2012 March :: The Construction Management Pro

Dep’t of Labor Internship in Philadelphia: Deadline 4/2

March 17, 2012

The Department of Labor is actively recruiting for their 2012 Public Affairs summer and fall internships at the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Public Affairs in downtown Philadelphia. Please see info below for additional information about the internship. They are looking for undergraduate and graduate Journalism, Communication, Public Relations, Advertising, and/or English majors.

NOTE: This is a credit only internship. Students typically receive up to three (3) credit hours for successful completion of the internship. DOL provides a transit subsidy for interns who commute using SEPTA or PATCO.

The deadline to submit all application materials for both semesters is April 2, 2012.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS INTERNSHIP
U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT – PHILADELPHIA REGION

The US-DOL Public Affairs Internship is open to Junior, Senior and Graduate Student Communication, Public Relations, Advertising, English, and Journalism majors. This is a great opportunity to use your creativity, gain real-world, government public affairs experience, hone your writing skills, add to your professional portfolio, and contribute to meaningful projects!

DUTIES INCLUDE:
• Writing press releases, media advisories, news briefs, blogs
• Writing blurbs for publication in DOL’s weekly online national newsletter
• Writing feature stories and photo cutlines for DOL internal website Labor Net and internal, monthly e-magazine Frances Magazine
• Pitching regional media representatives and coordinating media interviews/opportunities for DOL agencies/staff
• Garnering publicity and news coverage of agency outreach programs and initiatives, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Summer Heat Campaign that promotes water, rest and shade for outdoor workers and the Wage and Hour Division’s New Jersey gas station enforcement initiative
• Developing media relations database
• Conducting research
• Performing light administrative work

REQUIREMENTS:
Participants must have excellent written and verbal communication abilities, experience (preferred) using AP Stylebook guidelines, good computer skills, and a professional and positive attitude. Students must be able to meet the minimum time commitment, 8-10 hours/week. Bi-lingual students (Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Gujarati, and Hindi speakers) are encouraged to apply.

Candidates selected for an interview will be given a brief test assessing their writing skills and knowledge of AP Stylebook guidelines.

HOW TO APPLY:
Email a cover letter, resume, three (3) writing samples and three (3) references to:
Joanna Hawkins, Deputy Regional Director
hawkins.joanna@dol.gov

APPLICATIONS FOR THE SUMMER AND FALL 2012 SEMESTERS MUST BE RECEIVED BY APRIL 2, 2012.

Interested candidates should contact Joanna Hawkins at 215-861-5101 or hawkins.joanna@dol.gov.

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Home Appraisal Process Flawed, Government Report Finds

March 14, 2012

The Government Accounting Office has come to the same conclusion many home builders have: the home loan appraisal process remains flawed.

“Some 20 years after the passage of Title XI [which establishes rules about appraiser qualifications and independence] questions remain about the oversight of the appraisal industry and the quality of appraisals,” says the recently released GAO report.

Appraisal fraud, the deliberate overstatement or understatement of a home’s value, remains a concern. Of the 816 mortgage fraud cases the FBI closed from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, 92 involved appraisal fraud, the report said.

And there are still worries within the industry that the increased use of appraisal management companies, which are often accused of focusing more on the bottom line and quick processing, is sacrificing quality, the report continued.

A much-simplified summation of the GAO’s study is that the appraisal process needs better monitoring. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) agrees and said there is evidence that the flawed system is continuing to hamper the home building industry’s recovery by derailing sales.

A recent NAHB poll showed that one out of three builders surveyed lost signed sales contracts because of flawed appraisals. And a National Association of Realtors survey conducted last fall found 18% of Realtors reporting recent contract cancellations or delays as a result of a low appraisal.

“The current system is not working,” said NAHB Chairman Bob Nielsen in Nation’s Building News. “We must resolve a flawed appraisal process that produces inaccurate assessment of home values because this fosters price instability, puts more families in danger of default or foreclosure, and undermines the housing and economic recoveries.”

The GAO specifically looked at the workings of the Appraisal Subcommittee, which is tasked with monitoring states’ compliance with Title XI as well as monitoring appraisal requirements of the federal financial institution’s regulators. The GAO concludes that the subcommittee hasn’t developed clearly defined criteria for assessing whether states are complying with Title XI, and the subcommittee’s monitoring of compliance has been limited.

The subcommittee was also faulted for lacking policies to evaluate whether the activities of the Appraisal Foundation, a non-profit organization that gets government grants and sets the criteria for appraisers and appraisals, are related to complying with Title XI.

In its defense, the GAO report points out that the Appraisal Subcommittee is funded by fees paid by appraisal registration fees, which have dropped off as appraisers left the industry. To make matters worse, the subcommittee got more duties under the Dodd-Frank Act. It is now charged with creating a national appraiser complaint hotline and provides grants to state appraiser regulatory agencies, which have complained they are under-funded. The report expresses concern over whether the subcommittee will be able to meet those requirements with its current resources.

In addition, the GAO expresses concern that the subcommittee might not have the teeth it needs to enforce the regulations anyway.

“These findings underscore the need to establish an effective oversight system to ensure that appraisals accurately reflect true market values and don’t harm aspiring home buyers or builders,” says NAHB’s Nielsen.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER magazine.

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What Does the Real Estate Commission Rebate Law Change Mean to Home Buyers?

March 8, 2012

January 19, 2010 was an exciting day. Then New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed into law a bill sponsored by state Assemblyman Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., Paul D. Moriarty and Joseph Vas  that allows New Jersey home buyers across the state to receive a cash rebate, once they close on their home, from real estate brokerages. With people being asked to come up with higher down payments and meet more stringent lending standards than ever these days, to purchase a house, the ability to get a check after closing – or even cover the closing costs with a rebate from your real estate agent, is sure to be a boon for both cash-strapped buyers and the New Jersey housing market overall.

The real estate industry, historically, has been about what’s best for the agent.  With the new Internet era coming into the real estate market place, the old industry model is broken. It is now permissible for Realtors to rebate a portion of the buyer Agent’s commission to the buyer.

Please contact me at 609-575-8564 if you are interested in purchasing 18 Lenox St., Newark, NJ and getting a check for more than $2,000 at closing.

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