Prospect Mortgage, Keller Williams, and ReMax Fined For Illegal Kickbacks

Respa ViolationsThis practice is egregious – and so wrong. Consumers are supposed to be able to rely on their agents to be a trusted and non biased advisor – this just goes to show you cannot select an agent simply because they work for a large well known national franchise brokerage firm.

I want all our clients and prospects to know Advantage Realtors, a small specialized boutique brokerage in East Cobb has never sought or accepted a kickback fee for referring any vendor. We have refused all such offers from vendors – mostly inspectors and home warranty companies. Our referrals of vendors is based strictly on the quality of the vendors service – and we refer several never just one. Our vendor relationships have been developed over time and our vendors are proven, trusted, performers that are tops in their industry. Advantage Realtors provides unmatched and personalized services and we expect the vendors we refer to do the same.

We have encountered a similar questionable practice pointed out in the article among some listing brokers here in Atlanta – namely the requirement in the broker comments section of a listing that buyers must have a pre-qualification from a specific lender in order to make an offer – even if they already have a letter from a reputable lender! This is an absurd practice known as “writing in”, and it reeks of an unhealthy under the table lead generation arrangement. We advocate for our clients that they do NOT need to get a “second pre-qualification” in order to submit an offer, and we have been successful so far.

Like every agent or broker who knows what they’re doing and how to run a business, Advantage Realtors requires all buyer clients we represent to be pre-qualified by a lender at a minimum, or better pre-approved for a loan or we don’t represent them. The resulting “lender letter” is sufficient evidence for all parties, sellers, banks, etc that our buyers are qualified to submit an offer in a certain price range and not a waste of anyone’s time. Moreover, having buyers get what is known in the industry as a “pre-qual” can be done with minimal effort and a brief phone conversation.

It is just sound business practice to assure a buyer is actually qualified to look at certain priced homes – especially since we don’t just meet buyers at homes and open doors – we exert a significant amount of extra time performing extra due-diligence to better inform and protect our buyers – services like micro market price trend and valuation checks, free building structural, workmanship, and major system evaluations, and even monitoring of new homes under construction and advocating for our clients with regard to contract, inspection defects, and new construction quality issues – services other agents don’t provide and in most cases are not qualified to provide, and not allowed by their broker to provide.

Robert Whitfield – Broker/Owner Advantage Realtors

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RISMedia January 31, 2017

Prospect Mortgage, LLC, a major mortgage lender, and two real estate brokerages have been ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to pay more than $3.5 million in civil penalties and consumer compensation for participating in an “illegal kickback scheme” for mortgage business referrals.

Prospect Mortgage, headquartered in Sherman Oaks, CA., Corvallis, OR. based Keller Williams Mid-Willamette and Ventura, CA.-based RE/MAX Gold Coast all three violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), according to the CFPB, which prohibits real estate agents and brokerages from recommending settlement services, such as title insurance, appraisals, inspections, and loan origination, to consumers in exchange for payment from these service providers.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in a statement. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”

For More Info…

Pope High will get renovations

Pope High School East CobbPope High Renovations Approved From SPLOST Funds

One of East Cobb’s top high schools, Pope High School in Marietta will receive a main gym replacement and renovation of its performance arts center, totaling an estimated $23,869,386.

The Cobb County Board of Education agreed to this price Thursday with Winter Construction of Atlanta, which the board already has approved as the contractor. This project is expected to be completed by September 2017.

Funding will come from the ( SPLOST)Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax IV.

Pope and Walton Blistering Housing Markets

East Cobb’s Blistering Pope and Walton High Housing Markets – Spring/Summer 2015!

AveEcobb_5 750x420This is a look at two of the hottest hyper-local real estate markets in Marietta’s affluent East Cobb community. Market activity in the Pope and Walton High School Districts have been off the charts so far in 2015. (I will be posting about the Lassiter High District in a future edition.) Historically, the markets in East Cobb’s trifecta high school districts, Walton, Pope, and Lassiter have brisk buyer activity starting in early spring around late February to March. From there as buyers jockey for the ideal home in their chosen school system(s) market activity and buyer competition grows stronger each month, month over month until June/July when things peak and gradually start to cool off.

I thought 2014 had some very good numbers, and 2015 has been another good year for me, but I had no idea how good the market itself was overall. While doing some research for a special project I parsed the data in these two highly acclaimed high school systems and uncovered stats for sales through July 15th, that not only beat 2014’s numbers, but some took me by complete surprise – and I live and work here every day! It’s one thing to dig up the data on a particular neighborhood where I am listing a home or helping buyer clients get the best price, but it’s another thing to dig up custom highly targeted housing market data on an entire school system – or two! I say custom highly targeted data because this level of data granularity is not available in the monthly MLS market reports I get as a Broker/Owner, and it is not posted on any realtor or public website. This level of detail has to be manually/digitally hand extracted using comprehensive and accurate MLS tax and courthouse data!

So, what surprised me about 2015 Walton and Pope market data? Several things: 1. The percentage of homes that sold for 98% or better of LP(List Price) – in-fact, the real surprise was the sheer number of homes that sold for 100% (or more) of the List Price! 2. The number of Days on Market (DOM) – historically good average DOM for an East Cobb home in good condition and well marketed are 50-70. Most areas in metro Atlanta have far longer average DOM times than this. In 2014 average DOM in these two East Cobb school districts were an exceptional 45 days or so – very strong. The 2015 Days on Market stats in these two school systems are astounding – the mid 30’s. That’s very fast – remember we’re not talking about a specific neighborhood micro market stat – but an entire housing market! But the real surprise – the high percentage of homes that sold in 10 days or less, and the majority number – homes that sold in 30 days or less. I have lived in East Cobb since 1996 and practiced real estate here since 1998 , and I can’t recall such hot overall market numbers.

The Market Study Parameters: Homes Sold May 1 to July 15 and Priced $280K to $2M -Walton & Pope Districts:

The Overall Stats: (more pointed neighborhood level details, and actionable data and trend info on new home subdivision sales stats of various builders, local listing agent and builder agent negotiation performance, and the like are only shared with and used on behalf of our clients)

Walton High District Stats

Sales: 138
Average Days On Market: 37.8 –94 properties sold in only 0 to 30 days from the Listing Agreement – only 44 properties required over 30 days for a Binding Sale.
–43 properties sold in 10 days or less from the Listing Agreement
List Price vs Sale Price Insights:
-of 138 properties, 100 sold for at least 95% of List Price –69 properties sold for between 98% to *108% of List Price – *a result of multiple offers on some homes and for others, prices were raised in order to provide some buyer closing costs – many of the sales exceeding 100% of List were priced in the same exact amount as the seller paid closing cost listed! -Of the 38 properties that sold for less than 95% of List Price, the average List Price vs Sale Price was 91.39 % of List Price.

Pope High District Stats

Sales: 102
Average Days On Market: 35.7 –70 properties sold in only 0 to 30 days from the Listing Agreement – only 32 properties required over 30 days for a Binding Sale.
–36 properties sold in 10 days or less from the Listing Agreement
List Price vs Sale Price Insights: Out of 102 properties:
– 85 sold for at least 95% of List Price –60 properties sold for between 98% to *106% of List Price * a result of multiple offers on some homes and for others, prices were raised on in order to provide some buyer closing costs – many of the sales exceeding 100% of List were priced in the same exact amount as the seller paid closing cost listed!
-Of the 17 properties that sold for less than 95% of List Price, their average List Price vs Sale Price was 90.44% of List Price.

A ton of useful and in a few cases even unexpected information was gleaned and will be used on behalf of our existing and future buyer and seller clients.

A similar study was just completed for the summer/fall market in 2014 to see how that data compares with our projections for the upcoming summer /fall market this year. We are expecting at least equal or better results, and insights into specific agent and builder negotiations will be helpful in moving forward.

Takeaways for Buyers: In these markets, be pre-approved with a lender, be ready to act when the right home is found, and hire the most qualified buyers representative you can find – the agent/Broker you hire will make or break your deal. Contact an experienced buyers representative to partner with early in the process so they can assist and guide you in the right direction for your family’s needs and lifestyle! Too many buyers start out trying to look around on their own and waste a lot of time before calling an expert. You already have a job – trying to learn a new career will not serve you? By “trying to learn the market on your own” you will waste valuable time, look in the wrong places, and ultimately miss out on some great opportunities.

Takeaway for Sellers: To get top dollar and a quick sale, your home needs to be in well maintained condition, and preferably certain updates have been done. Second, hire the best marketing expert you can find- one who can help you not only get your home in the correct shape, help you stage it if necessary, but can prove an exceptional marketing plan and superior exposure and past results for sellers. *There is a huge difference between seller results and the stats high volume listing machine agents like to boast about – such as number of transactions per year – it may sound counterintuitive, but volume only tells how the agent did for themselves – it says nothing about how their seller clients fared!

Contact me for more information about East Cobb homes, schools, or markets.

Robert Whitfield – 678-585-9691

New Home Subdivisions In Pope High District

Here in East Cobb development of new home subdivisions over the last eighteen months, driven by East Cobb’s top three public high schools Walton, Lassiter, and Pope, has seen the most brisk home builder activity since the market highs of 2005 -2006.

New Home Subdivision in Pope High District

Mabry Park – More East Cobb New Homes for 2013

In the Pope High School district there are two brand new tracts of land now (Dec 2012) having the final site civil work completed for new home construction to begin in early 2013. One will be a small enclave of about 15 homes by local new home builder Traton Homes, the other is a larger joint venture “Swim Tennis” development of about 35 acres between Ashton Woods and Edward Andrews homes. About 55 homes are planned for this new subdivision known as Mabry Park, and advertised prices will range from the high $400′s to the $700′s – apparently a mid level and “estate” section are planned. Stay tuned, I will add more details as they become available.

New Homes In Pope High District

More New Homes For Pope High District

For information on new home developements, help finding a “buildable” lot, and available builder bonuses in the Lassiter High School District or anywhere in East Cobb or North Atlanta, contact Robert Whitfield at 678-585-9691. Check out all the highly specialized new construction services to protect your sanity and assure a smooth process if you are planing to buy or build a new home.

Invaluable Experience with New Homes – Homes Under Construction

Unlike ordinary agents, Robert has advanced experience and qualifications to assist buyers with every facet of the new home construction process and has successfully dealt with architects, engineers, custom builders, volume builders, and site superintendants on behalf of clients desiring to make a new home purchase and/or build a new home. Robert can assist clients in all matters ranging from lot selection assistance, builder meetings, upgrade and component package selection, ongoing construction monitoring from the ground up, or at any stage, to attendance at walk through, pre-drywall inspection, advice and consulting on construction alterations and repairs that are sometimes required, final walk through and release, to closing and beyond.

Roberts works in a collaborative way and assists clients with many other matters that are a necessary part of real estate transactions. In addition to a background in home building and building structural analysis, new construction monitoring, and environmental testing, Robert also offers his clients great services like impactful HDR photography and video services.

Contact me with any question you may have about East Cobb or Atlanta real estate. I stand ready to proved unmatched assistance with your home buying, selling, or building needs.

Best,

Robert A Whitifeld
Broker/Owner/Founder
Relocation Consultant
Professional Buyers/Sellers Broker
ICC Certified Building Inspector
New Home Construction Expert
Advantage Realtors
Office: 678-585-9691
24hr efax: 678-826-0754
ebbroker@bellsouth.net
Unmatched Representation & Results For Each Client

Pope Homes $1.5M – $3M

East Cobb Luxury Estate Homes For Sale In The Pope High School Attendance Zone

 

Pope Homes $900K – $1.5M

East Cobb Homes For Sale In The Pope High School Attendance Zone

 

 

Pope Homes $600K – $900K

East Cobb Homes For Sale In The Pope High School District

 

 

Pope Homes $400K – $600K

East Cobb Homes For Sale In The Pope High School Attendance Zone

 

Pope Homes $300K – $400K

East Cobb Homes For Sale In The Pope High School Attendance Zone