Games Real-Estate Agents and Buyers Play

It's not that the buyer or the seller is getting ripped off, according to an
investigation by the Tampa Tribune. It's that maybe one of the
other players is (probably the lender, but maybe someone else). Here's what
happens: S (seller) has house that won't sell. E
(entrepreneur)
offers to buy it at last asking price, X. BR
(broker)
writes up two contracts, one at X and one at X plus, oh,
$50k-$300k. BR has house appraised by A1, at the X-plus price. If A1
won't do it, go to A2, etc., until some appraiser will. E borrows from a
Lender, based on the appraisal. S receives X and thus is happy but is
persuaded to sign a duplicate contract at X-plus. Title Company
registers only the X-plus contract with the Lender. E takes the $50k-$300k
off the top and seeks another buyer, able to claim that the property is now
worth X-plus rather than its "true" value, X. Possibly, some of the
$50k-$300k was kicked back to players besides E. BR is regarded as a
superstar for selling slow-to-move properties at a steep premium! The
Trib in October traced maybe three dozen of these sales and this
morning reveals a few others. The most logical victims are Lenders that, in
the booming 2005-06 market, couldn't throw money at buyers fast enough. Thus,
in the current down market, things are tougher for E. But to pull all of
this off, people have to make false statements on federal mortgage forms,
which is a crime. Four state agencies are investigating, and it's happening
elsewhere in Florida, too. (The authorities haven't accused anyone of a
crime yet, and neither has the newspaper, and neither has Yr Editor.) In any
event, a Tampa broker named Dawn Molen is probably regretting not keeping a
lower profile because it was apparently her karma that first drew attention.
[Tampa Tribune] [Tampa Tribune October story]

Judges with Lousier Senses of Justice than Yours

Patrick Henry Stewart had accepted a plea agreement that would reduce the
20-yr max he faced (prosecutor recommended 41-51 months in prison) for quite
blatantly embezzling $1.8m from Jabil Circuit over a two-yr period, but as
sentencing day approached, he decided to introduce new evidence, that he
just discovered that he is bi-polar and that the Paxil he had been taking
rendered him uncontrollable. Federal district judge James Moody said in
Tampa yesterday, Sounds good to me! 12 months' house arrest plus probation.
[St. Petersburg Times]

Follow-Up
The mysterious "abduction" of Gretchen Morales [The F State, 11-20-2006] was
solved: She abducted herself (and was charged in Polk County yesterday with
filing a false police report). But the juicy part has yet to come: the
explanation!

[Orlando Sentinel]

More Things To Worry About Today
Your typical urban Miami baby shower: one killed, four wounded, and the
AK-47s at the scene weren't gifts for the baby [Miami Herald] . . . . .
Brenda J. Coney, 46, was arrested for going nuts in the prescription line at
Shands Jacksonville hospital and gunning down the head pharmacist, after
being told either that she was in the wrong line or just that her Rx wasn't
ready [Florida Times-Union] . . . . . Preston Patton, 22, was arrested after
displaying his eclectic tastes for the bubbly, having allegedly shoplifted
five bottles from the World Market in Fort Myers, including a Cristal, a Dom
Perignon and two $5.99 specials [WBBH-TV (Fort Myers)] . . . . . There was
a burglary in Port St. Lucie, unremarkable except that the perp kept
insisting (when residents resisted) that "I'm breaking into your house" (and
except that they chased him away and that he wandered back later when cops
were there). [South Florida Sun-Sentinel] . . . . . A way-convoluted child
porn case against an Ocala man might be decided today, so convoluted that
the man's chief witness is the "victim," who testified that when she was
naked on a swing above his bed, it wasn't sexual, that she was just "goofing
around." [Ocala Star-Banner]

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