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One of our local writers for The
Californian just did an excellent
expose on some of the mortgage fraud that’s run
rampant through our region for the past few years. Zach Fox and Chris
Bagley at The Californian
and Leslie Berkman at The Press Enterprise
have done an exceptional job over the past couple years shining the
light on these miscreants and helping educate the public about some of
the scams that have invaded our communities.
In his latest piece, which is a very
long read but very worthwhile, Zach talks about another affinity fraud
linked to a handful of North San Diego County Brokers. While these 21
Brokers and agents make up only 2% of the volume sold during the past
couple years, their combined number of foreclosures make up 11% of the
total volume foe the region. Some of these agents have racked up
foreclosure percentages of 45% to 60% and higher at a time when most
brokers are averaging 2%.
tiny number of real estate brokers is associated with an inordinately
large number of foreclosures in North County, raising questions about
how just a few salesmen could play a role in sending hundreds of
families into foreclosure and causing millions of dollars in losses for
North County Times investigation into thousands of foreclosure records,
along with interviews with buyers, reveals a pattern that suggests some
real estate agents specialized in clients ---- chiefly Latinos ---- who
couldn't afford to buy homes, and helped them buy as many as possible.
are doing something that is severely inappropriate in order to have
this high a number of foreclosures," said Tim Sandos, president of the
National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. "It just
doesn't pass the smell test."
real estate agents who used to work with at least two of the 21
high-foreclosure-rate offices said the salesmen would target low-income
Latinos, posting fliers advocating homeownership in certain apartment
Then, at seminars, the agents would propose that buying multiple homes
was the key to becoming rich.
The sales records
of Romero, the Lopez brothers, Ramos and Castro ---- the four salesmen
with ultrahigh foreclosure rates ---- had several similarities:
-- Essentially all the borrowers, 99 percent, had Latino surnames.
-- The majority of mortgages issued on the sales, 93 percent, carried
no down payment.
-- The list of lenders on those mortgages reads like a graveyard of
failed institutions, many of them exclusively subprime lenders:
Washington Mutual, Argent Mortgage, Accredited Home Lenders and
Some, though not all, of the real estate agents sold multiple houses to
the same person, with all of the purchases going to foreclosure in some
Still, it is unclear how much involvement the real estate agents had in
the loan origination process, where any misrepresentation of income
---- and therein, any fraud ---- would occur.
perpetrators in the article are generally referred to as agents (as
opposed to Realtors – you don’t have to be a
Realtor to be licensed in California), it does cast a pall over the
reputations of lenders and agents alike. And since most of the public
does not differentiate between an agent practitioner and a Realtor, the
negative impact on our industry and our reputation cannot be
underestimated. Perhaps one of the most telling and saddest comments in
the article comes from another agent in the area who said:
It is illegal to
encourage homeowners to lie about their incomes. And it is the job of
lenders to establish whether a buyer is likely to repay the mortgage.
Yet, the state Department of Real Estate's code of conduct says brokers
are "fiduciaries of their clients," a relationship generally understood
to mean that brokers must act in the best financial interests of their
The obligation has been widely ignored for years, said Jim Klinge, a
real estate agent in Carlsbad.
"It's mandated," he said, "but it's a fleeting thought."
duty to our clients has become a ‘fleeting
thought’. Damn. that’s a depressing commentary on
the times, ain’t it? I can only hope most of us
don’t harbor that sentiment and that those who do are booted
unceremoniously from our ranks.
We’re part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.