Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Would Lorie Zapf bring "strategic fraud" to City Council?

Would Lorie Zapf bring "strategic fraud" to City Council?
by Pat Flannery
Blog of San Diego
May 24, 2010

Lorie Zapf, a candidate for City Council District 6, is attempting to turn a bust into a boon. Last week Dave Maass of CityBeat broke a story busting her for being in default on her family home in Clairemont. Responding to CityBeat Ms. Zapf tried to paint herself as the champion of all families who are attempting to negotiate a modification of their mortgage with their lender.

Maass asked me for my (real estate) opinion on the veracity of Zapf's claim, that "strategic defaults" are now commonplace. I told him it was "B.S." Lenders do not modify loans for borrowers who have the means to make their payments. Modification is for families who have genuine hardship, not slick real estate professionals like Zapf's husband.

Before responding to CityBeat I pulled the relevant Deed of Trust and the Notice of Default from the County Recorder. The loan on which the Zapfs are in default is an interest-only Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A quick look confirmed that Zapf's "explanation" to CityBeat was indeed B.S. HELOC rates are already the lowest rates available.

Reporter Maass was now caught between two opinions on "strategic defaults". Mark Goldman, a real estate lecturer at SDSU, was telling him "In order to just have the bank consider your request, they pretty much force you into going into default. There’s a lot of people in that situation.” A classic example of "Those who know, do. Those who profess to know, teach". But the journo handbook requires that reporters call know-all professors.

Then CityBeat asked me to research another Zapf Notice of Default, this time in Las Vegas. Was this too a "strategic default"? So I dug out all the Zapf documents on their property at 2446 Craigie Castle St., Henderson, NV. It is a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom single-family house built in 2004. The Zapfs bought it from the builder, Dell Web of Arizona, on September 10, 2004 for $511,875 as a second home.

It was a "second home" because they used "second home" financing. They got a $417,950 first loan and a $52,277 second, both from Countrywide. Wife Lorie would have to be intimately involved. A husband can't get "second home" financing without a wife's full cooperation. Their combined 1st and 2nd loans, $470,277, was 92% financing. That kind of loan-to-value ratio is not available for investment properties. If Eric rented out this property as an "investment", he defrauded his lender and Lorie was equally responsible. Yet that is exactly what Lorie told Channel 10 they did. She said it was an investment property, owned by her husband...

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