I seem to have developed a morbid fascination with mortgage fraud. Type in "mortgage fraud" into google and one of the States or Cities you know saw extra high bubble valuations, and you get outrageous results.
In part my fascination is to support the "san francisco is different" argument that our prices aren't quite the "bubble" of other areas. It's not hard to believe when you read a story like this one from Utah.
This one quote pretty much says it all:
"Clarke admitted to falsifying property sale values, in some cases by more than $1 million per transaction over the actual sale price on the Wasatch Front Multiple Listing Service, in order to create false comparables in the Riverbottoms area to help him sell neighboring homes at higher prices."
I've now read about a gang leader in Pasadena, a "Bay Area" con artist who pulled a similar scam in San Diego, and I know that Miami is chock full of scams. Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix will no doubt be easy marks for my morbid googling side show to San Francisco real estate.
The question... is San Francisco different? I'm convinced there was some funny business, but I just don't see how we could have anything on the scale of these few scams I've found in 5 minutes on Google here in good old SF.
By the way, if you yourself didn't get scammed... it's not all roses. Also from the above article:
"In addition to the mortgage lenders' losses, several hundred residents in the area also suffered collateral damage in the aftermath of the scam. About 180 residents appealed their property tax valuations in 2007 after the mortgage scam sent property valuations of some 550 homes in the Riverbottoms area up between 50 percent and 100 percent in just one year, according to the Utah County Assessor."
So when we see very high San Francisco prices.... we want to know that it's because very real people, with very real money, drove the prices up. Not large scale fraud.