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EDITORIAL NOTE: Everyone seems to want to see real estate moving. Buying and selling of real estate gives a warm and fuzzy feeling to those involved in the marketplace. Buyers are sweeping up bargains, much like we saw in the late 1970’s. But what are they buying? And who is selling?

I’ll concede that ti would be a good thing to get commerce re-started — but not at the expense of creating a further nightmare down the road, which is what we are doing. Start with mortgages and notes that were defective and uncured, then move on to foreclosure proceedings that were fraudulent based upon fabricated, forged, unauthorized robo-signed documents, and then move to credit bids submitted to buy the property (where the bidder was not a creditor), and then finally a deed issued to an investor or regular buyer who has plenty of notice about the dubious title to the property, and for a little spice add title insurance policies that are defective and probably will be rescinded because of fraud, and you get people parting with money for a piece of paper that is as worthless as the original “securitized mortgages” and as empty as the “mortgage bonds” based upon invalid, unauthroized “pools of assets.”

There is at least the high probability that quiet title actions and fraudulent foreclosure actions, together with slander of title, identity theft, forgery and other actions will continue to climb in volume. Eventually the quiet title actions will become more commonplace than foreclosures because even the banks are going to be required to use them to clear title. In short, the PONZI scheme is continuing and the new ” buyers” are the ones at the bottom of the food chain, likely to lose a ton of money much like the homeowners and investors that  got duped into the original securitization scheme.

As a postscript, think about this: housing prices are continuing to  go down. Why? Well, there a lot of reasons, but they all boil down to this: title. There are a lot of people are offering the justification for this mess continuing by saying there must be certainty in the marketplace. That’s right. Nobody is going to trade or buy anything if they might lose it because the seller didn’t own it. The long and short of it is that until we give up the myth that this can be fixed any way other than application of black letter property law, there won’t be any certainty. The people who are espousing certainty mean that they they certainly want to steal title from homeowners even if the benefit is conferred on someone who never lent a dime on the transaction, never bought the receivable and is not not secured by an interest in the real property.

Politically, because of a lack of information, the majority of people think that the homeowners should not get a “free house.” What they don’t realize is that the banks who received the bailout money worth trillions of dollars (enough to cover the losses of investors) will therefore get a “free house.” Does anyone really think that is a better idea?

A Niche in the Wreckage of Florida Real Estate


NORTH PORT, Fla. — One recent morning, Shannon Moore raced through a musty pink house — three bedrooms, two baths — that was advertised as having “good bones” and “primed for renovation.” As in many recently foreclosed homes in Florida, the appliances and air-conditioner were missing from this one, either taken by the previous residents or stolen.

”It’s not as bad as I thought,” Ms. Moore said. “You could probably get this place fixed up for $8,000. You could get a refrigerator on Craigslist for $200.”

“$70,000?” she asks aloud, referring to the list price. “What the heck?” Ms. Moore, a real estate broker, has found a profitable niche in the wreckage of Florida’s real estate market, where a glut of vacant homes continues to depress prices. She scouts out deals for several groups of investors, including one that counts a professional poker player as a member and a group of Macedonians from Toronto.

Just a few years back, real estate investors were considered pariahs for fomenting a buying frenzy that drove home prices to stratospheric levels. This time around, housing experts say investors are desperately needed because there are so many vacant homes and homebuyers are having such trouble obtaining credit.

“If Florida is going to have a comeback anytime soon, investors are going to have to play a role,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “There are just too many properties for traditional home buyers to absorb.”

Of course, speculators have been picking through the rubble of America’s real estate collapse for several years now, and the housing industry remains deeply troubled across the country, suggesting that it would be far worse were it not for investors. Data released by the National Association of Realtors recently shows that investors represented 17 percent of all home sales in 2010 nationwide, the same as the previous year. But in recent months, investment activity has picked up, according to Walter Molony, an association spokesman, who attributed the increase to relatively cheap prices and the lack of available credit for homebuyers.

There is no shortage of deals in Florida. The Census Bureau recently reported that 17 percent of the homes in Florida were vacant. Even though the figure includes vacation homes that were unoccupied at the time of the survey, the underlying rate within the state reflects a sustained downturn.

The median house price in Florida, meanwhile, had dropped to $121,900 in February, from $257,800 in June 2006, a decline of 53 percent, according to Metrostudy, a housing research firm. Indeed, some houses and condominiums in Florida are selling for roughly the price of a practical family sedan, new or used.

For instance, a two-bedroom house in Port Charlotte, just south of North Port on the gulf coast of the state, recently sold for $8,000, and listings for $25,000 homes are not uncommon. Many experts expect prices to drop even further.

”Nationally we are expecting prices to stabilize by the end of this year,” said Celia Chen, senior director at Moody’s Analytics. “We don’t expect it to stabilize in Florida until sometime in 2012, and that’s a direct overhang of the excess inventory.”

Despite the risks, several investors expressed optimism about their chances of making money, if not a killing.

“A wise man told me that the best time to enter a business is during a recession,” said Peter Ide, a British builder who was transferred by his company to Florida to buy up homes, fix them up and resell them. “The potential here is phenomenal.”

Steve Barnhardt, a friend of Ms. Moore’s, said he began buying up houses to stay afloat until the market revived. On this morning, he was installing inexpensive carpet in a three-bedroom house that he purchased for $76,000 and had just sold for $103,000; he estimates his profit was $9,000 after paying $5,000 in back taxes and closing costs. (He says he could have made more if not for “low-life” neighbors.)

“The things I used to do are no longer out there,” said Mr. Barnhardt, who had previously made a comfortable living investing in commercial real estate and operating heavy equipment. “Right now, this is what is paying my property taxes and keeping me alive.”

Not everyone views real estate investors as that benign, or savvy. April Charney, a public aid lawyer who lives in nearby Venice, questioned why investors would fix up houses with so few eligible buyers. Besides, she said the new owners were likely to end up with a vacant home next door with squatters, mold or filthy pools.

“They are dreaming,” she said. “That’s just a pipe dream in North Port.”

As for investors, there is the occasional reminder that they are benefitting from the misfortunes of others. A few weeks ago, a painter found a letter addressed to “the next occupant of this fine home” in one of the houses Ms. Moore’s investors had purchased.

“This house was my dream but like life sometimes dreams don’t work out,” the letter read. “Now I’m just surrounded with boxes of memories and dashed intentions of what may have been. So do me a favor. Make your own good memories here.”

About 35 miles southeast of Sarasota, North Port was carved out of shrub land in the 1950s by the General Development Corporation, which sold the plots to buyers up north. It remained a relatively quiet community until the last decade, when developers erected one subdivision after the next.

North Port’s population doubled in less than four years, city officials say. There are now about 55,000 residents.

In those high-flying days of Florida real estate, Ms. Moore said she would buy up vacant shrub land and sell seven or eight lots on a good day, for $50,000 apiece, making as much as 40 percent in profits.

Those days are long gone, and North Port has fallen hard. Ms. Moore, a Florida native, is stuck with four plots that cost her $38,000 each (each is worth $5,000 or less) and a duplex she bought for $140,000 (it’s now worth $30,000, she says).

She is also $100,000 under water on her house and living on a street, Mistleto Lane, in which a third of the houses are vacant, including one just across the street.

Nonetheless, Ms. Moore reinvented herself as an intelligence agent of sorts, alerting her clients, for instance, to details like whether a house has undesirable neighbors, Chinese drywall or an unsavory past. (She steered her clients away from a three-bedroom house that appeared to be a steal, but was tied to a grisly rape and murder.)

One investor, a Florida businessman, exclusively buys duplexes. Ms. Moore’s Macedonian clients want three-bedroom, two-bathroom houses that cost about $100,000, which they buy and rent. Mr. Ide’s group, which includes a retired Maryland developer and the poker player, buys homes at foreclosure auctions, fixes them up and resells them.

Since investors can’t inspect the inside of a foreclosed house before auction, Mr. Ide’s group is particularly reliant on Ms. Moore’s local knowledge. If she isn’t familiar with a house, she drives by and often brings along two of her three daughters, who are home-schooled. (Her 13-year-old, Willow, has made as much as $400 a week on Craigslist, selling belongings left behind in vacant homes.)

During a recent auction, Ms. Moore sat in front of a computer screen in her office, with Mr. Ide’s partner, Jon Breen, the retired developer, on the speaker phone. Thirteen properties were being auctioned by the county this morning, though Mr. Breen focused his attention on a half dozen or so.

Ms. Moore pulled up comparable sales and back taxes, while Mr. Breen calculated his costs aloud.

“Barcelona has $8,367 in back taxes,” she says, referring to a house on Barcelona Avenue in Sarasota. “Remember the house next door had an odd color.”

“I think it’s a junky piece of property,” Mr. Breen said, before bidding $59,000.

Later, when the house sells for $64,001, she says, “Who is the dummy today? They are paying way too much.”

Mr. Breen ended up buying two houses in North Port, one for $111,001 and another for $77,002.

Later that day, when Ms. Moore met the investors to change the locks and inspect the houses, they were pleasantly surprised. Both houses were in relatively good condition and would require only some paint and minor repairs.

“This is about as good as it gets,” Mr. Ide said, as he inspected the $111,001 house, a four-bedroom where some water damage around the Jacuzzi was the only apparent problem. But it did get better.

A week later, after $4,500 was spent on new appliances and repairs, an offer was made on the house for $152,000.

Ms. Moore, meanwhile, has plowed her earnings into her own deals, recently purchasing a second duplex for $30,000 in cash. “I’m getting $650 a side in rent, a lot better than the stock market,” she said. “My plan is to buy up as much multifamily as I can while the market is down.”

15 Responses

  1. Can somebody tell me how I can contact Shannon Moore or Peter Ide?

    I’m contemplating of bidding at a foreclosure auction.

    If I pay a title search company to search for liens and senior mortgages (before I bid at the auction) do they find every one of these? If the search company misses any of these liens or senior mortgages, the buyer can be on the hook for these. How often do the search companies miss these things?

    What is the range and average amount that the buyer would have to spend to rehab the home after buying it from a foreclosure auction?

    If the homeowner is still living there, what is the process to evict him/her and how much and how long does this take?

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  4. Great Abby!!

    And, problem with documents and depos is that witnesses will always refer to (possible) ORIGINAL Creditor — not CURRENT Creditor — all in violation of law.

  5. dear Mary,

    In many cases, you will not get what you want with the first judge you get. And even on the appeal level. Most of us need to be ready for a long battle that may take our cases to the state supreme courts.

    In Virginia it has take over two years of work by a few lawyers to push some of tha cases further, in fact there are at this time about five or six cases that will be presented to the State Supre Court.

    Last week I talked to one of the Borrowers lawyers and things apparently at this level look good. That is why the Bankers (Thieves), are aggressively paying off the state legislatures to water down the real estate laws, the land records laws, all the stuff they need to continue stealing from all of us.

    Why is it that many people are ashamed by being in fiancial truoble?. We should not be, in fact when over three million Americans file for BK every year, Over 18,000,000 families will lose thier homes in this decade, over 44 million american are on food stamps. This is not business as usual, this is a nightmare.

    We contribute with that nightmare by the choice we make. Are we still banking with the thieves? have you moved to checking and savings accounts (If you still have anything left) to your local bank?

    have you called you AG lately?

    Have you called your Legislator?

    have you paid a visit to your county land records office at the court house and expose the fraud of which they are a part of?
    Have you written to your local judges ?
    have you send them news clippings of what is going on?

    have you checked the lawyers winning records?

    Have you done any thing other than calling your servicer and beg for mercy?

    Have we made enough pressure?

    I do not think so.

  6. Christine Odom of CitiMortgage–her depo-Florida

  7. What about Fannie or Freddie?

  8. mary,

    Judges like this all over the place. That is why NJ first took up the Order to Show Cause. Even though NJ settlement has been greatly watered down, indorsements must follow chain of PSA, if not, then loan not sold to trust — which they were not. If they want to use PSA/trust — have to tear it apart. NJ has also emphasized POA – which is also likely invalid, and any affidavit must be with personal knowledge. Although settlement has been watered down, NJ Court documents are good source to follow – to demonstrate that docs are not valid. This is not an individual state issue — applies to all loans in all states — that is, the validity of PSA/Trust/POA/assignments/indorsements/affidavits etc. apply.

    Judges know the law is not being followed. And, some, are being reversed at Appellate level. Judges do not like being reversed. The mortgage follows the note, and holder argument are getting old.

    Also — 15D is meaningless — all file this — because it just means there are less than 300 “investors” – and, therefore no longer have to report to SEC. .

  9. I have a judge here who says they don’t need the assignment. The mortgage follows the note.

    He seems to think that since they have the note, which has been objected to, as to it’s authenticity, (and the endorsement for the bankrupt/shut down lender) which shows only one endorsement that went straight from this bankrupt lender by way of mers to this alleged trust. This all takes place almost two years after the trust is closed and this trust filed 15 d sec and has reported any longer after January 08. There has been no proof submitted of sale/transfer. Nothing.

    How do I get through to this judge. I filed my a** off and have attached the “Rondolino order for him to work off of.

    How or what more can I do to get this judge to side with me and or listen, should I see hear…

  10. mary,

    All the assignments are bogus — as so is MERS. Problem is — not shouting loud enough.

  11. neidermeyer

    Agree about the Flippers — and, FHA loans for 3% down — sounds like subprime to me.

    As to Quiet Title — NEED MORE THAN THAT — being tossed out — if you have not paid in full.
    Only way around this – is to go back and see if your prior mortgage (if you refinanced) was paid – maybe Quiet Title on that.

    Need more – and if 50 AG state settlement is weak — we are in more trouble. .

  12. Flippers signs are everywhere in Orlando offering houses for about 50% of “appraised” value,, or about 25% of the 2006 selling prices… This’ll probably end with a “whimper” not a bang.. That ACLU suit on Matts site looks GOOD… Get your quiet title suit ready NOW… You know whatever “solution” the government comes up with will be time limited for us in some way…


    If the alleged lender names Mers as mortgagee/nominee in the mortgage, and mortgage is filed in county records.

    Now comes Plaintiff trust whom was allegedly assigned the mortgage two years after trust closing date, It is assigned by MERS/Loan Servicer directly to the National Association as trustee under this PSA.

    Funny thing the alleged lender went bankrupt and this alleged assignment has no documented proof of authority, from anyone, authorizes herself within the assignment to make such assignment. Only one alleged endorsement on the alleged note (bearer) lacking multiple endorsements, even though it was allegedly securitized. This trust had filed 15(d) in 2008 and has not reported since then.

    So, Question: Isn’t the Mers alleged agency severed since the lender whom granted mers is shut down and under bankruptcy protection???

    I believe this is a fabricated assignment to trick the court in believing their claims.

    This is Florida

  14. I drove through Northport and Venice last week and I don’t feel sorry for these folks. Caveat emptor!

  15. In a way, this is overwhelmingly depressing to those “po folk” who house was taken away and sits empty until the bank unloads it to a cash buyer. If it is in a good area. non resident investors might rent out someone’s previous ‘American Dream.’ If anyone has rented a house as opposed to owning it, their are huge differences, many of them psychological.
    It’s a game of keep-away, the Banksters decide who should own housing.

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