Pocket Listings Anyone?

CAR just presented an hour webinar on the subject of ‘Pocket Listings’. It becoming a problem the way the market is right now. And agents who are not following the letter of the law will come under increasing scrutiny from the DRE and other regulators. That’s what the rest of us need – more regulations to curb the avarice of a few. Ain’t that the way it goes?

REALTORS® marketing a property for which they have obtained a listing will generally place that listing on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).  At times, however, listings are not placed into the MLS.  Listings not placed on the MLS are commonly referred to as “pocket listings”. This article will discuss the various legal issues and risks of pocket listings.  Please note that this article references the California Model Multiple Listing Services Rules (Amended February 2013). REALTORS®, however, must comply with their own local MLS rules.  Many local MLSs adopt the Model MLS Rules in its entirety, whereas other MLSs may have slight variations and may have different numbering systems.

II.  Pocket Listings

Q 1. What is a pocket listing?

A A pocket or off-MLS listing generally refers to a listing agreement that an agent has obtained but does not place on the MLS. A “pocket listing” is not a legally-defined term, and can have other meanings as discussed below.

Q 2. Is a pocket listing legal?

A Yes, a pocket listing can be legal. However, a pocket listing raises a number of legal and practical issues that agents should consider and address as discussed below.

For more information on ‘Pocket Listings’, the legality, the ethics, the fiduciary, get the answers from CAR Legal:

Pocket Listings – CAR Legal

California Homeowners Bill of Rights – New Law for 2013.

The new California Homeowner Bill of Rights becomes law today. If you’re not familiar with this measure, it was a bill carried on behalf of California Attorney General Kamala Harris last year that sought to codify some of the measures set forth in the national mortgage settlement deal struck in early 2012. 

Initially opposed by the California Association of Realtors as well as the California Bankers Association and the California Mortgage Bankers Association, the bill was pushed through the legislature by a closed joint committee  of both houses so when the bill eventually reached the floor, it was voted on immediately and passed to the Governor. Total time in committee, floor and signature was measured in hours rather than days, months or years, as is typical for most bills. 

Due to the secretive nature of the committee structure, there was little opportunity for interest groups to provide input and there was great concern that what emerged would be a very flawed effort reflecting an over reaction to purported lender wrongdoing. However, CAR did have an opportunity to work with the committee to effect some modifications to the final version that removed our opposition to the bill. CAR was not supportive of the bill in its final version but adopted a neutral position, although banking groups remained steadfast in their opposition due to to concerns about meritless litigation that the bill opens up for aggreaved homeowners. 

Here’s what the bill does:

  • Stops dual tracking. Once the process has started for either a loan modification or short sale by the lender, the foreclosure process must be stopped. This is in response to cases where the property proceeds along multiple courses at the same time only to have the foreclosure process conclude days ahead of a short sale approval by another arm of the bank. As pointed out, this frequently resulted in the bank taking the property back and ultimately receiving thousands less in the foreclosure sale than they would have in a short sale. Of course we know the banks are covered either way and really don’t care but ultimately this should result in more short sales and fewer foreclosures, which is better for the recovering market.
  • Under the dual tracking provisions, banks must give an applicant a response to their loan modification before they can start the foreclosure process. If a homeowner has not applied for a loan modification, the bank must inform them of their right to do so before starting the foreclosure process.
  • No more robo signing.
  • Banks must provide a single point of contact to borrowers trying for a loan modification or short sale. Homeowners and Realtors are often frustrated by multiple points of contact and the handoff fr5om one agent to  another within a bank frequently resulting in the loss of paperwork sending the process back to square one while the foreclosure process continues apace in another department.
  • Allows the borrower to sue loan servicers if the borrower thinks they have violated any foreclosure laws. This is one of the most worrisome components of the bill in that it may open the door to frivolous lawsuits resulting in increased costs and unnecessary delays in an already costly and time consuming process. 

With nearly 1 million foreclosures recorded in the state since 2007, California remains one of the hardest hit areas of the country. However, foreclosures are down in most areas by 30% or more in the past year and with prices starting to climb across the state, the hope is that fewer and fewer people will be pushed into foreclosure anyway. Some 30% of state homeowners remain underwater in their loans but the combination of improving employment statistics and home price increases has decreased that by more than 5% in the past year.

The Homeowners Bill of Rights may well provide some relief for harried homeowners and produce further delays to the process, but it will do little to change the underlying ability of a homeowner to ultimately afford their home and will, in most cases, only delay the inevitable. If Sacramento and DC don’t screw it up, an improving economy will do more to aid homeowners than the HBR will ever accomplish – and ultimately that’s the best news for everybody. 

Mortgage Debt Relief. Wassup?

Another question hanging about our heads this year-end involves extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness, that measure that allows lenders not to 1099 you for the mortgage debt relief sellers who have gone through a short sale or foreclosure receive.

At this point with all eyes focused on the fiscal cliff, it is unlikely anything specific to this measure will be passed this year. If there is a continuing resolution (kick the can down the road for 90 days and let the new Congress deal with it), debt forgiveness could/would likely be a part of that. Otherwise we just get to wait until after the first of the year. NAR is pushing very hard for this – it was the subject of a recent call to action for Realtors nationwide, and we are moderately optimistic it will be extended by the new congress but by no means assured. Join the club with all the other individuals, businesses, charities, military members and others awaiting their fate at the whim of the administration and the able hands of Congress.

I know this is very nerve wracking for people involved in short sales or foreclosures right now who don’t know if their phantom income (debt relief) will be taxed or not. Imagine shortselling your home at a loss of $100,000 to your lender. If you close prior to December 31st, you have no tax liability on that money. If you close after January 1, that $100,000 could be added to your regular income and taxed at your increased rate – a potential difference of $20,000+. And right now nobody knows what’s going to happen. Merry Christmas. I’ll provide any updates as they become available.

You can let Congress know how you feel about this by clicking here:

 Do No Harm To Housing

More Light – Less Tunnell

That was the message delivered at our California Association of Realtors Mid-year Legislative meetings as well as our National Association of Realtors Legislative Conference held last month. The focus is shifting from looking over our shoulder at ‘how we got here’ to looking forward to ‘where we go from here’. There is an undercurrent of cautious optimism about the housing market borne out by strong sales results in our local market and in a growing number of  markets across the country.

In weeklong conferences with legislative and regulatory leaders in Sacramento and Washington DC, Realtors stressed the critical role of homeownership as a lynchpin in the economic recovery of this country. At a May 17th Rally where nearly 14,000 Realtors gathered at the Washington Monument, we reminded them that in 6 of the past 8 recessions, the recovery has been lead by an emergent housing market. The other 2 were lifted out by massive war spending, so unless they want to start another war they should probably focus on housing at this juncture. Homeownership matters!

We talked with lenders about their foreclosure efforts, about streamlining the shortsale process, about helping homeowners who were honest victims of their housing manipulations and about getting back into the lending business by sharing some of the bail-out money we lavished on them.

We discussed the importance of mortgage availability and secondary market liquidity with leaders from Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the FHA. In both Sacramento and DC we demonstrated the critical lack of housing inventory in California and cautioned against the widespread implementation of the poorly conceived FHFA Bulk Sale Program (detailed here last month).

Three years ago we were treated to a discussion of the ’emerging green shoots’ by former FED Chair Allan Greenspan, shoots that were subsequently scorched by over-reaching and reactionary regulatory policies. The opportunity still exists for the current optimism to be quashed by knee-jerk decisions, lack of action in some arenas – over-reaction in others.

Elimination of the homeowners mortgage interest deduction is one example. Not extending deficiency judgment protection for underwater homeowners, not renewing the national flood insurance program and wholesale dismantling of Fannie & Freddie are still more examples of misguided efforts on the part of legislators and regulators who 1) don’t understand housing and job creation, and 2) have not considered the unintended consequences of their actions.

The events that brought us here are behind us. Most of the perpetrators will never suffer the consequences of their actions and, in fact, continue to prosper under the current regulatory regime. Time to move on. We endured a near perfect storm of events that brought us to the brink of fiscal disaster as a nation but we are entering a brief window of opportunity right now to keep the nascent recovery moving. The fits and starts of the past 4 years notwithstanding, we have an opportunity to move the housing market forward and with it our national economy.

Being an election year, we are probably assured that no really good or bad bills will emanate from Congress before November (Sacramento may still deliver up a few clinkers). Similarly, the lame-ducks in Sacramento and DC will accomplish little before the new year. Whether or not the recovery proceeds and strengthens will depend on the decisions you make in November. If you are a homeowner or aspire to home ownership, and especially if you consider homeownership to be a legacy you want for your children, please make an informed decision when you vote this fall. So much depends on it.

FHFA REO Bulk Sale Program – what you need to know.

In response to the ongoing depression in our country’s housing market, the federal government has proposed yet another one-size-fits-all band-aid solution to a highly localized problem. As with most of the knee-jerk proposals they have attempted during the past 4 years, this program will not resolve the underlying issue and, in some cases, will make it substantially worse. I’m talking about the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) ‘REO Initiative’ pilot program destined for implementation in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties.

What the program proposes to do is effect a ‘bulk sale’ of REO (bank-owned) properties in select areas in order to ‘remove this overburden of inventory’ from the housing market and convert it to rental units for 5 years. Currently designated in Riverside County – more than 2,500 REO units.

Here’s the problem with that. Contrary to what the government tells us we are experiencing, we actually have a significant shortage of housing units for sale to begin with. There are areas of the country where this program might be effective in accomplishing what the government claims to want to fix, but our area is not one of them. There are areas of the county with a 2 year inventory of homes for sale, prices are continuing their precipitous slide and consumes are not buying homes at any price. Our area is not one of those.

It’s been nearly four years since our market had an inventory in excess of 12 months. Following a record sales year in 2010 and continued strong demand in 2011 and so far in 2012, our inventory of homes for sale is less than four months. For much of that time it has actually been between 2 and 3 months and, as I have written before, if you back out the higher end homes (over $1,000,000) that are selling very slowly, our local inventory of salable homes in Murrieta and Temecula stands at just 1.7 months. A ‘healthy’ inventory is considered to be 6-7 months and we are waaaay under that. Taking a large chunk of properties off the market would only further reduce the opportunities for home buyers to find a home and may well result in further price erosion and market deterioration.

But how about the government’s second argument that we are suffering from a severe shortage of rental units and that by releasing these units to large investor groups we would replenish that stock? Again, not true. Nearly 60% of current single family purchases are by individuals or small local investors who are buying the properties to either A) fix up and re-sell to qualified buyers, or B) keep as rental units.

Local individuals and small investors would be eliminated from the equation as the government program would only sell large blocks of homes to institutional investors far removed from our community. In addition to eliminating opportunities for home buyers and investors, the program would also exclude local property managers, as the properties would be handled by new departments of these institutional giants, and it would remove local Realtors® from the equation either as selling or rental agents in the transaction.

And what is the logical consequence of some far removed institutional investor buying a group of 100 or 200 properties in Temecula? Well, they’d probably want to rent them out as quickly as possible so they would rent them out at the cheapest rate possible. After all, they’d be buying them for pennies on the dollar so any income stream is better than a continuing vacant property. While this may result in some short-term advantage for local renters, long-term it would result in another round of foreclosures as current owners who are barely covering their cost would no longer be able to do that and would lose those properties.

Finally, in what may be the crowning insult, the primary groups that would stand to benefit from these bulk sales are many of the self-same industrial investors whose bad practices enabled the housing implosion to begin with. So they would now be able to purchase the same properties they made bad loans on for a fraction of their original price and they’d be buying them with the bail-out money the government (read: you and me) gave them.

As I initially stated, there are areas of the country where removing properties from the market and converting them to rentals might be good policy. We don’t happen to live in an area that, by definition, would benefit and could see substantial harm to our fragile recovery. The National Association of Realtors® has submitted a letter signed by most of our local Congressional delegates to Edward Demarco, acting head of FHFA, along with a bevy of other federal functionaries requesting that this ‘solution’ be applied only to carefully targeted areas of the country and to cancel any proposed sales in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties, and indeed in the whole state. We don’t want it. We certainly don’t need it – but when has that ever stopped the federal government from giving it to us anyway? Remember Ronald Reagan’s 9 scariest words – ‘We’re from the government and we’re here to help’. He was undoubtedly thinking about a program exactly like this.

 

 

SRCAR Encourages your Support of AB 1098.

On Friday, August 30, the legislature passed AB 1098, a bill that would reinstate VLF funds to the four newest cities in California, including Menifee and Wildomar. We encourage you to download the attached letter of support and email it to the following people. The Governor could make a decision on this measure at any time so time is of the essence.

Thanks to Senators Anderson and Emmerson and to Assemblymen Jeffries and Nestande for their affirmative votes to move this bill forward. 

SUPPORT letter for AB 1098 

nancy.mcfadden@gov.ca.gov,

gareth.elliott@gov.ca.gov,

anna.pozdyn@gov.ca.gov ,

gavin.newsom@ltgov.ca.gov

http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php

Another Bogus Budget

KEVIN’S CORNER

It was another rough month for the families and taxpayers of California, as the legislature completed this year’s budget this week.  I don’t know if there is anyone who is actually happy about the budget, as even the majority party who crafted it in its entirety would certainly rather be growing rather than cutting and eliminating programs.  But there are bad ways to deal with a deficit of this size, and there are worse ways, and make no mistake about it-they have chosen some of the very worst ways to do it.

A few of the worst elements of this budget plan (in no particular order):

  • Once again, the process was done largely in secret behind closed doors.  Hearings were held only on the most general concepts (when they existed at all), and witnesses were unable to say how specific programs might be affected or how much would be spent or cut.  Groups who were affected by the cuts (like local governments) were not allowed to see the final language until it was too late to organize against it, and promises that had been made in negotiations before the budget were absent when the bills were passed on the floor.
  • The budget is based on the assumption that California’s voters will pass an $8 billion tax increase in November, despite the fact that voters have rejected the last 8 taxes to appear on state-wide ballots, including the tobacco tax that just failed in June.  If voters are unwilling to support a relatively small tax that doesn’t affect most of them to cure cancer, are they really likely to pass a massive tax increase that will affect everyone and be spent by our dysfunctional state government?
  • The relatively successful Healthy Families Program that covers medical and dental care for poor children was scrapped, putting them into the state’s Medi-Cal program instead.  Healthy Families is administered by a private group for $50 per client, Medi-Cal is run by state employees for $395 per client.
  • Roughly $16 million was budgeted for administration and collection of the problematic and likely illegal fire tax.  It is likely that no net revenues will ever be recovered from this tax before it is struck down, and we will pay $16 million  for nothing.
  • It is expected that next week the Legislature will approve the $2.7 billion in bond sales that the governor wants for initial construction of the High Speed Rail Program, which will cost the state general fund roughly $180 million annually for 30 years-enough to keep all the State Parks open, fully fund the UCR Medical School, and restore funding to the cities in Riverside County who were victimized in last year’s budget-and still leave tens of millions of dollars to restore other cuts in critical programs or schools.
  • The Governor has targeted massive and unnecessary cuts at education if his tax increase fails as expected  in November.  I supported a budget alternative that would have protected schools and higher education from budget cuts, but it never even received a hearing.  Holding a figurative gun to the head of schools to force voters to pass his tax increase is a cynical move that exposes his true priorities.
  • Pension reform has been cast aside again.  Rather than including the billions in potential savings from legitimate reform in the state budget, votes on the Governor’s plan (a good one, actually) have been rejected, and all discussion of reform has taken place in private.  Rumor has it there may be a vote on some sort of reform next week, but once again, nobody but the legislative leadership and the government union leaders who elected them know what will be in it.
  • Local governments were once again victimized in multiple ways that attack their authority, their flexibility, their budgets, and the safety of their residents.

I am asked regularly what can be done to fix the problems in Sacramento, and there are no easy answers.  With the passage of Proposition 25 two years ago, only a simple majority is required to pass a budget, so the party in charge in Sacramento has free reign and can now make decisions based on whatever priorities they want.  The only way to change what is happening in the Capitol is to change the folks who are running the State Capitol.

Another option is through the initiative system, which allows citizens to go around those who control state government.  There is an initiative which just qualified for the November ballot that does put some restraints on how your government operates, including a requirement that bills be in print and publicly available for 72 hours prior to a vote.  I haven’t had a chance to review all the reforms contained in this measure, and this should not be considered an endorsement of the “Government Performance and Accountability Act”, but it is increasingly clear that the legislature is not willing to reform itself, and change will likely have to be forced upon them.

Because I am leaving the Assembly at the end of the year, this was my last budget fight in Sacramento, and I can guarantee I will not miss it one bit!

Sincerely,

Kevin

DRE releases interpretation on appointment of office manager


Effective July 1, 2012, pursuant to Business and Professions Code (B&P) Section 10164, an employing real estate broker or corporate designated broker officer may (but is not required to) appoint a licensee as a manager of a branch office or division of the employing broker’s or employing corporate designated broker officer’s real estate business and delegate to that manager responsibility to oversee and supervise operations and licensed activities. The appointed manager will share with the employing broker or corporate designated broker officer the liability of potential license discipline should violations of the Real Estate Law occur at the branch or division location.

While the appointment of a branch or division manager is completely voluntary under B&P §10164, a broker or designated broker choosing to appoint a branch or division manager must follow the guidelines set forth by B&P §10164. A licensee cannot be appointed as a manager if the licensee holds a restricted license or has ever been subject to a bar order. If the branch or division manager is a salesperson, the salesperson must have at least two years of full-time real estate experience within five years preceding the appointment. Whenever an appointment of a branch or division manager is terminated or changed, brokers or corporate designated broker officers should immediately notify the DRE in writing.

DRE’s Licensing Unit has developed a new form titled, “Branch or Division Manager Appointment” (RE 242), which will be used by a broker or corporate designated broker officer to appoint or terminate branch or division managers. This new form will be available no later than July 1, 2012. Licensees wishing to add or cancel branch offices should continue to use the Branch Office Application (RE 203).

 

CAR OPPOSES AG’s Homeowner Bill of Rights.

California Homeowners Bill of Rights:

A Lesson in Political Expediency & Unintended Consequences.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced in a much heralded press release today that her ‘California Homeowners Bill of Rights’ has ‘taken a key step toward passage’. Here’s the key step – she bypassed every preliminary opportunity for the bill to be discussed, debated or voted on in either the Assembly or the Senate. What she did, or had her minions in the Legislature do for her, was have the bill introduced to a ‘two-house conference committee’ that voted this morning to pass the bill. That means tomorrow or, more probably Monday, the full Senate and Assembly will vote on the bills – SB 900 & AB 278 with no discussion.

You’ve heard me discuss the measures previously as the Nevada Suite of bills, so named for the deleterious results Nevada experienced after passing similar legislation last year. Did I mention the ‘special committee’ was made up of 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans? Now guess what the vote was? That’s called a ‘procedural matter’ in Sacramento. Roughly translated it means ‘bend over’.

Here’s C.A.R.’s take on the issue:

C.A.R. is OPPOSING conference report, AB 278, containing anti-foreclosure legislation sponsored by the state Attorney General. C.A.R. opposes provisions in this measure which will allow anyone to stop the foreclosure process by filing a lawsuit, merited or not, C.A.R. agrees that careful and balanced reforms to the foreclosure process are necessary. However, C.A.R. opposes this conference report because it will further delay the housing recovery by inviting bad-faith lawsuits and defaults, and making it difficult for even well qualified borrowers to obtain financing. Financing is already very difficult to get. This conference report will only make a difficult situation worse.

Initially the Attorney General had sponsored a package of bills; the so-called the “Homeowners Bill of Rights.” For procedural reasons, the majority of these bills have been under consideration by a Conference Committee made up of six legislators. REALTORS® had the opportunity to educate these legislators about C.A.R.’s concerns as part of Legislative Day and since then C.A.R. lobbyists have been working directly with the conferees and legislative staff to make them aware of the unintended consequences of some of these proposals. The Conference Committee has now issued its final report and it must be passed by both Houses of the legislature. These votes may occur as early as Monday, July 2nd.

Background

The Attorney General has sponsored a package of bills to place into California law an expanded version of the national settlement between major banks and state attorneys general. The contents of some of these bills have been under consideration by a Conference Committee comprised of six members who have just approved a conference report on a party-line vote. Some provisions will have the unintended effect of drying up mortgage loans for anyone but the most well-qualified borrowers, and increasing the costs of all mortgages.

One provision allows any borrower, no matter what the circumstances, to file a lawsuit. This will encourage opportunistic lawyers to pursue frivolous lawsuits, bringing unnecessary and unjustifiable delays to an already difficult and time consuming process. The language is so vaguely written that the borrower doesn’t even have to show that they have been harmed to file suit and be awarded damages.

One-sided  attorneys fees may still be awarded only to plaintiffs based on the very broad definition of a “prevailing party” in the report. And, of course, if lenders don’t have the remedy of foreclosure to ensure they can recover their security in appropriate situations, they will be less likely to lend, credit will be less available and the housing market recovery will limp along even more slowly.

C.A.R. is OPPOSED to the conference report because:

 

  • The housing market recovery is still fragile. About half of all sales are of distressed properties. By restricting a lender’s ability to foreclose and exposing them to unnecessary liability, this report will dry up inventory, and it will further discourage lending other than to the most highly qualified borrowers. Additionally, these bills will artificially slow down the foreclosure process, keeping properties off the market that are legitimately in foreclosure. Finally, by removing the threat of foreclosure, the bill erodes the incentive for short sales as well.
  • The bill invites bad-faith defaults and lawsuits. By broadly defining under what circumstances a lawsuit can be filed, even those legitimately in foreclosure can “game” the system. Additionally, the bill creates an incentive for plaintiffs’ attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits even if no harm has been done to the borrower. The courts are already overwhelmed. This bill, by inviting frivolous lawsuits puts an additional strain on the already underfunded courts
  • Lending is already tight. Even the most well-qualified borrowers are finding it difficult to obtain financing. By stopping legitimate foreclosures, banks will be forced to further tighten lending standards at the expense of homebuyers.

 

We’re not intimating that everything contained in the bills is bad and we have been supportive of some of the issues. We also have a competing dual-tracking bill in play that we feel is more balanced and less vague. But this is a take-it-or-leave-it kind of bill – you have to eat the whole enchilada and there are no amendments allowed at this point. All the bad will be with us as law along with the few good things it might accomplish. Sound familiar?

This is also what is referred to as a ‘gut & amend’ bill. For 1 1/2 years some bills have been floating around the Legislature knowing full well they weren’t going anywhere. They were being held for just such a vehicle as this to rise from the ashes and require a last minute vote – often with only minutes of notice.

So this bill will pass UNLESS you can convince your Democratic Legislator to vote against it. Otherwise it’s a simple exercise in vote counting (53 – 27) to ascertain that our housing market will take another hit – a victim of increased frivolous lawsuits, further restrictions on foreclosures and tightened lending standards.

So now you know the proverbial ‘other side of the story’ and it’s not pretty. I encourage you to read the bill at  AB 278 and then read the AG’s release below. While the release summarizes a much glossed over purview of the bills, the devil is in the details. So go to work on your Democratic Legislators and let them know how Realtors® feel, and every homeowner and landlord who doesn’t feel like paying the price this bill will cost.

 

 

NEWS RELEASE

June 27, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(415) 703-5837

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Print Version

California Homeowner Bill of Rights Takes Key Step to Passage

SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the passage of two central elements of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights through a special two-house conference committee. The 4 to 1 vote sends the bills to an expected vote next week in both the Assembly and Senate.

The two bills approved by the conference committee are the Foreclosure Reduction Act, which restricts the process of “dual-tracked” foreclosures and the Due Process Rights Act, which guarantees a reliable contact for struggling homeowners to discuss their loan with and which for the first time imposes civil penalties on the practice of fraudulently signing foreclosure documents without verifying their accuracy, a practice commonly known as “robo-signing.” The proposed legislation also includes meaningful enforcement for borrowers whose rights are violated.

The full Homeowner Bill of Rights includes additional provisions to reduce blight, ensure appropriate law enforcement response to mortgage fraud and crime, and protect tenants.  The bills containing these protections are also advancing through the Legislature.

“I am gratified by this vote, which represents one more step toward our goal of achieving a Homeowner Bill of Rights for California,” said Attorney General Harris. “The mortgage and foreclosure crisis in our state demands urgent efforts to help Californians keep their homes. The legislature will now have the opportunity to cast a vote on behalf of California’s struggling homeowners.”

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights was introduced February 29, 2012 at a press conference featuring Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and bill authors from the Assembly and Senate. The goal of the Homeowner Bill of Rights is to take many of the mortgage reforms extracted from banks in a national mortgage settlement and write them into California law so they could apply to all mortgage-holders in the state.

“The mortgage and foreclosure abuse in California ends here,” said Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), co-chair of the Joint Conference Committee. “This committee has passed historic legislation that codifies the
protections eligible homeowners deserve, while helping to stabilize the foreclosure crisis that has thwarted California’s economic recovery. The Legislature has studied, listened and engaged Californians and
industry to find a solution that is fair and effective to mitigate this crisis. I look forward to the full support of the Legislature and Governor in implementing this package.”

“This bill is the result of a long and difficult process in which we received input from all interested parties; including homeowners and the banks and found that foreclosures benefit no one,” said Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra). “We ended such dubious practices as having a bank foreclose while a homeowner is in the process of modifying a loan and cut through confusion by making sure that there is a ‘single point of contact’ with mortgage servicers.  With half a million California homes at risk of foreclosure, this action was urgently needed.”

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights extends Attorney General Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis. Attorney General Harris created a Mortgage Fraud Strike Force in March, 2011 to investigate and prosecute misconduct related to mortgages and foreclosures. In February 2012 Attorney General Harris extracted a commitment from the nation’s five largest banks of an estimated $18 billion for California borrowers.

More details about the California Homeowner Bill of Rights are found on the attached fact sheet.  To learn more about how the bills impact California homeowners, review the slideshow at: www.oag.ca.gov.

# # #

You may view the full account of this posting, including possible attachments, in the News & Alerts section of our website at: http://oag.ca.gov/news/press-releases/california-homeowner-bill-rights-takes-key-step-passage

 

FHFA proposes to solidify PACE program rules

For Immediate Release Contact: Corinne Russell (202) 649-3032
June 15, 2012 Stefanie Johnson (202) 649-3030
FHFA Proposes Rule for PACE Programs

Washington, DC –As required by a preliminary injunction issued by the Northern District 
Court of California, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has sent to the Federal 
Register for publication and public comment a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) 
concerning certain state and local energy retrofit financing arrangements also known as 
Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has 
stayed any obligation required by the preliminary injunction for FHFA to publish a final rule. 
FHFA, as conservator, has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac not to purchase any mortgage 
where PACE financing with a priority lien was placed on the underlying property.  Such 
financing moves ahead of the pre-existing first mortgage in lien priority, and thereby 
subordinates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac security interests in the property.  FHFA took this 
action based on its determination that PACE financing arrangements present a safety and 
soundness concern by transferring financial risks to the regulated entities and lacking in 
adequate consumer protections and standards for energy retrofitting.  

The NPR seeks comments on FHFA’s proposed rule as well as on potential alternatives.  The 
comment period is 45 days from the June 15, 2012 date of publication.  FHFA welcomes 
comments on all aspects of the NPR.
Link to Rule as Proposed in the Federal Register
###
The Federal Housing Finance Agency regulates Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks.  
These government-sponsored enterprises provide more than $5.7 trillion in funding for the U.S. mortgage markets 
and financial institutions.

SRCAR Endorses Kevin Jeffries for Supervisor Seat.

Two Influential Realtor Associations Endorse Jeffries
First and Only Candidate Ever Endorsed by Both Local Associations


(Riverside, CA) – Kevin Jeffries announced today that his campaign for Riverside County Supervisor (1st District) has received a pair of important endorsements from both the Southwest Riverside County Association of REALTORS and the Inland Valleys Association of REALTORS.

Both Associations advance the American dream of home ownership for families while promoting and maintaining high standards of conduct for local real estate professionals.

“Kevin Jeffries has been an unwavering advocate of home ownership for Riverside County families. Kevin has worked at both the state and local level to help keep fees and taxes low for homeowners” said Joe McGowan, Chairman of the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors.

“Kevin has not only worked to help jump-start our distressed housing market by proposing tax breaks for first time homebuyers, he has also been an unwavering advocate for private property rights” said Steve Manos, President of the Inland Valleys Association of REALTORS located in Riverside.

“Like thousands of Riverside County families, Riverside County Realtors have been living with the meltdown of our economy and the housing market. They know I’m going to be fighting to turn our local economy around and that affordable housing is a key part of our future recovery,” said Jeffries.

As an advocate on behalf of Riverside County homeowners and families since his 1990 election to a local water district, Jeffries was often a leading voice to oppose water and sewer rate increases, as well as the placement of unfair water “standby” taxes on homeowner property tax bills. Jeffries also led efforts at the State Capitol to provide first time homebuyers with tax breaks. Today Jeffries is currently leading an effort to repeal a soon to be implemented $150 special state fire prevention tax on nearly 800,000 homeowners across the state and portions of Riverside County.

This announcement comes just weeks after the Riverside County Farm Bureau announced their endorsement of Jeffries for Supervisor, according to Stacy Nicola with the Jeffries campaign.

 

# # #

CAR Opposes SB 1220 Transfer Tax

C.A.R. Opposes Transfer Tax Legislation
C.A.R. is opposing SB 1220 (DeSaulnier), which imposes a transfer tax to generate funds for affordable housing. C.A.R. is opposing SB 1220 because it will add to the cost of buying a home at a time when the housing market is struggling to recover. C.A.R. is an aggressive advocate for affordable housing, but believes it is bad policy to fund affordable housing by making housing less affordable and to fund affordable housing at the expense of homebuyers.
Sen. DeSaulnier has introduced SB 1220 to permanently fund an affordable housing trust fund. Unfortunately, SB 1220 creates a real estate transfer tax of $75 per document to fund this program. In virtually all transactions, a minimum of three documents are recorded – the grant deed, the release and reconveyance, and a trust deed. SB 1220 will create a minimum $225 transfer tax, and the amount could be even higher, depending on the total number of documents recorded.
C.A.R. believes it is unfair and unwise to target one group (homebuyers) to pay for affordable housing, which is an issue of broad social concern. C.A.R. is also troubled that SB 1220 increases the already-substantial cost of buying a home.
While C.A.R. adamantly supports the creation of homeownership opportunities, SB 1220 is clearly not the way to achieve this goal.

SB 1220 is expected to have a hearing in the Senate in April.
For more information, see C.A.R.’s web site: http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/getinvolved/sb1220opposetransfertax/

NAR Survey – What are we wiling to give up?

Don’t know if you all got this yesterday from NAR 2012 President Moe Veissi. NAR is doing a survey and would like your opinion regarding our federal policy agenda for the 2012. The survey touches on numerous policy areas from housing to healthcare, GSE’s to foreclosures. If you haven’t received it yet, take a minute to follow this link and give your opinion. It takes less than 5 minutes and you will be some of the few (probably) who bother to respond and make your voice heard.

http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22E47V5J5E6″

Here’s the final question. I’d be interested to hear what you all think about this. It goes back to the root issue we all face that is the stumbling block for many of our legislators – how do you feel about putting your own issues on the table? We’re quick to encourage cuts to other areas of ‘obvious waste’ – but what about those issues that are near and dear to us?

Which of these statements most closely reflects your opinion on NAR response?

* When it comes to changes in tax deductions, real estate tax preferences and federal spending, we must all share in the sacrifice to reduce our national debt (including reducing or eliminating some real estate related deductions) to assure the future health of our nation.

OR…

* Existing real estate related federal tax deductions and preferences, including mortgage interest deduction and the $250,000/$500,000 capital gains exclusion, should be preserved in their current form despite concerns about federal deficits and national debt.

We’re having some fun now, eh?

I Survived Real Estate 2011

For the past four years Bruce Norris, founder of The Norris Group has presented a forum entitled ‘I Survived Real Estate (2011)’ at the Richard Nixon Library. The event, attracting more than 400 real estate and investment leaders from California and beyond, is both an informational evening with panels discussing real estate trends, as well as a fund raiser for The Susan G. Komen Foundation. As a fundraiser the event has been singularly successful, raising over $250,000 for breast cancer research during the past four years. This year’s event was especially poignant as Bruce lost his own wife to the disease earlier this year after a courageous seven year battle.

Norris has over 30 years of real estate experience and more than 2,000 real estate transactions as a buyer, seller, builder and capitol partner. He is an award winning author, hosts a weekly radio program, is a frequent speaker throughout the state and is the founder of The Norris Group, one of the premier real estate investment resources in California. The ‘I Survived Real Estate’ event brings together a number of industry leaders to discuss their often disparate views of the housing industry and answer questions posed by Norris.

This year’s panel included Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan, Foreclosure Radar President Sean O’Toole, National Association of Realtors First Vice President Gary Thomas, Chair-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association Debra Still, President-elect of the Appraisal Institute Sara Stephens and iTulip Founder Eric Janszen.

Duncan, recently named one of the nation’s top four most accurate economists by the Wall Street Journal, discussed the future of his organization in light of President Obama’s call to eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within the decade. Duncan believes this will be a positive step forward as a way to minimize the government’s role in the housing industry and promote private industry’s participation in the market.

This has been a very controversial position as Fannie, Freddie and the FHA, currently underwrite more than 90% of mortgage loans on the market today. Many would argue that there would not be a mortgage market without them. Duncan acknowledged the validity of this claim but offered that the gradual phase-out as called for by the administration will allow alternative financing methods to be developed and that negative impact to the market would be minimal.

Thomas, in line to be the President of the National Association of Realtors in 2013 indicated the industry is very concerned with the plan, or lack there-of. “Without Fannie & Freddie in place there would not have been a mortgage written since 2007,” according to Thomas. “Private lenders are risk averse right now as a result of getting burned by their own exotic inventions during the early part of the decade and stepped away from the market at a time we needed them most. NAR will work very aggressively to make sure whatever programs remain in place are in the best interest of the American consumer.”

The panel also addressed concerns over the massive bail-outs orchestrated by the federal government and their impact on the economy. Janszen, a long-time financial and economic market analyst, added ‘there is really no consensus on the efficacy of the programs’, noting that many believed the programs were little more than ‘print and pray’ exercises with our money. Duncan and Still took some exception to that characterization pointing out that at the very least the programs helped stabilize a rapidly declining market and that much of what was loaned to banks as ‘bail-out’ has been repaid with interest.

Legislation and the global economy figured prominently in the evening’s discussion with Duncan concluding that ‘the likelihood of Greece defaulting on its obligations today is 100%.’ “It’s not a matter of ‘if’ they will default, it’s simply a matter of ‘when’. The only questions is will it be done in an orderly manner which will allow the European economy to hit the bump and continue on, or if it’s done chaotically which will likely result in another worldwide recession.”

O’Toole, whose Foreclosure Radar website is considered to be the pinnacle of information on future trends in the distressed property market, drew some of the evening’s loudest applause when he called on banks to step up their efforts to take back properties and clear out the backlog. “Is it fair for you and I to keep making payments on our home, whether underwater or not, when the family next door can live there without making a payment for a year or two or three? And, face it, many of them just made bad decisions and should not have been in those homes to begin with. They knew it, their lenders knew it and now we all know it but the problem keeps dragging on. Until that backlog of non-performing loans is cleared off the books, banks can’t move forward. And until we get all these homes back into the hands of real home-owners or investors and renters, the market cannot stabilize.”

For more information on The Norris Group and to hear the more than 7 hours of interviews and commentary by this year’s panel, please visit http://www.thenorrisgroup.com/.

It’s not job loss – it’s simply a little leakage.

If you’ve read much of my stuff before, you know the high esteem in which I hold most legislators, with an extra dollop of esteem for our California Nimrods. Yeah, these are the same addlepates that year after year saddle us with budgets they know won’t work, with 20+ billion dollar deficits every year, who recently mandated we instruct grammar school students on their gay heritage, who just passed the Dream Act, providing billions in financial aid to residents who are here illegally when our own resident students cannot get into classes or receive financial aid if they do. Yeah – we’ve got the best and the brightest working for us in Sacramento.

And one of the problems, as you’ll recall, is that some 90% of our Democratic legislators (who comprise the majority in both houses) have NEVER held an honest job. In one fashion or another they have been on the public dole their entire career, public office holder, commissioner, union organizer – some facet of public employment which has never forced them to meet a payroll, be responsive to the desires of customers, never required that they produce a product or a profit. Honest!

So it was no wonder during a recent discussion of the far-reaching costs of our landmark AB32 Greenhouse Emissions bill, that Democratic legislators referred to one of the by-products of the bill as ‘leakage’. Know what leakage was a euphemism for? JOBS! Yeah. Our state, with consistent unemployment of 12+% and these a-holes are referring to further job loss as ‘leakage’.

They were voting on some final rules to this horrendous piece-of-crap bill that will drive more businesses out of state and put even more people out of work but to them it’s simply leakage. Implementing this bill has already cost long-haul truckers and construction crews their jobs and resulted in increased costs for consumer goods from food to gas in the state. The last phase, slated for implementation in 2013 and 2014 sets in place the cap-and-trade emissions system whereby companies will either cut their emissions levels back to what they were in 1990, OR pay for emission credits from companies that emit below their cap OR pay substantial fines.

So the exodus of jobs from California will not only continue but probably expand. We already have more than 5 times as many companies leaving the state, reducing their footprint in the state or just going out of business as we did just 2 years ago. Aww, it’s just leakage says the California Air Resources Board. Oh, and the manufacturing and other jobs that are being over-regulated and over-taxed out of state – they’re going to Mexico or China or other states that have more realistic goals for emissions. So not only is California losing jobs but by our intransigence we are also INCREASING the amount of pollutants in the air.

So to get this straight, our never-held-a-job legislators passed an overarching landmark bill designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Notice I didn’t say pollutants – that’s not covered specifically – just greenhouse gasses which they claim will reduce manmade global warming – if you still believe in that. And the appointed-not-elected wing-nuts on the California Air Resources Board have taken on the challenge of putting teeth into all these rules. And they admit that at times they have relied on specious science to formulate their rules. In fact they admit that AB32 will not reduce global warming even if they shut down every business in the state. But according to their logic – it is a beacon that was passed to encourage other states and countries to follow California’s lead.

Oh Puh-leeze.

What my Momma used to say – ‘just cause that other knott head jumps off a cliff, you gotta go do the same thing?’ Not me. And especially when I can just as easily follow the out-migration of businesses and jobs and people to places where the politicians s still have a brain cell or two, where my congressman might actually have held a job in the not-too-distant past and where the human tragedy of job loss is not simply dismissed as ‘leakage’.

Of course that’s just my opinion – I could be wrong.

What will they call sub-prime loans next time around?

Lower conforming loan limits back to 2007 levels? Who’s bright idea was that?

Another cluster **** from a government reeling from one uninformed decision to the next. It seems every time you turn around someone from the administration is bemoaning the state of housing in the country today. Housing has pulled us out of 6 of the last 8 recessions – why not this one?

Why? Because Washington says one thing and does the complete opposite. Or one branch does one thing while another branch acts to negate the first (see: PACE Program). Is it any wonder confidence is at record lows? If you people are going to screw up, at least do it consistently so we can move forward with confidence that you’ll continue to screw up the same way – we can deal with that. It’s the multiple levels of screw-ups and misdirection that has us lost.

For those of you that live in the middle of the country, I know it makes no difference. It’s not your fight. But at least get out of the way for those of us that do have a dog in the fight, OK?

Here’s a primer – prior to 2007 GSE loan limits were low. Even though we were in higher cost California, for our county it was about $355,000. Some very high cost areas got 115% of the median price of the market up to $417,000 and some areas as high as $525,000. Problem was, in 2005 – 2007 the median price for a home in our state was approaching $600,000. In our little backwater, medians were in the low $500,000’s for 2 years. That meant that anybody coming to our area COULD NOT GET a conforming loan for even a median price home. They were increasingly pushed into the jumbo market with higher fees, tighter qualifying and higher interest rates. Use of FHA and GSE backed mortgages plummeted from as high as 55% to around 7% by mid-2007.

But where there’s a problem, there’s also an opportunity so lenders came up with ways to address people’s inability to get conforming loans by inventing a whole new category of loans – the exotics. And it worked so well, they kept inventing new features. Can’t qualify for an Alt A or subprime, how about if we ask for ‘0’ down? No? How about interest only for 3 years? Still don’t qualify? How about if we just tell you how much you need to make in order to qualify and then you tell us you make that much? Better?

And the GSE’s saw their market share falling even more and the geniuses on Capitol Hill saw that that was bad so just as things started to implode they made a corrective move to increase conforming loan limits. Had they done that 3 or 4 years earlier while maintaining the relative quality of the loan qualification process, we would not be in the trouble we are today.

Now many of the same geniuses who got us into the problem are charged with getting us back out. And they look at the higher loan limits and see that very few people are using that higher limit today. Duh. So their conclusion is not that they tanked the market, but that the higher limits must no longer be needed. And many Republicans are against the higher loan limits because they see this as a way to ‘reduce governments stake in housing’. Great time to be worried about this, ya schmendrakes. Why not just drive that stake right into the heart of the market while you’re fiddly-farting around trying to make us believe you actually have principles.

YOU DULLARDS! First of all, you are absolutely killing any nascent move-up market that may be starting to percolate. In my area we’re down from $500,000 to $355,000 as a conforming cap and sales of $400,000 – $600,000 homes, which were damnably slow to begin with have dried up completely.

It is true that it has not impacted the broader base of our business because our median price has fallen from the mid-$500’s to the high $200’s or low $300’s. But what about when the market snaps back? And it will. It always does. Even Obama can’t kill the innate drive for the American Dream of Homeownership. So what happens in my little market, or the broader California market, or the other 593 higher cost counties in 42 states when the median price again creeps over that cap?

Well, lenders are working on a solution to that even as we speak. The only question is – what are they going to call sub-prime next time? That name’s probably played out.

Of course that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Governor Brown – VETO SB469

On Friday morning, September 30, 2011, several representatives from our community held a press conference asking Governor Jerry Brown to VETO SB 469 (Vargas). This bill is another in the long line of attacks by California on both businesses and municipalities in our state. It is just one example of why California finds itself 49th out of 50 states for having a business friendly environment. It’s why we’re losing 5.4 companies every week to places like Texas and Colorado and North Carolina and Nevada. It’s another example of that political-think that says Sacramento can make better decisions for our local cities than they can themselves – keeping in mind that Sacramento is deeply in debt, can’t pass a budget, is divisively gridlocked and stocked with career politicians who have never held a real job. Yet they feel perfectly content to try to dictate to the rest of us how we should comport ourselves.

This morning I joined the Mayor of Murrieta, Randon Lane, Wildomar Mayor Pro-Tem Ben Benoit, Menifee City Council member Darcy Kuenzi, Lake Elsinore Finance Director Allan Baldwin and League of Cities rep Dave Willmon in providing our statements to the assembled press. Here is my statement:

Good morning. My name is Gene Wunderlich and I’m Chair of the Southwest California Legislative Council, a coalition of businesses and Chambers representing more than 3,000 small, medium and large businesses in Southwest Riverside County.

Communities throughout our state are facing crisis. In Riverside County our unemployment rate is 14.7%, statewide it is 12.1%, and that’s only the people they count. Like many other cities and counties across California, we each face problems that are similar in nature, yet unique to each locality. We must be able to make decisions that are best for our communities, our families and our friends.

Our elected leaders in Sacramento don’t seem to know what’s going on in Temecula, or Wildomar, or Menifee or communities across Southwest Riverside County. SB469 is a perfect example of that with its bureaucratic roadblocks and overreaching state authority. It’s a one=size-fits-all bill and it will not help us create jobs in our community – although it may well keep several attorneys busy for years.

This bill takes away the power of a community to build and define itself and gives that power to the state, having local land use issues defined in Sacramento. The state SHOULD NOT be imposing more regulations on local governments right now. The state SHOULD NOT be telling us what kinds of businesses we can and cannot approve and the state SHOULD NOT be interfering in our ability to help reduce the high unemployment rate in our own community.

We are asking Governor Brown to help Southwest Riverside County and cities and counties across the state. Join us in helping create new jobs, not destroy more jobs.

VETO SB469.

This bill is also opposed by the California Association of Realtors® and dozens of other pro-jobs, pro-business & pro-local rights groups throughout the state.

NAR: New FTC Rules May Impact Brokerages

New FTC Rule May Impact Brokerages

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has recently issued its Mortgage Acts and Practices – Advertising, or “MAP”, rule (“Rule”). The Rule imposes requirements on those that provide information about mortgage credit products to consumers by prohibiting misrepresentations during these communications and also imposing recordkeeping requirements. The Rule will impact real estate professionals that provide this information to consumers, such as giving a consumer a lender’s rate sheet. The Rule takes effect on August 19, 2011.

Click here to read the Rule’s text and accompanying commentary.

Background

The FTC published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2009, and issued a proposed rule relating to unfair or deceptive acts and practices that may occur with regard to mortgage advertising in September 2010. NAR filed a comment letter seeking an exemption for real estate professionals from the Rule- click here to read NAR’s comment letter.

The Rule is intended to regulate unfair or deceptive practices in the advertising of mortgage products, and covers all entities involved in the process such as mortgage brokers, lenders, and home builders. The Rule will also cover real estate professionals when they are providing information about a mortgage credit product to a consumer, as outlined in this article.

Rulemaking authority for the Rule has now transferred to the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau (“CFPB”). Enforcement authority for the Rule rests with the CFPB, FTC, and state attorneys general.

Rule’s Requirements

The Rule prohibits misrepresentations in a commercial communication about any term of a mortgage credit product. A “commercial communication” is broadly defined within the Rule, covering both oral and written statements designed to “create an interest in purchasing goods or services”, which in this case would be a mortgage credit product. A “mortgage credit product” is “any form of credit” that is offered to a consumer and secured by the consumer’s dwelling. The Rule’s coverage will include information about all mortgage terms and the Rule contains an extensive list of possible mortgage terms, including interest rates, products sold in conjunction with a mortgage such as credit insurance, amount of taxes, variability of interest rates, and prepayment penalties.

Application of Rule to Real Estate Professionals

The Rule will apply when a real estate professional provides information about a specific mortgage product to a consumer. An example would be providing a consumer with rate sheets containing the current interest rate from a lender or providing a consumer with applications or other information for a specific mortgage product. All statements about the terms of a mortgage will be covered by the Rule, and will need to be retained for two years. In addition, the statements should have the disclaimer language discussed in this article in order to protect against later misrepresentation claims.

The FTC has stated in its comments that the Rule does not apply to purely informational communications not designed to cause the purchase of a good or service because these are not commercial communications. So, providing a consumer general information about market rates for different types of mortgages products will likely not be subject to the Rule because these are not related to a specific mortgage product. However, providing a consumer with the daily rates from a specific lender would trigger compliance with the rule. Similarly, going through the prequalification process with a consumer in order to determine the range of properties that a consumer may be eligible to purchase won’t require compliance with the Rule; however, providing a consumer with the documentation needed to apply for a preapproval from a lender for a mortgage loan will be covered by the Rule.

Disclaimer or Qualifying Statement

In the preamble to the final Rule, the FTC notes that a disclaimer provided with a covered statement “may correct a misleading impression, but only if it is sufficiently clear and prominent to convey the qualifying information effectively”. Therefore, real estate professionals should always include a disclaimer when providing information to consumers about the terms of a mortgage credit product, as a properly crafted disclaimer can protect against later misrepresentation claims.

The disclaimer will need to be prominent, as the FTC notes in its comments that disclaimers in small type placed at the bottom of a document will not protect against misrepresentation claims. The disclaimer text should be separated from the other text in the covered statement, as language buried within the text may not be effective to protect against misrepresentation claims. Click here for a model disclaimer.

Note that the disclaimer should be tailored to the type of information that you are providing to a client. If you are providing other services beyond transmitting basic mortgage information, you will need to tailor your disclaimer to cover those services.

Recordkeeping Requirements

If a real estate professional is subject to the Rule, the real estate professional is required to keep all covered commercial communications for 2 years from the date that the communication was made to the consumer. In order to comply with this section, the real estate professional should put all covered statements into writing and include the statements in each consumer’s file (paper or electronic) with the brokerage. This record retention system should become part of the brokerage’s overall record retention program.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

The California Democratic Party is at it again – and they’re counting on you being too stupid to notice.

Dan Walters, Political Columnists for the Sacramento Bee, recently wrote about the slew of Democratic legislation aimed at eviscerating the initiative process in our state. You know, the initiative process – whereby ordinary citizens have the opportunity to get measures on the ballot that legislators don’t like? Yeah, that process. Democrats complain that ‘the initiative process is being abused’ and they want to protect us from ourselves.

Now granted there are too many initiatives on our ballot sometimes – there were 10 on last Novembers ballot alone, But in its 100 year history, the initiative, referendum and recall petition has produced many beneficial results in addition to a few clinkers. Prop. 13 comes to mind, and last years successful Prop 20, which removed the redistricting process from the hands of our legislators, and failed Props 19, to legalize marijuana and  23, which would have overthrown the onerous AB 32.

But the Democrats don’t like us to have that much say in our government – because they know what’s best for us and how best to spend our money without any pesky input from us. Heck, they already control our legislature, our governor, and every major elected office in the state – they just don’t want to contend with the actual voice of the people.  They’re also afraid of public backlash against their incompetence and malfeasance in office which is threatening to put bills on upcoming ballots mandating pension reform, restrictions on political fundraising by unions, education entitlement and reform and a host of other issues that citizens are pissed off about but that the legislature refuses to act on.

Now in an act of craven insincerity, they are backing radio ads aimed at inducing fear of signing initiative petitions. You may have heard them – a sweet female voice just signed a petition outside the local grocery store while the wise male voice tells her she probably just gave her signature to an identity thief, all her pertinent information will be shared on the global network of signature gatherers/identity thieves, and she should never do that again. Listen closely at the end, after the terrified woman promises never to do such a stupid thing again – listen to who is paying for the ad. It’s a  group called – Californians Against Identity Theft,  ALONG WITH backing by unidentified labor groups. The origins of the group are murky but the goal is not.  Identity theft is a major issue and cause for concern for everybody, I’ve written about it numerous times over the years, But the SOLE FOCUS of CAIT appears top be  signature gatherers and the initiative process. Sound like a well rounded group focused on the real issue – or some special interest? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Maybe I’m just cynical but could the liberal labor movement and their Democratic lackeys in the legislature be in cahoots on this? Could they actually be waging a concerted campaign both in the legislature and on the airwaves to further their agenda of coercion and control? Naw, I’m probably just being paranoid. Of course just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they really aren’t  out to get you.

How much do like being manipulated? You must – you keep voting for these people.

Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/08/03/2487995/calif-democrats-attack-initiative.html#ixzz1UqBID2Lb

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the purview of the author and in no way represent the views or policies of SRCAR, or any other reputable organization or asylum I am associated with.

Gov. signs Realtor Bill for short sale relief.

New law gives added protection to short-sale hopefuls On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 458 (Corbett) into law.  The new law, which contained an urgency clause and became effective upon signing, protects homeowners pursuing short sales by barring first and secondary lien holders from going after sellers for money owed after the short sales close.

Making sense of the story

*     A short sale – a transaction in which the homeowner sells the property for less than is owed on the mortgage – must be approved by the lien holder or lien holders, if there is more than one.

*     Under previous law (SB 931 of 2010), a first mortgage holder could accept an agreed-upon short-sale payment as full payment for the outstanding balance of the loan, but the rule did not apply to junior lien holders. SB 458 extends the protections of SB 931 to junior liens.

*     The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) sponsored the bill and urged lawmakers to pass this much-needed legislation.

*     “The signing of this bill is a victory for California homeowners who have been forced to short sell their home, only to find that the lender will pursue them after the short sale closes and demand an additional payment to subsidize the difference,” said C.A.R. President Beth L. Peerce.  “SB 458 brings closure and certainty to the short-sale process and ensures that once a lender has agreed to accept a short-sale payment on a property, all lienholders – those in first position and in junior positions – will consider the outstanding balance as paid in full, and the homeowner will not be held responsible for any additional payments on the property.”

Read the full story <http://www2.realtoractioncenter.com/site/R?i=Y7pJy-rwyTJMoTmgvOXhDA..>