a la mode News

Removing Owner’s Estimate of Value not a slam dunk, readers say

May 18, 2004

Last week we passed along (and mildly endorsed) a suggestion we'd received from several readers: that eliminating the Owner's Estimate of Value from appraisal forms would decrease mortgage fraud. This simple suggestion drew a lot of feedback.

“Reversing” how you work with lenders

May 11, 2004

Reverse mortgages are becoming increasingly popular with American homeowners 62 or older. The FHA calls them Home Equity Conversion Loans (HECMs), because they provide older Americans a monthly payment secured by the equity in their home. Essentially, instead of paying the lender each month, the lender pays the homeowner.

On the good guys’ side in the AVM debate

May 11, 2004

Three weeks ago we told you about Fitch Ratings, an investment risk assessment firm, deciding to discount the value of residential mortgage backed securities in soft or weak markets where anything less than a full appraisal was used to value the collateral. The move has generated quite a bit of publicity for the appraisers vs. AVMs debate, some of which we noted last week.

a la mode Announces Orlando, Florida Regional Sales and Training Office

May 06, 2004

la mode, inc., the largest provider of software and technology to the real estate appraisal profession, announced today that it has begun construction of its first regional sales and training office in Orlando, Florida. The company indicated that the 5,000 square foot facility should be open in early September.

Creative financing and seller assisted down payments also pump up values

May 04, 2004

We promised last week we'd continue our look at factors which may be artificially inflating property values. A more widespread and systemic factor may be seller concessions and other creative financing, and seller assisted down payments. Many of you wrote in last week to agree.

The appraiser’s lonely fight against mortgage fraud

May 04, 2004

Last week we wrote about how mortgage fraud is reported to be a prime mover behind artificially inflated property values in some local, fraud-prone areas. You agreed. We've never received more e-mail from our e-newsletter than we did last week, and far too many of you had fraud "war stories."

Windows XP spam popups can be eliminated

April 28, 2004

Windows XP is being installed as the operating system on more and more PCs nationwide, including among a la mode customers. One of the first things your indefatigable newsletter editor noticed when he switched was that via his always-on Internet connection, he was suddenly very popular with somebody named "Messenger Service." "Messenger Service" popup windows — not browser window popup ads, those are different — hawk hot stocks, male enhancement, gambling sites and the like. And the most popular product they try to sell you: a way to eliminate XP spam popups! If this is happening to you, you know it (for one thing, you've come to dread the high-pitched, dull "thud" sound that accompanies a new popup). You may also have had a hard time finding instructions on how to eliminate them. If so, aren't you glad you're an a la mode e-newsletter reader? Because here is what you do:

How “rugged” do you need to be?

April 28, 2004

The first Gulf War brought us, among other things, the Hummer urban assault — er, utility vehicle. By some accounts, the war and occupation of Iraq this time around are going to bring us the "rugged notebook" computer. Sounds very manly! But do you need one?

Mortgage fraud artificially inflating property values

April 28, 2004

Nationwide, housing values grew 8.4 percent last year, and 7.6 percent the year before that, according to Freddie Mac. In the fourth quarter alone, the last quarter for which data has been released, the annualized property value appreciation rate was a staggering 17.8 percent. What's feeding this remarkable growth? It's a question that's been asked and theorized upon by investors, money managers, chairpersons of the Federal Reserve and homeowners. Clearly, low interest rates, government action to encourage homeownership, a plentiful supply of homes, and other economic and demographic factors are drivers of growth.

Marriage of mortgage, realty services continues

April 21, 2004

Countrywide Home Loans, a top-three mortgage originator with designs on the top spot, has announced separate joint ventures with nine different real estate brokerages in 2004. Most recently, Countrywide announced it had lined up with Coldwell Banker Wachholz & Company in Montana to form Granite Peak Mortgage Services. The mortgage services venture will work closely with Coldwell Banker Wachholz & Company Realtors to develop personalized financing options from among more than 130 loan programs, the company said. All told, the lender has 15 similar arrangements around the country and about 35 more in the works.