Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mortgage Fraud in Florida

by Calculated Risk on 7/21/2009 10:11:00 PM

The Herald Tribune has a series of article on mortgage fraud in Florida (ht Ed)

Here are the first three in the series:

'Flip that house' fraud cost billions

Fraudulent property flipping ran rampant during this decade's housing boom, with $10 billion in suspicious deals in Florida alone, a Herald-Tribune investigation has found.

The deals -- many of them inflated sales among friends, family and business associates -- drove up property values and tax bills during the boom, fed bank bailouts and failures after the boom, and fueled the foreclosure wave that has gutted property values.

Unscrupulous property flippers would buy houses or condos, then drive up the price in a few days or weeks by selling it to someone they knew. Buyers used the inflated price to get bank loans for more than the property was worth, leaving money for flippers to split as profit.
Flippers' toll: On Gulf Coast, half a billion in defaults
More than 100 properties from Palmetto to North Port doubled in price in a single day during the recent real estate boom. Proposed condos -- no more than ideas on paper -- flipped two or three times before anyone moved in.
The king of the Sarasota flip
Instead of selling properties to outside buyers, [Craig Adams] created a real estate market where his hand-picked buyers and sellers could set the price they wanted, and repeated flips made Adams hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate sales commissions.

In some cases, Adams and his associates bought a house, marked up the price and quickly sold it to another associate ... Using the inflated sale price, they qualified for a mortgage that more than covered the actual purchase, then divided the remaining cash among themselves, according to seven people familiar with the deals.
...
"They had a joke," said Melone, who did property deals with one of Adams' associates. "They said: 'We're getting low on money. Let's go buy a property.'"
The Herald Tribune has a graphic on hot spots for flipping fraud in Florida, and some supporting documents.