Regulators limit mtge business for 6 banks

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WASHINGTON (AP) – June 18, 2015 – Federal regulators have slapped restrictions on the mortgage businesses of six banks, saying they haven’t fully complied with requirements imposed on them to resolve allegations that they abused the foreclosure process after the collapse of the housing market.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, part of the Treasury Department, announced the action Wednesday against the banks: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, HSBC, Santander and EverBank.

The agency said the banks haven’t met all the requirements of the 2011 enforcement orders issued by the government, which found that some lenders rushed the foreclosure process without carefully reviewing documents. The case was known as the “robo-signing” scandal

The agency said the banks haven’t met all the requirements of the 2011 enforcement orders issued by the government, which found that some lenders rushed the foreclosure process without carefully reviewing documents. The case was known as the “robo-signing” scandal.

The restrictions include limits on buying rights from other banks to service mortgages. They vary according to the specific situation of each of the six banks. A chart issued by the OCC shows that the restrictions are tougher for Wells Fargo and HSBC than for the other banks, by banning some activities as opposed to requiring banks to obtain regulators’ approval to pursue them.

At the same time, the agency lifted its enforcement orders against Bank of America, Citigroup and PNC, finding them to be in compliance with the orders.

The “robo-signing” scandal prompted a government investigation and eventually an $8.5 billion settlement between the OCC and 15 banks.

In addition, the federal government and 49 states reached a $25 billion settlement over foreclosure practices in February 2012 with five major banks: Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial.

JPMorgan said in a statement that the bank has made “significant” progress, “and we believe we’re in a position to complete our remaining items by the end of the summer.”

Mike Heid, president of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said the bank has made key changes in its mortgage servicing business and is now in compliance with “major elements” of the enforcement order. “We will continue to work with the OCC to address the remaining items, and we have an action plan in place to complete that work in the coming months,” Heid said in a statement. He said the bank’s mortgage-making business or servicing of its own mortgages won’t be affected.

HSBC spokesman Rob Sherman said the OCC “recognized areas of progress in our mortgage servicing and identified other areas that need improvement. We are actively addressing the remaining issues. ”

Dan Frahm, a spokesman for Bank of America, said that by ending the enforcement order, the OCC recognized improvement made by the bank in its mortgage business. “We continue to simplify our business, resulting in improved and more consistent customer service,” Frahm said.

Copyright © 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Castelli Ranks as One of Nations Top Producing Firms

06.15.15 Castelli Real Estate Services LLC Ranks as One of Nation’s Top-Producing Brokerage Firms in RISMedia’s 2015 Power Broker Report

(RISMedia-Norwalk, CT) – Castelli Real Estate Services LLC, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida recently announced its ranking as the number 382 real estate firm in the United States in transactions, according to RISMedia’s 27th Annual Power Broker Report. Castelli Real Estate Services LLC reported 1,860 closed residential transactions in 2014, and a total sales volume of $368,280,000.

This year’s Power Broker Report is based on responses to RISMedia’s 2015 Power Broker Survey, distributed in early January. More than 1,000 real estate firms from across the country completed the Power Broker Survey, reporting a collective 3,203,736 closed residential transactions in 2014, accounting for a total $973,976,005,312 in sales volume.

Now in its 27th year, the Power Broker Report has long honored the incredible business feats of remarkable real estate leaders-and brokerage firms-who continue to shape our industry. Each April, RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine highlights the Top 500 Power Broker firms according to sales volume and transactions.

RISMedia President & CEO John Featherston congratulated Castelli Real Estate Services LLC for their prestigious ranking in this year’s Power Broker Report. “The firms represented are the nation’s most elite brokerage firms serving literally millions of consumers with their real estate needs,” Featherston said. “2014 was a growth year for many real estate firms across the country, as low inventory created a ripe environment for home sellers and move-up buyers, and continued low interest rates and rising rents enticed more new buyers to take action. As market dynamics continue to fluctuate, today’s more knowledgeable, more tech-savvy real estate consumers will look to proven real estate firms and their agents to help guide them toward the best real estate decision. Being ranked in the Power Broker Report validates your firm’s reputation as a trusted resource for today’s homebuyers and sellers.”

RISMedia’s Annual Power Broker Report ranks firms by closed transactions and sales volume for the prior year. The Top 500 rankings appear in the April issue of Real Estate magazine and online atrismedia.com. The complete ranking of all firms that meet the criteria will be available in the 2015 Power Broker Report publication, available both digitally and in print this summer.

RISMedia’s 27th Annual Power Broker Report & Survey is based on results garnered from a survey distributed via email and available online at rismedia.com. The survey ranks residential real estate brokerage firms according to closed transaction numbers and closed sales volume for the year 2014. All sales and transaction data is submitted directly by brokerage firms and verified by the firm’s financial executives, outside accounting firms and /or corporate franchise headquarters.

 

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This is the absolute truth.

Realtors See ‘Marginal Agents’ As Major Threat To Industry

By Jeff Ostrowski – Palm Beach Post / June 7, 2015

What keeps Realtors up at night? The National Association of Realtors says the No. 1 threat to agents — ahead of

declining commissions, dwindling relevance or a repeat housing collapse — is other agents.

According to the giant trade group’s recently released “Danger Report,” the biggest menace looms in the form of

“masses of marginal agents” — unskilled salespeople who lack the experience to coach a consumer through the

purchase or sale of a home worth six or seven figures.

“The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical and/or incompetent

agents,” NAR’s report says. “This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.”

Getting an agent’s license in Florida requires only a high school diploma, 63 hours of classroom training and

passing the state real estate exam.

“It’s an easy-entry business,” said Michael Pappas, head of Keyes Co. Realtors in Miami. “For 63 hours and a

couple thousand dollars in upfront costs, it’s the last bastion of independent sales where you can make a significant

income.”

Thanks to the low barriers, there are nearly 30,000 licensed real estate agents in Palm Beach County alone. NAR

counts more than a million members, and hundreds of thousands more agents hold state licenses but aren’t Realtors.

For years, accomplished agents have griped about their less-than-competent peers, but real estate has remained a

freewheeling industry that welcomes all comers.

“It’s clearly a continuing problem,” said Scott Agran, head of Lang Realty in Boca Raton. “I don’t know if it’s a

bigger threat than it has been every time the real estate industry has started to come back. Usually the new agents

who don’t know what they’re doing sell a couple houses to friends or family and then are out of the business.”

The Danger Report, sponsored by NAR and authored by real estate consultant and author Stefan Swanepoel,

stresses the modest education needed to earn a real estate license.

“Becoming a cosmetologist requires an average of a 372 hours,” the report says. “But to become a licensed real

estate agent requires an average of only 70 hours, with the lowest state requirement being 13 hours.”

That lack of training underscores longtime gripes about the uneven service delivered by real estate agents.

“The NAR report correctly describes the structure of the industry and some its implications, notably the glut of

agents and ridiculously easy entrance requirements for these agents,” said Steve Brobeck, head of the Consumer

Federation of America.

Pappas isn’t so sure that more classroom training would necessarily weed out the poor performers. Simply holding

a degree for a top university doesn’t mean an agent has the blend of persistence, resilience and empathy needed to

succeed at selling homes.

“Those dynamics aren’t necessarily taught in a classroom,” Pappas said.

While star agents pull in six-figure incomes, most agents make much less than that. In a separate report, the

National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the median gross income for its members licensed as agents

was $33,900 in 2014, down from $35,000 in 2013. From that total, agents — mostly independent contractors —

paid gas, marketing expenses, Realtor dues and other business expenses.

The typical agent handled 12 deals a year, up from seven transactions in 2008 and 2009, but not exactly a

breakneck pace.

“We have people making millions of dollars — that’s the allure,” Pappas said. “But the excellent make it, and the

masses don’t.”

Agents are worried about commissions, too. That threat places second in the Danger Report.

While NAR scrupulously avoids publishing average commission rates, Realogy, the nation’s largest broker, has

reported for years that its average commission is about 5 percent. NAR’s report notes that agents in other countries

charge less; the typical commission in Britain is 1 percent to 2 percent.

Consumers are “placing increased pressure on real estate agents to reduce their commission rates,” the report says.

Highest Price sale in Coconut Grove

LeBron James home in Coconut Grove is under contract. The MLS shows a pending sale on 3590 Crystal View Court, hopefully a closing will follow shortly. The sale is wonderful for price in Coconut Grove. It may be the highest price sale in area.

James put the house on the market, 12,178-square-feet, for sale at $17 million in October 2014. He dropped the price to $15 million after a year of no action.

James got close to his asking price.  The half-acre compound has all the finishings of an entertainer’s home. It has a dedicated 4,500-square-foot guest section with a lounge and game room, an infinity-edge pool, an outdoor kitchen and a concrete dock with space for two 60-foot yachts.

For more information on the sale see:  Jameshttp://therealdeal.com/miami/blog/2015/06/05/lebron-james-waterfront-miami-manse-is-under-contract/#sthash.xkgmvV5h.dpuf

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