The Homeowners’                                                         Fix Housing Fir...
FINANCIAL FAIRNESS                                      LEGAL FAIRNESS                                      FULL DISCLOSUR...
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The Homeowners' Bill of Rights


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I created this handout for the Democratic National Convention. Homeowners of Texas, a nonprofit consumer advocacy, was urging Congress to adopt a Homeowners' Bill of Rights that includes financial, legal, and disclosure reforms.

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The Homeowners' Bill of Rights

  1. 1. The Homeowners’ Fix Housing First Tom Archer, PresidentHomeowners of Texas (HOT) urges Congress to 807 Brazos St., Suite 304adopt a Homebuyers’ Bill of Rights that includes Austin, TX 78701 512-502-5349 Businesses large and small have closed theirthe following national reforms: doors, and millions of Americans have lost their jobs, their homes, and their life savings,1. Financial: Restore checks & balances to the all because so many homes were under- home buying process built, over-appraised and over-financed. To recover, we must Fix Housing First.2. Legal: Pass the Arbitration Fairness Act Home is where the heart is, our castle, our3. Disclosure: Repeal the “Brownfields Law” sanctuary from the busy world, a place toTo enable recovery and prevent a repeat of the rest and recuperate, and a source ofhousing collapse, adopt a Housing Fairness Act personal pride. It’s the biggest financialthat prohibits conflicts of interest between large investment we may ever make. As such, ourhomebuilders and in-house mortgage, title, About Homeowners of Texas home must be a safe, secure and structurallyinsurance and appraisal companies. sound place to raise our family. HOT is the 1-year old consumer group that convinced Texas lawmakers to abolish the Texas But the political love affair with deregulationPass the Arbitration Fairness Act to ensure fair Residential Construction Commission. We and the homebuilding industry propelled andispute resolution. And repeal the “Brownfields advocate legislative reforms at both the State and epidemic of irresponsibility that plaguedLaw.” Federal levels to restore homeowners’ legal rights Wall Street, Main Street and WashingtonFull written disclosure of all dangerous soil through fair dispute resolution, purchase and sparked a housing collapse. Theconditions to buyers, lenders and title companies protections free from abusive conflicts of interest, consequences have been disastrous.helps protect the financial and structural integrity and full disclosure of construction defects andof homes and the health, safety and welfare of dangerous soil conditions prior to the purchase ofhomeowners. a home. © Homeowners of Texas, Inc., 2009
  2. 2. FINANCIAL FAIRNESS LEGAL FAIRNESS FULL DISCLOSUREAdopt a Housing Fairness Act to restore checks Pass the Arbitration Fairness Act and restore Repeal the “Brownfields Law” (the Smalland balances to the home buying process and Americans’ right to a jury trial. Americans today Business Liability Relief and Brownfieldsprohibit builders from using in-house mortgage, are forced into compulsory arbitration by Revitalization Act enacted in 2001) since it allowstitle, insurance and appraisal companies. contracts signed at the point of sale, whether homes built on contaminated soil to be sold to buying a cell-phone or a new home. homebuyers without disclosure, putting both the buyer and lender at risk.Deregulation allowed the formation of large The Act would allow consumers to choosebuilder conglomerates, led to financial abuses, judicial resolution of disputes rather than being Buyers and lenders expect their homes to beand played a major role in the housing collapse. forced into binding arbitration. safe, sound and free from contamination.Subprime loans were made on substandard Arbiters in this “private justice system” don’t Disclosure of contaminated or expansive soilhomes and sold to 3rd party investors on Wall need the legal training of an attorney or judge, helps protect the financial and structuralStreet as mortgage-backed securities. and there’s no contribution to public law. integrity of homes and the health, safety and welfare of homeowners.Without preexisting firewalls and oversight by Arbitrator fees are expensive compared to courtfederal banking regulators, builder-owned costs. Require full written disclosure to buyers, lendingfinance companies could easily inflate appraisals institutions and title companies of dangerous soiland make risky loans with little or no risk. And Predetermined arbitration is a waiver of rights to conditions prior to the sale of the property.without local accountability, builders could cut a trial by jury, to open courts and to an appeal.corners and easily conceal building codeviolations. Preselected arbiters can be (and usually are) biased and beholden to industries they support.