Fannie Mae looking at Plano's Granite Park project for major office move

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Saturday, 23 January 2016
Written by Super User
  • Towers in the works at Plano's Legacy campus could lure Fannie Mae office
  • Chase eyes tollway corner for new office campus in Planos Legacy West development

After looking at multiple locations along the Dallas North Tollway, mortgage giant Fannie Mae has zeroed in on a West Plano project for its new regional headquarters.

But the move from Far North Dallas and Farmers Branch won't happen for a couple of years.

Fannie Mae has an agreement with Granite Properties to locate in a new tower in its Granite Park development at the tollway and State Highway 12.

The mortgage firm has been scouting the market for up to 300,000 square feet of office space

"We are going to be reducing our overall footprint in the Dallas area," said Fannie Mae spokesman Andrew Wilson. "We currently have about 450,000 square feet.

"It's a significant reduction in our footprint which will result in a significant reduction in our cost that's an important thing for us."

Wilson said the federally chartered mortgage company also wants to get all of its folks in one location.

"By consolidating our teams in Dallas in one location it will allow those teams to work more efficiently."

The mortgage company now has more than 1,000 people working in three buildings along the Dallas North Tollway in Far North Dallas and Farmers Branch. The current offices locations include the Galleria Dallas towers and the JP Morgan International Plaza in Farmers Branch.

The Dallas operation is second in size only to Fannie Mae's Washington, DC headquarters.

"Dallas is a pretty significant hub of mortgage expertise," Wilson said. "Our teams there are responsible for our work with mortgage servicers, with our work to prevent foreclosure for borrowers that our struggling and our work to manage properties with a foreclosure cannot be prevented."

Wilson would not disclose how many Fannie Mae workers will be relocating to Plano.

"We don't make any comments about how many employees we have in a different place," he said.

The shift in the North Texas operations won't be completed for a couple of years.

"We are tentively looking at early 2018 to begin the move," Wilson said

Fannie Mae looked at locations in the new Legacy West development and at a building proposed near the Shops at Legacy for potential locations.

Granite Park is a 5-building office complex that includes retail space and a new Hilton Hotel.

The new Granite Park V building in the project contains more than 300,000 square feet.

Granite Properties officials will not confirm or deny that Fannie Mae is looking at their project.

Fannie Mae's move to Granite Park is another major office win for Plano.

Toyota, Liberty Mutual Insurance and FedEx Office have all picked Plano locations near the intersection of the tollway and SH 121 for new offices.

And financial services giant JP Morgan Chase is considering a site at the southwest corner of the tollway and 121 for a new campus that would have close to 1 million square feet of offices.

Banks steal $16 million from homeowners: IDC unveils “The Next Great American ...

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Saturday, 16 January 2016
Written by Super User

Report details extensive costs of abandoned, decaying bank-owned properties dragging down neighborhoods with $2M stolen directly from New York City taxpayers

NEW YORK, NY - January 5, 2015 - (RealEstateRama) -- Senators Jeff Klein (D-Bronx Westchester) and Diane Savino (D-SI/Brooklyn), stood with victims and housing advocates today to unveil "The Great American Bank Robbery," a distressing report detailing the multi-million dollar price tag abandoned and vacant properties cost communities throughout New York City. Joined by foreclosure and legal advocates, they called for a two-step legislative plan to hold banks accountable while ensuring that decaying properties are maintained.

The investigative report revealed neighborhoods where cars with missing plates rot in driveways, doors lay broken in front yards and garbage is strewn throughout decrepit unlocked houses. These vacant properties abandoned by banks stain entire communities, with $14.2 million lost in home value depreciation. Major banks skipped paying thousands of violations issued to these properties by Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Environmental Control Board (ECB), costing New York City taxpayers $2 million in unpaid fines.
Although current law requires banks to maintain foreclosed properties that they currently own, as of 2015, 200 bank-owned properties remained in the outer boroughs, with the majority failing to comply with New York State law. The report found that these abandoned properties had accumulated over $2 million in nearly 1,800 unpaid violations, while they cost another $14.4 million in depreciating home values. Queens County residents suffered the most, accounting for $7.4 million dollars in house price value depreciation.

"While foreclosure was the first great American bank robbery, the decrepit unmaintained properties that have resulted in its wake have become the next great American bank robbery, stealing money from taxpayers and value from homeowners. This report clearly illustrates the importance of passing my bank-owned property and zombie property bills we must increase transparency so that banks are held accountable, and ensure that vacant properties are maintained from the moment we know they are abandoned. There has been enough damage done to our state and to our communities, and I am committed to working to make sure New Yorkers are no longer robbed of their property values and their quality-of-life," said Senator Klein.

"Brooklyn and Staten Island were hit hard by the first foreclosure wave, and now struggle to recover while big banks drag down communities through their negligence. It is simply unacceptable for the banks to leave homes in these fetid conditions. As Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, I will ensure that we fully examine this issue and the detrimental effects it has on our working- and middle-class homeowners. I am proud to stand here with Senator Klein and call for the passage of these critical pieces of legislation that would hold banks accountable, increase transparency, and ensure that we are addressing abandoned properties before they cost our communities," said Senator Savino.

The worst bank offender was Deutsche Bank, with nearly $400,000 in unpaid violations, with US Bank following close behind. Midfirst Bank rounded out the top three with over $200,000 in penalties owed to New York City.

Many banks left homes with open violations. The worst offender is Wells Fargo with a total 367 open HPD and DOB/ECB violations.

The investigation additionally found that the cost of these decaying houses disproportionately affects minority communities and communities with high poverty rates. Eighty-one percent of bank-owned properties with open HPD, DOB, and/or ECB violations are located in Hispanic and black communities. Thanks to these decrepit houses, the report estimated that 2,500 private homeowners have experienced a decrease in quality of life. Of the 2,500 private homeowners, 2,000 are located in communities of color and 950 in areas with high poverty rates.

Studies show that when a home is left in disrepair it impacts surrounding property value within a 300-foot radius by 1.3 percent. As a result of the banks' neglectful behavior, on average New York City homeowners lost $5,000 each. In total the IDC analysis found that homeowners in the City lost a total $14.4 million in home value.

Senators Klein and Savino proposed a two-step legislative package. The bank-owned property bill would increase transparency by creating a registry of vacant and abandoned properties in the state for the disposal of municipalities and the Office of the Attorney General, and grant the Attorney General the right to impose fines and initiate legal proceedings against financial institutions violating of the law. The zombie property legislation would require mortgagees and their loan servicing agents to maintain vacant properties from the point they are discovered to be abandoned, create a statewide registry of vacant and abandoned properties, and require the attorney general to set up a toll-free hotline for neighbors and community residents to report properties that they believe to be vacant and abandoned, report problems, as well as to find out information regarding the foreclosure status of these properties.

"I commend Senator Klein for his leadership on pressing banks and other lending institutions to maintain distressed vacant and abandoned properties, which impose a tremendous burden on neighborhoods all across New York State. My office will continue to work with Senator Klein, the legislature, and the administration to pass comprehensive legislation to address this issue. My office is prepared to utilize all available enforcement tools to force banks and lenders into compliance and to rebuild and revitalize New York communities," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

"Vacant and abandoned homes are a plague on neighborhoods across New York State. For families in the most impacted neighborhoods, zombie properties are a daily reminder of the significant and lingering effects of the foreclosure crisis. We applaud Senator Klein for his leadership on this critical issue and we urge the State Legislature to pass zombie property legislation that will help communities mitigate the impact of these abandoned properties," said Christie Peale, Executive Director of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods.

"We applaud Senator Klein for his persistence in addressing the profound impact that vacant and abandoned homes continue to have on the quality of life in our neighborhoods, especially communities of color and those with high levels of poverty.

The lack of effective property maintenance rules is not just dragging down property values - it is putting vulnerable New Yorkers at greater risk of crime and unsafe living conditions and severely impacting the economic and social vitality of our communities," said Beth Goodman, President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG).

"Despite reports about rebounding real estate markets, New York continues to work through the worst foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, with foreclosure cases representing roughly 30% of the New York Supreme Court's civil caseload in 2015. New York's struggling homeowners navigating the judicial foreclosure process are still fighting to obtain affordable loan modifications with mortgage servicers who all-too-often fail to comply with New York's foreclosure settlement conference law requirements, and they are often harmed when foreclosing lenders drag out the loan modification process or fail to timely pursue their foreclosure cases, allowing interest and fees to mount with every passing month," said Jacob Inwald, Director of Foreclosure Prevention at Legal Services NYC.

"Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A has worked with homeowners in Brooklyn and Queens to prevent foreclosure and preserve homeownership. Preventing the spread of vacant and neglected properties supports the prosperous development of neighborhoods and communities in New York. By promoting bank accountability for these properties, this legislation promotes healthier communities and would hopefully incentivize banks to find more ways to help struggling homeowners keep their homes," said Andrew Malozemoff, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation.

"Communities are preserved and thrive when homeowners, building owners and tenants coordinate their activities. The foreclosure crisis has made it very evident that failing homeownership can threaten a neighborhood as do distressed multiple dwellings.

I want to thank Senators Parker and Klein for ensuring that agencies like Housing and Family Services of the Greater New York can continue doing the work we do everyday helping people stay in their homes. We are particularly proud of our efforts on behalf of senior and disabled tenants having established a campaign to make sure that they were aware of the increase in the wage limit for the Senior and Disabled Citizen Rent Increase Exemption. Over the past year more than 1,000 senior and disabled residents have been assisted in obtaining this benefit that gives them the ability to continue to afford their housing," said Larry Jayson, Executive Director of Housing and Family Services of Greater New York.

"Neighborhood home values have depreciated greatly in our neighborhood. These properties not only bring crime into the area, but also rats, mosquitoes, people dumping garbage, and worse. Weve seen fires before, and were at risk of having entire blocks burned to the ground, because of a lack of interest in these bank-owned homes. Lets not have the Bronx burned down again lets stop this cycle of abandonment," said Elbin Mena, President of the Harding Park Homeowners Association.

Butler County may get more money to fight blight

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Friday, 15 January 2016
Written by Super User

A new infusion of federal funding could mean more eyesores will be erased countywide through the Butler County land bank.

The county land bank has already spent almost $7 million in federal, state and local funding to demolish about 600 unsightly structures in Middletown and Hamilton -- the county's two biggest cities. US Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has ensured more federal Hardest Hit Funds -- $2 billion worth for the entire country -- will come home to Ohio.

As part of the year-end omnibus spending bill, Congress directed the US Treasury Department to transfer $2 billion from the Making Home Affordable program to the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which has been used by land banks like the one in Butler County, to bust blight.

"This is a major win for Ohio communities and homeowners that are still recovering from the housing crisis," said Brown, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. "It's critical that we continue to preserve and strengthen a fund that has provided over half a billion dollars to address the housing crisis in Ohio and to redevelop blighted neighborhoods by demolishing vacant properties."

With $2.7 million it received in Moving Ohio Forward grants from the state, Butler County formed a land bank four years ago to deal with blighted buildings. The cities of Hamilton and Middletown each gave $1.1 million to the land bank fund as well. The two cities are currently working through $2 million in HHF money, removing as many as 120 eyesores.

Butler County commissioners agreed to siphon one percent of delinquent tax and assessment collection funds (DTAC) to bolster the land bank and open up services for the entire county. DTAC funds are late payment penalties on real estate taxes.

Including Hamilton and Middletown, there are now eight member communities in the land bank. Fairfield, Hanover, Liberty, Ross and Wayne townships and the city of Trenton have all joined the land bank. Oxford and Madison townships are expected to have their memorandum of understanding approved at the land bank meeting Monday.

Carlie Boos, compliance manager with the Neighborhood Initiative at the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, the entity that administers the HHF, said the treasury department is in charge of deciding distribution details. A spokeswoman for the Treasury said since the bill just passed they haven't worked out the particulars yet.

There are no matching fund requirements for HHF and any allotment the county will receive can be doled out county-wide, but she said the goal of the program could mean only Hamilton and Middletown would receive funding, unless the county amends the target areas they established for the HHF. Boos said it will be up to the land bank board to decide.

"The primary goal is to prevent foreclosure," she said. "DTAC is an absolute, great resource for a lot of counties. especially Butler, to do those more spot clean-ups. This particular program we want to see it very strategically implemented with that goal in mind."

Jim Rokakis, vice president of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and director of the Thriving Communities Institute, who was instrumental in getting Ohio's land banks established and funding flowing, said studies show if you beat back blight it staves off foreclosures.

If people are "underwater" on their mortgage already and they see ratty, vacant houses dotting their neighborhoods, he said they are more likely to ditch their own domain, than try to save it.

"The study proved where there was demolition activity, where you were taking the blighting influences out of the neighborhood, people were more likely to keep paying their mortgages and less likely to walk away," he said.

Rokakis said initially they identified about 100,000 blighted properties throughout the state and they have only downed about 22,000 so far, so additional funding was obviously needed. Kathy Dudley, who handles the land bank for Hamilton, said "oh yes" when asked if Hamilton has more blight to tackle.

She said much -- 33 and counting -- of the leveled land has or will be turned over to neighbors as side lots, Habitat for Humanity built a house on two lots, a house in the middle of the business district on Main Street will be turned into a parking lot and several parcels were retained by the city for future projects like South Hamilton Crossing.

Middletown did not take ownership of the properties they razed under the state grant so none of them have been re-purposed. Under the HHF program they are required to take over the properties, but City Manager Doug Adkins said they are too early in the demolition process to have outlined plans for future use. He agreed the new money will be used.

"The first round of Hardest Hit funds were directed at 'tipping point" neighborhoods. Between the first round of Hardest Hit funds and the Ohio Attorney General's Moving Ohio Forward demolition program, Middletown is close to having most blight removed from those tipping point neighborhoods," he replied in an email. "One of the changes we hope to see in the execution of the additional new funds is the ability to expand the use of those funds into more neighborhoods, specifically for Middletown, the most distressed neighborhoods, where some blight still remains."

Condo assessment lien trumps first mortgage (again)

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Friday, 25 December 2015
Written by Super User

Rhode Island condo lenders got coal in their Christmas stockings when the RI Supreme Court held that foreclosure of an assessment lien extinguishes a first mortgage. Twenty Eleven LLC v. Michael Botelho [RI, 12/5/2015), 2015 WL 7873599.] Rhode Island is the fourth jurisdiction (in addition to Arkansas, the District of Columbia and Nevada) to hold that foreclosure of a common interest community's assessment lien trumps a first mortgage. Rhode Island adopted the "split lien" theory, declaring unpaid assessments up to the super-priority amount prior to a first mortgage, and remaining amounts subordinate to the mortgage. A trend toward assessment lien superiority over first mortgages has been gaining steam since 2014.

Michael Botelho bought a Warwick RI condo with a $114,000 mortgage; when his dues became delinquent, the condo association foreclosed its lien for unpaid dues. Twenty Eleven bought Botelho's unit at the foreclosure sale and sought to quiet title to the unit and prevent foreclosure of the first mortgage. The Supreme Court considered whether the lien foreclosure extinguished a prior recorded mortgage whose holder failed to redeem its interest following the sale.

Rhode Island is among the states with "superlien" statutes which grant super-priority to an association's lien for unpaid dues (usually expressed as a number of months' of dues). The super-priority is six months' dues in Rhode Island, plus foreclosure costs and attorneys' fees, capped at $7,500. The statute doesn't specify what happens if foreclosure proceeds are insufficient to pay the mortgage, but general principles of foreclosure law extinguish lower priority liens when superior liens are foreclosed if proceeds are insufficient to pay both.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court noted the unconventionality of the split-lien concept, but rattled off three safeguards: First, as a practical matter, lenders can pay the delinquent assessments and avoid loss of their mortgage security. Second, lenders can escrow assessments. The third safeguard was the clincher here: a first mortgagee can redeem the association's super-priority lien after foreclosure by paying the past-due amounts plus attorneys' fees and costs.

The mortgagee did none of these. The Supreme Court said the loss of its mortgage was the lender's own fault.

(Editors Note: The new ruling is not yet included in this document on Westlaw.)