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Universal appoints new general counsel

BY HBSDealer Staff

Universal Forest Products has named David Tutas as general counsel of the corporation. He succeeds Matthew Missad, who was appointed CEO earlier this year.

Tutas joined Universal as an attorney in 2003. In 2007, he was named director of the legal department at Universal. Before he joined the company, Tutas was an attorney with the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based firm of Nantz, Litowich, Smith & Girard.

"Dave Tutas’ legal expertise, his knowledge of our company and business, his work ethic and unquestionable character and integrity make him the perfect person for this important position," Missad said. "He will provide sound legal counsel to our company and board as we grow and develop in the coming years, and in many markets and industries."

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California homeowners win a round against big builders

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A group of 19 California homeowners who bought their homes between 2004 and 2006 — each with a 20% or more down payment — won the right to sue D.R. Horton, Richmond American, Shea Homes, Lennar Homes and other production home builders for devaluing their properties with risky lending practices. 

According to an article in Courthouse News Service, a federal appeals court in San Francisco overturned a lower court’s decision, paving the way for a class action lawsuit over whether developers of new home communities marketed homes to high-risk buyers and then sold houses to unqualified individuals and investors prone to foreclosure.

The end result, according to the plaintiffs, are neighborhoods blighted by foreclosures, empty houses and increased crime. Home values have also plummeted. 

The three-judge appellate panel unanimously agreed that the plaintiffs would likely not have purchased their homes had they known the developers’ lending practices. Although they found no causal link between the defendants’ actions and the decreased value of the homes, the ruling allowed the plaintiffs to amend their claims to provide more evidence of a connection between the two events. 

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Molpus purchases timberland in Virginia, Georgia

BY Brae Canlen

The Molpus Woodlands Group, a timberland investment management organization, has purchased 26,500 acres in Georgia and Virginia on behalf of its clients. The timberland, located in Liberty and Long counties in Georgia, and Greensville, Sussex and Southampton counties in Virginia, consists mainly of southern pine timberland. Molpus currently manages an additional 22,000 acres in Georgia and Virginia.

This transaction will become part of a co-mingled fund for Molpus, which is headquartered in Jackson, Miss. The fund, which closed in May 2011 at approximately $439 million, is made up of U.S. and international investors, including corporate and public retirement systems, university endowments, foundations and private investors. Molpus currently has more than 1 million acres of timberland under management located in 15 states.   

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