Weststar Mortgage, Inc. was sued in an ongoing effort to hold the mortgage industry accountable for its part in the foreclosure crisis. The lawsuit charges the Washington D.C.-area company with improperly influencing Ohio appraisals.
According to the complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Belmont County, Weststar violated Ohio law through a series of actions including using pre-printed “estimated value” forms for appraisals and shopping for a higher appraisal amount on behalf of clients.
In addition, three other companies accused of attempting to influence Ohio home appraisals have recently settled lawsuits with the state, resulting in a combined total of more than $150,000 in restitution and civil penalties.
In late November, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray settled with First Ohio Banc and Lending, headquartered in Independence, to resolve a lawsuit alleging the company engaged in unfair and deceptive home appraisal practices including deceptive advertising violations. In the agreed entry, First Ohio admitted that aspects of its advertising were deceptive and agreed to pay the state $52,400, which includes restitution to consumers.
In another agreement filed on Oct. 7, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Fiserv Lending Solutions, based in Connecticut agreed to pay $95,000 to the state, which is the largest undue influence settlement in Ohio to-date.
And finally, on September 22, Cordray entered into a similar agreement with Nations Lending, based in Middleburg Heights. In the settlement filed in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Nations Lending agreed to pay the state $15,000 and will keep all appraisal records for three years. Those records are subject to review by the Attorney General.
“Appraisal influence is a damaging practice that often goes undetected until it’s too late,” said Cordray. “With this case, we advance one more step in cleaning up the destructive actions that led to the foreclosure crisis.”
Consumers who fear their home’s value may have been misstated by an improperly influenced appraiser should file a complaint with Attorney General Cordray’s office at www.SpeakOutOhio.gov or (800) 282-0515.