Mortgage fraud in Canada highlights tumbling market
“The Bank of Montreal has been hit by a huge mortgage fraud in Alberta that may cost it $30 million, a report said. The bank is suing hundreds of people in connection with the scam, including lawyers, mortgage brokers and four of its employees, CBC News said, citing legal documents.”
The case may be the largest mortgage fraud in Canadian history, generating about $140 million, with funds channeled as far as Lebanon, India, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it said.
The sophisticated scheme involved ringleaders identifying the worst house in a good neighbourhood. They would buy it at a fair market price, but convince the bank it was worth a lot more because of its location. The perpetrators would then pocket the difference in price.
A series of fake wage and legal documents would be drawn up to support the claim, with fake buyers, often new immigrants, paid a fee to use their names, the report said.
“Reading the newspapers these days you have to wonder whether Canada was on another planet when the global credit crisis hit. House prices have actually increased in some provinces and now there is a shortage of houses for sale in southern Ontario. Credit is flowing everywhere.” — Murray Dobbin
Let’s get these recent turn of events straight: some smart people bought a cheap house with a big mortgage, based partly on the bank’s own malfunctioning computer program, and then re-sold the house and pocketed the difference? This is called ‘flipping’, and as much as the bank hates it, it’s perfectly legal. We should have no tears for the big bank, it always cries when someone stops them from robbing the public for a change. The only grey area here is making up ‘fake’ buyers. This is done because the bank keeps track of ‘flippers’ and refuses to give them mortgages after a while, because they can’t stand how much money they are making off them.
There was probably a time when mortgage lenders investigated the property themselves or had it appraised in person. Now they just use the government appraisal (or a computer program in this case) and no one ever comes to check out the property in question. The most that many bankers ask for in regards to proof of a property transaction is to send a digital photo of a property (house). They say they just need something on file to show the asset that was being used as leverage for the loan. Indeed, it would be a cinch to mortgage a house in complete disrepair. If the foundations were crumbling and the wood eaten away by carpenter ants – the bank wouldn’t know anything about it. The banks bring this type of fraud onto themselves by not being more vigilant when handing out mortgages.
In recent years many banks have eliminated effective use of the services of Accredited members of The Appraisal Institute Of Canada. Doing this, they have used mass appraisal and valuation schemes to save money. Subsequently, they have made themselves and their shareholders and the public vulnerable to schemes and fraud.
They have elected to risk public trust and shareholder profits so that they as Managers can look good for selling large sums of money for projects and schemes. They may even be somewhat willing if not unwitted participants in these frauds. Conservatively valued properties may be less favorable to Mortgage Managers than inflated values.
There is often an internal policy or incentive to loan as much money as they can. Banks compete with each other for big loans. Many mortgage managers see themselves a valuation experts. They are pressured by their own managers to perform and “put loans out there”. Promotion in the Company depends on their “performance”. Astute and nimble scheme makers take advantage of this greed.
They may obtain much more funding than might be the case if a proper valuation or appraisal is done on their project or proposal or for their mortgage. The independent and fully trained Appraisers of the Appraisal Institue Of Canada are qualified to provide the valuations for protections necessary to allow mortgage managers and lending institutions to have a sense of security in their actions. Shareholders are protected. The public trust is protected. The reasonable fees charged for these services are well spent to protect everyone involved. Too often public banks have eliminated the very eyes and ears they need to ensure the integrity of the lending processes. Proper Appraisals and such investigations can help to eliminate fraud and abuse.
Canada’s sub-prime mortgage time bomb
By Murray Dobbin | October 22, 2009
What do the mid-recession housing boom and the Harper Conservatives’ rise in the polls have in common? Answer: the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s massive sub-prime mortgage scheme that is keeping up the appearance of an economic recovery.
Reading the newspapers these days you have to wonder whether Canada was on another planet when the global credit crisis hit. House prices have actually increased in some provinces and now there is a shortage of houses for sale in southern Ontario. Credit is flowing everywhere. Source: Rabble News
Moreover, believing that you people don’t have subprime mortgages on the books is kidding yourself as well. 40 year zero down? If that isn’t subprime, we don’t know what is; and that’s just one aspect of your subprime market. We had our deniers here too saying that a crash could never happen. Well, reality does matter and if housing costs far outstrip income gains, which they do, astronomically, you’ve got problems.
Borrow as much money as you can at 3% and then go invest it in oil stock that are paying anywhere from 8% to 15% in dividends. Keep the difference. When the economy recovers, interest rates will rise, but so will stock prices. So then sell the stocks, pay off the loan and keep the difference. Easy money. Even some bank dividends are more than 3% so you could borrow from the bank, invest in the bank, and still make a couple of percent. Average Canadian family income after taxes $ 71,500.00. Average price of a home in Canada $ 327,500.00. It simply does not compute.
It is about time that the federal government introduced new mortgage rules. The caveat is that these are not really “new” rules. Weren’t these the same rules that were in place a decade or so ago? Credit check on earning power and debt load capability, with 20% minimum down payment?
When the average Canadian looks around the neighbourhood in which they live, they are astounded that people can afford such luxurious, spacious homes. (Many prudent people live in the “shacks on the street of castles”) Low interest rates simply allow people to live beyond their means, if not now, for sure in the future when interest rates rise, when heating costs rise, etc. etc. Down will come tumbling the prices of large homes that people cannot afford to live in and up go prices of modest sized homes – or at least remain stable and good value prices, or at worse, decline modestly while large home prices plummet.
Prudent use of personal credit is one of life’s great lessons! Sure, it is nice to pursue one’s dream home – and we are not denying that – but one must be cautioned that the dream home really is a dream if it is not affordable. Everyone woud love to own a Ferrari but reality promptly corrects this fantasy.