A New York speculator convinced ten different banks to give him 20 separate mortgages to buy 10 homes with no money down and he defaulted on every one.
Lloyd Varma stuck ten banks with loans for $6.4 million on houses across southern Queens, according to the New York Daily News. By the end of 2007, eight of the homes were in foreclosure. Today, banks own four of the houses, while the others are in the process of being foreclosed.
“There weren’t any checks on whether mortgages were affordable or viable, so subprime lenders were writing these mortgages because they could sell them to Wall Street,” said Josh Zinner of the nonprofit Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project.
He called the Varma loan situation “an egregious example of something that was rampant all over the city.”
Experts say Varma may have been able to buy the homes in a short time because he went to different lenders for each house.
“All probably weren’t aware of the other,” said Jonathan Pinard, head of the Empire State Mortgage Bankers Association.
Zinner said Varma’s ability to get so many mortgages so quickly raised questions about what Varma disclosed about his liabilities on his mortgage applications.
At one point last year, Varma filed for bankruptcy, listing only three of his properties - not the ten he owned.
Varma went on his wild home-buying spree between Nov. 30, 2006 and Jan. 19, 2007, just before the crash. He got two loans per property - one for the down payment, one for the rest. The dual-loans ranged from $570,000 to $700,000 per house and came from subprime lenders that would go bust when the housing bubble burst.
The properties - nine two-family homes and one one-family - are in poor, predominantly minority sections of three Queens neighborhoods with some of the worst foreclosure numbers in the city: Richmond Hill, Jamaica and Ozone Park.
Though the bank collapse may have been a nightmare for Varma, it was worse for some of his tenants. Varma has stopped paying for utilities in some houses, leaving tenants to pay the bills.
Even though he has not paid the mortgage, Varma is trying to evict tenants for not paying rent. Just this month, he served eviction papers on families living in two of his foreclosed homes: 107-22 113th St. and 107-28 113th St.
Varma lives in Schenectady in a house he bought with a $100,000 mortgage in February 2007. In 2008, he deeded the property to a relative.
Varma has been sued over his first purchase, a two-family at 143-01 Lakewood Ave., that he bought Nov. 30, 2006. A contract of sale lists the selling price as $600,000 but the buyers say they got only $540,000.
Varma’s biggest impact on the blocks where his homes are located has been to lower the property values of nearby houses by as much as $30,000.
One of his foreclosed homes is a boarded-up eyesore at 95-72 115th St.
Two weeks ago, a city sanitation inspector fined the lender $300 after finding “scattered and matted bottle, cups and paper bags, pieces of paper, tissues, wrappers, plastic bags and foil in the front yard.”