Most prospective home buyers begin their search on the internet, probably landing on Zillow.com at some point. That website gives possible values—called “Zestimates”—for nearly all houses in the country. Problems can arise if a property’s listing price and the corresponding Zestimate differ by a lot. Can a seller sue Zillow in that situation? A federal court in Illinois recently said “no,” but that might not be the end of the story. Continue Reading Are Zestimates Illegal?

Many real estate businesses accused of violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act have invoked the statute’s exemptions for “services actually performed.” But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has long rejected those efforts, reading the exemptions as narrowly as possible. The bureau’s hardballing continued last week, when it penalized an Indiana title company for its shared ownership interests with an affiliated title insurer. Continue Reading CFPB Continues Its War Against RESPA Safe-Harbors

The damage caused by Genuine Title, LLC, a now-defunct title company from Maryland, continues unabated. A federal court in Ohio recently certified a class action against the Ohio-based Emery Federal Credit Union for that company’s alleged participation in a kickback scheme with Genuine Title. The class-certification decision is so broad in its reasoning that all real estate business should be concerned. Continue Reading Fallout from Genuine Title Mars Ohio Credit Union

In the bare-knuckle litigation the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is known for, defendants often try to learn the bases for the bureau’s allegations against them. Normally they get no meaningful answers. But a federal court in Georgia recently gave several defendants something valuable: dismissal of the CFPB’s claims against them. Continue Reading CFPB Slammed with Dismissal Sanctions

For decades, federal courts have slowly freed class-action plaintiffs from the burdens of statutes of limitations, which bar the filing of lawsuits after a specified period of time. A recent decision from a federal appellate court shows that we have likely reached the logical conclusion of those efforts, one in which related class actions can be filed one after another, with no real time limit. Continue Reading Serial Class Actions Are Fine, Ninth Circuit Holds

The real estate industry, being rooted in practices developed over generations, is slow to change. In today’s business climate, inflexibility can prove disastrous. But, last month, the South Carolina Supreme Court moved its real estate industry toward modernity by endorsing a national lender’s internet-refinancing process, which the court found satisfies the state’s existing requirements for attorney involvement. Continue Reading Internet Refinancings Take Critical Step Forward

Earlier this month, a federal court awarded $11 million to a class of West Virginia mortgage borrowers who accuse Quicken Loans, Inc., and Title Source, Inc., of cheating them on home appraisals. The lawsuit completes a perfect storm of troublesome factors that culminated in massive liability for Quicken and Title Source. Continue Reading Quicken Loans and Title Source Hit with $11 Million Penalty in Appraisal Class Action