Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2008

COOK COUNTY RECORDING FEES INCREASE 3/3/08

Effective March 3, 2008, at the direction of the Cook County Board, the cost to record documents with County Recorder will increase by $12.

The $12 surcharge will increase the cost of a "typical" Deed from $38 to $50 & a "typical" from $68 to $80.

Recording documents with the County Recorder establishes them as public records. Information at the Recorder's office helps us all track the current legal owners of any given parcel of land, and to determine who might have security interests in that property.

Most every real estate transaction I participate in involves at least three, sometimes as many as five or six recordings. The Buyer wants his or her Deed recorded. The Lender(s) want the Mortgage(s) recorded. The Buyer and Seller want Releases recorded to "prove" that old loans were paid off as part of the closing.

$14 of every $15 new dollars collected will finance the County's ongoing implementation of its "geographic information system&quo…

Location, Location, Location (Privacy, Privacy, Privacy)

This one comes to me from a fairly irate client; upset for reasons that should be quite obvious once you take a look at BlockShopper.com.

The folks here claim to be providing a service to the community by capturing and reporting public information relating to recent property transactions in the target communities. For Chicago, currently limited to Lakeview and Lincoln Park. Rather than simply report the property addresses and prices, these clever web-mongers are also posting google maps of the specific properties and biographical information about buyers, as available from other public web sites.

I suppose this is a benefit to home buyers to see the prices and "types" of people buying on a given street or what-have-you, and in a folksy pseudo-small townish way it could be a nice thing to learn something about your new neighbors, but at what cost?

Seems to me that the real small townish way to learn about the neighbors would be to bake an apple pie and ring the damn doorbell to…

An End to Real Estate Agent Rebates?

The Spring legislative season has started in Springfield so our legislators are hard at work introducing laws we need (whether we need them or not).

Chicago lawmaker Robert Molaro has introduced a proposal to amend to the Illinois Real Estate License Act. HB 4313 provides that no licensee shall give or pay cash rebates, cash gifts, or cash prizes to an unlicensed person who is a party to a contract to buy or sell real estate.

Bad news for discount brokers and other innovators; probably good news for anyone who wants to maintain the status quo and prevent brokerage commission slippage. Companies like Redfin, who appear poised to enter the Chicago market may have to rethink their buisness plans.

For some reason, licensees could still offer prizes, merchandise, rebates, discounts, or other consideration for rental situations.

This bill

The Bowling Center Safety Act

No real estate news here - but I just can't help myself:

Its the start of the spring legislative session down in Springfield so our lawmakers are hard at work proposing new laws for all of us.

LaSalle County Democrat Frank Mautino has introduced House Bill 4332, the Bowling Center Safety Act to immunize bowling centers for any injuries to bowlers and spectators from the assumed risks of bowling unless the operator has violated duties required under the Act.

I for one will sleep better at night once this bill passes.

A Mortgage Appraiser's View of the "Mortgage Crisis"

The news media is rife with reports of significant declines in home sales and high foreclosure rates. At this point, this is pretty old news. Just ask any realtor, real estate attorney, or title company employee. We know this from our own levels of activity, or lack thereof.

So what do we do when we run out of work? We try to figure out who's to blame! There is much finger pointing and hand wringing over the causes; lax loan underwriting; irresponsible buyers/borrowers; greedy institutional investors; poor governmental overshight; mortgage scammers. Chose your favorite. All share responsibility to some degree.

Myself, I have always looked first to unscrupulous, opportunistic loan originators. Not ALL loan originators, lets be very clear about this. The ones who over-promised, over-sold, and under-delivered. I have equally dim views of some insurance/annuity salesmen, car finance guys, and boiler room stock brokers. A common denominator among them all is that they are all commissio…

Builder's Own Daughter Walks Away from a Contract

Last week, I wrote about defaults resulting from Occupancy Fraud (obtaining a mortgage loan based on a false promise that one will live in the unit as a principal residence)

This morning I wrote about a developer who is being sued for trying to cancel (discounted) pre-construction contracts in an effort to pocket the profits he was originally willing to forgo to get secure those buyers in the first place. His margins are getting so close that he need cannot afford to let those buyers proceed on their speculative contracts.

Now this:
Toll Brothers, the country's biggest builder of luxury homes reports that included among the 28% of all buyers who canceled their purchase contracts in the fiscal quarter ended January 31, 2008, is the co-founder / vice chairman's own daughter! Reportedly, she signed the contract to buy a Florida condominium for $2.5 million (on the friends and family discount plan) but will not proceed to closing.

How bad is the marketplace, that the firm leadershi…

Developer (TRUMP) Sued for Breaking a Sales Contract

I posted last week about folks who buy condos at discounted rates, before construction starts in on the speculation that they can sell the finished product at a profit. The market downturn has soured those speculations and some of those buyers are defaulting on their contracts (not closing) or on their mortgages after closing (since they cannot sell or service the interest payments).

Today, we look at a developer who wants to cut the speculators out of his project, hoping to maximize his revenues unit sales in the slow marketplace.

The Trump Organization caused many eyebrows to rise last year when they announced they were canceling several purchase contract at Trump Towers. Certain "friends and family, including many of the sales agents and construction contractors were given the opportunity to buy condos at Trump Tower at discounted, pre-construction prices. Last year, when the Condo market slowed, Trump changed his mind, sending notices to those buyers announcing that they wou…

Occupancy Fraud and the Sub-Prime Melt Down

Alot of the media coverage of the subprime mortgage crisis has suggested that the "victims" have been poor and unsophisticated borrowers who did not understand the terms of loans that predatory lenders sold them. In truth, a large segment of these problem loans may have been made to more affluent, sophisticated (greedy?) borrowers.

When a borrower signs a loan application and closes on a mortgage loan, the borrower must swear that information provided to the lender has been truthful. To lie on a mortgage loan application in order to get a loan (or better terms on a loan) is FRAUD. It really doesn't matter what the loan officer tells the customer. It is dishonest and illegal.

One such fraud perpetrated on lender relates to occupancy. An investment loan almost always comes at a higher cost, with a higher interest rate, and requires a larger down payment than a loan for an owner-occupied residence.

These sorts of misrepresentations seem to occur most frequently with regard t…

More on HELOCS

Never mind that the lender might send a letter telling you that the size of your line of credit is going to be lowered, if you are even remotely considering a sale of your home and purchase of another, NOW might be the time that WANT/NEED to get that HELOC anyway.

With a slow market, there is just no guaranty that you are going to be able to sell your home in time to buy the next one. You might be able to offer to buy the next house contingent on the sale of yours, but there is no guaranty that the seller will agree, or that you will find a buyer who can fulfill the contract to buy yours. Mortgage markets are tightening for everyone.

You may need to tap into that built-up equity in your current home before you sell it, in order to buy the new one.

THE PROBLEM: Most mortgage lenders will not want to remortgage your house for you once you have listing on the MLS. As suggested by Dan Green at Mobium Mortgage, "If there's even a remote chance that you'll need your home's eq…

A Warning to those with Home Equity Lines of Credit

A new warning to anyone who has mortgaged property with a Home Equity Line of Credit.

Borrowers with Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) loan on their property pay interest to their lender based on the average daily loan balance outstanding at an interest rate that varies from month to month, typically tied in some fashion to prime lending rates. Typically, all that is required in the way of minimum payment is the interest only. As interest rates rise, so do the monthly interest payments. We are all sensitive to the effects of interest rate changes on our monthly payments as we get billing statements every month and can see the changes every four weeks.

With property values declining in many locations nationwide (including some parts of Chicagland), a stealthier, and perhaps scarier problem is looming:

STANDARD HELOC loan agreements allow lenders to DECREASE the lines of credit available to homeowners if the value of the property declines. Borrowers do not get a say in the lender's …

More cool (?) On-Line Tools for Home Buyers

I recently posted links to two web sites that evaluate the "walkability" and "driveability" of a given home or condo, based on its location and nearby facilities. Other on line sites like Zillow and Trulia provide interesting data, such as estimated sales prices and sales histories of other nearby properties. Obviously, these tools can provide killer information for homeowners and buyers interested in the given area.

Well, the wonders never cease. Here are two more interesting tools worthy of consideration:

RottenNeighbor.com touts itself as the first real estate search engine to help the curious find troublesome neighbors. Registered users can post notices about, well, you-kn0w-who's. Mapping technology allows viewers to search a city or zip code and see where those nasties live and why they have drawn the ire of someone else in the community. The notice I read in in Realtor Magazine today describes a typical venomous post:


“These are the dirtiest and most …