Tag Archives: foreclosure

Dayton, Matt

Tiffany & Bosco Expands Financial Services Practice

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that Matthew D. Dayton has joined the firm’s Las Vegas Office as an associate in the firm’s national financial services practice. His practice focuses primarily on real estate, foreclosure mediation/arbitration, unlawful detainer, and bankruptcy and creditor’s rights.

Matthew is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Districts of Nevada and Utah.  Matthew is a member of the Southern Nevada Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys and is a committee co-chair of the newly formed Nevada Creditor Association. He received his J.D.in 2009 from the William S. Boyd School of Law – University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his B.A. from Brigham Young University.

Mark S. Bosco, Shareholder and head of the firm’s financial services practice stated, “Matthew is a very talented and hardworking attorney, and we are pleased he has joined our firm’s national financial services practice. He will join our team in serving many of our banking and real estate clients throughout Las Vegas and Utah.

Dayton, Matt

Tiffany & Bosco Expands Financial Services Practice

The law firm of Tiffany & Bosco P.A. announced that Matthew D. Dayton has joined the firm’s Las Vegas Office as an associate in the firm’s national financial services practice. His practice focuses primarily on real estate, foreclosure mediation/arbitration, unlawful detainer, and bankruptcy and creditor’s rights.

Matthew is admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Districts of Nevada and Utah.  Matthew is a member of the Southern Nevada Association of Bankruptcy Attorneys and is a committee co-chair of the newly formed Nevada Creditor Association. He received his J.D.in 2009 from the William S. Boyd School of Law – University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his B.A. from Brigham Young University.

Mark S. Bosco, Shareholder and head of the firm’s financial services practice stated, “Matthew is a very talented and hardworking attorney, and we are pleased he has joined our firm’s national financial services practice. He will join our team in serving many of our banking and real estate clients throughout Las Vegas and Utah.

98427193

Phoenix-area Foreclosure Saga Ending

The Phoenix-area housing market has finally hit “normal, historical levels” for those going into foreclosure. After years of severe foreclosure trouble, a new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University reveals that good news and more for Maricopa and Pinal counties, as of May:

* The median single-family home price rose again to $185,000, up about 26 percent from May of last year.
* The final chapter of the foreclosure crisis is wrapping up in Phoenix, as foreclosure starts — homeowners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – finally hit normal, historical levels in May.
* On the negative side, the chronic shortage of area homes available for sale continues to be an issue and could last for years.

Phoenix-area home prices hit a low point in September 2011 and have risen dramatically since then. The median single-family-home price reached $185,000 this May, up from $147,000 last May. That’s a boost of 25.9 percent. Realtors will note the average price per square foot went up 22 percent at the same time. The median townhouse/condo price went up about 27.1 percent.

“Between this January and May alone, the average price per square foot rose about 13 percent for area single-family homes,” says the report’s author, Mike Orr, director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at the W. P. Carey School of Business. “However, the upward pricing pressure should disappear during the summer. I expect the prices to resume their strong upward direction in the fall, once temperatures drop below 100 degrees and snowbirds return.”

Rising prices don’t appear to be dampening the housing recovery in the Phoenix area at this point. In fact, home-and-condo sales activity went up 6.6 percent between April and May. May is the second month in a row where activity increased from the same time during the prior year, reversing a long negative trend. Even the luxury market is gaining, with more sales in May than in any other single month over the past six years.

“There has been much talk of rising interest rates and the negative effect this might have on demand,” says Orr. “The sudden and recent increase in rates has certainly reduced the motivation to refinance existing home loans. However, it is almost certainly increasing buyers’ determination to purchase homes now, rather than later, when rates may go even higher.”

Orr adds he sees early signs some lenders may react to higher interest rates by easing up their rules, allowing more people to buy homes. He also believes prospective buyers may simply settle for purchasing smaller, more affordable houses than they originally wanted, in order to manage the higher interest payments.

At the same time, the wave of foreclosures triggered by the housing crisis appears to be ending in the Phoenix area. Completed foreclosures on single-family homes and townhome/condos in May were down 53 percent from last May. Foreclosure starts – owners receiving notice their lenders may foreclose in 90 days – went down an incredible 67 percent in the same period. Given population growth, this means the area finally hit its normal, historical level of foreclosure starts this May.

“Foreclosure starts dropped 15 percent just between April and May alone,” says Orr. “Foreclosure levels are now far below the peak levels of March 2009, and the number of pending foreclosures is below the level from the first quarter of 2002. We expect these numbers to continue to fall over the next several years due to the very tight underwriting standards in place.”

Without cheap foreclosures coming into the market — and with ordinary homeowners reluctant to sell because they’re either locked in by negative equity or waiting for prices to keep rising — the Phoenix-area housing market continues to struggle with a chronic shortage of homes available for sale that may last for years. The number of active single-family listings without an existing contract was just over 11,000 as of June 1. That’s down 0.4 percent since May 1, and 83 percent of the available homes are priced above $150,000, creating a problem for those looking in the lower price range. At least the shortage has improved somewhat from last year, when supply was dropping at a rate of 6 percent per month.

“The chronic shortage applies to both homes for purchase and homes for lease,” Orr explains. “The average time for a leased home to be on the market is down to about one month. With this fast turnover and relatively low vacancy rates, it’s perhaps surprising that single-family and condo rents have only very modestly increased.”

New-home builders don’t appear too anxious to help meet the demand. They are trying to make sure they don’t overbuild like they did before the housing crisis, and they want to keep prices moving up. Current new-home sales rates are less than a third of what would normally be needed to keep up with local population growth. As a result, Orr says the combined population of Maricopa and Pinal counties grew 2.9 percent from 2010 to 2012, but the number of owned and leased dwelling units only grew by 1 percent.

Lastly, institutional investors continue to lose interest in the Phoenix area. Their buying spree that began in 2011 is in a downward trend. The percentage of the area’s total single-family-home and condo sales carried out by investors is down from 39.7 in July 2012 to 27.3 percent this May. Most investor transactions are actually going to so-called “mom and pop” purchasers. Orr says they own roughly 96 percent of the area’s rental-home inventory.

Orr’s full report, including statistics, charts and a breakdown by different areas of the Valley, can be viewed at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/finance/real-estate/upload/Full_Report_201306.pdf. A podcast with more analysis from Orr is also available from knowWPCarey, the business school’s online resource and newsletter, at http://knowwpcarey.com/index.cfm?cid=13.

Madeleine_Wanslee

Wanslee Elected to Gust Rosenfeld Executive Committee

Gust Rosenfeld announced that Madeleine C. Wanslee has been elected to its Executive Committee, the governing body of the firm.

Wanslee is Co-Chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group.  Her practice focuses on creditors’ rights and related state and federal court litigation, including commercial and consumer bankruptcy, loan workouts, foreclosure, deficiency and guarantor actions.  She has handled numerous appeals and has argued a case before the United States Supreme Court.  Wanslee is recognized in the Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law category of The Best Lawyers in Americaâ and in the Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights category of Southwest Super Lawyersâ.  She earned her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.

Founded in 1921, Gust Rosenfeld provides legal counsel to individuals, businesses, and governments. Our firm’s attorneys enjoy thriving practices in public law, litigation, finance, real estate, corporate, environmental, employment, creditors’ rights, franchise law, estate planning, and tax. Gust Rosenfeld maintains offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

137053852

Arizona foreclosure rate tumbles

The number of Arizona homeowners losing their home to repossession or who are in some stage of the foreclosure process keeps on dropping.

New data released by foreclosure tracking form RealtyTrac shows nearly 4,000 homes were either taken by lenders or received notices of foreclosure last month. That’s a 29 percent drop from January and a 56 percent drop from February 2012.

About 1,900 homes were repossessed last month and 2,100 homeowners received a notice of default, the first step in the foreclosure process.

In March 2012, nearly 9,500 homes were in some stage of foreclosure. That includes 3,600 Arizona repossessed by banks and more than 5,900 homeowners who received a notice of default. That month, Arizona was No. 1 in the nation for foreclosures. Arizona is now No. 6.

foreclosure

1/3 of Arizona's home sales are foreclosure-related

A new report shows 34 percent of all home sales in Arizona last year involved houses in some stage of the foreclosure process.

The data released Thursday by foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac shows that’s actually a 26 percent dip from the previous year.

Nearly 65,000 homes sold while in some stage of foreclosure last year. The average sales price for those homes was $142,000 and reflected a 23 percent discount from regular prices. The number of foreclosure sales actually was a 25 percent improvement from 2011.

Another 19 percent of the homes sold last year were short sales where the bank accepted less than was owed on the mortgage.

Both numbers were substantially lower than in 2011 as the Arizona home market finally began recovering from years of high foreclosures.

foreclosure

1/3 of Arizona’s home sales are foreclosure-related

A new report shows 34 percent of all home sales in Arizona last year involved houses in some stage of the foreclosure process.

The data released Thursday by foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac shows that’s actually a 26 percent dip from the previous year.

Nearly 65,000 homes sold while in some stage of foreclosure last year. The average sales price for those homes was $142,000 and reflected a 23 percent discount from regular prices. The number of foreclosure sales actually was a 25 percent improvement from 2011.

Another 19 percent of the homes sold last year were short sales where the bank accepted less than was owed on the mortgage.

Both numbers were substantially lower than in 2011 as the Arizona home market finally began recovering from years of high foreclosures.

137053852

Are Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes feeding the bubble?

Jack and Jill were living the American dream. They bought their dream house in 2006. Then, the economy spiraled downward. Jack lost his job. Housing values dropped, and the amount remaining on Jack and Jill’s mortgage exceeded the value of the property — commonly known as having a house that is “under water.”

Jack and Jill didn’t want to pay the mortgage any more, so they walked away, leaving the bank to clean up the mess from their financial misstep.

They were able to do that because of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statute, which says that if a person or corporation owns a residential property on 2.5 acres or less that is used as a dwelling, the owner is not responsible for any deficiency occurring after a foreclosure, according to Lynne B. Herndon, city president for BBVA Compass.

“The difference between the fair market value of the home — or the amount that the foreclosure sale brings — and the loan balance is known as a deficiency,” said Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association. “In Arizona, the bank suffers that loss, not the homeowner who walks away from the home.”

But it’s not only the homeowners — whom the statutes were intended to protect — who are catching the breaks.

“Unfortunately, the statute has been interpreted more broadly than originally intended such that properties used for investment are also covered,” Herndon said.

Arizona is one of only 12 states that has some form of anti-deficiency protection. Of the 12, Herndon said Arizona has the most liberal statute.

“This statute absolutely contributed to the housing bubble as investors both in this state and outside of the state knew they could buy residential real estate in Arizona and walk away if the investment became negative,” Herndon said. “Homeowners in this state have experienced larger declines in home value due to this statute allowing investors to speculate and walk away.”

The incidence of homeowners like Jack and Jill walking away from their home, avoiding hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative equity in their home, and legally sticking their lenders with a loss and became an all-too-common move during the Recession, experts said.

“In my view, the average borrower was not likely aware of the finer points of the anti-deficiency statutes when determining whether to purchase a home,” said Jennifer Hadley Dioguardi, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office. “However, once the housing market crashed, the anti-deficiency statutes likely caused some homeowners who had the means to make their mortgage payments to decide to simply walk away from the residence given the fact that the lender had no recourse against them other than to foreclose upon the residence once the residence was under water. The borrower was not responsible for the deficiency. This likely contributed to some homeowners who could pay their mortgage simply walking away from the property and leaving the lender on the hook.”

Experts believe that homeowners and investors who seized the opportunity to take advantage of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes to protect their own financial futures, might be stifling the state’s chance at an economic recovery and exacerbating the economic collapse.

“The broadness of the deficiency statute has had an overall negative impact not just on the banking industry, but more importantly, Arizona’s long-term economy,” said Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “Arizona’s statute is the most liberally interpreted of the 12 non-recourse/deficiency states, the majority of which limit the protection to primary residences or some other means that limit its contribution to speculation. In Arizona, it allows investors to finance their speculation in housing, risk-free. If their investment does not work out, they don’t have to pay back the difference between what they sold the home for and what they owe. This statute was intended to protect homeowners, but what it has really done is hurt traditional homeowners by opening them up to large swings in housing values. I believe the impact, while negatively effecting banks earnings, is greater on the homeowners in the community at large.”

Despite the impact on the overall economy, it’s still been the banks who take the initial and biggest hit because they are often precluded from recovering the balance of the loan deficiency from the foreclosed borrower. While short sales are not protected by the Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes, lenders have often been willing to agree to short sales and reduce or otherwise waive deficiency claims, because lenders know they could not otherwise recover loan deficiencies, should the borrower elect to foreclose.

“The deficiency statute has led to greater losses for residential lenders in Arizona because they cannot obtain a judgment against the borrower who may have the ability to repay the deficiency,” Kevin Sellers, executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank. “Lenders’ inability to pursue the borrower for the deficiency creates an environment that results in a higher incidence of strategic defaults.”

The biggest problem for lenders may be that it doesn’t appear that they will get any relief from lawmakers. Dioguardi said properties initially covered by the anti-deficiency statutes had to be two and one-half acres or less and utilized either for a single one-family or a single two-family dwelling. This language was interpreted by the Arizona Supreme Court to require that the dwelling be built and at least occasionally occupied.

“However, a recent decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals has extended the anti-deficiency protection to cover a residence that was not yet constructed and in which the borrowers had never resided,” Dioguardi said. “The Court found that even though the home was never utilized for a residence as required by the statute, because the borrowers intended to live in the single-family home upon its completion, they were subject to the protections of the anti-deficiency statute.”

The court decision, Dioguardi said, needs to be refined to protect both lenders and borrowers.

“Given that the Arizona Supreme Court declined the petition for review of the decision, the legislature should amend the statute to make it even clearer that the borrower must physically inhabit the property to claim the protection of the anti-deficiency statute,” she said. “The current risk to lenders created by the decision as it currently stands will likely drive up the cost of construction loans.”

Bank executives also believe that amending — not necessarily getting rid of — the state anti-deficiency statutes is what the banking industry needs to continue on the road to post-Recession economic recovery.

“A very reasonable solution proposed by the Arizona banking community is to simply require that a property protected from a deficiency judgment be the primary residence of you or a member of your family as already defined in Arizona’s property tax statues,” Maio said. “This will have the effect of limiting this protection for homeowners, which is what was intended. Those in our Arizona business community that oppose this type of change are motivated by their own special interests. Those whose real motivation is to profit on speculative investment or from the fees and commissions that come from buying and selling speculative homes for profit, you will oppose this type of change. But for the rest of us that want to protect Arizonans from future bubbles and encourage a long-term and sustainable economy, we should support this simple change, as it is in our best long-term interest.”

home.prices

Are Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes feeding the bubble?

Jack and Jill were living the American dream. They bought their dream house in 2006. Then, the economy spiraled downward. Jack lost his job. Housing values dropped, and the amount remaining on Jack and Jill’s mortgage exceeded the value of the property — commonly known as having a house that is “under water.”

Jack and Jill didn’t want to pay the mortgage any more, so they walked away, leaving the bank to clean up the mess from their financial misstep.

They were able to do that because of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statute, which says that if a person or corporation owns a residential property on 2.5 acres or less that is used as a dwelling, the owner is not responsible for any deficiency occurring after a foreclosure, according to Lynne B. Herndon, city president for BBVA Compass.

“The difference between the fair market value of the home — or the amount that the foreclosure sale brings — and the loan balance is known as a deficiency,” said Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association. “In Arizona, the bank suffers that loss, not the homeowner who walks away from the home.”

But it’s not only the homeowners — whom the statutes were intended to protect — who are catching the breaks.

“Unfortunately, the statute has been interpreted more broadly than originally intended such that properties used for investment are also covered,” Herndon said.
Arizona is one of only 12 states that has some form of anti-deficiency protection. Of the 12, Herndon said Arizona has the most liberal statute.

“This statute absolutely contributed to the housing bubble as investors both in this state and outside of the state knew they could buy residential real estate in Arizona and walk away if the investment became negative,” Herndon said. “Homeowners in this state have experienced larger declines in home value due to this statute allowing investors to speculate and walk away.”

The incidence of homeowners like Jack and Jill walking away from their home, avoiding hundreds of thousands of dollars of negative equity in their home, and legally sticking their lenders with a loss and became an all-too-common move during the Recession, experts said.

“In my view, the average borrower was not likely aware of the finer points of the anti-deficiency statutes when determining whether to purchase a home,” said Jennifer Hadley Dioguardi, a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Phoenix office. “However, once the housing market crashed, the anti-deficiency statutes likely caused some homeowners who had the means to make their mortgage payments to decide to simply walk away from the residence given the fact that the lender had no recourse against them other than to foreclose upon the residence once the residence was under water. The borrower was not responsible for the deficiency. This likely contributed to some homeowners who could pay their mortgage simply walking away from the property and leaving the lender on the hook.”

Experts believe that homeowners and investors who seized the opportunity to take advantage of Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes to protect their own financial futures, might be stifling the state’s chance at an economic recovery and exacerbating the economic collapse.

“The broadness of the deficiency statute has had an overall negative impact not just on the banking industry, but more importantly, Arizona’s long-term economy,” said Keith Maio, president and chief executive officer of National Bank of Arizona. “Arizona’s statute is the most liberally interpreted of the 12 non-recourse/deficiency states, the majority of which limit the protection to primary residences or some other means that limit its contribution to speculation. In Arizona, it allows investors to finance their speculation in housing, risk-free. If their investment does not work out, they don’t have to pay back the difference between what they sold the home for and what they owe. This statute was intended to protect homeowners, but what it has really done is hurt traditional homeowners by opening them up to large swings in housing values. I believe the impact, while negatively effecting banks earnings, is greater on the homeowners in the community at large.”

Despite the impact on the overall economy, it’s still been the banks who take the initial and biggest hit because they are often precluded from recovering the balance of the loan deficiency from the foreclosed borrower. While short sales are not protected by the Arizona’s anti-deficiency statutes, lenders have often been willing to agree to short sales and reduce or otherwise waive deficiency claims, because lenders know they could not otherwise recover loan deficiencies, should the borrower elect to foreclose.

“The deficiency statute has led to greater losses for residential lenders in Arizona because they cannot obtain a judgment against the borrower who may have the ability to repay the deficiency,” Kevin Sellers, executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank. “Lenders’ inability to pursue the borrower for the deficiency creates an environment that results in a higher incidence of strategic defaults.”

The biggest problem for lenders may be that it doesn’t appear that they will get any relief from lawmakers. Dioguardi said properties initially covered by the anti-deficiency statutes had to be two and one-half acres or less and utilized either for a single one-family or a single two-family dwelling. This language was interpreted by the Arizona Supreme Court to require that the dwelling be built and at least occasionally occupied.

“However, a recent decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals has extended the anti-deficiency protection to cover a residence that was not yet constructed and in which the borrowers had never resided,” Dioguardi said. “The Court found that even though the home was never utilized for a residence as required by the statute, because the borrowers intended to live in the single-family home upon its completion, they were subject to the protections of the anti-deficiency statute.”

The court decision, Dioguardi said, needs to be refined to protect both lenders and borrowers.

“Given that the Arizona Supreme Court declined the petition for review of the decision, the legislature should amend the statute to make it even clearer that the borrower must physically inhabit the property to claim the protection of the anti-deficiency statute,” she said. “The current risk to lenders created by the decision as it currently stands will likely drive up the cost of construction loans.”

Bank executives also believe that amending — not necessarily getting rid of — the state anti-deficiency statutes is what the banking industry needs to continue on the road to post-Recession economic recovery.

“A very reasonable solution proposed by the Arizona banking community is to simply require that a property protected from a deficiency judgment be the primary residence of you or a member of your family as already defined in Arizona’s property tax statues,” Maio said. “This will have the effect of limiting this protection for homeowners, which is what was intended. Those in our Arizona business community that oppose this type of change are motivated by their own special interests. Those whose real motivation is to profit on speculative investment or from the fees and commissions that come from buying and selling speculative homes for profit, you will oppose this type of change. But for the rest of us that want to protect Arizonans from future bubbles and encourage a long-term and sustainable economy, we should support this simple change, as it is in our best long-term interest.”

foreclosure

Arizona foreclosure numbers drop

The number of Arizona homes in some stage of the foreclosure process dropped again in October compared with a year ago, and homes actually repossessed by banks also dipped.

Data released Thursday by foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac shows lenders actually repossessed nearly 2,821 Arizona homes in October, 600 fewer homes than in September. New foreclosure filings rose slightly to about 3,900 last month.

October saw a 36 percent drop in homes being repossessed or receiving initial foreclosure filings compared to October 2011.

RealtyTrac says one in every 420 Arizona homes was in some stage of the foreclosure process last month.

The state dropped one position to No. 5 for foreclosure activity rate in the nation. Florida is No. 1 and Nevada No. 2.

137053852

U.S. foreclosure filings hit 5-year low

U.S. foreclosure filings dropped to a five-year low in September as fewer homes were on track to be seized by lenders. But Arizona still ranked near the top on the foreclosure list.

It was the second-consecutive monthly decline in filings, although there remains a sharp divergence along state lines, according to a report Thursday by foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.

On a national level, overall foreclosure filings last month — including home repossessions — fell 7 percent from August and 16 percent from September 2011. There were 180,427 foreclosure filings reported for September, the fewest since July 2007 in the midst the housing market bust.

The number of homes entering the foreclosure process, so-called foreclosure starts, fell to 87,066 in September, down 12 percent from August and 15 percent from a year earlier. It was the second-straight month of declines following three months of increases, Irvine, Calif.-based RealtyTrac reported.

Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in the country last month, a rate of one in every 117 households in some stage of foreclosure.

Arizona, California, Illinois and Georgia rounded out the top five states with the highest foreclosure rates in September.

Foreclosure starts since peaked in April 2009 at around 203,000. But the current level is still well above the 34,000 starts recorded in May 2005, before the collapse of the housing market.

Overall foreclosure filings include notices of defaults on mortgages, scheduled auctions and repossessions. Foreclosure starts are either default notices or scheduled auctions, depending on the state’s legal process.

Foreclosure starts declined in September on an annual basis in 31 states, with the biggest drops in California, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Texas, the new report showed. They are among the so-called non-judicial states, in which court approval isn’t required for foreclosures.

Foreclosure activity has been declining in most non-judicial states because they didn’t build a huge backlog of pending cases during an industrywide slowdown in foreclosures last year. The slowdown stemmed from widespread claims that lenders had been processing foreclosures without verifying documents.

Of the 19 states in which foreclosure starts rose in September, those with the largest annual increases were New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Washington state and Florida. Except for Washington, they are judicial states, where the courts must sign off on foreclosures.

The slower process in states where courts play a role in foreclosures contributed to a logjam of pending foreclosure cases that now has mortgage lenders catching up.

In Washington, a non-judicial state, lenders were catching up with foreclosure cases that had been delayed by a state law that took effect in July 2011 and allowed borrowers facing foreclosure to request mediation, RealtyTrac noted.

The pace of homes entering the foreclosure process is expected to slow gradually, barring another severe economic shock that would send the recovering housing market into a tailspin, experts say. But the decline in foreclosures is likely to continue playing out unevenly, in part because of the differing approaches to handling foreclosures from state to state.

Meanwhile, there were 53,569 completed foreclosures last month. That’s up 2 percent from August but down 18 percent from September 2011.

Home repossessions nationwide have been down on an annual basis for the past 23 months. They rose in September in 12 states, including New Jersey, where they jumped 48 percent, and Indiana, where they increased 31 percent.

Between January and September, banks completed foreclosures on 505,585 homes. At that pace, the country is on track to end the year with about 675,000 completed foreclosures, down from around 800,000 last year, according to Daren Blomquist, a vice president at RealtyTrac.

Foreclosure-mediation

Citigroup tries new approach: Own to rent

Citigroup will try something new to keep struggling homeowners out of foreclosure: turn them into renters.

CitiMortgage announced the program Wednesday and painted it as a way to help homeowners stuck in houses they can’t afford. The New York-based bank, however, won’t manage the program. Instead, it is handing the reigns to an investment firm. The bank just sold a $158 million mortgage portfolio to investment firms that will manage the program.

It will work like this: Carrington Capital Management and its sister mortgage company will comb the portfolio for eligible homeowners — though they’re homeowners in name only, since they are still paying for their houses. Carrington is looking for people who owe more on their house than it’s worth, but also seem to have the means to keep making monthly payments.

They also must live in the house, meaning it can’t be a vacation home or investment property. And they have to be at least four months late on payments.

Carrington says the pilot program will help about 500 homeowners in six markets that have been hit especially hard by the plunge in housing prices: Arizona, California, Texas, Florida, Nevada and Georgia. It says it will begin contacting eligible homeowners this month.

Homeowners who choose to participate would have to transfer the ownership of their house to Carrington and another firm, Oaktree Capital Management. Carrington would then negotiate with the homeowners-turned-renters for “a manageable monthly payment” and how long the lease should last. The rental rates would be determined by local market rates, Carrington said, and they should be less expensive than the homeowners’ current mortgage payments.

Citigroup Inc.’s announcement is just the latest reminder of the long-lasting effects of the housing crisis. Banks that churned out home loans before the crisis have found themselves ill-equipped to know what to do when so many mortgages started turning delinquent, which is one of the reasons the crisis has persisted.

Lenders, community groups, lawmakers and others have been trying to figure out how to fix it for years, sometimes with creative ideas. Bank of America once enlisted the help of community groups in Chicago to knock on doors and talk to people about how to get their mortgage payments modified, since those homeowners weren’t answering the bank’s calls. A group of West Coast financiers is proposing using eminent domain rights to let local governments condemn certain mortgage loans, then write new, more-affordable terms for those homeowners. And other groups have tried rent-to-own programs similar to what Citi announced.

In a statement, CitiMortgage CEO Sanjiv Das called Carrington “one of the best property management companies in the country.” Outsourcing the job made sense, Das said: “As a financial institution, managing a program of this nature is not within our area of expertise.”

Short Sale - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

The Tax Implications From A Short Sale, Foreclosure

The truth of consequences: There can be tax implications from a short sale and foreclosure


The only sure things in life are death and taxes.

And like death, taxes can sometimes sneak up and surprise you. Some homeowners who have faced foreclosure or a short sale might be startled to learn that they may face tax penalties. And many won’t find out that they owe taxes until they open their mail and find a 1099.

“What most owners of residential homes being foreclosed upon or short selling do not realize is how uncertain, complicated and confusing the federal and state income tax rules are that apply to their situation,” says Eliot Kaplan, a partner with Squire Sanders in Phoenix.

So how is it possible that you can lose your home and still owe money?

“Cancellation of debt (COD)  is the term tax professionals use to describe the kind of income that arises for tax purposes when debt is cancelled or forgiven for less than its full face or principal amount,” says Kelly C. Mooney, a shareholder with the law firm of Gallagher & Kennedy in Phoenix. “COD income is specifically included in a taxpayer’s gross income … COD income is always treated as ‘ordinary’ income for federal tax purposes, such that the tax rates applicable to ordinary income — which can be as high as 35 percent for individuals — apply to COD income.”

Thankfully, all upside-down homeowners won’t face tax implications. Under the Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, any debt forgiven on a loan used to purchase a principal residence is not taxable income. But if you took out a second mortgage, you might be in tax trouble.

For federal income tax purposes, a short sale or a foreclosure — whether via a judicial foreclosure or a trustee’s sale — can trigger income tax consequences, depending on whether the debt at issue is “recourse” or “nonrecourse” for federal tax purposes, says Mooney.

If your mortgage is non-recourse, your lender can’t make you pay the loan. The only thing it can do is foreclose and sell your house for payment on the debt. If the borrower defaults, the lender can seize the collateral, but the lender’s recovery is limited to the collateral.

“If the debt was nonrecourse, meaning the lender had no recourse other than to take the home back, the debt forgiveness is not taxable,” says Dale A. Walters, CPA, Keats, Connnelly and Associates in Phoenix. “However, there will be a reportable gain to the homeowner if the sales price of the home is greater than the mortgage. Many states allow you to walk away from your (no-recourse) mortgage because of anti-deficiency statutes that prohibit lenders from seeking judgments.”

States that have anti-deficiency laws are Arizona, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

Where homeowners get into tax trouble is if they are facing a foreclosure or short sale and they have taken out a second mortgage or line of credit against their home.

“All second mortgages and lines of credit are recourse loans,” Walters says.

With a recourse loan, you’re personally responsible for repaying the bank or mortgage company. If you don’t repay the loan, or default, the bank can sue you for the remaining amount due on your loan if the proceeds from a foreclosure or short sale don’t cover the amount you owe. While mortgages are typically nonrecourse debt, a foreclosure can trigger the loan to become recourse debt at the request of the lending institution.

“The difference between a ‘recourse’ loan or a ‘nonrecourse’ loan under state law is whether the lender has the right to collect the deficiency,” Kaplan says.

And what about the tax implications?

Kaplan explains using this example: A homeowner purchased a residential home in 2007 for $1 million, used $100,000 cash as a downpayment, took out an interest-only recourse loan of $900,000 that was secured by the residential home, and used the home as his or her personal residence. In 2011, when the residential home had a fair market value of $700,000, the owner voluntarily gave back the home to the lender.

“Using the foreclosure and short sale facts above, if the lender decides as part of the foreclosure or the short sale to forgive the deficiency, the owner will have taxable ordinary income equal to the $200,000 deficiency,” Kaplan says.

“Fortunately, until January 1, 2013, the U.S. and Arizona have provided for relief from having to include the lender forgiveness of the $200,000 deficiency described in the above foreclosure or short sale as taxable income,” Kaplan says.

So how do you know if you’re going to face the tax man after a short sale or foreclosure?
“The best way to know is to ask your tax advisor,” says Lawrence Warfield of Warfield & Company, CPAs in Scottsdale. “The tax from some debt forgiveness can be avoided, but the facts and circumstances of each depend on various scenarios and issues.”

Understanding the terms: Foreclosure and Short Sale

Foreclosure: When a lender acquires ownership of the residential home securing its loan either through the owner of the residential home voluntarily transferring the residential home to lender or through the lender exercising its state law foreclosure rights.

Short sale: When the lender permits an owner of a residential home which secures its loan to sell such residential home for less than what is owed to the lender under the loan. Usually, the lender receives all the proceeds from such sale.


5 questions to ask

Here are some helpful questions that you will need to ask you tax professional:

1. Can I avoid paying taxes on the forgiven debt if I was insolvent at the time of the short sale?
2. Do I have to file bankruptcy to be considered insolvent?
3. If you already went through a short sale and paid taxes can you file an amended return and get a refund?
4. Does a IRS Form 982 have to be filed in order to be eligible for tax relief?
5. Am I protected under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Of 2007?


Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act (MFDRA)

Generally, the MFDRA lets you exclude from your taxable income most if not all of any cancelled or forgiven debt that might come about because of a foreclosure. There are limits, however:

1. The cancelled debt has to be on your principal residence. The debt can be from a loan that you took out to buy, build or substantially improve your home. It can also be for refinancing the mortgage on your home. Since it applies only to your principal residence, commercial and vacation properties usually don’t qualify.
2. Only debt that’s forgiven in 2007 through 2012 qualifies.
3. If you file a joint tax return with your spouse, you can exclude up to $2 million of forgiven debt from your income. If you’re married and file separately, you can exclude up to $1 million.
4. You have to report the amount of forgiven debt on a special IRS form, and attach it to your tax return.

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012

medianpricenotfullstory

Median Price Not Full Story For Phoenix Market

The median price for resale homes in the Phoenix area has been edging up for several months. Does this signal that the market is approaching normalcy? Jay Butler, associate professor of real estate and author of the Realty Studies report from the W. P. Carey School of Business, talks about the factors affecting median price, including the still high number of foreclosure-related sales. It’s tempting to declare a market up-tilt based only on median price, he says, but because of that foreclosure activity, Phoenix is still far from a normal market. (13:09)

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Falling Prices, More Foreclosures Plague The Valley’s Housing Market

The housing market in the Phoenix metro area continues to tread through troubled waters.

According to a new report from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, the median price for an existing home in the Valley fell for the third straight month. Making matters worse, foreclosures continue to weigh down activity in the existing-home market.

The median home-resale price for last month was $135,000 — $3,000 less than August 2009. In fact, existing-home prices have been falling steadily since May, when the median price was $144,000. The median price was at $143,000 in June, and $137,500 in July.

“Although current interest rates and home prices are very attractive, homeowners don’t seem to be motivated to buy,” says Jay Butler, an associate professor of real estate at ASU. “This lack of motivation can be attributed to anemic economic and job recovery, low consumer confidence and stricter underwriting guidelines, among other factors.”

Home sales last month were particularly sluggish, with 4,800 homes re-sold. That’s down from almost 5,100 in July. In August 2009, almost 6,000 homes were re-sold. The numbers aren’t expected to improve anytime soon as home sales traditionally slow down after the summer season.

“As the year comes to an end, median prices often decline in response to holiday and school activities that allow little time or desire to buy a home,” Butler says. “Beyond the impact of foreclosure activity, the absence of a strong move-up market, will also limit any growth in home prices.”

The other barometer of the Valley’s existing home market — foreclosures — fared just as badly in August. Foreclosures accounted for 45 percent of the existing-home market last month, the highest percentage since January.

“When you add in re-sales of previously foreclosed-on homes, all of this foreclosure-related activity represents a full two-thirds of the market’s transactions in August,” Butler says.

About 4,000 foreclosures were recorded in Maricopa County in August, up slightly from about 3,900 in July. In August 2009, 3,100 foreclosures were reported.

E012850

Greater Phoenix Economic Forecast 2011: “Painfully Slow”

The economy may be better in 2011 than it was in 2010, but the road to full recovery will remain long and full of potholes. But hey, it could be worse. It could be 2009.

That’s according to economist Elliott D. Pollack, CEO of Elliot D. Pollack & Company. Pollack was speaking at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Outlook 2011 breakfast today at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa.

Pollack said population growth in the Valley should settle at 1 percent this year and rise to 2 percent in 2011. Net job growth will contract by 1 percent in 2010 and climb by 2 percent in 2011. Retail sales will increase 1 percent this year and rise by 8 percent next year. Building permits will increase by 20 percent in 2010 before jumping 50 percent in 2011.

In summarizing his 2011 forecast for the Valley, Pollack read a laundry list of good news and bad news:

  • The housing market is at or past bottom, but there are many negatives still trumping a full recovery, most notably slower migration flows.
  • The commercial real estate market is at or past bottom, but recovery will be slow and “take a long time.”
  • Sales tax revenues are no longer falling, but they aren’t growing quickly enough to fix the state’s battered budget.
  • Retail sales have past bottom and there is pent-up demand among consumers, however, those same consumers are still so worried about personal debt that they will continue to curb spending, thus thwarting a big recovery.

While Pollack said the Valley’s economic recovery will be “painfully slow,” he points out that a recovery is indeed underway. For example, the state’s standing in employment growth compared to the rest of the nation is gradually improving — but only after a precipitous decline. In 2006, Arizona ranked second in the nation in job growth; that dropped to 22nd in 2007; 47th in 2008; and 49th in 2009. Up to July of this year, the state had moved up to 42nd in job growth.

Another indication that the Valley’s economy is showing improvement is in the number of economic sectors that have shown net job gains. Of the state’s 12 major economic sectors, five have shown net job gains so far this year (education and health services; trade; leisure and hospitality; professional and business services; other services). That compares to the same time last year, when no economic sectors reported net job gains.

But, Pollack pointed out again, the Valley and state can’t expect the robust and recoveries that have accompanied past recessions.

He says the Valley’s housing market continues to be weighed down by:

  • Weak job growth
  • Tough underwriting standards
  • Negative home equity
  • Loan modification failures
  • High foreclosures
  • Option ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) peaking in 2011

In terms of equity, 51 percent of houses in the state have negative equity. The national average is 23 percent. Such negative equity severely curtails people’s ability to buy and sell homes. In addition, supply still outstrips demand in the single-family home market, with an excess inventory of houses somewhere between 40,000 to 50,000 units, Pollack said. A balance between supply and demand will not be fully achieved until about 2014, he added.

The picture is bleaker for the commercial real estate market, with delinquencies on loans still very high. In the office market, Pollack cited forecasts from CB Richard Ellis that said vacancy rates would peak at 25.6 percent in 2010 before dropping to 23.9 percent in 2011. As Pollack pointed out, there currently is no multi-tenant office space under construction in the Valley. In fact, he expects “no significant office building in Greater Phoenix for the next five years.”

Industrial space vacancy rates are faring only slightly better, with CB Richard Ellis predicting year-end vacancy rates of 16.4 percent for 2010 before falling to 15.2 percent in 2011. As for the retail market, the vacancy rate will rise to 12.3 percent in 2010 and hit 12.9 percent in 2011.

For office, industrial and retail commercial real estate, Pollack said he did not expect vacancy rates to reach normal levels until 2014-2015.

Still, Pollack maintained that the economic outlook for the Valley “remains favorable,” thanks to the recovering national economy, increased affordable housing in the Valley, a rise in single-family home building permits, unemployment bottoming out, consumer spending improving and continued problems in California.

housemarkethardtoread

High Foreclosure Rate And Unemployment Make Housing Recovery Hard To Read

The Phoenix resale market slowed a bit in May when compared to April, possibly because activity spiked last month as the federal first-time home buyer program came to a close, according to Jay Butler, associate professor of real estate and author of the monthly Realty Studies Report from the W. P. Carey School of Business. And though foreclosures as a percentage of the market are continuing to decline, the actual number of foreclosures is still quite high, he said. Even hopeful signs, like the recent increases in median price, are connected to foreclosures — in this case because foreclosures on high price homes pulled the median up. So where will Phoenix be in the fall? Hard to say, according to Butler, because we’ve never been here before. (9:37)

money in vice

The Economic Recovery Begins In 2009, But It Will Be Slow Going

The national and state economies are expected to start feeling the effects of a recovery during the last quarter of 2009. However, the recovery over the next year will be slow, with unemployment continuing to rise and economic growth anemic at best. Meanwhile, the state’s expenditures are rising, even as revenue continues to fall, setting the stage for future budget cuts and an expected tax increase.

That was the consensus forecast unveiled by top economic experts from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and the Arizona governor’s office at the annual Economic Outlook Luncheon on May 20. Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at W.P. Carey and editor of Economy@W.P. Carey, provided an overview of current economic conditions on the state and national level, and offered a forecast for the coming year.
“The economy is going to show some signs of recovery in the last part of 2009, but the way I like to look at this is that lots of our economic indicators will still be underwater in a sense — they just won’t be as far underwater,” he said. “We’ll probably see positive growth in GDP, we will see job losses getting smaller, but there will still be job losses. There will still be people claiming unemployment insurance and, of course, unemployment rates will still be going up.
“It’s going to be a deep, sort of U-shaped recovery and 2011 will probably be a pretty good year of job growth,” McPheters added. 
In the meantime, job losses will continue to mount. In March, with an over-the-year employment decline of 7.1 percent and 136,000 jobs lost, the Valley just edged out Detroit as the weakest large metro labor market in the nation. And even as the economy begins to recover, the Greater Phoenix area will still see its labor market contract by 1 percent in 2010, according to McPheters.
Nationally, McPheters stressed that while the current recession has been painful, it still is not on par with the Great Depression. The Great Depression was marked by four consecutive years of decreases in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the current recession is expected to result in four consecutive quarters of decrease in inflation-adjusted GDP. In fact, in the first year of the recession, the national GDP actually increased by 1.1 percent.
“During 2008, the first year of the recession, you would expect that the GDP would be decreasing,” he said. “Well, one of the factors holding it up was exports. Exports continued strong in the United States through 2008.”
This year, however, exports are expected to drop by 10 percent. That’s just one example of how the national and state economies will continue to struggle as the recovery begins to take hold. Another example is the expected freefall in the commercial real estate market, especially in Arizona.
“Commercial is the next shoe to drop and we have seen this pattern before,” McPheters said. “Even as you see residential (construction) begin to pick up, I think you can expect that commercial building is going to be very, very weak all the way through 2010 and probably 2011, because what we need to see is population growth come back and job growth to come back. There’s no point in building retail space and office space if the jobs are not there and the consumer is not coming out to shop.”
And it is consumers, who account for 71 percent of GDP, who really hold the key to the economic recovery.
“The consumer is the only part of this economy that can bring us back,” McPheters said. “Consumers are not going to come back into the game until home prices stop falling, until the stock market stabilizes, until they see unemployment rates have peaked out and job losses start to get smaller and smaller. And the consumer has to have confidence to buy, and believe it or not, the consumer has to back off of their inclination to save their money.”
In March, the savings rate as a percent of disposable income was 4.2 percent, up from 2.6 percent six months earlier. While increased savings are considered a good thing in robust economic times, a pullback by consumers as an economy tanks can have devastating effects. McPheters pointed out that for each 1 percent increase in the savings rate, approximately $100 billion are being pulled out of the consumer-spending stream.
However, McPheters expressed confidence that the very calamity that sent our state and national economies reeling will eventually add to Arizona’s attractiveness to new residents and businesses — falling home prices.
“Housing prices have now returned to the traditional level, where Arizona housing prices are now more affordable than the national average,” he said. “In 2005 and 2006, we had come to the point where we were one of the least affordable markets. That has turned around and it has turned around very quickly. Of course that has been very painful.”

Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at W.P. Carey, agreed with McPheters, adding that he believes the state’s economic rebound will be strong.

“This of course is the big question: What kind of bounce will take place? Now, I’ll have to say that the dramatic shakeout in prices in housing, while it has been absolutely disastrous for a number of folk and put a lot of pressure in a lot of different places, it might set us up for a more robust recovery than I would have thought six to nine months ago,” he said. “The thinking is really, very, very simple; an attractive attribute of Arizona has historically been great climate, affordable housing and a place to get a job. That third aspect really doesn’t exist right now, but it could exist if our economy recovers at a little faster pace.”
In the economic downturns of the past four decades, Arizona has bounced back strongly, and Hoffman is confident history will repeat itself, especially if the state and Valley can re-create the environments that people from around the country have found so attractive.

However, a major wrench in making the state attractive again is Arizona’s current budget crunch. In fiscal year 2009, the state’s budget gap stands at $1.6 billion. In fiscal year 2010, that’s expected to almost double to $3 billion dollars. As the economy has worsened, unemployment has soared to almost 8 percent, foreclosures have skyrocketed and businesses have closed their doors. As a result, billions of dollars in revenue from income, property, sales and business taxes have evaporated. Conversely the need for state services has exploded.

“We’re really seeing the effects of the downturn in the economy, both in terms of state revenues — our collections are down at a very significant rate — and likewise, our caseloads are up at a very significant rate, because more of our citizens are in need of services,” said Eileen Klein, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting, adding that in the past two months alone the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) has enrolled 50,000 people.
Hoffman pointed out that in the past, $48 to $50 out of every $1,000 of personal income had gone into the state’s general fund.

Money Flow

State-Chartered Banks Are Still Lending Despite The Credit Crunch

The credit crunch is gripping much of the nation, but Arizona banks are still lending money and most are well-capitalized to weather tough economic times. The state’s core capitalization rate of 10.31 percent is well above the national average of 7.89 percent. That means Arizona banks have a good cushion to ride out the mortgage-induced banking crisis.

Arizona has approximately 83 banks, and of those 33 are state chartered. It also has roughly 58 credit unions and 26 are state chartered. Felecia Rotellini, superintendent of the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions, which oversees all state-chartered banks and credit unions, says state-chartered banks were not involved in subprime mortgage lending, so the mortgage meltdown is not impacting them. But capital drying up and lack of funds for borrowing, which precipitated the federal government’s $700 billion Wall Street rescue package, do impact state banks and make it more difficult for them to do business. Thus, state regulators across the country are closely monitoring the policies and proposals coming out of the U.S. Department of Treasury to make sure the advantages large national banks acquire from Treasury Chief Henry Paulson’s plan have equal impact on state community banks.

“As a result of subprime mortgages, foreclosures and the drop in property values, banks are seeing a reduction in profits and asset quality,” Rotellini says. “But I believe our state-chartered banks are well-managed and well-capitalized to weather the storm. It’s a matter of good management and reserves.”

In September, National Bank of Arizona’s strong capital position enabled it to acquire the FDIC-insured deposits of Silver State Bank’s Arizona offices in Tolleson, Chandler, Sun City and Scottsdale, after federal regulators took over the Nevada-based bank.

National Bank of Arizona’s plan is to merge all Silver State offices into its own nearby branch locations. National Bank of Arizona President and CEO Keith Maio says the bank is currently lending money to small and mid-sized businesses and for commercial real estate projects. But unlike a few months ago, the bank now has a stronger pre-leasing requirement on commercial real estate and a slightly higher credit quality hurdle for small business transactions. The bank also takes into consideration whether a prolonged economic downturn will significantly affect a business and whether management has the ability to maneuver a company through a protracted economic slump. Assessing management is critical, Maio says, because good managers have a solid business plan, they don’t look for excessive leverage and they can run a business successfully through good times and bad.

“Whether you’re an individual, business or bank, you can weather the storm if you have adequate capital,” Maio says. “Our goal is to work with customers the best we can while preserving our capital for future opportunities. That doesn’t mean we’re not making loans. It means we’re going to be judicious about capital. For the last eight to 10 years, there’s been too much leverage in both the business and consumer sectors and that’s what’s caused this financial crisis in its simplest form. Credit was too easy and too cheap. Now it’s harder to get and more expensive.”

The spiraling economic downturn has been a blessing in disguise for Bankers Trust Phoenix, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the $2.5 billion Midamerica Financial Corporation. The bank opened in January with $15 million in capital and a clean balance sheet, enabling it to build relationships with local real estate professionals and lend against high-quality assets that are strategically well-positioned to ride the economic upturn early in the next cycle.

“The fact that we missed the boom of the last several years has turned out to be an advantage for us,” says Patricia Rourke, president and CEO of Bankers Trust Phoenix. “As a newcomer in the market with no troubled credit and nothing in our portfolio, we were ready and able to lend when developers and real estate professionals were being turned away from other local banks.”

Harry Mateer, president and CEO of Altier Credit Union in Tempe, says credit unions have also been affected by the country’s financial crisis, but to a lesser degree. Credit unions have strict investment policy guidelines that prohibit them from entering into many of the lending areas of banks and other financial institutions. They focus on specific areas of lending, such as auto loans, home equity and credit cards.

“We’re currently seeing some liquidity shortages in the system,” Mateer says. “And I’ve heard this from other credit unions around the state, too. Members don’t have as much to save so there’s not a lot on deposit. Nevertheless, we’re focused on helping members in light of the economy and working with them when they have difficulties. People can still get loans, but we’ve changed our loan to value requirements to be a little more conservative. We’re now doing 80 percent loan to value, not 85 to 90 percent. And I think that’s what’s being done across all banks and credit unions.”

As a result of the mortgage-induced banking crisis, Arizona legislators passed a law during the 2008 legislative session (SB-1028) requiring all loan officers of mortgage companies in the state to be licensed after 2010. The Arizona Department of Financial Institutions is developing the licensing system for the state. Arizona has approximately 8,000 to 14,000 loan originators that will need to be licensed.

“Over the past few years, there’s been a breakdown in education and training of loan originators in Arizona who explain nontraditional loan products to consumers,” Rotellini says. “A lot of borrowers got into a loan product they didn’t understand and couldn’t afford over the lifetime of the loan, and the loan originators didn’t carry out a loan transaction that was suitable for the borrower. Loan originators also made more commission on option ARM (adjustable rate mortgage) products that over time yield higher interest rates, so conventional loans and FHA loans fell out of favor.”

The Department of Financial Institutions recently investigated a case that resulted in a Phoenix man losing his home. The man was put into an option ARM product with a teaser rate he could afford, even though he would have qualified for a VA loan. In time, the loan adjusted to a higher interest rate and the man couldn’t afford to make his house payments. When the man complained, the loan officer threatened to harm him, so the Department of Financial Institutions intervened. Unfortunately, it was too late. The man had no money to refinance, his credit was destroyed and he lost his home.

“Requiring loan originators to be licensed raises the level of accountability,” Rotellini says. “It’s going to improve the whole mortgage-lending experience for consumers and provide assurance that the loans they enter into will not default and are legitimate. Of course interest-only products will still be available, but they will no longer be abused.”