Pianka slaps $140,000 fine on no-show Destiny Ventures

January 15, 2008

In an absentee trial yesterday, Cleveland Housing Court Judge Ray Pianka fined Destiny Ventures LLC $140,000 for failure to repair code violations at a vacant two-family house at 3677 East 117th St.

Destiny Ventures bought the property last March for $1,500 from EMC Mortgage (Bear Stearns), which acquired it at Sheriff’s sale in January 2006. (Yes, that means it’s been sitting vacant for two years.)

Here’s excellent coverage of yesterday’s trial by WKYC’s Mike O’Mara.

(c/p CCD

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Econohomes

January 14, 2008

In the PD’s story this morning about the new Case Urban Poverty Center study:

Several out-of-state companies have purchased dozens of houses in Cleveland, some for less than $1,000.

One of the companies, Texas-based Econohomes, provides affordable housing to buyers with tarnished credit, Jeff Ball, the chief executive officer, said. Econohomes provides the loans and carefully screens customers to ensure they are reliable, Ball said.

“We buy property at such a deep discount we are able to sell it to people who are economically disadvantaged at very attractive terms,” Ball said. “These properties otherwise would most likely sit vacant.”

Former Cleveland Law Director Craig Miller represents the company in Cleveland. He says Econohomes’ owners are “very well-intentioned, very good businesspeople.”

Compare and contrast with this forum posting from “Amber Work” who identifies herself as an Econohomes representative:

Econohomes has properties all over the U.S. We sell the properties as-is and they are priced to move. I work with investors and owner occupy buyers on a daily basis. Currently, we don’t have a website that is accessible to the public, but there is a link to our inventory that is pasted below [link]… We are buying large packages of properties and have more coming online every 2-3 weeks.

Maybe Ms. Work just didn’t get Mr. Ball’s memo about careful screening, etc.

Econohomes currently holds title to seventy Cuyahoga County properties — fifty-nine in Cleveland, nine in East Cleveland, and one each in Euclid and Garfield Heights. Almost all have been acquired since July. The biggest single source has been Destiny Ventures (twenty properties), but Econohomes has also bought houses directly from Lasalle Bank, Deutsche Bank, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and ten other subprime lenders.

Here’s one they’ve owned since August 28 at 3271 West 34th Street (purchase price $1,500). Click for a closeup:

(c/p CCD)