August 25, 2013

You are SO priced out forever

Haven’t bought a house yet? Here’s some cheery news proving you waited too long.

Freddie Mac: 30-year mortgage jumps to 4.58%, highest in 2 years

130824-lat-builderBy E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
August 22, 2013, 10:59 a.m.

Fixed mortgage rates jumped again this week, with Freddie Mac‘s widely watched survey saying lenders were offering 30-year home loans at an average of 4.58%.

That was up from 4.4% last week and the highest rate Freddie has reported in two years.

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average for the 15-year fixed loan, a popular alternative for people refinancing mortgages, was 3.6%, up from 3.44% last week and 2.89% at this time a year ago.

The higher rates have sharply reduced the number of borrowers able to refinance their home loans at lower rates, and with delinquencies and foreclosures also on the wane, big mortgage lenders are cutting back on staffing.

Ruh-roh Raggy. When the banks don’t think they need staff anymore, you know this party isn’t going to end well.  Fortunately, this article was reporting from the Southland, which is most definitely not in the Real Bay Area. Everyone knows in the RBA home prices only go up because nobody here needs a mortgage at all.

Bring a suitcase full of cash to your closing or go home.

Comments (13) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:08 am

July 24, 2012

TechCU conversion – Vote No [Not Snarky]

Let’s take a pause from examining the joys and wonderment of Real Bay Areal Real Estate, and look at a serious issue.

If you are a TechCU customer, you will soon be asked to vote on whether you want to convert the bank to… well… a bank. Or to keep it as is.

I’ve read through the literature, and I can’t seem to find any good reason on why this conversion should happen.

Worse yet, the phone calls, the literature, the raffle for free iPads for voting (seriously??) have all left a bad taste in my mouth.

You’re free to do whatever you want to do, but I’m planning on voting no on the conversion.

Here’s some more reasons why:

Comments (15) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:26 am

April 15, 2012

The Worst Company in America is in the Bay Area!

120413-consumerist-mastheadLast year was an exciting March Madness playoff leading to a nail-biter of a final playoff.  Which was the Worst Company in America?  Was it BP, which destroyed an entire ecosystem, or was it Bank of America, which merely melted down an economy?

Those who voted for second-place B of A may have been hoping for another chance this year, but there’s a new Winner (and by that I mean Loser) in town.  According to the 2012 March playoffs hosted by The Consumerist, the worst company in America is… drumroll please… EA!

And EA was not content to merely ignore this ignominious achievement.  Nooooo!  EA, showing that the voters knew damned well what they were doing, actually made this stupefyingly ill-suited statement:

We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.

120413-consumerist-eaBP wasn’t even in the running this year because they won last year in a very closely contested contretemps. But Bank of America was back, of course.  And once more B of A (it stands for Bunch of A’**holes) failed to “survive” the final death match.

Also, AIG won in 2009 and Halliburton won the very first WCIA contest in 2006.

Other Bay Area companies nominated for this dubious honor include:

120413-netflixNetflix, who lost its first match against GameStop.  This one was a blowout final sale.

120413-wellsWells Fargo also failed to advance when it was locked in the vault by CitiCorp.

120413-googleGoogle similarly lost its maiden match to Apple by 404.

120413-appleBut Apple shouldn’t get a swelled AirBook over the experience, as it was easily short-circuited 2 to 1 by AT&T.

120413-paypalPayPal was knocked out in the quarter finals by WalMart in a Photoshop finish. But PayPal got that far by defaulting on CapitalOne in a walkover, and similarly slammed the receiver down hard on Charter.

120413-facebookFacebook had a much stronger string of worsts.  It cut the power to Sprint by 4 to 1, and gave the US Postal Service a definitive Return to Sender, before falling to AT&T, who wrote the book on bad service.  Facebook simply didn’t have enough Dislikes. 

120413-eaAT&T was in turn Ctrl-Alt-Deleted by EA, with 3 out of 4 voters gunning for the gaming goon.  EA shut down Sony, closed out Best Buy, and blacked out Comcast to qualify for the semifinal with AT&T.

Which company do you think should have won the WCIA this year?  And which Bay Area companies that weren’t nominated do you think should have been?

Comments (8) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:11 am

September 10, 2011

Plan on Selling your House? Good Luck Proving it’s Yours.

Here’s some more cheery good news for your weekend!

Robo-signed mortgage docs date back to late 1990s

Widespread robo-signing of mortgage documents found as far back as 1998 could haunt owners

Pallavi Gogoi, AP Business Writer, On Thursday September 1, 2011, 8:50 pm EDT


In this July 18, 2011 file photo, Salem, Mass. Registrar of Deeds John O’Brien stands near copies of robo-signed signatures at his office, in Salem, Monday, July 18, 2011. O’Brien said an investigation of more than 710,000 documents in his office found that 25,187 homeowners in the county, or about 3.5 percent, have paperwork on file with signatures he believes are fraudulent. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Counties across the United States are discovering that illegal or questionable mortgage paperwork is far more widespread than thought, tainting the deeds of tens of thousands of homes dating to the late 1990s.

The suspect documents could create legal trouble for homeowners for years.

Already, mortgage papers are being invalidated by courts, insurers are hesitant to write policies, and judges are blocking banks from foreclosing on homes. The findings by various county registers of deeds have also hindered a settlement between the 50 state attorneys general who are investigating big banks and other mortgage lenders over controversial mortgage practices.

The problem of shoddy mortgage paperwork, which comprises several shortcuts known collectively as "robo-signing," led the nation’s largest banks, including Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., and other lenders to temporarily halt foreclosures nationwide last fall.

imageI especially like the quote from a deeds registrar in North Carolina who found 74 percent of a sample of 6100 mortgages filed since 2006 had questionable signatures, and another 450 that didn’t pass the smell test in the last nine months.  But we already knew the banks were lying, cheating, fraudulent scumbags now.  What’s exciting is finding out that they were lying, cheating, fraudulent scumbags for more than a dozen years!

How about tying up your earnings for the next 30 years by signing a contract with a bunch of dishonest thieves so you can buy a house? Yeah, you might have some trouble selling it in the future, but maybe by then all the bankers will be excused from this dreariness about who owns which house and who didn’t pay their mortgage and how many times the same loan was sold into a bunch of synthetic CDOs without any paperwork.

This is an Open Thread.

Comments (4) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:13 am

July 23, 2011

The Sad Sad Story of Kenny Lane: A Special Report

Kenny Lane isn’t a person, or even a Beatles song.  Kenny Lane is a street in San Jose, and there’s a house on it that’s the subject of today’s fascinating Guest Post.

Please give a big RBA welcome to today’s Guest Blogger, Tracy!  This is quite a tragic tale, and many of these bank bastardry details cover why Burbed will never run out of horrible housing to highlight.

Why I see so much stuff in the East Valley, or The Sad Sad Story of Kenny Lane

When the owner of this house died, she was in debt. A wonderful woman by all accounts, at about age 87 she took a second on her home, which she owed a sizable chunk on the first. Well we don’t stay here forever, and in 2009 her daughters found themselves in the sad position of inheriting a debt. They decided to walk away, let the banks foreclose and cut their exposure. Because they are super nice people, they used a neighbor as their realtor.

10183 KENNY Ln, San Jose, CA 95127


SQ. FT.: 1,880
$/SQ. FT.: $213
LOT SIZE: 1 Acre
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family
VIEW: Bay, Green Belt, Mountains, City Lights
COUNTY: Santa Clara
MLS#: 81131176
STATUS: Pending Without Release
ON REDFIN: 7 days


42011 misc pictures 1259The house has some good features. Even though suffering from years of neglect ( the second did not go to home repairs …) and being located on a steep hill, it has the grooviness factor my husband and I were looking for. I loved the location as well. It was on the market for the price of the debts which was waay too high. We got into contract for it, and agreed that we would adjust to the level the house appraised at. We did due diligence, secured financing etc., and finally agreed to pay $580,000 for the house.

Banks were fighting over 10,000 dollars

42011 misc pictures 1238Bank #1 did not want Bank #2 to have $20,000 on #2’s $75K debt; Bank #1 wanted all monies. So we finally made a side deal to directly pay Bank #2. Unfortunately this kicked up a HUD2, and after all money was paid, escrow papers etc. done all parties assuming the deed was done on a Friday afternoon. When I checked to see if all was closed on Monday, I got the bad news that Bank #1 refused to sell because of the money to Bank #2, and after 6 months of work, we lost the house!

Foreclosure started and we were not informed of the auction date, the bank only had a short notice, and we only found out from the heirs the day before. I was unable to get a $500,000 cashier’s check on short notice and no one bid on the house, it was returned to the bank for the opening bid of $504,000.

42011 misc pictures 1248Now it is on the market again for $400,000, which is one of the reasons I started following Burbed; the absolute craziness of the banks and the real estate world. Where does it make sense to turn down $180,000 more? Only when bank number one is evil Occwen… AKA Countrywide.

The pictures on the house defiantly qualify as the world is tilting worthy. I have many better pictures of the problems of the house which I attach. The house is on a steep hill with no retaining wall, and no working septic system. It does have a million dollar view, and is open on Saturday July 23rd. [That’s today – ed., also tomorrow and next weekend.]

I don’t think I’ll go.

42011 misc pictures 123442011 misc pictures 123642011 misc pictures 123742011 misc pictures 124142011 misc pictures 124442011 misc pictures 124742011 misc pictures 125642011 misc pictures 1257

Comments (27) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:14 am

February 27, 2011

Too High for Fairness, Too Low to Matter

Here’s another example of your tax dollars at play.

Rep. Waters: $20 Billion Settlement Would Be Too Low

By Nick Timiraos, The Wall St Journal, February 25, 2011, 10:56 AM ET

A top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee signaled that the broad outlines of a settlement to resolve mortgage-servicer abuses should push for penalties higher than the reported $20 billion figure.

On Thursday, the Journal reported that the Obama administration, federal regulators, and state attorneys general were ironing out broad outlines of a settlement to resolve abuses that first surfaced when foreclosure processes broke down last fall. The settlement could push for banks to write down loan balances for troubled borrowers, and several stakeholders in the talks have pushed for a settlement of more than $20 billion.

Here’s the quote that caught my eye in this piece on spanking bankers for taking away peoples’ homes by forging documents:

The banking industry has knocked the Obama administration’s nascent proposal, saying that the settlement is too large relative to the size of their abuses and that it is also too small to have any meaningful impact on the housing market.

So what would have meaningful impact on the housing market?  I’m sure you all have some excellent ideas what would work.  Shakespeare said in Henry VI, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”  So what should we do to the bankers?

Comments (6) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:15 am

January 8, 2011

Massachusetts to Banks: Foreclose This!

After reading about the truly depressing tale of the Foreclosure Express Courtroom (the Rocket Docket) in Florida, here’s some good news provided you aren’t a bank or a bank shareholder.  Thanks to Burbed guest editor DreamT for passing this news item along.

Two Banks Lose in Foreclosure Cases


housingThe highest court in Massachusetts ruled against Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp in two foreclosure cases that cast doubt over whether some home loans were properly handled when packaged into securitizations.

Justices in the state’s Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court’s decision to void foreclosure sales of two homes in Springfield, because owners of the loans couldn’t prove that the mortgages had been assigned to them. Both loans were assembled into mortgage-backed securities sold to investors.

Photo, above right: A Wells Fargo branch in San Francisco. Shares of the bank fell 2% on the ruling, and other banks saw share-price losses as well.  — Getty Images

Bank stocks fell on worries that Friday’s ruling could make it harder for financial firms to foreclose on mortgages that wound up in securities. The defeat also might provide ammunition to mortgage-bond investors who have accused and even sued servicers for what the investors claim is systematically shoddy loan documentation.


The Massachusetts case is a closely watched example of what some mortgage experts describe as “show-me-the-paper” cases over widely used procedures for transferring loans after they are made. Individual loans often are sold to an investor, with the new owner’s name left blank in loan documents to minimize paperwork hassles as the loan subsequently changes hands before being combined with other loans into mortgage-backed securities.

These cases only apply to Massachusetts, though.  Banks in California and nonrelevant parts of the country can continue to foreclose on homeowners without proving they actually own the mortgages in question.

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:12 am

December 26, 2010

Not Your House? Not Our Lien? We’re Foreclosing Anyway, Sucks to be You.

So, now that another Christmas has come and gone, it’s time to take stock and count our blessings.  Here’s a blessing you didn’t know you had: Be thankful a bank isn’t foreclosing on you for a house you don’t even own.  Because if they were, good luck proving it isn’t yours.  Or maybe it is your house, but another bank who doesn’t even own the note is foreclosing despite your perfect payment record? Or even better yet, how about a bank foreclosing on your house when you paid cash for it?  Welcome to another episode of Bankers Do the Darndest Things! 

Thanks to Burbed reader nomadic for this cup of Christmas cheer!

Caught by mistake in foreclosure web

By MICHELLE CONLIN, AP Real Estate Writer Wed Dec 8, 6:28 pm ET

In this undated photo provided by Alexa Marconi, Christopher Marconi stands outside his home in Garrison, N. Y. On Oct. 20, 2010, Marconi was in the sChristopher Marconi (photo, right) was in the shower when he heard a loud banging on his door. By the time he grabbed a towel and hustled to his front step, a U.S. marshal’s sedan was peeling out of his driveway. Nailed to Marconi’s front door was a foreclosure summons from Wells Fargo, naming him as a defendant. But the notice was for a house Marconi had never seen — on a mortgage he never had.

Tom Williams was in his kitchen thumbing through the mail when he opened a letter from GMAC. It informed him that the bank would confiscate his house unless he immediately paid off his mortgage balance of $276,000. But Williams had never missed a mortgage payment. And his loan wasn’t due to mature until 2032.

Warren Nyerges opened his front door in Naples, Fla., to find a scraggly-haired summons server standing on his stoop. He plopped a foreclosure notice from Bank of America in Nyerges’ hands. But Nyerges had paid for his house in cash. And he’d never had a checking account, much less a mortgage, with Bank of America.

By now, you may have heard the stories of bank robo-signers powering through hundreds of foreclosure affidavits a day without verifying a single fact. But most of those involved homeowners who had stopped paying their mortgage. They were genuine defaulters. Now a new species of homeowner is getting pushed into foreclosure hell.

Main ImageSeveral US Senators noted problems reported to them of people doing everything right and getting notices of default, with no way to reverse the foreclosure express without hiring lawyers.

One woman in the article said Bank of America not only picked through her personal property but cut off her utilities, poured antifreeze down her drains, padlocked her doors and confiscated her pet parrot.  Angela Iannelli said it took her 6 weeks to get B of A to clean her house.  She was current on her loan payments.

Jose and Maria Perez  of Seguin, Texas are suing B of A for scheduling their house for a foreclosure sale, despite the fact that their loan is current, with a different bank.  Former employees at banks have testified they knowingly foreclosed on the wrong people, or masqueraded as bank VPs when they had no experience whatsoever… because bank officials told them to do so.

So why is this happening?  Is it just sloppiness, or, as this AP article suggests, is it because the banks have a financial incentive to foreclose and then slap on a bunch of fees, which are the first debts paid when the house is sold?  Ya think?  Does a banker charge interest?

There’s plenty more, so get out your boxing gloves, head down to the boxing ring, find the nearest banker and enjoy Boxing Day.

Comments (11) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:08 am

October 21, 2010

B of A Lost $7.7 Billion and All I Got Was This Stupid Photo


Update: Please vote for your favorite caption in comments.  We’ll announce a winner on Monday.

We’ll return to our regular programming of insanely priced houses, terrible listing copy, ugly home photography, and endless lists of zip codes tomorrow.  Today, we’re going to take a little break.

burbed reader Herve sent in the photo at right. It accompanied a Yahoo Finance story about Bank of America having a $7.7 billion dollar loss, due to some “special charge” they made concerning debit and credit card reform rules changes.  Yes, it can be Special in the banking biz, too.  Note the photo caption:

The exterior of Bank of America bank is seen in Palo Alto, Calif., Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Bank of America has lost $7.65 billion during the third quarter due to a one-time charge related to credit and debit card reform legislation passed over the summer.(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Your mission is to write a better caption for this photo.  All the elements are there.  Huge bank loss due to Specialness, or the government’s fault, or something.  In Palo Alto.  And a bike parked outside with a spare tire.

Needless to say, real estate references are strongly encouraged.  The fact that B of A did better than expected “due mainly to a sharp drop in losses tied to defaulting loans,” should get you started.  Feel free to refer to the article or just completely make something up.  Show your True Bay Area Spirit!

First Prize: Your choice of Bay Area zip code or for sale listing featured in burbed.  (Not valid in East Bay.  Kidding!)

Second Prize: Due to budget cuts, there is only one prize.  But you will win the respect of your friends, family and co-workers, plus your entry will be indexed by web robots for years to come!

Judging: The winner will be chosen by consensus of whoever shows up.  If there is no clear decision, the moderator will toss a bike tire and see which side of El Camino it rolls to.

Comments (92) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:05 am