April is Fair Housing Month

April 2, 2018

Kay Wilson-Bolton

Realtors will be making the rounds speaking to all city council meetings and the Board of Supervisors to talk about why Fair Housing is so “American.”  We will also be talking about the daily threats of real estate fraud in all aspects of our lives. This includes rentals, deed transfers, loan modifications and equity loans. Real estate professionals have partnered with the District Attorney’s office to prosecute those who steal equity from us.

In honor of the anniversary of the passing of the Fair Housing Act and in remembrance of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, April is set aside as National Fair Housing Month to remind us all that equality is at the heart of the American dream.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the campaign includes efforts to end housing discrimination and raise awareness fair housing rights in communities across the country.

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.

Housing discrimination occurs when an individual or family is treated unequally when trying to buy, rent, lease, sell or finance a home based on certain characteristics.  This type of discrimination can lead to housing, spatial inequality and racial segregation which, in turn, can affect the wealth disparities between certain groups.

In the United States, housing discrimination began after the abolition of slavery as part of a federally sponsored law, but has since been made illegal; however, studies show that housing discrimination still exists.

Federal and State governments have various laws stemming from rights guaranteed by the US Constitution.  Most of us think we know what that means, but there is evidence of unfair housing practices in many areas, from rental application processing, lending practices and discrimination by those who make decisions about where people should or can live.

This matter is very important to Realtors®. Our Code of Ethics provides specific instruction in   Article 10 where “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation. (Amended 1/11).

Real estate contracts and documents include warnings, admonitions and agreements about fair housing, equal opportunity and fairness. In the typical listing agreement, it simply                                                                                                              states in paragraph, “14. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is offered in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.

In the Real Estate Purchase Agreement, paragraph 27 reads: “27. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY: The Property is sold in compliance with federal, state and local anti-discrimination Laws.”

Generally speaking, anti-discrimination law refers to the law on the right of people to be treated equally without regard to sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and sometimes religious and political opinions.

There are many reasons we should support fair housing practices. It simply is “so American.”

Kay Wilson-Bolton is a member of the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team (www.refat.org) and a director of the Ventura County Coastal Association of Realtors.  There is more information about Fair Housing Month at www.vcrealtors.com.

 

 

Don’t trust “them” to help you. Real Estate Fraud is Real and On the Rise.

February 14, 2018  By Kay Wilson-Bolton

These are the facts in a real and current tragedy. The owners were three months behind on the payment of their second mortgage to an off-brand mortgage company. They were current on their first mortgage with a known reputable conventional lender.

They received a call from “Charles” who told them he could modify their first and second mortgages bringing their payments below what they are currently paying. He explained over the phone how it would work and made them sound like his new friends.

All they had to do is wire him $10,000 up front, send him the monthly payments for the first and second, and he could take care of everything. He gave them the name of his company, the address and made friends.

The family borrowed $10,000 from a family member, wired the money, and never heard from Charles again.

The first lender foreclosed on them in December. The family is working with that bank to restore ownership of the house back to them. They have a family member willing to refinance her home and provide the money to do just that.

This dramatic event happens to almost everyone who gets a notice of default on any loan. The sharks circle and find way to attack people when they are most vulnerable.

In another case, a woman was foreclosed on and immediately contacted by a “helper” name Raymond. He told her lender had unlawfully filed the foreclosure and with the filing of certain documents, he could get the foreclosure reversed.

Claudia asked me to help her. I asked for the name and contact information of the person who called her. He was good.  He quoted all kinds of citations, case law, and federal law stating he would send copies for review. He would include a list of people he had helped and many references. I told Claudia to be very cautious… remember, he was very good.

She sent him the $2,000 and she never heard from him again.

There are laws against this and the District Attorney of Ventura County has a special fraud investigation unit tracking these crooks and thieves with the intent of bringing them to prosecution.

They partner with a handful of real estate professionals in this fight against real estate fraud, known as the Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team. Their mission is to prevent, detect and report fraudulent activities which rob people of their wealth and their peace of mind.

We ask everyone be wary of help that finds you quickly and wants an upfront fee. When those two events occur simultaneously, it is likely fraudulent. Please consult with a professional or someone you already trust to see if it smells like the real deal. You can also call the Real Estate Fraud Helpline 805.751.5899, for help in Spanish or English. Your call will be routed to the on-call professional and returned within 24 hours.

If you have a current complaint, you can go to the website for the Ventura County District Attorney and find “real estate fraud” under services. There is a complaint form which can be completed on line and sent directly to the DA’s office.

Don’t be easy targets or prey to people who want to steal your money. There is real help to be found in the right places and the right people. Visit www.refat.org where you will find a Complaint Form; call the Helpline 805.751.5899; or visit the website for the District Attorney. www.vcdistrictattorney.com.  Click on “Services and Information” and then to “Special Prosecutions” where you will find “Real Estate Fraud.”

Real Estate Fraud Advisory Team directors are: Armando Jaquez, OnQ Financial; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Carlo H-Banki, Department of Real Estate, Charlene Williams, Chicago Title; Cindy Diaz-Telly, Coldwell Banker; David Valenzuela from the DA’s office; Fernando Campos, Coldwell Banker; Jeromy Bagott, Bender and Rosenthal Law Firm; Jim Keith, Berkshire Hathaway; Jorge DeLeon, Coldwell Banker; Justin Alvarez, attorney from the Alvarez Firm.com. Kay Wilson-Bolton, Century 21 Troop Real Estate; Millie Gordon, Dilbeck Estate; Brooke Smith, Keller Williams; Monica Garcia, Select Properties; Tony Wold from the District Attorney’s Office; Monica Cruz representing National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.