Housing Crisis Reveals Larger Problem

property fraud

The fraudulent act of predatory lending practices often leave homeowners in debt.

The housing crisis has unfortunately revealed yet another issue in the real estate market.  According to a post created for the McFarlin, LLP website, some lenders are taking advantage of the dire housing market to attempt schemes and tricks against their loan applicants.  The resulting scam is entitled predatory lending practices, and large banks and sub prime lenders typically engage in the fraud.  Essentially, this scam involves exploiting homeowners until they are buried in debt.

There are two separate types of predatory lending practices.  First, there are lenders who extend abusive loan terms.  This is when a lender offers high interest rates and fees, producing balloon payments, extreme penalties for late payments and large upfront fees.  Unfortunately, this means of predatory lending practices often leads to foreclosure proceedings; the lender may utilize foreclosure fraud to further abuse the already tricked homeowner.

The second means of engaging in predatory lending practices is entitled discriminatory targeted marketing.  Essentially, this requires the bank to use public information to locate vulnerable individuals—people they think may fall victim to schemes.  It should be noted that it is not illegal to market to a large audience; however, legality becomes an issue when banks use marketing to exploit groups of consumers.  In this method, targets are engaged in discussions, in which certain important facets of information about the loan are omitted, resulting in consumers that are tricked into a deal they cannot afford.

In both of these methods, victims fall behind on their payments, making it very difficult for the consumer to save their home or protect their credit. As a result, many fall to foreclosure, as opportunities to save the home are missed, due to a lack of knowledge in their legal rights.  Therefore, the post urges that any consumer that feels suspicious about their treatment at the hands of a lender contact a legal consultant, just to make sure the loan terms and deal are all legal and in the best interest of the borrower.

Florida Law Misconstrued to Meet Different Ends

condo damage

Florida real estate law makes it easier on condo owners who have suffered damages from hurricanes to put the condo up for a quick sale.

According to an article recently completed for the ABA Journal, an amendment made to a Florida real estate law has allowed some to take advantage of the struggling condo market.  The original law allowed condo owners to terminate the building’s condo status; this was a desirable action for those who had suffered severe damage from hurricanes.  The law allowed for a quick sale of the building to a developer, who would repair the damage from the storm and turn it over to be rented.  Essentially, it allowed owners to get out from under a destroyed property value.  However, this could only be done through a unanimous vote from all who owned units in the condo building.  One single holdout could block the entire exchange.

An amendment was introduced in 2007 as a means of circumventing the holdout issue.  The amendment allowed for a termination of the condo status with the approval of eighty percent of the condo owners.  The amendment also allowed the law to be applied to dwellings that were intact—sans any damages from storms—as well as those who had suffered damages.  In the case of those who continued to holdout and were overruled, those owners were to be compensated with the market value of their unit.  However, this isn’t always the relief that owners wish for; one owner has filed suit, as the market value of the condo she paid over three hundred thousand dollars for has now fallen to a meager seventy four thousand.

There are other complications that have arisen from the amendment as well.  Many developers in buildings where the units remain empty are using this amendment to reclaim units and rent them as apartments.  These developers are attempting to force owners to sell their units to turn the property over for renting.  This issued ultimatum and pressure for owners to submit to the desires of the developers has created a mess of litigation, centering on arguing which side is interpreting the amendment correctly.