REO Fraudster Goes to Jail

These are the crimes and attitude required to actually go to jail for real estate fraud:

A former Fannie Mae employee will spend more than the next six years in prison after being found guilty of accepting more than a million dollars in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for selling Fannie Mae-owned foreclosures for less than market value.

Back in January 2018, Shirene Hernandez was charged with accepting bribes for steering foreclosures to certain brokers and even allegedly buying some foreclosures herself at below market value.  And nearly a year ago, Hernandez was found guilty of two wire fraud counts that involved the deprivation of honest services as a result of the scheme.

Hernandez formerly worked at Fannie Mae in California as an REO foreclosure specialist and was tasked with the sale of properties foreclosed on by Fannie Mae.

As a sales representative, a position she held from 2010 through 2015, Hernandez would assign Fannie Mae-owned properties to certain real estate brokers and approve sales of the properties based on offers the brokers submitted.

But, court documents showed that Hernandez demanded and received bribes – mostly in the form of cash – in exchange for brokers getting the listings and commissions those brokers earned on real estate sales in question.

Hernandez also approved sales of Fannie Mae REOs at discounted prices to both herself and to brokers who paid her kickbacks.

As part of the scheme, Hernandez also received bribes for approving below-market sale prices of Fannie Mae properties to the brokers, all of which were violations of Fannie Mae rules and federal law.

Hernandez also helped several family members become Fannie Mae-approved brokers, and then steered nearly $80 million in Fannie Mae listings to them, resulting in nearly $2 million in commissions in less than three years.

According to court documents, Hernandez received more than $1 million in benefits from the scheme, including cash kickbacks and equity in a Fannie Mae property she bought using said kickbacks.

And, according to court documents, Hernandez paid for that property using a duffle bag filled with $286,450 in cash, which she gave to her sister-in-law to bring to the closing.

“The crime that [Hernandez] committed was egregious,” the prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memorandum. “Rather than act in the public’s best interests…she used her position to line her own pockets. [She] is unremorseful and unrepentant, and would seemingly do it all again if she could avoid being caught.”

In addition to the 76-month prison sentence, Hernandez was also ordered her to pay $982,516 in restitution to Fannie Mae.

Link to Article

Median SP:LP

The SP:LP ratio has been very consistent for those selling a home under $2,000,000 – you can expect to get pretty close to your asking price.  Above $2,000,000 is a different story.

Mortgage rates had averaged 3.99% in 2017. You can see how the lower-end buyers became less concerned about getting a discount as rates started rising in early 2018 (they reached 4.59% in May, 2018):

This is another place that listing agents manipulate the data. When marking their listings as sold, many will lower the list price to match the sales price in order to make it look like they sell their listings for ask.

New Agent Reality Show

Hat tip to SM for sending this in!

The “hideous” couches have to go.

And that isn’t the only request Beverly Hills-based realtor Aaron Kirman makes to the owner of an oceanfront Dana Point house on CNBC’s new “Listing Impossible,” which premieres at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The eight-episode real estate series produced by Authentic Entertainment, a division of Endemol Shine North America, follows the powerhouse agent and his team as they take on big-ticket homes in Orange and Los Angeles counties that have languished on the market for too long.

“I am up against people that are winning and losing every day, and I felt like the world doesn’t see real estate in an accurate way on TV,” said Kirman, president of Compass’ luxury estates division who in 2019, alone, sold $500 million in real estate. “I wanted to show sellers mistakes not to do, so they could win, whether they live in a multi-million-dollar house or a $60,000 trailer.”

The series, filmed from late 2018 into spring 2019, features the jaw-dropping homes of attorneys, business executives and celebrities who aren’t used to being told what to do.

Kirman knows how to break a hard-to-sell logjam with high-priced staging, landscaping and lowering the asking price. But that hard truth is greeted with stunned looks on the faces of his potential clients.

And, naturally, there’s pushback.

“Aaron, they’re not that bad,” Renetta Caya, owner of the Dana Point property that was listed at $13.9 million for three years without one offer. That was before Kirman and his team entered the picture and told her they didn’t like her couches.

“They’re pretty bad,” Kirman insisted.

The house sold in October 2018 for $8.807 million, property records show.

Link to Article

Inventory Watch

There are 631 houses for sale between La Jolla and Carlsbad today, which has to be an all-time low (in an area of 300,000+ people).  The median list price is $2,550,000, which is probably an all-time high!

The new offerings are barely trickling in too.

Of the 76 new listings this week, 54% were on the market last year.

But we’re due for liftoff!  It was about this time last year that the number of pendings start to increase, and rates are much more favorable in 2020!


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Where to Move

Would more people leave California if they just knew where to go?

Here are my favorite links to get your research started:

Best Places to Retire – 2020:

https://realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-retire

Best Places to Live 2020:

https://realestate.usnews.com/places/rankings/best-places-to-live

Money Magazine, Best Places to Live in the U.S., 2019:

https://money.com/collection/best-places-to-live-2019/

Best 100 Places to Live, 2019:

https://livability.com/best-places/top-100-best-places-to-live/2019

Sunset Magazine, Best Small Towns – 2018:

https://www.sunset.com/travel/travel-tips/best-small-towns-to-live-in

 Charming Small Towns Across America:

http://www.countryliving.com/life/travel/g2294/must-visit-small-towns-across-america/

15 Best Small Towns in California

http://101usa.com/top-15-small-cities-in-california/

Best Towns in California to Raise a Family:

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-for-families-in-california/15993/

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