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Getting the 50,000 or three times the actual damages after Foreclosure

16 Oct

Getting the 50,000 or three times the actual damages

sanctions-604x270 (b) After a trustee’s deed upon sale has been recorded, a mortgage
servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall
be liable to a borrower for actual economic damages pursuant to
Section 3281, resulting from a material violation of Section 2923.55,
2923.6, 2923.7, 2924.9, 2924.10, 2924.11, or 2924.17 by that
mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized
agent where the violation was not corrected and remedied prior to the
recordation of the trustee’s deed upon sale. If the court finds that
the material violation was intentional or reckless, or resulted from
willful misconduct by a mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee,
beneficiary, or authorized agent, the court may award the borrower
the greater of treble actual damages or statutory damages of fifty
thousand dollars ($50,000).

2923.55. (a) A mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary,
or authorized agent may not record a notice of default pursuant to
Section 2924 until all of the following:
(1) The mortgage servicer has satisfied the requirements of
paragraph (1) of subdivision (b).
(2) Either 30 days after initial contact is made as required by
paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) or 30 days after satisfying the due
diligence requirements as described in subdivision (f).
(3) The mortgage servicer complies with subdivision (c) of Section
2923.6, if the borrower has provided a complete application as
defined in subdivision (h) of Section 2923.6.
(b) (1) As specified in subdivision (a), a mortgage servicer shall
send the following information in writing to the borrower:
(A) A statement that if the borrower is a servicemember or a
dependent of a servicemember, he or she may be entitled to certain
protections under the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50
U.S.C. Appen. Sec. 501 et seq.) regarding the servicemember’s
interest rate and the risk of foreclosure, and counseling for covered
servicemembers that is available at agencies such as Military
OneSource and Armed Forces Legal Assistance.
(B) A statement that the borrower may request the following:
(i) A copy of the borrower’s promissory note or other evidence of
indebtedness.
(ii) A copy of the borrower’s deed of trust or mortgage.
(iii) A copy of any assignment, if applicable, of the borrower’s
mortgage or deed of trust required to demonstrate the right of the
mortgage servicer to foreclose.
(iv) A copy of the borrower’s payment history since the borrower
was last less than 60 days past due.
(2) A mortgage servicer shall contact the borrower in person or by
telephone in order to assess the borrower’s financial situation and
explore options for the borrower to avoid foreclosure. During the
initial contact, the mortgage servicer shall advise the borrower that
he or she has the right to request a subsequent meeting and, if
requested, the mortgage servicer shall schedule the meeting to occur
within 14 days. The assessment of the borrower’s financial situation
and discussion of options may occur during the first contact, or at
the subsequent meeting scheduled for that purpose. In either case,
the borrower shall be provided the toll-free telephone number made
available by the United States Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) to find a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.
Any meeting may occur telephonically.
(c) A notice of default recorded pursuant to Section 2924 shall
include a declaration that the mortgage servicer has contacted the
borrower, has tried with due diligence to contact the borrower as
required by this section, or that no contact was required because the
individual did not meet the definition of “borrower” pursuant to
subdivision (c) of Section 2920.5.
(d) A mortgage servicer’s loss mitigation personnel may
participate by telephone during any contact required by this section.
(e) A borrower may designate, with consent given in writing, a
HUD-certified housing counseling agency, attorney, or other adviser
to discuss with the mortgage servicer, on the borrower’s behalf, the
borrower’s financial situation and options for the borrower to avoid
foreclosure. That contact made at the direction of the borrower shall
satisfy the contact requirements of paragraph (2) of subdivision
(b). Any foreclosure prevention alternative offered at the meeting by
the mortgage servicer is subject to approval by the borrower.
(f) A notice of default may be recorded pursuant to Section 2924
when a mortgage servicer has not contacted a borrower as required by
paragraph (2) of subdivision (b), provided that the failure to
contact the borrower occurred despite the due diligence of the
mortgage servicer. For purposes of this section, “due diligence”
shall require and mean all of the following:
(1) A mortgage servicer shall first attempt to contact a borrower
by sending a first-class letter that includes the toll-free telephone
number made available by HUD to find a HUD-certified housing
counseling agency.
(2) (A) After the letter has been sent, the mortgage servicer
shall attempt to contact the borrower by telephone at least three
times at different hours and on different days. Telephone calls shall
be made to the primary telephone number on file.
(B) A mortgage servicer may attempt to contact a borrower using an
automated system to dial borrowers, provided that, if the telephone
call is answered, the call is connected to a live representative of
the mortgage servicer.
(C) A mortgage servicer satisfies the telephone contact
requirements of this paragraph if it determines, after attempting
contact pursuant to this paragraph, that the borrower’s primary
telephone number and secondary telephone number or numbers on file,
if any, have been disconnected.
(3) If the borrower does not respond within two weeks after the
telephone call requirements of paragraph (2) have been satisfied, the
mortgage servicer shall then send a certified letter, with return
receipt requested, that includes the toll-free telephone number made
available by HUD to find a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.
(4) The mortgage servicer shall provide a means for the borrower
to contact it in a timely manner, including a toll-free telephone
number that will provide access to a live representative during
business hours.
(5) The mortgage servicer has posted a prominent link on the
homepage of its Internet Web site, if any, to the following
information:
(A) Options that may be available to borrowers who are unable to
afford their mortgage payments and who wish to avoid foreclosure, and
instructions to borrowers advising them on steps to take to explore
those options.
(B) A list of financial documents borrowers should collect and be
prepared to present to the mortgage servicer when discussing options
for avoiding foreclosure.
(C) A toll-free telephone number for borrowers who wish to discuss
options for avoiding foreclosure with their mortgage servicer.
(D) The toll-free telephone number made available by HUD to find a
HUD-certified housing counseling agency.
(g) This section shall not apply to entities described in
subdivision (b) of Section 2924.18.
(h) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(i) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends
that date.

2923.6. (a) The Legislature finds and declares that any duty that
mortgage servicers may have to maximize net present value under their
pooling and servicing agreements is owed to all parties in a loan
pool, or to all investors under a pooling and servicing agreement,
not to any particular party in the loan pool or investor under a
pooling and servicing agreement, and that a mortgage servicer acts in
the best interests of all parties to the loan pool or investors in
the pooling and servicing agreement if it agrees to or implements a
loan modification or workout plan for which both of the following
apply:
(1) The loan is in payment default, or payment default is
reasonably foreseeable.
(2) Anticipated recovery under the loan modification or workout
plan exceeds the anticipated recovery through foreclosure on a net
present value basis.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that the mortgage servicer
offer the borrower a loan modification or workout plan if such a
modification or plan is consistent with its contractual or other
authority.
(c) If a borrower submits a complete application for a first lien
loan modification offered by, or through, the borrower’s mortgage
servicer, a mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or
authorized agent shall not record a notice of default or notice of
sale, or conduct a trustee’s sale, while the complete first lien loan
modification application is pending. A mortgage servicer, mortgagee,
trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall not record a notice
of default or notice of sale or conduct a trustee’s sale until any of
the following occurs:
(1) The mortgage servicer makes a written determination that the
borrower is not eligible for a first lien loan modification, and any
appeal period pursuant to subdivision (d) has expired.
(2) The borrower does not accept an offered first lien loan
modification within 14 days of the offer.
(3) The borrower accepts a written first lien loan modification,
but defaults on, or otherwise breaches the borrower’s obligations
under, the first lien loan modification.
(d) If the borrower’s application for a first lien loan
modification is denied, the borrower shall have at least 30 days from
the date of the written denial to appeal the denial and to provide
evidence that the mortgage servicer’s determination was in error.
(e) If the borrower’s application for a first lien loan
modification is denied, the mortgage servicer, mortgagee, trustee,
beneficiary, or authorized agent shall not record a notice of default
or, if a notice of default has already been recorded, record a
notice of sale or conduct a trustee’s sale until the later of:
(1) Thirty-one days after the borrower is notified in writing of
the denial.
(2) If the borrower appeals the denial pursuant to subdivision
(d), the later of 15 days after the denial of the appeal or 14 days
after a first lien loan modification is offered after appeal but
declined by the borrower, or, if a first lien loan modification is
offered and accepted after appeal, the date on which the borrower
fails to timely submit the first payment or otherwise breaches the
terms of the offer.
(f) Following the denial of a first lien loan modification
application, the mortgage servicer shall send a written notice to the
borrower identifying the reasons for denial, including the
following:
(1) The amount of time from the date of the denial letter in which
the borrower may request an appeal of the denial of the first lien
loan modification and instructions regarding how to appeal the
denial.
(2) If the denial was based on investor disallowance, the specific
reasons for the investor disallowance.
(3) If the denial is the result of a net present value
calculation, the monthly gross income and property value used to
calculate the net present value and a statement that the borrower may
obtain all of the inputs used in the net present value calculation
upon written request to the mortgage servicer.
(4) If applicable, a finding that the borrower was previously
offered a first lien loan modification and failed to successfully
make payments under the terms of the modified loan.
(5) If applicable, a description of other foreclosure prevention
alternatives for which the borrower may be eligible, and a list of
the steps the borrower must take in order to be considered for those
options. If the mortgage servicer has already approved the borrower
for another foreclosure prevention alternative, information necessary
to complete the foreclosure prevention alternative.
(g) In order to minimize the risk of borrowers submitting multiple
applications for first lien loan modifications for the purpose of
delay, the mortgage servicer shall not be obligated to evaluate
applications from borrowers who have already been evaluated or
afforded a fair opportunity to be evaluated for a first lien loan
modification prior to January 1, 2013, or who have been evaluated or
afforded a fair opportunity to be evaluated consistent with the
requirements of this section, unless there has been a material change
in the borrower’s financial circumstances since the date of the
borrower’s previous application and that change is documented by the
borrower and submitted to the mortgage servicer.
(h) For purposes of this section, an application shall be deemed
“complete” when a borrower has supplied the mortgage servicer with
all documents required by the mortgage servicer within the reasonable
timeframes specified by the mortgage servicer.
(i) Subdivisions (c) to (h), inclusive, shall not apply to
entities described in subdivision (b) of Section 2924.18.
(j) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(k) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends
that date.

2923.7. (a) Upon request from a borrower who requests a foreclosure
prevention alternative, the mortgage servicer shall promptly
establish a single point of contact and provide to the borrower one
or more direct means of communication with the single point of
contact.
(b) The single point of contact shall be responsible for doing all
of the following:
(1) Communicating the process by which a borrower may apply for an
available foreclosure prevention alternative and the deadline for
any required submissions to be considered for these options.
(2) Coordinating receipt of all documents associated with
available foreclosure prevention alternatives and notifying the
borrower of any missing documents necessary to complete the
application.
(3) Having access to current information and personnel sufficient
to timely, accurately, and adequately inform the borrower of the
current status of the foreclosure prevention alternative.
(4) Ensuring that a borrower is considered for all foreclosure
prevention alternatives offered by, or through, the mortgage
servicer, if any.
(5) Having access to individuals with the ability and authority to
stop foreclosure proceedings when necessary.
(c) The single point of contact shall remain assigned to the
borrower’s account until the mortgage servicer determines that all
loss mitigation options offered by, or through, the mortgage servicer
have been exhausted or the borrower’s account becomes current.
(d) The mortgage servicer shall ensure that a single point of
contact refers and transfers a borrower to an appropriate supervisor
upon request of the borrower, if the single point of contact has a
supervisor.
(e) For purposes of this section, “single point of contact” means
an individual or team of personnel each of whom has the ability and
authority to perform the responsibilities described in subdivisions
(b) to (d), inclusive. The mortgage servicer shall ensure that each
member of the team is knowledgeable about the borrower’s situation
and current status in the alternatives to foreclosure process.
(f) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(g) (1) This section shall not apply to a depository institution
chartered under state or federal law, a person licensed pursuant to
Division 9 (commencing with Section 22000) or Division 20 (commencing
with Section 50000) of the Financial Code, or a person licensed
pursuant to Part 1 (commencing with Section 10000) of Division 4 of
the Business and Professions Code, that, during its immediately
preceding annual reporting period, as established with its primary
regulator, foreclosed on 175 or fewer residential real properties,
containing no more than four dwelling units, that are located in
California.
(2) Within three months after the close of any calendar year or
annual reporting period as established with its primary regulator
during which an entity or person described in paragraph (1) exceeds
the threshold of 175 specified in paragraph (1), that entity shall
notify its primary regulator, in a manner acceptable to its primary
regulator, and any mortgagor or trustor who is delinquent on a
residential mortgage loan serviced by that entity of the date on
which that entity will be subject to this section, which date shall
be the first day of the first month that is six months after the
close of the calendar year or annual reporting period during which
that entity exceeded the threshold.

2924.9. (a) Unless a borrower has previously exhausted the first
lien loan modification process offered by, or through, his or her
mortgage servicer described in Section 2923.6, within five business
days after recording a notice of default pursuant to Section 2924, a
mortgage servicer that offers one or more foreclosure prevention
alternatives shall send a written communication to the borrower that
includes all of the following information:
(1) That the borrower may be evaluated for a foreclosure
prevention alternative or, if applicable, foreclosure prevention
alternatives.
(2) Whether an application is required to be submitted by the
borrower in order to be considered for a foreclosure prevention
alternative.
(3) The means and process by which a borrower may obtain an
application for a foreclosure prevention alternative.
(b) This section shall not apply to entities described in
subdivision (b) of Section 2924.18.
(c) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(d) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends
that date.

2924.10. (a) When a borrower submits a complete first lien
modification application or any document in connection with a first
lien modification application, the mortgage servicer shall provide
written acknowledgment of the receipt of the documentation within
five business days of receipt. In its initial acknowledgment of
receipt of the loan modification application, the mortgage servicer
shall include the following information:
(1) A description of the loan modification process, including an
estimate of when a decision on the loan modification will be made
after a complete application has been submitted by the borrower and
the length of time the borrower will have to consider an offer of a
loan modification or other foreclosure prevention alternative.
(2) Any deadlines, including deadlines to submit missing
documentation, that would affect the processing of a first lien loan
modification application.
(3) Any expiration dates for submitted documents.
(4) Any deficiency in the borrower’s first lien loan modification
application.
(b) For purposes of this section, a borrower’s first lien loan
modification application shall be deemed to be “complete” when a
borrower has supplied the mortgage servicer with all documents
required by the mortgage servicer within the reasonable timeframes
specified by the mortgage servicer.
(c) This section shall not apply to entities described in
subdivision (b) of Section 2924.18.
(d) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends
that date.

2924.11. (a) If a foreclosure prevention alternative is approved in
writing prior to the recordation of a notice of default, a mortgage
servicer, mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall
not record a notice of default under either of the following
circumstances:
(1) The borrower is in compliance with the terms of a written
trial or permanent loan modification, forbearance, or repayment plan.
(2) A foreclosure prevention alternative has been approved in
writing by all parties, including, for example, the first lien
investor, junior lienholder, and mortgage insurer, as applicable, and
proof of funds or financing has been provided to the servicer.
(b) If a foreclosure prevention alternative is approved in writing
after the recordation of a notice of default, a mortgage servicer,
mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall not record
a notice of sale or conduct a trustee’s sale under either of the
following circumstances:
(1) The borrower is in compliance with the terms of a written
trial or permanent loan modification, forbearance, or repayment plan.
(2) A foreclosure prevention alternative has been approved in
writing by all parties, including, for example, the first lien
investor, junior lienholder, and mortgage insurer, as applicable, and
proof of funds or financing has been provided to the servicer.
(c) When a borrower accepts an offered first lien loan
modification or other foreclosure prevention alternative, the
mortgage servicer shall provide the borrower with a copy of the fully
executed loan modification agreement or agreement evidencing the
foreclosure prevention alternative following receipt of the executed
copy from the borrower.
(d) A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall record a
rescission of a notice of default or cancel a pending trustee’s sale,
if applicable, upon the borrower executing a permanent foreclosure
prevention alternative. In the case of a short sale, the rescission
or cancellation of the pending trustee’s sale shall occur when the
short sale has been approved by all parties and proof of funds or
financing has been provided to the mortgagee, beneficiary, or
authorized agent.
(e) The mortgage servicer shall not charge any application,
processing, or other fee for a first lien loan modification or other
foreclosure prevention alternative.
(f) The mortgage servicer shall not collect any late fees for
periods during which a complete first lien loan modification
application is under consideration or a denial is being appealed, the
borrower is making timely modification payments, or a foreclosure
prevention alternative is being evaluated or exercised.
(g) If a borrower has been approved in writing for a first lien
loan modification or other foreclosure prevention alternative, and
the servicing of that borrower’s loan is transferred or sold to
another mortgage servicer, the subsequent mortgage servicer shall
continue to honor any previously approved first lien loan
modification or other foreclosure prevention alternative, in
accordance with the provisions of the act that added this section.
(h) This section shall apply only to mortgages or deeds of trust
described in Section 2924.15.
(i) This section shall not apply to entities described in
subdivision (b) of Section 2924.18.
(j) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1,
2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted
statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends
that date.

2924.17. (a) A declaration recorded pursuant to Section 2923.5 or,
until January 1, 2018, pursuant to Section 2923.55, a notice of
default, notice of sale, assignment of a deed of trust, or
substitution of trustee recorded by or on behalf of a mortgage
servicer in connection with a foreclosure subject to the requirements
of Section 2924, or a declaration or affidavit filed in any court
relative to a foreclosure proceeding shall be accurate and complete
and supported by competent and reliable evidence.
(b) Before recording or filing any of the documents described in
subdivision (a), a mortgage servicer shall ensure that it has
reviewed competent and reliable evidence to substantiate the borrower’
s default and the right to foreclose, including the borrower’s loan
status and loan information.
(c) Until January 1, 2018, any mortgage servicer that engages in
multiple and repeated uncorrected violations of subdivision (b) in
recording documents or filing documents in any court relative to a
foreclosure proceeding shall be liable for a civil penalty of up to
seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) per mortgage or deed of
trust in an action brought by a government entity identified in
Section 17204 of the Business and Professions Code, or in an
administrative proceeding brought by the Department of Business
Oversight or the Bureau of Real Estate against a respective licensee,
in addition to any other remedies available to these entities. This
subdivision shall be inoperative on January 1, 2018.

Watchdog Report: Foreclosure Review Scrapped On Eve Of Critical, Congressman Says

6 Jan

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Posted: 12/31/2012 3:53 pm EST  |  Updated: 12/31/2012 4:08 pm EST

Foreclosure Review
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The surprising decision by regulators to scrap a massive and expensive foreclosure review program in favor of a $10 billion settlement with 14 banks — reported by The New York Times Sunday night — came after a year of mounting concerns about the independence and effectiveness of the controversial program.

The program, known as the Independent Foreclosure Review, was supposed to give homeowners who believe that their bank made a mistake in handling their foreclosure an opportunity for a neutral third party to review the claim. It’s not clear what factors led banking regulators to abandon the program in favor of a settlement, but the final straw may have been a pending report by the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, which was investigating the review program.

Rep. Brad Miller, a North Carolina Democrat, told The Huffington Post that the report, which has not been released, was “critical” and that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which administers the review, was aware of its findings. Miller said that that one problem the GAO was likely to highlight was an “unacceptably high” error rate of 11 percent in a sampling of bank loan files.

The sample files were chosen at random by the banks from their broader pool of foreclosed homeowners, who had not necessarily applied for relief. The data suggests that of the 4 million families who lost their homes to foreclosure since the housing crash, more than 400,000 had some bank-caused problem in their loan file. It also suggests that many thousands of those who could have applied for relief didn’t — because they weren’t aware of the review, or weren’t aware that their bank had made a mistake. Some of these mistakes pushed homeowners into foreclosure who otherwise could have afforded to keep their homes.

Miller said the news that a settlement to replace the review was in the works caught him by surprise, and stressed that he had no way of knowing whether the impending GAO report had triggered the decision.

It’s not clear what will happen to the 250,000 homeowners who have already applied to the Independent Foreclosure Review for relief. The Times, citing people familiar with the negotiations, said that a deal between the banks and banking regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, could be reached by the end of the week. It wasn’t clear how that money would be distributed or how many current and former homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure — or who were hit with an unnecessary fee — might qualify.

Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC, which administers the program, declined to comment on the Times’ story. Hubbard told HuffPost, “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is committed to ensuring the Independent Foreclosure Review proceeds efficiently and to ensuring harmed borrowers are compensated as quickly as possible.”

Since the housing market crashed in 2007, thousands of foreclosed homeowners have complained that their mortgage company made a mistake in the management of their home loan, such as foreclosing on someone making payments on a loan modification plan. The Independent Foreclosure Review emerged from a legal agreement in April 2011 between 14 mortgage companies and bank regulators over these abusive “servicing” practices. It was supposed to give homeowners an opportunity to have an unbiased third party review their foreclosure and determine whether they might qualify for a cash payout of up to $125,000.

The initial response was tepid, at best. Homeowners and advocates complained that the application forms were confusing and that information about what type of compensation they might get was missing. Some told HuffPost that they were so disillusioned by the federal government’s anemic response to widely reported bank errors that they weren’t going to bother to apply.

In one instance, Daniel Casper, an Illinois wedding videographer, applied to the program in January after years of combat with Bank of America over his home loan. As The Huffington Post reported in October, he was initially rejected, because, according to the bank, his mortgage was not in the foreclosure process during the eligible review period. Promontory Financial Group, which Bank of America hired to review his loan, apparently did not double check Bank of America’s analysis against the extensive documentation that Chase submitted. That documentation clearly showed that his loan was eligible for review.

In recent months ProPublica, an investigative nonprofit, has issued a series of damning articles about the Independent Foreclosure Review. The most recent found that supposedly independent third-party reviewers looking over Bank of America loan files were given the “correct” answers in advance by the bank. These reviewers could override the answers, but they weren’t starting from a blank slate.

Banks, if they did not find a “compensable error,” did not have to pay anything, giving them a strong incentive to find no flaws with their own work.

“It was flawed from the start,” Miller said of the review program. “There was an inherent conflict of interest by just about everyone involved.”

Also on HuffPost:

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Rebecca Mairone, BofA Exec Who Allegedly Enabled Fraud, Now Head Of JPMorgan Chase Foreclosure Review

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Challenge Your Lender… Now!

13 Dec

Don’t delay – Opt in to the follow Blog and gain access to over 680 ideas and posts to hold your Lender accountable new post every day!

Do you want to hold your lender responsible for their illegal actions?

Challenge Your Lender… Now!

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My name is Timothy McCandless, and I’m here to tell you what most banks and mortgage loan servicers don’t want you to know: More than 65 million homes in the US may not be subject to foreclosure after all, and your home is very likely one of the “safe” homes. The reason these homes are not technically subject to foreclosure is because the lenders, mortgage companies, mortgage servicers, and title companies broke the law throughout the process of managing your loan, both at the inception of your loan and throughout the life of the loan. Because of their fraudulent actions, they are unable to produce a title for, or show ownership of, your property. This causes what we call a “defect of title”, and legally prohibits your lender or servicer from foreclosing, regardless of whether or not your loan is current.

This situation is all over the news, and now, starting today, you can learn how to protect yourself from unlawful foreclosure.

WE CAN TRAIN YOU HOW TO CHALLENGE YOUR LENDER

Most Mortgage Assignments are Illegal

In a major ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Court today, US Bank National Association and Wells Fargo lost the “Ibanez case”, meaning that they don’t have standing to foreclose due to improper mortgage assignment. The ruling is likely to send shock waves through the entire judicial system, and seriously raise the stakes on foreclosure fraud. Bank stocks plummeted after this ruling. These assignments are what people need to challenge in their own mortgages.

I am prepared to show you the most amazing information on how you can actually Challenge Your Lender. Once you opt in for our free ebook (just enter your email address above and to the right), you’ll get immediate access to our first, very informative webinar, as well as to our free ebook. You’ll learn more about the Challenge Your Lender program, and more importantly, how the US mortgage system is rigged to take advantage of you and how to can fight back. My program will show you exactly how to get a copy of your loan documents that your lender or loan servicer currently has in their possession, and then how to begin examining these documents to learn more about how your lender, as well as other parties involved, has used your name and credit to make millions of dollars. Analyzing your loan documents is a crucial first step in beginning the Challenge Your Lender process.


Save your home from foreclosure

The information that you will be receiving in my free material and webinar will further your knowledge on what most lenders are doing to homeowners, and how you can save yourself from foreclosure. You will have the opportunity to acquire a free copy of my Challenge Your Lender workbook and learn how to begin building the paper trail that you will need to defend yourself and to prove the wrongdoings of your lender and loan servicer. Once you go through the workbook and listen in on the free webinar, you will be on top of your Challenge and ready to begin the program.

The Challenge Your Lender program will help put you in a position of power and control over your loan, and will allow you to decide what you would like to do with your property. This leverage will be advantageous when you begin negotiating your foreclosure. Most importantly, your lender or loan servicer should not be able to foreclose on you once you notify them that you have identified fraudulent activity. My program is your first step in saving your property from foreclosure.

Don’t wait – opt in today. Every day counts in the battle against your lender.

Best regards,
Tim

Eighth Circuit BAP Allows Strip Off of Wholly Unsecured Lien in Chapter 20 (7+13)

6 Sep

The Eighth Circuit BAP found that a chapter 13 debtor may strip off a wholly unsecured lien on his principal residence even where the debtor is otherwise not entitled to discharge. In re Fisette, 11-6012 (B.A.P. 8th Cir., August 29, 2011). In so holding the court joined the majority of Circuit and BAP courts that have held that the reasoning in Nobelman v. Am. Savings Bank, 508 U.S. 324 (1993) establishes the right to strip off wholly unsecured residential liens. Turning to the issue of whether ineligibility for discharge under section 1328(f)(1) precludes the otherwise permissible lien stripping, the court stated: “We hold that the strip off of a wholly unsecured lien on a debtor’s principal residence is effective upon completion of the debtor’s obligations under his plan, and it is not contingent on his receipt of a Chapter 13 discharge.” Unlike the courts that have found that section 1325(a)(5) precludes lien-stripping in a chapter 20, the Fisette court found that, pursuant to the statutory language, the requirements of section 1325(a)(5) were not applicable to a lien which was unsecured. The court concluded its analysis with a finding that the creditors whose liens were stripped would be entitled to distribution of the estate along with the other unsecured creditors.

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An individual Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be better for you than Chapter 13

28 Jan

by Chip Parker, Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney on October 25, 2009 · Posted in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

In my 17 years of practicing bankruptcy law, I have never been as excited by anything as the development of the individual Chapter 11 case.

Traditionally, Chapter 13 has been used for personal reorganizations while Chapter 11 has been reserved for more complex corporate reorganizations.� However, a small handful of sophisticated bankruptcy lawyers, like Brett Mearkle of Jacksonville, Florida and BLN contributors Brett Weiss and Kurt O�Keefe, are taking advantage of the debtor-friendly rules of Chapter 11, to provide more meaningful debt restructuring for individual consumers.

Before 2005, individual Chapter 11 cases were virtually non-existent. However, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which has generally been horrible for individual debtors, changed a critical rule in Chapter 11 that has made it the choice for bankruptcy lawyers seeking the best restructuring options for many middle-class Americans.� That rule, known as the Absolute Priority Rule, no longer applies to individuals filing under Chapter 11.� The result is that, unlike corporate debtors, an individual (or married couple) filing under Chapter 11 does not have to repay 100% of his unsecured debts.� Rather, the individual need only pay his �disposable income� over a 5 year period, just like in Chapter 13 cases.

The challenge for bankruptcy lawyers is streamlining the Chapter 11 case for consumers to bring the overall cost of filing down.� Currently, my firm has managed to bring down the cost of a typical Chapter 11, but even so, the individual Chapter 11 case costs $10,000 to $30,000, depending on the facts.� However, in as many as half of all consumer reorganizations, these increased fees and costs are far outweighed by the savings and convenience of Chapter 11.

These savings, like �cram down� of automobiles and elimination of the trustee�s administrative fee, will be discussed in more detail in my upcoming articles.

The change to the Absolute Priority Rule has gone widely unnoticed by consumer bankruptcy lawyers, largely because so few understand Chapter 11.� However, we are starting to realize the power of Chapter 11 for consumers, and a concerted effort is being made by many to understand this complicated area of bankruptcy law.� I’ll be in Tucson next week, attending a three day seminar conducted by The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys to learn how to identify which consumers will benefit from Chapter 11 and how to file these types of bankruptcies.� Of course a three-day seminar is really the beginning of an education in Chapter 11, and I predict there will be more advanced seminars to follow.

Be on the lookout for more articles and videos by me and other BLNers on the advantages and nuances of the individual Chapter 11.

SB 94 and its interferance with the practice

5 Sep

CA SB 94 on Lawyers & Loan Modifications Passes Assembly… 62-10

The California Assembly has passed Senate Bill 94, a bill that seeks to protect homeowners from loan modification scammers, but could end up having the unintended consequence of eliminating a homeowner’s ability to retain an attorney to help them save their home from foreclosure.

The bill, which has an “urgency clause” attached to it, now must pass the State Senate, and if passed, could be signed by the Governor on October 11th, and go into effect immediately thereafter.

SB 94’s author is California State Senator Ron Calderon, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone familiar with the bigger picture. Sen. Calderon, while acknowledging that fee-for-service providers can provide valuable services to homeowners at risk of foreclosure, authored SB 94 to ensure that providers of these services are not compensated until the contracted services have been performed.

SB 94 prevents companies, individuals… and even attorneys… from receiving fees or any other form of compensation until after the contracted services have been rendered. The bill will now go to the Democratic controlled Senate where it is expected to pass.

Supporters of the bill say that the state is literally teeming with con artists who take advantage of homeowners desperate to save their homes from foreclosure by charging hefty fees up front and then failing to deliver anything of value in return. They say that by making it illegal to charge up front fees, they will be protecting consumers from being scammed.

While there’s no question that there have been some unscrupulous people that have taken advantage of homeowners in distress, the number of these scammers is unclear. Now that we’ve learned that lenders and servicers have only modified an average of 9% of qualified mortgages under the Obama plan, it’s hard to tell which companies were scamming and which were made to look like scams by the servicers and lenders who failed to live up to their agreement with the federal government.

In fact, ever since it’s come to light that mortgage servicers have been sued hundreds of times, that they continue to violate the HAMP provisions, that they foreclose when they’re not supposed to, charge up front fees for modifications, require homeowners to sign waivers, and so much more, who can be sure who the scammers really are. Bank of America, for example, got the worst grade of any bank on the President’s report card listing, modifying only 4% of the eligible mortgages since the plan began. We’ve given B of A something like $200 billion and they still claim that they’re having a hard time answering the phones over there, so who’s scamming who?

To make matters worse, and in the spirit of Y2K, the media has fanned the flames of irrationality with stories of people losing their homes as a result of someone failing to get their loan modified. The stories go something like this:

We gave them 1,000. They told us to stop making our mortgage payment. They promised us a principal reduction. We didn’t hear from them for months. And then we lost our house.

I am so sure. Can that even happen? I own a house or two. Walk me through how that happened again, because I absolutely guarantee you… no way could those things happen to me and I end up losing my house over it. Not a chance in the world. I’m not saying I couldn’t lose a house, but it sure as heck would take a damn sight more than that to make it happen.

Depending on how you read the language in the bill, it may prevent licensed California attorneys from requiring a retainer in advance of services being rendered, and this could essentially eliminate a homeowner’s ability to hire a lawyer to help save their home.

Supporters, on the other hand, respond that homeowners will still be able to hire attorneys, but that the attorneys will now have to wait until after services have been rendered before being paid for their services. They say that attorneys, just like real estate agents and mortgage brokers, will now only be able to receive compensation after services have been rendered.

But, assuming they’re talking about at the end of the transaction, there are key differences. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are paid OUT OF ESCROW at the end of a transaction. They don’t send clients a bill for their services after the property is sold.

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure are having trouble paying their bills and for the most part, their credit ratings have suffered as a result. If an attorney were to represent a homeowner seeking a loan modification, and then bill for his or her services after the loan was modified, the attorney would be nothing more than an unsecured creditor of a homeowner who’s only marginally credit worthy at best. If the homeowner didn’t pay the bill, the attorney would have no recourse other than to sue the homeowner in Small Claims Court where they would likely receive small payments over time if lucky.

Extending unsecured credit to homeowners that are already struggling to pay their bills, and then having to sue them in order to collect simply isn’t a business model that attorneys, or anyone else for that matter, are likely to embrace. In fact, the more than 50 California attorneys involved in loan modifications that I contacted to ask about this issue all confirmed that they would not represent homeowners on that basis.

One attorney, who asked not to be identified, said: “Getting a lender or servicer to agree to a loan modification takes months, sometimes six or nine months. If I worked on behalf of homeowners for six or nine months and then didn’t get paid by a number of them, it wouldn’t be very long before I’d have to close my doors. No lawyer is going to do that kind of work without any security and anyone who thinks they will, simply isn’t familiar with what’s involved.”

“I don’t think there’s any question that SB 94 will make it almost impossible for a homeowner to obtain legal representation related to loan modifications,” explained another attorney who also asked not to be identified. ”The banks have fought lawyers helping clients through the loan modification process every step of the way, so I’m not surprised they’ve pushed for this legislation to pass.”

Proponents of the legislation recite the all too familiar mantra about there being so many scammers out there that the state has no choice but to move to shut down any one offering to help homeowners secure loan modifications that charges a fee for the services. They point out that consumers can just call their banks directly, or that there are nonprofit organizations throughout the state that can help homeowners with loan modifications.

While the latter is certainly true, it’s only further evidence that there exists a group of people in positions of influence that are unfamiliar , or at the very least not adequately familiar with obtaining a loan modification through a nonprofit organization, and they’ve certainly never tried calling a bank directly.

The fact that there are nonprofit housing counselors available, and the degree to which they may or may not be able to assist a given homeowner, is irrelevant. Homeowners are well aware of the nonprofit options available. They are also aware that they can call their banks directly. From the President of the United States and and U.S. Attorney General to the community newspapers found in every small town in America, homeowners have heard the fairy tales about about these options, and they’ve tried them… over and over again, often times for many months. When they didn’t get the desired results, they hired a firm to help them.

Yet, even the State Bar of California is supporting SB 94, and even AB 764, a California Assembly variation on the theme, and one even more draconian because of its requirement that attorneys only be allowed to bill a client after a successful loan modification has been obtained. That means that an attorney would have to guarantee a homeowner that he or she would obtain a modification agreement from a lender or servicer or not get paid for trying. Absurd on so many levels. Frankly, if AB 764 passes, would the last one out of California please turn off the lights and bring the flag.

As of late July, the California State Bar said it was investigating 391 complaints against 141 attorneys, as opposed to nine investigations related to loan modifications in 2008. The Bar hasn’t read anywhere all of the complaints its received, but you don’t have to be a statistician to figure out that there’s more to the complaints that meets the eye. So far the State Bar has taken action against three attorneys and the Attorney General another four… so, let’s see… carry the 3… that’s 7 lawyers. Two or three more and they could have a softball team.

At the federal level they’re still reporting the same numbers they were last spring. Closed 11… sent 71 letters… blah, blah, blah… we’ve got a country of 300 million and at least 5 million are in trouble on their mortgage. The simple fact is, they’re going to have to come up with some serious numbers before I’m going to be scared of bumping into a scammer on every corner.

Looking Ahead…

California’s ALT-A and Option ARM mortgages are just beginning to re-set, causing payments to rise, and with almost half of the mortgages in California already underwater, these homeowners will be unable to refinance and foreclosures will increase as a result. Prime jumbo foreclosure rates are already up a mind blowing 634% as compared with January 2008 levels, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

Clearly, if SB 94 ends up reducing the number of legitimate firms available for homeowners to turn to, everyone involved in its passage is going to be retiring. While many sub-prime borrowers have suffered silently through this horror show of a housing crisis, the ALT-A and Option ARM borrowers are highly unlikely to slip quietly into the night.

There are a couple of things about the latest version of SB 94 that I found interesting:

1. It says that a lawyer can’t collect a fee or any other compensation before serivces have been delivered, but it doesn’t make clear whether attorneys can ask the client to deposit funds in the law firm’s trust account and then bill against thsoe funds as amounts are earned. Funds deposited in a law firm trust account remain the client’s funds, so they’re not a lawyer’s “fees or other compensation”. Those funds are there so that when the fees have been earned, the lawyer doesn’t have to hope his or her bill gets paid. Of course, it also says that an attorney can’t hold any security interest, but money in a trust account a client’s money, the attorney has no lien against it. All of this is a matter of interpretation, of course, so who knows.

2. While there used to be language in both the real estate and lawyer sections that prohibited breaking up services related to a loan modification, in the latest version all of the language related to breaking up services as applied to attorneys has been eliminated. It still applies to real estate licensed firms, but not to attorneys. This may be a good thing, as at least a lawyer could complete sections of the work involved as opposed to having to wait until the very end, which the way the banks have been handling things, could be nine months away.

3. The bill says nothing about the amounts that may be charged for services in connection with a loan modification. So, in the case of an attorney, that would seem to mean that… well, you can put one, two and three together from there.

4. Lawyers are not included in definition of foreclosure consultant. And there is a requirement that new language be inserted in contracts, along the lines of “You don’t have to pay anyone to get a loan modification… blah, blah, blah.” Like that will be news to any homeowner in America. I’ve spoken with hundreds and never ran across one who didn’t try it themselves before calling a lawyer. I realize the Attorney General doesn’t seem to know that, but look… he’s been busy.

Conclusion…

Will SB 94 actually stop con artists from taking advantage of homeowners in distress? Or will it end up only stopping reputable lawyers from helping homeowners, while foreclosures increase and our economy continues its deflationary free fall? Will the California State Bar ever finishing reading the complaints being received, and if they ever do, will they understand what they’ve read. Or is our destiny that the masses won’t understand what’s happening around them until it sucks them under as well.

I surely hope not. But for now, I’m just hoping people can still a hire an attorney next week to help save their homes, because if they can’t… the Bar is going to get a lot more letters from unhappy homeowners.

Don’t get HAMP ED out of your home!

5 Sep

By Walter Hackett, Esq.
The federal government has trumpeted its Home Affordable Modification Program or “HAMP” solution as THE solution to runaway foreclosures – few things could be further from the truth. Under HAMP a homeowner will be offered a “workout” that can result in the homeowner being “worked out” of his or her home. Here’s how it works. A participating lender or servicer will send a distressed homeowner a HAMP workout agreement. The agreement consists of an “offer” pursuant to which the homeowner is permitted to remit partial or half of their regular monthly payments for 3 or more months. The required payments are NOT reduced, instead the partial payments are placed into a suspense account. In many cases once enough is gathered to pay the oldest payment due the funds are removed from the suspense account and applied to the mortgage loan. At the end of the trial period the homeowner will be further behind than when they started the “workout” plan.
In California, the agreements clearly specify the acceptance of partial payments by the lender or servicer does NOT cure any default. Further, the fact a homeowner is in the workout program does NOT require the lender or servicer to suspend or postpone any non-judicial foreclosure activity with the possible exception of an actual trustee’s sale. A homeowner could complete the workout plan and be faced with an imminent trustee’s sale. Worse, if a homeowner performs EXACTLY as required by the workout agreement, they are NOT assured a loan modification. Instead the agreement will include vague statements that the homeowner MAY receive an offer to modify his or her loan however there is NO duty on the part of the servicer or lender to modify a loan regardless of the homeowner’s compliance with the agreement.

A homeowner who fully performs under a HAMP workout is all but guaranteed to have given away thousands of dollars with NO assurance of keeping his or her home or ever seeing anything resembling an offer to modify a mortgage loan.
While it may well be the case the government was making an honest effort to help, the reality is the HAMP program is only guaranteed to help those who need help least – lenders and servicers. If you receive ANY written offer to modify your loan meet with a REAL licensed attorney and ask them to review the agreement to determine what you are REALLY agreeing to, the home you save might be your own.

A ‘Little Judge’ Who Rejects Foreclosures, Brooklyn Style

2 Sep

By Michael Powell – NY Times – 8/30/09

The judge waves you into his chambers in the State Supreme Court building in Brooklyn, past the caveat taped to his wall — “Be sure brain in gear before engaging mouth” — and into his inner office, where foreclosure motions are piled high enough to form a minor Alpine chain.

“I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate,” Justice Arthur M. Schack said.

Every week, the nation’s mightiest banks come to his court seeking to take the homes of New Yorkers who cannot pay their mortgages. And nearly as often, the judge says, they file foreclosure papers speckled with errors.

He plucks out one motion and leafs through: a Deutsche Bank representative signed an affidavit claiming to be the vice president of two different banks. His office was in Kansas City, Mo., but the signature was notarized in Texas. And the bank did not even own the mortgage when it began to foreclose on the homeowner.

The judge’s lips pucker as if he had inhaled a pickle; he rejected this one. “I’m a little guy in Brooklyn who doesn’t belong to their country clubs, what can I tell you?” he says, adding a shrug for punctuation. “I won’t accept their comedy of errors.”

The judge, Arthur M. Schack, 64, fashions himself a judicial Don Quixote, tilting at the phalanxes of bankers, foreclosure facilitators and lawyers who file motions by the bale. While national debate focuses on bank bailouts and federal aid for homeowners that has been slow in coming, the hard reckonings of the foreclosure crisis are being made in courts like his, and Justice Schack’s sympathies are clear. He has tossed out 46 of the 102 foreclosure motions that have come before him in the last two years. And his often scathing decisions, peppered with allusions to the Croesus-like wealth of bank presidents, have attracted the respectful attention of judges and lawyers from Florida to Ohio to California. At recent judicial conferences in Chicago and Arizona, several panelists praised his rulings as a possible national model.

His opinions, too, have been greeted by a cry of affront from a bank official or two, who say this judge stands in the way of what is rightfully theirs. HSBC bank appealed a recent ruling, saying he had set a “dangerous precedent” by acting as “both judge and jury,” throwing out cases even when homeowners had not responded to foreclosure motions. Justice Schack, like a handful of state and federal judges, has taken a magnifying glass to the mortgage industry. In the gilded haste of the past decade, bankers handed out millions of mortgages — with terms good, bad and exotically ugly — then repackaged those loans for sale to investors from Connecticut to Singapore. Sloppiness reigned. So many papers have been lost, signatures misplaced and documents dated inaccurately that it is often not clear which bank owns the mortgage.

Justice Schack’s take is straightforward, and sends a tremor through some bank suites: If a bank cannot prove ownership, it cannot foreclose. “If you are going to take away someone’s house, everything should be legal and correct,” he said. “I’m a strange guy — I don’t want to put a family on the street unless it’s legitimate.”

Justice Schack has small jowls and big black glasses, a thin mustache and not so many hairs combed across his scalp. He has the impish eyes of the high school social studies teacher he once was, aware that something untoward is probably going on at the back of his classroom. He is Brooklyn born and bred, with a master’s degree in history and an office loaded with autographed baseballs and photographs of the Brooklyn Dodgers. His written decisions are a free-associative trip through popular, legal and literary culture, with a sideways glance at the business pages.

Confronted with a case in which Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs passed a defaulted mortgage back and forth and lost track of the documents, the judge made reference to the film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the evil banker played by Lionel Barrymore. “Lenders should not lose sight,” Justice Schack wrote in that 2007 case, “that they are dealing with humanity, not with Mr. Potter’s ‘rabble’ and ‘cattle.’ Multibillion-dollar corporations must follow the same rules in the foreclosure actions as the local banks, savings and loan associations or credit unions, or else they have become the Mr. Potters of the 21st century.”

Last year, he chastised Wells Fargo for filing error-filled papers. “The court,” the judge wrote, “reminds Wells Fargo of Cassius’s advice to Brutus in Act 1, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’: ‘The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ ”

Then there is a Deutsche Bank case from 2008, the juicy part of which he reads aloud:

“The court wonders if the instant foreclosure action is a corporate ‘Kansas City Shuffle,’ a complex confidence game,” he reads. “In the 2006 film ‘Lucky Number Slevin,’ Mr. Goodkat, a hit man played by Bruce Willis, explains: ‘A Kansas City Shuffle is when everybody looks right, you go left.’ ”The banks’ reaction? Justice Schack shrugs. “They probably curse at me,” he says, “but no one is interested in some little judge.”

Little drama attends the release of his decisions. Beaten-down homeowners rarely show up to contest foreclosure actions, and the judge scrutinizes the banks’ papers in his chambers. But at legal conferences, judges and lawyers have wondered aloud why more judges do not hold banks to tougher standards.

“To the extent that judges examine these papers, they find exactly the same errors that Judge Schack does,” said Katherine M. Porter, a visiting professor at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a national expert in consumer credit law. “His rulings are hardly revolutionary; it’s unusual only because we so rarely hold large corporations to the rules.”

Banks and the cottage industry of mortgage service companies and foreclosure lawyers also pay rather close attention. A spokeswoman for OneWest Bank acknowledged that an official, confronted with a ream of foreclosure papers, had mistakenly signed for two different banks — just as the Deutsche Bank official did. Deutsche Bank, which declined to let an attorney speak on the record about any of its cases before Justice Schack, e-mailed a PDF of a three-page pamphlet in which it claimed little responsibility for foreclosures, even though the bank’s name is affixed to tens of thousands of such motions. The bank described itself as simply a trustee for investors.

Justice Schack came to his recent prominence by a circuitous path, having worked for 14 years as public school teacher in Brooklyn. He was a union representative and once walked a picket line with his wife, Dilia, who was a teacher, too. All was well until the fiscal crisis of the 1970s.

“Why’d I go to law school?” he said. “Thank Mayor Abe Beame, who froze teacher salaries.”

He was counsel for the Major League Baseball Players Association in the 1980s and ’90s, when it was on a long winning streak against team owners. “It was the millionaires versus the billionaires,” he says. “After a while, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘He’s making $4 million, he’s making $5 million, and I’m worth about $1.98.’ ”

So he dived into a judicial race. He was elected to the Civil Court in 1998 and to the Supreme Court for Brooklyn and Staten Island in 2003. His wife is a Democratic district leader; their daughter, Elaine, is a lawyer and their son, Douglas, a police officer.Justice Schack’s duels with the banks started in 2007 as foreclosures spiked sharply. He saw a plague falling on Brooklyn, particularly its working-class black precincts. “Banks had given out loans structured to fail,” he said.

The judge burrowed into property record databases. He found banks without clear title, and a giant foreclosure law firm, Steven J. Baum, representing two sides in a dispute. He noted that Wells Fargo’s chief executive, John G. Stumpf, made more than $11 million in 2007 while the company’s total returns fell 12 percent. “Maybe,” he advised the bank, “counsel should wonder, like the court, if Mr. Stumpf was unjustly enriched at the expense of W.F.’s stockholders.”

He was, how to say it, mildly appalled. “I’m a guy from the streets of Brooklyn who happens to become a judge,” he said. “I see a bank giving a $500,000 mortgage on a building worth $300,000 and the interest rate is 20 percent and I ask questions, what can I tell you?”

What is worse bankruptcy or foreclosure?

25 Jun

So what is worse, bankruptcy or foreclosure? Which will have the biggest impact on my credit score? Both bankruptcy and foreclosure will have serious negative affects on your personal credit report and your credit score as well. With re-established credit after a bankruptcy and/or foreclosure you can possibly qualify for a good mortgage once again in as little as 24 months. Therefore, it is very difficult to say one is worse than the other, but the bottom line is that they are both very bad for you and should be avoided if all possible.

Foreclosure is worse then bankruptcy because you are actually losing something of value, your home. Once you are in foreclosure you will lose any and all equity in your home. If there is no equity in the home you will be responsible for the remaining balance after the property auction. With chapter 7 bankruptcy all of your unsecured debts are erased and you start over and in most cases you will not lose anything other then your credit rating.

Many times qualifying for a mortgage after a foreclosure is more difficult than applying for a home after a bankruptcy. With that said, that could possibly lead you to believe that foreclosure is worse than bankruptcy. Most people who have a home foreclosed upon end up filing bankruptcy as well.

Bankruptcy and Foreclosure filings are public records, however no one would know about your proceedings under normal circumstances. The Credit Bureaus will record your bankruptcy and a foreclosure. Bankruptcies will remain on your credit record for 10 years while foreclosures can stay on your report for up to 7 years.

In some cases, one can refinance out of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy with a 12 month trustee payment history and a timely mortgage history. It is much more difficult to obtain financing with a foreclosure on your record.

Foreclosure is worse because of the loss of value. You will not receive any compensation for the equity in your home if it proceeds to foreclosure.

Standing argument

7 Jun

judge-youngs-decision-on-nosek

Ameriquest’s final argument, that the sanctions are a
criminal penalty, is bereft of authority. Ameriquest cites F.J.
Hanshaw Enterprises, Inc. v. Emerald River Development, Inc., 244
F.3d 1128 (9th Cir. 2001), a case about inherent powers – not
Rule 11 –

This is an excerpt from the decision just this bloggers note the Hanshaw Case was my case. I argued this case at the 9th circuit court of appeals

http://openjurist.org/244/f3d/1128/fj-v-emeraldfj-v-emerald

If you will grasp the implications of this judge-youngs-decision-on-nosekdecision all or most all the evictions and  foreclosures are being litigated by the wrong parties that is to say parties who have no real stake in the outcome. they are merely servicers not the real investors. They do not have the right to foreclose or evict. No assignment No note No security interest No standing They do not want to be listed anywhere. They (the lenders) have caused the greatest damage to the American Citizen since the great depression and they do not want to be exposed or named in countless lawsuits. Time and time again I get from the judges in demurer hearings ” I see what you are saying counsel but your claim does not appear to be against this defendant” the unnamed investment pool of the Lehman Brothers shared High yield equity Fund trustee does not exist and so far can’t be sued.

Borrowers’ Defenses to Forclosure

19 Apr

A great source of information you can use, and since the Guy is in Washington I can give him all the credit
defensestoforeclosure

United First Class Action

9 Mar

On Saturday March 7,2009 a meeting was held for 200 plus victims of the United First equity save your house scam. At that meeting it was determined that a class action should be filed to recover the funds lost by the victims of the unconscionable contract.

As a first step an involuntary Bankruptcy is being filed today March 9, 2009. To be considered as a creditor of said Bankruptcy please Fax the Joint Venture agreement and retainer agreement to 909-494-4214.
Additionally it is this attorneys opinion that said Bankruptcy will act as a “stay” for all averse actions being taken by lenders as against said victims. This opinion is based upon the fact that United First maintained an interest in the real property as a joint venture to 80% of the properties value(no matter how unconscionable this may be) this is an interest that can be protected by the Bankruptcy Stay 11 USC 362.

California Issues Foreclosure Moratorium

25 Feb

Carrie Bay | 02.25.09

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved a bill appended to the state’s budget package last week that institutes a 90-day foreclosure moratorium throughout the Golden State. Introduced by Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), the moratorium applies to first mortgages recorded between January 1, 2003 and January 1, 2008.

State regulators, however, can deem loan servicers and lenders exempt from the new law if they have a mortgage modification program already in place that includes principal deferral, interest rate reductions for five years or more, or extended loan terms. The lender’s loan restructuring program also has to ensure new monthly payments are no more than 38 percent of the borrower’s income. The state’s stipulated debt-to-income ratio is significantly lower than the 31 percent target called for in the Obama Administration’s Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan.

Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “It was a step backward from where things were going from an industry standpoint and a federal standpoint.”

According to the Chronicle, Corbett herself said that she would have liked a bill with stronger enforcement for modifications but was limited from more aggressive measures by the state’s banking regulators.

Mortgageorb.com reported that California’s banking groups, including the California Bankers Association and the California Mortgage Bankers Association, have written strong oppositions to the bill, arguing the moratorium will negatively impact home sales and further delay recovery.

Beth Mills, a spokesperson for the California Bankers Association, told the Chronicle that struggling borrowers and their lenders already have more than enough time to search for mutual solutions. Mills pointed out that a state law passed in 2008 increased the required time span between first notification of foreclosure and final sale of the property by 30 days, to a total of 141 days. According to Mills, more time is not the silver bullet to every troubled loan, the Chronicle said.

Federal bill would let judges modify home mortgages

23 Feb

Orlando Business Journal – by Richard Bilbao

The proposed Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act of 2009, for the first time ever, would let judges modify the terms of a home mortgage for someone who’s filed for personal bankruptcy.

More specifically, Senate Bill 61 and its companion bill H.R. 200, introduced in the House and Senate on Jan. 6, would allow judges to:

• Modify or reduce the principle balance on a home mortgage to its current market value, as opposed to when the home was bought.

• Stretch out a home mortgage for up to 40 years to help lower payments.

• Reduce and change a variable mortgage interest rate to a fixed-rate.

However, not every distressed home falls under the guidelines of the bill.

Both the Senate and House bills — sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. John Conyers , D-Mich., respectively — require homeowners who’ve filed for personal bankruptcy to have:

• Been informed, beforehand, that the home will be subject to a foreclosure.

• A mortgage created prior to the date the bill passes.

• Certification that they tried and failed to negotiate a loan modification with the lender 15 days before filing for bankruptcy. However, this requirement would be waived if the home faces foreclosure within 30 days.

Modifying a loan to help a property stay out of foreclosure is common in the commercial sector, such as hotels and office buildings, as well as in some consumer sectors, such as cars.

But it’s unheard of for bankruptcy courts to modify home mortgages, said Roy Kobert, a bankruptcy attorney for Broad and Cassel in Orlando. “The present inability to modify home mortgages for Americans is the holy grail in consumer bankruptcy — it’s virtually impenetrable.”

In commercial bankruptcies, “the code permits judges to modify the mortgage amount and the interest rate, but also allows commercial lenders to participate in the appreciation of the collateral on a sliding scale basis,” he said.

That provision for residential lenders is not included in the Senate bill, but is in the House version, he said.

Risky business

Central Florida businesspeople have mixed reactions to a proposed federal law that could tip the balance of power in personal bankruptcy cases in favor of homeowners over lenders.

At least one local Realtor likes the proposed Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act of 2009.

Keeping homes out of foreclosure would make them easier to sell, because prospective buyers typically don’t look at foreclosed properties, said Kathleen Gallagher McIver, a broker with Re/Max Town and Country Realty in Winter Springs.

But giving courts the power to restructure a loan may leave a bitter taste in lenders’ mouths that can backfire on homeowners, said Rob Nunziata, president of FBC Mortgage LLC, an Orlando-based mortgage broker.

The proposed law would introduce a whole new type of risk for lenders and investors, who would have to fear having a court judge change the amount of return the investor originally expected to get. “Mortgages in bankruptcy have been considered sacred, but this could change the ground rules” for lending, said Nunziata.

For example, although the plan is only for existing mortgages, this could cause lenders to raise rates on future mortgages in fear of the law being modified to include new mortgages, he said.

But the proposed law may also help lenders, said Chip Herron, an attorney with Wolff, Hill, McFarlin & Herron P.A. in Orlando. “Creditors will be better off when there’s an owner who wants [to stay in a distressed home] and continue taking care of it,” he said.

The bill, if passed, also could cause a dramatic drop in personal bankruptcy filings and foreclosures due to some homeowners wanting to work things out instead of walking away, said Herron.

“This goes a long way to solving the real estate crisis. Someone will be setting a floor to what these homes are worth instead of letting them continue to devalue.”

Lenders Fighting Mortgage Rewrite Measure Targets Bankrupt Homeowners

21 Feb

Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s bill would allow bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of first mortgages for primary residences.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin’s bill would allow bankruptcy judges to alter the terms of first mortgages for primary residences. (By Alex Wong — Associated Press)

By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 22, 2008; Page D01

The nation’s largest lending institutions are lobbying hard to block a proposal in Congress that would give bankruptcy judges greater latitude to rewrite mortgages held by financially strapped homeowners.

The proposal, which could come to a vote in the Senate as early as next week, is being pushed by Democratic congressional leaders and a large coalition of groups that includes labor unions, consumer advocates, civil rights organizations and AARP, the powerful senior citizens’ lobby.

The legislation would allow bankruptcy judges for the first time to alter the terms of mortgages for primary residences. Under the proposal, borrowers could declare bankruptcy, and a judge would be able to reduce the amount they owe as part of resolving their debts.

Currently, bankruptcy judges cannot rewrite first mortgages for primary homes. This restriction was adopted in the 1970s to encourage banks to provide mortgages to new home buyers.

The Democrats and their allies see the plan as an antidote to the recent mortgage crisis, especially among low-income borrowers with subprime loans. The legislation would prevent as many as 600,000 homeowners from being thrown into foreclosure, its advocates say.

“We should be giving families every reasonable tool to ensure they can keep a roof over their heads,” said Sen. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat and author of a leading version of the legislation.

But the banks argue that any help the proposal might provide to troubled homeowners in the short run would be offset by the higher costs that borrowers would have to pay to get mortgages in the future. The reason, banks say, is that they would pass along the added risk to borrowers in the form of higher interest rates, larger down payments or increased closing costs.
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If banks were unable to pass on the entire cost, they could be forced to trim their profits.

“This provision is incredibly counterproductive,” said Edward L. Yingling, president of the America Bankers Association. “We will lobby very, very strongly against it.”

The Durbin measure is part of a larger housing assistance bill being pushed by Democrats in the Senate. A separate version of the measure was approved late last year, mostly along party lines, by the House Judiciary Committee. The Bush administration has said that it opposes both provisions as overly coercive and potentially detrimental to the already strained mortgage market.

Lobbyists for major banks have made the proposal’s defeat a top priority. They have been meeting at least weekly to coordinate their efforts and have fanned out on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staffs.

At least a dozen industry associations have banded together to fight the proposed legislation. They include the American Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Consumer Bankers Association and the Mortgage Bankers Association. These groups and others have signed joint letters to lawmakers on the issue.

In one of their letters, sent to Senate leaders last week, the groups wrote that the legislation would “have a very negative impact in the financial markets, which are struggling in part because of difficulties in valuing the mortgages that underlay securities [and] would greatly increase the uncertainty that already exists.”

Bank lobbyists have also gone online to make their case. The mortgage bankers have set up a Web site, http://www.mortgagebankers.org/StopTheCramDown, that can calculate how much mortgage costs might increase by state and by county if the Durbin measure were to become law. “Cram down” is the industry term for a forced easing of mortgage terms.

Supporters of the measure are also sending letters and meeting with lawmakers. A letter urging a quick vote on the proposal was delivered to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) last week. It was signed by 19 organizations, including the Consumer Federation of America, the AFL-CIO, the National Council of La Raza, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and AARP.

The letter said, “The court-supervised modification provision is a commonsense solution that will help families save their homes without any cost to the U.S. Treasury, while ensuring that lenders recover at least what they would in a foreclosure.”

The Center for Responsible Lending, a pro-consumer watchdog group that backs Durbin’s effort, is trying to instigate voter e-mails to lawmakers on the subject. The group’s Web site includes a page that allows people to send electronic notes supporting the measure to their elected representatives with just a few clicks of a mouse.

AARP spokesman Jim Dau said his group will also ramp up its efforts. It may soon ask its activists to urge lawmakers to back the mortgage-redrafting legislation. AARP, which is the nation’s largest lobby group, has a list of 1.5 million volunteers whom it says it can call upon to contact lawmakers on legislative matters.

Lawyers that get it Niel Garfield list

14 Feb

Lawyers that get it Niel Garfield list
lawyers-that-get-it-02092

House Panel Votes for Modification Safe Haven, Hope Overhaul…Now maybe they will lower the principal balance

6 Feb

Austin Kilgore | 02.05.09

Mortgage servicers that have been reluctant to perform certain loan modifications for fear of lawsuits for violating service agreements may have some relief coming.

The House Financial Services Committee voted Wednesday to create a legal safe haven for mortgage servicers that modify mortgages regardless of the original service agreements so long as they are in compliance with the Homeowner Emergency Relief Act. The proposal would also require servicers to report modification activity to the Treasury Department.

There may also be some hope for the struggling Hope for Homeowners program. The committee’s resolution would also overhaul the $300 billion mortgage guarantee program that’s barely put a dent in reducing foreclosures.

When Congress passed the original Hope for Homeowners legislation, the program was expected to help as many as 400,000 homeowners, but since it was launched in October, there have only been 451 applicants and only 25 loans have closed.

Charles McMillan, president of the National Association of Realtors, said, “Hope for Homeowners, was designed to help families refinance into safer, more affordable mortgages, in many cases helping those families avoid a devastating foreclosure. Despite being well-intentioned, the Hope for Homeowners program has had limited success. Lenders have found the program difficult to participate in because of many of the program’s constraints.”

The changes would lower participation standards, and cut costs for lenders and borrowers.

Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank told the House Financial Services Committee, “There have been a series of trials and errors here,” in the efforts to fix the program.

A third provision would make permanent the temporary increase in FDIC bank depositor insurance from $100,000 to $250,000 per account.

The legislation is expected to be considered by the full House next week.
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The Doan deal

25 Jan

California Civil Code 2923.6 enforces and promotes loan modifications to stop foreclosure in the state. California Civil Code 2923.6 (Servicer’s Duty under Pooling Agreements) went into effect on July 8, 2008. It applies to all loans from January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2007 secured by residential real property for owner-occupied residences.

The new law states that servicing agents for loan pools owe a duty to all parties in the pool so that a workout or modification is in the best interests of the parties if the loan is in default or default is reasonably foreseeable, and the recovery on the workout exceeds the anticipated recovery through a California foreclosure based on the current value of the property.

Almost all residential mortgages have Pooling and Servicing Agreements (“PSA”) since they were transferred to various Mortgage Backed Security Trusts after origination. California Civil Code 2823.6 broadens and extends this PSA duty by requiring servicers to accept loan modifications with borrowers.

How does this law apply?

Attorney Michael Doan provides this example of how the new law applies in his article entitled “California Foreclosures: Lenders Must Accept Loan Modifications” on the Mortgage Law Network blog. We removed the borrower’s name from the example for the sake of privacy.

A California borrower’s loan is presently in danger of foreclosure. The house he bought 2 years ago for $800,000 with a $640,000 first and $140,000 second, has now plummeted in value to $375,000. The borrower can no longer afford the $9,000 per month mortgage payment. But, he is willing, able, and ready to execute a modification of his loan on the following terms:

a) New Loan Amount: $330,000.00

b) New Interest Rate: 6% fixed

c) New Loan Length: 30 years

d) New Payment: $1978.52

While this new loan amount of $330,000 is less than the current fair market value, the costs of foreclosure need to be taken into account. Foreclosures typically cost the lender $50,000 per foreclosure. For example, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress estimated in June, 2007, that the average foreclosure results in $77.935.00 in costs to the homeowner, lender, local government, and neighbors. Of the $77,935.00 in foreclosure costs, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress estimates that the lender will suffer $50,000.00 in costs in conducting a non-judicial foreclosure on the property, maintaining, rehabilitating, insuring, and reselling the property to a third party. Freddie Mac places this loss higher at $58,759.00.

Accordingly, the anticipated recovery through foreclosure on a net present value basis is $325,000.00 or less and the recovery under the proposed loan modification at $330,000.00 exceeds the net present recovery through foreclosure of $325,000.00 by over $5,000.00. Thus, California Civil Code 2823.6 would mandate a modification to the new terms.

This new law remains in effect until January 1, 2013. Restructuring your mortgage will stop foreclosure and lower mortgage payments. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to lower your interest rate, as well. Visit the “Get Started” page to find out if you can benefit from this new California law and avoid foreclosure.

My plan for Loan Modifications i.e. Attorney loan mod

25 Jan

Recent Loan Modification studies have shown that a large percentage of traditional loan modifications put the borrowers more upside down than when they started.
Unfortunately many loan mods are leaving people with higher monthly payments. In many loan modifcation the money you did not pay gets tacked on to the back of the loan… Increasing your loan balance and making you more upside down. This is why over 50% of all loan mods are in default. They are not fixing the problem they are just postponing it.

Before you go into default on your loans at the advice of some former subprime loan seller, make sure you understand that absent finding some legal leverage over the lender you have a good chance of seeing your payments going up.

Our Loan Modification program includes

1. Upside Down Analysis

2. Qualified Written Request and offer of Loan Modification

3. Letter informing lender of clients election to pursue remedies carved out by recent California Law under 2923.6 and or Federal Programs under the Truth in lending Act and the Fair Debt collection practices Act.

4. Letter Disputing debt (if advisable)

5. Cease and Desist letters (if advisable)

6. Follow up, contact with negotiator, and negotiation by an attorney when needed.
By now many of you have read about all the Federal Governments Loan Modification Programs. Others have been cold called by a former loan brokers offering to help you with your Loan Modification. Its odd that many of the brokers who put people into these miserable loans are now charging people up front to get out of the them.

Before you spend thousands of dollars with someone, do an investigation:

1. Is the person licensed by the California Department of Real Estate? Or, the California State Bar?

2. Are your potential representatives aware that have to be licensed according to the DRE?

3. Are they asking you for money up front? They are violating the California Foreclosure Consultant act if they are neither CA attorneys nor perhaps Real Estate brokers in possesion of a no opinion letter from the California Department of Real Estate? Note… if a Notice of Default has been filed against your residence only attorneys acting as your attorney can take up front fees. Don’t fall for “attorney backed” baloney. Are you retaining the services of the attorney or not? Did you sign a retainer agreement ?

4. If your potential representative is not an attorney make sure he or she is a Real Estate Broker capable of proving their upfront retainer agreement has been given a no opinon letter by the DRE. (As of November 2008 – only 14 non attorney entites have been “approved by the DRE.)

5. If somone says they are attorney backed – ask to speak with the attorney. What does attorney backed mean? From what we have seen it is usually a junk marketing business being run by someone who can not get a proper license to do loan modifications.

6. Find out how your loan modification people intend to gain leverage over the lender.

7. If you are offered a loan audit or a Qualfied Written Request under RESPA letter – will an attorney be doing the negotiating against the lender? Will you have to hire the attorney after you pay for your loan audit? Doesn’t that put cart before the horse?

8. Will it do you any good to have a loan audit done if you later have to go out and retain an attorney. You want to retain their services of an attorney before you pay for the audit. The loan audit is the profit center; negotiation takes time.
9. What kind of results should you expect?

10. Who will be doing your negotiating?

11. Will the Loan Modification request go out on Legal Letterhead?

12. How much will you have to pay? Are you looking for a typical loan mod result or are you looking to leverage the law in the hopes of getting a better than average loan mod result.

13. What if your are not satisfied with the loan modification offered by the lender?

14. Should you go into default on both loans prior to requesting a loan modification? Why? What happens if the loan mod does not work out to your satisfaction? (very important question.)

15. Will an attorney review the terms of your loan modification with you? Will you have to waive your anti-deficiency protections if you sign your loan modification paperwork? Will an attorney help you leverage recent changes in California law in an attempt to get a substantial reduction in the principle?

TRO Granted v Downey Savings

23 Jan

weinshanktroorder

fighting the good fight

22 Jan

Hi & Thank You for all that you are doing,

We sent a letter to the Trustee company (Quality Loan Service) alerting them that they did not comply with Oregon statutes because they did not properly record the Trustee’s Notice of Sale in BOTH of the counties that the property is located in. The foreclosure auction scheduled for Tuesday 01/20/2009 was subsequently “Cancelled” by the Trustee company.

We know that we can expect them to re-file a new Trustee’s Notice of Sale. All the foreclosure paperwork dating back to 2004 (‘yes … we have been fighting the good fight’) and the original loan documents that were signed at closing state “Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc., as NOMINEE for Lime Financial”. My questions are:
1. If Lime Financial is out of business and no longer exists (according to their representatives via phone) who will MERS act as Nominee for?
2. We know that Lime Financial sold/securitized the loan to “US Bank N,A. as Trustee for the Registered Holders of Home Equity Asset Trust 2005-1”. Are they now the benficiary?
3. What actions (from A-Z) should we be taking NOW if our all consuming goal is to obtain “quiet title” and be mortgage free?

Any and all help that you can provide is sincerely appreciated.

Greg Lisa

________________________________________

2923.6 complaint

22 Jan

form29236complaint

Firm pursuing foreclosure might not be your lender

19 Jan

By PAULA LAVIGNE
REGISTER STAFF WRITER

Figuring out which company to deal with during a foreclosure can be daunting. Even if the original mortgage was with a company recognized by the borrower, that company may not be the one acting against the borrower in court.

For example: Wells Fargo filed more than 3,600 foreclosure lawsuits in Iowa from January 2005 to February 2008, more than any other company identified in Iowa court data. But the company could be taking legal action because it processed payments for another mortgage company or acted as a trustee for investors – not because it’s the original lender.

Two company names that often appear on Iowa foreclosures – Deutsche Bank and Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS – can be even more puzzling to borrowers.

Deutsche Bank, a global financial services firm with headquarters in Germany, may be listed as a loan’s owner of record, but it likely doesn’t have an actual stake in foreclosure proceedings. The firm acts as a trustee for investors holding mortgage-backed securities.

A loan winds up in a mortgage- backed security after it is sold by the company that originated the note. An investment bank pools that loan with others. It then sells securities, which represent a portion of the total principal and interest payments on the loans, to investors such as mutual funds, pension funds and insurance companies.

MERS, meanwhile, is neither the servicer nor the lender. Companies pay the firm to represent them and track loans as they change hands.

So while MERS should be able to point borrowers to the appropriate contact in a foreclosure proceeding, Deutsche Bank urges borrowers to contact loan servicers instead.

A tip for borrowers facing a foreclosure action: Make sure the company bringing the foreclosure action has the legal right to do so.

University of Iowa law professor Katherine Porter led a national study of 1,733 foreclosures and found that 40 percent of the creditors filing the lawsuits did not show proof of ownership. The study will be published later this year.

Companies, she said, have been “putting the burden on the consumer – who is bankrupt – to try to decide whether it’s worth it to press the issue.”

Max Gardner III, a bankruptcy attorney in North Carolina and a national foreclosure expert, said the trend is spreading to other states. “You have to prove in North Carolina that you have the original note,” he said. “Judges have not (asked for) that very often, until the last five or six months.”

MERS and Deutsche Bank faced court challenges last year over whether they had legal standing to bring a foreclosure action, with mixed results.

A federal judge in Florida ruled in favor of MERS, dismissing a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company did not have the right to initiate foreclosures. But a federal judge in Ohio ruled against Deutsche Bank, dismissing 14 foreclosure lawsuits after Deutsche Bank couldn’t provide proof of ownership. The Ohio attorney general has not been successful in getting state judges to follow suit.

In Iowa, attorneys and lending experts say they haven’t seen similar rulings against Deutsche Bank

Truth In Lending Audit Checklist

18 Jan

tilaworksheet-21

HOEPA audit checklist

18 Jan

tilaworksheet-2

Cramdown’s A’Comin’ Mid 2009

10 Jan

First lien residential mortgage loan cramdowns will soon be coming to a bankruptcy court near you. Although we haven’t seen the bill yet, Dick Durbin’s office announced today that he, Chuck (“Bank Run”) Schumer and Chris Dodd, had cut a deal with Citigroup on a bill that would permit such cramdowns in Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings. According to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, this “marks a surprising change of direction by the financial-services industry.”

Banks have consistently fought such legislation, saying cramdowns would raise borrowing costs for all home buyers and jam courts with homeowners who wouldn’t otherwise declare bankruptcy.

“This is the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, to have a major financial institution support this legislation will create an incentive for others to come our way,” Sen. Durbin said in an interview. “I want to congratulate Citi for being open-minded about this [and] playing a major leadership role.”

The WSJ also reports other “open-minded” financial institutions support the bill, but did not identify them.

Frankly, as described by the WSJ, the bill doesn’t sound as bad as many might have feared, even though it goes beyond what the banking industry has been willing to support in the past.

The Democrats’ proposal allows judges to force major reductions in home loans, after homeowners certify that they have attempted to contact their lenders about a mortgage reduction before bankruptcy proceedings begin. They do not however have to have engaged in negotiations with their banks.

The cramdown bill would apply to all mortgage loans, including but not limited to subprime loans, written any time prior to the bill’s date of enactment. It allows judges the ability to lower principal or interest rate, extend the term of the loan, or any combination of the three. “Cramdown” refers to the ability of judges to lower a mortgage principal so that it is equivalent to the current market value of a home.

In a concession to lenders, if a lender is found to have violated the Truth in Lending Act during bankruptcy proceedings, the institution would be subject to fines, but would not have to forgive the loan, as is the case currently. Major violations would still be subject to full sanctions under the law. The TILA provisions would pre-empt any state lending laws.

I’m certain that many bankers who do not have the heft of major Mastodons like Citi and BofA will be critical. I can admit to a bit of mystification myself as to the fact that the cramdown right will apply only to loans made prior to the date of passage of the legislation. I thought the argument for extending cramdowns to first mortgage loans was to deal with those awful subprime and “exotic” loans made when real estate values were as high as the lenders and borrowers who based their lending decisions upon those values ever rising. Why not single out specific types of loans? Also, why not pick an effective date that is at least no later than mid-2008? Good arguments can be made that an even earlier date should be selected. You’re going to effectively “rewrite” some conventional home mortgage loans that were initially prudently underwritten, to the disadvantage of the lender. That’s done with second loans, auto loans, and commercial loans, but the lenders of those types of loans set pricing based upon the knowledge that there’s the risk that cramdown could occur. That’s not the case for first mortgage loans. Is that “fair,” in light of the fact that the Democrats who support this bill are all about “fairness”?

We’ll be interested to see the effect of this legislation on pricing of loans and loan servicing on pre-effective date mortgage loans. I wonder if prospective purchasers will drive harder bargains on bulk purchases of such loans from the FDIC due to this risk? You think?

At least the cramdown will not apply first loans going forward. Of course, any lender with a brain in his head has to assume that if Congress did it once, Congress could very well do it again, and price the risk accordingly. Moreover, this is likely not only to make first mortgage loans more expensive, but add even more impetus to restrictive underwriting standards. While many people believe that’s not a bad effect, let’s ask them again in a few years. As I observed when Durbin first started this push, the same folks who scream for cramdowns will be some of the first complaining that lenders aren’t making enough loans to those with poor credit, who will likely be members of various classes of the perpetually aggrieved, and supporters of Senator Durbin and the rest of the Gang of Three.

California Cramdowns Coming 2009!

10 Jan

There were only 800,000 bankruptcy filings in the United States in 2007, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

And while there is little hard data as to how many of these involve homeowners, some evidence suggests that about half the cases do. In one metro area, Riverside, Calif., 62% of 2007 bankruptcies involved home owners with outstanding balances. And not all of these would qualify for cram downs.

“These bills have means tests,” Harnick said. “If you can afford to pay your mortgage, you don’t qualify. If you can’t afford to pay even after the mortgage balance is reduced, you’re not eligible.”

And Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University contends that cram-downs would add little to the costs of new mortgages.

He examined historical mortgage rates during periods when judges were allowed to reduce mortgage balances, and concluded that the impact on interest rates would probably come to less than 15 basis points – 0.15 of a percentage point.

“The MBA numbers are just baloney,” said Levitin.

However, even though the direct impact on borrowers would be limited, permitting cram-downs could indirectly give borrowers more leverage in dealing with lenders, according to Bruce Marks, founder and CEO of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA).

Mortgage borrowers could force lenders to negotiate loan restructurings by threatening to file for bankruptcy and have the judges do it for them.

Some people with credit-card debt already win concessions from credit card lenders by threatening bankruptcy, where the debt may be discharged.

“I consider this one of the most important pieces of legislation before Congress right now,” said Marks.

Will it become law?

As to the previous attempt to pass cramdown legislation the conventional wisdom was “We believe it will be very difficult to stop this legislation and we put the initial odds of enactment at 60%,” said Jaret Seiberg of the Stanford Group, a policy research company, in a press release assessing the new bills.

Now that it is being reintroduced in a “New Congress” and “New President” I believe Cramdowns will become law.

This will allow borrowers the leverage they need to negotiate with their own predator.

The Cramdown legislation was reintroduced in Congress on monday Jan 5,2009

Information needed for a filing

29 Dec

1. Documents to be examined:
1. Promotional literature, correspondence and borrowers notes from initial contact with mortgage broker of “lender.”
2. Any document purporting to give the terms of a proposed loan including but not limited to Good Faith Estimate
3. The Good Faith Estimate and documents supporting affordability and benefits
4. The settlement statement
5. The name and contact information and appraisal report including the actual person and license number of the appraiser, the amount of the previous sale, any prior appraisals available to borrower, and the borrower’s estimate of current value decreased by 12% for broker’s fees (6%) and current average discount from asking price (6%).
6. The name and address of the mortgage broker, and the specific person the borrower dealt with, whether the mortgage broker is still in business.
7. Identification of the loan originator
8. Determination if FNMA or Freddie MAC were actually involved or if the standard forms were used from those or any other (HUD) GSE. (Government Sponsored Entity)
9. Identification of title agent with name and address
10. Identification of title insurance company with name and address
11. Identification of the escrow agent with name and address
12. Identification of the closing agent with name and address
13. Identification of the Trustee with name and address
14. The set of closing documents given to the borrower: the ones provided before closing, the ones provided after closing and any documents that were transmitted appointing servicer or substitution of Trustee or assignment etc.
15. SEC reports and annual reports of any of these entities or affiliates
16. If available, Sampling investigation to determine if Pooling and Services Agreement, Assignment and Assumption Agreement, Insurance, Credit Default Swaps, Cross Collateralizing, Over-collateralizing, reserves, and bailouts from Federal Reserve or U.S. Treasury can be produced for examination.
17. Documents, if available, showing authority of any party alleging rights to enforce, collect or perform modifications, issue notices of delinquency, default, sale or file foreclosure actions, unlawful detainer (eviction) actions etc.
2. Basic Required Services — For expediency and cost purposes, the initial “analysis is presumed to be using a “sampling technique” that identifies probably information that is applicable but does not guarantee accuracy or completeness)
1. Retainer Agreement in Writing for analysis, collection etc., that allows for attorney tot ake over relationship on certain conditions.
2. Written authroization form Borrower executed in triplicate and notarized (each copy)
3. Analysis of disclosures and promotional literature to determine the nature of the deal the borrower thought he/she/they were getting and comparison with the actual result.
4. Analysis of GFE etc. and comparison with actual deal, disclosures of third party funding, table funding, surprise fees, undisclosed fees, undisclosed parties, etc.
5. Analysis of settlement statement to determine the representation of the parties at closing to the borrower and comparison with actual deal.
6. Appraisal Sampling analysis to determine negnligence or fraud based upon comparables of time, geography and whether developer asking prices were used to inflate the appraisal. Calculation of potential claim for inflated appraisal. Determination of the expected life of the loan based upon adjustments, expected market conditions etc. Calculation of probable effect on APR over the expected life of the loan.
7. Analysis of whether the closing conformed to GSE guidelines as industry standards
8. Analysis of conduct of the mortgage broker to determine potential claim for negligence or fraud
9. Analysis of conduct of the title agent to determine potential claim for cloud on title, negligence or fraud
10. Analysis of conduct of the title insurance company to determine potential claim for cloud on title, negligence or fraud
11. Analysis of conduct of the escrow agent to determine potential claim for negligence or fraud
12. Analysis of conduct of the closing agent to determine potential claim for negligence or fraud
13. Analysis of results of investigation for compliance with TILA, RESPA, HOEPA, RICO, Deceptive Business, Deceptive Lending, usury etc.
14. Analysis of conduct of the Trustee or successor Trustee on Deed of Trust, if applicable to determine potential claim for negligence or fraud
15. Sampling analysis to identify potential successor trustees (Pool, SIV, SPV etc.)
16. Sampling analysis to determine where the borrowers payments have been sent and how they have been applied, if available.
17. Sampling analysis to determine if the the named entity as Payee on the Promissory note has been paid in full by a third party — and preliminary abalysis as to whether the note became non-negotiable, whether the borrower owes anyone any amount, and if so who that might be and how much it might be, if it is possible to make such determinations in the preliminary investigations.
18. Issuance of Preliminary Findings Report to be sent to servicer or whoever the borrower is sending payments to or otherwise in communication with.
19. Challenge letter to each party seeking to enforce, whether lawyer or party, raising defensive positions concerning their authority to act.
20. Extensive Qualified Written Request with suggestions for resolutions, coupled with Notice and contract for appointment of Borrower or Borrower’s designee as attorney in fact for reconveyance as per RESPA.
21. Demand letter and notice if Lender fails to comply.
22. Challenge letter if Lender denies claims or requires additional written authorization
23. If available, counsel’s recommendation of next steps
3. Extended Services:
1. Appointment of agent for reconveyance
2. Recording reconveyance
3. Recording other instruments in property records
4. Expert Affidavit
5. Expert testimony
6. Exhibits prepared for court
7. Form complaints, motions and affidavits
8. Legal ghost Writing
9. Consultation with Borrower’s attorney
10. Appearances in Court
11. Forensic Review
1. Basic, non sampling
2. Full audit including examination of servicer’s ledgers etc.

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