Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Western Virginia Water Authority Exposed

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Water Authorities in the State of Virginia


Landlords in the Roanoke area are being attacked by the Water Authority who has managed to get bills passed that make the landlord (a third party with no actual benefit to the service) directly responsible for up to 3 months of unpaid bills by the tenant. If the landlord contacts the Water Authority to determine whether the tenant has been keeping up with their bills, the answer is they will not disclose that information. Based on information from landlords that this has already happened to, the landlord will find out when liens are placed on their property, and by then the tenant very well likely is no where to be found.

This is a direct attack intended to punish landlords for their tenants misdeeds from this quasi government authority.

Below are copies of the bills and information pertaining to who wrote the bills. Please take a few minutes of your time to contact those who passed these bills and nicely ask them what we can do to resolve this issue. Also contact your local state legislature. There is a link below to find out who they are. Lets all take the friendly diplomatic angle first before taking this issue to a higher level if necessary.

In addition to friendly communication with Virginia state legislatures, we are also working on putting together the specific issues at hand in a format that we can all agree to, to present to the board of directors of the Water Authority. We can possibly agree with them on a fair resolution where landlords, in no way, will end up stuck with a water bill that they did not create and where we are also never put in a position of being a forced water bill collection agent for the Water Authority.

Virginia Code § 15.2-5139 - Lien for charges
Passed from HB2247 of the 2009 Session
Patron— Democrat William K. Barlow (Bill) of Richmonds 64th district http://barlowfordelegate.com/ info@barlowfordelegate.com (757) 356-0303

_ 15.2-5139. Lien for charges.
A. There shall be a lien upon real estate for the amount of any fees, rents or other charges by an authority to the owner or lessee or tenant of the real estate for the use and services of any system of the authority by or in connection with the real estate from the time when the fees, rents or charges are due, and for the interest which may accrue thereon. Such lien shall be superior to the interest of any owner, lessee or tenant of the real estate and rank on a parity with liens for unpaid real estate taxes. An authority may contract with a locality to collect amounts due on properly recorded utility liens in the same manner as unpaid real estate taxes due the locality. A lien for delinquent rates or charges applicable to three or fewer delinquent billing periods not exceeding thirty days each may be placed by an authority if the authority or its billing and collection agent (i) has advised the owner of such real estate at the time of initiating service to a lessee or tenant of such real estate that a lien will be placed on the real estate if the lessee or tenant fails to pay any fees, rents or other charges when due for services rendered to the lessee or tenant; (ii) has mailed to the owner of the real estate a duplicate copy of the final bill rendered to the lessee or tenant at the time of rendering the final bill to such lessee or tenant; and (iii) employs the same collection efforts and practices to collect amounts due the authority from a lessee or a tenant as are employed with respect to collection of such amounts due from customers who are owners of the real estate for which service is provided.
B. The lien shall not bind or affect a subsequent bona fide purchaser of the real estate for valuable consideration without actual notice of the lien until the amount of such fees, rents and charges is entered in a judgment lien book in the office where deeds may be recorded in the locality in which the real estate or a part thereof is located. The clerk in whose office deeds may be recorded shall make and index the entries therein upon certification by the authority, for which he shall be entitled to a fee of two dollars per entry, to be paid by the authority and added to the amount of the lien. The authority shall give the owner of the real estate notice in writing that it has made such certification to the clerk.
C. The lien on any real estate may be discharged by the payment to the authority of the total lien amount, and the interest which has accrued to the date of the payment. The authority shall deliver a certificate thereof to the person making the payment. Upon presentation of such certificate, the clerk having the record of the lien shall mark the entry of the lien satisfied, for which he shall be entitled to a fee of one dollar.
(Code 1950, _ 15-764.25; 1950, p. 1327; 1958, c. 97; 1962, c. 623, _ 15.1-1263; 1976, c. 243; 1983, c. 422; 1987, c. 307; 1993, c. 383; 1994, cc. 599, 602; 1997, c. 587.)


Virginia Code § 15.2-5124 - Delinquent payment of rates and charges
Passed from HB 2563 of the 2005 Session

Both of these bills passed unanimously and our local Onzlee Ware was a member. http://www.delegateonzleeware.com/
info@delegateonzleeware.com (540) 344-7410 Roanoke district 11
Patrons—Republican Danny W. Marshall. Of the 14th district Danville- http://www.dannymarshall.com/ DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1014

Democrat Ward Armstrong of the 10th district, Patrick County- http://www.wardarmstrong.com/ warda@kimbanet.com or delwarmstrong@house.state.va.us 804-698-1010

And “Conservative” Republican Robert Hurt - http://www.roberthurt.org/ email: http://www.roberthurt.org/contact-us/2.html?Itemid=20 434-432-4600

15.2-5124. Delinquent payment of rates and charges.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, if the use of any water or sewer system is contracted for by an occupant who is not the owner of the premises and such occupant's premises are separately metered for service, the owner of any such premises shall be liable only for the payment of delinquent rates or charges applicable to three delinquent billing periods, which together shall not exceed a period of ninety days. No authority shall refuse service to other premises of the owner not occupied by someone who is delinquent in the payment of such rates or charges on account of such delinquency provided that such owner has paid in full any delinquent charges for which he is liable. No authority shall refuse service to or unreasonably delay reinstatement of service to premises vacated by a delinquent occupant if a new party has applied for service, provided the owner of the premises has paid in full all delinquent charges for which he is liable.
(Code 1950, _ 15-764.12; 1950, p. 1318; 1954, c. 554; 1958, cc. 400, 402; 1960, c. 430; 1962, cc. 130, 623, _ 15.1-1250; 1968, cc. 355, 556; 1970, cc. 444, 617; 1972, c. 161; 1979, c. 280; 1980, c. 159; 1981, c. 610; 1983, c. 422; 1984, c. 554; 1994, c. 477; 1997, c. 587.)

Democrat Virginia Senator Roscoe Reynolds also had part in previous bills that lead to these. District 20 of Martinsville district20@senate.virginia.gov (276) 638-2315 http://sov.state.va.us/SenatorDB.nsf/46a07744bc5f87da85256b1400534347/85c08952a4f3943c85256aa000719999?OpenDocument

To contact your local Virginia State legislature to write a bill and change this law, go here:
http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform
Type in your address and find out who your local Delegate and Senator are. Delegates and Senators are different depending on where you live in Roanoke or Greater Roanoke.
Democrat Onzlee Ware DelOWare@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1011

and Republican William Heywood Cleaveland (Bill) DelWCleaveland@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1017
are the delegates around Roanoke.


I think John Edwards (Democrat of district 21) district21@senate.virginia.gov (804) 698-7521 is the senator for the whole area.

Republican Morgan Griffith is the delegate for Salem DelMGriffith@house.virginia.gov (804) 698-1008

and Republican Ralph K. Smith is the Senator for Salem district22@senate.virginia.gov (804) 698-7522

So it depends greatly on where you live to get your local politician……. We WILL NOT change anything unless we actually ask our representatives to implement legislation to end this unconstitutional therefore illegal activity. If we need to get together and WRITE THE BILL for them we should be willing to do so. As I understand, that’s the way it works. The first step is to contact them and offer to do so or ask what they intend to do to resolve this issue if anything at all.

Government Limits Assessors and Rouge Code Enforcement

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Property assessments receive infusion of fairness under new Virginia law
In the 2010 General Assembly session, Virginia legislators passed a bill bringing more fairness to the real estate assessment process.
Let's say that you feel your assessment is overstated and you'd like to appeal it because you'd like to reduce real estate tax bill. As your assessment appeal goes through the system, you have some additional rights based on this new law, effective July 1, 2010.
Upon your request, your real estate assessor must provide you with information about how your assessment was determined. If the assessor doesn’t provide you with this information five days before a court or board of equalization hearing, the information can’t be introduced at the hearing by the assessor. This law also increases the training and experience standards assessors must meet in order to be certified to conduct assessments in Virginia .

Improvements to Virginia properties get additional protections under new law
During the 2010 General Assembly session, Virginia 's legislators passed a law providing additional protections for home improvements.
Let's say you decide to build a front porch on your home. You hire a contractor, get all of the required permits from your local government, and complete the construction in compliance with all applicable rules. But a year later, your local government changes the rules and declares your porch to be illegal because it doesn't comply with the new rules.
Effective July 1, 2010, your local government can’t declare your home improvements to be illegal as long as you followed the rules in effect at the time the improvements were constructed, even if it has adopted stricter rules in the meantime. You also now have the right to replace an existing wastewater disposal system for an existing building even if a new system wouldn’t otherwise be permitted in that location. However, if your system fails and access to the municipal sewer is available, you’ll be required to connect to it.

Landlord Spanky Macher Gets Front Page News

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Roanoke Landlord Spanky Macher gets the front page news in the Roanoke Times regarding his Citizen Code Violations (CCV) protest against the Roanoke City Code Enforcement for attacking the citizens of Roanoke.

Macher and members of the CCV have been citing the city for their own violations in the understanding that the city should care for their own property in the same manor that they force the citizens of Roanoke to do through threats of $2,500 fines, liens on property and criminal charges placed against it's citizens. A number of people have responded to the CCV city violations with comments such as "it's about time someone stood up and let the city know we are fed up with these tyrannical forms of government" and "good job...that's a nice light hearted way to make a point that we are tired of being bullied by Roanoke City."

Conflicting points of view include the views of the President of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Gregg Ervin. Ervin said he understands Macher's frustration, "but then again it's not going to do any good to point out the grass at the library is too high."


And for the most radical opposing viewpoint, Jeff Campbell, president of Old Southwest Inc. says "With regards to Spanky's record and how he maintains properties, he needs to be picked on by code enforcement." It would be interesting to hear Campbell specify exactly what property he is referring to regarding improper maintenance. For those who don't know, in order to rent a property in the City of Roanoke, one must obtain a rental certificate. In order to obtain a rental certificate, the property must meet a highly demanding safety inspection and everything must be in working order. Holes in roofs, chipped and peeling paint, rotten siding or soffits, long grass or any other issues must be resolved before a landlord is allowed to rent the unit.

Quite honestly, this sounds more like Campbell has a chip on his shoulder and wishes to commit defamation of character, otherwise called calumny, vilification, slander and or libel, rather than legitimate accusations.

Here is the well written article by Mason Adams of the Roanoke Times:

Roanoke code enforcers changing style

Roanoke officials say the inspectors now focus on helping homeowners solve problems, not citing violations.


Related

Graphic

Roanoke's code enforcement department seems to catch criticism from all sides.

Neighborhood advocates complain that inspectors don't always move fast enough or penalize property owners harshly enough to make a difference.

Property owners who get hit with citations often feel they've been unfairly targeted.

Last spring, Roanoke's municipal auditors released a report that criticized the code enforcement department for inconsistent coverage, the lack of a single policies and procedures manual, inadequate oversight of the electronic permits system and poor follow-through on some violations that went to court.

The department responded with a defense of its procedures, arguing that auditors received a misleading "snapshot" that lacked depth and context.

Nonetheless, one year later the code enforcement officials have incorporated a number of the audit's recommendations. They've won qualified praise from neighborhood groups, as well as from new City Manager Chris Morrill.

"I spent a day with one of our inspectors," Morrill said. "I was impressed with how everybody knew him. So much happens behind the scenes. They're moving from citing violators to trying to solve the problems."

Gregg Ervin, president of the Mountain View Neighborhood Association, praised the code inspector that works his neighborhood.

"She's out there every day working on these problems, working with landlords, working with homeowners," he said. "She does as much or more for this neighborhood as anyone else in the city."

But Ervin also observed it's an uphill battle, particularly in some sections of the city that "have been going downhill a long time." The inspectors do what they can, he said, but the results are sometimes uneven.

Another common complaint involves what happens after properties are cited.

Jeff Campbell, president of Old Southwest Inc., said he's become frustrated by a judicial system that takes a lenient approach toward offenders, usually offering them the chance for more time.

The theory is that people in violation of code can invest their money into bringing their property back into compliance rather than using it to pay fines.

"Our goal isn't to fine people and put liens on property," Morrill said. "Our goal is to improve neighborhoods and reach compliance."

Campbell said he understands that but thinks that certain property owners -- particularly absentee landlords in the rental business -- take advantage of the system.

One of the biggest challenges for code inspectors is finding the right solution for the city's various neighborhoods, each of which has a different set of problems.

"Some areas are naturally going to have more, say weeds, than rental housing or those types of things," said Dan Webb, Roanoke's code compliance coordinator. "Some might have a lot of commercial properties, or we might have zoning issues in the neighborhood."

-- -- -- --

Inspectors divide Roanoke into 11 zones. The zones near the city's older core, where houses tend to have more issues and require more upkeep, are smaller, while those that cover the newer neighborhoods around the perimeter are larger.

Code inspectors must attend neighborhood meetings within their zones and work hand in hand with police officers assigned to the area. In addition, inspectors respond to complaints, work with businesses, inspect rental units and regularly canvass their zone for violations.

Inspectors also are asked to take a comprehensive approach to code enforcement -- inspecting a property for multiple violations instead of just the reason for a complaint.

For situations that go beyond code enforcement alone, the city assigns an interdepartmental team. Officials from a variety of departments -- police, code enforcement, the commissioner of revenue, the health department -- occasionally make a joint visit to particularly troublesome properties.

Roanoke landlord Roland "Spanky" Macher was the subject of one recent interdepartmental team visit.

What particularly incensed Macher about the situation was his perception of hypocrisy among city officials. They've allowed city-owned historic buildings to fall into disrepair, he said, and have fallen back on a 21-day mowing cycle in parks and at other city properties because of the tight budget.

Frustrated, Macher responded by turning the tables. He handmade a series of signs ostensibly sponsored by what he calls "Citizens Code Violations" and then placed them at city properties where the grass exceeded 10 inches -- the city's standard for a code violation.

"Mow your grass!" read one sign he placed at the Williamson Road Library.

Macher said his own problems weren't the motivation.

"It's not me -- I get a lot of violations anyway," Macher said. "These elderly people on Social Security -- they can't paint their house, they can't mow the yard. The city comes in and starts running over top of these people. ... You should do everybody, including yourself. They're not doing themselves -- that's the issue."

Ervin said he understands Macher's frustration, "but then again it's not going to do any good to point out the grass at the library is too high."

For the city's part, Webb said that he and his inspectors aren't targeting individuals like Macher. At least one neighborhood advocate, though, thinks the city should.

"With regards to Spanky's record and how he maintains properties, he needs to be picked on by code enforcement," Campbell said.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Goodlatte Shows Extreme Waste in Poff Renovation

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Goodlatte targets Poff renovation

The congressman says the $51 million federal project is a waste of taxpayers' money.

www.roanoke.com

A proposed $51 million renovation of the Poff Federal Building is a "waste of taxpayer dollars," U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Monday in urging the government to halt a project born from federal stimulus funds.

Goodlatte, R-Roanoke, questioned why the cost of making the downtown building more energy efficient is more than four times what it cost to build it in the 1970s.

"A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is required before a project like this should proceed," Goodlatte wrote in a recent letter to Martha Johnson, administrator of the General Services Administration, the federal agency that is essentially the landlord for government buildings.

Although it's unusual for an elected official to oppose the influx of more than $50 million to his district, Goodlatte cited a number of reasons that go beyond his opposition to the stimulus package passed by Congress last year.

Like all House Republicans, Goodlatte voted against President Obama's $787 billion plan to stimulate a tanking economy.

But Goodlatte did not immediately oppose the $51 million from the stimulus package designated for renovations to the Poff Building, a 14-story glass-and-brick edifice that houses the region's federal courts and the offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The congressman said Monday that his concerns about the project grew over the past year as he tried in vain to get answers from the GSA about its need and cost. Goodlatte asked that the project be stopped only after recently learning that the VA -- which occupies about half of the building -- plans to relocate.

"It is extremely alarming that ... the largest tenant in the Poff Federal Building will not be returning to the building once the renovations are complete," Goodlatte said in a statement. "How can the General Services Administration spend nearly $51 million of the taxpayers' money to renovate the Poff Federal Building and yet not address the needs of the building's tenants?"

A GSA spokeswoman said modernization of the building, which has not received a major renovation since it opened in 1975, is more cost-efficient than building a new one.

"The Poff Federal Building in Roanoke will be a hallmark in taxpayer savings through higher performing, greener improvements," Gina Blyther Gilliam wrote in an e-mail.

Details of what the work will entail were not available Monday. In the past, government officials have said only that the improvements will make the building more energy efficient. Goodlatte said that includes replacing the windows and installing a new heating and cooling system.

If there was a need for such improvements before the stimulus money became available, Goodlatte said, he was never informed. The way he sees it, the GSA's position is: "We've got the money, let's spend it."

Kevin Thompson, a spokesman for the VA's regional office, confirmed that the agency is looking for a new location. He referred most questions -- including ones raised by Goodlatte about how the renovation project will not meet the agency's needs for a more efficient operation -- to the GSA.

Last year, a report by the VA's inspector general found widespread problems at the Roanoke regional office, which handles compensation and pension claims for area veterans. The shortcomings included lost files and improperly processed claims.

The report also warned that overloaded file cabinets on the upper floors exceeded weight limits and could compromise the building's structural integrity -- a finding that GSA disputed but quickly addressed by redistributing the files.

According to Goodlatte, the VA's regional office will be moved to four different locations, causing "an increase in already lengthy delays in processing veterans' claims."

Thompson said there may be a "slight delay" in paperwork while the move is in progress, but there should be no long-term impact.

It was unclear where the VA office will move. One possibility cited by Goodlatte is the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem. That option could involve new construction on the grounds or use of existing buildings, the congressman wrote in his letter to GSA.

Another concern cited by Goodlatte is that area firms have not been able to bid on work for the Poff Building. A $2.9 million contract for the renovation's design recently went to a firm in Kansas City, Mo.

"We need to make sure that the huge expenditure envisioned for the Poff Federal Building is done in a deliberate manner with full disclosure and transparency of how the taxpayers' money will be spent and what jobs are created by the project for the Roanoke Valley," Goodlatte said.

Another Case of the EVIL Landlord

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In Portsmouth VA Collinswood Lake Apartment owner had a few units air conditioning units break due to the extreme heat. Which we all know can happen. That's when they break. When they are working hard to keep the place cool.

Tenants call the news and say things like "If you could imaging yourself in a steel box with no breezes, nothing, with nausia because of the heat, sweating like crazy...." As if there were no windows in the apartment and they haven't yet invented fans. The media pumps it up and tells their war stories about how terrible the conditions are for these people.

The landlord, a real nice guy, obviously had some troubles getting a couple of units systems repaired quickly and within 5 days, went out of his way and bought window units to help with the "terrible" conditions they were subjected to.

I just don't know how our ancestors got through live without air conditioning every day of the year. The landlord was clearly doing what he could to repair the cooling system but because he's the Rich Evil Landlord, 5 days without it and he should be tar and feathered.

Here is the original story and video:


by Brian Farrell

13NEWS / WVEC.com

PORTSMOUTH -- "I came down to my sister-in-law's, 'cause, thank God, her air is working," says Frances Parker, who turns 84 this week.

Her own air conditioning in her home at Collinswood Lake Apartments went out Saturday. Parker, who has heart trouble and arthritis, called to let management know via its answering service. By Monday, no repairs were made, prompting her to call again about the trouble in her apartment.

"Mine was between 86 and 90 degrees," Parker tells 13News. "It takes every effort, you know, just to go to the kitchen to get a glass of water on the hot days."

"It's almost unbearable. I'm sweating like crazy right now," says Donna Barkley who explains her air conditioning stopped working almost a week ago, likening her apartment to a "steel box with no breezes, nothing."

"Some units, they can fix immediately," says property owner George Eberwine, "some, it'll take a day to fix, depending on the parts we have to get."

Eberwine tells 13News as soon as a tenant calls with a problem about the air conditioning, someone contacts the company he employs to maintain the units. He disputes claims that some people have been without any way to cool themselves for almost a week.

"That is not normal," Eberwine says. "I'll put it that way. That would not be the normal procedure."

"I told 'em I had a 3-week-old baby here that just got over upper respiratory infection, but that's not considered and emergency," Tammy Barnes says.

The grandmother says she reported her problem last week, with a window unit showing up five days later.

"The rest of the house is ninety-some degrees, so once you take a shower, you're gonna sweat to death," says Barnes. "You can't breathe, you know? There's no air. When you move into an apartment, and it comes with heat and air, you're supposed to have air, you know?"

Eberwine assures 13News repairmen will take care of the central air conditioning units, acknowledging the window units are a temporary fix that's "better than nothing."

In the case of Parker, even the temporary fix wasn't in place at her apartment late Monday, which means she'll be spending more time at her sister-in-law's.

"You can't afford nowadays to go to the motel, so you're up the creek without a rowboat and a paddle," she concludes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Land Trusts, What To Use Them For....

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First of all, I am not a lawyer and not giving you legal advice. Just telling you a little information I have learned about land trusts. Consult your attorney before using one.

There are a number of reasons to use a land trust in your real estate holdings. One primary purpose of a land trust is to help your loved ones avoid the headaches and costs of probate court and excessive taxation when you die.

Land trusts are also used to keep the owner of the property anonymous on public records. You may not be interested in tenants, lawyers or others knowing your every day business. Knowledge of how much property you own can help a lawyer determine if it's worth while to take a long shot sue you with a weak case.

Land trusts don't give you liability protection like an LLC does but they do give you a little protection from title claims. If you for some reason end up getting a judgment against you, it won't automatically attach to the property, since the title is not in your name. The same goes if your trust gets a lien against it. The lien will not be against you personally but rather the trust.

Land trusts are also used for ease of changing owners and working with the seasoning requirements of most banks. Land trusts are assignable so once the property is in a land trust, it is easy to change the beneficiary (owner) of the trust to the new owner. The trust agreement is a private agreement that is kept by you in your file cabinet so no one really knows who the beneficiary of the trust is besides you. The only other part of a land trust besides the trust agreement is the deed that has to be changed and recorded at the courthouse into the name of the trust.

Trusts are also used to buy property subject to the existing mortgage. This can help avoid the due on sale clause that all mortgage loans have these days. But presently, for the most part, banks are not calling the loans due at this time because interest rates are far too low to make it beneficial to do so. Presently they are happy to get the money they are owed.

Another benefit of a land trust is if you are having your property managed by a property management company, a trust is beneficial in preventing code enforcement from taking you personally to court rather than the property management company because the beneficiary of the trust is anonymous.

The trustee of a land trust is usually an entity (llc) or person other than the beneficiary (owner). A trustee holds the legal title to all trust property. The trustee signs, notarizes and records documents in their name, not the name of the investor. In a land trust, the named beneficiaries retain the use of the property and the income it generates. The trustee can act only when it receives written instructions from the beneficiaries, who maintain control at all times. If the trustee lives in a different state or country, it will be difficult and expensive for creditors, lawyers, code enforcement, etc to determine who the beneficiary is.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lease-to-Own Lure: Alleged Real Estate Scam Preyed on Absentee Owners

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I thought this was an interesting story that Tim sent me. This scammer would have never been able to get away with what she did if the victims did a criminal and civil background check prior to her moving in. At our next meeting I'm going to give a little seminar on doing criminal and eviction checks for free.


Posted by Sheree R. Curry
www.rentedspaces.com

Riding up to homes for sale on her bicycle, Pamela Winegardner allegedly would chat with listing agents about her new business ventures, her career as a six-figure human resources consultant, her dying grandmother, her boyfriend's injured daughter, and her need to move quickly out of her current rental because the owners have new people moving in soon.

She'd like to buy this home, she reportedly said, but she first needed to lease it for a couple of months while she waited for some financial matters from a business deal to settle. She came across as poised, friendly, and likable, but Winegardner held a secret, real estate agents and authorities say: She is a scam artist.

According to real estate agents and landlords who count themselves as her victims: Winegardner posed over and over again as a prospective homebuyer interested in a lease-to-own option; she never bothered to change her name, only her voice, as she scammed her way into nearly two dozen known Ohio homes -- until their owners caught on and evicted her.

With 15 total evictions under her belt in the last four years and at least 21 overall, reports the Columbus Dispatch, the alleged check-forger finally landed a new home in jail, awaiting trial, thanks to some shrewd real estate agents, a concerned neighbor and a police detective investigating bank fraud.

Some of her last alleged victims, Forrest Shirkey and wife Heather Schroederer, said that they originally thought she was heaven-sent. They authorized their real estate agent to hand over the keys to their three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath New Albany, Ohio home in exchange for Winegardner's $4,158 cashier's check. The initial payment was meant to cover first and last month's rent and as a deposit to take occupancy in April and ultimately purchase the home for the full price, minus seller-paid closing costs.

The home with a finished basement and screened porch, had been sitting empty since November, when the couple had moved to Pennsylvania. Covering their own rent and the mortgage back in Ohio was straining the pockets of Shirkey and Schroederer. A full-price offer of $224,000 in fewer than six months was, well, apparently, too good to be true. But at the time "it was what we needed when we needed it," Shirkey tells AOL's RentedSpaces.

The couple did their due diligence, just as many homeowners before them with whom Winegardner conducted business. They reviewed her 2007 and 2008 tax returns, her resume, and the business plan for a new venture that she insisted on sending. And they would only accept a cashier's check. But that too was counterfeit, they said.

Shirkey says, "As homeowners you are used to exchanging checks for keys, I didn't even think twice about it."

After all, they had also had their real estate agent to phone her references.

"I know now that she was just disguising her voice," says Real Living HER real estate agent Jann Hanners about the references, who all had accents -- one was Asian, one was from Georgia -- and they all gave glowing comments.

This RentedSpaces writer reviewed several of the documents Winegardner turned in for one of the properties she rented and uncovered some interesting results that could raise red flags for the suspicious. A Google search on one of the phone numbers she listed for her supposed previous landlord showed a connection with resumes4everyone.com. That's a website that Winegardener purchased in October 2009 for only one year, according to the Internic Whois database.

The paper copy of her "FreeCreditReport.com" shows her name, year of birth and date of document in a different typeface and shade than the rest of the document.

Her business plan for another venture shows she only expected to spend $2,500 in advertising and marketing, but planned to rake in about $200,000 in revenue for the first year.

Her Meet Up, LinkedIn and other social media accounts for the greater Columbus, Ohio area were all created in late 2009 and do not reveal much of a network circle for someone who purported to have a 2008 income of $249,000 by providing resume consulting services since 2005. Also, her tax returns were unsigned by her or by a tax preparer. Though she easily could have faked signatures, that potentially could have have added another layer of criminal charges.

Winegardner, who is currently in jail for violating parole, has a couple of different criminal suits pending against her in addition to civil actions past and present for the nonpayment of funds to her victims. While investigating a bank fraud case, Franklin County Detective Eric Stoddard says that he learned that "she got some money she wasn't entitled to from U.S. Bank." The City of Gahanna, Ohio is also suing her.

Shirkey just received a summons in the mail to testify against Winegardner by phone. "She really did a number on us," says Shirkey, who has dropped the list price of their home to $189,900. "Because of her I bounced a check to the mortgage company. Now we are heading toward foreclosure."

The home, with a fenced yard and two-car garage, is just around the corner from the home where Winegardner stayed immediately before. In fact, a neighbor followed her as she rode her bike up the street to the other home, according to Linda Ruzicka, the agent for Winegarder's previous residence. Ruzicka says that she also was originally fooled by Winegardner.

"She preyed on absentee-owners," Ruzicka says. But outside of not paying her rent, she made everything else believable. "She even always paid her utilities," she explains. "Even though she knew she'd only be in a home for a couple of months, she'd set up the cable, the home was well-furnished. She had a king-sized bed, a large-screen TV, her own washer and dryer, and a lawn mower in the garage. But that was all part of the scam. She didn't just travel with a suitcase, she moved in and filled the house."

Winegardner was a schmoozer and a down-to-earth sweettalker who pulled on your heartstrings, Ruzicka says. She had what seemed like a rational explanation for the bounced check (her delay in supplying some documents) and inconsistencies in her stories, including: having to nurse back to health a boyfriend who just had a heart attack and dealing with arrangements for her grandmother's funeral -- a story she told countless homeowners, years apart.

At one point she even apologized to Ruzicka for not getting back to her sooner: Her boyfriend's "youngest daughter was in a serious car accident and we ended up going over to Indiana to be with her," she allegedly wrote in a January e-mail. After she had taken occupancy and was supposedly in Indiana, the agent contacted Winegardner and told her that she saw fresh footprints in the snow leading to and from the home and that the mailbox flag was up.

Ruzicka says that Winegardner became stern, asking why was she being checked on and that it was her father, Gary Winegardner, of Reynoldburg, Ohio who had been at the home. When RentedSpaces attempted to contact Winegardner's father by phone, a woman answered and said that he had no comment.

Real Living's Hanners says that she met the elder Winegardner when he and his wife came to move his daughter's belongings from the home. She says that she asked him if he had any knowledge of his daughter's crimes, given that she moved so frequently, and that he replied, "We kind of suspected something."

Shirkey's advice to other landlords or sellers: "As much as a pain in the butt it is pay the fees to do a professional background check, as much as you don't want to spend the money on this service, just do it. We did one after the fact. Had we done one before, we would've seen that the Social Security number she gave us was fraudulent."

Other advice: Make sure the check clears before you hand over the keys.

Monday, June 7, 2010

An Indication of Present Roanoke Market Conditions

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Some charts were sent by our member Valeria but I am unable to post them on Blogger so here is the lowdown. You could assume the same thing is happening in the "Non MLS" market. Generally new listings for sale have dramatically increased and the sale of property has increased as well. However, it doesn't appear that sales have increased proportionally. We appear to be in slightly worse condition.

In January there were a total of 660 new listings but only 127 sales from LNF information. And the average sale price was 212K. And in May there were 1163 new listings and 1136 sales with an average sales price that dropped to 192K. So forget about your thoughts that we have hit the bottom because we're not there yet. And when we do hit the bottom I expect to see a long drought of one month a little better and one month a little worse before we start to pull back out of the hole.

The present unemployment rate in Roanoke City is 9.6. They consider around 3.5 to be 0 because there will always be people out there that either can't or just don't want to work. Salem's unemployment rate is 7.2. Roanoke Counties unemployment rate is 6.7. Virginia's average unemployment rate is 7.6 because we have towns like Martinsville sucking us down.

***Mark my words, until this job thing gets straightened out, and there has been plenty of time to allow for people to build up some reserves, we won't see the real estate market completely turn around. We will need an unemployment rate around 5% to "start" seeing some life in the market.

We are in a buyers market right now. NOW is the time to buy and acquire your wealth. You will also be doing a good deed. Buying up all of the houses in Roanoke will make it "look" like things are getting better even though the underlying cancer will not have been fixed. It's like some duct tape on a wound.

Wholesale Property Available - 3106 Courtland

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3106 Courtland
·
· Investors- we've done the work, it's completely remodeled. 
We'll sell it to you for $55,000! 
That's all we need out of it- rent it for cash flow or resell it. 

It's a redone 2/1 with gas forced air and central cooling. Give me a call as it needs to go out the door or into our rental portfolio. 

540-309-4390 

New Leaf Investment 

Owner/Realtor

Rental property available

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We have (2) 3 bedroom/2 bath units available for rent on Patterson Ave; $650 month, includes water. If anyone interested, please call Gary Wimmer at: 540-580-3827

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Bridge Loans on Multifamily Apartment Complexes

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For those of you who need a little background before reading this article, Bridge loans are not permanent financing but rather more like transactional funding but for longer periods of time. Bridge loans are useful for scenarios where you find a distressed, lets say, 40 unit apartment complex and only half of the units are livable. Due to the need of repairs, you won't qualify for a traditional commercial loan. So you get a bridge loan at a higher 10% or so interest rate that will give you the money to quickly rehab the buildings and get them rented. Then you get a commercial loan and pay off the bridge loan.

Or you find a building under new construction that is most of the way complete before the builder went under. You use a bridge loan to purchase and finish the project, then get your commercial loan.

Bridge loans are also sometimes used to finance the acquisition of defaulted notes.

From: Apartment Finance Today 2010 Posted on: May 20, 2010 12:20:00 PM Wells Fargo Dusts Off Bridge Loan Program By: Jerry Ascierto

Wells Fargo, the multifamily industry’s largest lender, has rejuvenated its floating-rate bridge loan program for multifamily properties.

]The news comes fresh on the heels of a similar move from Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., as more institutional lenders see greater demand for, and grow more comfortable with, debt for transitional assets.

Wells Fargo’s bridge loan, a balance sheet-execution, acts as a feeder to the company’s agency permanent loan programs, buying some time for a property to build up occupancy. Since the bridge loans are highly structured based on each borrower’s needs, the pricing, terms, and parameters of the program are relatively fluid.

“It’s really more of a customization, and we continue to adjust and tweak it,” says Vince Toye, managing director and head of government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) production at the San Francisco-based bank. “We haven’t tried putting specific parameters out there because each deal is customized to the sponsor and really varies depending on the transaction.”

While the company never fully shut down the program, it hasn’t seen much use in the last two years. But the company now sees an opportunity in binding the bridge loan program to the company’s Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Federal Housing Administration executions. While properties coming out of construction are one of the program’s targets, Wells Fargo has also seen an increasing demand in other areas of late.

“The last month or so, we’ve seen a good number of acquisition-related deals, where someone wants to come in, maybe do some work on the property, and get it re-stabilized,” Toye says. “We’re not looking at rent growth, though. It’s really more about fixing what needs to be fixed, getting it leased up or burning some concessions off, and then putting it into a permanent financing position.”

Toye came over to Wells Fargo through its $15.1 billion acquisition of Wachovia on Dec. 31, 2008. The acquisition added an enormous portfolio, new client base, and large East Coast presence to Wells Fargo’s already sizable business.

In fact, Wells Fargo was named the multifamily industry’s largest lender by volume in 2009, at $7.5 billion, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual rankings. This was the first time Wells has occupied the top spot—it was the fourth-largest lender in 2008, with $6.1 billion in multifamily originations, while Wachovia was the second-largest lender at $6.8 billion.

“We have long-term clients from the Wachovia days that we hadn’t done any balance-sheet lending for, but have now done some construction loans for those clients,” Toye says. “And we can now provide bank services for them, where we really didn’t have the distribution network from a branch perspective in the past.”

The company also says that other balance-sheet executions, such as construction financing, never really took a hiatus. “Wells remained in the market when other people just completely backed out and stopped lending,” Toye says. “But Wells continued to grow their real estate portfolio, and never really stopped doing construction loans.”
 

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