Solano Real Estate Scene: Either you’re honest or you’re not

Real estate broker Dick Cardosi introduced me to his close friend and real estate lawyer Terry Duree in 1990 because I had a client in need of some help. Terry stepped up to the plate for a low-income senior citizen homeowner client of mine and helped her with some awesome pro bono legal assistance. Dick was my biggest client, great friend and an incredible mentor. I called Dick after Terry helped this sweet 80-year-old widow solve her problem – and dramatically reduce her stress – and thanked him for introducing me to what I called “the most honest” lawyer I had ever met. Dick ended up here, like so many others, via his U.S. Air Force service as a navigator at Travis Air Force Base after returning from Vietnam and nearly dying for our country. He grew up and attended college in Rhode Island. Dick taught me a ton of things over the past 32 years but one of my favorites was his response to my thank you phone call for introducing me to Terry. With his East Coast accent, he said, “Jimmy, there is no such thing as most honest; you are either honest or you are not.” I have trained hundreds of employees over the years and I have written a lot of articles about this subject. When you lie or cheat in business, you almost always get caught or found out over time. In my column about the appraisal industry and the Home Valuation Code of Conduct created in 2009 that negatively affected so many great residential appraiser businesses, my point was a few bad apples spoiled the whole barrel of apples. Most people recognize 2008 as the market crash, however the market changed from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market in the middle of 2006. Sellers and home builders offered huge incentives to home buyers after June 2006 rather than lower prices. Appraisals are always based on homes sold in the past six months so obviously a home builder would rather sell a home in September 2006 for $850,000 and give the buyer $15,000 for their closing costs and $60,000 in free upgrades than lower their prices by $75,000 and negatively affect future appraisals. A few builders around the country were dishonest and committed fraud by having fake straw buyers purchase homes in late 2006 and 2007 so that these sales could be used as comps by appraisers. For example: A builder has 10 houses for sale that are not selling for the $850,000 list price. Rather than lower the price, the builder sells three of the 10 homes to friends or accomplices for $850,000 and gives the three buyers a $100,000 refund check after escrow closes without the lender, the appraiser, the government or other potential buyers seeing the real price. The real price on the three homes was $750,000 and this doesn’t even include the reported incentives for closing cost credit and free upgrades which the public, the government, the lender, the appraiser, the escrow officer and real estate agents can see. Some crooks got caught but most of the dishonest people that committed mortgage and real estate fraud that hurt consumers and our market got away with it. Most of those dishonest lenders, appraisers, real estate agents and builders from that era are now gone because when you lie or cheat in real estate, you get caught or found out eventually. Call local lenders and Realtors that have proven to be trustworthy over time and care more about your family and your future referrals than the one commission made today.