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Want to know how sloppy mortgage underwriting was in recent years? This sloppy: The Washington Post published an amazing story today about a local man, Jose Lara, who was surprised when he got a $2,800 check as a refund for an overpayment on the closing costs for the second mortgage he’d taken out.
Surprised because he didn’t have a second mortgage.
He went to the bank that mailed him the check, the police were notified, and—cut to the chase—discovered that when he lost his wallet some time back, the person who found it, Elizabeth Cabrera-Rivera, used his identity to get a mortgage to purchase a townhouse in his name.
A $419,000 townhouse. With a “no doc” mortgage. From a mortgage broker who was only too eager to make the loan, no questions asked.
Is this a great country or what?
The interesting part is that the person who found the wallet and used its contents to buy the townhouse, Cabrera-Rivera (who pleaded guilty to the crime and is pictured at right) actually was making all of the payments after she bought the house. She wasn’t trying to steal the proceeds of the loan. She couldn’t qualify for a mortgage in her name, so she used someone’s elses. She pleaded guilty yesterday to identity fraud, credit card theft, conspiracy and obtaining a loan under false pretenses. Her lawyer raises an pertinent question: What about the mortgage broker and the lender?
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.