The percentage of home owners at least two months behind on their payments fell by 21% in the first three months of this year, compared to 2012, according to credit reporting agency TransUnion. The company anticipates the national mortgage delinquency rate will continue to decline in this quarter to about 4.5%. Do you believe the…

Why have sales of previously owned home sales dropped with inventory at record lows? Is the housing rebound over? An unexpected drop in the market occurred between March and February, when sales of previously owned homes fell 0.6%. The National Association of Realtors’ reported several reasons behind the shift. The first being a lack of…

Three steps that can set you up to be sued:

1. Agents: Tell your clients they are required to order a CLUE report

2. Agents: Order a CLUE report for your client on their behalf

3. Agents: Make your client pay for the CLUE report

WHY could I be sued?

1. The CLUE report is NOT required by law – ANY law.

2. Agents are not recognized legal fiduciaries of a seller with regard to ordering a CLUE report

3. The CLUE report is FREE

What’s wrong with CLUE? (Based on the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse)

Real Estate agents should be aware that many states have passed laws addressing consumer concerns about CLUE reports. These laws prohibit use of inquiries that do not result in a claim.

Problems that a lack of knowledge about CLUE reports can create for you:

1. Inaccurate information can be included in the report.

2. The report requires the Agent or Client to examine the CLUE report carefully for errors and incomplete entries, but the party may not have the expertise to do this.

3. The Agent or Consumer then assumes the burden of proving the data wrong.

4. The report imposes on the Agent or Client to dispute inaccuracies in writing. Just imagine asking your client to dispute errors on a report YOU ordered that NOT REQUIRED!

5. The report may contain information other than claims data to rate you as a risk – even if the company doesn’t pay a claim.

6. The report may contain information about another person or a different property.

7. Your phone calls to inquire about a possible claim may be reported.

8. Even when repairs are made and the property is restored to the original condition, the CLUE report can still include information about the claim.

9. An identity thief could file a fraudulent claim that could cause the homeowners premiums to rise or policy to be cancelled.

FREE CLUE REPORTS. If seller insists on getting a report, where they should go to get their free CLUE report?

Your client (or any homeowner) has the right to receive a free annual report under the FACT Act. For more on your right to CLUE and other specialty reports, see PRC Fact Sheet 6b, The Other Consumer Reports: What You Should Know about Specialty Reports, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs6b-SpecReports.htm.

For information on how to get your free claims history or CLUE report from LexisNexis, see www.lexisnexis.com/risk/factact/ or call (866) 312-8076.

For information on how to order your free A-Plus Report from ISO, see www.iso.com/products/2500/prod2562.html or call (800) 627-3487.

Information, www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs1-surv.htm

The bottom line:

Say “no Thanks” to the NHD providers or others that profit on selling you a CLUE report or similar. Real estate agents complain about having to fill up more forms and papers so why then add a report a NOT REQUIRED BY LAW? Your comments are important for our readers so they may learn from you and your experiences.

State Attorneys General have forced five giant mortgage firms to shell out $25 billion to settle claims of “robo-signing” and other foreclosure abuses — but putting anyone in jail has proven to be a much more difficult proposition.

In one of only two robo-signing prosecutions nationwide, a judge last week threw out the entire case, including more than 100 felony counts each against Gary Trafford and Geraldine Sheppard of Orange County.

The Californians had worked as title officers for Lender Processing Services, a giant firm that helps banks and mortgage servicers generate legal documents.
A mortgage task force assembled by Nevada Atty. Gen. Catherine Cortez Masto had accused Trafford and Sheppard of directing the fraudulent notarization and filing of notices of default, the paperwork used to start foreclosures, on delinquent Las Vegas-area borrowers.

But Clark County District Court Judge Carolyn Ellsworth ruled last week that prosecutors committed misconduct in their presentations to the grand jury that indicted Trafford and Sheppard in November 2011. The missteps included providing “irrelevant and highly inflammatory evidence” about how the evictions affected the homeowners, the judge said.

The dismissal stands in contrast to the outcome of the second robo-signing prosecution. In that case, Lorraine Brown, founder of DocX, a former Lender Processing Services subsidiary, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in Jacksonville and to Missouri state charges of forgery and falsifying documents.

Brown faces a federal sentence of up to five years in prison and a Missouri sentence of at least two years, a spokeswoman for the Missouri attorney general said.

The sentences, to be imposed next month, would run concurrently.

The federal regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac took the first major step toward possibly shutting down the taxpayer-rescued firms by deciding to merge some functions of the mortgage financing giants into a new company.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency plans to create a “new business entity” that would package home loans owned or guaranteed by the companies into mortgage-backed securities, Edward J. DeMarco, the agency’s acting director, said Monday.

The goal is to create a vehicle that could replace the nation’s biggest mortgage backers should Congress decide to do that as part of a still-pending overhaul of the housing finance market, DeMarco said.

“We are designing this to be flexible so that the long-term ownership structure can be adjusted to meet the goals and direction that policymakers may set forth for housing finance reform,” he said in a speech at the annual conference of the National Assn. for Business Economics in Washington.

The former government-sponsored enterprises, now 80% owned by taxpayers, have received about $187 billion in bailout money as of December, the latest available figures.

They have paid about $55 billion back to the U.S. Treasury in dividends, and their bailout price tag has been shrinking as their finances improved with the housing market recovery.

Still, the Obama administration and Congress want to shut down Fannie and Freddie and reduce the government’s role in the mortgage market. Fannie and Freddie, along with the Federal Housing Administration, now back about 90% of new mortgages.

Efforts to replace Fannie and Freddie have moved slowly because some policymakers are concerned about acting while the housing market still is recovering.

The new, as-yet-unnamed company would be owned and funded by Fannie and Freddie but would be independent and have its own chief executive and board chairman.

Q1. Where do you think the housing market is headed in 2013?
I’m cautiously optimistic for 2013. We’re starting to see trending in the right direction in a lot of key metrics, but as we learned over the last few years, it’s important to understand that real estate is no longer guaranteed to appreciate.

Q2. Where, if at all, do you feel the industry will see the most growth in the coming year?
I think luxury homes will be the first domino to fall, and then single family homes. Starter homes will be that last milestone because lending standards have become so stiff.

Q3. What has changed in the last few years in your relationship with lenders?
Not much has changed, except it’s harder to get a loan. If you can qualify, you’ll be okay. If not, good luck.

Q4. What is the biggest struggle for real estate agents today?
It’s been tough on agents to educate themselves. The good agents seek out counsel from industry organizations, brokers, experienced agents and settlement service providers. Take what they say with a grain of salt however.

Q5. What is the best thing about working in the real estate industry today?
There are plenty of good real estate people out there. Some buyers/sellers assume that the industry is full of corruption – I would caution people away from assuming that a few bad apples represent the large majority of professionals that do things the right way.