Monday, December 05, 2016

Consumer Feds Tag Nationwide Real Estate Investor w/ Lawsuit Demanding Documents In Furtherance Of Probe Into Use Of Contract For Deed / Land Contract Arrangements To Unload Dilapidated, Money-Pit Foreclosed Homes Onto Naive Homebuyers

The New York Times reports:
  • A powerful federal consumer agency that could be muzzled under President-elect Donald J. Trump is showing no inclination of backing down yet.

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit [last] Tuesday in federal court in Michigan to require an investment firm that is a major player in the market for high-interest installment contracts for buying homes — called contracts for deed — to comply with an earlier demand for documents.

    The agency, which some Republicans in Congress have talked about reining in since Mr. Trump’s victory, filed the suit after the investment firm, Harbour Portfolio Advisors of Dallas, refused a request for documents as part of a civil investigation.

    In early November, the bureau confirmed it was investigating Harbour Portfolio after it made a public an order in which it rejected the investment firm’s formal objection to the agency’s document request, known as a civil investigative demand.

    Early this year, The New York Times, in a front-page article, wrote about Harbour Portfolio and potential abuses in the contract for deed market.

    Harbour Portfolio bought more than 6,700 single-family homes after the financial crisis of 2008, most of them from Fannie Mae, a government-controlled mortgage finance firm, in bulk sales. Harbour paid $10,000 or less for most of the homes, which were foreclosed on during the financial crisis, and has sold them “as is” to consumers through long-term, high-interest installment contracts.

    The consumer bureau, according to the lawsuit, is trying to determine whether Harbour Portfolio’s business practices violated the Truth in Lending Act and other federal laws the agency is empowered to enforce.

    The documents in the suit detail the timeline of the investigation, which began in May, a few months after the article appeared in The Times.

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