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HOBB Weekly Update Message
Monday, 07 May 2007

A message from Janet Ahmad - Beazer, Lennar and KB Homes exposed, as Colorado Investigates Homebuilder’s lobbyists and theTexas Legislature ponders what to do

A message from Janet Ahmad
Beazer, Lennar and KB Homes exposed, as Colorado Investigates Homebuilder’s lobbyists and theTexas Legislature ponders what to do

Beazer, Lennar and KB Homes continue to make news. KB Home’s $48M HUD defective homes scandal of isn’t going away anytime soon.  A Task Force has been appointed to investigate the defects that residents claim are making them sick.  Lennar faces more customer dissatisfaction headlines and suits.  And a new Beazer customer satisfaction survey scandal adds to the already damaging loan fraud scandal.

For those of you in Texas the time is quickly approaching for another opportunity to testify before the legislature.  The ‘Homebuilder Protection Agency Bill’ HB1038 will be heard in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee within a couple of weeks.  Please begin to make plans to attend and tell lawmakers your bad builder and TRCC experience.

Last week
ABC’s Good Morning America Elisabeth Leamy did an outstanding report about Lisa Daniel who caught an inspector on film shortchanging homeowners. Because of a bad municipal inspector that didn’t care, Lisa Daniel is out tens of thousands of dollars.  “I lost everything I ever had and I've lost everything I ever wanted to have and everything I ever tried to have – before I even had it," Daniel said. 

Don’t miss the incredible WFAA Byron Harris report that features upscale subdivisions left with empty and burned out new houses. Then there is Marie Johnson, one feisty lady that wants to get a hold of the unlicensed contractor who sold her a dangerous A/C unit he installed backwards.

We would like to hear from you so, please take a few minutes to post your comments on the H O B B   F o r u m .
Together we have and will continue to make a difference!  Help us to help you by keeping in touch. Your participation is vital.

Thank you,
Janet Ahmad, President
HomeOwners for Better Building
 
**********************************************************************
NEWS UPDATES: 

ABC’s Good Morning America - Incompetent Building Inspectors Hurting Homeowners
Overworked, Sometimes Corrupt Inspectors Are Shortchanging Homeowners
By ELISABETH LEAMY - A recent "Good Morning America" investigation finds that government building inspectors are often overworked and sometimes lazy, incompetent or corrupt..."I lost everything I ever had and I've lost everything I ever wanted to have and everything I ever tried to have -- before I even had it," Daniel said. "I never spent a night in this house." ...Daniel sued Wayne County, which settled for $94,000 without admitting liability. Wayne County wouldn't comment on the specifics of the case. The inspector told us the inspections we saw were quick because they were follow-ups, but he had no response when we revealed he was seen on tape doing the same thing over and over again. As for Daniel, she's still out tens of thousands of dollars. Read more...

KB Homes & Mold at the center of Task Force Investigation
SAHA's Nelson discusses problems at Mirasol
The San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA) appears to be doing some damage control in the wake of Mirasol controversy. Residents believe the problems are the result of poor construction and it’s been making them sick, just like the residents on Precious Street.  Phil Nelson, chairman of the SAHA board… We understand that the residents have problems in the Mirasol properties… Most of the problems right now are health problems. The health problems have to be corrected quickly.  SAHA has already done some testing on the mole that they found inside of these homes.  We have six properties that we are very concerned about. See KENS 5 video Interview

Lennar Home troubles with condo owners
Condo owners upset by work done by builder
Cullen and other owners of condominiums at the 240-unit residential complex at 200 Brannan Street have been threatening lawsuits and battling the builder over defects, including uneven floors, improper ventilation, crooked balconies and shoddy cabinetry. Water seeps into the building's garage. Garage door malfunctions have led to thefts of bicycles and raised security concerns. The homeowners' plight is of broader interest because the builder with which they have been at odds is Lennar Corp., the Miami firm that Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration wants to see carry out redevelopment projects at Treasure Island, Hunters Point Shipyard and Candlestick Point. Read more...

Late mortgage payments rise
Figures indicate foreclosures likely to increase for Houston homeowners
Area homeowners are increasingly having trouble making their mortgage payments, signaling foreclosures will likely continue to mount. In the Houston area, 4.38 percent of loans were 30 or more days late during the first quarter of 2007, compared with 2.04 percent during the same period last year, according to data provided by Moody's Economy.com...Foreclosures shot up to 11,983 in 2006 from 8,300 in 2004, in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend counties. The Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown area ranked fourth behind the Detroit, Miami and Riverside, Calif., metro areas in terms of delinquencies of 30 days or more. Read more...

Buyers duped into purchases they couldn't afford
As market cools, home buyers seek a way out by suing builders
In the latest fallout from the housing market's decline, disputes are breaking out between builders and buyers who signed contracts for new homes and condos when the market was hot - and now want to get out of them.  Even as many of the new buildings are completed, buyers are filing lawsuits claiming they were duped into purchases they couldn't afford, or victimized through fraudulent investment schemes. Some are scrutinizing their contracts looking for loopholes, or searching out tiny flaws in finished homes that might allow them to back out without losing their deposits. Read more...

Colorado Homebuilder’s lobbyist investigated
Under the dome
The special legislative committee investigating an ethics complaint against homebuilder’s lobbyist William Mutch has asked House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to testify today. Mutch, a lobbyist for Colorado Concern, is accused of orchestrating robo-calls that falsely claimed lawmakers were considering a tax hike on homes. It is legal for groups to run ads about legislation and lawmakers, but a legislative rule prohibits lobbyists from attempting to influence lawmakers "by means of deceit" or threats. Read more...

KB Home and Mold
Report finds mold at Mirasol Homes
A report released Thursday on mold issues in 11 houses at the problem-plagued Mirasol Homes public housing project verified significant mold growth in several homes and concluded that the air conditioning systems contributed to the problems. Read more...

KB/SAHA Homes: Task Force Named
Task Force Named To Look At Mirasol Homes Problems 
KSAT12 News - Eleven people, including a resident, are part of a group working together to find a solution to residents of the Mirasol Project.  For several months now residents have the Mirasol public housing project have complained of shoddy craftsmanship and health concerns for mold… Stephanie Battle: First and foremost we’re going to address the health concerns. That’s one of the first solutions we have to come to. Video Report: Erik Barajas Reports

Houston KHOU Undercover Report -Feisty Lady want to get a hold on Contractor
Confronting Phony Contractors
11 News goes undercover to catch phony electrical contractors.  Marie Johnson hired Jack Fry... An outside contractor discovered her AC was over sized and installed backwards... I'd love to get a hold of him. View Video Undercover Report

Express News - Task Force chosen
SAHA to select task force to solve subdivision problems 
SAHA is responding to residents of the Villas de Fortuna subdivision who have complained to the City Council and the Legislature about construction problems and respiratory illnesses they fear are related to their homes...The task force won't be doing any "legal finger-pointing," Nelson said, but will focus on solutions to residents' environmental health concerns, complaints about unsealed air conditioners, cracks in walls and foundations, and fears that the houses won't outlast the mortgage. Read more...

KSAT12 - Earful of complaints
Mold, Rust Complaints Mount Against SAHA
The San Antonio Housing Authority got an earful of complaints Wednesday night from homeowners who said their homes are in deplorable conditions... SAHA workers said they are repairing her leaking kitchen sink. Another neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, said a rusted-out water heater is just one of the problems residents are facing. The woman said when it rains, her phone jack oozes a rusty liquid. She also complained that an upstairs plumbing pipe is busting through the kitchen ceiling next to the kitchen light. Becerra said her neighbors claim that an air conditioning system is circulating attic insulation throughout the house. Read more...

KB/SAHA Homes: The Forgotten Ones
SAHA announces task force
The San Antonio Housing Authority has started a task force made up of city and SAHA officials, and Mirasol residents to handle the toxic mold problem. SAHA jumped right into action tonight when Eyewitness News showed up to look at their homes… See that scare?  In the time he’s lived here Jonathan has had a tumor removed… no one knows why.  These residents say these maintenance workers finally showed up after hours, only after WE were coming… Stephanie Battle showed up here tonight.  She said she is seeing similar construction mistakes in the ventilation system of the homes where there are health problems  – KB needs to take responsibility for these homes the only way we are going to fix the solutions is with money. See Video Report

Beazer Homes Investigation
SEC begins informal investigation of Beazer
Beazer Homes USA Inc. reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday that the SEC has launched an informal investigation of the company. In March, Beazer received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of North Carolina seeking documents related to its mortgage origination services. Media reports have said the homebuilder is under federal investigation for alleged mortgage fraud, a charge the company denies. Beazer has said the U.S. Attorney's Office has "made no allegations of wrongdoing by Beazer Homes at this time and that the statements made by an FBI spokesperson about the fact of an investigation and the scope of the investigation were unauthorized, and should not have been made." Read more...

WFAA Byron Harris - Empty and burned out new houses
Taking action against housing blight
Empty and even burned houses have become part of the landscape in the upscale neighborhood of Lake Ridge, spanning the cities of Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie in southwestern Dallas County. But the two cities are now taking action against the blight brought by foreclosures in this community where some homes are priced at more than $1 million. Read more...

KB/SAHA Update: Reports confirm Toxic Mold in Homes
Test Results Conducted On Mirasol Homes Released 
Residents say they don't want to go back to their homes because the homes made them sick. Now some westside residents have the results that they say show their homes are defects. These residents of Mirasol homes have felt for quite a while something there is making them sick.  Now the first of a series of these of environmental reports have come back, and the results are not good. Sara Olivares, I feel so angry about the whole thing...I don’t want it back.  I don’t care what they do with that house. I’m never going back in that that house. I want all houses to be condemned. See video report

Lesson in persistence
Action 9: Persistence Pays Off For Charlotte Homeowner
Five months ago Action 9 talked to Tricia and Brian Faust about the melted siding on their $230,000 home. It started near a false chimney a year and a half after they moved in. There was more melted siding near the front entrance. Owens Corning told Action 9 it was "reflective distortion" caused by intense sunlight bouncing off a window onto the siding. But after Action 9 made contact with the company, it worked out a generous settlement with the Fausts. Not only did Faust get the company's best siding, but she also convinced them to wrap the house in a vapor barrier, which installers failed to do before. When they asked her to pay a portion of the cost of this top-of-the-line siding. Read more...

Is Richmond American's Warranty Worthless?
Hundreds of Homeowners Report Crumbling Driveways
Flaking, chipping, or crumbling. There are many ways to describe what's happening to hundreds of driveways throughout Utah. The homeowners who are seeing these problems can't seem to get any help from their homebuilders. We also found out most cities don't require a permit for whomever is pouring a driveway, which means there's no way to know what subcontractor a homebuilder is using. And with no inspections, there's no way of knowing the quality of the concrete mix being used. "So again, it's just a problem we're stuck with," said Kevin Charles. Read more...

New Lennar Defective Homes Website
Lennar Buyers Beware Current Owners Take Action Now
This is an independent site providing information to home buyers, home owners and concerned citizens. Spend some time on the website, and you’ll get a good feel for what is going on with Lennar homes and their subsidiaries. This is the biggest investment of most people’s lives.  See: Defective-Homes


The Washington Post - Beware the builder's lender
Beware the builder's lender
So much of the fun in buying a newly built home comes from being able to choose the upgrades that tailor it to your tastes. Want steam vents in the shower? No problem. With a swipe of the pen, they're yours. And for now, at least, many builders are offering such goodies at no extra cost. Usually, though, there's a condition: The builder will pick up the tab only if you get your mortgage through its preferred lender. Read more...

San Antonio KB Home - Mold confirmed
Tests Finished on Problematic West Side Homes
Environmental studies have been released on some west side homes, which people claim are making them sick. Inspectors recently checked out a number of Mirasol homes, which were either rented out or sold by the San Antonio Housing Authority. People who live in the homes say they have been dealing with mold, cracked foundations and shoddy construction. SAHA says it will not release the report until all affected families are told about the results. SAHA recently filed a lawsuit against Magi. Read more...

Realty Times - Title Insurance
Title Insurance Debate, Round Two
Just 5 percent of your title insurance premium is used to pay claims, says the federal government, while 70 percent is paid out in the form of agent commissions. But fixing prices, as is now the case in New Jersey, absolutely eliminates any competition of interest to consumers. Without price competition, consumers have no reason to prefer one price-fixed title agent over another price-fixed title agent. One correspondent said those who wish to complete would be "violating the CURRENT title laws by offering discounts." Read more...

KB/SAHA - Toxic Mold Found
New SAHA tests show toxic mold
 
Environmental test results from the Mirasol Housing Development are back and seem to prove Precious Street homeowners were right — they are in danger of toxic mold. However, the San Antonio Housing Authority says it's not their fault. Read more...

"San Antonio Newspaper" Report on the KB Home SAHA defective homes
San Antonio Newspaper - Señalan a KB Home y SAHA como Malos Constructores
Señalados KB Home y SAHA como malos constructores ante la ‘vista gorda’ (complicidad) de la ‘ley’ una docena de dueños de casa de nuestra ciudad se armaron de valor y se presentaron ante el concilio para darles a conocer sus quejas sobre la mala construcción y demandarles una explicación de porque razones se les permite construir casas de mala calidad. Se presentaron junto con lideres comunitarios de LULAC (George L. Alejo y Henry Rodríguez) así como la presidente de la organización ‘HOBB’ (Home Owners for Better Building) Janet Ahmad. Read more...

Questionable Advice led to Foreclosure
Losing their house in 2005 still haunts Rockford couple
Foreclosures increased 38 percent between 2005 and 2006 in Boone Winnebago and Ogle counties, from 661 to 912, according to county records. Put another way: 7,190 homes and condominiums sold in the Rock River Valley in 2006, meaning it’s possible nearly 13 percent sold because the owner no longer could afford the home. The foreclosure epidemic is not just a local problem. The North Carolina-based Center for Responsible Lending estimated that more than 2 million “subprime” borrowers will lose their homes to foreclosure by the end of 2007. Subprime borrowers are like Clarice and Anthony: people with less-than-perfect credit histories filled with bankruptcies or accounts taken to collection. Read more...

Buying Customer Satisfaction Ratings
Charlotte-area homebuyers say Beazer offered money for high marks
Some Charlotte-area home buyers say builder Beazer Homes USA offered them money to give the company high marks in a survey, which could have resulted in bonuses for company executives. Andre Gray told The Charlotte Observer he received two letters in the mail from Beazer after buying a home in north Charlotte in 2001. One letter was a customer satisfaction survey about the builder, while the other offered him $100 to give Beazer high marks. Read more...

Wells Fargo Loan Irregularities
Wells Fargo settles subprime class-action suit
Wells Fargo & Co. has settled a class-action lawsuit over lending practices at its Wells Fargo Financial Inc.'s mortgage unit, which focuses on the subprime market.The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, had alleged in the lawsuit, filed in 2003, that Wells Fargo Financial failed to properly disclose points and prepayment penalties to borrowers, and inaccurately reported loan balances for some California customers to credit reporting agencies. Read more...

Sweet Deals? Builder difficulties drive the new home market prices down
Builders offer to sweeten the deal
They tried offering "free" upgrades, giving away vacations and cars, "buying down" mortgage interest rates, paying closing costs and assorted other incentives. The Groves at Falling Leaf in Modesto's Village I community, for instance, has slashed prices up to $60,000 and are giving $20,000 in incentives... R. Horton is promoting "rock bottom pricing" at its Diablo Grande homes, with reductions and incentives worth up to $80,000. Read more...

Janet Ahmad, President
HomeOwners for Better Building
http://www.hobb.org
210-402-6800

 
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