California home sellers who sold a home in recent years might qualify to get cash back. It depends on whether a seller qualifies as a class member under the Property I.D. Natural Hazard Disclosure Report class-action settlement. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Property I.D. and a handful of California real estate brokerages, claiming brokerages violated the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and California's Unfair Competition Law by receiving kickbacks for referring business to Property I.D. Some brokerages believed they could get around RESPA by forming joint ventures with Property I.D. The lawsuit stems partially from the fact this relationship was not disclosed to the sellers who paid for the NHD reports.
The defendants denied the charges. Although the Court did not reach a verdict, all parties decided to agree to a settlement.
If you were a home seller in California, you may participate in the settlement if you sold a home through RE/MAX (August 23, 2000 through February 28, 2003); Century 21 (July 31, 1996 through June 30, 2006); or ERA Real Estate (July 31, 1996 through June 30, 2006) -- and in southern California only: Coldwell Banker (July 31, 1996 through June 30, 2006) or Prudential California Realty owned by Pickford Realty (July 14, 2000 through August 16, 2005). The home must have been your principal place of residence or vacation home. Rentals, commercial, vacant land or agricultural over 25 acres does not qualify. The home must have been purchased by a buyer who financed the transaction by taking out a mortgage.
You need to fill out a NHD Report Settlement Claim Form to participate in the class-action settlement. Payments will vary between $99 or $114 and depend on how many people submit the claim forms. There are several settlement classes, depending on which brokerage the seller hired.
The case, Berger v. Property I.D. Corp., will be heard on January 26, 2009 at 9:30 AM, at which time the Court will consider disbursement. For more information, go to Natural Hazard Report Settlement web site.
The Short Sale, by Elizabeth Weintraub, is coming from Archer Ellison, January 2009.
Photo: Big Stock Photo
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