Mortgage Servicing Fraud
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Stephen

KB Home sued over appraisal methods

Conspiring with Countrywide to inflate sales prices is alleged
By Josh Brodesky
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.08.2009
Home-buyers sued KB Home in Phoenix federal court Thursday, claiming the builder conspired with Countrywide Financial to inflate appraisals for home sales in Arizona and Nevada.
 
The class-action suit focuses on home sales in the two states since 2006, alleging Los Angeles-based KB Home steered home buyers to Countrywide, which then steered them to LandSafe Appraisal Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Countrywide. LandSafe then used appraisers who would "come in at whatever number was necessary to close the deal at the price desired by Countrywide-KB," the lawsuit says.
 
Appraisers would arrive at inflated values by selecting properties that weren't comparable, relying on pending sales instead of completed sales, and using false statements about the housing markets in Arizona and Nevada, the suit alleges. The aim was to increase revenues for KB Home and Countrywide at a time when values were falling.
 
Craig LeMessurier, regional public relations director for KB Home, said the company hadn't seen the lawsuit and declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Bank of America Corp., which now owns Countrywide, didn't return calls.
"The impact of this scheme is staggering," says the suit, which was filed by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. The lawsuit estimates the average appraisal was inflated by $20,000 for the more than 14,000 homes built in Arizona and Nevada.
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By way of disclosure I don't know the Plaintiffs, their lawyers or anyone at KB Homes.  Of course everyone knows the scum sucking firm of Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America.  It is likely the allegations of the complaint given the disgusting history of Countrywide are true and correct.

However, I think it is important to point out that the lawsuit was prodded on by a labor union which has been trying for years to get KB Homes as well as other builders to hire their laborers.

I raise my eyebrow a bit when I read 'the rest of the story'.  At first I was go met 'em when I read the complaint.  After seeing today that the actual Plaintiffs are bankrolled by a labor union, I'll have to lower the eyebrow and watch this a little closer.

Naturally I didn't find this update in the local 2 newspapers.  As usual the rest of the story was to be found in the Phoenix New Times.

Here is the link to the updated article: 

http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2009/05/kb_homes_sued_by_group_affilia.php

KB Homes and Countrywide Financial Sued by Group Affiliated with Construction Workers Union


A group of homeowners affiliated with LIUNA - the Laborers' International Union of North America -- has sued KB Homes and Countrywide Mortage for allegedly conspiring to pad the value of homes to defraud home buyers.

Seven West Valley homeowners who belong to the Alliance for Homebuyer Justice, a LIUNA spinoff, filed a lawsuit in federal court against the housing industry giants just weeks after filing a separate fraud lawsuit against KB Homes.


Although local media coverage doesn't mention the union connection, Dawn Page of LIUNA confirmed that members of the union conducted all of the preliminary research for the lawsuit and recruited the homeowner plaintiffs.

The union-affiliated homeowners group is being represented by the legal firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

LIUNA has been trying for years to get KB Homes to hire subcontractors who are members of the union. The latest lawsuit, despite being related to mortage fraud, should help keep pressure on the homebuilder, Page says.

"It's all connected," she says.

A news release today by LIUNA described details of its latest lawsuit:

The lawsuit and complaints charge that in order to inflate the appraised values, KB and Countrywide KB overlooked homes that were more comparable in size and location in favor of homes of dissimilar sizes that were much farther away, such as in the case of Abraham Nieto.

Among the plaintiffs is Abraham Nieto, who purchased a KB Home in 2006 with a $38,000 down-payment toward a $384,000 sale price. Countrywide KB Home Loans gave him the financing for the rest, including a second mortgage with a 9-percent interest rate. According to the suit, Countrywide KB's appraised the home at $384,000 by comparing it to two more expensive properties that were 5 and 11 miles away, while overlooking similar, closer properties. The value of Nieto's home fell dramatically, dropping from $312,000 to $207,000 in just one year, according to county assessor, making it impossible to refinance.

In July 2008 Nieto's home was foreclosed on. According to Nieto, after he fell behind on payments, Countrywide suggested Nieto sell the house without discussing a possible workout that would allow him to keep the home.

Helping steady the housing market by holding homebuilders accountable ultimately helps the construction workers who make up the union, Page says.

"As the economy stabilizes, there will be more jobs for our members," she says.

The union plans similar actions against Lennar and Pulte Homes in the near future, Page says.

Last month, Builder magazine published an article that says the union's tactics have homebuilders on the defense:

While the group's recent protests against public builders have been relatively small in terms of people involved, they've garnered enough media attention to become a thorn in the housing industry's side. Jacque Petroulakis, a Pulte spokesperson, depicts LIUNA's actions as a "harassment campaign" aimed at unionizing construction labor. "The union doesn't care about the quality of houses or the home buyer; its objective is very transparent," she said in a recent interview with BUILDER.


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I wonder if anyone in this suit ever looked at the relationship of KENNY JASTROW (CEO of Temple Inland) and his over site of KB homes as an investigation is unfolding for the past year or so, and his Directorship on the MGIC Board of Directors, and the connection of the "APPROVED" appraisers by MGIC?  Just another connection of dots.

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I'm willing to put money Guarantee Bank is also in the batch.  As Guarantee Bank is owned by TEMPLE INLAND.

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