By Charlotte Reed, REALTOR, SRES CRS
Windermere SoCal Real Estate La Mesa Branch
July 13, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –This week in the real estate trenches, we bring you some “big picture” news of landmark state legislation and a major federal court case settlement, both of which have major ramifications for our local real estate market, lenders and consumers. We also include some local news highlights of interest to the East County real estate community.
The Big Picture
The California Homeowner Bill of Rights signed into law July 11 is just another of many small steps to find a meaningful solution to the long and painful period of short-sales and foreclosures brought on in large part by the avarice of the banking industry. As usual, our Attorney General Kamala Harris was at the forefront of this newest bit of good news for the Real Estate industry and all those owners who suddenly found themselves, through no fault of their own, with homes that had lost as much as half their original value.
In a related story of alleged unethical practices by the banking institutions, Wells Fargo Bank has settled an accusation brought by the U.S. Justice Dept. that it had discriminated against minorities in violation of fair lending laws.
Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $125 million to borrowers who were steered into sub-prime mortgages and consequently paying higher fees than white borrowers even though they were equally qualified. In addition, Wells Fargo will pay $ 50 million for direct down payment assistance to borrowers in areas identified as having large numbers of discrimination victims. Wells Fargo stated that it has denied the claims and is settling for the sole purpose of avoiding litigation.
Deputy Attorney General Cole said in a statement that this is the second largest settlement of its kind in history and that it sent a strong message to the banking community that these types of actions will not be tolerated. In his statement, Cole stated, "The Department's action makes clear that we will hold financial institutions accountable, including some of the nation's largest, for lending discrimination."
Local Real Estate News
Rates have held steady at around 4% for several months and unless something unforeseen happens are not expected to change for some time.
The new MLS website has been a great hit with the general public. With the exception of the confidential remarks and the names and telephones numbers of sellers and agents, it is the exact information we as agents and brokers get. It updates every 10 minutes and is direct information from the MLS. Consumer.SANDICOR.COM
Our inventory of available homes is extremely low and according to SANDICOR, much lower than this time last year. Many reasons, both fact and supposition, are given for the decline in housing inventory. Most owners find themselves with homes that no longer have the equity they thought they would have at this time due to the decline in values in the last few years. Only those homeowners who must sell for personal reasons put their homes on the market, while those who don't have to sell wait out this period of stagnant growth hoping to have more (or at least some) equity when they do sell. I have been told (though haven’t verified) that the banks are not releasing foreclosures to the general public for a multitude of reasons, one being that they are selling them in lots to investors.
San Diego East County
The weekly East County Board of Realtors meeting appeared to be busier and the attendees more energetic than usual. There was talk about the new merger with the South Bay Board, coming events and classes, new technology that will be used by all of us and the usual power point of new listings. A former manager of Prudential California was there, the first time I have seen her since she retired many years ago. She has been hired by Sotheby's to manage their La Mesa office.
So many changes have taken place in the La Mesa real estate community this year it is hard to know where to start. When Carrie Guthrie was laid off (she thinks in preparation of the upcoming buy-out of half of the local Sotheby offices by Steve Games, former owner of Prudential California) by the owner of the local Sotheby's owner she approached Windermere SoCal owners with the proposition of working with their company and bringing with her the bulk of Sotheby's La Mesa office agents. A new office was acquired on La Mesa Blvd. and Carrie and 26 La Mesa agents moved in. Mike Marmion, the manager of La Mesa Prudential, was hired to manage, and re-staff, the Sotheby office. Chuck Sackett was called back from retirement to manage the Prudential office. Apparently the re-staffing of the Sotheby's office didn't take place quickly enough so Marmion has been replaced by Joyce Hill.