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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zetabid to Auction 100 Homes in Southern California

Zetabid, the pioneering firm redefining home auctions in the U.S., today said it will sell approximately 100 bank-owned homes in Southern California on Saturday, May 16, 2009 at the Pomona Fairplex.

The auction, Zetabid's third in Southern California in the past eight months, will include the sale of single-family homes, multi-family homes and condominiums in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Kern and San Diego counties.

"The market for foreclosed residential properties in Southern California is as robust as we've seen it," said Bob Bellack, Chairman of Zetabid. "The strong demand for bank-owned properties is due to stabilizing housing prices, government stimulus programs and historically low interest rates. The confluence of these factors and the understanding that auctions are among the best ways to get a great property are likely to result in a strong turnout."

Over the past eight months, Zetabid has sold more than 1,000 homes in California, Florida and Arizona in 11 auctions. More than 4,000 people have participated, and many buyers have purchased homes for 50% of the list price at the height of the housing boom.

At the May 16 event in Pomona, Zetabid is expecting active bidding from first-time homebuyers. The federal government recently made it even more compelling to own a home for the first time by offering a tax credit of up to $8,000 to qualifying taxpayers who buy a home in 2009.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Homebuyers Will Find Array of Bargains at Auction of Over 250 Detroit Foreclosures

In states like Michigan where foreclosures are abundant, buyers are eager to purchase bank-owned homes because they usually sell well below their market value. According to RealtyTrac, in March, Michigan reported the 9th highest foreclosure rate among the states, with 12,417 properties receiving filings. America's leading real estate owned (REO) auction firm, Hudson & Marshall will auction over 250 bank-owned homes in Detroit May 2nd and 3rd at 1:00 pm at the Doubletree Hotel Dearborn.

"We're seeing more owner-occupant buyers choosing to purchase foreclosures because they're great values in today's market," commented Dave Webb, Principal, Hudson & Marshall. "When buyers compare a home listed for sale with a comparable foreclosure in the same neighborhood, they're asking themselves why pay more for the same type of property," added Webb.

There is a wide selection of homes in the Detroit auction, valued from $1000 to nearly $400,000, for both investors and first-time homebuyers to choose from. All homes come with a clean, insurable title paid for by the sellers. Buyers will be required to make a $1,000 deposit with a certified check or cash on each property for which they are the winning bidder.

All homes being auctioned by Hudson & Marshall are sold "as-is" and buyers should inspect properties before placing any bids. Buyers may contact listing agents to make appointments to view homes. Complete property details and additional information may be found at or by calling 866-539-4172.

The Detroit auction also will feature Hudson & Marshall's Alliance Network Program, a community outreach initiative created to attract more buyers and tenants in search of affordable housing to its auctions. Hudson & Marshall has partnered with local organizations that will be on site during the auction to answer questions and provide resources to buyers.

National Faith HomeBuyers Program, a non-profit organization counseling families on homeownership, will refer buyers and tenants who have completed its program to the auction. The tenant referral program is designed to help connect investor buyers, purchasing homes at the auction, with tenants in need of immediate housing. Several lenders also will attend the auction to answer questions and assist buyers with their mortgage needs. Additionally, TCN Construction Group, a contracting firm and APD Solutions, a property management company will be available during the auction to offer their services to investors.

Prior to auction, buyers can purchase property online by visiting the website and clicking on the Bid-Now icon. Sellers typically respond to offers within 24 hours. This is a reserve auction, which means sellers have the right to accept, reject or counter any bid; however, in past auctions conducted by Hudson & Marshall, the majority of offers have been accepted.

Having sold over 70,000 homes for sellers in the past eight years, Hudson & Marshall of Texas, Inc is the most experienced, trusted leader in the REO auction industry. The company's accelerated sales process enables it to swiftly and efficiently sell large volumes of property in a way that minimizes expenses for sellers and maximizes return. Over the past five years alone, Hudson & Marshall's total sales have topped $1.2 billion and the company anticipates selling another 30,000 homes through 2009.

Five Charged in $70 Million 'Dream Home' Mortgage Fraud Scheme

A federal grand jury has indicted four defendants, and an information has been filed against a fifth defendant, for their participation in a massive mortgage fraud scheme that allegedly promised to pay off homeowners' mortgages on their "Dream Homes," but left them to fend for themselves, Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announced today.

The indictment was returned on April 22, 2009, and unsealed today.

"The Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorneys' Offices are jointly committed to redoubling our efforts to uncover and prosecute fraud and abuse in all facets of the housing market - a market upon which so many American families have pinned their hopes and their futures for so many years," said Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer. "I want to assure the American public that we will not rest until the tide of this criminal activity is turned."

"The indictment alleges that the defendants used slick marketing to conceal empty promises," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. "They convinced many victims to invest at least $50,000 by refinancing their existing homes or buying new homes at inflated prices, while claiming that Metro Dream Homes would repay the mortgages with revenue from profitable businesses. The indictment alleges that there was no revenue to pay the mortgage payments. Instead, the conspirators used some of the investors' money to repay earlier investors in the Ponzi scheme and spent the remainder on themselves."

"The effects of this wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme are particularly disturbing within the backdrop of today's economic environment. With our federal, state and local partners working on 18 mortgage fraud task forces and 47 mortgage fraud working groups across the country, the FBI is committed to combating mortgage fraud and other financial crimes nationwide to protect the American homeowner and the national economy," said Executive Assistant Director Thomas J. Harrington, FBI Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch.

"IRS Criminal Investigation takes allegations of mortgage fraud seriously," said "Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. "These types of crimes drive home owners into foreclosure, erode the integrity of our tax system and threaten the financial health of our communities."

According to the indictment, from 2005 to 2007 the defendants allegedly used corporate names such as "Metropolitan Grapevine LLC," "Metro Dream Homes," "POS Dream Homes," and "POS DH LLC" (collectively, MDH) to target homeowners and home purchasers to participate in a purported mortgage payment program called the "Dream Homes Program." To participate, an investor had to provide a minimum of $50,000 for each home enrolled in the program, in addition to an "administrative fee" of up to $5,000. In exchange, the program promised to make the homeowner's future monthly mortgage payments, and pay off the homeowner's mortgage within five to seven years. Thereafter, the homeowner and MDH would own an equal interest in the home.

The indictment alleges that Andrew Hamilton Williams, Jr., 58, of Hollywood, Fla., was the founder and owner of MDH; Michael Anthony Hickson, 46, of Commack, N.Y., was the chief financial officer; Isaac Jerome Smith, 46, of Spotsylvania, Va., was the president; and Alvita Karen Gunn, 31, of Hanover, Md., was the vice president of operations. The information alleges that Carole Nelson, age 50, of Washington, D.C., was the chief financial officer of POS Dream Homes.

The indictment further alleges that Dream Homes Program representatives explained to investors that the homeowners' initial payments would be used to fund investments in automated teller machines (ATMs), flat-screen televisions that would show paid business advertisements, and "Touch-N-Buy" electronic kiosks that sold telephone calling cards and other items. To give the Dream Homes Program a veneer of legitimacy and financial success, the defendants marketed the program through live presentations at luxury hotels in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Beverly Hills, Calif., among other locations. The defendants allegedly told some of the investors that they should not worry about the price of the homes or monthly mortgage payments because MDH would make mortgage payments on their behalf.

The indictment alleges that the defendants failed to advise investors that: the ATMs, flat-screen televisions and kiosks never generated any meaningful revenue; the defendants used the funds from later investors to pay the mortgages of earlier investors; and MDH had not filed any federal income tax returns throughout its existence. The defendants also allegedly failed to advise investors that their investments were being used for the personal enrichment of select MDH employees, including the defendants, to: pay salaries of up to $200,000 a year as well as their mortgages; employ a staff of 10 chauffeurs and maintain a fleet of luxury cars; and travel to and attend the 2007 National Basketball Association All-Star game and the 2007 National Football League Super Bowl, staying in luxury accommodations in both instances. Nor were investors told that investor funds were allegedly used to: pay off investors in a prior failed ATM investment venture that Williams had founded called Bankcard Group; make multiple donations of up to $50,000 each to charitable organizations to allegedly give MDH the appearance of being financially successful; and fund investments in third-party businesses that had not been disclosed to investors.

On Aug. 15, 2007, the Maryland Securities Commissioner issued a cease-and-desist order to Williams, MDH and other related companies directing them to immediately cease the offering and sale of unregistered securities in connection with their promotion of the Dream Homes Program. However, the defendants thereafter allegedly called additional meetings in which they made additional misrepresentations about the financial success of MDH's operations. On Sept. 4, 2007, the defendants filed a legal challenge in federal court in Maryland to the cease-and-desist order. The indictment alleges that at a hearing on Sept. 12, 2007, Hickson testified that the financial success of the Dream Homes Program did not rely upon new investor funds, when in fact Hickson knew that the sole source of meaningful revenue for MDH was new investor funds.

As a result of the scheme, more than 1,000 investors in the Dream Homes Program invested approximately $70 million. When the defendants stopped making the mortgage payments, the homeowners were left to attempt to make the mortgage payments MDH had promised to make in full.

The four indicted defendants face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the fraud conspiracy; 20 years in prison on each of the 15 counts of wire fraud; and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Hickson also faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for making false statements. Smith also faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for bank fraud arising out of his alleged misrepresentation of his income in order to obtain a bank loan to purchase a new Bentley automobile. Nelson was charged by information with money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the fraud proceeds, including $70 million.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceeding.

This prosecution is being brought jointly by the Maryland and Washington, D.C. Mortgage Fraud Task Forces, which are comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. The Task Forces were formed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of various kinds of mortgage fraud schemes. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Forces, demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement agencies to protect consumers from fraud and help to ensure the integrity of the mortgage market and other credit markets. Information about mortgage fraud prosecutions is available on the internet at

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, IRS - CI, the Maryland Attorney General's Office, Securities Division and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Inspector General for their investigative work; and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Maryland Jonathan C. Su and Bryan E. Foreman, who are prosecuting the case.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Guaranteed Home Mortgage Announces New Program to Help Its Branches Prevent Loan Fraud

Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, Inc. (Guaranteed,, a national residential mortgage investment and banking firm, today announced the implementation of a new program to help its branches prevent fraud from prospective borrowers.

The program consists of a series of tools, techniques and procedures to confirm identities, verify asset value and tax filings, and utilize fraud profiles -- all designed to supplement the company's continuing emphasis on "zero tolerance" for any errors in compliance and documentation requirements.

David Wind, President of Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company, said, "Our new fraud program will protect our branches from applicant errors as well as intentional misrepresentations. Our mantra of zero tolerance assists residential loan applicants, too, by assuring first-time approval of loans in compliance with the most recent, and stringent, mortgage-loan regulations."

Wind went on to describe some of the components of the fraud program. Every appraisal is subject to review through an automated valuation model (AVM); tax verifications through the IRS are conducted on every loan; multiple ID forms are completed for all prospective borrowers; and a vendor web site evaluates applicants' incomes in relation to their industry.

Other steps include visiting an HUD web site for background checks prior to submissions for an FHA loan, and the use of an industry system to evaluate the risk factors for transactions.

Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company also applies a very high standard for its branches. In-depth background checks are conducted on new Guaranteed employees through Lexis, and all branch managers must complete an online web course titled "Fraud and Deterrence."

Wind concluded, "There's a reason why we've been in business over 15 years in a highly competitive industry. Delivering value through proactive programs and the finest support services makes our organization the gold standard for everyone else in the field."

Over 400 Foreclosed Homes in Ohio and Pennsylvania Up for Auction

As foreclosures continue proliferating across the country, buyer demand for these properties is also growing because they can be purchased at a discount. For buyers who were shut out of the housing market during the boom years of escalating home prices, foreclosures make homebuying affordable. Real estate auction firm Hudson & Marshall will auction over 400 bank-owned foreclosures in cities throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania April 20th - 26th. About 80 homes will be auctioned in Cleveland on April 25th.

According to RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings nationwide ballooned to 341,180 in March 2009, jumping 45% from a year ago. Ohio reported 12,611 filings in March, ranking 11th with its foreclosure rate, one of the highest among the states. Pennsylvania reported a total of 4,943 foreclosure filings for the month, earning it the 32nd spot.

"Over the past two years, we've seen the crowds steadily increase at our bank-owned foreclosure auctions because people have begun to realize they can get purchase property quickly at a great value," said Dave Webb, principal, Hudson & Marshall. "Because auctions sell large volumes of property at one time, we're able to help cities reduce the number of vacant homes dragging down property values and bringing blight to neighborhoods," added Webb.

The homes up for auction come with a clean, insurable title paid for by the sellers. Buyers will be required to make a $1,000 deposit with a certified check or cash on each property on which they are the winning bidder. Before the auction, buyers should try to get pre-approved for a loan so they know how much they can bid on a property.

All homes being auctioned by Hudson & Marshall are sold "as-is" and buyers should inspect properties before placing any bids. Buyers may contact listing agents to make appointments to view homes. Complete property details and additional information may be found at or by calling 866-539-4172.

Homes will be auctioned on the following dates:

April 20th - Cincinnati (32 homes) at 7:00pm-Cincinnati Marriott Northeast

April 20th - Chillicothe, OH (6 homes) at 1:00pm-Comfort Inn Chillicothe

April 20th - Mansfield, OH (11 homes) at 1:00pm-Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, Mansfield

April 21st - Toledo (38 homes) at 7:00pm-Hilton Garden Inn (38 homes)

April 21st - Dayton (47 homes) at 1:00pm-Dayton Marriott

April 21st - Stroudsburg/Scranton (22 homes) at 7:30pm-Hilton Scranton & Conf. Center

April 21st - Philadelphia (19 homes) at 1:00pm-Hilton Garden Inn-Philadelphia/Ft. Washington

April 22nd - Columbus (35 homes) at 7:00pm-Columbus Airport Marriott

April 22nd - York, PA (11 homes) at 7:00pm)-Holiday Inn Harrisburg

April 23rd - Pittsburgh (34 homes) at 7:00pm-Pittsburgh Airport Marriott

April 24th - Youngstown (30 homes) at 1:00pm-Holiday Inn Youngstown South

April 25th - Cleveland (81 homes) at 1:00pm-Cleveland Airport Marriott

April 26th - Canton/Akron (47 homes) at 1:00pm-McKinley Grand Hotel

Prior to auction, buyers can purchase property online by visiting the website and clicking on the Bid-Now icon. Sellers typically respond to offers within 24 hours. This is a reserve auction, which means sellers have the right to accept, reject or counter any bid; however, in past auctions conducted by Hudson & Marshall, the majority of offers have been accepted.

Having sold over 70,000 homes for sellers in the past eight years, Hudson & Marshall of Texas, Inc is the most experienced, trusted leader in the REO auction industry. The company's accelerated sales process enables it to swiftly and efficiently sell large volumes of property in a way that minimizes expenses for sellers and maximizes return. Over the past five years alone, Hudson & Marshall's total sales have topped $1.2 billion and the company anticipates selling another 30,000 homes through 2009.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fort Lauderdale Blog to Feature "Deal of the Week" Program

One of the top real estate blogs in the industry today will provide a great guide on the best foreclosed deals in the property industry as featured on their site. Beginning this week, the Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Blog will feature the best foreclosure deals on the market in its "Deal of the Week" program.

The Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Blog is a top-rated real estate website operated by Robin Sing-Cunningham, a Fort Lauderdale-based Realtor who specializes in foreclosures and short sales.

The "Deal of the Week" promotion will feature foreclosed homes for sale that may be purchased at a substantial discount - some at prices 25-40% or more below market value.

The program will provide Buyers with property information including pictures and videos. An interesting feature that Buyers will like is the offer strategy section where local experts tell you how they would structure an offer on the home.

"Buyers are always asking me how to find the best deals and how to structure an offer. In this great Buyer's market, we are providing a platform for Buyers to see the best deals and to see how local real estate experts would put the deal together," said Sing-Cunningham.

South Florida is a Buyer's paradise. With nearly 60% of the homes sold in the area being in some stage of foreclosure, it's actually a very competitive market. However, most Buyers who are interested in a foreclosure never see the best deals.

"Many agents got caught with their pants down when the foreclosure tsunami hit," said Barry Johnson of Real Estate Radio USA, a top-ranked real estate talk show and industry blog.

"When Robin approached us about helping with this promotion we felt it was a no-brainer as our listeners and readers always ask us how to find the best deals," Johnson added.

A big incentive for participating in the "Deal Of The Week" promotion are the cash and prizes. If a Buyer purchases any of the homes featured they will receive a minimum of $1,500.00 at closing as a rebate on their purchase. They may also receive various prizes ranging from dinners at exclusive restaurants, to sport fishing trips to Caribbean vacations.

"I haven't seen many agents offering these types of incentives and I wondered why? This is a Buyer's market and we have to show these Buyers that we appreciate and want their business. To me, it's all about separating yourself from the pack and offering unparalleled customer service," said Sing-Cunningham.

In an effort to make sure that each Buyer receives high-quality customer service, Sing-Cunningham has assembled a team of real estate professionals to provide any Buyer with complete peace of mind.

Erik Wesoloski, a Miami-based attorney with the law firm of Wesoloski Carlson, P.A, who specializes in foreclosures, says that this is an idea whose time has come. "Most agents don't have the expertise to help a Buyer navigate their way through the possible land mines associated with buying foreclosures.

"There may be hidden problems that can cause a deal to fail or a Buyer to incur certain liabilities. We are happy to be a part of Robin's team to make sure that her Buyers don't have any problems with their purchase."

If you would like to view the Fort Lauderdale Real Estate market "Deal of the Week", simply go to the Fort Lauderdale Real Estate Blog at and check it out.


Monday, April 13, 2009 Aids HomeOwners with Problematic Property Taxes

People who are having problems on the proper assessment of their property taxes get a reprieve as will make it easier for residential property owners to appeal inaccurate property tax assessments. Our mission is to empower homeowners by providing all of the necessary forms, valuation assistance and knowledge to maximize the chance for a successful outcome. We have created a user-friendly website that quickly and efficiently determines if an appeal of assessed value is in the property owner's best interest.

Due to current economic conditions, residential property values have declined in many areas, some significantly. The tax assessment cycle can take considerable time to adjust to current market conditions. As a result, many property owners pay more than their fair-share in property tax, sometimes for years. According to the National Taxpayers Union, only 1/3 of property tax appeals succeed. Obtaining costly appraisals, filling out numerous, complicated forms, and filing the appeal quickly enough to meet short deadlines discourages many taxpayers. takes the guesswork and expense out of filing your property tax assessment appeal.'s proprietary FairValue Calculator guides site visitors to enter a property address and click "Check Your Value for Free". Within seconds the property's fair-market value is compared to the assessed value, determining if the property is fairly, over, or under-assessed. Qualified property owners register, answer several questions, and purchase our FairValue Report using our secure check-out. The report provides the completed forms required by their taxing authority and a market-approach valuation report. In most cases the client simply reviews, signs and mails the forms to their local assessor or board of equalization to obtain a review or hearing.

When every dollar counts, helps homeowners save money. Property taxes are a major expenditure for most households; yet, unlike income and sales tax, most taxpayers have little understanding how they are calculated and what steps can be taken to minimize them. helps homeowners take the important first steps towards a lower property tax bill. is honored to be chosen as one of the companies selected to present at the FinovateStartup09 conference on April 28 in San Francisco.

Thursday, April 09, 2009 Announces April as Free Loan Modification Month

For sure, there are a lot of real estate loaners in distress and for that matter, has decided to go easy and offer an indirect form of extension by announcing April as Free Loan Modification Month.

In explaining his decision to extend the offer of free complete loan modification services through the entire month, Mr. Taylor said. "With tax time bearing down on homeowners, plus the many other issues they face, especially those in need of loan modification help, we decided it would be in everyone's best interest to extend the offer to include the entire month. This way people can catch their breath a little after April 15 and still take advantage of the offer."

The offer is for more than a free consultation which, explains Taylor, is another reason for the extension. "Offers to provide free consultations are all over the place in the newspapers and Internet. We've yet to find anyone offering free, soup to nuts, loan modification representation and consultation. It's easy for a homeowner or Realtor to get confused and assume we're offering only the consultation. We want to give the totality of the offer a chance to sink in."

The April is Free Loan Modification Month offer ends midnight April 30, 2009. Realtors interested in offering free loan modifications to homeowners in their communities are invited to visit for details.

(Source) PR Web

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

German Government to Bail Out Hypo Real Estate Group

The German government may make an offer for Hypo Real Estate Holding AG, the bailed-out commercial property lender, by the end of the week as it moves closer to the country’s first bank nationalization since the 1930s, three people close to the matter said.

Germany’s bank rescue fund, Soffin, will bid as early as April 9 to gain a majority holding in the Munich-based lender, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The state may offer as much as 1.28 euros a share, the people said, or 12 percent above today’s closing price in Frankfurt trading.

The government acquired an 8.7 percent stake in Hypo Real Estate last month as a first step toward taking control. The company received 102 billion euros ($136 billion) of credit lines and debt guarantees from the state and financial firms after a funding shortage at its Dublin-based Depfa Bank Plc unit last year nearly led to bankruptcy.

“The government is under some time pressure because the bank needs to be kept above water,” said Dirk Becker, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Kepler Capital Markets, who recommends selling the shares.

German daily Boersen-Zeitung reported earlier today that the government may make an offer this week.

(Source) Bloomberg

Monday, April 06, 2009

Apartment Finder Announces Online Partnership with Leading Online Real Estate Classifieds Network,

Apartment Finder today announced another online partnership to publish its apartment rental listings on the web. Its newest partner is, a leading online real estate classifieds network, and through this alliance, Apartment Finder will deliver greater online exposure and leads for its advertisers to the millions of apartment shoppers in the 84 countries that serves.

“We understand how vitally important it is for consumers to interact with our advertisers’ listings when they are shopping for an apartment,” says Marcia Bollinger, president, Apartment Finder. “That is why we look for every opportunity to help make that connection, especially on the web. Our partnership with allows us to offer our advertisers exposure to millions of additional apartment renters while enhancing the online search experience for home shoppers.”

This agreement will expand’s property listings to include thousands of apartment rental listings from Apartment Finder. All advertisers of Apartment Finder will now have their rental listings published on, which features user-friendly search options for apartments by location, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, square feet, furnished/unfurnished, and more.

Apartment Finder is the anchor of the multi-family division of Network Communications, Inc., the largest publisher of print and online housing information in North America. Apartment Finder’s print and online products provide the latest information about apartment rentals to millions of consumers around the country, while offering a comprehensive and targeted integrated advertising solution for multi-housing professionals. The fastest-growing media platform in the multi-family industry, Apartment Finder publishes books in 114 markets across the U.S. and operates, the #1 consumer-preferred site featuring state-of-the-art searching and mapping features for apartment renters. is the third partner in 2009 to join Apartment Finder’s ever-growing online distribution network. Other online alliances inked this year include, the leading vertical search platform for real estate and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s, which provides apartment listings for renters in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. These new partners join a number of established partnerships, as Apartment Finder continues to build its network.