Author Archives: Alex Ferreras

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Attorney General Kane Warns Homeowners About Traveling Contractor Scams

( – While home buying is a trend that is anticipated to pick up this Spring, homeowners should not be taking home improvement lightly. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane last Friday released a report that home sellers and homeowners should pay attention to. According to the AG warning, there has been several reports of “traveling” or “transient” home improvement contractors who are scamming consumers out of thousands of dollars for incomplete work.
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Online Mortgage Assistance Event for San Antonio Homeowners Wednesday – April 23

Whether you are unemployed, have had your hours at work cut back, need advice on a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, are having problems with your rental property, or are facing some kind of financial hardship, all Dallas and San Antonio homeowners are welcome to sign on to this free event. At the event, everyone will have the chance to talk one-on-one with a HUD approved counselor and your mortgage company; They will be available to ask questions about your options. Continue reading

City of Dubuque Settles for Barring African Americans From Achieving Fair Housing

The City of Dubuque in the state of Iowa settled in a discrimination case yesterday with HUD. The case was an effort to fight discrimination practices againstAfrican Americans within the city limits. According to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their race, color, religion, family status, marital status, disability national origin or any other personal preference in programs and activities that dedicate to help individuals financially through federal, state or domestic assistance. For part of the settlement, the city has agreed to undertake outreach activities to undeserved populations,  meet increased and expanded reporting requirements, submit to additional oversight from HUD, and obtain fair housing training for core city employees.
Based on a HUD report Conducted in June, 2011, several pieces of information were found that lead to the lawsuit against the city of Dubuque which charged the city of imposing polices which made it harder for African American housing choice voucher applicants to receive the vouchers. This decision had ultimately been backed by the City as a way to combat racial tensions and concerns about crime. Regardless of the cities intentions, blocking a person’s ability to receive housing based off of race or simply just making it harder for them compared to someone with a different ethnic background is immoral. There is a reason the Civil Rights Act exists, and that is to prevent segregation on needed services.The HUD report identified that Dubuque’s preference system awarded points to applicants on a cumulative basis.
According to HUD, “Applicants living within the city received 30 points; applicants within Dubuque County 20 points; and applicants within the state of Iowa 15 points. ” This point system heavily discriminated on residents who did not live within the proper boundary points based off of the point imbalance. HUD’s investigations also found that the City did its best to restrict applicants who did not qualify for one of the local preference points. What was this preference point? It turned out to be race. The discovery of this unlawful action was discovered when HUD’s review revealed that a gross number of Chicago applicants who were negatively affected in the program were all of African American heritage.If that didn’t go far enough to violate the Civil Rights Act, the city executed voucher issuance freeze to further limit those who could be eligible for the program in 2010. The purge on the program’s wait list targeted a vast group, which just so happened to contain 90% of applicants who were African American. After the purge on the waiting list, only elderly or disabled residents were accepted into the program.

The terms of the settlement declare that Dubuque do away with their residency preference system, and submit any future changes to its Housing Choice Voucher distribution to HUD for review and final approval.

Bryan Greene, HUD Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity maintains that HUD’s decision on the city is based on their policy of equal access to taxpayer funded programs for everyone. HUD works with state and municipal governments on a regular basis to make sure no one is denied a chance to receive assisted housing.

Fair Housing Month is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on just how far we’ve come to make our housing more equitable and how far we still have to go to end housing discrimination,” said HUD Acting FHEO Assistant Secretary Bryan Greene. “Fair housing is about giving people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and whenever this opportunity is denied, not only do families lose, our entire nation loses.”

At the beginning of the month, HUD and several other entities declared the beginning of Fair Housing Month. The goal of this initiative is to spread the word that everyone should have the equal opportunity to pursue their dreams without being denied by predatory sources.


Former Rockwall Housing Development Executive Sent to Prison for HUD Fraud

Jennifer Tyson, the former executive director/manager of the Rockwall Housing Development Corporation (RHDC) from Rockwall, Texas was sentenced last Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade to a year and a day in federal prison for conspiring to steal federal funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Tyson must also pay $195,421 in restitution.

Judge Kinkeade ordered Tyson to plead guilty to the Bureau of Prisons on May 6, 2013. The convicted defendant has admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

According to an FBI report, the RDHC was a landlord to several authorized public housing agencies (PHAs) in Rockwall. The PHAs received federal funds from HUD through the Housing Choice Voucher Program which were then transmitted over to the RDHC.

The scheme that took place from June 2009 to November 2013 involved Tyson performing her typical responsibilities such as reviewing and processing monthly housing assistance payments to perform illegal actions.

Based on the data from the factual resume filed in the case, since the beginning of March 2010 until June 2011, Tyson wrote approximately 128 RHDC of checks that in the end amounted to $126,063 to a co-conspirator named Trent George of Wright City, Oklahoma. The suspicious of this action could be drawn from the evidence that George was in no way owed this amount. His contributions to the business were no more than minor, and his skills were in no way high paying jobs.

George along with another co-conspirator who just happened to be his fiance (Rachel McKnight of Garland Texas), used these fraudulent funds to purchase illegal narcotics for their own personal use. George pleaded guilty for his role in the conspiracy already and is scheduled to be sentenced on June 25 of this year. McKnight is scheduled to plead guilty this week to her role in the conspiracy.
From February 2011 until January 2012, Tyson wrote approximately 94 RHDC checks that she cashed for her own personal use. In addition, from October 2009 to October 2012 she also wrote out approximately 55 RHDC checks made out to “reimbursement” and used the proceeds for her own personal use.

After being evicted in January 2011, Tyson paid for hotels in Rockwall that McKnight used to live in with George. During occasional meetings, the three of them would partake in illegal use of narcotics within the hotel rooms that were paid for with the RHDC funds. The investigation done by HUD and the FBI however focused on the misused funds rather than the illegal drugs.

Home Builder Confidence Remains Steady for April 2014

A new report released today by the National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) revealed that builder confidence has held steady this month. The numbers are in, and according to the NAHB report, the construction of new single-family homes rose one point to 47 in April from 46 in March.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index can be defined as a scale of builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months that can be measured as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” This 30-year-old survey calculates that any number over 50 is an indication that builders views on the perspective buyers market are more good than negative.

NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer stresses that builder confidence has been, “in a holding pattern for the past three months,” with tight credit conditions for home buyers and limited labor. We can can expect to see some stresses within the market, as the HMI three-month moving average was down in all four regions of the country. The West fell nine points to 51 and the Midwest posted a four-point decline to 49 while the Northeast and South each dropped two points to 33 and 47, respectively.The chairman however also expects the home buying market to thrive during this Spring season due to additional index numbers.

Chief Economist David Crowe also said that job growth, historically low mortgage interest rates and affordable home prices are all contributing factors to a gradual yet effective improvement in our nation’s housing demand.

The HMI index measuring current sales conditions in April remained the same to the previous month at 51 while the index measuring traffic of prospective buyers was also unchanged at 32. The component measuring expectations for future sales however rose four points to 57. It appears that we are seeing mixed numbers in the indexes that measure our home builders’ confidence. While some of these details can be seen as negative, other details reflect a positive light into the future.

HMI tables can be found at More information on housing statistics is also available at

Florida Real Estate Criminal Sentenced to Prison for $21 Million Property Scam

Loretta Seneca, a 51 year old Boynton Beach, a former Realtor and current Florida resident was sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford last Tuesday for her role in a real estate investment fraud scheme that was admitted to early last year. Seneca’s 27 months of imprisonment will be followed by 3 years of supervised release.  In addition, she must pay $5 million in restitution for her crimes.

Seneca, along with co-conspirators Robert Rivernider (Seneca’s brother) and Robert Ponte pursued to defraud lenders out of $21 million through the loss of at least 100 properties and individuals though a deceptive real estate investment conspiracy that lasted approximately from November 2006 to December 2007.

These schemes usually involve straw-borrowers, who may be a part of the overall conspiracy. According to court documents, the scammers of this scheme recruited unsuspecting victims to act as borrowers who would use nothing more than their information to obtain properties in primarily Tennessee and Florida. Rivernider and Ponte acted as, “professionals,” and  personally instructed each of the borrowers that they would represent the purchase, rental, maintenance and payment of the properties. These false representations even declared that the purchase of the investment properties would be made at discounted values.
Seneca as a trained mortgage broker easily manipulated lenders to accept the loan applications that contained falsified information. According to court documents, Seneca who was overall the market professional of the group gathered the materials needed by the victim lenders and borrowers, provided certain comparables based on properties brokered by Rivernider to be used for purportedly independent appraisals, and a range of other background tasks crucial for the lenders to originate the loans.

Seneca had pleaded guilty on February 25, 2013 to one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. Rivernider and Ponte previously admitted to the charges, in addition to a multitude of other charges involving another scheme that defrauded investors out of $2.2 million. Rivernider is currently serving 144 months, while Ponte is undergoing his 90 months. These two are currently waiting on the government to come up with their restitution amount.

We can thank the FBI, and the IRS Criminal Investigation unit for the investigation of this case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John H. Durham and Christopher W. Schmeisser are credited for the prosecution of these real estate criminals.

Mortgage Rate Report & Summary Today – 4/14/2014

Mortgage rates this morning appear to be a mixed bag at the nation’s top lenders. Last week ended with many loan programs seeing rates go down and today we are seeing a similar pattern, but some have also went back up a bit.  It’s important you study these changes to find the best rates for your particular mortgage goals.

The Rate Summary for Today 4/14/14

The FHA 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) increased at Wells Fargo under their home purchase program. At Chase, the 30-year FRM increased along with the 7-year and the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) under their home purchase program, while the 15-year FRM increased under their refinance program. At Bank of America, the 20-year FRM and the 5-year ARM increased under their home purchase program, while the 15-year FRM increased under their refinance program. At Citi, the 15-year FRM increased under their refinance program.

The 5-year ARM decreased at Chase at Wells Fargo under their home purchase program, while the 30-year FRM decreased along with the 5-year ARM under their refinance program. At Chase, the 30-year FRM decreased along with the 7-year and the 5-year ARM under their refinance program.  The 30-year FRM decreased along with the 5-yearl, the 10-year and the 7-year ARM at Bank of America under their refinance program.

Wells Fargo Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates 4.375% — APR 4.432% – $1,198.00
FHA 30-Year Fixed Rates 4.250% — APR 5.221% – $1,459.00
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.500%   — APR 3.598% – $1,716.00
5-Year ARM 3.250%  — APR 3.030% – $1,045.00
FHA 5-Year ARMs 3.125%  — APR 3.407% – $1,304.00

Wells Fargo Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates 4.500%  — APR 4.619% – $1,013.00
FHA 30-Year Fixed Rates 4.250%  — APR 5.302% – $1,216
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.625% — APR 3.707% – $1,442.00
5-Year Arms 3.250%  — APR 3.051% – $870.00
FHA 5-Year ARMs 3.375% — APR 3.525% – $1,115.00

Chase Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates  4.250%  — APR 4.240%
15-Year Fixed Rates  3.375%  — APR 3.538%
7-Year ARMs 3.375%   — APR 3.069%
5-Year ARMs  3.125%  APR 2.924%

Chase Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates 4.125% — APR 4.435%
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.875% — APR 3.538%
7-Year ARMs 3.250%  — APR 3.079%
5-Year ARMs 3.000%  —  APR 2.924%

Bank of America Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates 4.125% — APR 4.268%
20-Year Fixed Rates 4.125%  — APR 4.198%
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.375%  — APR 3.549%
5-Year ARMs 2.875%  — APR 2.908%
7-Year ARMs 3.125%   — APR 3.028%
10-Year ARMS 3.625% — APR 3.386%

Bank of America Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rates  4.250%  — APR 4.576%
20-Year Fixed Rates 4.125% — APR 4.339%
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.500% — APR 3.662%
5-Year ARMs 3.000%  — APR 3.050%
7-Year ARMs 3.250%  — APR 3.208%
10-Year ARMS 3.625%  — APR 3.563%

Citi Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.250%  — APR 4.494%
20-Year Fixed Rate 4.000%  — APR 4.275%
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.250% — APR 3.608%
10-Year ARM 3.750%   — APR 3.595%
7-Year ARM 3.375%  – APR 3.270%
5-Year ARM 3.125%   — APR 3.106%

Citi Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.375%  – APR 4.524%
20-Year Fixed Rate 4.125%   — APR 4.413%
15-Year Fixed Rates 3.500%  — APR 3.684%
10-Year ARM 3.750%  — APR 3.528%
7-Year ARM 3.500%  — APR 3.228%
5-Year ARM 3.250%  — APR 3.062%

Loan Product and APR Information

All rates above are provided by the above bank or lender via their website published rate information. Mortgage rates are subject to change and are not guaranteed. Conforming rates are for loan amounts not exceeding $417,000 ($625,500 in AK and HI) – Jumbo rates are for loan amounts exceeding $417,000 ($625,500 in AK and HI) – Adjustable-rate loans and rates are subject to change during the loan term. That change can increase or decrease your monthly payment.

Additional loan products, rates and lock periods are available. If you are looking for the best mortgage, please call us today at 800-779-4547 to lock in the best rate!

Jumbo Loan Rates Today – 4/14/2014

Here are the jumbo mortgage rates for the top lenders as of today 4/14/2014. Rates are a bit lower this morning than they were on Friday, with the exception of one mortgage program at Citi that had went up.

At Citi, the 15-year FRM increased under their refinance program. The 5-year adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) decreased at Wells Fargo under their refinance program. At Chase, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) decreased along with the 7-year ARM under their refinance program. The 5-year ARM decreased at Citi under their refinance program. The 30-year and the 15-year FRM fell at US Bank. These changes are detailed below.

Jumbo mortgages are loans exceeding $417,000 or $625,500 in high-cost areas. Additional loan products, rates and lock periods are available. If you are looking for the best jumbo loan rates from someone you can trust, please give us a call at 800-779-4547 to lock in your rate today!


Wells Fargo Jumbo Home Purchase Program

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.125%  — APR 4.153%
5-Year ARM 2.875%   — APR 2.819%

Wells Fargo Jumbo Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.625%   — APR 4.908% — 2,237.00
15-Year Fixed 3.625%  — APR 3.796% — 3,014.00
5-Year ARM 3.250%  — APR 3.290% — 1,921.00

Chase Jumbo Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.000%  — APR 4.093%
15-Year Fixed Rate 3.750%  — APR 3.878%
7-Year ARM 3.125% — APR 2.991%
5-Year ARM 2.875%   — APR 2.871%

Chase Jumbo Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.125%    — APR 4.219%
15-Year Fixed Rate 3.750%  — APR 3.915%
7-Year 3.125% — APR 3.020%
5-Year ARM 3.000%  — APR 2.914%

US Bank Jumbo Loan Rates

Jumbo 30-Year Fixed Rates 4.000%  – 4.125%   — APR 4.198% – 4.313%
Jumbo 20-Year Fixed Rates 4.125% – 4.250% — APR 4.226% – 4.337%
Jumbo 15-Year Fixed Rates 3.750% – 3.875%  — APR 4.004% – 4.110%

Citi Jumbo Home Purchase Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.250% — APR 4.619%
20-Year Fixed Rate 4.000%  — APR 4.321%
15-Year Fixed Rate 3.250%  — APR 3.639%
10-Year ARM 3.750%  — APR 3.715%
7-Year ARM 3.375%  — APR 3.385%
5-Year ARM 3.125% — APR 3.214%

Citi Jumbo Refinance Rates

30-Year Fixed Rate 4.375%  — APR 4.807%
20-Year Fixed Rate 4.125%   — APR 4.470%
15-Year Fixed Rate 3.500% — APR 3.774%
10-Year ARM 3.875%  — APR 3.833%
7-Year ARM 3.500%  — APR 3.480%
5-Year ARM 3.250% — APR 3.319%


All rates above are provided by the above bank or lender via their website published rate information. Mortgage rates are subject to change and are not guaranteed. The limit may be lower for a specific high-cost area; use the Loan Limit Look-Up Table above to see limits by location. These limits are the same as the 2010 high-cost area loan limits and apply to all Loans originated on or before September 30, 2011. Loans originated on or after October 1, 2011, will use the “permanent” high-cost area loan limits established by FHFA under a formula of 115% of the 2010 median home price, up to a maximum of $625,500 for a 1-unit property in the continental U.S. Additional loan products, rates and lock periods are available.

If you are looking for the best jumbo loan rates from someone you can trust, please give us a call at 800-779-4547 to lock in your rate today!

Mortgage Applications Go Down

On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage applications were lower than the previous week ending on April 4, 2014.

The Market Composite Index which can be defined as a measure of mortgage application loan volume fell by 1.6% on a seasonally adjusted basis over this past week. On an adjusted basis, the adjustment was 1% over the past week. The Refinance Index fell by 5%, which was its lowest level for all of this year since 2013. The seasonally adjusted and unadjusted Purchase Index however went up by 3%. In addition, the unadjusted Purchase Index was 14% lower than it was this same week a year ago.

As for mortgage activity, the refinance share dipped  to 51% from 53% over this last week. It is notable that this is the lowest level that the Refinance Index has been since July, 2009. The share of adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) remained unchanged and low at 8% of all applications.

The interest rate report released by the MBA revealed a more mixed analysis compared to the findings released by Freddie Mac. According to the MBA:

- Average contract interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgage priced at $417,000 or less (a conventional amount) remained static at 4.56% with no additional points for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans.

- Average contract interest rates for jumbo 30-year fixed loan priced at anything greater than $417,000 increased to 4.49% from 4.46% with points dipping to 0.14 from 0.27 for 80% LTV loans.

- Average contract interest rates for the FHA 30-year fixed mortgage program fell to 4.19% from 4.21% with points going up to 0.16 from 0.15 for 80% LTV loans.

- Average contract interest rates for the 15-year loan fixed program stayed at 3.62% with points surging to 0.31 from 0.23 for 80% LTV loans.

- Average contract interest rates for the  5-year ARM slightly went up to 3.26% from 3.25 with zero points increasing to 0.5 from 0.38 for 80% LTV loans.

From these results, we can see that two effective rate types went down, while one stayed the same and two others went up. Other rate reports such as the one from Freddie Mac and LoanSafe typically cover the activity of the 30-year fixed rate loan program. Our data here at LoanSafe this week indeed found a significant dip in 30-year fixed loan rates at several of the nation’s top lenders, while the 15-year FRM stayed the same from the previous week. The decrease in several rates however most definitely contributed to an increase in Mortgage applications.

Mortgage Complaints Nearly Doubled in 2013

The variety of mortgage complaints made in 2013 significantly rose from 2012.  According to a report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), there were approximately 163,700 complaints made in 2013 while there were only 91,000 complaints received in 2012.

The CFPB was formed to handle all consumer complaints under the authority of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The 163,700 complaints that were made from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013 amounted for an 80% increase from the complaints made the previous year. To date, the CFPB has received a total of 310,000 of these complaints overall.

While this news may seem 100% negative, some professionals see it as a light to lead their way. CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement through CFPB commented on the benefits on consumer complaints.

“Consumer complaints have become central to the work of this agency. They enable us to listen to, and amplify, the concerns of any American who wants to be heard. They are also our compass. They make a difference by informing our work and helping us identify and prioritize problems for potential action.”

In 2013, the top 3 complaints made were about:

1. Mortgages

These products accounted for 37% of overall complaints made in 2013. The 60,000 consumers were above all concerned with the inability to pay when it came to loan modifications, collections and foreclosures.

2. Debt Collection

It is noteworthy to point out that as the second most made complaint that made up 19% (31,000) of all complaints last year, the Bureau did not start accepting debt collection complaints until July 2013. When it came to this category, consumers didn’t like when debt collectors unfairly tried to collect debt that was not owed, did not communicate efficiently or threatened the consumer.

3. Credit Reporting

Making up 15% (24,000) of all complaints made last year, nearly 3 out of 4 of these consumers were concerned with errors made on their credit reports.

The consumer report can be found at this link.

Low Cost Energy Efficient Program Spreading Nationwide

( – The Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL) that has worked with over 200  residential and commercial clients nationwide since 2008 has made it clear  that homeowners in several states now have the benefit of an innovative public-private partnership that is making low cost home energy loans more practical. What this means is that lenders from both the public and private sectors have joined a platform that is making it simpler for homeowners to get efficient home energy improvements through special loans. Continue reading

CFPB Releases Report on BofA’s Compensation for Consumers Affected by Their Illegal Credit Card Tactics

(Source: CFPB) – Today we’re fining Bank of America, N.A. and FIA Card Services, N.A. for unfairly billing consumers for services relating to identity theft protection “add-on” products and for using deceptive marketing and sales practices for credit protection “add-on” products. Continue reading

Freddie Mac Enabling Servicers to Come to the Aid of Washington Mortgage Borrowers Affected by Recent Disasters

(Source: Freddie Mac) – Freddie Mac which is one of the nation’s largest mortgage investors today announced that they are releasing a variety of mortgage relief policies that will overall help borrowers who were recently affected by natural disasters in the state of Washington. Homeowners whose homes were damaged or destroyed by recent flooding throughout Snohomish County are just one example of victims who are receiving relief through Freddie Mac’s programs. Renters, business owners and other victims are being encouraged to contact disaster assistance agencies. Continue reading

NAHB Invites Multifamily Owners and Developers to Enter Best Apartment/Condo Contest

(Source: NAHB) – The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) opened its call for entries for the 2014 NAHB Pillars of the Industry Awards competition. Multifamily owners and developers, property managers, architects, interior designers and multifamily industry professionals are invited to enter the competition. Continue reading

New Book Released by the Appraisal Institute to Help Expand Energy Efficient Homes

(Source: Appraisal Institute) – Appraisers need to get up to speed on the latest energy efficient home features and should learn to determine how green a property is, according to a new book by the nation’s largest professional association of real estate appraisers. Continue reading

Wells Fargo and Fortis Remain Accused in $1.5 Billion Subprime Mortgage-Backed Securities Fraud Case

(Source: Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi & Mensing P.C., or AZA) – A lawsuit filed by European bank LBBW Luxemburg S.A. over an alleged $1.5 billion subprime mortgage-backed securities fraud scheme cleared a significant hurdle last week when a federal judge denied the defendants’ extensive motions to dismiss. Continue reading