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Home appraisal’s ugly history and uncertain future

This is Part I of a deep dive into the home appraisal industry. Today we explore the origins of the appraisal industry and its current lack of diversity.

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FBI agents raid North Texas-based real estate investment trust

Kyle Bass-led hedge fund had previously accused REIT of operating like Ponzi scheme

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Thursday raided real estate investment trust United Development Funding in North Texas in what one notable hedge fund had previously said operated like a Ponzi scheme.

According to multiple sources, United Development Funding, based in a suburb of Dallas, had financed more than $1 billion in residential development across Texas.


Agents were seen carrying boxes out of United Development Funding on the 1300 block of Municipal Way and loading the boxes into large trucks.

UDF has acknowledged it has been under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and said it was cooperating, but added no specific charges of wrongdoing have been made.

According to Dallas’ WFAA, the bureau hasn’t confirmed whether a raid was taking place. "We are conducting law enforcement activities at a Grapevine business," the FBI said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time the UDF has come under fire. According to the Dallas Morning News, Dallas hedge fund investor Kyle Bass, head of Hayman Capital, a well-known hedge fund, had previously slammed the Grapevine-based residential lender for its practices.

At the same time, Bass admits he’s made big profits by short selling United Development Funding’s stock — which has lost more than half its value in the last couple of months.

Here’s how UDF’s CEO Hollis Greenlaw described the REIT: “Since our inception in 2003, we have enjoyed considerable success as a company by investing in all aspects of the home development cycle – from equity and land banking to mezzanine financing to first lien lending."

A so-called Ponzi scheme occurs when newly-invested capital is used to pay existing investors, instead of actual investments. One of the more famous recent examples of a Ponzi scheme would be Bernie Madoff and his accomplices.

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