Surely you recall for the tale of The Man With the $16 House, a September cover story about Kenneth Robinson, who occupied a $340,000 Flower Mound home for the cost of filing paperwork with Denton County.
Now, Robinson faces eviction from the place that’s been his home since June, according to WFAA. Bank of America filed court documents with Denton County that claim the bank owns the property after a January 3 foreclosure. Robinson could be kicked out if the court sides with the bank.
At the end of August, a spokesperson for Bank of America sent the Observer a statement saying the bank was “proceeding with the foreclosure process, and we anticipate it will be completed in the next two months.” Five months later, here goes.
“This is simply a transaction,” Robinson tells Unfair Park, describing the situation today exactly as he has since moving in. Read the complete story.
Ken Robinson lectures SMU law students on his first-hand experience with adverse possession. The property rights law of adverse possession is normally a dry topic, a chapter covered in law school to be forgotten immediately after final exams. This will not be the case for about 100 SMU law students who attended a Wednesday evening lecture by Ken Robinson, the Flower Mound man (and subject of an Observer cover story) who overtook a vacant suburban home for $16, the price of filing notice with Denton County.
Robinson is not a lawyer, but with a background in real estate and a penchant for unusual investments, he knows the law. He lectured with the charisma of a seasoned professor, first thanking everyone for having him, and even giving a hat-tip to Christopher Columbus, who used some version of adverse possession before the law even existed.
“One of these was not like the other,” he said, explaining that the home where he now lives was unkempt compared to its perfectly manicured neighbors when he noticed it in the beginning of summer. He approached the property as an investment opportunity, figuring he might get a good deal if he could contact the owner. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t even track down information about the mortgage. Read the complete story.
In late July, the untended, bean-shaped swimming pool at Ken Robinson‘s Flower Mound home — that is, the house in which he lives — was a stew pot of viscous green slime. On a stifling midsummer evening, when he walked out the back door to vacuum one of many layers of filth, the water level was nearly at the lip of the concrete. If someone were to jump in, algae-filled slop would have spilled onto the patio. He ran to the hose spigot at the side of the house and cut off the water. This was his first time caring for a pool; he had a lot to learn.
As Robinson prepared to clean, a young couple knocked on the fence’s weathered gate. They had driven more than an hour to see him after watching him on a Channel 8 news report a week earlier. His story had since gone viral: “A $330,000 home for $16? This is not a normal process,” read Channel 8’s headline. “How to Get a McMansion for $16” ABC News‘ said. Soon, Robinson was opening fan mail from as far away as China and Thailand.
The week after Robinson moved into the tan-sided home with a faux stone entrance and maroon shutters, he was soaring, an Internet hero a few levels shy of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who last summer cracked a beer and left work on a plane’s emergency slide. For $16, Robinson had filed paperwork with Denton County staking his claim to the abandoned home through an obscure Texas law called adverse possession. Ever since, curious visitors, beginner real estate investors and people who want an ultra-cheap home to fulfill their version of the American Dream have been knocking on his door for advice and a handshake. Robinson estimates he hosted two visitors and received two letters from fans daily for weeks after the news broke. Read the complete story
Big government and corporations are careful to bury their failures in the fine print. The Treasury Department released its January analysis of the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) program. Readers must sift through a large number of statistics to find that only 933,000 homes mortgages have been permanently modified since April 1, 2009. Politicians, the press and housing analysts attacked the results of the report as evidence that HAMP is a failure and that the president’s new follow-up plan will do no better.
The mystery about HAMP is why it has not worked. The Treasury’s January scorecard about the program does not say directly. The president’s new proposal indicates that he thinks one of the largest problems with the old plan was a lack of incentives for banks that hold mortgages. The FHA will guarantee new, refinanced mortgages under his latest program. That should make banks more open to resetting home loans. The risk of the process will be taken off of their books, which it was not entirely before.
The new plan lacks much detail, but its enemy likely will be bureaucracy, as is evident in HAMP’s results. Some 1,775,000 mortgages have been considered for modification, but are still “trial modifications.” That is a lot of “trials” for a program that has run for three years. Either the people with these mortgages were not creditworthy — which begs the question of how they got into the program originally — or they are caught in a process that is so slow it cannot move them quickly to permanent status.
The trouble with large national programs regulated by the federal government, and operated bank-by-bank and mortgage-by-mortgage, is the lack of an efficient way to push millions of home loans through such an unwieldy system. That may be at the core of the failure of HAMP. The lack of permanent modification in the Treasury’s January report would seem to show that is true. It requires a look through the fine print to come to that conclusion, but buried there is the reason for the program’s failure, as well as the likely reason a new program will not work.
Douglas A. McIntyre
Read more: President’s New Mortgage Plan and the Failure of HAMP – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2012/02/07/presidents-new-mortgage-plan-and-the-failure-of-hamp/#ixzz1linKk6Ag