick up. “Hello?” Silence that lasts just a little too long. You recognize it. It’s the lag between you answering the call and a computer connecting you to a prerecorded message. So what do you do? Click. You hang up. Robocalls. They’re like telemarketers on steroids. In 2018, an estimated 47

Picky, Picky, Picky – Traps in a TDS?

We were recently involved in a case where a $73,000 dollar purchase deposit was forfeited when a Buyer backed out of a deal after waiving all contingencies. Or at least the Seller thought so. Turns out that the Buyer had a smart (or a smart alecky) lawyer, who came up with this … novel …

Real Estate “Commissions” and Multiple Listing Services Under Attack? A Shot Across the Bow.

Love them, or hate them, real estate commissions are a mainstay of life in the industry. (Just try to say “flat fee” or “hourly fee” and listen to the crickets.) And, of course, real estate commissions are always “negotiable.” And, since they are only paid when the deal is done, they are paid out of

Stairway to Heaven ? Or Hell ?

There’s a lady who’s sure All that glitters is gold And she’s buying a stairway to heaven… Today’s a doozy, folks. Mortal peril! Revenge! Forbidden love! … well, okay. Two out of three. Strap in. In 2009, real estate agent Pinda Hall showed two prospective buyers around a Lafayette home owned by Aurora Loan Services,

On The Fence

You’ve just bought a house in a great little neighborhood. Street full of restaurants with cuisine from Albania to Zimbabwe, gym around the corner, more indie coffee shops than you can shake a vegan, gluten-free stick at. Eminently rentable. You go out to the garden and notice the fence, which you’d overlooked before for the

Trebling Trouble With Trees

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson discusses the trebling trouble with trees. As humans, we learn from stories. The War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story Wednesdays: A Trial Lawyer’s Tales from the Trenches” are stories based upon actual cases decided

Dual Agency Fiduciary Duty

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson explains the concept of dual agency, and how fiduciary duty extends to both buyer and seller. Horiike v. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Company (2016) 1 Cal.5th 1024. As humans, we learn from stories. Our War Story Wednesday

A Study in Scams: Real Estate Edition

There’s a new property on the market. It needs a little work, but it’s on sale for a bargain price. The seller inherited the deed after his mom died, it’s all very sad, he just wants the place off his hands, so you happily oblige him – and the timing is perfect, because your partner

Do the REIT Thing

You might think this budding industry is grand. You might think it’s a half-baked idea at best. Regardless, it’s here to stay. IIP, the only real estate company on the NYSE focusing on U.S. cannabis ventures, owns over a million rentable square feet spread out over 11 states, with 100% of the land leased with

Breaking Up Is(n’t) Hard to Do

What happens when you’ve inherited property with your Meth-head brother; or now have discovered that the girlfriend you bought the house with – really was from Hell? Neither will voluntarily sell the property, split the profits and move on. Are you stuck? Nope. “The Law” has your back on this one. Calif Civil Code §

The Freshman 50

Back in March, federal investigators blew the lid wide open on a fraud scheme perpetrated by a group of 50 high-profile parents who traded cash for their kids to get guaranteed places in some of the country’s top colleges. If you’re involved in California commercial real estate, your stomach might’ve dropped when you read the

Trees and Treble Damages

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson the story of how Carlos’ simple eucalyptus tree trimming turned into treble damages for neighbor Janet. As humans, we learn from stories. Our War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story Wednesdays: A Trial Lawyer’s Tales

Lions, Tigers, Bears

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson tells the story of landowners in Southern California who applied for a permit to house five tigers on their 19-acre property. As humans, we learn from stories. The War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story

Home Owners Associations

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson discusses attorney fees, homeowners litigation and Civil Code Section 5975. As humans, we learn from stories. Our War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story Wednesdays: A Trial Lawyer’s Tales from the Trenches” are based upon

What’s Not in Your Wallet ?

San Francisco press reports have revealed that a security lapse at real estate title firm has exposed 885 million records to anyone that cared to check them out. “A security lapse at First American Financial exposed bank account numbers and other sensitive information contained in 885 million files. A flaw in an internet application allowed


Dr. Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. The guy who is supposed to set the rules of engagement for, well, you know, banks and borrowers. The guy who is supposed to be setting the guiding principles for the U.S. housing markets. He’s a “doctor” – which, one presumes, entails SOME kind of education.

Billboards and Easements ???

Hills family (Hills) and SJ Family Housing Partners LLC (LLC) own adjacent lots of land along Highway 101 near San Jose CA. Since the 1970s, Hills owned and operated 2 billboards on LLC’s land – which Hills was able to do pursuant to an easement agreement between Hills and LLC. In 2007 LLC submitted plans

If at First You Don’t Succeed – Go Around?

Home-Owners’ Associations – are the bane of almost everyone.  None of the Owners in an Association, who are not on its Board, like it.  Those who are on a HOA Board, typically can’t wait to get off of it. Except the Neighborhood NIMBY.  You know who I mean…  the one using Gestapo-esqe methods of peeking

Estate Planning: The Ultimate Love Language – Part 2

As a follow up to a recent War Story Wednesdays post, below we’ve included the most likely scenario for how this estate planning dispute could play out. OPTION A: Successor Sally would most likely prevail.  The fact pattern says that Don carefully planned his estate, and only wanted to name Sally as sole beneficiary, so

A Fool and “His” Money

Six and a half years in prison.  That’s what one Fool got for trying to defraud some lenders out of THEIR money. Robert Jacobsen got caught while weaving his elaborate scheme and is now paying the consequences.  Oh, and giving up the yacht he bought with his ill-gotten goods. Seems Jacobsen concocted a plan where

Slander Of Title

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson discusses slander of title. As humans, we learn from stories. The War Story Wednesday videos and accompanying book “War Story Wednesdays: A Trial Lawyer’s Tales from the Trenches” are stories based upon actual cases decided by the

Estate Planning: The Ultimate Love Language

Decedent Don is a hard-working and successful Baby Boomer, who lives with his longtime live-in girlfriend, Cohabitant Carol, and his adult Millennial daughter, Successor Sally. Decedent Don is divorced from his first marriage, widowed from his second marriage, and while he enjoys Cohabitant Carol’s company, he has no interest in giving her any legal recourse

Cement Pond

“Swimmin’ pools and movie stars…”  or the “cement pond” – whichever you call it, having a swimming pool is a pretty fun thing.  Nothing beats the sounds of kids laughing during a water fight, or the repeated calls of “Mom, watch me” when it’s for the 13th belly flop, or the endless (and I do

The Perils of Probate

You’ve been working on this project for over a year.  It’s an assemblage of several lots that, once purchased, will allow you to build that new shopping center complex.  You’ve finally got the last property parcel into contract.  It’s the key to development.  Your due diligence is complete.  Your funding secured.  You are almost ready

Follow The Money ?

The real estate business is a good one to be in.  Most of the time.  I’ve been licensed for over 40 years.  (And only practice law now…)  In that time, I’ve seen a real estate ‘cycle’ or two.  And, sure as green grass follows a rainstorm, licensee numbers increase when the market is ‘good.’ One

You Talk Too Much

There is a doctrine out there that many refer to as the “Good Samaritan Rule.”  It stands for the proposition that you can help someone, and if your “help” goes wrong, you can’t be sued for having given it.  Well, almost. It works like this: You can see a guy lying in the gutter with

A Fool and His Money …

Wire Fraud. A fact of everyday 2018 life? Probably. Absolutely. The Department of Real Estate issued an official warning in October 2018. Here is a copy. DRE Buyer Sellar Agent and Escrow holder BEWARE Wire Fraud 10-2018    

Taco Troubles

A famous taqueria in San Francisco just went up on the market for a forced sale.  Why?  Because the family members got into a squabble about who owned the building. A not necessarily accurate synopsis looks like this: “Brother 1” (of 5 or 6 siblings) “bought” the building in the 1970s.  But, back then, he

Fixing Fallen Fences

Isn’t Fall a wonderful time of year? The trees turn all kinds of lovely colors; sweaters come out of hiding; the smell of a wood burning fireplace wafts throughout the neighborhood.  So, OK, we get an occasional rain storm. And, sure, every now and then a fence that was rotting away gets blown over.  So? 

Up a Creek ?

You finally bought that Sausalito (or Corte Madera, or Stinson Beach, or San Rafael, or Larkspur, or …) sea-side house, with views that go on for days. You enjoy going for walks along the beach and wiggling your toes in the sand; or strolling along the sea-side promenade.  Or your home might be along one

Will Auto-Pilot Cars Impact Real Estate?

As you might guess, there is a lot at stake in the driver-less car business. Tesla, Uber, Google and a host of other key players are all staking out their ground for the “future” of a driverless car. Some expected results are easy to predict: Car insurance rates will go down, repair bills too. But,


Note: Portions of this Blog were originally published by the Sacramento Assoc. of Realtors All California real estate licensees are, for the most part, required to participate in continuing education classes both as a precondition to initial licensing as well as by the time of license renewal. These include classes on (1) Ethics, (2) Agency,

Scam Artist – Warning

I’ve seen a lot – and I mean a LOT – in my 40+ years in this business we call real estate. and I’d have bet that you couldn’t find something ‘new’ to surprise me with.  I’d have lost that bet yesterday.  Because yesterday – I encountered something new.  A new entity called a “Business

E&O Insurance: Are You Covered or Naked?

E & O CLAIM – TENDER ADVISORY We are asked, frequently, whether a client should tender a claim to the client’s errors and omissions (E&O) carrier.  The answer has many parts, and we thought it would be helpful to outline some of them for you in this Advisory. It is important to understand what E&O

HUD v Facebook ?

In a recent article in Realtor® Magazine, it was reported that Facebook had eliminated or changed the options it allowed a user to use when selecting advertising targets. Apparently, some in the R.E. industry were taking advantage (?) of the opportunity that Facebook’s programming allowed in order to de-select certain persons from receiving the ads in the

Beating the War Drums? — One R.E. “Expert’s” Opinion

In a recent article, one real estate broker calling herself an ‘expert’ on the standard of care – sets forth a series of steps she says a buyer’s representative should “always” follow when it comes to disclosures, and consultation with a client. Do you agree that this higher standard should apply? Have you met it?

Welcome back – DRE

In case you missed it, let’s not forget to welcome back the “old” DRE. You may remember that Gov Brown, in a ‘cost saving’ effort, moved the DRE to the Department of Consumer Affairs a few years ago.  Well, that didn’t work so well.  Millions more ended up being spent. In a rare example of

What’s Buried in Your file?

I’ve been harping on this one for a while, and here’s an example of the ‘relationship’ between Banks and REO properties, and the brokers that serve them. Abby Agent of The Brokerage Inc gets a listing from Chase of America Fargo to sell a former auto-body shop. Her on-site inspection reveals oil stains all over

We’re Just a Phone Call Away.

Abby Agent was hired by Samuel Seller to list his commercial property on Industrial Way. Happy to get a big dollar listing, Abby got all the paperwork signed, put up a sign, started dialing potential buyers and working it. Hard. Barry Buyer bit at the chance to buy the warehouse, and emailed the offer to

Trees: Some Hug Them, Others … Make Bonfires

Trees can be a wonderful thing. Graceful ancient redwoods. Shade giving valley oaks. They are emblems of Mother Nature at work. They also grow and block views.   And of there is one thing that will get somebody’s knickers in a knot, it’s the neighbor’s dang tree that they refuse to trim or top that

Drive By Doofus

You’ve heard of a “drive by appraisal,” right? One where the appraiser is a little busy that day, drives by the outside of the property, then checks on Zillow for some ideas about what the inside might look like. Especially in condos, or condo-conversions. They all look alike after a while – right? And appraisers

Giving Trailer Trash a Whole New Meaning

Greed is good when it comes to real estate deals, right? Well, not always. Here’s a tale about an owner who thought he had earned a fast buck. And he might have, if he had played his cards right. This story is all about tendering performance, and the traps that can result.  (Adapted from Rutherford Holdings v.

How Old for Mold?

Black mold can cause serious health issues, and it certainly did in this case. In fact, it harmed the child of a couple that bought a home that was found to have black mold. Find out who, if anyone, was held liable for the injury to this child.

Julia Morgan Fraud or April Fools Joke?

In this story, an architect relied on a broker’s representation that the house he was buying was designed by famous architect Julia Morgan. See what happened when that characterization became a little murky, and the lesson to be learned for all real estate professionals. (Adapted from Jue v. Smiser, 23 Ca.App.4th 312)

The House on the Hill that Went Slip Sliding Away

Where did the requirement for a broker to conduct a reasonably competent, diligent, visual inspection of accessible areas of a property come from? Christopher Hanson takes you back 30+ years to reveal the case that brought that obligation into reality…

Condo Water Problems

One judge commented that construction defect litigation around condominium complexes is as “common as crabgrass,” and this story certainly strengthens that observation. Watch this curious case where a buyer was fully aware of the litigation surrounding water intrusion challenges at this particular complex, bought the unit anyhow (at a discount), then sued the broker when

Gnarly Neighbors

Have you ever had an experience with neighbors who, shall we say, are less than neighborly? What if you want to sell your home for top dollar? Then you’d better not mention those neighbors, right? Watch this story to find out what happened when the seller didn’t disclose those gnarly neighbors.

Water Water Everywhere

A sweet young couple buys their first house, and are promptly threatened with going underwater, literally.

Stateless Russians

Christopher Hanson tells the cautionary tale of Russian immigrants who ended up in California and had a “misunderstanding” with the broker who sold them a property. There’s a great lesson for all of us at the end of this story.

Techno-Geek Rancher

Welcome to #WarStoryWednesdays. In this edition, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson tells the story of a software engineer who decided to trade in his frameworks for fruit trees, move to the country, raise avocados and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way, and

As Is My A$$

Many many years ago, the rule of commerce was “Buyer beware.” Once property passed from seller to buyer, whatever happened after that was on the buyer. Not so much anymore. But here’s a story about a seller who wanted to go old-school and skip all those annoying disclosures. He almost got away with it. Almost… (Adapted from

Water Water Everywhere!!

A young couple buys their first home but they find them selves in up to their necks, in water!

The Case of the Veteran Investor

San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson tells the story of a veteran real estate investor who sued his broker, and subsequently changed the whole nature of Listing Agreements. (Adapted from Carleton v. Tortosa, 14 Cal.App.4th 745) Listing Agreements. (Adapted from Carleton v. Tortosa, 14 Cal.App.4th 745)

Form over Substance

In real estate, fluency in the language of forms is essential – printing them, filling them, explaining them. Forms are usually a broker’s best friend… but not in this case. In this edition of #WarStoryWednesdays This #WarStoryWednesday, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson recounts how filling out a form

What To Do When a Buyer Breaches?

Welcome to War Story Wednesdays. In this episode, San Francisco real estate and insurance bad faith trial attorney Christopher Hanson tells who got paid, and who had to pay, when a buyer breached the Purchase Agreement. (Adapted from Chan v. Tsang, 1 Cal.App.4th 1578) As humans, we learn from stories. The War Story Wednesday videos

Droning on …

Drones are the next “Cool Thing” — Right? One million drones were expected to be sold for the 2015 holiday season.  They are a very cool toy.  For real estate folks, they can be used to inspect property, make wonderful marketing videos, oversee construction progress, etc., etc. Life guards at Seal Beach use them to

I’m a Good Ol’ Country Boy, Just Trying to Get By

The easy road usually leads to a hard fall. This was all too true for a real estate broker who forgot about a few “minor” details like easements and flood zones! Watch the video to get the full scoop.

Usury? Schmoozery!

Usury?  Schmoozery! Or:  What do you mean I can’t charge 15% interest?! Making a private loan?  Be careful out there…

Happy New Laws 2.0 (Landlord – Tenant Edition).

Two laws that pique my interest this year have to do with the always tense relationship between Landlords and Tenants. The first has to do with Mold. You know, the stuff that is everywhere, and I do mean – everywhere. The black, toxic stuff is what everyone fears. The blue, yummy stuff is what we eat in our


Can you write off uncollected rent when a deadbeat tenant doesn’t pay? Murry Bradford of the Bradford Tax Institute was recently asked this questions and answered thusly: “No.” Bummer, huh?  Not really.  As Bradford explained, since you never declared the income of that unpaid rent, you can’t write off that which you never got.  Makes


Its Wednesday again, and on this edition of War Story Wednesdays we find a real estate broker who thought he had a deal in the bag and a hefty commission to go along with it! But not so fast, apparently cash isn’t always king. Watch the video to hear the complete story.


It’s that time again, when the hangover remedies have worn off, and you have to start gearing back up for work.  At least the “fitness resolutions” have another three weeks to go before they fall to the sidelines. So, while everyone is still groggy, it’s time to hit you with what you’ll have to be compliant


All is fair in love and war; but also in real estate?  For this one seller, it seemed so. But, hold on there partner.  The long arm of the law will reach out and grab you when you get too darn tricky for your own good. Just as it did here. Need a lesson when dealing with

Criminal “Independent” Real Estate Professionals

The California Real Estate Commissioner just issued the following warning letter to all California real estate professionals, especially those who are conducting property management businesses. Be forewarned, and do give me a call if the DRE has targeted you. Licensee Alert Issued 9/1/2015 Disciplinary Warning to Real Estate Salespersons Who Act, Conduct Themselves, and/or Advertise as

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Here’s a remarkable story about a commercial real estate broker who tried to make a fast profit by flipping a property. Now normally, there’s nothing wrong with that. But this wasn’t normal. Watch the video to learn about the giant whopper he told, and what the consequences were. What do you think?

Crazy Real Estate Topics?

Over the years, I have picked topics to wax poetic about in these posts. Now, it’s your turn. Let me know what you would like to hear about. It can be topics as a diverse as emerging rent control in the San Francisco area – as a result of the sky rocketing housing costs. Or

Top DRE Audit #10: Written Disclosure Statement

Another often-cited violation is Section 10240 of the code which requires brokers to provide a borrower with a mortgage loan disclosure statement within three business days after receipt of a completed loan application or before the borrower becomes obligated on the note, whichever is earlier. Real estate brokers often fail to provide the Mortgage Loan

Techno-Geek Rancher

This is the story of a software engineer who decided he wanted to shift gears and move to the country, where he’d raise avocados and live peacefully.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way, and he ended up suing his broker, and the farmer who sold him the property. There are all kinds of lessons

Top DRE Audit #9: Commingling

A broker shall not commingle with his or her own money or property the money or property of others which he or she receives and holds. Common causes of this violation are the deposit of trust funds received into the broker’s general business account or maintenance of over $200 in broker funds in a trust

Who Pays When “It” Hits the Fan?

Some things never change, it seems. Here we have a story from 1925 where a broker ran off with the 50% deposit that the buyer had entrusted him to give to the seller.  Yes, that thieving broker was the buyer’s broker, so you’d think the buyer had lost his deposit. Not so fast. The buyer made the

Top DRE Audit #8: Trust Account Withdrawals

Commissioner’s Regulation 2834(a) states that withdrawals may be made from a trust fund account of an individual broker only upon the signature of the broker or one or more of the following persons if specifically authorized in writing by the broker: A salesperson licensed to the broker. A person licensed as a broker who has

How Old for Mold?

Black mold can cause serious health issues, and it certainly did in this case. In fact, it harmed the child of a couple that bought a home that was found to have black mold. Find out who, if anyone, was held liable for the injury to this child.

Top DRE Audit #7: Trust Fund Handling

The most common violations of this section found in audits relate to Commissioner’s Regulation 2832(a), which requires that a broker place funds accepted on behalf of another into the hands of the owner of the funds, into a neutral escrow depository or into a trust fund account in the name of the broker, or in

Condominium Water Problems

One judge commented that construction defect litigation around condominium complexes is as “common as crabgrass,” and this story certainly strengthens that observation. Watch this curious case where a buyer was fully aware of the litigation surrounding water intrusion challenges at this particular complex, bought the unit anyhow (at a discount), then sued the broker when

Top DRE Audit #6: Trust Fund Handling for Multiple Beneficiaries (Trust Fund Shortage)

Regulation 2832.1 requires the real estate broker to obtain written consent from every owner of the trust funds in the bank account prior to each disbursement if the disbursement will reduce the balance of the funds in the bank account to an amount less than the existing trust fund liability of the broker to all

Giving Trailer Trash a Whole New Meaning

Greed is good when it comes to real estate deals, right? Well, not always. Here’s a tale about an owner who thought he had earned a fast buck. And he might have, if he had played his cards right. This story is all about tendering performance, and the traps that can result.  (Adapted from Rutherford Holdings

Chopping Your Neighbor’s Tree – When It’s On Your Property

There have been many cases about trees, and roots, and overhangs, and branches falling. In general, if someone else’s tree is growing into and affecting your property, you can take steps to fix it. But this case set some boundaries to that right… (Adapted from Booksa v. Patel, 24 Cal.App.4th 1786)

Top DRE Audit #5: Trust Account Reconciliation

Regulation 2831.2 requires that the total of all Separate Beneficiary or Transaction Records maintained pursuant to Regulation 2831.1 be reconciled with the balance of the Record of All Trust Funds Received and Paid Out required by Regulation 2831, at least once a month except when the bank account did not have any activities. The requirement

Top DRE Audit Violation #4: Separate Record for Each Beneficiary or Transaction

This regulation requires the broker to maintain, in columnar form, a separate record of trust funds for each beneficiary or transaction accounting for all funds which have been deposited into a trust account. This record identifies which beneficiary has funds in the trust account. This record must indicate the following in chronological order and in

Stateless Russians

Christopher Hanson tells the cautionary tale of Russian immigrants who ended up in California and had a “misunderstanding” with the broker who sold them a property. There’s a great lesson for all of us at the end of this story.

Water Water Everywhere

This week’s story is about a sweet young couple buying their first home, and facing the risk of going underwater. Literally.

Top DRE Audit Violation #3: Trust Fund Records

This regulation requires the broker to maintain, in columnar form, a record of all trust funds received and deposited by the broker. At a minimum, the following information must be indicated in columnar form in chronological order: date funds were received; name of payee or payor; amount received; date of deposit; amount paid out; check

Citations by the DRE: Top Audit Violation #2

Even though the real estate industry has moved into a new millennium with internet marketing, social media, and cloud based transactions, certain things have not changed: the most common violations found in DRE Audits. This is article #2 in a series of articles to call your attention to these common deficiencies and to provide you

The House on the Hill that Went Slip Sliding Away

Where did the requirement for a broker to conduct a reasonably competent, diligent, visual inspection of accessible areas of a property come from? Christopher Hanson takes you back 30+ years to reveal the case that brought that obligation into reality…

Gnarly Neighbors, Non-Disclosure, and Litigation

Have you ever had an experience with neighbors who, shall we say, are less than neighborly? What if you want to sell your home for top dollar? Then you’d better not mention those neighbors, right? Watch this story to find out what happened when the seller didn’t disclose those gnarly neighbors.

Want to Get Cited by the DRE? Top Audit Violation #1.

The real estate industry has moved into a new millennium. New things pop up everyday changing the way we do business, such as internet marketing, social media, and cloud based transactions. Yet, certain things have not changed: the most common violations found in DRE Audits. I decided to write a series of articles to call

Commercial Leases

If you are a Ross store, and you are on one end of a shopping center, and Mervyn’s is down at the other end, can you bail out if Mervyn’s does? After all, you count on the people-traffic Mervyn’s brings into the center. And you even have a “co-tenancy” provision in your lease that says

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ( … and Blocks My View, Dammit)

We’re regularly called upon to settle (or try to settle) neighbor disputes about trees, branches and roots. You would think it is s simple issue. Well, read on… Who owns what? Yes, it’s true, a property owner owns the trees on his or her land. (So far, so good.) A tree whose trunk stands entirely

February E-Zine

The February HLF E-Zine on California real estate and insurance bad faith law.

REO sales going away?

REO resales accounted for 17% of all California resale activity in 4Q 2012, down from 34% one year ago. In a healthy market, REO resales are around 7% of resales.

Eminent Domain – A New Way to Solve the Foreclosure Problem?

In our recent Newsletter, we talk about a creative way Counties are considering to clean up blighted areas in thier jurisdictions, and get owners in distress the loan modifications they need to keep the homes – thus leep the Counties from blight.  Condemn the mortgage! Some in the real estate industry don’t like the idea; others

Real Estate Broker Goes to Big House — No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!

SAN DIEGO (CN) – A San Diego real estate agent was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for helping a drug dealer buy a $2 million house in the nation’s wealthiest community, federal prosecutors said.  Marco Manuel Luis, 32, pleaded guilty to four counts of money laundering, including money derived from illegal activity, the

Not timley reporting an E&O claim – Big OOPS !

We’ve talked about it many, many, times before.  E&O Policies are “claims made and reported” policies.  That means you have to report the claim within the policy period, or you lose coverage.  Sometimes, you have even stricter deadlines.  Like the one RE/Max Mega Group had.  It required reporting within 30 days of receipt of a

Banks Admit Under-Trained Staff in Foreclosure Crisis – SHOCKING!

JPMorgan, vowed to expand training after a review found that the mortgage-servicing unit “struggled to absorb rapid staffing growth and, in many cases, hired representatives with little or no home lending industry experience.” Bank of America, said compliance operations were understaffed as of midyear 2011 and that some people lacked the skills or stature needed

Brokers Watch Out – Here Comes DRE!

In case you have not noticed the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is becoming more aggressive in disciplining brokers. There are several reasons for this. The first is that there is much documentation of gross misconduct by licensees in the past ten years. During that time many new licenses came into the business and

Goodbye to Grubb & Ellis?

Gruss & Ellis filed Bankruptcy. Grubb & Ellis then sold itself to BGC, in a deal both think works for them, and G&E’s creditors.  BGC bought most of G&E’s senior debt (at a discount…).  Think of it like buying the note on a defaulted CRE loan; now you get to foreclose and own the property

Mortgage Principal-Reductions Remain Only a Dream

The Federal Housing Finance Agency acknowledges its mandate to offer the maximum assistance posible to distressed homeowners.  And, it conceds that principal reductions would provide much needed relief to negative equity homeowners.  However, it maintains that current loss mitigation tools in use allow it to fulfill its laudable mission without resorting to principal reductions to eliminate

Settlement – Schmettlement. It’s a Gift to the Banks

NOBODY seems to like the grand settlement reached yesterday between the various States attorneys general and “the Banks”  – except, well, the Banks. One commentator said: “The bottom-line: This Settlement is only a drop in the bucket of the monetary relief that is truly needed to enable upside-down owners to keep their homes and get our

Strategically Thinking … Strategic Defaults Makes Sense

The duty of all Americans to repay their mortgage debt as a moral imperative is an illusion created by lenders (and the collusive federal government) to shame homeowners into repayment. Notwithstanding this so-called moral duty, homeowners enjoy the same rights as governments and corporations to default on their debts when fundamentals tell them it is

OOPS… National Associattion of Realtors overstates sales numbers

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has admitted to grossly overstating its numbers of reported home sales over the first years of this Lesser Depression. After the trusted real estate data firm CoreLogic questioned the accuracy of NAR’s numbers, the real estate trade union took a second look and revised its reported home sales data

Lenders Win Another Round on Condo Foreclosure – ALMOST

Just last week, in Harbour Vista, LLC v. HSBC Mortgage Services Inc., 2011 WL 6318525 (Cal.App. 4 Dist. 2011), the California Court of Appeal held that plaintiffs may not obtain default judgments in quiet title actions. But … (And the “But” is fascinating.) Harbour owned a ground lease under a condo complex. Julie Nugent purchased

Plaintiff Able to state claim against lender for Truth in Lending Act (TILA) violations.

Shaterian v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. , (N.D.Cal.) January 11, 2012 A borrower stated a claim against a lender for violations of TILA disclosure requirements by alleging that the lender had failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose that payment schedules for an option adjustable rate mortgage (Option ARM) on the borrower’s residence were not based

The New News May Be Bad News for Brokers

 New laws that have come into effect include such things as the DRE’s new mandate for “consumer protection” (read: get the brokers) and notice to buyers regarding water conserving plumbing fixtures (has the crap really hit the fan yet?). More to follow in the next few days.

Cramdowns – or a Crock of Crap?

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, proposed securing meaningful principal write-downs for underwater homeowners by allowing a temporary reduction in the interest rates of those homeowners who file for bankruptcy. She presented the plan in a letter to President Barack Obama earlier this month and it was discussed by the Democratic lawmakers and FHFA’s acting

Some real help for commercial property owners?

In a bold attempt to further energize the economic recovery, the federal government through the SBA 504 Loan Program has modified its debt refinance program to help small businesses facing imposing balloon payments. Imagine a scenario where you have a small business in a building you purchased in 2001 for $1 million, and for which

The “New” Federal H.O.M.E. Program is stupid, Stupid, STUPID

What is H.O.M.E. ? The Hardship Outlays to protect Mortgagee Equity Act (HOME) is the legislation currently being discussed in Washington. HOME proposes to allow underwater homeowners to make tax-penalty-free hardship withdrawals from their 401(k) retirement accounts to avoid foreclosure. The way the tax code currently stands, individuals who make early hardship withdrawals from their

15% More to Drop – Prediction for Housing Prices in California

Historical trends don’t lie. At least that’s what “smart people” are saying. And “they” are saying that we have not reached bottom, yet. first tuesday – a real lestate publication that I’ve come to enjoy, and agree with (on almost everything . . . almost) pegged a 15% decline yet to come. Yale economist

CA Real Estate Middle Market – No Where to Go, Just Stuck in the Mud.

The Sacramento Bee recently reported that the “move-up” buyer (the one who has the starter home, and now, a growing family) has no way to sell the old house and move – anywhere. A fascinating statistic was reported by the Bee: “Andrew LePage is an analyst with DataQuick, a San Diego real estate information firm.

A New Nightmare – A Way for Lenders to Avoid Anti-deficiency Rules?

Here’s a thought that ought to strike fear in strategic defaulters… What impact does the “partially worthless security” exception (Calif. Code of Civil Procedure section 483.010(b)) to the “non-recourse” status of a purchase money loan (see the conjunction of CCP 726(a) and CCP 580b and 580d)? If the lender can seek a deficiency – or

Investing in Real Estate is like Running a Marathon – Without Training First

… especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. A recent article in the NY Times … … hit it right on the head. Which is where you and your clients can get hit if everyone isn’t REALLY careful. It was fun reading. I’d recomend it.

“Senior” Retirement Housing. A Sobering Thought.

Vickie Elmer, of the New York Times recently reported that “About a third of the 65-and-older households that owned a home in 2009 had a mortgage, according to the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, which also put homeownership in this age group close to 81 percent during the second quarter of this year.” “And lenders

Rent to Own – REO. Who Are They Kidding Now?

The L.A. Times recently reported that the Fed is now looking to find ways to dispose of the 248,000 homes it owns (through bank REOs) by either selling them in bulk to investors who will be required to rent them, or to sell them on rent-to-own basis. “One idea could be to create pools of

Small Claims Limits Increase to $10k. And this is important becasue …?

Code of Civil Procedure §§ 116.221 & 116.224 were amended by Calif S.B. 221 and these changes are effective: January 1, 2012 until January 1, 2015. They increase the amount that an individual can sue for in small claims court to $10,000. (Companies are still limited to only $5,000 per claim.) Why is this important?

Walk Away from an Underwater Mortgage. Just Do It. It Makes Sense.

Once again, I can say the Banks continue to rob homeowners blind with all the blather about “negative impact” of walking away. Here is yet another article from first tuesday… “Fair Issac Company (FICO) researchers have developed new analytics to predict a borrower’s likelihood of walking away from a mortgage – a strategic default –

Take This Loan and … Well, Take This Loan.

As you know, I have been preaching that “Strategic Defaults” are – often – a good thing for a borrower. first tuesday agrees. “If mortgage lenders will not lend homeowners a hand, then homeowners can force lenders’ hands by exercising their right to default, made imperative by a loan-to-value ratio (LTV) above 125%. Waiting for

Is anyone paying attention out there?

“Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand .. And “lollipop” is the longest word typed with your right hand. TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard. The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every

Who’s on First, What About Second(s)?

Last year the Legislature passed Senate Bill 931 adding Section 580e to the California Code of Civil Procedure.  This new Section established that the beneficiary on a loan secured by a first deed of trust on 1 to 4 unit residential property could not pursue a deficiency judgment after a short sale which they had

This call is being recorded…???

Calling a Bank about a loan is THE most frustrating experience … even more so than sending in a loan mod request package — for the 15th time. From a legal perspective, it gets worse, especially when “Joy” or “Nancy” tells you one thing (like, “You’re approved for our internal Loan Modification Program…”) but refuses

When a Bank’s Promise NOT to Foreclose – is a Promise

In a recent California case (as reported by firsttuesday) “an owner of property defaulted on a mortgage encumbering the property, causing the lender to record a notice of default (NOD). Prior to the trustee’s sale, the owner’s loan broker arranging financing to pay off the delinquent mortgage requested the lender postpone the trustee’s sale, which

Now Who Takes It in the Shorts on a Short Sale?

In July, the California legislature passed SB 458, which revised Ca Code Civ Procedure 580e to prevent “short sale” deficiencies on second position loans. So, here’s the rub. No one knows for certain if it is retroactive. If you closed a deal in 2010, and the Bank has not yet sued for a deficiency on

Just How Much FHA Hogwash Can We Swallow?

The latest and greatest news is that FHA will allow borrowers who are unemployed up to one year of deferred mortgage payment relief (read: live for free) while they get back on their feet. This represents about 4% of the troubled California mortgages. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans are NOT included in this program.

BofA Settlement or Snore?

“The goal is to reinstate as many borrowers in a modification that performs well,” said Tony Meola, a servicing executive with Bank of America. “It also is likely to lead to faster resolution in those unfortunate situations where foreclosure is inevitable. While not a desirable outcome, the recovery of the housing markets depends on moving

In Recovery or Intensive Care?

The Allen Matkins/UCLA Anderson Forecast states that real estate “investors” are optimistic and buying up “class A” properties at above market value. The Orange County Register wonders is this is the beginning of a new real estate “bubble.” Only for bubble brains, I’d say. At the conference of bankers (senior asset managers for three SF

CO Detector Disclosure – What Is And Is Not Required

 Last month I wrote about the new law requiring the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and its impact on the TDS as of 1/1/11.  This month I want to clarify what the new law does and does not require.  To begin I will repeat the opening paragraph of last month’s article. Effective July 1,

Short Sales – no liability for second’s ?

SB 458 – effective July 11, states no liability will inure to sellers of short sale 1-4 unit properties in California with respect to second position loans. (Recall that first position loans sold short lost recourse liability becasue of SB 931 in 2010). Good news? Or bad? Some say it will actually hurt sales in

A New Federal Agency for Consumer Protection … Riiiiiiight.

Oh, please. Let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. When has the government EVER been good at something like this? And ALL “consumer finance” (student loans?, credit cards?, mortgages?, annuities?, 90-day lay away programs for mattresses?) will be governed, watched over, regulated by this one Gi-Huge-ic, government bureaucracy. Yup. The same people that brought us

FTS says “No” to MARS? – Baloney!

It’s all so much fluff and bother. A “great victory” is achieved by the “National real estate interests.” The FTC announces it won’t seek redress for MARS violations against real estate professional s doing ‘short sales.’ HELLO….. ANYBODY OUT THERE? The FTC lost jurisdiction to enforce when the Consumer Financial Protection Agency took over. The


Holmes v. Summer. The Listing Agent’s doom. In October of 2010 the California Court of Appeal came out with a ruling that says the Listing Agent is liable to a non-client buyer (read that carefully!) For failure to disclose material facts effecting value or desirability of a residential property. Now, how the hell will a

These Boots (and Mortgages) are Made for Walking (Away)

Some people still wonder if they should walk away from their loans – to simply stop paying and let the Bank foreclose. Others are prevented from doing so – solely by the image of their Grandfather scolding them to keep their promises to the Banks – and continue to make payments on mortgages on houses

“Sticky” Prices or “Stupid” Prices?

Sellers (and listing brokers?) of residential real estate seem stuck in the ‘olden days’ of value. They are stuck with the old price. It’s the “sticky price” problem. They seem to ignore a reality: Value is based on CASH PRICING. Yup. Those REO speculator investor buyers are setting the new market value of EVERYTHING. And

Good News Everybody! The “Great Recession” ended 2 YEARS ago. Technically…

The recession is over…technically. Californians who consider the condition of the state’s economy today will generally agree we are in the throes of an ongoing real estate recession. To those who are unemployed or delinquent on their mortgage — millions of Californians — the term recession is synonymous with personal financial hardship. The media laughed

Even Today, Home Buyers Don’t Know How to Do Math

Zillow Mortgage Market recently reported some alarming – but not surprising – news. Buyers still don’t know how to do mortgage math. More specifically: ■ 44% admitted they were not confident in their comprehension of the mortgage process; ■ 57% did not understand how adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) work; ■ 34% were not aware loan

More MERS Messieness

He’s baaaaaaack! A week away for vacation, and look what happens! As we’ve pointed out before, there is a conflict between California Appellate Courts and the Federal Bankruptcy Courts in California with respect to the authority MERS has to assign notes and deeds of trust. Looks like the California Appellate Courts are going to hold

Feds to the Market: Let’s Kill High End Real Estate Sales!

The New York Times recently reported that “high value” homes are going to lose government support in the secondary mortgage market – and that that loss will likely further deteriorate the real estate recovery. It was right. “By summer’s end,” it reported “buyers and sellers in some of the country’s most upscale housing markets are

Permanent loan modification refusals coming to a location near you!

Oh how I do LOVE first tuesday. Here’s their latest take on Bank of America’s “new and improved” loan modification centers. (And, while they don’t use the word ‘bullshit’ – which I would – they come pretty darn close!) “Six new Bank of America (BofA) mortgage help centers will be opened in Los Angeles, San

You’re Gonna be Liable – I “Guaranty” It…

Deeds of Trust on commercial real estate are often accompanied by personal guaranties – agreements between borrowers, or more likely the principals of the borrower-entity, and the lenders. Much like the debt collectors seeking redress of sold out seconds in residential real estate, banks are going after guarantors. Aggressively. Frequently even before the banks go

REOs Sales to Dominate Market till 2017?

A recent article (( )) in first tuesday, a California real estate centric on-line magazine (with views that match mine – most of the time) predidcts REO sales to remain above thier historical 9% until 2017. I bet they are right. Prices continued to drop in CA this year – with about an average

Dodd-Frank. Protection? Or Problem?

Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank, the people who were key players in allowing the financial collapse, have brought us legislation to “fix the problem”.  The Dodd-Frank Act is 2,314 pages of disjointed and wide spread enabling legislation that will impact all areas of the financial structure.  To see the briefest summary I have been able

2 to 1. That’s the balanced ration between agents and brokers in CA.

2 to 1, agents to brokers. That’s the current ratio. “Back to normal,” says first tuesday. You betcha. The 5 to 1 ratio – from the “good old days” (?) when you could get a real estate license if you were breathing, are long LONG gone. Thank the gods. “When you compare the number of

The American Dream – Or Was that Nightmare?

In a recent ‘first tuesday‘ article about the “American Dream” ft wrote: “California’s response to the relationship between homeownership and the health of a community differed from national results, which is not surprising since the state has been hit much worse by the housing crisis than the rest of the country. Seventy-seven percent of Californians

How much medicine can the sick housing market stomach?

Strictly speaking… Defining the qualified residential mortgage (QRM) is testing the mettle of the government’s commitment to stability in the real estate market. QRMs, established under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), are loans meeting low-risk standards which exempt lenders from having to retain any part of these loans in their

Q1 2011 Foreclosure Stats. It isn’t any better. Yet.

firsttuesday online reports that “40% of all California resale activity in the first quarter of 2011 can be attributed to real estate owned (REO) inventory — 3% lower than the same period in 2010. REO resales varied significantly from county to county, from rates as low as 12% in San Francisco County to as high

CHASE-ing what matters — Small Business Customers?

It was recently reported that “Chase plans to lend $12 billion to U.S. small businesses in 2011, a 20 percent increase over its 2010 commitment. ‘Small business owners are not only our neighbors, but also the entrepreneurs that hire half of the employees in the United States,’ said Michael Cleary, CEO of business banking in

Fannie and Freddie Get Their Act Together. Almost. Sortof.

Lance Churchull writes: “One thing I have wondered about in the past is why the two government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, found it necessary to have different rules for short sales, but then I remembered that the “G” in GSE stood for government and, of course, the government usually makes things more complicated

Pure, unadulterated, Bullshit — Mortgage AMELIORATION

Big words – pure Bullshit. Here’s what one lawyer is peddeling in Southern Califirnia. “Here is some info that we send out to brokers. Our fundamental principal under which we work is the “educated supposition” that a preponderance of real estate loans having been originated by the banking industry in the last several years were,

MARS Rules… Will they apply to brokers/agents?

Some say Yes, others say No. The fact is that they DO APPLY – for now. Is it likely that brokers/agents or even attorneys will be exempted? Not in my mind. The disclosures are intended to “protect” the public. When has the government EVER decided that the bother to the provider outweighs any potential consumer

California Home Prices Take Another Hit

Not a surprise, really; but Standard & Poors states that CA home prices are DOWN another 2.5 – 5% (depending on specific sub-markets). The forecast: No real increases (even 1-3%?) until 2013.

Fraud is in the Air, Everywhere We Turn and Look and See…

Desperate Times, Lead People to Desperate Measures. Or so it seems. In the last few weeks, we’ve been contacted by three different brokerages who have been the subject of lawsuits against them because of – embezzlement. Embezzlement by agents working for the brokerages – taking client’s money! One case involved property management trust accounts, the

Fun Fact Of The Day …

OK, Steve Frantz writes these, and I couldn’t resist. (Note the “t” in Fran”t”z.) I think they are going to become a regular feature… Because I love you all and am concerned for your health and well being, today’s fun fact is not only informational, but nutritional as well! I guess you’ve grown to expect

Short Sale Approvals in 45 Days? Bologna!

RISMEDIA reported today (April 15, 2011) that a new bill to improve the process for approving short sales might soon bring relief to distressed homeowners who are unable to keep their homes and hope to avoid foreclosure. The bill, recently introduced in the U.S. House and strongly supported by the National Association of REALTORS®, would

Holy Moly – The MERS Mess just got Messier!

April 11, 2011 … Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) all ganged up on Mortgage Electronic Registration System MERS. And I mean ganged up on it. A consent decree was issued this Tuesday telling MERS it had

E & O Carriers are NOT your friend…

E&O Carriers…those folks to whom you pay hard earned dollars, “just in case.” What a crock. If there is any possible way to get out of defending a broker or agent, they’ll find it. And they are sneaky about it. Just this week, a broker was sued, named as one of nearly a dozen defendants

Ups and Downs of Home Prices…

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the oprices of houses are Up, and Down. Depending on where. Seems like everyone jusst wants to ad their own shpin on a story that has no right, wrong, left or middle. “With the National Association of Realtors reporting that home prices rose in about half of U.S.

NorCal Realtor Expo was Apr 6 — 1,100 attended

…and were made privy to the offerings of 2 dozen or so vendors (like HLF). What I found encouraging is that – even in the face of one of the most difficult markets in my career life (35 years — how did that happen?) – the level of enthusiasm remained high. Sure, we’re all working

B of A is Looking for a Few Good Men (and Women)

Here’s the link to register for listings from BofA. Who knows…

A Fond Farewell to Fannie and Freddie?

My friends at first tuesday nailed this one: The current administration proposes that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac be gradually dissolved within ten years by one of three methods: 1.Government-guaranteed mortgages will be available only to finance home purchases by low- and moderate-income families, a task to remain the duty of a much-downsized Federal Housing

The WRONG People are Going to Jail for Lender Fraud!

This last weekend, the New Your Times published a story that, quite frankly, shows why the financial markets are so f*$#%’d up. You’ve got to love the FDIC “investigator” who got a bug up his butt, and sought out, and sent a secret investigator (posing as a hot chick trolling for a guy) to dupe

No More MERS Foreclosures?

Freddie Mac bulleting 2011-05 states No More MERS foreclosures. MERS must transfer the interest it holds as indentured trustee (or whatever) to the actual loan services. I wonder how much money MERS just lost on all those fees it was generating? And how will the true servicers will feel about having to foreclose the old

Help for HAMP Applicants?

Mortgage borrowers who are turned down for loan modifications may now get additional information that could help them understand why they didn’t qualify under the so-called “HAMP test.” Until recently, borrowers weren’t privy to the data used to perform the Home Affordable Modification Program’s, or HAMP’s, “net present value” test. But as of Feb. 1,

Prices Falling — Again?!

The Wall Street Journal reports: “Sales of previously occupied homes in the U.S. sank by 9.6% in February and prices fell to the lowest level in nearly nine years, indications that the market remains depressed. Existing-home sales decreased from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million, the lowest level since

How Many Points in Your Wallet?

According to Fair Issac Company (My FICO) a company that provides analytic, decision making, and credit scoring services for financial service companies a credit score will go down by 40 to 110 points after being 30 days late. Further, the scoring drop will increase to 70 to 135 points after 90 days late on a

Use a “Team” Name – Lose Your License?

Are you thinking about using a team name? Are you already using one? Are you asking for trouble? DRE takes the position that a team name must be registered as a fictitious name (dba) with DRE before it can be used. The problem is that only a broker can have a dba. Many of the

C.A.R. Open Letter on Short Sales

March 10, 2011 An important message from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®: I write on behalf of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, whose 170,000 members continue to witness the devastating consequences the home foreclosure crisis is having on California’s families, neighborhoods, and communities on a daily basis. The number of families affected by foreclosure is

Flipper, Flipper, Flipper. U-u-nderWater; U-u-nderSiege…

While there will always be opportunities for the knowledgeable and dilligent to make money flipping properties, declining prices and increasing loan costs will shrink the profit margins available as flippers find it harder to re-sell. First it was the (unreasonable) restriction on the number of loans an investor could get, then it was the (reasonable)

Golly Geez, Do We Say “Goodbye” to GSEs?

You may have heard? The future of FNMA and Freddie Mac is in jeopardy. These Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) were originally created to provide a funding source for socially desireable but higher risk loans. When started, GSE’s provided funds for 30% of all loans. Today, that number is 90% — and steps are being taken

“Hi Honey, I decided to keep your 1/2 of the house…” Not.

Conveyance of title from one spouse to another for refinancing does not transfer ownership of community property. A married couple decided to refinance their home, which was community property. Due to the wife’s poor Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score, the wife conveyed her legal interest in title to her husband in order to obtain a

Arbitration is arbitrary

Arbitration is arbitrary. Originally conceived as an instrument of community empowerment, arbitration quickly degenerated into a travesty of the American judicial system. The framers of arbitration were the progenitors of the modern legal apparatus — lawyers, judges and politicians who restructured the fundamental concepts of the judiciary and placed the power of adjudication into the

‘Assumumptions’ are ‘Subject to’ all Kinds of Factors…

This article analyzes the unspoken stifling effect the due-on-sale clause has on the California real estate market. It was published by firsttuesday online – and is one of the best, plain language, explanations of the due-on-sale clause I’ve seen in a long time. first tuesday posits that the due-on-sale restrictions hampers California’s real estate recovery.

Fed’s New Compensation Rules: Ouch!

The Federal Reserve Board has amended Regulation Z, which implements the Truth in Lending Act and Home Ownership Equity Protection Act, with new policies for how loan originators may be compensated. Effective April 1, 2011, all loan originators will no longer be able to receive compensation based on the interest rate or other loan terms,

Greed is Good? NOT. Foreclosure Fraud arrests!

The FBI has launched a massive foreclosure fraud campaign in northern California arresting dozens.  Plea bargains and guilty plead abound. Here’s a report from the SF Chronicle. What is is all about? Greed. The “professional bidders” get together, and agree among themselves as to who will bid on any particular property.  Then, later, they

The MERS Mess – Continued…

The California court of appeal has spoken!  No more of the nonsense about MERS not having the ‘right’ to foreclose because it doesn’t hold the note.  In Gomes v. Countrywide Home Loans (decided last week) the court ruled that California’s Civil Code relating to non-judicial foreclosures, which specifically allows ‘an agent of the beneficiary’ to

The Ups or Downs of Foreclosures…

One recent blogger commented: “All the news you have heard this last month does not bode well for those trying to foreclose on poor home owners. Foreclosure levels have dropped tremendously. And the housing market reacts. “This may or may not be good news based on how you view it. For one, the banks are

Markets Up or Down?

“There is no consistency,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors.   “In one quarter, a market may see a price increase and the next quarter a price decrease.” I guess what you’ve been feeling in California is being felt all over the Nation.

The Banks are NOT your Friend

Here’s a story from one of our readers… “Seller listed home as a short sale for 240k  and buyer offered 240k cash second lien of 30k was in agreement of short sale, first lien holder was not.   Home was foreclosed.   Listed for 240k sold for 232k. seller is now in collection from 2nd lien.   Shouldn’t

Be Smart About Social Networking to Sell Homes

According to the 2010 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 89% of home buyers used the Internet as one of the information sources in their home search process.   So, it is no surprise then that today’s agents are eager to find new ways to reach out to consumers online. A recent REBAC member survey

Short Sale Liability to Broker for Non-Disclosure?

We recently EZined about an October 2010 case where the court found liability for a listing broker for failure to disclose the transaction was a short sale.  We disagreed with the court – which found liability. Not everyone agrees with us. For instance, Peter D from Ventura says: Quote:  ”You are full of shit!  Fraud

All Kinds of Concern re: Disclosure of BPOs

In a recent EZine, we wrote that it was our opinion that BPOs (Broker Price Opinions) should be disclosed. What do you think?

Landlord Concessions Help CRE Recovery

Landlord concessions like giving tenants more time to make the rent and agreeing to subleases is helping the commercial real estate sector make a “modest improvement,” according to According to data from the latest National Association of Realtors’ Commercial Real Estate Index, subleasing remains high and lenders are more lenient in allowing for extra

Short Sale Fraud Detector

CoreLogic has just introduced a new software program designed to catch real estate brokers and agents who commit short sale fraud by providing a low bid to lenders in order to get a second commission by flopping the property to a higher bidder. The new CoreLogic Short Sale Monitoring Solution is designed to help lenders

Rising Trend: Buy & Bail

Buy and bail – where a homeowner buys a new house before his credit is trashed by walking away from the old one – is on the rise, according to a recent Bloomberg report. According to the article, those most likely to “buy and bail” have a large income and low debt, enabling them to

SB 1178 Awaiting Governor’s Signature

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest movie, The Expendables, is a summer hit and Californians are now waiting for him to morph into the homeowners’ hero by signing SB 1178, the bill extending anti-deficiency protection for consumers facing foreclosure who refinanced their original mortgage loans that was approved by the California Sate Assembly earlier this month.

July Worse Than Forecast

You know it can’t be good news when an article about home sales starts out like this: Analysts’ estimates for July home sales aren’t even close. And it wasn’t good news. According to, the sale of new single family homes hit an all-time low of 276,000 units for the month of July, down over

U.S. to Stay in the Mortgage Business

At a conference held last week to discuss the overhaul of housing finance, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said that the Obama administration was not looking to perform “radical surgery” on the system, but was focused instead on creating a “new and improved” version of the current system where the government would subsidize mortgage loans made

LPS: Foreclosure Problem Here to Stay

An analyst from Lender Processing Services, a default services analytics group, is predicting that foreclosure and REO issues could continue to plague the housing market recovery until late 2013. During the LPS annual conference in Denver last week, LPS Applied Analytics managing director Kyle Lundstedt said that well-intended programs designed to keep borrowers in their

Latinos Account for Half of CA Foreclosures

The Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit research center and borrower advocacy group, reports that Latinos account for almost half of the foreclosures in California. The CRL says that Latino borrowers make up 48.2 percent of the over 700,000 California homes currently in the foreclosure process, based on their analysis of data from ForeclosureRadar and

Crimes Rates Unaffected by Foreclosures

A new University of Texas-Virginia Tech study says that while foreclosures may “destabilize and disorganize” communities, they do not directly affect the neighborhood crime rate. Researchers said that instead of affecting crime, foreclosures are — like crime — symptomatic of a community’s lack of political clout, poverty and segregation. The study used data on foreclosures

BofA Launches Short Sale Program

Bank of America has announced a co-op short sale program, targeted at homeowners who have failed to qualify for mortgage modifications under HAMP or HAFA. BofA is launching the new program with 2,000 homeowners who have already been pre-screened because they applied for mortgage modifications under HAMP or HAFA. The bank is offering them the

Home Affordability Problems Persist

New research from The Urban Institute’s MetroTrends, which reports on social and economic trends in urban America, shows that despite a drop in home prices, affordability continues to be a problem for many Americans, especially in coastal metro areas. According to the MetroTrends data, the share of American households spending more than 30 percent of

California Foreclosures Up and Down

ForeclosureRadar reports that California foreclosure activity was “mixed” in July, with foreclosure filings and cancellations dropping from June and foreclosure sales rising. California foreclosures moving to REO status were up 13.46 percent in July from the previous month, but down over 18 percent from July of 2009. Notice of default filings were down 4.8 percent

REOs Reach New High

July foreclosure data from RealtyTrac shows that REO levels in July were at the second highest level since the company started reporting in April of 2005. The highest point ever recorded by the company was just two months ago, in May, when there were 93,777 properties that went back to banks as REO. In July,

Looking for a Reason to Believe

Things are gonna get better, or things are gonna get worse. Take your pick. Two top economists, the kind that institutional investors rely heavily upon, have weighed in on which way the economy is going to go. And they disagree! (No surprise there, really.) Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley is the more optimistic of the

Feds Hold Conference Today on Repairing Fannie and Freddie

The Obama administration is holding a conference today to discuss ways to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying that doing so will be important to fixing the country’s broken housing finance system. The conference will focus on a review of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, Ginnie Mae, the Federal Home Loan Banks and

New Website Launched to Educate Borrowers About Foreclosure is the new Fannie Mae website launched last week to help distressed borrowers understand more about mortgage financing and prepare them for dealing with lenders in the foreclosure process. Available in both English and Spanish, the new site aims to help struggling homeowners find alternatives to foreclosure. According to a Fannie Mae press release,

Fannie Mae Relaxes Broker REO Limit

Fannie Mae has relaxed the limit of 30 REO listings per broker from any one Fannie Mae source, according to a report from REO Insider. In June, Fannie imposed a strict limit of 30 REO listings per broker at any one time, and imposed a 25-mile restriction as well. The new rules elicited an immediate

Housing Market Leaders in 2014

Bloomberg Businessweek has listed the top 10 markets that will lead the housing market recovery by early 2014 from data provided by Fiserv Case-Shiller Indexes and Moody’s The housing forecast is based on factors that include income growth, unemployment rates, demographic trends, construction costs and foreclosure rates. There were 384 markets surveyed, and the

A Condo or a Car? reports that several condo markets in the U.S. are seeing units priced “lower than a Toyota Corolla”, at or even below $25,000 in nice neighborhoods. Median home prices have fallen about 23 percent during the housing market collapse, but condo prices have suffered even more. According to NAR, nationwide condo prices have fallen about

Foreclosures: There’s an App for That

In early July, ForeclosureRadar, the online service that provides market information on foreclosures in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state, released an iPhone app to make all its information available to subscribers in a mobile format. Now Foreclosure Radar has released another technology tool: an alert service that sends an email or text to

DRE Revokes Record Number of Licenses

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) said that it revoked a record number of real estate licenses over the past year – a total of 633, for a 10 percent increase over the previous year. For its fiscal year ended June 30, DRE also said that it suspended another 163 real estate licenses and

The FTC 8

The Federal Trade Commission has banned eight mortgage relief and foreclosure prevention marketers from plying their trade and fined them over $23 million for deceptive advertising. The eight individuals involved in three companies – two of them in California — have also been ordered to return over $30 million in fees to fleeced consumers. The

Foreclosure Worse Than Death

Foreclosure is worse than death – at least when it comes to home values, according to a new MIT study. The study done by an MIT economist and researchers from Harvard says that foreclosures reduce home values by an average of 27 percent. Comparatively, a home sold because of an owner’s death only reduces the

Reasons for No Recovery Yet

Glimmers of hope for the housing market battle daily with predictions of a double dip. So why hasn’t the housing market recovered yet, four years after the bubble burst? U.S. News & World Report listed these six reasons in this week’s issue: 1. Unemployment. Job growth is key to housing recovery and with the national

Real Estate Psychology

Recently, an article in Smart Money talked about the psychology of real estate and how large a role it plays in buyers’ home purchase decisions. Among the findings: Attractive real estate agents sell more. A study at Old Dominion University showed that men tend to pay more for a home if it’s being sold by

Hey Fannie, Is That a Suggestion or a Requirement?

Complaints from lenders about a new Fannie Mae policy that requires lenders to secure a borrower’s “refreshed” credit report just prior to a home purchase has resulted in the lending giant pulling the new rule from its website. According to a Washington Post report, Fannie Mae introduced a new policy this summer that “encourages” lenders

Treasury Says Housing Revamp Coming in 2011

Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) conference in New York recently that Treasury will not propose housing finance reform measures until 2011, and will probably do so in conjunction with the agency’s enforcement of the new financial reform law just passed by the Senate and due to

Bank Repossessions to Hit 1 Million in 2010

RealtyTrac reports that with 528,000 foreclosures in the first half of 2010, it is likely that more than one million American homeowners will lose their homes to foreclosure by the end of the year. If true, that number will be 10 percent above the number of foreclosures in 2009, a number that a RealtyTrac executive

Housing Market Double Dip a Reality?

According to Capital Economics, a Toronto-based independent macroeconomic research firm, a double dip in the U.S. housing market is beginning to show itself. In addition, the Double Dip Begins report found that for every home currently on the market, there are two more waiting to be sold. In an article at, the report author

Architects Say CRE Construction Stalled Until 2012

Architecture trade group the American Institute of Architects said in a press release issued on July 14 that commercial real estate construction is expected to decrease by more than 20 percent this year and will only see a marginal increase of just over three percent in 2011. The AIA says that, even with modest improvements

Banks Gearing Up to Lend

Even in the face of a disastrous dip in new home sales in May (down 30%), many banks have hit the restart button on their mortgage lending operation. JP Morgan Chase has announced that it will hire 1,200 new mortgage officers for what it anticipates will be a greater need in the not-so-distant future. Citizens

California AG Launches Tenant Abuse Investigation

California Attorney General Jerry Brown has opened an investigation to protect tenants of properties that have been foreclosed on – a group he calls “the forgotten victims” of the housing market collapse. Brown said that it is estimated more than one-third of all California foreclosures are rental units and that over 200,000 tenants have been

Fannie Mae Updates Appraisal Policy

As the result of a post-purchase review of mortgage loan files that identified a number of appraisal issues, Fannie Mae has updated its Selling Guide with additional appraisal guidance. The new policy requirements and clarifications concerning existing lender requirements – which take effect on all mortgage applications dated on or after Sept. 1, 2010 —

Mortgage Brokers Fight Proposed Lending Rules

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) has sent an alert to its members urging them to urge their congressional representatives to oppose the national financial overhaul legislation that is scheduled for a vote in mid-July. NAMB president Roy DeLoach told his membership that the new legislation would hurt competition in the mortgage market and

CRE Loans Making a Comeback

Commercial real estate loans – which went from a high of $230 billion in 2007 to just $3 billion two years later – are making a comeback as major bank players cautiously dip their toes back in the market, lured by more conservative underwriting and the perception that property values have bottomed out. In the

Who’s Winning the Short Sale Service Race?

Deutsche Bank has issued a report ranking U.S. mortgage servicers on the speed of completing short sales transactions. For prime lenders, the winner is GMAC, with an average transaction time of six months. CitiMortgage was in second place at 7.5 months. Countrywide, now owned by BofA, sucks wind in the prime category, coming in last

Moody’s Says U.S. CRE Values Up

For the first time in three months, U.S. commercial real estate property values rose in April, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The Moody’s/REAL Commercial Property Price Index rose 1.7% from March; however, prices declined 16% from April of 2009 and are down 41% from the Index’s October 2007 high. From a Bloomberg report: Economic growth

What’s Next? Poodle Skirts and Duck Tails?

Mortgage rates are now the lowest they have been since the 1950s. Unfortunately, the low rates also come at a time when unemployment is high and credit scores are low. The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 4.69 percent last week; rates for 15- and 5-year mortgages also hit record lows. Realtors

Treasury Approves CA Plan to Help Homeowners

Last week the Treasury Department approved proposals from California, Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Michigan to help distressed lenders who don’t qualify for mortgage modifications and released $1.5 billion in funds to those states of the $2.1 billion set aside by the Obama administration earlier this year. The California Housing Finance Agency got $700 million for

Feds Bring the Heat to Strategic Defaulters

Fannie Mae made an announcement last week that borrowers who walk away from their mortgages – the strategic defaulters – will be unable to secure a Fannie Mae mortgage for seven years following the foreclosure. And in the states that allow deficiency judgments, Fannie said they’d be taking legal action against those borrowers in an

California to Play Catch-Up

The latest quarterly report from the UCLA Anderson Forecast says that the California economic recovery is expected to lag the nation in 2010 but will ramp up in 2011 and beyond. From the report: UCLA Anderson Senior Economist Jerry Nickelsburg says the state “will grow slower than the U.S. and a slow recovery in jobs

75% of Mortgage Mods to Fail?

A credit rating agency says that between 65%-75% of HAMP loans are likely to go bad as borrowers continue to struggle with increasing debt. The Fitch Ratings report said that on average, HAMP-modified borrowers have 64% of their monthly pretax income already committed to existing debt, and have no cash reserves to deal with an

Fed Mortgage Fraud Busts

Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and HUD Inspector General Kenneth Donohue held a news conference on June 17 to announce that the agencies’ three-month “Operation Stolen Dreams” sting has already netted 485 arrests for mortgage fraud nationwide. They also said that mortgage fraud has resulted in losses of about $2.3 billion to

Pimco CRE Forecast: Damp

Pacific Investment Management Co. (Pimco) released their analysis of the commercial real estate market this week, saying that unemployment and property price uncertainty will continue to put a damper on recovery. A Wall Street Journal article outlined the key findings: –Capital has returned to commercial real estate. “But optimism should be tempered, because national price

California CRE Looking Up?

An article last week in the LATimes noted that while prices are not exactly climbing, investors are “on the prowl again” and bidding is brisk for desirable commercial properties. The report noted that there is a lot of commercial real estate investment money on the sidelines awaiting bargains that just haven’t materialized because lenders have

Home Buyer Tax Credit Extension?

The real estate lobby has been petitioning Congress to extend the homebuyer tax credit closing deadline past June 30 because the program worked too well. The last-minute rush of homebuyers in April caused a log jam at lenders and real estate service companies that is still not unclogged. The concern is that many of those

SB 1178 Approved by Senate

Last week the California Senate approved SB 1178, extending anti-deficiency protection to homeowners who refinanced their original mortgage loans and are now facing foreclosure. SB 1178 now moves to the Assembly for approval. From the C.A.R. press release: “Currently, if a homeowner defaults on a mortgage used to purchase his or her home — known

May Foreclosure Report

Things are looking a bit sunnier in sunny California these days according to RealtyTrac’s May foreclosure report. Foreclosure filings in the Sacramento area were down almost 13 percent in May compared with the same month one year ago, although May filings were up slightly (2.25%) from the prior month. For California as a whole, foreclosure

Short Seller Beware

The Sacramento Bee reports that as the number of short sales in the area rise, so do the imaginative ways some people can come up with to exploit them. The SacBee article warns of these schemes: • Unlicensed short sale “negotiators” are approaching homeowners, asking for thousands of dollars up front to negotiate with lenders,

Flip Flops

A short sale fraud scheme known as “flopping” is on the rise across the U.S. and two Connecticut real estate agents may be on their way to prison for their involvement in this illegal activity. Flopping is when an investor or homebuyer hires a broker to assess a property for less than its market value

Asian Investors Fill SF Hotel Vacancies

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that foreign investors, mostly from mainland China, have their eye on more landmark San Francisco hotel properties, including the famed Sir Francis Drake Hotel, which is currently on the market. Shenzhen New World Group, a Chinese real estate development company, purchased the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown in a

You Go, Girl

Single women accounted for more 2009 home purchases than single men at a rate of more than 2 to 1, according to a recent National Association of REALTORS report. Unmarried women accounted for 21 percent of home purchases in 2009, compared with unmarried men who were 10% of the buyers. The predominant markets for single

Going, Going, Gone…Finally!

CNNMoney reports that there is a growing boom in real estate auctions, fueled by the growing number of REOs, new developments that have gone bust and distressed homeowners who are tired of watching their home values continue to decline while awaiting a sale. The National Auctioneers Association notes that real estate auctions have increased by

Dirty Talk

Lender Processing Services, a technology firm that reports on loan delinquencies, says that its data – based on 40 million first loans and 5 million home equity loans and lines of credit — points to an escalation in prime loan delinquencies across the U.S. According to LPS analyst Steve Berg, there is a huge inventory

Luxury Home Market Rebounds

A study by MDA DataQuick for the Wall Street Journal has found that sales of homes over $2 million or more in the first quarter of 2010 rose to 2005 peak levels in some areas of the country, including San Francisco, Menlo Park and Beverly Hills. The study showed that in San Francisco during the

Housing Market Bipolar

Real estate experts are calling the current housing market “bipolar”, citing the rise in sales and prices on one hand and the hike in interest rates and repossessions on the other. The final diagnosis: negative in the short term, but turning positive by the end of the year. According to a CNNMoney article: One of

Record Delinquencies & Foreclosures in 1Q 2010

The Mortgage Bankers Association has released its first quarter numbers for mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures and it’s a new record high. From an AP report: The number of homeowners who missed at least one mortgage payment surged to a record in the first quarter of the year, a sign that the foreclosure crisis is far

Most Still Not Walking

A Harris Interactive online survey from mid-May showed that 59 percent of those surveyed would not consider walking away no matter how much negative equity they had in their home. The research was conducted on behalf of RealtyTrac and and surveyed 2,596 adults aged 18 and older across the U.S. Other findings according to

Liar Loans Banned

In a classic case of “too little, too late”, the U.S. Senate voted to ban “liar loans” as part of the financial regulatory reform bill and require lenders to fully document a borrower’s income before approving a loan. From a CNNMoney report: This would effectively end the origination of no-doc or stated-income mortgages, which many

Loophole or Noose?

C.A.R. issued an alert last week, warning consumers of a loophole in California law that allows lenders to sue foreclosed borrowers for the difference between the mortgage and property value. C.A.R. is also sponsoring legislation to close the loophole (Senate Bill 1178). From the C.A.R. alert: California has protected borrowers from so-called “deficiency” liability on

Bay Area Home Prices Rise Again in April

Is two months a trend? Bay Area home prices rose again by 5.5 percent from March to April. March saw Bay Area home prices rise 33 percent from February. While prices were up, sales volume was down – single-family home sales declined by 3.7 percent from March to April in the Bay Area. From California

Mortgage Fraud Mecca

A federal grand jury in Sacramento has returned indictments in two separate California mortgage fraud cases. In the first case, five defendants from Elk Grove and Fair Oaks were charged with 11 counts of mail fraud related to their alleged operation of a mortgage fraud scheme. The men changed their names to Muslim names to

California’s “Radical” Ideas to Help Homeowners

We posted an item last month about the federal government’s plan to give $2.1 billion to 10 states – California is one – to come up with unique ways of stemming the tide of foreclosures. The California plan has been turned in, and reports on the details: California, which will receive $699 million to

California Foreclosure Filings Drop in April

ForeclosureRadar, an online resource that tracks foreclosure activity across the U.S., reports that California foreclosure filings dropped in April for the first time this year. From Notices of default dropped 16% from March, after rising 3.75% from February. Default notices also increased 41% from last year, reaching 27,832 in April. The notices of trustee

Our Heads a Little Higher Above Water

The Zillow Home Value Index out this week shows that the number of homeowners with underwater mortgages continues to climb, but notes that California home values are on the rise. The Zillow report said that the percentage of single-family home mortgages with negative equity rose to 23.3 percent in the first quarter of 2010, from

Keeping PACE?

Fannie Mae notified single-family sellers and servicers last week that Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Loans have automatic first lien priority over previously recorded mortgages. Here’s the information from their May 5 lender letter: Fannie Mae has received a number of questions from seller-servicers regarding government- sponsored energy loans, sometimes referred to as Property Assessed

Told You So

Last week, DRE issued a Short Sale consumer alert statewide “warning consumers and real estate agents about the perils and potential pitfalls of short sales.” (Blatantly commercial message: we’ve had a Short Sale Buyer Advisory posted on our website for awhile now – it’s available at no charge by signing up for a free trial

Stay or Go?

At the end of 2009, almost 40 percent of California homeowners were underwater with their home loans, and 20 percent had negative equity of 25 percent or more. A recent article at examined the pros and cons of strategic default, or walking away from mortgage debt. First, the cons: Foreclosures constitute a loan default

Rent vs. Buy Debate Heats Up

As the housing market malaise continues, the American Dream of homeownership is facing a more realistic economic paradigm shift. More and more Americans are separating the emotional aspects of home ownership from harsh economic reality and jumping into rentals instead. And many real estate professionals are taking note. Here is an interesting post from a

Vegas Realtors Roll Dice With New Credit

The federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers may be over, but one Las Vegas brokerage firm is trying to keep the action going with their own version. Coldwell Banker franchises in Vegas and throughout Nevada’s Clark county are encouraging sellers to participate in a program that offers buyers a credit of 3 percent – up

More Walking

From last Friday’s Wall Street Journal Real Time Economics blog: More homeowners are willing to walk away from their homes voluntarily, according to new research released by the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. About 31% of foreclosures in March were considered “strategic defaults,” in which homeowners walk away when the value of a mortgage

More Earth Shaking Real Estate News

Last week California geology officials released an updated seismic activity map that includes more than 50 surface fault lines discovered over the last 20 years. The last seismic map update was 16 years ago. The new maps are much more detailed, and have interactive digital versions that are linked to Google maps. Since 1998, real

California Metros Claim 10 of Top 20 Spots on Foreclosures List

California is #1 again, but not in a good way. According to the newly released Q1 2010 Metropolitan Foreclosure Market Report out last week from RealtyTrac, California metros accounted for 10 of the top 20 metro foreclosure rates. Those metropolitan areas include: Modesto Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario Stockton Merced Vallejo-Fairfield Bakersfield Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville Visalia-Porterville Fresno 10. Salinas According

The New Gold Rush?

If California homebuyers didn’t get in on the federal tax credit that expired last Friday, they can still get a $10,000 credit that kicked in on Saturday, May 1 thanks to California lawmakers. And that has touched off a “feeding frenzy”, according to an article late last week in the Los Angeles Times: “I am

Strategic Mortgage Defaults Now 12% of Total

A report by Morgan Stanley analysts says that 12 percent of all mortgage defaults in February were “strategic defaults” – where homeowners decided to walk away from their mortgages. This is up from 4 percent in 2007. From the story in the San Francisco Chronicle: Borrowers are more likely to stop paying their mortgages the

Give Us Our Money

A group of California homeowners is suing Bank of America, alleging that the national lender is intentionally withholding government funds intended to stave off foreclosures. The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Northern California; a similar lawsuit was filed in Washington state last month by the same law firm handling the

That New C.A.R. Smell

C.A.R. kicked off a new consumer advertising campaign as well last week with a theme of “Your Piece of California. Your Peace of Mind.” The campaign includes TV and radio ads and a new consumer website: (a Spanish language version is also up at The new websites feature current real estate news, median

California Not Cool

Hanley Wood Market Intelligence’s Builder Market Health Index was released earlier this month, ranking the 100 largest housing markets by health. The index was formulated using projections for employment, household formation, income and home values. The good news is that no California market was ranked in the Bottom 10 Coolest Housing Markets, which included: Pittsburgh,

Fannie Gets Paddled in Capitol Hearing

Two former senior executives with Fannie Mae appeared at a hearing before the Congressional Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission earlier this month and used an argument well-known to naughty children everywhere trying to explain away bad behavior: everyone else was doing it. From the USA Today coverage of the hearing: Just before the housing bust, executives

Freddie Mac: Seller Beware

If you’ve attended any of our Short Sales presentations, you know this, because we talk about it a lot…but just in case you missed it, Freddie Mac is now making it clear that they are aware of and are taking steps to prevent Short Sales fraud. From an April 12 press release on their website:

The Long and Winding Road

An analysis released last week by financial services technology provider Fiserv, Inc. says that residential real estate markets in California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida won’t be back for another 15 years or later. For Sacramento, make that 29+ years. Fiserv says that Sacramento home prices peaked in the fourth quarter of 2005 and are expected

Foreclosure Freedom Owners Lose Theirs

The owners of Foreclosure Freedom, a loan relief company in Fresno and Orange County, have been sentenced to a year in jail and four years of probation after pleading guilty to grand theft, conspiracy and unlawful foreclosure consulting. The two women – Marianne Curtis of Costa Mesa and Mary Alice Yraceburu of Riverside — must

Median Home Prices Jump in Bay Area

The median price of a home in the Bay Area was up 31% in March from the same month one year ago, and now stands at $380,000. According to a report by MDA DataQuick, Bay area home sales also saw a spike in March, up over 40% from last month and 10% from March 2009.

1st Quarter Foreclosures Climb

And you thought April 15 couldn’t get any worse…add RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report out last Thursday that shows a 7% increase in foreclosure filings for the first quarter of 2010. March filings were up almost 19% over the previous month and up 8% from March of 2009. Nevada, Arizona and Florida were the top

Here Chick, Chick, Chick…

Talk about chickens coming home to roost…. On Friday, Goldman Sachs – the most profitable Wall Street firm in history — was charged with fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the structuring and marketing of a debt product tied to subprime mortgages. The SEC complaint named Goldman VP Fabrice Touree as the

Real Estate Power

BusinessWeek came out recently with a feature on The 50 Most Powerful People in U.S. Real Estate. The list is a blend of economists, policymakers, industry organizations, homebuilders, bankers, brokers, insurers, developers, investors and property owners, and is not ranked. There are only two women on the list: NAR president Vicki Cox Golder and Bank

You Say Potato

HUD announced this week that it is changing how it defines foreclosed and abandoned properties. At HUD, foreclosed used to apply only to properties that had completed the foreclosure process. Now, foreclosed at HUD also encompasses properties in default. The agency used abandoned to define property that had been foreclosed on and had been vacant

Big Brother is Watching

The FHA warned lenders this week that it is keeping a close eye on how mortgage companies are following the agency’s standards. And to put teeth into the warning, the FHA announced that it has permanently pulled its approval from two mortgage lenders: RSA Financial, Inc., Atlanta and 1st Alliance Mortgage LLC of Houston. From

Harsh Reality

The foreclosure crisis has hit reality TV! No, not a new show…although “Pimp My Short Sale” might be popular….but the fact that many of the homes featured on the highly rated reality TV show Extreme Makeover are facing foreclosure. If you’re not a fan of the show, the premise is simple: hardship-stricken homeowners are sent

Bittersweet Victory

California state lawmakers passed SB 401 this week, which exempts homeowners who have lost their homes to short sales or foreclosure, or who have received loan modifications, from having to pay state tax. From the Sacramento Bee report: The bill extends the state ban from 2009 through the end of 2012. It also bans state

More MERS Mess

Fannie Mae issued new policy guidelines this week that told servicers they can no longer name MERS as a plaintiff in foreclosure actions on a mortgage loan owned or securitized by the GSE. From “…the system has become the centerpiece of a number of lawsuits, with foreclosed homeowners challenging the naming of the electronic

Fear Driving Prices Down

A forecast out last week from the University Financial Associates of Ann Arbor says that most metro areas in the country will see prices fall below the lowest levels of the past two decades, due in large part to fear. From the Real Estate Economy Watch website: “It is often stated that prices decline faster

Foreclosure Forecast: Stormy

According to a forecast published this week by RealtyTrac, foreclosures are expected to rise to 4.5 million by the end of 2010, from 2.8 million in 2009. Is HAMP the finger in the dike, or a beaver dam hoping to hold back a tsunami? Here’s Jon Maddux’s take in a posting on Over a

Why CA Housing Prices Depressed

There are five key financial indicators that show exactly what is keeping the housing market – and the rest of us – depressed. An informative post on recently provided an in-depth look at these trends, which include: Increase in MLS Inventory Falling Prices Competition for Jobs Rise in FHA Defaults Mortgage Delinquency What this

Exempt Us, Already

There’s a rising chorus of pleas to enact state legislation that will exempt debt relief for homeowners selling their homes in short sales. The question is, will the California legislature continue to be tone-deaf? There are currently two bills before the legislature — AB 1799 by Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, and SB X614 by

New Credit Card Scam

As the economy continues to flounder, crooks seem to get more inventive with ways to scam regular folks out of their hard-earned cash. This one showed up in my Inbox recently and appears to be a fairly easy one to fall for: It works like this: Person calling says, “This is (any name) and I’m

Top 10 List No One Wants to Be On

U.S. News & World Report released its Top 10 list of America’s Most Underwater Housing Markets last week: 1. Las Vegas, NV 2. Merced, CA 3. Phoenix, AZ 4. Orlando, FL 5. Greeley, CO 6. Bend, OR 7. Minneapolis-St.Paul, MN 8. Memphis, TN 9. Cleveland, OH 10. Grand Rapids, MI And closer to home, MONEY

REO The Way to Go

In his recent posting on, publisher Paul Jackson scrutinizes current data from Lender Processing Services – which showed that a record 7.5 million loans are non-current – and posits that the real key to resolving the housing market problems yet-to-come is REO property sales. And here’s why: For all loans at 90+ days delinquent,

RSVP: Yes, Please

Last week Bank of America said that it would forgive some mortgage debt to help keep distressed borrowers from losing their homes. The by-invitation-only program announcement came the same week as the news that BoA had settled a suit brought by the state of Massachusetts for predatory lending. From the BoA press release announcing its

Same Problem, Different Plan

The Obama administration announced new modifications to the HAMP and FHA programs late last week to “better assist responsible homeowners who have been affected by the economic crisis through no fault of their own.” So who benefits from the modifications? The program expands flexibility for mortgage companies and banks to assist unemployed homeowners as well

Off to Jail Fed-Style

Two Florida men were sentenced in federal court last week to prison terms for mortgage fraud and four more were added to another federal mortgage fraud indictment, including a banker and an attorney. From the Orlando Sentinel on those already sentenced: Richard Nanan, a former loss-mitigation negotiator with Taylor, Bean & Whitaker, was sentenced to

A Good Dip?

The median price for California homes rose for the fourth consecutive month in February, according to a report released March 18 by MDA Dataquick. The report noted that the 11% increase in the year-over-year median price was due to a dip in foreclosures and an increase in sales of high-end properties. From the AP story

Seeing Double

In an interview with CNBC this week, Meredith Whitney of the NY-based financial services advisory firm Meredith Whitney Advisory Group predicted that the housing market would face another downturn once government-backed programs fade away, causing a double-dip for the U.S. housing market: Government programs to support housing have been “murky” and when the modifications caused

NAR Defends BPOs

Appraisers — who have seen their fees cut in half in recent years as a result of a mandated clearing house approach to appraisal assignments which was a knee jerk reaction by the Legislature resulting from lender fraud cases where the Bank insisted appraisers keep values inflated — are now protecting what is left of

Taking It In The Shorts…Again

Californians who received mortgage modifications or participated in a short sale or foreclosure could be getting the short end of the stick again in the form of a huge tax bill. That’s because legislation preventing their canceled debt from being treated as taxable income is caught up in a budget squabble between the Governator and

Will Walk for Cash

The Obama administration has announced a new program taking effect April 5 that will pay homeowners in danger of foreclosure cash to walk away. Lenders will also get a cash payment for agreeing to a short sale. The New York Times piece on the new program reported: Under the new program, the servicing bank, as

An Understatement on Foreclosures

Hey American taxpayers, get your wallets ready…a group of economists from the NY Federal Reserve and NYU say the FHA is understating how much risk it’s taken on, which may make it a candidate for a taxpayer bailout. The FHA currently backs more than 25% of all home loans – up from less than 2%

Foreclosure Shake-Up

The foreclosure crisis will be over sooner as a result of Chilean earthquake! Scientists say the recent magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile may have shortened the length of each Earth day. So, whatever we’re going through, well, it won’t last as long! From the NASA website: JPL research scientist Richard Gross computed how Earth’s rotation

Let It Snow

The numbers on February foreclosures are out this week from RealtyTrac, which reported that foreclosure filings fell 2% from January and, overall, that February filings had the lowest year-over-year increase since January of 2006. James Saccacio, RealtyTrac CEO, said that the severe winter weather in the first two weeks of February “appears to have temporarily

Grab Your Floaties

The predicted wave (tsunami, really) of new foreclosures is detailed last Friday in a report by the Washington Post: About 5 million to 7 million properties are potentially eligible for foreclosure but have not yet been repossessed and put up for sale. Some economists project it could take nearly three years before all these homes

21st Century Squatting

According to a piece last week in the Los Angeles Times, more and more underwater mortgage holders are staying in their foreclosed homes – and lenders are letting them. Throughout the country, people continue to default on their home loans — but lenders have backed off on forced evictions, allowing many to remain in their

David Sues Goliath

California homeowners suing lenders about to foreclose on their homes has skyrocketed from 388 in 2008 to nearly 1.400 in 2009 – another sign of desperate measures homeowners are willing to take to hold on to their homes. According to an article in last week’s Mercury News, this strategy is allowing those homeowners to, at

Sad Sac

Approximately 12.3% of Sacramento mortgages in January were more than 90 days late, in foreclosure or tied to a bank-owned property, according to a report out this week from mortgage industry tracking firm First American CoreLogic. The January number is up slightly (.3%) from December 2009, but up significantly from a year ago, where troubled

WSJ: OK to Walk Away

An article last week by Wall Street Journal personal finance columnist Brett Arends advised homeowners that are deeply underwater on their mortgages to “do the math” and walk away, pooh-poohing any “morality” argument thusly: Your instincts, while honorable, are leading you astray. The economy is fundamentally amoral. Sometimes I think middle-class Americans are the only

CA Homeowner Aid: Dam or Damn?

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration announced that California is one of five states that will receive a portion of the new $1.5 Billion federal aid package to be distributed in hopes of slowing the tidal wave of home foreclosures. However, some real estate experts are saying the funds will do damn little to dam

HAMP to Hamper Foreclosures?

A report on recently said that the Obama administration was considering a ban on all foreclosures unless they have been reviewed and rejected by the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP): The proposal, reviewed by lenders last week on a White House conference call, “prohibits referral to foreclosure until borrower is evaluated and found ineligible

More on Fewer Foreclosures

The real estate community continues to be abuzz about the recent Mortgage Banker’s Association quarterly report on foreclosures for the end of the fourth quarter of 2009, which showed that fewer homeowners are falling behind on their loans. However, it also reported that the number of homeowners who have missed at least three payments kept

Driven to foreclosure?

A report last month from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says those homeowners who spend a lot of time driving everywhere are at a greater risk of foreclosure. Using data from three large urban areas – San Francisco, Chicago and Jacksonville – the study found that “factors such as neighborhood compactness, access to public

Foreclosure Crisis Over? Really?

The Mortgage Banking Association, based in Washington DC (the same people that bought their HQ building for $79 million and sold it three years later for $41 million) announced last week that the foreclosure crisis is “over.” From a press release posted on their website: “We are likely seeing the beginning of the end of

CA Court Says No to Nonrefundable Deposits

Most people (buyers, sellers, real estate agents) think that when a real estate contract stipulates a nonrefundable deposit, it means the person paying that deposit will not get their money back under any circumstance. Earlier this month, a California court said: not so fast. The Feb. 3, 2010 decision by the California 4th District Court

Out Like a Lamb?

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar is warned to “beware the Ides of March.” The same can be said this year for the mortgage market, as the Fed prepares to wean it off government life support (the purchase of mortgage-backed securities) by March 31. According to a piece this past week in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Lawsuit a Turkey?

This one is for the birds… (we can’t make this stuff up!). According to an article in the Beaufort (SC) Gazette, two Hilton Head siblings were recently awarded $4.25M in a pet turkey lawsuit: What began as a dispute between neighbors about pet turkeys ended Friday when a Beaufort County jury awarded two Hilton Head

Keys to the Citi

CitiMortgage has launched a pilot program that will allow distressed mortgage holders to stay in their home an additional six months in return for turning the keys over to the mortgage lending giant at the end of that period. In a press release issued last week, CitiMortgage announced that the program will initially be offered

947,000 HAMPy Campers

The Wall Street Journal reported this week on the HAMP ramp-up, noting that the number of households benefiting from the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was up 11% in January and that, overall, about 947,000 households have taken advantage of the government’s foreclosure prevention program. The article also noted the steps the Treasury is taking

A Pony in the Pile

From the hallowed pages of the Washington Post came news this week that home equity is on the rise. Digging through the pile to find the pony, the Post reported on what it called “the least-publicized statistic” from Federal Reserve research on mortgage balances and home-value changes: According to the Fed’s most recent “flow of

HUD Targets Lenders

HUD Commissioner David H. Stevens announced a new initiative this week that focuses on mortgage companies with significant claims against the FHA mortgage insurance program, issuing 15 subpoenas to mortgage lenders across the country demanding documentation on failed loans that resulted in claims paid by the FHA insurance fund. According to a press release posted

Strip Tease

…or how to get rid of the underwater second mortgage, from a recent Ezine article by David Reinholtz, founder of, a speaker and an approved education provider for NMLS: One day Suzie homeowner reviews her personal finances and comes to a stomach-churning realization: the house that she has lived in and made payments on

Thanks But No Thanks

The federal regulator for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae told the mortgage finance giants “thanks, but no thanks” to generating new loan products – at least while they are under the control of the U.S. government. Too bad, when the past ones worked so well….(!?!) The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s acting director Edward DeMarco told

Hotels: LOTS of Vacancies

Hotels are becoming one of the biggest bargains in the CRE industry right now, at least in northern California. This week, the Sheraton Pleasanton Hotel was purchased by a partnership of realty investment firms Sethi Enterprises and Kapoor Enterprises. According to an article in the Contra Costa Times, Sethi executive J.P. Sethi said the purchase

DRE Audit Violations: Part 2

From the California Dept. of Real Estate website, here are the last five of 10 most common violations found in DRE Audits: Regulation 2832.1 – Trust Fund Handling for Multiple Beneficiaries (Trust Fund Shortage) Regulation 2832.1 requires the real estate broker to obtain written consent from every owner of the trust funds in the bank

Walk-or Swim-Away?

A recent New York Times article reported succinctly on the growing trend of homeowners who are “underwater” on their mortgages simply packing it in and walking away. Called “a situation without precedent in the modern era,” abandoned homes are becoming more prevalent as “people’s emotional attachment to their property is melting into thin air.” An

CRE Walkathon Continues

The walkathon in the commercial real estate market continues. A Wall Street Journal article last week reported on the Mortgage Bankers Association’s sale of its headquarters building in Washington, DC to CoStar Group for $41.3 million – about $38 million less than what it paid for the building three years ago, and also way below

Tough (and Expensive) Talk

Real estate agents and talking on the phone while driving go together like milk and cookies. Just be sure California doesn’t turn it into sour milk! Look at these fines and think again about the cost of that hands-free cell phone headset: Drive using wireless phone not hands free, first offense: $148 Drive using wireless

DRE Audit Violations: Part 1

From the California Dept. of Real Estate website, here are five of the 10 most common violations found in DRE Audits: B & P Code Section 10148 – Retention of Records Business and Professions Code Section 10148(a) states that a real estate broker shall retain for three years copies of all listings, deposit slips, canceled

A Gift That Keeps Giving

Many banks suspended their foreclosure activities in December for the holidays (can’t have Tiny Tim in the street at Christmas….let’s wait until January!). So it wasn’t unexpected to see the December foreclosure rate decline. However, according to Foreclosure activity dropped dramatically in December, especially when looked at on a daily average basis. For example

FHA Policy Update

The FHA has announced a number of policy changes “to better position the FHA to manage its risk while continuing to support the nation’s housing market recovery.” The FHA said it would take the following steps: Increase the mortgage insurance premium (MIP); Update the combination of FICO scores and down payments for new borrowers; Reduce

About REOs: Part 8

The Purchase Agreement You may think that that CAR form Residential Purchase Agreement you know so well will be the form of purchase agreement used in the transaction. Right up until the time you get a 12-page Counter Offer from the bank. That Counter Offer overrules many of the protections in the CAR RPA form.

2010 Forecast for CRE

Dr. Sam Chandan, President and Chief Economist of Real Estate Econometrics and an adjunct professor of real estate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, recently gave a presentation on what he believes 2010 holds for the commercial real estate market. The upshot of his findings: Though the economy remains fragile, we are

From the HAMP Camp

The government continues to struggle to put together a loan modification program that will work for both the homeowner and the lender. According to a recent announcement by HUD and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, new provisions to the mortgage modification program (HAMP-Home Affordable Modification Program) that will speed the process will go into

About REOs: Part 7

MLS Listings on Net Sale Price The bank wants to maximize its money on the sale of an REO property. It also wants your best efforts to sell the property. So, it will try to get you to agree to a commission on a NET sales price. Or, at the last minute, once you’ve presented

Catch a Wave

According to Housing in America: The Next Decade, a new research report authored by John K. McIlwain, senior resident fellow, Urban Land Institute/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing, there are four major “demographic waves” that will affect the U.S. housing market in the next decade: Aging baby boomers (55 to 64 years old)– Although they

HUD Flips Out

…and it’s a good thing. HUD has flipped the Anti-Flipping rule on its head – temporarily — in an effort to make foreclosures more attractive to investors. On Jan. 15, HUD announced that FHA mortgage insurance will now be allowed on foreclosed houses that are quickly resold – “flipped” – which will also free up

About REOs: Part 6

You are a broker/agent. You are desperate for listings. The only kinds of listings out there are bank REOs. The bank wants you – as part of the listing agreement – to do things like get the property professionally cleaned, arrange for repairs, watch over the repair professionals to make sure they get the job

Investing in Tough Times

“It is clear the future holds great opportunities. It also holds pitfalls. The trick will be to avoid the pitfalls, seize the opportunities, and get back home by six o’clock.” – Woody Allen. If only it were that simple. Tough times do create some great opportunities for the savvy real estate investor. The trick is

About REOs: Part 5

Acting as a General Contractor You are a professional, licensed, real estate agent. You are not a licensed general contractor. Understand the differences. They’re critical. Most of us intuitively know that a general contractor is a person who builds things, or repairs things. Sometimes they are big outfits; sometimes the office is the passenger side

More 2010 Laws

AB 1046 – Effective January 1, 2010: Increase in Homestead Exemptions Increase in Homestead Exemptions: Coming into effect on January 1, 2010, the homestead exemption protecting a homeowner’s equity from judgment creditors has been increased by $25,000 across the board to $75,000 for individuals, $100,000 for married couples or family units as specified, and $175,000

Agent Beware

Short Sales are called that for a reason: somebody is going to take it in the shorts! Just be darn careful it’s not you (the agent). In California, the fiduciary duties create almost impossible barriers for risk avoidance. If you represent the seller, you have duties to present ALL offers to the seller – but

Is the Balloon About to Pop?

“Recovery!” That’s the word the general press is bandying about. “Recovery.” Really? Residential real estate values have dropped 25-50% since 2006 (depending on what state you’re in). Many pundits, and expert economists (an oxymoron?) predict that 2010 and 2011 will be even worse because of the mass of adjustable-rate mortgages that are scheduled to re-set

What Brokers Need to Know About REOs: Part 4

Property Management Banks may call for the broker/agent to manage the property. And “property management” can mean something very different to a bank than to a broker/agent. In some instances, all a broker/agent is asked to do is determine if the property is occupied. That’s it. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. In rent-controlled cities (Oakland

We Can Work It Out? New Time Frames for Short Sales & Foreclosures

SB 306 – Effective January 1, 2010: Establishes time frames related to short sales and foreclosures. This law has been falsely reported as requiring short sale lenders to respond to a short sale within 21 days. That is not what this law is about. This is what it does provide: 1. Requires short sale lenders

New Real Estate Laws from Late 2009

SB 94 – Effective Oct. 11, 2009: No more Advance Fees on Loan Modifications. No Advance Fee Loan Modifications: Starting October 11, 2009, a new law prohibits anyone from claiming any compensation for negotiating or arranging a loan modification until after that person fully performs each and every service as promised. Aimed at combating loan

These Loans Were Made For Walkin’

“Walk Away Mortgages.” A “new” Federal Program? Nope. A new financial reality. When houses are worth less than the debt owed against them (“negative equity” in bank parlance), it becomes a sound financial decision to simply ‘walk away” from the house, and rent the same model down the street for about half the cost. Sure,

FDIC: Federal Deals Incredibly Cheap?

Christmas came a month late this year for Colony Capital LLC, but nobody there is complaining. Colony, a private international investment firm, bought $1 Billion in commercial real estate loans from the FDIC for 44 cents on the dollar. According to a CoStar Group report: The transaction included 1,200 loans with an aggregate unpaid principal

What Brokers Need to Know About REOs/Part 3

BPOs and the Thorough Inspection The bank listing agreement may call for the broker/agent to give opinions of value (BPOs). A BPO is an in-depth analysis of a property’s value. Think of it as a mini-appraisal. To do one properly, the broker/agent needs to thoroughly investigate the property’s condition. Some might suggest even more thoroughly

New Licensing and Language Laws

SB 36 – Effective January 31, 2010 and December 2010: Licensing Requirements for Mortgage Loan Originators. Mortgage Loan Originators Regulated: If a real estate broker or the broker’s salesperson makes, arranges, or services loans secured by residential property containing one-to-four units, the broker must notify the DRE by January 31, 2010 or within 30 days

Adding Insult to Injury? More Like Piling On.

What is yesterday’s news (literally) may become tomorrow’s big headache for many homeowners who participate in a short sale. A Feb. 3 article for explained how banks and other lenders are now pursuing former homeowners with “deficiency judgments” – asking them to pay the difference between what they owed on their mortgage and what

“Just Enough…”

There’s a proposed Federal Program to assist Banks and borrowers (one of hundreds) by paying Banks $1 for every $2 a Bank writes off on a loan. Why ‘write off’ any part in the first place? Because many of these homes are worth less than the debt; they’re underwater (banks call this “negative equity”). Sounds

Cockroaches to the Court: Turn Out the Lights!

Backed by The Clearing House Association, a consortium of banks (and was there ever a better name?), the Federal Reserve has asked an appeals court to shield the names of participants in the federal emergency financial system bailout program from the press and the public. In response to a lawsuit brought by Bloomberg News and

Turkeys in the Straw

A mortgage broker who took out astronomical loans on behalf of “straw buyers” has been sentenced to a five-year term in federal prison (“the big house”) for the mortgage fraud scheme. Viktor Kobzar, a Federal Way mortgage broker, and six other associates charged in the scheme had falsified income documents to obtain loans and then

What Brokers Need to Know About REOs: Part 2

Welcome to the REO Business How do you start? By getting to know your local bankers. (Note: most REO properties are coming from national banks, and bankers handling the mass volume of REO properties are just too busy and losing too much money to be friendly. So be persistent. And take donuts.) We presume that

New Laws Establish More Oversight for Mortgage Broker Activities

AB 260 – Effective Jan. 1, 2010: Tightens restrictions on mortgage brokers so they cannot steer borrowers to riskier, higher-interest loans when they qualify for less-expensive ones. Mortgage Broker Activities Restricted: Commencing January 1, 2010, a mortgage broker will be deemed a fiduciary with a duty to place the borrower’s economic interest above his or

Don’t Mortgage Your Career by Being Ignorant of California’s New Real Estate Laws

Knowledge is power…and a powerful weapon that can be used against you in litigation if you don’t pay enough attention to the rules and regulations that govern California real estate transactions. Several new laws took effect while you were out celebrating the New Year or catching the bowl games…do you know what they are? We

Are Piggyback Lenders Being Piggy? And Is It Illegal?

CNBC real estate reporter Diana Olick broke a story on Jan. 15 about some piggyback lenders – or second lien holders – committing alleged short sale fraud by demanding a cash payment to release their lien in order for a short sale to take place. Basically, because so many homeowners have taken equity out of

What Brokers Need to Know About REOs: Part 1

By now, if you don’t know that REO stands for Real Estate Opportunities, you’ve been living under a rock. For agents and brokers in California, REO (bank parlance for foreclosed properties which are now, to them, “Real Estate Owned” assets) properties ARE the market. After all, with home values plummeting nearly 50% in some areas,

When a Broker Gets Sued

When a broker gets sued, we step in: as the hand-picked attorneys for the broker – all at the insurance carrier’s expense. A broker is generally sued for negligence and some form of intentional misconduct. Why? Because plaintiffs want “punitive damages” and they can’t get that from a ‘negligence’ claim. That’s a problem for the


Wave goodbye? Not! Lease or contract provisions commonly state: “In the event of litigation between them, the parties hereto expressly waive trial by jury.” Now, three years later, there is a dispute, and you want a jury. Are you stuck with that waiver? Nope. The California Supreme Court has ruled that: “…pre-contract jury waivers are

Congratulations – You’ve Been Sued!

A “hot” market just means deferred litigation. For many. We’re not the only ones that think so. Calls from brokers, buyers and sellers tell us: time in court is coming a broker’s (and agent’s) way. The rising real estate market covered a multitude of sins, sins which are now becoming clear. In addition, 85% (


If you don’t do it right, it just wasn’t done. A tenant with an option to extend a Lease must strictly comply with the terms of the Lease with respect to how to exercise that option right. If the Lease is silent on how, the tenant can merely call the landlord and say that the

Lis Pendens aka “Deal Killer”

It’s a simple document – that can strike fear in the heart of the most experienced owner, buyer, or broker. A Lis Pendens (Latin for: Notice of Pending Action) is recorded to advise a potential purchaser or lender of another’s claim to ownership of the real property that is adverse to the owner of record.

I Surrender!

Did the tenant surrender the lease, or abandon it? Does it matter? It does, if the landlord still wants to get that rent that’s not going to be paid now! A tenant may “abandon” or “surrender” a lease before the lease is scheduled to end. In the first instance, an “abandonment,” all the rent remaining

Nine Tenths

“Possession is 9/10ths of the law.” Is it really? Can somebody buy real property without a written agreement? Generally, no. But then again, there are always exceptions. The “Statute of Frauds” states that an agreement to buy real property must be in writing to be enforceable. One of the exceptions to the Statute of Frauds


“Bona-fide purchaser for value without notice” Huh? So what? Those words can save somebody when a 3rd person makes a claim of ownership adverse to theirs. Like the times when a seller sells the property twice. Who owns it when the first buyer didn’t record the deed yet? Generally, the second buyer if they record

Special Delivery!

If you get lucky and get a good deal at a foreclosure sale, can the former owner challenge your bid and get it set aside? Sometimes. The key is to get the Trustee’s Deed DELIVERED to you as soon as possible. Acceptance of delivery (which doesn’t require recording, but that’s important too) gives you, as

Slapp Happy

When are demand letters and other communications useable as a defense to a lawsuit? When your lawyer is really creative. Or not. A recent court of appeal decision held that correspondence from one partner to another in which the first partner tries to talk the second partner out of selling the second partner’s interest to

Shields and Swords

Need some polish for your “Corporate Shield?” Many brokers (agents too) have set up corporations for themselves to protect against claims. Then they forget about the annual “formalities” or use the “company” money for personal expenses – which allows a plaintiff to “pierce the corporate veil” and go after their personal assets.

(Boring but Important) Buyer’s Choice Law

A California law, AB 957, known as the Buyer’s Choice Act amends Civil Code Section 1103.20 through 1103.23 regarding title insurance and escrow service providers. Federal RESPA law prohibits the seller from requiring the buyer to purchase title insurance from an insurer designated by the seller. RESPA applies to the sale of 1 to 4

Verify This!

“The seller told me – so it must be true.” Don’t bet on it. At least not without checking first. President Reagan wasn’t the only one to say, “Trust; but verify.” Under California law, a real estate broker has an obligation to independently verify information passed on to a client OR, advise a client of

Statute of Limitations

Few of us know exactly what “statute of limitations” means; even fewer know how long one has before it’s “too late”, and even fewer know the exceptions to the rules. There’s this great moment in “Philadelphia“, the movie starring Tom Hanks as a fired lawyer with AIDS, when he is being told that the complaint

25102 (f)

Corporations are business entities separate and apart from their individual shareholders. Corporations Corporations are business entities separate and apart from their individual shareholders. Where corporate formalities are followed (among so so many other things), the corporation’s shareholders, directors and officers are generally protected from the claims against the corporation. A shareholder’s liability is usually limited to

Resulting Trusts

“My sister and I decided to buy some investment property together. My credit was lousy, so I gave her my one-half share of the money to buy it, and she put it in her name. Now that escrow has closed, I’ve asked her to put the property in both of our names, since I can’t

Ducks, Rabbits & Chickens

Transforming One Cause of Action into Another: Negligence CAN become Breach of Contract Perry v. Robertson (1988) 201 Cal.App.3d 333 (“Perry“) is a case most brokers are not aware of, and should be. Plaintiffs, based on Perry, without pleading a claim of “breach of contract” have been able to transform a claim of “negligence” into

The MERS Mess

This Kansas Supreme Court decision is the latest to expose the flaw affecting lenders’ ability to foreclose “securitized” mortgages: In a unanimous opinion, the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that, under the facts presented, a second mortgage holder who was not given notice of a foreclosure performed by the first mortgage holder on the same

Finders Keepers

Brokers and Finders are NOT the same thing. The distinction is important when it comes to collecting money and limiting liability. Finders, for instance, are exceptedfrom California’s real estate licensing requirements, and other regulations governing the broker-client relationship. Thus, a finder need not be licensed as a real estate broker.1 Indeed, it maybe better not

Misguided MLS Means Mucho Money

“Puffing” is an art; but where’s the line from “puff” — to problem? You want to get attention focused on your listing, as opposed to the swarm of others out there. You’re under obligation to the client is to make the property sound as attractive as possible – from a buyer’s perspective; whether it’s the

Oh Say, Can You See? View Protection In California

Imagine for a moment that you own your “dream home,” with a view overlooking the Pacific Ocean here in California. You enjoy sitting on your deck daily with your morning coffee taking in the beautiful panorama. All is well for many years, but gradually the trees located just over the boundary of your neighbor’s property

Time’s Up!

It’s right there in paragraph 24 (or 16, or 32): “Time is of the essence.” So what? Many agents will tell a client “It’s just the boilerplate.” Or, even worse, “It doesn’t really mean anything, as long as you close close to the closing date.” (Say that three times really fast.) This “boilerplate” means something.

Secret Agent Man

Napoleon Solo; Simon Templar; Derek Flint; and – of course – Bond, James Bond. All of them, great agents. But did they owe “fiduciary duties?” A real estate agent is a fiduciary to the client, and as a result incurs a host of responsibilities – and potential liabilities. So, what makes an agent, an “agent?”

HESCA Headache: Real Estate Broker Liable

In 1998 Alanna Spencer, a first-time home buyer, bought a two-bedroom condominium in Hayward, California. Later, Spencer became delinquent on her mortgage payments to her lender. The lender recorded a notice of default to begin foreclosure proceedings in November 2002. Spencer filed a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy petition in January 2003. The automatic stay provided upon


Dave Tanner has been a real estate broker and real estate attorney for approximately 30 years. He has owned and/or managed residential and commercial brokerages for over 20 of those years. For the past twenty years he has been deeply involved in organized real estate and currently serves on the Board of Directors and Professional


Eli Roth is one of the Firm’s “secret weapons.” Ms. Roth started her legal career at the young age of 15, providing clerical assistance for a small Alameda law office. Prior to attending law school she worked as a legal secretary and paralegal for small and large firms in the Bay Area and Sacramento. During

Real Estate Financing: The New Pushmi-Pullyu

Q: How is real estate financing like a roller coaster? A: You just hold on and try not to puke. In The Story of Doctor Doolittle, the mythical pushmi-pullyu is a gazelle-unicorn cross with two heads at each end of its body. When it tries to move, both heads pull the body in opposing directions.

Good Faith and Good Grief!

On January 1, the new RESPA Good Faith Estimate regulation went into effect. It requires that consumers receive a standard, three-page Good Faith Estimate to help them shop for and compare lenders’ offerings in an effort to get the best deal. Lenders and mortgage brokers are required to give consumers the standard estimate form within


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