Friday, March 23, 2012

Housing News Digest, March 23

Colorado and federal prosecutors announce end to foreclosure lawsuit
U.S. Attorney John Walsh and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced Wednesday that the operators of a Georgia-based foreclosure and mortgage scam have been permanently barred from mortgage and real estate activity.

Bella Homes was accused of persuading homeowners in danger of foreclosure to hand over their home titles and then lease back their homes from the company. Prosecutors alleged Bella accepted more than $3 million in rent from more than 450 consumers in two dozen states and that its operators lived a lavish lifestyle.

The Economic Recovery—For Real Estate Too?
The economy is looking better, with growth in employment, retail spending, and manufacturing production. Will the economic recovery spread to real estate? Some good news has already arrived, but not enough to make most real estate professionals happy. Things are getting better, but it will be a while before everyone is feeling good again.

Radar Logic: 2011 Home Bargains May Continue This Year
Last year was a good year for home bargain-hunters, according to the latest data from Radar Logic. The firm’s January report revealed a 5.42 percent decline in prices from January 2011 to January 2012 and a simultaneous 7.7 percent increase in transactions.

BofA offers distressed homeowners a chance to stay in homes
Bank of America ($9.82 0%) is offering mortgage customers who are facing foreclosure a chance to remain in their homes.

Participants of BofA's pilot program, expected to affect fewer than 1,000 homeowners, will transfer property titles to the bank and forgive outstanding mortgage debt. In exchange, the former homeowners will lease their home for up to three years at or below the current market rental rate.

Apartment Owners To Pay Back Excessive Application Fees
State regulators say Hyattsville landlords charged up to $1,000, nonrefundable, to apply for an apartment, among other charges. Now the owners will have to pay $500,000 settle consumer protection charges