Karmic Retribution James M. Hall, owner of Hall Financial Services, a Matthews, N.C.–based mortgage broker, is being forced to sell his own home to help reimburse clients as part of a settlement with the Office of the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks (NCCOB) and the state's attorney general. Hall was found by NCCOB investigators to have originated loans without considering borrowers' ability to repay the loans, taking out second mortgages on customers' homes without telling them until closing, and making multiple misstatements in loan documents. More than 40 percent of loans originated by Hall Financial during a three-year period have gone into foreclosure. Hall also had his mortgage broker and loan officer licenses permanently revoked.—E. Butterfield

Include Everyone Seeing as the median-priced home in the San Francisco Bay Area is around $665,000, California is hardly considered affordable. However, a recent report by four nonprofit advocacy groups found that roughly one-third of California's cities and counties now have inclusionary housing programs, set-asides for low- and moderate-income families. The report, “Affordable By Choice: Trends in California Inclusionary Housing Programs,” states that 170 jurisdictions now have inclusionary housing policies, up from 107 in 2003.—S. Zurier

Big Deal Clise Properties is selling a 13-acre tract in downtown Seattle, according to a report in The New York Times. Totaling nearly seven blocks, the land is currently occupied by parking lots and low-rise office buildings. It is the largest piece of land for sale in any downtown in the U.S., and could sell for as much as $1 billion, The Times quotes Real Capital Analytics as saying.—E.B.


Cut Red Tape In an address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson called on city leaders to cut excessive or unnecessary regulations—measures that Jackson says can add as much as 35 percent to the cost of a new home. One major problem: It's no longer unusual for it to take builders up to five years to gain all the permits and approvals for a project. More than 150 communities have agreed to reexamine their regulations.—S.Z.

Human Race Chinese and Caucasian immigrants are more likely than other immigrant groups to be homeowners in the U.S. and Canada (with rates that sometimes exceed those for comparably positioned native-born households), whereas black immigrants are least likely to own their homes. But racial discrimination isn't the prevailing reason for the discrepancy, according to research by a University of Alberta sociologist who correlated homeownership rates to skin color and ethnicity over a 30-year period. Differentiating factors that occur upon or shortly after arrival on American or Canadian soil can have a snowball effect, says researcher Michael Haan. “The first few years in a new country are critical ... . You have to look at things like wealth, social networks, attitudes toward housing, and knowledge of the real estate market.”—J. Sullivan

Back to Renting A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor predicts that about two-thirds of the five million renters who bought homes over the past decade will go back to renting because they can't afford their loans. William Wheaton, professor of economics and real estate at MIT, says that rents will eventually rise as a result, people will again see ownership as preferable to renting, and it will help turn housing around in two to three years.—P. Curry

Tackling Predators The Calvert Foundation, a nonprofit group that uses investment capital to fund other nonprofit organizations and social enterprises, is now helping investors to use their money to support affordable housing. By helping fund responsible lending initiatives that provide shelter for families and allow first-time home-ownership, the foundation and its investors are fighting back against wealth-stripping lending practices.—E.B.


Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.