HUD Deploys New Ad Series to Promote Counseling, Prevent Foreclosure

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Written by test

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in partnership with the Department of the Treasury and the Ad Council, has launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) to reach struggling homeowners.

The series, part of the Foreclosure Prevention Assistance campaign, aims to increase awareness of the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program's free resources and assistance for homeowners.

The PSAs, which are available in English and Spanish, direct homeowners to call 888-995-HOPE (4673) to speak one on one with experts at HUD-approved housing counseling agencies about solutions based on each family's individual circumstances. The campaign also drives homeowners to Making Home Affordable website for program eligibility and information.

Keeping in line with the Ad Council model, all PSAs run in time and space donated by media organizations. Since the campaign was launched, media outlets have donated more than $135 million in airtime and space.

MHA launched in 2009 as a way to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, stabilize the country's housing market and improve the nation's economy. With nearly one in 17 homeowners behind on his or her mortgage, the statistics are "underscoring the continued need for MHA," which was recently extended through Dec. 31, 2016, the agencies said in a statement.

The program offers a range of solutions, including lower monthly mortgage payments for struggling homeowners, as well as options for unemployed or underemployed homeowners and those who owe more than their homes are worth.

This latest phase of the campaign aims to reach homeowners who may be current on payments, but as a result of some hardship, are juggling expenses to make ends meet.

"Although the housing market and economy are making a steady recovery, many struggling homeowners would still benefit from the one-on-one counseling services a HUD-approved housing agency can provide them," said Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante. "More than 1.5 million families have already benefitted from the Making Home Affordable Program, and we hope this effort to educate homeowners will lead to many more families using these free services and getting the help they need to stay in their homes."

Written by Emily Study

Ask George & Chuck: Timely question may require trip to JP court

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Written by test

Q: I am in a contract where the option period ended Sunday at midnight. I agreed with my agent we could extend the option period one day for clarification of a contractors warranty. The buyer did not sign the extension amendment before the option period expired. He signed the amendment the next day and sent termination paperwork. Am I entitled to the earnest money? My agent was on my side at first, but since has said we, the sellers, requested the extension so our signatures are the only ones that are time constrained.

A: As we understand the facts, you have a signed extension agreement by both parties. The buyer is still within the option period, and has the right to terminate the contract and receive the earnest money back. You offered to extend the option period, and the buyer accepted that offer. However, there is an argument the buyer didnt accept the offer timely (since time is of the essence in this paragraph) so he has lost his right to terminate. You may need to take this one to the JP court and let the judge make that decision.

Q: My father died, leaving everything to my mother in his will. We didnt see the need to probate the will, since the only assets were the house and a little cash. My mother has now passed away, and we put the house under contract to sell. The title company is refusing to insure the title because of breaks in the chain, and a potential for a lawsuit from my brother who doesnt want to sell. Where do we go from here?

A: The title company doesnt have to take any risks it doesnt want to take. You can usually solve the chain problems by affidavits or filing the will as a muniment of title, or both. The potential of a lawsuit by a family member is a problem. Most title companies will not take that risk. Try shopping the issue to several title companies. Some may be willing to be more flexible, particularly if the property needs to be sold to prevent foreclosure, pay expenses of the estate, or taxes.

Q: We are building our retirement home in the Hill Country and will be paying cash. Our only experience buying real estate is with the services of a lender and wonder if we need to hire a professional to fill in the missing services when paying cash. We do have a title company, a Realtor and reputable builder. Should we get a loan or hire some other professional?

As a side note, we have a Realtor based out of Lakeway The builder is based out of San Antonio, and the title company is also from San Antonio.

A: First, ask your Realtor your question. Please be aware of this, though, lenders can provide a lot of services during home construction. They are experienced in overseeing the construction draws, keeping the proper amount of retainage and inspecting the home. You always can pay the lender off at the end of the construction. They also are good witnesses and often have insight into the quality of a local builder and their solvency. Unless youre very experienced at home building, wed get all the help we could.

Q: I own a large tract of land on the edge of the city. A large store wants to buy part of it and is willing to pay a very good price. Now they have asked I put deed restrictions on the remainder of my property to protect them from bad neighbors. This sounds crazy to me. Why would I do that?

A: Well, to get the very good price they are offering. In their defense, if youre investing a lot of money in a new location, you want to be sure undesirable uses dont pop up next door. Sexually oriented businesses, certain types of bars and the like can be devastating to a business. As long as the restrictions are well defined, this shouldnt be a deal killer.

To send us a question visit and select the Ask A Question button. Our answers to questions do not contain legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult your own attorney. George Stephens is the broker of Stephens Properties. Charles J. Jacobus, JD is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Residential and Commercial Real Estate Law.

Central Falls gets $250K for foreclosed properties

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Written by test

CENTRAL FALLS, RI (AP) -- Rhode Islands attorney general has announced a $250,000 grant to help Central Falls address the blight of abandoned properties and prevent foreclosures.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and Mayor James Diossa announced the grant to the citys Nuisance Task Force on Tuesday.

The funds are through the national mortgage settlement. Theyll help the city identify and remediate vacant and abandoned properties, launch a foreclosure education program and devise strategies to prevent foreclosure.

Diossa created the task force last year. So far, it is monitoring more than 90 properties, including some at risk of foreclosure, some that have been foreclosed on and some that are vacant and abandoned.

Diossa says the funds will help the city do more to address the effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Ex-Las Vegas financial crimes cop charged in $1.2 million fraud scheme

Category: Prevent Foreclosure
Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Written by test

A former Las Vegas police detective has been charged with committing fraud while he investigated financial crimes.

Scott Friedman was indicted by a federal grand jury last month in an investment scheme authorities say defrauded longtime cardiologist Tali Arik of $1.2 million.

Friedman, 43, was charged with participating in the scheme while he worked in the Financial Crimes Section of the Metropolitan Police Department. A 14-year Metro veteran, he was assigned to the unit from February 2009 until his medical retirement in August 2012.

Two other defendants -- Martin McClain, 58, who portrayed himself as a building contractor, and Randall Petas, 61, a local restaurant manager -- were also indicted.

The three men were charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They were released on their own recognizance earlier this month after pleading not guilty. Their trial is set for Nov. 4 before Senior US District Judge Larry Hicks.

"There are persons willing to lie, cheat and steal in every walk of life and profession," Nevada US Attorney Daniel Bogden said. "The US Department of Justice will prosecute you no matter who you are or what title you hold."

The conspiracy unfolded in December 2007 when McClain approached Arik with an opportunity to buy the 1,300-acre Black Canyon Estates near Bakersfield, Calif., according to the indictment.

McClain told Arik the land could be had for a significantly reduced price of $760,000 because the seller was about to default on promissory notes secured by the land, the indictment alleges. McClain indicated that he was the middleman for the seller, ASA Inc.

In reality, the property wasn't for sale. Nor did it belong to ASA, a fictitious company set up by Petas and McClain to defraud Arik, the indictment alleges.

Over the next two years, Arik paid $775,874 to ASA, according to the indictment. McClain also solicited more money from Arik, with Friedman's help, under the guise of keeping the property out of foreclosure, the indictment alleges.

Fearing he would lose his investment and having run out of money, Arik agreed to pay back Friedman $149,000 for what he thought were loans to prevent foreclosure, according to both the indictment and a 2011 lawsuit filed by Arik.

At a February 2009 meeting in the high-limit gambling area at Red Rock Resort, McClain introduced Arik to Friedman, who confirmed he was a detective in the Financial Crimes Section, the lawsuit says. McClain told Arik he was going to help him "get through the situation" by "lending him money to close escrow."

Friedman used his position as a police officer to gain Arik's "trust" and "confidence" to fraudulently obtain more money from the cardiologist, the lawsuit alleges.

Friedman joined the financial crimes unit the day after the Red Rock meeting, police records show.

By July 2009, the doctor had told McClain he no longer could afford loan payments, prompting an unhappy Friedman to set up a meeting with Arik at Santa Fe Station, the lawsuit says.

Friedman told Arik that $80,000 of the loan was from a "middleman to the Chicago mob," and had to be paid back immediately.

"Officer Friedman continued by telling Dr. Arik that, 'You have to pay because bad things will happen to your family. ... You and your family will get hurt,'" the suit says.

Fearing for his life, Arik borrowed $80,000 from a friend to pay Friedman, who assured him "Don't worry, I will take care of it and you will never hear from these people."

The cardiologist made payments on the fictitious loans until September 2009, when he became suspicious of Friedman and went to authorities. The FBI took the lead in the criminal investigation.

Arik's 2011 lawsuit over the scheme ended with an $8.5 million default judgment against McClain and several co-defendants. Friedman and Petas were dropped from that action.

The lawsuit identified McClain as Anthony O'Neil, one of several aliases listed in the federal indictment.

Arik and his attorney, Jesse Sbaih, declined comment in light of the pending criminal case. Friedman's lawyer, Melanie Hill, also declined comment.

Friedman filed for bankruptcy in July 2010, listing $576,250 in assets and $953,838 in liabilities. He listed tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt, but he did not mention the $149,000 he is accused of taking from Arik.

Sbaih won an order from US Bankruptcy Court allowing Arik to pursue a financial judgment from Friedman after his debts were discharged in August 2012. Six weeks later, however, Sbaih dropped the civil case against Friedman and instead pursued the monetary judgment against McClain and the remaining defendants in the case, records show.

Friedman sued the Police Department in April, accusing Metro of discrimination because he is not allowed to carry a retirement badge and concealed weapon. Friedman alleged the denial was related in part to a 2011 disciplinary action against him and other officers.

Metro in court papers has said there was good reason for the denial, pointing to but not explaining the 2011 misconduct allegation. A police spokeswoman declined further comment.

Contact reporter Jeff German at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 702-380-8135. Follow him on Twitter @JGermanRJ.