Class-Action Lawsuit Against Creig Northrop Real Estate Team Underscores Consumer Protections for Home Buyers, Home Sellers

Scales of Justice






A large class-action lawsuit recently certified against Maryland’s Creig Northrop Real Estate Team serves as an excellent reminder of the consumer protections afforded to home buyers and home sellers under the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

RESPA, enacted by Congress in 1974, is designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous practices in the real estate industry. Its chief purpose is to help consumers become better shoppers for real estate settlement services and to eliminate kickbacks and referral fees that unnecessarily increase the costs of closing a transaction.

Among other things, the act prohibits kickbacks between lenders and third-party settlement agents in the settlement process.

The lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleges that The Creig Northrop Team P.C. and others received more than $500,000 in illegal kickbacks from Lakeview Title Co. Inc. over a period of years. The class certified by the court in January includes all purchasers who engaged the services of The Creig Northrop Team and a defendant title insurance company from Jan. 1, 2008, until the present.

The number of home buyers and home sellers included in the class of plaintiffs is potentially huge. The Creig Northrop Team P.C. is affiliated with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., and was ranked second in the country last year and first in 2012 in the amount of real estate transaction volume handled.

Under RESPA, service providers in a real estate transaction must provide a variety of disclosures to their clients. (See Certain disclosures must be made at the time of loan application, before settlement occurs, at settlement and after settlement.

Also important for home buyers and home sellers is the Affiliated Business Arrangement Disclosure. This disclosure is required whenever a settlement service provider involved in a RESPA-covered transaction refers the client to a provider with whom the referring party has an ownership or other beneficial interest.

The referring party must give this disclosure to the client at or prior to the time of referral. The disclosure must describe the business arrangement that exists between the two providers and give the borrower an estimate of the second provider’s charges.

Except in cases where a lender refers a borrower to an attorney, credit reporting agency or real estate appraiser to represent the lender’s interest in the transaction, the referring party may not require the consumer to use the particular provider being referred.

For more information on the case (Patrick Baehr et al. v. The Creig Northrop Team P.C. et al.)), see


Jerry Kline is a Realtor with the Odenton, Md., office of Keller Williams Flagship Realty (1216 Annapolis Rd., Odenton.) For more information on the local real estate market, contact him at (443) 924-7418, or visit his blog ( or website (


New Disabled Veterans Mortgage Program Offers Big Help to Maryland Vets

Applicants Need to Hurry, Though – Program Ends May 30th

AAA -Disabled Veterans







Do you know a disabled military veteran looking to buy a home in this area? The state of Maryland last week announced the creation of a new – and temporary – initiative designed to help such buyers purchase a home using bargain interest rates.
Even better, the new mortgage assistance program can be used in conjunction with other state programs that offer down payment and closing cost assistance to veterans.
Interest rates for the Maryland Homefront Disabled Veterans Mortgage Program are as low as 3 percent. Up to $5,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance also is available to qualified applicants.
Interested homebuyers have to hurry, though. According to information distributed by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the program is set to expire in two months – May 30, 2014.
Program Eligibility
The program is open to honorably discharged disabled veterans. By program definition, a disabled veteran is a veteran with a 30 percent or greater disability.
Eligible veterans also must qualify for a Maryland Mortgage Program loan, based on such criteria as credit score, income limitations, etc. Before buying their home, eligible veterans must take approved homebuyer education courses and use an approved mortgage lender.
Loans under the program typically are limited to first-time homebuyers. However, this requirement can be waived under certain circumstances.
Qualification for a Veterans Administration loan is not required.
Under the program, the property purchased must be located in the state of Maryland.
Jerry Kline is a Realtor with the Odenton, Md., office of Keller Williams Flagship Realty (1216 Annapolis Rd., Odenton.) For more information on the local real estate market, contact him at (443) 924-7418, or visit his blog ( or website (


More Homes Hit the Market in Time for Spring

Not only are more homes coming onto the market, but typically we don’t see a rise in asking prices this early into the year. “This is the market these sellers have been waiting for,” one expert says.

More Homes Hit the Market in Time for Spring

Workers Who Relocate Share Their Must-Haves for a New Home

When it comes to relocation for a new job, transferees say the two most important factors in choosing a new home are being in or near a specific school district and having a work commute of 30 minutes or less.

Relocating Employees Share Their Dream Lists

Four Million Homes Return to Positive Equity

If negative equity in your home has kept you from selling it, now is the time to reassess whether selling your home makes sense. In 2013, 4 million homes returned to positive equity, bringing the total to 42.7 million, CoreLogic reports.

“The plight of the underwater borrower has improved dramatically since negative equity peaked in December 2009 when more than 12 million mortgaged home owners were underwater,” says one expert.

4 Million Homes Return to Positive Equity

Chapelgate Violence, Traffic & Drugs Fuel Security Efforts

Below is a link to an interesting article in the West County Gazette.

In September a 19-month-old child sustained minor injuries in Chapelgate when a still-unidentified suspect sent several shotgun blasts through the family’s living room window. In December, Sharron Charles Mason, 19, was shot to death in the duplex he shared with his grandparents. No arrests have been made in either case.

Chapelgate violence, traffic and drugs fuel Piney Orchard security efforts – : Crofton – West County Gazette

Latest Stats Show Number of First-Time Homebuyers Dwindling

According to new figures published by the National Association of Realtors, first-time homebuyers accounted for 26 percent of purchases in January, down from 30 percent a year earlier. It’s the lowest market share for first-time buyers that NAR has recorded since it began measuring it in 2008.

Ironically, this national trend is the complete opposite of my own experience — six of my last seven buyer-clients were first-time homebuyers.

Shut Out of the Housing Market? First-Timers Dwindle