Tag Archives: foreclosures

The Top Twelve Reasons Why You Should Hate the Mortgage Settlement

9 Feb

As readers may know by now, 49 of 50 states have agreed to join the so-called mortgage settlement, with Oklahoma the lone refusenik. Although the fine points are still being hammered out, various news outlets (New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal) have details, with Dave Dayen’s overview at Firedoglake the best thus far.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that the SEC is about to launch some securities litigation against major banks. Since the statue of limitations has already run out on securities filings more than five years old, this means they’ll clip the banks for some of the very last (and dreckiest) deals they shoved out the door before the subprime market gave up the ghost.

The various news services are touting this pact at the biggest multi-state settlement since the tobacco deal in 1998. While narrowly accurate, this deal is bush league by comparison even though the underlying abuses in both cases have had devastating consequences.

The tobacco agreement was pegged as being worth nearly $250 billion over the first 25 years. Adjust that for inflation, and the disparity is even bigger. That shows you the difference in outcomes between a case where the prosecutors have solid evidence backing their charges, versus one where everyone know a lot of bad stuff happened, but no one has come close to marshaling the evidence.

The mortgage settlement terms have not been released, but more of the details have been leaked:

1. The total for the top five servicers is now touted as $26 billion (annoyingly, the FT is calling it “nearly $40 billion”), but of that, roughly $17 billion is credits for principal modifications, which as we pointed out earlier, can and almost assuredly will come largely from mortgages owned by investors. $3 billion is for refis, and only $5 billion will be in the form of hard cash payments, including $1500 to $2000 per borrower foreclosed on between September 2008 and December 2011.

Banks will be required to modify second liens that sit behind firsts “at least” pari passu, which in practice will mean at most pari passu. So this guarantees banks will also focus on borrowers where they do not have second lien exposure, and this also makes the settlement less helpful to struggling homeowners, since borrowers with both second and first liens default at much higher rates than those without second mortgages. Per the Journal:

“It’s not new money. It’s all soft dollars to the banks,” said Paul Miller, a bank analyst at FBR Capital Markets.

The Times is also subdued:

Despite the billions earmarked in the accord, the aid will help a relatively small portion of the millions of borrowers who are delinquent and facing foreclosure. The success could depend in part on how effectively the program is carried out because earlier efforts by Washington aimed at troubled borrowers helped far fewer than had been expected.

2. Schneiderman’s MERS suit survives, and he can add more banks as defendants. It isn’t clear what became of the Biden and Coakley MERS suits, but Biden sounded pretty adamant in past media presentations on preserving that.

3. Nevada’s and Arizona’s suits against Countrywide for violating its past consent decree on mortgage servicing has, in a new Orwellianism, been “folded into” the settlement.

4. The five big players in the settlement have already set aside reserves sufficient for this deal.

Here are the top twelve reasons why this deal stinks:

1. We’ve now set a price for forgeries and fabricating documents. It’s $2000 per loan. This is a rounding error compared to the chain of title problem these systematic practices were designed to circumvent. The cost is also trivial in comparison to the average loan, which is roughly $180k, so the settlement represents about 1% of loan balances. It is less than the price of the title insurance that banks failed to get when they transferred the loans to the trust. It is a fraction of the cost of the legal expenses when foreclosures are challenged. It’s a great deal for the banks because no one is at any of the servicers going to jail for forgery and the banks have set the upper bound of the cost of riding roughshod over 300 years of real estate law.

2. That $26 billion is actually $5 billion of bank money and the rest is your money. The mortgage principal writedowns are guaranteed to come almost entirely from securitized loans, which means from investors, which in turn means taxpayers via Fannie and Freddie, pension funds, insurers, and 401 (k)s. Refis of performing loans also reduce income to those very same investors.

3. That $5 billion divided among the big banks wouldn’t even represent a significant quarterly hit. Freddie and Fannie putbacks to the major banks have been running at that level each quarter.

4. That $20 billion actually makes bank second liens sounder, so this deal is a stealth bailout that strengthens bank balance sheets at the expense of the broader public.

5. The enforcement is a joke. The first layer of supervision is the banks reporting on themselves. The framework is similar to that of the OCC consent decrees implemented last year, which Adam Levitin and yours truly, among others, decried as regulatory theater.

6. The past history of servicer consent decrees shows the servicers all fail to comply. Why? Servicer records and systems are terrible in the best of times, and their systems and fee structures aren’t set up to handle much in the way of delinquencies. As Tom Adams has pointed out in earlier posts, servicer behavior is predictable when their portfolios are hit with a high level of delinquencies and defaults: they cheat in all sorts of ways to reduce their losses.

7. The cave-in Nevada and Arizona on the Countrywide settlement suit is a special gift for Bank of America, who is by far the worst offender in the chain of title disaster (since, according to sworn testimony of its own employee in Kemp v. Countrywide, Countrywide failed to comply with trust delivery requirements). This move proves that failing to comply with a consent degree has no consequences but will merely be rolled into a new consent degree which will also fail to be enforced. These cases also alleged HAMP violations as consumer fraud violations and could have gotten costly and emboldened other states to file similar suits not just against Countrywide but other servicers, so it was useful to the other banks as well.

8. If the new Federal task force were intended to be serious, this deal would have not have been settled. You never settle before investigating. It’s a bad idea to settle obvious, widespread wrongdoing on the cheap. You use the stuff that is easy to prove to gather information and secure cooperation on the stuff that is harder to prove. In Missouri and Nevada, the robosigning investigation led to criminal charges against agents of the servicers. But even though these companies were acting at the express direction and approval of the services, no individuals or entities higher up the food chain will face any sort of meaningful charges.

9. There is plenty of evidence of widespread abuses that appear not to be on the attorney generals’ or media’s radar, such as servicer driven foreclosures and looting of investors’ funds via impermissible and inflated charges. While no serious probe was undertaken, even the limited or peripheral investigations show massive failures (60% of documents had errors in AGs/Fed’s pathetically small sample). Similarly, the US Trustee’s office found widespread evidence of significant servicer errors in bankruptcy-related filings, such as inflated and bogus fees, and even substantial, completely made up charges. Yet the services and banks will suffer no real consequences for these abuses.

10. A deal on robosiginging serves to cover up the much deeper chain of title problem. And don’t get too excited about the New York, Massachusetts, and Delaware MERS suits. They put pressure on banks to clean up this monstrous mess only if the AGs go through to trial and get tough penalties. The banks will want to settle their way out of that too. And even if these cases do go to trial and produce significant victories for the AGs, they still do not address the problem of failures to transfer notes correctly.

11. Don’t bet on a deus ex machina in terms of the new Federal foreclosure task force to improve this picture much. If you think Schneiderman, as a co-chairman who already has a full time day job in New York, is going to outfox a bunch of DC insiders who are part of the problem, I have a bridge I’d like to sell to you.

12. We’ll now have to listen to banks and their sycophant defenders declaring victory despite being wrong on the law and the facts. They will proceed to marginalize and write off criticisms of the servicing practices that hurt homeowners and investors and are devastating communities. But the problems will fester and the housing market will continue to suffer. Investors in mortgage-backed securities, who know that services have been screwing them for years, will be hung out to dry and will likely never return to a private MBS market, since the problems won’t ever be fixed. This settlement has not only revealed the residential mortgage market to be too big to fail, but puts it on long term, perhaps permanent, government life support.

As we’ve said before, this settlement is yet another raw demonstration of who wields power in America, and it isn’t you and me. It’s bad enough to see these negotiations come to their predictable, sorry outcome. It adds insult to injury to see some try to depict it as a win for long suffering, still abused homeowners.

The Trustee sale can be set aside

20 Dec

Bank of America, N.A. v. La Jolla Group II, 129 Cal. App. 4th 706, 15 710,717 (5th Dist. 2005) (void foreclosure sale required rescission of trustee’s deed returning title to the status quo prior to the foreclosure sale); Dimock v. Emerald Properties, 81 Cal. App. 4th 868, 874 (4th Dist. 2000) (sale under deed of trust by former trustee void, and tender of the amount due is unnecessary).

THE COURT MUST STRICTLY ENFORCE

THE TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR A FORECLOSURE.

The harshness of non-judicial foreclosure has been recognized. “The exercise of the power of sale is a harsh method of foreclosing the rights of the grantor.” Anderson v. Heart Federal Savings (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 202, 6 215, citing to System Inv. Corporation v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 153.  The statutory requirements are intended to protect the trustor from a wrongful or unfair loss of his property Moeller v. Lien (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 822, 830; accord, Hicks v. E.T. Legg & Associates (2001) 89 Cal.App.4th 496, 503; Lo Nguyen v. Calhoun (6th District 2003) 105 Cal.App.4th 428, 440, and a valid foreclosure by the private power of sale requires strict compliance with the requirements of the statute. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.179; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn., 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211 (3d Dist. 1989), reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Bisno v. Sax (2d Dist. 1959) 175 Cal. App. 2d 714, 720.

It has been a cornerstone of foreclosure law that the statutory requirements, intending to protect the Trustor and or Grantor from a wrongful or unfair loss of the property, must be complied with strictly. Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182.   “Close” compliance does not count. As a result, any trustee’s sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Default is invalid (emphasis added). Miller & Starr, California Real Estate (3d ed.), Deeds of Trust and Mortgages, Chapter 10 §10.182; Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3dDist. 1989) 208 Cal. App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989); Miller v. Cote (4th Dist. 1982) 127 Cal. App. 3d 888, 894; System Inv. Corp. v. Union Bank (2d Dist. 1971) 21 Cal. App. 3d 137, 152-153; Saterstrom v. Glick Bros. Sash, Door & Mill Co.(3d Dist. 1931) 118 Cal. App. 379.

Additionally, any Trustee’s Sale based on a statutorily deficient Notice of Trustee Sale is invalid.  Anderson v. Heart Federal Sav. & Loan Assn. (3d Dist. 1989) 11 208 Cal.App. 3d 202, 211, reh’g denied and opinion modified, (Mar. 28, 1989). The California Sixth District Court of Appeal observed, “Pursuing that policy [of judicial interpretation], the courts have fashioned rules to protect the debtor, one of them being that the notice of default will be strictly construed and must correctly set forth the amounts required to cure the default.” Sweatt v. The Foreclosure Co., Inc. (1985 – 6th District) 166 Cal.App.3d 273 at 278, citing to Miller v. Cote (1982) 127 Cal.App.3d 888, 894 and SystemInv. Corp. v. Union Bank (1971) 21 Cal.App.3d 137, 152-153.

The same reasoning applies even to a Notice of Trustee’s Sale.  Courts will set aside a foreclosure sale when there has been fraud, when the sale has been improperly, unfairly, or unlawfully conducted, or when there has been such a mistake that it would be inequitable to let it stand. Bank of America Nat. Trust & Savings Ass’n v. Reidy (1940) 15 Cal. 2d 243, 248; Whitman v. Transtate Title Co.(4th Dist. 1985) 165 Cal. App. 3d 312, 322-323; In re Worcester (9th Cir. 1987) 811 F.2d 1224, 1228.  See also Smith v. Williams (1961) 55 Cal. 2d 617, 621; Stirton v. Pastor (4th Dist. 1960) 177 Cal. App. 2d 232, 234; Brown v. Busch (3d Dist. 1957) 152 Cal.App. 2d 200, 203-204.

English: Foreclosure auction 2007

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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

Fighting Foreclosure in California

11 Nov

Using the Courts to Fight a California or Other Non-Judicial Foreclosure – 3-Stage Analysis – including a Homeowner Action to “Foreclose” on the Bank’s Mortgage Security Interest – rev.

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California real property foreclosures are totally different from foreclosures in New York and many other states. The reason is that more than 99% of the California foreclosures take place without a court action, in a proceeding called a “non-judicial foreclosure”. Twenty-one states do not have a non-judicial foreclosure. [These states are CT, DE, FL, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, NE, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, PA, SC, UT, VT. – Source: realtytrac.com] In California, the lending institution can go through a non-judicial foreclosure in about 4 months from the date of the filing and recording of a “Notice of Default”, ending in a sale of the property without any court getting involved. The California homeowner can stop the sale by making full payment of all alleged arrears no later than 5 days prior to the scheduled sale. Unlike a judicial foreclosure, the homeowner will have no right to redeem the property after the sale (“equity of redemption”, usually a one-year period after judicial foreclosure and sale). For a visual presentation of the timeline for California and other state non-judicial foreclosures, go to Visual Timeline for California Non-Judicial Foreclosures.

A 50-state analysis of judicial and non-judicial foreclosure procedures is available at 50-State Analysis of Judicial and Non-Judicial Foreclosure Procedures.]

The problem I am going to analyze and discuss is under what circumstances can a homeowner/mortgagor go into court to obtain some type of judicial relief for wrongful or illegal conduct by the lender or others relating to the property and mortgage. My discussion applies as to all states in which non-judicial foreclosures are permitted.

There are three distinct stages that need to be separately discussed. These stages are the borrower’s current situation. The three stages are:

 

  • Homeowner is not in any mortgage arrears [declaratory judgment action]
  • Homeowner is behind in mortgage payments – at least 5 days before auction [injunction action, which could even be called an action by a homeowner to “foreclose” upon or eliminate the lending institution’s mortgage security interest]
  • Property was sold at auction [wrongful foreclosure action]

 

I. Homeowner Is Not in any Mortgage Arrears [Declaratory Judgment Action]

As long as a homeowner keeps making the mortgage payments, and cures any occasional short-term default, the homeowner is in a position to commence an action in federal or state court for various types of relief relating to the mortgage and the obligations thereunder. One typical claim is a declaratory judgment action to declare that the mortgage and note are invalid or that the terms are not properly set forth. There are various other types of claims, as well. The filing of such an action would not precipitate a non-judicial foreclosure. Compare this to a regular foreclosure, in which the homeowner stops paying on the mortgage, gets sued in a foreclosure action, and then is able in the lawsuit to raise the issues (as “defenses”) which the California homeowner would raise as “claims” or “causes of action” in the lawsuit being discussed for this first stage.

II. Homeowner Is Behind in Mortgage Payments – at Least 5 Days before Auction [Injunction Action seeking TRO and Preliminary Injunction, which you might say is a homeowner’s own “foreclosure proceeding against the bank and its mortgage interest”]

This is the most difficult of the three stages for making use of the courts to oppose foreclosure. The reasons are: foreclosure and sale is apt to take place too quickly; the cost of seeking extraordinary (injunctive) relief is higher because of the litigation papers and hearing that have to be done in a very short period of time to obtain fast TRO and preliminary injunctive relief to stop the threatened sale; the cost of this expensive type of injunctive litigation is probably much higher for many homeowners than just keeping up the mortgage payments; and, finally, you would have to show a greater probability of success on the merits of the action than you would need to file a lawsuit as in Stage 1, so that the homeowner’s chances of prevailing (and getting the requested injunction) are low and the costs and risks are high.

Nevertheless, when the facts are in the homeowner’s favor, the homeowner should consider bringing his plight to the attention of the court, to obtain relief from oppressive lending procedures. The problem with most borrower-homeowners is that they do not have any idea what valid bases they may have to seek this kind of relief. What anyone should do in this case is talk with a competent lawyer as soon as possible, to prevent any further delay from causing you to lose an opportunity to fight back. You need to weigh the cost of commencing a court proceeding (which could be $5,000 more or less to commence) against the loss of the home through non-judicial foreclosure.

 

III. Property Was Sold at Auction [Wrongful Foreclosure Action]

If the property has already been sold, you still have the right to pursue your claims, but in the context of a “wrongful foreclosure” lawsuit, which has various legal underpinnings including tort, breach of contract and statute. This type of suit could not precipitate any foreclosure and sale of the property because the foreclosure and sale have already taken place. Your remedy would probably be monetary damages, which you would have to prove. You should commence the action as soon as possible after the wrongful foreclosure and sale, and particularly within a period of less than one year from the sale. The reason is that some of your claims could be barred by a short, 1-year statute of limitations.

If you would like to talk about any possible claims relating to your mortgage transaction, please give me a call. There are various federal and state statutes and court decisions to consider, with some claims being substantially better than others. I am available to draft a complaint in any of the 3 stages for review by your local attorney, and to be counsel on a California or other-state action “pro hac vice” (i.e., for the one case) when associating with a local lawyer.

Delaware suing MERS Video

4 Nov

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908//vp/45070527#45070527

Delaware suing MERS video

The Law of Capitalism THE MASS MISS JOINDER

21 Oct

I attended the Attorney General and state Bar hearing as to the intervention of the state bar into the law practice of Mitchell Stein and the K2 mass Joinder cases in Los Angeles in front of Judge Johnson. The tentative was a scathing implication of Mitchell Stein and his purported involvement with the “marketing companies” and the allegations of unfair business practices all needed for the AG and the State Bar to step in and confiscate 1.6 million in various accounts.

I was there to opine the status of the case itself and the merits of the cases and as to the victims rights as against the banks. If the Bar took over the practice would they defend the cases would they protect the victims right. No they are not; right now they the State Bar are telling the victims they are on there own.

Once again these suits I have been following and hoping could get past the Demur stage the Banks would be forced to answer. Then there would be motions for Summary Judgement and if the Victims could survive the Summary Judgement and thousands of requests for admissions and interrogatories propounded on the thousands of plaintiffs. It could be done I would have to associate about 10 other lawyers and 30 paralegals but it could be done for about $700,000.00. Then I believe the Banks would enter settlement negotiations with the victims witch I calculate to be about 6500 victims to date.

Mandelman characterized the case as follows:

The case at the core of the Kramer and Kaslow mass joinder lawsuit is: Ronald vs. Bank of America. Basically, the case accuses Countrywide (subsequent cases being filed include Citibank, One West, GMAC/Ally Bank, and perhaps others) of perpetrating a massive fraud upon homeowners by knowingly inflating appraisals, creating a bubble the bank knew would pop and leave homeowner equity devastated, violate privacy statutes, and then Civil Code sections when they refused to modify… you get the idea.

The case says that Countrywide execs knew and did it anyway in order to make zillions of dollars securitizing the loans and therefore only others would incur the future losses.

Here’s an overview of what the third amended complaint says in its Introduction section:

2. This action seeks remedies for the foregoing improper activities, including a massive fraud perpetrated upon Plaintiffs and other borrowers by the Countrywide Defendants that devastated the values of their residences, in most cases resulting in Plaintiffs’ loss of all or substantially all of their net worths.

6. Hand-in-hand with its fraudulently-obtained mortgages, Mozilo and others at Countrywide hatched a plan to “pool” the foregoing mortgages and sell the pools for inflated value. Rapidly, these two intertwined schemes grew into a brazen plan to disregard underwriting standards and fraudulently inflate property values – county-by- county, city-by-city, person-by-person – in order to take business from legitimate mortgage-providers, and moved on to massive securities fraud hand-in-hand with concealment from, and deception of, Plaintiffs and other mortgagees on an unprecedented scale.

7. From as early as 2004, Countrywide’s senior management led by Mozilo knew the scheme would cause a liquidity crisis that would devastate Plaintiffs’ home values and net worths. But, they didn’t care, because their plan was based on insider trading – pumping for as long as they could and then dumping before the truth came out and Plaintiffs’ losses were locked in.

9. It is now all too clear that this was the ultimate high-stakes fraudulent investment scheme of the last decade. Couched in banking and securities jargon, the deceptive gamble with consumers’ primary assets – their homes – was nothing more than a financial fraud perpetrated by Defendants and others on a scale never before seen. This scheme led directly to a mortgage meltdown in California that was substantially worse than any economic problems facing the rest of the United States. From 2008 to the present, Californians’ home values decreased by considerably more than most other areas in the United States as a direct and proximate result of the Defendants’ scheme set forth herein.

This massive fraudulent scheme was a disaster both foreseen by Countrywide and waiting to happen. Defendants knew it, and yet Defendants still induced the Plaintiffs into their scheme without telling them.

10. As a result, Plaintiffs lost their equity in their homes, their credit ratings and histories were damaged or destroyed, and Plaintiffs incurred material other costs and expenses, described herein. At the same time, Defendants took from Plaintiffs and other borrowers billions of dollars in interest payments and fees and generated billions of dollars in profits by selling their loans at inflated values.

14. Since the time Plaintiffs filed the initial Complaint herein, Defendants’ improper acts have continued, including, inter alia: (i) issuing Notices of Default in violation of Cal. Civil Code §2923.5; (ii) misrepresenting their intention to arrange loan modifications for Plaintiffs, while in fact creating abusive roadblocks to deprive Plaintiffs of their legal rights; and (iii) engaging in intrinsic fraud in this Court and in Kentucky by stalling in addressing Plaintiffs’ legitimate requests to cancel notices of default and for loan modifications, and by refusing to respond, in any way, to Plaintiffs’ privacy causes of action.

Now, there’s no question… this is a real lawsuit. Some attorneys believe it will be a very difficult case to win, while others think it’s quite viable and likely to settle. I can see both sides of that argument.

On one hand, it would seem difficult to prove that Countrywide caused the housing bubble; there were certainly many parties involved and numerous other contributing factors as well. On the other hand, the case has numerous aspects that are unquestionably true and certainly wrong.

Then there’s what’s known as “the banker factor.” Actually, I’m making that up, but you know what I mean. The banks aren’t going to lay down for this as it would open an enormous can of litigating worms… so they have to fight… or is there no percentage in that either? Well, now you’ve seen first hand why I chose not to go to law school.

I really haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going to happen… and neither does anyone else.

But then, Columbus couldn’t exactly stop and ask for directions either, which, it’s worth noting is why, when sailing for The New World, he landed in the Bahamas and named them San Salvador, but assumed he had found the Indies so he named the native people Indians (leading me to always wonder what he would have named them had he not gotten so hopelessly lost.)

(What if his favorite word was “Jujubees,” and he had named the natives “Jujubees?” Then I would have grown up playing Cowboys & Jujubees?)

So, since no one can know what’s going to happen in the future of this case, I thought I’d take a look at where it is today. From a review of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s online records database we find these events have transpired to-date or are set for the near future…
1. Original complaint was filed in March 2009.
2. First amended complaint was in June of 2009.
3. Second amended complaint March 2010.
4. August 2010: the banks try to remove the case to federal court, but fail.
5. Third amended complaint was filed July 7, 2010.
6. The defendant banksters have demurred again, but it doesn’t appear that the demurs filed in December have been heard.
7. Status conference set for Thursday, February 3rd, 2011.
8. There is a hearing date scheduled for March 29, 2011, but it’s not clear to me what will be happening at that hearing.

So, this is their third “amended complaint.” That means the defendants… the banks… have demurred twice. That means that the banks have come to court claiming that the mass joinder plaintiffs don’t state a cause of action… or in other words saying the plaintiffs have no case… and the court has allowed the plaintiffs to amend the complaint three times so far.

Like almost everything in the law, I guess you could read that a couple of different ways. On one hand it seems positive… the case brought by the mass joinder plaintiffs has not been tossed out by the judge yet. That’s good, right?
On the other hand… the court could “sustain the demur without leave to amend,” in which case the mass joinder suit would be over and done.

And that’s why litigating is always a gamble, and by no means a sure thing.
Here’s an oversimplified look at the mass joinder’s causes of action.

First Cause of Action… Fraudulent Concealment – This is saying that the bank was hiding things from the borrowers.

Second Cause of Action… Intentional Misrepresentation – This is lying when you knew you were lying. In other words, you knew an appraisal was wrong… it came in at $500,000, but you knew it was worth $400,000 and you passed it off anyway.

Third Cause of Action… Negligent Misrepresentation – This is like saying that you’re lying but it wasn’t intentional. Let’s say that you ordered an appraisal but never really looked at the appraisal to make sure it was done correctly. You include this cause of action in case the conduct doesn’t rise to the level of intentional misrepresentation, and perhaps because some insurance policies don’t cover intentional acts.

Fourth Cause if Action… Invasion of Constitutional Right to Privacy – This is saying that the banks disclosed personal information… perhaps when selling the loans to another investor.

Fifth Cause of Action… Violation of California Financial Information Privacy Act – See above or read the actual complaint.

Sixth Cause of Action… Civil Code 2923.5 – Defendants are prohibited by statute from recording a Notice of Default against the primary residential property of any Californian without first making contact with that person as required under § 2923.5 and then interacting with that person in the manner set forth in detail under § 2923.5. Nothing special here, but its been upheld by other courts in California.

Seventh Cause of Action… Civil Code 1798 – When they gave away your private information, they didn’t tell you they did it? Defendants failed to timely disclose to Plaintiffs the disclosure of their personal information as required under California Civil Code § 1798.82

Eighth Cause of Action… Unfair Competition Against All Defendants – Defendants’ actions in implementing and perpetrating their fraudulent scheme of inducing Plaintiffs to accept mortgages for which they were not qualified based on inflated property valuations and undisclosed disregard of their own underwriting standards and the sale of overpriced collateralized mortgage pools, all the while knowing that the plan would crash and burn, taking the Plaintiffs down and costing them the equity in their homes and other damages, violates numerous federal and state statutes and common law protections enacted for consumer protection, privacy, trade disclosure, and fair trade and commerce.

In Conclusion…

Attorney Phillip Kramer, in his own words, made it quite clear that his firm was not responsible for the mailer I received or the telemarketing about which I’ve been notified. Once again, he says…

“I know of no outbound calling. If asked, I would not approve of that. I knew that some law firms wanted to send out mailers. I have insisted that everyone comply with State Bar rules and that anything with my name must be pre-approved. As of this date, no one has submitted any proposed marketing for my review. That piece was done without my knowledge.

I am happy to pay a referral fee to other law firms. I do not split fees, pay commissions, nor do I pay referral fees to non-lawyers. I do not use cappers, and have never authorized anyone to robocall, telemarket, spam email, or undertake any mass marketing on my behalf.”

With that said I was going to apply to the Bar to take over the cases if they would relinquish the 1.6 to pay for the work to be done for the victims. Before making such a wild leap into this caos I called my State bar lawyer. He informed me that I should not even go close to these cases that all lawyers involved will be DISBARRED. I said wow but what about the merits of the cases the judge in the case had already overruled the demur as to some of the causes of action. The State Bar (by their actions in not finding a lawyer to protect the victims) is recommending that case be dismissed the Attorney General IS NOT PURSUING THE RIGHTS OF THE VICTIMS . I persisted with my lawyer. To which he exclaimed ” DON’T YOU GET IT MCCANDLESS THE AG AND THE BAR ARE WORKING FOR THE BANKS”.

KISS: KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID from Garfield

28 Aug

Finality versus good and evil. In the battlefield it isn’t about good and evil. It is about winner and losers. In military battles around the world many battles have been one by the worst tyrants imaginable.

Just because you are right, just because the banks did bad things, just because they have no right to do what they are doing, doesn’t mean you will win. You might if you do it right, but you are up against a superior army with a dubious judge looking on thinking that this deadbeat borrower wants to get out of paying.

The court system is there to mediate disputes and bring them to a conclusion. Once a matter is decided they don’t want it to be easy to reopen a bankruptcy or issues that have already been litigated. The court presumably wants justice to prevail, but it also wants to end the dispute for better or for worse.

Otherwise NOTHING would end. Everyone who lost would come in with some excuse to have another trial. So you need to show fundamental error, gross injustice or an error that causes more problems that it solves.

These are the same issues BEFORE the matter is decided in court. Foreclosures are viewed as a clerical act or ministerial act. The outcome is generally viewed as inevitable.

And where the homeowner already admits the loan exists (a mistake), that the lien is exists and was properly filed and executed (a mistake) and admits that he didn’t make payments — he is admitting something he doesn’t even know is true — that there were payments due and he didn’t make them, which by definition puts him in default.

It’s not true that the homeowner would even know if the payment is due because the banks refuse to provide any accounting on the third party payments from bailout, insurance CDS, and credit enhancement.

That’s why you need reports on title, securitization, forensic reviews for TILA compliance and loan level accounting. If the Judges stuck to the law, they would require the proof first from the banks, but they don’t. They put the burden on the borrowers —who are the only ones who have the least information and the least access to information — to essentially make the case for the banks and then disprove it. The borrowers are litigating against themselves.

In the battlefield it isn’t about good and evil, it is about winners and losers. Name calling and vague accusations won’t cut it.

Sure you want to use the words surrogate signing, robo-signing, forgery, fabrication and misrepresentation. You also want to show that the court’s action would or did cloud title in a way that cannot be repaired without a decision on the question of whether the lien was perfected and whether the banks should be able to say they transferred bad loans to investors who don’t want them — just so they can foreclose.

But you need some proffers of real evidence — reports, exhibits and opinions from experts that will show that there is a real problem here and that this case has not been heard on the merits because of an unfair presumption: the presumption is that just because a bank’s lawyer says it in court, it must be true.

Check with the notary licensing boards, and see if the notaries on their documents have been disciplined and if not, file a grievance if you have grounds. Once you have that, maybe you have a grievance against the lawyers. After that maybe you have a lawsuit against the banks and their lawyers.

But the primary way to control the narrative or at least trip up the narrative of the banks is to object on the basis that counsel for the bank is referring to things not in the record. That is simple and the judge can understand that.

Don’t rely on name-calling, rely on the simplest legal requirements that you can find that have been violated. Was the lien perfected?

If the record shows that others were involved in the original transaction with the borrowers at the inception of the deal, then you might be able to show that there were only nominees instead of real parties in interest named on the note and mortgage.

Without disclosure of the principal, the lien is not perfected because the world doesn’t know who to go to for a satisfaction of that lien. If you know the other parties involved were part of a securitization scheme, you should say that — these parties can only be claiming an interest by virtue of a pooling and servicing agreement. And then make the point that they are only now trying to transfer what they are calling a bad loan into the pool that the investors bought — which is expressly prohibited for multiple reasons in the PSA.

This is impersonation of the investor because the investors don’t want to come forward and get countersued for the bad and illegal lending practices that were used in getting the borrower’s signature.

Point out that the auction of the property was improperly conducted where you can show that to be the case. Nearly all of the 5 million foreclosures were allowed to be conducted with a single bid from a non-creditor.

If you are not a creditor you must bid cash, put up a portion before you bid, and then pay the balance usually within 24-72 hours.

But instead they pretended to be the creditor when their own documents show they were supposed to be representing the investors who were not part of the lawsuit nor the judgment.

SO they didn’t pay cash and they didn’t tender the note. THEY PAID NOTHING. In Florida the original note must actually be filed with the court to make sure that the matter is actually concluded.

There is a whole ripe area of inquiry of inspecting the so-called original notes and bringing to the attention the fraud upon the court in submitting a false original. It invalidates the sale, by operation of law.

2924 unconstitutional ???

11 Jun

2924 unconstitutional  Check out this pro per complaint they raise some interesting issues.

PJATSI+Supplemental+Complaint+March+25+2011

Quiet title by code and verified

22 May

Cause of Action to Quiet Title – To assert a cause of action
to quiet title, the complaint must be verified and meet the other
pleading requirements set forth in CCP § 761.020.

The complaint shall be verified and shall include all of the following:

(a)A description of the property that is the subject of the action. In the case of tangible personal property, the description shall include its usual location. In the case of real property, the description shall include both its legal description and its street address or common designation, if any.

(b)The title of the plaintiff as to which a determination under this chapter is sought and the basis of the title. If the title is based upon adverse possession, the complaint shall allege the specific facts constituting the adverse possession.

(c)The adverse claims to the title of the plaintiff against which a determination is sought.

(d)The date as of which the determination is sought. If the determination is sought as of a date other than the date the complaint is filed, the complaint shall include a statement of the reasons why a determination as of that date is sought.

(e)A prayer for the determination of the title of the plaintiff against the adverse claims.

THE GREAT SECURITIZATION SCAM AND THE GREAT RECESSION

4 May

By Neil Garfield

 

            Both the class action lawyers and the AG offices are looking for settlements that will cure the “foreclosure” problem. This is based upon the perceived benefit of getting the foreclosures either litigated or settled, SO THE “MARKET” CAN RESUME “FORWARD” MOTION. But what if the basic transaction was so defective as to be incapable of understanding, much less enforcement?  We ignore the fact that the basic transaction was a lie, that lies are not enforceable and while they could be modified by agreement into enforceable written instruments (completely absent from the current landscape) the inescapable fact is that in order to do so, you will need the signature of borrowers on loans that are based upon fair market values, reality and set-off for the damages inflicted on the homeowners by the Great Securitization Scam.

 

            So we start with the myth that there was a valid legal contract at origination, an assumption that upon examination by a paralegal, much less a first-year law student, is patently untrue.  Thus we proceed with the following ten (10) lies that form the foundation of our impotent financial and economic policies in the Great Recession triggered by the housing crisis:

  1. 1.       VALID MORTGAGE TRANSACTION: There was a loan of money, but not by either the payee, the mortgagee, the trustee or anyone else that is mentioned in the closing papers or the foreclosure papers filed anywhere. That is why the pretenders would rather play with the word “holder” than “creditor.”
  1. 2.       LEGAL MORTGAGE TRANSACTION: Even if the right parties were at the table, the transaction was illegal because of appraisal fraud, underwriting fraud, Securities Fraud and Servicing Fraud.
  1. 3.       LEGAL LOAN: Even if the right parties were at two different tables, the transaction was illegal because of ratings fraud, securities fraud, common law fraud, predatory loan practices and servicing fraud.
  1. 4.       KNOWN CREDITOR: Neither the investor who was the source of funds, nor the investment banker who only committed SOME of those funds to loan transactions, nor the borrower (homeowner) even knew of the existence of each other. After the “reconstituted” bogus mortgage pools that never existed in the first place, payments by insurance, credit de fault swaps, and federal  bailouts, it is at the very least a question of fact to determine the identity of the creditor at any given point in time — i.e., to whom is an obligation owed and how many parties have liability to pay on that transaction either as borrower, guarantors, insurers, or anything else? The dart board approach currently used in foreclosures and mortgage modifications, prepayments and refinancing has generally been frowned upon by the Courts.
  1. 5.       KNOWN OBLIGATION AMOUNT: The amount advanced by the Lender (investor in bogus mortgage bonds) was far in excess of that amount used by intermediaries to fund mortgages — the rest was used to create synthetic derivative trading devices and charge fees every step of the way. Part of the difference between the funding of the residential loans and the amount advanced by the lender (investor) is easily computed by applying the same formula used to compute a yield spread premium that was paid to mortgage brokers under the table. By obscuring the real nature of the loans in the mix that offered (sold forward without ownership by the investment bank with the intent of acquiring he mortgages later) a 6% return promised to an investor could result in a yield spread premium of perhaps 12% if the loan was toxic waste and the nominal rate was 18%. Thus a $900,000 investment was converted into a $300,000 loan with no hope of repayment based upon a wildly inflated appraisal. Payments by servicers, counterparties, guarantors, insurers and bailout agencies were neither credited to the investor nor to the obligation owed to that investor. Since there was no obligor other than the homeowner according to the documents creating the securitization scam infrastructure, the borrower was part of a transaction where he “borrowed” $900,000 but only received $300,000. Third party payments made under expressly and carefully written waivers of subrogation were not applied to the amount owed to the investor and therefore not applied to the amount owed by the borrower. The absence of this information makes the servicer “accounting” a farce.
  1. VALID ACCOUNTING BY ALL PARTIES: Continuing with the facts illuminated in the preceding paragraph, both mortgage closing documents and foreclosure documents are devoid of any reference to the dozens of transactions carried out in the name of, or under agency of, or as constructive trustee of the investor who as lender is obliged to account for the balance due after third party payments.

Nearly 50 percent leave Obama mortgage-aid program

21 Aug

Nearly 50 percent leave Obama mortgage-aid program
Obama mortgage-aid effort is struggling to stem the rising number of foreclosures in US
ap

FILE – In this file photo taken July 21, 2010, a “bank owned” sign is seen on a home that is listed as a foreclosure on a HUD website, in Hawthorne, Calif. Nearly half of the homeowners who enrolled in the Obama administration’s flagship mortgage-relief program have fallen out. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, file)
Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer, On Friday August 20, 2010, 10:18 pm EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly half of the 1.3 million homeowners who enrolled in the Obama administration’s flagship mortgage-relief program have fallen out.

The program is intended to help those at risk of foreclosure by lowering their monthly mortgage payments. Friday’s report from the Treasury Department suggests the $75 billion government effort is failing to slow the tide of foreclosures in the United States, economists say.

More than 2.3 million homes have been repossessed by lenders since the recession began in December 2007, according to foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac Inc. Economists expect the number of foreclosures to grow well into next year.

“The government program as currently structured is petering out. It is taking in fewer homeowners, more are dropping out and fewer people are ending up in permanent modifications,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

Besides forcing people from their homes, foreclosures and distressed home sales have pushed down on home values and crippled the broader housing industry. They have made it difficult for homebuilders to compete with the depressed prices and discouraged potential sellers from putting their homes on the market.

Approximately 630,000 people who had tried to get their monthly mortgage payments lowered through the government program have been cut loose through July, according to the Treasury report. That’s about 48 percent of the those who had enrolled since March 2009. And it is up from more than 40 percent through June.

Another 421,804, or roughly 32 percent of those who started the program, have received permanent loan modifications and are making their payments on time.

RealtyTrac reported that the number of U.S. homes lost to foreclosure surged in July to 92,858 properties, up 9 percent from June. The pace of repossessions has been increasing and the nation is now on track to having more than 1 million homes lost to foreclosure by the end of the year. That would eclipse the more than 900,000 homes repossessed in 2009, the firm says.

Lenders have historically taken over about 100,000 homes a year, according to RealtyTrac.

Zandi said the government effort will likely end up helping only about 500,000 homeowners lower their monthly payments on a permanent basis. That’s a small percentage of the number of people who have already lost their homes to foreclosure or distressed sales like short sales — when lenders let homeowners sell for less than they owe on their mortgages.

Zandi predicts another 1.5 million foreclosures or short sales in 2011.

“We still have a lot more foreclosures to come and further home price declines,” Zandi said. He said home prices, which have already fallen 30 percent since the peak of the housing boom, would drop by another 5 percent by next spring.

Many borrowers have complained that the government program is a bureaucratic nightmare. They say banks often lose their documents and then claim borrowers did not send back the necessary paperwork.

The banking industry said borrowers weren’t sending back their paperwork. They also have accused the Obama administration of initially pressuring them to sign up borrowers without insisting first on proof of their income. When banks later moved to collect the information, many troubled homeowners were disqualified or dropped out.

Obama officials dispute that they pressured banks. They have defended the program, saying lenders are making more significant cuts to borrowers’ monthly payments than before the program was launched. And some of the largest mortgage companies in the program have offered alternative programs to those who fell out.

Homeowners who qualify can receive an interest rate as low as 2 percent for five years and a longer repayment period. Those who have successfully navigated the program to reach permanent modifications have seen their monthly payments cut on average by about $500.

Homeowners first receive temporary modifications and those are supposed to become permanent after borrowers make three payments on time and complete all the required paperwork. That includes proof of income and a letter explaining the reason for their troubles. But in practice, the process has taken far longer.

The more than 100 participating mortgage companies get taxpayer incentives to reduce payments. As of mid-June only $490 million had been spent out of a potential $75 billion the government has made available to help stem the wave of foreclosures.

AP Real Estate Writer Alan Zibel in Washington and Alex Veiga in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Plan of engagement: what to do “let them foreclose” or “Do something about it” what to do

20 Aug

UPDATE: This is THE OUTLINE of a plan that is current in its evolution but by no means complete or the last word. It replaces the entry I made in February of this year. The assumption here is that even without taking mortgage foreclosure cases into consideration, the percentage of cases that actually go to trial is between 5%-15% depending upon how you categorize “cases.” On the other hand, if you are not prepared for trial and counting on settlement, your opposition will generally know it and have the upper hand in negotiating a settlement. They are going to play for keeps. You should too. Don’t assume that the note in front of you is the actual original. Close inspection often reveals it is a color copy.

And for heaven sake don’t stand there with your mouth hanging open when someone says you are looking for a free house. You are looking for justice. You had your purse snatched in this transaction, you know there is an obligation, but you also know that they didn’t perfect the security interest (not your fault) and they received multiple payments from multiple parties on these securitized loans. You want a FULL accounting of all such transactions to determine what balance is due after insurance payments, who is subrogated or substituted on claims, and an opportunity to negotiate a settlement or modification with someone who actually has advanced money on THIS transaction and can show it to be so.

WORD OF CAUTION: IF YOU ARE ALREADY IN PROCESS, YOU ARE REQUIRED TO ACT WITHIN THE TIMES SET FORTH BY STATE LAW, FEDERAL LAW, OR THE LAWS OF CIVIL PROCEDURE. FAILURE TO DO SO LEAVES YOU IN AN UPHILL BATTLE TO REVERSE ACTIONS ALREADY TAKEN. ON THE OTHER HAND ACTIONS ALREADY TAKEN “FIX” THE POSITION OF YOUR OPPOSITION, SINCE THEY CAN NO LONGER ASSERT CHANGES IN CREDITOR, LENDER OR TRUSTEE. THUS IT MIGHT BE EASIER, ACCORDING TO SOME SUCCESSFUL LITIGATORS OUT THERE, TO WAIT UNTIL THE SALE HAS OCCURRED AND THEN ATTACK IT AS A FRAUDULENT SALE, THAN TO TRY TO STOP IT WITH A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER ETC.

CONSIDER BANKRUPTCY, ESPECIALLY CHAPTER 13, WHERE THERE ARE MORE REMEDIES THAN YOU MIGHT THINK IF YOU FILL OUT YOUR SCHEDULES PROPERLY. WE ARE SEEING BETTER RESULTS IN SOME BANKRUPTCY COURTS THAN FEDERAL OR STATE CIVIL COURT PROCEEDINGS.

1. Get your act together, stop fighting amongst the members of your household and make a decision as to what you want to do — fight or flight?
2. GET SOME HELP NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE. GET THE LOAN SPECIFIC TITLE SEARCH, GET A SECURITIZATION SEARCH, AND GET A LAWYER LICENSED IN THE COUNTY WHERE YOUR PROPERTY IS LOCATED AND MAKE SURE HE/SHE IS NOT STUCK ON THE PROPOSITION THAT YOU SHOULD LOSE.
3. If you choose flight, then by all means try the short-sale or jingle mail strategies that have been discussed on this blog. Do not try to make money on the short-sale, since nobody is going to give it to you. You can make a few dollars by riding out the time in foreclosure without making payments (and hopefully saving the money you would have paid) and by negotiating as high a price (a few thousand dollars) as you can in a deal known as “cash for keys.” Even for this, you should employ the services of a local licensed attorney — at least for consultation. There are several short-sale options that have evolved. Google Edge Simonson or Prime financial. I’ve been working on a short-sale-leaseback option that seems to be picking up steam.
4. STRATEGIC DEFAULTS RISING: More and more people of all walks of life including those that have some considerable wealth, are walking away from these properties that were the subject of transactions in which the presumed value of the property was preposterous. This is an option that scare the hair off the pretender lenders because it pouts the power in your hands. They in turn are trying to scare the public with threats of deficiency judgments etc and collections. It is doubtful that many or indeed any deficiency judgments would be awarded, even if they were allowed. But in many cases, particularly in non-judicial states, deficiency judgments are NOT allowed. A version of the strategic default that many people like is to stay as long as possible without paying and then walk. If you are smart about it, you raise your own capital by socking away the payments you would have made.
5. If the decision is fight — then the second decision to make is to answer the question “fight for what?” If you want to buy time, there are many strategies that can be employed, which basically are the same strategies as those used if you are fighting for real. And you might be surprised by the result. Some people get a year or two or even more without payments. You are going to take a FICO hit anyway so why not put some cash in your pocket while you hold back payments.
6. AVOID crazy deals where you give your property or share your property with a stranger. If you persist in engaging such people at least call references and make sure the references are real. Ask questions about their situation and how they feel it worked out to them. Get as much detail as possible.
7. AVOID mortgage modification firms. If you persist in engaging such people at least call references and make sure the references are real. Ask questions about their situation and how they feel it worked out to them. Get as much detail as possible. My opinion is that if they don’t pursue an aggressive litigation strategy the statistical probability of you accomplishing anything by going to them is near zero.
8. In all cases, if at all possible:

(a) Get all your information together along with a short executive summary of your “journal” (even if you create the journal now). That means all closing documents, any information you have on title, recording in the county recorder’s office, the names of all parties who were “at” closing (that means not just the actual people who were there, but he names of companies that were represented or mentioned at closing). Also, include in the file any notices of default(NOD) or notice of Trustee sale (NOTS) or summons from a court.

(b) Get a MORTGAGE ANALYSIS of the loan transaction itself. THIS INVOLVES THREE PARTS — (1) LOAN SPECIFIC TITLE SEARCH AND CHAIN OF TITLE, EXAMINATION OF THE DOCUMENTS, SIGNATURES, AND DATES OF DOCUMENTS PURPORTING TO BE REAL, (2) SECURITIZATION SEARCH THAT CHASES THE MONEY TRAIL AND WILL PROBABLY LEAD YOU TO SOME IMPORTANT ISSUES LIKE THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THE “TRUST” ASSERTING IT HAS THE RIGHT TO FORECLOSE AS WELL AS MONETARY ISSUES SUCH AS APPLICATION OR ALLOCATION OF PAYMENTS RECEIVED BY THE INVESTOR WHO ADVANCED THE FUNDS FOR THE LOAN AND (3) COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS THAT IS USABLE BY AN ATTORNEY IN COURT SUCH THAT HE/SHE CAN ARGUE THAT THERE ARE QUESTIONS OF FACT ENTITLING YOU TO PURSUE DISCOVERY. IF YOU WIN THAT POINT YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY TO A SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION. BUT NOBODY IS GOING TO MAKE IT EASY FOR YOU.

(c) Who is your creditor? The TILA Audit alone does nothing without taking further steps. The Trustee’s “Take-down” report should be demanded in non-judicial states and if the house is in foreclosure, your written objection should be sent to the Trustee.

(d) If someone tells you they are “pretty sure” or can “definitely” stop your foreclosure or promises a favorable outcome, and asks for money up front, then run like hell. This is a scam. IF THEY TELL YOU THEY WILL DO WHAT THEY CAN, AND THEY GIVE YOU SOME EXAMPLES OF WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING FOR YOU THEN LISTEN AND GET REFERENCES.

(e) Only a Court order stops foreclosure or a Trustee Sale. No letter of any form or substance will stop it unless the other side is intimidated into stopping the action, which sometimes happens when they know their paperwork is “out of order.”

(f) Get a Forensic Mortgage Analysis Report OR AN EXPERT DECLARATION that summarizes in a few pages the potential issues that you should be investigating AND WHICH LENDS SUPPORT TOY OUR DENIAL OF THE DEFAULT, DENIAL OF THE RIGHT OF THE OPPOSING PARTY TO CLAIM A DEFAULT, DENIAL OF THE RIGHT OF THE OPPOSING PARTY TO FORECLOSE.

(g) Get an Expert Declaration that uses the forensic report and the expert opinions of specific experts (like appraisers, title analysts) and which identifies the probable chain of securitization and the money trail. You’ll be surprised when you find out there were two yield spread premiums not disclosed to you and that they can total as much or more than the “loan” itself. GET EXPERT OPINION ON PROBABLE DAMAGES INCLUDING RETURN OF UNDISCLOSED FEES, INTEREST, ETC. (SEE LAWYER’S WORKBOOK FROM GARFIELD CONTINUUM).

(h) Send the Forensic Report and expert declaration to the known parties, with an instruction to forward it to all other parties known to them in the securitization chain. Include a Qualified Written Request(QWR) AND a Debt Validation Letter(DVL) (which is really a debt verification letter). Don’t be surprised if your pretender lenders will come back and tell you your QWR is defective or improper in some way, but that’s OK, you have followed statutory procedure and they didn’t. With the help of an attorney and with consultation with your experts decide on what resolution you will demand — damages, rescission, etc.

(i) Don’t believe a word about modification. Practically none of them go through. They are leading you into default so they can collect more service fees, and get money out of you that you think is stopping the foreclosure.

(j) Don’t believe a word that any pretender lender or representative says or represents, even if they are a lawyer, particularly verbal communications that they refuse to confirm in writing. Challenge everything.
(k) Don’t accept any document as authentic. Many documents are being fabricated or forged, including affidavits. This is why you need a lawyer and an expert and a Forensic mortgage analysis — to determine what documents and parties are suspect and what you should be asking for in discovery and in the QWR and DVL.

(l) YOUR FIRST STRATEGY IS TO RAISE NOT PROVE ISSUES OF FACT. BY PRODUCING A FORENSIC REPORT AND EXPERT DECLARATION, NEITHER YOU NOR YOUR LAWYER NEEDS TO ACQUIRE EXPERTISE IN SECURITIZED LOANS. YOU ONLY NEED TO RAISE THE ISSUE OF FACT BY SHOWING THE COURT THAT YOU HAVE EXPERTS WHO SAY THE PRETENDER LENDERS/TRUSTEES ETC. ARE NOT CREDITORS AND NOT AUTHORIZED AGENTS WORKING FOR THE CREDITORS. THEY SAY THEY ARE IN FACT THE CREDITORS OR HAVE SOME AUTHORITY GRANTED BY AN ALLEGED CREDITOR. IT IS NOT FOR THE COURT TO ACCEPT ONE VIEW OR THE OTHER, BUT RATHER TO ALLOW DISCOVERY AND AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON THE ISSUE OF STANDING (SEE MANY RECENT CASES REPORTED SINCE FEBRUARY ON THIS BLOG).

(m) Be very aggressive on discovery. They will argue that even if they are not the creditor and even if they refuse to disclose the identity of the creditor, they are still entitled to disclose because they are the holder of the note and/or mortgage. Your argument will probably be that they still have a duty to disclose the identity of the creditor and the source of the their authority to represent the creditor, along with proof that the creditor has received notice of these proceedings.

A Homeowners’ Rebellion: Could 62 Million Homes be Foreclosure-Proof?

20 Aug

62 MILLION HOMES ARE LEGALLY FORECLOSURE -PROOF

Posted 7 hours ago by Neil Garfield on Livinglies’s Weblog

EDITOR’S NOTE: YES IT MEANS WHAT IT SAYS — WHICH IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR THREE YEARS. BUT JUST BECAUSE SOME JUDGES REALIZE THAT THIS IS THE ONLY CORRECT LEGAL INTERPRETATION DOESN’T MEAN ALL OF THEM WILL ABIDE BY THAT. QUITE THE REVERSE. MOST JUDGES REFUSE TO ACCEPT AND CAN’T WRAP THEIR BRAINS AROUND THE FACT THAT THE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY THAT SET THE LEGAL STANDARDS FOR PERFECTING A SECURITY INTEREST IN RESIDENTIAL HOME MORTGAGES COULD HAVE SCREWED UP LIKE THIS.

THE ANSWER OF COURSE IS THAT THEY DIDN’T — WALL STREET DID IT. I KNOW FOR A FACT AND HAVE SEEN THE INTERNAL MEMORANDUM WRITTEN IN 2003-2006 THAT LAWYERS WHO WERE PREPARING THE SECURITIZATION DOCUMENTS KNEW AND INFORMED THEIR CLIENTS THAT THIS COULD NOT WORK.

THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET A FREE HOUSE. BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT AT THE MOMENT ANY HOUSE IN WHICH MERS WAS INVOLVED DOES NOT HAVE A PERFECTED SECURITY INTEREST AS AN ENCUMBRANCE. AND THAT MEANS THAT ANY FORECLOSURE BASED UPON DOCUMENTS OR PRESUMPTIONS REGARDING MERS ARE VOID. AND THAT MEANS THAT IF YOU FALL INTO THIS CLASS OF PEOPLE — AND MOST PEOPLE DO — IT IS POSSIBLE AND EVEN PROBABLE THAT YOU COULD BE AWARDED QUIET TITLE ON A HOME THAT WAS FORECLOSED AND SOLD EVEN YEARS AGO.

BUT BEWARE: JUST BECAUSE THEY SCREWED UP THE PAPERWORK AND THEY DON’T HAVE THE REMEDY OF FORECLOSURE IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE DOESN’T MEAN THAT NOBODY LENT YOU MONEY NOR DOES IT MEAN THAT YOU DON’T OWE ANY MONEY NOR DOES IT MEAN THAT THEY COULD NOT CREATE AN EQUITABLE LIEN ON YOUR PROPERTY THAT COULD AMOUNT TO A MORTGAGE THAT COULD BE FORECLOSED. BUT THAT IS STRICTLY A JUDICIAL PROCESS EVEN IN SO-CALLED NON-JUDICIAL STATES.

WE ARE NOW CLOSING IN ON THE REALITY. THE INEVITABLE OUTCOME IS PRINCIPAL REDUCTION WHETHER THE BANKS LIKE IT OR NOT. EVEN IF THEIR LIEN WAS PERFECTED AND ENFORCEABLE THEY STILL CANNOT GET ANY MORE MONEY THAN THE HOUSE IS WORTH. WITHOUT THE ENCUMBRANCE, THEY ARE FORCED TO NEGOTIATE A WHOLE NEW PATH WITH ONLY THE PARTIES THAT ARE NOW LEFT HOLDING THE BAG ON THE LOSS ASSOCIATED WITH THE ORIGINAL LOAN ON YOUR PROPERTY, AFTER ADJUSTMENTS FOR PAYMENTS RECEIVED BUT NOT RECORDED OR ALLOCATED.

IN ORDER TO HOLD THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE, YOU HAVE TO KNOW THE ORIGINAL SECURITIZATION SCHEME AND INSIST ON PROOF OF WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE INITIAL SECURITIZATION PLAN WAS PUT IN PLACE. REMEMBER THAT THIS IS NOT A FIXED EVENT. THIS IS SINGLE TRANSACTION BETWEEN THE BORROWER AND AN ONGOING PROCESSION OF SUCCESSORS EACH OF WHOM HAS QUESTIONABLE RIGHTS TO THE NOTE, MORTGAGE OR EVEN THE OBLIGATION SINCE THEY WERE ONLY ASSIGNED A RECEIVABLE FROM A PARTY WHO WAS NEITHER THE BORROWER NOR THE ORIGINATING LENDER.

A Homeowners’ Rebellion: Could 62 Million Homes be Foreclosure-Proof?

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Ellen Brown
Web of Debt
August 20, 2010

Over 62 million mortgages are now held in the name of MERS, an electronic recording system devised by and for the convenience of the mortgage industry. A California bankruptcy court, following landmark cases in other jurisdictions, recently held that this electronic shortcut makes it impossible for banks to establish their ownership of property titles—and therefore to foreclose on mortgaged properties. The logical result could be 62 million homes that are foreclosure-proof.

Victims of predatory lending could end up owning their homes free and clear—while the financial industry could end up skewered on its own sword.

Mortgages bundled into securities were a favorite investment of speculators at the height of the financial bubble leading up to the crash of 2008. The securities changed hands frequently, and the companies profiting from mortgage payments were often not the same parties that negotiated the loans. At the heart of this disconnect was the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a company that serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, allowing properties to change hands without the necessity of recording each transfer.

MERS was convenient for the mortgage industry, but courts are now questioning the impact of all of this financial juggling when it comes to mortgage ownership. To foreclose on real property, the plaintiff must be able to establish the chain of title entitling it to relief. But MERS has acknowledged, and recent cases have held, that MERS is a mere “nominee”—an entity appointed by the true owner simply for the purpose of holding property in order to facilitate transactions. Recent court opinions stress that this defect is not just a procedural but is a substantive failure, one that is fatal to the plaintiff’s legal ability to foreclose.

That means hordes of victims of predatory lending could end up owning their homes free and clear—while the financial industry could end up skewered on its own sword.

California Precedent

The latest of these court decisions came down in California on May 20, 2010, in a bankruptcy case called In re Walker, Case no. 10-21656-E–11. The court held that MERS could not foreclose because it was a mere nominee; and that as a result, plaintiff Citibank could not collect on its claim. The judge opined:

Since no evidence of MERS’ ownership of the underlying note has been offered, and other courts have concluded that MERS does not own the underlying notes, this court is convinced that MERS had no interest it could transfer to Citibank. Since MERS did not own the underlying note, it could not transfer the beneficial interest of the Deed of Trust to another. Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.

In support, the judge cited In Re Vargas (California Bankruptcy Court); Landmark v. Kesler (Kansas Supreme Court); LaSalle Bank v. Lamy (a New York case); and In Re Foreclosure Cases (the “Boyko” decision from Ohio Federal Court). (For more on these earlier cases, see here, here and here.) The court concluded:

Since the claimant, Citibank, has not established that it is the owner of the promissory note secured by the trust deed, Citibank is unable to assert a claim for payment in this case.

The broad impact the case could have on California foreclosures is suggested by attorney Jeff Barnes, who writes:

This opinion . . . serves as a legal basis to challenge any foreclosure in California based on a MERS assignment; to seek to void any MERS assignment of the Deed of Trust or the note to a third party for purposes of foreclosure; and should be sufficient for a borrower to not only obtain a TRO [temporary restraining order] against a Trustee’s Sale, but also a Preliminary Injunction barring any sale pending any litigation filed by the borrower challenging a foreclosure based on a MERS assignment.

While not binding on courts in other jurisdictions, the ruling could serve as persuasive precedent there as well, because the court cited non-bankruptcy cases related to the lack of authority of MERS, and because the opinion is consistent with prior rulings in Idaho and Nevada Bankruptcy courts on the same issue.

What Could This Mean for Homeowners?

Earlier cases focused on the inability of MERS to produce a promissory note or assignment establishing that it was entitled to relief, but most courts have considered this a mere procedural defect and continue to look the other way on MERS’ technical lack of standing to sue. The more recent cases, however, are looking at something more serious. If MERS is not the title holder of properties held in its name, the chain of title has been broken, and no one may have standing to sue. In MERS v. Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance, MERS insisted that it had no actionable interest in title, and the court agreed.

An August 2010 article in Mother Jones titled “Fannie and Freddie’s Foreclosure Barons” exposes a widespread practice of “foreclosure mills” in backdating assignments after foreclosures have been filed. Not only is this perjury, a prosecutable offense, but if MERS was never the title holder, there is nothing to assign. The defaulting homeowners could wind up with free and clear title.

In Jacksonville, Florida, legal aid attorney April Charney has been using the missing-note argument ever since she first identified that weakness in the lenders’ case in 2004. Five years later, she says, some of the homeowners she’s helped are still in their homes. According to a Huffington Post article titled “‘Produce the Note’ Movement Helps Stall Foreclosures”:

Because of the missing ownership documentation, Charney is now starting to file quiet title actions, hoping to get her homeowner clients full title to their homes (a quiet title action ‘quiets’ all other claims). Charney says she’s helped thousands of homeowners delay or prevent foreclosure, and trained thousands of lawyers across the country on how to protect homeowners and battle in court.

Criminal Charges?


Other suits go beyond merely challenging title to alleging criminal activity. On July 26, 2010, a class action was filed in Florida seeking relief against MERS and an associated legal firm for racketeering and mail fraud. It alleges that the defendants used “the artifice of MERS to sabotage the judicial process to the detriment of borrowers;” that “to perpetuate the scheme, MERS was and is used in a way so that the average consumer, or even legal professional, can never determine who or what was or is ultimately receiving the benefits of any mortgage payments;” that the scheme depended on “the MERS artifice and the ability to generate any necessary ‘assignment’ which flowed from it;” and that “by engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, specifically ‘mail or wire fraud,’ the Defendants . . . participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate commerce.”

Local governments deprived of filing fees may also be getting into the act, at least through representatives suing on their behalf. Qui tam actions allow for a private party or “whistle blower” to bring suit on behalf of the government for a past or present fraud on it. In State of California ex rel. Barrett R. Bates, filed May 10, 2010, the plaintiff qui tam sued on behalf of a long list of local governments in California against MERS and a number of lenders, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, for “wrongfully bypass[ing] the counties’ recording requirements; divest[ing] the borrowers of the right to know who owned the promissory note . . .; and record[ing] false documents to initiate and pursue non-judicial foreclosures, and to otherwise decrease or avoid payment of fees to the Counties and the Cities where the real estate is located.” The complaint notes that “MERS claims to have ‘saved’ at least $2.4 billion dollars in recording costs,” meaning it has helped avoid billions of dollars in fees otherwise accruing to local governments. The plaintiff sues for treble damages for all recording fees not paid during the past ten years, and for civil penalties of between $5,000 and $10,000 for each unpaid or underpaid recording fee and each false document recorded during that period, potentially a hefty sum. Similar suits have been filed by the same plaintiff qui tam in Nevada and Tennessee.

By Their Own Sword: MERS’ Role in the Financial Crisis

MERS is, according to its website, “an innovative process that simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans.” Or as Karl Denninger puts it, “MERS’ own website claims that it exists for the purpose of circumventing assignments and documenting ownership!”

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MERS was developed in the early 1990s by a number of financial entities, including Bank of America, Countrywide, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, allegedly to allow consumers to pay less for mortgage loans. That did not actually happen, but what MERS did allow was the securitization and shuffling around of mortgages behind a veil of anonymity. The result was not only to cheat local governments out of their recording fees but to defeat the purpose of the recording laws, which was to guarantee purchasers clean title. Worse, MERS facilitated an explosion of predatory lending in which lenders could not be held to account because they could not be identified, either by the preyed-upon borrowers or by the investors seduced into buying bundles of worthless mortgages. As alleged in a Nevada class action called Lopez vs. Executive Trustee Services, et al.:

Before MERS, it would not have been possible for mortgages with no market value . . . to be sold at a profit or collateralized and sold as mortgage-backed securities. Before MERS, it would not have been possible for the Defendant banks and AIG to conceal from government regulators the extent of risk of financial losses those entities faced from the predatory origination of residential loans and the fraudulent re-sale and securitization of those otherwise non-marketable loans. Before MERS, the actual beneficiary of every Deed of Trust on every parcel in the United States and the State of Nevada could be readily ascertained by merely reviewing the public records at the local recorder’s office where documents reflecting any ownership interest in real property are kept….

After MERS, . . . the servicing rights were transferred after the origination of the loan to an entity so large that communication with the servicer became difficult if not impossible …. The servicer was interested in only one thing – making a profit from the foreclosure of the borrower’s residence – so that the entire predatory cycle of fraudulent origination, resale, and securitization of yet another predatory loan could occur again. This is the legacy of MERS, and the entire scheme was predicated upon the fraudulent designation of MERS as the ‘beneficiary’ under millions of deeds of trust in Nevada and other states.

Axing the Bankers’ Money Tree

If courts overwhelmed with foreclosures decide to take up the cause, the result could be millions of struggling homeowners with the banks off their backs, and millions of homes no longer on the books of some too-big-to-fail banks. Without those assets, the banks could again be looking at bankruptcy. As was pointed out in a San Francisco Chronicle article by attorney Sean Olender following the October 2007 Boyko [pdf] decision:

The ticking time bomb in the U.S. banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.

. . . The loans at issue dwarf the capital available at the largest U.S. banks combined, and investor lawsuits would raise stunning liability sufficient to cause even the largest U.S. banks to fail . . . .

Nationalization of these giant banks might be the next logical step—a step that some commentators said should have been taken in the first place. When the banking system of Sweden collapsed following a housing bubble in the 1990s, nationalization of the banks worked out very well for that country.

The Swedish banks were largely privatized again when they got back on their feet, but it might be a good idea to keep some banks as publicly-owned entities, on the model of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. For most of the 20th century it served as a “people’s bank,” making low interest loans to consumers and businesses through branches all over the country.

With the strengthened position of Wall Street following the 2008 bailout and the tepid 2010 banking reform bill, the U.S. is far from nationalizing its mega-banks now. But a committed homeowner movement to tear off the predatory mask called MERS could yet turn the tide. While courts are not likely to let 62 million homeowners off scot free, the defect in title created by MERS could give them significant new leverage at the bargaining table.

Litigating against your lender

8 Dec

“The Fed’s study found that only 3 percent of seriously delinquent borrowers – those more than 60 days behind – had their loans modified to lower monthly payments . . . The servicers are making assumptions that are much too anti-modification, The servicers have the authority’’ to help borrowers, “they just don’t want to use it.’’ www.thestopforeclosureplan.com
The Boston Globe “Lenders Avoid Redoing Loans, Fed Concludes” July 7, 2009.
LITIGATING AGAINST YOUR LENDER
The state and federal government may structure a mortgage modification program as voluntary on the part of the lender, but may provide incentives for the lender to participate. A mandatory mortgage modification program requires the lender to modify mortgages meeting the criteria with respect to the borrower, the property, and the loan payment history.
www.thestopforeclosureplan.com

1.If you feel you were taken advantage of or not told the whole truth when you received your loan and want to consider legal action against your lender, call us.
1.Did you know that in some cases the lender is forced to eliminate your debt completely and give you back the title to your home?
2.If you received your loan based on any of the following you may have possible claims against your lender:
1.Stated Income
2.Inflated Appraisal
3.If you were sold on taking cash out of your home
4.If you were sold on using your home’s equity to pay off your credit cards or auto loans
5.If you refinanced more than one time in the course of a 3 year period
6.If you were charged high fees
7.If you were sold on getting a negative amortization loan, or adjustable rate loan
8.If your loan had a prepayment penalty
9.If you feel your interest rate is higher than it should be
10.If your initial closing costs looked different at signing than you were lead to believe
11.If you know more than one person in your same position that closed a loan with the same lender or mortgage broker
12.If you feel you were given an inferior loan because of your race
13.If you feel that your lender is over aggressive in their collections actions
14.If there is more than 3 people in your neighborhood that are facing foreclosure
15.If you only speak Spanish and all your disclosures were given to you in English

Predatory lending is a term used to describe unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of some lenders during the loan origination process. There are no legal definitions in the United States for predatory lending, though there are laws against many of the specific practices commonly identified as predatory, and various federal agencies use the term as a catch-all term for many specific illegal activities in the loan industry. Predatory lending is not to be confused with predatory mortgage servicing (predatory servicing) which is used to describe the unfair, deceptive, or fraudulent practices of lenders and servicing agents during the loan or mortgage servicing process, post origination.

One less contentious definition of the term is the practice of a lender deceptively convincing borrowers to agree to unfair and abusive loan terms, or systematically violating those terms in ways that make it difficult for the borrower to defend against. Other types of lending sometimes also referred to as predatory include payday loans, credit cards or other forms of consumer debt, and overdraft loans, when the interest rates are considered unreasonably high. Although predatory lenders are most likely to target the less educated, racial minorities and the elderly, victims of predatory lending are represented across all demographics.

Predatory lending typically occurs on loans backed by some kind of collateral, such as a car or house, so that if the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can repossess or foreclose and profit by selling the repossessed or foreclosed property. Lenders may be accused of tricking a borrower into believing that an interest rate is lower than it actually is, or that the borrower’s ability to pay is greater than it actually is. The lender, or others as agents of the lender, may well profit from repossession or foreclosure upon the collateral.

Abusive or unfair lending practices www.thestopforeclosureplan.com
There are many lending practices which have been called abusive and labeled with the term “predatory lending.” There is a great deal of dispute between lenders and consumer groups as to what exactly constitutes “unfair” or “predatory” practices, but the following are sometimes cited.

•Unjustified risk-based pricing. This is the practice of charging more (in the form of higher interest rates and fees) for extending credit to borrowers identified by the lender as posing a greater credit risk. The lending industry argues that risk-based pricing is a legitimate practice; since a greater percentage of loans made to less creditworthy borrowers can be expected to go into default, higher prices are necessary to obtain the same yield on the portfolio as a whole. Some consumer groups argue that higher prices paid by more vulnerable consumers cannot always be justified by increased credit risk.
•Single-premium credit insurance. This is the purchase of insurance which will pay off the loan in case the homebuyer dies. It is more expensive than other forms of insurance because it does not involve any medical checkups, but customers almost always are not shown their choices, because usually the lender is not licensed to sell other forms of insurance. In addition, this insurance is usually financed into the loan which causes the loan to be more expensive, but at the same time encourages people to buy the insurance because they do not have to pay up front.
•Failure to present the loan price as negotiable. Many lenders will negotiate the price structure of the loan with borrowers. In some situations, borrowers can even negotiate an outright reduction in the interest rate or other charges on the loan. Consumer advocates argue that borrowers, especially unsophisticated borrowers, are not aware of their ability to negotiate and might even be under the mistaken impression that the lender is placing the borrower’s interests above its own. Thus, many borrowers do not take advantage of their ability to negotiate.
•Failure to clearly and accurately disclose terms and conditions, particularly in cases where an unsophisticated borrower is involved. Mortgage loans are complex transactions involving multiple parties and dozens of pages of legal documents. In the most egregious of predatory cases, lenders or brokers have been known to not only mislead borrowers, but actually alter documents after they have been signed.
•Short-term loans with disproportionally high fees, such as payday loans, credit card late fees, checking account overdraft fees, and Tax Refund Anticipation Loans, where the fee paid for advancing the money for a short period of time works out to an annual interest rate significantly in excess of the market rate for high-risk loans. The originators of such loans dispute that the fees are interest.
•Servicing agent and securitization abuses. The mortgage servicing agent is the entity that receives the mortgage payment, maintains the payment records, provides borrowers with account statements, imposes late charges when the payment is late, and pursues delinquent borrowers. A securitization is a financial transaction in which assets, especially debt instruments, are pooled and securities representing interests in the pool are issued. Most loans are subject to being bundled and sold, and the rights to act as servicing agent sold, without the consent of the borrower. A federal statute requires notice to the borrower of a change in servicing agent, but does not protect the borrower from being held delinquent on the note for payments made to the servicing agent who fails to forward the payments to the owner of the note, especially if that servicing agent goes bankrupt, and borrowers who have made all payments on time can find themselves being foreclosed on and becoming unsecured creditors of the servicing agent. Foreclosures can sometimes be conducted without proper notice to the borrower. In some states (see Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 746), there is no defense against eviction, forcing the borrower to move and incur the expense of hiring a lawyer and finding another place to live while litigating the claim of the “new owner” to own the house, especially after it is resold one or more times. When the debtor demands that the current claimed note owner produce the original note with his signature on it, the note owner typically is unable or unwilling to do so, and tries to establish his claim with an affidavit that it is the owner, without proving it is the “holder in due course”, the traditional standard for a debt claim, and the courts often allow them to do that. In the meantime, the note continues to be traded, its physical whereabouts difficult to discover.
Consumers believe that they are protected by consumer protection laws, when their lender is really operating wholly outside the laws. Refer to 16 U.S.C. 1601 and 12 C.F.R. 226.

Underlying issues
There are many underlying issues in the predatory lending debate:

•Judicial practices: Some argue that much of the problem arises from a tendency of the courts to favor lenders, and to shift the burden of proof of compliance with the terms of the debt instrument to the debtor. According to this argument, it should not be the duty of the borrower to make sure his payments are getting to the current note-owner, but to make evidence that all payments were made to the last known agent for collection sufficient to block or reverse repossession or foreclosure, and eviction, and to cancel the debt if the current note owner cannot prove he is the “holder in due course” by producing the actual original debt instrument in court.
http://www.thestopforeclosureplan.com•Risk-based pricing: The basic idea is that borrowers who are thought of as more likely to default on their loans should pay higher interest rates and finance charges to compensate lenders for the increased risk. In essence, high returns motivate lenders to lend to a group they might not otherwise lend to — “subprime” or risky borrowers. Advocates of this system believe that it would be unfair — or a poor business strategy — to raise interest rates globally to accommodate risky borrowers, thus penalizing low-risk borrowers who are unlikely to default. Opponents argue that the practice tends to disproportionately create capital gains for the affluent while oppressing working-class borrowers with modest financial resources. Some people consider risk-based pricing to be unfair in principle. Lenders contend that interest rates are generally set fairly considering the risk that the lender assumes, and that competition between lenders will ensure availability of appropriately-priced loans to high-risk customers. Still others feel that while the rates themselves may be justifiable with respect to the risks, it is irresponsible for lenders to encourage or allow borrowers with credit problems to take out high-priced loans. For all of its pros and cons, risk-based pricing remains a universal practice in bond markets and the insurance industry, and it is implied in the stock market and in many other open-market venues; it is only controversial in the case of consumer loans.
•Competition: Some believe that risk-based pricing is fair but feel that many loans charge prices far above the risk, using the risk as an excuse to overcharge. These criticisms are not levied on all products, but only on those specifically deemed predatory. Proponents counter that competition among lenders should prevent or reduce overcharging.
•Financial education: Many observers feel that competition in the markets served by what critics describe as “predatory lenders” is not affected by price because the targeted consumers are completely uneducated about the time value of money and the concept of Annual percentage rate, a different measure of price than what many are used to.
•Caveat emptor: There is an underlying debate about whether a lender should be allowed to charge whatever it wants for a service, even if it seems to make no attempts at deceiving the consumer about the price. At issue here is the belief that lending is a commodity and that the lending community has an almost fiduciary duty to advise the borrower that funds can be obtained more cheaply. Also at issue are certain financial products which appear to be profitable only due to adverse selection or a lack of knowledge on the part of the customers relative to the lenders. For example, some people allege that credit insurance would not be profitable to lending companies if only those customers who had the right “fit” for the product actually bought it (i.e., only those customers who were not able to get the generally cheaper term life insurance).
•Discrimination: Some organizations feel that many financial institutions continue to engage in racial discrimination. Most do not allege that the loan underwriters themselves discriminate, but rather that there is systemic discrimination. Situations in which a loan broker or other salesman may negotiate the interest rate are likely more ripe for discrimination. Discrimination may occur if, when dealing with racial minorities, loan brokers tend to claim that a person’s credit score is lower than it is, justifying a higher interest rate charged, on the hope that the customer assumes the lender to be correct. This may be based on an internalized bias that a minority group has a lower economic profile. It is also possible that a broker or loan salesman with some control over the interest rate might attempt to charge a higher rate to persons of race which he personally dislikes. For this reason some call for laws requiring interest rates to be set entirely by objective measures.
OCC Advisory Letter AL 2003-2 describes predatory lending as including the following:

•Loan “flipping” – frequent refinancings that result in little or no economic benefit to the borrower and are undertaken with the primary or sole objective of generating additional loan fees, prepayment penalties, and fees from the financing of credit-related products;
•Refinancings of special subsidized mortgages that result in the loss of beneficial loan terms;
•”Packing” of excessive and sometimes “hidden” fees in the amount financed;
•Using loan terms or structures – such as negative amortization – to make it more difficult or impossible for borrowers to reduce or repay their indebtedness;
•Using balloon payments to conceal the true burden of the financing and to force borrowers into costly refinancing transactions or foreclosures;
•Targeting inappropriate or excessively expensive credit products to older borrowers, to persons who are not financially sophisticated or who may be otherwise vulnerable to abusive practices, and to persons who could qualify for mainstream credit products and terms;
•Inadequate disclosure of the true costs, risks and, where necessary, appropriateness to the borrower of loan transactions;
•The offering of single premium credit life insurance; and
•The use of mandatory arbitration clauses.
It should be noted that mortgage applications are usually completed by mortgage brokers, rather than by borrowers themselves, making it difficult to pin down the source of any misrepresentations.

A stated income loan application is where no proof of income is needed. When the broker files the loan, they have to go by whatever income is stated. This opened the doors for borrowers to be approved for loans that they otherwise would not qualify for, or afford.

Although the target for most scammers, lending institutions were often complicit in what amounted to multiparty mortgage fraud. The Oregonian obtained a JP Morgan Chase memo, titled “Zippy Cheats & Tricks.” Zippy was Chase’s in-house automated loan underwriting system, and the memo was a primer on how to get risky mortgage loans approved.

United States legislation combating predatory lending
Many laws at both the Federal and state government level are aimed at preventing predatory lending. Although not specifically anti-predatory in nature, the Federal Truth in Lending Act requires certain disclosures of APR and loan terms. Also, in 1994 section 32 of the Truth in Lending Act, entitled the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act of 1994, was created. This law is devoted to identifying certain high-cost, potentially predatory mortgage loans and reining in their terms.www.thestopforeclosureplan.com

Twenty-five states have passed anti-predatory lending laws. Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Carolina are among those states considered to have the strongest laws. Other states with predatory lending laws include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. These laws usually describe one or more classes of “high-cost” or “covered” loans, which are defined by the fees charged to the borrower at origination or the APR. While lenders are not prohibited from making “high-cost” or “covered” loans, a number of additional restrictions are placed on these loans, and the penalties for noncompliance can be substantial.
http://www.thestopforeclosureplan.com

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?”

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