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HUD FEATURE: 1981 Ė 2015 HUDís Hallmark of Federal Policy Ė 35-Years of Housing Scandal
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

HUD FEATURE: 1981 – 2015 HUD’s Hallmark of Federal Policy – 35-Years of Housing Scandal and Billions in Taxpayer Waste
CATO INSTITUTE - DOWNSIZING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Cisneros planted another seed for the housing bubble and its subsequent burst by putting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under constant pressure to facilitate more lending to "underserved" markets. While Cisneros's own HUD administration acknowledged that mortgages financed by Fannie and Freddie in "underserved" areas have a higher risk of default, it did not see that "there need be any safety and soundness impediment" to the policy. It was under Cisneros's direction that HUD agreed to allow Fannie and Freddie credit toward its "affordable housing" targets by buying subprime mortgages. The recent meltdown in the U.S. housing and financial markets makes it crucially important to understand the distortions created by HUD's programs and the political drivers of its decision-making. HUD policies played an important role in the meltdown, and this essay sheds light on why some of HUD's bad policies were put in place.

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D.R. Horton Buys Houses Back
Monday, 28 September 2015

Developer Buys Back Dream Homes After Flood of Problems
Problems in a new Collin County neighborhood are so bad that CBS 11 News has learned that a well known developer is buying back some homes...The Gann’s said the builder promised a new home for free to compensate for the thousands of dollars they have put into this one. However, D.R. Horton is backing down from that offer, according to Gann.

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Follow-up to Special Report - BUILDER INJUSTICE IN JACKSONVILLE
Monday, 28 September 2015

Homeowner loses $1.16 million fight against homebuilder
The 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee reversed a lower court judge who had awarded the homeowner $1.16 million, plus attorneys' fees. The opinion, issued in late May, leaves homeowner Carol Ecos with a house in shambles – and no money to fix it... The result is that Ecos is living in a house with failing stucco on the outside, walls that her lawyer compares to Swiss cheese, and structural defects that could compromise the roof in as little as a 66.8 mile per hour wind... says Ecos. "We need to do something about the laws, and hold someone accountable.

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Special Report Part 5 - Protecting New Homebuyers from Defects
Monday, 28 September 2015

"Outrageous": Lawmaker says secrecy hurts homebuyers
Some 122 homeowners living in Taylor Morrison homes in Bartram Springs have filed allegations in court complaining of widespread stucco failures, water intrusion, wood rot – even structural infirmities that could potentially destroy a home... McBurney told First Coast News he was concerned about the financial and emotional burdens placed on his constituents. But he noted it's also an issue of safety – particularly at one house where a structural assessment found the roof could peel off in a strong thunderstorm... Outcomes of arbitration proceedings are not disclosed, nor are the sheer number of complaints pending against home builders. The only reason the Taylor Morrison complaints are public knowledge is because the attorney representing homeowners also filed suit in civil court -- complaints that were ultimately redirected by a judge to secret arbitration...

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Special Report Part 4 - Non-Compliant Stucco
Monday, 28 September 2015

New Home Nightmares: Part 4 - What's the deal with stucco?
All this week, First Coast News has been reporting on structural defects in new homes. In every case, the root of the problem has been failing stucco... As First Coast News reported in 2003, the builder acknowledged the homes might not, strictly speaking, match state code...7/8 of an inch thick, as required by law... "They only sold ½ inch accessories or smaller in this area. You couldn't even purchase a 7/8 inch accessory. So it was clear the industry was just blatantly ignoring their obligation under the building code."... "The biggest investment that they've made is now worth half of what it should be, worth through no fault of their own.

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Special Report Part 3 - No City Inspection - Taylor Morrison Hired its Own Inspector
Monday, 28 September 2015

New Home Nightmares: Part 3 - "We don't know who built this house"
In fact, city inspectors didn't even conduct the inspections that Goldsbury codified when he signed the home's certificate of occupancy. Taylor Morrison hired its own private inspectors for the roughly 400 homes it built in Bartram Springs, as state law allows.  Trying to figure out who is responsible for the home's many flaws is complicated by the fact that the building permit is signed by somebody who never set foot there – and didn't even work for Taylor Morrison at the time.

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Special Report Part 2 - No Access to Court for Almost a Decade
Monday, 28 September 2015

New Home Nightmares: Part 2 - Living in squalor
For almost a decade, the residents of this $334,000 Bartram Springs house have lived in squalor – holes punched in hallways, insulation hanging out of walls, rooms destroyed by destructive structural testing... Access to courts seems like a fundamental right, but most homebuyers give up that right voluntarily. Virtually every new home contract requires homebuyers to waive the right to sue, and instead settle any dispute in arbitration -- a private dispute resolution process that tends to limit damage awards, and is conducted in secret.

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Jacksonville Special Report Part 1 - Homebuilding Tip of the Iceberg
Monday, 28 September 2015

New Home Nightmares: Part 1 - The tip of the iceberg
First Coast News first interviewed Walsh in March, when she was speaking against a bill that would have reduced from 10 to 7 years the period in which homeowners can sue their builder for structural defects. The decision to change the period of liability, known as "repose," would have left homeowners like her without legal recourse. (The bill died in committee after our story aired.) But what we didn't know at the time was the Walsh home is the tip of the iceberg – one of more than 100 homes in Bartram Springs built by the same builder – Taylor Morrison – and which, according to claims made in court filings, have exactly the same problem...

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First Coast News Special Investigative Report
Monday, 28 September 2015

New Home Nightmares: First Coast News Investigates
A First Coast News investigation has found that some new homes — including those in very prestigious communities, with half-million dollar price tags — are plagued with construction defect allegations, leading to massive costs to homeowners, and years of legal wrangling. All this week, First Coast News looks at why the problems exist, why they are hidden behind a veil of secrecy, and what you need to know to protect yourself — before you buy.

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Builders Cut Corners
Monday, 28 September 2015

Don’t give homebuilders a pass to cut corners on construction
We are the unlucky ones who bought homes with expensive and dangerous construction defects — crumbling foundations, structurally deficient walls, leaky roofs and more. We needed to have legal options to hold our builders responsible for making us whole again.

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CFPB Report Blasts Consumer Chances in Arbitration
Wednesday, 09 September 2015

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Breaking news: CFPB study finds that mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses undermine consumers' rights by limiting class actions... The Bureau’s report also found that more than 75 percent of consumers surveyed did not know whether they were subject to an arbitration clause in their agreements with their financial service providers, and fewer than 7 percent of those covered by arbitration clauses realized that the clauses restricted their ability to sue in court.

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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
Economic Armageddon


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