These classes are all available at Classes.Landrecs.com.
For information on new classes contact me.
If you’ve noticed, the abstract class is not currently available online, as it is in the process of updating! There are always changes in laws, etc. that require our attention. So stay tuned for the new 2017 course that will ba available soon!
CFPB Orders Prospect Mortgage to Pay $3.5 Million Fine for Illegal Kickback Scheme
Real Estate Brokers and Mortgage Servicer also Ordered to Pay $495,000
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today took action against Prospect Mortgage, LLC, a major mortgage lender, for paying illegal kickbacks for mortgage business referrals. The CFPB also took action against two real estate brokers and a mortgage servicer that took illegal kickbacks from Prospect. Under the terms of the action announced today, Prospect will pay a $3.5 million civil penalty for its illegal conduct, and the real estate brokers and servicer will pay a combined $495,000 in consumer relief, repayment of ill-gotten gains, and penalties.
“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”
Prospect Mortgage, LLC, headquartered in Sherman Oaks, Calif., is one of the largest independent retail mortgage lenders in the United States, with nearly 100 branches nationwide. RGC Services, Inc., (doing business as ReMax Gold Coast), based in Ventura, Calif., and Willamette Legacy, LLC, (doing business as Keller Williams Mid-Willamette), based in Corvallis, Ore., are two of more than 100 real estate brokers with which Prospect had improper arrangements. Planet Home Lending, LLC is a mortgage servicer headquartered in Meriden, Conn., that referred consumers to Prospect Mortgage and accepted fees in return.
The CFPB is responsible for enforcing the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which was enacted in 1974 as a response to abuses in the real estate settlement process. A primary purpose of the law is to eliminate kickbacks or referral fees that tend to increase unnecessarily the costs of certain settlement services. The law covers any service provided in connection with a real estate settlement, such as title insurance, appraisals, inspections, and loan origination.
Prospect Mortgage offers a range of mortgages to consumers, including conventional, FHA, and VA loans. From at least 2011 through 2016, Prospect Mortgage used a variety of schemes to pay kickbacks for referrals of mortgage business in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. For example, Prospect established marketing services agreements with companies, which were framed as payments for advertising or promotional services, but in this case actually served to disguise payments for referrals. Specifically, the CFPB found that Prospect Mortgage:
Under the consent order issued today, Prospect will pay $3.5 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund for its illegal kickback schemes. The company is prohibited from future violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services.
ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette are real estate brokers that work with consumers seeking to buy or sell real estate. Brokers or agents often make recommendations to their clients for various services, such as mortgage lending, title insurance, or home inspectors. Among other things, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act prohibits brokers and agents from exploiting consumers’ reliance on these recommendations by accepting payments or kickbacks in return for referrals to particular service providers.
The CFPB’s investigation found that ReMax Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette accepted illegal payment for referrals. Both companies were among more than 100 brokers who had marketing services agreements, lead agreements, and desk-license agreements with Prospect, which were, in whole or in part, vehicles to obtain illegal payments for referrals.
Under the consent orders filed today, both companies are prohibited from violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay or accept payment for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services. ReMax Gold Coast will pay $50,000 in civil money penalties, and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette will pay $145,000 in disgorgement and $35,000 in penalties.
In 2012, Planet Home Lending signed a contract with Prospect Mortgage that facilitated the payment of illegal referral fees. The company’s practices violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Specifically, the CFPB found that Planet Home Lending:
Under the consent order filed against Planet Home Lending, the company will directly pay harmed consumers a total of $265,000 in redress. The company is also prohibited from violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, will not pay or accept payment for referrals, and will not enter into any agreements with settlement service providers to endorse the use of their services.
The latest CFPB Complaint Report for Mortgages shows that, by far, the largest number of complaints filed with the CFPB were with the Credit Reporting Agencies – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian, having 3,897 complaints nationwide on credit reports in January. Mortgage complaint leaders were Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. To read the latest full mortgage report: click here for CFPB Complaint Report.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is the first federal agency solely focused on
consumer financial protection,1 and consumer complaints are an integral part of that work. The
CFPB helps connect consumers with financial companies to make their voices heard. When
consumers submit a complaint, they work with companies to get the consumer a response,
generally within 15 days. They also publish basic information about complaints in our public
Consumer Complaint Database to empower consumers, inform consumer advocates, and improve the functioning of the marketplace.
HUD Press Release
Thursday January 26, 2017
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced agreements with two insurance companies in Ohio and Florida settling allegations the companies violated the Fair Housing Act by denying insurance coverage to properties that contain “subsidized housing” and “low-income housing.”
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for providers of housing-related services or products, including insurance providers, to discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status.
The agreements stemmed from a Secretary-Initiated complaint HUD filed after receiving reports the insurance companies’ policies and practices had a discriminatory effect because of race and national origin. Specifically, HUD’s complaint alleged that the companies refused to provide umbrella coverage, which provides additional liability coverage when an insured’s other primary policy limits have been reached, to properties containing subsidized or low-income housing.
Under the agreements, McGowan and Company will remove “subsidized” and “low-income” from its list of prohibited properties, spend $100,000 to affirmatively market its services and products to the affordable and low-income housing markets and provide fair housing training for management and staff that review and/or approve applications for insurance. Mack & Waltz will spend $10,000 to affirmatively promote its services in affordable and low-income housing markets, and provide fair housing training for its management and staff.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
“Today’s paper is intended to provide thoughtful recommendations on how to reform the GSEs while ensuring a healthy, robust secondary mortgage market emerges for both single-family and multifamily mortgages,” said Rodrigo Lopez CMB, Executive Chairman of NorthMarq Capital and Chairman of MBA. “The U.S. mortgage market requires global capital in order to maintain adequate liquidity through all economic cycles. International and institutional investors will only fill that role if there is an explicit government guarantee on the securities, something that can only be obtained by congressional action.”
The MBA will elaborate on all of these concepts in its full paper, anticipated in April, and will also include more detailed end-state reform recommendations including a comprehensive transition plan and affordable housing strategy.
WASHINGTON (January 24, 2017) — Existing-home sales closed out 2016 as the best year in a decade, even as sales declined in December as the result of ongoing affordability tensions and historically low supply levels, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Total existing-home sales 1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, finished 2016 at 5.45 million sales and surpassed 2015 (5.25 million) as the highest since 2006 (6.48 million).
In December, existing sales decreased 2.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.49 million in December from an upwardly revised 5.65 million in November. With last month’s slide, sales are only 0.7 percent higher than a year ago.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market’s best year since the Great Recession ended on a healthy but somewhat softer note. “Solid job creation throughout 2016 and exceptionally low mortgage rates translated into a good year for the housing market,” he said. “However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December.”
Added Yun, “While a lack of listings and fast rising home prices was a headwind all year, the surge in rates since early November ultimately caught some prospective buyers off guard and dimmed their appetite or ability to buy a home as 2016 came to an end.”
The median existing-home price 2 for all housing types in December was $232,200, up 4.0 percent from December 2015 ($223,200). December’s price increase marks the 58thconsecutive month of year-over-year gains.
Total housing inventory 3 at the end of December dropped 10.8 percent to 1.65 million existing homes available for sale, which is the lowest level since NAR began tracking the supply of all housing types in 1999. Inventory is 6.3 percent lower than a year ago (1.76 million), has fallen year-over-year for 19 straight months and is at a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace (3.9 months in December 2015).
“Housing affordability for both buying and renting remains a pressing concern because of another year of insufficient home construction,” said Yun. “Given current population and economic growth trends, housing starts should be in the range of 1.5 million to 1.6 million completions and not stuck at recessionary levels. More needs to be done to address the regulatory and cost burdens preventing builders from ramping up production.”
According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate(link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage surged in December to 4.20 percent from 3.77 percent in November. December’s average commitment rate was the highest rate since April 2014 (4.32 percent).
First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in December, which is unchanged both from November and a year ago. First-time buyers also represented 32 percent of sales in all of 2016. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers — released in late 2016 4 — revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.
“Constrained inventory in many areas and climbing rents, home prices and mortgage rates means it’s not getting any easier to be a first-time buyer,” said Yun. “It’ll take more entry-level supply, continued job gains and even stronger wage growth for first-timers to make up a greater share of the market.”
On the topic of first-time- and moderate-income buyers, NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says Realtors® look forward to working with the Federal Housing Administration to express why it is necessary to follow through with the previously announced decision to reduce the cost of mortgage insurance. By cutting annual premiums from 0.85 percent to 0.60 percent, an FHA-insured mortgage becomes a more viable and affordable option for these buyers.
“Without the premium reduction, we estimate that roughly 750,000 to 850,000 homebuyers will face higher costs and between 30,000 and 40,000 would-be buyers will be prevented from entering the market,” he said.
Properties typically stayed on the market for 52 days in December, up from 43 days in November but down from a year ago (58 days). Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 97 days in December, while foreclosures sold in 53 days and non-distressed homes took 50 days. Thirty-seven percent of homes sold in December were on the market for less than a month.
Inventory data from Realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in December were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 49 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., 50 days; and Billings, Mont., and Hanford-Corcoran, Calif., both at 51 days.
All-cash sales were 21 percent of transactions in December, unchanged from November and down from 24 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in December, up from 12 percent in November and unchanged from a year ago. Fifty-nine percent of investors paid in cash in December.
Distressed sales 5 — foreclosures and short sales — rose to 7 percent in December, up from 6 percent in November but down from 8 percent a year ago. Five percent of December sales were foreclosures and 2 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20 percent below market value in December (17 percent in November), while short sales were discounted 10 percent (16 percent in November).
Single-family home sales declined 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in December from 4.97 million in November, but are still 1.5 percent above the 4.81 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $233,500 in December, up 3.8 percent from December 2015.
Existing condominium and co-op sales dropped 10.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 610,000 units in December, and are now 4.7 percent below a year ago. The median existing condo price was $221,600 in December, which is 5.5 percent above a year ago.
December existing-home sales in the Northeast slid 6.2 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 2.7 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $245,900, which is 3.8 percent below December 2015.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales decreased 3.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.28 million in December, but are still 2.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $178,400, up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South in December were at an annual rate of 2.25 million (unchanged from November), and are 0.4 percent above December 2015. The median price in the South was $207,600, up 6.5 percent from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West fell 4.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in December, and are now 1.6 percent below a year ago. The median price in the West was $341,000, up 6.0 percent from December 2015.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
Author Comment: In spite of Green Acre taxes, Minnesota Farmers face heavy real estate taxes on farmland, causing them to vote against independent school district referendums. So look for a new tax search to follow along with deferred Green Acre and Open Space Taxes. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith is working to help resolve this.
Daily Globe | January 20, 2017
Smith called the current situation a perfect storm. Farmers are suffering from low commodity prices, high land values and, for many, crushing health care costs. The prospect of their property taxes increasing by hundreds or thousands of dollars sent many to the polls in November to vote down building bond referendums like the one for ISD 518.
“The farm economy has been struggling for the past few years. Rising property tax bills are not what’s needed across the state,” said Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner David Frederickson. Noting that property taxes have increased by 114 percent for Minnesota farmers in the past decade, Frederickson said a majority of levy referendums in rural Minnesota failed in 2016, while the majority of levy referendums posed to city dwellers passed.
Read More on this
Editor Comment: It’s great to have the NNA join forces with ALTA, as there is certainly a need for signing agents. Just remember, in Minnesota, all signing agents must be both licensed notaries with the Minnesota Secretary of State, and licensed Closing Agents with the Minnesota Dept of Commerce
ALTA press release
January 16, 2017
ALTA’s Elite Provider Program is comprised of premier service providers committed to offering comprehensive benefits to the title insurance and settlement services industry. Elite Providers promote the highest industry standards and provide effective solutions for ALTA members’ critical needs.
“I’m pleased to have the National Notary Association join our growing ALTA Elite Provider program,” said Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s chief executive officer. “We are constantly working to provide our members with the resources to find businesses with a proven track record of trusted products and services. The Elite Provider program requires our technology and service providers to promote higher standards across the industry.”
The National Notary Association offers an annual certification product for Notary Signing Agents. It includes a background screening that meets Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) standards as well as a comprehensive exam testing their knowledge of the mortgage signing process. The NNA also offers continuing education courses, notary errors and omissions insurance products and online verification of the Notary Signing Agent’s background screening status.
The National Notary Association offers ALTA members 25% off of a subscription to the NDA Data Exchange which synchronizes key data verification points from the Notary Signing Agent’s profile at SigningAgent.com with individual vendor management platforms. Subscribers have access to real time profile updates of all Notary Signing Agents who are background screened and certified by the NNA.
For more information about the program or to apply, please visit ALTA’s Elite Provider website.
The Data and Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services, Inc.has released its latest Mortgage Monitor Report, based on data as of the end of November 2016. In the first three quarters of 2016, as home prices continued to appreciate, one million previously underwater homeowners returned to positive equity positions, while tappable equity totals continued to rise. This month, Black Knight looked at the extent and impact of these changes on the market. As Black Knight Data & Analytics Executive Vice President Ben Graboske explained, there is a distinct geographical component at work, with regard to both the negative and tappable equity sides of the equation.
“The negative equity situation has improved substantially since the height of the great recession,” said Graboske. “There are now just 2.2 million homeowners left in negative equity positions, a full one million fewer than at the start of 2016. Whereas negative home equity was once a widespread national problem – with roughly 30 percent of all homeowners being underwater on their mortgages at the end of 2010 – it has now become much more of a localized issue. By and large, the majority of states have negative equity rates below the national average of 4.4 percent. There are, though, some pockets where homeowners continue to struggle. Three states in particular stand out: Nevada, Missouri and New Jersey, all of which have negative equity rates more than twice the national average. Atlantic City leads the nation, with 23 percent of its borrowers underwater, followed by St. Louis at 20 percent. We also see that lower-priced homes – those in the bottom 20 percent of prices in their communities – are nine times more likely to be underwater than those in the top 20 percent.
“On the other hand, we’ve also seen a steady increase in the number of borrowers with tappable equity in their homes, meaning they have current combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratios of less than 80 percent. There are now some 39 million such borrowers, with a total of $4.6 trillion in available, lendable equity. That works out to an average of about $118,000 per borrower, making for the highest market total and highest average per borrower we’ve seen since 2006. Even though the total equity tapped via first lien refinances hit a seven-year high of more than $70 billion over the first three quarters of 2016, that means less than two percent of available equity has been tapped so far this year. That equity also continues to be accessed safely, with the resulting average post-cash out LTV of 66 percent at near 10-year lows and the average credit score above 750. Much like the negative equity situation, tappable equity is geographically concentrated as well, although in different areas. The top 10 metropolitan areas contain half of all available lendable equity, and California alone accounts for nearly 40 percent, despite having only 16 percent of the nation’s mortgages.”
Black Knight also looked at the impact of the rising interest rate environment on how – and if – borrowers tap into their available equity. The share of tappable equity held by borrowers with a first lien interest rate above the average 30-year fixed rate dropped from 73 percent in October to just 33 percent as of Dec. 29, 2016. Historically, borrowers with interest rates above par have been both more likely to tap into equity and more likely to refinance their entire first lien to do so (and getting a better first lien interest rate in the process). Likewise, borrowers with interest rates below par have been less likely to tap into equity, and more likely to use a second lien when they do. This suggests that HELOC lending may become a more attractive vehicle for tapping equity for the borrowers holding two-thirds of the nation’s tappable equity with interest rates below par.
As was reported in Black Knight’s most recent First Look release, other key results include:
|Total U.S. loan delinquency rate:|| 4.46%|
|Month-over-month change in delinquency rate:|| 2.55%|
|Total U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate:|| 0.98%|
|Month-over-month change in foreclosure pre-sale inventory rate:|| -1.35%|
|States with highest percentage of non-current* loans:||MS, LA, NJ, AL, WV|
|States with the lowest percentage of non-current* loans:|| ID, MT, MN, CO, ND|
|States with highest percentage of seriously delinquent** loans:|| MS, LA, AL, AR, TN|
Scam Alert: ALTA Mailing Database
ALTA is informing its members about fraudulent emails coming from marketing firms indicating that they are selling contact information for companies listed in ALTA’s database.
The email scam asks if the recipient would like to acquire an ALTA list. This scam claims it includes lists for title insurance companies and title abstractors. Mailing list scams try to snag unsuspecting businesses with offers of lists of potential new clients.
ALTA has not provided its list to these companies. Lists can only be legally acquired after ALTA approves marketing pieces that are to be physically mailed to offices. ALTA prohibits anyone other than the association from calling and emailing companies on the ALTA membership list for marketing purposes.
ALTA is reaching out to the domain registrars to alert them of the abuse. This type of advertising violates the federal Lanham Act. ALTA also plans to report the fraudulent domains to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center.
To protect yourself, do not open attachments or click links included in suspicious email. You should also not respond or even “unsubscribe” to messages that seem suspicious.
Here’s an example of the fraudulent email: