Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at stories across the HousingWire news desk, with more coverage to come on bigger issues.
On Friday, HousingWire reported that the DOJ has asked Citigroup for more than $10 billion to settle a probe into the lender’s sale of mortgage-backed bonds in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.
However, the two banks are now facing the prospect of being sued by the Justice Department after officials broke off talks aimed at settling probes into the banks’ sales of mortgage-backed bonds.
Citigroup could pay more than $10 billion, compared to Bank of America, which could pay $17 billion. Although prosecutors did say that they are willing to go below the listed amounts.
“Even though talks have broken off, it doesn’t mean they can’t be restarted,” after lawsuits are filed, said Matthew Axelrod, a former senior Justice Department official whose firm is handling lawsuits against banks, including Bank of America and Citigroup, over mortgage-backed securities.
State Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos reported that the firms that brought the bonds should have done more research.
The claims ended up getting dismissed since the investors only reviewed data presented in offering documents for the securities rather than asking to review files for the underlying loans.
“The true nature of the risk being assumed could, admittedly, have been ascertained from reviewing these loan files and plaintiffs never asked for them,” Ramos wrote.
Moving outside of the courtroom and onto greener pastures, an article in the LA Times said that wealthy Chinese investors are quickly adding golf courses to their growing portfolios of U.S. holdings, which doubled to $14 billion last year.
Over the past year, Chinese investors bought top golf resorts, restoring some unprofitable courses.
"We're seeing a lot of tires getting kicked by the Chinese," said broker Jeffrey Woolson in Carlsbad, managing director for golf and resorts at real estate services giant CBRE Group Inc. "They only recently came forward and started buying. They do love golf, so it makes sense."
Since inventory is low, buyers have to take extra precautions to ensure that they can win their bid for a house, an article in the New York Times said.
It comes down to a lot of strategy.
One important factor is obtaining written confirmation of preapproval for a mortgage because sellers looking over multiple offers will likely discard those on which financing is not assured.
In highly competitive markets like New York City, buyers should look in a price range slightly below their maximum in case they have to bid higher.
Gea Elika, the principal broker at Elika Associates in Manhattan, said, “Today, you usually have to overpay to get something that you like. The question is: How much do you overpay and how quickly will you recoup that premium?”
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported no bank closing this week.