Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hard Hit Construction Industry May Find Assistance with New Communication Platform.

Contractors will find assistance with their return on investment by utilizing a new asset communication platform now available on the web; concentrates on four key areas in the construction industry; construction equipment, building materials, construction jobs and project opportunity. Their goal is to provide advertising and marketing for contractors in relation to these four key areas with little to no out of pocket cost. Currently provides free listings for all project opportunities and construction Jobs. Their short term objective is to make all listings free; they are currently working with several industry organizations and advertisers to accomplish that task.

“Our overall goal is simple; we want to be the go to site for the construction industry in our specialties,” explains Doug Wattenburger, project manager. “We will accomplish this by offering a superior product at little to no cost to the contractor.”

Understanding the specialties of is simple. The construction equipment category allows contractors to advertise and search surplus construction equipment and tools. Building materials offers contractors to list or locate excess or reclaimed building materials. Construction jobs are an outlet for construction companies to list employment opportunities. Project opportunities bring about new business partners through project awareness.

“We are excited for construction professionals to register and participate, we have already made the venue cost effective, but the more participation will allow us to pass additional value back to the contracting community,” Wattenburger said. “Our first full marketing campaign begins in December so we encourage contractors to get registered and listed early to take advantage of the upcoming increase in awareness.”

The Platform will be marketed through web based advertisement efforts such as Google Adwords, banner ads, direct marketing and traditional print advertisement in construction related publications

About is an entity of ICC Services. ICCS Services specializes in integrating creative communication in web based applications. The project was a collaboration of contracting experience, technical expertise and marketing history. The overriding intent is to harness technology and a new age business model to pass the production saving to our end users; the contracting community.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

FTC Issues Final Rule to Protect Struggling Homeowners from Mortgage Relief Scams

/PRNewswire/ -- Homeowners will be protected by a new Federal Trade Commission rule that bans providers of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they decide is acceptable.

"At a time when many Americans are struggling to pay their mortgages, peddlers of so-called mortgage relief services have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of homeowners without ever delivering results," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "By banning providers of these services from collecting fees until the customer is satisfied with the results, this rule will protect consumers from being victimized by these scams."

The FTC is issuing the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule to protect distressed homeowners from mortgage relief scams that have sprung up during the mortgage crisis. Bogus operations falsely claim that, for a fee, they will negotiate with the consumer's mortgage lender or servicer to obtain a loan modification, a short sale, or other relief from foreclosure. Many of these operations pretend to be affiliated with the government and government housing assistance programs. The FTC has brought more than 30 cases against operations like these, and state and federal law enforcement partners have brought hundreds more.

Advance fee ban

The most significant consumer protection under the FTC's new rule is the advance fee ban. Under this provision, mortgage relief companies may not collect any fees until they have provided consumers with a written offer from their lender or servicer that the consumer decides is acceptable, and a written document from the lender or servicer describing the key changes to the mortgage that would result if the consumer accepts the offer. The companies also must remind consumers of their right to reject the offer without any charge.


The Rule requires mortgage relief companies to disclose key information to consumers to protect them from being misled and to help them make better informed purchasing decisions. In their advertising and in communications directed at individual consumers (such as telemarketing calls), the companies must disclose that:

* they are not associated with the government, and their services have not been approved by the government or the consumer's lender;
* the lender may not agree to change the consumer's loan; and
* if companies tell consumers to stop paying their mortgage, they must also tell them that they could lose their home and damage their credit rating.

Companies also must explain in their communications to consumers that they can stop doing business with the company at any time, can accept or reject any offer the company obtains from the lender or servicer, and, if they reject the offer, they don't have to pay the company's fee. The companies also must disclose the amount of the fee.

Prohibited claims

The MARS Rule prohibits mortgage relief companies from making any false or misleading claims about their services, including claims about:

* the likelihood of consumers getting the results they seek;
* the company's affiliation with government or private entities;
* the consumer's payment and other mortgage obligations;
* the company's refund and cancellation policies;
* whether the company has performed the services it promised;
* whether the company will provide legal representation to consumers;
* the availability or cost of any alternative to for-profit mortgage assistance relief services;
* the amount of money a consumer will save by using their services; or
* the cost of the services.

In addition, the rule bars mortgage relief companies from telling consumers to stop communicating with their lenders or servicers. Companies also must have reliable evidence to back up any claims they make about the benefits, performance, or effectiveness of the services they provide.

Attorney exemption

Attorneys are generally exempt from the rule if they meet three conditions: they are engaged in the practice of law, they are licensed in the state where the consumer or the dwelling is located, and they are complying with state laws and regulations governing attorney conduct related to the rule. To be exempt from the advance fee ban, attorneys must meet a fourth requirement – they must place any fees they collect in a client trust account and abide by state laws and regulations covering such accounts.

All provisions of the rule except the advance-fee ban will become effective December 29, 2010. The advance-fee ban provisions will become effective January 31, 2011.

The FTC rulemaking proceeding was conducted pursuant to Congressional legislation sponsored in 2009 by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Byron Dorgan. The Final Rule applies only to entities within the FTC's jurisdiction under the Federal Trade Commission Act, which excludes, among others, banks, savings and loans, federal credit unions, common carriers, and entities engaged in the business of insurance. In June 2009, the FTC issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the practices of for-profit mortgage relief companies. In February 2010, the FTC announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and sought comments from interested persons, including advocates for consumers, the business community, and the legal profession.

Click here for facts about mortgage consumers' rights.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics .

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three Day Auction of 400 Atlanta Foreclosures Offers Buyers Bonanza of Deals

/PRNewswire/ -- Bargain hungry buyers, combing the housing market for deals, are scooping up foreclosed homes like hotcakes because of their discounted prices. Hudson & Marshall will auction 400 bank-owned homes in Atlanta November 19th-21st.

Valued from $18,000 to about $375,000, there is a wide selection of homes for every type of buyer to choose from and each property comes with an insurable title. Buyers will be required to make a cash or certified check deposit of $2,500 for each property for which they are the winning bidder. All sales will close within 30-45 days and buyers may secure financing with the lender of their choice prior to closing; however, closing is not contingent upon financing.

"Auctions are attracting crowds of buyers because people have learned this is a convenient, fun and easy way to purchase a home. From bidding to closing, the process moves swiftly, lengthy negotiations are eliminated and the auction process allows a property's true market value to emerge," said Dave Webb, principal, Hudson & Marshall.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in the third quarter of 2010, distressed homes, which typically sell at discounted prices, accounted for 34% of homes sold in the third quarter, an increase of 30% from a year ago. The median price of a home in the South fell 1.9% to $157,000 in the third quarter from the same period in 2009.

All properties auctioned by Hudson & Marshall are sold "as-is" and buyers should inspect properties thoroughly before placing any bids. Properties can be viewed by contacting listing agents to schedule appointments. Complete property details and additional information may be found at or by calling 866-539-4172.

Homes will be auctioned on the following dates:

November 19th –Atlanta (120 homes) at 1:00pm- Atlanta Marriott Northwest

November 20th –Atlanta (160 homes) at 1:00pm- Atlanta Marriott Northwest

November 21st –Atlanta (120 homes) at 1:00pm- Atlanta Marriott Northwest

Prior to auction, buyers can purchase property online by visiting the website and clicking on the Bid-Now icon. Sellers typically respond to offers within 24 hours. This is a reserve auction, which means sellers have the right to accept, reject or counter any bid; however, in past auctions conducted by Hudson & Marshall, the majority of offers have been accepted.

Having sold over 80,000 homes for sellers in the past ten years, Hudson & Marshall, Inc. is the most experienced, trusted leader in the REO auction industry. The company's accelerated sales process enables it to swiftly and efficiently sell large volumes of property in a way that minimizes expenses for sellers and maximizes return. Over the past five years alone, Hudson & Marshall's total sales have topped $2.2 billion and the company anticipates selling another 15,000 homes in 2010.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

GEHC To Host Sustainable Gingerbread House Competition

Green Gingerbread Houses - is there such a thing? Who doesn’t love making adorable gingerbread houses with the family or looking at the intricate works of professional gingerbread house architects?

“Imagine building your dream house with all the sustainable features possible. Only, instead of standard building materials, it would be made out of gingerbread,” said Jason West, Director of Development at the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center (GEHC).

As part of its December Green Holiday Program, the GEHC will host a Sustainable Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibit. Designers will create environmentally-friendly houses out of edible materials that highlight sustainability and green building design.

“This is a great opportunity for families, businesses, civic groups, students, and/or individuals to get into the holiday spirit, show off their gingerbread building talents and green building ingenuity,” said West. “The gingerbread house can be as creative and imaginative as you like!”

At least three sustainable building elements must be included in the design of the gingerbread house, such as solar panels, rain barrels, green roof, windmills, etc. Participants may use a traditional gingerbread recipe, a recipe for dog biscuits, bird seed cakes, or any other edible product. (Suggested recipes can be found on The structure can also include birdseed, pinecones, leaves, twigs… anything from nature.

There are multiple categories for entry including: Pre K – 2nd Grade (group and individual), 3rd – 6th Grade (group and individual), Teen (group and individual), Adult (group and individual), Family (group), and Professional (group and individual).

Entry forms are due no later than November 29, 2010. Forms can be accessed on-line at or in person at the GEHC. Contestants are asked to deliver gingerbread houses to the GEHC between 9am and 4pm on one of the following dates: November 30, 2010, December 1, 2010, or December 2, 2010. Judging will take place the week of December 6, 2010, and the awards will be presented during the GEHC’s Green Holiday event on December 11, 2010 at 1pm.

For more information about this event, contest rules, and/or the Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, visit
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