The accusations of mortgage-related fraud just keep coming. In Thursday's Post there's a report by the Post's Kafia A. Hosh about Ashburn real estate agent Diane H. Frederick Atari, 42, who was charged with multiple counts of mortgage fraud, money laundering and racketeering. According to the story, Atari got people approved for home purchases in Loudoun or Fairfax counties by artificially boosting their credit scores or inflating their incomes. Lenders could be out about $50 million--and Atari is nowhere to be found. Authorities say she may have left for Jordan, where her ex-husband has relatives. Speaking of which, the Post's Derek Kravitz also reports that one of her ex's distant relatives may be Loudoun restaurateur Osama El-Atari, who also has disappeared, leaving tens of millions of dollars of debt--and an empty $3.8 million house in Ashburn--behind. Weekend reading: Mara Lee has details on a way you can get the money...
Will it appraise? Low-quality appraisals done by appraisers parachuting in from a different market are among the top complaints this summer. Freddie Mac recently issued a reminder to lenders that it's their responsibility to make sure that appraisals are performed by people who are well-qualified and familiar with the local market.
Drinks are on you, Arlingtonians! Money Magazine says you're living in the Number Two spot in the country for the "rich and single." (Hermosa Beach, Calif., was tops.) According to Money, almost 42 percent of Arlingtonians are single, and the 2008 median income was $108,815. (Btw, did you know you were rich?)
Here's one of the questions I couldn't get to during the latest Real Estate Live chat. The next online conversation is scheduled for Friday, July 24 at 1 p.m. As always, you can read the transcript or submit a comment or question early. Ashburn: In order to qualify for a loan modification, do you need to be behind in payments or do you just need to meet the qualifications, that is your mortgage takes up more than 31 percent of gross monthly income, the loan balance is less than $729,000, and it was originated before Jan. 9, 2009, etc?
Honestly, I thought balloon home mortgages--debts that come due after a short period, forcing a refinance--were killed off by the real estate crash. But I learned that online lender ING Direct is still offering these risky loans. Only now they're taking steps to limit their risk by requiring at least a 25 percent down payment (or equity, if it's a refinance). The payoff for borrowers: A 4.25 percent interest rate, which is well below current rates. And they promise very low closing costs, too