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HOBB Update Message
Sunday, 21 October 2007

MSNBC Special: Home Wreckers

A message from Janet Ahmad
MSNBC Special: Home Wreckers
 
As I have said before, scams of the powerful homebuilding industry are slowly and painfully unfolding daily in nationwide news. This coming Wednesday, Oct. 24th at 11pm EDT, MSNBC will air a special titled "Home Wreckers."

The hour long program documents several cases of egregious contractors and the homeowners who have paid the price for their behavior.  The exciting news is this special could become a series and MSNBC has notified us that they are very interested in other compelling stories for future shows, and would love to hear from homeowners who have contractor nightmare stories to tell. 

This may be your opportunity, so I encourage everyone to write a ‘very brief’ account of your bad builder or home improvement nightmare story, home mortgage fraud, mold contamination, land contamination or binding mandatory arbitration experiences.  Forward them to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it  and I will personally pass them on to MSNBC. 

I encourage everyone to pass this information on to friends, family and as many people as possible to watch the special and possibly participate in future specials.  The news isn’t getting any better for the homebuilding industry and their scams, crimes and their victims are now getting the public attention they deserve.

Your participation is vital. Together we have and will continue to make a difference!  Help us to help you by keeping in touch. .
See the latest media coverage of the building industry exposed and related issues below!


P
lease take a few minutes to post your comments on the HOBB Forum

 Thank you,
Janet Ahmad, President
HomeOwners for Better Building

 
**********************************************************************
NEWS UPDATES:

Another BusinessWeek Cover Story
Housing: That Sinking Feeling
Homeowners are getting slammed as builders slash prices. The big question: Will this shock treatment help hasten the end of the painful downturn?...KB cut list prices by $25,000... For homeowners who jumped in at the height of the boom, the discounts aren't so good...On Sept. 14, Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. kicked off a 72-hour Deal of the Century, in which it slashed prices by as much as $100,000 in 19 states. That same day, Standard Pacific Corp. launched its Mission: Possible campaign in 49 communities across Southern California, promising $20 million in total discounts. And on Sept. 29, D.R. Horton Inc. auctioned off 53 homes in San Diego with bids starting at $150,000, half off the list price...On Sept. 25 the country's No. 2 builder by homes sold last year, Lennar Corp., reported a $513.9 million quarterly loss, the biggest in its 53-year history. And while there have certainly been other influences on the market, builders bear a lot of the blame for their woes. 
Read more...

KB Homes Bad Building Scandal Results in House Buy Back
Mirasol panel's 1st buyback raises stir
The San Antonio Housing Authority announced Wednesday that it purchased Roxann Perez's home in the 1500 block of Villa Flores for $94,000. Perez, who bought the house in 2006 for $78,000, netted almost $24,000 after SAHA threw in an $8,500 second mortgage it held on the property. But Mirasol residents on the task force questioned the amount of money Perez got. She has lived in the house less than 18 months, while others who bought their homes years before stand to get little more than half that amount.  Read more...

Beazer Admits to Mortgage Fraud
Beazer Homes faces up to $15M fine for loan violations
Beazer Homes (BZK) said Thursday that some employees at its mortgage division broke federal loan laws from at least 2000 through early this year. The builder said it expects to pay up to $15 million in regulatory fines and losses and to restate its financial results all the way back to 1999.The Atlanta-based company, one of the nation's largest home builders, also said roughly two of every three buyers canceled their contracts from July to September. Beazer is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney's office in North Carolina on allegations that it broke rules governing down payment assistance, sold homes to low-income buyers who couldn't afford them, falsified documents and charged higher fees than the regulations allow. Read more...

Countrywide CEO's Stock Sales Scrutinized
Subprime Mortgage Crisis Spurs Formal SEC Inquiry Into Nation's Largest Lending Company
The Securities and Exchange Commission's is undergoing a informal inquiry into Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Angelo R. Mozilo, sources say, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007. Mozilo sold some $130 million in Countrywide stock in the first half of the year through a prearranged 10b5-1 trading plan. The plans, popular among corporate executives, allow a company insider to set up a program in advance for such transactions and proceed with them even if he or she comes into possession of significant nonpublic information. Read more...

KB Home & Keller Williams Guaranteed Scam
Realtors guarantee sale of couple's home but don't deliver
It has to do with something called the Guaranteed Sale Program. But one Valley couple selling their home found out a guarantee is really not a guarantee at all... To make the move, Love used the Guaranteed Sale Program offered by real estate agents Gary and Caryn Shannon of Keller Williams Realty Southeast Valley... As part of the "guaranteed" deal, the couple had to buy a new KB home, which they did in Surprise. They even moved in...forget that contract the Loves signed, forget the fact the fact they already moved, and forget that so-called guarantee. All of a sudden it doesn't matter, meaning the couple are now stuck paying two mortgages. Read more...

Lennar Homes - Bombs Away!
Builder Marks Homes That May Have Bombs On Property
A local builder marked dozens of Orange County houses Monday that may have bombs on the property. Lennar Homes will dig up the yards of the marked houses in the Vista Lakes subdivision, off Lee Vista Road, near Odyssey Middle School...Recently, Lennar Homes sent homeowners letters and hosted community meetings letting folks know that they'll have to evacuate the area from 9:00am through 3:00pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If a bomb is found and too dangerous to move, it will have to be detonated on site. Read more...

Lennar's 'Home, Home on the Range' 
Home Builder Searching Homes On Former Bomb Range
Work is starting Tuesday morning to dig up dozens of yards in Orange County to search for old bombs... So far, several old live munitions have been found nearby and close to Odyssey Middle School...Lennar Homes told News 13 that they will dig up anything made of metal. The company said they are doing it to bring peace of mind to the people who live in the community. Read more...

Latest on Lennar Homes & Bombs
More coverage: Odyssey Middle School built near bomb range
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday that it found three more pieces of live World War II-era ordnance on some ranch land about 700 feet to 1,000 feet behind Odyssey Middle School...The "forgotten" Pine Castle bombing range, which has caused homeowners and parents of Odyssey Middle students much concern, was not forgotten by at least one family for the past 60 years.  In June 2002, on land behind Odyssey Middle School, ranch hand David Hillier was cutting a firebreak through heavy brush when his tractor kicked up what he thought was a burning log. His boss, Allen Smith, recognized the object as a World War II bomb and shouted for Hillier to get away... Senators Visit site  See Photos *  View Video coverage

Lennar and Bombs
Bombs May Be Buried Under 54 Homes; Crews To Dig Up Properties
Live explosives possibly buried under more than 50 homes in an Orange County neighborhood has prompted plans to begin digging up properties and may force families from their homes.  World War II-era rockets and a grenade were found buried underground this week about 1,000 feet behind Odyssey Middle School and just yards from the Warwick subdivision.  Lennar home builders told the homeowners that a munitions consultant they recently hired identified metal objects on all 54 of their home sites. "What happens next is that we go in and start digging these things out of the ground," Lennar Division President Wayne Broedel said.  Related builder story: KB Home's $1.9M Taxpayer Bomb Clean up    Read more...

KB Homes Bad Building Leads to Buy Back
Mirasol resident takes SAHA's buyback offer
Complaints of a shoddy home and the struggle to get money back has finally paid off for one Mirasol homeowner. On Wednesday, the San Antonio Housing Authority cut a check to Roxanne Perez, but so far, she's the only homeowner to take SAHA's offer.  "This is the first step for closure on some of the Mirasol matters," said Phil Nelson with SAHA. SAHA bought back Perez's home on Villa Flores for the net proceeds of $24,000. "She is now very satisfied, very happy with the process," Nelson said. Read more...

KB/SA Housing Authority Scandal may too hot for Ex-Builder Hartman
Scott Stroud: Hartman's Mirasol probe role may affect possible mayoral bid When Mayor Phil Hardberger touted homebuilder Gordon Hartman for the Mirasol Task Force back in the spring, it looked to some City Hall insiders like he might be anointing his successor as mayor. But what if Scarnato turns out to have been an honest broker? What if he found so many problems with the homes' original construction that the effort to make them inhabitable threatened to break the bank of the San Antonio Housing Authority?... A former homebuilder — emphasis on former, since some people around here see that as the devil's work — he has a natural, well-heeled constituency for bankrolling a bid for the mayor's office. Read more...

HUD Sec. Jackson on the hot seat
HANO contractor denies Jackson got him job
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said Thursday he will cooperate with investigators after questions arose about how one of his friends got nearly half a million dollars for work at the Housing Authority of New Orleans, which currently is under the oversight of the federal government. Jackson, who testified before Congress this year that he doesn't intervene in awarding contracts, acknowledged he may be under investigation in a case that involves just that. Others connected to the case say HUD's inspector general and the FBI have seized HANO equipment and have asked questions about Jackson's possible role in HANO's hiring of Jackson's friend, South Carolina construction contractor William Hairston. Hairston's construction company was hired by HANO in January 2006 and subsequently won a no-bid "emergency" contract awarded to Hairston's construction company in July 2006. Read more...

HUD Probes Fees From FHA Lenders
Entries Tagged 'Housing And Urban Development' 
HUD officials have noticed that some FHA lenders are charging borrowers points and paying $4,000 to $5,000 to brokers for simply bringing a customer to their office. Brokers that are not approved by the FHA cannot take a loan application or close an FHA loan. HUD rules do allow nonapproved brokers to refer borrowers to FHA lenders. Read more...

Beazer High Cancellations Leads to Profitable Deposits
US Home Foreclosure filings up 99% from September 2006; Top home builder says 68% of its prospective buyers cancelled orders in the company's fiscal fourth quarter Home builder Beazer reported that 68% of its prospective home buyers cancelled their orders in the company's fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 30th. The cancellation rate was almost double the 36% of customers who cancelled orders and gave up deposits in the prior quarter. Read more...

Disappointed and Cheated
Homeowner's 'nightmare' 
In the wake of recent comments by attorney K. Brian Hanna about local contractors who are perfomring shoddy work on houses, some homewoners affected by this malpractice are now sharing their "horror" stories... Six months after moving into her new home, Davis said she is left dissappointed and feels cheated. "They left a lot of crooked walls, all the windows are crooked, every plumbing fixture in the house is leaking," she said, adding that those complaints are among many others, including unhealthy mould growing on her walls as a result of the flawed work, countertops that were never installed and a garage door that she had already paid for but has yet to receive. Read more...

Hard times for builders in Tennessee
Shelby County Home-Builder In Deep Trouble
The Cordova-based home-builder faces 98 tax liens for thousands of dollars in unpaid bills to banks, subcontractors and vendors.  The unpaid vendors include Waste Connection of Tennessee, the owner of those filled-to-the-brim dumpsters.  The builder is advertising foreclosures on its properties in Hernando, Mississippi.  Cadence Bank, a Starkville, Mississippi-based bank, has sued Matthews Brothers in Shelby County Chancery Court for a million dollars.  The bank claims Matthews Brothers' promissory notes are delinquent.  Read more...

Federal Housing Program and Crooks in New Jersey
Probe disrupts housing repairs
Fuqua family members thought they were getting a sweet deal when they received federal grants to rehabilitate their New Brunswick home. To them, it meant a new kitchen, a working bathroom, stairs that didn't threaten to crumble below their feet and a roof that wouldn't leak every time it rained. But a year after receiving $23,000 in grants, their Seaman Street home is still in disrepair.  "It was a great program the government had for poor people to beautify their homes," said 45-year-old Alfonso Fuqua. "Now look what has happened because of crooks." Read more...

Blaming the Big Builders
LA Times: Stuck in a housing glut
ARE you a homeowner who is having trouble selling your house? National housing experts say you can heap some of the blame on those big builders with their much-ballyhooed sales and the banks that have put too many foreclosed homes on the market. And if that isn't enough to banish those Goliaths to Dante's Ninth Circle, some experts also hold them responsible for dragging down existing homes' sale prices in certain parts of the nation -- including communities in Southern California. Read more...

Standing on Homebuyer Protection Principles
Republican lawmaker switches parties
State House Democrats extended their majority Thursday when Republican Debbie Stafford switched parties. Stafford voted against her former party last year on a bill that gave homebuyers more power to sue their builders for shoddy construction. At the time, she complained that Republicans and homebuilder lobbyists threatened her political future unless she voted against the bill. Read more...

Mold discovery spoils homecoming
Stricken man, family are handed new setback
It's been nine months since Scott Slade collapsed and became paralyzed. It also has been nine months since Slade's wife, Kathy, became so distraught over his collapse that she went into premature labor and gave birth to twins five weeks early – one so fragile the 4-pound infant spent weeks in intensive care. So after surviving all this, yesterday should have been a happy homecoming for Slade, 44, who was returning from a Denver rehabilitation hospital. But his return was shattered by the discovery Monday of toxic mold in the family's three-year-old house in 4S Ranch. Read more...

KB/Mirasol: Can the defective homes really be fixed
San Antonio Housing Authority KB Home
Mirasol operations manager steps down. See video report

IAQ Review - Formaldehyde in Homes
The Dangers of Formaldehyde in Buildings and Homes
Formaldehyde (HCHO) is considered a strong irritant and potent sensitizer. Inhalation of large amount of HCHO can cause severe irritation of the upper respiratory tract and death. Sources of formaldehyde in the home include building materials, pressed wood products (hardwood plywood wall paneling, particleboard, fiberboard) and furniture made with these pressed wood products. Urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). Combustion sources and environmental tobacco smoke. Durable press drapes, other textiles, and glues. Read more...

Who said Binding Arbitration is Quicker
Scottsdale couple battle developer over wall
A major Arizona homebuilder stands accused of attempting to financially bleed a north Scottsdale couple into submission in a decade-long legal dispute over a defective retaining wall. It took nearly 10 years before an arbitrator found that Shea Homes owed Quent and Nolya Augspurger $164,000 for damages, legal fees and court costs — a judgment that a Maricopa County Superior Court judge reaffirmed late last month....In 2003, the couple filed for arbitration just before their ability to do so expired. The arbitration process ended up taking four years.  “It’s supposed to be a quick and easy, economical way of settling disputes,” Quent Augspurger said. “I think they try to wear the homeowner down and make it so difficult for them that they give up.” Nolya Augspurger characterized the developer’s attitude as, “Don’t mess with us big boys. Read more...

Arbitration legislation is heating up
Is agriculture arbitration bill the "tip of the iceberg'?
The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to act on a farm bill this month that includes a provision barring binding arbitration clauses in livestock contracts. While the provision, written by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, applies only to those contract disputes involving livestock and poultry, “that's the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's going on with the attacks on arbitration right now,” said Matt Webb, senior vice president for legal-reform policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. Read more... 

Hutto Texas Looking into Lennar problems and Expansive Soil
Hutto’s City Council Looking Into Expansive Soil, Builders Cutting Corners, and little Homeowners Recourse
The homebuilding business has been booming throughout Texas especially Hutto, and after Thursday night’s City Council meeting some are saying the commonality of expansive soils problems and defective trusses are a major concern.  As the magnitude of builder mistakes start to come to light and property values decline, cities like Hutto will be faced with tough decisions. Unfortunately, according to some experts, things will only get worse before it gets better. However, for residents of Hutto and some other small communities it appears officials are taking the issues of shoddy building very seriously and headed toward finding solutions. Read more...

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

 
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